Category Archives: Writing

Sober February–One Week In

I still haven’t had alcohol since last Saturday.

Friday I (finally!) had dinner at Cosca, where I resisted the urge to get a glass of wine. I got Perrier instead. I’m quite sad that Dulcinea is gone, but what replaced it is equally delicious!

But this is not a restaurant review.

I don’t have any deep thoughts about alcohol consumption to share with you. I’m enjoying my clear head in the morning and better sleep at night. My body is probably enjoying the lower calorie intake, too!

I’ve also recently started using 750Words as a way to keep up my writing habit. If I can’t keep my writing hours in the morning, at least I can write 750 words every day. It has a points system, monthly challenges and daily emails to keep you motivated. I’m on a 5-day streak!

A daily writing habit can be beneficial for anyone, not just professional writers. What I write in my 750 words is usually stream-of-consciousness, freewriting, but it still helps me see where my head is at at any given moment. I think, I analyze, I reflect, I even pray sometimes.

How do you fuel your writing habit? What are your tools to keep up? Have you tried 750words? What do you think?

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My First Draft

I’ve decided to spend a little time dabbling into fiction, to see if I can catch the writing bug.

I mean, I do have the writing bug. I write all the time, and I think about writing when I’m not actually typing or writing words. But I haven’t touched fiction much, and it scares me a little.

As a person trained in literature, it’s intimidating to touch upon something that I studied for so long and hold in such high esteem. I’ve read so many great books and I don’t feel like I can measure up to them.

So here I am, with a terrible first draft (and all first drafts of fiction are terrible, I hear) and an idea that I know could be good.

My main issue is the age old issue of “show, don’t tell”. My academic training leads me to explain as much as I can in a dry, straight-to-the-point way. I need to start focusing on senses and feelings inside rather than description. Switching to storytelling mode is proving to be a challenge, but as I have learned the academic format, I’m sure I can learn how to write a compelling story.

Do you have any “show, don’t tell” tips to share?

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Reading (and Writing) About Writing

Back in the winter of 2011, when I was still in my PhD, I took a course on rhetoric and composition theory. If this course changed anything for me (and it changed a lot) it was wishing that I’d discovered rhet/comp (as it is called in academia) before.

If you follow me on Goodreads, you might have noticed that I’ve started reading Everyone Can Write by Peter Elbow again. Back in winter of 2011, I had to read a few essay for the course, but I promised myself I would read it from cover to cover. I’ve mentioned him before, but it was without much immersion in his argument. But now that I get to read more of him, I want to know more. My intellectual curiosity has never left me, and I can still pursue it outside of the academic environment.

Writing about writing is more interesting than the posts on Problogger or Copyblogger would make you believe. And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way about these top industry blogs. They’re a great way to learn the ropes, but any serious writer will find them repetitive and superficial after a few weeks.

There is a wealth of thought and theory that go back to the ancient Greeks that is mostly untapped in what I see in writing “advice” and instructions these days. With the commodification of writing (another topic I should go return to eventually), we have forgotten about the human side of writing.

Althoug the book I’m working on means to be widely accessible to any beginning writer, my academic background requires that it be theoretically sound and supported by some kind of research. And writing itself has been a favourite topic of writers and philosopher since… well, since they began writing. Writing is a rich topic with thousands of years of history–there’s more to it than “5 ways to write a blog post”.

It’s against this dearth of theoretically sound advice and the general superficiality of blogs about writing that I decided to take on this book project.

As I was writing a little of my book this morning, I discovered the heart of my goal: to make anyone’s writing experience richer and more fulfilling. Follow the “my book” tag for more updates; I’ll probably be mentioning it quite often in the next little while!

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Different Types of Dependent Clauses

Welcome to Anabelle’s Minute Writing Workshops!

This week we’re going to delve a bit deeper in dependent clauses.

A reminder: a clause is a part of a sentence that expresses a proposition. An independent clause can be part of a sentence, but it can be a sentence all by itself.

Dependent clauses are more complex. Because they “depend” on other clauses to have meaning, they cannot be used on their own. For example: “John went to the hospital because he was sick”. There are two clauses here: “John went to the hospital” and “because he was sick”. The first clause can be a sentence (i.e. you can put a period at the end and it makes sense), but not the second (“Because he was sick.” is incorrect).

As you have gathered already, dependent clauses modify or add to the meaning of a word in the sentence. Here are the basic types of dependent clauses:

An adverbial clause modifies the verb as would an adverb. The previous example is an adverbial clause: “because he was sick” modifies “went”. (“He went because he was sick.”)

A noun clause has the same function as a noun in the sentence. The clause can be used as a subject (“The person living here is very clean”–“The tenant is very clean”) or as a complement (“John likes the woman who cleans a lot”–“John likes Mary”).

A relative clause functions as an adjective. It has to meet two other criteria: it contains a verb and it starts with a relative adverb or a relative pronoun (when, where why, who, whom whose, that, which). This is where it gets complicated–I’ll keep the relative clause for next week to let us go more in depth.

 

Are these grammar posts helpful or interesting in any way? Is there any grammar topic you’d like me to cover in future posts?

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What Is a Clause?

Third installment of Anabelle’s Minute Writing Workshop.

As promised, this week, we’re discussing the concept of clause.

As I have mentioned in the first post, a sentence is a clause, but not all clauses are sentences. A clause usually has a subject and a predicate, although sometimes the subject can be implied by a relative pronoun (examples to come in further posts).

There are two types of clauses:

  • Dependent clause
  • Independent clause

The simplest is the independent clause. In “The baby cried; I took it in my arms”, there are two independent clauses. An independent clause is, simply put, a clause that could stand on its own as a sentence. For example: “The baby cried. I took it in my arms.”

A dependent clause is a clause that does not make sense on its own. In “The baby cried, so I took it in my arms”, “The baby cried” is still an independent clause, while “so I took it in my arms” is a dependent clause. It cannot stand on its own as a complete sentence, because the coordinating conjunction “so” implies a previous cause.

Next week, we’ll discuss the different types of independent clauses. This will become really useful when we start discussing punctuation (especially commas), so stay tuned!

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The Importance of Figuring Out What You Want and Making Goals Out of It

Whoa! Long title.

During the past few days or so I’ve been looking at different continuing education programs in a variety of topics. Of primary interest is BCIT’s new Social Media Marketing certificate, but I’ve also been eyeing the writing programs at SFU.

Ever since I left grad school, choosing what to do has proven to be a difficult task. What jobs do I apply to? What kind of courses should I take? I’m interested in both writing jobs and community management jobs, but I think I’m more attracted to writing.

Then I thought, “what do I really want to do with my life? Write.” And so, the choice becomes easy: I will take courses that will let me expand and improve on my writing skills.

When your desires and needs are clear, your goals become easy to identify. No matter how many times you read it in a book, though, it’s never as obvious as when it happens to you.

Was there a time when you had trouble identifying specific goals? How did you manage to get out of it?

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What Is a Complement?

Welcome to this week’s Anabelle’s Minute Writing Workshop.

In following with last week’s post about sentences, I am now adding an extra element to our basic sentence: the complement.

(Disclaimer: my French background may come out here, as in English they divide their sentences in two parts: subject and predicate. The predicate is basically verb+complement, but you’ll see later why it’s actually easier to separate them.)

Simply put, a complement adds information to a verb.

Let’s take our two sentences from last week’s example, “I am” and “John walks”. The complement adds information to contextualize the information. For example, in “I am hungry” and “John walks home”, “hungry” and “home” are complements.

This is a simple, direct complement; these can gain in complexity as you use different types of clauses to expand on this simple S-V-C structure.

Next week I’ll be expanding on this concept of clause. Stay tuned!

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