How should we write?

Answering this question isn’t easy. Before we attempt to provide a few recommendations, we’d like to list a few quotes that we feel are highly relevant: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” 

This quote by Stephen King clearly points to one of the most important things in the field of writing, primarily in scientific texts. Literature is the mother of all research. The more we read, the more our ability to write is developed. Reading is something that can’t be avoided or ignored while writing, and without it we can’t advance. Everyone who has ever immersed themselves in a certain topic can surely confirm that choosing an author and trying to read their work systematically isn’t a bad idea. You’ll quickly get a feel for their method of expression, argumentation and use of content, and use this as a springboard.  

“How should one begin to write? At the top left of the page.” G.B. Shaw allegedly said, revealing another important ingredient for writing. The problem that we often have with writing is that we’re unable to begin. We can read dozens of manuals on how to begin writing or articles about personal development, but the blank white page in our word processor still glares back at us. The only way to write is to begin and be persistent. You don’t have to worry that no one will read it – even if the first lines are for your eyes only, they’ll help you get down to writing. 

The final quote that we’d like to use to describe writing comes from Ladislav Hejdánek“Write. Write down everything that comes to your mind. Write into your drawer, but write. Constantly. By doing so, you’ll have to formulate your thoughts and make them precise. This can’t be done without writing. Write.” Writing is different than speaking. It’s a method of expression that is denser, more precise, and more exact. When we write, we use a wider vocabulary, more complex and lengthier sentences, and we can also use sources. Writing is an irreplaceable tool of thought. If you want to become a professor or senior lecturer at university, the thing that everyone will be interested in is what you’ve written. This shows how much intellectual work and thought you’ve been willing and able to accomplish. We think Hejdánek’s motto is something we could easily hang over our beds or tables and come back to repeatedly. As the ancient saying goes, thought is refined by writing; wisdom comes to the head through the hands.  

You might be thinking here that it’s nice that a lot of people are writing about how to write, but you’re missing some clear points or recommendations that you could rely on once you begin. Although writing is an individual activity, we’ll try here to at least suggest some directions or possibilities that can help you with your writing. Just remember that what suits one person might not suit another. The author of these sentences has written over twenty books, but that certainly doesn’t mean he holds the only possible key to successful writing.  

  • Try and forget the outline. If you have problems with writing, it’s quite probably linked to the fact that it’s difficult for you to sketch out the whole text at once. We recommend using something like a thought map, which will guide you through thinking about a topic and help you abandon the rigid Introduction – Body – Conclusion scheme. It’s not that these sections won’t appear in your text, but writing according to an outline is extremely challenging and requires extremely deep introspection and grasp of the topic. You have to basically know everything ahead of time.  
  • You don’t have to write linearly – try having a look at an application like Gingko Appwhich is based on the idea of writing in small amounts that you can easily move around in the whole document. This probably isn’t the best way to finish writing a book, but if you’re working on a paper and you’ve got a lot of quotes, excerpts from literature and ideas, it’s quite a nice way to make sense of it all and work in small pieces.  
  • It’s interesting to set time goals, i.e. how much you have to write in a day in order to reach your main goal – it’s uncreative and project-focusedbut it worksYou can use a common character count in Word or the application Write or Die, which measures your goals or writing speed so you can follow your writing progress.  
  • Inventive and creative-writing techniques definitely work – don’t be afraid to write using a postcard, take part in a creative exercise, or write in rhythm. These tools will generally help with your writing and the ability to think up phenomena in a new way and search for new perspectives and connections.  
  • Read – we’re coming back around to the start, but – if you’re not able to write, it’s probably because you’re not reading enough. Don’t be afraid to set up a ritual, during which you can try something like reading for twenty minutes each evening. 
  • Practice – writing is like playing the violin – no one can do it without training and people forget it when they don’t practice. Almost anyone is able to reach a decent writing level. Every finished text and practiced page is noticeable.  

Specific writing methods naturally differ in whether we’re dealing with fiction or scientific writing. Both certainly require a certain dose of creativity and invention, but each in its own way. However, both require something that we haven’t spoken about much yet – craft. If you’re writing a research text (for example a year-end paper), it will help greatly to know the IMRAD structure. On the other hand, it’s obvious that if you’re writing a novel without knowing how to structure dialogue, things will also be tough. It’s said that true professionals know how to take their own original paths – but they know exactly how they’ve done so and why they’ve deviated from what the craft has prescribed to them.  


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