The best writing advice I was ever given came from a smart, grumpy as fuck journalist that I adored precisely because he was a grumpy as fuck journalist.
I was in a room with other hopefuls that dreamed of reporting at the front lines. It was the first day at a university known for it’s journalism degree.
“Half of you won’t make it to the end of this course. Those of you that want to be writers for writing’s sake will fail. We want people that report stories, facts.”
I think he just wanted to scare the shit out of fresh-out-of-school kids, and it was working.
“Don’t try to sound smart. If you have a simpler way to say something, say it. Your job isn’t to use jargon to make yourself look good. Your job is to convey an idea.”
That was the jist of the whole course. Cut out the crap and say it simpler, say it so a 12-year-old could understand it. With a methodical manner, Chris McGillion went through every written piece and covered every unnecessary word in red circles.
And I’m grateful for that.
Even if my most of my writing nowadays is in a conversational tone, it does mean that I hate fancy, long words that don’t add any extra meaning. And that’s grounding. Keep it simple stupid.