Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Ripple Effect

I have noticed a cumulative benefit from the various forms of reading and writing that I do.

For many years I read cookbooks like novels, devouring everything from Julia Child to Lutheran church cookbooks. When I started writing the recipe instructions for the soup, bread and seasoning mixes we make at work, I had the training. Package labels have limited space, so every word has to count, and each step has to make sense.

For thirteen years I have been responsible for a weekly CSA newsletter. Each Sunday during the growing season, I describe the veggies members will get in their upcoming box. Some veggies are somewhat exotic---purple cauliflower, lemon and lime basil, kohlrabi. I have to explain what they are, how to use them and suggest recipes.  In the 'anecdotes of farm life' section, I get to use my novel writing skills. These essays have been reprinted in local newspapers, regional journals, and two national  
publications. (Definitely a boost for my confidence--and a healthy respect for deadlines.)

I do astrological readings for clients, often via email. As my writing skills improve, the quality of the readings improves, in my opinion. Not so much in the substance, though I get better at interpretation of data all the time. My sentence structure, word choices, and "story" flow are better. Clients are better able to understand the information in their forecasts because I am able to explain it better.

My children now present to me drafts of their resumes and job applications for editing. My husband allows me to tweak his emails. (I have to type them for him, so he doesn't have much choice. I make him sound good.)

Newsletters and recipes and readings help me become better novel writer. I still have to work at deep POV and excise frequent lapses into third-person omniscent. But as they say, practice makes perfect.

Have you noticed a cross effect from perfecting your novel writing skills?


  1. I think all kinds of writing can help to develop our skills, especially word power, sentence construction, and the general 'flow' of our writing. At the same time, of ccourse, different 'types' of writing demand different styles.

  2. Ana, I had to chuckle at the part about the hubby's e-mails. When it's something REALLY important, I either double check it before he hits send or I write it for him!

    I think novel writing definitely overflows into other forms. With e-mails and texting such a popular way to communicate these days, the more formal styles of writing seem to be going out of style. It's a shame.

  3. I think the more writing you do of any kind will help all of your other writing. Just by sitting down and writing (or typing), you train your brain to form the words and phrases you need. I think the creativity needed for novels, is different, but the more writing you do, the better your mechanics are.

  4. That's what I've found, Jen. Every effort writing makes every other effort better.
    Husbands are the best, aren't they, Debra.
    Paula, you are right.