Hey there! I'm Vivian. Sometimes I write about life and sometimes I write about teaching.

I’ve been reading Roy Peter Clark’s Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer for several months now. (I don’t know what took me so long to discover this book; it’s such an engaging read.) I haven’t finished it, only because I read it in little spurts, in between novels, before I’m ready to pick up the next book. Last night, after striking out on title after title on Libby–each one having a weeks long wait–I went back to Clark’s book to read example after example of genius writing. This got me thinking about just how lazy I’ve been as a writer.

In an effort to consistently post for Slice of Life, I’ve found myself just writing to get something down and not paying much attention to the quality of my writing. I’ve been doing a lot of mindless practice, and as Vince Lombardi said, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” Of course, I don’t really believe that writing can ever be perfect and therefore you can’t practice it perfectfully. BUT it can be practiced more intentionally. So here’s an exercise in practicing with intention.

If you haven’t already read this book, each chapter offers a strategy with some examples and sometimes non-examples, and ends with workshop ideas. Here’s an example of a strategy (sound familiar?):


Tool 22: Climb up and down the ladder of abstraction.
Learn when to show, when to tell, and when to do both.

Alright, let’s give it a go. I’m going to use lines from a John Updike essay, shared in the book, as a mentor text:


This seems to be an era of gratuitous inventions & negative improvements. Consider the beer can-it was beautiful-as a clothespin, as inevitable as the wine bottle, as dignified & reassuring as the fire hydrant. 

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1964/01/18/comment-4904

Yikes, I’ve gotten this far and now I’m a little stuck on what exactly I want to write for this exercise. Maybe this is a sign that I should be outside on this beautiful summer day and not inside on my laptop. I’ll have to finish this next week. Ohhhh…I think a piece on procrastination is in order!

Until next week…

  1. Nan says:

    Thanks for making me smile, and it sounds like we read in a similar fashion i.e., spurts of a nonfiction text among many novels. By the way, my goal is to post on Slice of Life at least twice a month. This works for me because it gives me time to revise, reread, revise, publish, and my writing’s never perfect but it does improve.

  2. arjeha says:

    I firmly believe in heeding signs. If signs are telling you to get out and enjoy the sunshine then go for it. As you say, there is always next week, or the following one. or…

  3. Alice says:

    Vivian, thanks for these tidbits of information. I’m there with you. I don’t push myself because I procrastinate. I’m adding this to my TBR, after I listen a bit on Libby, lol! (Currently reading Dumplin’ and just finished Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, which happened to have a some nuggets of writing wisdom embedded in the story.)

  4. Stacey says:

    I have Clark’s book, but haven’t looked at it in years. I can see it from where I’m typing this comment. Time to pick it up again!

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