Keep Honing Your Writing Skills

| December 2, 2008 | 1 Comment

As a freelance writer, I’m always looking to improve my writing skills. I’ve got to say that I look at some of the articles I wrote a year or two ago and I cringe. Heck, sometimes I look at what I wrote a month ago and wonder what was I thinking?

Time to Share More Stuff

Quite some time ago I signed up for The Better Writing Skills Newsletter. Quite honestly, I forgot all about it because I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been reading half of the email subscriptions that I get. However, being that it’s December and I’m beginning to make plans for my 2009 writing schedule, I thought now is a good time to unsubscribe to newsletters that I don’t read and continue with ones that I do or should read.

Prepared to click the unsubscribe link, I thought I had better read the newsletter first to make sure I wasn’t being too hasty. Well, I’m glad I read it.

Golden Nuggets of Writing Tips

Tim North, the owner and author of the newsletter, has managed to put together a concise newsletter with practical tips to improve everyone’s writing skills.

In his December, 2008 newsletter he addressed the issue of whether to use “that” or “which.” Frankly, I’ve come across this quite often and I let Microsoft Word make the determination as to which one is correct (what a dangerous move). Here’s How Tim North explains the difference and when to use each one:

“Rule of thumb: Use “which” (surrounded by commas) if a group of words adds information. Use “that” if it restricts the set of things you’re talking about.

Example Sentence 1:Elephants that have big ears live in Africa.

Example Sentence 2: Leap years, which have 366 days, contain an extra day in February.

In the first sentence, the words “that have big ears” are restricting the type of elephants that we’re talking about. (African elephants have big ears. Indian elephants have smaller
ears.) We thus use “that”.

In the second sentence, the words “which have 366 days” are adding information. We thus use “which” surrounded by commas.”

Making it Easy to Remember

To make it easier for me to remember, I’ve come up with an acronym that makes me think of what I love to do most – dining out. Use the acronym WAITR (almost waiter).

Which
Adds
Information
ThatQuill
Restricts

So, when in doubt, read your sentence and decide whether or not you’re adding information or restricting (narrowing the scope of your info) and then apply the WAITR acronym.

To get his tips delivered to your inbox you should subscribe to his newsletter

While he does not offer an emarketing course on how to write for the web or SEO 101, he offers solid tips on how to write. There are plenty of sites teaching writers how to write for the web and how to utilize SEO practices, but not as many sites dedicated to teaching writers how to write. I find Tim North’s site refreshing.

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Category: Education, Freelance, Skills, Tools, Writing

About the Author ()

Felicia A. Williams is a freelance writer and blogger. She spends the majority of her time with her family and writing. If she's not writing or commenting on NJFM, she's either outside smelling the roses or writing articles for one of her other sites.

Comments (1)

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  1. Alyssa says:

    Great information – I just subscribed to North’s newsletter.

    To this day, I still lack the confidence that says I’ve written the best content that I could. I second-guess my grammar, style, punctuation, etc. What does my voice say? Do I even have one?

    Beware of complacency! It contaminates your writing. The moment you think you can just “crank” out your work without reviewing it or reflecting on it, is when it becomes stale and mediocre at best. My mantra is that there is always room for improvement. We should always be in the process of refreshing our writing skills or gaining new ones.

    Thank you, Felicia, for referring us to a writing resource.

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