Well-Read Writes Well
Douglas Wilson writes with a certain gusto which often causes no small stir and he’s unique as a theologian who also writes about other topics like education, writing, logic, philosophy, and fiction. I might argue that the church has far too few renaissance men and that’s part of the problem Wordsmithy address. Wilson urges aspiring writers to write well by reading broadly and writing widely. My default in reading and writing is to pigeon hole myself by only focusing on theological works. Theology is wonderful and I could count the ways but Wilson argues that to writer well, no matter what your preferred genre, requires more than reading in just your field. He offers seven practical tips:
- Know something about the world.
- Read mechanical helps.
- Stretch before your routines.
- Be at peace with being lousy for a while.
- Learn another language.
- Keep a commonplace book.
Wilson than expands each of these points into seven additional sub-points which flesh out each of these thesis. I found the advice practical, punchy, and memorable in the way you expect if you’ve read anything by Douglas Wilson.
I’ve been encouraged to be even more intentional in my reading to improve my writing. I have kept a common book of sorts on and off for over the last eight or nine years but I’ve never included phrases and the like in my book. I’ve read three books since and have already benefited from tracking interesting phrases and turn of words. Don’t tell anyone but I’ve also taken to heart his advice about reading through dictionaries and etymologies and jotting down interesting words. I would also add that if you purchase your books through Kindle and use its highlight feature tracking these items is easy. You can download the Kindle app to your computer desktop and then copy and paste into a digital common book or transcribe into your hard cover. Also, I found Wordsmithy to be a fantastic companion to Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books (read my review here). They very much complemented each other.
Mathew Sims is an average Joe who works a 9 to 5 and blogs on the side. He is an editor and writer for Grace for Sinners. He lives in Simpsonville, SC and loves spending time with his two daughters, Claire and Maddy, and wife of seven years, LeAnn. He has a BA in English/Creative Writing and attended Geneva Reformed Seminary for two years completing nearly 40 hours hours of an Mdiv program. He and his family serve and are members at Grace Church. He loves reading, writing, the outdoors, music, cooking, and is an Apple fan boy. You can find him on twitter @GraceforSinners and Facebook. Please email me with any questions or comment below.