Book Notes: Unfuck Your Writing

Unfuck Your Writing by Joe Biel and Faith Harper
Read Jul 6, 2020 - Jul 6, 2020

Unfuck Your Writing is a useful little book with practical advice on writing and getting published. Biel and Harper start by reviewing the psychology of writing (impostor syndrome, our myths around who “gets to write”, etc). They follow with notes on writing well, and the editorial and publishing processes.

The parts that were most useful to me where the ones about psychology and getting out of your own way, and keeping the writing simple and clear. They summarize these ideas in their Writing Commandments:

  1. Invoke the confidence of people who had happy childhoods.
  2. Do not endlessly consume media about “how to be creative”.
  3. One idea per sentence, one thought per paragraph.
  4. Start with shorter, smaller pieces.
  5. Clarity, brevity, simplicity, humanity, accury, specificity.1
  6. Write fast, edit slow.
  7. Write like your family is dead. Edit like they are alive.
  8. Know your audience and what their proclivities are.
  9. Does it make sense when you read it out loud?
  10. Good writers work hard and think critically.

  1. This is a reference to William Zissner’s advice from his book On Writing. Biel and Harper seem to be big fans. ↩︎

Tags: books, writing

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