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Weeding Out Your Writing

An accepted fact with any garden is that there will be weeds. Some have a lot and some have a few. However many there are, one thing is for certain. People pull them out, and throw them away. Weeds drain needed moisture and strength from the plants that will produce the harvest we are expecting. But weeds do have a purpose, and a very important one at that. Sometimes its the weeds that give the gardener the incentive to go out to the garden and tend to his plants. The plants, in turn, get the needed attention they deserve and they grow better and produce more. So, weeds are not all that bad!

When we write, we plant the seeds of ideas in articles, stories, and other written material. They begin to grow with embellishment such as descriptive language, conversation, and subplots. Many times we sit back to admire our handiwork and lo and behold! there are weeds. Spell check was having a bad day, or your embellishments describe a glacier instead of a small mountain stream. It's time to get out there and weed. Maybe the conversations are too long and there are too many unfamiliar phrases that are only understood by those in certain parts of the country. One thing to remember is that your book or article may be read by people all over the world. If you use "local language, it may take some readers "a bit to figure it out. As for descriptive phrases, they must be kept in perspective. A wild, ferocious, angry puma is by no means in the same class as that nasty neighborhood cat that claws your screens and climbs your trees. Of course, he/she may appreciate the build-up but your readers might get the wrong impression. Or, on another note, maybe this cat is a supercat with super powers and therefore the description is right. Only you the writer can make that call!

Weeding is a great pastime. Its a bit of a break from intensive writing, so that you can
absorb, digest, and relax. In reality, it's reading your written material as a reader, not a writer. The weeds that writers grow can prove to be pretty stubborn hindrances. They pop up whenever and wherever they choose. They could be our favorite or pet words that are used too often, or they could be a private belief that we inadvertently add to everything we write. So, writers have to weed just like gardeners. The only difference is that we sometimes plant the weeds ourselves. Somehow they didn't seem like weeds when we chose them.

Whatever you write will never be harmed by some careful weeding activity. But be gentle, because sometimes when you pull that weed, your own feelings feel the tug.
Of course, we all put a little bit of ourselves into everything we write, and that's good. Its when we add just a tad too much that our final product suffers. So, pull those weeds, take care not to disrupt the good plants, and the harvest will amaze you.
Happy weeding!
"Arleen M. Kaptur 2002 June

About the Author

Arleen Kaptur has written numerous articles, cookbooks, motivational booklets, and the novel: Searching For Austin James

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