New writing challenge: famous quotes

The mind is prone to bluntness. The only way to keep it sharp is to switch off the Kardashians and keep writing. As a self-imposed writing challenge this week I will go back to my page where I collect quotes about writing, and I will take a quote a day and unpack that quote. The challenge is open to interpretation, I can do anything with the quote: tell the story behind it, write a poem about it, argue with it, absolutely anything.

“Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.” – Kurt Vonnegut

I chose to start with this quote by Kurt Vonnegut because I really like the way he writes. After four years of university I now feel more unsure of myself than I did when I went there. (You could say it’s because before university I had a false sense of confidence, granted, I’ll give you that).

I’m very much influenced by whatever structure I find myself in (oh shit, I just told the internet that I’m an easy target for cults) and I thrived in an academic environment. Now all that is over and it’s time I learn how to write for real. No more semicolons, therefores, howevers and thusses. I’m cutting that shit out of my life. Not to mention whilst. I have a particular hatred for the archaic use of any word that gets the suffix -st attached to it to sound smart. I see it in corporate writing all the time. Have you ever seen that Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where Calvin sums up the whole nature of smarty-pants writing?


The challenge is to write clearly and concisely. I had a teacher in high school who told me, “brevity is valour”. I had this nasty habit where when I didn’t know what I was talking about I would write these long sentences to make the reader tired and then never get to the point.

Kind of like what this post is becoming.

I am really tired.

What was my point?

Oh. Yes. From now I will write like I’ve ever set foot in an academic institution. I will play with sound and form and paragraphs.



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