November 28, 2007

Clearing the Fog: Seeking Clarity in My Reading and Writing

This morning there was fog. Not only fog (so thick I could barely see the back yard when I was feeding the animals) in the atmosphere, but in my head. I have some kind of allergy thing going on.

The other day I embarked on another reciprocal reading group on Associated Content. This group brought some new writers into my list of favorites on AC. I enjoy reading and peruse many blogs and other content throughout the Internet on a semi-daily basis. Doing this gives me insight into what others are reading, writing, and interested in.

In gaining that insight, I'm more interested in honing my craft. I know on this blog I am wordy sometimes. I am trying to pare it down.

Back to the reading group. Of the articles I read most were fantastic, well written, and made me feel tingly. There were a couple that left me empty and questioning why I even clicked the title to read it. Those were free of transitional and connective words and phrases. Is that how it's supposed to be? When I read them I felt I was reading a technical guide. They lacked personality, as if a robot threw out a bunch of words and made sentences out of them.

I remember in my Creative Writing course work the professor would chant: detail, detail, detail. Now I have to work to eliminate wordy expressions and tweak my articles to no end. Edit, edit, and edit some more. I'm getting better. However, old habits die hard.

When I read I usually scan. That's something I learned from speed reading techniques and a program I took in high school. It's an effective method for reading a lot in a short amount of time. Now, don't get me wrong, I slow the pace for books, poetry, and readings that I want to get more out of or read between the lines.

I read an interesting article on how people read on the Internet. It's actually been studied and tested. We scan in an F pattern. We read the first sentence, the first words of the block in the first paragraph, and scan through for keywords or phrases that bring the content to make sense. The article is F-Shaped Pattern for Reading Web Content from Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox.

This really the basis for speed reading. With the Web, we have become a world of speed readers. Ouch! I better work on fine tuning my writing.


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