I wrote my first piece when I was eight years old:
I wonder where the robin goes,
All the winter long.
Maybe where the tulip grows.
They’d listen to his song.
No writing process there, I just wrote down what fell out of my mouth. A series of talented writing teachers, including the legendary Phyllis Abbott Peacock, taught me how to produce a perfect surface, correct in spelling, usage, and grammar. I majored in English at Duke, failed to become a Navy pilot (near-sighted), and studied medieval literature at Berkeley. After a first career as an English professor at Virginia and Stony Brook, I changed my profession to journalism, teaching writing and ethics at the Poynter Institute. In 1994, I became an independent writing coach, working all over the world. I have taught over 10,000 people to write better.
I published 17 books and several hundred articles. As I surveyed my publications, I realized that, although I taught writing, I had mostly written about helping writers. So I decided to write this book distilling what I know about writing itself.
If you only know one way to write, you have no choice but to do it that way. I’m writing this book for you, as part of a lifetime of helping writers free themselves.
This blog turned into a book titled “Writing Your Way,” available from Writer’s Digest on 13 March 2012.