George Orwell published his essay “Politics and the English Language” in April 1946 after a second world war and one of the most extensive uses of propaganda in an era of mass media. In the essay, he offers an argument, and guidance, for clear writing. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to.
When The Guardian asked bestselling authors to share their top dos and don’ts of the writing process, I drew upon experience to draft a similar list for students in my creative writing workshops. It came as little surprise that the truths that resonated with me emphasized process more so than any element of craft. Perhaps this is because craft can be taught (via Top 10 lists, no less.