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This Semester… I’m Going to Improve My Writing

I want to write well. Really well. Right now, I’m adequate, but adequate isn’t good enough if I want to have the success I want in the legal world. I also want to improve my writing so my content on my blog improves, thus attracting more readers. And you know what? I think I can do it.

Submitted for the approval for the Class Action Writing Project, I present my writing attack plan.

Read books on writing

My first step is to do some reading on writing. I’ve recently checked out Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I’ve liked what she has said so far. She doesn’t write about how to avoid split infinitives, rather she writes about the emotional and psychological aspects of writing, like how to a get through writers block and where to get ideas for writing.

Another book I’m reading is Legal Writing in Plain English. This is more of a technical book. It has advice on how to use strong verbs, varying sentence length, and being effective and efficient with words.

Visit writing tutors

One of the best ways to learn how to write well is to visit with and discuss the writings of those who do it well. I plan on doing this by checking out books from the library and reading legal briefs of the masters of legal writing.

For example, I think Justice Scalia is one of the best legal writers this country has produced. I don’t agree with his politics, but I love to read his opinions. He doesn’t use flashy words, his sentences are simple, and yet his writing jumps out at you. It grabs your attention. That’s what I want to be able to do. So, I ‘m reading a book entitled Scalia Dissents. It’s a collection of Justice Scalia’s writings. I plan on reading and dissecting each one of them. I hope to figure out how he writes and perhaps incorporate a bit of his style into mine.

I’m also printing of legal briefs of local attorney’s who are recognized for their writing capability. Hopefully, by reading them I can get an idea of what makes a good piece of legal writing.

I’m also visiting Law Prose everyday and watching interviews with some of America’s top legal writers. Some of the interviewees include: Justice Scalia, Justice Breyer, and several other federal judges. They offer insights on how one can become a better writer.

Practice Writing Everyday

While doing all the above will give me an idea on how to improve my writing, if I’m ever going to improve, I have to practice everyday.

I have a few legal writing books with exercises on sentence structure, word choice, and grammar that I plan on using everyday.

I also plan on printing off old case opinions and editing them into plain English. I figure if I can edit and revise a 19th century court opinion into a piece that anyone from the 21st century could understand, without destroying the original meaning, my writing ability should be in good shape.
Finally, I plan to improve the quality of my blog posts. Often in the rush to provide content everyday, I sacrifice quality. Instead of posting eight short, crappy, articles a week, I think I might cut down to five a little more longer, quality articles. I think it would be good for me to edit a post like I do a piece of writing I turn into school: print it off and mark the crap out of it. I can’t edit and revise on a computer screen.

Thanks Legal Andrew for inviting me to join your class action.