Episode 48—Roy Peter Clark Redux

By Brendan O’Meara

This week on The Creative Nonfiction Podcast decided to revisit my episode with Roy Peter Clark (@RoyPeterClark on Twitter), this time condensing that two-hour interview and pulling out the best moments.

In it we hear Roy talk about how he learned to swim in the language, the moment he learned the true meaning of literacy, and when research can become crippling.

I’m experimenting with the form and making it more like a mini one-source profile. Let me know what you think. I think it makes for a better overall listen. Ping me on Twitter @BrendanOMeara with thoughts, or to say hi.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on the Apple podcast app and on Google Play Music. Leave a rating if you’re feeling extra kind. Those help.

Thanks for listening!

Episode 42—Roy Peter Clark, America’s Writing Coach on Living Inside the Language, Lowering Standards, and the Meaning of Literacy

By Brendan O’Meara

Tweetables by Roy Peter Clark:

“If I live till 90, I hope that year I’m still learning about the craft and still helping in some way.”

“We’re probably going to see new things in it because our autobiography has changed.”

“If you’re literate, you read in certain ways and you write in certain kinds of ways, but it’s the third element people fail to see: If you are a literate person, you have the capacity to talk about [it].”

“Every piece of writing needs a focus, a central idea.”

“It’s my mission to open the door for literacy and good writing wider and wider so more and more people can imagine themselves as belonging to a community of writers, a nation of writers.”

“What good is freedom of expression if we lack the means to express ourselves?” 

“Too often, more research is an excuse for not writing.”

Howdy there, CNFers, hope you’re having a CNFin good week.

I snagged you a great guest this week, luck on my part and generosity on the part of Roy Peter Clark, America’s Writing Coach, scholar, and author of five books on writing in ten years: Writing Tools, The Glamour of Grammar, Help! For Writers, How to Write Short and The Art of X-Ray Reading.

I’m going to repeat that: five books in ten years. I revisit them all the time to sharpen the saw. Each time I crack open, say, Writing Tools, I become better and better.

In this episode you’ll learn a lot about how Roy came to live inside the language, and how those early experiences led him, ultimately, to the Poynter Institute where he coached and influenced a nation of writers.

Maybe the most important takeaway from this issue of #CNF is the amount of mentors and teachers Roy mentions throughout this episode and the influence they had on his development as a writer and teacher. 

I debated whether to break this up into two episodes, but decided to leave it as one whole.

I do hope you’ll share this episode with others, subscribe if you haven’t already, rate it, if you haven’t already, LIKE THE FACEBOOK PAGE, subscribe to my email newsletter, etc, etc…

Thanks for listening, guys, now sit back and enjoy the one and only Roy Peter Clark.

Some of Roy’s columns from Poynter.org:

Trump on quotation marks

On William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well

On Jimmy Breslin #legend

 

 

My Top Writing Books

Written by Brendan O’Meara

Writing books may as well be writing procrastination books. There’s a big market in writing procrastination and writers capitalize on it. That’s the dream of every writer: to get to a point where he/she is reputable enough to write a book on writing. He/she knows there’s a new generation of saps looking to put off their writing by learning a new tip from the incumbent writer emeritus. I’m a sap that says, “No, it’s continuing education.” Which it is, but there’s no better way to become more skilled than to put the pencil to the paper.

There really is only one tip: write like it’s a job (because if you’re serious about it, it is). Or, more bluntly, write like a mofo. (How great is Cheryl Strayed?)

Hemingway didn’t even know he wrote a book on writing, which makes his one of the very best. It’s titled: Ernest Hemingway on Writing, Edited by Larry W. Phillips. One my faves. Tons of great nuggets from letters to friends. He had a social network where they shared tools, tricks, and insights. They helped each other.

Stephen King doesn’t get enough credit for being a great writer (Have you read Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption?). His book On Writing is excellent. Buy it.

The New New Journalism by Robert S. Boynton is a series of interviews with great narrative journalists. They talk about writing and reporting. I reference it all the time.

Roy Peter Clark’s Writing Tools is the best of his many books on writing. If you can get ahold of his laminated Writing Tools Quick Sheet, do it. It’s like being an NFL head coach holding a laminated card like Andy Reid.

Good Prose by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd is a wonderful collaborative book between a writer/editor tandem. I reviewed it here.

Lastly, Creative Nonfiction by Philip Gerard lays out what it takes to do great reporting and writing to make a work of nonfiction read like great fiction.

Well, that’s it. I hope these books help. Got some others? Throw them in the comments.

Honorable Mention:

Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott

On Writing Well, William Zinsser

Glamour of Grammar, Roy Peter Clark

How to Write Short, Roy Peter Clark

Help! for Writers, Roy Peter Clark