Wise advice

When you’ve finished writing, check your article for logic, facts, syntax, grammar, flow, word usage, punctuation and spelling.  One mistake . . . and your editor may cross you off his list of contributors.

Be sceptical, but don’t fall into being cynical.

Get published.  Without a fancy university degree you’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way: get published.

And keep reminding yourselves of the universal, immutable, everlasting rules of good writing.

Your opinion may be welcome but your sermon isn’t.

Redraft, rewrite, edit and re-edit.   Then edit again.

Don’t state the bleedin’ obvious.

You are not required to write a Walkley Award winner.

Show, don’t tell.

Don’t generalise but use specific images.

Forget self-expression and communicate.

Distrust adjectives and adverbs.

Love strong verbs.

Graze your dictionary and thesaurus just because you love words.

Your loving mum and sister’s opinion will never help you professionally.

Write in the active voice, not passive.

It’s Elle Macpherson, not MacPherson. It is a terrible sin to mis-spell a famous person’s name.

This is a hyphen – and this is a dash —.

Use as few words as possible, not as many as pop into your head.

Don’t tell stories in chronological order.

Use effect and affect correctly.  Also alternate and alternative, and brought and bought.

And there, their and they’re.  It’s “lay” sometimes and “lie” other times.

People don’t pass over or go to their reward . . . they die.

Write about PEOPLE not just topics.

Your emails should be as neatly well-written as your articles.

It’s Esky with a capital E and Coca-Cola with a hyphen.

The slightly childish exclamation mark should be used maybe three times in your entire career.

Use a 12-digit calculator and avoid the unquestioning reporting of PM Hawke’s vow to plant a billion trees in five years.  It took days for journalists to realise that was an impossible 547,645 plantings a day.

It’s “its” sometimes and it’s “it’s” other times, but get it right.

Getting letters to the editor published is not journalism.

Feel constantly starved for information and suck it up from radio, TV, publications and the internet.

Online, read one article a day from each Times in London, LA and New York.

On the back of your hand write the motto of Nike Just do it.

Put the word only in the right place in a sentence (putting it in the wrong place is journalism’s and advertising’s most consistent error).

Researching is merely researching, it’s not writing.

Manage your fear of rejection: it never goes away.

Sewerage is not sewage but some journalism is.

It’s easy to avoid sexist writing.

Don’t lie to editors.

Don’t be vague.  What’s an “expensive” meal and is it still expensive if James Packer pays?

You must love accuracy and that starts with 100% perfect spelling.

Finally, develop a winning phone manner because on the phone is where you’ll be spending a great part of your career.

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