Jesse Katz, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and current in-house editor for the litigation department at O’Melveny & Myers presented a session on “Releasing your inner writer.” His great mix of advice, examples and exercises applied to any type of writing and emphasized the importance of clear and effective communication. The presentation exceeded my high expectations and this blog post gives me an excuse to put his suggestions into action.
Mr. Katz walked the audience through the writing process and discussed the habits of famous authors. Although I might not get my work-related writing done in a parked car like Gertrude Stein, I empathize with needing to get away from everyday distractions to achieve quality prose.
Throughout the session the attendees participated by free-writing for 3 minutes, drafting a cinquaine poem and finally creating the perfect sentence. This was a great way to illustrate practical techniques and reset the audience’s attention span and get everyone involved.
Finally, Mr. Katz included a refresher of those pesky grammar rules and described the stage of writing which involves the “judge” who is critical and detail-oriented. This is the part of writing where you have to eliminate weak verbs, clichés and jargon and read (and re-read) your final product out loud. But he reminded us that this stage must come last and not interfere with the more creative and inspired aspects of the process. In writing this blog, I found this advice was hardest to follow because it seems almost human nature to edit your work as you start writing it out.
Overall, a great speaker and presentation that provided valuable tips necessary for all types of writing from emails to scholarly pieces.