Literary Birthday – 19 February – Patricia O’Conner


Happy Birthday, Patricia O’Conner, born 19 February 1949

Seven Quotes

  1. Contrary to popular opinion, there’s no mystery to writing well. It’s a skill that just about anyone can learn, more craft than art.
  2. Whenever there’s something wrong with your writing, suspect that there’s something wrong with your thinking.
  3. With grammar, it’s always something.
  4. First, you need something to organise: ideas, material, scraps of expertise, recipes, prognostications, anecdotes, scurrilous gossip, anything that might be relevant to what you want to write. And you get this stuff by hoarding it, by faithfully making notes and squirrelling them away.
  5. An idea in your head is merely an idle notion. But an idea written down, that’s the beginning of something!
  6. A good writer is one you can read without breaking a sweat.
  7. In many ways, the ability to read is the great divide that separates the very young from everyone else. Once we’ve joined the conspiracy of the literate, once we’ve crossed over to the land of the reading, everything changes.

Patricia O’Conner is an American writer. She is the author of five books about the English language, including Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English and Words Fail Me: What Everyone Who Writes Should Know about Writing.

by Amanda Patterson

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