At the end of PRI’s The World: Technology Podcast 204 Clark Boyd shared an interesting story about George Orwell, the blogger. Starting on August 9th, 2008, The Orwell Prize will begin publishing his personal journal as a series of blog posts. The date is significant because it marks exactly 70 years since Orwell originally began the journal.
I am interested in reading Orwell’s journals mainly because he was a proponent of economy of words, a quality I aspire to in my writings. Moreover, in his essay Politics and the English Language he penned a list of rules for all writers that resonates with me and should be required reading for anyone who aspires to write better.
i. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
ii. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
iii. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
iv. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
v. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
vi. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
I wonder how much his personal writings reflect these rules and if his journal entries will have the same tone as personal blog posts written today. Join me in reading Orwell’s personal journal beginning August 9th. Maybe we’ll learn something.