Eminem: What His Writing Can Teach You About Yours

That’s write, I said it. Eminem can teach you a lot about writing simply by listening to the tight lyrics he writes. It can be said that Eminem is a complicated artist, one who provokes pages of arguments – positive and negative – and his overall impact on our culture is for better or worse. But as a writer, few can touch what he’s managed to accomplish.

So pay attention: here’s what you can learn.

Read and Write Everything

Eminem started writing as a child, sanding the rough edges of his craft, knowing without doubt that the only thing that would get him out of the trailer park and into a better life was disciplined effort and endless practice.

He familiarized himself with the greats until storytelling was as natural to him as breathing is to everyone else. He may have started by imitating the pioneers, but he soon blended their legacy into his own style creating something that was like nothing else.

Edit Ruthlessly

Eminem’s best tracks harbor some of the tightest writing ever written. One has to wonder just how long he spends on each song, considering how securely each syllable is cemented in place.

Not only can he craft a compelling argument in prose, he can also rhyme words that shouldn’t rhyme, and pack more poetry into a verse than should be technically possible. Only fastidious editing can pull the written word so taut.

Write What you Know

One of the things that makes Eminem so powerful, so polarizing, is that his message is delivered without any filter whatsoever. Listening to his music is like tuning into a live therapy session. That’s why it’s easy to believe that he is writing directly from his heart and his unique set of experiences.

Start Strong, Finish Stronger

The best of Eminem’s songs achieve something rare in commercially produced music – they realize a powerful climax prior to their conclusion. Many of his songs are written as arguments, and it’s usually in his third verse when he drives his point home, often with a lyrical sledgehammer.

Be Concise and Use Powerful Sentences

Eminem pares his arguments down to the bone. His intuitive sense of flow allows him to seamlessly drift from the measured cadence of ordinary speech to an unrivaled intensity of verse, but it is always the power of his writing that enables him to drive his point home with such precision.

My advice: go out and listen to what he has to say. You will definitely learn something about the craft of writing.

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For the Love of those Pesky Little Homonyms

Recently I was asked to clarify what a homonym is exactly. I was taken aback, but just momentarily. I mean, come on, don’t all kids learn about these fun little word games in the second grade? And aren’t they drilled into our developing brains throughout our academic career? Yet, I couldn’t answer the question. WTF?

So here it is, plain and simple: homonyms are those words, like “caret” and “carrot,” or “rote” and “wrote,” that are pronounced the same, but are spelled differently, and that have different meanings. Simple enough, right? Well, not for everyone.

I know of someone who constantly confuses the use of: to, too, and two. I know, I know. What the hell, right? That’s what I thought too, yet this person uses the wrong word all the time, as in “I want to go two.” What I want to say is “Seriously, I don’t think that’s what you mean, but here, give your fabulous writing to me, and I will happily fix it for you.” Grrrrr.

Now, I will be the first person who will say that EVERY writer needs an editor, but to correct a mistake for word usage that we all learned in second grade, that’s where I draw the line. Because really, everyone should know the difference between to, too, and two and use such simple words correctly.

My advice to you: if you really are struggling with this whole homonym issue, get a book that lists them, or look them up online. You will find plenty of sites that will set you straight.