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Air & Light & Time & Space

WritersDiet creator Helen Sword has recently published a new book, Air & Light & Time & Space: How Successful Academics Write (Harvard University Press, 2017), based on interviews with 100 successful academics about their writing backgrounds and practices....

New book, new look, again!

Now, for the first time since its publication by a small New Zealand press in 2007, The Writer’s Diet is available internationally in print and electronic editions through all good bookstores and online retailers. In celebration of the launch, the University of...

What’s wrong with the Writer’s Diet?

People sometimes write to tell me what’s wrong with the WritersDiet Test. Good writing cannot possibly be reduced to a numerical formula, they protest. Nor can an electronic tool be trusted to make judgments about a matter as complex and subjective as style. I...

The power of metaphor

The Writer’s Diet evolved from a one-page handout that I used to distribute to the students in my undergraduate English classes.  The title was “Writing and Editing Tips” or something equally bland, and my students paid about as much attention to it as they did...

When famous authors write flabby prose

From time to time I get emails like this one from an outraged visitor to the Writer’s Diet website: As a test of the ‘Academic validity’ of this tool, I decided to test the following: 800 words of Nietzsche’s first chapter of Beyond Good and Evil, came back as:...

New website, new book, new look

Welcome to the new Writer’s Diet website! The site has been “re-skinned” to match the visual design of the book, which has just been published by Auckland University Press in a snazzy new edition. The WritersDiet Test has remained substantially unchanged, aside from...

How the WritersDiet Test works

It’s pretty simple, actually – so simple, in fact, that you can perform the test manually if you prefer to go low-tech.  Just gather together five colored highlighters (preferably orange, blue, green, yellow, and pink) and use the scoring charts at the back of the...