Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Spell it wrong at your peril

Words have power; misspelled words have the powere to make you look stupid. Texting aside, you need to spell correctly. It’s a competitive world out there. Somebody else can … spell correctly, that is.

I recently received some writing in which quizzes was spelled quizes and knowledgeable was spelled knowledgable. Misspelling undercuts your message. It’s difficult to take the poor speller seriously.

It’s never been easier to spell correctly. Use spell check – although pay attention to too, to, two; their, there, they’re; and your, you’re.

Buy a dictionary. There is a ton of good information in the book and everything is spelled right.

Yours in waste management, WMW

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Road Signs: Trouble ahead.

Tell your reader what to expect. It keeps them engaged and appreciative that you’re not wasting their time. Who wants to get to the end of a letter, policy, e-mail, memo, whatever only to realize there is nothing that truly interests or pertains to them?

Lay it out pretty high in whatever you’re writing.

I got a Christmas letter this season that teaches the lesson well.

The daughter-in-law of one of my best friends charmingly warns to expect Smiley faces and exclamation points as she tells the tale of her family’s year. (Knowing this up front greatly reduces how annoying they can be.)

She goes a step further and lets the letter reader know there will be headings in case one wants to skim to the parts he or she is most interested in.

We can all learn from her thoughtfulness and respect for her reader.

Yours in waste management, WMW

Friday, October 24, 2008

Who cares? What does it mean? So What?

These questions are the beginning of writing. In finding the answers to them, you've found something worth saying. Every story, e-mail, policy statement, brief, letter to a client, blog entry, memo to staff, report and note to a friend has an audience and to keep that audience, tell them something worthwhile. Don't waste their time.

Who cares? Consider whether what you're writing is going to the right person. Consider why that person should read what you have to say. Find the words to make your reader care. If you can't, maybe you don't have enough to say at this particular time to this particular reader.

What does it mean? This is a two-prong question. First, your message needs to have some substance. Secondly, it needs to be written carefully and clearly so it can be understood easily and fully.

So What? The answer, or lack of answer, to this question sets the course of when and what you write. Don't waste someone's time if what you have to say doesn't really matter.

Yours in waste management, WMW

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mother knows best

Having trouble figuring out who your audience is? Who is on the other end of your writing? Or, you know who you're writing to, but just can't get started?

Picture your mom. She’s smart, doesn’t let you get away with anything, demands accountability and has impressed upon you, roughly since birth, that you need to be responsible for your actions.

Picture your mom when you write.

She is your first and longest-running editor. As you write, keep to her expectations. She doesn’t want her time wasted, she seeks facts, and she’s more than capable of making up her own mind – as long as she’s supplied with clear, intelligent, meaningful information.

Platitudes (as in too many adjectives) don’t cut it with her. Get to the point, she’s a busy woman.

So is your reader.

Yours in Waste Management, WMW

Friday, August 1, 2008

Who needs them?

As with nails screeching across a chalkboard, so is my squirminess at the use of the words “thus” and “therefore.” If you wouldn’t say them, why would you write them? If you are saying them, what century are you from?

These two words are never needed. Put them in the word Dumpster.

They add nothing to a sentence, thus are jarring. See what I mean?? It’s stronger to say: “They add nothing to a sentence. They are jarring.” These two words just look funny and you don’t want to send your reader some subliminal message that you’re a pompous writer. One little unneeded, funny-looking word can distract your readers and they disconnect with what you poured your heart out writing and crank up the iTunes.

The life lesson here? No one has time for a show off.

Yours in waste management, WMW

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Waste is a terrible thing

Quick advice: Just drop "in order to" from your writing. It's wasteful. When you next get the urge, delete those three little words and see how you've empowered your sentence. Same goes for "in fact." Ditch those words; not needed. Don't let anything get in the way of you getting to the point of what you want to say. Less is more -- three words you'll hear often from me.

That said, I'm wondering about other kinds of waste. The waste of energy doing the wrong thing, when the right thing is far easier to do. The waste of time spent on people not worth your while -- I don't advocate rudeness, I just don't think you owe everyone a piece of you. (I've learned this the hard way -- I'd write "very hard way," but that would be a waste of the word "very" when "hard" says it all.) Save your precious self for those who count.

I'm hoping to offer food for thought on all kinds of waste; life is about managing it. I don't come close to having all the answers, but sometimes it's the right question that brings you to enlightment.

Yours in waste management, WMW

Don't waste your talent

Whatever you do, don't undermine your efforts with clumsy writing, poor grammar and unclear thoughts. It doesn't matter how smart you are, how glib, how talented. If you can't get your smarts across with the written word, you're forgettable at best, and unforgettable at worst.

Find the power of your words by not wasting them.

Think about this. With so much writing on the Internet, shouldn't yours be among the best? With so much competition in the business world, shouldn't your message be the one that matters? If grades count to you, shouldn't your writing?

Shouldn't you stand out from the crowd?

Let me help you with the waste management of language. Let me show you just how outstanding you can be.

Yours in waste management, WMW