Much to my disappointment, writing that is error-free, typo-free and grammatical seems to be a thing of the past. TV commercials, radio commercials, and printed materials abound with errors. It makes me crazy and it makes me sad. It also makes me wonder who’s in charge. All I can do is shake my head, after I turn off the painfully sad commercials with people who don’t speak properly. I’ll never buy their products, but obviously I’m not the intended audience so they don’t care. 😦
As a communications professional or manager, you are likely tasked with editing the work of others. How well this editing is received depends upon you and your attitude.
A few years ago, a young woman on my staff asked me why her colleagues seemed to be so offended when she edited their work. After observing her in action, I realized that, while her editing was right on, her attitude was not. She treated people in a condescending manner and incredulously asked one person how it was possible that he did not know a basic grammar rule.
Rule number one for communications professionals is RESPECT. Respect your colleagues, subordinates and managers, regardless of their writing skills. It will go a long way towards developing and maintaining good work relationships. (This is a good rule for all workplace interactions regardless of your position or responsibilities.)
My standards vary depending on your occupation. I hold my staff to a very high standard, with respect to grammar, spelling and typos. We are the ones who should do it right. For people in other departments, I cut them a little slack. That doesn’t mean I don’t correct them, but that I do it with lower expectations. Although I do expect a certain professional standard across all departments, if someone in a “non-writing” position, such as a numbers person or salesperson, makes a grammatical error, my approach is quite different. My corrections will be prefaced by something like, “I’m sure you don’t know this because you’re a numbers person, but…” or “There’s no reason you should know this, but the rule is…” I usually end the conversation by saying, “Feel free to ask me about this anytime, especially if you think something doesn’t sound right. It’s my job to know this and I’m always happy to help.”
What inspires you? I’m writing novels, so inspiration has become more important to me than ever. Whether you’re writing your own novel, a press release, blog post or news article, giving a speech or planning a project, your best work shines through when you’re inspired. You just know. You can feel it.
Quotes and stories can inspire you. Heroes are often inspiring. Movies, TV shows, books, pictures, and even commercials can be sources of inspiration. Many people would list religion as their number one source of inspiration. How about watching Mother Nature – waves crashing or mountains touching the sky. I seem to derive a lot of inspiration from seemingly random conversations or unexpected comments from friends, colleagues, or even strangers. Too bad you never know when a potential source of inspiration is at hand.
Some of my favorite quotes are listed below. I hope you find some of them to be inspiring; feel free to add your own.
“You are never given a dream without the power to make it come true.” – Anon
“Scars remind us where we’ve been, they don’t have to dictate where we’re going.” – Steve Forbes
“You gotta put something in before you can get something out.” – Zig Ziglar
“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals.” – Anon
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right.” – Henry Ford
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” – Mark Twain
“Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.” – John Heywood
“All our dreams can come true – if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney
“You see things and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were and say ‘Why not?’”—George Bernard Shaw
“When you cease to dream, you cease to live.” – Malcolm Forbes
Quotes on Writing
“There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.” — Z.N. Hurston
“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” — Robert Frost
“I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die.” — Isaac Asimov
“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” — Kurt Vonnegut
“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” — Orson Scott Card
“You never learn how to write a novel. You just learn how to write the novel that you’re writing.” — Gene Wolfe
“Just keep writing. Keep reading. If you are meant to be a writer, a storyteller, it’ll work itself out. You just keep feeding it your energy, and giving it that crucial chance to work itself out. By reading and writing.” — Robin McKinley
“We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to.” — Somerset Maugham
Why I write ~ via @esmithrakoff on Twitter:
“I do it to share my thoughts, because I can’t meet the entire world for a beer.”
I bought my smart phone about a year and a half ago and swore I’d never adopt the abbreviations and made up words that are becoming so prevalent. As a writer, grammar is of utmost importance to me. Typos and misspellings make me crazy. Well, it took about two months of texting before I gave in to the shortened lingo. It’s just so much easier and faster to type LOL, OMG, what r u doing 2nite…
That said, there continues to be a debate (at least among certain age groups) about how we are losing our grammatical and communication skills. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but our modes and means of communicating are certainly changing. I do know that if you’re online at all, there’s a new kind of peer pressure to accept this new kind of “grammar”.
Some days I like it, some days I don’t. However, I have brought my grammatical pet peeves with me to the online world, and outline some of them here. Unfortunately, I now see/hear these in the written word as well as on TV and radio commercials, which makes me think that proper grammar is becoming extinct.
*It’s. Contraction. Stands for “it is”. It is blue. It’s blue.
*Its. It is a pronoun and replaces a noun. What is its name? Its name is irrelevant.
*There. Adverb, adjective, noun or pronoun. Denotes space. There you are. He went over there.
*Their. Pronoun. Possessive. Where is their car? Who are their relatives?
*That v. Which
If you can drop the clause without changing the meaning of the sentence, use which and set it off with commas. If dropping the clause changes the meaning of the sentence, use that.
Pizza that’s less than an inch deep just isn’t Chicago-style.
Pizza, which is a favorite among Chicagoans, can either bad for you or good, depending on how much of it you eat.
If you remove “that’s less than an inch deep” from the first sentence, it becomes inaccurate. If, however, you take out the clause “which is a favorite among Chicagoans” from the second sentence, it still makes sense.
(Example from the Chicago Manual of Style)
Last but not least, could we please remove the words “like” and “you know” from our vocabulary? You know, like, that makes me crazy.