September 30, 2014
I took a sabbatical from blogging. Actually, I never quit writing. I just quit posting.
“We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.” – Cecil Day Lewis
When I began blogging more than half a decade ago, I gave myself permission to post when I had something to share, and to refrain when I did not. That has worked well for me. Now that I’ve returned to blogging, I’ll still adhere to that rule.
I often write my unedited thoughts in a private journal where they can incubate. Journaling helps me to sort things out, especially during times of transition and confusion. At least ninety percent of my writing is done only for me. I write to understand, and therefore I’m usually the exclusive audience. Although I am a professional communicator, only a small fraction of my writing is shared with others.
In a noisy, cluttered world, we sometimes need to be comfortable with our own solitude and silence. In a fast-paced society that demands immediate results and constant production, we sometimes need to stop and catch our breath.
We need sabbaticals to replenish our energy. We need downtime to incubate ideas. We need periods of silence to nourish creativity that would otherwise wither in the arid atmosphere that permeates where we live and work.
November 25, 2013
Every good writer needs a good editor. The skills required for each are usually contradictory, though. Writing requires creativity whereas editing demands critiquing what has already been created.
Sometimes it works well for a writer to also serve as his or her own editor, though it’s nearly impossible to do both simultaneously.
My daughter is a strong communicator and often edits my blog posts. Recently she suggested this topic, and she even emailed me the following tips on how to edit your own writing:
- Give yourself time to write and then revisit it later. With fresh eyes and a new perspective, it’s usually easier to reword or rewrite the rough draft of your earlier writing.
- Read and then reread. Skim the draft to get your overall reaction to the coherence and flow of the writing. Once it reads the way you want, then go back and edit for spelling and grammar.
- Read your writing aloud. Words sound different when read out loud. Make sure your writing has a certain rhythm and melody.
- Read your writing from the reader’s perspective. When read through the lens of your target audience, does your idea make sense? Is it relevant? In a world full of distractions, is it even interesting?
- Have someone else edit your work. Two minds can collaborate and create something that neither can do as effectively on his or her own.
That’s what my daughter and I did on this post. We both wrote and we both edited. Thanks, Jennifer.
November 22, 2010
I‘m thankful for clichés. They save me time because I can “copy and paste” them into any daily situation. They keep me from having to think deeply. They conserve creativity for some future time when I might need to be more creative.
Clichés are like an old pair of shoes. They’re comfortable, despite the obvious holes. They get me where I’m going, assuming I have a destination. They appear stylish, or at least they did years ago when they were new.
I like the way clichés cleverly coagulate the flow of communication. My favorite clichés fall into these three categories:
- Verbal clichés. People who speak in clichés think they are thinking outside the box. In business, clichés are like the leaves of autumn—everywhere. Even in church I’ll hear someone with the voice of angel offering up a trite prayer that sounds pious and impressive. I pray that God will find sincerity in the hearts of those who find comfort in worn-out phrases.
- Photo clichés. If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a thousand times. A nonprofit newsletter publishes a photo of a check presentation. A website shows photos of formally-dressed people who paused long enough at a charity event to “say cheese” in front of a camera. Facebook photo albums show groups of friends scrunched around restaurant tables, flashing plastic smiles and clutching their beverages of choice.
- Resume clichés. I’m beginning to think that 100% of resumes and LinkedIn profiles say exactly the same thing. If you’re planning to update yours, let me save you some time. Copy and paste this: I am a highly motivated, dynamic self-starter, results-oriented, hard-working, dedicated, team-player with excellent multi-tasking and communications skills. I have ___+ years experience in fast-paced environments. (You’re welcome.)
At the end of the day, when you boil it all down, I have never met a cliché I didn’t like. Never being content to let sleeping dogs lie, I won’t beat around the bush. Clichés sell like hotcakes. You may try to avoid them like the plague, but I think using them makes a person sound as cool as a cucumber. I get up each morning on the right side of the bed with a commitment to seize the day. Because today is the first day of the rest of my life, I will give 110%.
Have a nice day!
September 3, 2009
Everyone approaches a job search differently. Several years ago when I lost my job as a marketing professional, I looked at my career transition as a marketing opportunity.
I had watched others in similar circumstances as they obsessed on finding the right answers. I took the opposite approach. Rather than seeking answers, I began by asking myself a series of questions, recalling the wise words of James Thurber who once said, “It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.”
Only after developing what I felt were the right questions did I begin wrestling with the answers. The questions were incredibly easy to ask but excruciatingly difficult to answer. To my amazement, however, this turned into a most insightful and even invigorating process. I’ll share with you the questions, but first let me explain my process.
For a couple hours each day, I went to a local coffee shop and found a secluded table where I could engage myself in a private conversation. I left my laptop at home because I wanted to drill deeper. I used an old-fashioned method of communicating—handwriting on blank sheets of paper. I purchased a leather-bound book containing only blank pages and on the first page I wrote the title: Journal for the Journey—A personal assessment, a scrapbook of ideas, and a map for navigating an important career transition.
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