Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Taking a Chance on Writing

During a break in a writing seminar, two managers were discussing the challenges of writing with me. One of them, Rajanikant Ray, concluded, “If you don’t write, you don’t make any mistakes.”

With this sly observation, Mr. Ray, an engineer and project manager for New York City Transit, suggested that only the thoughtless, the powerless, the idle, and the frightened do not make mistakes because they don’t write at all. The more we do write, the more we willingly express ideas subject to correction, misinterpretation, and rebuttal. But what’s the alternative? Communicating nothing? Those of us with important jobs to do would rather write and take those risks. If we don’t, how else can we get the job done—and improve? Thanks, Raj, for your confident summation!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hold the Date: October 20 is National Day on Writing

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is busy creating a National Day on Writing, slated for October 20, 2009, as a way of recognizing all kinds of writers—students, retirees workers—wherever we are—home, school, work, community group, vacation.

In connection with this event, the NCTE has started a digital archive called the National Gallery of Writing and invited anyone interested to contribute a piece of writing. The idea is to make available to the world a searchable website on any kind of writing.

Want to get involved? Here’s the link:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

IDKWYTA! Texting Is Good for You!

Sometimes I get an e-message that looks something like this:

Pls c atchd doc 4 wc thx

Just in case you need help deciphering the message, it says, “Please see the attached document for the writing class. Thanks.” When I get such notes, I like writing back:


(I don’t know what you’re talking about.)

But I’m just having some fun, because the truth is that text-message style doesn’t really bother me—as long as I can understand it. The School Library Journal ( reports that at least two studies, one by the British Journal of Developmental Psychology and the other by the University of Toronto, have suggested that texting is actually helpful in developing reading and writing skills among young children. The sentiment is that writing for fun in any form is better practice than none at all. Here’s the link to the article:

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Putting the Spotlight on Grammar

A client kicked off one of my writing classes by announcing that today, March 4, is National Grammar Day. That comment immediately focused participants on a reason for attending the workshop. Co-sponsored by the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (SPOGG), the event aims to raise public awareness about linguistic correctness in everyday usage. The SPOGG website ( offers several grammar tips and links to other helpful websites.

My thanks to Steven Choi, Director of Training and Performance Evaluations at the School Construction Authority, for bringing National Grammar Day to my attention.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

AMA E-mail Webinar Scheduled

Some time back, I had the pleasure of doing my first of two webinars for the American Management Association (AMA). Titled How to Write a Darn Good E-mail, the program featured a 45-minute talk with AMA Portfolio Manager Richard Bradley and me about the do’s and don’ts of e-mail writing. Some 1,500 people across the USA tuned into the program, which received high ratings.

I have now expanded that webinar for AMA to a 90-minute session, to be broadcast live on Tuesday, March 31, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern—and registrations are flying in. Here are the key teaching points:
  • Understanding challenges of e-mail communication
  • Getting started quickly: idea lists, the three As (aim, audience, area)
  • Getting to the point: strong subject lines, openings and closings
  • Structuring your message clearly
  • Helpful guidelines for structuring your message
  • Maintaining a professional tone by recognizing what is and is not appropriate for e-communications
  • Polishing your e-mail for a professional style for yourself and your organization
I can’t wait to present it! You can register by clicking this link: