Friday, July 31, 2009

A Solid Clearinghouse for Developing Writers

Good writers are also good researchers. They know the best resources available for a whole host of content and language issues. One resource that academic writers might find especially helpful, whether they’re high school, college, or graduate students, or, for that matter, business or technical writers, is the website listing by the International Writer Centers Association: Available there are links to writing help from universities throughout the world. Look at the bottom of the list for references for English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) sites.

Friday, July 24, 2009 A Useful Resource

If you are seeking to sharpen your professional skills by gaining job-seeking tips or taking a online courses, you should bookmark

This website provides asynchronous training covering a broad range of technical and interpersonal skills. And some of the training is free. I took a session of a training course myself and found the content relevant, the depth appropriate, and the methodology effective. Also available are how-to articles intended to strengthen the skills of job applicants.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Top 20 Errors a Good Bookmark

Bedford / St. Martin’s is a publisher well known for its vast selection of quality writer’s resources, such as The Business Writer’s Handbook by Gerald J. Alred, Charles T. Brusaw, Walter E. Oliu; Technical Communication by Mike Markel, The Bedford Handbook by Diana Hacker; and St. Martin’s Guide to Writing by Rise B. Axelrod and Charles R. Cooper. It also has a helpful website, "Andrea Lunsford’s list of 20 common writing errors": Lunsford is the author of several popular volumes in the Bedford / St. Martin’s English composition series.

Friday, July 10, 2009


My first book on writing at work, The Art of On-the-Job Writing, recently went into its second printing, according to the publisher, First Books. The book focuses on writing effectively (quality) and efficiently (speed). You can read passages of the book by clicking here: The Art of On the Job Writing. Or you can learn more about the book by clicking here:

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Twittering Like Mad

Since June 26, I have been twittering the world to offer tips on writing and creativity as well as to lay down an interesting idea or two. The posts there are extremely concise, and most provide links to great websites. My site is, but you can access it at (click on “Twittering”).

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Breaking Writer’s Block, Part 12: List

I conclude this 6-week, 12-part series on breaking writer’s block with a favorite tip for any kind of business, technical, or academic writer: List ideas by brainstorming and organizing.
Suppose you want to recommend subleasing your conference room for after-business-hour meetings. Here’s how listing works:

Step 1: BrainstormList every idea related to your topic.
Sublease the conference room
Income potential of $25,000 per year
Hours 5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Monday through Friday
Post ads in office and meeting space rentals section of Craig’s List and The Tribune.
No effect on our daily operation

Step 2: Organize – Move, add, and delete ideas based on their relevance and degree of importance to your topic. (Note the idea changes below since step 1.)

¶ 1: Propose subleasing the conference room to offset overhead costs

¶ 2: Proven income potential
  • Other building tenants in our city sublease successfully according to The Tribune
  • We would be the first to sublease in our commercial park, so we can beat the competition
  • Income potential of $25,000 per year

¶ 3: No effect on our daily operation

  • Hours 5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Monday through Friday
  • The conference room has a separate entrance to the hallway to maintain office security
  • A tenant deposit would help defray possible damages

¶ 4: Means of getting started:

  • Post ads in office and meeting space rentals section of Craig’s List and The Tribune.

Would you have all the ideas you need to write the draft? Probably not. But nothing is as intimidating to a writer who can’t get started as staring at a vast, blank monitor. At least you can now start writing your draft. I hear it all the time from participants in my writing-process courses: This technique works—use it!

Here are links to books on writing by Philip Vassallo:

Friday, July 03, 2009

Breaking Writer’s Block, Part 11: Think Different

A tried and true method of generating writing energy is to do something you’ve never done before and then write about it. It could be striking up a conversation with your newspaper vendor, who has never before exchanged more than two words with you. It could be walking down the block to study details about the houses in your neighborhood. Or you could stop by a rarely-visited museum; go to a ballgame in a local playing field; take a class at an adult school; call a long-lost friend or relative; paint a cubbyhole, canvas, or car; learn the lyrics of a song and sing them; or try your hand at a new skill, like knitting, pottery, a musical instrument, or a foreign language. Notice what makes the experience unique for you. How does the experience make you feel? What skill, sensitivity, or awareness is the experience awakening in you? Take notes of the smallest details to ensure you don't forget them.

At best, you might learn something new, break an old, bad habit, create a new, better one, or invigorate a part of your brain that could use the exercise. If nothing else, you’ll emerge from this experience by returning to your writing desk with plenty to write about.

Here are links to books on writing by Philip Vassallo: