Monthly Archives: September 2012

Writing For A Charitable Cause Can Be Personally Satisfying – And Economically Worthwhile

Those of you who have been following my blog site know that it has been and is devoted to clear writing since it began last January.  Some of the blogs have deviated a little from lessons expressly devoted to clear writing, to discuss them in the context of history or politics.  However, the overall direction has not swayed from the main purpose of the site – to help those readers who want to improve their writing and are willing to spend the time and effort to do it.

I have also continuously emphasized the point that it’s never too late to get started.   One incentive to develop your writing skills is to write for a charitable cause.  You can always find causes to promote – all you have to do is look around.  The super market will have notices, as will other large retail stores.  Friends, family, business contacts will all have ideas for causes to promote and how to promote them.  Also, online searches can be a prolific source of leads for causes.  With a little digging, you can find out what campaigns are available and what their writing needs are.

Using your writing skills to promote your favorite charitable cause is personally satisfying.  By participating in a promotional campaign you can be helping to raise money for a cause you really care about.  You can make a difference in the world.  Whether the cause is world hunger, poverty, education, health, the environment, or any other worthwhile cause, the personal rewards will be enormous.  It’s a unique chance to support a charity in which you believe.  To do this, of course, you must master the art of persuasion, selling with words.  Excellent content is the key.  It comes with practice, as I wrote last week.

Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube can also be used to create a following of dedicated supporters who will help to spread the word about the cause.

In addition, importantly, participation in a cause campaign will be economically rewarding to the extent it increases sales for the business you are promoting.  Many companies, large and small, have campaigns already established that donate money to various charitable causes.  Often these campaigns involve a partnership between a business and a non-profit organization.  There are mutual rewards in such a relationship including public recognition for the non-profit and improved reputation for the business.

All of this brings me to the main subject of this blog.  If your writing skills are substandard and cause you to shy away from getting involved in any project where writing is needed, then it’s time to shape up your writing.  My eBook, “The Art of Clear Writing,” will help you do just that.  It is featured on my website, http://www.agregardie.com, and is available for purchase on amazon.com/kindlebooks but can be previewed free of charge.  The eBook contains tried and tested writing guidelines and techniques and, among other things, encourages the development of confidence in your writing as a beginning step.  It also teaches preparation and organization as the bedrock for clear writing.

As a reminder, as I said last week, I will donate $1.00 of every sale of “The Art of Clear Writing,” until the end of this month to the Red Cross – Disaster Relief Fund.

Copyright © 2012. Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.

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To Be A Good Writer, Practice, Practice, Practice Your Writing

There is an old Japanese proverb, “Don’t study an art, practice it.”

This proverb reflects one of the basic lessons I’ve advocated, in my eBook, “The Art of Clear Writing,” available on amazon.com/kindlebooks and featured on my website, http://www.agregardie.com.  Many people believe that good writing is a gift and that writing is an art that cannot be taught.  This belief is wrong.  All art is achieved through the exercise of a craft, and every craft has its basics that can be taught.  The craft of writing is no different.

However, it is difficult to merely start to write without having some kind of a guide.  It is for this reason that I wrote my eBook.  It is simple and practical, well-organized, and readable.  It will help those who have no confidence in their writing to find that confidence.  I don’t believe any writing book can be the final answer to writing clearly, any more than any golf or tennis book can be the final answer to hitting a golf ball or tennis ball well.  But it will open the door and provide a pathway for those who cannot write clearly to make their writing clear.

“The Art of Clear Writing” presents fundamental writing guidelines and techniques which are valuable to the beginner and useful to the more experienced writer.  Included are tips on the effective choice of words, explanations of the use of syntax, lessons on paragraph construction, and guidance on vocabulary development, among others.  This is fundamental information, which means it is always relevant.

It is only by practicing this art long and regularly that confidence in the writer’s work can be acquired.  Along with the acquisition of confidence will be the development of the writer’s ear, i.e., that sense which will eventually allow the writer to hear where the power of the written word lies and, ultimately, his/her own voice.   It means the use of language which only that writer can express.  It is a type of brand, the trademark of the accomplished writer, the writer’s own unique sound.  This unique sound may not surface until the writer can write with confidence and authority those words which only he/she alone has to say.  That will only happen when the writer finds himself/herself.

“If you wish to be a good writer, write.”  (Epictetus, c. 50-120).  To this maxim I would add, write regularly.  Remember also, you are promoting yourself when you write.  Good writing sells itself.  Poor writing will not only lead to loss of credibility but will stamp you as an amateur.

Never write a sentence you couldn’t easily speak.  Strive for clarity.  The March Hare’s admonition to Alice, “…you should say what you mean,” also applies perforce to writing.  Learn to use words effectively.  Think out fully what you want to say.  Because sloppy thinking produces sloppy writing, cultivate a habit of accuracy in thinking.  Select your words carefully, and avoid excess language.  Your success will depend to no small degree to how well you express yourself.

One further thought is worth emphasizing: it’s never too late to learn.  Before I retired, I attended several writing seminars put on by Bryan Garner, a well known and well respected authority on legal writing.  These seminars were always sold out and were attended not only by lawyers but judges as well.  These folks with all their education and their emphasis on use of the written word still felt the need to further their writing skills.  So, take a deep breath and begin working on your writing now.  Like I always say, better late than never!

Last, I am pleased to announce that effective today, I will donate $.50 out of every sale of “The Art of Clear Writing,” between today, September 21, 2012, and the end of the month, to the American Red Cross, Disaster Relief  Fund.

Copyright © 2012.  Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.

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Poor Spelling Is Anathema To Clear Writing – And The Economy

Mastering the subject of spelling may well be the single most difficult task confronting you on the road to clear writing.  But, correct spelling is, without doubt, a goal worthy of accomplishment.

This point must be made absolutely clear:  misspelled words will cause all of  your hard work to sink – fast.  So, be forewarned!  It is absolutely imperative to make sure your spelling is correct.  Misspelled words in particular are the bane of good writing; nothing will undermine your hard work and turn a reader off faster than a misspelled word, particularly if it’s a common one.

Revising and editing any writing as part of the polishing process is a definite must. This is also a good time to double check for spelling errors.  (I always proofread for spelling errors as I am writing.)  You must take the time to check the spelling of any word that looks suspicious to you. It’s a good idea to put a question mark over each word you have doubts about while you are writing, then go back and check the spelling on each word you marked.  Resorting to a dictionary for new or difficult words should be the first and ongoing choice.

You can become a good speller if you go about it in the right way, but don’t expect overnight miracles.  Remember the basic rules, such as i before e, except after c.  There are exceptions to even that rule, however, such as leisure, seizure, financier, species, neither, either, height, and weird.

Many writers shortcut the correct spelling of words either because they don’t know their correct spelling or are too lazy to find out.  Spelling “nite” instead of “night,” and “thru” instead of “through” is the result of careless, sloppy, or lazy writing and is disfavored in good writing.  Don’t take any shortcuts with your spelling; they will stamp you as an amateur.

Another solution is to record all misspelled words on a separate sheet of paper; the act of writing down the correct spelling should in itself help you remember it.  Keep this paper handy for continued reference and add to it on a regular basis.  Try to understand why each word was misspelled.

Spelling by ear and by careful pronunciation can also help improve your spelling.  Exaggeratedly careful pronunciation and spelling the words in syllables may also help.

You can also master the intricacies of good spelling through visualization.   Make full use of your eye in learning to spell.  Train your eye to observe printed words accurately.  This approach is closely akin to learning good grammar by word association, as explained in my eBook, “The Art of Clear Writing,” available on amazon.com/kindlebooks.   Good golfers are said to visualize each shot before hitting it.  If it works in golf, it can work in spelling.  Teach yourself to picture the correct spelling of all misspelled words in your mind.  Concentrate on the correct spelling of these words to be sure you see every letter. Then look away, spell the word, and look back for verification.  Repeat this procedure on a regular basis until you can instantly recognize the correct spelling of each previously misspelled word.

A related trouble spot is the use of the wrong word in place of the correct word.  Thus, except (to exclude)and accept (to take) are often confused, as are affect (to influence) and effect (to accomplish),and allusion (a reference) and illusion (a deceiving appearance).   When a confusing resemblance between two words causes you to misspell one of the words or to erroneously use one instead of the other, a good remedy is to focus your attention on one of the words, learn its spelling and correct use thoroughly.  Use any memory device for this purpose, as long as it works.

It is important to bear in mind that poor spelling may well derail your efforts to find a job, or advance your career.   It can also mean lost sales for your company.   This bodes ill not only for you or your business but for the economy as well.  The ability to spell accurately is but another step on the road  to achieve clarity in communications, which is a vital ingredient not just for your success but for the economic success of the country.  Rebuilding the country’s infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.) often mentioned as a means of  creating more jobs, also applies to rebuilding the pathways of communication between people.

Don’t forget to check out my website at www.agregardie.com.

Copyright © 2012.  Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.

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Attacking The Root Causes Of Unclear Writing Can Be Done Universally

Over the stretch of time since I began this blog last Janauary,  different aspects of clear writing have been discussed.  As I’ve mentioned in recent blogs, my thoughts on clear writing are now encompassed in my new eBook, “The Art of Clear Writing,” which was published on amazon.com/kindlebooks on July 25, 2012.  It sells for $9.99, but can be reviewed without charge.

The eBook contains basic, reliable writing insights which will help anyone willing to put in the time to become an improved writer.  All of these insights have been covered in this blog over the last several months.  A major benefit of the eBook is that the guidelines can be applied universally to attack the basic root causes of unclear writing.  That is to say, the guidelines can be applied to languages other than English.  Here’s what I mean.

The very first point stressed in the eBook is to develop confidence in your writing. There is probably no more important point to make than this one.   It doesn’t matter what language you speak or write,  lack of confidence in your writing will trip you up every time.  The underlying premise of the eBook is that clear writing is an art form, meaning that anyone can learn to write well but you must have the desire and dedication to do it.  If you’re willing to put in the time and learn the skills, the satisfaction and rewards will come.  Even if writing is not your strong suit, you can still learn and significantly improve your writing ability by following the suggestions in the eBook.

Begin with a positive attitude toward your writing.  Clear writing depends to a large extent on the power of belief, belief that comes from having confidence in your writing.  When you have that confidence the reader will see it, no matter what language is being used.

Other guidelines also apply to this premise.  Clear writing flows from good organization, which depends on a well thought out preliminary plan.  The creation of a preliminary plan before writing applies whether you are writing in English or any other language.  Begin the plan by preparing a comprehensive outline; then use the outline to prepare appropriate paragraph headings and subheadings.

Other clear writing guidelines should apply universally as well.  Understanding your reading audience is undoubtedly as essential if you are writing in a foreign language as when you are writing in English.  You must be aware of your reading audience and write to address your reader’s needs.

You must also become an expert on your subject matter.  This requires in depth research of the subject using effective research techniques.  Only after you have thoroughly researched your subject will you be able to write with authority on it.

Finally, you must polish your writing.  This is important in all languages.

All of the foregoing is covered in section I of the eBook, dealing with guidelines.  Section II covers writing techniques, including vocabulary, diction, syntax, punctuation, and others.  I can’t speak to the use of all of these techniques in foreign languages, but certainly some should apply.

There’s one more matter I would like to repeat in the context of this blog:  It’s never too late to learn!  This is a subject I’ve mentioned before but it deserves emphasis.  One of the email messages I read recently from noted sales expert Jeffrey Gitomer was about the famous French painter Claude Monet.  Apparently he was 74 years old before he began painting his Water Lilies series.  So,  you can start to improve your writing no matter how old you are.  This subject is emphasized in my eBook and without doubt should apply to other languages besides English.

Copyright © 2012.  Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.

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