Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Welcome to my blog

E-mail changed everything. No news there. For me-- a born writer-- it was a tool I embraced because it was one more avenue for my craft and passion. But for millions of professionals it was terrifying. Gone were the days they could just communicate over the phone or send correspondence with the assitance of the office Word Smith. The admin person who looked over everything before it went out went the way of the dinosaur and the mainframe computer. That's when my phone starting ringing off the hook. I had developed an 8-hour, hands-on training program for corporate managers and employees to show them the fundamentals of good, clear writing. I also demonstrated, and made them practice, techniques that would increase their speed, so they could spend less time writing, but mostly I boosted their confidence. And that's what leads to good writers.

I was lucky in many ways, because writing is one of the only things I'm really good at. I knew as a little kid it would be my vocation. As a bigger kid I was also lucky to be taught by nuns through seventh grade--tough women who were not afraid to teach grammar and drill you on the rules.

But the nuns have gone away with the mainframes, and too many of today's English teachers focus on teaching literature and not grammar. In essence, they are saying you can learn to write by reading. Hmmm. Isn't that like saying you can learn to cook by eating?

As any winning athlete will tell you, fundamentals are key. And grammar coupled with writing style (including structure, punctuation, word choice) is the fundamental all great written communincation needs.

So, here is my blog to help those who want it--the whole shebang or just a refresher. I will not make you learn grammar. I won't even bore you with too many grammar rules. I will share ways you can be a clear, to-the-point writer (of e-mail, of proposals, of thank you notes to your Aunt May) and spend less time doing it--mostly by avoiding the issues that cause grammar guffaws in the first place.

Here's how it will work. I'll post lessons of sorts. A topic-specific blog on reader-friendly writing. I'll also post a writer-on-the-street perspective and comment on the mistakes and misuses I see. And most importantly, how to recognize and avoid them.

I promise it will be fun. So log on, blog on and write on.