Creative Series 1: Writing Well or Building Credibility
I have been writing since the 1970’s.
This admission does not support any point that I am a writing expert or what I write is better than anyone else in the world. Making this opening statement, I am reminded of what the comedian “Lewis Black” talked about in one of his monologues about Americans. He talked about how Americans often act when they are visiting other countries, and how “cocky” we can be about people in other countries. A typical response I have personally witnessed countless numbers of times of many Americans abroad is how “we” the traveler, rather than learning how to speak the language of the country we visit, insist on the natives of those countries, knowing how to speak English. (If you are offended by use of language, sorry…I do not have any control over that, nor do I have a “bleeper”. Just listen to what he has to say, and understand what really happens in other countries).
As a corporate trainer and teacher, I learned to start every class with a “statement of credibility”. I had to convince my students in the beginning moments of the class, that there was a reason why they hired me at 600 dollars per day to listen to what I had to say. I also learned very quickly, that in order to get my students to ask for me to return, every part of my day with them had to be filled with pearls of wisdom that they would not get from any other trainer or teacher. It took a few lessons of “grinding my teeth in the dirt”; a class going south on me because I was unprepared or not understanding what I was teaching. After years of training however, I gained a large “following” of students. One of the main reasons for my success was that I began to write my own material, based on manuals that I was given. To date, I have written hundreds of syllabuses, lesson plans and manuals. I did not put my own spin on what I was supposed to teach. My subject was teaching software. I simply went beyond what was required in order to be successful. I added shortcuts, simpler ways of manipulation or teaching something complex, using more basic terms. Sometimes, writing must be simple, rather than complex to reach an audience.
Maintaining your standard of writing is very crucial to your success.
Many professionals have been noticing that our American standard of writing is plummeting. Whether the article is a business article, a book, or even a blog, you’ll want to do your level best to avoid making typographical or spelling errors. Reading what you have written is always the best thing to do before you use your mouse and click on the “Send” or “Submit” button. I cannot count the number of times that I have published one of my articles in this blog, only to discover a horrifying typographical error, wondering how many people have seen my mistake. The most important rule of writing that I have learned from countless writing professionals is, “Don’t stop writing”. If someone “smashes” your prose, let it roll off your back and keep writing. You made a mistake, you learn from the process and you keep writing. Just don’t keep repeating your mistake.
Don’t confuse making mistakes with being lazy.
Just because you make mistakes when you type, don’t confuse your mistakes with laziness. A sign of laziness is seeing the same error, over and over again. Ask yourself this question: Would you purchase a book from an author that contains over 350 pages of spelling, grammatical and typographical errors for 40 dollars or more? If you don’t care about errors, then why not continue to purchase books by this author? If what this author writes about is so valuable to you, are you that forgiving? Could you not find information that this author provides by another author that is similar…a book that is not filled with errors, for half the price? I see books being sold by authors for 15 dollars or more that are self-published, only because by some fluke, the author was able to come up with a title that drew people to buy the book. Once people purchased the book and discover all of the errors, they want their money back. Many publishers today are releasing books with errors, evidence that the copyeditor is either not doing their job, or that the book was simply purchased from the author “as is”, with no editing done to the manuscript. Readers delegate your credibility or level of credibility when it comes to sales or promotion of what you have written.
Use your spell checking and/or grammar checking software.
Word processing or editing software today comes standard with spell checking software. The software often works automatically, to help you ensure that your work is relatively free of errors. Because of this fact, I do not understand how many writers still seem to deliver content that is not free of errors. Perhaps the writer scanned what they submitted from an OCR document. Think about the cost of spelling and grammatical errors for any kind of business. All it would have taken was whoever created the copy running the spell check software, or for that matter, just taking a look at what they had created. Ask yourself, how much effort does looking over copy involve? Perhaps what this article sums up is one question: If we are willing to make glaring mistakes with our writing, how does that reflect on the level of professionalism we display and the respect we may rely on from others?
Coming up next: Finding your voice as a writer.