When I describe the distance between my apartment and WordRake’s office as “walkable,” people usually envision a fifteen- or twenty-minute walk. My next line is that my commute is an hour and just under four miles.
With the near ubiquity of spell-checkers across all platforms, many people no longer worry about correct spelling. Let the spell-checkers handle it! And they do—mostly. But spell-checkers don’t care about context; if we spell the word correctly, they’re happy. So, “I here you” has spell-checkers turning cartwheels.
According to Forbes, business professionals average 6.3 hours a day reading and responding to 123 emails. That’s a staggering amount of time and energy we could use on other projects. Most of us can’t get rid of email completely, but we can all lessen its monopoly on our work lives.
WordRake helps us write clearly and concisely, but removing useless words and phrases is only part of writing. These are our favorite pieces of software for brainstorming, researching, and drafting.
I love editing. I used to edit instructors on an education website. I spent years proofreading and revising my peers’ work for student publications. In college, I volunteered to edit friends’ papers, resumes, and graduate school applications. Over the years, I noticed that many friends made the same punctuation mistakes. Microsoft’s recently released list of the errors people make most frequently while writing in Word includes several of the same errors. Here are three you can avoid.
Facing a blank page is like stage fright without seeing the audience—maybe the most intimidating experience we can have. It’s intimidating because someone will read whatever we put on that blank page, and they will pass judgment. We’re putting ourselves out there.
A few years ago, one of the WordRake founders was on a plane to Los Angeles, sitting next to a senior engineer at McDonnell Douglas. Their conversation turned to writing, and the engineer said that his primary mission was impressing upon new engineers its importance. “I tell them, but I don’t think they hear it. Then three years later they complain to me they’re not being promoted. I remind them that their writing skills are not good enough to move them into a managerial position. So they get stuck in their career because they can’t communicate with the written word.”
WordRake and McDonnell Douglas aren’t the only companies that need their engineers to know how to write. A National Association of Colleges and Employers survey found the ability to create and edit written reports is one of employers’ top ten criteria when hiring recent college graduates. Here are four reasons writing is critical for engineers.
Writing is the most important thing we do every day (at least at the office). But writing well is time-consuming, so to create that superior product, we must use our writing time efficiently.
As I discussed in our post on writer’s block, the key to writing well is to edit, edit, edit. But we must also go to meetings, handle other projects, and tend to our personal lives. How can we find the time to edit multiple drafts? At WordRake, we write a lot, and we use the strategies below to help us write well and still have time for other things.
Letting go of all work responsibilities for a week or two can terrify even seasoned professionals. But vacations should be devoid of work. If we’re going to constantly check our cell for messages, why leave? We can do that at home. If unplugging concerns us, we have to remember that vacations make us better at what we do, because unplugging allows our brains to relax and fill with creative thoughts we didn’t even know were hiding in there. If we keep checking and responding to messages, those creative thoughts remain hidden. The point of a vacation is to open ourselves to refreshing experiences, to enjoy the people and places around us. The analogy to “charging batteries” is a good one. Come back with a full charge. Here are six ways to help make that easier.
Although we might strongly favor one side of an argument, our audience should not be able to discern our bias. Facts have convinced us to hold our beliefs, so we should trust that effectively writing the facts will sway others, too. To help, we have compiled six steps that will limit or hide our bias. When it’s so tempting to blast the obvious ignorance and elitism of the other side, we deliver our most effective work by becoming the objective observer.