Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Every word a writer writes is an audition,
so be careful

Most writers have specialties. They can be novels, plays, poems, travel brochures, instruction manuals, magazine articles, ads, movie scripts, speeches, greeting cards, religious tracts, recipes, fortune cookie inserts, skywriting, sermons, almost anything.

Despite our favorites and specialties, most of us write in multiple venues and formats. We frequently have websites and blogs, and post comments on blogs and in forums. We write love letters and hate mail, send thank-you notes, help kids with homework, write letters to editors, and submit resumes and pitch-letters.

It's important that those of us who have writng careers never go "off-duty." We have to produce professional-caliber work all of the time, even if it's just a 93-character Tweet or a three-word reply to an email.

Also, the little bits of informal and unpaid writing that we don't want to do or don't have to do, can be useful practice sessions for the important work that we want to do and have to do.

Never excuse sloppiness. Never say, "It's only an email."

It would be a shame to turn off a prospective reader or lose possible business because of silly, easily corrected errors. It could be a disaster to let the sloppiness of an "informal" medium infect professional writing.

I recently read the blog of a writer who had attended a writing conference.

I see no point in embarrassing the writer, so I won't reveal the name or even the gender.

The writer said that someone "range" [rang] the doorbell, wore "sheek" [chic] clothing, met "twenty-seven" [27] literary agents, attended nineteen [19] out of the eighty [80] lectures, and that something is "cheep" [cheap].

This person also wrote "nation-wide" [nationwide], "main stream" [mainstream], "self published" [self-published] and more.

This person mentioned "the hard work of revising and polishing" a book.

The blog deserved similar hard work.

Confession: I am not perfect, but I try to be. It's wrong not to try to write right, or to rely on a computer's spell-checker.


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