Writing skills improve when you can laugh at life

writing skills offered at http://NanetteLevin.com

Most writers take themselves too seriously. Most laymen find writing painful (or, create material that is oh so painful to read with the assumption their stream of consciousness, unedited, meandering style is gripping). What few seem to realize is you can improve your writing skills while having tons of fun doing it if you find humor in the things that most people don’t notice – or, even better, things that anger them.

Those who know me have probably realized I’m not a big fan of cell phones. It’s not the phones (although I haven’t seen too many these days using them as such), it’s the rudeness people display in reverence to their addiction. It’s rare to have someone focused on a face-to-face conversation without eyes constantly being diverted to the gadget screen.

Even worse, the thumbs get busy with nods to acknowledge what you’re not saying. I always get silent when the phone takes precedence after I’ve been asked to answer a question. I do this to confirm my suspicions on multi-tasking. People may be able to nod and type at the same time, but they sure can’t listen. So, the next time I visit a client or am asked by a friend to stop by and talk, I think I’ll preload a bunch of messages to come to them while we’re together reminding them I’m in the room.

Either that or I’m considering starting to belt out a tune every time their eyes or thumbs divert to the phone. Talk about negative reinforcement. I might be able to condition an entire county to fear the racket that comes from even the thought of phone use. If I took it on the road to restaurants (I’d probably start to get barred pretty quickly) I could convert states.

What I won’t do anymore is get annoyed about what presents to me as my precious time being wasted. Of course, I’m certainly open to any suggestions that have worked for you. Please do share. We could start a movement together with combined creative revolt.

Nostalgia isn’t just for mature adults anymore

writing skills offered at http://NanetteLevin.comRemember when . . .

  • Typing required the use of fingers?
  • Apple was a fruit?
  • Slow meant dial up?
  • Poster referred to wall art?
  • Social media involved a remote TV or radio broadcast?
  • A phone was something you spoke on?
  • Waddle was something ducks used to do instead of 26% of the United States population?
  • Water was a drink that didn’t include sugar?
  • Words were used to communicate in writing instead of characters and single letters?

I bet any one of you could create an entire blog post around one of these new realities while having a ton of fun doing it. Bet your readers would appreciate your creative perspectives too.

When you’re willing to explore approaches that are different while looking at life in ways that few seem to consider, you might be amazed at how quickly you improve your writing skills without making it a painful process.

Good writing skills require editing – imagine that

I’m constantly amazed when I see material put out for public consumption that no one’s bothered to edit.

Some gaffes are worse than others (in fact, talk about unintended irony, I grabbed a classic involving an e-mail ad put out by Writers Digest in this blog post). We have a weekly business journal that does a good job editing their print editions, but the daily e-mail summaries (these are free – the print publication is not) are riddled with glaring errors. Bad marketing move in both cases; accuracy in writing is their major promotional focus.

What tends to amaze me more, though, are the blog posts, e-newsletters and even books that are designed to promote a small business owner’s skills, that haven’t even been graced with a second read. I certainly get the occasional mistake. I still make them even with copious proofing (which goes to show you, even skilled editors shouldn’t proof their own work). But, when I open a document with spell-check enabled (theirs, not mine) and there are dozens of words with squiggly red lines under them, it makes you wonder how carefully they’ll address client needs.

Laughing, creativity and proofing can make your writing time and results soar

Done right, writing should be tons of fun. For those of you who argue ‘I don’t have the talent,’ this isn’t an inborn skill, it’s learned. I hated writing (and English) in high school. When I landed at college I realized no matter what position I pursued, this would be a critical job skill. So, I wound up completing an English major without intent as I strove to gain competency.

Now writing is a creative outlet, an activity I relish and something I make a decent living doing.

The key is to look at it as a creative process instead of a chore, learn to see life in different ways to encourage people to laugh with you and to look at it as a reflection of your identity. If you’re selling something to consumers (even if all you’re asking for is their time to read), clean copy matters.

You’ll have a lot more fun while gaining new pride in what you produce when you develop your writing skills with humor, ingenuity and editing in mind.

What are you going to do next week to change your attitude about writing from chore to delight?

18 Responses to Writing skills improve when you can laugh at life
  1. Malika Bourne
    October 3, 2013 | 2:11 pm

    I do remember all of those things. I am still looking for the carriage handle to move on to the next line.
    I enjoy expressing myself with writing.

    • Nanette Levin
      October 3, 2013 | 9:11 pm

      Yep – there was so much satisfaction you’d get out of shoving that metal bar, wasn’t there, Malika? Glad you enjoy writing too.

  2. Susan Evans
    October 3, 2013 | 3:48 pm

    One thing that helps me to edit when I write is to let time pass before publishing a blog post. I can always catch my mistakes easier when I haven’t just written it.

    And I agree with you that when you are able to use a little humor in your writing, it helps a lot!

    • Nanette Levin
      October 3, 2013 | 9:13 pm

      That’s a great idea, Susan. I try to do that too, but even then, miss some things. It looks like you’re having great fun creating things at home to feature on your blog.

  3. Andrea
    October 3, 2013 | 3:59 pm

    Loved your article. I am really new to writing, and I expect I make lots of mistakes, even though I do take care to read what I’ve written several times before publishing. One of my pet hates is poor grammar and spelling which is why your article resonated with me. I don’t see writing as a chore; I’ve always loved reading and writing. I think my thing is — or was — that nobody would be interested in what I have to say. Well, they may not, but I’m still saying it anyway!

    • Nanette Levin
      October 3, 2013 | 9:14 pm

      Good for you, Andrea! You’ll get a lot of encouragement with the UBC. I did try to find your blog to comment but apparently the site requires membership to do so?

  4. Jan Kearney
    October 3, 2013 | 5:19 pm

    I don’t see writing as a chore, but then I don’t class myself as a writer either! I do check before hitting publish, but it’s surprising how many mistakes I see after that button has been pressed…

    My phone is still something I speak on – 20 years online and my phone is still just a phone (although it is mobile now!) my diary is a book and I’m more likely to make notes with pen and paper.

    I’m reading this comment 3 times before clicking submit – I am sure there’s still a mistake somewhere! 🙂

    • Nanette Levin
      October 3, 2013 | 9:18 pm

      A gal after my own heart, Jan. I get mocked for still carrying a DayTimer. Of course, I don’t have to worry about losing all my information when my device falls in the water, the cloud storage company goes bankrupt or my software crashes.

  5. Amy Putkonen
    October 3, 2013 | 8:56 pm

    Great. I was just thinking about you, as I was banging out a quick post (since we are both doing them daily now for this month’s challenge). Oh my. I am SURE that I will lots of mistakes as I try and get a post done each day! lol…

    As for the texting phenomenon, I saw something the other day about there being more ER cases of people getting severely hurt by texting while walking. Something to consider, people…

    Speaking of red squigglies, I am pretty sure that texting IS a word but WordPress refuses to accept this fact. It IS, isn’t it?
    [Insert tongue into cheek].

    • Nanette Levin
      October 3, 2013 | 9:22 pm

      Great to see you Amy. By the way, nice short post today on escaping into the woods. I used to get quiet there all the time and need to go back to that. I make mistakes too. Although, admittedly, have less patience for the e-mails being banged out these days that are unintelligible. In fact, I’ve stopped trying to decipher them, particularly when I get them from people I know can form a sentence. I just send back a message saying ‘I don’t understand.’ Why should I have to spend so much time in translation when they are asking for help?

    • Amy Putkonen
      October 3, 2013 | 9:47 pm

      Funny enough, that was NOT on purpose that I made a mistake there by forgetting to type “I am sure that I will MAKE lots of mistakes!” Hilarious.

      At least if we can use humor, we can use it on ourselves too, right?

      • Nanette Levin
        October 4, 2013 | 12:15 am

        I find myself slapping my forehead after leaving comments on blogs all the time, Amy. Maybe we’ll get an edit feature here yet for posters and not just owners :-). Usually, though, I leave my mistakes for all to see even when I can edit on my own blogs. It’s part of being human :-).

  6. Chef William
    October 3, 2013 | 10:04 pm

    Enjoyed reading this, but afraid to comment because I feel that an English Teacher is watching me over my shoulder. Perhaps that is a good thing,, I just need to adjust to it. Sadly for me, spell check does not work on my computer and so far, my tech guy has not been able to fix it. Without it I end up spending way to much time looking up words in the dictionary.

  7. Nanette Levin
    October 4, 2013 | 12:18 am

    Don’t be silly, Chef William. You should know by now I am not a grammar Nazi. In fact, I’ve always been challenged with little things like spelling and never did manage to keep my eyes open much during high school grammar lessons with a teacher that didn’t impress me. My point was, give something at least a second read before you hit publish. Sorry you’re having challenges with your spell check feature. It’s been a blessing for me.

  8. Bonnie Copeland
    October 4, 2013 | 5:46 pm

    I would love to see you belt out a song while someone was trying to multi-task using their phone. Fabulous idea.
    I have to admit it is a big turn off to try to read something that has a lot of very obvious mistakes but I don’t think I’d be too concerned if there was a small mistake.
    Laughter is a huge healer and opens up so much of our creative energy. I think we all need more of that in our lives!

    • Nanette Levin
      October 4, 2013 | 10:18 pm

      No, I don’t think you would, Bonnie – it might hurt your ears too much :-). I don’t mind small mistakes either, but do tend to conclude if people can’t even bother to do a single proof before they send something with tons of careless errors that my time is probably better spent elsewhere. Right – laughter is great medicine. I’m trying to get more of it myself.

  9. Barbara Boser
    October 7, 2013 | 8:22 pm

    It is so funny how things have changed through technological advances. Also I agree that being able to find the humor in situations and writing, makes us better writers. Great post 🙂

    • Nanette Levin
      October 8, 2013 | 8:13 pm

      It is incredible, isn’t it Barbara. And not in much time. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

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