Words are nothing more than spoken collections of sounds, or written collections of letters (symbols). Both the sounds and letters are representations of our world - they have no meaning except what we have ascribed to them over time.
If you know me and my work, you know that I keenly sense the energy behind the words I read and write. This energy IS the meaning. We speak or write with intent to communicate a thought, idea, emotion.
The old childhood saying, "sticks and stones may break my bones..." is a falsehood. Bones heal, but words can cause lasting and great harm when the intent - the energy - is based in force, anger, fear, or any other "negative" emotion.
And words can be a healing balm when the intent is based in love and kindness.
Want an example? Easy - look at any social media post.
That post is a digitally rendered and delivered collection of symbols which represent the intent - again, the energy - of the writer. If the writer portrays himself/herself as a kind, loving soul, but posts divisive, angry, or hateful thoughts, then the writing is inauthentic. It is incendiary. The reader engaging with that post will take on a degree of the expressed emotion - they sense the anger, whether they're aware of it or not, and that energy may stay with them for some time.
This is the power of words in any format...a blog post, social media post, article, book, poem...to harm or heal, to educate or influence, to create love or fear.
Use them wisely.
Usually the first exposure your prospective clients have to you and your services is online. Whether through a website, social media profile, or a published article, the content, style, and clarity of your writing is critical to communicating authentically who you are and what you offer.
So why is it so important that your online presence be error-free? According to Agility PR Solutions, the bounce rate on landing pages with sloppy spelling and grammar is 85 percent more than those that were correctly written and spell-checked. Readers are immediately turned off by errors, and only rarely stay on your site once they've seen the errors. Imagine what they think of you and your services!
In addition, Google search results are skewed further because typos make your site or your profile less visible and therefore in a far lower position in search results.
If you are not good at grammar, punctuation, and/or spelling, solutions are available. You can still connect authentically and accurately with those you're trying to communicate with. I recommend using ALL of these for optimal results.
Whatever solution you choose, make it part of your system or routine to have other eyes review your writing so you can attract those clients who need what you offer!
In the years I've been editing publications (e-books, print books, PDFs, and more) I've learned there are key tools for success for any author who is working with an editor. Feel free to share this post and use it as a checklist!
Following these "best practices" will go a long way toward helping you and your editor create a polished final product, and on time!
I am guilty. Yes, I, the Word Doctor, the professed Grammar Guru, have been guilty of using the incorrect word in a context. **gasp** Shocking, I know. But I never claimed to be perfect!
I caught myself speaking with someone about having less tasks to do than usual. Something felt odd, but it wasn't until later that I realized what. The use of the word "less." I should have said "fewer"!
You see, our language is wonky (as if you didn't know). More is more, no matter what the context. More time, more money, more to do, more pencils, more cats...it all works.
But in the "less than" category, there's a difference. Less refers to a smaller amount of one thing, or one insubstantial. You can have less time, less money, less to do, less hair, etc.
Fewer refers to a smaller quantity of several items. Fewer people, fewer pencils, fewer cats, fewer hairs on the head, fewer marbles.
Get the idea?
As with so much in modern English grammar, this is a relatively minor transgression, but can be an important consideration when writing something meant for general publication - a book or an article, perhaps. In these more professional settings, understanding the difference will lead to fewer refusals and less stress!
Unless you're a graphic designer, you may not think often about fonts, but if you have any online presence at all, they are important. In fact, if you've ever made a sign they're important too!
This post was inspired by the copious moving and garage sale signs I've seen this summer that are completely illegible from the road. The lettering is either too faint, or too small, or too sloppy. The lesson: what is the purpose of what you're writing? Does your copy work for that audience?
Now I'm not as addicted to fonts as Brock on "The Middle" (see what I mean here), but I do know that appearance and size of your copy is important to legibility, impact, and mood (yes, mood). If I want to evoke a playful mood and have something light to say, a sans serif font without much structure is appropriate (Comic Sans, Kristen, MV Boli). On a website like this, a serif font is important for easy legibility. Serif fonts are also used in formal business letters and documents.
Sorry, but size IS important! Bet you can't read this well. And this is WAY too big for a website unless it's a heading.
Color is also important. Be sure that there is contrast between your background and the text. I've seen badly designed websites and newsletters that have a brown background, for instance, with a lighter brown font.
In this digital age, there are hundreds of downloadable choices available to enhance your writing, whether on paper or virtual. Explore your options and consider your audience!
I have had several conversations regarding clients and associates either wanting to write a book or wanting to finalize one. Now, "book" is a loose term meaning everything from a short handout or e-book to a 30,000-word tome. In any case, there is something the person wants to communicate to others, something from the heart or the mind.
Just about everyone has some sort of book in them. You may excel at some sort of creative art and want to teach others. You may have profound realizations that changed your life and you want to share them with others. You may want to inspire people to do their best in the workplace, or the home, or in nature. So...big question...what is stopping you?
Now, two people I've spoken with in the last year had been "working" on a book for literally years. They'd get motivated and write or edit, then run out of steam. Why? Usually fear. In fact one person actually told me she had no desire to be noticed - I have to wonder, then, why publish? What's fascinating about that case is that, close to the end of our process, she became very angry about the fact that low resolution images could not be used in her self-published book, and quit her process entirely. I know that her fear created an "excuse" for her to not step out and be known. I hope she was able to resolve that, as her topic was a really good one.
Two clients have worked with me to assemble wonderful blog posts into a book. The writing is already done! Just a matter of patchwork to get it all to flow. One self-published a paperback, and the other created an e-book for download.
One former client is a career search expert - and I mean expert! She worked hard to assemble her best systems for success into a book, and she has the marketing knowledge to really make a go of it. How exciting!
Bottom line: If you feel inspired to share knowledge with others, do not let fear hold you back. There is a reason you felt inspired: someone needs to know or understand what you have to say. Write! Just WRITE! Get it all out on paper, then organize and see what can come of it.
You can do this!
And when you're ready, contact The Word Doctor!
We're bombarded by information. Every day we receive input from emails, news feeds, phone calls, social media, television, texts, postal mail...it's overwhelming. And much of it is noise!
Here's what I mean.
Your brain receives so much data that it picks out items that are most familiar or pleasing to focus upon. The rest is merely noise, static, humming.
So think about this in the context of business communications. Every time you post on social media or send an email, are you adding to the noise or are you being noticed?
When you bombard your social media feed with unrelated posts just to get information out there, you're making noise. When you create a thoughtful, planned campaign of information sharing, you're being noticed by your followers.
When you send an e-blast just because it's on the schedule to do so, you're creating noise. When that e-blast is focused, clear, easy to read, and useful, you're being noticed.
When you write copy for your website just to fill it...yep, more noise. When that copy is refined, focused, authentic, and easily (and quickly) understood, then you're being noticed.
The next time you write something, review it with fresh eyes. Are you using more words than are necessary? Make your point concisely. Are you writing in a style that's authentic to you and your clients? Be YOU, not who you're told to be by others. Is your writing correct? Get some help from an objective third party so you don't turn off your readers.