A Writer’s Thanksgiving

Turkey ThxWriting is hard work. Whether you write a blog, a cover letter or an email, staring down a blank sheet of paper is like willing yourself to run an 8-miler the day after Thanksgiving. You know you really should do it – it would be good for you, too – but there are so many other things you would rather do instead.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I offer up a writer’s gratitude. Below are the writer’s riches for which I am grateful this year. What would you add to the list?

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Tools and Resources – I don’t know how I would say what I want to say without my Thesaurus and other useful writing resources. When I question my recollection of grammar rules or sentence structure, I know I can find guidance on one of these sites:

  • Grammar Revolution: Includes simple lessons about verb tense, difficult words and… sentence diagramming! (a personal favorite)
  • Grammar Girl: A great blog by Mignon Fogarty about grammar tips and advice. PS – Go check out the Grammar Pop app for a fun game to play while standing in Black Friday checkout lines!

Readers – What if a writer writes a blog and no one reads it? I relish the signs that colleagues and friends read this blog, such as when they ask me to proofread an important article or send me Facebook links to funny grammar comics. Keep reading and keep sharing, folks!

Rules, Even the Ones We Break – Knowing the rules of grammar and writing means also knowing how to constructively break them. If the Oxford Dictionary Online can add new words each year, then I don’t feel so bad when I occasionally split an infinitive or end a sentence in a preposition. Writers take creative license, which means they not only know the rules and but also when to break them to add emphasis or clarity to the message. So go ahead, break a few writing rules this weekend over turkey and dressing!

Misunderstandings – That confused look on someone’s face is my clue that I didn’t do such a good job expressing myself. Thankfully, in writing we have do-overs edits and revisions. I recommend at least a few for each important message you write and send.

First World Problems – If the only thing that keeps me awake at night is fretting over the Oxford comma or pondering how to convince my clients to single space after a period, then I count myself blessed indeed!

Whatever you write, join me in giving thanks for clear thoughts and the words to express them. Happy Thanksgiving!

Heather Nelson is a partner with PeopleResults, a consultancy that guides organizations and individuals to “start the wave” of change. Heather and the team have advised major clients including PepsiCo, McKesson, Microsoft, Frito-Lay, Hitachi Consulting and many others on how to realize results through people. Contact her at hnelson@people-results.com.

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