Break the Rules But Do It On Purpose

Growing up the daughter of an advanced composition teacher words were a big part of our household. Our board games mostly consisted of boggle, scrabble and the like. My father, although an engineer, also cared about the use of words and grammar. I vividly remember him at the kitchen table, dictionary and thesaurus next to him, while he wrote a report or speech. Whenever he got stumped he'd yell to my mother to ensure he was using a word in the correct context. He once scolded me at length for answering the phone "This is she." rather than "This is she speaking." While I hated the correction I am grateful now that he cared that I knew how to speak properly.

Creating content calendars, writing blog posts and communicating on social media is just a part of my everyday life so it's pretty safe to say I feel most at home when surrounded by words.  That's right I'm a word nerd. I care about it so much that this is one place in my life I become a bit judgmental. I'll admit I have a hard time dating IMG 1473 225x300 Break the Rules But Do It On Purposea man who can't spell and poor grammar in a blog post instantly turns me off to a business. There's a particularly well known blogger (nope–not going to give their moniker away) who has good content that I'm very interested in but the writing is so amateur that I only read about a quarter of the posts. It's such a shame. Don't even get me started on people who use cliches way too liberally. A post for another day.

As content quickly becomes a key differentiator for businesses on the social web understanding how to write well is critical. It's ok to break traditional grammar rules especially when writing for a digital landscape. Just be sure to know the rules first and to do it purposefully. Otherwise you might just look like a fool rather than a cool, smart business person who stands out for all the right reasons. Here are a few particularly vexing grammar blackholes:

One space or Two?

In a 140 character world every character matters. So. Much. In a character limited world it's perfectly fine to use one space between sentences rather than the traditional two.

Real estate is valuable on the web.

It's ok to abbreviate a word-just be sure it connotes the right thing. For example, using Assn. for Association rather than Ass. (a real example used by a former boss before I corrected him).

Writing for social

When writing for social media make sure to know the proper usage of a hashtag before using it. For example, FTW means For The Win not For the Whales. Or Finish The Wine. Although you should always finish tasty wine.

The Oxford Comma Dilemma

The good old oxford comma is an unnecessary extravagance when writing for the web. Don't know what an oxford comma is? It is a serial comma, the name of a song, and something that is no longer needed for proper grammar but of course you can use it if you'd like. By the way, the last comma in that sentence is an example of an oxford comma. Here's a great little ditty about the modern use of the oxford comma by Grammar Girl.

I hope this has helped you treat words better. They're like my children. Please don't mangle them. And? You will be judged.  But only because I love you and I love words.


Is Boredom Necessary for Creativity?

Even though I'm not Catholic I grew up in a neighborhood full of 'em. My friends always seem to feel better when they came home from confession so I thought maybe I'd try it. Here goes.

I'm bored. You know–like when you were a kid and you walked around the house moping and whining about how "boooooored" you were. Oh, I have plenty of work to keep me busy. It's just doing something that is creatively fulfilling has been well, largely missing lately. When I was a teenager my older brother predicted that I would have many boyfriends and even more jobs in my lifetime. At the time this was a very unconventional and upsetting thought. People were supposed to have one job and settle down early! When I asked him why he said simply, "You get bored easily."

Creativity is a Way of Life

Although I've tried to twist and turn away from this reality throughout the ensuing years I finally admitted that he was right. At heart I'm a curious creative who needs lots of ideas, stimulation, people and travel to keep me fresh, happy and productive. I'm one of those people who always has 50 things going at once and has a hard time falling asleep at night because of good old fear of missing out and of course–to many ideas streaming through the old synapses.

sky 300x300 Is Boredom Necessary for Creativity?In the midst of a recent spate of boredom, I found this little ditty about the idea that being bored is good for your creativity. It and many other articles that subsequently came across my digital space advocate the idea of having your butt in the chair. That is, simply doing the work. Writing when you don't want to. Having a routine.

As a devout creative who often creates best when in flow this was an idea I had difficulty embracing. But rather than wait for inspiration to hit me I decided to do a bit of an experiment–to write about my boredom.

Here are a few hypotheses about my boredom:

1. I've had the same clients for a long time. It offer stability and allows me to really have an impact on my client's business. And yet…mixing and matching clients and work seems to give just the kind of creative juice I need.  So, I'm on the lookout for a new client or two to shake things up.

2. I haven't been out of my immediate surroundings since late April. That's 3 whole months! Way to long for this woman with a strong wanderlust. I'm remedying this with a quick out of town trip in the near future and planning a trip to Europe or another faraway land where I can go to museums, wander strange streets and sit in a cafe writing my book.

3. Lying on the couch is boring. I got whooping cough about 4 weeks ago so I've watched every movie ever made about 4 times.  With an average recovery time of 6-8 weeks I still have a bit more to go. On this one I think I just have to succumb to lying still. Hopefully I get enlightened by the end of my convalescence. Or at least see a new movie.

4. Birthdays can cause ambivalence. I recently had one. While I truly love the age I am it's also made me realize that I'm pretty solidly in middle age somehow. This is the point when people have seen and done alot. I guess this is when people run off with people way younger than them, get a facelift or buy that hot car. Um, I'm not interested in any of these but I do relate with the need to shake things up. See #2.

Creative Conclusions

I'm not sure I've completely licked this round of boredom yet. I'm still wondering if it's a necessary thing for my creativity or whether I should be actively running away from it as fast I can hightailing it to more passionate pastures.

When do you get bored?  What do you do about it?