3 Things I Don't Understand

In the midst of writing marketing copy, blogging for startups and taking a writing class, to say that I've been burrowing into writing like an underground mole looking for a home wouldn't be an exaggeration. Many times I seek the refuge of personal writing when I need to make sense of something. When I'm in this space I'm generally pondering things that somehow have slipped through the synapses of my brain without sticking.

Things I don't understand:

A. Why they sell Halloween candy in August. 

B.  Why I love to memoirs about chefs even though I'm such a reluctant cook that my specialty is toast.

C.  Why I have such a love of startups.

After a long day of client work, mountain driving and car problems I went to bed last night thoroughly exhausted. You know, the kind where you just know that you're going to sleep deep, fast and hard. Those are the nights that usually give the body and the mind just the kind of rest it needs for deep regeneration.  Suddenly in the middle of the night, apparently 3am according to my Sleep Cycle app, I sat straight up in bed with a flash of insight. At some point it seems I took the red pill and The Matrix suddenly appeared before me and the once elusive answer appeared.

I love to see things transform.

  • Raw ingredients into delectable treats.
  • Clueless non-cooks morphing into full-fledged chefs.

  • An idea into a business that has solid impact or disrupts a market.

It's a transformation story. Taking a raw collection of materials and molding it into something useful for others is completely satisfying. I love creating a marketing department from the mere notion that it's critical way to support the business. There's something about writing a post for a business that helps them solidify their intellectual dominance that completes me.

This. This is why I love what I do so much.

It was one of those moments you dream of (lucidly and in your awakened state) where the answer you've been seeking finally bursts free from the burrows of your mind and into your consciousness. Having connected all the dots like one of those drawings in a child's workbook I am reminded that I'm on the right track. Sometimes you just gotta take a break to receive the answers you seek. Now my mind can move on to other pressing matters like why retailers think I should stock up on Halloween candy in the summer.

 

I hope you know what drives you at your core. And? That your work is completely wrapped up in it.
 

 

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 a 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.

The Power of Introversion on Creativity

Susan Cain's TED talk on The Power of Introverts is thought provoking, honest and funny. It's become so well received that she even made the NY Times. She highlights the belief that creativity comes from being gregarious rather than "solo flights of thought." I'm often seen as an extrovert but that's actually not the whole story. I consider myself an extroverted introvert (what Cain calls ambiverts). As an ambivert I often need a mixture of crowds and alone time to bring my creativity to fruition. To wit, Cain claims that solitude is often a crucial ingredient to creativity.

Even if you're an extravert, a little quiet time can likely help your creativity and productivity.  Let's curl up and watch shall we?

A Letter to My Neglected Blog

Dear blog,
You've been neglected. Frankly, you've been starved lately. I'm sorry about that.

We need to talk.

It's like this. I've got lots of clients lately and they've asked me to blog for them. And? It brings in the bacon. So I've been blogging--just not on your pretty digital pages. I've missed you. I know, I know. Everyone says that. But I really mean it. The thing is, I'm just not that good at balance. I tend to swing from one extreme to the other. I don't say this as an excuse. This is more of a reality check. There are times when my client work is just going to have to come first. I hope you'll take solace with the fact that I have been blogging.

Here are a few of the things I've been blogging about lately.

  • Perusing Twitter helps me find unearth cool new gems like the fact that the new SimCity will be rad with alternative energy sources and other cool additions. Thanks to Miss Courtney O'Rourke for the tip.
  • Earlier this year I walked the High Line in New York City. When I heard about The LowLine a KickStarter project that aims to re-purpose an abandoned trolley station into an underground park I just had to write about it. And? They're using innovative new fiber-optic solar technology.
  • Apparently there's a World Water Day and we recently celebrated. I wrote a little piece about how to  save some water !
  • I also wrote about the cool new 918 Spyder hybrid sports car from Porsche. Um, it's a sexy car. That plugs into the wall. And it goes 0 to 60 in 3 seconds.

Let's see. I've written about saving the planet, playing fun games that help save the planet and a sexy sports car. You have to admit--it's pretty cool right? No? Does it make you feel any better that it was for a good cause?

You can take your time to make up your mind on that one. In the meanwhile I hope you'll forgive me for needing to focus on client work and be happy that at least I've been blogging. A lot actually. And? I promise to make more time for you--ok?

Now, what have you been up to?

Blogging: 10 Years Later

It's been 10 years since I first heard about blogging. Those days I worked at an interactive agency during web 1.0. Back then updating content on a site practically required a degree or at least a minor in programming, so there were very few bloggers out there. OK. Maybe I'm being a bit facetious about the minor in programming but you definitely had to have some knowledge.

I only knew one blogger: Patric King.

He served as the Creative Director on several projects I led. A bang up designer, his voice was very clear--sarcastic, direct with a pretty good amount of bite to it.

His posts always sounded just like how he talked.

Although he worked hard to craft his blogging voice it never felt forced or contrived.

I loved it.

I loved that he  gave himself the freedom to articulate his thoughts even when they weren't NSFW. Which happened quite a bit.

These are some of my favorite posts:

- The one where he makes a packing list sound interesting.  And? You get a good sense of his personality. Through a list. Now that--is good writing.

- This beautiful aching rant is so intimate and raw. It's also right around the time the company we worked for was coming apart at the seams like the rest of those internet companies during the dot bomb. It reminds me of those early heady days on the web.

- Or, this short ditty about names. or, god save my fragile ego.

Sadly, I've fallen out of touch with pk (as he's also known) but thank god for the internets where his voice lives on for me. Although I wouldn't start blogging until a few years later he was my original inspiration.

pk was my blogging hero.

He was my champion for having my own unique voice.

And we all need one of those right?