Write Better Every Day

No matter what you do for a living, chances are you spent a chunk of your time writing. For some us, that chunk of writing takes more time than anything else we might do. For others, writing requires just enough attention to get a point across, note an acknowledgment, or provide some direction.

Regardless of our reasons for writing, we can all benefit from reminders about the elements of the form, the rules, the exceptions, and the quirky developments that may affect how our messages are received and perceived. For excellent information, check out the DailyWritingTips website and blog. Thanks to members of the LinkedIn group The Content Wrangler for the heads-up.

Whether it’s 25 Synonyms for “Story”How to Format Reader-Friendly Headlines, Exceptions in the Rules of Hyphenation, or ways to brainstorm ideas that can help you in Picking Your Perfect Title, Daniel Scocco (founder), Mark Nichol (editor), and the team at DWT offer one of the prime go-to resources for writing help online.

Do you use DailyWritingTips? How? What other online writing resources do you use? Why?

©2012 Jill J. Jensen / Clarity from Chaos

Living Out Loud – Dyana Valentine Says “I Am Not Sorry”

Do you project confidence in your communication? Perhaps you exude empathy. Or maybe it’s arrogance. What if you tend toward apathy, anxiety, or apology?

It’s time to figure out your approach, make a conscious choice to live your life out loud — positively and productively — and communicate it clearly.

Professional instigator Dyana Valentine takes on the same challenge she presents to her clients: identifying why she’s not sorry for, among other things, loving chocolate-covered potato chips and asking, “What do you really mean when you say, ‘I’m sorry'”?

Check out Dyana at TEDxOjaiWomen from December 2011. [17:51 video]

What are the Messages From The Universe telling you about what’s happening in your life? Are you paying attention? What clues are trying to help you make better choices for yourself and make the world better for others?

Why do you or don’t you need to be sorry? How do you communicate either way?

©2011 Jill J. Jensen / Clarity from Chaos

Content Rules

Whether you read this title as a prescriptive list or an emphatic cheer, you’re right. How’s that for broad appeal?! Although authors Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman concentrate primarily on non-print media — blogs, podcasts, videos, e-books, webinars, and the like — the excellent information in this book also applies to the words that end up as text on paper. Wherever we are, we’re reading more and more. Continue reading

Strunk and White and Style Guides

Maybe it’s not quite Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but it just might be the next best thing — a way to have fun with words and still follow reasonable guidelines for bringing clarity to our assorted attempts at communication. Yes, style guides can be cool. You know you want that to be true — and not just because you’re a word geek! Continue reading

Create a shared community reference — like the Beloit College Mindset List®

Every year during late August and early September, colleges and universities around the United States welcome a new crop of students into the special community that resides on each campus. Like learning the secret handshake, it can take a while for these young adults to get acclimated to their new surroundings and the new expectations for behavior, performance, and culture. The same might be said of faculty and staff members at these institutions — each year, the references they use to make a point in class or in campus activities may not mean as much (or anything at all) to students who don’t share the common experiences. Continue reading

The Language of Music

Words we write with the intention to have them read in silence carry a different tone than words written to be read aloud. Pitch, timbre, inflection, meaning, and more can be implied or perceived directly from the words we choose, how we string them together, and the media channels where we distribute them.

While we often connect with words on paper or on screen, we may also hear them speaking to us from the soundtracks of movies, videos, podcasts, or radio shows — any of which may add “background” music for greater impact.

Music itself is a language we humans share — even if you don’t think you can sing. And music may be a much stronger part of who we are than we typically realize.

Maybe you’ll become a believer when you watch Bobby McFerrin create an impromptu chorus, unrehearsed but on pitch and in tune, from the audience at the 2009 World Science Festival. In just over three minutes, he demonstrates our common, powerful, and moving connection that rises naturally — with just a bit of thoughtful, playful guidance.

Bobby McFerrin and the Power of the Pentatonic Scale (video — 03:04)

How did you respond to McFerrin’s demo? Was that you I heard singing along?!

©2011 Jill J. Jensen/Clarity from Chaos