Writing eTips UpWrite Press - We Make Writing Work For You
March 2007 UpWrite Press - We Make Writing Work For You

The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.

—Norbet Platt

Word Pair of the Month: leave, let
Professor Henry Higgins was right: people do judge you by the way you speak. Those who use words correctly are viewed as better educated and more professional than those who misuse words.

How do people judge your words? Here are two you should be sure to use correctly. These words have very different meanings.

Leave means “to depart from.”

Please lock up when you leave the office.

Let means “to permit or allow.”

Won’t you let me help you with that report?

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March Writers’ Forum Topic
How do you prepare to write? What strategies or tricks do you use to get ready for writing an important document, whether it’s a critical email message, a presentation, or a large report?

Mary Ann Masarech, Director of Research and Marketing for Blessingwhite, Inc., described her strategies in this way: “When I need to write an article, a research report, or a piece of marketing collateral, I clean my desk and take care of ‘easy’ tasks (emails, expense reports, etc.). When I have no more excuses, I pull everything together (references, data, interview notes, etc.) and jot down a few outline notes. Then I start typing.

“Sometimes taking a nap actually works at critical junctures. I lie on the futon (in my attic where I telecommute!) and think about the lead paragraph or conclusion. I often drift off to sleep. I know this sounds crazy, but sometimes I think the language ‘cooks’ while I’m asleep. I get up and easily write what I struggled with before. (I’m sure it helps that my deadline is even closer by the time I awake!)”

Mary B. Wilson of Macy’s Midwest wrote: “Once you gather the information, check it once, twice, three times. Be sure it’s accurate and pertinent, and gather plenty. It will help get the thoughts flowing. Then start putting words on paper—random, unconnected thoughts on paper can be worked, rearranged, added to, and eventually refined to a finished product. With the words in front of you, it’s easier to formulate the information into the focused writing that you want. The best ‘rule’ is to leave it for a while and go back to it for a final review. (For a long report, this might be extended to two reviews.)”

Finally, Victoria Sandvig, a training coordinator for Wyle Laboratories, Inc., had this to say: “I have to do a lot of writing both for the college classes I am taking and for the courses that I design and teach at my company. The primary tool I use to lay out my writing projects is a software application called Inspiration. This application is a concept-mapping tool originally intended for elementary and high school students, but I have found the tool simple to use and very handy for brainstorming and organizing ideas. After I finish mapping out my main points, I organize my thoughts in an outline, and then I fill in the gaps. When I am stumped, I have found that turning to another task or talking to someone else helps me to get back on track.”

Thanks to everyone who responded. Watch for our next forum question in the April issue of Writing eTips.

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Coming in April:
The Writing Process: Drafting
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eTips is a publication of UpWrite Press, Inc., P.O. Box 460, Burlington, Wisconsin 53105. Copyright © 2007, UpWrite Press. All rights reserved. Visit www.upwritepress.com.