3 Writing Skills No One Bothered to Teach You—That You Need to Know Now

3 Writing Skills No One Bothered to Teach You—That You Need to Know Now

Originally published March 2020, Updated June 2024 I don’t need to keep telling you writing skills have spiraled downward in this country. You can see it all around you, even at the highest levels of government. And if you don’t see it all around you, follow me on LinkedIn where I post real-life mistakes. You’ll become a believer. Nor do you need me to tell you that poor writing skills have a cost—although you probably don’t realize just how astronomically high that cost is. So I’ll share a few shocking numbers with you: Poor...
“Stop Shouting!” How and When to Use Exclamation Points

“Stop Shouting!” How and When to Use Exclamation Points

A newsletter reader asked for advice on when to use exclamation points. An editor, she said many of the younger writers she works with use too many. And she’s looking for guidance, asking “What’s an appropriate use for exclamation points?” Gulp. I might not be the right person to ask. I too am an exclamation-point-loving fiend, despite no longer being young. But it’s a good question! This kind of punctuation is similar to emojis, in my opinion, which I am also guilty of having an addiction to. Rarely do I send an email without a...
Being Clear Is Harder than You Think, as this Story Shows…

Being Clear Is Harder than You Think, as this Story Shows…

It can be hard to be clear, even when we think we’re being crystal clear! Case in point: I’m reading Nature’s Best Hope about planting native plants, shrubs and trees to provide critical food sources. I like to throw out trivia from the books I read when talking with my youngest because she likes to share this trivia with others in her age group, who are the ones more likely to listen. (It’s all part of my plan to save the planet.) So I mentioned a mind-blowing fact from the book: 90% of insects only eat one kind of plant.*...
Comma Challenge: Can You Fix These Seven Mistakes?

Comma Challenge: Can You Fix These Seven Mistakes?

With the recent request that I give more advice on the proper use of commas, I decided to do the occasional Comma Challenge since I see so many errors in my day-to-day life. Here’s the first. How does it work? I’m glad you asked! Below you’ll see seven sentences with comma errors. Your job? Find the mistake. Then check with the answers below, where I’ve made the correction and given the reason for it. Have fun! The Comma Errors Seriously, this project is really fun and easy, you should try it. If you’ve been thinking of trying a...
Business Writing: Change to Active Voice and Clean Up the Clutter

Business Writing: Change to Active Voice and Clean Up the Clutter

Originally Published July 2018. Updated February 2024. Have you been told to use active not passive voice in your business writing? Probably. And if not, you’re hearing it now. I came across a useful example of the passive voice and edited it below to illustrate the difference. Read through the before version and see where you would make changes, not only to use the active voice but to the clutter caused by so many additional (and unnecessary) words. Then you can check out my edits, and see how the version with the edits...