What to expect

Welcome to the blog. These introductory posts seem like a formality, and I am eager to jump into the fun stuff, so I will keep this brief.

I intend to use this small corner of the internet as a place to write mostly about my interests. I also plan to highlight a few of the more interesting places and events in Syracuse. And while the internet is overrun with blogs about Syracuse athletics, I will probably pen some thoughts on that subject from time to time.

While this is my professional website, I think the best way to market my work is to put my interests front and center. With that in mind, I will likely write about books, sports, politics and anything else that captures my interest.

My main love is writing though, so I will almost certainly blog about the craft and my eternally progressing education in it. For a taste of what is in store on that front, I thought I would share David Ogilvy’s list of rules for writing. Ogilvy was a business man but I think this advice should be helpful for any writer. He has certainly influence my style.

Here is the memo he wrote, from one of my favorite sites, Brain Pickings:

The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.

Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.

Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:

1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.

2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.

3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.

4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.

5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.

6. Check your quotations.

7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.

8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.

9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.

10. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.

David

Most of these rules are imperatives if you want to write well. Good writing is clear and straightforward, whether it is business writing or fiction.

Writing the way you speak, reading your work aloud, and getting someone else to look at your work are all good ways to assure that your writing is clear, while still maintaining your own voice. Reading your work aloud is particularly useful. It is amazing how awkward writing makes itself apparent when you do that. Important work should always be read out loud before it is sent off.

While I mostly agree that jargon and buzzwords should be avoided, it leads me to an important piece of advice that Ogilvy did not mention– know your audience. Jargon and technical terms are fine if you are writing for people who understand the language. They can be useful shorthand for experts, even if they make the subject matter esoteric and confusing for everyone else. If you are writing for a broader audience though, it is important to avoid that kind of language.

For more on Ogilvy’s rules for writing, head over to Brain Pickings. Click around for awhile. That site is loaded with interesting content, including plenty on the craft of writing.

And check back here in a couple of days. I am hoping to publish a couple times every week, as long as my schedule permits it.

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