Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Technology That Can Help You Write Better

Writing is a creative and magical process. There’s no telling when inspiration will strike—or what unique conditions will help us access our creativity.

Over the centuries, writers have discovered what worked best for them—no matter how unusual. Agatha Christie penned her murder mysteries in the bathtub while eating apples and drinking tea. Gertrude Stein was known for writing on the go, sitting in her Model T with a pencil and notepad while her wife drove her around running errands.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

How to Customize Your Writing in Job Applications

Writing job applications is a necessary evil that awaits most of us. On the plus side, applications allow us to reach for the stars—or at least for employers we would never be able to reach through recommendations or word of mouth. On the flip side, they offer the same opportunity to hundreds of other people who are also looking for a job. To make matters even worse, in this day and age you can’t use the same résumé and cover letter for every job post you see.

Comma Before Such As

The phrase such as requires a comma in front of it only if it’s part of a nonrestrictive clause.

When to Use a Comma Before Such As

Here’s an example of such as used correctly with a comma in a sentence:

In this forest, you’ll see many types of coniferous trees, such as pine and spruce.

The phrase such as pine and spruce is nonrestrictive, so you need a comma. How can you tell it’s nonrestrictive?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

How to Write Interesting Stories

April 27 is Tell a Story Day, a great time for writers at all levels to finally share the stories that they’ve been keeping to themselves. But, what if the story you want to tell isn’t quite ready for its debut?

We encourage you to find a different story to tell! How, you ask? Read on . . .

Famous writers approached their writing in different ways, but one commonality involved extracting stories from real life experiences.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Introducing the Diaeresis

The New Yorker is a quirky magazine. Sure, it’s a go-to when you’re looking to read high-quality writing, but the magazine’s style is full of peculiarities. There are the double consonants where you don’t expect them, as in the word “travelled.” There’s the spelling out of numbers, even the really long ones. And there are the words like “coöperate” and “reëlect,” which are written with two tiny dots over the second o and the second e.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Monday Motivation Hack: Avoid Negativity

Mondays induce negativity like no other day. After all, weekends are straight-up awesome. If we’re lucky, we get to sleep in, enjoy a breakfast that’s not rushed, and maybe savor a cup of coffee while laughing at YouTube videos of dogs failing at being dogs. Sometimes, we have exciting activities planned. Sometimes we get to enjoy leisure time. And sure, sometimes we work. But let’s not talk about that here, deal?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Writers, Get Ready for NaNoWriMo!

Every November, wordsmiths around the globe take on the ultimate writing challenge—to crank out a 50,000-word novel in just thirty days. The event is called NaNoWriMo (an acronym for National Novel Writing Month), and last year it drew 431,626 participants. Although the format is meant to encourage quick, seat-of-your-pants writing, the words writers churn out during the annual event aren’t necessarily for naught.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Spelling counts: make sure you use these words correctly

Do you know the answer? Read on to find out which one is correct!

There are many (perhaps countless) homophones in the English language. These are words and phrases that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. Here are three commonly confused homophones worth knowing:

1. A while vs. awhile A while refers to a period of time. In this construction, ‘while’ acts as a noun.

Monday, December 16, 2013

What’s the Difference Between Grammar Correction and Grammar Trolling?

Prescriptive English grammar seems to be one of those things that either impassions you or inspires some level of dread. Lovers of English grammar and usage are energized by mastering the rules of a messy and disorganized language. For the rest of us, our feelings run the gamut from indifference to loathing as we muddle through a seemingly arbitrary organizational system and apply it to something as individual as language.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cool Things We Do With Words: Vows, Oaths, and Promises

What is more special than a promise? As children (and let’s be honest, as adults, too) we valued promises highly among our friends and family. The act of promising and the act of being worth promising something to elevates our relationships. It’s a perfect example of how beautiful and powerful words can be.

There are a lot of amazing activities we do with words and language. Few are as sacred or important as the vows or oaths that we make throughout our lives.

Learn Your Homophones: Pear, Pair, and Pare

Pair: two of something, usually that are similar or go together. For example:

I’m going to buy a new pair of shoes.
Johnny and Sally make a cute pair.

Pear: a fruit. For example:

Rufus is eating an apple, and I am eating a pear.
The pear was ripe and juicy.

Pare: trim (something) by cutting away its outer edges; cut the skin off of something; reduce (something) in size, extent, quantity, or number, usually in a number of small successive stages.

Friday, December 6, 2013

7 Noteworthy Tips for Your First Week at a New Job

Congratulations on landing a new job!

Do you feel nervous or anxious about your first week? Being prepared will not only help you avoid stress but will also set the tone for the rest of your tenure at your new company. Check out these seven useful tips!

1 Build rapport with your colleagues. Your coworkers will be your allies if you take the time to create positive relationships with them.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

3 Trends That Will Dominate English Writing in 2017

Any way you slice it, 2016 has been a tough year.

We lost beloved novelists like Harper Lee and Gloria Naylor; lyricists like David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen; and book-character-embodying actors like Alan Rickman and Gene Wilder.

We expressed a dip in mood in our writing online. One study by social media analytics company Crimson Hexagon showed that popular retail holidays like Black Friday experienced a rise in negative sentiment in 2016, despite rosy predictions.

21 Ways to Inspire Creativity When You’re Out of Ideas

Every creative person is subject to the whims of a fickle muse that doesn’t always show up when we need it to. Fortunately, there are ways to make our minds a more hospitable place for ideas. Read on for twenty-one easy tips that will help you make inspiration a more frequent guest.

1 Listen to music.

Multiple studies show that music can increase creativity and focus. Research indicates that listening to classical is only really beneficial if you actually like that style of music, so listen to something you enjoy that isn’t too novel or distracting.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What’s the Worst Poem of all Time?

It was a Sunday evening, the 28th of December in the year 1879. A dire storm was hitting Scotland hard—in Glasgow, the wind speed was measured at 71 mph. In Dundee, the wind was pummeling the bridge over the Firth of Tay, the Tay Rail Bridge, blowing at a speed of 80 mph and at a right angle. The wind, along with questionable design and craftsmanship of the bridge, was blamed when the the bridge collapsed that night, taking with it a train that was passing over it and the lives of everyone aboard.