What I Wrote This Month: March 2017

It's been a busy spring, with clients requesting more blog posts than ever. It seems that businesses are finally taking this content marketing thing seriously. At least seriously enough to keep me happily employed!

Blog posts for Insperity

When I was doing the corporate thing, I always had a side gig or two going. It's common in marketing communications, and my bosses were usually interested in the project and what I might learn that we could use in-house. The benefit for me was that I could keep skills sharp that were going unused in my day job. For example, if my day job involved all project management and editing, a freelance job might give me the chance to write.

Imagine my surprise to learn that some industries or careers are only now opening up and allowing employees to pursue side projects. If you'd like to know more, read this: 8 surprising benefits of encouraging employees to pursue side gigs

Another post comfirmed what I'd always thought: If you empower employees with the right data, they can work better for you. Before becoming a solopreneur, I worked only a couple places where management openly communicated the essential data I needed to do my job, and those were definitely the best places to work. Here's more information on why this works: An employer’s guide: How to connect employees’ work to company analytics

Editing for PermaPier by way of Enilon

Enilon, a delightful agency in Ft. Worth, hires me occasionally for writing and editing projects. This month, it involved editing a series of blog posts for PermaPier, including this one on 7 Commercial Property Maintenance Tips. PermaPier's maintains our home's foundation, so I'm partial to them.

Thank you letters for Texas Children's

Texas Children's Hospital is the only organization I know of that sends personalized thank you letters to donors. Of course, if you give them $5, it's a form letter. But those who give larger amounts get a personal note from the CEO or a senior VP. It's a little thing that reveals something about the integrity of the organization and the vital need for private donations. Since these are private letters, I can't post samples here. If you have a similar development project, give me a shout and I'll send you redacted samples.

I also wrote a couple of speeches and a donor profile for Texas Children's this month. These haven't been published yet, so there's more to come!

What I wrote this month: February 2017

A press release for The Stowers Institute

People in the past have figured out how proteins work singly or in a static environment.Super smarty-pants Mihaela Sardiu, Ph.D. of The Stowers Institute uses big data to analyze how proteins behave and interact dynamically. Learn all about it here: Uncovering new relationships and organizational principles in protein interaction networks.

Blog posts for Insperity

Co-working spaces aren't just for solopreneurs like me. More and more companies are realizing the benefits of using co-working spaces to supplement their traditional office space. If you want to know more, Jaime Carter of Insperity shares tips on co-working on their blog: Co-working spaces: What every employer needs to know.

Recruiter Omar Bangash encourages companies to think about diversity in the workplace as something more than the old gender/race issue in this blog post for Insperity: Hiring for diversity vs. skill sets: How do you find a balance?

Blog posts for Generational Equity

This recent blog post for Generational Equity got picked up by another business blog as great advice for business owners! Let Go and Watch Your Company Grow. And, in another post for the same company, Rethink Your Approach to Working Capital.

Coming next month: A couple of annual reports, a speech or two, plus more blog posts!

Books to improve your writing: A few I recommend

Most non-writers see writing as something magical. Or a gift. Certainly not something anyone can learn.

But I think of writing as a skill or a craft to be learned, honed and built-upon over years, much like carpentry . Yes, one person might have more natural ability for any given skill, but it can be learned.

The books that shaped my writing career are an eclectic bunch, much like my interests and career. In no particular order, those books are:

Books on writing for the Internet

ProBlogger Cover
  1. Problogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett - Now in its third edition, Problogger isthe Bible for practical blogging basics. If you want to make money blogging, this is the book for you.  Check out the blog and podcasts where there's more plenty to learn.
  2. Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug - For the writer who needs to move from print-centric writing to writing for the web, Krug's book is perfect. It's a fast, easy read that will help you learn to write in clickable chunks with a mind to search engine optimization.

Books on grammar & punctuation

  1. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White - Every experienced writer recommends The Elements of Style because it's just that good. My mother gave me a copy when I left for college and I still refer to it today. Time magazine named it one of the most influential books written in English since 1923.
  2. Eats, Shoots & Leaves, The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss - If you've ever wondered how the question mark got invented, this book is for you. Part treatise on the benefits of punctuation and part history lesson, this book makes the mechanics of our language fun. Who knew?

Books that shaped my writing

One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty
  1. One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty - This grande dame of Southern writers gave a series of lectures at Harvard in 1983 on the surroundings and events that shaped her personality and her writing. It's inspirational and lovely. And, if you've never read any of Welty's novels, I highly recommend Delta Wedding.

The writers I most admire continue to improve their skills as long as they're alive. What books on writing do you recommend?

George Carlin: Master Wordsmith

Plenty of people love the comedian George Carlin for his jokes. But I love George Carlin for the way he played with words, for the way he turned common phrases and everyday thoughts into something that made you stop and think as well as laugh.

Some of my Carlin favorites:

George Carlin Napalm Album Cover

"Honesty may be the best policy, but it’s important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy."

"Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity."

"The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live."

"Atheism is a non-prophet organization."

"When you're born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America, you get a front row seat."

Read more George Carlin quotes at: http://www.brainyquote.com/search_results.html?q=george+carlin

Obsolete words: A few faves

I've been thinking about obsolete words lately -- those little nuggets of communication that no longer get used because life has changed.

Back in January I asked my Facebook and Twitter (@jjpool) followers to name their favorite obsolete words and got some wonderful responses:

  • Humbug
  • Kerfuffle
  • Pantaloons
  • Fiddlesticks
  • Fisticuffs
  • Stamp
  • Balderdash

'Humbug' came and went on my favorites list pretty quickly. Lately I've been groovin' on 'gobsmacked.' How about you? What obsolete word strikes your fancy today?

Gotta love a good quote

When I'm not writing for clients, I'm often reading. Reading good writers inspires me, gives me ideas to apply to my own work and helps me learn more about SEO and social media. Here are a few quotes that I've found inspirational:

Red Adair Quote

Good words are worth much and cost little.
George Herbert

The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
Mark Twain

People all over the world use words; the writer comes along and has to use these most-in-use objects, put together a few nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives ... and pull them together and make them bounce, throw them against the wall and make people say, 'I never thought of it that way.'
Maya Angelou

Easy reading is damn hard writing.
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
C. S. Lewis

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, as those who move easiest have learned to dance.
Alexander Pope

Words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.
Margaret Chittenden

I may be the world’s worst writer, but I’m the world’s best rewriter.
James Mitchener

The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.
John Maynard Keynes

Please share your favorite quotes about writing!