Have you found that the written word has deviated far from what you've been taught in school? What do you think your English teacher would say about some of the content that makes it onto the web today? Wonder no more, because today we are interviewing an English teacher, and also a great writer on Zujava, Linda Belocas.
Here's the Q&A answer session/interview:
From a school teacher’s perspective, what do you think are the most important things an online writer should be concerned about?
In this digital age, the written word is oftentimes the first communication, and therefore, the first impression one has of another. It is easy to get caught up in the therapeutic effects of online writing and publishing. While I am a proponent of writing/blogging as a form of conveying your thoughts, feelings and experiences, I have also witnessed some of the inherent dangers. I refer to this as the “Soapbox Syndrome”.
With the blossoming of the internet, online writers are keenly aware of the broad spectrum of a seemingly infinite captive audience. A paradigm shift in writing has taken place. This particular vein of writing used to be categorized as informational. Now, it has sometimes taken a turn towards passive-aggressive confrontation.
Be passionate; not preachy. Be wise; not wiseass. The writing voice you adopt is the one people will associate with you in real life. Be very cognizant of what tone you are conveying, versus what you are trying to convey. Although it is a tricky tightrope to walk, it can make the difference between respect and disrespect, repeat business and business lost, and humility and vanity. What you put into print online is accessible for eternity. It can also have effects which far outlast the publication itself. Be proud of, and aware of, who you are representing as a human author.
What are the most common grammar mistakes that you’ve seen?
As texting becomes a more embedded means of communication in our culture, its abbreviated language is also beginning to merge into common written language. While it may be acceptable to use in an e-mail to a friend, usage of such terms as “b4”, “c u later”, and “thx” to a work associate casts you in an unprofessional light. Using proper English in written documents is imperative.
Scroll through an hour’s worth of Facebook posts, and you are bound to bear witness to a plethora of common grammatical errors. The one that I see most often is the misuse of “your” for “you’re”, as in the incorrect proclamation, “Your right!”
The word I notice misspelled most frequently is “definitely”, as “definately”. It is a favorite word choice for the younger set, and also one that pops up misspelled just as often in term papers. The thesaurus is a beautiful thing! My first and foremost suggestion would be to find an alternative (and more interesting) synonym. If you must use the word “definitely”, please remember that “it” is important to spell “definitely” correctly.
Where would you suggest people head to as a resource for common English grammar questions?
My favorite online resource is http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/. The site’s smart and savvy language mascot, Grammar Girl, breaks down writing rules in layman’s terms. This is going to strike many as old school, but I am also suggesting another pair of human eyes proofread any document which you deem important enough to be read by anyone other than your best friend. It may take a few minutes out of your breakneck pace, but it may also save face in the long run.
What other passions do you have, and have any of those passions influenced your writing style?
A passion for history was ignited in me as a young girl, and still burns strong. I was a voracious reader, and that translated into an appreciation for the power of a well-worded story. That’s what history is; the retelling of a story from our past. Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Frost, Poe, and Emerson --- each commanded the English language in their own unique way. Their works have stood the test of time. That is what writing should be, and what I aspire my own style to be…timeless.
How have you learned to be persuasive with your writing, and how can writers on Zujava incorporate some of those same methods on their leaves?
My current profession is in the field of direct selling. That means that I provide a product directly to a consumer. Since this is different than having a retail storefront which a customer would visit, my business requires personal contact and service to my clientele. Online newsletters and e-mail specials are a critical segment of my job. In order for them to be effective, they must:
- contain attention-grabbing titles
- be written concisely
- address the needs and wants of the customer
- be broken down into an easy-to-read format
- contain pictures
These points translate quite easily over to a Zujava leaf. Would you be more likely to read an article entitled, “All About Black Bears”, or “Black Bears In Our Backyards”? The latter certainly piques more interest. Think about your reader audience when writing your leaf. Who is your target demographic for this particular topic? Tailor your information and style to them. Make the leaf appear simple to read and complete by chunking it out. Include (legally-acquired) photographs to accompany your leaf.
What feature would you like to see on Zujava?
Zujava is such a fantastic vehicle for publishing and sharing information, as well as acquiring new information. I have loved watching it evolve so much in such a short span of time. I look forward to whatever is around the corner in Zujava!
What are you writing about next?
As mentioned above, I have an affinity for history. I am also very proud of my roots here in Southeastern Massachusetts. Be on the lookout for a leaf outlining some neat “under the radar” places to visit in our area. No, they aren’t museums. However, they are great places to spend time and soak in some local history, in an out-of-the-ordinary way.
Be sure to stop by and leave comments on Linda's leaves below:
- Effective Direct Sales Party Presentation Guide
- How a Sales Pacing Partner Can Help You Cross the Finish Line
- Detoxify Your Direct Sales Self
- Choosing Your Path in Direct Sales
A little disclaimer: Linda is my sister, and I can attest to the fact that she's a great teacher. She sent back proofreading edits four times on this blog post, just as you'd expect from an English teacher. Thanks for the interview, Linda!