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Are You Making Dumbass Writing Mistakes? Here’s How to Avoid Them

Are You Making Dumbass Writing Mistakes? Here’s How to Avoid Them

There are some fabulous articles here on Lifehack that can help you improve as a writer, with tips and tricks ranging from ensuring that you write something every single day, to keeping a notebook handy for random inspirational thoughts. These are great suggestions and will undoubtedly assist you in building confidence with regard to your writing, but they won’t be of significant help if you haven’t mastered the essentials.

Basically, you can decorate a house as prettily as you like, but if the foundation is weak and the walls have been made of pool noodles and saltines, you’re in trouble.

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writing mistakes

    1. Read Great Writers

    This was the #1 tip in Leo B.’s article, and I’m going to reiterate it most heartily.

    I grant that there are some fabulous pieces floating about on the web that you can read, but anyone with access to a keyboard can post an article; whether they can differentiate between homonyms is a different story entirely.

    Published books tend to go through a rather vigorous proofreading/editing process, which generally ensures that the work is quite polished by the time it’s sucked into your retinas. Writers and their editors work together to create cohesive works of often staggering genius, and the more you immerse yourself in good writing, the more your own work will end up improving as a result. We often emulate that which we admire (even subconsciously), and it’s not unusual to see parallels between one author’s work and another’s.

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    Kurt Vonnegut took cues from Mark Twain, Amy Tan has admitted that she’s been influenced by Isabel Allende, and J.K. Rowling’s work has echoes of Jane Austen. My own influences are drawn from Bill Bryson, Anais Nin, A.S. Byatt, and Terry Pratchett, but I’m a bit deranged like that.

    2. Be Sure to Revisit the Basics

    Most of us haven’t delved into the basics of writing composition since well before high school, and for some of us, that was a very long time ago.

    Education has changed a great deal over the years, and the average person today would just look at you blankly if you asked them to identify a misplaced modifier or define the subject and predicate in a sentence. The use of proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling isn’t as rigidly enforced as it was in the past, and many people manage to reach high levels of education and employment without ever sorting out “your” VS “you’re”. Hell, I’ve seen PhD candidates commit some of the most flagrant acts of apostrophe abuse you can imagine, and these were college professors.

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    In addition to revisiting these building blocks, it’s also a good idea to touch upon tips on how to structure both full articles, and the paragraphs therein. If you feel the inclination to touch up your skills in this regard, consider checking out some of these books to help you along:

    3. Subscribe to Daily Writing Tips

    I can honestly say that the daily tips I’ve received from this website have helped my writing and editing work exponentially. With lighthearted examples and fun quizzes, each email prods at your brain-meat to flesh out areas where you might have difficulty, and helps to sharpen your existing skills.

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    4. Read Your Work Aloud

    This is a great way to ensure that your work flows well, and to check for any awkward sentences and spelling errors. By reading a piece aloud, you can see where pauses are needed so you can tuck in some commas, and you’ll notice if your sentences are halting because they’re too short, or if you’re rambling and need to do some restructuring.

    Here’s a tip: if you find that there are issues with your writing that keep popping up—whether this is discovered through your own editing or because it’s been pointed out to you by another—write that issue on a large sheet of paper and tack it up above your desk. Since it will be in your line of sight, you’ll be reminded every time you glance upwards so you can to avoid it in future.

    5. Keep in Mind That There is Always Room for Improvement

    We’re all on a journey as we plod through life, and as we learn various lessons and sharpen our skills, we’ll undoubtedly improve in our chosen fields.  It’s important to recognize that by leaving room to make mistakes, we’re also leaving room to grow.

    Every single one of us will cock up eventually (often, I would think, especially in my case), but rather than beating ourselves up over errors, we can see these screw-ups as learning opportunities.

    As mentioned, there isn’t a single writer out there who couldn’t improve on some level—including me.  Muphry’s Law  (deliberate misspelling) dictates that I will have inevitably screwed something up in this article, and I certainly have a long way to go before I consider my work to be as flawless as I’d like, but both self-awareness and the ability to analyse one’s own work critically are of vital importance for any writer, every step of the way. Keep in mind that there’s always room for growth, treat that ever-evolving learning process with humour and humility, and keep writing.

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    Catherine Winter

    Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on November 19, 2019

    Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

    Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

    I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.

    How on earth do you get out of that spiral?

    Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.

    So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:

    1. Improve Your Time Management Skills

    Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.

    For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.

    Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.

    “When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery

    2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts

    These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!

    This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!

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    But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

    Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.

    For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.

    There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.

    3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools

    It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.

    Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.

    4. Use Your Phone Wisely

    Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.

    If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.

    5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs

    If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.

    In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.

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    One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.

    6. Use a “To Don’t” List

    We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.

    But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.[1]

    Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.

    7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia

    When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.

    Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.

    “Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson

    And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.

    8. Be Concise

    Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.

    One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,”[2] which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

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    Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:

    • Making new contacts
    • Talking about yourself at a job interview
    • Meeting people at conferences or parties
    • Phone calls to new clients

    9. Ask the Right Questions

    “You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz

    How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.

    When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.

    Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions.[3] When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

    Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

    10. Learn as Much as You Can

    You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.

    Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.

    “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

    11. Look After Your Greatest Resource

    No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.

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    If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

    What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.[4]

    Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.

    12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder

    As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.[5]

    But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!

    The Bottom Line

    The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.

    Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!

    More About Working Smart

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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