Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Words At Work by Lynda McDaniel

Words at Work is so much more than the writing "how to" that you dive into then try to apply. This book is written from Ms. McDaniel's heart. I believe this book will enable every reader to be a better writer.

The author shared some of her trials and tribulations over her 25 year career as a professional writer as well as five years as a business writing coach. It felt to me as if she was coming alongside me and encouraging me to realize that in any situation I could make my words powerful tools of communication!

Her writing style was conversational, encouraging and anything but preachy or ornery editor (insider term from Words At Work). She stated a mantra I applaud. I quote, "When I started writing, I wish someone had shared these ideas with me: 1. Everyone can learn to write well. 2. Bad writers just stopped too soon."

Chapter Six titled "Corporatespeak" exhorts the writer to write the way they speak. The quote by William Zinsser on page 81 states the corporate America plain talk dilemma, "...plain talk will not be easily achieved in corporate America. Too much vanity is on the line. Executives and managers at every level are prisoners to the notion that a simple style reflects a simple mind. Actually, a simple style is the result of hard work and hard thinking..."

Words At Work is for 2011 and beyond. With technology - email, blogging, texting, getting your message across quickly is something everyone needs to learn. Six Cs of editing is for everyone! You truly will find success with Ms. McDaniel's GPS (grammar, punctuation and style).

My favorite most helpful writing tips were Bad News Burrito, WIIFM (What's in it for me?), six extras for excitement, lose your darlings and Brain Dump 101. No doubt I will refer to this writing resource many times.

There were so many writing nuggets within the pages of this book. I stopped reading many times and  loudly stated, "I do that!", "So that is a cliche and not a clever statement?", and "Okay, one more time teach me how to show and not tell!" I am guilty of so many writing faux pas.

And as soon as I began to doubt my writing abilities, as if Ms. McDaniels were an angel on my shoulder and knew I needed encouragement, "1. Everyone can learn to write well. 2. Bad writers just stopped too soon."

I was given an unexpected blessing in Chapter Twelve. This personal story was about the author being taught as a young child not to get into a car with a stranger and then later as an adult needing a ride because her car broke down on the highway. Amazing! The lessons learned in this account are simply about knowing when to take advice (get help) and when to run away (go it alone).

After reading Words At Work, I plan on reading more (including Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott), planting an orchard, putting my OE in her proper place in my life, organize a Velcro lead, vary the pace, take a walk, check my vitality dipstick, tie it all together, and sleep on it and so much more....

I believe I am a better writer as a result of devouring Words At Work. I acquired new tools, dusted off long-forgotten tools and I have less fear about writing than I did before. I also feel I have a friend in Ms. McDaniel whose encouraging words are etched in my memory, "1. Everyone can learn to write well. 2. Bad writers just stopped too soon."

Whether you consider yourself a good writer or a bad writer who is contemplating quitting - buy Words At Work. That oversized chair you have been writing in may become a great gift for Goodwill. Possibly you will realize you had greasy hair and didn't know it or you just may find some spinach in your teeth. And who wants spinach between their incisors?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for Independent Review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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