Friday, January 9, 2009

Writing on Writing

As a journalist, I feel like it's my duty to know about the things I write about, at least as much as I can. So before I sit down to do an interview or write an article, I like to do a little background research. This usually involves Googling the topic at hand, or company, etc.

For example, one of my upcoming assignments is to write about the Clinton County Sweetheart Pageant. Not knowing much about pageants as I have never been in one, I decided to Google, "How to prepare for a pageant." I got a lot of different sources, including what appeared to be random blog posts.

Now as most people know, blogging is the new, cool, "in" thing to do. Anyone and everyone can have their own blog and write about whatever, and I think that's great. Writing is a good way to express yourself and exercise your mind.

But, what really surprised me is how often and how terribly Americans butcher common, simple English. I tried to read a lady's blog post and almost had to decode what she was trying to say. The sentence structure was mixed up, the grammar was atrocious, and there were missing letters on lots of words.

I don't want to sound harsh, but if your native tongue is English, you should know how to use it. How can you effectively communicate with other people if you can't properly use English? The key is to write simple, clear sentences that make sense and aren't confusing to the reader. And above all, everyone should proof-read. After you're done writing, go back and read over (try doing it out loud) what you wrote, looking for spelling and blaring grammar errors.

Trust me, editing saves even the best writers from embarrassing errors. And, your readers will love you for it.
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