Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

The Lost Art of Reading, Writing, and Conversation

December 14, 2012

I am in the airport awaiting my flight. I am reading a book. I look up and around and see one person reading a newspaper (USA Today), a few  people texting on their cellphone, many people intently focused on their mobile device (doing what, I have no idea), one person is talking on her cellphone, a couple people are sleeping. No one is talking or involved in a conversation.

I think back 5 years and remember many people reading books, writing with pen and paper, and discussing events with others.

What has happened to our society?

Someone just pulled out “The Economist” and started reading it. That’s exciting.

I received this feedback from a learned friend: People don’t read except “tweets.”  It used to be that young people learned Latin, Greek, and the Classics in high school. Now they struggle to learn Remedial English in college.

Writing concisely is scary!

May 25, 2009

Recently I wrote a report. I passed its first draft to a colleague who recommended removing a lot of the text. As I proceeded to discard text I became increasingly scared, “Oh my, I have astonishingly little to say.”

It ended up being a very short report. But every word was informative and necessary – there was no “filler” in it. I was pleased with the end result.

Now, I am determined to discard all text that’s not needed. I will fight my fear of having little to say.

Writing for quick assimilation by the reader

February 6, 2008

Recently I read an article that went on and on.  I had to wade through tons of anecdotes before the point was finally made.  Alas, the point wasn’t very interesting. 

It occured to me that we should write in a fashion where the essential points can be picked up by the reader quickly.  But how?

Here’s how: put the key points first.  This applies to the entire document, as well as each individual sentence.

Example: compare these two sentences, where I am articulating the advantages of a certain design style:

  1. The image gallery web page can be downloaded quickly.
  2. Quick download of the image gallery web page.

The key point is: quick download.  With the first sentence the reader has to wade through a bunch of words before getting to the key point.  With the second sentence the key point is situated up front; composing sentences like this enables the reader to scan your article and quickly obtain the essential points.

Why learning longhand writing is important

August 23, 2007

A while ago I was talking with a friend. She has two children. She was telling me that she didn’t want her kids to learn longhand writing. She felt that the time could be spent more profitably learning other things. After all, who writes in longhand anymore?

I got to thinking about this. Here’s what I think.

Want to increase your IQ? Then learn new ways to manipulate your hands.

It has been discovered that a significant chunk of your brain corresponds to manipulating your hand. Every time you learn a new hand movement, you create new neural connections in your brain. Thus, you become smarter!

So, I think that children should learn to write longhand because longhand requires learning many sophisticated hand manipulations. And as we’ve just seen, perfecting new hand manipulations will yield new neural connections in the brain.

In other words, developing the skill of longhand writing makes kids smarter.