You may wonder why we sometimes mention fiction on this business blog.
Simple. If you write at work, you need to write clearly and efficiently, and reading is essential for honing any writer's skills and sensitivities.
Stephen King said, "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write." He was talking to so-called creative writers, but the same rule applies to everyone who writes at work.
When you send an email to a number of people, should you put the addresses in the 'TO:', 'Cc', or 'Bcc' field?
It's all very simple, but recently I had to explain it to a technophobic friend—and I found that difficult. So in case you too need to explain it one day, here's what I told her.
Facebook: it's all about you—yes you—and us too!
You probably write or manage content of some sort, like most Contented readers, and that's certainly a big part of what we do here at Contented. By now, we're all aware that content includes everything on social media sites and social intranets. So you are probably writing stuff for Twitter or an inhouse microblog, and you may be involved with a Facebook page for a company, organization or interest group. If not, you are starting to feel twitchy every time somebody says this:
'You should be on Facebook!'
The reasons are undeniable. A Facebook page quickly improves search results, bringing many more people to your web site. Facebook is the favourite playground for millions who use it for most online activities. And while Facebook numbers may be declining, they're still in the multimillions.
We need to be competent on Facebook
To function in a digital world, most professionals ought to be competent in the Facebook environment. They need to understand the culture and write appropriately, knowing the opportunities and also the dangers. People who need to understand Facebook include:
We blog, we tweet. But for various reasons, we have been wary of entering Facebook despite knowing we should for strategic business purposes. Last Sunday we finally took the plunge and launched a Facebook page for Contented. We now volunteer as guinea pigs on your behalf!
Discussions, Q & A, new products and special offers
We see our Facebook page as a useful and entertaining place for people who love to write, hate to write or have to write. We'll be on tap to answer questions about writing, join in discussions, and help solve problems. Polls and contests will inform and inspire us all, we hope. And you can keep up with new courses as they are released, and occasional special offers.
Learn alongside us about Facebook strategy
Facebook.com/writing.skills will be a safe place to learn about writing for Facebook and other social media. Just watch what we do and how others respond: you know we're new to Facebook so we are bound to make mistakes, bound to have some struggles.
If you are also new to Facebook, you can surely learn a great deal from writing on our wall and joining in the conversation.
If you're already at home in Facebook, we will certainly welcome your advice. Please teach us and help us!
The power of the Like button
You see it everywhere. Good idea to be wary, but on the Contented Facebook page, the button won't bite you.
To keep in touch, to post on the wall, to enter our first photo contest, you need to hit that Like thumb on our Facebook page.
Two poems written shortly after September 11, 2001. Sometimes poetry helps the writer. Sometimes it helps the reader. Reprinted on the 10th anniversary of that unforgettable day of horror.
The radio by my bed
The radio by my bed
is saying that people are dead
is saying the streets are red
is filling my heart with dread.
The radio by my bed
is saying that people are dead
that’s what the radio said
I can’t get it out of my head.
was Wednesday in Wellington
911 in New York
S11 in Sydney
and 23 Jumaada al-THaany 1422 A.H. in Kabul.
Poems by Rachel McAlpine — feel free to copy it, with my name and a link to this blog.
Cartoon of 9/11 calendar page (c) Dave Ritter. Can't find where this was first published: any advice?
Sometimes my worlds overlap: poetry and writing for the digital workplace.
I don't often blog about poetry, but I do secretly write poems about blogging. A few bloggy poems follow, for the eccentric few who enjoy such things.
My father’s blog
In my father’s blog
are many mansions.
A blog is content
in a room full of cells.
A blog is ever empty
and willing to be filled.
A blog is not lost
and may never be found.
Just add water
And a blog is a coat
of many pockets,
of join the dots,
a magic painting
wanting only water.
Stuff in a blog
Let’s not pretend
that stuff in a blog
A blog is a diary
upside down, a silo
where notions wait
or better times.
in the dark.
They long to sprout
and see the light.
Let’s spill them out
and set them free.
At worst the birds
Meet the spammers
Subliminal itch or apron
on the clean-cut kid next door—
today’s extreme identities
from the bank of spam:
Solemner G. Subcutaneous
and Wendel Kovalchak.
I am not making this up.
Shall I invite them to tea?
How big is a blog post? Any length we please.
an hors d'ouvre: three lines of links.
a bowl of soup: 200 words.
a satisfying salad: a full length feature article.
It's all good! Except maybe...
A disgustingly large steak with chips: One big lump without mercy.
But we have personal patterns and habits and right now I'm fighting my own. For me, writing is primarily an act of discovery, and only secondarily an act of communication. So I like blogging: it's a treat.
My natural impulse is to regard a blog post as something rather substantial. But why do I always have to make such a meal of it?
The result is, again and again I think a Great Thought which I feel like exploring further. Oh dear, no time, no writing, no nothin'. And the blog stays dormant, pulsing and heaving with thoughts unspoken.
What's more, this is a business blog, a strategic blog intended to be useful to people interested in web content and writing in general. So it has become a bit too narrow for my own pleasure.
For these two reasons my pleasure in blogging has frankly been shrivelling. Solution: I've "decided" (so help me God) to write less and write more frequently. I don't think quality will suffer at all. And I will suffer less.
An eagle-eyed reader, Justine, spotted a bunch of typos in my archive of articles about writing web content — oldies but goodies on this web site:
Quality Web Content
Justine says she can be "fussy and pedantic", and got A+ in Professional and Technical Writing. Lucky for me. She spotted, among other things:
That's the risk when you write, edit, proofread and publish your own work.
As all bloggers do, pretty much.
So thanks, Justine! The beauty of blogs is that fixing typos is done in seconds. It's as easy as fixing spelling mistakes in chalk graffiti, thank heavens.
I rember (sorry, remember) the bad old days when to "cut and paste" over errors literally involved a pair of scissors and a glue stick.
And now for all the other things Justine noticed, especially broken links...