“The more disastrous the mishaps the simpler the reviewing task” – Donal Henahan
You know those times when you’ve been in a super-hurry to (a) turn in a report, (b) a written assignment or (b) get an important email out so quickly that you’ve rushed through it, then sent it off immediately only to realize it actually wasn’t (a) written well or (b) properly spell/grammar-checked, which undoubtably resulted in (c) which was making you look and feel pretty inept? Trust me when I say I know how stressful this feels; boy do I ever! This behaviour used to be chronic for me, often resulting in my feeling embarrassed and foolish – all because of my need to be seen as someone who gets the job done quickly rather than as someone who gets the job done right. Even as I write this now, I can see what a stupid tradeoff this is!
Anyone one who writes frequently will tell you that the final written copy being submitted must be the very best version of your document as possible; in fact, it’s absolutely critical, and here’s why: The quality of our written words say so much about us as people, and how much we value attention to detail. Our writing tells our audience (be it an audience of one, or a thousand) “who we are”, “what we care about” and whether or not our style is all business or easy like Sunday morning… It lets them know if we use language to purposely communicate our ideas effectively, or if we simply toss together a few words in effort to try and get our point across.
For me, I’ll go as far as saying that someone’s written communication gives me a sense of whether I’d feel comfortable having a beer (or ten) with them sometime on a sunny patio somewhere, or if I should just pass on the idea all together. Call me a grammar snob, but I truly believe that good writing can do all this and more; which is why sending out any written communication before it’s been properly reviewed is not only unwise, but can send the wrong message on many levels, to readers. As usual, this is one lesson I had to learn the hard way over and over again; but those days are now long gone, and I’m happy to share with you a secret of how to avoid these potential disasters; that being a little something I call the “24 Hour Rule”…
Back in pre-historic times, my boss would routinely have his secretary re-type my memos to correct spelling and grammar, (using a typewriter – Yes, I’m that old) which was both embarrassing and humiliating for me, so I learned a trick; whenever I thought my written work looked good, I’d wait 24 hours and then revisit it with fresh eyes to give it one final review, and edit if need be. Guess what? Every single time, my words ALWAYS needed editing! So I re-did them and passed them along to Mr. Big, who was (a) thrilled at my great use of the language, and (b) even more thrilled because his secretary had better things to do.
And there in lay the lesson; if my words always need to be edited, then perhaps making the 24 Hour Rule part of my writing process was a necessity rather than a one-off… Make sense, right? And yes, adding this step does mean an extra day’s wait, and also creates a whole bunch of work, but it’s well worth the effort, and here’s why:
My ambition with my blog (as in the one you are reading right now) is to produce quality written content for the purposes of both entertainment and education; in other words, I want the people who take time out of their busy days to read my posts to feel both entertained, and that they are walking away with a viable idea or action that might help them improve the quality of their lives in some way. Who knows? One week it may be a great BBQ recipe; the next it might be the introduction of an interesting person I’ve met. But if I don’t communicate my ideas effectively, or use sloppy words and phrases to describe them, then I won’t – and shouldn’t – be taken seriously as a writer. And if this was the case, folks wouldn’t want to read what I write, and therefore they’d not hear what I have to say, no matter how good the subject matter is.
Looking back at some of my very first posts (you know, the ones which I rushed to get them out “on time”) I’m shocked to see how fraught with gramatical errors they are, or worse; that they
have a employed poor use of language, are rife with spelling mistakes mistakes, or are missing the perfunctory (albeit shitty) profanity that I toss in every once in a while to make my words sound more like “my voice”… I know, right? But fortunately such grave errors are now all in the past, thanks to the employment of The 24 Hour Rule! These days, whenever I finish a written project I always make sure I take that important break, and then wait a day before going in for one final review to ensure my words are as close to perfect as possible – and only then will I hit “Publish”! Because after all dear reader, don’t you deserve my very best? Yes you do!
HOW THIS STRATEGY CAN HELP YOU, EVEN IF YOU DON’T WRITE A BLOG
“The way you do anything is the way you do everything” ~ Harv T. Eker
So what does my blog writing procedure have to do with you? The point I’d like to hit home is that all written communication – regardless of what it looks like – is important and should be taken seriously – but only if the people writing want to be taken seriously themselves. This means any and all written letters, blog posts, manuscripts, etc. but especially... drum roll please… emails. We all know that to be taken seriously by customers, clients, colleagues and bosses, then our work-related emails need to be well written and professional; but what about our personal emails? Do our friends deserve our written best as well? Is it really that big of a deal if we don’t watch our grammar, or spellcheck what we write to our friends? That depends. If you want your friends to view you as an uneducated idiot, keep sending out emails (or texts) like this gem I recently received. Seriously, check out this disaster and tell me if you would take the person who wrote it seriously:
“it’ sextremely upseting” “no surprize. nothing for us.” “yes, ill do itfriday”
Did I actually understand what this person was trying to say? Of course; that’s not the point. Such poor attempts at using the English language (which by the way, is our Mother tongue) has one message; it says “I don’t care about you” and “This is about all the effort I’m prepared to put forth”! Again, maybe I’m a grammar snob, but I feel I deserve better than that – I certainly make the effort to give much better than that. Besides, everyone knows that the little coloured squiggly lines showed up as they were typing and said “Hey dumb ass! This is spelled wrong!” but was clearly ignored, which – for me at least – says a lot about this persons character and respect for other people.
It’s so easy to avoid this kind of disaster, and keep your grammatical image and impeccable writer status intact; just remember to use the 24 hour rule! Do this, and when you eventually do hit “send”, you will do so with with clarity, confidence and above all, the utmosst respect for the reader, and ultimately yourself. Because putting our best foot forward never goes out of style.
And while other people may not notice if you take this much time and effort to get it right, they sure will notice if you don’t – as outlined by the troglodyte spelling lesson above. And really, is it that hard to make our written communication look good? I didn’t think so; who knows, you might even get a chance to use a cool word like “troglodyte” while you’re at it!
Now I have to wait 24 hours to review this to make sure it sounds good! Does that automatically make it “Cocktail time”?