Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Watch Your Words

It happens to me from time to time. Thankfully less and less as I follow this insight. If some bit of information rubs me the wrong way, I try and be wise about the way I respond. If you fire off the wrong words, you can inflame the situation rather than calm it. I find this true whether I am sending an email or writing something for these entries about The Writing Life. It's important to watch your words.

I find this especially true with these entries about The Writing Life. I've quoted journalists from publications like The New Yorker and received emails from them later that day. I written about authors and their books where I had no personal relationship or connection and received personal emails (of appreciation) later that day. The world is small and interconnected so you need to be aware of this fact. I'm not involved in investigative journalism or heavy critiques that will rile folks and I'm thankful about it.

Many people have forgotten that I do have a journalism degree from Indiana University, one of the top j-schools in the United States. Admittedly it was years ago that I took communications law but those lessons remain ingrained in my writing life and practices. I was reminded of the importance of watching my words when I read an article in today's Arizona Republic from Caryn Rousseau (Associated Press). Here's the same article which appeared in the Chicago Tribune. Notice the links and other information in this helpful article. A little forethought may save you lots of grief down the road. In general I try and follow the saying my mother drilled in me--and you've probably heard as well, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

It's a good word to the wise when it comes to your writing--of any type.

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3 Comment:

At 7:02 PM, Blogger Krista Phillips Left a note...

Excellent post! It is a reminder we all need in this day and age of the Internet, blogging, and the ease of having your every thought posted in the blink of an eye. I often find myself in a hurry, almost EVERYTHING I do is in a hurry, and I prattle off a reply or post, and then read it a day later and am appalled at my own response. Something meant as a joke, or typed in a hurry, comes across with malintent. Given my job that involves alot of highly sensitive topics, I have been through much training and have trained my employees about using the tone of your voice and your body language when dealing with situations. Unfortunately that doesn't help the written document. Your words are judged starkly, and every reader may add their own tone to it. It is crutial that we use our 'writing' skills to show love, even in our writing. I personally am a lover of a little debate, all in good fun of course. I remind myself daily that not everyone is, so my light hearted or passionate response may come across condescending vs the good natured way I was intending.

Thanks again for the reminder, and for all you do!

At 4:28 AM, Blogger Cindy Thomson Left a note...

It amazes me how people think what they say on a forum won't be seen by the whole world. I've heard of people losing their jobs because of something they posted somewhere.

By the way, Thumper (the rabbit on Bambi) heard that same advice from his mother! :)

Cindy's Writing

At 7:19 AM, Blogger skstewart Left a note...

Sometimes as professional writers we forget the work of writing - editing. Editing needs to be more stringent in our blogs and emails. All of us are too quick to hit the send button.

When I write for my blog, I do the same thing with it as I do with a print article. I let it simmer for at least 24 hours before submitting.

Another negative to citizen journalism is the traditional media is using the amateur video/blogs as real news. It has turned the profession into sensationalism rather than journalism.

Thank you, Terry, for the terrific information.



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