Practicing what I preach

With so much time spent on my freelance writing efforts, I’ve recently noticed I’m taking a closer look at the words I write. Kind of makes sense, right?

If I’m telling people everywhere I go that I’m a freelance writer, I guess I should make more than sure the content I produce reflects my best effort and abilities. So I’m taking a little longer when I tweet something. Although I’m still getting used to having so many more characters now that Twitter allows twice as many as their old 140-character limit. I’m glad to see that, although it will be interesting to see if the trash talk that can dominate Twitter on certain topics gets even more out-of-hand.

Editing 171111
Courtesy Creative Commons

So now I’m double- and triple-checking my typing and giving Grammarly another try. As someone who had to closely follow AP style in the journalism world, I still have habits like not using the serial, or Oxford, comma. Grammarly seems to always say I should, at least with their free apps.

I’ve always tried to keep my sentences short.

I had an interview for a copy editor position this last week that also reminded me to make sure I’m writing for whatever target audience is involved. That’s a challenge, too, after so many years of writing for the general public. It’s ingrained in my default writing style, so I have to make sure my words are what I need to use to reach the audience.

Then along comes a freelance assignment for a monthly newspaper. So I easily fall back into old habits for that audience. I guess it’s good to know I can switch back and forth in terms of writing styles. That’s a skill, right? I just want to get in the habit of making sure I’m remembering and concentrating on what I’m writing.

Not that I didn’t do that before, but the more you do one thing, the more it becomes a habit. So there were times in recent years when I would notice something wasn’t quite right in the story or content I was writing. I think I always caught myself, but now I’m taking even closer looks.

My emails are taking longer to write, since I’m being more careful. And I’m also trying to respond more quickly, to follow-up on what I wrote about earlier.

I guess the gist of all this is about developing good habits. Writers are gauged by their words, so you want to make sure they portray the artist (if I can use that word) in the best light. That applies to any other profession. To be successful, you have to put your best foot forward.

It makes me feel good that I’m taking the time to make sure my words portray the writer I see in myself. And yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so it’s up to those who read my words to pass judgment.

Now, if I get a bunch of comments pointing out mistakes in this blog entry, I’ll know I have to do even better. But that’s a good thing, too.

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