Tag Archives: writing

You Are Never Alone as a Blogger

I had a discussion last night with a long-time prominent blogger. During our conversation, we naturally strayed towards writing and community building, topics with which we are both very familiar. This is someone who puts out extremely high-quality content on a daily basis. He is constantly pushing the limits, drawing in new people with his wisdom, humor and beautiful style. I couldn’t help but ask how the heck he manages to maintain his blog with such consistency year after year. I was quite relieved with the answers given.

I’m not the only person out there in blogger-land who sometimes wonders what the heck I’m doing this for. It’s not only me who feels that it’s insanely difficult to make your voice heard above the crowd, nor am I the first person to think that I must be nuts to keep going. My friend not only experiences these same thoughts and feelings, he pointed to many other well-known writers who are in the same boat. We’re all rowing as hard as we can to reach shore. I’m starting to think, though, that that shoreline shouldn’t be our goal.

Reaching the shore means the end of a journey. I don’t know about you, but I think my trip is still in its early stages. There is so much out there I want to see, do and conquer online, both personally and professionally. Why am I trying so hard to get my feet back on solid ground? I’m not adrift or lost at sea… I’m merely checking out previously uncharted territories to figure out where all I may fit.

Burnout is a common theme amongst us all. Fear of never “making it” haunts each of us on a daily basis. We’re pushing ourselves every day to try and write more, be more creative and stand out. We pretend to be friends with those who we “compete” against instead of creating actual connections and relationships. That needs to end. We are alienating each other instead of developing bonds which will in turn make us stronger.

We shouldn’t be competing with anyone other than ourselves. Blogger A and Writer B can both be wildly successful – even if they write about the exact same thing. There are billions of people online and I’m pretty sure they each visit more than one website. Having real friendships with other writers allows you to stretch your mind in different directions. It can and will open up new possibilities for your writing style and rang of topics. Debating current issues with your peers – whether you’re discussing politics or tech – can strengthen the influence you have with your own readers.

One of the biggest keys to maintaining the level of output we expect of ourselves is to remember that we are not alone.

Punctuation Abuse is on the Rise

It’s a well-known fact that I tend to become a tad upset when people do not obey the rules of PUGS. Blame the English teacher in me. Point the finger at my upbringing. Taunt me if you will, but it drives me completely batshit crazy to see the lack of proper punctuation floating around these days. I swear it’s becoming an epidemic! Spend five minutes reading any blog, Twitter stream, or Facebook Wall and you’ll understand where I’m coming from. It’s enough to make me reach for the unboxing juice… even when I’m not opening anything!

Whether you’re trying to save time or hoping to come across as cute or funny, it’s not working. Intentionally spelling words incorrectly makes you look like an idiot. Adding extra letters isn’t “cool,” it’s just plain silly. Attempting to be l33t is so 2009, dude. Knock it off! Take the extra time to spell words correctly and add in those commas or periods.

How is anyone ever going to take you seriously if they cannot figure out what the heck you’re trying to say? Sadly, it’s not only teenagers I see doing this on a regular basis. There are many adults out there who are just as guilty. I actually read a blog post a few hours ago that might have been phenomenal if it wasn’t full of run-on sentences and words spelled incorrectly. This post was written by someone I respect under normal circumstances. Glancing quickly through other pages on his site, I was saddened to learn that this happens regularly. Apparently, he doesn’t think enough of his readers (YOU!) to take the time to get things right.

I’m not perfect. I make mistakes occasionally – even with my PUGS. The key is that I don’t do it on purpose. I also don’t do it often. I spend those extra few moments to check through my work. I fix up any errors I may come across, and go back to correct anything that is pointed out to me later on. Maintaining a professional image is important to me. I would hope it is to you, as well.

For those of you who are sticking your tongue out at me right now due to the fact that you’re only fifteen, you need to pay attention. You aren’t a business person yet, no. You likely aren’t worried about how professional you appear. It’s also quite probable that you haven’t yet realized that your digital footprint will follow you for the rest of your life. You read that right: the rest of your life. Just a few years from now, you’ll want to get into a great college. One look at your Twitter stream may get you turned down pretty fast, young grasshoppers.

Be mindful of what you’re doing. It only takes a few seconds to type out a word the right way. It takes even less time to add in some punctuation. Doing these small things can boost people’s perception of you in a very big way.

Too, To and Two

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For the last video in the Grammar Teacher series, I had to discuss the difference between the words too, to and two. Too often, people are either too lazy (or just don’t care) to use these words properly when writing. How hard is it? And by the way – these videos were done at the request of viewers. That must mean they have several people they want to send these to!

Too is an adverb which means in addition to. It can be used in a sentence to indicate more than one thing: I am going to the mall, too..

To is a preposition, used for expressing motion or direction toward a point, person, place, or thing approached and reached, as opposed to from. I am going to the mall later today.

Two is a number! It comes after the number one, and before the number three! Some of you write as though you are still two years old.

It’s not rocket science.

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The Other Mike from TechCrunch

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If you’re not following Mike Butcher on Twitter, you’re missing out! He writes for TechCrunch – but only for a specific part! Mike and I ran into each other at the [re]Think Hawaii conference recently, and had to talk about social media, and his take on things.

As I mentioned, Mike writes for TechCrunch. He started out writing only for TechCrunch UK, and has turned that into a gig writing for all of Europe and the surrounding areas. In Europe, Asia, and the like, everyone is spread out. Mike and his team work hard to bridge that gap, and bring you the latest news and information from everyone “across the pond”. They now have a total of 16 writers on board!

I asked Mike how he got his start in social media, or what drew him to it. He’s been writing about the Internet for many years, including for a magazine awhile back in London. He also worked for the American magazine Industry Standard quite awhile ago. After this, he began doing some freelance writing, and met Mike Arrington in London. He started talking with him, forged a relationsihp, and bam! Mike was off and running, writing for TechCrunch London.

For Mike, the Internet IS the office. That’s where he works, and where he lives. He feels that this is the new way of “doing journalism”. I have to agree with that, obviously!

He was drawn to the [re]Think Hawaii conference for several reasons. This conference had people from the US, China, and even Europe. It brought together a number of different personalities from all walks of life, and from every corner of social media and technology you can think of.

If you happen to run into Mike at a conference, take the time to talk with him. He’s a great guy, with excellent insights on the state of social media in Europe! Be sure you follow him on Twitter, as well.

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What Do You Read?

Earlier today, I posted a video (and blog post) filled with tips on how to maximize your comprehension when it comes to whatever you are reading. That video made me reflect on the types of things I tend to read. I don’t often sit down with a book. When I do, though, my concentration is so absolute that I tend to tune out everything else. I let myself become absorbed by the text. This allows me to truly comprehend and digest whatever it is I’m reading.

I also spend a great deal of time reading things online. I’m constantly perusing blogs, forums, website postings, news sites – you name it, and I likely read it if it’s online. Even though it’s something I’m reading on a computer screen, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve my full attention. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t just as important as a book I can hold in my hands.

What do you read the most? Do you spend time curled up with a book, or are you like me… preferring to read what people in the world are up to, thinking, feeling and writing about? If you haven’t been keeping up with what people are doing on Lockergnome and Geeks, now is as good a time as any.

Be sure, as always, to keep your eyes on our downloads pages. We’re constantly updating it to bring you the very best and hottest software and apps at the lowest prices we can get for you!

What Role Do Blogs Play in Your Life?

Even if you’re not a blogger yourself, chances are you read a few of them. It seems like everyone is blogging these days, including my mom on occasion (so ok, maybe not recently). Heck, even when you aren’t intending to read a blog, you may end up doing so after following a link from a search engine when you’re looking for something specific. Let’s face it – blogs are everywhere.

Obviously, blogging is a central part of my life. The work I do here plays a large part in not only my work life, but my personal one, as well. I like to think I’ve found a good balance between the two, and try to keep them as “equal” as possible here on my site. My friend Robert Scoble is the same way. If you go through his blog, you’ll see that he also has managed to balance life/work/family, and wrap it all nicely into his blog.

To me, that’s the way a blog should be. I’ve seen people who have several different blogs. They may post work-related things to one, personal to another, and social things to yet another. Where’s the sense in that? Why can you not post everything in one central place? Both Robert and I – along with many, MANY others, have managed to do so. If you have more than one blog, why do you? I would like to hear from some of you “multi-bloggers”, and hear your reasons as to why you do things the way you do. Understand that I’m not putting down the way you do things. I honestly feel that maybe I am missing something, and not seeing the whole picture.

In any case, blogs are important. They can be a source of information. They can keep you current on what’s hot – and what’s not. They can give you different viewpoints on matters that you may not have otherwise thought of. And, they can make you laugh. So, I ask you…

How do reading blogs impact your life? For the blogs you go back to time and again, what attracts you? Is it the content itself, or the author’s writing style? Are you gaining information, educating yourself, or just having a good laugh? What types of blogs do you subscribe to – and how many of them?

Our Lockergnome community is devoted entirely to bloggers, with topics ranging from IT to Dogs – and everything you can think of in between. Over on Geeks, we have a large number of bloggers, as well. How many of these people are you taking the time to follow? If you aren’t checking them out, you’re missing out.

I have a team of people working hard every day to bring you updates on all of your favorite programs and apps, and let you know about the best new ones available. Keep your eyes on what’s new every day, so that you don’t miss out on anything!

Helping Writers Find the Right Words

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Writers often need help in choosing words. This project is working to develop tools that will help writers by showing them some of the alternative ways by which they can express their ideas.

For writers, a thesaurus can be of help, but the results are often not relevant in the context intended. For common words, the list of suggestions can be very long, yet the right word never seems to be in the list.

Microsoft has a new solution This involves a huge thesaurus that has more than 1 million keywords and key phrases! The size makes it much more likely that you will find a great alternative for pretty much any word or phrase you can think of. The tool can even attempt to rewrite an entire sentence. It will look at all the combinations of words and phrases in your sentence, and suggest replacements for each of them.

The goal of this project isn’t to improve the work of professional writers. This is geared towards everyday writers like you and I… those of us writing emails, blog posts and even term papers for college.

Wouldn’t you like some assistance with finding just the right words?

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How to Improve Your Writing

Geek!This is Outsanity’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

I chose to craft a tutorial (if you want to call it that) on how to make your articles more readable to human eyes. No, I’m not trying to insult anyone. Not yet, anyway. I wanted to write… well, type this because watching Chris read and react to poorly drafted articles is fun – then you almost start feeling sorry. Not for Chris, but the ones who wrote the essays. Oy vey! Chris is an English major, so errors are like his Kryptonite (in a way). I’m not perfect, but I’d like to think what little I can pass on will help someone else. Not just for this contest, but any time you’re going to write anything. I’m not Stephen King, but I know the best thing I can do to make my entry more error-proof.

  1. TYPE YOUR ESSAY IN A FULL-ON WORD PROCESSOR! There is a chance you won’t have grammatical or spelling errors in your writing, but let software help you find them before someone else does. Don’t assume that you know what goes where. Yes, you could compose in a text file but then you’ll have to do the next step.
  2. If you haven’t started, use the Spell Check feature in Microsoft Word (or whatever word processing program you use). There’s no excuse for NOT using it. Don’t have Word? You can use Google Docs or any amount of online dictionaries. Heck, there’s even http://www.spellcheck.net/ to use at your disposal. Too bad they don’t make punctuation and usage checkers, eh?
  3. Have your article proofread by someone. It’s something you should do, anyway. Not just entries for contests, but for school projects (or even for work). There’s nothing wrong with asking someone to look something over – unless it’s something bad about THEM, then you’re boned.
  4. How you type on the ‘Net should not be how you write an article. Normally, you, of all people, would more likely type like this: “i am hug fan. I need dis new computer to play mah games.” – or something worse. Please don’t do that outside of instant messages or text messages to friends.
  5. Don’t try to use big words in your article. I never know why people do this. You know you’re not that smart to fool anyone by tossing out ten-dollar words. Just keep it simple. You’re not earning any points, Mr. Fancywords.
  6. Always plan what you’re going to write. Never think you can just wing it if you’re not a seasoned writer. That only works in school. Oops! Ignore that last part. Write from your heart, but know where your heart is – and make sure it’s in sync with your brain (and, vicariously, your fingers).
  7. Eat some food. All the thinking and typing will most definitely drain your energy. The best thing to eat, other than everything, is Ramen. It’s a quick meal, easy to prepare, very filling, and extremely cheap.
  8. If your body can handle it, drink caffeine – and lots of it. Most likely, you might be writing at times when most people are asleep. Coffee, tea, soda – whatever it takes. Of course, don’t drink too much if it causes you to get jittery.
  9. Eliminate distractions. That means no TV, DVDs, or music players. They will slow you down, even as background noise. You might think you’re a multitasker, but your brain should remain focused on the task at hand if you want it to be a quality piece of work.

That all I have for now. I hope that you’ll take these words of wisdom seriously. These tips might help you become a better writer. Well, I’m hoping they will. If you suck to begin with, then all bets are off. Anyway… good luck and godspeed, my friends.

The Top Ten Ways to Win a Writing Contest

Geek!This would have been swordofdestiny’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway, but he’s a chat room moderator and ineligible. However, since I’ve received hundreds of poorly written and plagiarized articles today, I felt the need to share his list with you. If you’d like to submit your own ORIGINAL how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are very close to my own:

  1. Choose a completely overdone topic. Don’t go out on a limb and try something new. Stick with what everyone else writes about. It works! Don’t contribute anything new to your overdone topic.
  2. Rant about your topic. Everyone enjoys a good soapbox rant! So do it! Make it a long and boring rant that regurgitates everything you’ve ever heard about the topic. If anything is contrary to your belief, dismiss it as bias. No one can possibly oppose you! You know it all! They know nothing!
  3. Be vulgar! Be very vulgar! Vulgarity is like the salt and pepper of a good manuscript. Your writing is useless unless it contains at least one occurrence of each word in George Carlin’s “Seven Deadly Words.”
  4. Make references to all of your favorite movies, tv shows, and books! Who cares if the adjudicator has never seen an episode of Star Trek? If they haven’t your paper is obviously too good for them to read. They should rinse their eyeballs in vinegar for such a blasphemy!
  5. Misuse the words “your” and “you’re.” Remember, those two words are interchangeable. Forget that one is the possessive form of you and the other a contraction of the two words “you” and “are.” Misuse “its” and “it’s” for bonus points!
  6. Use LeetSpeak. Obviously, if the adjudicators can’t read your manuscript they are intellectually inferior to your “pwn4g1ng 0f t3h n00bz0rz.”
  7. Don’t indent! Indentation is for people who like too many spaces! When you indent you lose precious space that you could be filling with your intellectual greatness!
  8. Forget using the enter key! The enter key is cruise control for failing! Make your manuscript one long super paragraph. When you do, the adjudicators can smell the amazing palette of words that you are sending towards them.
  9. Forget grammar, spelling and punctuation. Don’t let the mechanics of writing properly in English perturb you from emptying your soul onto the paper. Proper grammar, spelling and punctuation is for unintellectual baboons who should be banished back into the jungle from whence they came.
  10. Plagiarize. Who cares if it’s illegal? At least one person, somewhere on the World Wide Web, has written about your topic before. Why put forth the effort to make something original? Why do it yourself when someone else has done it for you?

Are Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling Important?

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PUGS is my acronym for the words punctuation, usage, grammar and spelling. Just because I have a degree in English education doesn’t mean that everyone else does. If you have any trouble with any of these things, there is a website that can help you. All of these things, in relation to the way you communicate online, are important. If you don’t have a firm grasp on any of these, how do you expect to be taken seriously? Imagine that you get an email from someone who sounds like a third-grader. You can’t help but wondering how that person got hired. That’s how people look at others who cannot communicate well in written form. Luckily, there is SpellChecker, ready to help.

SpellChecker is an online spelling, grammar, and thesaurus tool. It’s so simple, a third-grader would actually be able to use — and benefit from — it. Simply type or paste your text into the box, and click the SpellCheck button. A new box will pop open with your words inside. You can now choose from one of three options: SpellChecker, Grammar, and Thesaurus. The SpellChecker tab will highlight in bold red any words that you have spelled incorrectly. There will be an area under your text showing suggested replacements for the wrongly spelled word.

The next tab is the Grammar tab. Once you click on that, anything they consider to be improper use of grammar will be highlighted with blue underlined text. Again, there will be suggested replacements underneath. Clicking the Thesaurus tab will again highlight you in blue underlined words, and give you suggestions for other words you can use instead. That is very helpful, and makes it much faster to determine when you’re using any particular word too much.

The next time you write for your job, your blog, or even in an email, consider using Spellchecker.

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