This article is by Carolyn Henderson, the managing half of Steve Henderson Fine Art. A regular contributing writer for FineArtViews, Carolyn’s alter ego, This Woman Writes, publishes lifestyle articles in online and in print newspapers and on her blog site. The co-owner of Steve Henderson Fine Art with her painter husband Steve, Carolyn is the author of Grammar Despair: Quick simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say him and me or he and I?” and the money saving book, Live Happily on Less.
Last time I wrote about spelling errors and grammatical issues in e-mails (Serously, This Haz Gawt to Stopp), and why this isn’t such a great idea for the artist trying to sell himself to a gallery, magazine writer, future employer, potential client, or anyone else he or she is trying to get to notice him or her, and the art.
Now of course, in Linked In, Kevin Roose pulls in a half-million readers explaining How Spelling Mistakes and Bad E-mail Etiquette Can Help You Get Ahead. While it’s true that being novel, unusual, or strategically sloppy can potentially get us noticed because we stand out from the rest of the crowd, it can also backfire.
So a good rule of thumb is, if this communication is really, really important to us, then it’s to our advantage to take the time to get it right. It’s highly likely that care and attention to detail will go more in our favor than against us. (As an aside, if we’re shooting this missive off because it doesn’t really matter to us what the result is, why are we wasting time on it in the first place?)
Whereas in the last article I discussed what the reader may be thinking when they read our strategically or accidentally sloppy communication, this week I want to talk about our potential excuses, and shoot them down.
1) We’re writing from our phone. I’m putting this one first for a reason, because it’s the number one excuse many people give for typing “i” instead of “I,” or shrtning wrds evn tho they probly hav auto-spell.
I know I’m guilty of doing the “i” versus “I” thing, or not capitalizing a name in the midst of the sentence because I don’t want to turn off Auto-spell, take care of the capital, and go back to Auto-spell, HOWEVER,
I only do this when I’m writing my kids. If I am writing anybody in a professional capacity, I treat the job professionally -- which means that the message goes out with complete sentences, fully spelled words, and understandable syntax.
If we must write somebody from our phone, let’s keep the message short enough so that it can be correctly done.
2) We’re really in a hurry. Always.
Again, if this is something that absolutely can’t wait, then keeping it short will also keep the mistakes at a minimum. But if we can possibly put this off until we have time, this is the better option.
Writing a good letter -- be it text, e-mail, or on a piece of paper -- takes time and effort, and telling ourselves we’re taking too long over the thing and need to get it done now just doesn’t work.
This morning, I spent 45 minutes writing an extremely important three-paragraph e-mail -- I went over and over and over it; I checked thesaurus.com for just the right words; I read it to the Norwegian Artist to ensure that it said just what we wanted it to say, and in the tone we were shooting for.
Because it was such an important e-mail, I gave myself a break and didn’t put time limitations on it. The potential result of this communication was significant enough to warrant spending however long I needed, and I’m happy to say that the investment yielded positive results.
3) We’re a lousy speller, or a person uncomfortable or not as skilled as we want to be with writing, so stuff happens.
I understand this -- I’m a lousy painter. That’s why I don’t do it, and leave it to the Norwegian Artist Steve Henderson, who is a brilliant painter. Writing, however, is something all of us are called upon to do, especially when we are treating our art business just like that -- a business -- and eventually, it’s unavoidable.
If we throw our hands up at the thought of writing and simply can’t do it, it’s worthwhile seeking out a good writer and asking them to check over our work. While this may not be practical for every communication occasion, it’s well worth the effort (and money, if necessary) to secure help when what we’re writing is especially important.
The amount invested initially should pay off over time, especially if the writer reviewing our work explains why this needs to be changed, or why that phrase isn’t working.
Next time -- Bump up the Professionalism of Your Business Writing