Solution to Workplace Writing Woes

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The Association for Creative Business Writing now offers free membership for all writers in the workplace who want to write powerfully and persuasively.

Today, almost everyone at every level writes on the job. But according to the National Commission on Writing, as many as one-third of workers at America’s fastest growing companies can't meet minimum writing requirements. (Last year, companies lost an estimated $225 billion because of poor writing, reading, and math skills.)

The Association for Creative Business Writing (AFCBW) just added a free membership tier to broaden its ability to help all workers overcome their writing fears, phobias, and failings. It also launched a six-volume e-book series, "Inspiration on Demand," featuring solutions to common writing issues, such as overcoming fear of writing, writing resumes and cover letters, and writing attention-getting documents at work.

Membership includes a monthly free e-newsletter, "Tips, Tools, & Tricks of the Trade: Your business writing toolkit!" designed to inform and inspire writers at every level. For a limited time, new members also receive a free e-book: "Ten Worst Myths - and Best Truths - About Good Writers." The association also posts free writing tips on Twitter (WordWardrobe).

Experts agree
Recently, David Brooks, "New York Times" columnist and PBS "NewsHour" commentator, wrote: "No matter what you do in life, you will have ... enormous power if you are the person in the office who can write a clear and concise memo."

Lynda McDaniel, founder and director of AFCBW, agrees.

“AFCBW shows writers how to set themselves apart through clear, concise—and creative—business writing,” she adds. "The mission of AFCBW is to celebrate the creativity in everyone and offer support and inspiration that deliver improved writing—and results—in the workplace.”

AFCBW is designed with the latest "extended learning" practices to reinforce learning. Through online, year-round support, members can learn in the privacy of their office or home at their own pace—even with a busy schedule.

“Seminars and workshops are great, but without repeated follow-up, the new information fades like yesterday’s pop stars,” adds McDaniel, who is also an award-winning writer and journalist. “AFCBW offers just the right amount of instruction in weekly increments. Through a steady stream of information and inspiration, we make the learning stick.”

AFCBW products and services for success
"Words at Work," the award-winning book by McDaniel and AFCBW’s “textbook,” is packed with hundreds of tips and tools—as well as inspiration—to help writers achieve goals faster. ("Words at Work" won the National Best Books 2009 Award).

A sampling of writing tips from "Words at Work" and "Inspiration on Demand" include:

1. Let it rip.
Brainstorm with yourself. Jot down everything you can think of about the topic: your audience, what they need, what you can offer them, what’s in it for them, etc. Then organize those thoughts, starting with the most important information first, and so on.

2. Write first drafts fast.
Now start writing—fast. Just get it down. This isn’t the time to worry about typos and verb tenses. Write it quickly to save time and build momentum.

3. Cut, catch, and correct.
Next, spend the time you saved in Step #2 to edit several times. With each run-through, you’ll spot more writing mistakes. While you’re at it, cut most of your adjectives and adverbs. The copy reads sharper without them.

4. Break it up.
Use headlines, subheads, white spaces, bullets, and numbers to break up your writing. This works especially well in e-mail. If it looks too dense or boring, readers delete it.

5. Write to your readers.
Speaking of readers, be sure to write to them, not at them. Instead of dumping information on them, craft your message so it solves a problem or offers advantages.

6. Sleep on it.
Rest and let your writing rest. Then edit and proof again with fresh insights. If you can’t wait that long, at least take a break—grab lunch, sip coffee, or walk around the block. Then print it out and proof again. (For some reason we catch more goofs and gaffes in hard copy.)

About the founder and director, Lynda McDaniel
Lynda McDaniel has coached hundreds of executives, managers, and employees to write with confidence and style at the Key Bank, T-Mobile, The Boeing Company, YMCA, U.S. Small Business Administration and University of Washington. Her writing career includes clients such as DuPont, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Georgia Institute of Technology, High Museum of Art, First Choice Health, and Builders Capital Mortgage. Her long career as a journalist includes feature articles for magazines and newspapers such as Southern Living, Country Living, Yoga Journal, Associations Now, Restaurants USA, American Cinematographer, Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Charlotte Observer, and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Online credits include guideposts.com, beliefnet.com, and washingtonpost.com.

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