Writing that moves readers to action

Posts tagged ‘Language’

Get off that table…and SHAKE IT UP/OFF

As I attempted to gather and coordinate my limbs to extricate my jello-like body from the massage table, a phrase filled my head and would not release itself.  “Shake It Up” nestled in and coaxed me to invest time to wonder where that phrase had come from…and why it chose to settle in at that particular moment?  I was also curious what might have incited it to establish residence in my thoughts?  I wondered if it might be trying to pass something along – maybe some wisdom or knowledge that might enlighten me or others?

Perplexed by this quandary, a phase by Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) shared in David Brook’s new book “The Road to Character” slithered into my thoughts:

“It is always a writer’s duty to make the world better.”

and, as also shared in that same book…

“Johnson, then, conceives of writing as something very like a Christian sacrament, defined in the Anglican catechism as ‘an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given to us.”  (from Literary Critic Paul Fussell – “Johnson and the Life of Writing” p. 185)

Wow…now I clearly feel obliged to sort this out – why has this phrase become a brain-filler for me?  In order to tackle these new-found obligatory feelings, I took time this past week to ruminate on the phrase “Shake It Up.” I continually replayed the phrase in my head as I journeyed through my day.  I encouraged and sensitized myself to focus – become aware of and listen to any messages that might reveal themselves and, therefore, be nudged to unfold.  I repeatedly asked why it might be surfacing NOW…and what it might be trying to tell me?  I wondered if these words or this phrase might have a purpose or if they were just part of a random thought (I rarely have those)?  If by chance it was a random thought, I wondered why those words might come through together – in that exact order or phrase?  My search to find meaning lead me down many random paths…

THE PAST
Could this phrase just be a reminder of those amazing times – a time when I styled my hair in cornrows and donned outfits – including those stylin’ lace-up boots – that announced the wild and crazy side of me?  Or maybe it was just one of my favorite songs re-surfacing to remind me of what a blessing massage was…as it allowed me to again “worked it on out” and rekindle those “Twist and Shout” movements I treasured?

Hmmmm…probably NOT!!

Undefeated, I continued to explore…trying to find meaning.  Over the past several weeks, I’d noticed that I’d become acutely aware of the many changes affecting almost every element and aspect of society – and life – which really seem to be “Shaking it Up.”  For example:

  • For the FIRST TIME EVER, a ticker tape parade (205 since 1886) was held in NYC to honor a women’s team – the USA Women’s Soccer Team. Tickets (2,000 seats) for a ceremony at NYC Hall were offered. Within just under two hours, 12,000 requests were received.
  • The Confederate flag, adopted during the 1860’s, has sat atop the SC State House since 1962. Despite its controversial history, one has to wonder why is it getting so much attention and why removal is being acted upon NOV – in July 2015 – after so many years of “same-old-same-old” have passed?
  • Is it the first time in history a Pope has ventured into Burger King? Could there be hidden superman-phone-booth1meaning in this visit (i.e. a promotional spin to promote Burger King….”If it’s good for the Pope, it must be good for you?”)…or is the Pope simply trying out for the long unfilled role of a true Superman??
  • It now appears that an age-old personal pleasure (and in some cases a necessity) has become a cost drain for certain businesses. With the new chewing gum ban on airplanes, one wonders whether additional screening will be conducted at security checks to ensure that contraband chewing gum does not make it on to the airplane.

NOW…I might be on to something!?@%^

Have all of these events….and so many more…become the new norm?  Does this new norm encourage us to challenge, question or undermine EVERYTHING – even institutions we’ve grown accustomed to or taken for granted?  Will we continue to see this type of onslaught of “firsts”?  Are all of these “first” a good thing…or might they result in some not-so-good outcomes?  As I ponder and reflect on these “firsts,” that star-studded Taylor Swift enters my horizon…and I begin to think she might be on to something…which might help me gain balance between my existing or old world (“Shake It Up”) and the new world view that appears to be encroaching in upon me…“Shake It Off” .  As one posting fan shares:

“Can Taylor be the first female artist to get 2 videos with 1 billion Views!! I think so let’s go Taylor!!”


Crafted, researched and written by: LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2015 EM Carlock

Credits:  www.offthemark.com, blogofthecourtier.com, http://www.wanelo.com

WHO ARE YOU and how’d you get here, ANYWAY…???

As I pondered and began to write the content for this particular blog, something seemed out-of-whack – maybe even a bit backwards.  Feeling a somewhat disoriented, I asked myself “Shouldn’t I have posed these questions first before pondering and processing the questions that lead to my last blog – “FITTING IN…”?  Hmmm…?!@^

Well, as my mysterious (read:  twisted) fortune would have it, a relevant article that ignited my juices happened to appear after I wrote that earlier blog (isn’t that always the way it happens – what you really need to help you create or make decisions comes after it’s needed).  So, if it’s okay with you, I’ll just shift gears – from forward into reverse – for a while and attempt to continue down this exploratory path.  Hope that works for you – is not too confusing – and that you chose to continue to tag along?!

yep…me at 7 years old

Over the years, I’ve never stopped long enough to ponder or consider whether I would classify myself as a “geek” or not…however, after reading “The Rise of the New Groupthink and the Power of Working Alone,”I was nudged to suggest to myself to re-position my viewpoint and impose upon it a bit more reflection and thought.  I’ve shared my thought process below…as it might offer or shed some helpful insights…in case you’re in a similar state of mind.

WAS MY CHILDHOOD UNUSUAL…and/or DID IT OFFER ME UNCLEAR MESSAGES…?
Growing up in a large, extended family (Mom and Dad’s combined sibling count was 22 which, of course, was compounded  by at least 2-5 more each to account for mates and kids), we were continually surrounded by people and events (drop-ins “on-the-way-to” somewhere, picnics, volleyball tournies, weddings, funerals, etc.).

me-160001

yikes…me at 16 years old

Hedged into this type of “community,” therefore, created a natural feeling (or was it “assumed” to be natural?) about being pigeonholed into an extrovert classification  – you know someone with a gregarious, outgoing personality  – a marketing/sales-ish type who thrives on being surrounded and energized by people.

Given those non-grounded, unstable “assumptive” feelings and thoughts about myself and my interactions (hmmm, right…remember those slogans encouraging us to be wary of “assumptions”), the gravitational pull, force or natural inkling dragged me towards and propelled me into a career in Marketing and Sales.

WHERE MIGHT I HAVE FOCUSED (or what thoughts might have better served me and my needs)?
Within Susan Cain’s article, her book, and her repeated references to Stephen Wozniak memoir – iWoz, I found myself settling in and aligning with certain words, phrases and descriptions.  A few of those included:

  • Appeared “serious and bespectacled”
  • Possessed “an endearing mixture of stiffness and good cheer”
  • “Listens quietly”
  • Lived in one’s head “like artists”
  • Viewed solitude as “an important key to creativity”
  • Preferred to “work independently”
  • “Obsessed with reading, writing, researching, and sewing (you can fill in the blank) since the age of three”
  • Preferred control over “design without a lot of other people designing it for marketing or some other committee.”
  • Constantly attempting to “create privacy and autonomy”
  • In work settings “always by himself” – Considered “quiet midnights and solitary sunrises = ‘the biggest high ever’”
  • If with others, preferred to be “surrounded by kindred spirits or like-minded souls”

Now, after many twists and turns, I realize…had I paid a bit more attention to certain attributes or aspects of ME and my personality – and stuck with or accepted (maybe even emphasized) my “geekiness,” I might have been able to journey along a different life’s path – one that might have been a bit smoother…with a few less bumps…and enriched by a my unique “realness”).  As I position Ms. Cain’s words, phrases, and descriptions shared above alongside my photos (and recall memories from those times), I definitely see (and recall) a bit of “geekiness” in me.  In many early career work settings, I felt “stifled”, suppressed, and often deprived of my natural ability to truly exercise and deploy my skills.  Just as with all things in nature, balance offers the key…especially when it comes to being social and allocating solitude.  Balance provides the remedy or elixir to ensure the whole, functional individual surfaces – rather than being encouraged to relegate oneself to a “geek” or “non-geek” designation.

As I now pause to reflect on my current work, setting, and lifestyle, I innately know what “natural” feels like.

As Ms. Cain so aptly articulates…an ideal setting would be one in which “people are free to circulate in a shifting kaleidoscope of interactions…” one where flexibility exists to disappear into “private workspaces when they want to focus or simply be alone.”

So, I ask you…do you know who you are – deep down – or are you being prodded to “fit in”?  Do you know how you “do your best work”?  Are you willing and able to express who you are and what works best for you…in work…and in all other aspects of life?

Crafted, researched and written by: LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2015 EM Carlock

Graphic credits:   Yep, that’s me at 7 YO and, me again at 16 YO

WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO READ…?

Yikes…it’s been over a month since I last wrote.  It often amazes me how easy it is for the most important aspects of life – such as writing – to become part of the backdrop (even disappear) when the speed and intensity of life shifts.  Hmmm…have I brought this on myself?  Do I have anyone to blame but ME!?

For me, the Spring 2015 semester has begun.  I’ve enrolled in two classes – Psychology and Sociology.  Besides the walk to the bus and the ride to campus, I spend close to three hours two times a week nestled inside a windowless classroom.  As anyone who has enrolled in university classes knows…chores do not end there.  Reading, homework, and projects take over – even encroach on – one’s life.

Although I love the energy of being on campus and around energized thinkers, these classes don’t always fulfill my curious nature. I have so many interests and am continually seeking inspiration and ways to remain “connected” as I work out of my home office.  One great “resource” that has helped tremendously with these needs is joining several – actually many – LinkedIn Groups.

Up until early January 2015, I was a “member” of about 30-35 groups.  These groups range in disciplines from Writing to Sociology to Anthropology to Alumni and local network news.  No matter how I adjust my settings or allocate my time, I never seem to be able to keep up.  Now with all the added work placed on me with my new classes, it’s an even great struggle to prioritize and stay afloat.  I have been inundated with comments, articles, and other sundry posted items within those groups.  Receiving all of this information, however, does not appear to be the specific problem.  The issue has been the length of the titles people are creating (see examples below).

This, of course, caused me to wonder…Do these writers truly have an interest in participating in a “group” setting?  Do they really want people like me (maybe even you) to read and contribute on what they’ve written?  Do they experience and/or understand the tight, precious amount of time people actually have to indulge in reading what they’ve written/shared?  Or are these writers simply interested in rambling – using an array of words – so they can be picked up by search engines?

For those of us trained in the art and science of Marketing, the subject line or title has always been a primary focal point.  We were taught that the purpose of a title and/or subject line was to succinctly capture the nature of your piece in under 15 word.  Your goal was to GRAB and CAPTURE a reader’s attention – to encourage, inspire, seduce that reader – to delve deeper – to READ and to ACT!

Here’s a title that captured my attention.  The subject matter – likability and hiring – are both of interest to me.  The writer states her subject right up front.  By posing her thoughts in the form of a question, she is also extending an invite to engage in the conversation.  When I clicked on and read the piece, I discovered the content included the exact same subject matter Ms. Smith had stated.

“Do you find that likability is a top criteria when hiring? Why”? by Beth Smith

So what inspires you to read?  What do you allocated time to read and indulge in?  And, why?

Crafted, researched and written by: LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2015 EM Carlock

EXAMPLES – Lengthy Titles/Subject lines – and suggested changes

  • POSTING TITLE = 35 words:
    In the world of works, we all move from one job to the next for many reasons. Excluding the cash benefit factor of a new position, how does a new position benefit you and why”?

    • Suggested REWRITE = 7 words: “How a new position will benefit you”
    • Suggested REWRITE = 9 words: “X# of ways a new position will benefit you.”
  •  POSTING TITLE = 18 words plus link:
    |BOOKS| https://lnkd.in/bg5g_j9 Literature for older children is a neglected zone in China. Any suggestions about what teenagers should read”?

    • Suggested REWRITE = 9 words: “Need your thoughts…what should teenagers read in China”?
  • POSTING TITLE = 25 words plus links and contractions
    “It’s coming! #NationalAnthropologyDay will be on February 19th. How will you celebrate? Check out our webpage for ideas and send us your own – we’ll share them! http://bit.ly/NationalAnthropologyDay

    • Suggested REWRITE = 6 words plus link: National Anthropology Day – February 19th details at http:big.ly/NationalAnthropologyDay
  • POSTING TITLE: = 34 words
    “Hey folks! I’m going to be teaching an anthro 101 class this term and am toying with the idea of having students keep a reflective journal. Has anyone experimented with this in their class? Thanks”!

    • Suggested REWRITE = 8 words: Seeking thoughts on reflective journal for Anthro 101 class.
  • POSTING TITLE: =  33 words
    How are you dealing with the challenges and opportunities of disruption? Please do read and share my recent BLOG and join us at Creative Innovation 2015 to learn about disruption and the future.”

    • Suggested REWRITE = 12 words plus links: DEALING WITH DISRUPTION – read, contribute, and join us…BLOG (link); Creative Innovation 2015 (link)

 

DO WE REALLY LIVE IN a kinda sorta world?

Ever since reading Sunday’s New York Times opinion “The ‘Kind of, Sort of’ Era,” I’ve pondered, reflected upon and attempted to gather my thoughts around what Mr. Kurutz shares.  According to Mr. Kurutz, “Our language reflects the uncertainties of modern life.”

Mr. Kurutz explains that certain words/phrases are used to “lesson a statement’s force or meaning.”  He refers to words such as “kind of” and “sort of” as “hedge” words.  An example he shares is contained in a statement made by Peter Walsh, a University of Cambridge ecologist, in talking about Ebola:

“What’s nasty about it is it sort of melts your blood vessels.”

Wow…really!?  Is it truly possible to “sort of” – not fully or totally, that is – “melt one’s blood vessels”?

Being extremely over sensitive (or a stickler) about words and phrases – their selection, usage, and relevance – certain non-aligning, non-relevant and/or nonsensical words and phrases cause my funny bone to spasm each time I hear one randomly tossed (or so it appears) into utterances or sentence mixtures.  Often, a similar electrical type shock permeates my body as I hear (more…)

PROCRASTINATION delayed…

As I quickly jotted down this message for my weekly blog, I wondered if the title “Procrastination delayed” might possibly be an entertaining tautology?

In any case, my mishap has caused me to delay the crafting of my second in a two-part series on Procrastination.Messed up ankle

More next week…

Crafted, researched and written by:  LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2014 EM Carlock

AHHHH…dancing with words

As those of you who follow me and/or regularly read my blog know, I’m a huge fan of words – their origin, meaning, usage, dynamic nature, etc.  In the past, I’ve passed along some of their specific exploits – either in solitary form, flanked side-by-side forming or generating sentences, quotes, stories…or in so many other ways.  Many of those intriguing words journey with us and somehow manage to imbed themselves in our conscious and/or subconscious – even make us giggle or squirm.

when english majors marryRecently, between projects, I re-read the book Gulp by Mary Roach.  This book is definitely not for the faint-hearted.  It is not the type of book one chooses to read if desirous of calm, peace-filled bedtime slumber, nor would one grab for it when home in bed feigning illness and seeking solitude.  This book, however, overflows with fascinating (and entertaining) words, thoughts, and concepts that arrest one’s attention…and appear worthy of passing along…

ONOMATOPOEIA

Midway through her book (p. 143), Ms. Roach introduces and briefly articulates this technique.  While I often deploy the service of onomatopoeia, details on the definition/description alluded me…so, I searched and found (more…)

FLATTERY and COMPLIMENTS…elixirs or poison?

Over the past week, I’ve been pondering the nature of the current workplace.  As clients, associates, and friends share their experiences within corporations, government agencies or non-profit settings, my mind reaches to identify words that might help capture and summarize those experiences.

What I hear is that these folks tend to work long hours to sustain an increased workload, and they continue to express concern that they do not believe they are compensated for the expanse of work and/or the level of expertise expected of them; yet, they appear to be “appreciated” which is conveyed to them via “kind” words.

As I listen and absorb, two words consistently blaze across my horizon – flattery and compliment.  These words are often deployed interchangeably.  So, they seemed worthy of (more…)