What you can–and can’t–control

samsung-galaxy_tab-hand-smIt’s easy to prognosticate and pontificate on the future of digital this and that, but the reality is any one of us has very little control over the future of where the communication of ideas is headed. Like most people, we ride the waves but can’t control the weather. That’s why it’s nice sometimes to focus on the day-to-day things that we can control. Here are five examples of writer’s rules—little truths of our trade—that reconfirmed their validity this week:

  1. Edit with an axe, not a scalpel. The editor called for 1,000 words; you’ve written 1,500. Do you try to eliminate every third word? Or do you delete one of your three or four major ideas? Delete a major idea. It’s better to have fewer, but well-thought-out, ideas, than more ideas without the words necessary to support them.
  2. E-mail is like a snake. It may bite you. Remember two things: check that you’re sending your e-mail to the correct person before you click send. And don’t type anything you wouldn’t want the whole world to read. Save the character assassination for another venue.
  3. Speaking of e-mail…There is definitely a generational gap among users of e-mail and the internet. Here are some examples of goofy online behavior from the older crowd: Googling a website address instead of just entering it into the address bar. Getting flustered at too much e-mail in one’s inbox (delete key, anyone?). And from the younger crowd: a visceral dislike of voicemail because it takes too long to check it. (Really?) Either text them or just hang up. They’ll see that you’ve called.
  4. Speaking of e-mail, part II…Don’t assume an e-mail made it to its destination. This is particularly a problem with millennials, who dislike picking up the phone to see if an e-mail arrived. (Truthfully, maybe they should have just called in the first place.) An all-too-often used excuse is “I e-mailed them and never heard back.” That’s digital laziness. Pick up the phone.
  5. Always confirm how to spell the name. Whether it’s someone’s last name, a place name, a business name, or what have you—if you didn’t confirm its spelling, you may spell it wrong.

While we can’t do much about Windows 8 or what Apple’s next “game changer” will be, we can take care of business in the office with tips like these.

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