Category Archives: writing

Why I’m Too Cool For A Style Guide




I’ve always considered myself a good enough writer that those grammar and style books never really applied to me. I could remember reading Strunk and White’s Elements of Style in 11th grade and that was the only book on style that I have ever read.

But over the past year my writing has shifted from mostly writing history papers and essays to writing blog posts, comments, and status updates, and I’ve come to realize that the online world requires a different writing style than does a paper or essay.

In one of my classes, “Digital Writing“, we are using the Yahoo Style Guide to learn how to write for the web. Chapter 6 was all about the correct usage of punctuation, and when going through the list, I realized that I was misusing some of the punctuation in my blog posts.

I was a bit worried about this, because I want to be thought of as a smart writer, and at first I felt that my incorrect use of punctuation, plus my still evolving voice, would damper that.

But then I remembered reading a blog post by Judy Dunn on Cat’s Eye Writer Blog, where she said it was ok to have typos and break convention.

My friend, sales strategist and experienced blogger Lori Richardson, said: “As much as I try to not have spelling issues, it still happens. I like bestselling business author Michael Port’s emails. He always says, ‘P.S. I don’t charge extra for typos. They’re just my gift to you.’”

And she is right. Those typos will get through, even with spell check, even with editing and proofing. They just do. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

I don’t want to beat myself up over a misplaced semicolon, or an incorrect usage of a dash. To do so would hinder my creativity. This is my blog, and these are my words, feelings, and emotions.

No one should be able to tell me how to write.

Could I use some consistency and correct usage of punctuation in my blog posts? Sure, in order to become a better writer I will probably need to do so.

But overall I don’t think that you will notice much of a change. This blog is still all about me, and I hope to keep it that way.


The Consumption-Creation Conundrum

A diagram showing equal parts consumption and creation of content.



Sitting on the couch with my computer in my lap, my eyes strain to read the words of the latest post by Brian Solis titled, “Are You a Content Consumer or Creator?” I see a flash of red from the corner of my eye; it’s my Blackberry with another email. I pick it up and unlock it, only to realize that the time reads 1:30 AM.

Crap! Where has the time gone?

I had literally spent the last 3 and 1/2 hours using Google Reader to find articles that interested me – a How-To Guide from Mashable about finding Digital Marketing jobs, another post from Apple fan boy MG Siegler about the Verizone iPhone, and another article about the death of something, whether it be the web, blogging, or the flash drive.

But after reading Solis’ article, I realized that I was doing it all wrong – the absurd amount of time I spent consuming content I should have been spent creating content.

To Solis, the web has enabled everyday people like you and I to have a voice and a channel to broadcast ourselves; a break from an earlier period when many of us simply consumed the words and ideas of other people:

But then, everything changed. We were gifted with the ability to share what we think, feel, and experience, on demand. The democratization of information was finally upon us and we the people would ensure that our voices would be heard and felt. This was our time, quite literally as Time Magazine named “us” as the person of the year.

While true that the web has given ordinary people a voice and an outlet, Brian Solis is a little too optimistic. As he mentions, 68% of the internet population consists of listeners and not producers, yet there are over 125 million blogs on the internet, and over 255 million websites. That’s a lot of content! The web is so saturated with information nowadays that we are seeing tools for content consumption improve and increase; a trend which Solis finds troubling:

There’s more money in consumption than creation. And, that’s when I realized I was simply trying to justify it [iPad] as a tool for consumption AND creation. Truth is that it’s [the iPad] a beautiful tool for content consumption and curation. But, I challenge you to create at least equal to you what you consume…or at least more than you do today.

I don’t believe that it is imperative for everyone who uses to the internet to express their voice, but I do believe that they should have the channel to do so if they wish. Just because you and I have the right to vote and express our opinions, doesn’t mean that we always will.  Some of us might not care enough or have other reasons for not voting, and whatever you say to rationalize your decision is fine with me. So if you decide not to blog or update your Facebook, then good for you.

To each their own.

But I will say that Solis’ post did challenge me personally and intellectually.

I realized I was being haunted by Solis’ words when recently a friend asked me how many hours I spent blogging a week. I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t tell him exactly how many.

“10 hours,” I said at first, before blurting out, “No 20. Yeah 20 sounds good.”

But the more and more I thought about it,  the more I realized that I spend significantly less time writing blog posts than I do consuming other people’s content. I love reading a lot, but my problem nowadays is that I can’t recall anything that I’ve read in the past 12 hours, let alone a week or a month ago. Which is why I have to write everything down or else I forget. I guess it’s a byproduct of the explosion of the web and the information economy; the amount of information on the web comes at me so fast, I hardly have time to digest one piece of information before I have to move on to the next piece.

So, once I read an article, I’m going to start writing stuff down. Like blog posts writing stuff down. As someone who dreams of being a content creator for a living, there is simply no reason why I should be consuming more content than I produce.

Solis was right. There is a lot of money to be made in consumption. Think of how easy it is to read through all the items in your RSS feed, or watch Youtube videos of cats, than it is to write your own blog post that will end up in someone else’s news feed, or create your own cat Youtube video. Creating content requires effort and brainpower; consuming content, not so much.

When I read with the intent to consume, I just let the words wash over me, but when I read with the intent to create, I learn more than I thought I ever could.

So I’m going to challenge myself.

For every article I read online, I will either write a blog post or a comment. It may be short or it may be long, but that doesn’t matter. By consuming and creating equally, I just hope to achieve the balance of Solis’ last infographic:

A diagram showing equal parts learning and teaching from consuming and creating content.



How much content do you consume on a daily basis? Do you wish you spent more time creating? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Missing Post

I had a post written for today, but it went missing.

Where it could have run off to, I have no idea.

Maybe it’s floating around the web somewhere, attracting page views with it’s attention grabbing headlines, short paragraphs and evergreen content.


Actually what happened is all WordPress’ fault. I logged in while in class to finish my post but somehow all 500 words of it got deleted.

If I didn’t have class literally all day (from 10:05AM to 10:30PM), I would rewrite it.

But I do, so I guess I’ll just have to post an extra one this week.

Growing Up On The Web

My earliest memories of using the internet were back in elementary school, when we used Netscape in school.

As I got older, AOL became the huge company, and soon my friends and I were instant messaging each other and changing our aim status updates.

Then as a senior in high school, I created my a Facebook profile, which since then has documented the many photos, status updates, articles, thoughts, and memories throughout my four years of college.

Thinking back, I can see now that since I was about 9 years old, I have grown up on the web.


Yet today, at the age of 21, I have been more active online in a span of about 6 months than I have ever been at any point in my life all together – I blog, I tweet, I use Facebook and Linkedin.

Like most of the people my age, I have some youthful indiscretions. (Good thing my Facebook profile is private?)

When I first started blogging, I simply thought of it as a way to channel my personality onto a page, except that I didn’t fully understand that everything I put on the web, stayed on the web.

My first blog morphed into a music blog, and I began using some of the lingo of my peers and the music I listened to. To me, this was not a problem, but to my older brother – who pointed out that my expletive laden blog posts were showing up on Linkedin – it was.

I eventually unlinked my blog from my Linkedin profile, not because I was ashamed of what I was writing, but because I realized that my writing didn’t fit the medium. Imagine how it would look if I was at a business conference networking, and started using cuss words in my dialogue?

Then today I read an article on Social Media Today by Tracy Gold, titled “How Social Media Can Get You a Job“. Her last point was to “Google yourself”, and to preemptively combat any negative information about yourself.

For about 15 minutes, I went into panic mode, thinking about my blog with all the curses.

I had applied to maybe 3 or 4 jobs, and hadn’t heard any responses.

What if I wasn’t getting any responses because of what I wrote on my blog?

So I forced myself to do something I’ve always dreaded doing (go back and read what I wrote a few months ago).

As I was browsing through the posts, not only was I dismayed by the poor quality of writing (awful), but I could also see that I used the F-word about 20 or so times, as well as some other choice vocabulary.

I began thinking about what my parents, friends, potential employers, or even random visitors to my blog would think when they read my posts.

Would they just assume I spoke like this in real life?


After I finished reading my old posts, I calmed down however. For one, I could see that my later posts didn’t contain any profanity at all, which is good because the whole first page has no profanity, meaning you’d have to dig a little deeper to see them.

Second, why would I want to change or erase something I wrote, something that is a part of me, even if it is embarrassing?

CEO Eric Schmidt made headlines last year when he predicted that in the future, young adults will be able to change their identity to escape their youthful indiscretions. (Think of that Facebook picture of you hitting the bong.)


I’m not going to get too deep into what Schmidt said, but I don’t really agree with him.

I value those posts with the expletives as much, if not more, than the posts I write to help people with whatever they need.

Want to know why?

Because I took chances, pushed boundaries, made mistakes, and as a result, I learned valuable lessons that will remain with me for the rest of my life.

Isn’t that part of growing up? Making mistakes? And then learning from them?


So if an employer is not going to hire me based off what he saw me write 6 months ago, when I was first blogging, then good; I probably don’t want to work for that employer anyways. If they can’t see what I’ve done since that initial phase (including this post), then they don’t deserve my skills, creativity, and experiences.


Have you made any mistakes on the web? What did you learn from them? Share them in the comments below.

A Proven 5 Step Method to Writing Your Own Short Stories

Have you ever wanted to

You may think you don’t have the time, or that you are not creative enough, but you can write your own short stories, if you follow my 5 Step Method.

I developed this method as a means of writing every day, and I have to say that it has been instrumental in making me a better writer.

So without further ado, here is my 5 Step Method for writing short stories every day.

1. Choose a specific place and time to write short stories.

You don’t want to just pick any time and place.

You want to pick a place where you won’t be distracted. For me, it’s the table in the dining room of my apartment.

I’ve programmed by brain to understand that the table is for getting my writing done, and nothing else.

Also choose a specific time where you will be more motivated and inspired to write.

For me, the evenings work best because I’m not an early riser. You however, may be.

The location and time are irrelevant, what matters is that you pick a place and a time for you.

2. Lack inspiration? Why not try using an image?

Inspiration can come from within, but finding daily inspiration to write your own short stories can be difficult.

A great tool I use to find inspiration is StumbleUpon.

Basically StumbleUpon is a social network that allows you to browse the web and discover amazing things.

I use StumbleUpon to find amazing pictures, and then I craft a story around it.

The image provides that initial spark to get my creativity flowing and makes writing short stories much easier.

I study the image for a few moments, write down some ideas, and then get started writing.

Trust me, this trick works every time.

3. A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words.

And therefore you should keep your short stories to a 1000 words.

As you begin crafting a story about the image, you’ll find that you have a lot to talk about.

Take this image for example.

A robot is holding an abandoned baby in a dark alley and there are cops chasing him in the background. What can you make of this image?

Well you can now ask, why was the baby abandoned? And why are the police looking for the Robot? Does this take place in the future? Do robots even have feelings?

4. Write Continuously.

This is often the hardest part for me, and it will probably be for you.

Writing continuously is hard, because it forces our minds to think of things on the spot.

At first, this will be difficult but don’t give up, it will get better with time.

The reason why I write continuously is because if I stop and think of what I want to say, then I will eventually get writer’s block.

It doesn’t matter at this stage if the writing is good or not, because I will eventually go back and edit it.

Which leads us to the last point,

5. Sit on your story for at least a day (I do a week), and then revise it.

This is probably the most effective technique; even Copyblogger recommends it.

Mark Twain and William Faulkner did not write great short stories in one sitting. Rather it took them years.

By leaving your story alone for a day or a week, you can go back and remove any consistencies, add more details to your story, and just improve your writing in general.

You might be tempted to think that your story is good the way it is, but there is always one thing you can do to make your story better.


So this is the method that I use to write a short story every day, and it has worked wonders for me.

You don’t have to follow this formula exactly, but if you are dedicated to writing and working on your short stories every day, the better you writer you will be.