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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Importance of Writing Well

"Life Recipes" by Alison, writing from Pennsylvania, USA

Writing well is so very important, yet unfortunately it seems to be a slowly disappearing art form. Basic sentence structure and spelling have suffered greatly due to the prevalence of instant and text messaging among teens and younger adults. There have been times, while exchanging instant messages with someone that I actually had to read out loud what they had written. That was the only way I could understand it. I would have been more forgiving if I had been chatting with someone whose native language isn’t English, but I wasn’t. I was chatting with a fellow American. I quickly reached a point that I no longer wanted to continue the conversation. I wasn’t quite sure if I was communicating with an adult. Of course, I am sure they were, I just was tired of the child-like communication abilities. I have come to the conclusion that most people have failed to realize how important that first impression is. When all you have is a small instant message screen, what you say and how you say it is of utmost importance. It sets the tone for the rest of the conversation.

One place you do not want to have child-like writing abilities is at work. Some writing I have read by other adults is absolutely atrocious. No, we don’t have to be a Pulitzer Prize winner or win the Nobel Prize for Literature, but we are still expected to be able to communicate in a professional manner. If you are still in school, please, do yourself a favor. If you need practice writing…practice. If you need help…get it. You will thank me, and yourself.

Not only is writing well so important, but so is conveying your thoughts and feelings in a clear manner. This became apparent to me last week when I received a response to a message I had sent. Over the last few weeks I have been watching the online documentary, Hometown Baghdad. I was deeply moved by the short stories told by the three young Iraqi men featured in the short clips. As a result of my curiosity, I had found a way to send a personal message to one of them. Although I was very impressed by his English, I still wanted to keep my message fairly simple. I also wanted to convey all the feelings that the documentary had generated in me. I took my time, wanting to make sure that I wrote exactly what I was feeling. Satisfied with what I had written, I sent off the message. Within a few minutes I received a response. After reading what he had written, it was at that moment that I realized how important it was to write clearly.

Writing well helps bridge the initial gap with others from all over the world. The internet has been able to connect anyone who has access to a computer with everyone else. When utilized properly, this can be an amazing tool. Someone sitting at his or her desk, sipping coffee in Seattle can have a conversation with someone in Colombia, Italy, or Turkey who also loves coffee. What I am saying is...we live in a global community. We are not limited to only knowing the people living in our home town any more. Speaking and writing proper English is crucial, especially since people who speak English as a second language usually don't understand slang. Native English speaking people should be grateful that the majority of people speak our language at some level or another. Of course that should not deter us from learning another language. It should give us the appreciation of their ability and the incentive to meet those people and learn about them. When thinking of all the foreigners I have met over the years who I have maintained contact with over an extended period of time, I realized that part of our communication was through the written word - being hand-written letters or through IMs and e-mail, I am thankful for my ability to be able to write in a clear manner. Naturally, I have to make adjustments according to their ability, but I am still very thankful that they have any ability, since I am only fluent in English.

When all is said and done...when we start communicating properly with others...we start to learn about them. Once we start learning...then we start understanding. That is the first step to acceptance. How wonderful would the world be if we all accepted each other for who they are?

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