Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Writing in Everyday Life

I received an email today from a coworker that was, well, let's say I would be hiding under my desk in shame if I had sent it out. At the least, I'd attempt to recall it and revise so it made sense.

Photo by: Renjith Krishnan

The email attempted to explain a technical issue and how this person and their team would fix the issue. Sounds simple enough, right? Have you ever asked a first grader to explain how something works? It read kind of like that. The whole message was probably two sentences, mostly due to lack of punctuation, but it was amazing how many varying tenses were packed in there. Some words seemed to have been left out entirely, with fragmented concepts connected by a never-ending stream of "ands."

Did I mention the font varied in color every few words for no discernable reason?

This message showed me how much our daily written communication can reflect on ourselves as writers. Sure, I make spelling and grammar mistakes, but you can bet if I'm sending out a mass email to multiple departments, I am spell-checking, proofing and sending that email in an approved and readable font (in the same color). Since I started writing fiction, I view my office communication in a new way. Is this the best and easiest way to say this? Am I over explaining? Can I edit this down from 8 sentences to 4, or break up the text so it's easily readable?

Have you ever read work communication that was so bad you save it to your personal archive to look back on later? Or, have you committed the crime of sending the UNFORGIVABLE EMAIL?


  1. I read my husband's e-mails before he sends them out. They're awful! Often times I change everything except the intro and sign off. Some people just aren't good at written communication. I think my hubby would be if he tried harder. He doesn't because he has me. Ha!

  2. I think I am good about sending out nearly typo-free e-mails. Some people don't care and don't realize how poorly it reflects on them.

    Yes, as a writer, I'm even more aware of mistakes.

  3. I tend to review info that is sent out, and I'm the editor of our quarterly newsletter which basically means I write the darn thing...all of it...alone. Yeah, mistakes creep and I cringe. Learning the craft has helped. A lot!

  4. I type pretty fast so somtimes I have little typos creep in there, which drive me crazy if I miss them. I agree though, the more you are aware of the craft of writing, the more glaring errors can be - our own, or from other people.

  5. I read my emails a couple of times before I click the send button, so hopefully I'm not sending out emails with tons of errors. I am human though (at least last time I checked), so I do miss a few things every once and a while. I always get so embarrassed, especially since I'm a writer! If only I could unsend those emails :(


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