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Hello friends,

It has been quite some time since I have posted here, and there is a good reason - I just haven't had the time!

That's also a bad reason :-(

Writers know that between hectic schedules, writer's block, happy times, and melancholy moods there just aren't enough hours in the day to sit down and write something worthwhile. Yet, thousands of professional writers make time every day. While you may not be a full-time professional writer who has nothing to do all day except record your musings, you are old enough and wise enough to schedule time for those things that you really want to do.

(Pausing for all rolling of eyes, smacking of teeth, and the occasional light bulb going off in someone's head.)

If you commit to writing more often and you hold yourself to your own commitment, you can fit more in each day than you knew you could. Schedule a time to write instead of just trying to do it when the mood hits you (trust me, that mood won't hit for weeks sometimes). Re-evaluate what you do each day and how much time you spend doing it; you may be able to cut some fat there. Dream, and then awake from dreaming to the desires you have that are related to your writing goals.

But you know all this stuff, right?

I know you do; I know it, too. However, we all need to have our memories refreshed to the tenets of good writing and time management. Even with all of the latest communication technologies making it easier and easier to both record and publish your thoughts, the hardest thing for a writer to do is make time to write. I therefore now believe that the true key to becoming a better writer is simply committing to becoming a better writer.

Sure, I'm preaching to choir, but as a soprano I can tell you - the choir needs a good sermon, too.


Thanks for stopping by, and I will be blogging again soon,

I.C. Jackson

I used to be what you call 'wordy' - everything I said had to be expressed in the most prolific manner possible. I didn't do it on purpose, though; it was just a part of who I was. I admired wordy people (Cornel West probably being the worst of the bunch), I was a lover of literature, and I was an aspiring writer to boot.

(If you're not rolling your eyes, you're probably an English teacher or a wordy birdie yourself...)

So, I knew a lot of words, and I used them...ALL of them...all the time.

When you're writing in hopes of being canonized, that might be the way to go. However, I learned the hard way that if you're writing for business or for a broad audience, being wordy only serves to annoy people and muck up your message.

Here are five tips to help you say more with less and actually connect with an audience consisting of more than just book worms and college professors:

1) Sum up your entire message in one sentence, NO MATTER WHAT. In writing composition, a thesis statement is the writer's proposition, or the point that he or she is looking to make. A thesis statement (not to be confused with the thesis paragraph) is one sentence, period. If you can't make your point in one sentence, your point is not yet clear enough for you to try and communicate.

2) Write an outline.
When I was in school, I absolutely despised outlines. They were a lot of work, and they seemed to stifle my creativity. The reality, however, is that outlines are literary lifesavers; after you compose a thorough outline, your composition will really write itself. An outline will also help you to stay on target and not stray too far to the right or to the left when elaborating on segments of your message that you may feel more strongly about.

3) Write as if your audience only has an 8th grade education.
The truth is that they probably do; the average American reads at an 8th or 9th grade level. So, if you are Sir or Lady Snootypants, you will lose most people, which is counterproductive. If you write for profit, you absolutely MUST find the lowest common denominator and build upon it. Remember, the point is to communicate effectively, not just to express yourself.

4) Proofread with a red pen and cross out ANY and ALL unnecessary words.
No matter how pithy and conservative you think you are in your writing, you can probably go back and remove some redundancies and fluff. Particularly when you're passionate about your topic, it's easy to say the same thing over and over without knowing it. In writing, enthusiasm usually equals redundancy, so swallow your pride, pull out the red pen, and cross out what you don't absolutely need to communicate your main idea.

5) Become active on Twitter.
If you're not yet on Twitter, you've got to try it. It's a virtual writing exercise that forces you to communicate your message in 140 characters or less. Not 140 words, 140 characters. I find myself typing out what I want to say and then cutting the fat afterward to make it fit. Communicating on Twitter really helps condition writers to cut waste and fluff in their writing. When and if you are on Twitter, add me as a friend!


Keep it simple, get to the point, and get out of there!


To your continued success,

I.C. Jackson

You know that you are speeding along the information superhighway when one of the hottest social networking websites around, Twitter, restricts your correspondence to messages of 140 characters or LESS. How on earth do you market yourself, socialize, and craft meaningful relationships when you can only post a couple sentences at a time? While I'm an advocate for saying more with less, Twitter really forces you to do so. Twitter is a great marketing and list building tool, but many users do not leverage it for all it's worth because the concept simply leaves them scratching their heads.

So, Web 2.0 enthusiasts find themselves asking the information age old question: "How do you effectively express yourself in only 140 characters?"

You can indeed build a solid web presence with Twitter in your online social networking arsenal, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how to reach people with so few words. Here are seven ways to pack some power into your Twitter tweets and reach more people online!

1) Think before you post - then speak your mind. The first rule of Twitter is to tweet strategically. Since you only have 140 characters to sell yourself or an idea, so you don't want to waste even one character with fluff, dribble, or anything ineffective. Although you may choose to 'let your hair down' sometimes and tweet about something mundane or insignificant, you should still put a certain spin on it. Whatever your objectives are on Twitter, tweet from that angle or with that goal in mind - even if you are just talking about your breakfast.

For example, if you are a health expert, instead of tweeting,

Eating a bowl of very healthy cereal. Yum :-)


You could tweet this:

Making the most important meal of the day count - gotta preserve the temple :-)


Find your angle, and work it! It will help you to say a lot more with fewer words.


2) Share valuable web resources and info.
Contribute to the Twitterverse, and that good "Twitter Karma" will come back to you! If you're a giver, you will be rewarded with more followers and you'll gain more social capital along the way. Don't burden your tweeps with every single little article you come across, but if you think that it can add value to the lives of others, share it. It says that you are a valuable resource, too.


3) Inject some humor.
If you have a sense of humor at all, there is someone on Twitter who will appreciate it. Even if it's quirky, it's a very easy way to reveal who you really are without making yourself vulnerable or saying too much. My sense of humor is a little different, but I have a number of Twitter friends who laugh and some whose off color humor makes me laugh. It makes tweeting more enjoyable, and those particular individuals more memorable.


4) Answer others' questions. When you can't think of anything to tweet, start reading others' tweets. Be helpful and maybe start a conversation with someone who you don't know so well...yet :-)


5) Break all the rules and just let your thoughts spill out. Every now and then you have to go a little crazy. When life spills out, let your tweets spill out. Need...coffee...now!!! Ever felt that way? When you feel that way, tweet that way. It lets everyone know that you are real, genuine, and not just someone trying to blast their own marketing messages.


6) Sprinkle some Ascii art on your tweets.
When you only have a few short words, make them stand out with a little Ascii art! These kind of tweets also provide bright spots in what can look like a very boring profile page or tweet feed.

You can either say,

Goodnight, Twitterville :-)


or

Nite all! {-_-} ZZZzz zz z...


Both of them work, but one grabs my attention and makes me remember the tweeter behind it. Get one-line Ascii art for Twitter here.


7) Stand out with special HTML characters.
Another cool trick you can use to spice up an otherwise boring tweet is to add html "dingbats" to your messages. Add stars, flowers, and even airplanes to your expressions!

☛☛☛ Copy and paste these html special characters here ☚☚☚


Twitter is a surprisingly effective way of communicating with both friends and complete strangers to foster relationships for fun and profit. That's why so many people are there; it's fun, challenging, and most of all, effective. Say more with less, and have a good time doing it!

By the way, if you don't already, follow me on Twitter to see how I put these tips into practice :-)


To your continued success,

I.C. Jackson

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