Monthly Archives: August 2017

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Fall is almost here, but are you prepared for a new season of writing? Whether you’ve been punching away at the keyboard all summer or not, autumn is a great season to refresh, recharge, and renew your writing life. Here are five tips to help you get ready for fall writing—and produce some of your best work yet:

Collect Fresh Ideas

Think about the summer and what you learned or experienced in the last few months. Tap into your senses to discover a new twist on the changing colors, air, and pace of this time of year. Attend a lecture or do some reading. Ideas are everywhere; find something unique to share.

Write a List

Goals are important for successful writing because they keep you organized, on task, and productive. Put together a list of them. Make it as detailed as you can, knowing you can alter your list as needed. Then put it somewhere visible to serve as a reminder and motivator.

Make Some Useful Purchases

Need a new writing desk? How about a new dictionary or a style book? Now’s the time to buy. There’s a full inventory of office and school supplies available, many at discounted prices. Take advantage of the deals and get your writing tools updated.

Join a Group

Writing groups are an ideal way to advance your craft, network, and keep you inspired to write. Find a group online or in person and get connected. You might also join a writing organization related to your genre. Many writing organizations have national and local chapters.

Prepare a Schedule

After the unstructured months of summer, it can be hard to get back to a routine. Take the time to prepare a schedule—and a plan for following it. Decide when you’ll write during the weekdays and weekend. Spend a day or two trying out the new schedule to see how it feels.

Fall is one of the best times of year to get serious about your writing. In fact, many writers create some of their best work during the autumn months. Let the above tips help make this writing season a success for you.

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Semicolons get a bad rap for being a punctuation mark that’s outdated, pointless, and confusing to use. But many of those arguments have no merit. In fact, semicolons can serve an important purpose in writing, no matter what it is. Knowing how to place semicolons in the right spot for the right reason, though, is key, and can make this underrated punctuation mark a writing tool worth your time and attention.

Here are five things you need to know about semicolons. Use them mindfully, and see why there’s nothing semi about them.

They’re Effective for Emphasis

If you want to emphasize your point by reinforcing it with a similar thought, the semicolon can help you out. For example, “She never works late; only a crisis would keep her at the office past five.”

They’re Best When Not Noticed

Don’t let the semicolon stand out and distract the reader. Instead, slip it in where it won’t be noticed. Too many semicolons are noticeable. Just one strategically placed within a paragraph on a page is all you need for a subtle break from the usual punctuation.

Sometimes They’re Better than a Period

Semicolons can often be replaced by periods, but sometimes a semicolon is a better choice. If the sentence needs splitting up but doesn’t make two different points, try the semicolon. It might be just the connector you need.

Sometimes They’re Better than a Comma

That’s especially true for complex lists—like those that already include commas. Example: She did three things this morning: read the paper; planned her trip to Washington, DC; and made a yogurt, berry, and granola parfait. Choose semicolons over commas with transitional adverbs, too: She knows how to knit; however, she only learned the skill yesterday.

They’re Nothing to Fear

Don’t be afraid of semicolons. They won’t make you look like an amateur. In fact, semicolons are completely acceptable and even a good thing when used properly. Practice using the semicolon and get comfortable with it. You’ve got nothing to lose, other than your fear.

If you’ve wondered whether you should use a semicolon, wonder no more. It’s a useful punctuation mark that’s full of value and function. Go ahead and get on the semicolon bandwagon; just be wise with it for the most impact.

Image by SpeedyGonsales