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In today’s world of loose rules and anything-goes sentence structure, bad grammar often gets a pass. But using effective grammar is essential for readability, credibility, and clarity in writing. If you think you could use a grammar refresher, look no further. These five tips will help you hone and improve your grammar—so you can give your readers a satisfying, stammer-free experience.

Take a Class

Why not enroll in a grammar refresher course? They’re fun and challenging and help sharpen this important writing skill. Recommended classes include the Editorial Freelancers Association's Grammar Combo course, ed2go’s Grammar Refresher, and Media Bistro’s Grammar and Punctuation. You might also check with a local college or community education program for onsite grammar refresher classes.

Download a Grammar App

There are many grammar apps out there, so why not take advantage of this useful tool? Grammar apps do everything from point out errors in your writing to offer quizzes and games to make learning fun. Some of the most popular grammar apps include Grammarly, Oxford A-Z of Grammar and Punctuation, and Grammar Up, but an online search will reveal many more.

Explore a Grammar Site

Websites set up to assist with grammar can be a great resource for those especially interested in learning more about the mechanics of good writing. Three to consider are GrammarCheck, Daily Grammar, and Purdue Online Writing Lab. These sites include newsy information on today’s use of grammar as well as helpful hints to keep your grammar spotless—and spot on.

Invest in a Good Style Guide

This is a must if you’re a writer. Style guides give rules for how editors (self-editors too!) should handle all kinds of grammar-related issues—from basic mechanics to word usage. For tips on choosing a style guide, check out Allena Tapia's article on the subject. Style and usage books, like the classic On Writing Well by William Zinsser and Strunk’s The Elements of Style, offer important grammar help for writers, too.

Read

You’d be surprised at how many grammar tips you can pick up by just reading a book. Plus, reading is an entertaining and informative way to hone your craft. So go ahead and read to your heart’s content. But instead of reading as a reader, try reading as a writer. Your grammar won’t just improve; so will your overall writing.

Don’t let your grammar fall by the wayside. Take it seriously, and make your writing as professional and crystal clear as it can be.

 

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I recently read an article that said the weight problem in America (over one-third of us is obese and two-thirds are overweight) can be partly blamed on sedentary jobs. I guess I should consider myself lucky because I don’t have a weight problem and I’m a writer. Then again, I don’t really think it’s luck that puts me in the minority. Sure, I may be blessed with high metabolism, but I also have a few tricks up my sleeve that I would be remiss not to share. Here’s what I do to keep the weight off despite my sedentary job. It’s not rocket science, but it works. The key is, I do these every day, no breaks, no excuses.

  1. Snack smart. Snacks keep a lot of sedentary workers happy during the work day, but snacks can be a huge problem for weight control. Although I’m not a big snacker, when hunger strikes mid-morning I’ll answer with something really flavorful—without the calories. Pomegranate seeds (during the season) and spicy tea are two of my favorite snacks. Other good choices are carrot sticks, yogurt, apple slices, string cheese, popcorn, raisins, and almonds (but just a handful).
  2. Fiber up.Too much sitting isn’t good for the digestive system. What is, is fiber. If you don’t get enough fiber from your diet, a fiber supplement can help. But fiber supplements really aren’t necessary if you make a conscious effort to eat fiber-rich foods. My daily picks include high-fiber cereal, flaxseed, broccoli (see below), berries, and nuts. Oh, and don’t forget the water. I keep a glass of it at my desk and refill it throughout the day.

    Flaxseed, a Good Source of Fiber

  3. Shun the soda. Regular soda is bad news, but diet soda may be even worse. Its biggest problem is the artificial sweeteners, which can contribute to metabolic syndrome. Soda, especially the caffeinated kinds, can also be super addicting. If you drink it habitually (as many desk-bound workers do), do everything you can to stop, even if it means a week of headaches. If plain old water doesn’t satisfy your thirst, try unsweetened fruit juices, teas, or flavored water. Avoid the high-cal coffee drinks, too.
  4. Schedule exercise. I know from experience that writers have a hard time breaking away from their work, especially when they’re stuck on a sentence or paragraph. Fortunately, I have a dog who appears at my side at a certain time of day to let me know it’s time for his meal and walk. If you don’t have a companion (or the self-discipline) to nudge you off your chair, keep a clock nearby, set it if necessary, and take that daily exercise break. Go for a walk, head to the gym, or pop in an exercise video. Make the routine as important as finishing that paragraph.

    Schedule Exercise Daily (copyright Kenneth Allen)

  5. Veg out at meal time. No, not on the couch. In my lingo, that means eat lots of vegetables. At lunch and dinner, I try to fill my plate mostly with lettuce, beans, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, etc. Why veggies? They’re low-cal, loaded with nutrients, and filling. Plus they make you feel good. Fruit, on the other hand, I limit. Although I’m a big fan of raspberries and blueberries, most fruit has too much sugar, which is not ideal for weight control.

So that’s it! Five easy tips. Give them a try. The only thing you’ve got to lose is a little weight.