Monday, May 31, 2010

Improving the Quality of Writing

Many bloggers try to earn something writing the advertising posts in their blogs. I blog from 2006 and began to write that articles from 2007, I think. I don't know about those bloggers that earn hundreds of thousands with their blogs (except those known "gurus" that, probably, really do it). Most bloggers I know have only "pizza-money". If they have them.

One day you finally understand, it's not the right way to work. It's a slave job. And nothing depends on you. It's lack of respect for yourself, if you work so much and sell your efforts for zero, practically.

Thinking about it, I began to look for other applications of what I know to do. And I know only write.

English is not my mother-tongue, I never participated on special writing courses and never use English out of my blogs. So, I never would think about more or less professional writing in English. But in the last period I received some assignments from UK, and these companies wanted correct English.

Beginning to write with more attention to the language, I discovered different bad habits I acquired, writing without taking care about the purity of the language. Here they are:

1 I've never corrected spelling in my posts, comments, mails.

I write very well Russian (normally, it's an exception of the rule -most persons in all countries write with errors :-) ) and when I read any written text with errors in Russian, I feel bad. Why I never thought that other persons can have the same feelings towards English?

There are different reasons we have spelling errors. The fingers touch an other key or do not press them good, the keyboard does not work or we are distracted by our thoughts... It's so simple to use Gmail Documents where there are different Tools (Spelling/ Word count/ Word definition etc -all these in different languages that you can choose). I don't like writing there, they, Documents, are not very comfortable in use, but it's simple to paste there the text for controls after finished it.

2 Very scanty number of words I use normally in my written English.

If you take any dictionary and look at the fist page, you will find the number of words this dictionary contains. Here I have a little English-Italian dictionary with 120 000 words, as example. Nobody uses so many words in the normal life conversations.

From the time I was a student I remember that a 6-7 year old child uses about 3000 to 7 000 words. The genius of Russian Literature, A.S. Pushkin, used 21 290 words in his works. I wanted to know, what about English. A very interesting article in AskOxford (Facts about the language) gives this number:
If we decide that around 90-95% of the corpus gives a reasonable idea of an average vocabulary, we are left with a figure somewhere in the range of 7,000-50,000 lemmas: say, 25,000.What does a vocabulary of this size represent? It represents the set of most significant words in English: those which occur reasonably frequently and which account for all but a small part of everything we may encounter in speech or writing. It includes all the words that we actively use in general everyday life.
It's probably true for the most used words generally. Not the number of the words one person uses.

Our lives are very repetitive, researchers say. We do always the same things, visit always the same places using the same itineraries, say always the same words. One of the writers describes a person, Elochka Cannibal, that used only 10 words to explain everything she needed in her life. "Guy!!! Cooool!!!!" with different tone had different significations. In confront of English I feel myself similar to that Elochka, from time to time.

To solve this problem, I have a special system.
Because I need contemporary spoken language, reading books is not very fortunate decision (even if this is always indispensable). Some teachers advise to read newsletters and magazines, but the journalist's language is not "alive". This exercise is good if you have not other sources. A really great solution today are blogs. It's enough to find persons which language you like.

I adore to read Perry Marshall's and Hope Clark's newsletters. I read them with a pen in the hand and a notebook where I write all their "pearls". I have some other interesting newsletters. The treasures I collect in my notebook I try than to use in my articles.

3 Grammar is a tragedy of my blog posts.

Well, what can I add here? Grammar is the main point. You can't explain your thoughts correctly if you don't compose your phrases in the right way. And this is not the worse side. The worse is that the readers do not understand the thoughts you want to explain. To prove it, I post here an example I found today, reading grammar rules:
You should not ride motorcycles that are dangerous. ( it restricts which motorcycles (only the dangerous ones) should be avoided)
You should not ride motorcycles, which are dangerous. ( according to this sentence, all motorcycles are dangerous and should not be ridden.)
What a difference a comma can make! (Writing Center)
Looking for good free English lessons I found these sources:
The 25 Absolute Best Web Resources for Writers
JenniferESL and bizpod in YouTube.

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