A belated confession

I didn’t expect that writing for this blog would be so hard.

Words flow so easily when I’m creating a business document. Letters, proposals, business plans, reports, Board packages – they write themselves, almost. Perhaps it’s decades of the right words and document formats, the corporate mindset, the insider viewpoint. They get done in a flash, and they come out okay.

But when I write something unfamiliar, that blank page laughs at me. And the first draft (longhand, in my daybook) reads like shit.

I want to persist, though

And there’s a few reasons why.

  • Broadens my thinking. I don’t want to be that boring old fart in the corner who only talks one topic. Nope, that’s not in my future. The challenge of writing to a schedule about things I need to research, can only expand my world view.
  • Sharpens my thinking. I keep a journal and most days, I write anywhere from a half page to multiple pages. It’s basically a brain dump of whatever’s bugging me on the day, and the simple act of writing it down helps me work it through to the end.
  • Holds me accountable. Even if no-one reads this blog, the fact that my words are out there on the webz means I try extra hard not to write shit.
  • Improves my writing. Business writing doesn’t demand tight, crafted wordsmithing. It’s a worthwhile goal, though, and the yellow brick road to improvement in most things is paved with hours of practice and public accountability. A blog just like this one is a pretty good way to travel that road.

So that’s the idea of 350words.com as it exists now – on the surface, a blog about layering a new writing style over an older (but still useful) one.

Thanks for reading,

Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash. This post is 306 words.

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A decision is made

This is week 156 of Sonya’s “Three Line Tales” writing challenge.

“We’re making plans for you, Nigel”, Grandpa said. It was early evening, before dinner, and we were sitting by the lower pool with our legs dangling in the warm water. “Your father wants you in the business, and I agree.”

I didn’t want that. I knew what their business was, and I wanted no part of it. But I liked the luxury, the benefits, the fearful respect, the influence it gave the family, so I didn’t tell him my thoughts.

I was scared of Grandpa. I’d heard about what happened to people who upset him. So I nodded my head, and I was committed. For life.

Thanks for reading,

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Photo by Sam Loyd on Unsplash. This post is 129 words.

Why do people write so bad?

I saw this comment on a LinkedIn post today. It’s by Stefan Pieterse, and the LinkedIn post is here (to add context, the post was about people’s poor efforts at writing job application cover letters).

People can’t just not write cover letters, they can’t write in general. I see it every day. From emails, to what should be formal customer documentation, to internal presentations. They’re all rife with cringe-worthy spelling and grammar. Schools don’t teach it anymore, but it’s also laziness and apathy on the part of people themselves. If after 30 years you still can’t tell apart ‘there,’ ‘their,’ and ‘they’re,’ you are just plain lazy.

I do know the difference between those forms of  ‘there’ and it’s good to realise there are others who care enough about correct writing.

Although – I’m being anal here – I would’ve put the commas outside the quotation marks and not inside. But that’s just me.

Thanks for reading,

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I didn’t note where the image came from, sorry. This post is 168 words.

Alan died alone

I just felt like writing this. Sadly, it’s more or less true.

I knew Alan about three years before he died. His first wife had passed years earlier. His second and current wife had little time for him, once she’d emptied his pockets. He lived in a small retirement village with his books, a desk and a compact electric typewriter.

He was a career journalist, and a good one, in the days when that meant more than just a newsfeed and Google. He travelled often for his work, covering the Major World Events of the 60s and 70s.

Alan was especially proud of his friendship with Freddie Forsyth, himself a journalist before finding fame as an author. They would correspond the old fashioned way, by letter, and when they did manage to catch up in some city they shared ‘bars, beers and bullshit’, as Alan liked to put it.

He often said he had a book inside him, a really good one. But when Alan died in in sleep, alone in his little room, his book was still there.

Thanks for reading.

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When in Rome

I’m listening to the audiobook version of Robert Greene’s ‘The 48 Laws of Power‘. This passage was quoted in support of Law 25, ‘Recreate Yourself’.

The man who intends to make his fortune in this ancient capital of the world must be a chameleon susceptible of reflecting all the colours of the atmosphere that surrounds him – a Proteus apt to assume every form, every shape.

He must be supple, flexible, insinuating; close, inscrutable, often base, sometimes sincere, some times perfidious, always concealing a part of his knowledge, indulging in one tone of voice, patient, a perfect master of his own countenance. As cold as ice when any other man would be all fire; and if unfortunately he is not religious at heart – a very common occurrence for a soul possessing the above requisites – he must have religion in his mind, that is to say, on his face, on his lips, in his manners; he must suffer quietly, if he be an honest man the necessity of knowing himself an arrant hypocrite.

The man whose soul would loathe such a life should leave Rome and seek his fortune elsewhere. I do not know whether I am praising or excusing myself, but of all those qualities I possessed but one – namely, flexibility; for the rest, I was only an interesting, heedless young fellow, a pretty good blood horse, but not broken, or rather badly broken; and that is much worse.

Jacques Casanova de Seingalt, Memoirs

Thanks for reading.

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