5 Ways to Improve Your Writing

Though English may not have been everyone's favorite subject, every career requires some skill at written communication whether you be a copywriter or a just a frequent email sender. As you write your memos or speeches or prescriptions or novels, these 5 improvements to your written words may make all the difference.

One \\ Use synonyms. A Thesaurus has been a favorite desk essential for as long as I can remember, but the synonyms feature on word and Thesaurus.com are also great resources. A great rule of thumb is to vary your syntax (sentence structure) and your diction (word choice) in each sentence so you aren't repeating phrases. Some favorite synonyms for "style?" Hmmmm... conduct, attitude, expression, propriety, savoir-faire.

Two \\ Always have a thesis statement. Every written word should have some purpose. Even when simply composing emails, it's to your reader's benefit to have some kind of statement of purpose, usually in the subject line. For essays and assignments and presentations, get to the point, quickly and specifically. A thesis statement should be a one-line summary of the topic of your writing. This is possibly the most important tip because all your other writing will stem from this statement. Does the body of your email or essay support this phrase? If a sentence doesn't directly relate to your thesis it's probably superfluous and you should take it out. Fun fact: the first thing I wrote when starting my blog is its thesis statement: "every individual has a unique style: a gem, deep inside that begs to be made known to the world." Each post celebrates and encourages that individuality!

Three \\ If you can say it in three words, write it in one. Much of our writing is colloquial, particularly emails and short memos. It makes sense, right? When we write, we are dictating to ourselves, thus a casual writing is usually very talkative and informal. The downside to this? If you are a woman (or man!) of many words, there are probably unneeded phrases sprinkled in your writing. Phrases like "due to the fact that" and "a large proportion" and "absolutely essential" can all be reduced or eliminated. For vocabulary enthusiasts, there are names for these unnecessary words: a tautology is a "needless repetition of an idea in a different word, phrase, or sentence," and a pleonasm is "the use of more words than are necessary for the expression of an idea." In other words, just get rid of them. For a complete list of tautologies and pleonasms, check out this resource.

Four \\ Be specific. In addition to removing unnecessary phraseology, it is important to be specific in your writing. Perhaps the most used comment I have when proofreading essays, "being specific" means your descriptions are concrete, definite, and specific. In fact, your descriptions are not descriptions at all, rather confident statements. Consider this example from Strunk & White's The Elements of Style:

A period of unfavorable weather set in.
It rained everyday for a week. 

Besides the reference to our current weather situation in Athens, the second phrase immediately gives the reader an image, (grey skies) a feeling (cold and wet), and an understanding of the situation. And notice the sentiment is expressed in fewer words.

Five \\ Read your words out loud. The very best proofreading comes from physically saying your words back to yourself. Reading an essay or memo out loud allows you to catch grammatical errors, identify awkward or wordy phrasing, and note any holes in your narrative. Though your roommates may think you've gone a little crazy reading out loud to yourself, this method is the quickest and surest way to improve your writing.

Bob and Annie and Nancy

The Intern, 2015
The best kinds of movies leave you inspired long after you leave the theater. It just so happens that The Intern falls into this category, and so does every other film done by its director: Nancy Meyers. You may recognize her name from the slew of your favorite DVDs lining your shelf with titles like Father of the Bride and It's Complicated and The Holiday and The Parent Trap. A true classy lady, Nancy's movies are known for their unique points of view, attention to detail, and of course, their beautifully furnished sets. The Intern excels in all of these categories and provides an overwhelmingly accurate commentary on friendship, success, and the modern woman. What particularly resonated with me is Meyers' depiction of the contrast between the Millennial men and Robert De Niro's character, Ben. Anne Hathaway mentions somewhere in the film that men used to be more chivalrous and put together - now they dress like little boys and there is very little incentive for them to grow up. We are a Peter Pan generation. I don't know if this is a good or a bad thing, but it certainly is an interesting talking point about modern culture. And of course, I fell in love with the artistic characteristics of Meyers' world, especially Anne Hathaway's wardrobe and her hip Brooklyn office. I love clean white washed walls and beautiful typography, both of which were expertly represented. My favorite Jules Ostin (Anne's character) outfit was definitely her first one: black flouncy skirt, cable knit white sweater and calf hair pumps. And she wears it to ride her bike around the office!!!

The Intern, 2015
Since seeing the movie with my friend Kaitlin one rainy Friday evening last weekend, I've read several interviews with Nancy and thought I'd relay some highlights for those of you unfamiliar with the movie and with Meyers herself. 

Tibi x Heery's

"Athens did Brooklyn before Brooklyn did Brooklyn." 
So said Amy Smilovic at the Tibi x Heery's event at The Cotton Press in Athens Thursday night, confirming that Ath-town style is the original cool.

A Georgia alumna and (major bonus points) a Chi Omega girl, Amy brought her popular line Tibi to Athens to show her Fall 2015 collection. Tibi fangirls and sorority sistas and Athenian moms (the most stylish ones of the group, truly) gathered together to show support for Amy and Tibi as well as watch a real life New York runway show. I'd never seen anything like it, and judging by my pictures, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the Athens and NYC runways. The event was cool and hip. We drank champagne out of petite little flutes and sat front row. We mingled and posed for photographers. (Okay, for superfluent Athens photographer Blane Marable but a photographer is a photographer, right?!)

But more so than the theatrics of the evening, I loved what Amy had to say about her story and her line. Mr. Heery of the popular and fashion forward downtown icon Heery's interviewed her prior to the show and she said several things that made me pause and think. Most notably, Amy graduated from UGA with a degree in Advertising and went to work for Ogilvy and Mather post grad. She worked on the AMEX account, later began working at AMEX, moved to New York, met her husband, and the pair moved out to Hong Kong. From there, Amy knew she always wanted to start her own business, and the opportunity seemed to present itself in China. Thus, Tibi was born. I certainly related to her story and loved hearing that she didn't necessarily start out to become a designer. Life just happens sometimes I guess.

Finally, I'll leave you with some of Amy's thoughts on style. She said this particular collection was inspired by comfortable clothes that you'll actually want to wear. "Like, if you feel easy and relaxed at a dinner party, but you feel guilty because you are so cozy," was her story behind the ensembles. She said that when we get rid of the self-consciousness that comes along with getting dressed, and we dress the way we want to dress, that is when true style manifests and thrives. I love this notion, and I want to think less about how I dress and how others dress and just wear what makes me comfortable and happy: just like that cool, cozy Tibi girl.

Below are a few highlights from the Athens show, but click here to see the full Fall '15 collection.

The Thing About Marketing People

notebooks by Archie Grand

I love marketing people. Whenever I am in a room full of marketing people, I want to stand up, raise my fists in the air and shout “my brothers!!! My bros!!! my brethren!!!!! I love you!!!!!” I will now attempt to outline exactly what it is about this special group of men and women that I so adore.

First of all (and probably least importantly), we like to party. We’re the socialites of business school. We’re the ones hosting soirees, popping champagne, dancing on tables. Our job is to know and understand the immeasurable crevices of the human mind so naturally we socialize A LOT. We’re talkative and chatty and silly and goofy and funny. Marketing people are the most interesting people in the room, but we’ll never let you know it. We're like the Kanye Wests of humility. 

Like all serious party animals, we don’t half-ass anything. We play hard AND work hard, to proliferate an overused cliché. We’re passionate about our clients, our brands, our stories, our customers. We care deeply. Enough to want to make others’ lives easier, better, empowered, inspired. We work day in and day out. We sacrifice our weekends. We collaborate. We don’t whine. (However, we do wine on occasion. Reread paragraph two.)

Marketing people are hospitable, welcoming, and immensely inclusive. We live by the philosophy that a good idea can come from anywhere and anyone. We don’t discriminate. Join our party, participate in our discussion, challenge the ways we think. We know the humblest of ideas turn into the best brand story, the best message, the most inspiring call to action. We encourage your creativity and when the idea goes viral, we praise you until you say, oh shut up already.

I love the goofiness of marketing people. Marketing people are real. We were the Lizzie McGuires of middle school, the Ferris Buellers of high school. The Liz Lemons of anything that came after that. We have Buzz Lightyears figurines on our desks or autographed The 1975 posters on our cubicle walls and we’ll be the first to respond to your email chain with a gif of the latest viral cat video or whatever. We’ll still be using the terms “bae” and “on fleek” well into our forties (ironically of course). We march to the beat of our own drums and we don’t give a shit. Our elements of style are so unique its insane.

We are powerful because to the meetings we bring the numbers: the ROI, the market research, the campaign test results, the qual and quant, the tough guy charts. But we are invincible because those numbers back up ideas. Ideas are what got America electricity. And Iron Man. Snapchat. The electric toothbrush. Ideas are what make life interesting, worth living, worth improving. Ideas change lives, improve standards of living, alter the course of history. One day, an Idea will cure cancer. An Idea will solve world hunger. I’m not saying Marketers will do all those things, but they will protect those Ideas. They will keep those Ideas in velvet-lined boxes and polish them daily. They will stand up for creators of Ideas, be they doctors or lawyers or college students. They will promote your Ideas.

What I love most about Marketing people in addition to all these wonderful things is our friendship. I think this might be the ticket to all our behind-the-scenes success because without community, there would be no market. We are genuine friends.

Thank you to my Terry friends and my JWT friends. Each one of you is a blessing and a badass, and for that I am truly inspired.