Saturday, December 22, 2007

Whats Write Today is All About Writing Out The Garbage

I recently read an article from a writer about writing. I have read many, many, ok, too many books about writing. There are books on writing techniques, how-to write any topic you can think of, books to encourage and motivate writers, books about writers and the list goes on.

This particular piece made a difference because of one piece of advice. The writer suggested that you start each day out by taking a few minutes or more than a few minutes if you need to, and write out all of the junk that you are feeling. Writing out the junk or the garbage first thing, allows you to get down to business and open your mind to writing better both in form, content and it even helps improve the mechanics.

I have been following this procedure for the past month or so and I have to say it is the best procedure I've used in a long time. OK, so you are thinking that writing out the garbage sounds pretty much like writing in a journal, which any writer worth his or her words, does on a regular and long-term (life-time, actually) basis.

But this is journal writing with a defined purpose and pre-determined outcome. You can write about anything, not necessarily your life, and just write for the sake of writing. You don't have to worry about grammar, punctuation or whether it sounds better with this word or that word. You just write. You let the words work their way to the page without restriction.

It really works. Try it. Write the garbage out.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Write-on topic today is tipping

I just read a column from a very popular and well-read columnist in one of our local newspapers about tipping those people who assist us in everything from getting a good meal to hanging up our coats.

My philosophy on tipping has always been, if I get good service -- I give a good tip. My son bases his tips on whether or not the waiter or waitress keeps his ice-tea glass full. My husband only really wants to tip when my son or myself guilt him into tipping.

My almost-daughter-in-law used to do hair for a living and relied on her tips to help make her car payment. She felt that all of us should tip 20% no matter the service, no matter the empty glass or the cold meal or the forgotten eating utensils. She used to tell us, "These people depend on tips to live on" and we should all appreciate that fact.

The local columnist believes that we should always show our appreciation for service -- be it good or bad -- because all people have bad days now and again. My own thoughts are that I always treat my servers or hostesses or coat check persons with the utmost respect and manners. I always say please and thank you and always ask and never demand.

I have sat at many a table with many a professional where the servers are treated as invisible entities that are only important when you need something. I have also been guilty of not knowing for sure what our waitress or waiter looked like. But, in my defense that only happens when my mind is still thinking about a problem or is replaying a conversation or when I am really writing in mind. In other words, when I am other-wise preoccupied, I have forgotten to look at my server but I have always said please and thank you.

Does that mean I tip 20% every time? No. I tip according to my service. Granted, we all have bad days but when I hold back on my tip it is because I have observed the server being very nice and attentive to other tables and she or he has chosen my table as the one to bear the brunt of having too many tables to serve.

When I perform poorly with a client (this rarely happens but again we all have bad days) I may not loose pay, but I hear about it from the client and/or from my boss. When a server chooses me or my people to take out their bad day on, I don't tell their boss nor do I tell the server about it -- at least not verbally. I let them know what I thought of their performance with the amount of tip left.

A recent article about Hilary Clinton's campaign team not leaving a tip at small diner they visited on the campaign trail (including Hilary herself who by her own description graciously spent time talking with the waitress) is probably the most horrific example of how servers are taken for granted. The wait staff said that no tip was left but the campaign team said there was a $100 tip left. Who do you believe and why?

At some point we have to admit that we really, really need the waiters, waitresses, parking attendants, hotel staff, coat checks and all of the other titles assigned to persons who serve the public in the most seemingly invisible ways. I love my Starbuck servers. I know manyby name. I know many of their personal details. And, they always know what I want before get to the counter to order. I love how that makes me feel.

I love the servers at my favorite Chinese restaurant when they see me come in the door and they say, "Good to see you back. You want your usual?" It makes me feel wanted. It makes me feel important. It makes me feel appreciated. It also makes me want to show my servers how much I appreciate them by saying thank you, please and by tipping them enough to help them make their car payments.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Blogcasting and Podcasting; They really are all that and more!

We have all been living and playing in the ultimate virtual technology world for well over 20 years now. In that time, the one thing we know for sure about our technology world is that it has always been fast moving. You gotta keep the latest and greatest on the drawing board or you'll get left behind in the technology world.

At the ripe and overly experienced age of 49, I have become somewhat complacent about technology. I have bragging rights in this virtual world because I enthusiastically started using computers with the very first Commodore 64 and the Radio Shack's in the early 1980s and have continually progressed to using the close-to super-computers of today.

I didn't think it could get more exciting than when computers came with internal hard drives, or you could put more than 256K of memory in the computer (and the operating system would actually access that memory) or when I logged onto the Internet for the first time using AOL.

As of today, the most exciting product of our technology-wise world has to be blogging and podcasting. I have been writing articles on for the past several months and I have to admit it is the greatest ego boost I've ever experienced.

I have been published for years in trade and consumer magazines, on the net, in local and regional newspapers and I've written a few computer and software how-to guides, but writing for an online blog such as is the best.

I can watch while my articles or opinion pieces are instantly read by millions of people across the world. I know this because the more my piece gets read, my rating number goes up. To watch this reading phenom, I have logged on to the site many times throughout my day and sometimes even at an hourly pace.

This blogging experience is added to writing for this blog with the biggest difference of having one blog site highly promoted and the other (this blog) left intentionally un-promoted.

Add to my blogging experiences of late, the immensely fun and exciting podcasting experience I've just had the opportunity to enjoy, and technology has a new face and a new depth. Podcasting, if you have not tried it, at first appears to be the most complicated technology to date and really is one of the most highly misunderstood technologies.

Podcasting is easy, fun, creative, applicable and far-reaching. It is satisfying to the writer in many of us because, like radio, podcasts have to be scripted to be effective. It is satisfying to the actor side of many of us because you have to read the script as if you feel the script.

For those of us that have less and less time to read, it is a great way to keep current with news and views. I could go on and on, and the are plenty of articles available online and in the local bookstores that tout the benefits of blogging and podcasting so I will leave now with my last expressed thought being that blogging and podcasting, they really are all that and more.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Make up your mind already

Too many options in this life lead to too many unmade decisions. I have always had trouble making up my mind. Even now in my mid-life I still struggle with what I want to do professionally (write, teach or manage), what I want to drive (a suv or sports car), what I want to do as a hobby (golf, bike, photography, baseball), which sports I like best (tennis, football or basketball) or the hardest decision of all, whether I like myself.

It has taken me over a year to decide which bushes I want in front of our newly built home. I ended up buying the same plants and bushes in the landscape plan we started with a year ago. I have taken courses on 'effective decision making' but couldn't decide if the tips and the training really helped or contained much merit.

I have a rough time with sitting on fence. I know I do it, I know it is not a good thing, but once again, I just can't decide which side to land. There are some things I do know. Voting is always a quick and confident decision. Deciding what to order in the Starbucks drive-up window poses no problem.

Defending my family, walking or hugging my dogs, realizing the advantages of using technology or enjoying a sun rise or sun set pose relatively no difficulty.

While I try to decide where to look next for help with making decisions, if anyone can help me decide where to vacation this year, I would certainly appreciate the input.