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A muse for the new year

A new day. A new year. This is like receiving a new notebook or a new pad of paper! Joy! I know there is lots of work waiting for me when I get back to my job tomorrow. Over the coming days, the quantity of grey hairs may increase, and choice, blog-unfriendly words may cross my lips, or at least, be uttered in my head as I face deadlines and dig through my tasks. Despite the occasional (well, maybe not so occasional) moment of Utter Grouchiness caused by these tasks, I am, at heart, an optimist, and I do look forward to the whatever challenges I encounter in 2008.

My excitement is due to a recent addition to my writing toolkit. I found a wonderful muse!

As an appetizer, look at how she bids farewell to 2007. Or read how she greets the new year. Next, dig in with the story of Three Billys and Two Johnnys. Round off the introduction with a grape. Bliss!

Why should a technical communicator get all excited about this blog? Shouldn’t I be more concerned about which tool to write with, how I should layout my documents, and how I communicate the necessary information to the reader of my documentation? Well, yeah. Of course.

But I also use words. And sentences. And paragraphs. There is no magic wand to wave that glues the words, the sentences, the paragraphs together in a nice pattern. My brain cells have to labor to get that job done. They need nourishment for that task, of course, and one of the best sources of nourishment is inspiration. What better source of inspiration is there than reading other writers?

“Click the red button” may not be the awe-inspiring phrase of the year outside of the circle of technical writers (and even there…hmmmm!) Efforts for technical communicators to get involved in the design phase can also eliminate the need for words in some cases. Still, words play a huge role in my work, so I am always looking for ideas and inspiration for my writing. Words can contain so much beauty, power, and strength when handled just so, and it is a joy to find examples of well-crafted writing that is rich in content. I think that moments spent reading beautiful and inspiring writing can only have a positive effect, even when writing simple exhortations to click red buttons.

The addition of Patti Digh’s 37 Days blog to my writing toolkit (my Google Reader) is going to provide me with many such moments.

Thank you, Patti!

PS And thanks to Nancy White for introducing me to 37 days (not the original post that tipped me off – couldn’t find it).


  1. Karen
    Karen 2 January 2008

    Thanks for stopping by, Nancy. No, that is not the link. I only learned about 37 Days in 2007, and I believe it was a very short posting thanking Patti for some nice post, where Patti also replied with a sweet thank you.

    However… that is an incredibly useful link you just provided. Both Patti’s entire post about “aiming for horizons” and Jim Benson’s Odor of Vitriol are so relevant to what is going on in one of my communities right now. I play a leadership role in a part of that community and the discussions have left me sad and silent. I have kept silent because I have had nothing constructive or positive to say; I got depressed from absorbing the negative feelings rather than staying detached for a more clear-headed observation. Your references have just given me the gentle nudge back on the path of constructive dialog.

    What a nugget you just handed me. Another present for the New Year! Thanks again, Nancy.

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