What really matters is what do you now. That’s what I’d tell you if you
had just finished taking a writing class from me.
We’ve accomplished a lot. We’ve reviewed common word choice errors such as
misspelling principal point as principle point and
complimentary drink as complementary drink. We’ve talked about
remembering to use commas both before and after the year in a date, as in
May 26, 2015, is today’s date, not May 26, 2015 is today’s date.
We’ve done exercises in subject-verb agreement, as in making sure it’s
There are two reasons, not There’s two reasons, and The
incidence of cyber-attacks is increasing, not The incidence of
cyber-attacks are increasing. And we’ve worked with maintaining
parallel structure, especially in PowerPoint presentations, so that items
in vertical lists begin verb, verb, verb rather than verb, verb,
We’ve also discussed organizing messages according to a three-part
formula, purpose, background, proposed action; using pauses to
create emphasis, as in We are committed to one thing: quality,
rather than The one thing we are committed to is quality; and
taking a direct, conclusion-first approach with sympathetic readers, and
an indirect, evidence-first approach with hostile readers.
But what really matters is what you do after the class is over. To help
you proofread for these common errors and put into play these principles
of composition and persuasive strategy, I invite you to formulate a
six-point writing plan, three goals for the week and three goals for the
Here are some things you can do to continue developing your writing skills
1. Do the two 30-second writing exercises on grammar and style I
post weekly at
2. Browse the tips, techniques, and resources posted at
3. When you have a question about a writing issue – whether it
relates to grammar, punctuation, salutations, concise writing,
customer relations, or Rogerian persuasion – google “Wilbers” and
a few key words.
4. If you don’t already have a file for sentences and passages
whose style you admire, create one. From time to time, browse
through your collection.
5. When you encounter a sentence or passage you think especially
well written, copy it over, analyze its stylistic techniques, and
do your own version, using the original as your model, as I advise
(or simply google “Wilbers imitate”).
6. For a great source of literary and cultural history, along with
a daily poem, sign up for Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac at
7. Read one of the books that I recommended in class or that I
www.wilbers.com/part15.htm (or google “Wilbers
8. If you’re not already a regular reader, become one. Good
writers are generally good readers, as I discuss at
(or google “Wilbers reading.”) When you find a writer you
particularly like, someone whose style resonates with you, read
everything that person has published.
Now that you’ve made up your six-point writing plan, get started
right away. Try to accomplish your first goal today or tomorrow.