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Real Words that Work   

By Patricia Davies, President, Patricia Davies Communications   
Hard truths about writing
John McPhee has written 29 non-fiction books and counts a Pulitzer Prize among his many accomplishments. You’d think he had the writing process down to a quick science. And you would be wrong. In a recent New Yorker article, he described the misery of the first draft. “Sometimes in a nervous frenzy I just fling words as if I were flinging mud at a wall.” He starts to get comfortable and enjoy the process around Draft Four.
Writing of any kind is hard work, including putting together reports, requirements documents or any complex business communication. They are all creative endeavours: they didn’t exist before and will never exist again in the same form. You are in excellent company if you don’t easily glide to a finished product on the first go-round. As McPhee says, “If you tell people you love to write you may be delusional.”
There are three hard truths about writing I tell participants in my workshops: 
1. Writing takes time 
2. Writing short takes even longer 
3. The easier to read, the harder to write
To conquer the agony of starting, follow McPhee’s advice: “Blurt out, heave out, babble out something—anything—as a first draft.” Then start revising.
I’ll address the other two hard truths in the next issues of Real Words that Work.
GPS (Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling) Tips 
In response to reader requests this column will occasionally include hints on grammar, punctuation and spelling (GPS).
Some words just don’t look right when they are spelled correctly. Be wary of the following, which are some of the most commonly misspelled words in the language: accommodate, separate, flexible, occurrence, definite, liaison, pastime, foresee and unmanageable. More to come in the next issue.
Patricia Davies is an award-winning writer and editor, an Endorsed Education Provider (EEP™) with IIBA®, and a regular panelist on the IIBA “Being a BA: Effective Communication” Webinar. Do you have a writing question? Please email to and we’ll try to address it in a future column or Webinar.