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Words at Work: Powerful business writing delivers increased sales, improved results, and even a promotion or two. A veteran writing coach shows you how. Paperback – August 6, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


Tips, techniques and tactics for better business writing. Professional writing coach McDaniel addresses the sad fact that business writing is becoming somewhat of a lost art, largely because of e-mail and other electronic communications. "When you write only short e-mail and text messages," she writes, "your ability to develop your thoughts shrivels, along with your ability to persuade, sell, teach, improve, guide, change, contribute, and create." The author provides a wealth of advice--including specific exercises--to prompt business writers to write well. Unlike most business-writing courses and books that are dry and dull, McDaniel's work is a breezy, well-written how-to guide, nicely held together with stories of her experiences. The author is unafraid to illustrate some of her lessons with personal challenges and failures, which may be the best teacher. The author covers all the basics: planning ahead, producing first drafts, the importance of the six key questions (who, what, where, when, why, how) and the essentials of editing. But she includes additional techniques that will be of great benefit to business writers, such as her "Brain Dump" process, and how to avoid "corporatespeak" and "WIIFM," or What's In It For Me. Thankfully, McDaniel presents all of the material in the book clearly, concisely, and with a healthy dose of encouragement based on the optimistic belief that "everyone can learn to write well" and that "bad writers just stopped too soon." There are some good suggestions even for seasoned writers, such as "Exciting to Write = Exciting to Read," a section of specific ways to add interest and vitality to writing. The examples she uses demonstrate that even business writing can be done with flair. While McDaniel makes a sales pitch for her services at the end of the book, it's a small price to pay for the wisdom she imparts. The book's readability is proof positive that the author's counsel is sound. A timely manual that business people at any level will find useful. -- Kirkus Discoveries Review

Top award winner of National Best Books 2009 Awards in category of writing/publishing. -- USA Book News, October 18, 2009

"This book is a joy to read and packed full with helpful hints and tips from the first sentence to the last. Whether you write emails or reports at work, or you just like to blog in your spare time, this book is for you and should be treated as a must-read. --Clare Swindlehurst, Blue Archipelago Book Reviews, November, 2009

When 140 character tweets count as communications, writing seems a doomed art. Not so fast, says long-time writer and writing coach Lynda McDaniel. Beyond Twitter and text messages, all those digital bits and bytes on web sites, blogs, newsletters, and press releases are fundamentally ideas expressed in words. If writing is not developed as a skill,she argues, the quality of our ideas rapidly degenerates. Her book is a passionate plea aimed at replenishing the idea wellspring of "American Ingenuity." McDaniel, in the tradition of Strunk and White, has created a guide perfectly suited to the contemporary workplace. Her personal writing journey, started while she was homesteading in North Carolina, sets the tone for her encouraging if-I-can-do-it, so-can-you approach.

Decades of on-the-job writing netted horror stories aplenty. These enliven the learning process while embodying her enthusiasm for writing. "Even the rejects are part of the process," she notes. She models her lessons using vivid words, sentence structure variety, and even well-placed fragments, illustrating how to spice up even the dullest business communication. Succinct chapters show how to overcome procrastination; boost creativity; deal with inner (and outer) critics; get those crummy first drafts out on paper; work with the inverted pyramid (and what that means) to structure writing; cut jargon; directly address readers' needs; and edit, edit, edit.

McDaniel is on a mission to remove fear from writing; her use of image and metaphor provides unusual color. "It's like making a loaf of bread," or "It's more like picking blackberries" [out of the brambles] "than picking huckleberries," [that fall into your bucket practically effortlessly]. Image-rich, witty approaches like "The Bad News Burrito" give unconfident writers a visual, tangible understanding of writing craft.

For those who loathe outlining, the chapter titled "Eureka," includes a detailed explanation of a "Brain Dump" technique that is the basis of an "organic outline." McDaniel explains step by step how to get there. Her discussion of "projection" for writers is unusually insightful and too rarely considered in other basic writing guides.

Brief before-and-after writings illustrate the increased clarity available after editing, whether moving from passive to active voice or turning bureaucratic-ese into clear prose. Though experienced writers may feel there's not adequate meat on the bones, this solid little book packs a punch--with powerful reminders for the pros while giving fearful writers a coach, cheerleader, and role model. McDaniel shares proven practices learned the hard way. This deceptively simple and engaging guide for workplace writers is highly recommended. --Foreword Reviews, December 2009

"Words at Work" offers you writers a painless way to be an author or just do some practical writing with style and effectiveness. Lynda McDaniel gives you a condensed course in lively writing. As someone who for thirty years has made his living by writing, I can tell you that the lessons in this book are the essential ones, and they are good. Catch the spirit in this book and follow the suggestions. I guarantee that your writing will improve and you'll be a happier communicator." --Thomas Moore, author of "Care of the Soul" and his latest book, "Care of the Soul in Medicine."

From the Author

I wrote "Words at Work" to help people tap into their creativity and write with more confidence. After teaching writing for almost five years, I was struck by the number of people who were struggling with their writing, held back by fear and dread. I also recalled from the early days of my long writing career how often I experienced those same feelings--and how I overcame them. "Words at Work" shares those tools and techniques so that you too can excel at your writing and your work.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 164 pages
  • Publisher: Association for Creative Business Writing (August 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615304265
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615304267
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,247,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Saunders on September 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
Words @ Work
Association For Creative Business Writing, ISBN 0-615-30426-5
Price $13.99
Words @ Work is exactly what is says it is, words to be used by professionals in the work environment. McDaniel is a writer and coach and she uses her experience to guide reluctant writers through the pitfalls of poor construction, etiquette and grammar. If you are in business in any capacity that requires written communication, your creation is your calling card, your introduction and ultimately, your resume. In this day of email and instant messages, many of us will never meet the person on the other side. In fact we may never even talk to them on a telephone. You will be judged solely on your written word.
As a professional, I have had the opportunity to read and use the wisdom from many self help books and the key is finding one that is timely, doesn't demean and is immediately useful. McDaniel achieves this by teaching you the process from beginning to end, including the little used rough draft and self-critique. In order to become a good writer, you need to become your audience. McDaniel shows you how to see your writing through the eyes of others, how to target your audience and how to make more out of less.
I found her insight, experience and teaching style a very nice blend. Whether you are just starting out, well seasoned or just wondering if your style is helping or hurting, Words @ Work will give you the answer. It is a great desk reference that I completely recommend.
Reviewed by Allbooks reviewer Gregory J. Saunders
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Format: Paperback
Words at Work is so much more than the writing "how to" that you dive into then try to apply. This book is written from Ms. McDaniel's heart. I believe this book will enable every reader to be a better writer.

The author shared some of her trials and tribulations over her 25 year career as a professional writer as well as five years as a business writing coach. It felt to me as if she was coming alongside me and encouraging me to realize that in any situation I could make my words powerful tools of communication!

Her writing style was conversational, encouraging and anything but preachy or ornery editor (insider term from Words At Work). She stated a mantra I applaud. I quote, "When I started writing, I wish someone had shared these ideas with me: 1. Everyone can learn to write well. 2. Bad writers just stopped too soon."

Chapter Six titled "Corporatespeak" exhorts the writer to write the way they speak. The quote by William Zinsser on page 81 states the corporate America plain talk dilemma, "...plain talk will not be easily achieved in corporate America. Too much vanity is on the line. Executives and managers at every level are prisoners to the notion that a simple style reflects a simple mind. Actually, a simple style is the result of hard work and hard thinking..."

Words At Work is for 2011 and beyond. With technology - email, blogging, texting, getting your message across quickly is something everyone needs to learn. Six Cs of editing is for everyone! You truly will find success with Ms. McDaniel's GPS (grammar, punctuation and style).

My favorite most helpful writing tips were Bad News Burrito, WIIFM (What's in it for me?), six extras for excitement, lose your darlings and Brain Dump 101.
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Format: Paperback
I love to write, and I want other people to love for me to write. There. I said it. Words rock! Choosing them. Putting them in order. Learning new ones. What could be more fun?! If only enthusiasm was enough. My work did not seem to resonate with many people. Feedback from my instructors (and a couple of editors when I was brave enough to try) was scant, vague and just plain mean. My inner critic admonished, "You're fooling yourself! You'll never be a writer."

Words at Work helped me reframe my negative writing experiences. Tame my "ornery editor." Excavate the constructive criticism from impatient teachers or unkind editors. (If only all that feedback had been framed in a "bad news burrito.") I've carried the shame of 8 1/2" x 11" red X's on term papers for 20 years. 20 years! Now, I choose to morph that memory into fodder for a short story. After struggling with passive voice, to learn it has a place is freeing. To recognize a "darling," admire it and delete it is empowering.

Words at Work has a voice of encouragement, if not recruitment, for the writing community. With a rare combination of authority and vulnerability, Lynda McDaniel outlines the evolution of her writing life. As I moved through the chapters, I practically saw her pick up each of the tools and tips she shares. The skills are not limited to use in the workplace. Words at Work showcases words at play, too.
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By Jenny on January 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
Words at Work by Lynda McDaniel is a fabulous book. For once, a business book about documents and writing that is full of life; not dry and overwhelming!

Reading this book felt like flowing along a river, and I loved every minute of the ride. One of the best things about the book is that the author herself never leaves you. My favorite books are the ones where the authors stay present through examples of their own lives and the lives of others. Then, they weave the stories and examples into their topic, gracefully. Lynda has achieved this in a way that shows her understanding and professionalism, combining the best of journalism with solid, practical business tips, techniques and writing.

This book is more far reaching than even the title would suggest. I found myself taking her words to heart for other projects I am working on that, while not "about" business writing per se, have writing in them.

Everyone should buy this and have it at work for their personal use and encouragement and to share with others--supervisors; peers; vendors and clients. FIVE STARS!!!
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