Boost your creativity with these 7 tips

Ignore the warnings, even if you can read them. Create!

When you have a good idea, ignore everybody else’s input.

  • At the moment you create it, you don’t know whether your concept has merit – but neither does anyone else. Do you have a strong gut feeling that it’s valuable? Then trust your feelings, whether your idea delights or scares you.
  • Hold onto and polish your good ideas, in life and when writing nonfiction.
  • Put the hours in. Doing anything worthwhile takes forever. Succeed by investing time, effort and stamina. Being good at anything is like figure skating – it just looks easy.
  • Everyone is born with the possibility of creativity. Nurture that openness in yourself and your children.
    Be creative for your own sake, not for anyone else’s.
  • Find your own voice. A Picasso always looks like Picasso painted it. Hemingway always sounds like Hemingway. A Beethoven Symphony always sounds like Beethoven. What’s your voice?
  • If you have the creative urge, it won’t go away. Learn to accept it. Listen to it. Feel it. Accept it. Give into it. Be creative.

Destroy your imagination with these 6 notions.

  • “The ordinary ‘horseless carriage’ is at present a luxury for the wealthy; and although its price will probably fall in the future, it will never, of course, come into as common use as the bicycle.”
    Literary Digest, 1899
  • “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
    Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977
  • “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
    Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943
  • “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
    Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962
  • “There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.”
    Albert Einstein, 1932
  • “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”
    Western Union internal memo, 1876

Need to improve your writing?

Let Susan help

never place a period

You need to train your employees to write if

  • They write such poor reports that you rewrite every sentence before forwarding.
  • They produce documents that reflect poorly on you and the company.
  • It costs money and time to scrutinize every manuscript.
  • You wish your staff would agree on writing styles for your department or organization.
  • They have great ideas for writing projects but cannot implement them.
  • They have brilliant ideas but only a passing relationship with grammar.
  • They write professionally and are eager to move to the next level.

People in any position benefit from writing training

  • Chief executive officers
  • Directors of nonprofit organizations
  • Leadership teams
  • Top- and mid-level managers
  • High-potential individuals
  • Individual contributors
  • Administrative assistants and other support staff
  • People in any field benefit from writing training
  • Architects, engineers and designers
  • Human-resource specialists
  • Lawyers and judges
  • MBAs
  • Physicians, healthcare administrators and patient-care specialists
  • Public relations specialists, staff writers, editors
  • Technical specialists who communicate with non-tech staff
  • Support staff

Call me for customized workshops that help your staff gain skill and confidence as writers.

My workshops are both useful and entertaining, since people need to be engaged in order to learn. Each session includes instructive presentations and discussions at the basic, intermediate and advanced levels.

2 stories in 1 week on Newsworks

hooked a big one

Proud to have scored two bylines in a few days on Newsworks.org, the website of WHYY-TV and WHYY-FM.

“In a world of ‘not my job,’ do you shut up or speak up?” asks whether people are tattle-tales or whistle-blowers — or not. It starts with a story of what happened when a lifeguard was looking at his cellphone instead of the waves.

“I was always one paycheck from being homeless” is an interview of 2 homeless men I interviewed on the streets of Philadelphia.

I always have a story idea or 6 up my proverbial sleeve.

Vote for Hillary Clinton

LINDA NORBERG BLAIR AND SUSAN BLUMENTHAL GLAZER CO-WROTE THIS ARTICLE.

We believe the American people must elect a woman to the presidency.

Not any woman, this woman: Hillary Rodham Clinton. With her in the Oval Office, the heights to which women can rise will have no limit. We believe a Clinton victory will smash the proverbial glass ceiling for the rest of us.

We rally ’round her not solely because she is a woman. She is the best-qualified candidate, and she happens to be female.

We are a few years older than the front-running Democrat, all former classmates at Elkins Park Junior High and Cheltenham High School in suburban Philadelphia. Together we have produced four daughters, five sons, 10 granddaughters, and four grandsons. It is for their benefit that we support Clinton and the promise she holds for all women and men, feminists or not.

In this patriarchal society of ours, people have expected men to earn the bulk of the income. Even though we see the patriarchy crumbling, slowly, some women don’t support Hillary. Perhaps they are not ready to handle women on the ascendancy.

Women have always held families together, a talent for which they earn little respect. In our generation, women became teachers, nurses, and secretaries, working until the time came to bear children. Then they stayed home washing cloth diapers. Their careers were over, at least until the last offspring left for college.

But today women nurture their families and work as pharmacists, accountants and military combatants. Women earn more money than ever before, at least at the bottom of every career ladder. Even though wage inequality persists, young women step onto the ladder in almost every field.

Glaring exceptions are science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, which qualified women tend to avoid because they don’t feel comfortable in mostly male classrooms and labs.

Yes, women are making progress, and many think they have it made and can do it all. But young women have not been around long enough to recognize that incremental success rarely leads to a chair in the boardroom.

Women have excelled in leading many other countries. Today 22 countries have women presidents, chancellors or prime ministers, and two more have female governors-general. Switzerland has elected six female presidents. Five countries have had three female presidents and/or prime ministers, and 13 countries have had two female presidents or PMs. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir presided over Finland for 16 years.

Best known and most highly praised among female leaders are Golda Meir, prime minister of Israel, and Indira Gandhi, twice prime minister of India. Both led their nations to unprecedented levels of glory and the women who elected them to unprecedented heights.

We care primarily, essentially, dramatically about the rights and future of American women. Today we face an opportunity to improve forever the lives of women. If we elect this woman president, it will be on the merits of her candidacy. Clinton will neutralize this blatantly ineffective men-first mantra of our democracy precisely by proving that a woman can be first.

A Clinton presidency will lead us to a stable and powerful future. Her leadership of the finest country in the world will entice girls and young women to aim even higher.

Vote for Hillary Clinton for the sake of your granddaughters, stepdaughters, and nieces, and all the men who love them.

Linda Blair, PhD, is a retired high school English teacher living in Springfield, Va. Susan Glazer, of Wynnewood, Pa., is the retired director of the School of Dance at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia. The article appears in the Philadelphia Inquirer on March 3, 2016. 

Yes, grammar matters.

you're right

A man I don’t know sends an e-mail. According to his signature, he handles website development, digital marketing strategy, SEO, social media, paid search management, and content marketing. So, while he probably is not a writer himself, he might hire or consult with writers. He says:

“I am not trying to connect with you for any particular reason. I am trying to do a better job of connecting with people I have met so that I don’t have to go to a million places to find people when opportunities or potential introductions arise.

“For example, if someone came to me with a need for a writer who was crazy fanatic about grammar. I would likely send them your way but might give up if I have to search all over for your contact information.”

Wow, I think. He thinks I am crazy-fanatic-about-grammar. I am, and proudly so. It’s not for nothing I have co-opted my friend’s nickname of Comma Momma. I swear, though, I never corrected this guy in public, perhaps because we have never met. Then I wonder: Who wants a writer who is not crazy-fanatic-about-grammar (CFaG). Do people call and ask him to recommend writers who are or are not CFaG?

Similarly, who wants a tailor to alter a jacket without being crazy-fanatic about making the sleeves the same length? Who wants to eat a restaurant meal where the chef is not crazy-fanatic about a clean kitchen? Who wants a website designer who is not crazy-fanatic about checking broken links?

But this is not the only dude who asks if grammar matters. In fact, I teach a course at Temple University Center City called “Does grammar still matter?” The answer, if you care, is that grammar does matter.

The fact that teachers don’t teach grammar at any grade level doesn’t mean it’s not essential to clear communication. It is. The fact that parents don’t or can’t correct their children’s oral or written grammatical errors likewise does not diminish the value of good grammar.

I teach grammar to adults because they didn’t learn it in school or they have forgotten it since. They come to class for refreshers, hoping to recall first-, second- and third-person voice; active and passive verbs; and the difference between affect and effect.

I am not alone in believing that grammar matters.

Andrew Hindes lists credibility, professionalism and clarity among the 6 top reasons why grammar matters.

Richard Nordquist says that people associate grammar with correctness. “Knowing about grammar helps us understand what makes sentences and paragraphs clear and interesting and precise.”

And Steve Tobak writes about creating content for social media: “If what you’re writing will be public and has your name attached to it, assume that anyone who works with you or might be interested in hiring you will see it. As such, whatever it is can be conversational, and a typo isn’t the end of the world, but it should still be reasonably grammatically correct…. Business writing is about clarity in communication….”

I remain, sincerely yours, CFaG. Consider signing up for my grammar class at Temple.