June 2013  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

“Style is important, but content comes first. ”

—James Kilpatrick

Word Pair of the Month: patience, patients

Sometimes we mix up words that we thought were simple, or obvious. At the ASTD show in May, we were asked to write about the homonyms patience and patients.

Because the two words sound alike and begin with the same six letters, it’s not uncommon to write the wrong word in a hurried moment. Keep in mind that it’s the last letters that make the difference.

  • The word patients, ending in ts, refers to individuals being treated by a doctor. Here’s a hint for remembering this word: Both patients and individuals are plural nouns ending with the letter s.
  • The other word in this pair, patience, is a synonym for tolerance. Both patience and tolerance end with the letters ce.

June Writers’ Forum Question

We are at our wide-awake best at certain times during the workday, and practically in “sleep mode” at other times. These circadian rhythms affect our work output, and that includes our ability to write. When you have a writing task before you, how do you handle the energy ebbs that slow the flow of your ideas? Please share your tips for working through these inevitable slumps.

Melissa Yu of Chicago understands her rhythms and goes with the flow:

I know that my mind is sharpest in the morning, so I schedule important meetings and intense work sessions before 1:00 p.m. Then I take a late lunch and allow the soporific effects to take hold while I do less-intensive tasks, like answering non-urgent emails, setting future meetings, and balancing my books. As for writing, I usually compose letters and white papers in the afternoon, but then I check them over and do revisions in the morning, when my mind is running on full power again.

Jasper Knowles of New York also arranges his workload according to his energy patterns:

I knew back in high school and college that I was a night person. I used to study into the wee hours and then fall asleep in class. No amount of effort could change my habits. So when I became an accountant, I looked for a job that would match my rhythms and found one: I am the night auditor at a large hotel.

Catherine James, a telecommuter from Cincinnati, finds that working at home presents different problems:

Working from home poses a special challenge, because if the energy wanes, there’s always the lure of a bed or a couch for a nap. Instead, when I feel myself drooping, I take a break and go outside for a brisk walk around the block. It gets my blood flowing, and I can handle some phone work while I walk. Often I’ll also get good ideas while I’m walking, which I can record on my phone. Then I return to my desk energized and ready to go forward.

Finally, Jonathan DeFranco of Boston sent us this succinct response:

Coffee.

A Final Thought

Writing is easy—it’s rewriting that’s hard. And it’s rewriting that makes a writer. Always allow yourself time to revise what you write. Examine the way your ideas flow, the sense of your words, and the final impression you create.

Become a rewriter. Although it takes time and effort, the results are worth it.

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