How Not To Writte… An Easter Egg Hunt invite

Easter.  A time of daft rabbit ears, waistline-increasing levels of chocolate and the perennial favourite that is ‘The Easter Egg Hunt’… oh and something about a bloke with a beard popping back up from beyond the grave to tell us how lovely it would be if we were all nicer to each other (definitely no bad thing, but we’re so over the smock and sandals look).

So, if you’re more interested in the confectionery than the theology of the Easter season, you’d better get writing some invites to your Easter Egg Hunt. We all know you’ve got to hide a selection of ovoid goodies in fiendishly difficult hidey holes but how do you make your guests turn up in the first place?

Do:

  • Put the date, time and place on the invite. Easter can fall at funny times during the year, so make it easy on folks and give ’em the blasted date.
  • Include a map, directions and any special instructions, such as parking arrangements or how to avoid George, your over chatty neighbourhood watch coordinator.
  • Include a postcode and directions for satnav-challenging villages. If you’re taking people ’round the back way’, do ensure there’s refreshments and shouts of ‘stop the clock, she’s found it’ when they arrive (Anneka Rice jumpsuits are optional).
  • Use a pun or two in your invite text to add some colour. For example, ‘hop on over’, ‘hip hop hooray’, ‘it’s an eggstravaganza’ or ‘let’s get eggsploring’… (Ed: no more bloody egg-asperating puns)
  • State if you need to bring your own basket (egg hauls can be cumbersome to transport) and if appropriate footwear is needed. Great Aunt Doris may need to re think her 4″ Manolos.
  • Be aware that, for some, Easter is a highly religious experience and many may be fasting. Also, bear in mind that for others it’s a ready excuse to smear themselves with the melted remains of a bumper-size chocolate bunny – either way, be respectable and cater for all.

Don’t:

  • Leave the word ‘Easter’ out of your invite – unless you want apocalyptic style abuse from your neighbours and Theresa May camping outside with a ‘down with this kind of thing’ placard. Forgetting to mention Easter in their ad copy got the lovely people at The National Trust and Cadbury (please send us free chocolate eggs!) into a spot of bother recently, so we’d advise titling your ovoid-hunting extravaganza an ‘Easter egg hunt’ – unless your idea of fun is being chased down the high street by a rabid mob of irate Christians and Daily Mail readers (cue Benny Hill-style chase).
  • Promise creme eggs or mini eggs on your invite: some egg fancier always buys them up in bulk in February and you’ll be left bereft, embarrassed and scrabbling round the shops, with nothing but Marmite and Pot Noodle eggs to appease your assembled throng.
  • Use this as the time to try out your Dan Brown-level of clue mastery. No-one wants to spend three hours working out that your clue ‘where sun and sand at happier times did meet’ refers to your ornamental glass paperweight from the Isle of Wight.
  • Make your egg hunt adult-themed and smutty – well, not unless it’s an adult party and all the eggs are the vibrating kind (Ed: could add a buzz to the party).
  • However tempting it may be, use a walking app to make your ‘trail’ look like a penis. Stick with an Easter Egg – it’s easier to draw and less likely to cause any neighbour envy (tip – you can make it as huge as you want 😉 ).

How Not To Writte… On Twitter

What did we do with our phones before we had Twitter? (Ed: probably talk to people through them?)

Twitter is a social media network (or ‘micro-blogging site’, if you will) where you post 140 character-long ‘tweets’ about whatever the hell pops into your head at any given moment. It could be your thoughts on a recent political event, your uniquely insightful comments on Kanye’s latest track, or it could be a drunken rant about why none of your friends ever want to go out on a Friday night anymore.

The point is that, on Twitter, literally anything goes. Write it, tweet it and your great work of literary genius is out there in the world, waiting for the Twitterati to comment on. Admittedly, these comments are usually along the lines of ‘You’re an idiot!’ or ‘I think you’ve missed out an apostrophe’, but at least it’s feedback, eh.

In many ways, Twitter is the ultimate social media platform. It’s become a global phenomenon in just a few years, and it’s hard now to imagine how bad journalism/celebrity updates/online arguments existed before we had the Twittersphere. 

Do:

  • Use hashtags wisely. The golden rule is no more than 3, use them to drive people to your Twitter feed, but check your spelling.  #Ilikeyouraunt sends a very different message to followers than the regrettable time your fingers slipped and you typed a ‘c’ rather than an ‘a’.
  • Engage with your followers. Learn about them, tweet links to them and be inclusive.  Check your spelling and check their username, but once you’ve done that, you’re golden.
  • Think before you tweet. Will this tweet help me/someone else to have a laugh or is it just a non-amusing rant at the world and everyone in it. We all need those times to vent, but sometimes a public forum where your rant can never permanently be deleted (eek!), might not be the best option.
  • Learn that 3am is never the best time to tweet. Period. Nope don’t even start an argument here.
  • Try and have a personal, profile picture. It makes you seem like a real human being and not a soulless robotron (Ed: no we’re not sure what that is either). Your selfie game might not always be on point, but a nice friendly face lets people know who they’re following.
  • Write a bio. You’re limited in what you can say, but a name always helps, as does an idea of who you are and why you’re on Twitter.  If you need more space to explain about yourself, set up a blog or website and include the links in your bio.

Don’t:  

  • EVER drunk tweet! It’s the number one rule of tweeting, to be adhered to at all costs. Adele got her account removed from her for some questionable tweetage when drunk. We don’t need any blurry shots of you miming something questionable with a saveloy at midnight in the local chip shop. You will regret this. Your mum will regret it and the saveloy will most definitely regret it. Stay smart, stay safe, stay saveloy free and most importantly stay sober when tweeting.
  • Use twitter just to complain loudly. No one likes a moaning Minnie and everyone can spot a ‘freebie’ chancer a mile off. Do engage with companies, do tell them what you think but despite your frustrated anger simmering in a cauldron of contempt, try to remain professional. There are people at the end of Twitter accounts, despite the image of soulless bureaucracy of ….(insert worst imaginable company here… normally something to do with trains).
  • Spam tweet/over tweet/keep selling something. It’s dull, it’s boring and WE DON’T CARE.  Oh yeah, check your spelling and your grammar and your hashtag game.
  • Ever and we mean ever, use ‘clickbait’ phrases like ‘Oh my god, and what she did next you’ll never believe… ‘ or ‘You’ve been using [random object] wrong this WHOLE time…’. It’s Twitter suicide and will drive your followers away quicker than a conversation about Brexit.

How Not To Writte… A Dear John/Jane Letter

Ah, relationships! What an enigma, wrapped up in a conundrum, they are. As humans, at some point most of us will end up dating someone.

We’ll revel in the heart-bursting intensity of the initial ‘honeymoon period’ of dating, we’ll kick off our shoes and run barefoot through the meadows of romance and (if we’re very lucky) we’ll end up with someone we can settle down with and get into one of those long-term relationship thingies (you know like that co-dependent relationship you have with donuts).

But, let’s be honest, not everyone we date is going to end up being ‘THE ONE!’. More often than not, we’ll gradually come to the realisation that our new bae is in fact… well, a dick. It could be the newly acquired knowledge that they admire Nigel Farage, or it could be the fact they’re actually completely and utterly awful in the bedroom department. But whatever the reason for your change of heart, one thing remains constant…

You’re gonna have to end it!

And you’re going to have to decide on a subtle, tactful, non-heartbreaking way to break the news to them that, actually, they’re not the apple of your eye any longer.

This is where the ‘Dear John/Jane letter’ has traditionally been the get-out clause of choice for many. In this digital age, it needn’t be a written letter, of course – it could be an email, a WhatsApp message or a Skype conversation – but the same principles apply.

Do’s:

Be honest but tactful, be compassionate and thoughtful…

“Dear previous BAE,  

I am so sorry to write this letter to you but whenever we’re together it is difficult for me to express my feelings as I really care for you and don’t want to hurt you. I do hope you understand that this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do ’cause I really do care about you, but unfortunately I don’t think we can see each other any more.

I know none of the clichés will help here but it really is me, not you. I’m just screwed up and I don’t deserve someone as nice as you and you don’t deserve someone as rubbish as me. I will always love you and I hope we can stay friends, but I feel we must end this before we end up hurting each other.

Take care.  xx”

Don’ts:

Don’t feel you have to be completely honest…

“Oi tart face,

You iz a bloody munter alright! Dunno why I slept with you, your technique was fucking shit if you must know. And you know that dance you do, where you think you look so cool? Well, I have news for you – you look like a womble, on speed, at a rave, whose mum is waiting to pick them up! Plus, like… you know, get a trim, have a wash, your downstairs department is like Fred West’s cellar. It stinks, made me vomit and is full of things no one wants to unearth.

See ya minger!”

 

How Not To Writte… Private Messages

Be it Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, private messaging can be a great way of sharing content and keeping in touch with fellow users, whilst keeping your public profile free of ‘random chat’ and messages best left to the private sphere.

This of course includes all those random drunk Friday night chats all about your private ‘spheres’…and we’ve all had a few of THOSE conversations, right (Ed: speak for yourself)

Do:

  • Be aware that even though something is ‘private’ any messages can be ‘screen grabbed’.
  • Check, check and check again who you’re messaging. Be sure you know who you’re actually talking to. Is it a generic corporate account, a real live person or a sex bot? All require very different approaches.
  • Remember just because you sent a PM/DM, it won’t always stay private – everything can be copied and pasted complete with your profile picture.
  • Remember other people may ‘accidentally’ access users accounts, so if your messaging is particularly fruity/honest/libellous, check the way the recipient is responding. Is the language they’re using the same? Is the use of emojis, tone and sayings the same? In short, are you talking to the right person?
  • Keep things brief. Messaging is not the medium for a 1,400 word essay on your subject of choice. Think along the lines of Twitter, 140 characters, and make them work for you. Most people are reading messages on smaller screens, so constant scrolling means the important part of your message may be lost.
  • Remember when to leave/stop. This goes for PMing a company, your celeb crush on Instagram or your newest friend on Facebook – keep them wanting more. Plus, you know, RSI is on the rise, so give your digits a rest.
  • Try to understand how the different PM/DMs work across social media.
    • Twitter – great for ‘quick’ chats or when you need to share details with a company to resolve a complaint.
    • Facebook – for friends, use the messenger app. It’s good for longer conversations, much like Skype, but be wary of the obligatory ‘online’ status – there’s no way of turning it off, so everyone knows you’re online.
    • Instagram – well, no one really uses it, as it’s really just a quick way to send an Instagram post link to someone else. In our opinion, Instagram isn’t really set up to be an ‘interactive’ tool, it’s much more designed to show off your ‘tools’.
    • Skype – a real chat client, similar to WhatsApp. You can create groups and chat to one person, or several people, at a time. It’s easy to make yourself ‘invisible’ (always handy) but predominantly used for quick text messages, sending pics or video chatting for free across the world.
    • Find a social media app that works for you and your recipient; they all have pros and cons, so use one that supports your needs.

Don’t:

  • Whatever you do, don’t PM, DM or otherwise attempt direct contact with celebrities. It doesn’t matter that they waved to you that time in Sainsbury’s, or that they ‘liked’ or replied to a post of yours. You won’t come across as a friendly fan or fellow ‘creative type’, you will come across as a psychopathic stalker.
  • Straight men approaching females – don’t have your opening message say ‘Hey hot chick, wanna look at my dick’. We can assure you that 99.9% of women have no desire to see it, hear about it or do anything with it.
  • In fact, straight men approaching women – be very very careful what you message ladies.  Don’t, for example, approach someone you’ve only just started following and have barely responded to with the classic ‘hey girl, wanna hang?’. At best you’re likely to be sent a gif of a hangman’s noose.
  • Don’t assume you’ll get an immediate response. People are online at different times, or may be doing different things, or may need to think before formulating a response. Be patient. Be calm. In essence, be Yoda.
  • With this is mind, don’t hassle people if you ‘see’ they’re online but aren’t responding to you. Give them a break, they may be logged on for a specific reason, which may not include you. If you are real proper buddies then you may have their number and if it’s an emergency you can ring them, but otherwise don’t demand their attention all the time.
  • For heaven’s sake, don’t rant, rage and swear at a recipient, regardless of how frustrated you may be. Try to remain calm and state your issues and needs appropriately. In fact, wherever possible try not to respond if you’re seeing red – it never ends well.

 

How Not To Writte… A business report

We’ve all been there. The boss comes in at ten to five and says ‘Oh, by the way, we need a quick report on the [name of client you’ve never heard of] account… by tomorrow… you can get that on my desk for the morning?’

The horror! The outrage! The pint that was calling your name! The complete terror of writing a report that doesn’t make the MD fall asleep within three pages of opening it.

But fear not, we have some helpful ideas for making that blank piece of A4 into a report that’s the work of corporate genius, and not a pile of donkey pish that’s used as lining for the boss’s cat’s litter tray.

Do:

  • Number one rule in corporate writing, as in life and Starbucks orders, is KEEP IT SIMPLE. And (equally important for report writing) KEEP IT SHORT.
  • Number two rule in corporate writing – don’t laugh at the phrase ‘number two’, and then…
  • Focus on the important facts. Identify the key messages you want to get across and keep it sharp, snappy and sexy (…maybe not sexy, but you know what we mean). In other words, put an ‘executive summary’ of the really juicy stuff right at the start of the report. Your boss and the rest of the management team are busy, busy people – they want to know the really world-shattering stuff that’s relevant to the business and the client relationship…and then get in a few rounds of golf before lunch.
  • Know your audience. The same as you wouldn’t do a sexy strip tease for all your neighbours, same goes for writing reports – don’t show it all at once and be careful who you expose it to. By knowing your intended audience you can hone your language so they understand quickly what you’re banging on about, and usually get what you want. If you don’t get what you want maybe that’s the time to consider, ‘taking it all off’.

Don’t

  • Use it as a place to have a rant at everything that’s wrong with your job, boss or company, especially if you haven’t done your research and have tangible facts to back it up. Yes, we all know that Paul in Ops is a total dick but where is the empirical data on this? Have you compared Paul’s dickishness to others in the office? Have you tallied the results across all departments? Have you outsourced your research to see if it’s, in fact, a common factor amongst all Pauls? If so, brilliant – crack on, provide those statistics, show us your mighty pie chart and then you can conclude that Paul is, in fact, a dick.
  • Use the dreaded business jargon, it’s dull and makes YOU look like a knobber. No point in optimising your organic growth potential in a saturated market, unless you and Paul from Ops are collaborating on making a business porno. (See even Pauls have their uses).
  • Fill the report with hundreds of oh-so bloody exciting bar graphs and pie charts. By all means, include some data visualisation of the BIG insights, but don’t try and blind people to your woeful ignorance of this client by going bat-shit-mental with the graphs and charts – it’s not big, and it’s not clever!  (Unless it’s about pies, then it’s amusingly ironic, so crack on).

How Not To Writte… A 21st century person’s guide to wordsmithery

Words are a bit of a bugger, aren’t they.

We’re surrounded by words all day, every day. They tell us what to buy, what to think, how to feel and even help us to tell an office co-worker to stop using our organic unsweetened soya milk. We put them into sentences and paragraphs in a hopefully pleasing order and spend hours reading the words that people have sent to us… and then replying.

And yet, very few of us think we’re ‘a good writer’. Most of us probably don’t think we’re a writer at all. We’d probably scoff at anyone who said ‘Hey, you know what, actually you ARE a writer’.

You, [insert first name/pet name/embarrassing school nickname], are a grade one, genuine, no-doubt-about-it WRITER.

Feel free to take a while to really scoff loudly at this point (You can even look over your glasses at us with haughty disdain and try the snort of disbelief). Have a bit of a tut too, if you want. Let it out. Come to terms with the truth.

Done that? Good.
So, there you have it. We’re all writers now.

Whether you’re updating your Facebook status, filling your CV with proactive-sounding lies about your ‘business skillset’, or leaving a romantic message for a loved one on a scrappy Post-it note, you’re a writer.

That’s the good news. Hurray! Group hug/firm handshake/your choice of exuberant expression of happiness etc. But, brace yourself, there’s some bad news around the corner…

The bad news

You might be a TERRIBLE writer. Repetitive, dull, formulaic and utterly, utterly dreadful. But it’s not your fault – we’re all terrible writers these days, mainly because we’ve never been taught properly how to use those tricky nouns, verbs and adjectives to truly express our own deeply personal feelings, thoughts and ideas.

We’re taught to conform to a certain way of writing when, in fact, we should all sound different – we’re all unique on the inside, so why should our writing sound the same on the outside? [Editor: A good question, I’m glad you asked that. Writer: Thanks, Ed…have you lost weight? Editor: Shush, you, you’ll make me blush].

So how do you become a better writer?

*drumroll + fanfare + sound of the Red Arrows flying past*

START READING THIS BLOG!!

Sharpening your word skills

‘How Not To Writte’ is the modern writer’s salvation* (possibly). We’re going to take your limp prose, your predictable business emails and your dull-as-dishwater social media updates and help you avoid the common pitfalls and writing traps.

– We’re going to tell you the ‘Dos’ – the positive, brilliant and exceptionally sexy things you can do to make your writing more engaging, truthful and original.

– And we’re going to tell you the ‘Don’ts’ – the dumb mistakes, the unnecessary waffle and the turgid old guidelines from the school rulebook that you can rip up and forget.

It’s not a foolproof system (we’re not perfect writers ourselves, of course, one of us even used the phrase ‘diversifying our demographic’ before being promptly walloped with a whitebait. It’s ok, we’re not usually violent). But by dipping into these blog posts and taking away some of those all-important Dos and Don’ts, we’re confident you’ll start seeing an improvement in your writing and communication skills.*

Get ready to improve your wordsmithery

So, brace yourself, gird your loins (whatever that means) and get ready to dive into How Not To Writte. It’s packed full of writing advice to turn you into the writer you’ve always wanted to be.

Off you go then… trot along (or gallop, or canter, or whatever horsey preference of movement you’d like to undertake to hot hoof it over to a blog, with some words in it)…

Read the very first How Not To Writte post here

*LEGAL DISCLAIMER: If, having read this blog you find your writing to still be the biggest pile of soggy bilge, How Not To Writte takes no responsibility…