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Make Time to Walk the Dog

The other day I was parked at the post office, when I noticed a woman walking a dachshund. At the corner the dog stopped walking. The woman gently tugged the leash, but the dog did not budge. It just stood there in the sun. Then it lay down on the sidewalk. The woman spoke softly to the dog, then just stood there next to the dog lying on the sidewalk. A minute passed; nothing changed.

Intrigued, I asked the woman if the dog was tired or ill. She responded, “No, he just likes to lie in the sun. On sunny days, our walks can take forever.”

I have been thinking about the woman, her patience, and–some would say–her overindulgence of the dog. I like that she understands a walk will take a long time on a sunny day. I imagine that she plans sufficient time when it is sunny, or she doesn’t walk her dachshund. Otherwise, either she would be frustrated by the dog’s sunny rests, or the dog would be annoyed by being dragged down the street.

What does this blog post have to do with writing?

Allow enough time.

If you know it takes two days to write a proposal, allow at least two days to complete it. If you don’t have time now to respond to your email, don’t spend time reading it–read it when you can respond. If you know it will take a few days to incorporate changes in a major report, build those days into the writing schedule.

Don’t frustrate yourself by allowing too little time to write. Remember the woman with her dachshund: On sunny days, a walk can take forever. Enjoy the walk. Allow time to reflect and revise. Reach the end with everyone pleased about the outcome.

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

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