When Not to Write–An Example

I have been at home sick with a head cold for several days. Being unable to think clearly is one good reason not to write, and that is why I have been silent here. The words and ideas were not coming together in any coherent way.

There are many other times and situations not to write. I have covered eight of them in the latest issue of Better Writing at Work. (Subscribe for free.) One of them is "Don't write when you are worried that you have upset or offended your reader."

My friend Jean phoned me after reading the article "Don't Write When It Will Go Wrong." She said she was taking my advice and calling instead of writing. In her phone message she said she wanted to talk about a "misstep" she may have made with me.

I emailed back a brief message (both my head and voice weren't working) thanking Jean and letting her know I wasn't aware of any misstep.

Now the misstep is behind us. I don't even know what it was.

Had Jean written a lengthy message discussing the misstep, it probably would have cost her energy and worry. By mentioning it briefly in a message, she opened the door enough for me to respond and dispel her concerns.

If you have an example of a time not to write, please share it.

Syntax Training


  1. Lynn,

    Hasty email responses, especially those that trigger a negative emotional response, are an example I’ve learned to control. To give myself extra time to ponder a message after I’ve clicked “Send”, I setup a rule in Outlook to hold all messages in my outbox for five minutes after I send them. This allows me time to delete the email, or at least to edit it, should I decide after sending it that I shoudl have responded differently.

    I created an instructional screencast showing others how to setup this rule. You can view it from the link on my blog at http://turnleft.inetsolution.com/2009/03/ever_send_an_email_you_wish_yo.html


  2. Hi, Jason. Thank you for your excellent, clear tutorial.

    For anyone who watches the brief tutorial, be sure your speakers are turned on. Otherwise, you may think nothing is happening at the beginning, when the narrrator is introducing the rule.


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