June 2016

Word Smarts
(Ouch! Did I use that word the wrong way again?)

Solstice vs. Equinox

We just passed the summer solstice, which made me wonder what the difference between solstice and equinox is exactly. Do you know which is which?
 
A. The start of spring and fall when the sun is the least distance from the equator and day and night are nearly equal in length.

B. The start of winter and summer when the sun is the greatest distance from the equator and the length of day and night are most extreme.
 
(Find the answer at the end of this newsletter.)
 
The biannual solstice and equinox mark the beginning of the seasons. When you’re writing about the spring or autumnal equinox and the summer or winter solstice, use lowercase—we don’t capitalize seasons. But if you refer to the June solstice, for example, start with a capital letter because months (and days of the week) are always uppercase.


Writing Tips

Try this proven strategy for developing writing—freewriting

Looking for ideas for your next blog? Want to develop your thoughts on a topic for an article you’re writing? Maybe you need additional rationale to strengthen a job proposal. Here’s a technique you can use to get your creative juices flowing—freewriting.
 
How it works is simple. Write down a general topic, an idea or an opinion on the top of a page, and then write about it for a set amount of time (5 to 15 minutes). There are a few rules. You must write continuously for the whole time, and you absolutely do not get to read what you’ve written until the allotted time is over.
 
Don’t worry about form—that is, grammar, punctuation, spelling. In fact, don’t worry whether your writing even makes sense. The goal isn’t to create well-written prose, but to get your thinking flowing and generate ideas for a first draft. Keep in mind that this writing is just for you; no one else need ever see it.
 
There is no right or wrong. Straying off topic is typical. Let your mind wander as it will, as long as you keep writing. If you don’t know what to say, write, “I don’t know what to say.” Just keep writing anyway. Keep your pen moving (or your keyboard clicking)— “This is stupid. I don’t know anything about this topic. Who knew 10 minutes could be so damn long!”
 
When time is up, you must stop. Now you get to read over what you’ve written. As you read, you may want to group ideas that relate to each other to use for the first draft of your writing project. Or you may highlight a line from your writing to serve as the focus for another freewrite. Maybe you’ll notice a particular phrase that you will want to incorporate into your writing later.
 
Once you’ve tried freewriting a few times, you’ll discover that writing gets easier! It may be a new and welcome experience to write free of self-judgment, just writing to see what comes up. Even if you feel there isn’t a single idea worth holding on to, keep your freewriting anyway. You never know— when you reread it tomorrow or next month, you may recognize something you hadn’t seen at first.
 
Freewriting is used by professional writers, by students in college classrooms, by all types of people—anyone who wants to explore her ideas openly. Freewriting helps writers move forward, shoving aside blocks and self-criticism, and it really can make the writing process easier.
 


Word Smarts Answer

A. equinox

B. solstice