Category: Writing

Write Well; Keep Track of S

I have so much of these in my shelves. But these ones are my favorites.
I have so much of these in my shelves. But these ones are my favorites.

Writing is more than just a talent and a passion, for it is a skill that when we master, it could empower us professionally, and it could enrich us personally. And although there are news, or rumors, or both that our writing skills have gone bad in this Digital age, but given the fact that it’s a skill, I am positive that all of us can write. That the only question is; how well we write.

Regardless, there are “rules-of-thumb” that we, writers and aspirants could count on, and must adhere to ensure good writing. They are as follows:


Defined by Encarta as a “meaningful linguistic unit—a group of words or a single word that expresses a complete thought, feeling, or idea. It usually contains an explicit or implied subject and a predicate containing a finite verb,” and depending on the clauses, there are four types of sentences:

– Simple sentence contains a single independent clause.

– Compound sentence contains independent clauses joined by coordinating conjunction (e.g. and, for, but), or a conjunctive adverb (such as however, therefore, thus, hence), or a semicolon alone.

– Complex sentence contains a single dependent clause (headed by a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun) joined to an independent clause,

– Compound complex sentence contains two independent clauses joined to one or more dependent clauses.

writers-blockWe must keep in mind that when a sentence doesn’t express a complete thought, we are not only hurting our writing, but chances are, we might get misunderstood.

Subject-Verb Agreement

Subject-Verb agreement is one of the “holy commandments” of writing. It means that if the subject is singular, the verb must be singular as well (For example: Lisa is reading, or Lisa reads).


Structure is the “skeleton” or the framework of writing—for without a clear and organized structure, our paragraphs will not be in coherent with one another. What’s worse, our readers might end up wandering; meandering as to where our writing is going.


Style is the way we arrange our sentences in the most convincing ways. Style enables us to display our eloquence and intelligence in getting our messages across to our readers.


A single misspelled word could hurt our writing substantially. For a simple typo could turn off our readers. So make sure, you use spell checker or a pocket dictionary, along with a thesaurus each time you write.


Succinctness is about brevity, or clarity on how we “neatly” package our words into strong arguments. Ideally, the concept of “short, but sweet” applies in all genres of writing. However, in academics, as one furthers one’s degree, there are more numbers of words required in academic writing (the longest I had was twenty-five pages, in double space, excluding work cited for my business law class). But then again, in most cases, what is ideal indeed, is to deliver our messages in the most meaningful, yet shortest ways.


Simplicity is also in the “holy commandments” of written language. In fact, according to the great William Zinsser “Who can understand the clotted language?” He further stresses that with simplicity at scarce, we are nothing, but “a society of strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills, and meaningless jargon.”

Sense of Humor

“Laughter is the best medicine,” says an old quote. However, we don’t have to take laughter so literally. More so, to ridicule anyone, or ourselves (and engage into self-deprecation) when we contemplate of adding humor to our writings. Nonetheless, it really won’t hurt to add a “dash” of fun, for most of us do appreciates sense of humor. In addition, sometimes, the best key in “winning” our audiences is to make them laugh (or smile at least).

Sound of Your Voice

Writing is a conversation. Which means, we should “speak” naturally when we write. For writing doesn’t have to be stiff and uptight for us, neither for our readers too.

Moreover, writing in the sound of our voices doesn’t only make our writing more authentic and distinctive, but through the sounds of our voices, we can write “with breeze” and ease. In addition, we should never copy anyone’s style, more so, anyone’s words. Although we must follow the same rules and mechanics, but we really must carry our respective characters each time we write.


Lastly, sincerity is the soul behind our manuscripts. For writing sincerely, is the most meaningful way to touch our readers’ lives.

Finally, writing is a skill that when we master, it’ll compensate us professionally and enrich us personally. So, write well, and keep track of all the “s” mentioned above.

Happy writing!



Are We in the Viral Age of Loneliness?

20130417-053717.jpgSabiniana Balagtas Baliba
George Garneau, Ph.D.
English 200
2 May 2013

Are We In the Viral Age of Loneliness?

As technology is vastly revolutionizing our lives, the World Wide Web is pulling us from our world of reality. In fact, Canadian writer Stephen Marche writes, “Social media—from Facebook to Twitter—have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)—and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill.”

In the Atlantic article Facebook Making Us Lonely, Marche further writes: “According to the Los Angeles coroner’s report, she lay dead for the better part of a year before a neighbor and fellow actress, a woman named Susan Savage, noticed cobwebs and yellowing letters in her mailbox, reached through a broken window to unlock the door, and pushed her way through the piles of junk mail and mounds of clothing that barricaded the house. Upstairs, she found Vickers’s body, mummified, near a heater that was still running. Her computer was on too, its glow permeating the empty space.”

Marche passionately argues: “She lay dead for the better part of a year before a neighbor and fellow actor, a woman named Susan Savage, noticed cobwebs and yellowing letters in hermailbox, reached through a broken window to unlock the door, and pushed her way through the piles of junk mail and mounds of clothing, that barricaded the house. Upstairs, she found Vickers’s body, mummified, near a heater that was still running. Her computer was on too, its glow permeating the empty space.”

Vickers’s death indeed, was so horrifying. Because apparently before her passing, she was too hooked on fan Internet sites that she ended up isolating herself from families and friends. (Marche) What was even more horrible, even the coroner could not tell the exact date of her death, for her cadaver was extremely decomposed already when a friend found her.

However, in a research study, science and medical experts Emma L. Pelling and Katherine M. White stress, that the “high-level Social Networking Websites (SNWs) use is influenced by attitudinal, normative, and self-identity factors.” What this study means is that the impact of social networking depends on one’s individuality, and not in general.20130417-060350.jpg

Realistically speaking, the account of Vicker’s death is not credible enough for anyone to question the humongous contributions of Internet and technology to our lives. Yes, both do pose some challenges, just like everything else in this world—for in everything, even in everyone (and that includes us), there are always two contrasting sides—for that is the irony of life, the greatest irony of life! Moreover, one should not generalize that all social networkers are like Vickers—who prior to her death have long suffered from depression—as the late former starlet also faced other issues of stardom, aging, and etc. Therefore, to conclude that she died because of social networking, and that all social networkers, like us, bloggers, are either lonely or narcissist, is wrong. Because we are not like Vickers, and it is not fair to compare us to her.

The narcissism that narrow minded and cynical people see in us, social networkers, is actually self-confidence brought by self-efficacy—as we are now so empowered by a great deal of knowledge and information, that no encyclopedia has ever did to humanity before. Most importantly, the burden of addressing all the dilemmas surrounding the effectiveness of the two powerful mediums of Internet and technology lies in our hands. For we should know better our responsibilities to ourselves—we must ensure that everything works to everyone’s greatest advantage—and that is not being narcissist, rather, that’s being wise.

In fact, another research study for social behavior and personality, published by the Society for Personality Research, scholars I-Ping Chiang, Yi-Hsuan Chiang, and Yu-Chi Lin, of the National Taipei University, discovered that on blogging (which is one of the most popular social networking activities): “People prefer to leave messages and make recommendations about Sites that are within their realm of interest, such as the blogs of friends or people with similar interests.” What this means to me, is that blogging and all social networking activities are enriching our lives.

20130417-065519.jpgPersonally, terrified of Vickers’s death, I honestly pondered if writing and blogging is doing me any favor at all. As I actively write and submit articles to various websites. In fact, I have accounts in all blogging sites too. I also send essays and my creative works, poetries and sentiments to Yahoo! However, deep solitude made me realized the blessings of this medium. Moreover, it is my nature, that when I am in doubt of anything, I always use my two hands in gauging all issues in life—on my right, I weigh all the goodness—and on my left, I weigh all the evilness. If the goodness is more than the evilness, then I will strive to straighten the latter. However, if it is the other way around, then I drop; I quit; I junk and get rid of anything that will not make me a better person.

Therefore, and in response to the statement of Marche, that “the drive for isolation has always been in tension with the impulse to cluster in communities that cling and suffocate,” that is not true at all. For in the blogosphere, we highly support one another. In fact, we subscribe to one another’s Sites. Yes, we may not see likes and comments all the time, and it is not because, we do not like each other’s posts, it is just that, we have personal lives to tend to. On our dealings with one another, we, of course, put cautions, as we know there are also limit to social networking too.

Regardless, the truth of the matter is, we, social networkers, bloggers, are not lonely creatures on earth. Moreover, the Internet is not in any ways making us lonely, neither, narcissist. In fact, we are passionately, and unselfishly sharing our knowledge and expertise (e.g. photography, arts, and writing; even our poetries, along with our personal journals), and we are truly enriching the World Wide Web. Because our blogs mirror how the Internet is enabling us to speak truthfully about our joys and tribulations, our successes and failures, even our dreams and downfalls. Our readers can cherish and apply the good lessons they learned from us—and they can avoid our mistakes and blunders in life, to make theirs better than ours. We, bloggers, are the new and fresh faces of journalism. We are making the Net humane.

In conclusion, indeed, the Internet and technology revolutionized and continuously revolutionizing our lives, and that the World Wide Web is pulling us from our world of reality, the old, boring, lonely and boxed reality. Thanks to Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, for through their ingenuities, and the proliferation of social networking sites, we are able to keep our passions burning, thereby, enriching our lives, thereby, enriching the World Wide Web, and in our most unique and humble ways. The Net is making us more knowledgeable and sociable. Most importantly, through social networking, through blogging, through this blessing, we are making ourselves great collaborators—for collaboration is a trait and a virtue, a major key to succeed in all walks of life and professions. We are thankful for our blogs! We are thankful for the Internet!

Works Cited

Barbour, Michael, and Cory Plough. “Social Networking In Cyberschooling: Helping to Make Online Learning Less Isolating.” Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning 53.4 (2009): 56-60. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.

Doohwang, Lee, Kim Hyuk Soo, and Kim Jung Kyu. “The Impact of Online Brand CommunityType On Consumer’s Community Engagement Behaviors: Consumer-Created Vs. Marketer-Created Online Brand Community In Online Social-Networking Web Sites.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking 14.1/2 (2011): 59-63. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.

I-Ping, Chiang, Chiang Yi-Suan, and Lin Yu-Chi. “The Antecedents and Consequences of Blogging Behavior.” Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal 41.2 (2013): 311-317. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.

Marche, Stephen. “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? (Cover Story).” Atlantic Monthly (10727825) 309.4 (2012): 60. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.

Miller, Robert, Kristine Parsons, and David Lifer. “Students And Social Networking Sites: The Posting Paradox.” Behaviour & Information Technology 29.4 (2010): 377-382. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.

Pelling, Emma L., and Katherine M. White. “The Theory of Planned Behavior Applied to Young People’s Use of Social Networking Web Sites.” Cyberpsychology & Behavior 12.6 (2009): 755-759. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.

Porter, Alan L., et al. “Research Coordination Networks: Evidence of the Relationship Between Funded Interdisciplinary Networking and Scholarly Impact.” Bioscience 62.3 (2012): 282-288. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.


Writing Is Not a Contest


Sabiniana Balagtas Baliba

George Garneau, Ph.D.

25 February 2013

“Writing Is Not a Contest” William Zinsser

In most field or profession, being competitive is highly encouraged, as it gives one the urge to compete and excel that could eventually lead to success. However, in writing it does not apply. For “Writing is not a contest,” just as William Zinsser stresses on On Writing Well’s Bits and Pieces (1).


Zinsser further stresses, “. . .many writers are paralyzed by the thought that they are competing with everybody who is trying to write and presumably doing it better,” (2). Indeed, I noticed that several times on some fellows’ writings. Some even write post (each article published through blogs) just solely criticizing others’ writings, which I find truly nonsensical (and not to mention unethical). For regardless of expertise and genre, no one writes to compete.

In fact, in academic, peer review is extremely valuable, that our English teachers always allot a day for our peers or classmates to review our drafts, and before we even submit it for final grading. For to have other pairs of eyes to review our essays can help on proofreading typographical even grammatical errors. In addition, different minds can bring refreshing ideas. Therefore, peer review is indeed invaluable.

Zinsser also emphasizes, “every writer is starting from a different point and is bound for destination” (3). My understanding to this: Just as we are distinct from one another, our views in life are different as well. So there is really no point of comparison.

On criticizing a fellow, and putting it on writing, by engaging in such, we are leveling ourselves to a caliber of a gossip monger. So, please, don’t do that. Let us pay respect to our profession, and let our peers have some dignity too.

Finally, how can we appeal to our readers’ pathos, if we have so much ego? Actually, just the thought that we’d be writing to compete does not sound right to me at all. For how can we write meaningfully, if the tone of our writing is competing? So, compete not, when you write. Neither, write to compete.

Write What Matters


An informal, narrative-process essay required in academia.

Sabiniana Balagtas Baliba

George Garneau, Ph.D.

23 January 2013

Write What Matters

Do you know “who are you writing for?” Because according to William Zinsser, for every writer, “Who am I writing for,” is such a “fundamental question,” that should have an equally “fundamental answer.” Honestly, before reading Zinsser’s On Writing Well, I thought, we, writers should just think of our readers to come up with a meaningful writing. But on Chapter 5, he wrote, “There is no such audience. . .” Now don’t be alarmed; Don’t take it literal! Nor react to “who” instead of “whom.” Of course, he didn’t mean that our readers don’t exist neither, no one would read our writings. Rather, just as every one is different from one another, Zinsser emphasized, “Every reader is different too.”
For in reality, it is impossible to know what “exactly” our readers would love to read. Moreover, it is easier, doable and attainable to write for ourselves. Because having that mentality, encourages us to fearlessly write and express our thoughts, in the distinct tone of our respective voice, style and individuality, for those should always be present each time we write.


Just like in academics, our English teachers always encourage us to write on topics that matter to us. Because to come up with a meaningful writing, we have to write about things that we are passionate of; issues that truly matter to us. For that is the strongest foundation of it all—Write what matters—Write what matters to you!

For when we write what matter to us, we would write, just as how we normally converse. Even if we don’t see our readers face-to-face, we should write as if we are talking to them in person, that they are right in front of us; all eyes, all ears listening, so we talk or write from the heart. And when we do write from the heart; in the most sincere and succinct ways, though we may not hear applause, or get a handshake, our readers will know, and they will appreciate that. So, write what matters, and write what matters to you!