Creative Signs for the Work-Hard-Party-Harder set

“Honey, will get home late tonight.” And then the volume of his voice goes down to a whisper, “Overtime.” Of course, you say, “Sure. Don’t work too hard, honey.”

When you’re as good a listener as I am, you pay very close attention to the enunciation of your spouse’s words. Did he say, overtime? Or did he just say Obeertime? Note the difference between the sounds of the consonants b and v.

Obeertime is a restaurant slash beer pub (now undergoing renovation) along Pasong Tamo St. According to my husband, they serve some of the best barbecues in town. I have to take his word for it, because I have not yet done extra work in there. Bad lighting and probably not the most conducive place for checking test papers. I am just amused by places with names like this. I appreciate the wit and the play on words. And I’m sure those who need creative excuses for post work inebriation appreciate them too.

Less than a kilometer away is a place that picks up on the theme. D’Boss. “Honey, will get home late tonight. I will go to the boss.” Again, if you’re very astute, you’ll notice that your honey used the wrong preposition. If he really had official business with his boss, he should have said, I will go with the boss. And he should pronounce the article “the” using a soft th sound, not the d sound that some Filipinos use.

And then, there is this:

“Honey, will get home late tonight. I will pass by the job site.”

Be very careful, my dear readers. Listen carefully. Your hardworking husband just might be inputting alcoholic beverages instead of encoding data.

Somebody asked me the secret to expanding one’s vocabulary.

First off, I suspect that right now, you know pretty much all the words you need to know to survive in your chosen career. I don’t prescribe memorizing a new word a day. Life is too short and stressful as it is. Just use the words you already know as well as you can.

But for the sake of continuous improvement, and if you really want to deposit more into your word bank, let me share with you a few tips:

Audience – Who is your target reader? With whom do you frequently communicate? Are they entrepreneurs? Then read a lot of business magazines and use the terms frequently used -- capital, investment, bottom line, strategy, sustainability --and use them literally or metaphorically in your sales letters. Do you write articles read by sports enthusiasts? Pepper your write-ups with words about winning, teamwork, the finish line. Google specific glossaries and list down words you might be able to use in your writing. Do not overdo it. Plain English is still better than jargon. Just use enough to get the attention of your readers, who would appreciate that you use their language.

Books – There are two main tips I give to aspiring writers. One is to write, write, write. And another is to read, read, read. Read aloud. Underline the words which you are not familiar with and look them up. Google them to see how these words are usually used. Experiment by using these words in your speech or written pieces. Just make sure you are using them in context.

Crossword Puzzles – I kid you not. In my youth, I discovered the word ecru through crossword puzzles. Find the difficulty level you’re comfortable with but one that is challenging as well. And yes, you can peek and cheat. That’s how you discover the words you do not know.

Dictionary – The most obvious place to look. I don’t prescribe reading it from A to Z. Rather, check it out when you have certain words you want to look up. I recommend Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. These days, however, it so much more convenient to go to Don’t just read the first meaning. Read through it so you understand the nuances of the word.

Enjoy the Process – Play word games online. Play scrabble with a really good player. Listen to good speakers and learn which words inspire the audience. Experiment with new words. Don’t go through the motions of memorizing one word a day when you find the process tedious. Try to use a newly discovered word 10 times a day. Use them for knock knock jokes. You’re bound to remember them better.

F7 – Microsoft’s Shift F7 is such a blessing to writers. It’s a very convenient thesaurus. Use it when you think you’ve been repeating a certain word too much. You might be tempted to use an extremely impressive sounding word that no one else you know has heard of. Don’t. The point is to be understood. Write to express, not to impress. So, stick to words that most people will understand. And be careful that you are using the word properly or else you will be taken as a pretentious fool.

So, there you have it, the ABCs of expanding your vocabulary. Again, I encourage you to read as often as you can. Read a balance of fiction and non-fiction. Read well-written books. Read books on writing. Read books that discuss topics you are interested in.

The process of expanding your vocabulary is not an instant thing. It takes time. And remember, it is not the words you know, but how you use the words you know that will help you write effectively.

Interesting and helpful article at

Interview with Lee Gutkind

Lee Gutkind, Editor/Writer/Teacher/Filmmaker

Lee Gutkind is the founding editor of the anthology series Creative Nonfiction: The Literature of Reality, a teacher, filmmaker, and an award-winning author/editor of over a dozen books. He’s often been called “The Godfather behind Creative Nonfiction.”

Here is my exclusive interview with Mr. Gutkind:

Mike: What is the best piece of writing advice you ever heard?

Gutkind: That you need to build a habit of writing. To write every day and on a schedule.

Mike: Should you edit your work during the process or after you’ve finished? MORE HERE.

More funny signs at:

Thanks to Maydiwayata for sending the link.

There’s a special group of people who live the last quarter of every year with trembling hands, nerves on edge, and a tendency to get too excited. By the middle of January, they start calming down.

Don’t worry about these folks. It’s not a chronic disease. It’s just a symptom of overcaffeination. A natural result of trying to consume 12 cups of regular coffee and 9 more cups of the holiday varieties. Their goal: to earn enough stickers to get themselves a free journal from Starbucks.

I understand. I’m a rabid collector of journals myself. I prefer the ones with unlined pages. I prefer paying for them since I do not have the patience for collecting stickers. Some people are crazy about moleskins. Some people like them big. Some people like them small and handy. But really, any kind of notebook will do to enable you to journal your thoughts.

There are many benefits to writing a journal. One of them is improving your writing skills. I always tell my students that one of the most effective ways to become a better writer is just to write, write, write. Journal writing enables you to do that while having fun.

Write as often as you can. You do not have to wait for something monumentally significant to happen. You can write about the mundane. Write about your daily activities. Write about that guy who always takes the same jeepney you ride on the way to work. Write about your boss and her weird habits. Write about your plans to have a haircut in the coming weekend. Or your plans for the next five years. Or how you spent the last 5 hours. Write about anything. Just write.

Journal writing may not automatically improve your grammar, but as you develop the writing habit, you would find writing to be enjoyable and well worth the effort to consciously improve.

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