Beware of Hyperlink Blue

color wheel

Recently, a friend forwarded a marketing email from a well-respected networking organization. The email listed events and pertinent information relevant to me. I had my calendar and wallet out, ready to sign up and fork over some moolah. But I never got that far. Sad for me. Sadder for the networking organization.

As I scrolled through the email…and scrolled….and scrolled…my eyes glazed over and my blood pressure ticked up a notch. The marketer had employed an excessive amount of “hyperlink blue” and what I call “emergency red” for headlines and random emphasis of random words. After two minutes of focused attention but without comprehending a single thing, I closed the email with an “aaaaagh” as if I just discovered a garden snake in my kitchen.

Honestly, I’m a snob when it comes to email formatting. In fact, Hollywood studios rewarded my snobbery with a weekly paycheck to ensure that written communications to employees were as digestible as possible. I’m a snob because the audience WILL NOT READ the email if given any reason not to read it.

Sometime back in last millennia, the masterminds behind the Internet standardized the default hyperlink color to #0000ff with an underline. No, it’s not pretty. It is reminiscent of 1998, but millions of people associate that color blue with links. So, in my opinion, that blue color is off limits for anything other than links. And, actually, now that we have other options for link colors (i.e. a virtual web crayon box), let’s just leave #0000ff back in the ’90s.

A few thoughts to consider about links:

  • Use color sparingly. A solid rule of thumb is black or dark gray for the body copy, one headline color, and one link color. The eye-glazing networking email used six colors: black, blue, red, maroon, pink, and lighter blue. If you color random words or use too many colors, you start a visual competition with the headline and links.
  • Choose color wisely. When selecting a link color:
    • Be consistent – Pick one color for all links throughout your site or marketing piece
    • Match your color scheme – Choose a color that compliments an embedded image or logo
  • Underline links. Your audience expects links to be easy to find. Color and underline accomplishes that.

There’s much to say about the use of color in writing materials. This article in entrepreneur.com is a good place to start: The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding.

And when all the color talk inevitably makes you reconsider your home or office decor, check out 10 Color Theory Basics Everyone Should Know. It’s a great primer on color and inspirational design article.

Speak What You Write

This is the first in a series of WRITING TIPS for professionals who are not trained writers. 

New writers are often surprised to learn that practiced writers routinely read their writing aloud not just to themselves, but to other people. Whether it’s in person or over the phone to a trusted friend or colleague, speaking your writing will IMMEDIATELY provide you with the following information:

  • Readability. If you are stumbling or tongue-tied, then your readers will be, too. Write like you talk.
  • Message. Overall, does the writing make sense and get your point across?
  • Flow. Is there a clear beginning, middle and end?
  • Tone. Do the language and tone match your intention, your audience, and your message? Too flowery? Too much jargon?
  • Reader Fatigue. Are you trying to jam too much into one paragraph? Are your sentences varied in length?
  • Gut Check. What does your gut say while you are reading? Notice your own energy and attention.

I read aloud the first chapter of a fiction piece to a fellow writer friend recently via phone. Now, this was a novel that I wrote eight years ago and re-edited earlier in the summer. Before the call I was feeling, dare I say, cocky. Within three paragraphs, I tossed up a white flag and stopped. My gut forbid my mouth from saying another word. I HATED EVERYTHING I WAS SAYING. Not the plot; that was fine. But the words were all wrong. Back to the editing table!

That, my friends, is why we don’t write on a desert island.

Don’t stop with speaking the words. Ask the listener for feedback.

  • Can you summarize what happened in the story (fiction) or summarize the main points (non-fiction)?
  • At any point did you lose interest? Where?
  • At any point were you confused? Where?

Stay tuned for more tips! Have a special request, don’t hesitate to email me or post your comment below.

On Writing Routines

Routines provide us humans with safety and security. Routines soothe anxiety. It’s true for babies, and it’s so true for writers.

Here are three cornerstones of my writing routine:

Write first thing in the day. It’s not new advice. Just about every book on the topic speaks of the magic of the early morning hours. But I mean, as soon as you roll out of bed. Before tea or coffee. Before brushing your teeth. Before breakfast. Before anything else. Why? For me, it’s because my brain doesn’t have a chance to object, complain or block my progress. That fuzzy, dreamlike state is the gateway to my creative brain. And, of course, getting the writing done early in the day prevents other life necessities from derailing the writing time. I use the same philosophy when training for a half marathon. Hit the pavement before my brain knows what’s going on.

Start with a short note. Time to talk about warm-ups. The blank page. The pressure of where to begin. The “what-if everything I write is pure crap.” To get going, I write a little short letter. Not just to warm up my writing fingers, but to ask for help from a higher power. No matter your religious or spiritual orientation, I think this routine works. It takes the ego out of the writing and refocuses your intention.

Basically, I write a note that begins like this:

Please help me to stay centered. Help me to let go and allow the words to come through me for the greater good.

Yes, it may sound hokey. I’m not above hokey. I’m just happy that it helps to ground me.

Create a Goal and Accountability. When I was a kid, my dad used to time me while doing my chores. “Let’s see how fast you can pick up all the LEGOs.” I’d race around, giddy, picking up those little bricks in record time. It was fun! It was a game! I do the same thing with writing. I set a goal, say, 1200 words in two hours. Then I text a friend and tell them my goal. They say something like, “Go, Laura.” Then I text them the word count after the two hours. They say something like, “Great!” It works.

What’s your routine?

Ban Writer’s Block Forever

creating-grit-2
What is it about that blank piece of paper that is so daunting? The whiteness that dares you to transform it into something of significance. You tap, tap, tap a few words and delete. Tap and delete. The creative valve closes and you succumb to Writer’s Block.

Don’t worry. You’re not alone and there is an easier, more fulfilling and productive way to write. The daunting feeling is your gut telling you that there’s a misunderstanding.

Writing is not a one-step, linear process. In the most basic sense, there are two stages: WRITING and EDITING. WRITING employs raw, imaginative energy that doesn’t care about making sense or about the rules of grammar. It certainly doesn’t care about the critics. It’s all about going with the flow.

EDITING calls upon the organizer, the rule governor and the strategist in you. To oversimplify, WRITING comes from the creative RIGHT brain while EDITING relies on the more analytical and orderly LEFT brain.

For a moment, think of the art of writing in terms of sculpting clay. Let’s assume that you’re starting from scratch.

Stage One: Gather the clay ingredients, mix them and place the raw clay onto a clean surface.

What do you have at this point? A big blob of clay. Nothing of significance…yet. But there is great potential.

It’s the same with writing. The WRITING stage is deeply creative. It may not have any order or sequence to it. You figuratively spill out all that is in your heart, mind and soul about the topic to create your “writing clay”.

Yes, Stage One is messy. No, you probably wouldn’t publish it in its rough and unformed state. So, you go on to Stage Two.

Stage Two: Back to the clay sculpting image. At this stage, the sculptor shapes and manipulates the clay with the tools in his or her toolbox according to a particular style or vision – or maybe just by “feeling it out”.

And so it goes for the EDITING stage. You shape the “writing clay” by moving it around, reorganizing, rewording, scrapping some paragraphs and adding others. You play with the flow. Maybe take the middle paragraph and see how it reads as the opening paragraph.

Imagine what would happen if you combined Stage One and Stage Two while sculpting. If you tried to sculpt the ingredients before they were mixed. If you stared at the clean (blank) surface and tried to make something happen without placing the raw clay on it.

Not much progress. And a lot of confusion.

And the same goes when you combine Stage One and Stage Two while writing. It’s where Writer’s Block lurks. Your brain comes to a stand still. It’s a draw. No winners. Only self-doubt and suffering.

So what about the blank piece of paper? I look at it as the clean surface for the clay. That’s all.

Give the two-stage approach a shot and let me know how it goes. For me, it’s made all the difference.

Hello, world!

And so it begins.

Welcome to Write Where I’m Meant To Be, the writing companion blog for entrepreneurs. Here, I’ll share writing tips, editing techniques and musings, geared primarily towards brilliant folks who don’t consider yourselves “writers”.

First things first. Writers are people who write. If you have a website, blog or any social presence for your business, you ARE a writer.

Be bold. Be brave. Own your internal scribe and start cultivating your voice and style as well as technical know-how. Writing gets your insides out on the page. Yes, it can be extremely vulnerable. THAT’S what makes it so important to be authentically YOU in your writing.