Archive for the ‘naming’ Tag

Virtual writing

My favorite online forum, where I’ve been a member for over a year, yesterday offered me the chance to revise my username.  The original pick I made was not helpful in SEO terms, so I happily decided to take up their offer.  But what to change it to?  My actual business name, Virtual Writing & Communications, seemed too long and difficult for a username.

It was a useful exercise, one that reminded me how useful it is to bravely strip down to essentials.  Rather than padding, setting up fluffy barricades to protect your identity and meaning, the trick is to chisel down to the core and then surface with a simple, naked, unadorned truth.

(If you Twitter often and well, you can appreciate the power of brevity.  If you’re a poet, you know real poetry is stark, not ‘flowery’ at all.)

So my username has become plainly,  ‘virtual writing.’  And of course, I can’t just accept that, but have to consider the precise meaning of those words.  We have fiction and non-fiction writing, we have journalistic, poetic, and prose styles.  And now we have this new form of writing that’s called ‘virtual writing.’

What distinguishes this new form?  We can infer that the ‘virtual’ qualifier at least points to the internet, and probably involves product delivered digitally.  Further, I’d like to suggest that virtual writing is writing tailored to the speed and engagement level of the internet; to the ‘scanning’ behavior of most people when they browse;  to the necessity of SEO; and to a global audience of anyone (as opposed to a much smaller audience of those who choose to purchase your writing.)

So that takes care of the virtual part, but what about the writing part?  The internet is about writing in a very big way, resulting in huge numbers of bloggers and online writers who are trying to get their message out, but are seriously compromised by their sub-standard writing skills.  We plunge into the opportunities of the internet without solid practice in this skill, and many a post includes misspellings, poor grammar and rhetoric, obvious total lack of proofreading, and other written communication failures.

Does it matter?  If most can decipher your meaning even if the writing is terrible, who cares?  I think it really doesn’t matter much at first.  The reader is there for your message, after all, and if it can be gleaned from the morass, fine.  But in the long run, the quality of your writing is a major influence on your reputation.  A reader may get a kick out of your post, but will not remain devoted for long if your writing’s not accurate and rich.

I’m passionate about writing, it’s true.  Words are objects of great beauty to me.  The internet, also, has captured an enormous part of my attention.  So I’m happy with this new moniker: ‘virtual writing’ is me!

P.S.  This blog is moving to, and will no longer appear here after this week.  Please visit my website!


A hefty serving of business wisdom was offered up in a telecast I heard last week, featuring the founder of Starbucks (Howard Behar), the founder of StartUpNation , and the author of a new book about business success. One of the many salient points made: as established by Peter Drucker many years ago, the results-oriented activities of any business are its marketing and its innovation (while all other activities are mere costs), and naming something in itself is an innovation. Their example was the labeling of Starbuck’s drink as short, tall, and grande; a naming that became an important innovation that helped to establish their incredibly powerful brand.

Having the motivation and courage to start up your own business is admirable in itself, but many folks stall when it comes to naming their endeavor. As I chat with other virtual assistants, it’s clear that this is often a real stumbling block.

“A thing’s name is its numen,” said Northrop Frye eons ago. I memorized the statement at the time, for its pithy truth. Definition of numen: divine power or spirit; a deity, esp. one presiding locally or believed to inhabit a particular object. Deciding upon your business name is deciding upon its spirit. In one sense, it’s a terrifying choice to make; but on the other hand, if you’re really into and ready for the experience, probably the spirit communicates itself to you voluntarily, and your business name appears effortlessly.

As an example: it’s not my business name, but my business website has the domain name, asthemoonclimbs. Unwilling to duke it out for the perfect keywords pertaining to virtual assistance, at the time I simply went with the spirit that presented itself. Excited to be concentrating on my ancient skill of writing, and thinking about all the tragically terrible writing out there, especially on the internet, and thinking about how the Zen archer moves beyond the use of bow and arrow, and – I must add – having maniacally high expectations for my own productivity, I was struck by the domain name out of the blue, and didn’t fight it for an instant. If a person says their name is Fred, you have to call them that whether they look like a Fred or not.

To satisfy the curious, the phrase ‘asthemoonclimbs’ comes from a poem by Archibald MacLeish:
A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs.
A poem should not mean, but be.