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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Writing And Flying

Every Little Thing: 
What Writing and Flying Have in Common, by Nicholas Baron 

Every job has its minutiae. Along with “precise details,” the definition of this term also includes “small or trifling matters.” Is this not a bit of an oxymoron? For many professionals in their fields, it would seem to be. After all, nurses record temperatures using fractions of a degree. Gemologists classify gems based on tiny differences in color, cut, and clarity. Accountants track the path of each one of their client’s pennies. These professionals would argue that the details are hugely important.

Pilots and writers would agree. In both professions, success depends on being meticulous. In the world of aviation, veteran pilots examine their planes before flights. Each check verifies, visually or manually, that the plane and its parts are in working order. A pilot could miss mechanical problems that affect the quality and safety of the flight if he fails to inspect the plane carefully. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provides regulations and guidelines for flight safety. Their manual covers the basic walkarounds that pilots carry out and detailed analyses performed by aviation specialist technicians. A basic check encompasses multiple checkpoints. Planes are subject to pre- and post-flight inspections. At regular intervals, planes undergo more in-depth examinations. The FAA regulates these airworthiness inspections with a code called Title 14 (14 CFR.)

Believe it or not, writing is subject to similarly stringent criteria. To judge its airworthiness, so to speak, there are regulatory organizations such as the Modern Language Association (MLA), the American Psychological Association (APA), and the University of Chicago Press. These entities produce manuals that monitor the correct use of grammar, spelling, references, and mechanics. Writers wishing to publish scholarly work must meet the specific guidelines. Though the average author does not write for scholarly journals, experienced writers use spell checkers each time they compose a piece. The stakes are high. A fiction author could lose respect from his readers if his novels are full of grammatical errors. Poor word choice confuses readers, causing them to lose track of the plot. If a technical writer miscommunicates vital information, it could result in malfunctions, misunderstandings, or even physical harm.

What about that dictionary’s definition of minutia? Of course, this word appropriately describes frivolous elements of a job. However, in the skies and on paper, small details are not minor! Pilots maintain flight safety and contribute to the good working condition of their planes when they conduct inspections. By proofreading and rewriting, authors capture the nuances of words and convey essential facts. They thus influence the popularity and usefulness of their writing. Pilots and writers celebrate the minutiae!

By Nikolas Baron

A little more about Nikolas...

Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in elementary school, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at Internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.

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