Sunday, February 28, 2010


‘The Ten Things That Must Happen’---in Your Writing

By Jill Earl

I’ve never been one for outlining. Even back in school, I found it more of an effort to create an outline for a particular assignment than to just write my thoughts and ideas out. I applaud those who find it useful, though.

Then, I came across the latest issue of’s Writing Sparks Newsletter, where editor Monica Poling offers up an interesting way to incorporate outlining into your own work.

Titled ‘The Ten Things That Must Happen’, she suggests starting with the ten most important events that should happen in your piece, making your outline as brief or detailed as needed. After that, she lists a number of questions to help you plot out your next steps, like what scenes to use or eliminate or what does your list show about your writing. Once you’ve figured out what to do and what direction to take, you can pick up your pen or get back to tapping on the keyboard again.

Reading through this, I realized that I’d been doing this outline informally with a couple of pieces I’ve worked on for my critique group. Now that I’ve been formally introduced to this particular method, I’ll be using it for sure in the future. The rest of the article's here.

Reached an impasse in your writing? Work through those ‘ten things that must happen’ technique and bust through that block in no time!

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, August 06, 2009


The Duty of Observation

By Jill Earl

I’m reading Lavinia Spalding’s ‘Writing Away,’ a wonderful entry into the world of travel journaling. Scattered throughout the book’s pages are random quotes about writing taken from well-known to barely-known artists and travelers. Here’s what poet Mary Oliver had to say about one aspect of writing, observation:

“I love the line of Flaubert about observing things very intensely. I think our duty as writers begins not with our own feelings, but with the powers of observing.”

I agree with Ms. Oliver. Along with other artists, I believe that writers serve as society’s messengers. We take what we’ve acquired from our surroundings and present it to the world through our words.

For this process to take place, however, close attention to your surroundings is called for. Keep a notepad and pen or your PDA handy the next time you’re out. Glance at the mechanic servicing your car as he peers under the hood. Scan the crowd gathered for the campus protest meeting. Watch others in line as the barista whips up your half-caff, hazelnut creation. Peep at the couple comparing apples and oranges at the farmer’s market. Grin at your dog being spellbound by a butterfly just out of reach. Note anything. And everything.

The reward? Writing with the power to elicit laughter or sadness, or raising awareness of a cause or situation. Engaging words capturing your audience’s attention.

Observation. As a writer, it’s your duty to sharpen this skill so your writing grows stronger.

What writer wouldn’t want that?

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, July 05, 2009


Bringing out your influences

One of the joys I find about blogging and writing is being able to take a subject in countless different directions. As we all know, writing is more often than not a solitary endeavor. Blogging (especially when no one comments) can sometimes feel as if you exist in a solitary, well, vacuum.
It often gives me pause. As a writer, regardless of the medium, I find that I'm always putting myself "out there." For example, in an article, it might be how I structure the lede, which can give a hint of the influences of my life. Everything that has happened in my life, converging on the page...hopefully in an orderly fashion.
There are many scenes in the book "Hope in the Unseen" by Ron Suskind which illustrates this beautifully. One details how Cedric, the product of an inner city upbringing, browses the Brown University bookstore and runs across a biography of Winston Churchill. He had no idea who Churchill was. Cedric's frame of reference is completely different from mine...and from yours. As he makes his way through his first year at Brown, Cedric brings his past, present and future along with him.
Blog post or magazine article, this is me--along with all my knowledge, as well as my baggage.
And writing seems less solitary after all.

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and freelance writer. She also blogs at and, where she contemplates finding creativity in everyday places. She wrote this post alone, with the background influences of her oldest child grumbling in the background. Can you tell?

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


No Excuses

Yesterday, I did a silly thing with my laptop; and today, I am paying the price. It seemed no big deal to have a glass of water sitting by my computer while I worked on an article for a deadline. How many of you have a cup of coffee or pop sitting by your computer right now? We all do it, right?

I was packing up my laptop to take it somewhere else; and at the same time, I was trying to get my puppy to stop chewing my cord--and well, you can figure out the rest. . .the glass of water spilt right on the keyboard. Sizzle, sizzle, poof! It won't even turn on. There were tears, there were words of comfort from my husband and step-son, and a reminder that we do have an old desktop and a library a block away.

At first, I panicked. What would I do? How would I go on? How can I write? I took a break away from the computer to run the errand I needed to run; and somehow, clarity came to me. What was important here? Really? Would I still be able to meet my deadline? Yes! Would I still be able to work on my novel tomorrow? Yes! Would I still have e-mail? Yes! Sure, the desktop is slower and not portable, but it will do until we figure out something else.

I have two points with this post: 1. Be careful of your computer. Take care of it, and don't put your drinks near it. As writers in the 21st century, our computers are another family member. Aren't you with me on this? 2. If something happens with your computer or anything that you "usually" use to write, don't let it stop you from writing. Don't use anything as an excuse. I've heard them all--"Well, my office is being painted." or "There's too much family activity around where I like to write." or "My iPod is broken."

If you want to write, you will. You will find a way until you can get your technology going again.


Happy Writing!
Margo Dill (Read These Books and Use Them)

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Tiny Chunks of Time

At this time of year, your calendar is probably booked with extra chores. So where does that leave your writing life?

Don't worry! You can keep it alive and kicking by using the nooks and crannies of your day. "Even tiny chunks of time, reclaimed, can add up to the hours necessary to write," says David Fryxell, author of How to Write Fast (While Writing Well).

Here are a few inspiring examples from his book:

*The French Chancellor D'Aguesseau, it's said, once noticed that his wife was habitually ten minutes late coming down to dinner. He decided to make use of those ten minutes (3,650 minutes a year, or more than sixty hours). We he waited for dinner, D'Aguesseau wrote a three-volume book, which became a bestseller when it was published in 1668.

*Anthony Trollope spent most of his life working as a postal clerk, but he would get up at five o'clock each morning and write 3,000 words in the three hours before beginning with the mail. If Trollope finished penning a novel before it was time to go to work—and he finished nearly fifty books this way—he'd simply begin another.

*More recently, the British crime novelist Michael Gilbert managed to craft twenty-three books during his daily fifty-minute commute to his "real job" as a solicitor.

Your situation may be different from the men in these examples, but I'll bet you can find a way to adjust one of the scenarios to fit your life. Grabbing small parts of your day, whether ten minutes or an hour, can be enough time to make good things happen with your writing.

--Marcia Peterson

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Got Writing Leftovers? Clean Out the Fridge!

By Jill Earl

A couple of days ago, I got rid of the past-their-prime leftovers in my fridge that needed to be trashed. I’m doing the same with my writing space, files, and library. It’s been a slow, somewhat overwhelming process. Then I found inspiration through an article called, ‘Cleaning the Freelance Fridge’.

Written by freelancer Beth Bartlett, the article offers tips on how to perform a major cleanup of your writing files by checking to see if those forgotten manuscripts, dog-eared notes and cluttered folders can be reused or permanently disposed of to make room for new files.

For instance, under the ‘Freshen it up’ heading, Ms. Bartlett suggests examining old research to see if it can be revamped for a new article or story you may be working on. I’ve got a short piece about a neighbor’s dog that needs reworking, so it’s getting pulled from the recesses of that draft folder on my laptop.

The ‘Toss it out’ heading is pretty self-explanatory. If, after following Ms. Bartlett’s suggestions on revamping your files, you find the material truly unsalvageable, it may be better to let go and start fresh.

This packrat hears and will obey. I’m determined not to bring this year’s clutter into 2009. It really is so much easier to find what I need when my writing files are orderly!

Want more? Check the rest of article here:

Deal with your literary leftovers—by cleaning out your freelance fridge.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, November 30, 2008


What You Can Learn from NaNoWriMo Winners

National Novel Writing Month ends today, so I thought I'd share an article with some final thoughts about NaNoWriMo. How did everyone do with the challenge this year? Any success stories to discuss? :) --MP

by Rochelle Melander

...NaNoWriMo winners will finish a 50,000-word novel by midnight on November 30th. Earlier this month, I interviewed several NaNoWriMo Winners by email. Every writer can learn something from the success of these writers. Here are my favorite tips:

1. Busy is not an excuse. In fact, many of the NaNoWriMo Winners keep chaotic schedules. Winner Elizabeth McKinney from Winston-Salem wrote her novel while also writing professionally for her full-time job. Winner Nicole Gustasa from California said, “Not only did I finish National Novel Writing Month last year, but I did it while I was moving, finalizing my divorce and working a 60-hour a week job!” Never whine about being too busy to write. If you want to write, you’ll find time to write.

2. No MFA? No problem. Many of the wannabe writers I meet put off their writing careers until they can get more education or experience. Don’t wait. Educate yourself by reading and attending workshops. Get experience by writing. Winner Susan Drolet said, “When I actually finished an entire novel, I realized that you don't have to be a professional writer or have a degree in journalism to put words together to make a coherent story. I am so proud of my accomplishment!”

3. Success creates success. Every NaNoWriMo winner I talked to was proud of their 50,000-word accomplishment—and they should be. NaNoWriMo success boosted the winners’ writing confidence and spilled over into other areas as well. Winner Kristine Augustyn said, "Because I actually completed the novel I feel that I can do many more things. It has given me greater confidence and inspiration and in turn I have inspired others to try things." Kristine gained the confidence to start a new business, Badge of Intent. For me, the discipline of writing gave me the knowledge and the confidence to create and stick to an exercise program.

You don’t need to be a National Novel Writing Month winner to know what successful writers know. Take a look at your own writing successes. Perhaps you committed to and finished a journaling program. Maybe you finished a big writing project on time. Or you got that first big article published. Ask your self, “What practices led to that success?” Make a list. Do more of the same—and you will be more successful. It’s that simple.

Visit the National Novel Writing Month website for more success stories.
Kristine Augustyn’s website is Badge of Intent.

Right Now! Coach Rochelle Melander supports people in writing to transform their lives and businesses. If you’re ready to establish credibility, make more money, and market your work by writing a book, blog, or Web site, get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Tip for Screenplay Writers (and NaNoWriMo Writers Too)

"I've been doing something that I thought I'd invented myself and then I discovered in a conversation with Jim Cameron and then I read in an interview with George Lucas where he talked about the trick that Francis Ford Coppola taught him and it turns out everybody's doing the same thing. We never read what we write. I know that sounds preposterous but the point is you don’t edit while you’re writing. We don’t even dare look at what we're writing until it looks like there's around a hundred pages. It sounds nuts but when you have a hundred pages and then you finally look at them, you have the aesthetic distance to edit yourself."

-Steven Souza, screenwriter

Labels: , , ,

Friday, November 14, 2008


Sending Holiday Cards

Earlier this week, I crossed off one holiday task from my to-do list: ordering the holiday cards. Since we do an annual photo card of our daughters, I first had to figure out their outfits, take pictures of them on a cold morning, then choose and order a card design. I'm tired already and in a few weeks when the cards arrive, I'll have to handwrite a short personal greeting on each, address all the envelopes and send them! You probably know the drill.

Why keep doing it then? Friends and family seem to enjoy receiving pictures of the girls, for one. My bigger motivation is that I plan to put together a small album for the girls with copies of each year's card—a "sisters through the years" kind of thing. They are best friends, and it will make a nice gift someday.

As writers, we can also use our skills to keep in touch with people during this time of year. Some do an annual letter with family news, and of course a personal letter is always welcome. In Simplify Your Christmas: 100 Ways to Reduce the Stress and Recapture the Joy of the Holidays, Elaine St. James provides another suggestion: Have your family come up with a name or two or half a dozen of the people who have positively influenced your life, then send them a card or a note letting them know how much you appreciate their contribution.

St. James offers a few more ideas on the subject of Christmas cards. She can be tough, advising readers to just stop sending cards, or to cut down the list of who you send cards to. But if you don't want to quit entirely, here are some other possibilities from her book:

* Collect interesting and colorful postcards from your travels throughout the year, then send them off during the holidays with a personal message and an interesting anecdote from your trip.

* Respond to incoming holidays cards as they come in, so that you’re completing a little bit at a time. Each day, send a reply card to one person with a brief personal message.

* Respond to the cards you receive—but not at Christmas. Starting in the new year, each week at your leisure send a couple of hand-written personal notes in response to the holiday greetings you've received.

Do you send holiday cards every year? Feel free to share any tips you may have.


Labels: , , ,

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Persona That Pops

By Jill Earl

Not sure if your voice is the right one for that piece you’re pulling together? Try swapping your persona with one different from your own to add some interest in your writing.

What’s persona, you may ask? For the purpose of the class, persona was defined as a character assumed by an author of a literary work, or the voice a narrator adopts to tell a story.

In an essay writing workshop I recently took, part one of the given exercise was to write about our first kiss. With pens scratching on pads, we got down to raiding our memories. When time was up, groans and giggles filled the room as we shared our stories.

A bag was passed around for part two of the exercise: rewrite our piece in the persona each person selected for themselves. Some of the choices were martyr, grouch, misanthrope, philosopher and pundit. Again giggles and groans were heard as we attempted to ‘speak’ in these new voices, then figure out which persona was which.

I ended up with ‘martyr’ and did more spluttering than speaking in this voice. Since the class received copies of the ‘persona in a bag’ list, I can continue to learn how to use this literary device in my writing.

Think up some personas of your own to work with. How about grouch, liar, tattletale, know-it-all? The list can be endless. The more personas you use, the stronger your character development. And the stronger your writing.

Try the above exercise for yourself.

And get your persona popping.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Getting Ideas by Focusing on Form

Perusing a copy of Jack Heffron's The Writer's Idea Book, I came across a few exercises to share.

In one section, he discusses using form to generate ideas. As an example, Heffron tells about a M.F.A. poetry workshop assignment where he had to find a poem he liked, and then write his own poem using exactly the same meter. He said that by concentrating on getting the meter right, which was not an easy task, he lost his self-consciousness and came up with better poems than he thought he could come up with.

Here are a few of his prompts that are designed to help you get writing ideas by focusing on form rather than on subject:

Prompt: Find an essay or story or poem that you like. Outline it, noting turns in plot or shift in topic or approach. Write a piece of your own using the outline, simply changing the topic.

Prompt: Write a story based on a myth or a fairy tale, setting it in contemporary times. For example, you might retell the Hansel and Gretel story using two children you know. If this works for you, pick another myth and try again.

Prompt: Retell a myth or fairy tale, changing what happens or exploring character more deeply then the original. For a model, read John Gardner's Grendel.

Check out the book for more form-related prompts, and lots of other great writing activities.


Labels: , ,

Thursday, October 09, 2008


The Top 2 Secrets for Writing a Book in 30 Days

by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

[Note: National Novel Writing Month is only a few weeks away, and almost 20,000 participants have already signed up. If you're going to take the challenge, here's a great article with two tactics you can use in order to have a successful NaNoWriMo experience. Good luck! --MP]

Is it really feasible to write a book in 30 days? In a word "Yes," but there are some secrets you need to know beforehand to be successful. In my book, Book in a Month: The fool-proof system for writing a book in 30 days (Writers Digest Books, 2008), I discuss all the secrets in detail. Here, I share the top 2 secrets to get you started.

Secret #1: Working "As If"

Working "as if" means that you keep writing, you keep moving forward with your story, and as new ideas or changes come to mind, you jot them down on your notes sheet (in an organized way of course!) and keep writing "as if" you've made those changes already. Because ...
You cannot write and rewrite at the same time if you want to finish a book in 30 days!

Character example
Let us say for some reason you want to change the name of your character from Anne to Barbara and you want her to be a pianist instead of a waitress. Instead of going back and changing every page that contains a reference to Anne or her occupation, you just jot down on the notes sheet:
"Change Anne to Barbara and make sure she's a pianist in all of her scenes, check pages x — xxx."
Then you use the name Barbara from this point forward and write as if she is a pianist.
You can also do this for character background changes. If you would like to change the childhood issues for one character so you can make her "gritty and jaded" when she goes home for Christmas, just jot it down on your note sheet and write her as if she were gritty and jaded from this point on. This type of change may also affect other characters, like her parents, so make sure you make any necessary notes on them as well.

Plot example
You are absorbed in your writing and all of a sudden realize you should have included a fight scene between Chris and Mike two chapters ago. It is the only way this current scene you are writing will make sense. No problem. Jot down on your notes sheet:
"Fight scene between Chris and Mike in chapter x. The outcome is xxxx because xxxxx. The point is xxxxx. See page x."

You can also get out your red pen and write on the page you wish to include this scene:
"Insert fight scene here — see notes sheet."

Subplot/Situation example
You suddenly get an idea for a great subplot. Or, when you have dull moments in the plot because you need to convey information (or you are facing the pains of the second act!), select one of the dramatic situations found in my book Story Structure Architect: A writer's guide to building dramatic situations and compelling characters (Writers Digest Books, 2005) and create a placeholder for it as a subplot to liven things up. Either way, jot it down on your notes sheet so you can add any preliminary pieces needed to set up the subplot in the previous chapters, then go ahead and write it.

Why is this Note Sheet so Valuable?
Now all these changes you came up with while writing are no longer taking up valuable space in your brain and you are free to keep moving forward, free to generate more ideas, free to keep getting those pages done.

Secret # 2: Subplots — Leave 'em?

You may also want to avoid working on the subplots all together. Many writers churn out a quick version of their story with subplots to be added later. It all depends on your writing style and level of mastery. Most of us do better if we can just focus on the main characters and plotline, and race through to the end. There is nothing wrong with that.
As you write, you can type in big letters:
"Subplot — Cari meets with hero about surprise party plans. Alex doesn't know."
And then continue on with the main plot. This way you know where you want the subplots to fit in and how they will progress but you don't waste a lot of time and brainpower working on them just yet. Because...

Subplots are always the first thing to go or change during the rewrite!
Once you get to "The End" you will be able to see:
• Where the story is a little slow
• Where things don't make sense
• What new information needs to be added
• How many characters need to be changed or dropped

Can you see that working too much on subplots can be a waste of time? Even if you keep all the subplots you create during these 30 days they will, nonetheless, change; the main plot will require them to change because it itself will change and grow as you write: new settings, characters, information, transitions, purpose, goals, subtext. The subplots will have to reflect these changes.
I hope you find these secrets helpful. Writing a book in a month is all about getting that first draft down on paper. You cannot expect to churn out something that is all ready to go to print in 30 days, but you will have your book completed, and that is what it is all about.

Copyright 2008 by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. All rights reserved in all media.
Victoria Lynn Schmidt is the author of 45 Master Characters (Writer's Digest, 2007) Book in a Month: The fool-proof system for writing a book in 30 days (Writers Digest Books, 2008) and Story Structure Architect: A writer's guide to building dramatic situations and compelling characters (Writers Digest Books, 2005). Victoria also teachers writers how to hone their craft and become published writers. She can be reached at

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Faking It

We recently had a discussion in the Premium Green subscribers group about confidence, courage and faking it when you need to. At times, many of us have had the feeling of being an imposter; of wondering whether we should really call ourselves artists or writers, or feeling not quite worthy of the writing assignments we seek, or even obtain.

Creativity coach Dave Storer has some helpful thoughts on feeling like an imposter. He reminds us that we have to grow into any new role that we take on, writing or otherwise. For awhile, we may need to act more confident than we feel we have a right to.

"…the best philosophy to live by is 'fake it 'til you make it.' That's true whenever you enter into any kind of new identity. It happens when you graduate and start your first 'real' job, it happens when you change overnight from a worker to a boss; it happens when you get married or when you have your first child. These are times when you just have to grow into your role before the identity involved seems completely real to you, let alone those around you."

'When I say 'fake it 'til you make it,' what I should more accurately say is, 'even though your chosen creative identity feels unreal somehow, if you keep doing it—keep working at your art with all your heart and muscle—sooner than you think, you will be perfectly comfortable with that identity and so will most everyone you know.' The identity comes from the doing of it."*

Several members of the PG group seem to have taken this approach, utilizing the "fake it 'til you make it" motto in any new endeavor until they felt "legitimate." If you're an aspiring writer (or a writer taking on bigger challenges), the key is to just keep on doing, taking action and making progress. You will get more and more comfortable over time, but as with any new role, you grow into it.


*from Inspiring Creativity: An Anthology of Powerful Insights and Practical Ideas to Guide You to Successful Creating, edited by Rick Benzel, M.A.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, July 11, 2008


Are You Setting Yourself Up To Procrastinate?

Although written to help those with academic writing goals, such as dissertations, theses, and publishing, the ideas in this article apply to the rest of us too. Read on to find out an easy and painless way to increase your writing output. I related to many of the excuses, but I'll try it if you will!


"How can I stop procrastinating?"

This is by far the most frequent question that I get from graduate students and professors. As a dissertation and tenure coach, I’ve come to realize that everyone in academia, whether writing a dissertation, completing an article, or doing research, struggles with procrastination. Why is this so prevalent in such a well-educated, intelligent population?

You've Got the Wrong Attitude

Your belief system is what may be standing in the way. Most academics cling to the belief that they must set aside large chunks of time, do a lot of preparation, and be in the proper frame of mind to be able to write.

What this means is that when you finally sit down to write, it's going to be an unpleasant marathon. You have placed such importance on this writing session that you feel anxiety about it living up to your expectations. And you know it's going to be difficult. After all, there are thorny issues you haven't addressed, articles you haven't read or reread, and a lack of coherence to your thinking. You need to solve those problems. And if you don't do it now you'll be quite disappointed in yourself.

How unpleasant! And how counterproductive!

What Should You Believe Instead? Or "Oh, The Irony!"

Research by Robert Boyce actually shows that first and second-year professors who participated in a study on writing productivity were able to turn out more publishable pages in a year by

• Writing 30 minutes a day
• Only writing on workdays
• Shoehorning that writing into small gaps in their busy schedules

The difficult part, it turns out, was convincing these professors to try this low-key method in the first place. Ironically, they all insisted that the only way to get real work done was to do it in the marathon way that I described above.

The second irony was that when Boyce actually measured the amount that they were writing per week (before the intervention,) it was less than 30 minutes per week! This was much less than their retrospective reports of how much time they had been spending writing.

The third irony was that those who most adhered to the idea that you must write in large doses were the least productive.

The fourth irony was that although these professors considered writing a private activity, they did best when they were accountable to someone for maintaining their 30-minute writing habit.

Do It Already!

So what's stopping you from learning from these professors and writing a small amount each day?

Here are typical excuses:

• It's just not rewarding writing in small amounts. I feel like I've gotten nothing accomplished.
• I have a big issue to work out. It will take more time than 30 minutes.
• I feel guilty if I don't work more each time.
• I'll never complete my dissertation/paper/research project at that pace.
• I've waited until it's too late and I can't afford the luxury of that small amount of time per day.
• It just doesn't feel right.
• I've got more time than that, I should be putting all my time to good use.
• It's so overwhelming that I don't know where to start, and by the time I figure it out my 30 minutes will be up.

My answer to those responses? Bull! Except for the emergency deadline, there is no reason not to try this technique. Give it time to see if it works for you. If you're like every other academic I've worked with, you will resist the idea. I suggest that the more resistant you are, the more problem you've probably had with procrastination in the past.

An Action Plan

Try it for a week. Select a time each day, preferably not the evening unless you're a night owl, and write for 30 minutes, without email, reading or other distractions. Don't listen to the voices in your head saying you "should be getting more done," or "you should be writing more than this." I'll bet at the end of the week you'll be pleasantly surprised at your output, and pleased with the increasing ease with which you can sit down to write. You’ll start to see progress on your dissertation or article and maybe come to believe that you will finish one day.

Furthermore, don't forget about being accountable to someone. Let someone else know that you're going to be doing daily writing. Perhaps you can find a writing buddy, or someone in your dissertation group. Or join one of my coaching groups – our listservs allow for lots of accountability during the week! My membership site, (stay tuned,) will have a place for finding writing buddies.

Don't forget, if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got. Start setting yourself up for success starting right now!

© Gina Hiatt, PhD. Gina is a dissertation and tenure coach. She helps academics, from grad students wondering about their dissertation topic to faculty members who want to maintain a high level of research and writing, to reach their goals more quickly and less painfully. Get Gina's free assessments & ezine at


Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Do You Offend When You Hit Send? - Part Two

By Jill Earl

Back in April, I wrote a post about an article that appeared in WOW!’s April 08 ‘The Freelancer Union’ issue. Written by WOW! columnist and Funds 4 Writers editor Hope Clark, the article advised new writers entering the writing business. My post dealt with the ‘When to Argue’ section, and how delaying your angry response (or waiting until the anger subsides) can save relationships with writing professionals and readers.

A couple of days ago while checking out Erika Dreifus’ Practicing Writer blog, I was intrigued by her mention of marketing expert Seth Godin’s E-mail Checklist. Primarily addressing business emailing, he provides a set of questions designed to make you really think about the emails you send out, and whether they’ll help or hinder your business. Definitely worth bookmarking for future reference, I think.

Ms. Dreifus also referenced Judith Kallos and her Business Email Etiquette blog, where you can find more tips on producing consistent, quality business emails. I bookmarked Ms. Kallos’ blog too.

To see Seth Godin’s E-mail Checklist:

Judith Kallos’ blog is found here:

You can bet I’ll be a frequent visitor to both of these sites. How about you?

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Do You Offend When You Hit 'Send'?

By Jill Earl

In ‘The Freelance Union’, WOW!’s April ’08 issue, columnist Hope Clark strikes gold once again by offering valuable advice to new writers making their way through the writing business in her column, Funds 4 Writers: Dodging The New Writer-In-The-Headlights Look. What really opened my eyes was the section entitled, ‘When to Argue’, for when you’re online.

How many times have you received an email or found yourself scrolling through your favorite forum or chat and someone posts something that leaves you speechless, in a negative way? And, baby, you’re ready to rumble, typing up a response guaranteed to sear eyebrows! But, should you jump into the fray?

Hope's answer is no, that it’s never a good time to argue, and offers solid reasons for putting careful thought into your comments before you send them out. For me, a key reason for holding your cyber tongue is to keep from destroying a budding career.

Nowadays it takes nothing to Google a name and come up with links to everything that person’s name is attached to, even negative content. That could be a possible turn-off to potential editors, publishers, even future readers.

Check out the rest of Hope’s column by surfing over to

Thanks, Hope!

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Liquid Clarity

You've heard this before: Drink more water. I know, boooring. But after trying a little water drinking experiment, you may find that it actually helps with your writing!

I stumbled upon this benefit by accident. One of the books on my nightstand is Julia Cameron's The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size. A chapter called "H2O" inspired me to drink up.

First, there's the supposed weight loss benefit. Even if you're eating right and exercising enough, water consumption can be the missing link to success. Cameron claims that a successful diet is one-third diet, one-third exercise and one-third water intake. She quotes nutritionist Sara Ryba, who says, "If you are stuck and the scale won't budge, try upping your water." Ryba has often seen water "melt" away the final stubborn pounds a client is striving to lose. Sounds good to me.

She also writes about water washing out waste materials and toxins from our bodies. "Within in few days of high water consumption, our skin tone improves. We also seem to 'wash away' any lingering bloat from our sugar consumption." Well, that's something I could definitely use, especially with my sweet tooth, and who doesn't want a nice skin tone?

Finally, the clincher, for me. Cameron writes about a hairdresser who claims he can always tell when his clients are on a water regimen. "It shows on the skin, and a sparkle in the eye," he says. "They look like they've had some work done, but it’s simply water that's rejuvenating them." Oh vanity, you got me.

So I've started to drink a bottle of water first thing in the morning, before teeth brushing. I take a tall commuter mug of water in the car with me on errands. I drink water with lunch and dinner, keep a glass with me at my desk, and play games with myself to finish a glass at certain intervals throughout the day. Aside of the near constant bathroom breaks, it's going well.

The surprise has been how clear-headed I am. I feel awake and alert when I drink a lot of water. A sharp mind certainly can't hurt when your goal is to write well. Writers, you may want to give increased water drinking a try.


Labels: , , ,