Archive | Writing Tips

Whitney Yount, proofreader

Do I need a proofreader?

I recently asked my colleague, proofreader Whitney Yount, if I really needed a proofreader. After all, I review everything I write several times. Here’s what Whitney had to say: As a writer, you have undoubtedly put a great deal of time and effort into your work. This commitment is essential in making your manuscript the best that it can be, but at the same time, your closeness to the project may prevent you from seeing […]

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How do you find time to write? Image of a wall of clocks

Ask the coach: What’s the most creative time of day to write?

The depends on you. Your schedule, biorhythms, energy level, etc., will determine where, when and how you work. For example, I’m an early riser. I do my best work before lunch. After lunch, I start fading; after dinner, I’m a goner. Because I don’t expect to be creative after 2 p.m., I switch to writing tasks that don’t require lots of mental exertion. I’ll do some online research, organize my files, buy toner, etc.. The […]

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Tips for choosing the right words

Tips for Choosing the Right Words

  Words, like body language, reveal who you are, and in seconds. It’s critical, therefore, that you choose your words carefully, not just in conversation but in writing. Here, let’s concentrate on the latter. Some pointers: Identify your purpose All of us write for a purpose, be it to inform, entertain, persuade or express. Identify your goal and you will be able to choose words that help achieve it; you will recruit readers to your […]

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New Twists on Old Clichés

New twists on old clichés

Note: I wrote this piece a while back for, which is my site for personal writings. I am posting it here to give you an example of how you can give a twist to something commonplace — in this case something very commonplace. Review your stable of writings. Are there any that could benefit from a new twist? If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again — and then blame others. What goes up must […]

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Beth Mende Conny of Write Directions and Lifenicity shares a funny store about a professor and the assignment two of his students turned in.

The creative writing assignment

This is offered by an English professor from the University of Colorado as an actual class assignment: The Creative Writing professor told his class one day: “Today we will experiment with a new form called the tandem story. The process is simple. Each person will pair off with the person sitting next to his or her desk. “As homework tonight, one of you will write the first paragraph of a short story. You will e-mail […]

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Beth Mende Conny of Write Directions and Lifenicity warns against using these 13 terrible cliches.

Worst clichés: 13 expressions you should avoid

This article made me laugh but also makes a serious point: avoid clichés! (From the Huffington Post, 08/27/2013.) Clichés are the worst. Aside from being indicative of lazy speaking and lazy writing, they are rarely used correctly, and even when they are, they rarely make sense. Most popularized metaphors are outdated – who throws out bath water or sells tons of hotcakes anymore? Relying on such trite and nonsensical phrases shows an inability to discuss original thoughts […]

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Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons, Some Rights Reserved

10 ways to Find More Time to Write

This article is adapted from the book Fearless Creativityby Beth Mende Conny, founder of Write Directions. Time is always available to us. It’s just a matter of looking for it. True, it may not come when we prefer or in the amount we need; nor may it be steady. But it is there nonetheless. So start looking for it. It certainly won’t be looking for us. At the very least, you can find occasional moments […]

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portable filing system

My Portable Filing System

Instead of filing cabinets, I often use large cardboard boxes for my writing projects. Filing is too much work and takes too much time; further, I have no interest in it. And so I tuck my papers into boxes, one project to a box. The system’s great because it also makes a project portable, enabling me to take it wherever I go — dining room, the café, my in-laws’ home, on vacation, etc. Everything I […]

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Photo courtesy of Illinois Library. Some rights reserved.

Conducting research: How much is enough?

Be a novice Although you gain knowledge and expertise through research, you shouldn’t strive to be all-knowing or, even, an expert. For that, go to grad school. All you need is familiarity, at least initially. It’s like taking a trip to Italy. Sure, it helps to know the language, but you can also get by with a phrase book, especially if you’re touring around for just a day or two. If you’re going to stay […]

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Why Editors Accept or Reject Query Letters

            When you submit a query to an editor, the editor will respond in one of three ways: yes, no, maybe. The editor says “yes” for these four reasons: Your idea appeals to her publication’s audience. That publication could be an off- or online magazine, newspaper or newsletter, among others. Your idea is solid. It has depth, scope and significance. Your writing is stellar. It’s engaging and succinct and, as […]

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