[Ep 226] With my Back to Basics series, I'm providing tools you can apply to your next project in hopes it will make the writing process easier and the final product stronger than ever—so you can make an impact. Last time, we started by identifying a project's high-level elements—its Topic, Audience, Purpose, and Medium. After that, you can focus on the message of … [Read more...]
Ep 225: Improve Your Writing by Getting Back to Basics
[Ep 225] You’re inspired. An idea seizes you and before the energy fizzles, you whip out a laptop, open a new document, and slam out words. Get it down fast—start writing and discover along the way what you want to say. I support this approach! Capture the core idea while your creativity sizzles—before your vision fades! At some point, however, you need to take a … [Read more...]
Ep 224: Find What You Need and Write What You Can
[Ep 224] At the close of a brilliant blue-sky summer-warm April afternoon, a heavy thunderstorm swept across my state, pelting us with hail and hurtling branches across yards. We stared in awe at Zeus-explosive lightning strikes that flashed and boomed, backlighting trees that swayed like storm-tossed ship masts, nearly snapping. After a series of mighty … [Read more...]
Ep 223: One Thing Writers Can Do in a Pandemic: Document the Days
[Ep 223] As I write this, a pandemic is spreading across the planet. I surely hope you and those you love are spared any sickness during this worldwide crisis. I’m stating this in part to document my day in the midst of these extraordinary circumstances. This is something we can do as writers: Document the days. Keep a Journal If You Can Record your story as … [Read more...]
Ep 222: Can a Poem a Day Make Us Better Writers?
[Ep 222] My most effective year teaching high school composition was the one I began with poetry. From day one, I introduced literary devices through poems, inviting students to spot metaphor and simile, hyperbole and imagery, rhythm, rhyme, and repetition. With a focus on a single poem, we could zero in on just a few observations and they could use those as … [Read more...]
What’s a Book Proposal (and why do I need one)?
[Ep 221] If you’re trying to land an agent and eventually a contract with a publisher, you can’t get around it: you need to craft a compelling proposal to pitch your nonfiction book. This may be the first time you’ve heard about this and you’re reeling from the thought that you can’t just send your manuscript directly to a publisher or agent. I’ll fill you in. … [Read more...]
How to Get Your Nonfiction Book Traditionally Published
[Ep 220] A writer reached out to me with news that she's writing a nonfiction book and wants to be published. “What’s the process?” she asked. I'm happy to explain. I'll cover the main steps to becoming a traditionally published author without going into minute detail. This will give you—and her—a broad overview. Pre-Process Stage: Educate Yourself Before … [Read more...]
Build Your Platform: To Be More Findable, Find Your People
[Ep 219] Whether you’re interested in increasing blog readership or building a freelance writing business—and especially if you’re pursuing traditional publishing—you’ll want to connect with readers. You’ll want to reach people who are interested in your stories and ideas and appreciate how you present those ideas as a writer, in your unique style, tone, and … [Read more...]
Ep 218: Do writers really need to do *all the things* for a successful career?
[Ep 218] Do we really need to do all the things to be a writer these days? Are all those extra activities and tasks required for a successful career? Do we really need to vlog and launch social media campaigns on five different platforms? Are we required to blog and guest post? And is it true we have to be prepared to step on a stage and speak? Emily Dickinson's … [Read more...]
Ep 217: How to Gather Momentum When Your Writing’s at a Standstill
[Ep 217] I don’t know much about science, but I'm pretty sure Newton’s First Law goes like this: an object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.1 Okay, I looked it up for accuracy. And I believe it applies not just to physics, but to my writing life, as well. Over the holiday season, I myself did not come to rest, as I was busy … [Read more...]
Ep 216: An Easy Structure for Your Chaotic Work in Progress
You've researched your topic, taken copious notes, created a mind map, made lists, but you haven't settled on the best way to organize all of your material. You aren't sure how to structure your chaotic work in progress. Perhaps you’ve tried the ready-made outlines I've proposed—past-present-future, and problem-solution or problem-solution-benefits—but those didn’t fit … [Read more...]
Try This Classic Structure for Your Next Nonfiction Writing Project
Organization is a challenge for writers. You may have strong ideas, feel confident with grammar, and write in a fun style. But putting it all together in a structure that makes sense? That can be hard. There’s no one perfect way to structure most projects. You have options. Some people find this liberating. They enjoy exploring countless options and … [Read more...]
Ep 214: Are Outlines a Writer’s Greatest Gift…or Curse?
[Ep 214] Back in July I bought a Garmin watch that tracks steps and heart rate. More importantly, it offers training plans for beginning and intermediate runners. I clicked on a beginner’s plan because I hadn’t run regularly for years, and started following the instructions each day. Now, I tend to wing things in general. More often than not, I jump in and make … [Read more...]
Ep 213: How to Hook and Hold Your Readers
[Ep 213] If you didn’t click to read this first sentence, I failed. If we want to hook readers and hold their attention so they read all the way to the end, we have to generate an intriguing title or headline. Lure Readers with Your Title Books, chapters, articles, essays, poems: they all need names or titles that invite the reader to stop skimming and scrolling … [Read more...]
Ep 212: Productive Writers Build Their Body of Work – Pillar Three
[Ep 212] For about four years, I didn’t do much to get healthy or stay healthy. I’d talk about getting in shape but wouldn’t actually do anything. I’d wake up and think about it, then roll over and go back to sleep. It’s no surprise, of course, that the idea of exercising—the thought of it—didn’t strengthen a single muscle in my body. The desire to be healthy, no … [Read more...]
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