Category Archives: Uncategorized

Take a sneak peek at the new Write Livelihood!

Photo courtesy of SXC.

The initial transformation of Write Livelihood from a blog only to a blog/portfolio site is done. I’ve added an augmented biography tab, as well as tabs for my professional portfolio, a list of services I offer and some helpful resources for writers and editors.

Please take a look around and let me know what you think of the site, what questions you have, and what you think of the ongoing tectonic shifts occurring in media today!

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Please stand by … changes afoot at Write Livelihood!

Photo courtesy of SXC.

I am going to take short break (1-2 weeks) from active posting on Write Livelihood. I’m transitioning this blog into a combination portfolio site and a blog, and you’ll see some subtle and not-so-subtle changes, including an augmented bio page, a list of writing and editorial services that I offer, a comprehensive portfolio page, and other things.

The look and feel of the site will probably change a bit. I’ve been trying the current theme on for size, and depending on how it performs with the new tabs, it may or may not be the final champion.

I’ll continue to provide news and insights on the state of nonfiction story-crafting on the blog, and share interesting links. Thanks for your patience and I’ll see you in a few!

Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for July 11, 2010

Photo courtesy Dora Mitsonia via SXC.


Concerning the ‘Interview’ | Glassdoor.com Blog

Blog post that summarizes the best sections of a newly published manuscript by Mark Twain, who probably wrote it around 1890. It lampoons the journalistic interview, saying “True, he (the journalist conducting the interview) means well, but so does the cyclone.”

Change This – THE FASCINATION FACTOR

Mark Levy, the founder of Levy Innovation, a marketing strategy firm, publishes a very persuasive “manifesto” that argues that writers should focus on what compels them, and not just market trends, when writing books and book proposals.

Small museums provide great sources for writers « The Writing Loft

John J. Gillmore discusses the joys of tapping small, specialized museums for research projects related to articles or books.

Enhance Your Travels by Keeping an Illustrated Journal | BootsnAll Travel Articles

Cynthia Morris provides a quick list of reasons to improve your experience of your trip and the memories of it afterward by using journals to record words and images related to your travels. The post is also a good argument for why anyone, traveling or not, might want to keep this type of journal.

Live a Writer’s Life with your Kids

Guest post on Imagination Soup blog by Jennifer Cervantes, author of Tortilla Sun, on ways to engage your children in writing-type activities with you.

Nieman Reports | News-Focused Game Playing: Is It a Good Way to Engage People in an Issue?

Nora Paul and Kathleen A. Hansen, winners of a Knight News Center grant to explore new ways to help readers/viewers engage with complex news stories, discuss their pilot project that had audiences play online games and engage in other activities to better understand an issue in the news.

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From the archives: A Writer’s Guide to Twitter

I did a series last year on how to use the microblogging social media platform Twitter as a writing coach, and realized the other day that this 3-part series fit right in with my continuing “A Writer’s Guide” series. (You can visit the posts I did recently on blogging and podcasting for writers.)

Here are links to each post in the Twitter series, with a quick explanation of what you’ll find there.

Part 1: Learn from Twitter poetry
Why (and how) nonfiction writers can learn about how to write with brevity and meaning by studying the Twitter version of haiku poetry, Twiku.

Part 2: The art of the retweet
A discussion of what content gets shared on Twitter via a “retweet” and what that says about how to write compelling stories.

Part 3: Digesting bite-sized research
How journalists are using Twitter to crowdsource ideas, find sources and track trends.

Here are a few new links about Twitter as it relates to writing …

Is J-school relevant? (#wjchat)
Multimedia journalism educator Mindy McAdams, on her Teaching Online Journalism blog, summarizes a recent Twitter chat she moderated. The chat was organized by WebJournalist.org and discussed the relevance of journalism education in today’s media landscape.

How To Live Tweet A Conference
Mark Stelzner, writing on the Inflexion Advisors blog, offers a compact post full of tips on the right way to live-tweet conference proceedings on Twitter.

From Telegraph to Twitter: The Language of the Short Form
Roy Peter Clark gets into microblogging and writes about it on the Poynter Online – Writing Tools blog.

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Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for June 23, 2010

Photo courtesy SXC.

300 Words
300 Words is a project developed by Erik Proulx and Hugh MacLeod which is designed to put some peer pressure on writers to keep writing. Inspired by Hugh’s “daily quota,” it is a space is for anyone who wants to make a modest commitment to writing 300 words per day.

The Five Unwritten Rules of Guest Posting on Blogs – Danny Brown
Danny Brown, a social media marketer, gives tips for writing a guest post for someone else’s blog that helps your brand and your cause.

5 Ways Traditional Journalists are Embracing Social Media
Lauren Dugan, writing on the Social Times blog, discusses the ways in which web-savvy journalists are using social media to create better content.

What All Content Creators Need to Learn From Roger Ebert | Copyblogger
Mark Dykeman discusses what Roger Ebert’s journey, in which his voice has been silenced by cancer surgery that took the lower part of his jaw, but his writing is more prolific than ever, can teach writers and other content creators.

Create an online newsroom that reporters will love
Jessica Levco, writing on Ragan’s PR Daily, shares 10 tips for publicists from Pete Codella, CEO of Codella Marketing, that relate to building an effective newsroom for a company. Every one of them I can relate to–they make journalists happy!

The rise of page view journalism means companies must generate their own media
By Tom Foremski, writing on the Every Company Is A Media Company blog, discusses the rather distressing consequences of media companies assigning stories on the basis of the page rank they are expected to generate, and how smaller companies (and story sources) can combat this.

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Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for June 6, 2010

Photo courtesy SXC.

Is J-school relevant? (#wjchat)

Multimedia journalism educator Mindy McAdams, on her Teaching Online Journalism blog, summarizes a recent Twitter chat she moderated. The chat was organized by WebJournalist.org and discussed the relevance of journalism education in today’s media landscape, what would replace j-school (internships, etc.) and what j-schools might teach to help students compete in today’s vastly changed journalism world. She also links to a full transcript of the chat, which is awesome and info-packed!

Lost Remote | How to be a good PR person – or PR client

Steve Safran reminds flacks and their clients to “remember what we write about” and asserts that providing signal, not noise, to online and traditional journalists will result in influence that will carry a company’s or individual’s story much farther.

How To Live Tweet A Conference

Mark Stelzner, writing on the Inflexion Advisors blog, offers a compact post full of tips on the right way to live-tweet conference proceedings on Twitter.

Journalists to Follow

Very nice two-part list (this is part 1) from the Society of Professional Journalists’ publication, Quill. What’s especially nice is that they include a Q+A with each person about the future of journalism. (Here is part 2, if you are interested.)

73 Ways to Become a Better Writer | Copyblogger

Mary Jaksch, Chief Editor of Write to Done blog, shares dozens of suggestions for improving your writing, as shared by WTD blog readers.

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Write This Way: Top Writing and Editing Links for May 28, 2010

Photo courtesy of SXC.

7 Easy to Miss and Fix Writing Mistakes
Meryl K. Evans, who writes a blog on web content, reminds readers of mistakes that even good writers make when reading and editing their own copy–and offers fixes for each one.

6 Tips For a Great Freelance Writer’s Vacation
Carol Tice, writing on the Make A Living Writing blog, gives good pointers for taking a real (= no laptop or mobile phone required) vacation without losing clients or your mind.

New Voices Invests in Nine Community News Projects
New Voices, an initiative of J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism, announced its most recent crop of grant winners. These projects mainly cover small cities and towns with hyperlocal journalism coverage. Each grantee will receive up to $25,000 to launch a news initiative and work to sustain it over the next two years.

10 sure cures for blogging burnout | WordCount
Michelle Rafter offers a number of really great suggestions for keeping one’s blogging fresh and consistent. I especially like her “cures” of using theme days and keeping drafts in your blogging software that can be posted when you need a new idea quickly.

The top cliches to avoid like the plague
Sally Jackson reports for The Australian. Journalist Chris Pash has spent nine years scouring newspapers and websites to find the media’s favorite hackneyed phrases, and this article gives the top offending phrases, as well as how Pash mined this data.

Three Annoying Habits of the Laziest Journalists on Twitter
Gawker has assembled a collection of irritating “don’ts” for journalists who are contemplating crowdsourcing their entire article via Twitter. Funny and pointed at the same time!

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Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for May 13, 2010

Photo courtesy SXC.

Top 10 blogs for freelance writers | WordCount
Michelle Rafter shares her favorite blogs for those who write nonfiction. The links include blogs focusing on business journalism, professional blogging tips, even one devoted to the cable series “Mad Men.”

Are You Meant to Be a Writer? | Fuel Your Writing
Susannah Freeman poses this intriguing question to blog readers and the responses (including Freeman’s take on the matter) make for interesting and inspiring reading.

How You Reduce External Distractions to Sit Down and Write?
Joanna, author of Confident Writing blog, posed this question on Facebook and Twitter, and she shares the responses she got from other writers about how to focus and get writing assignments done.

eBook Review: The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Passive Income
Susan Johnston, writing on Urban Muse Blog, reviews Thursday Bram’s book about how to turn how to generate additional revenue streams through entrepreneurial writing projects, including e-books, niche websites, classes, newsletters, and other products (web-based and offline).

Web Writing: Who Sets the Standards? | FreelanceSwitch
Kristen Fischer discusses the potential for stylebook clashes between the Associated Press style guide, which is used by most journalists working on the web, and the soon-to-be released online style guide, “The Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing, and Creating Content for the Digital World.”

Online journalism and the promises of new technology, PART 1: The revolution that never happened | Online Journalism Blog
Steen Steenson introduces a 3-part series about online journalism and how the Internet has impacted the practice of journalism. Steen asks “Why … is online journalism still mostly all about producing written text to a mass audience? Why is use of multimedia, hypertext and interactivity still so rare?”

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A Writer’s Guide to Blogging


It seems a little silly to call blogs new media, since they’ve existed since the late 1990s. Still, they are a new way for writers to engage with an audience and have been viewed with suspicion by mainstream journalists for far too long.

Blogs represented the vanguard of the social web, a place in which unfiltered (or lightly filtered) give and take between writers and readers — not to mention the informational cross-pollination that hyperlinking adds to the mix — has reshaped the expectations of the people formerly known as the audience. Ignoring blogging as a writer is possible in 2010, but it doesn’t seem very smart.

If you’ve never considered blogging before, there are a number of ways in which it could enhance your writing career.

  • A blog provides a readily available sample of your writing style, tone, range, etc.
  • Blogging can encourage daily writing and stretching oneself to create fresh content.
  • Blogging can provide useful feedback from potential readers for test marketing your story ideas.
  • Blogs are a good way to claim your expertise within a specified niche and connect with others who share that interest.
  • Creating a popular blog can help you build “platform” for a book or film project.

There are entire sites dedicated to how to write well for blogs. I happen to like ProBlogger and Skelliwag. Here are a few tips for nonfiction writers who are ready to take the plunge into blogging.

Tips for creating a must-read blog

1. Start reading blogs if you don’t already. I can’t stress this enough. I have been amazed, when discussing blogging with folks in the corporate world, how many of them are all ready to fire up a blog without having ever read one in their life. While Web 2.0 technology has made the barrier to entry for tools like blogs non-existent, it doesn’t ensure that you will produce content anyone wants to read.

In this post, I include links to some good writing blogs. Visit some of them and see if you like them. Leave a comment on a post if it moves you. Once you’ve got 5-10 blogs you want to read regularly, pick an aggregation service, such as My Yahoo, or Google Reader, that will bring RSS feeds from the blogs to you. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to keep up with your favorite bloggers this way.

For further instruction in how to set up a blog aggregator system:

Creating a passion dashboard | Creative Liberty

When you care to aggregate the very best | Guy Kawasaki

2. Claim your niche. Even if you’re planning on writing a free-wheeling blog about your personal literary adventures, recognize that your posts will have a personality and tone that differentiates them from everyone else’s blog. I often liken writing a blog to writing a column in a newspaper or magazine–people rarely read columns just because they want to know “about cars,” or “about” humorist Dave Barry’s improbable life. They’ve connected to the specific type of content delivered, the style and column’s offerings over time.

If you’ve been reading blogs for a little while before starting your blog, you’ll probably get a good idea where you fit within the section of the blog-o-sphere in which you want to become known. If not, ask yourself what you want to write about, then narrow it several times by subtopics, demographic groups (old hippies vs. Generation Y professionals), or your skill level or role in relation to the blog topic (passionate hobbyist, skilled teacher, detached documentarian).

3. Let your hair down… The best blogs read like a conversation. The blogger talks to readers like he would to his friends or colleagues, and commenters reply in the same spirit. The conversation can be serious, technical or even contentious, but it doesn’t become pedantic or bureaucratic.

Corporate blogs have to work hard to achieve this sort of authentic dialogue; if you are able to connect with other bloggers and blog readers (through linking or commenting on other blogs  or other methods), you, as a solo blogger, may have an easier time expressing yourself with your authentic voice. And as a writer, being able to express in a style that is clear and genuine should always be your goal.

4. …But have some boundaries. Mostly, use common sense. What would you think if your post was printed in a magazine or newspaper?

Privacy is one of social web’s biggest battlegrounds. Facebook’s creator Mark Zuckerberg reportedly doesn’t think much of privacy. And we’ve all met contacts on social media who commit other over-sharing faux pas. But even if you’re legitimately revealing intimate details in the service of a post that showcases your writing abilities, keep in mind that the reader won’t have the same investment in the minutae of your life as you do. (But identity thieves might!)

More quick tips for successful blogging

  • Plan ahead. I make a blog post calendar every month. I often deviate from the posts I say I’m going to write, but it does make me think through my content and research posts ahead of time.
  • Break a long post into a series of posts. I’m not really following my own wisdom in this post, but if your post is more than 1000 words, consider parceling it out over 2 or 3 posts.
  • Understand, but don’t abuse, visit-boosting strategies. You should put your best posts on sharing sites like Digg and StumbleUpon. It’s OK, while you’re reading the blogs of others, to link to relevant posts on your own blog in your comments to them. However, if your entire life online looks to a third party as if all you do is seek blog visits, it will turn people off.

Bonus links on blogging

Top 10 Blogs for Writers 2009 | Copyblogger

Here are 10 great blogs to visit for information on writing and blogging.

Nonfiction Tweets: 70+ Authors to Follow on Twitter

Many of these tweeting authors also have excellent blogs.

How to Decide What Blogs to Read (4 Steps) | American Express OPEN Forum
Author Rohit Bhargava gives four great tips for figuring out whose blogs to follow — and how.

10 Pathways to Inspired Writing | Copyblogger
Power blogger Matthew Cheuvront offers 10 somewhat surprising tips on how to perk up your blog posts. He makes such heretical suggestions as reading actual (paper) books and listening to entire music albums from beginning to end!

How to Keep Your Readers Coming Back to Your Blog | Social Media Examiner
How to use the CODA (Content, Outreach, Design and Action) system to improve one’s business blog.

9 Ways People Respond to Your Content Online
Great post on the Lateral Action blog that sketches out how people respond to material online, and how to truly engage them with your stuff.

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Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for May 1, 2010

Photo courtesy of SXC.

10 Tips for (journalists) Designing Infographics
Randy Krum, a visualization professional writing on Cool Infographics blog, provides a wonderful primer for journalists on how to use infographics to communicate the meaning of data successfully.

7 Reasons to Consider Small Clients | FreelanceFolder
Laura Spencer, a regular contributor to the FreelanceFolder blog, points out more than a half-dozen reasons why taking gigs with small clients can pay big rewards. A very well thought out post!

The Audience-First News
Henry Woodbury, writing on Information Design Watch, discusses the future of online news and how newsrooms will transition to a future where the audience calls the shots on what it wants to experience.

Should newspapers embrace a point of view? – Editors Weblog
Alexandra Jaffe covers a thorny topic for print news journalists–should newspapers become more like blogs (or magazines, for that matter) and embrace a strong “stance” that shows in their work? Or do readers demand balance among all opinions presented, whether by sources or reporters?

Programmer-Journalist? Hacker-Journalist? Our Identity Crisis
Aron Pilhofer, writing on MediaShift Idea Lab blog, shares his frustrations about what to call journalists who do what he does–which is lead a team of journalist/developers who build dynamic, data-driven applications to enhance his paper’s online reporting.

4 uses for Foursquare for journalists | Online Journalism Blog
Paul Bradshaw ponders a few ways in which the new location-based social networking “game” Foursquare might help reporters do their jobs.

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