Tag Archives: blogging

Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for July 24, 2013

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Photo courtesy of Mateusz Stachowski via SXC.

How To Write A Second Draft
Scott Berkun, author of Confessions of a Public Speaker and Myths of Innovation, provides a concise battle plan for how he was going to revise his forthcoming book, A Year Without Pants. It’s a great glimpse into one way to integrate line and structural edits with feedback from others. So much ink is given to producing first and final drafts, it was a real treat to see a post about the work that must be done in the middle.

Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox | Write Articles, Not Blog Postings

I ordinarily wouldn’t post a story from 2007, but much of what’s been written by Nielsen, whom some would call the godfather of web usability, is still highly relevant.
In an era when content marketing is the hot trend, his reasoned assertion that quality rules over quantity is more true than ever:

Blog postings will always be commodity content: there’s a limit to the value you can provide with a short comment on somebody else’s work. Such postings are good for generating controversy and short-term traffic, and they’re definitely easy to write. But they don’t build sustainable value. Think of how disappointing it feels when you’re searching for something and get directed to short postings in the middle of a debate that occurred years before, and is thus irrelevant.

He goes onto note that it’s not the fault of blogging platforms – it’s the focus on cheap, uninformed “me-too” content that degrades it to commodity status.

How Memoirists Mold The Truth

André Aciman, who teaches comparative literature at the CUNY Graduate Center, writes a dangerous and provocative essay about how memoirists create multiple versions of their past. I say “dangerous” because this piece will mess with you preconceived notions about memoir as a work of nonfiction. Here’s a sample of what I’m talking about …

Writing the past is never a neutral act. Writing always asks the past to justify itself, to give its reasons… provided we can live with the reasons. What we want is a narrative, not a log; a tale, not a trial. This is why most people write memoirs using the conventions not of history, but of fiction. It’s their revenge against facts that won’t go away.

5 Tips For Transmedia Storytelling
Margaret Looney, writing on the PBS MediaShift blog, provides common sense advice for tackling a story that’s going to be deployed across multiple platforms. Each tip comes with several tantalizing examples.

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Write This Way: Top Writing and Editing Links for May 15, 2013

Dollars funnel.

Photo courtesy SXC.

10 Simple Steps to Get Your Journalism Project Funded | MediaShift Idea Lab

Jordan Young of the Knight News Innovation Lab at Northwestern University walks readers through the steps she took to get her side project, Boxx Magazine, off the ground with funding. My two favorite tips are things that many journalists have trouble putting into practice …

Get Help. Track down people who have been awarded grants before and ask them for advice. If you’re like me, you’re not naturally inclined to ask for help and you haven’t done anything like this before. You’re learning while doing. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. The best way to save time is to gather all the helpful tips from those who have tried something similar before.

 Learn some business. You will need at least a basic understanding of business concepts, or have a partner who does. Not everyone majored in business — I’m finally glad I did. Again this is where research is your best friend. Take a class, ask for advice, and use that Internet.

Confessions of a Twitter Holdout | Poynter

Stephanie Yamkovenko, a freelance journalist in the Washington, D.C., area, discusses how she overcame her fears of tweeting and discovered that Twitter could be a boon, not a bane, to her career. Early adopters may find some of her former fears somewhat exaggerated, but I think this post is a great comfort to more old-school journalists who still wonder what the hoopla is about and how to use the platform responsibly.

Here’s a sample of what she’s talking about, in a segment where she discusses overcoming the fear of appearing biased if she used Twitter:

I feared seeming biased.

I’m no ideologue, but I prefer not to share my opinions publicly and was afraid these might “slip out” on Twitter. I’ve found it’s possible to stay politically neutral on Twitter, though it does take some effort. Before I follow someone or retweet something, I try to imagine how a reader might interpret that action. If it would make someone question my objectivity, I don’t do it — just like I don’t put campaign signs in front of my house or bumper stickers on my car.

What Listening to a Story Does to Our Brains | Buffer

Leo Widrich, co-founder of Buffer, shares brain research that articulates precisely why storytelling produces such a profound impact on our brain and the brains of others. He also provides several tips for leveraging that power to accomplish your goals in terms of influence with other people using storytelling.

Dan Gillmor Says Journalists Are Uninformed About Who Controls the Platforms They Publish On

Caroline O’Donovan, a staff writer for the Nieman Journalism Lab, writes a thought-provoking piece about Arizona State University journalism professor Dan Gillmor (who is a heck of a nice guy, BTW – I have interviewed him for a podcast and he’s judged a writing contest my magazine held) and his attempts to help journalists better understand online security systems and controls. Gillmor’s concern is that journalists aren’t aware of the impact of widely used platforms (like Facebook, for example) when they block or censor content. She quotes Gillmor talking about why remaining ignorant of this issue can do more than just put their own careers at risk – it can endanger the lives or livelihoods of their sources:

It’s not just employees and others who want to blow whistles who need to be more careful — such as using external accounts, encryption and a lot of other tools to be safer. (Note: I didn’t say “safe”, because absolute safety is exceedingly hard to achieve, if it’s even possible.) Journalists, too, need better tradecraft when it comes to their dealings with sources. My impression of the typical newsroom’s precautions is that there aren’t many.

It’s a great introduction to a topic I have to admit I hadn’t really given much thought to before.

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Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for December 30, 2012

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Photo courtesy of SXC.

False Starts | Adam Westbrook

Was 2012 not quite what you were hoping, in terms of your creative output? Well, Westbrook, a sharp, talented UK-based multimedia journalist, has a little pep talk for anyone who’s ever started a project, only to see it falter. He lists more than half a dozen of his own false starts, and tells readers of his (recently) retired blog:

The point is, every one has false starts and stumbles. Everyone falters and fails, particularly on the way to doing important work. Although each of these were disappointing and painful at the time, I learned something important from each of them. Don’t be set back by your personal false starts. The people who make it in the end are the ones who pick themselves back up, dust themselves off and get busy again. As long as you learn something from them they haven’t been a waste of time.

The best in narrative, 2012: Storyboard’s top picks in audio, magazines, newspapers and online
The Nieman Storyboard blog, a project of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, provides links to 34 pieces of narrative nonfiction in a variety of formats. The list provides access to a sumptuous feast to sate your end-of-the-year reading hunger, and it’s a great guide to writing/editing/producing excellent stories.

Five Things My Literary Agent Taught Me About Publishing Success

Tim Sanders of Net Minds publishing company discusses five valuable lessons his literary agent, Jan Miller, taught him. I like the point he makes about focusing on writing a strong book, rather than expecting promotional tricks to drive everything in terms of sales.

A book must “work”.  Promotion just gives it a chance to work – (Jan) learned this working with all of her authors over time.  Her point is that books must connect deeply with readers, so the reader tells all of his friends to buy the book. While you sleep, your book is working, promting itself via its quality. Without word-of-mouth or BIG media, books languish in obscurity. Marketing and promotion places the book into enough hands for the resulting word-of-mouth to make a big difference.  To write a book that works: Write what you know and then show us who you are.  Be generous, helpful and provocative.

Can You REALLY Make Money Blogging? [7 Things I Know About Making Money from Blogging]

Darren Rowse, creator of ProBlogger, offers his opinion on the blogging-for-money question, based upon his experience and those of the people with whom he interacts and works as the owner of a blog about blogging professionally. I found the post very matter-of-fact and grounding. Here’s a sample of what he has to say, in this case about whether there is a single formula to follow to make a living as a blogger.

From time to time, people have released products that claim to be formulas for success when it comes to making money online. They outline steps to follow to “guarantee” you’ll make money. In my experience there is no formula. Each full-time blogger I’ve met in the last ten years has forged their own path and has a unique story to tell. They have often acted on hunches and made surprising discoveries along the way.

There are certainly similarities in many of the stories but each blogger has their own personality and style, each one is reaching a different audience, and each niche tends to monetize differently. The key lesson is to be aware of what others are doing and to learn what you can from each other, but to also be willing to forge your own path as well!

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“Your story is your power and your truth” – Author Gloria Feldt on advocacy writing

Photo of Gloria Feldt courtesy of MaryAnneRussell.com

Today we present an interview with Gloria Feldt – an author, blogger, and advocate for women. I met Gloria through my work at Arizona State University, where she teaches a course each spring relating to women, power and leadership.

Gloria is a former national president of Planned Parenthood, and author of the books “Send Yourself Roses,” co-authored with actress Kathleen Turner; “Behind Every Choice Is a Story”; and “The War on Choice.” Gloria’s most recent book is “No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power,” which recently came out in paperback. In that book, Gloria interviewed dozens of women politicians, business owners, and activists and concluded that the doors of opportunity are wide open today, but too few women are leading the way to claim their power and reach parity with their male counterparts. To counteract this, her book provides 9 practical “power tools” that help women to embrace their power in their relationships and at work, in order to lead unlimited lives.

In today’s interview, Gloria discusses how writing can be used to fuel one’s social activism, and how writers who want to change the world can make a living doing that sort of work.

You can keep up with Gloria’s writing and advocacy work at her website.

Give us an overview of your career, and the place of writing within the work you were doing.

I knew when I was five that I wanted to be a writer. I carried a notebook and pencils with me at all times. My teacher shared a poem I wrote about Halloween with the whole class and kept it to teach future classes. That sealed the deal.

But life intervened. As a teenager, I drank the cultural Kool-Aid and focused on being popular, especially with boys. After marrying and having kids, I fell into my career first as a Head Start teacher, then leading Planned Parenthood affiliate offices.

Though writing was always a part of my work, it wasn’t till I was 60, national president of Planned Parenthood, and had a board chair who made my life miserable, that I decided I had to start writing books or I would die inside. So that’s when I wrote my first book, “Behind Every Choice Is a Story.” Then a few years later, after writing “The War on Choice” and realizing that its thought leadership was greatly appreciated by the general public but not so much by those inside the organization, I knew it was time to speak in my own voice. It was time to free that five-year-old to fulfill her original vision for herself.

What was the first piece of advocacy writing you had published in the media? What did that experience teach you about yourself as a writer?

The now-defunct Phoenix Gazette published an opinion column I wrote exhorting moderates to get as passionate about advocating their beliefs as the zealous right or be steamrollered by policies they don’t support. That must have been in 1979, not too long after I became the CEO of Planned Parenthood in Arizona. The experience taught me the value of devoting the time and effort it takes to do cogent opinion writing.

And by the way, I was right.

Which of the “power tools” discussed in your book No Excuses involve writing?

All of them. Over and over, depending on the day. You write the book you need to read.

Certainly, writing is a part of

  • Employing every medium to get your words out,
  • Wearing the shirt of your convictions,
  • And it plays a role in telling your story, using what you’ve got, knowing your history, embracing controversy, carpe-ing the chaos, and defining your own terms.

Even in the case of the power tool of creating a movement, which seems like a communal act, writing plays a role, because advocacy always involves joining with others.

Yes, they all apply. They are versatile tools and tips to help anyone use the power of her or his words.

How does writing empower women?

Your story is your power and your truth. Women are too often looking for external validation. Writing is its own validation. It comes from inside.

How have your professional writing assignments changed over the years? What has stayed constant?

Blogging didn’t exist when I started out. Now I am asked to blog by many outlets and that has opened up new opportunities to showcase my thinking, though not necessarily to earn money.

What has stayed constant is that I write nonfiction, mostly opinionated in some way about the current social and political issues as they apply to women. I love controversy.

Has there been a new form of media or a new genre that you’ve found particularly daunting? How did you eventually master it?

I break out in a cold sweat about writing book proposals. I can write the book but the proposal daunts me. I have not mastered it.

What new writing projects are you most excited about now?

My next book, but I can’t talk about it yet.

I’m starting to blog for ForbesWoman.com, which is exciting because it puts me in contact with women in the business community and expands my knowledge of their concerns.

What tips would you give to readers interested in using their writing skills to advance a cause?

Think first of being a thought leader and second about being an advocate. It’s a subtle but important distinction. How can you write about your advocacy topics in a way that is fresh, persuasive, interesting? Where should your writing appear to influence the people you want to influence?

How can advocacy writers make a living with their craft?

Think as you write about how you can parlay your writing platform into paid speaking opportunities and articles. It took me years to realize that you have to think about the marketing of a book with the same intensity as you think about its content. They are inseparable.

Also, know that most advocacy organizations and political leaders are desperate for great writers to help them with speeches, op-eds, books, and media messages.

INTERVIEW BONUS – For those of you who are members of the She Writes community, you will want to check out the “Countdown to Publication” blog series Gloria wrote before the initial publication of “No Excuses” in 2010. It’s a great look at what she went through to prepare the book for publication!

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Write this Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for February 24, 2012

Photo courtesy of SXC. 

Improving your writing by resting | Jeff Goins
Carol Tice, guest posting on Jeff Goins’ blog, presents a convincing case for taking one day off (and she means *completely* off) from writing and engaging via electronic devices each week.

Five Ways That Consistency Matters | Intelligent Editing
Geoff Hart explains why stylistic consistency matters, especially in the case of numbers (two vs. 2), capitalization, and word choice. I love his explanation about capitalization, since my pet peeve as an editor is inappropriate capitalization …

“In Western languages, capitalization indicates the start of a sentence or the presence of a proper noun. Changing from a capitalized form to a lowercase form triggers the reflex to ask whether the author has switched from discussing a named entity to a generic category. Each such hesitation slows reading, impedes comprehension, and increases the risk of an interpretation error.”

This post might come across to some as a little overly technical, but it’s good stuff for writers and the copy editors who serve them.

10 Must-Haves For Your Mobile Reporting Kit
Elana Zak, posting on the 10,000 Words blog, provides a nice summary of the tools that a 21st Century reporter needs to do his or her job. Some are obvious (mobile phone, business cards, a case to carry your gear) but some are not obvious to those who haven’t been out in the field since the rise of the smartphone (extra memory cards, a USB microphone). And her suggestion to bring a mini first-aid kit is just good common sense!

26 Tips for Writing Great Blog Posts | Social Media Examiner
Social media consultant Debbie Hemley takes readers from A to Z with good advice about writing blog posts that get read and shared. I’ve been blogging since 2007 and I learned a ton! Some of my favorite sections are Categories, Descriptions, Original vs. Curated Content, and Valuable Content.

Want to Make Money Online? Here’s What Sells | Online Journalism Review
Online journalism expert Robert Niles discusses five alternatives to paywalls for web content that can generate revenue for journalists. They include advertising, e-books, videos, merchandise and events.

“Write What You Know” Does Not Mean What You Think It Does | Fuel Your Writing
Icy Sedgwick discusses the old saw to write (fiction, especially) from your own experience, and helps readers go beyond the literal implications. Here’s a sample of her advice:

“Don’t take (the directive to write what you know) so literally – I’m pretty sure Tolkien didn’t have to go to Middle Earth, and JK Rowling never went to Hogwarts! The fundamental fact is that what you know is humanity, and how the world works, and human nature is fundamentally the same. While we all have different drives, desire, fears and goals, we have the same basic needs. The setting is just window dressing … characters need to be believable, even if they aren’t based in our reality.”

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Write This Way: Top Writing and Editing Links for August 8, 2011

Photo courtesy SXC.

The book is not dead, it’s just shape-shifting | The Observer

Robert McCrum gives an upbeat assessment of recent changes in technology surrounding the book and asserts that, “As in every previous IT revolution, there will be (already is) a creative dividend.”

College Students Miss the Journalistic Potential of Social Media | PBS Media Shift

Devin Harner reports on a curious phenomenon he has witnessed when asking current journalism students to present original reporting on a blog and then market it through social media channels: they don’t see it as “real journalism.” He explores why this might  be so.

Here’s a sample quote:

“If students can’t see that there’s journalism lurking in the everyday things they do with information, especially now that technology has made such things constant, instant and ubiquitous, then we truly do have reason to worry about the future of journalism — particularly if the original digital divide is still a factor.”

HOW TO: Find and Land Freelance Work

Mashable’s Josh Catone interviews 3 freelance professionals to provide targeted advice on how to land work. His best (of 5) tips? Network, network, network; be precise; show passion. (Oh, and following a potential client’s application instructions never hurts either.)

The Jargon of the Novel, Computed | New York Times

Ben Zimmer reports on the work of the Corpus of Contemporary American English, or COCA, which brings together 425 million words of text from the past two decades, with samples drawn from fiction, popular magazines, newspapers, academic texts and transcripts of spoken English. The compiler of COCA, Mark Davies at Brigham Young University, has designed a freely available online interface that can respond to queries about how contemporary language is used.

7 Apps For Writing On Your iPhone | Lifehack

Chris Smith presents 7 iPhone applications that can facilitate quicker and more efficient writing from one’s mobile device. Apps described cover plain-text editors, outlining and mind-mapping, and journaling functions.

Teaching Creative Writing with Programming

Intriguing short post by Klint Finley of ReadWriteWeb, discussing a presentation by Adam Parrish at OSCon 2011. Parrish teaches Reading and Writing Electronic Text at New York University as part of the Interactive Telecommunications Program. Although the title emphasizes teaching creative writing through programming, the reverse is also true: the course teaches programming through experimental writing.

Parrish’s course doesn’t deal with artificial intelligence, or attempts at creating narratives or creating interactive hypertext. It covers, for lack of a better term, procedural poetry. Typically, a student takes a starting set of text, writes a Python program to modify that text and then interprets the results.

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Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for March 6, 2011

Photo courtesy of SXC.

Are You Too Busy to Write? Seven Ways to Blog More Productively — Chris Garrett on New Media
New media expert Chris Garrett discusses strategies for for increasing the quality and frequency of one’s blogging.

Tweeting from beyond the grave
Russell Working, writing on Ragan.com, discusses the phenomenon of biographers, science center publicists and other history-oriented writers “assuming” the identities of long-dead famous people on Twitter, and offers four lessons that the success of such tweeters can provide to other writers.

Your First Draft is Allowed to Suck! | Fuel Your Writing
In this article, fiction writer Icy Sedgwick reminds us all that a first draft is just that, a draft, and gives advice on how to keep that in mind and improve one’s writing.

How a Writer Can Aggravate an Editor
Meryl Evans, a web content maven and digital publishing blogger, discusses a recent e-mail she received from a writer seeking work at an e-publication that had ceased publishing 3 years ago! A great example of what NOT to do when approaching a magazine (online or off)!

7 Steps to Writing Success | The Artist’s Road
Patrick Ross summarizes the wisdom he soaked up at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs 2011 Conference and Bookfair. Steps include “write for yourself,” “build an online community,” and “be open to the wisdom of others.”

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Write This Way: Top Writing and Editing Links for February 7, 2011


Image courtesy of SXC.

A manifesto for the simple scribe – my 25 commandments for journalists | Guardian.co.uk
Former Guardian science editor Tim Radford provides 25 ironclad commandments for writing better. And, actually, they are good enough you SHOULD follow them!

Killer tips for acing your journalism job interview | 10,000 Words
Mark Luckie discusses some modern-day basics for doing well when interviewing for a media job. My favorite tips: 1) Have an online portfolio, and don’t forget to list it at the top of your resume, and 2) Have a Twitter account (shows you have at least a passing acquaintance with social media).

HOW TO: Beat Writer’s Block Online
Amy-Mae Elliot, writing on Mashable.com, offers several ways to use online tools to break through a writing impasse.

How journalists can get ahead of the game in 2011 « Adam Westbrook
Westbrook, an innovative UK journalist, discusses a report from JWT Intelligence on trends to watch in 2011, and picks out 12 particularly relevant to journalists — everything from Africa’s middle class to mobile blogging and next-generation documentary making.

Cracking Open TED Books: Brilliant Ideas in Single Serving Size | Fast Company
TED is taking its “Ideas Worth Spreading” video presentations a step further with TED Books, an imprint of short nonfiction e-books available for the Kindle and Kindle Reader through Amazon’s new line of Kindle Singles books.

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Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for September 24, 2010

Photo courtesy Julia Freeman-Woolpert via SXC.

Fusion: The Synergy of Images and Words « Steve McCurry’s Blog
An amazing photo essay with lots of shots of people around the world interacting with the written word in various ways. Beautiful!

The powers and problems of the audio slideshow « Adam Westbrook
A British journalist discusses the pros and cons of audio slideshows as an online media format and provides links to some good examples.

AP Begins Crediting Bloggers as News Sources
From The Next Web. In a major shift in policy, the Associated Press released an announcement to its affiliates that bloggers could and should be sited as news sources in AP stories.

3 iPad Apps that Reinvent News Reading
Jennifer Van Grove, writing on Mashable.com, reports on Pulse News, Flipboard and FLUD, 3 iPad apps that allow readers to customize their media reading experience and share information on social networks.

The Future of Social Media in Journalism
Vadim Lavrusik outlines some very provocative, but possibly accurate scenarios for how journalism will be affected by the evolution of social media and how it is impacting journalism.

Storyful.
Storyful uses professional curators to gather social and web content and produce a story out of it.

BONUS LINKS!

Can Twitter Make You a Better Editor?
Erin Everhart, a marketing associate for 352 Media Group and a freelance journalist, argues on the Journalistics blog that Twitter has forced writers to become better at editing their own work — especially when that work has a character count of 140!

Confessions of a Recovering Bookaholic
Victoria Vargas, author of the Smaller Living blog, discusses applying her philosophy of simpler living to her passion for collecting books. Good tips, and the comment stream includes a variety of solutions and perspectives on the importance of books in our lives.

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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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