Tag Archives: creative nonfiction

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


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!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Photo courtesy SXC.

Memoir’s truthy obligations: a handy how-to guide | Nieman Storyboard

English Professor Ben Yagoda and Dan DeLorenzo, a journalist, address the sticky question of accuracy in memoir writing and offer a rating system for “truthiness” and charts evaluating the honesty and readability of a number of modern and classic memoirs – everyone from St. Augustine to the reviled James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces.”

Quote and Comment | Realities and appearances, arguments and facts: Scheme for better political news.

Jay Rosen of NYU provides a handy way for reporters to sort out political news and commentary. Starting with honest-to-goodness facts and ending with phony arguments, the chart cuts through invective and is a superb head-clearer for anyone involved in covering politics.

Brainstorming strategies to combat writer’s block | PR Daily

A guest post from Mark Nichol of DailyWritingTips blog, which provides several great time-tested ways to get started or moving on writing assignments, including cubing, freewriting, listing and mapping.

Podcast Interview — Latest changes to the Associated Press Stylebook | Copyediting Blog

Grant Barrett, contributing editor for Copyediting blog (and newsletter) had a conversation with Associated Press contributing editor Darrell Christian about all the changes to the 2011 AP Stylebook. Here’s your chance to catch up on the finer points of style without getting your hands dirty!

Secrets to a Successful Fake Twitter Character | Fast Company

Adam Penenberg interviews the anonymous satirists behind @TheBillWalton, @FakeAPStylebook, and @NotBurtReynolds to find out how they have managed to garner a quarter-million followers between the three accounts.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Photo courtesy of SXC.

Lee Gutkind, Almost Human: Making Robots Think | AT&T Tech Channel

Author and editor Lee Gutkind, dubbed by Vanity Fair as “the Godfather behind creative nonfiction,” discusses his new book. To research “Almost Human: Making Robots Think,” Gutkind immersed himself in the world of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, where students, researchers, scientists and engineers are attempting to create robots that can react autonomously to changing circumstances.

Twitter Announces Twitter For Newsrooms, A Best Practices Guide For Journalists | 10,000 Words

Jessica Roy posts about a new Twitter initiative, Twitter for Newsrooms (#TfN), a compelling resource akin to Facebook for Journalists, that will help optimize the platform’s reporting potential. The guide contains four sections, #report, #engage, #publish and #extra, each with a variety of best practices geared towards streamlining Twitter reporting and making Twitter a more efficient journalism tool.

The end of ‘television’ | Adam Westbrook

Online/entrepreneurial journalism expert Adam Westbrook discusses some of the currents moving in the world formerly known as “television” (and secondarily “film”) and exhorts those interested in making inroads in this world in the future to stop competing for training slots in the “old” paradigm channels and pick up a camera and start creating content NOW.

8 painless steps to make time to write a book | WordCount

Laura Vanderkam, author of “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think,” presents an awesome guest post that gets right to the heart of what keeps most writers from completing a book-length manuscript – time issues – and offers great suggestions for surmounting those challenges.

7 reasons journalists make good entrepreneurs | Poynter

Matylda Czarnecka provides some solid and inspiring thoughts about why journalists can and do succeed as entrepreneurs in a for-profit business (whether news-related or not). Some of my favorites from her reason list: journalists are good researchers and connectors, journalists know how to ask open-ended questions and journalists are used to negative feedback.

Periodic Table of Storytelling by *ComputerSherpa on deviantART

Wild, complex, amazing visual based upon the “Tropes of Legend” from the TV Tropes Wiki that outlines basic storytelling structures using the periodic table of the elements as a frame. Aimed at fiction works, but the examples of how the “elements” can be combined (at the bottom of the post) could be a useful cross-pollinating reference for nonfiction writers.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Photo courtesy Mike Homme via SXC.

The Importance of Words in Multimedia Storytelling – Nieman Storyboard
Jacqueline Marino discusses the tension in journalism between focusing on usability and brevity in online projects and using words along with multiple media to tell a long-form narrative in web-based projects.

The Most Important Job for Writers – Being Sticky, Concrete, Memorable
Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, writing on her Quips and Tips for Freelance Writers blog, demonstrates why stories help nonfiction articles be sticky, concrete and memorable–and why those three qualities are invaluable for any piece of communication a writer might undertake.

How to Use Evernote to Organize Your Writing | Fuel Your Writing
Suzannah Windsor Freeman discusses how she uses this note-digitizing tool to simplify her writing and organizing.

AfterWORDS: The Art of the Start
From Creative Nonfiction, Issue 38. A sampling of first lines from nonfiction books shows there are as many possible approaches as there are stories to be told.

Creative Nonfiction (cnfonline) on Twitter
This is a daily Twitter contest hosted by Creative Nonfiction magazine. Participants should use the hashtag #cnftweet.The publication will print winners of its daily contest in forthcoming issues, and daily winners are posted at the account’s “favorites” page: http://twitter.com/cnfonline/favorites.

The Editor and the Curator (Or the Context Analyst and the Media Synesthete) | Tomorrow Museum
Joanne McNeil explains the differences between curation and traditional editing and why she thinks that calling online journalists who edit “content curators” is a misnomer.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Write This Way: Writing and Editing Links for October 23, 2008

Photo courtesy SXC.

Two perspectives on blogging and journalism, two calls opportunities to submit your work to be published online, and one very solid entry on the importance of craftsmanship in a freelance writing career are the catches of the day for our ongoing writing and editing link-fest.

First, over at Columbia Journalism Review, an article by Ann Cooper reviews the impact that bloggers are having on mainstream media reporting. In “The Bigger Tent,” she covers shifts in the way organizations outside of journalism are treating bloggers, and the issues this trend raises for mainstream journalists. Along with many pundits, she concludes that the journalist-versus-blogger smackdown is over, but Web logs continue to reshape what journalism, as a profession, really means. In this segment, she quotes NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen.

“These days it’s more the act of journalism that gets you entry into the tent, not whether you’re doing it every day, or doing it for pay….Does this mean we’re one big happy family in the big new tent? Far from it.

“In an interview, Rosen said many bloggers still fume that they have second-class status; even when (bloggers) break news, ‘there’s still a sense that a story hasn’t really arrived until it’s picked up by the mainstream media.’ And while some traditionalists may be enjoying the breezier writing style that blogging allows, they wonder what it’s doing to journalism’s hallowed standards.”

Overall the article lays out the current trends and tensions quite well, and seemingly with little bias for or against blogging.

For those who have already recognized that journalism and blogging don’t have to be an either/or proposition, there is a 7-part series over at the Online Journalism Blog that covers the results of a survey of 200 journalists in 30 countries who blog. Posts cover topics ranging from blogging’s role in generating story ideas to its impact on the post-publication “life” of a story. This series might be quite useful for writers wanting some ammo to gain permission to start a blog associated with a print or online publication.

The Writing Journey blog has been posting a series on “How to Start Your Freelance Writing Business,” and has an especially good post on honing your craft. Author Bob aptly summarizes the need to take the skills and technique involved in writing for Internet sites seriously and offers several good tips on how to do it, including my favorite:

“You write. Plain and simple. Write every day. Write many kinds of things, test out different ideas, and see what you’re capable of and interested in.”

Amen. I would add that there are all sorts of great resources for writers wanting to improve their craft, including the book Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark, and the old stand-by On Writing Well by William Zinsser.

Finally, here are two links to calls for writing submissions you may be interested in:

BREVITY: Searching Through the Blog Fog

BREVITY, a magazine featuring short works of creative nonfiction, has put out a call for short nonfiction narrative blog entries. The deadline for submissions is Oct. 31, and authors whose work is chosen to reprint in “The Best Creative Nonfiction, Volume 3,” edited by Lee Gutkind, forthcoming in August 2009 from W. W. Norton. Those bloggers chosen as contributors will receive $50 for one-time reprint rights.


If brief fiction is more your style, Shortfolio, a blog/website which publishes short stories of 500 words or less, has put out a call for new submissions. The only requirements are that you meet the word limit, would like to have your story commented upon, and that the story not have been published anywhere else beforehand.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Write This Way: Writing and Editing Links for August 10, 2008

Another month has begun, and it’s time for another edition of my hyperlink-love-fest! This time, we cover how to overcome freelance feast or famine, a new definition of “enterprise” stories in the online newspaper world, and some helpful links for aspiring writers of creative nonfiction.

First, Bob over at The Writing Journey has written a sensible and interesting post about “The SIMPLE Way to Avoid The Freelance Feast or Famine Cycle”. SIMPLE is Bob’s acronym for Save-Invest-Market-Plan-Live-Experience, and he offers sage advice to newbie freelancers that I wish that I had had when I started over 25 years ago. I was young then (14!), and the financial advice, had it stuck would have definitely helped me get my career off on the right foot!

I particularly like a passage from his advice under “Plan”:

“Dreams require goals, goals require strategies, strategies require tactics, and tactics require individual actions. Many freelance writers can’t get past the tasks of today to establish the goals of tomorrow, so when the lean times hit they’re totally unprepared. Plan your writing business to maximize growth opportunities and to be ready for the lean times.”

If you didn’t read any other part of Bob’s entry, following this tidbit would be enough to set you apart from 90 to 95 percent of all freelancers!

Next, the editor in me loves a recent post by Howard Owens on writers taking ownership of their stories. He takes the concept of “enterprise stories” (stories that reporters originate and advocate for within a publication they work for) and expands it. The theme of his blog is covering trends within the world of online newspapers, and this post is a very good introduction for any writer who publishes online on what he or she needs to do to make sure his or her story finds the audience it is capable of reaching.

Three points he lists in this post are particularly useful and insightful. The last one really highlights the conversational/learning aspect of Web 2.0 writing.

· “When the story is published, you socially bookmark the story as appropriate; you send the link to bloggers you know who might be interested; you e-mail the link to sources or readers you know would be interested.

· After the story is published, you follow and participate as appropriate in the online conversation, either via comments on the story or on other sites (blogs and forums).

· You take everything you’ve learned and repurpose the story for print.”

Finally, for those readers interested in learning more about the creative nonfiction genre, the MFA Blog had a great post and discussion a few days ago about the best MFA writing programs for creative nonfiction writers. I liked both the consideration in the post of which programs have the best “creative community” and which programs have low-residency (low-res) requirements. If you’re seriously considering getting an MFA in creative nonfiction writing, this blog post is a great place to begin your research.

Also, if you’re new to the world of creative nonfiction, or just want to learn more, check out Brevity, an online journal of creative nonfiction writing. It’s published by the Creative Nonfiction Foundation, a 501 c 3 nonprofit formed in 1994 to further this emerging genre. CNF’s site is also packed with interesting news about workshops, publications and influential books in the field.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,