Tag Archives: writing contests

Write This Way: Top Writing and Editing Links for December 6, 2009

Photo courtesy SXC.

Headline Writing Drives Traffic

Excellent blog post by Geoff Livingston, writing on his blog, The Buzz Bin, about the rules of headline writing that appear more relevant than ever in the social media age.

Geoff makes an assertion right off the bat that I couldn’t agree more with:

“It doesn’t matter what the property is. From Twitter and e-mail to document and blog post titles, your ability to write great headlines (or 140 character writing) matters more than ever. Great headlines drive traffic and interest.”

His advice is universal advice for good writing: use active verbs, get sassy or provocative (without being juvenile), provide a preview with your headline, be intentionally incomplete so that the reader wants to know more, and omit needless words.

Geoff reinforces something I hold to be true about writing in a Web 2.0 world—good writing, in the sense of work that is compelling and designed to draw readers into the story, still rules. My Twitter as Writing Coach series (Part I | Part II | Part III) focused on much the same thing—leveraging what good writers already know (and can always brush up on!) to stay relevant in today’s culture.

Are Women Better Writers Than Men?

Writing on FastCompany.com, Lydia Dishman reports on activism among women writers and fans to bring more respect to the work of female writers.

The firestorm over this topic was ignited in early November when Publisher’s Weekly (PW) announced their top 100 picks for 2009 – and not one of the top 10 was penned by a woman. Overall, even PW seemed concerned that no woman was listed in the top 10 and that women  were underrepresented on the whole in this list.

Lydia explains how things unfolded:

“The list unleashed a flurry of posts and comments across the blogosphere, most notably a press release entitled ‘Why Weren’t Any Women Invited To Publishers Weekly’s Weenie Roast‘ from the founders of WILLA (Women in Letters and Literary Arts), an organization dedicated to bringing attention to women’s literary accomplishments.

“She Writes, a Web community for women writers, declared Friday, November 13 a “Call to Action” day and encouraged members to protest by going out and buying books by women authors and voicing their concerns in response to Louisa Ermelino’s (PW’s Reviews Director) statement about the trade magazine’s ‘politically correct’ choices.”

This brief article on the controversy (as well the links provided) is worth reading in full. My personal take? I have compiled best-of lists for several different magazines, and I can tell you, it’s always a complicated process, no matter what criteria you use or how transparent your process is to the reader. My aim as an editor is to always have defensible reasons for any course of action I take on behalf of my publication.

That said, although I think the Fast Company headline for this article is a bit misleading (albeit sassy, like the previous link advised as good!), this dust-up is getting people talking about quality women authors—whether you define “best” as best selling, best writing or most compelling storylines. And that, perhaps more than PW’s list, may help women writers get the recognition that they of course deserve.

(P.S. Just for disclosure’s sake—I just joined She Writes at the invitation of a colleague. Looks like an interesting community!)

Essential Lines from 2009: Group Writing Project

Here’s a fun December project for bloggers to consider: Joanna from the Confident Writing blog is proposing an end-of-the-year group writing project/presentation. It’s very similar to a project she did at the end of 2008 entitled “Simply the Best.”

This post outlines the rules and the deadline, which is December 27, 2009. Bloggers are encouraged to submit their best work and talk about why the submitted post is representative of their blog. The key is to be able to a) pick a post that is “essential,” as the blogger defines it, to the spirit of their blog and b)write a brief summary of the post for inclusion in the post on the Confident Writer site.

Joanna does group writing projects throughout the year, so keep her in your RSS reader if you’d like to participate in other projects like this.

Bonus Links!

5 Ways to Be a Writer When You’re Not Writing

Alison Wells, writing on Studio Mothers blog, has great suggestions for keeping your writing alive while you work on other things.

Pen 2.0: Your scribblings go digital

Jacqueline Evans, writing on CNNMoney.com, reviews several new “smart pens,” pen/computer hybrids that can remember everything you write or sketch in a meeting, then upload it to your PC afterward. Some are able to record audio, as well.

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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.

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