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Posts Tagged ‘blogger’

When blogging about illness, what’s TMI? The NYT wades in — and angers many

In behavior, blogging, culture, domestic life, Health, journalism, Media, Medicine, women on January 16, 2014 at 12:49 am

By Caitlin Kelly

Maybe you’ve been following this recent firestorm?

The one in which Salon, a popular American website, called The New York Times’  former executive editor Bill Keller, and his wife, Gilbey’s gin heiress Emma Gilbey, despicable?

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Both of them wrote about cancer patient Lisa Adams, who has advanced breast cancer.

From Salon:

Lisa Bonchek Adams is a mother of three living with Stage 4 breast cancer. She blogs and tweets about what she is undergoing and the decisions she is making about her health; she does so frequently and to a large audience that’s rooting for her. And to a prominent husband-wife pair of journalists, she’s somehow offensive.

Bill Keller, the former executive editor of the New York Times, published an Op-Ed in that paper today indicating that Adams, in spite of the image of positivity and strength she generally broadcasts on her social media platforms, is dying and doing so in a manner somehow undignified; Keller draws a comparison between Adams and his late father-in-law. “His death seemed to me a humane and honorable alternative to the frantic medical trench warfare that often makes an expensive misery of death in America.”

That “trench warfare” has, for Adams, included a variety of medical studies; Keller indicates that Adams’ personal decisions about her health, and her expressing herself online, somehow detracts from people who choose not to undergo experimental treatments or who choose to slip under with less of what is traditionally known as “fighting.” He even finds a Stanford associate dean who is willing to say that Adams “shouldn’t be unduly praised. Equal praise is due to those who accept an inevitable fate with grace and courage.”

Here’s an analysis piece from NPR’s blog:

the piece enraged a lot of Times readers, according to public editor Margaret Sullivan, that she heard a great deal of negative feedback, and who herself said “there are issues here of tone and sensitivity.”

Boy … you can say that again. By closing the piece with a piece about a dean who “cringes” at Adams’ alleged embrace of a “combat metaphor” (unsupported by any quotes from her own writing) and salutes those who show grace and courage, Keller implicitly suggests that to handle your disease as Adams has is one way to go. The other way to go is with grace and courage. And that’s very unfortunate.

Adams herself says that Keller, along with his wife Emma Gilbey Keller, who also wrote a controversial column critiquing Adams’ handling of her cancer (that was in The Guardian and has since ), have misrepresented the basic facts of her medical status, and Keller has already admitted he got the number of kids she has wrong. These disputes have been pretty thoroughly inventoried in a . And writers at outlets including and have been sharply critical of the need to explain to a cancer patient how to handle (and discuss) having cancer.

This is an issue I’ve thought a lot about — how much to write or blog about one’s illness or surgery or medical issues — and how much to never share beyond one’s circle of intimates. People, in my view, who are the ones who are most likely to have actually visited you and your family in the hospital or come with you to the chemo suite, perhaps.

One woman I know, barely, professionally, shared a lot of detail on Facebook about the effects of chemo as she was treated (so far, successfully) for breast cancer. But there was a lot I wish she had simply kept to herself.

She got a lot of emotional support, which I understand — why she craved it and why people offered it.

My mother had a radical mastectomy in 2003. She is alive. She has survived multiple cancers, including thyroid and a meningioma, a form of brain tumor.

In other words, I already live in daily fear of my genetic heritage and have little appetite to read anything about cancer.

That is not a judgment of people who do, but the effect of knowing too much firsthand already.

I get my medical tests and keep a careful eye on my own body and that of my husband.

I’ve already stared down plenty of doctors and Xrays and seen too much and heard too much. I saw my mothers’ very large brain tumor on the Xray and had to give informed consent for her; here’s the piece I wrote about it for Chatelaine, Canada’s largest women’s magazine.

Who am I to complain when I, too, have written these sorts of stories? They can, I know, be helpful to others and provide comfort to the ill and to their families.

A friend my age died of cancer in January 2006 and several men in my apartment building are currently fighting cancer.

It’s not that I don’t care about people who are ill. It’s the reverse. Instead, I find myself worrying about people I do not even know.

For me, that’s not the best choice.

I have really mixed feelings about this sort of thing — none of which suggests I’m right.

How do you feel about someone sharing a lot of very graphic detail on-line about their illness?

Come learn! May’s webinars: freelancing, interviewing, blogging and more

In blogging, books, business, culture, education, journalism, Media, news, work on January 7, 2014 at 12:33 am

By Caitlin Kelly

FINGERS ON KEYBOARD

Students signed up for my fall webinar series, and individual coaching — thank you! — from Australia, New Zealand, London, Chicago, D.C., California and Connecticut; one student saw her blog’s page views and followers increase as soon as she made the simple change I suggested.

I also coach individually whenever it suits you — by phone, Skype and/or email.

(All photos on this post are courtesy of my husband, Jose R. Lopez.)

These are the six 90-minute classes, each priced at $125:

BETTER BLOGGING

Better Blogging

May 10, 10:00-11:30 a.m. ET

This practical, lively seminar offers more than 30 steps you can take – right away — to boost your blog’s engagement, views and followers; Broadside has more than 10,000 followers now, and grows every single day. To win writing jobs, freelance or full-time, your blog is your best marketing tool. Broadside has been Freshly Pressed six times and chosen as one of 22 in “culture” by WordPress worth reading. Let’s do it!

BUSINESS OF FREELANCING

You, Inc: The Business of Freelancing

May 10, 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm ET

I’ve freelanced full-time since 2006, this time, for local, regional, national and international clients. You can too! In this super-focused, tips-filled webinar, we’ll discuss how much you really need to earn, negotiating, how to find (and keep!) clients and how to maximize your productivity. My clients include Cosmpolitan, Ladies Home Journal and The New York Times and on-line sites HGTV.com, Quartz.com, reuters.com and the Harvard Business Review blog.

 

THINK LIKE A REPORTER

Learn to Think Like a Reporter

May 10, 4:00-5:30 pm ET

If your mother says she loves you, check it out! This class teaches the tips and tricks I’ve gained from working as a staff reporter for three major dailies, including the New York Daily News — and freelancing for The New York Times since 1990. What’s a stake-out? A nut graf? A lede and kicker? Every reporter knows these basics, and if you hope to compete with them — whether you’re blogging, or writing for on-line or print or broadcast or video — this is the stuff you need to know.

 

INTERVIEW TECHNIQUES
Conducting a Kick-Ass Interview

May 17, 10:00 a.m. to 11;30 a.m. ET

No ambitious non-fiction writer, blogger or journalist succeeds without knowing how to conduct probing and well-controlled interviews. I’ve interviewed thousands of sources, from an Admiral to convicted felons, Olympic athletes, cancer survivors, duck hunters and ballet dancers. How to best structure an interview? Should you tape or take notes? What’s the one question every interview should end with? My 30 years’ experience as an award-winning reporter, author of two-well-reviewed books of nationally reported non-fiction — one of which included 104 original interviews — and frequent New York Times writer will help you ace the toughest interviews.

 

PERSONAL ESSAY

Crafting the Personal Essay

May 17, 1:00 p.m – 2:30 p.m. ET

From The New York Times to Elle and Marie Claire — to Thought Catalog, Salon, the Awl, Aeon and Medium — the marketplace for personal essay continues to thrive. How to sell this challenging genre? How to blend the personal and universal? Every essay, no matter the topic, must answer one key question, which we’ll discuss in detail. Having published my own essays in the Times, Marie Claire, Chatelaine and others — and winner of a Canadian National Magazine award for one — I’ll help you determine what to say and in what voice.

 

 

IDEAS

Finding and Developing Story Ideas

May 17, 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m ET

We’re surrounded every single day by dozens of potential story ideas. Recognizing them — and developing them into salable pitches — is the topic of this helpful webinar. And every non-fiction book begins with an idea; developing it into a 30-page book proposal means “saving string”, collecting the data you’ll need to intelligently argue your points. This webinar will help you better perceive the many stories already swirling in your orbit and determine who’s most likely to pay you (well) for them.

Feel free to email me with any questions at learntowritebetter@gmail.com or call me in New York at 914-332-6065.

Sign up and further details are here.

These are the only webinars I’m offering until fall of 2014.

I look forward to working with you!

Thank you!

In behavior, blogging, books, business, culture, education, journalism, work on November 28, 2013 at 12:16 am

By Caitlin Kelly

It’s sometimes easy to forget that attention is a gift. We’re all busy, tired, distracted.

So when readers come to Broadside — for one post, or several – I know it’s a choice.

It’s been amazing and inspiring for me to “meet” people from around the world here, even just from reading your gravatars when you sign up to follow. Several of you have become good friends, from London to L.A.

Newest followers include a dancer/choreographer and playwright from Tel Aviv, a retired history teacher in Florida, a country singer from Nashville, and a suburban mum in Britain.

You are one seriously diverse audience!

I appreciate your comments, and especially so when you finally decide to join the conversation — I know many of you lurk, silently. Please weigh in!

London

London (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

It’s been a new privilege to start teaching and coaching, and the response has been terrific, with students coming from Australia, New Zealand, California, Virginia and other spots. Working with Skype is great, as we can see one another and exchange ideas and laughter. The other day, I waved to three small children in Adelaide as their mum and I were about to start a session. So fun!

Selfishly, coming back to teaching and coaching has also offered me a needed and welcome break from the usual routine of pitch/sell/write/revise. As a full-time writer, I’m an intellectual production line of one — the old brain gets tired!

It’s been great to leave my apartment, meet new clients face to face and begin to expand my teaching to other places. It looks like I might be teaching at NYSID, my former school of interior design in Manhattan. I really love teaching, and I’ve missed it. It’s fun to share my skills and help you meet your goals.

Writing well isn’t easy!

For some odd reason, people now think it is or should be or want it to be.

Great writing is really the end product of clear, focused thinking: about topic, tone, voice, diction, rhythm, intent, mood. It has many moving parts, and until they spin together without friction, you’re more likely to hear the nasty grinding of gears than the smooth humming you’d prefer.

So, dear readers, and those of you placing in your trust in my skills to teach and coach you, you’re very much appreciated.

Thank you!

Webinars and coaching — we’re off!

In behavior, blogging, business, education, entertainment, journalism, Media, work on November 4, 2013 at 12:25 am

By Caitlin Kelly

It’s been a fun week!

Thanks so much to the students who have signed up so far — from Auckland, New Zealand, Chicago, Connecticut, Rochester, NY and Brooklyn.

blogging makes you a better marketer

blogging makes you a better marketer (Photo credit: Will Lion)

We’re working by phone, Skype and email, whatever works best for you — for individual coaching, I charge $150/hour.

If you want to participate in a webinar, though, you MUST register at least 48 hours before it begins. Thanks!

The next webinar is this Sunday November 10 at 4:00 p.m. EST, for 90 minutes, Better Blogging. It costs $100.

We’ll talk about:

– how to find new readers

– boosting engagement and comments

– using visuals (photos, video, drawings) to make your posts more appealing

– why it pays to think like a print editor, including layout, great headlines, copy-editing and proofreading

– why writing like a news journalist can help you

– that slooooooowwing way down will improve your quality

– why fewer posts might be your better choice

– what readers want most

Broadside began on July 1, 2009, and moved here to WordPress in July 2010.

It grows every single day by 1o to 20 followers, now almost 8,000 of you worldwide.

It has been featured six times on Freshly Pressed, the best posts of the day chosen by WordPress’ editors.

Here’s one sample of a FPed post.: Would You Rather be Productive or Creative? (It has 282 comments and 359 likes.)

And another. Have We Lost The Art of Conversation? (386 comments, 495 likes.)

As a career journalist, who writes frequently for The New York Times, I know what readers want. Here’s my most recent story for them, about women car designers, that ran October 30.

Sign up here…

Please sign up now for my webinars: reporting, essays, ideas and more

In blogging, books, business, education, journalism, Media, work on October 24, 2013 at 10:52 am

By Caitlin Kelly

CKELLY HIGH RES

I mentioned this here a while ago.

Now we’re ready to go!

As some of you already know, I’m an award-winning journalist who’s published two non-fiction books of national reporting and writes frequently for The New York Times. My work has appeared in publications in Canada, (Chatelaine, Flare, Toronto Life, Maisonneuve , etc.), the U.S., France, Ireland and New Zealand, including The Wall Street Journal, VSD, Marie Claire and Ladies Home Journal.

I’ve also taught journalism at Concordia University in Montreal, New York University, Pace University and The New York Times Student Journalism Institute. I also recently taught the first webinar here at Kristen Lamb’s online conference, WANACON.

I’m offering six webinars:

Think Like a Reporter

Finding and Developing Story Ideas

Growing Your Blog

Writing for A-List Editors

You, Inc: The Business of Freelancing 

Crafting The Personal Essay.

Each is 90 minutes in length, half of which is saved for your questions and comments.

They range in price from $100 to $200; details, prices, dates and sign-up are all here. After you’ve registered, I’ll email you each directly with the sign-in location for the webinar.

The first is Sunday November 3 at 4:00 pm. Eastern time. 

Finding and Developing Story Ideas will be helpful to anyone who’s freelancing, or hopes to. I’ll talk about which ideas are best suited to websites, newspapers, magazines or non-fiction books — sometimes all of these.

Three recent students say:

“By any metric, Caitlin soars as a teacher, especially her sincerity and kindness. Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Caitlin embodies that – with the experiences she can share, the skills she can teach, and lives she can change.”

– Amer Taleb

 

Caitlin is an exemplary mentor and teacher. She doesn’t just provide excellent training for the exacting standards and requirements of journalism and authorship, but shares her experience and knowledge readily, offering real, pertinent information and how to use it.

 

She invests herself in those she teaches, helping them to develop the wide array of skills and instincts they will need to succeed in any area.”

– Cadence Woodland

“I enjoyed Caitlin’s presentation very much. As a journalist with only a few years experience, I appreciated her willingness to share her expertise and experiential wisdom. She made herself available for questions afterwards, which was particularly helpful. Her experience was insightful. If you have a chance to take a class with her, don’t hesitate. Great value.”

– Lisa Hall-Wilson

If you have any questions, please email me at learntowritebetter@gmail.com

I hope you’ll sign up — and please spread the word!

Come take my on-line class this Friday at WANACON!

In blogging, books, education, journalism, Media, work on October 3, 2013 at 11:32 am

By Caitlin Kelly

For those of you who follow Kristen Lamb’s blog, I’m giving a 90-minute webinar this Friday, October 4, at 6pm Eastern.

English: The New York Times building in New Yo...

English: The New York Times building in New York, NY across from the Port Authority. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s called “Learn to Think Like a Reporter” and will offer lots of practical tips from my 30 years as a journalist, 20 years writing freelance for The New York Times and my three staff writing jobs at three major daily newspapers, the Globe and Mail, Montreal Gazette and New York Daily News.

You can sign up here.

If this is too late, I’ll soon be posting a list of my own upcoming webinars, including that one, and will give you plenty of time to choose one (or several!), tell all your writer/journalist friends, and sign up.

Five essential qualities writers need

In behavior, blogging, books, culture, journalism, Media, work on January 16, 2013 at 4:43 am
Writing exercise 3

Writing exercise 3 (Photo credit: aaipodpics)

Writing — what we read here or elsewhere — is merely the end product, the visible, finished material emerging from a long process that really begins with an idea or a dream or a vision of something. Many people who say they really want to write well and be widely read and maybe even well-paid for it sometimes focus a lot of wasted energy on the wrong things.

They fuss over the font on their blog or their SEO or how to find an agent or what their book cover looks like.

It’s much more basic.

Here are five qualities anyone who wants to write well  — and find a large readership — needs:

Trust

To publish your work requires tremendous trust. First, in yourself, that you have something worth hearing and have the skills to express it clearly and compellingly. Second, in your audience — that there is an audience out there for your work. Third, in your agent, (should you wish to publish  traditionally). Fourth, in your editor(s). Fifth, journalists must also, (with open eyes and a healthy skepticism of “facts”), trust their sources, and their editors and copy editors.

You have to trust in your skills and experience to see you through, even when you’ve never tackled a subject or genre before. It’s like anything else — you can’t grow unless you push yourself into new and untried areas. Given the nature of journalism and publishing right now, being able to move quickly and persuasively into new ways of using your skills is essential to earning a good living.

Humility

Walk into a bookstore or library  — and look around. There are millions of books already in print. In addition to every other form of media out there, from Twitter and Pinterest to movies, TV and video games, these books are competing for your readers’ time and attention. Whose work is currently selling most, to whom, and why? Whose work has lasted for decades or centuries or even millennia and why? Asking readers to give us their time and attention means acknowledging those who have done it so well for so long.

We don’t have to ape them, but the marketplace of ideas is a very, very crowded one.

Confidence

And yet…If you can’t summon the confidence in your voice and ideas and analysis, why would anyone else? If you lack confidence in your skills, take classes and read great writers and see what they do so well. Do whatever is necessary to develop the skill to tell your story. Then do it!

Also have the confidence that your material may have valuable iterations in other paid media, from film and television to theatrical productions to ideas you haven’t even imagined. Re-define “writing” as “intellectual property” and you will start to look at your work very differently, and protectively. (A ferocious agent and skilled entertainment attorney are key to this step.)

Empathy

You can’t be an intelligent or useful journalist without empathy — whether you’re interviewing a politician, a welfare mother, a billionaire banker or a criminal. You have to be able to imagine how the world looks and feels to them and care deeply enough to ask them thoughtful and probing questions.  Same for writers of fiction, whose characters must live and breathe for us as readers.

Decisiveness

What to say, and how to say it and in what detail? There’s no standard metric, no safe dividing line or blinking yellow warning light on our computer or notebook to warn us when we’ve moved from terrific to boring. We choose every word and then we must commit to it, even after the 10th or 20th draft. It has to go the printer! Editors are waiting. Readers expect to hear from you.

Decide what you want to express and get on with it. The only people who can call themselves writers write — they don’t just talk about writing.

I’m finally reading (and loving!) this book, a classic, by Howard Zinsser, “On Writing Well.” It’s funny and filled with fantastic advice. Here are his five tips.

What do you think are other qualities a writer needs most?

And for 2013…

In behavior, blogging, books, business, culture, journalism, life, Media, US on January 1, 2013 at 12:12 am
Now you finally get to meet Jose...

Now you finally get to meet Jose…

I wish you all the best!

Excellent health, steady income, many cups of Earl Grey tea, glorious sunsets and ferociously enveloping hugs. Whatever your dreams may be, I hope you’ll take the first (or second or fifteenth) steps toward attaining them.

For those of you who have not yet read my Welcome or About page, I’m Caitlin Kelly, a New York-based author and journalist, who writes frequently for The New York Times. Some of my journalism, and my two non-fiction books, are here. I grew up in Canada, and moved to the United States in 1988.

My new book, “Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail” will be published in China — !! — in March.

Broadside continues to grow daily, with a variety of readers that leaves me gobsmacked — high school students to seniors, Spaniards and Australians and fellow Canadians and Indonesians, a Ghanaian charity, a pastor-to-be in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a yoga teacher from Cobourg (coming to take your class later this month!), a journalism professor from Iowa, a photographer from Perth, an immigration attorney from Houston, a Jordanian medical student, musicians and artists and writers and moms-of-six. More than 3,300 people have joined so far.

I met Michelle, author of The Green Study, in Minneapolis in October, and hope to meet Elizabeth, who writes Gifts of the Journey about her life in rural England, and C, moving to London, and author of Small Dog Syndrome, in England this summer.

Mrs. Fringe and I have a coffee date in a few weeks as well; a thank-you to her, to Rami Ungar and to C. for their comments, (which my annual tally from WordPress tells me makes them the most prolific here.)

More comments from those who’ve yet to speak up, please!

We’ve enjoyed much lively, intelligent debate here, and I’ve really appreciated your input. With so many readers worldwide — especially when I blog on American political or economic issues — we have a chance for some serious dialogue.

In a global economy, the smartest choice we can make is to connect across borders and ideologies and truly try to understand how the world looks to others many time zones away.

Please email me, or comment here, on what you’d like to see more of at Broadside (or less); one reader has suggested interviews and Q and A’s with some of the interesting and accomplished people I know in various fields, which is a neat idea, so I’m working on that. Also, possibly, more reviews of cultural events (books. shows, art) I think you’d also enjoy.

I’m also always looking for amazing blogs to follow — please share a few with us that you find consistently fab? What do you love about them?

My professional hopes for this year include selling two new non-fiction books, creating a woman-only, invitation-only conference next fall, working with a new assistant, telling more interesting stories and doing more well-paid public speaking.

Personally, enjoying as much time as possible with Jose, (as we head into our 13th year together), some travel (Newfoundland is on our list, as is Paris and London), deepening my friendships and staying healthy. My father is still super-healthy at 83, so we’re heading north to Ontario this month to visit him and see dear old friends.

What are some of your hopes for 2013?

Exhausted and overwhelmed

In behavior, blogging, books, business, domestic life, journalism, life, Media, women, work on September 13, 2012 at 12:32 am
Hong-kong, from Kow-loon.

Hong-kong, from Kow-loon. I hope to make it there! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

E and O, kids!

The past few months — probably like many of yours as well –  have been an emotional and financial roller-coaster:

– a new-to-me client decided my story was unacceptable. I lost $1,300 of the income agreed to and expected.

– another new-to-me client assigned an on-line slide-show that sounded easy-peasy, even though I’ve never done one. Hardly. Learning how to work quickly and efficiently for web clients is a learning curve.

– I’m on my third New York-based assistant since May and she’s getting busier with competing projects. Bright, ambitious people, (bless them!), move up quickly. My Toronto-based assistant is good, but really busy and costs $3/hour more.

– I decided to up my speed while walking to burn more calories, (the endless weight loss drama), and woke up crying in pain at 4:00 a.m. I’m fine, but it meant a week of zero exercise while my new hip calmed down again.

– My gynecologist put me on the scale and I hadn’t lost an ounce since my GP told me to shed lots o’ pounds few months ago. I’m torn between frustration/anger and fuckitIdon’tcarenanymore resignation. I loathe dieting and am so scared to injure myself by pushing my new hip too hard, with another five months before it’s 100% healed.

– I’m applying for a competitive annual journalism fellowship again, fearful I won’t even make the finals. But you can’t win what you don’t try.

– I decided against applying for a local award that required a $100 entry fee. Sure, I’d like that line on my resume, and I had a great story worth entering. But $100?

– I’m really getting fed up with the old-school thinking in my industry. Several of these awards and fellowships refuse to accept book chapters in lieu of printed clips from magazines or newspapers clips. Few freelance journalists can afford to write much for print anymore. We’ve had to migrate to writing for the web to make steady, ready cash.

– My toughest challenge? Guessing when, how often and how hard to push, whether for payment, a sale, higher rates. For every editor who says, gratefully “I’m so glad you reached out. I’ve been too busy but I’ll get back to you next week” another snarls “We’re closing three editions at once.” With 90% of our interactions by email, not phone, establishing any sort of a more personal, collegial relationship sometimes feels impossible.

Push too hard, lose a client. Play doormat, go broke.

– Late payments make me insane. I have a five-figure line of credit, at a usurious APR, which I try to avoid using. So I try to schedule my workflow and payments to insure that every single month, enough checks arrive, (they’re almost always on an out-of-state bank) in time for me to pay my bills promptly. One check arrived recently almost seven weeks after invoice. None of my creditors will wait, but I’m expected to.

– Balancing my short-term, medium-term and long-term goals often feels unmanageable. On any given day, I’m juggling all three: make money, line up more work, apply for awards and fellowships with hard deadlines, manage two assistants, squeeze in a personal, social and athletic life, keep a home that’s clean, tidy and attractive, keep my marriage happy, nurture professional and personal relationships. Oh, yeah and lose a ton of weight.

– Promoting my book to keep it visible and selling. Between October 24 and January 24, I’ve got five speaking engagements, one in a distant state. Every day I spend a few hours trying to think of other venues for this, preferably ones that pay. I was so o and e I managed to fill out and return the wrong contract to one group. Boy, that looked professional!

– Still, a year later, trying to finish the proposal for (what I hope will become) my third book.

– Trying to figure out when and how to re-balance our investments so we might actually, one day, be able to get off this hamster wheel and afford to retire.

– Reading newspapers, magazines and on-line to know what’s happening in the world and what markets I want to sell to as a writer have already published.

– Another freelance friend, 10 years younger, tells me she’s putting away $20,000 to $30,000 a year for retirement. How is this possible? Our expenses are cut to the bone as it is and we have no kids, while she has two.

– Trying to re-sell “Malled” to a Hollywood agent to snag a film and/or television deal. My agent is handling that, but I need to keep on top of her activities.

– Coming up with ideas for stories (see: cashflow.)

– Refining and developing every idea into something salable, with emails and phone calls to make sure that sources are on-board, available and interested (all unpaid time), before I make the pitch.

– Planning (hah!) a long foreign vacation for 2013. Hoping to hike the Grand Canyon with my Dad in May, then Europe with my husband in June. The money for this will come from….? Freelancers get no paid vacations, so every non-working hour has to be earned/saved in advance.

So, I’m fleeing!

I’m heading back up to Canada next week for 10 days alone in the desperate hope of some true relaxation. I’ll house-sit for my Dad (off sailing [sigh] with my two younger brothers in Turkey.) I’ll go biking. I’ll head into Toronto to see dear old friends and enjoy a few good meals.

How’s your life these days?

Are you equally E and O?

Can you offer any coping tips?

Twelve ways to blog better

In behavior, blogging, culture on September 9, 2012 at 12:13 am
compassion hearts

Go ahead — share your heart with us! (Photo credit: journeyscoffee)

Last December I posted fifteen tips on how to make your blog more compelling. A few of you have since emailed me privately to ask how to find more readers, and more quickly.

Since I started blogging here at WordPress, in July 2010, I’ve been chosen for Freshly Pressed five times, which has been a pleasant validation that I’m doing OK in this new medium.

Here are twelve tips I hope will inspire and help you to grow your readership.

None are necessarily simple or quick. Just because it’s “only” a blog doesn’t mean creating quality content is, or should be, painless.

We all have limited time and attention

You know how few seconds we’re willing to offer anything on line. If you’re demanding others’ attention, which you are with a blog, why does yours deserve it? What value are you adding to my day if I take three or five or even ten minutes to read it? Don’t just hit publish because you think a post a day is worth doing. Make every single post something you truly think worth others’ valuable and limited attention.

The very best blogs combine the personal with the universal

We all feel fear, crave humor, hope to avoid embarrassment, experience sadness or anxiety. How often is your blog being emotionally truthful?

Compassion and empathy rule!

Snark isn’t my default mode and the blogosphere is full of stupid photos and political rants. You don’t have to be smarmy, but realizing that 99% of us feel pretty much the same feelings all throughout our lives (yes, really!) will inform the best writing.

Check your spelling, vocabulary and grammar

Messy copy shows a lack of respect for your readers. Spell-check is not your best friend. A dictionary is.

Pretend your blog is a magazine and you’re the editor in chief

By that I mean, make me eager to read it, using great visuals — photos, drawings, video — and a terrific headline to tease me in. Magazine editors are intensely aware of the need to entice readers away from all their competitors. Think a little more like them.

You’re being read worldwide — be inclusive

It’s easy to forget that whatever you’re writing about may be read by someone thousands of miles away. It drives me nuts when people can’t be bothered to tell me where or who they are. It’s extremely common.

Use social media to spread your work, selectively

As I write this, 25 people have wandered over for a look from Facebook, where a guy I’ve never met who lives in California liked one of my posts enough to link to it. Don’t beat people to death with your opinions, but social media is the one sure way to attract new eyeballs and potential readers.

Leave thoughtful, funny and/or helpful comments on others’ blogs. Do it every day.

I did this every single day for more than a year. It took up a ton of time and I’m glad it’s no longer necessary, but it is something you simply have to do if you’re truly hungry for more readers. I read Freshly Pressed every day and often find two or three posts I can leave a useful comment on. “Liking” isn’t enough! Leave a trace of your personality as well, which may well intrigue others back to see who you are.

Fill out your “About” page. Today!

Even if you’re not writing using your real name, readers want to have some idea who you are and why they might want to listen to you. Include a photo, a recent and flattering one. If you’re too scared to write even a paragraph about who you are and why we should be reading you…are you really ready to blog?

Move us!

The very best blogs, like a piece of music, leave us feeling something emotionally, whether outraged, laughing or pensive. Bland = zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Edit, revise, repeat

Do you bang out your posts in an urgent frenzy to share your views with the world, and hit “publish” right away? If this is your automatic habit, time to re-think. Use every revision to make it tighter and stronger.

Use paragraphs

A blog that goes onandonandoandonandon without a single line break, or paragraphs, is just selfish and rude, the written equivalent of a big fat boring monologue.

Does anything you read in the real world lack punctuation and paragraphs?

What are some of your tips?

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