Do you keep journals? Okay let me be a little more specific, do you own a diary? Do you detail important moments in your life on a regular basis? Do you want to learn how journaling can improve your mental health? Then, this free course is for you!
Sara Letourneau, of Heart of the Story Editorial and Coaching Services, is finalizing plans on a new course: Journaling for Emotional Resiliency. She has room for 10 participants. Here’s the criteria for selection:
You want to nurture your journaling practice through a series of themed prompts that will use your imagination to help you look at personal challenges from a creative perspective.
You’re willing to use journaling to dig deep and write about past or present experiences so you can grow as a person.
You’re willing to dedicate one (1) hour per week for seven (7) weeks to complete the email course.
You’d be open to trying one or two suggested and simple additional activities (outside of journaling, in other words) to enhance the theme of each week’s journaling prompt.
You’d like to participate in a private Facebook group for writers who sign up for Journaling for Emotional Resiliency. (If you don’t use Facebook, you can post about your experience with the course on Twitter or Instagram instead.)
I met Sara in Iceland last year, but even before I did, I greatly admired her teaching skills and wonderful blog. Sara is a freelance editor, writing coach and award-winning poet. I’m sure you will find this course useful, so if you’re interested and willing, please send her a message on Facebook. Spots are filling up fast!
Are you a food blogger, vlogger, content writer, or do you just love food? Then you’ll want to read this. This week, I thought I’d share seven delicious ways you can write about food.
1. Keep it short.
I cannot stress this enough. Sometimes – actually most times – we just want to get to the recipe and how you made the meal. It’s not necessary to write a block of text about the inspiration of the meal, how long it took you to get the ingredients, or the many reasons why you think we should try it. We really just want to know what it’s called and how you made it. Keep it short and simple, get to the recipe, please!
2. Add a fun fact.
“Did you know that this meal is eaten by Icelanders on Christmas day?” That’s a good way to get attention and motivate people to actually try out the recipe. There’s something thrilling about cooking and eating exotic meals, and adding fun facts are a perfect way to get people to go beyond liking your post, and actually going into the kitchen.
Words like this pop out and encourage the reader to hang on for a little while longer. Who doesn’t want to learn to cook dinner in fifteen minutes, or how to make healthy comfort food? There is an abundance of information floating in the cloud, if you’re going to grab the attention of inundated readers, you’ll need the help of a few phrases.
4. Use an irresistible picture.
This is super important. Beautiful writing is great, but if you match it up with an unflattering picture, you immediately cause the reader to doubt the authenticity of what you’re saying. With food writing, the words are just as important as the picture. Use a great picture, always.
5. Make sure your information is accurate.
A lot of effort goes into preparing a meal, at least for me. It can be disappointing when the food doesn’t taste as good as promised because an ingredient in the recipe was left out, or the poster didn’t mention important preparation tips. Use credible sources for health information, go over your recipe, and make sure that you haven’t left out important information.
6. Mention the health benefits.
Nutrition and health care often prompt people to try out something new. So if you’ve made a pudding out of beans, or you’ve tried a new vegetable pie, don’t forget to mention the nutritional benefits of the meal. Has your cooking method preserved the nutrients of the food? Mention it. Is your soup especially beneficial to pregnant women? Mention it. Does your salad encourage children to eat more fruits? Please mention it!
7. Describe the taste of the meal
Okay, I’ll admit that this can take some time to hone, but try to tell your reader how it tastes. Just a line, or a phrase of description will do: “This salad/drink/pie/chicken/cake is so … spicy/moist/tangy/hot/delicious/buttery/creamy/fresh.” You can almost never run out of words to use to describe the taste of food, and you can be sure that description is what your readers will look out for when they try out your recipe.
Did I leave anything out? Let me know in the comments!
I don’t know about you, but writing has been more challenging for me than ever before in this pandemic. It seems that my mind is clogged with an overload of information and emotion, that I can hardly enjoy a flow of creativity. The last two weeks have been especially trying with the Say No To Rape movement in Nigeria and the Black Lives Matter protests in America. It’s really been one thing or another this year. 😢
My story has been published in Obsidian’s latest general issue. You may order your copy and back issues here! If you read it, please let me know what you think about it! 😊
The second piece of information I’d like to share, is about the scholarship award I’ve recently received from the Iceland Writers Retreat. I am grateful and excited! You can bet that I’ll be sharing my experience in Iceland, so watch this space! You can read the announcement here.
Today I want to talk to you about getting a beta reader. In this article about your prepublication checklist, I defined it as someone who reads your work objectively to point out its strengths and weaknesses. The ultimate purpose of a beta reader is to make your story better. Note that I said to “make your story better”, not you. What does this mean? If you will receive the services of a beta reader, you must be willing to accept criticism. Continue reading “4 Tips On Getting A Beta Reader”
Writing is a lot harder than people think, especially for budding writers. You think that all you need to do is to write, until somebody tells you that your story is not so great, that it has loopholes and that your characters are not well developed. So, you go in search of writing tips because you want to get better. But it doesn’t get better, because suddenly, you’re bombarded by tons of writing advice and trying to adopt them all!
I know it’s crazy, and that’s why I’m here to help!
In this article, I’m going to share five tips that I genuinely think will help you. You don’t have master all the advice you’ve read online or elsewhere, just master these.
Ready? Let’s go!
There’s no going around this, if you want to be a good writer, you have to read. And make sure you’re reading the right stuff. Read good books by authors who have mastered the craft of plot building, character development, and language use. You might ask, “How is a newbie supposed to know this?” Well, this is my advice, read classics for a start, you can hardly go wrong with these. As you do this, you’ll get a sense of what’s good and what’s not.
Maybe this should have come first to stress its importance, but you need to write. Write often, practice what you’re learning from your reading. I always tell my StoryCrafting students that writing is like building a muscle, the more you do it, the better/stronger it’ll get. I suggest that you write every day, if you can. You may start by writing a page, two, three, as far as you can go, just make sure you’re consistent. Do this unfailingly for six months and see if you will not recognize improvements.
3. Let A Good Beta Reader Critique Your Work
Now we’re getting to the hard stuff. I saw somewhere that submitting your work to be critiqued is like giving someone a sword and telling them to take a stab at you! 😀 So let me just tell you now, it takes a great deal of courage to give someone your work to critique, and no, I’m not talking about a family member or a friend who’s afraid to hurt your feelings. I’m talking about someone who knows how to identify plot holes, weak characters, faulty themes, weak sentences, and other shortcomings. Someone who’s not afraid to tell you, that the story doesn’t work and you should do a rewrite or abandon the idea altogether.
I am working on a post on how to get a good beta reader so look out for it. But the general gist is this, a beta reader (or just someone) will give concrete advice to strengthen your work. A beta reader is a fresh pair of eyes, helping you to see what you can’t see and noting the improvements in your skill. When you know that your work will be examined, it compels you to work harder at it. If you have this as a budding writer, it is priceless.
4. Follow And Subscribe To Magazines
When you follow reputable magazines (such as The New Yorker, or Catapult), it gives you insight into the quality of work that you should aspire to. Some of these magazines have helpful interviews and podcasts that you can read and listen to, and they can be like a mini-workshop experience. You discover writing processes and ways that you can improve on yours. I remember once reading an interview of Maya Angelou, where she mentioned that she read portions of the bible for the aesthetic language. I found that interesting and made a note to study those portions as well.
Following these magazines, also gives you insight into how the industry works, and what you need to do to succeed in it. The more you read, the more you’ll recognize patterns and industry secrets.
What I love the most about following literary magazines however, is that you will find writers whose writing voice and style are similar to yours. This helps you to refine the list of writers you wish to understudy. Let me say this, it helps when you find a writer whose themes and writing styles are similar to yours. So, don’t try to reinvent the wheel claiming your style is “new” and “fresh”, read their works and learn their techniques.
5. Permit Yourself to Grow
I tell my students this cold hard fact, my course is not going to transform you into an overnight genius writer. It will guide you, but you still have to do the work of studying and writing. Too many writers (myself included) are impatient with themselves, trying to achieve perfection after a short time of practice. You need to find your writing voice, and when you do, know how to employ it. So give yourself the permission to grow, and make mistakes. So long as you continue to read and practice, you’ll do just fine.
Trust me when I say that these five tips are really what you need, but note that you cannot do them without study, discipline and commitment.
I hope you’ve found this helpful. Please share your thoughts below!
If like me you have to combine parenting and writing, you most likely understand how much of a struggle it is. It’s difficult trying to collect your thoughts and attending to screaming children. But we love our children, and we also love our work! So what to do?
1. If they’re old enough, help them to understand your work.
You’d be surprised to see that your children can understand. I suggest sitting them down and explaining as best as you can what you do, and how you need time to work. Sometimes all they really need is to understand that the tapping on your keyboard is not trifling but serious work. Now don’t think they’ll be gone for hours, if they give you thirty minutes of interrupted work time, use it well!
2. Have scheduled times to write.
If you work from home, take advantage of the hours when they are away at school or asleep if they’re too young for school. If you don’t, it’s a great idea to plan to write at night, if you can stay up. Plan to write when you will have little interference from the children, otherwise the process will not only be frustrating but unproductive. There’s no point writing under pressure if you’re going to end up deleting it anyway.
3. Find ways to engage them.
If you can’t help having them around while you work, find something that engages them. Have them paint, draw, play an instrument (certainly not a drum or a saxophone!), play games or watch cartoons. The trick is to keep them busy enough to prevent interference.
4. Distract them with food.
This might seem silly, but food really works. Is the house quiet when the kids are eating? Yep, that’s the silence you need! I’ve realized that sometimes they’re bothering me because they are hungry or simply want something to nibble on. So, I make sure that they are well-fed before I start working. I also ensure that I have snacks and drinks to keep them filled after major meals.
Promise them an outing or a treat if they let you work. I know, this sounds like a bribe, but I like to think of it as something they’ve earned for letting me do my work. Staying away from Mummy has to be really difficult for them! So, Mummy’s working and they’re working too!
Caveat: You must keep your promises! Children may be impressionable but they don’t forget an unkept promise.
6. Have someone babysit them.
So maybe this should have been number one, but not everyone can afford childcare. If you can, get someone trustworthy. I recommend hiring someone who has been referred to you. If you can’t afford childcare, you can ask a family member, or a friend to watch them while you get your work done.
7. Plan a retreat.
Sometimes you really can’t get enough work done no matter how hard you try. In this case, you might want to consider going on a retreat. There are several opportunities available for female writers, although they don’t come cheap. If you scout well enough, you might find some that offer a part scholarship that reduces your cost. You can also plan a retreat with friends where the cost of accommodation and feeding is reasonable. If you still cannot afford these, you can plan to visit a relative alone and hopefully get some work done.
8. Have a support group.
It really helps to have someone to talk to about your struggles, because sometimes it can be overwhelming. There’s no shame in admitting that you feel inadequate. A good cheering can give you the boost you need to finish that project. Stay away from people who only make you feel worse and gravitate towards those who will encourage and guide you.
I try a combination of these tips. But the honest truth is that it takes a great deal of effort to work effectively as a writer mom. However, the key to remaining productive is remembering that you’re not alone and that there is really no excuse for failure. Give yourself a pep talk if you must, but do what you have to do.
Got tips or suggestions of your own you’d like to share? Leave a comment!