Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How to Tell if a Writer Likes You

OK dear reading-fellow-writers, now you know I like you - because I'm sharing one of my favorite sites of all time: Problogger. If you're just starting your copywriting/freelance endeavors, this could change your life. (For the better. You're welcome.) And if you're wildly successful, well. Well, I doubt you're reading this right now...and for the rest of you, golly, don't look a gift horse in the mouth. What a great site Darren Rowse runs! Even if the jobs are all beneath you (lucky you) a savvy reader can see it's a fine place to keep a fingertip on the industry's pulse.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Write On, Wordnik, Grammarsnark, Chaucer, and God

The more time I spend on Facebook, the less I like it. Yes, I know that makes me sound like a joiner - ever since its IPO, the social media behemoth has been losing fans (friends?) at an alarming rate. But after a mere three years, apparently Twitter and I are still in our honeymoon period.

There's something deliciously challenging about Twitter. The wittiest wordsmiths seem to hang out there, and they offer up their fruits in tempting bite-sized morsels, because they have to - which leaves me almost gasping for more.

I wonder if other writers feel the same?

A sampling of the morsels I haven't been able to get enough of, just recently:

Favorite words of The Week, thanks to Wordnik

Grammarsnark's bio alone is worth reading, as are most of its tweets.

Am I smitten with Twitter? You betcha. Where else can you read the tweets of God and Chaucer and learn how to rhyme like Eminem? Plus there's Twitter's inspired use of hashtags. As a journalist nothing gives me a sense of satisfaction quite like seeing so many in one place.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

DAMN, that's good advice

Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very;" your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~ Mark Twain*

Or try it with the word "so." Then I'll be happy. ;^/ 

 *Whatever you write, when you attribute witticisms to others, it's wise to double-check those quotes we all "know" so-and-so said.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Blog On

A week after Twitter introduced Vine, its tool for sharing 6-second videos, business blogs sound almost hopelessly out of date, don't they?   But Website magazine doesn't seem to think so - and I don't either.

Thanks for reading my quaint little opinion on the subject, and if you're of a similar ilk, please note: guest bloggers are welcome here. Let's do our best to stay current, and connect via Twitter, hm?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Feel lucky? Poetry, short fiction contests a-plenty

Deadlines in March, April, May - and all, as far as I can tell, free to enter. Well, what are  you waiting for? Start tapping away, enter, and when you win... I hope you remember that you saw it here :D

Thursday, March 14, 2013

5 Things I Love About Working at Home

Following Yahoo's rather clumsy announcement that its workers were to report to the office, pronto (without sugarcoating the accusation that some were just plain slacking off), Herb Greenberg wrote an excellent, concise piece in defense of working from home.

Go ahead, read it - I'll wait.

I agree with him about the serious side of things - thinking is underrated, and too often hard to do well in a bustling office. He's right, too, about the greatest drawback to working from home: you never leave work behind. Ever. <sigh>

Now, back to the more positive aspect of things: I'm especially eager to second Greenberg's praise of phone calls.
 ( What's this Retro thing?  Tell me again, how do I use it?)

Perhaps because texting and instant responses from social media are so prevalent, the good-old-fashioned telephone is enjoying a certain glow. I swear I've noticed the person on the other end of a phone call is MORE attentive than he/she would have been a couple of years ago - which I attribute to the phone's relative novelty.

Speaking of the phone, that's just one of many things you don't have to worry about when you work at home: annoying your co-workers when you talk too loud, or place every call on speaker.

Add to that list - no worries when you burn popcorn or re-heat fish in the microwave. Well, at least you won't upset your co-workers when you do; your spouse and/or kids are still likely to complain.

I'm quite sure Yahoo and Marissa Mayer don't care, but for what it's worth, here are five of my favorite things about working from home:

1. The obvious: no commute, dress code, or office politics
2. My neighbors recognize me - and I them.
3. The softer side: my dogs are the fluffiest co-workers a girl could ever have.
4. Health bennies a-plenty! Comp time is no problem; I can manage my schedule and doc appointments, walk at lunchtime (or mid-morning, or both) eat super-healthy leftovers, and enforce my own no-toxic-perfumes and other policies without risk of offending someone.
5. I get to pick my own background music, every day - and if I get up to dance, no one complains.*

It's not all fun and games at home, of course. It is work, after all. Without a boss looking over your shoulder, you've got to find your own motivation to get things done, and when things go wrong, it's all on you. But I'll cover the drawbacks of working at home (staying fully charged, for one thing) in another post. For now, I guess I'll just put on my dancin' shoes and work away. 

*as long as I remember to close the shades

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bad Advice (But I know better)

Ick. I just read a blog post by a "marketing expert" that convinced me she's not. The article took a contrarian viewpoint that content isn't king. Such headlines are gimmicky, sure, but they often work - and well-written contrarian pieces typically offer a different perspective. I like that.

That said, the blog in question (and you'll notice I won't link to it) used as its hook research from 2004.

Folks, that was nearly a decade ago.

Calling yourself an expert based on data collected when Pluto was still a planet is rather old-hat. 

The writer's premise was that design matters, more - or at least as much as - content, because if viewers "don't trust" a site based on looks, or it loads too slowly, they'll click away and never read your content. Unfortunately, the writer did a great job showing how NOT to illustrate that point.

The formatting of the blog was clunky; the graphics didn't enhance, but distracted from, the message, and the grammar was sloppy.

Don't be that guy. 

I had to giggle at another writer's Tweet last week about a blog from a professional writers' group - that had a typo in the first 'graph. (Whoops.) The writer's kind comment lamented the fact that whenever she posts about someone else's bad grammar, guess what? She's sure to include a typo. Hey, it happens. Fortunately, a single typo or clunky transition doesn't mark you as a wanna-be writer.

The blog I read last week was thoroughly sub-par.

It's been my experience that those things happen, too, but they're less likely to happen if you write, wait, and then read it again with fresh eyes. It's not rocket science, folks, it just takes a little patience and self-discipline. Which brings me to my last piece of advice:

Do your homework, write once and edit twice. 

In other words, try to be that guy

Friday, March 1, 2013

National Grammar Day: Give a Tweet

Tweet was something once
Only birdies did but now
It passes for thought.

Please forgive me; you know I'm not a poet. That said, some darned fine creative writers rise to the challenge of the Tweeted-haiku Contest each year.

This year it's March 4 - which is also National Grammar Day. You're on alert, dear writers.