Why Highly Educated People May Struggle When Writing for Business

Corporations have a hard time finding people who can think and write at the same time,” said an English professor turned publishing consultant. “Better to get a smart writer to write a piece and have an expert verify the accuracy, than have the expert write it and try to edit afterwards. An expert’s badly written… Read more »

Three Surprising Reasons You Should Write It Yourself

When I was a new writer-for-hire, I was always eager to serve when the phone rang or I received an email from a prospective client. It might surprise you to hear that now, as a developmental editor and writing coach, I often recommend people do not hire a writer at all. I’ve noticed that three… Read more »

Writing on a Team: Lessons from the Founding Fathers

When I started out as a freelance business writer, I didn’t give much thought to anyone’s writing process but my own. Clients would send me assignments to complete independently. I’d cocoon and type. As my practice grew, I got opportunities to take on bigger projects, as a professional writer and editor embedded in work teams…. Read more »

How to Get Useful Peer Reviews of Your Writing

You’ve taken the time to turn those notes and reflections into writing that might promote a worthwhile idea at work, help your clients, or fit at an upcoming conference. But you’re nervous about sharing it. Maybe you’ve spent so much time in your head that you don’t know if the piece will make sense to… Read more »

What My Cosmetic Dentist Taught Me About Freelance Marketing

A few years ago, I fell on my face and cracked a tooth. A front tooth. I was living temporarily in a city far away from my beloved dentist of 20 years. Of the friends I asked for referrals, none had recommendations for a cosmetic specialist — and a few had warnings. The two dental… Read more »

Don’t Write How You Speak

“Write how you speak.” The advice is well intentioned. It’s meant to ease the fears that stop smart people from putting their words on paper. (Everybody can talk, right?) It’s meant to correct the tendency some people have of writing in a style they were taught to use for 11th grade English assignments. The advice… Read more »

Keep Up Those Amateur Efforts

You never know when or how something you “don’t really do seriously” will pay off. A few years ago, I was writing for the San Francisco SPCA magazine. There was no money for photography, so I took my trusty digital point-and-shoot camera along on my reporting assignments. My editor published a photo and entered it… Read more »

1,000 Words About Pictures

Do “people” really prefer visual Web content to text? Me, I’m an outlier. I find a long, dense block of text as tempting as a hot fudge sundae with a cherry on top. Still I’m inclined to believe there’s some truth to the common wisdom that a majority of people absorb and retain information better… Read more »

Hourly or Project: That’s Not the Question

A Google search for “hourly vs project writer” yields 475,000 results. Each method has its fans. The debate has been covered exhaustively. Many experienced writers end up at, “It depends on the project,” and cite their typical arrangement and its common exceptions. Everyone agrees: If you charge by the project, you must have a sense of… Read more »

Notes on Fictional Point of View

First First-person central Can disclose opinion, internal workings Objective tone or personality-centered tone First-person minor Observes the actions of the central character Less subjective, objective witness Authenticity, drama, close-ups, immediacy, intimacy Second Addresses “you” – not common, often experimental Third Third-person limited Equal view on all characters, unidentified author who’s not in the action Tells… Read more »