Make Your Boss Feel Good — Or Free Your Mind Instead?

I interview a prospective coach to help me integrate my creative and business interests. I ask who her clients are, specifically whether she does corporate workshops. “I have some clients who do corporate work,” she says, “but I don’t. I tried it a few times, but I’m too free.” A less artistic type, a manager… 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 »

The Right Writer for the Job

I hear from writers all the time: “My title is ‘writer’ but it’s not really a writing job.” I’ve said it myself. I’ve also heard people who hire writers complain that the writers they hire want to phone it in, or think they’re too good for the client’s project. Any one of those perceptions is… Read more »

The Best Time to Start Is Now

A year ago, my neighbor overheard me talking about reading poetry at an open mic. “I write poetry,” he said. “I should go read sometime. I don’t have a working computer. I need to type up the poems.” “You don’t need to type them up to read,” I said. I told him about a few… Read more »