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5 Tips On How To Write Outside Your Comfort Zone

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You want me to write about what?

Yikes! You’ve just been hired to write expertly about a subject you don’t know anything about. What are you going to do? Take a page from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and Don’t Panic!

Remember, being a writer doesn’t mean that you have somehow managed to become an expert on everything. It means that you’ve become an expert on how to approach a subject so that it looks like you’re an expert on everything. Got it?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating lying. Chances are good that someone who knows about the subject will read what you’ve written and call you on it. I’m reminding you that you’re not only an expert writer, you’re an researcher. Writers are used to asking questions and finding answers. That’s the skill that will get you through the task, and at the end, you might find that you are an expert in a new subject area after all. Continue reading → 5 Tips On How To Write Outside Your Comfort Zone

Why Do I Need An Editor?

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I guess the “I” in that question should really be “we” because everyone needs an editor, even editors!

The issue is that after a while, we become blind to our work. Our eyes skip over the words because our brains know it so well. Having someone else read your work, especially aloud, will bring problems to the forefront really quickly.

I know it’s really hard to let someone see your work before it’s done. So, you don’t have to if that’s a real problem. You can keep working on it till you reach a point of comfort. There are, however, some key times that I really do recommend you hand it over. Continue reading → Why Do I Need An Editor?

Favourite Writing Haunts

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When I was setting up my office, two objects were of huge importance – the desk and the lamp. My desk had to be the right size to fit my computer (sitting toward the left side), a notebook (sitting directly to the right of my computer because, believe it or not, I still write most of my posts by hand before typing them into my blog!), and enough room on the far right side of my desk for my calendar. The lamp had to be small with a moveable head and bright white light so that I could work comfortably with the main room light turned off.

Sounds very cozy and organized, doesn’t it? Continue reading → Favourite Writing Haunts

Renaissance of the Farmers’ Market

Photo courtesy of The City of Brampton
Photo courtesy of The City of Brampton

This article was originally published in Tidings Magazine.

It’s Saturday, eight in the morning, and already the street is buzzing with conversations and activity. I’d hoped to be here early enough to miss the crowds (a pet peeve of mine) and have first pick of the colourful produce. I guess everyone else had the same idea. Ten years ago, you could roll a bowling ball down the middle of Main Street at this hour. Now, people come out early, carrying bags or pulling wagons ready to fill them with the freshest vegetables, the sweetest fruit and the juiciest pies. I’m at the Brampton farmers’ market this morning, and like so many other markets around Ontario, mine is undergoing a kind of renaissance. Continue reading → Renaissance of the Farmers’ Market

My Barolo

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This article was originally published in Tidings Magazine.

Sometimes, a visit to a place leaves a lasting impression. Barolo is such a place. The people, food and architecture imprint so profoundly that one’s real home begins to feel distant and unfamiliar. Luckily, experiencing Barolo is easy no matter where home is. Whenever I feel memory tugging at me, I might descend the steps to the cellar and pull a bottle from my collection. We have a few Barolos – two of which are pretty special – a 1961 (an exquisite vintage) and a 1967. The latter wasn’t such a great year, except that it is the one in which I was born. So, I’m sentimental about it. Continue reading → My Barolo

5 Creative Nonfiction Writing Tips

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True stories well told. Lee Gutkind

At some point in university, I read Charles Darwin’s On The Origin of Species. It was lyrical and riveting. Yes, you read that right. I’m talking about a scientific text published in 1859 … and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was not what I’d call a cure for insomnia like so many of the dry, nonfiction texts I read throughout my school years. Have you ever wondered why history textbooks, so full of adventure, misfortune and the ideals on which countries were founded, tend to be written in fairly unimaginative language? Me, too. Well, I don’t have the answer. I do know, however, that it’s entirely possible to write about facts in an exciting style. There’s a reason why we enjoy reading fiction so much. So, in the interest of readability, I’ve pulled together five tips to help you make your nonfiction writing more engaging. Continue reading → 5 Creative Nonfiction Writing Tips

Writing as an Act of Rebellion

©The Eloquent Word
©The Eloquent Word

Have you ever asked yourself why you’re compelled to write? What is it that makes you string words together into sentences, paragraphs, pages, whether it’s fiction, newspaper copy or a blog? I’d argue that you (and I) do it because, despite the popularity of video, writing is the dominant method of communication today.

But, writing is also intensely personal. Prior to the invention of the printing press and widespread literacy, information spread by word of mouth. And it was information that was meant for everyone, like edicts, announcements or religious instruction. Imagine trying to keep a diary in the age of oral tradition: Continue reading → Writing as an Act of Rebellion

My Summer Reading List

Given that summer has finally arrived (and because you might need a little rest after those Canada Day celebrations), I thought I’d put together a short list of some of my favourite books (in my first-ever attempt at stop-motion photography!). I admit, these are not your typical summer reads. Instead, they’re intriguing, funny, heartbreaking and worth every minute you spend with them. If you like books that ask you to work a bit, to analyze themes and connect with literary devices, like irony, metafiction, satire or magic realism, then I think you’ll really appreciate these suggestions. Continue reading → My Summer Reading List

How To Write About Food And Drink

_FRY8808 Canada Day is almost here, and like me, you’re probably planning to indulge in some celebratory food and drink. For most of us, simply enjoying whatever happens to be in front of us doesn’t seem to be enough anymore. Instead, we all have to whip out our phones and start snapping pics. And why not? Documenting that awesome fare will ensure that it lives forever beyond the boundaries of memory.

Let’s be honest. Many (maybe even most) food and drink photos or descriptions do not exactly leave one’s mouth watering. Quite the opposite, actually. There are even some chefs who have gone so far as to ban photography in their restaurants altogether! But, don’t worry. It really doesn’t matter whether you’re describing your meal in a Facebook post, on Instagram, in a blog or in a magazine article. If you keep these four tips in mind, you will always leave your followers hungry for more. Continue reading → How To Write About Food And Drink

This Might Be the Hardest Part of the Writing Process

 

What part of the writing process is the hardest?

Fleshing out the original idea with enough detail is no easy task. Then again, writing draft after draft until said idea is clear and concise can also send a writer scurrying to find that happy place. Putting your pride and joy into the hands of an editor who might change this or that for whatever reason is pretty nerve-racking, too. Make it through all that, though, and you’re ready for a cool drink and an afternoon in the hammock.

Wait. What? Left something out, didn’t I? Continue reading → This Might Be the Hardest Part of the Writing Process