Archive of ‘The Write Stuff’ category


“Writing to me is like thinking through my fingers.”

– Isaac Asimov

Nine years ago, I walked into a local writers’ workshop, and I’ve never looked back. I remember being anxious about it at first. I was a former obit writer/beat reporter who hadn’t composed anything creative in years. What if I didn’t fit in? Or worse, what if I wasn’t good enough? That first night, I wrote a short story and a type of poem called a villanelle. Oy! I thought I was way out of my league, but I left feeling like I found my long-lost family of writers.

One of the first pieces I wrote was about picking up Jenna from her Jewish overnight camp and learning she was now a vegetarian. I wondered on the page how that happened and wrongly assumed this was a phase she would quickly grow out of at the sight of her first hot dog. (She was a vegetarian for three years!)

I was encouraged to submit that story somewhere, and ultimately it was picked up by (Here is that story.) Not only was I now a blogger with a byline, but I became a regular at the writing workshop. I am a better writer because of the support I’ve received from Rachel, my writing coach, and my peers. The positive feedback and constructive criticism gifted to me with each piece I submit allow me to discover something new about my craft. And the opportunity to reciprocate by supporting and helping other writers is a privilege I never take for granted.

Becoming a good literary citizen is an essential part of this training.

Since that first workshop, I’ve learned how to use em dashes and how not to rely on cliches. I know the importance of choosing strong verbs and including sensory details in a story. At the moment, my biggest challenge is remembering to put more of myself into what I write instead of just relaying what happened. This is becoming a problem because if I want to write a memoir or publish a collection of personal essays, being able to write about myself is a must.

Using all these tools, I’m building up my writing muscles to offer stories that pack a punch.

I’ve also discovered the self-care side of writing, like being kinder to myself, overcoming writer’s block, and fighting off imposter syndrome. I’ve established a routine and identified mornings as my best time for writing. I blog just about every day now but allow myself a break to avoid burnout. I feed my creative soul with excellent books, motivational quotes, good music, and long walks.

Permitting myself to indulge in self-care may be the most important part of my training.

So, even if I publish my book and sell many copies (G-d willing!), I’ll always be a writer-in-training. There is so much more for me to learn, many writers to continue supporting, and so many stories to tell. And I am here for all of it.

What have you learned about writing? Please share in the comments.




My Not-So-Secret Writing Life

It’s not a well-kept secret that I’ve been working on a memoir for quite some time. Every once in a while, I’ll come across old New Year’s resolutions on Facebook where more than once I’ve written: “I’m going to finish my book this year!” And then, another year goes by without a completed first draft.

Recently, one of my best friends asked me how the writing was going. I was so touched. She has always supported my work, and it’s been a while since someone asked me that question. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to respond. I think my answer to her wound up being an enthusiastic one like – “It’s going well! Thanks for asking!” – without going into too much detail.

Here’s the truth: I write every single day. I wake up and wonder what I’ll write about that day. I see stories and content all around me and immediately want to put my spin on it. Most of the time, I write for my job as a nonprofit communications professional. I write (and rewrite 😉 ) marketing emails, impact stories, leadership spotlights, website and social media copy, fundraising campaigns, and so much more. I love having a career that allows me to use my skills and talent to write for good causes. And I know my work experience enhances my overall writing journey.

But I’m also trying to spend just as much time here on my laptop writing my book, and that’s not always easy. This means I have to put myself first. I’ve invested time and money to learn more about my craft through professional development classes, writing workshops, and reading countless books and articles. With all the writing, editing, proofreading, and learning I’ve done over the last decade, I’m sure I have a complete manuscript by now. And yet, I have nothing to point to and say, “Ta-da!”

So what’s the problem? The problem is that personal writing projects have always taken a backseat in my daily life. Sometimes it’s because I sit in front of a computer all day and have nothing left after the workday. Other times, writer’s block or imposter syndrome kicks in, and I’m completely helpless. And there have been plenty of times that I write and write and write because I have so much to say and can’t type the words fast enough. Now that I’m an empty-nester, my schedule is much more open, and my mindset is focused on writing this book. But that’s not enough. I need a plan of attack. Here are some changes I’m already putting into place.

  • Making the Time – I’ve already told my husband that I’m carving out at least an hour a day to write, if not more. I’m also getting out of bed earlier than normal to get ready for work, leaving time for me to be creative. I’ve even traded in most of my TV time and doom-scrolling for blogging or reading because reading other people’s work is an important part of my process.
  • Writing with Friends – I’ve committed to two writing challenges and half a dozen in-person workshops this summer. (I told you I meant business 🙂 ). The first is the Ultimate Blog Challenge which requires me to write one blog daily for the entire month of July. I love this not only because of the writing, but we also support others doing the challenge by commenting on their posts as well. It’s a supportive online community of incredibly talented literary citizens. The other challenge is with the Philly Writers Workshop. Every week, I am paired with a classmate to exchange new pieces written in 15-minute blocks of time for positive feedback. This challenge is designed to help us all get into a routine I desperately need. These projects bring me joy and hopefully get me closer to finishing my book.
  • No More Negative Self-Talk – I need to stop telling myself no one wants to read what I write or will care about my stories. It’s a lie I tell myself that causes me to procrastinate even further. So, I’m not going to worry about writing the perfect memoir, whether I’m the right person to write this book, or if I sell a million copies. And no more lying about not being good enough. I am good enough.
  • A Little Detective Work – I need to dig through previous posts, read old workshop prompts, review past submissions, and then organize what I have written and see what remains to be said. I may have a complete manuscript and not even know it. Wouldn’t that be nice? A girl can only dream.

What other things should I be doing that I can include in my plan? I’m all ears – or eyes. Add your thoughts in the comments!


Top 5 Writing Resources

Whether you write a blog regularly or your writing life is limited to work e-mails and an annual holiday letter,  we all could use a little help. Here are my top 5 writing resources to help cure writer’s block and improve your skills. I receive no kickbacks for recommending these books. All links go to the author’s website instead of an Amazon page, hoping you will support your local independent bookstore when purchasing these fantastic resources.

Here we go!

Everybody Writes by Anne Handley

This book is known as the “essential guide to becoming a masterful marketer, writer, and storyteller. If you are someone who falls asleep at the thought of grammar and sentence structure, this is the book for you. This author is known for her wit as well as her wisdom. She provides excellent strategies for planning in her chapter “Think Before You Ink” and “How to Hate Writing Less.” Handley teaches you how to develop your brand, avoid cliches, and write engaging copy.

No matter what topic you write about, you want your writing to connect with your audience. This is your book.

Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi

During the pandemic, I decided to get a professional certificate in digital marketing. My first class was on content marketing, and this was the textbook. Fortune Magazine calls it “one of the top business books of the year.” If you are responsible for generating content for your business or employer, this author talks about how to develop content and then recycle that content for different platforms, from e-mail to social media. Want to grow your audience? There is a section dedicated to expanding your reach through your content. I learned so much from this book. He just came out with a second edition, which, admittedly, I haven’t purchased yet. I already have the original, which cost me nearly $30. I’m glad I have it on my shelf, and I’m a little jealous of the people who don’t have this book yet. You get to buy the most recent edition, while mine is ten years old.

Totally worth it!

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

For those of us who are struggling bestseller novelists or memoirists who fight imposter syndrome and writer’s block, this book is my gift to you. She writes an inspiring and often humorous guide to the writer’s world. It’s my survivor guide for when I’m feeling like I don’t have an ounce of creativity left in me. She inspires me to write many shitty first drafts and reassures me that my voice deserves to be heard.

Perfect English Grammar, Grant Barrett

Gather up all of your grammar and punctuation questions and find the answers in this little manual. From spelling and formatting to abbreviations and pronouns, you will want to consult this guide before you hit send on that e-mail, publish that paper, or put out that press release.

Finally, I will get my geek on and tell you about my favorite resource.

How to Tell Fate from Destiny and Other Skillful Word Distinctions by Charles Harrington Elster

As an avid reader and writer, I’m a huge lover of the written word. While a thesaurus will provide 20 different words for convince, this book looks into the deeper meaning of those words to help you decide which words to use in what context. For instance, he writes, “to convince” means to “make someone believe something,” while “to persuade” means “to make someone take action.”

Isn’t that so cool?! No? Okay, I’m weird. I know. But if you are a word nerd like me, this is a must-have for your resource shelf.

Whether you enjoy writing or are required to write for your job and don’t know where to begin, I hope there is something on this list to help you. Good luck!


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