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Debbie Ridpath Ohi writes and illustrates books for young people. She is represented by Ginger Knowlton at Curtis Brown Ltd.




Debbie's blog post: Why Picture Books Are Important

Just launched: NAKED!


Out in bookstores now:

I'M BORED. Written by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi, published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers. A New York Times Notable Children's Book and Junior Library Guild selection. Teacher's Guide (K-5) now available.



Will Write For Chocolate


Archived WWFC strips


If you'd like to see older WWFC strips, please check the Will Write For Chocolate archives or start from the beginning. You can also follow WWFC on Facebook, Pinterest and Google+. Thanks so much for your continuing support! -- Debbie


Mimi gets writer's block


Writing inspiration follow-up and a survey re: writing communities

A survey for my next column: Do you participate in any online writing communities? Why or why not? If you do, which ones are your favourites? Please include any relevant URLs, thanks.

In my last column, I asked how the rest of you found creative inspiration. Some of your responses:

From Palmer:
"...Generally I go between reading something, playing games, or just switching projects for a while. Simply mixing things up usually does the trick for me. Failing that, I grab my girlfriends and harass them with brainstorming for a while. They always seem to come up with ideas that don’t work, but usually tips me into finding something that does."

From Amy:
"Definitely exercise. That really gets me motivated, especially if I’ve hit a wall in my writing. I pull on my shoes and head out the door. More often than not when I sit back at the computer 20 minutes later, I can do my Rambo thing on the wall, keep going, and clean the mess up later. (I think it’s ‘cause of all the blood rushing to my head
Also a fan of the journal, but I use mine just as a daily diary– what’s been happening in my life and thoughts about that, etcetera. It’s only on occasion that I’ll write story lines. But either way, I find the non-editing extremely freeing (if a little embarassing on the re-read!)"

From Lynda:
"Inspiration – I found this book really helpful: “
I do mind-mapping to get inspiration - I have a big drawing pad that is covered in related words and freewriting. I also use photography books as a kick start.

From Clair Ching:
"After writing my reflections on my journal, I get inspired to write poems and stories again. Although I haven’t finished much since I started going into more web content development work.
Aside from that, listening to good music and having conversations with my closest friends inspire me to write some more. :-)"

From Lynn:
"Exercise is a great way to jog a few brain cells around. And you’re right: it’s the perfect time to listen to yourself think. Before you know it, you’ve come up with some great ideas you wouldn’t have had if you sat hopelessly in front of your computer. :-) I personally prefer writing everything in a notebook first before launching into any writing job. Ideas seem to flow much more easily that way. And when I need to start typing it all up, I look at what I’ve written and get even MORE ideas from that."

Eva sympathizes


Writing journals and other inspiration

Back from Italy! You can see my report starting here. I opted not to bring my laptop on the trip but kept up my writing journal.

I started my writing journal after reading Julia Cameron's The Right To Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life. I found this book incredibly inspirational, as I did Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down The Bones and Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird : Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Whenever I'm feeling unmotivated and restless in terms of my writing, I reread one of these books and always feel re-energized.

Keeping a writing journal also keeps me from getting in a rut. My current writing journal is a medium-sized Moleskine. It has more space to write than the pocket-size but is more convenient to carry around than the full-size Moleskines. I'm a huge Moleskine fan, if you haven't already guessed. :-)

Anyway, I try to write at least one page a day. Writing manually rather than typing is more laborious, but it gives me the freedom to take my notebook everywhere. It also discourages me from trying to do too much self-editing as I write. I allow myself to scribble out whatever I'd like, of course, but mostly I force myself to keep writing. ANYTHING, even if it's stream-of-consciousness babbling. Sometimes I end up with nonsensical fragments, bits of potential poetry. Other times I write snatches of dialogue, or character descriptions, perhaps a scene from a non-existent story or novel. The important thing is to commit something to paper.

This felt really awkward at first, but over time it's become easier and easier. And every once in a while, I write something I actually like and want to use.

Another activity I find that helps: exercise. I almost always feel re-energized after a good workout. Also when I'm out walking or running, I'll sometimes purposely leave the iPod behind and not listen to anything but my inner thoughts. This especially helps if I've reached a tough spot in my writing; I've found that getting AWAY from the keyboard is sometimes the best thing.

A survey: How do YOU get re-energized creatively? What books or activities help you, for instance?


Sven's Cover


Meeting Sven and Eva


Not A Cat Person


Freelance writers: Do you need a grammar brush-up?

Thanks to my niece Sara for inspiring the "misplaced modifier" comic and the current column. After talking to Sara the other day, I've realized that I definitely need to brush up on my grammar and grammar terms.

Here some useful online resources, in case any of you ever feel the same, or are suddenly overcome by a need to fix a dangling or misplaced modifier: Check out the archives for a list of topics already covered. Includes a list of common mistakes. See the Writing Center list of topics for other useful grammar-related information.

Grammar Confusion Girl

Guide To Grammar and Style: By Jack Lynch, whose site has been on the Web for as long as I can remember. Frequently updated.

Common Errors in English: By Paul Brians. "The concept of language errors is a fuzzy one. I’ll leave to linguists the technical definitions. Here we’re concerned only with deviations from the standard use of English as judged by sophisticated users such as professional writers, editors, teachers, and literate executives and personnel officers. The aim of this site is to help you avoid low grades, lost employment opportunities, lost business, and titters of amusement at the way you write or speak."

Good Grammar, Good Style: More than 100 pages of useful articles and frequently asked questions. Search the archive with keywords.

Guide to Grammar and Writing: Includes a useful useful FAQ.

The Slot: This has been one of my favourite grammar sites, though it's not really meant to be a reference site like the ones above. The Slot is a copy editing site by the highly opinionated Bill Walsh. Do check out his Sharp Point columns.

If you know of other useful grammar-related resources, feel free to suggest them below! Please note that I'll be offline for the next while, so will not be able to approve held comments until I get back.

Eliza does her taxes


Positive financial thinking for freelance writers

Many writers dread the finances part of their freelancing career because it seems like drudge work, and sometimes end up procrastinating as a result. Financial coach Jenifer Madson says attitude is everything when it comes to financial success. "If we see it as
drudgery, it will be. However, if we look at money from the standpoint of
how it supports us in doing the writing that we love, as another partner or
tool for our success, we are more likely to treat it with the respect it
needs if it's to serve us better. As writers, we know that words convey
meaning, which then influence the direction of a story or piece. It's the
same with managing money; choose a meaning for that process that is strong
and empowering, and you will have better results."

Jenifer Madson, author of
A Financial Minute

Jenifer is the author of A Financial Minute, whose tagline is "From money madness to financial freedom, one minute at a time." Jenifer emphasizes that a freelance writer's finances don't have to be complicated. "I am a great proponent for using the computer and Internet
technology available to us for tracking money, but that doesn't mean you
can't also do things by hand," says Jenifer. "It just takes more time that way, which takes
away from writing time! I have very particular places for bills to land,
then weekly I enter them into a money management program and pay bills. Once
I'm done with them, I have an easy place to file them.

"As much as I enjoy hanging out on the creative side of my brain, I know this
more technical process is necessary if I'm to continue as a writer. So, I do
things in the process of working with my money that feel creative: I use a
swanky letter opener to open the bills, play high-energy music while I'm
doing it, and bless the money on its way to its recipient. That way it
doesn't feel so different from how I engage in my creative processes of
writing and consulting.

"Also, it's important to keep your business money separate from your personal
accounts; treat your writing like a business and it will pay you like one.
Just be consistent in how you check in with your finances and how often, and
soon you'll find a rhythm with it that makes the process easy and efficient."

Other useful resources:

Don't forget my earlier column on Tax tips for freelance writers.

Moira Allen has some useful articles on handling income and getting paid in

Finances For Freelancers: Notes from a panel discussion at PWAC (Periodical Writers Association of Canada), Toronto Chapter.

Taxes and Finances for Writers by Tara K. Harper

Handling Your Finances: Lessons from an author in transition by Lynnette Khalfani