Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and reading resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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Will Write For Chocolate

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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

Wednesday
Jun072006

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?

Wednesday
Jun072006

Sven's Cover

2006-06-07
Wednesday
May312006

Meeting Sven and Eva

2006-05-31
Wednesday
May172006

Not A Cat Person

2006-05-24
Wednesday
May102006

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:

DailyGrammar.com: Check out the archives for a list of topics already covered.

Webgrammar.com: 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.
Wednesday
May032006

Eliza does her taxes

2006-05-03
Wednesday
May032006

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 Writing-World.com.

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

Wednesday
Apr262006

Xocolatophobia

2006-04-26
Wednesday
Apr262006

Interviewing Tips For Freelance Writers

As a freelance writer, I've had to interview a wide variety of subjects over the years for articles in print and online publications. I tend to prefer e-mail interviews, but I know there are some advantages to interviewing in person or by phone.

Survey: What about the rest of you? If you've conducted interviews for articles before, which type do you prefer? Do you have any tips to offer?

The Interview


Here's a list of some online advice:

Conducting Interviews by Moira Allen. A great article about what to do before, during and after the interview. Moira also covers tips on how to conduct e-mail surveys and interviews.

Chatting Them Up: Tips For A Successful Interview by Donna Freedman. An excellent, meaty article with tons of useful information about interviewing techniques, and includes feedback from many experienced interviewers.

Tips For Conducting In-Person Interviews by Jill Black. Example: "Don't ask stupid questions... and don't ask questions you can find out through research unless it's to confirm a point." Jill advises preparing a list of questions ahead of time, but also being open to new questions that may come up as a result of points raised in the interview.

Interviewing Tips by Jen Leo in her blog, Written Road. Example: "Be respectful. If they ask you not to write about something, don't. And keep your eye out for material they say that could be damaging. Just because they didn't say 'don't' doesn't mean you should anyway. Find ways to write about the good stuff without making them look their worst."

Ten Tips To Make Your Interviews Better by John Hewitt. Example: "A good interviewer doesn’t just ask questions, they listen to the answers."
Wednesday
Apr192006

Useful online tools for freelance writers (Part 2)

Thanks to Rand again for this help with this week's strip (xocolatophobia) and to Joey Shoji for the gift of a special edition Valrhona 2005 Chocolat Noir De Domaine Gran Couva chocolate bar (see image below), inspired by the Will Write For Chocolate strip where Eliza offers Mimi chocolate comfort.

Thanks for the feedback about useful online tools for freelance writers, everyone! I've compiled some of the online resources suggested by Will Write For Chocolate readers below. You should also check out Sal Towse's great list of writing resource links.

From Sib:

Foreign exchange and currency info: Provides real-time currency rates, among other services.

Gran Couva
Not an online tool for writers but
inspirational, nonetheless.
See this strip.


Wikipedia: Online encyclopedia that is community-edited. Some of the info needs verifying, but it's often useful for a quick overview of a topic.

MLA: Founded in 1883 by teachers and scholars, the Modern Language Association promotes the study and teaching of language and literature. "Costs money, but it’s the database that lists articles published in journals in the last 40 years or so. Mostly humanities, but worth it if you are in that field and need to see who all has published on, say, Gender and Race in the works of Delany."

Subito-doc.de: "A service that makes electronic copies (for a fee) of articles you found in the MLA - it’s all German Universities listing all the journals they take, and they make you copies and email them within 2 days. Very handy."

English-German-English dictionary: "Sooo useful for non-native speakers writing most of their stuff in English. They also do lots of other stuff and the main page is at www.leo.org (LEO means 'Link Everything Online')."


From Lynda:

"Thanks for the links Debbie! I use Clicheé Finder to inspire me when I’m writing headlines. I also have found Factiva extremely useful for finding articles and new markets. It’s a bit expensive for private use, but you can use it at libraries. I also spend a lot of time at Thesaurus.com."

From Mari:

Answers.com: Answers.com's collection of over three million answers is drawn from over 60 titles from brand-name publishers, as well as original content created by Answers.com's own editorial team. "There’s an online dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia, etc."

TimeAndDate.com: "Useful for creating your own calendars for any date or year."

How Stuff Works: "From the people who brought us the children’s books first."

Wordorigins.com: This site is devoted to the origins of words and phrases, or as a linguist would put it, to etymology.

Infoplease: A world almanac. The site includes an atlas, encyclopedia, dictionary, thesaurus, white pages, various almanacs.

The Writer's Medical and Forensics Lab: "This site is still new and growing, but still some useful stuff here." From the Web site: "This site is intended as a place where writers and readers can learn, be entertained, and obtain the specialized medical and forensic knowledge they need to make their stories come to life or to better understand someone else’s story."

Podunk: "Look up any state, any town in the US."

Do you know of other useful online resources for writers? Please do post them below.