New Feature | Weekly Writing Tips

In an effort to make my blog more stimulating, I’ll be offering weekly writing tips to help aspiring writers improve their skills. What qualifies me to give writing advice? For one, I’m an avid reader and I read with a critical eye. I often find errors in grammar and syntax in professional published novels. In addition, I hold a BA in English and I am a certified English/Language Arts Teacher. I currently serve as an adjunct faculty member at a local community college where I teach essay-writing and literary analysis. I also recently earned my JD  (not that a legal degree inherently makes one a good writer).

Besides all of my fancy credentials, I just love writing and reading. I haven’t really been able to “grow” my blog because I’ve been so busy with school for the last three years. I’m still busy, BUT I am only studying now…not working/studying/stressing, etc.

So far, I’ve brainstormed a number of topics that might work for getting my weekly feature started:

1. Homonyms/Synonyms/Antonyms

2. Passive Voice (How to Avoid It)

3. Essay Planning and Structure

4. Drafting Personal Statements and Cover Letters

5. Descriptive Details

These are the basic topics that I want to cover for now. I’ll also post some sample essays developed for my students. One of my most popular blog posts was one on character essays – Goldilocks, in particular. I didn’t get a ton of comments, but the post continues to garner a ton of views. Another popular post was piece on “Only Daughter” by Sandra Cisneros. Based on the popularity of these posts, I know that students are out there looking for answers that aren’t found in their textbooks.

If you have more ideas for helpful writing tips that you’d like to see posted, please leave a comment below.

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Book Review | The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size by Julia Cameron

dietHow I Found The Writing Diet

The Writing Diet is one of the many books that I have found rather randomly on the book shelves at Barnes and Noble, but I am very glad that I did.

As I was perusing the shelves for a summer read that would help me become more focused on my creative writing, I saw Julia Cameron’s The Writing Diet on the shelf – actually in the diet book section that I happened to stop by on my way to the writing resources area. Cameron is the author of the popular book and creative writing method The Artist’s Way.

I felt as if I had hit the jackpot! I had actually found a book about writing and dieting – or rather, losing weight and expressing one’s creativity. I purchased the book and a nice new journal to go with it.

I can honestly say that for anyone who has struggled to lose weight, this book may just be the answer. Julia notes that over the years as her students became more self-aware and increased their personal and creative writing, many lost weight quickly and easily!

How The Writing Diet Has Helped Me

I have always resisted writing down what I eat, but Cameron’s method consists of writing down not only what you eat, but why you eat, can be life-changing for someone like me, who has never been “fat” but is struggling to maintain or lose weight. Or maybe you’ve always been the “big” person and that role has become a comfort to you. Either way, opening up about your emotions through writing can be a big step towards making a change.

The first two parts of Cameron’s method include the following: 1) Morning Pages (writing in the morning as a way to express and identify what is “bugging us”) and 2)taking a daily walk.

These were small, but powerful changes that I have been able to make already. Simply by writing down what I was eating, I discovered that I was eating way too much, often chewing mindlessly when I wasn’t hungry. I was basically eating for strange reasons that had nothing to do with nourishment, such as 1) boredom, 2) to save money (eating for free whenever possible), and 3) eating when I was sad and missed my family and loved ones, or 4) eating when I felt “pressured” in group settings, and so on.

I’ve also increased my daily exercise. Instead of eating and complaining, I write out my goals, frustrations, and my plans and solutions. Immediately after writing, it feels like a burden had been lifted and I am no longer dying for a meal from Cheesecake Factory.

How The Writing Diet Can Help You

Many of you may be skeptical, but I challenge you to ask yourself, how often do you stop and think before you eat? Do you jump up and go to lunch with your co-workers without asking yourself – am I hungry? Or what does my body need for nourishment right now? Most of us simply munch, munch, munch, and then get back to work.

Some of you may not feel like writing things down, or you may have convinced yourself that you don’t “have time” to write or take a daily walk. If you are too set in your ways, or prefer to stick with fad diet after fad diet, then this won’t work for you. I will challenge you by presuming that if you have the time to read blogs, you have the time to follow the steps in this book.

There is much more to The Writing Diet method, but you’ll have to read the book to discover the rest. My favorite thing about it is that instead of telling you what to eat, the book helps you understand why you over-eat and indulge, how to get over binges, and how to forgive yourself and quickly move on when you slip up. For those who over-eat, whether you are over-weight or not, a lot of emotion is attached to food and it is important to understand and recognize this in order to fully take control.

I will be reporting back on my progress, but even if I don’t lose a lot of weight, The Writing Diet has made a difference by making me feel more productive, and more in control of what meals I choose to consume. My journal has been a daily part of my routine for over a month now since reading this book, and I truly feel a difference. For more information on Julia Cameron, visit her website at www.theartistsway.com.

If this detailed review was helpful to you, please leave a comment below.

Book Review | Time to Write by Kelly L. Stone

After beginning my adventures in blogging and becoming much more serious about producing a novel, I found myself stuck in a rut. During this time, I turned to my first love (reading) and began this blog to record my thoughts and reactions to my readings.

Browsing along the shelves in Barnes & Noble, I found the book Time to Write by Kelly L. Stone, which served as a catalyst to renew my writing spirit. Time to Write does not serve as a “how to write” this or that piece kind of book; Ms. Stone instead focuses on the reason that many writers have trouble writing; they simply can’t find the time to.

The book is a small size, very handy for throwing in a purse, bag, or briefcase and it covers topics ranging from how to find & schedule time to write daily, in writing blocks, or in other schedules of time that are detailed in the book, along with how to find inspiration in everything from conversations on the street to past experiences. Ms. Stone discusses how to turn children into “idea machines” rather than distractions and the importance of having your own “writing space” set aside and designated as your time to write.

Whether your reason for writing is personal, to become published, or to boost your business, Time to Write can serve as an excellent guide to help you learn how fit time into your busy schedule to write. Stone also enhances her commentary with quotes and advice from published writers, many of whom maintained families and/or professional careers when they became writers.

Visit www.kellylstone.com for more details on the author and her books.

Goldilocks: Innocent Child or Naughty Girl?

Okay, I write to model for my students almost every day. If anyone needs help with writing a character analysis essay, here is a sample introduction and body paragraph that I wrote for them today.

Innocent Child or Naughty Girl?

In the classic children’s story Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the young, fair-haired main character, little Goldilocks, is characterized as a disobedient child. By taking a closer look at the story, the reader can find evidence that Goldie was just an innocent girl who did not know that she was wrong when she broke into the home of The Three Bears.

In the beginning of the story, The Three Bears carelessly leave their house unlocked when they go for a walk. Goldie, tired and hungry, stumbles upon the open home and, upon finding it empty, enters in search of something to eat and possibly a place to rest. Without thinking, Goldilocks tastes the Bears’ porridge. While Goldie was being thoughtless, she was not being malicious. She only needed to satisfy her ravenous hunger. If the Bears were truly concerned about the security of their home, they would have put their food away and locked the door upon leaving.

(Character traits not italicized and the thesis is in bold. This is just a sample, I would continue to focus the rest of the essay on my take on Goldie being an innocent child. Please remember, this was written for beginning essay writers)

If you have questions, leave me a comment and I will do my best to help. I was an English major, so I have written a ton of papers about literature.