Jul 292014
 
Stressed.Writer

Do you keep up with your writing projects? Do you hand in your work on time? And how much drama do you like in your life?

Are you a drama queen? I was. I realized years ago that I liked excitement, and I created too much of it, especially when I procrastinated and then went crazy as deadlines loomed. Does this sound familiar?

You can learn good work habits, but doing so means giving up the adrenaline rush. Instead, you become a planner. It might sound boring, but these techniques have helped me avoid all-nighters.

1. Take Small Steps

Years ago I was driving to an appointment with my boss when I confessed, tearfully, that I felt overwhelmed by my workload. He gave me advice that was just right at the time: “Break it down into small steps. Otherwise you’re too overwhelmed to move forward. Just put one foot in front of the other and accomplish small things every day.”

It was good advice then, even though it sounded obvious. I needed a reminder. Continue reading »

Jul 222014
 

WriterWhile listening to a radio interview in the car about music and creativity, I heard something that resonated for me as a writer and coach.

The interviewee, neuroscientist Indre Viskontas, was talking about music, but she was really discussing creativity, and what makes great artists.

Success as an artist, she said, came down to three things:

1. Obsessiveness

2. Imperviousness to feedback

3. Uninhibited.

I found this list surprising, and wanted to think about each one of these traits. Since writers are artists, we can apply this Continue reading »

Jun 102014
 
Diane-Quagliani

Dietician Diane Quagliani started out as a freelance food writer but eventually turned to the corporate side.

At an Oldways conference where I spoke recently, I met a dietician who is also an accomplished corporate food writer, Diane Quagliani. I wondered how her writing work is different from general food writing, and what advantages her degree gives her.

Diane, a registered dietician, has worked for many large food companies including Kraft Foods, McDonald’s, PepsiCo, Campbell’s Soup, Nestle, General Mills, and many public relations firms. She has also been a freelance writer and media spokesperson. She specializes in nutrition communications for a consumer and health professional audience.

Here’s what she had to say about how her degree as a dietician helps her with corporate work:

Q. What are your degrees?

A. I have three: a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and an MBA. To become a registered dietician, I had Continue reading »

May 062014
 

James-Beard-Medallion-300x255What I like about The James Beard awards, called “the Oscars of food writing,” is that I can find most of the journalism award-winning pieces online.

I want to soak up their brilliance. I also know I will be a little envious. That’s okay. Reading them gives me ideas for my own writing.

These essays will make you laugh, amaze you, make you nod in recognition, make you outraged — all emotions generated by skilled writers (and their editors). They are worth my time, and yours.

Just so you know, judges can only judge the entries. We don’t go out and look for work that might win. So if you don’t enter, you can’t win. (I am a book judge and a Continue reading »

Feb 112014
 
It's-Complicated

Think editing is complicated? It doesn’t have to be. But it’s critical to becoming a better writer.

Writing is rewriting, as the saying goes. And while it’s true, do you know what to look for when you read your first draft, or how to improve it?

Here’s what I look for when I edit both my own posts and the work of others:

1. Keep your focus. Do you start by moaning about a cold, move to the merits of a new smoothie you made for breakfast, and end with a recipe for chocolate cake? Stick to a Continue reading »

Feb 042014
 
Molly-Wisenberg by Kyle Johnson

Food blogger Molly Wizenberg, whose writing career expanded to include two memoirs. (Photo by Kyle Johnson)

At Food Blog South recently in Birmingham, food blogger Molly Wizenberg shared her story of leaving graduate school and jumping into the unknown with her blog, Orangette. She spoke about taking risks, setting high standards, the importance of showing up, and how blogs are a powerful tool for writing.

Here’s an excerpt from her talk, which Molly graciously allowed me to share with you. It’s an inspiring piece about one young woman’s determination to stick with blogging, no matter what life events come along. If you’re feeling conflicted about blogging, or even writing on a regular basis, pull up a chair:

“I [...] started Orangette in 2004.  I have to tell you, I was so giddy to have a place to write for myself, not for professors; to have a place to let myself fall down the rabbit hole of food; to have given myself permission to go after something that made me so happy.  I think you probably all know that feeling.  There’s nothing that can beat that feeling.

I didn’t know then what I wanted to do with my blog, other than gush about Continue reading »

Jan 212014
 

Kicking-In-the-Wall“When you hit a wall, kick it in.”

That’s the advice playwright Sam Shepard gave to musician Patti Smith early in her career. She had said to him, “I would go as far as I could and hit a wall, my own imagined limitations” and that was his response.

Sound familiar? This line from Smith’s memoir, Just Kids, inspired author Barbara Abercrombie to write Kicking in the Wall: A Year of Writing Exercises, Prompts and Quotes to Help You Break Through Your Blocks and Reach Your Writing Goals.

Inside are 365 five-minute writing exercises, a great way to jumpstart your writing for the new year. Dip in and pick Continue reading »