Sign in

8x NATJA prize winner; #TBINchat host; pericarditis patient. Found on: Newsweek, Cruise Critic, MSN Travel. Writer’s Toolkit

Writer’s Toolkit

I’m talking reality TV level hoarding

Photo by Sear Greyson on Unsplash

Read this paragraph, then close your eyes and envision it. Picture yourself standing in the center of a mini-warehouse-type storage unit. You know the kind — metal walls and ceiling with a big roll-up metal door. It’s ten feet wide and twenty feet long with a concrete floor. Now picture it filled to the rafters with stacks and stacks of paper — each page representing ideas you might write about one day.

Crazy ideas. Things you may never actually write about. Weird things that pop into your brain in the middle of the night. Thoughts that trigger your good intentions…

Here’s what that looks like

Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

Life is like the darkest corner in the closet of a six-year-old child, except with three piglets living there. Like real live pigs. Messy doesn’t even begin to cover what life can look like some weeks.

Two weeks ago I lost the central vision in my left eye. Thank all that is holy that my right eye is dominant, so other than my two eyeballs behaving like prizefighters trying to determine who tells my brain their view of the world is the accurate one, I can mostly see what I am doing. It’s uncomfortable but manageable.

I have an extensive…

Hint: There’s no comparison

Photo by Swag Photography on Unsplash

I really shouldn’t be doing this. I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Comparing News Break and Medium is like comparing iguanas and tank tops. They are not even in the same category of animal, vegetable, or mineral.

News Break is a news outlet. It primarily aggregates news from traditional news sources, both large and small across the U.S. It also has sponsored clickbait-style stories. And as of late 2020, it has a creator program. …

Hint: It may be the best thing to ever happen to your writing

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

In late 2014 I started writing for Yahoo Travel. It was the hottest thing in the world of digital travel magazines. It altered the look, feel, and substance of online travel content. It became the outlet all the others attempted to copy. It had top-name editors — Paula Froelich, Laura Begley Bloom, and Jo Piazza. And it paid writers well. Too well, apparently.

The high pay was the first clue that things might be short-lived. The first pay cut didn’t come until I was more than a year into my gig with them, so I took it in stride.


Writer’s Toolkit

There’s an app for that

Photo by J E W E L M I T CH E L L on Unsplash

We recently talked about developing the habit of using a thesaurus to swap two words in every story or chapter you write. It’s how you add uniqueness to your writing while swimming free of the same boring gush of words your brain feeds your fingertips on a regular basis.

But between those two power words you plan to swap, there may be dozens of dull phrases dragging your writing deep into the pits of mediocrity. Fortunately, there’s an app that can help with that. And it’s crowd-sourced, so the choices offered are essentially audience pre-tested.

It’s appropriately called Power Thesaurus…

I lost almost half my vision last week. Here’s how that’s working out.

Photo by Vanessa Bumbeers on Unsplash

It finally sank in that I couldn’t see out of one eye on day two. Day one was total denial. My eyes were just tired. Maybe it’s some kind of weird headache event. It’s not that blurry. It will be better tomorrow.

But on the second morning, I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and covered my left eye with the palm of my hand. My reflection glared back at me, almost as if asking what the heck was I so worried about yesterday.

Then I tentatively moved my right hand over my dominant, and now confirmed healthy, right…

Try not to laugh at number 8

Photo by Anusha Barwa on Unsplash

There are plenty of tools we use every day to help us perform our work as writers. We use computers to pitch, research, write, and submit our words. We use online tools that point out our mistakes and help us perfect and polish those precious pearls of wisdom that poured forth from our brains. And some of us use actual pens, pencils, and paper pages to manage the tasks involved in whipping our work into shape.

But what about all the tools we surround ourselves with that we don’t think about? Could you be as effective without your favorite inspirational…

Writer’s Toolkit

Now we’re to the good stuff

Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash

In the past, I gave you four basic templates even a beginning writer can use. Once you mastered those, I added four more purely to improve your productivity. Then I topped that with a single template designed to make your social media posting easier.

As I wrote about each one of those templates, I could hear you whining. “But I don’t want to write like everyone else. I hate templates.”

I’m not here to kill your creativity. In fact, if you let them, templates can set your creativity free. The sole purpose of using a template is to house your…

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store