Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Way with Words

Wrote about #hashtags the other day, and today I got an interesting history lesson from A Way with Words. Here's the link.
Write soon,

Sunday, February 17, 2013

What the #### is a hashtag?

The other night at dinner with some dear friends, someone did an online search for me and my book, Strengthen Your Nonfiction Writing. The talk turned to Twitter and hashtags (the # symbol), which most of us were familiar with, but not completely confident regarding its use.  

Tweeters connect a hashtag to the front of a word, phrase or topic to categorize their messages. Hashtags allow the tweeter to identify those words or phrases, which helps other people find it. Think of it like a little index to find your topic in a search engine. 

So if you’re looking for tweets about a particular subject, let’s sayjobs,” click on that word when it has a hashtag symbol in front of it. If you’ve commented or included information about #jobs in your tweets, then others who search for that hashtag also may find yours, as well. Best practices recommends using a maximum of two hashtags per tweet.

"Trending” is what happens to popular hashtagged words on Twitter, and lists popular hashtags. Use hashtags to categorize your tweets, and possibly attract more followers on Twitter.

By the way, hashtag was voted word of the year for 2012 by the American Dialect Society (ADS). “This was the year when the hashtag became a ubiquitous phenomenon in online talk,”said Ben Zimmer, chair of the New Words Committee of the ADS, on its website. “In the Twittersphere and elsewhere, hashtags have created instant social trends, spreading bite-sized viral messages on topics ranging from politics to pop culture.”

So whether you love them or find them extremely annoying (#likemydaughter), they have a purpose and can be useful.

Write (and tweet) soon,


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Out, damn internal editors, out, I say!

Margo Dill, author of Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg, spoke last week at the monthly meeting of Saturday Writers, a chapter of the Missouri Writer’s Guild. She explained the 6 + 1 traits of writing: voice, organization, sentence fluency, ideas, word choice, conventions + publication. Although she only spoke for a little more than an hour, she offered practical advice everyone could use immediately.

She covered each of these topics effectively, but I want to talk about one of them because of the responses she got from the audience. While discussing voice, she and several members of the audience commented on our internal editors. It’s a universal problem that can negatively impact anyone’s writing.

Margo said when she is stuck and her internal editor is stopping her from moving forward, she writes journal entries as the character she has created. This gives her insight into the character, and perhaps a way to write her character or plot out of a problem. This creative release may lead to becoming unstuck.

Audience  member Anthony Clark said he often writes emails to himself. He said there is something about writing an email that is less intimidating than opening an official Word document, so the pressure is off. Plus, he said he has never lost one of these emails.

I brought up a tip I read about turning off the computer monitor. Turning off the monitor prevents your internal editor from being able to read what you just wrote and criticize it. You just keep writing because there is no visual cue that can be judged and evaluated. 

Other writers mentioned rituals they use to get into the “writing state of mind” to quiet those tenacious internal editors. Lighting candles, arranging work spaces “just so,” and any other ritual like drinking coffee from a particular mug or wearing a lucky writing shirt may help prepare you to enter your “writing zone.”    

Last February I wrote about my inner critic. You can’t fight what you can’t see, so I imagined a person who does nothing but watch game shows and smoke cigarettes. My enemy has a name, and it’s Lucille. By naming her, and being able to “see” her in my head, I am less intimidated by her negativity. She’s a mess, and doesn’t want me to succeed because SHE doesn’t want to do the work to succeed. Why would I listen to her? That mental trick is effective, somehow.

Which mental tricks do you use to quiet your internal editor.

Write soon,