I have to admit I’m a stickler when it comes to grammar. While most people gloss over minor mistakes, whether in email or more formal writing, I zero in on them. Lately, I’ve been coming across the same three errors. I’ve made these same errors, so I know they’re easy to make. But they’re also easy to fix. Here’s how: Their, they’re, and there. Interestingly, this is a big one. For most writers, misusing these three words is just an oversight, nothing that a quick glance back
Getting motivated to be productive during a long, cold month can seem daunting, for sure. But here’s an idea: why not begin with some easy, fun tasks that don’t actually require writing? I can think of three that might actually help kick-start your New Year: Get involved in the writing community. Take a class, sign up for an event, or check out local resources for writers. In Minnesota, there are lots of options for writers to get involved. I recently stumbled across this han
An interesting new website just launched by some graduate students from North Dakota State University. Sponsored by Assistant Professor of History Angela Smith, the site is called The Fargo History Project and serves as "a vehicle for student research” in a digital history class. The site is designed to attract community engagement about local Fargo history and will continue to add information from future history classes at NDSU. I’m especially excited about this new website
You know that age-old advice, write what you know? Basically every writer who follows that advice writes about their region. And it isn’t necessarily in the form of nonfiction. In fact, writers often set their fictional stories in their town or region. Or, they create a character that comes from their geographic area or travels there. Sometimes, it’s as simple as using memories of growing up in a specific place and incorporating those memories of time and place into a story.
New writers looking for advice from published authors are often told to read, read, read. Reading, they say, helps make you a better writer. A great tip, except that some writers are left wondering what exactly they should be reading and how they should be reading it. When I read, I do it as a reader first. I start by choosing books that I want to read. Often, they’re books that have been recommended to me or books that I’ve read about. I don’t just settle on one genre or ty
Going through a midsummer writing slump? If you can’t get yourself to sit down and write, what you might need is something new and different to inspire you—or at least get you thinking about writing again. Here are some ideas for getting back on track with your craft this summer: 1. Relive your vacation. Did you do something interesting on your summer vacation? Maybe you went somewhere unique or experienced something worth sharing. Or, maybe you have a funny anecdote to tell.
If you have teenage kids, you probably know all about rap music. If you’re like me and have a child who writes rap, well, you may know more than you’d like to know about rap music. And, like me, you may have a mixed opinion about it. Rap music is really all about beats and lyrics. As a writer, I can appreciate that. I like good writing and a good message performed to a catchy beat. Of course, a big complaint of parents is the profanity that seems to make its way into rap son
One of my summer projects is to get started writing a novel. It’s been about eight years since I wrote my last book, so I’ll admit I’m a little rusty. Worse, for me summer isn’t the most ideal time to write, with kids home from school, beautiful days beckoning me outside, and mini-vacations scattered through the months. But I’m determined to at least get started on my book, and so I’ve decided to begin with a notebook. It’s actually a pretty good-sized notebook, the three-rin
Recently, I ran my dog in his first flyball tournament. If you don’t know anything about flyball, it’s a dog sport where two teams of four dogs race against each other in side-by-side lanes. As you might guess, flyball is fast, exciting, and noisy. How the dogs stay focused on their job of racing down the lane, jumping four hurdles on the way, stepping on the flyball box to catch a ball, making a sharp swimmer’s turn, then running back over the jumps and passing the next dog
Every once in a while, my kids will ask me to take a look at a paper they're working on for a class. Sure! I'll say, as I eagerly pull out my editing pen and prepare to mark up the pages. But experience has taught me not to get too ambitious with their request. Unlike me, who prefers a thorough, detailed edit, kids are a little more sensitive. For them, there’s a fine line between editing and overediting—and in fact the latter can do more harm than good. Too much red marking
Can’t get motivated to write? Maybe you need a change of scenery. Truth is, sitting at a desk all day can get old. Of course, it may be more practical to write where everything you need—your computer, writing resources, files, phone, etc.—is at your fingertips. But do you really need all those things to write all the time? Sometimes, a pen and paper or even just a new environment will do the trick. I can think of several places I like to write besides at my desk. One is the p
When my dad died unexpectedly years ago, I suffered tremendous grief. It got to the point where I had to seek professional help. One piece of advice I received at the time was to write about my loss and how it affected me. I was to keep a journal and pen with me all the time, even at my bedside, and scribble down my thoughts. This idea seemed ludicrous. The only thoughts I had were unpleasant ones—why would I want to write about those? Worse, why would I want to associate so
(Note: This is a guest post by my husband, the biggest sports fanatic I know. I wanted him to talk about his thoughts on sports writing, and he had plenty to say. Though this post is aimed more at sports media, the takeaway for writers is clear: don’t let your desire to attract readers diminish the quality of your work. Enjoy!) The beauty of a blog is that it presents a forum for a person to offer an opinion. Sports journalists have many outlets at their disposal—TV, radio, i
Can’t think of anything to write about? If you’re at a loss for words, try looking at a picture. Pull out that box of old photos and unearth one of your favorites. Better yet, grab your camera and take a fresh shot of anything that inspires you—trees, animals, food, people, the sunset. Then go back to your desk and study the picture. Imagine all the possibilities it has to offer for a story. Take this photo of a buck that appeared outside my husband’s office window. At first
My writing pal, Riley Welcome to my blog, where I plan to offer writing tips and ramblings on being a writer from Minnesota. This is my first official blog post, and I can’t think of a better way to start than to talk about my dog because, after all, writers and dogs go hand-in-paw. Currently, I’m on dog number three of my writing career, and I’ve come to realize that I can’t write without a four-legged companion at my side. I tried once, between dog number one and dog number