15 Useful Websites About Writing

If you are looking for information about writing, the Web abounds with sites. Here are a few good ones:

Writing Sites for Everyone

Daily Writing Tips – Daily articles on grammar, spelling, misused words, punctuation, fiction writing, freelance writing, and more.

Writer’s Helper – Writing tips from a professional editor.

Writing Tips Handbook from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign provides advice on the writing process.

Writer’s Block: Writing Tips is a Canadian site, and some of the tips point out differences between American and British writing styles.

Writing for Marketing Purposes

Content Marketing Institute

Copyblogger

Book Marketing

Ask John Kremer (I remember reading his 1001 Ways to Market Your Books back in the 1990s.)

Advice for Freelance Writers

About Freelance Writing

All Freelance Writing

Freelance Folder (for all types of freelancing, not just writing)

Make a Living Writing

The Renegade Writer

The Urban Muse

The Well-Fed Writer

WM Freelance Writer’s Connection

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Writing for Massage Therapists and Other Bodywork and Somatic Practitioners

Are you a massage therapist or other bodywork or somatic practitioner in need of content writing for your website? If you have spent much time on the Internet, you have probably read, “Content is king.” People look for information – not for you in particular. The more high-quality content you have on your website, the more chances you have for people to find you.

Plus, people like experts. Having informative content on your site makes you look like an expert, meaning people are more likely to want to use your services.

You can write your own content. But is writing content, even if you write well, the best use of your time? Or would you rather be seeing clients?

Why Me?

I am both an experienced writer and an experienced massage therapist. From 1990-1997, I was a technical writer and editor. From 1997-2009, I had an active massage therapy practice. In 2003, I started my website, Bellevue Massage Therapy, to market my practice. As I closed my massage practice, I repositioned the site as a Massage Therapy and Healthy Living website, and it now has more than 200 pages.

Take advantage of my combined massage and writing knowledge by ordering articles today. I offer a special rate for articles for massage therapists (or other bodywork or somatic practitioners): $40 for one 400 to 500-word article or a 12-article package for $400 (that’s 12 articles for the price of ten).

Note: These prices assume you are providing me with the general topics you want covered in the articles. Add 10% if you want me to develop the article topics. Want longer or shorter articles or have other content needs? Let me know, and I’ll give you a quote. I can also show you how to set up a website if you don’t already have one.

Here’s what you get:

  • An information-rich, original article centered on a keyword in both a reader-friendly and search-engine friendly manner.
  • Delivery by an agreed-on date.
  • If you are not completely satisfied with the article, I will gladly revise it to your liking, as long as you let me know within two weeks of receiving the article. All I ask is that you take the time to help me pinpoint where the article is missing the mark and why it’s not right.

Use the following form to contact me for a quote or to get more information about my writing services. The more information you provide, the more specific I can be in my response.

*(denotes required field)

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Additional Services

Don’t have a website yet? Or don’t like the one you have? I can help. I provide basic website maintenance to update your site, or I can show you a way to get started with a new website.

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Word Use Tips

Here are some word use tips for a few commonly misused words

Affect or Effect

The most common use of affect is as a verb meaning to influence. The most common use of effect is as a noun meaning an outcome or result. For example:

The effect of the rain was to make the ground wet.
What effect did the rain have on the ground?
The rain affected the ground.
How did the rain affect the ground?

Uncommon Use of Effect

Effect can be a verb that means to bring about, as in:

The rain effected a change in the amount of moisture in the ground.
The scientist effected a cure for the disease.

Uncommon Uses of Affect

You can also use affect as a verb that implies pretending, as in “She affected a southern accent.”

In psychology, the word affect used as a noun is a technical term in discussing a feeling or emotional state.

Your and You’re

Your is the possessive form of you.

You’re is a contraction for you are.

Correct uses:

Your car is red.
The car is on your left.
You’re driving a red car.
You’re giving me your car.

Here are different uses of your:

Formal titles: Your Honor, Your Majesty

Informal use: Your average person buys a car every four years.

There – Their – They’ve

Their is a possessive pronoun. Example: Their home is beautiful.

They’ve is a contraction for they have. Example: They’ve given us a beautiful home.

There has many possible uses but generally means at that place, in that location, in that respect, or on that point.

Correct uses:

Go over there and pick up the papers.
There are 26 letters in the alphabet.
The football players had their pre-game meeting.
They’ve given us 10 more minutes.

More word use tips for “there.”

Fewer – Less

Use fewer with things you can distinctly count:

I have fewer books than you have.
She has fewer ideas than the other board members.
Fewer people attended the concert this year.

Use less for uncountable things:

We had less rain this year than last year.
He has less money than needed, because he had fewer dollars than he thought he had.
Because I had fewer hours to work, I had less time to complete the project.

Also, use less with adjectives and adverbs:

He is less happy than you are.
You walk less quickly than he does, because you take fewer steps in each minute.

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Writers: Are You Using the Resources that Your Tax Dollars Support?

The United States government is the largest publisher of information in the world. Not only is the information free, all government-produced information is in the public domain.

National Institutes of Health

Talk about a treasure trove of information for health and medical writers! The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and conducts and supports medical research. The more than 15 institutes include:

Find the complete NIH list here.

The NIH, in conjunction with the U.S. National Library of Medicine, also publishes the encyclopedia-like Medline Plus. The entries usually contain basic information about a topic with links to lots of other reputable sites for more detailed information.

Facts and Information

CIA World Factbook: Information about the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 266 world entities.

Inside the Federal Courts

U.S. Census Bureau: Demographic and economic information about people, business, geography, and more. Check out the “Facts for Features & Special Editions” page, which provides collections of statistics for anniversaries or observances, such as Grandparent’s Day and Women’s History Month.

U.S. Small Business Administration: Information on starting, managing, and growing a small business.

To find even more government information sources, see the U.S. government’s official web portal.

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Eight Tips for Concise Writing

One of the best ways to communicate effectively is to be concise. Use only as many words as you need to say what you have to say. Readers are busy and often impatient. They don’t want to, and often won’t, wade through unnecessary or unclear words to find your point.

Here are eight concise writing tips:

  1. Keep sentences short. How short depends on whom you are writing to and what you are writing about. A guideline for business and technical writing is to keep most sentences to less than 20 words. You can break many longer sentences into two sentences by expressing only one thought in each sentence.
  2. Replace complex words with simple ones that have the same meaning. Don’t say “initiate” when you can say “start.” Don’t say “terminate” when you can say “end.” You aren’t insulting your reader’s intelligence by using simple words; you do keep the reader reading.
  3. Replace wordy phrases with fewer words. “Would bring about an improvement” becomes “would improve.” “Most of the time” becomes “usually.” “On the basis of” becomes “based on.” Remember, wordiness obscures your meaning.
  4. Get rid of redundant words. It’s a “plan” not an “advance plan.” If something is “small in size,” it’s just “small.” Many redundancies creep into writing: visible to the eye, current status, true facts. Look carefully for such phrases.
  5. Don’t turn verbs into nouns. “Make a decision” becomes “decide.” Strong (action) verbs give life to a sentence. Weak verbs (is, are, make, do) often go with nouns that would be more effective as verbs. Instead of “there is a need for reanalysis of our data,” write “we must reanalyze the data.”
  6. Be careful with clichés. Is it really as “plain as day” or “as quick as a flash” or is it “obvious” or “fast?” Occasionally a cliché is useful because it captures exactly what you want to say, but before deciding to use a cliché, ask yourself if you can be more precise in your description.
  7. Limit the use of words that end in -ize (maximize, minimize, optimize). Rather than “We can optimize market position and maximize profits by minimizing costs,” say “we can increase our market and profits by cutting costs.”
  8. Use active verbs as much as possible. Active verbs tell who did what, not what was done by whom. “The decision was made by the president” becomes “the president decided.” Active verbs are more direct and usually require fewer words.

To be concise, look at what you are saying and question every word, then get rid of the words you don’t need.

If you write English for translation to other languages, you might want to take a look at The Global English Style Guide: Writing Clear, Translatable Documentation for a Global Market.

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Does Your Website Suffer from We-itis?

Recently, I listened to copywriter Karon Thackston talk about effective website writing. One of her comments was that too many sites suffer from we-itis: The sites talk about who they are, what they offer, and so forth without focusing on the reader.

Readers generally come to a website in the mindset of “What’s in it for me?” If they don’t easily find that information in the first paragraph or two, they are likely to leave the site.

As an example, I took the opening paragraphs that I found on a website for a naturopathic clinic to illustrate the point for you.

Here’s the original version that focuses on the clinic:

Our unique approach to healing

At [obscured] Health Services, we offer highly personalized naturopathic health care, gently treating disease at the root cause and strengthening the body’s own innate ability to heal.

We understand that every body is unique, and we work closely with you to develop a treatment plan customized to meet your specific needs and goals to help you get well and enjoy vibrant health for years to come.

Here’s my rewrite that focuses more on the prospective patient:

Helping you heal

Your body is unique. At [obscured] Health Services we work closely with you to develop a treatment plan just for you. This plan is designed to meet your specific needs and goals to help you get well and enjoy vibrant health for years to come.

This highly personalized naturopathic health care gently treats disease at the root cause and strengthens your body’s own innate ability to heal.

Subtle Differences

The differences in the two versions may seem subtle, but it’s the difference between the clinic saying “we do this” and saying “here’s how we help you.”

Does your site suffer from we-itis? If so, contact me to discuss how I can help you focus more on the people reading your site.

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Easy Listening Skills

You hear people talk everyday, but do you really listen? Developing your listening skills will improve both your personal and business interactions. You can avoid embarrassing misunderstandings, learn of developing problems before they become crises, and show people you care.

Good listening requires getting outside yourself and connecting with others. First, you must stop talking. You cannot listen while you are talking. Here are other important listening skills:

  • Take part in only one conversation at a time. You may hear two people, but you can’t effectively listen to two people at once.
  • Ask questions when you don’t understand or when you need clarification. Don’t ask questions to show how smart you are about a subject.
  • Don’t interrupt. Let the speaker finish before you ask questions or respond to what the person is saying.
  • Show interest. Look at the speaker’s face, mouth, eyes, and hands. They give you non-verbal clues to what the person is saying or feeling.
  • Concentrate on what the person is saying. Actively focus your attention on the speaker’s words, ideas, and feelings related to the subject.
  • Avoid drawing premature conclusions. When you do, you tune out the speaker by either thinking, “Hurry up and finish. I see your point.” or by rudely interrupting and saying, “Yes, yes. I know what you mean. Then what?” You might misunderstand the entire conversation because you reached a wrong conclusion.
  • Don’t become angry at what the person is saying. Anger prevents you from understanding what the person really means.
  • React to ideas, not the speaker. Don’t let your reactions to the person influence your interpretation of what he or she says. Focus your response on what is said, not on any shortcomings you believe the speaker may have.
  • Listen for what the speaker does not say. Determining what the person leaves out or avoids often tells you as much as what the person says.

Active Listening

Another listening skill, sometimes called active listening, is to paraphrase. Paraphrasing not only helps make sure you understand what the person said but also helps ensure you understand what the person really meant. Paraphrasing conveys your genuine interest in listening and understanding and may also make the other person more willing to try to understand your point of view.

Be sure you wait until the person finishes speaking and don’t parrot someone’s words. Be specific when you paraphrase. Often you want to be more specific than the speaker.

For example, someone says to you, “Betty is a lousy manager.” You could respond, “You think Betty isn’t right for her job?” But if the person simply agrees, you have no more information than you did before.

However, if you respond, “You think Betty is dishonest?” then the other person is more likely to say something like, “No, but she doesn’t plan and she forgets details.” Now you have specific information.

Take Responsibility

Remember that the speaker is only partly responsible for effective communication. You as the listener are equally responsible for making sure the communication is clear. Developing your listening skills can provide personal and professional benefits.

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