Monday, March 26, 2012

Timeless Writing Tips



One of my first writing cheerleaders was found in an unexpected place. I met this inspiring lady about 24 years ago, and our initial connection had nothing to do with writing. I was seeking homeschooling info, and Nancy Plent was the "go-to" person; she ran the Unschoolers Network, New Jersey's homeschool organization.

Over the years we got acquainted through phone calls and emails (we lived 2 hours apart). Before long, I was penning occasional articles for the Network newsletter and working with their parent support services. Working with Nancy was a pleasure; she provided opportunities to write and build other skills. I am very grateful for the experience.

Nancy was the one who encouraged me to write a booklet for homeschool parents. She offered tips on content, formatting, and marketing. I would not have taken that step into self publishing had it not been for her support. It hit me the other day that her advice for the booklet applied to other writing, like blog posts.

What was Nancy's advice?

1) Be real.  Approachable and down to earth - people relate best to these qualities. Be authentic and conversational. Nancy's friendly and encouraging writing style taught me a lot.

2) Give people something they can use. Content must be user-friendly and have audience appeal. What info can my reader apply?

3) Use examples. Well chosen nuggets illustrate a point, and help readers say, "Yes, I can do this!"

4) White space is important.  A balance of text and white space is key for a pleasant reading experience. Clean, clear text is appealing; clutter and disorder distracts. It ties in with #5:

5) Employ digestible blocks of text. Large sections of text can overwhelm and potentially lose readers. Not that readers must be spoon fed with one or two sentences at a time, but, especially with how-to writing, it helps to offer text that is easy to read and process.


I am grateful for cheerleaders like Nancy, who take time to share and encourage. Nancy passed away in November of 2011, and I've been reminiscing and savoring the advice she lent over the years. I learned valuable lessons from Nancy, writing and otherwise. She touched the lives of many, and will be greatly missed. Thank you, Nancy. :)



Who are your cheerleaders? What timeless writing tips have you used today?


Blessings,
Karen
 
P.S. Don't forget my Third Blogoversary Giveaway. There's chocolate! :D   
Check out the details here.


Photo credit: Stock Exchange

34 comments :

  1. What a lovely, smart lady! Her tips are great, definitely things I try to use. I like white space a lot.
    My cheerleaders are my family and writing friends.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Those are incredibly writing tips and so true for all writers!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Perfect tips!! Thanks for sharing, Karen!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jessica,
    She really was a smart and lovely lady. I miss her. :)

    Laura,
    I know, I think they carry over to every type of writing, you know?

    Jennifer,
    You are very welcome! :)

    Blessings,
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  5. You have managed to do them all especially be real! How nice to have a mentor like Nancy:))

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a wonderful lady who obviously gives great advice! My husband is my biggest cheerleader, along with countless others.

    ReplyDelete
  7. My mom is a huge cheerleader in my life. I hope I'm giving others things they can use...or at the very least think about.

    I value those mentors in my life who've breathed wisdom and strength into me.
    ~ Wendy

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great advice to heed and apply. My mom has been a constant cheerleader and sometimes critic. :-) Thankfully...

    ReplyDelete
  9. Terri,
    Aww, thank you! You are so sweet. :) I am blessed to have known and worked with Nancy.

    Talli,
    She really did. I will miss her. So glad you have great cheerleaders!

    Wendy,
    Aren't moms great? Mine was a wonderful cheerleader too. Good mentors are a blessing.

    Jennifer,
    So glad you liked it. I think cheerleaders help us by being honest, but kind too. Glad you have a good one!

    Blessings,
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great advice, Karen. Truly. I like the "be real" tip. Funny, how you can tell when a writer's real, isn't it?

    And you're one of mine. You know that, right? I'm grateful for your friendship and your encouragement.

    Happy Monday, friend,

    Rhonda

    ReplyDelete
  11. Those are good tips. Can apply to blog posts as well!
    Examples are like parables. People understand them better.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wonderful advice. And Alex it right, it can apply to blogging too!
    Nice meeting you, Karen. I'm a new follower.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Rhonda,
    Yes, it is, and you are a real one for me too! :) So grateful we met. Blessed with a great blog gang!

    Alex,
    Yes, you are right! I like that - parables. I need to remember that one, thanks!

    Emily,
    Thanks for stopping by and following. :) I enjoyed my stop at your blog. So glad Alex steered me over!

    Happy Monday,
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  14. These are all excellent points and things for us to remember. Thanks, Karen!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi Karen...Nice post. Glad you had Nancy as a friend and mentor.

    I definitely believe in being "real." That comes right out in our writing.

    My cheerleaders are other writers and my husband. Susan

    ReplyDelete
  16. What great tips, Karen! And I'm very grateful to have cheerleaders in my corner. I can't imagine surviving (or at least staying sane) without them. :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. It's so nice that Nancy helped you to get your first little book done. And her advice was great, too.

    Love the blogger tips. I do try to have enough white space and to have some little take-away message.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Basic, yet powerful tips! Thanks Karen for sharing, love it.
    PS: any chocolate left??

    ReplyDelete
  19. Karen:
    These tips from you friend can apply to newsletters as well.
    My cheerleaders are my blog readers, the members of the church drama ministry, my pastor and some close friends.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Lynn,
    Thanks, I really think they are helpful. Glad you did too! :)

    Susan,
    Yes, Nancy was such a blessing! It's great to have cheerleaders, isn't it?

    Sarah,
    Ah yes, the sanity thing. Now that's really a really important reason to have cheerleaders! :)

    Nancy,
    It's nice to offer something of value, I think. Nancy was one smart lady!

    Marja,
    Yes, I agree! I think we make it more complicated sometimes, you know? Yes, chocolate for the giveaway is waiting in the wings!

    Cecelia,
    Yes, I agree - newsletters as well. Nancy wrote many of those. Glad you have great cheerleaders!

    Blessings,
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm sorry you lost such a great mentor.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi Karen .. Nancy sounds like an excellent support in those early years - and what a way in to writing. As you say a great cheerleader, and you can carry her work forward reminding yourself of her good advice, while adhering to her principles ..

    I'm sorry - those special people make such an impact in our lives .. with thoughts - Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  23. Great tips, Karen! You do them all so well. Especially no 2. That's something I really need to work on. Thanks for the reminder and push!
    Blessings
    Dotti :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Diane,
    Thank you very much. I do miss her. So glad I had the opportunity to work with her.

    Hilary,
    She really was. She left a wonderful legacy that will live on in many. Thanks so much for your kind words.

    Dorothy,
    Thank you! You are a sweetheart! We're all works in progress, aren't we? :)

    Blessings,
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  25. Sounds like you had a great friend in Nancy. Thanks for sharing some of her wisdom with us.

    I lost one of my writing cheerleaders last week. A lovely lady and dear friend who I've been in a writing group with for the past six years passed away unexpectedly. She will be dearly missed, but I will forever remember her and the stories she shared with me over the years.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I'm sorry for your loss, Karen. Nancy sounds pretty awesome. I especially like #5. I know it's one of my favourite things while reading. Otherwise, these old eyes start jumping all over the place. I think we should have a Be Kind to Eyes program.

    Thank you for sharing Nancy's impact on you.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hi Karen -

    You've taken her advice to heart, and it shows. :)

    My late husband was my biggest encourager. God has provided a wide network of support for me since he moved to Heaven.

    I also remember the many small comments people made. Their words are tucked away in a special corner of my heart. When times are tough, I pull them out, and they lift my sagging spirit.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. Ruth,
    I did; she really was special. So sorry to hear about your friend. Will be praying for you and her family and friends.

    Joylene,
    Thank you. She was a treasured friend. I always thinking of number 5 and then think of Nancy. It's gotten automatic now. :)

    Susan,
    Thank you. I count that as high praise, for you were my chief blogging cheerleader! Yes, good words are worth storing away. :)

    Blessings all,
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  29. Nancy sounds like an exquisite lady and friend, amigo. You were blessed to have her. Her advice is spot on. And now through you she is helping lots of others too. (((hugs)))

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hi Karen! Thank you for stopping by my blog and commenting on Theresa's interview. These writing tips that you shared are really valuable. I'm glad you had such a lovely writer cheerleader in your life.

    You have a nice blog, glad to be your newest follower!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Watch the videos at http://www.clickok.co.uk/index4.html - they're great for outlining a story as well as understanding hero's journey.

    ReplyDelete
  32. These are great tips; what a wonderful friend Nancy is to you.

    You have taken her model and become a cheerleader to many yourself. I am always encouraged by your kind and nourishing words, Karen.

    ReplyDelete
  33. That's great advice! I think "write every day" is the advice I use most, and "smile and nod when receiving criticism" is another - both from Pamela Goodfellow - a writer mentor and editor from a class I had several years ago.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Robyn,
    She really was. I count her among my treasures! Her advice was always good. Hugs to you too!

    Shelley,
    I enjoyed my stop at your blog; thanks so much for coming by and following! :)

    Ed,
    Thanks for the link. I looked at it briefly and it looks interesting. Will head back and check it out, thanks!

    Jen,
    She really was a good friend. Thanks for your kind and sweet words. :)

    Tyrean,
    That's two other great bits of advice, for sure! Thanks for sharing them. :)

    Blessings,
    Karen

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your input. Have a blessed day!