Tag Archives: Communicatrix

Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

On occasional Fridays, I point you towards some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. Wherever you fall on the abortion debate, New York Magazine’s accounts by 26 women who’ve had abortions is heartbreaking and harrowing.

2. Equally compelling is one woman’s story about what it’s really like to be poor over on Alternet. Best thing I’ve read in ages. (Hat tip: Communicatrix)

3. On a lighter note, The Atlantic has given us a glimpse of what Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address would look like in Powerpoint.

4. Of the many tributes to Nobel Prize-winning short story writer Alice Munro, I really enjoyed Kristen’s “mother-writer” take over on Motherese.

5. In case you’re on the market, Why Dev offers 52 reasons to date an aid worker.

6. When the OED recently added “selfie” to its list of words, BBC Persia compiled this wonderful composite of selfies from around the region.

7. The Guardian once again outdoes itself with this photo shoot on the world’s oddest jobs – in pictures.

8. And finally, just in case you’re wondering, here’s a glossary of old disease names that are no longer in use. Personally? I think I suffer from abasia.

Have a great weekend folks!

Tips For Adulthood: Five Traits Of Successful Bloggers

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

I’m teaching a bunch of classes on blogging later today at a local university.

So I’ve spent the past 24 hours immersed in “the art of blogging.”

One of the great things about teaching is that it forces you to reflect on all that you’ve learned about a given topic, cull that together and impart it to your students.

I’ve written before about five reasons I love to blog.

But in reviewing my material for today’s lectures, I’ve also reflected on what it takes to be a great blogger.

To wit, five traits of successful bloggers:

1. Curiosity. Contrary to what people may think, you don’t need to be an extrovert to be successful blogger. Susan Cain is a case in point. But you do need to be endlessly curious. The best bloggers I know – Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project comes to mind – never run out of material to write about because the they never run out of things that fascinate them. And they are able to transmit that sense of wonderment onto the page. Don’t believe me? Read this post by Gretchen on cultivating a sense of smell.

2. Perseverance. If I had a dime for every friend or acquaintance who told me that they were starting a blog and then never followed through, I’d be a rich woman. I was combing through my blog subscriptions in my RSS feed just the other day and realized how many of them had gone dormant. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily. Blogging is a huge commitment and it’s not for everyone. But there’s no question that you can’t succeed at it if you aren’t willing to go the distance. Which is probably why even most blogs that do launch don’t last more than a few months. I point this out because most people who balk at starting a blog are concerned that they aren’t technically up to speed. But take it from me, the technical part is the easy part. (If I can do it, anyone can.) What’s hard is committing to your audience – and yourself – and persevering week in and week out.

3. Generosity. There’s no question that blogging is a more narcissistic activity than straight up journalism. But the best bloggers are those who not only get that blogging is all about community, they actively practice it. One of the things I’m emphasizing in my classes today is the all-importance of the hyper-link to blogging. Sure, it takes awhile when you’re just getting started to figure out which Online community/ies you belong to. But once you’ve identified that space, you need to be actively linking to that community:  through your posts, through your comments, through social media. This isn’t just a practical strategy for building an audience. The dirty secret of blogging is that it’s when you’re generous in crediting the work of other bloggers, it’s actually loads more fun.

4. Humility. Related to #3, the best bloggers are also humble. If they’re smart, they let their work speak for itself, rather than relentlessly and shamelessly self-promoting. I’m personally always wary of bloggers who only show up on Twitter or Facebook when they have their own work to share. It gives the impression that they’re just too self-involved. Another way to demonstrate your humility as a blogger is to own your mistakes and to not be afraid or unwilling to accept criticism. Time and again, I’ve been surprised and delighted to discover that when someone dumps on something I’ve written Online, if I just “show up” in the comments section and address them personally – taking their criticism seriously but also reasserting my own point of view – we can respectfully work through it, or at least agree to disagree. I think readers really appreciate it when bloggers take the time to acknowledge that they may be wrong or why they feel  they’re being misconstrued. The This American Life episode, Retraction, that I linked to last week is a great case in point.

5. Voice. I’ve written before about how important it is to set a tone when you blog. There are lots of different ways to do this, but basically it’s about conveying your personality on your blog and letting that shine through your writing. The reason voice is so important is that as a reader, it’s what connects you, emotionally, to the content at hand. One of my favorite bloggers, Colleen Wainwright of Communicatrix, recently took a short leave of absence from her blog. And when she returned after several months, I heard her voice again and realized how much I’d missed it while she was gone. That, to me, is the sign of the truly successful blogger.

How about you? If you are a producer and/or consumer of blogs, what do you think makes for a successful blog?

 

Image: Moo cards for blogging workshop by Mexicanwave via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

 

Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you towards some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. As always, Michael Lewis’ story in Vanity Fair about the California budget crisis is not only hugely informative but a heckuva good read.

2. In the event that you haven’t maxed out on Steve Jobs eulogies, here are some great, unsung stories about the man that you probably haven’t heard. (Hat tip: Communicatrix)

3. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to tell your kids that you and your spouse are separating, read this. Heartbreaking.

4. OK, so this video on how to lock your bike so that it won’t get stolen is both fascinating *and* useful. (Bonus? It’s brought to you by the quintessentially insane New Yorker. Love him!)

5. As someone who blogs about adulthood, I absolutely adored Hyperbole and a Half’s take on Why I’ll Never Be an Adult.

6. Clever blog of the week award goes to Feminist Ryan Gosling. Hilarious!

7. Finally, if you’ve ever helped a friend move out of an apartment, you’ll love the Oatmeal’s take on that memorable experience.

 

Have a great weekend, folks!

Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you towards some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

 

1. The Freakonomics blog has a Q and A with political economist Tim Groseclose about his new book on media bias, Left Turn. Fascinating.

2. Love this post by Erin McKean in The Boston Globe Ideas section on collecting new words.

3. Writers will also enjoy Becky Tuch’s list of 200 questions writers ask themselves before lunch at Beyond The Margins. Sounds about right to me.

4. As she pursues her goal of raising $50,000 in fifty days to help support the Los Angeles non-profit WriteGirl, Communicatrix serenades us with a (dirty) song. Warning: Not Suitable For Work.

5. Scary Mommy tells us what search terms people have been using to find her blog. Hilarious. (Hat tip: @clevertitleTK)

6. Finally, after the week we’ve just had in London, I think we all need to hit this magic button.

 

Have a great weekend!

Aging: The Power Of Giving Back

When I was younger, I didn’t think all that much about “giving back” to my community. The professions I chose – academia, policy, journalism – I selected because they tickled my fancy. They were fun, exciting, challenging.

And if – in the course of pursuing them, I happened to make a difference in someone else’s life – so much the better. But that wasn’t my primary goal in life. It was all about me.

As I delve ever more deeply into middle age, however, I find that I derive the most meaning when I’m helping other people. Perhaps this is unusual. We are, after all, purportedly living in an age of narcissism.

But I don’t think I’m all that unique. Indeed, I think that one of the great unheralded truths of middle age is that all the clichés turn out to be true. Among them:  the power of giving back.

Which is perhaps why I am so taken with Colleen Wainwright – aka Communicatrix’s – 50th birthday party celebration. Colleen has decided that as she hits this landmark birthday, she really doesn’t need any more “stuff.” She already has plenty of toasters.

Rather, what would really make her happy is if she could raise money for a non-profit in her home town that’s in need of some help. The non-profit is called WriteGirl. It’s a Los Angeles-based organization which partners teen-aged girls with women writers for creative writing workshops and one-on-one mentoring.

Colleen’s been involved with Write Girl for several years now. As she explains in this blog post about that experience:

I have cried at every WriteGirl workshop I’ve been to. I’ve also rarely laughed so joyously as I have there, nor felt more hope for humanity. These are amazing girls, all of them. They vary in their levels of introversion and extroversion, boldness and shyness, just like the rest of us, but each of them has been 100% present and committed at every workshop I’ve been to…They engage, they ask questions, they play, and they write. Oh, boy do they write, and how.

So in honor of her 50th birthday – which is exactly 50 days from today – Colleen has set herself the challenge of raising $50,000 to support Write Girl. As she notes, mastering the ability to write opens doors, builds self-confidence and self-esteem, and increases a girl’s chances of earning a living for herself and changing the world for present and future generations.

Pretty simple, huh?

So please. Pop by and pay a visit and see for yourself what this whole thing is about. See if you aren’t inspired to give something – even something small – to support this fabulous cause.

Bonus? There are lots of cool give-away prizes.

Double Bonus? If Colleen hits her goal by her birthday, she will shave off all of her hair.

(Wow. If it were *my* birthday, I might need to buy a wig.)

And thanks.

 

Image: Day 167 – Head by TiggerT via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

 

Tips For Adulthood: Seven Secrets To Giving A Good Talk

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

I’m getting ready to teach another journalism workshop next week. When you teach, it’s tempting to try and cram every last bit of information you know on a given topic into your lecture (plus some extra for good measure).

Even though – as I’ve noted before, less really is more when it comes to teaching–  part of my own creative process requires me to sift through the 6,000 pieces of information I’ve amassed for a given talk before painstakingly reducing them to the optimal set of bullet points. It’s just the way I work.

Which is why it was so enormously helpful to me that Colleen Wainwright’s monthly newsletter landed in my inbox today just as I was sitting down to write my first lecture. If you don’t know Colleen, she pens the fabulous Communicatrix blog which I link to quite regularly on RealDelia and is one of my absolute faves.

In her newsletter, Colleen offers tips on how to improve your communication skills (written/oral/whatever) and I can’t recommend it highly enough. (Bonus – It’s free!) This month’s topic was nominally about how to prepare a talk when you have very little time. But if you read through her suggestions, they’re really all about how to give a good talk regardless of how much time you have to prepare it.

So this week’s tips list is going to be cribbed from Colleen. Instead of offering my own tips for giving a good talk, I’m going to link to Colleen’s list, because I found it so inspiring and so *exactly* what I needed to hear this morning as I put the proverbial rubber to the road.

There are lots of gems in here, but the most valuable one for me was #7 – which is that when you invariably hit that “Oh God! What have I done? How can I possibly pull this off?” moment in the midst of your preparation, you need to remember that this isn’t about you, it’s about whoever is coming to listen to you speak. It’s about asking yourself ” What can I do for these people? How can I help them out? How can I make them feel?” And if you reorient your talk around that idea, everything else will flow.

So without further ado, let me turn you over to Colleen and her seven secrets to giving a good talk.

(And yes, I’m cheating. But I prefer to think of it as a serendipitous guest blog post by one of the best self-development gurus out there.)

We will resume our normal tips list next week.

Enjoy!

 

Image: 50/365 – School by foreverdigital via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you towards some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. Last Friday was Red Nose Day in Britain, a biennial telethon held in March to raise money for famine relief in Africa. It’s always an amazing day for many reasons, not the least of which is the outrageously funny talent on display in this country. Check out the Top 5 Red Nose Day Clips of All Time over on the Anglotopia blog. And whatever you do, do *not* miss the Ricky Gervais sketch.

2. I was quite taken with Wayne K. Spear’s meditation, Notes On Adulthood In A Time of Stress. As someone who’s always searching for that elusive definition of adulthood, I love the idea that it’s as simple as getting to push the shopping cart around the grocery story and fill it as you please. There’s definitely something to that.

3. After last week’s post on the future of Gen Y, I discovered this fabulous website written by and for Millenials called The Next Great Generation.

4. How much do you really know about American history? Newsweek has a quiz that contains actual questions from the citizenship exam.

5. Love this. Over on obit, the Volvo stationwagon is eulogized. (Hat tip: Communicatrix)

6. Finally, for all those questions you’ve always wanted to ask Vegans but were afraid to ask, here’s The Vegan Myth song at Holy Kaw!

 

Have a great weekend!

Welcome To RealDelia 2.0

Hello and welcome to the new RealDelia.com!  Notice the snazzy new logo? Matching social media icons on the sidebar? Testimonial and Connect pages? Tasteful yellow accents when you click on the Menu?

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you’ll know that I’m not much of one for makeovers, at least when it comes to my own sorry-ass self.

With the blog, well, that’s different. I’d been thinking about giving the blog a makeover for some time now. But  – heeding the advice of many veteran bloggers out there – I wanted to focus first on building good content and a strong readership before expending any energy on enhancing the blog’s look.

But after two years of blogging continually (the 2 year anniversary was January 29th!) I decided that it was time to dress for success.  So I re-designed my website late last month. And today, February 14, 2011, I hereby present you with RealDelia 2.0.

I apologize if you’ve had a hard time getting onto the blog over the past week or so. Speed bumps are inevitably part of this process and we hit a few last week. I’m sure there will be a few more technical glitches before this whole thing is over. So I hope you’ll be patient.

Please have a look around the site and explore. Truth be told, it  isn’t *all*that different content-wise from what I had before. But hopefully the look is a good deal more personalized and professional. Over time, my hope is that I can do a whole lot more with it.

I also wanted to say a few thank yous while I’m at it.

First, to my old friend Gretchen Rubin of Happiness Project fame, who shared her wisdom and insight about blogging with me when RealDelia was just a twinkle in my eye. It was Gretchen who encouraged me to think broadly about this blog’s subject matter and helped me to arrive at “adulthood” as my theme.  Gretchen has had huge and much-deserved success with her own blog and I continue to learn from her every day.

I also wanted to thank the amazing team at Shatterboxx Media, Jamie and Nicole – who came to me via another fabulous blogger, Communicatrix.  They were punctual, professional, personable and – most of all – incredibly open to my numerous suggestions and changes as we went about conceiving a new brand identity for RealDelia. I absolutely love my new logo.

While I’m at it, let me also give a HUGE thank you to my wingman in Chicago, Josh Andrews of Lackner/Andrews. Josh built the site and is responsible for its amazing functionality. He held my hand through the entire process – from the minute I first pondered a re-design all the way through to writing this very first post.  He is knowledgeable, friendly, proficient, and above all, very  patient. If you are in need of a social media consultant, you can do no better than Josh.

Finally, I wanted to thank all of you. It’s Valentine’s Day today, which is normally a time that we think about that special someone. But my oldest brother – who’s a reference librarian and knows a whole lot about a whole lot of things – informed me that in Finland, Valentine’s Day is called Ystävänpäivä (the Finnish word for friendship), and thus Friend’s Day. Unlike many other countries where Valentine’s Day is mainly a day of “Romance,” in Finland it is also the day when close friends send cards and gifts to each other to commemorate friendship.

So because I’m a sucker for all things Finnish, let me raise a virtual glass of bubbly to Jamie, Nicole, Josh and all of you – the readers of RealDelia – who make this whole blogging thing so special for me, day after day.

To friends!

Image: Champagne by ali wade via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. I adored this post by Communicatrix on why we shouldn’t fetishize the New Year as a time for making change in our lives. (Appropriately titled “It’s Just Monday.”)

2. If you’re enjoying the WikiLeaks saga, you’ll love this post by John Lundberg at The Huffington Post on poetry inspired by WikiLeaks. (Be sure to also check out the original site.)

3. Journalists will laugh – and cringe – in equal measure at this spoof job posting on McSweeney’s. Yes, folks, it really is that bad.

4. I loved exploring the “What I’ve Learned” archive at Vanity Fair. You will definitely want to read the entries by Dr. Ruth Westheimer and Aaron Sorkin. (Hat tip: Communicatrix)

5. Here’s a moving essay by Carolyn Roy-Bornstein over at Literary Mama discussing how a tragic event in her family ultimately inspired her to keep writing.

6. Finally – something for those of us with younger kids to look forward to one day: Patricia’s Wisdom on what it’s like when adult children come home.

Have a great weekend!

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Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you towards some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. I always love the posts over at Communicatrix, but I especially enjoyed this meditation on the little things in life that make your day run more smoothly (life hacks, for those in the know). Be sure to read the comment section for loads more suggestions!

2. I found this first-hand account of what it’s like to ghost write student term papers over at the Chronicle of Higher Education to be absolutely chilling. I literally had to stop reading half-way through because of the pit in my stomach.

3. This send-up of Sarah Palin by Alexandra Petri at the Washington Post may well be the funniest thing I’ve read to date on our friend from Alaska. (And Lord knows there’s been lots of material!)

4. Loved the Ikea Guide to Baby-Making, courtesy of the ever-amazing Guy Kawasaki at Holy Kaw!

5. For the Americans out there, two Thanksgiving posts I really liked a lot. The first is the fabulous Deb Ng’s list of all the things she *isn’t* thankful for. (I’m not thankful for brussel sprouts either.)

6. The second is a thoughtful post in the New York Times on gratitude (and moral progress) by one of my favorite American writers, Robert Wright.

7. Finally, for those following events in the U.K., here’s my latest post from Politics Daily on what the latest round of student protests means for the future.

 

Have a great weekend!