Writing Lecture Review

Tips on Writing for Non-professional Writers


Udemy.com has a number of free online courses available. I recently completed Secret Sauce of Great Writing.  Out of the dozen or more online lectures I’ve taken in the last month, I wanted to review this one because I felt it was worthwhile.

The lecturer very clearly explained the basics of great writing; or as he called it several times, “slick writing”.  The three basic principles are simplicity, clarity, and elegance.

Keep It Simple

Simplicity is mostly about using short words as opposed to longer words.  Avoid jargon. Use fewer words.


The second tip for great or slick writing is clarity.  The first reason people are often unclear is laziness.  Go through as many drafts as necessary to make sure there is only one meaning per sentence.  If the meaning is unclear, or the reader has to think about it too long, then rewrite.  Ambiguity is not a writer’s friend.  Punctuation is that last part of clarity discussed.  A lot of native English speakers feel they’ve learned all they need to about punctuation in grammar school.  Indeed, we learned the basics. Sometimes we also forget.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Elegant Writing

The last concept taught by this trained journalist is elegance.  I’m not sure I’ll do this subject justice, as it seemed a difficult concept.  He used examples of Martin Luther King and Barrack Obama to illustrate the idea of rhythm.  Another idea expressed by Shani Raja was structure.  As writers, we want a structure.  To me, that means an outline.  A writer who is scatter shot, may lose their reader before they get to the point of the article or story.

Overall, I got a lot from the lecture and recommend it.  There were a couple of distractions.  The lecturer tended to sway from side to side.  Movement while speaking in public is natural.  I use my hands to help “punctuate” a point I’m trying to make.  I think he might have been better off using a lectern.  The second minor annoyance was looking down at his notes quite a bit.  A lectern, or a video screen beside the camera with his notes would have helped him to look at the camera more.



Food Industry Research

Market Research


3125Hort19 (Photo credit: College of Ag Communications)

As part of my ongoing effort to reinvent myself as a freelancer, I was looking at some of my other interests like opening a barbecue joint, or perhaps a bed and breakfast.  Given my nature and background I used a spreadsheet to look at the food industry in general.  What part of the food industry was profitable and growing?  What needs are not being fulfilled?  What niche can I fill?  In other words, some market research.

All interesting questions, right?  Food!  In America, at least, it’s everywhere.  We eat all the time, and a lot of it is not so good for us.

English: Frozen meat grinder GW 300.

English: Frozen meat grinder GW 300. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember very vividly getting a meat grinder attachment for our Kitchen-Aid mixer, to grind our own meat to avoid pink slime.  That’s one where the manufacturers got their hand caught in the proverbial cookie jar.  It’s also a gnat sitting on top of this huge elephant.  There’s so much we don’t know, unless we’re industry insiders or very, very vigilant.

The farm-to-table concept is catching fire; I hope to see this become a norm, not just another food trend!

I’m still researching food as a business opportunity.  If I do start a restaurant or produce a food product, I definitely want to avoid anything that smacks of “secret” ingredients, to get us to eat more, or pay more for less.

More freelance job applications & training

Elance I’ve applied for two more article writing gigs.  The free version or subscription, if you prefer, allows for up to 40 job applications per month.  This is slightly more than 1 per day, and I have a few left.  I’m still feeling my way around on Elance, but, plan to submit up to the maximum each month. The hard part of course is to show anything in my portfolio or to submit prior work, when there’s nothing to share.  Outside of my corporate life, I’m still new to freelancing.

Workfu A very strange name; I totally agree.  I also don’t know if it’s very useful yet or not.  Feel free to leave comments or questions. If you have a Twitter handle, and you tweet about anything, even if you just favorite or retweet, Workfu will analyze your tweets, and those that you follow, etc. and then recommend certain keywords.  You chose which ones should be used and add new ones based upon the type of work you are interested in.  Workfu then combs through Twitter, trying to line up potential employer and what you are interested in doing as a freelancer.

Of course, since I only have a day’s worth of exposure to this, I may have left out some essential facts, or have just plan missed the boat.  In any case, I’ll revisit this topic and report back.

LinkedIn I already have a LinkedIn profile based upon my corporate life.  The question I’ve asked myself is whether I should start a new separate profile for freelance work.  I think I might be jumping the gun a bit, as I don’t have much to put into any kind of profile for this site.


Recreating myself as a freelancer

Blog Hawaii license plate

I blog, therefore I Write?

On Sunday, I took a chance, a small one, but, a risk nonetheless.  I replied to a post by The Daily Post about Community Pool.  I replied to a couple of others that had asked for feedback on their blog.  I also asked for feedback on mine.  I got a few responses, and a handful of followers.  All good so far, right?

One person asked me the best question of all.  I’m paraphrasing a bit, “what is your blog about”.  Great question!  Since I plan on blogging regularly, and about a variety of subjects, it may not be clear what my purpose is on this blog.

I have a few goals for myself about this blog; along the way I may discard some and add others.  For now, I’m content in keeping a journal about my attempt to become a freelancer.  That can cover a lot of territory, as there are hundreds of things that freelancers do to earn an income.  I know there are some things I don’t want to do, or don’t feel it’s worth my time to learn.

I published a To Do blog post a few days ago.  For now, that is my roadmap.  I will certainly be updating the list as I go along on this journey, but it won’t be a regular feature.

Sunday Morning Ramblings

English: French Press

English: French Press (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sitting here drinking a bit of coffee. I so enjoy coffee made by a french press.  Over the years, I’ve tried drip and the Kuerig pods.  They make acceptable coffee.  I’ve obviously had coffee in restaurants and coffee houses; where they mostly use a drip method.  I saw a very small french press for a really cheap price, and figured I wouldn’t be throwing away a lot of money if I didn’t like it.  It’s so good, I even made my wife a convert.

One thing to note, there is sediment in the bottom of your cup after drinking, unless you pour it through a filter first.  Personally, I don’t notice the very fine sediment while drinking the coffee.  The mouth feel isn’t that much different due to the fine particulates.  But, the taste is at least twice as good, assuming you start with ah good coffee.

I could go on for several more paragraphs about coffee, grinding beans, types and roasts of coffee, but, I’ll leave that for another post.  I’ve been cross posting between WordPress and Blogger.com, and I’m beginning to notice a trend, and I wanted to jot down a couple of the pros and cons from a newbie freelancer.

The free versions of WordPress & Blogger.com are what I’ve started with; I may go paid on one or the other, eventually.  I have no conclusions so far about which is better. Here’s what I’ve observed to date, just looking at the plain vanilla free versions:

  • First comment left on WordPress and first reblog too
  • Both sites seem easy to navigate and publish a blog
  • Blogger.com offers a lot of both Google tools & third-party addons
  • WordPress.com offers more in some areas without having to go the third-party route
  • Both sites won’t let you monetize your site, easily without having your own domain name at least
  • Integration with social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, Google+ and more seems about the same, give or take a few social sites
  • Both offer apps for blogging via your phone or tablet.  I haven’t tried to blog, but, I have read blogs this way.

Now, on to to my other ramblings for this post, technical writing training.  I mentioned in a earlier post about iTunes U, and a training course.  There were about 10 or 12 lectures, but, all audio.  It seemed like a very nice university professor, and I’m sure it would have been better in person as opposed to just audio.  So, I went looking at YouTube.  Wow, what a wealth of videos on that one subject.  Of course, I’m having to weed out those that are just advertising their services.  Still, I did find one complete course, and I’ve watched the first three out of about 20.  If I like it, I’ll link it in a future post.

To those of you who actually read to the end, thanks.  I think you are very tough and determined people.  Happy Sunday!