writing & editing

We all want to be better in our chosen careers, right? One of the places where I frequently find motivation and inspiration is in a handful of competitive television shows that bring out the creative in me. And one that I’m currently binging on is the start of this month’s recommendations. [watch] The Great British Baking Show. Season 5 is now on Netflix, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve been a fan of this competitive...

Recommended: The Ingredients to a Great <strike>Cake</strike> Career

Thanks to a flood of contract writers and the rise of content mills, the commerce of writing is taking a huge economic hit. So are writers who depend on their craft to earn a living. That’s why freelance writers need a contract. Statements of work or author agreements —or whatever such  contracts are  called—are designed to clearly explain expectations and publishing rights. Most writers understand the deliverables and deadlines. It’s the publishing rights that can...

Why Writers Need a Contract

Tomorrow we celebrate our nation’s independence from the British in the 1700s. What better time then to discuss how you can become more independent too. In this case, we’re talking about becoming an independent contractor as either a side gig or to replace a job that no longer works for you. Twirling Tiger Media works with a range of independent contractors, many of whom have been with us since our start. I’ve also been a...

A Guide to Being a Great Independent Contractor

Ever since a friend brought it to my attention, I’ve noticed I misuse the word perfect frequently, at least in speech. I say it when I find a mutual time to talk with someone. When I sign off on instructions. When I’m offered fresh fruit in lieu of bacon for brunch. The one place I rarely use it: my own work product. Perfect should not be the goal “Perfect” may be my current catch phrase,...

Not So Perfect: Learning to Let Go of an Elusive Goal

I spent part of this winter in central Oregon, where it snowed often and ice frequently accumulated on the roads. One early March morning I confidently headed out for groceries in a Nissan Pathfinder and very briefly lost control of the vehicle. I’d misjudged the Pathfinder’s four-wheel drive, my own competence and the road’s slick surface. So, with that event still fresh in my mind, I’ll open this month’s recommendations for what to read, watch...

The ‘Heuristic Trap’ and Other Human Hazards

This is Anne’s February installation of what we’re reading, watching and listening to. I recently worked for months on a big project for a client in healthcare IT. It was based on an extensive survey of current, select practices by clinicians, clinical informaticists and IT managers. It involved a lot of data crunching and more than one meeting to go over those data points. What struck me in the course of creating an infographic and...

‘Can We Trust the Numbers?’

I have a friend who routinely keeps her cars in great condition even after they surpass the 200,000-, 300,000- and, once, 400,00-mileage mark. She swears the key to her automobile longevity is maintenance. She routinely gets tune-ups and oil changes on a set schedule – even when a manufacturer’s recommendation seems excessive. A car isn’t the same as content marketing, but they do have something in common: both need routine maintenance to keep working as...

Is Your Content in Need of a Tune-Up?

Last week was another difficult one for mainstream news media. Outlets like CNN, CBS and a political reporter at The Washington Post released information that was either wrong or misleading. There is, however, a reason to still consider each a trusted source: they admitted their errors publicly and aren’t likely to make the same mistakes twice. It is becoming increasingly difficult to discern the best version of the truth in what we read, view or...

Today’s Credibility Crisis: How to Vet a Trusted Source

Years ago, Pulitzer Prize winners Michael Chabon and Art Spiegelman spoke to a group of would-be authors about the creative life. Among their advice: If you want to be a writer or cartoonist don’t do it for your day job. You won’t get better with practice; you’ll burn out and fail to finish. Since then I’ve witnessed the wisdom behind those remarks, backed by personal experience and neuroscience. Our brains need breaks to be more...

Give It a Rest: To Be Creative, Take a Break

A major component of any editorial project is the equivalent of scholar peer review: copyediting. Copy editors are the unsung heroes who search for flaws in concepts or unsupported claims. They examine a piece’s organization and structure. Then they comb through copy line by line for spelling, grammar, punctuation and style mistakes. Content producers tend to be strong in one of two basic tools of the trade: research and composing. If writers excel at tracking down...

The Editorial Version of Peer Review: Copyediting