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I follow the road less traveled; musician, pet parent, childfree, movie buff, Halloween fan; Find me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/writerlen/

The world is full of mind-boggling variety

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Topics deemed “superficial” or “oddball” by typical societal thinking have as much right to get some limelight as any other topics. Writers are advised to “write what you know.” That’s all well and good, but what you know may not be the same topics mainstream media churns out daily.

So, you must don your brown felt fedora and trusty bullwhip and seek out those valuable gems: readers who will devour your topics.

Why bother? Two reasons.

Variety never goes out of style

There are all sorts of people in this crazy world, folks with varied interests. We may not see or hear many marginal stories in…


This comedian is as funny on paper as he is on video

Cover of book by comedian Kevin Pollak
Image by author

How I Slept My Way to The Middle (Lyons Press, 2012) is a series of personal stories from impressionist/comedian/actor Kevin Pollak’s career. He discovered comedy, parlayed that into dramatic film acting, then returned to stand-up, all while remaining an in-demand entertainer.

Pollak’s spot-on impressions of his fellow actors are what brought him fame. But he’s also appeared in over 50 TV shows and more than 90 films and videos, most notably A Few Good Men, The Usual Suspects, The Whole Nine Yards, and Casino. He’s made Comedy Central’s Top 100 Comedians of All Time.

In the book, he relives stories…


We can’t all be Stephen King

Photo by Guillermo Ferla on Unsplash

As a writer who wants to help people, you pour your heart and soul into an article.

You do the research. You describe your own experience on the topic. You edit and tweak your words with help from the Grammarly and Hemingway apps. You wait for days to get feedback from subject matter experts and other folks you trust. You add a related, high-quality image with proper attribution and maybe a thought-provoking quote. Then, when you feel your article can’t get any better, you send it off to a vetted publication and wait.

One month later, you check your stats…


Use your best words, but also focus on the response

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The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

— George Bernard Shaw

Communication affects every aspect of your life, so don’t piss off your audience.

You communicate every time you speak with, write to, or even look at someone else, so your delivery is almost as important as your message. Life may be fast-paced, keeping us busier than ever, but that’s no reason to ignore one of our most basic human needs. Brushing up on your communication skills can only improve your occupational and social life. That goes for pet owners, too.

Empathy helps…


Unexpected praise can do wonders

How a Surprise Note Helped Me Outgrow Shyness
Photo by Austin Human on Unsplash

I’m not the life of the party. Never have been.

I grew up with an unassuming personality, and my childhood family life was comfortable and protected. Fair enough. But out in the cruel world, bullies and even some friends influenced me easily, taking advantage of my natural shyness and gullibility.

I had trouble thinking for myself for a long while. Waffling on decisions became frustrating.

It got to me. I was frequently angry, and it made me feel like an outsider. The cliquey atmosphere of high school didn’t help, either. I was more intense than I needed to be at…


Don’t “kill your darlings.” Save them for later.

Photo by Josh Riemer on Unsplash

When I write, sometimes I catch an illness I call “Thesaurus Brain.”

I may have to step away from writing the first draft of an article, then finish a day a two (or five) later. When I return, an idea jumps from my head, through the keyboard, and onto the screen. Great. Just like any other writer. But then I’ll discover I’ve already described the same idea earlier in the article, using different words or phrases.

Main Causes

I suspect this unintentional duplication happens for two reasons:

  • I try to get my first draft onto the screen before editing. If I don’t…


Break out of this prison by focusing on your passion

Photo by Douglas Sanchez on Unsplash

I rarely write about cutting-edge or controversial topics. I prefer to stay out of the limelight, close enough to see everything but sufficiently detached to go my own way. I’m a literary wallflower.

While I do favor a few newsworthy topics, I tend to fall back on the underdogs you’d be hard-pressed to find as a top story on NPR. I take the daily, mundane bits of life and turn them sideways. Or sometimes I flesh them out so folks can understand these everyday items a different way.

As writers, we’re always encouraged to focus on subjects we’re passionate about…


Concert band: the unsung heroes of music

Photo by Lucas Alexander on Unsplash

Everybody Geeks Out

The term band geek might inspire strange images to those not familiar with the music world. How strange? That depends on the musical entertainment you’ve been digesting and your definition of band.

Merriam-Webster defines band in the musical sense as “a group of musicians organized for ensemble playing.” The music style doesn’t matter — a band is a band.

M-W also defines geek as “an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity,” but you don’t have to be a techie to wear this label these days. …


This includes your existing progeny

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Deal breakers. Relationship requirements. That which you won’t tolerate.

I see them on OKCupid member profiles all the time, and rightfully so. While lots of folks are open-minded, the reality is most have at least a few necessary or unacceptable conditions for a long-term relationship.

For instance:

  • “Must love dogs.”
  • “I don’t serial date.”
  • “Liars need not apply!”
  • “I’m a sucker for science and empathy.”
  • “Please move on if you voted for [insert politician name].”

Your results may vary.

Call me naïve, but when I see statements like these, I take the authors at their word. They’ve drawn their lines…


Train yourself to look at the camera

Author/Hello, Dave.

You’re zooming with friends or coworkers. While making a point, saying something significant, or just chatting away, you look directly at someone. They’re paying attention and probably looking back at you on their screen, but you can’t be sure.

Laptop webcams are built into the top of the monitor, not in the center where your eyes spend most of their time. We all know making eye contact is important, but how can you when technology won’t let you?

Pretend it’s a TV camera — your friends or coworkers are the live audiences.

Whether you speak to one person or a…

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