If you’ve read WordCount for any length of time, you know on Fridays I run a list of recommended reading for writers culled from good stuff I’ve come across that week, with the preface:
To do good writing, read good writing. Here’s the good writing I’ve been reading this week.
Well, due to some heavy-duty assignments, launching the WordCount Last Wednesday live chats and taking time off to go on an actual vacation, I put Recommended Reading on hiatus for the summer. Truthfully, it was a great change of pace to temporarily remove it from my to-do list – so great I’m planning to suspend it during summers from now on.
But enough about what . Let’s see what’s been published this week that’s worth reading:
Oval Office Makeover – Sometimes the quotes make the story and this New York Times piece on Obama’s Oval Office makeover is a perfect example. For Times writer Penelope Green, the hardest part of the assignment – I’m guessing here, but it’s an educated guess – came in finding and coaxing heavy hitters like former Domino EIC Deborah Needleman and conservative columnist Ann Coulter to comment on the presidential remodel. Once gathered, the quotes are the story. And what quotes. HuffPost founder Arianna Huffington – no slouch when it comes to makeovers, whether interior design or career – got off the best one, calling the new look “the Audacity of Taupe” – so good the Times’ copy desk used it as the headline.
The Science (Not Art) of The Magazine Pitch – Earlier this summer at a Stanford University freelance writing conference, accomplished freelance writer Jennifer Kahn shared query techniques that have landed her assignments for The New Yorker, Wired, Sports Illustrated and the New York Times Magazine. It’s all about the prep work, Kahn says. She claims to do “hours of research and probably 10 one-hour phone calls before I pitch a magazine story.” Lest that stop you from ever pitching a magazine feature again, read on. Kahn also says she regularly sends editors a pre-pitch email to gauge their interest in seeing more; limits pitches to one five-paragraph page, and thinks nothing of re-pitching a rejected query to a different publication.
The Man Who Lied to His Laptop – I can’t wait to read this book on human-computer relationships by Stanford communications professor Clifford Nass that’s due out on Sept. 28. Yes, it’s got a great title and interesting premise, but the real reason I’m looking forward is to hear more from Nass. If the book’s anything like the Nass quote included in a June 7 New York Times story on why it’s wise to unplug from digital media sometimes, it’s gonna be good:
…if you are multitasking to avoid doing what you’re doing (which is true for me and most of the writers I know), then there are real opportunities. Rather than doing something else with media, force yourself to do what we did when multiple media were not available: take a walk, do some stretches, or tough it out and get back to work. Not only will this be healthier for your brain, your body will benefit as well!
Other goodies worth checking out:
- Getting Started (Freelancing) By Getting Your Finances in Order (Life of The Freelancer)
- The B*tch Slap: You Whiny Little ‘Freelancer’– Warning, NSFW (Redheadedwriting)
- 2010 Knight News Challenge Winners (IdeaLab+PBS Mediashift)
- 23 Awesome SEO Blogs Everyone Should Read (HubSpot Blog)
- The Tragic Death of Practically Everything – Be sure to read the comments (Technologizer)