Become a Better Writer by Creating, Not Writing

Nick Adams StoriesI was a sophomore in college when one of my buddies handed me a copy of Ernest Hemingway’s Nick Adams Stories and told me to read “Big Two-Hearted River.” Nothing much happens in the story, which is about a young World War I veteran who returns to Michigan eager to hike into the wilderness to camp and fish. But as an avid fly fisherman, and someone who understood the soothing, regenerative power of nature, I was hooked. I wanted to connect with people the way Hemingway had connected with me, like he was sitting across a campfire, drinking whiskey and telling glorious lies. I changed my major to English Literature and decided I was going to be a writer.

After graduation, I was plugging along, still trying to be a writer while working the night shift at a newspaper in Maine, reporting on fires and town meetings. I’d finish work around 1 a.m., then go home and write until the sun came up. My work improved; I even published a couple of short stories. Thing is, I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. Just thinking about it felt like a struggle. I needed a break, but I still wanted to be creative. Continue reading

Featured Contributor: J.C. Lewis


School: The University of Bristol (UK)
Degree: BSc Politics
Approved Sections: Arts and Crafts, Food and Drink, Travel, Style, Home, Home Decor, Social Science.

michaelscottHold the phone — you have a 2010 DMS contributor of the year award? Do you have a lot of trophies at home?  No, I don’t have any trophies at home, so my DMS award is very lonely. I have a couple of medals from 5Ks I ran in last year, but it wasn’t for winning or anything close to it, they gave them to everyone. Continue reading

Set Your Writer Free

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Sergey Nivens/iStock/Getty Images

I only used to write when an idea or a concept raced through my head —  I’d run to my computer (or my smartphone) in order to secure it, and then revisit my idea when inspiration hit me.

The idea of sitting down, with the clock ticking, and no inkling of what I want to say is scary—will anything come? What if there’s nothing but silence? Turns out, this scary act is somewhat magical. In writing what I don’t already know, I’ve discovered that images and words could unfold in new and unexpected ways. Continue reading

6 Everyday Words That Annoy Me


–> Fact:’s “The Best ‘New’ Words of the Last Hundred Years” caters to my inner word junkie and serves as inspiration for this blog post. If you haven’t already checked out the infographic, now’s the time!

–> Fact: Contrary to the aforementioned eHow article, there exist certain words/phrases out there that, when uttered in a particular vernacular, makes my blood boil — I’m sure I’m not the only one. Buzzfeed hit the nail on the head with their spot-on “13 Most Annoying Words And Phrases On The Internet,” which covers most (if not all) of my most hated words. Highlights from their article include …

  • Totes — “It’s totes cray up in the airport this morning.”
  • YOLO — “Keep calm because #YOLO
  • Amazeballs — “We’re literally amazeballs at sport.”

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Featured Contributor: Paula Martinac


School: Hawthorn University
Degree: M.S., Health and Nutrition Education
Approved Sections: Nutrition, Science

kaleWhat’s your take on the phenomenon that is Kale? How do you prepare it? Kale truly is a superfood, that’s not hype. It’s packed with nutrients. But it’s not the most super superfood, and no single food will cure anything or make you skinny. My favorite kind of kale is lacinato or dinosaur kale, and I chop it up raw and mix it with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, red pepper flakes and a little Parmesan or Romano cheese. Let it stand for about 30 minutes and you’ve got an amazing salad. Continue reading

How Adding Voice & Having Fun Can Make the Mundane Entertaining

We asked one of our editors (Betsy Brooks) to provide an example of how a little bit of voice can drastically improve a potentially boring topic. “Sure thing,” she said. The topic she chose? McDonald’s ketchup.

datoneEveryone knows McDonald’s ketchup is fantastic. F a n t a s t i c. Don’t trust anyone who tells you otherwise. As a kid, I always assumed McDonald’s served Heinz, mostly because they really are the household name in ketchup, and also because I was a kid and didn’t yet know how to spot a Heinz imposter. Turns out, most people think that McDonald’s serves Heinz – to the layman condiment consumer, they taste virtually the same. As the years passed, though, I became a budding condimenteur, and I began to notice the subtle differences: the extra hint of vinegar in the Fancy Ketchup at McDonald’s; the smoother texture and richer red delivered by Heinz; the saltier aftertaste of the FK at McD’s…  Also, the label on the ketchup at McDonald’s says “Fancy Ketchup,” and not “Heinz.” That probably should have been the first clue. Continue reading

9 Powerful Writing Quotes

quotesAre you on the hunt for inspiration? Looking for a feel-good quote that’s all about writing? Well, look no further than the following 8 quotes. Hopefully one (or all) of these quotes will help place that pen back into your hand with renewed gusto.

1. Somerset Maugham

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Four Things You (and Your Kids) Should Know About Credit

By: Beverly Bird

Several months ago, my son wandered up to my desk as I was working and cleared his throat. A shiny piece of plastic stuck out from between his fingers, which he waved between my nose and the computer screen so I couldn’t possibly miss it.

A credit card. His credit card. His. Very. Own. Credit. Card. Continue reading

DMS Content: Enriching Lives, Ruining My Favorite Flicks


Plot narratives – unless highly cerebral or well… boring, hinge upon conflict. Conflicts big and small are what entertain and watching characters resolve aforementioned conflicts is what bonds us to them. Some of my very favorite films and characters go through substantial messiness to conquer their unique breed of conflict: Harry and Sally realize that, despite their best efforts, men and women can’t be just friends – oh and that they love each other in When Harry Met Sally; Entrepreneur, John Hammond learns that bringing prehistoric creatures back to life, to live in a theme park was one of his less responsible business ventures in Jurassic Park; Jerry Lundegaard, poor guy, realizes that he not only can’t sell cars, but is unable to execute the fake kidnapping of his own wife in Fargo. Conflict – this is the stuff. It’s the same stuff that keeps sites like LIVESTRONG.COM and eHow in business. After all, we’re answering questions and providing solutions to life’s conflicts.

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7 Popular Sayings and What They Really Mean

7thingsThe Bee’s Knees, Pleased as Punch, Paint the Town Red … have you ever wondered why we say such odd expressions? What, exactly, do they mean, and where did they originate from?

Behold, seven of the more popular sayings/expressions/phrases, each with the most favorable explanation on their origins. You might be surprised to learn more about them, and you might even think twice before you say ’em again. Continue reading