Write Stuff Writing Services

The Virtual Home of Rich and Dorothea Helms

Tips for the Business of Writing

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  • Remember today’s strict privacy laws. Forward client/colleague emails only with permission.
  • If you make a mistake, own up to it, apologize and fix it as best you can. Avoid the blame game – take responsibility for your actions.
  • Keep on good terms with clients so they will recommend you to others.
  • Be patient. People in business are stressed. Taking offense at something someone says is a decision on your part. Sometimes it’s best to bite your tongue. Make the customer think he/she is always right.
  • Avoid putting clients on your I-think-this-is-funny/touching/important or I-want-to-share-this-virus-warning-with-you bulk e-mail list. As an editor, it ticks me off when people assume I want to get these messages. I already get more emails a day than I can handle.
  • Make the most of every opportunity. I have been teaching creative writing for years, during many of which I was editing numerous publications. Only a couple people ever queried me with ideas for the magazines and newspaper sections I edited.
  • Do what you say you’re going to do. This will get you more business than any advertising or social networking.
  • To be fair to others in the publishing chain (editor, layout person, printer, etc.), come in on deadline and within the word count allotted.
  • Make it easy to do business with you. For example, on your invoice, include “Make cheque payable to…” and let clients know ahead of time when you will be away or unavailable for work.
  • Treat layout people well – they make what you write look great. BUT – if you are proofreading, check titles and cutlines carefully; layout artists sometimes key those in and make typos.
  • Charge enough to make a decent amount of money per hour. If a client won’t pay it, assume that person/company is not in your target market and move on.
  • Avoid procrastinating invoicing. It’s a pain for most of us right-brainers, but regular invoicing by freelancers is necessary for cash flow.
  • Be honest in business. If you make a mistake, own up to it, apologize and do what you can to remedy the situation. Then move on.
  • If you’re going to give away writing, offer it to a charitable or non-profit organization rather than a for-profit publication or business.
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Writing Services

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Internationally published writer Dorothea Helms is passionate about writing, and has had her work appear in an amazingly diverse selection of publications. She has also served as editor of three magazines and several newspaper sections, in addition to editing books for individual authors. Whatever your writing, ghostwriting or editorial needs, Dorothea will exceed your expectations with a product that is not only written well, but is also creative.
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Courses & Workshops

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Creative Writing – a 10-week course offered each fall at the Uxbridge, Ontario, campus of Durham College that provides an overview of fiction and non-fiction writing for the person who is passionate about the craft, but needs direction in both polishing work for publication and the mechanics of how to approach editors.

Advanced Creative Writing – a 10-week course (offered at different times throughout the year) that builds on the skills from Creative Writing and pushes participants to expand their comfort zones and experiment more. During part of this course, Dorothea uses Pat Schneider’s Amherst Writers & Artists Method, in which she has been trained.
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Keynote Speeches

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The Art of Making Money: How Artsie-Fartsies Can Learn to Tap Into Left Brain Skills
Humor Sells: Write Funny to Make Money
Don’t Sell Yourself Short: Marketing for the 21st Century
Weight No Longer: Learn to Love Yourself at Any Weight
Straight to the Top: How to Approach Celebrities and Other Important People
Opportunity’s Knocking: Make the most of every chance to advance your career
Your Name in Print: Write and Get Published (You know you want to!)

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Business Training

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In 1994, I was dabbling in professional freelance writing, making a few bucks here and there and generally working horrendous hours for little return. I knew how to write – I simply didn’t understand how to make money at it.

Then in 1994, I was accepted into a self-employment program run by Women and Rural Economic Development (WRED). Once I opened my mind to the left brain side of running a business, I was amazed at how my career took off. To this day, I make more money than most writers in Canada, and I strongly suggest other writers start to look at their articles, stories, books, poems, ads and whatever as products and consider pursuing entrepreneurial training. I spent several years as a Rural Organization Specialist with the Central Ontario Region of WRED. I offer my heartfelt thanks to WRED for helping to change my life and help me launch my lifelong dream.
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Editing Tips

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Benefits Of Editing For Efficiency:

  • it is helpful in meeting word number maximums and space requirements
  • it is a critical factor in humor writing
  • it eliminates redundant words and sentences
  • it eliminates unnecessary words
  • the piece reads more fluidly
  • it inspires the writer to be even more creative
  • you learn to become more objective about the work being edited
  • it can make the difference between effective and ineffective ad copywriting
  • you increase your vocabulary by experimenting with different wording
  • it helps a writer to place his/her ego into perspective
  • it tailors a piece to the targeted market or readership

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Humour Writing Tips

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Anyone for bungee-shopping?

What’s the plural of “Johnny-on-the-spot”?

I’m amazed at people who buy accordian files; imagine knowing that many people who play the accordian, that you’d need an entire file for them!

Comedy – it’s all around us every day – IF you just look and listen.

As sophisticated as entertainment, education and advertising have become, one basic fact remains true: HUMOR SELLS! In this day of economic stress, political unrest, increasing crime and Kathy Lee and Regis, people NEED and WANT more humor in their lives.

If you are or aspire to become a humor writer, you’re plunging into a world that’s madcap, zany and can actually make you a few bucks.

TIP 1: WRITE DOWN everything you find funny every day. Really. Do it. Get those little pads of colorful self-adhesive notes and keep one with you at all times. Yes, even in the bathroom (bathroom humor is big with kids). Just jot down anything funny that might come to mind in the course of your boring, useless existence; it may come in handy someday when you’re wrestling with a line in a sitcom or trying to come up with a funny premise for a skit. If you think of something when you’re driving, pull over and WRITE IT DOWN – it’s that important.

TIP 2: KEEP A HUMOR FILE. This is so you have somewhere to put those dozens of little pieces of pink and yellow paper. Don’t worry about sorting them out or trying to make sense of them right away. If they make too much sense, they’re not funny. Just keep shoving them in, and when you need inspiration or hit a writing snag, pull out the file and start laughing!

TIP 3: REMEMBER THAT PEOPLE LAUGH WHEN THEY’RE SURPRISED. Whether humor is spoken, written or physically acted out, people laugh when they know they’ve been tricked into thinking one thing will happen, when another does instead. Lead them down the garden path, then open the trap door and let them fall in.

TIP 4: DON’T TRY TOO HARD. When humor in a piece is too contrived or unnatural, it simply isn’t funny.

TIP 5: PLAY WITH WORDS. Ad writers get paid thousands of dollars for coming up with headlines and concepts that are based on unusual or unorthodox uses of everyday words and phrases. This is especially useful when writing humorous titles; for a comedic look at hockey, The buck stops here becomes The puck stops here! Experiment on paper – free associate and have fun with cliches.

TIP 6: EDIT, EDIT, EDIT. Last year, I was discouraged by the number of rejections I’d received for two particularly funny articles I’d written. I tried an experiment; using the editing tips I outline on my editing page, I cut each article’s length in half. I sent them off and sold them both within a few weeks. If something is too long, it isn’t funny; shorter pieces pack more punch. (This rule applies to most writing, not just humor, but it’s particularly critical where comedy is concerned).

And remember – light yogurt is great – throw in a little chocolate syrup, you’d never know it was calorie-reduced!

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Jane Hawtin

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On the air, she’s intelligent, passionate, gutsy, caring and unpredictable. At home, she’s… intelligent, passionate, gutsy, caring and unpredictable. “I’m the same off the air as on,” admits Jane Hawtin, popular host of WTN’s Jane Hawtin Live! There’s no pretension about the charismatic talk show host who has been educating and entertaining Canadians since 1976, when she landed her first on-air radio job in Kingston. She hosted Q107’s public affairs and entertainment show, Barometer, until 1987, when CFRB’s The Jane Hawtin Show, was born and matured to Canada’s highest-rated noon hour talk show.
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George Fox

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“Oh, just tell the folks I’ve got about 65 pounds of awards,” he says modestly, when asked why the walls in his rustic country home aren’t lined with gold records and Junos. It’s a typical interview answer from Canada’s fastest-rising country star, George Fox, who considers chopping firewood as much an integral part of his life as writing and performing music. To George, the “country” lifestyle is more than fodder for song lyrics: “It’s in your blood, like cholesterol.”
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Neil Crone

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As Duncan Crone slides down the banister on his stomach feet first, it’s not hard to figure out who taught him how. With actor Neil Crone as a father, both seven-year-old Duncan and his four-year-old brother, Connor, were born with a head start on appreciating all kinds of comedy, from slapstick to irony.
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