If you can’t find time to write, then MAKE time — or I swear I’ll send you a fruitcake!

image Because this week’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing happens to fall on Friday the 13th, and because undisputed Master of Horror STEPHEN KING was kind enough to send in a special accolade, we’re totally skipping my normal introduction about offering writing tips based on my 15 years as a columnist (stop yawning) so we can get right to Mr. King’s unsolicited accolade regarding the value of my weekly NWOW and how a run-on sentence can get people to read an entire opening paragraph before they even know it!

Comment from THE Stephen King:

“Ned, I visit your Nickel’s Worth quiet often. And so does my LAWYER. We’ll be in touch.”

— Sincerely, Stephen King (Undisputed Master of Horror)


With that kind of affirmation, I could end this post right there — and my lawyer agrees I probably should. But my weekly NWOW isn’t about me; it isn’t about flaunting the adoration I receive from literary giants; and it isn’t about receiving accolades. It’s about… uh…

Oh Yeah! Writing tips! Which brings us to this week’s topic:

Find Make time to write — or I swear I’ll send you a fruitcake! Continue reading

Coming out to the ones you love about your alternative (writing) lifestyle

image (Today at Siuslaw News, we are short-staffed and on early deadlines, with many of us suffering the lingering effects of tryptophan and alcohol. The result is an extremely small staff of tired, hungover reporters trying to put out today’s edition. Being that I am the tallest and least hungover, I am suddenly an integral part of assuring today’s success — which is a stark contrast to the role I normally play in the newsroom. What does this all mean? For those who recognized the title of this week’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, you already know it’s a repeat from a year ago regarding what it means to be a writer. For those who never read this post or, for reasons of their own, blocked the experience from their minds, this will be new to you. In either case, whether reading this for the first time, a second time or angrily throwing your coffee at the monitor and sending me the bill, always be proud to be a writer…) Continue reading

Want to keep your writing fresh? Start with regular flossing

image I’d like to thank the American Dental Association for sponsoring this week’s writing tip, which brings me to a startling statistic: 4-out-of-5 dentists have never recommended or even heard of this blog. The fifth dentist only heard about it when, moments after my lips went numb, I was trying to say “Ben Roethlisberger’s lob” and he thought I said “Ned’s worthless blog.” Regardless, there are many similarities between keeping a fresh feeling to your writing and avoiding gingivitis. So think of me as your “literary orthodontist” as I take you through a quick writer’s check-up. Please remember I don’t have a saliva vacuum…

A good dentist will tell you it’s important to floss between meals, and will demonstrate its importance by flossing for you during your visit. That’s unless he also happens to be your proctologist, in which case I’d like to welcome you to the new National Health Care Plan. Continue reading

For writers, it isn’t always easy to find The End

image Welcome to Ned’s Nickels Worth on Writing, a weekly feature in which I utilize my 15 years as a columnist to impart writing wisdom that 50 Shades author E.L. James has called “The inspiration for my ‘safe’ word.” Keeping that in mind (…ok, that’s enough), this week’s NWOW is special because, like a good “safe” word, it could keep you from getting spanked too hard when it comes to formulating a strong ending to your story, column, novel, latest post or current relationship.

Before we get started, I’d like to say thanks to Ross Murray at Drinking Tips for Teens and Molly at Mollytopia for suggesting this topic in response to last week’s NWOW, during a series of comments that went something like this: Continue reading

Don’t become your own expendable character; utilize writer survivor skills

image I think we can all agree it’s Friday! For those who can’t agree, you are welcome to think it’s Thursday. But don’t come crying to the rest of us when you show up to an empty office tomorrow dressed in jeans and a casual dress shirt. For the rest of you, today is also the day I dispense my Nickel’s Worth on Writing: a weekly feature on writing that has been recognized by the prestigious trade magazine Publishers Weekly as “…a weekly post…each and every week…”

But you didn’t come here to read gushing accolades!

Over the years, my wife has gotten used to my (admittedly bad) habit of leaning over and whispering “expendable character” whenever I see someone who I know is going to die. I should clarify I only make these predictions while watching movies, and not, as a general rule, at the grocery store, in hospital waiting rooms or at family reunions. That’s because in movies, these types of characters are easy to spot. Continue reading

Regular writing can shape your literary thighs

Bike typewriter copy Friday means it’s time for Ned’s Nickel’s Worth On Writing, a weekly post on writing that Writer’s Digest has called “Valued customer.” and “…Long Overdue on payment.”

After last week’s NWOW, which was an interview I gave at R.G. Dole, a lot of you asked about the answer I gave to the final question:

Is it true you are a consultant for E. L. James?

Because I am under contract, I couldn’t answer that question, which brought us to the final, final question and the one people actually asked about:

What advice would you give to a writer who is just starting out?

In my answer, I said establishing a writing routine is crucial, and gave a brief explanation on why it was so important and how to make it happen. Many of you asked me to elaborate on this.

No one asked about my consulting for 50 Shades.

As it turns out, the third post I ever wrote for my weekly NWOW was about the benefits of creating a writing routine, and how those who don’t should be spanked… Continue reading

Giving a good interview means revealing yourself (and other reasons I won’t be in Playgirl)

It’s time once again for Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, a weekly feature in which I utilize my 15 years as a columnist to offer advice that has been heralded by Oprah Winfrey as “possibly someone in our Book Club, I think.” This week’s NWOW is going to be a bit of a departure. Not because Oprah is flying us all to Chicago, but because I had the privilege of being interviewed by A Drip of Truth, a blog about writers and writing, hosted by the talented R.G. Dole. It’s also a departure because, after looking back over this interview, I realized I actually said some things that could be interpreted as helpful…

image 1) What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

Without question, the introduction part of this interview would be a lot better if I had a really cool name like “Blaze” or “Vin.”

My name is Ned, which doesn’t set an exciting tone.

However, if all goes well, we’ve just passed through the low point of this interview. I’ve been a newspaper humor columnist for 15 years, the last year of which has been in syndication through News Media Corporation. A began blogging a little over a year ago and, after careful consideration and meeting with a team of marketing analysts, titled my blog with the compelling name: Ned’s Blog. I’m also on Twitter and Facebook. To be honest, I’m still not sure why — but I’m told it will help me establish a media empire rivaling our local public access channel… (Read more here)

To be heard above the crowd, a writer needs to establish their voice

Typewriter at mic It’s time once again for my weekly Nickel’s Worth on Writing, when I utilize my 15 years as a columnist to offer writing wisdom some of today’s most successful authors have called “Full of…words,” “Utterly…complete,” and “Total…advice…”

Or as Stephen King described, “The place I go to scare myself.”

But enough accolades already!

For only the second time in NWOW history, this week’s offering is a re-post. The reason has nothing to do with laziness or lack of inspiration, and everything to do with answering a question that many new followers have been asking since last week’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing:

Have you ever considered plumbing as an occupation?

As I consider that suggestion, I thought I’d answer the second most frequently asked question since last week’s NWOW post, which was:

You have a unique writing style. How do I avoid it?

So let us begin… Continue reading

Writers who don’t talk to themselves scare me

image Welcome to this week’s edition of Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, where some of today’s most prolific writers come to acquire the kind of wisdom Tom Clancy has called “…an example of complexity and insightfulness I generally delete from my first drafts.”

Or as Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins raved, “My measuring stick when it comes to font size.”

But enough accolades already!

Whether you’re a novelist, columnist, poet or Subway sandwich artist, talking to yourself during the creative process is important. Admittedly, I can only speak with some authority on the first three; that last example is mostly an observation based on the two Subways in our area. Regardless, at the risk of sounding politically incorrect, I think every good writer needs a certain level of multiple personality disorder with a dash of schizophrenia. That’s because, as a writer, you need to have the ability to do more than simply observe and notate things about people and situations; you have to be able to inhabit them in the same way that, say… Justin Beiber inhabits his role as a skinny caucasian gangster.

Except unlike Justin Beiber, you must be believable. Continue reading

As an author, you can’t be everything to everyone — unless you have a fog machine

image Regular readers of this blog know my weekly Nickel’s Worth on Writing is when I utilize my 15 years as a columnist to offer writing insights that famed author John Grisham recently heralded as “…where I found inspiration for many of my most memorable characters, particularly those who die in the first chapter.”

Or as Fifty Shades author E.L. James called it, “Writing advice that exemplifies the reason some authors need a good spanking.” Continue reading