"Outdoor Carolling at Night" image by The Wu's Photo Land
I found a handful of venues for singing Christmas carols outdoors in Toronto for Dec. 2013, and shared these secrets in "2013 Outdoor Christmas Caroling in Toronto and Mississauga
DeHaan Services often publicizes frugal but fun events in Toronto and in neighbouring cities. This article differs from most on the site, however. That leads to today's writing tip.
One Writing Tip for Multiple Images
Usually I illustrate each article in DeHaan Services (or in this blog) with a single image. The 2013 outdoor caroling article has three pictures: the family shown above, and two maps that I crafted.
Possibly I would have thought of making those maps to save on writing directions. (That's what I had done for a similar article last year).
Certainly I've added more images to articles in Decoded Science or for other online magazine sites.
But I recently saw an online magazine that deliberately put one image in every section...that is, after each sub-heading. That site's medium-length articles had quite a few headings, so the images really helped make the article attractive.
The writing tip is to experiment with the number of images you include in your article. Change your pattern, no matter what your pattern had been.
If you had been frugal with your photographs, then try being lavish. If you normally place an image with every paragraph, try leaving most out.
If you need to illustrate every step in a project, then do take pictures and do include them. If you just want one image to catch the reader's eye, but the rest of the article does not need illustrations, then leave them out.
You may need to change your writing style to do this experiment well. Then ask for feedback, and make changes as indicated by your readers.
Thanks for reading about outdoor Christmas caroling in Toronto for 2013.
"Toronto Mayor Rob Ford campaigns with puppet in 2010" image by Shaun Merritt
One Writing Tip is Take a New Approach
People sometimes quote Albert Einstein as saying that "Insanity is trying the same things and expecting a different result".
Just as Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is taking a new approach to his quest to improve his health and fitness by losing weight and exercising, so too did I analyze his attempt in a different way.
This writing tip presents a few practical ways to approach your "same old" topic in new ways, by comparing and contrasting two or more examples.
This was Mayor Ford's second weight loss attempt in public:
- How did his approach differ?
What is he doing the same as before?
Are more people involved?
Did it start the same way?
Are there more or fewer props?
Are there new reasons or motives?
Are the stakes higher?
Your new article might have different things to compare; explore them.
Just remember that your readers need to invest their emotional energy in these contrasts. Keep them guessing; take a poll; or simply present the differences as options that they can second-guess.
"2009 Santa Claus Parade in Toronto" image by c'est la Viva
Let's Promote Running in Winter, Too
Soon I also realized that the Holly Jolly Run was only one of a handful of winter running races in Toronto. Some of those are uniquely local; others are franchise events held throughout Canada.
So I wrote "Run Races to Keep Motivated for Winter Running" in my DeHaan Fitness... blog. Hopefully people will find it helpful, even if they don't live within Toronto or the GTA.
One Tactical Writing Tip
You may recall a previous writing tip that advised publicizing two closely-related articles at once, as a time-saving measure.
In this case, I knew from the start that "Santa Claus Parade" needed two articles: one for Toronto and one for the GTA.
You could argue that each city deserves its own article. Yes, true, especially if there are enough potential readers searching for their own "long-tail keywords".
One example of a long-tail keyword is "Santa Claus Parade in Mississauga". The long tail starts with the word "in". The more your article sticks to one topic, the better for its rank for search engines.
On the other hand, there just aren't that many people in each GTA city who need to search online for their local events. In particular, the biggest events will advertise themselves; or people will remember from year to year. So it's not efficient for me to research enough for that many complete articles.
Back to the writing tip. Once you recognize a topic that can span multiple articles, decide on how you will split that material. In this case, "city by city" is obvious. The other day, I discussed a different split for another publication: group some items by popular category; and the rest by date.
The rest of the writing tip is to do the planning and research in one stage. Outline all your drafts before writing one article in full. Then review your plans: do they cover everything once, but nothing twice?
That's one approach for efficient writing while covering a topic thoroughly. Hopefully my 2013 Santa Claus Parade articles were thorough enough for my readers!
"Streetsville Cenotaph in Mississauga, Ontario" image by Administrator of StreetsvilleLiving.com
One Timely and Memorable Writing Tip
Consider how long a time your article will remain important and attractive to readers.
When I began writing articles for online magazines, they advised that we write about "evergreen" topics. These subjects either have lasting value, such as "Three Reasons to Avoid Vitamin D Deficiency
", or else should offer seasonal interest.
Clearly these Remembrance Day articles have seasonal interest.
However, those online magazines preferred something along the lines of "The Origins of Remembrance Day". Such information would not change year over year; but it would attract some new readers annually.
In my case, I chose a niche in DeHaan Services
that offers "upcoming events" rather than "annual evergreen" articles. So I must write new articles each year, ensuring that the events truly take place.
's writing tip
is that you must understand the longevity of each article you choose to write. Here are three typical timelines:
- News articles limit themselves to the present moment. Comparatively few readers will ever go back to research historic events through online publications. You commit yourself to writing constantly...or at least as often as something newsworthy occurs in your chosen field. "Theatre of the Beat to Commemorate War of 1812 in Stouffville" is an example. It was the first time this play would be performed, in response to the first time this GTA city had been noted, by rather slanted history, as having supported that war with strength of arms.
- Annual events must be re-researched and re-written as novel essays. My Remembrance Day articles fall in this category.
- Evergreen articles can last a long time. "How to" topics often possess this type of staying power.
So this writing tip encourages you to understand your goals and strengths. If you hope to write once and earn forever, go "evergreen". If your blog covers sports, be prepared to write after every game.
Or, in my case, I have to mark a calendar with annual Toronto events so as to inform my
"Kurt Godel" via Arithmeum Museum in Bonn
The great 20th century mathematician Kurt Gödel also wrote a trifling little proof that God exists.
My recent Decoded Science article, "How Modal Logic Proved Godel was Right, and God Exists", introduces the logic
Gödel used and how computers verified the validity of his proof.
I've also publicized this article in my DeHaan Services blog's "From Kurt Godel to God via Modal Logic". It puts a Canadian spin on the topic. It also recommends a couple of books: one about
Gödel's life and work; the other that explains his famous Incompleteness Theorem in a whimsical manner.
One Niche Writing Tip
My Decoded Science
article began as a challenge from my editor: could I write it overnight? The news media had learned about the proof of Gödel's God theorem, and my editor wanted us in the mix.
My first estimate was that it would take all night for me to touch on all the elements of
- What did Gödel write?
- How was his proof verified?
- What computer programs were used? What were their niche functions?
- What is this "modal logic" that was so important to both his writing and for the verification?
I quickly realized I couldn't cover everything. However, the niche I could fulfill was explaining "modal logic" (once I'd briefly covered Gödel's God theorem).
That only took half a night; much better than estimated, and much more likely that someone would read.
So today's writing tip is to select a niche within one article, when the overall topic is far too large. You're better off covering one thing well, than spreading yourself too thin.
My bonus writing tip
is that you will do better writing a series of articles about that topic, with each article filling a specific niche. With regard to Gödel's God theorem, I could still research and write about the computer programs. In fact, each program (such as "Sledgehammer") could be the foundation for a few articles that explain how and why its approach is important and unique for computer-generated theorem verification.
Thanks for reading about
Gödel's new niche, the God theorem.
"The Enemy of the Predictive Turing Machine" by Mike DeHaan
One Writing Tip thanks to a Free-Will Editor
Months before I wrote "Free Will...", I'd already explained the basics of Turing Machines in a series of articles in Decoded Science.
However, one must not assume that every reader knows the background. That's especially true of Turing Machines in this article, since many readers might be drawn first to the "free will vs determinism" question.
So I touched on the bare details about Turing Machines and the Halting Problem.
I listed & linked back to all my previous articles at the end of this one. I also added a note to the editor that I knew this was not a good approach, but that some readers would need the reference material.
My editor brilliantly put the links to my previous articles into the "bare details" of background, rather than in a list at the end.
My second-hand writing tip, based on this free-willed editor's approach, is to follow suit. If you have background articles, and you touch on those topics in your new article, add that link in the background or introduction.
You could use the same approach in other places. If you've written about the classic "Dick and Jane" primary reader books, build in the links to the character pages.
"The book invites the reader to share in Dick and Jane's their first adventure. Just remember that Spot is a dog; you should not see spots before your eyes". (No, those are not real links from this article).
Remember that quoting the full title of an article intrudes more than a brief in-line link. The writing tip is to choose carefully, and be less intrusive for reference links back to your own articles.
Did you notice my sneaky link back to the "preview" article? No? For shame. Anyway, that's how to make a non-intrusive reference link.
Thanks for using your free will, or accepting your deterministic nature, in reading about their relationship to Turing's Halting Problem.
"The CFL Grey Cup in 2006" image by roland (Roland Tanglao)
My latest DeHaan Services
article, "The First Free Event for Grey Cup 2013 in Regina
", continues a popular annual topic.Last year Toronto hosted the Grey Cup. I wrote a pretty popular article about the precious few free celebrations associated with the Canadian Football League's championship game (and festival), including the parade.This year Regina hosts the Grey Cup Festival. So although it's not an "annual Toronto event", my blog will cover the freebies anyway.
Continuity in a Follow-Up 2013 Grey Cup Article
this section Nov. 17, 2013): I followed up the above article with "More Free Events for the 2013 Grey Cup in Regina
I was pleasantly surprised to find a dozen free events in Grey Cup Festival week; more if you count the repeating items. This list of free Grey Cup events should find more favour among hard-core sports and music fans, compared to the first which had a decided "arts" appeal.
One Writing Tip for Continuity
(Updated this section Nov. 17, 2013, after added the second DeHaan Services article).
A standard piece of advice for writers, and especially for bloggers, is to build a niche and stay within it. Your readers want to feel comfortable with your style and your topics. On the other hand, you have to write something novel from time to time; otherwise you become the boring old geezer who always tells the same tired story.
Here I've publicized two articles that follow one theme in my blog: free or frugal annual events. However, I've broken away from my usual geographic limits of Toronto and its suburban neighbours.
Will this article attract new readers who specifically want to learn how to do the 2013 Grey Cup Festival in Regina "on the cheap"? Or will it be ignored by loyal readers who really only care about Toronto? It's an experiment.
The writing tip is to take deliberate steps to expand your niche: make changes but with some continuity. Stretch one dimension at a time, but keep another constant.
With these articles about the Regina Grey Cup Festival, I've stretched my geography while keeping the "cheap" approach. Perhaps some other time I will write about spending big bucks in Toronto: that would reverse the dimensions that change or stay constant.
So feel free to expand your niche when it may make sense for your current readers and also attract new ones.
"Two Dogs in Halloween Costumes" image by Pets Adviser
Who can resist happy Halloween dog pictures? Hopefully not the readers of my latest DeHaan Services
article, "Dog Costume Halloween Parades in Toronto and the GTA 2013
".This article points to three events in and around Toronto for pet owners to enjoy a Hallowe'en event with their dogs. It adds a bonus item for an annual event in a New York City park; one with almost a quarter of a century of history.
Squeeze in 2013 Hallowe'en Just for People
Oct. 24, 2013): Let me also publicize "2013 Halloween Events in Toronto and the GTA
", which I wrote a few days later. We can't let the dogs have all the fun, can we?By the way, that new article is an example of "dogged" pursuit of this Hallowe'en theme, as well as the fact that it's a great time of year to write in the niche of annual events.
One Dogged Writing Tip
This writing tip uses "dogged" in the sense of "persistent" or "persisting".
We all hope that our very next blog post will go viral, to catapult us into the ranks of well-known and highly-paid writers.
In the mean time, be persistent. Doggedly pursue your goal. If you have a schedule, stick to it. Meet your deadlines.
At this moment, I'm suffering more from "too many timely topics" than from "lack of inspiration". It can be difficult to fit all the tasks into the timeframe.
By the way, I'm not saying "keep banging your head into a wall". Keep working, but do be open to new techniques and new inspirations.
Meanwhile, enjoy what you do doggedly, just as these animal lovers enjoy dressing their dogs in Hallowe'en costumes.
"Simple Graph of One Cone" : image by Mike DeHaan
Decoded Science "Pythagorean Equation and Fermat's Last Theorem" : image by Mike DeHaan
published my "Hypatia Taught Conic Sections and Diophantine Equations
" this morning (Oct. 17, 2013).
blog post features two images that I created for that article about the math used by Hypatia, a Greek philosopher who lived in the early Christian era. She's famous for being the earliest female mathematician, and also for her rather gruesome demise.As it turns out, I did not use the above image for my Hypatia article.
As I've noted in some other posts, my reason for publishing my home-made images in a blog belonging to me is simply to establish copyright.
Decoded Science has begun a policy of linking each image in their articles to the online source. So I've earned a free link to this page by pre-publishing my image. Sweet.
An Image for my Next Article, on Statistics
Another Future Article on Turing Machines "The Enemy of the Predictive Turing Machine" by Mike DeHaan
Oct. 28, 2013): Another day, another apology for yet another self-made image which someday should grace a Decoded Science
article. Sorry to post and run, but sometimes one must make haste.(Updated Oct. 29, 2013): I should write a separate promotional piece for
"Free Will, Determinism and Turing's Halting Problem
" since I've already thought of the right writing tip. But just now it's late, "and there are wolves".
One Inspirational Writing Tip
I was inspired to write my Hypatia article because of an article about her in a sister online magazine, Decoded Past. (I linked to that other article from my Decoded Science article, so you can read it too).
Today's writing tip is to take your inspiration where you find it.
I've said something similar about keeping your eyes open for topics before. But unless you generate an inexhaustible supply of concepts and ideas on your own, you will need to actively seek and find inspiration from what others write, say or do.
In this particular case, I noticed that the Decoded Past article mentioned Hypatia's math, but didn't say anything about what she actually studied or taught. Since that was right up my alley, I stepped up and delivered.
You can do the same when you find something that interests you and touches near your own writing niche. Find that inspiration, figure out what the first writer missed that you can supply, and "just do it". Just enhance your karma with a link back to your inspiration article; that author deserves it.
Thanks for reading about my process for writing about the math of Hypatia of Alexandria.
"Old Toronto Road Closure Sign for Waterfront Marathon" image by Mike DeHaan
For years, I've complained that the old "Road Closed" signs in Toronto do absolutely nothing to promote marathons in Toronto.My recent DeHaan Services article,
"2 Signs of the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon
", shows that the Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2013 should have some decent promotional signs along with the old-fashioned scary postings inspired by a Hallowe'en colour scheme.Sorry, you absolutely must click the link to see the new and improved sign for the
Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2013.As a bonus for those in Toronto, my article also notes the date and time, the major road closures, and adds my personal spectators' guide so you can see the runners where determination counts the most.
One Promotional Writing Tip
Today's writing tip suggests you consider how your web site or your writing style promotes itself.
Many marketing gurus claim you need to change the colour scheme or font, from time to time. Slap on some fresh paint to draw your readers' attention. "Ooh, shiny!" is the response to evoke.
On the other hand, your regular readers find your content meaningful or helpful; and they now know how to navigate your site. Don't change everything; at least, not all at once.
For example, I've adopted "bold style plus colour" to highlight "writing tip" in this blog. If I had planned this from the outset, and if I could code it as an XML style, I could change them all to "writing tip" so we could have consistency as well as change. But I'd either have to go back to each article and change the style manually, or leave articles inconsistent where I made the switch. Is that worth it?
My true writing tip is to look for the features that currently detract from your marketing appeal, and then fix those errors. Don't just change something for the sake of marketing. Instead, change the worst feature that works against the appeal your writing should have.
Those ugly old black-on-orange signs in Toronto were intended to scare away drivers; and they do a fine job. The new signs are more informative, and should attract spectators to come cheer the runners in the Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2013.
What will you change to incite your readers to cheer your next article?