Six Reasons to Blog About a Traumatic Event

Oct 29

Don’t tell me the moon is shining;
show me the glint of light on broken glass.
~Anton Chekhov

Hurricane. Earthquake. Divorce. A bad diagnosis. The week that changed everything.

Some bloggers would jump on the chance to narrate their most traumatic experiences: it’s just more blog material, right? Others might be afraid that reliving a painful event would just make them feel worse. Why go through all that grief again?

It turns out that there are many benefits to blogging about your own difficult moments.


1. Enlighten

Psychologist Jim David says that the simple act of writing about trauma can improve one’s physical health and psychological well-being.  Writing about trauma is a form of mental exposure to the stressful event, and exposure is known to have benefits in the treatment of trauma.

Writing can also be a way for one to organize (mentally, cognitively) a major stressful event into something meaningful, and integrate it with other life experiences. It can help the writer make sense of the event.

Writing, I think, is not apart from living.
Writing is a kind of double living.
The writer experiences everything twice.
Once in reality and once in that mirror
which waits always before or behind.
~Catherine Drinker Bowen, Atlantic, 1957

2. Engage

According to Copyblogger, producing a mental image in a reader’s mind is one of the most powerful things you can ever do as a writer.

Colorful descriptions make readers feel like they are experiencing the event with you. The more feelings and sensations you can include, the more you will hook your audience and keep them reading.

3. Encourage

Offering your own story can help others work through their own similar experiences. One of the most fulfilling aspects of blogging is the connection with readers and other bloggers. There is great value in realizing that you’re not alone in your personal struggles.

4. Educate

The lessons that you learned the hard way can serve to help your readers. Explain what you learned from the experience. How could you have prepared better? How did you react? How could readers avoid some of the problems that you had?

5. Entertain

Someone once said that comedy equals tragedy plus time. According to Moira Allen, sometimes, the best time to write about your experience is when you’re finally able to look back on it and laugh. The resulting article will not only be useful, but entertaining as well.

She also notes that not every experience is appropriate for a lighthearted treatment. Some topics are more serious, and should be handled with sensitivity and care.

6. Epiphany

An epiphany is the “aha” moment when you have a new understanding of yourself. Writing about your personal experiences can lead to this feeling of clarity for yourself and for your readers.

In conclusion

Writing and sharing your personal stories could be difficult as you churn up old memories (or recent experiences). If you consider the therapeutic value of writing and the potential benefits to your readers, you may be ready to sit down and start sharing.

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes
to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.
~Isaac Asimov


Note: This article appears in my Kindle ebook Blogging Rules!

Blogging Rules!

Aug 01

My  book  Blogging Rules! is available for FREE download on Kindle on Wednesday, August 1st.  You don’t even need a Kindle to read it. Please download, share with your bloggy friends and if you like, leave a review on Amazon!

Blogging Rules!: Creating a Blog That Attracts and Inspires the Readers You Want

I’m packing up and moving to Writing Revolution!

Jun 15


Hey, old friends! I’m on my way to

Please “Like” my brand new Facebook page at

Lots of good stuff coming very soon!

Rest in Peace, Maurice

May 08

Penn State Reporter Sara Ganim Is My New Role Model

Apr 17


This morning I picked up our local newspaper (yes, the old-fashioned kind on paper that gets ink on your fingers and can be ruined by a rain shower) at the end of the driveway. I used to read it first thing in the morning, but that was before the internet. I still look at the paper most days, but often there’s just more fresh, colorful stuff to be found online. Not to mention checking email, stats and Facebook.

On page two I saw a headline that says, “24-Year-Old Who Broke Penn State Story Wins Pulitzer.” Sara Ganim worked at the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania as a police and courts reporter. She was cited by the Pulitzer judges for, “courageously revealing and adeptly covering the explosive Penn State scandal” involving coach Jerry Sandusky’s alleged child molestation.

As a former journalism major who started out wanting to be a scrappy girl reporter, I give Sara Ganim a standing ovation, fist pump and a big old Facebook “Like.” To see that a reporter who works at a “real” local newspaper could break a big story like the Jerry Sandusky molestation case and apparent cover-up, practically brings a tear to my eye.

I don’t know anything about Sara Gamin except what I read in that single article. I have not Googled her, or tried to find out any extra scoops. But I’m guessing that when she was hired at the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, she might have wondered if this position in courts and police reporting would be a snooze-fest, with nothing interesting to report week after week after week. I very much doubt that she could have predicted her role in a huge scandal that could bring some much-needed soul searching in the collegiate football world, and eventually a form of healing and closure to the victims.

Since I was a kid, I got a kick out of the old movies featuring smoky newsrooms and snappy banter between reporters. I was in junior high when my parents followed the developments in the Watergate scandal, and Woodward and Bernstein became celebrities. As a teenager, I was inspired by a character on the Lou Grant TV show that came after The Mary Tyler Moore Show had ended (anyone remember the redheaded Billie?).

So many people have given up daily newspaper delivery and don’t even keep a home phone line any more. In the faster, more glamorous digital world, it’s somehow gratifying to see that a real reporter on a real newspaper can still make an enormous impact on revealing disturbing truths that have been swept under the rug by a system of denial and more denial.

I often hear that young college grads don’t want to pay their dues any more. They expect to do great things right out of college, and see no need to stick around in a less-than exciting job that might not lead to anything. It appears to me that Sara Ganim has managed to do great things while paying her dues. She’s my new role model.

One of Your Biggest Grammar Mistakes

Jan 03

Hi again, bloggers. We need to talk, and I’m really not kidding this time.

Internet marketers and money-making gurus, I’m talking to you, too.

Even some of the best writers are making this mistake. I see it all over the internet, from the small mommy blogs to the millionaire marketers who claim to teach us all how to make thousands each day.


Incorrect Use of the Apostrophe

Even though the apostrophe is used to indicate possession,  when you use a pronoun like her, you do not use an apostrophe.

For example, Sharon’s new car is red.

HOWEVER, when you are using a pronoun like her, you do not use an apostrophe.

Whose red car is that?

The red car is hers. (NOT her’s)

You NEVER use an apostrophe with hers.

Hint: Have you ever seen matching bath towel sets embroidered with “HIS” and “HERS” on them? When you are writing, remember that the words HIS and HERS also come as a matched set. You would never even think of using an apostrophe with “His.” So knowing that they are a matched set, you can always know that neither one ever takes an apostrophe.

Take a look at these other examples to clarify other similar (and very common) mistakes:

Is that dog your neighbor’s?

The dog is ours.  (NOT our’s)

Did I win the prize?

The prize is yours.  (NOT your’s)

Which house belongs to the Andersons?

The brick house is theirs.  (NOT their’s)


Bonus Tip

When you have a word like guru, and you want to make it plural, you just add an s. Yes, I realize that you already know this, but some people have the instinct to use an  apostrophe and turn it into “guru’s” as a plural. Is it possible that some people think that a word like “gurus” looks funny and it’s more clear to add the apostrophe? Don’t do it!

In Conclusion

If you can avoid making these mistakes in your blog posts, emails, and especially in your headlines, you’ll be avoiding some of the most common and most obvious errors that I see online.

233 Ways to Say Something Nice

Dec 16

At a Loss for Words?

Do you ever worry that you’re overusing certain words, like maybe great or amazing?Author E.B. White famously said,

Avoid the elaborate, the pretentious, the coy and the cute. Do not be tempted by a twenty-dollar word when there is a ten-center handy, ready and able.

That’s good advice, but as he also showed us in Charlotte’s Web, sometimes you have to do a little searching to find new ways to say something positive. Charlotte had to send her friends to search through a garbage dump for magazine scraps just to get some ideas. This list should make it a little easier for you to mix up your language a bit.


233 Positive Words

absolutely, abundant, acclaimed, abundant, acclaimed, accomplished, admirable, agreeable, amazing, ample, appreciable, arresting, awesome
beautiful, best, big-name, big-time, boundless, bounteous, bountiful, bright, brilliant
capital, celebrated, champion, choice, choicest, colossal, commendable, comprehensive, considerable, consummate, cool, crack, crazy,
dandy, decidedly, delightful, deluxe, deserving, desirable, distinctive, distinguished, dreamy, dynamic, dynamite
elevated, eminent, enormous, esteemed, estimable, exalted, excellent, exceptional, exemplary, exquisite, extensively, extraordinary, extremely
fab, fabulous, famed, fantastic, favorable, fine, first-class, first-rate, foremost,
gentle, glorious, good, gorgeous, grand, great
heavenly, hefty, high-powered, honorable, honored, huge, humongous, hunky-dory
illustrious, immeasurable, immensely, important, incalculable, incomparable, inexhaustible, infinite, inordinately, intense, invaluable
jake, jaunty, jocular, joker, joy, joyful, joyous
keen, kind, kindly, kosher
large, large-scale, lavish, limitless, lofty
magnificent, majestic, major-league, marked, marvelous, masterful, masterly, memorable, mighty, monumental, much
neat, nifty, noble, not bad, not too shabby, notable, noted, noteworthy, noticeable, noticeably, number one
out of this world, outstanding, overwhelming
paragon, peachy, peerless, perfect, pleasant, plenteous, plentiful, positive, powerful, precious, preeminent, premium, priceless, prime, prime, proficient, profuse, prominent
quality, quintessential
radiant, reasonable, remarkable, renowned, reputable, respectable, respected, resplendent, righteous,
satisfying, select, seriously, singular, sizable, smashing, solid, special, splendid, strong, substantial, super, superb, superior, superlative, surpassing, surprising, surprisingly superstar, supreme, stupendous, swell
terrific, tiptop, top, top-notch, transcendent tremendous
unbelievable, unending, unforgettable, unlimited, unmitigated, unqualified, unreal, untold, utterly,
valuable, vast, vastly, venerable, vigorous, visionary, voluminous
well-known, wicked, wonderful, world-class, worthy
xenial (means hospitable toward guests, friendly to strangers)
yahoo, yippee, youthful, yummy
zealous, zesty



Image credit: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, illustration by Garth Williams.


Peeping Tom and Nervous Nellie: Ten Famous Names and Where They Came From

Nov 07

1. Peeping Tom

Lady Godiva was a noblewoman who lived in England in the eleventh century, who began campaigning for a tax reduction. She made an agreement with her husband that he would reduce taxes when she rode naked through the market square.

Legend has it that Godiva sent word to the people of the town, asking them to avert their eyes as she rode naked through the market. Everyone honored her wishes except one tailor named Tom, who snuck a peek as she rode by. Immediately after viewing her, Tom was struck blind. Although parts of this story are thought to be true, the Peeping Tom portion was added somewhat later to embellish the story.

2. Typhoid Mary

“Typhoid Mary” Mallon had no idea that she was infected with the disease yet her work as a cook infected many.  She was the first person in the United States identified as an asymptomatic carrier. After being detained for spreading the disease to families that she had cooked for, she continued to work as a cook even knowing that she was a typhoid carrier. Later, when a doctor made the connection that all the families that she had worked for had gotten sick with typhoid, he interviewed Mary. When he asked her for a stool sample, she threatened him with a meat cleaver. She was not known to be a pleasant person.

3. Nervous Nellie

To call a man a “Nellie” was somewhat like calling him a “Nancy” today.

The  term “Nervous Nellie” originated in the U.S. around 1926. It was first aimed at Secretary of State Frank Kellogg, who was known to have non-aggression policies that weren’t always popular.

4. Doubting Thomas

The expression refers to the disciple Thomas, who doubted Jesus’ resurrection until he had first-hand evidence of it. It now describes a person who is habitually doubtful. 

5. For Pete’s Sake 

“Pete” refers to St. Peter in this expression of annoyance that dates to the late 19th century.

Another version of the exclamation is “for the love of Pete,” or “for the love of Mike,” both used as euphemisms for the phrase “for the love of God.” Around 1918, Pete joined Mike as the person to invoke when you were impatient, annoyed or frustrated. Both names served as stand-ins for the God that it would be blasphemous to mention.(  

6.  Johnny Come Lately

Refers to a newcomer or novice. In the British Army, a new recruit was known as “Johnny Raw.” In the Napoleonic wars, experienced officers referred to newly-arrived young officers as “Johnny Newcome.” The name “Johnny Come Lately” also implies that the novice is a bit late at jumping on a trend.

7. Johnny on the Spot

“Johnny” is used as a generic male name, meaning fellow or chap. “Johnny-on-the-Spot” refers to a man who is available and ready to act when needed.

8. Teddy Bear

The name Teddy Bear comes from President Theodore Roosevelt, whose nickname was “Teddy.”  The name originated from an incident on a bear-hunting trip in Mississippi in 1902. A group of Roosevelt’s fellow hunters cornered, clubbed, and tied an American Black Bear to a tree after a long chase with hounds. They called Roosevelt to the site and suggested that he should shoot it. He refused to shoot the bear himself, but instructed that the bear be killed to put it out of its misery, and it became the topic of a political cartoon by Clifford Berryman.

9. Great Scott!

The exclamation “Great Scott!” has two possible origins, dating back to the Civil War.  It may refer to Army General Winfield Scott. The general, known to his troops as “Old Fuss and Feathers,” weighed 300 pounds in his later years and was too heavy to ride a horse.  In 1861 the New York Times referred to him as the Great Scott. An 1871 issue quotes someone exclaiming “Great—Scott!” to use the name of the Army’s commander in chief as an oath, as officers sometimes did.

The expression is also likely to be a mild substitute for invoking the name of God; very possibly derived from the phrase “[by the] grace of God.” 

10. Gloomy Gus

The name “Gloomy Gus” is based on a cartoon character created by Frederick Burr Opper in 1904. The main character “Happy Hooligan” was an optimist, compared to his brother, Gloomy Gus, whose name is still used as a term for a negative person.




Hyphenation Frustration

Oct 17


When do you use a hyphen?

The following rules cover the most common uses of hyphenation.

1. Use a hyphen to connect two or more words used together as an adjective before a noun.

  • Eliza Norman is not yet a well-known candidate.


2. Do not use a hyphen when the compound adjective comes after the noun.

  •  After our television campaign, Eliza Norman will be well known.


3. Do not use a hyphen to connect -ly adverbs to the words they modify.

This is Associated Press (AP) style, which is used for all online writing. (This one contradicts the artwork at the top of this post. Follow the rule, not the cartoon.)

  •  A slowly moving truck tied up traffic.


4. In a series, hyphens are suspended.

  • Do you want to buy  first-, second-, or third-row tickets?
  • The third- and fourth-graders performed a play.


5. Hyphenate all compound numbers from twenty-one through ninety-nine.

  • The teacher had twenty-eight students in her classroom.
  • Only twenty-one of the children passed the test.


6. Hyphenate all spelled-out fractions.

  • You need one-third of a cup of sugar for the cake recipe.
  • More than one-half of the city council voted for the new law.


7. Use a hyphen with the prefixes all-, ex-, and self- and with the suffix -elect.

  • The author has sold thousands of  self-help books.
  • Anne King is our club’s president-elect.


8. Use a hyphen to avoid ambiguity.

Without the hyphen, there would be no way to distinguish between words such as re-creation and recreation.

  • Tennis is her favorite form of recreation.
  • The film was praised for its accurate re-creation of nineteenth-century Paris.


Note: Generally do not hyphenate compounds formed from the superlatives “most” and “least.” But “best” and “worst” tend to use a hyphen.

Remember that there are exceptions to every rule, and you can find out which rules can be broken. Remember that your goal is to express yourself as clearly as possible.

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