My Top 10 Websites

The Internet is like a teenage boy. It’s noisy and it’s growing so fast it doesn’t know what to do with itself. Which makes sense given that the World Wide Web is in its teens. Though it is slowly becoming more organised, it’s still easy to feel like you’re drowning in information.

After years of wading through this information, I’ve finally settled on 10 websites that give me the information I need to do my work. And I’m going to share them with you in the hope that it’ll save you from wasting years of your life!

For your news needs

http://www.thejournal.ie. From the people who brought you daft.ie. Strong interactive elements.

http://www.breakingnews.ie. Headlines as they happen.

Social Media and Web Content

http://www.mashable.com. Best practises in social media

http://www.copyblogger.com. The bible for online content and copywriting.

Writing resources

http://www.askaboutwriting.net. All the latest writing developments and competitions.

http://www.writing.ie. New site full of articles about writing, forums and comprehensive listings.

Business Resources

http://www.irishbusinesswomen.com. An excellent forum for giving and receiving advice.

http://www.bloggertone.com. A collective business blog that gathers the thoughts of top business minds.

For reference

http://www.eircomphonebook.ie. Just type in the name and the location and you’ll get your number.

http://www.xe.com. Quick currency converter.

Feel free to share your top sites and help other people sort the wheat from the chaff.

 

 

 

 

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What to Expect From a Creative Writing Class

A creative writing class is a strange beast. In a way, it’s just like any other class. Knowledge is imparted, ideas and opinions are exchanged. But the work that goes on within the four walls of the classroom can’t be easily quantified. And it’s often of a delicate, sensitive nature. If you decide to take the plunge and sign up for a class, there are certain ingredients to look out for to ensure that the class gives you the support you need.

Knowledge: The class will give you solid information you can use as a toolkit to get you started. You will develop an awareness of how stories are crafted and how others do it. This information will act as a springboard to help you create your own stories.

Inspiration: The tutor will give you exercises that will act as a trigger for ideas. These could be free-writing exercises, or exercises that draw on the senses. Each exercise will contain a prompt that will encourage you to fill your page with words. This may spark off bigger ideas in your head.

Passion: The tutor’s passion for what they do will rub off on you and fill you with enthusiasm and an eagerness to explore your ideas. You’ll find that this passion spills over into your daily life, as the class will encourage you to view the world with a fresh eye.

Constructive Feedback: If your work is really to progress, you will need to endure a little criticism. But that’s no excuse for people to tear your work to shreds. If your class is successful, that won’t happen. Instead, you’ll have a clear idea of how to move your work forward.

Confidentiality: Creative writing classes often bring up very personal issues in people’s life. You have a right to expect that anything discussed in class stays within the four walls of the classroom. You can also rest assured that your work won’t be seen by anyone except the tutor and class participants, without your consent.

Compassion: If it’s difficult for you to attend class or complete assignments for personal reasons, the tutor will be flexible. And even if you receive feedback about your work that you don’t want to hear, you deserve to have it delivered to you in a way that respects the effort you put in.

A way forward: People enter creative writing classes with a goal in mind. They may not even realise what that is, but as the class goes on, it becomes clearer to them. A good creative writing class will facilitate them in that goal and they should leave it with the tools and the confidence to achieve it.

 

 

 

How to Shape Your Blog

It’s notoriously difficult to hold the attention of Internet audiences. There’s so much competing for their attention and it’s also harder to read off a screen.  To hold the attention of this fickle audience, your blog needs to have an appealing shape. Here’s how to fit your thoughts to the Internet medium.

Title

Your title needs to hit them straight away, so that they’ll click on the link. Aim for a title that does exactly what it says on the tin, or that plays cleverly with words.

Lead-in

Though you’re aiming to be as brief as possible, it’s still nice to lead your reader gently by the hand, with an amusing story, or a question that sparks their interest.

Headings and Bullets

Breaking up your text makes it easier for readers to absorb. If you have an advice-style blog, bullet points are ideal. But even if your blog is more opinion-based, you can break it up with headings. Changes to font and colour will enhance it further.

Visuals

I may be shooting myself in the foot here but the blogs that have the biggest impact are image-based. People love to look at pictures and videos, enhanced with a clever caption.

End

Give people something to take away, whether it’s a call to action, a rousing quote or a link where they can get further information.