All posts by Catherine L. Tully

Catherine L. Tully is a writer, photographer and educator. She has been published in magazines such as American Style, Boys' Life and Chicagoland Business Elite among many others. See more about her at or view her photography at

Making Use Of The Holiday Slump

picture-6by Catherine L. Tully

This time of year is notorious for being slow. Editors go on vacation, people plan ahead for the holidays–and writers often find themselves with little to do from now until after the New Year.

Don’t let this get you down. Use the holiday season to re-vamp your online presence and get organized for 2014. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Re-tool your website/blog. (This is one I need to take my own advice on!) It’s easy to let your online resume lapse. The holidays are the perfect time to update your accomplishments.
  • Update LinkedIn. LinkedIn is like an online resume. Make sure it’s current going into the NY.
  • Touch base with contacts. Send out holiday cards. Make phone calls. Have lunch with people. You have time–get to that networking you are always putting off during the year!
  • Plan. Have a plan of attack for the NY so you can hit the ground running when people get back to their desks. Brainstorm article ideas. Gather publications you want to submit to and study them. And so on.
  • Get organized. Set up a spreadsheet for expenses in the NY. File old stuff. Clean off that desk, tidy up your computer and tend to all those housekeeping tasks that get shoved to the back burner. It’s now or never! 🙂
  • Relax. Take a little down time too–it’s OK! Resting and re-charging is part of the cycle–just make sure you don’t ignore the things above!

Do you have any tips for writers to make use of that down time during the holiday season? If so, leave them below!

Writers – Take The Superbowl Challenge!

Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully
Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully

by Catherine L. Tully

I think most writers have one.

An article, short story or novel that they keep thinking about, but don’t actually write. Or–they start writing and never finish.

I know I have several floating around up there in my brain. I think about them from time-to-time. Even jot down quotes that would go with the piece or rip out magazine photos that have to do with the topic. And then…well…nothing.

But I am making a pact with myself, and challenging those of you out there with a similar issue to do the same. I’m going to actually write one of these pieces and submit it before the Superbowl. Yep. That’s the plan.

Up for the challenge?

Here’s the road map I’ll be following:

  • The piece will be written during the holiday slump (between Thanksgiving and the Superbowl, where it is impossible to get anyone to answer you about anything).
  • I will work on it no less than an hour a week from Thanksgiving until it is finished. Even if I just sit there jotting down notes for an hour.
  • I will research a market and submit the piece promptly (read – within two weeks) of finishing it.

Now. If you know anything about these vague, dreamy pieces that float around in the head, you’ll realize that this is much harder than it seems. But I feel like these ideas keep coming back to me, so they must have some type of importance/value/potential.

And I’m determined to find out.

Are you in?

Continuing Education For The Writer

by Catherine L. Tully

Catherine L. TullyAlthough freelance writers are self-employed and don’t have to take continuing education courses as part of the job–I’m going to argue that it is still a good idea. It never hurts to expand your knowledge base and it is always helpful to network a bit.

What type of class? Well, now that is entirely up to you. You can take something to enhance a strength you have (for example, if you are a fab blogger you might want to take an advanced WordPress class) – or you can brush up on an area where you are weak (perhaps using Photoshop or learning basic HTML skills?). It isn’t going to hurt you, and it certainly can help.

I would also recommend talking with your accountant to see if you can write off the cost of such a class, plus any materials that you buy for it.

Here are some places you can look for classes that might be useful:

  • Your local park district or community center
  • An area community college
  • Recreation centers
  • The library

As for ideas on what to take? There are plenty of things to choose from. Here are some that I would think could be of use to writers in the digital age:

  • Photoshop
  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Basic investing (to plan for your finances in the future)
  • MS Word
  • MS Excel
  • WordPress
  • Grammar refreshers
  • An advanced writing course
  • A fiction writing class

There are many other choices–just grab a catalogue from one of the area facilities and flip through to see what is offered in your community.

Many professionals in many different career fields take continuing education classes to expand their knowledge base and stay sharp. Why should we be any different?

Have you ever taken a class to enrich your writing life? If so, we’d love to hear about it!

Good Blogging Habits

438223_86537119by Catherine L. Tully

If you blog, there are a number of “good habits” that you can cultivate. As with any type of writing, getting into a regular groove and doing simple maintenance tasks can be a great help. Today we’re going to talk about a few of these…

Hook up social media

If you haven’t already done this, it’s worth investing a few moments. Get your blog together with your social media accounts by either utilizing a site like Twitterfeed (which also hooks you up with LinkedIn and Facebook), or install a social media plugin. Social media is a great funnel for more readers and it gets more eyes on your words. You can’t afford to be without this.

Check periodically to make sure your content is indeed being fed to the social media sites. The nice part about this is that it is a “habit” that you don’t even have to worry about much once you set it up!

Update your plugins

If you have plugins installed, be sure to update them when you are notified there is an update ready. This helps to insure everything will work properly. Here’s more info on that.

Be social

Don’t forget that blogging is a form of social media. Keep the “social” in there by taking the time to comment on other blogs regularly. It’s a good Karma thing. 🙂

Google your blog

I’ve seen my posts turn up in crazy places–some good–some not so good. Keep an eye on what is going on with your blog content by checking the web here and there for your stuff.

Update things periodically

Freshen up your bio, update your copyright and make sure your navigation links are working. Schedule in some time to just make sure things are current and working. Think of it as “light housekeeping”.

Back it all up

I can’t emphasize this enough. Back up your site regularly. Make it a weekly or monthly thing and put it on your calendar. Here’s a primer for WordPress users. Here’s one for Blogger users.

Do you have anything to add to this list?