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

Lo-Cal Snacks For The Writer

by Catherine L. Tully

laughing cowDo you sit a lot? Find the weight creeping on – even though you try to get a walk in now and then?

Let’s face it. Writing isn’t exactly a recipe for losing those pounds. Research, writing and revising take time, and that time is spent in a chair. This means less exercise, and ultimately, a diet reality check.

Even so, there are some healthy snacks you can indulge in that won’t add up to a big gain in girth. Here are my go-to faves. Feel free to share yours in the comments section. I’d love to find a few new ones!

  • Microwave popcorn. Get the 100 calorie bags and use spray butter. It’s delicious. And popcorn is a whole grain. Seriously.
  • Blueberries. Full of antioxidants and darn tasty too. You can eat a whole lot of these without adding up to anything calorie-wise.
  • Cucumber tomato salad. Chop each veggie and add Paul Newman’s Light Balsamic Vinaigrette. Simply delicious!
  • Laughing Cow cheese. It’s not funny. It’s true! This stuff is tasty and not too crazy calorie-wise for cheese. Spread on a few crackers and it will hold you for a while.
  • Coke Zero. This is so much better than diet Coke. Try it with a big slice of lemon and see if it doesn’t satisfy your sweet tooth for a while. You’ll see…

OK writers…what do you have for me? 🙂

Summer And The Writer

by Catherine L. Tully

Welcome to summer!

SF ViewIf you live in a warm climate, you may not appreciate the summer weather quite the way I do in the Midwest. Being locked up all winter long makes one want to sit outside and work and luckily, as a writer, I can do that.

Working outdoors is one of my favorite things to do, but even opening a window to get that breeze seems to make my writing sing that much more. As a celebration of the season, I’m going to list my top three things to do work-wise in the summer…feel free to share yours in the comments section below:

  1. Backyard bonanza. The easiest and sometimes the most rewarding is simply to head out to my yard and set up camp for the afternoon. I’ll take my laptop, a cool drink, my cell phone and a comfy chair and settle in. If it’s rainy, the front porch is a good substitute.
  2. Placid park. There’s a park not far from my house that is perfect for writing. No playground, not too many puppies and a big, shady tree to sit under on my soft blanket. My tiny cooler comes with me and some times I even pack a sandwich if I think I might stay for a few hours.
  3. Cool cafe. For the really hot days I set up at a cafe with a good view. There’s nothing quite like looking out a big picture window at a flower bed and sipping a coffee from the comfort of an air-conditioned seat. Some people may prefer the patio, but I’m not a hot, hot weather gal, so the view is enough for me. If I have to be outdoors on a 90-plus day, I pick a rooftop spot. They typically have a better breeze!

What is your favorite place to write in the summer weather? Or, if you live in a place where there is beautiful weather all year long, what do you do to take advantage of it?

Do tell. 🙂

4 Smart Budget Tips For The Writer

by Catherine L. Tully

dollarFreelance writing careers tend to have lean periods–especially when you are first starting out as a writer. Making every dollar count is something that you tend to get good at when you begin your career…

That said, there are some smart tips I can share that may be helpful for those who are on a tight budget–after all, I’ve been there too! Try some of these money-saving strategies on for size–and save!

  • Budget your cafe time. Most writers like to get out a bit and write, but this can add up quickly if you aren’t careful. Take a good look at your finances and budget out a set amount that you’ll spend at the coffee shop/cafe, etc. Then, if possible, buy a gift card for that place so that you don’t spend more than you should. It’s a good way to stay within your budgeted amount. When the card is empty–you don’t go out any more that week!
  • Walk. Sitting at a desk all day can add up to additional weight gain. Combine this with the fact that you spend money on gas when you use your car (and it’s not cheap!) and walking makes all the sense in the world! Walk to the post office, to do other errands, and anywhere else you can. Or bike if you prefer.
  • Save loose change. Keep a jar on your desk for loose change. I know it sounds silly, but this can really be a great way to get an extra few bucks together. I have a friend who picks up pennies/dimes/nickles everywhere she goes outside and she gets quite a few things that way that she wouldn’t otherwise splurge on. You won’t be taking vacations–but you might be able to spring for a new notebook or some computer wipes. It all adds up!
  • Buy in bulk. This isn’t blanket advice, but for certain items it totally makes sense. For example, I use a ton of paper for printing. If I bought the packet at my local convenience store, it would cost me a fortune. If I buy the big box at a “big box” store, I’ll save a ton of money on it. Don’t need all that paper at once? Split the cost with another writer and you’ll both save.

Do you have any good budgeting tips to share? If so, leave us a comment!

Why I Became A Writer

by Catherine L. Tully

Editor, Catherine L. Tully
Editor, Catherine L. Tully

Today’s post is simply a sharing one…

I’d like to tell you why I became a writer. (And, I’d love to hear why you became, or are becoming a writer in the comments section.)

Ultimately, at the heart of things, I became a writer because I have always been one. When I was little, I came up with a “newspaper” called The Little Town Daily News. I don’t really remember what I wrote about, but I know that I put a lot of time into making copies, and I sold it for about .10 cents each–which, for back then, was not that cheap!

I’ve always been writing, whether it was in my journal or coming up with a newsletter for my childhood club. I’ve written stories, articles, nonsense, letters, cards and countless other things. Even if I weren’t getting paid for it, I’d probably still be writing in some capacity. (Luckily, I’ll never know for sure!)

Not everyone makes it in this business, but some people really do hang in and stand the test of time. My hunch is that almost every one of the tenacious ones that breaks through and does this for a living–or even part-time for some extra cash–is somewhat like me.

So…what is it dear reader? Have you always been a writer in some capacity–even if you have just been composing poetry in your head or writing song lyrics that never made it to paper?

Drop us a note here and tell us your story!


Writers – Time For A Spring Cleaning

by Catherine L. Tully

Spring is in the air and regardless of whether you have a million projects going or are in-between jobs, it’s time for a spring cleaning!

I advocate doing a quarterly “spring clean” in your office area so that you are able to stay organized and have minimal issues with efficiency. What does this type of re-vamp consist of? Here’s my checklist for the bare minimum you need to stay on top of things in your writing life:

  • Organize those e-mails you have been avoiding dealing with or keeping in your inbox to get to at “a later date”.
  • De-frag your hard drive (PCs).
  • Back up your computer.
  • Organize any paperwork. Toss, file, mail and address. Then, get it off your desk.
  • Catch up on bookkeeping.
  • Reach out to editors that you haven’t been in touch with for a while and touch base.
  • Clean your computer screen and blow out your keyboard with canned air.
  • Replace office supplies as needed.
  • Check printer ink.
  • Update your web presence (LinkedIn, website, etc.)

This is just a basic checklist–be sure and add anything you need to take care of to it. If you can set aside a day or two each season to take care of these things, you’ll likely be a lot more organized–and a lot less aggravated!

Do you have anything to add to the list?

Comfort Zones And The Writer

by Catherine L. Tully

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

As I settled into my favorite writing spot this morning to check e-mail I began thinking about the idea of having a “comfort zone” and how much easier that can make things…

The way I’m defining comfort zone for the purposes of this post is: “a place the writer feels comfortable and is likely to have little chance of getting distracted from the task at hand–writing.” Mine is the couch. For some writers, it’s the desk. For others, the local coffee house.

The couch elicits an almost Pavlovian response from me in that I can get to work quickly. I’m extremely efficient, aware of time (and maximizing my use of it), and can hammer at tasks I need to do every day–such as answer e-mails, file things and do initial research. I’m lightning fast.

But I’ve learned something else about my comfort zone.

It’s a lousy place for me to be creative. The same things that enable me to work well when sitting on the sofa are the very things that seem to inhibit my ability to tap into my imagination. For that I have to go elsewhere – and that works quite well for me. A new environment opens up those creative pathways and allows me to explore new ideas and directions.

It has taken me a long time to discover this about myself, and I’m not sure it works the same for everyone…but I have a hunch it will ring true for many people when they stop to think about it. So I thought I’d put it out there to perhaps save others a bit of time and effort if I can–and to hear from writers who may work the same way.

So tell me–who else out there has a “comfort zone” and how does it work for you?