Tag Archives: writing advice

Writing Prompts for Kids During the Time of COVID-19

This is a post for parents—and it’s a bit unlike other posts that we regularly publish on the Grammar Chic blog.  However, we thought that there is no time like the present to help moms and dads deal with their new reality of not only being a full-time parent, but also an interim teacher and instructor to their children.

We know that you might be feeling a little overwhelmed so we compiled this helpful list of writing prompts that could allow your elementary, middle school, or high school aged child to improve their communication, creative and critical thinking, self-awareness, and grammar skills as they learn from home—and also provide for some much needed time away from their devices and screens.  It’s even possible that maybe your child will use this time to discover a newfound love of writing and storytelling!  Indeed, that is something our team here at Grammar Chic can get behind.

The Benefits of Writing & Journaling

Putting pen or pencil to paper can not only help your child develop improved focus and thinking skills, it can also let them sort out their feelings and examine what is happening in their head. This leads to improved self-awareness and mindfulness that can prove to be a steadying force during trying and challenging times, no matter if we are talking about the current situation with COVID-19 or any other issue they will face in their future lives. Self-awareness developed through imagination and writing can reduce stress, help them know themselves better, and turn their attention away from situations that are beyond their control.

And there are benefits to you, as a parent, too.  Ultimately, by encouraging your child to use these writing prompts, you can gain insight into how they are dealing right now. You might be provided with a window into what is happening in their brain, which can help you help them on a different level. Or it could simply spur a new and fun conversation that you have not had before.

Writing Prompts for Elementary School Kids

  • 5 things that make me laugh.
  • If my pet could talk, it would say things like…
  • My favorite food is [X] because…
  • My favorite part of last week was…
  • My favorite thing about my family is…
  • If I had a magic genie who granted me three wishes, I would wish for…
  • I want to learn more about [X] because…
  • My favorite thing to do with my mom is [X] because…
  • My favorite thing to do with my dad is [X] because…
  • If I could go anywhere in the world, I would go to [X] because…

Writing Prompts for Middle Schoolers

  • What would you buy if you won the lottery? Why?
  • If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? Why?
  • Write about something you are scared of…
  • Write about something you hope will happen…
  • If you could meet any famous person, who would it be? Why?
  • What is your favorite subject in school? Why?
  • Oh, no, I’m quarantined, and I can’t…
  • If you could meet someone from any time in history, who would it be? Why?
  • What is your favorite memory?
  • The house was so quiet, but then I heard…
  • What is your favorite animal? If it could talk, what would you ask it?
  • Write about something that you lost in your life and miss…
  • The BEST/WORST ways the quarantine has affected my family…

Writing Prompts for High Schoolers

  • What do you think courage is? Write about a time when you were courageous…
  • What is the most important issue facing teenagers today?
  • What is your favorite thing to do? Who do you do it with? Why do you think it’s fun?
  • Write about going shopping at the mall. What would you buy if money were no object?
  • If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be and what would be the first thing you would do?
  • Write about a time when your parents embarrassed you.
  • What is the best advice you have been given?
  • Have you ever broken your promise? What happened?
  • What do you believe is a big problem in the world? How would you fix it?
  • Write about a good book you have read recently…
  • What have you liked about quarantine and what have you disliked?
  • Describe what the word “hero” means to you. Do you know anyone who is a hero? Or who do you consider a hero?

We hope that you and your family spark some interesting conversations with these prompts—and of course, we hope that you are healthy and well. Indeed, we live in interesting times, but here at Grammar Chic, we are deeply passionate about the written word and how it can offer transformation. For more information about our company, visit www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444.

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This is How to Write a Compelling Email Subject Line—and Boost Your Open Rates


Report after report and study after study suggests that email is the most effective digital marketing tool.

So if you’re not seeing much of a benefit from your email marketing program, you’ve gotta wonder why.

Maybe the reason people aren’t responding to your emails is because they aren’t even opening them in the first place. Obviously, that’s a problem. A low open rate means your email marketing strategy is dead in the water.

Your open rate is even more significant than your total subscriber number. Think about it this way: Having 1,000 subscribers who all open your emails means much more exposure for your brand than having 6,000 subscribers but only a 2 percent open rate.

No question: You’ve got to get your emails opened. And the best way to do that is to tweak your subject lines—but how?

Tip #1: Make your subject lines longer.

Both the conventional wisdom and the natural instinct is to make your subject lines short and snappy. We’ve offered that very advice in the past. But one new study suggests that maybe longer—like, 60-70 characters, if not more—is the way to go.

Perhaps the rationale is simply this: When you’re working with just a couple of words, it’s hard to offer more than salesy platitudes and generalities. But if you give yourself more space, you can actually convey value and specificity to your readers.

So maybe it’s worth trying long subject lines for a while, just to see how they work.

Tip #2: Write in all lower case letters.

All caps screams of desperation, and can be pretty annoying. Mixing upper and lower case—you know, like you would in normal, everyday writing—is fine. But consider: a lot of the emails you get from your friends and family members probably come with all lower case subject lines.

Writing an all lower case subject line can convey intimacy and familiarity, then—and that’s not such a bad thing for your brand!

Tip #3: Provide value—but don’t give everything away.

As for the actual content of your subject lines, something we recommend is focusing on the value you offer—the benefits your email will provide—without getting into the specifics.

Show your readers what’s in it for them to open your email, but not necessarily how they’ll get it.

Example: Try a subject line that promises something like this: “Drive traffic to your website… and turn it into paying customers!”

You’re showing your readers exactly what they stand to gain from reading the email—but to learn how they’re going to gain it… through SEO, email marketing, or whatever else… they’ve got to open the email and read it.

Try some of these tips in your own email marketing—and see how your open rates improve. Talk with us about it by calling 803-831-7444, or visiting www.grammarchic.net.

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5 Signs You’ve Hired a Bad Writing Company


More and more small business owners are outsourcing their content writing needs to the pros—which is smart and sensible, but also potentially dangerous. There are multiple writing companies out there but not all are created equal. It’s important to know some of the signs of a less-than-reputable writing company so that you can avoid getting burned.

To some extent, of course, these things will be obvious: A company with a real office and a full staff of salaried writers—like Grammar Chic!—is going to come with a bit more prestige, professionalism, and reliability than a lone guy who operates a freelance company out of his mom’s basement. (With no offense intended to anyone who writes in his mom’s basement.)

Beyond that, consider some of the telltale signs that the writing company you have hired is less than legitimate.

#1. There’s no consultation.

Our basic philosophy at Grammar Chic: We probably know more about writing than you do, and you probably know more about your business than we do. To facilitate a strong working relationship, we need to spend some time talking with you, learning your story and your values so that we can put them into words and make your content shine.

A writing company that thinks this step is somehow unnecessary, or that the entire process can be done over a couple of bare-bones e-mails, is frankly delusional. Great, value-adding written content takes some perspective and some depth, and a consultation is non-negotiable.

#2. There is a one-size-fits-all mentality.

All businesses are different and have different needs with their written content. Your content should reflect your goals. If the writing company tries to put you into a box—a standard-issue word count, structure, or aesthetic approach—without hearing what you’re looking to accomplish, well, that’s trouble. You’re just not going to get a very effective piece of writing from a company like that.

#3. Revisions are not included in your balance.

Even great writers may need a second or third attempt to get the content exactly the way the client wants it. A writing company that makes you pay for revisions is cheating you, plain and simple.

#4. You’re not offered a proposal.

It’s amazing how many writers seem averse to writing out their proposal—but as with any professional service, your writers should offer you a full, written account of the work they propose to do: Basic word count ranges, turnaround dates, revision policies, consultation policies, and, of course, charges and fees.

#5. You’ve never actually seen their writing.

What’s the one thing that all professional writers do? They write—but how are you supposed to know your writing company can deliver the goods unless you’ve seen some of their written work? Reputable writing companies should have their own blogs and they should also be willing to furnish you with some written samples, upon request.

Learn more about what a reputable writing company looks like by calling the Grammar Chic team today at 803-831-7444; or, by visiting us online at www.grammarchic.net.

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5 Ways to Become a Better Writer


As a writer, you might sometimes feel like you’re on top of the world—like you’ve just authored something that’s genuinely good, worth being proud of. Most days, you’re probably going to feel a lot less confident, a lot less secure. The writing life exists between those two extremes, and so long as you don’t spend too much time at either end of the spectrum, you’ll likely be alright.

No matter how good you think you are—or how bad—there’s always room for improvement, always an opportunity to get better. Whether you’re working on a full book manuscript or simply some company blog posts, it’s worth taking some time to hone your writing craft, to become more skilled at conveying your point and shaping your words.

And the good news is, you don’t have to enroll in a creative writing course to do so. Here are a few quick exercises that will boost your writing acumen and perhaps even build your confidence:

  1. Read a lot. This is the #1 piece of advice that writing instructors tend to give, and not without reason. The more you read, the more natural and intuitive you’ll become as a writer, and the better able to conjure evocative words and sentences while mastering the mechanics of sentence construction. Read voraciously—books, blogs, magazines, whatever interests you today.
  2. Impose some limitations on yourself. Force yourself to write in certain forms or to adopt certain restrictions. Write a few tweets; practice some 100-word short stories; try your hand at a long-form blog, maybe 1,000 words or so; do something very formal, than tackle the same topic informally.
  3. Write in specifics. Writing about abstract concepts can be a dead end; instead, write about some specific stories or people in your life. Master the art of concrete details.
  4. Write in different settings. If the only way you ever write is sitting in your office at the laptop, don’t be surprised when you find yourself feeling a little stagnant. Avoid this by taking your notepad to the park or to the coffee shop. Write in different environments to stimulate creativity.
  5. Work with an editor. Working with an experienced, professional editor will provide you with a fresh perspective and some specific ways in which you can improve your writing—things you might not think of on your own.

Pursue mastery of your craft each day; you may never reach the point where you have that top-of-the-world feeling every day, but you can rest assured that you will get better over time!

To speak to one of Grammar Chic’s editors, call us at 803-831-7444, or visit www.grammarchic.net.

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5 Rules for Writing “Likeable” Online Content

Social networking LIKE

Since there is a lot of information out there about how written content for use online should be presented, I figured I would touch upon some rules that should be adhered to when actually creating written content that people want to read, like and share.  Follow these five rules when creating content that is not only fun to read, but also popular with your fans, followers and customers.

The 5 Rules Every Content Writer Must Follow

  1. Think “Share-ability” First.  When considering how to create content, think about what you like to read first.  Consider what you personally share and what type of material typically engages you online.  Now, apply the concepts and principles that you come up with to your own material.  People want to be engaged, but if you don’t provide them with anything to be interested in they will simply scroll through your status update, pass by your blog or overlook your tweet with little to no interest.
  2. Deliver Your Content with Real Data.  It’s one thing to have an opinion; however, everyone has one.  You will be taken more seriously if you are able to back up your point with data, with statistics, with research.  In order to be a thought leader, your audience has to trust you and the information that you impart.
  3. Design Matters.  Simply providing block content or copy in a blog post does little for the online reader.  In fact, most studies show that people do more skimming than real reading.  However, that doesn’t mean that you should forsake the quality of your content to appeal to someone suffering from ADD.  Instead, you must be able to present your material in a format that is easy to skim, read and the like.  Now this also means that you should take the time and make sure your content is accompanied by graphics, pictures and other material that is likely to catch the eye of your intended reader.  Facebook studies in particular show that status updates that come accompanied with graphics and fun pictures to look at have a 37 percent higher level of user engagement over text posts alone.  Moreover, articles that have images with the text get 94 percent more total views.
  4. Present a Unique Viewpoint.  Frankly speaking, anyone can spout off something they read somewhere else, but if you are able to provide insight that is remarkable to a reader you are more likely to get traction with your content.  Of course, that sometimes means being controversial or taking a contrary stand against what is already provided out there on the Internet, but as long as you are able to back up what you are saying with research or some other solid foundation on which you have built your opinion or belief, you may just be on to something.
  5. Don’t Think Short-Term—Work with a Long-Term Mindset and Build a Platform.  When you are working to create a brand identity, no matter if you are selling a product, a service or yourself, you need to be thinking long-term.  You cannot build a brand overnight, nor will you win the hearts and minds of your customers through short-sighted ideas.  Take all of your content marketing efforts and combine them to create a social hub and consider it the center of your universe.  Make sure your message is consistent across Facebook, Twitter, your blog, a company website and the like, and ensure that when your client or a potential customer comes across you online they understand what makes your brand unique.  Frankly speaking, anyone can sell a product, but in order to become a brand, you need to create a platform.

The team at Grammar Chic specializes in a variety of professional writing and editing services. For more information about how we can help you, visit www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444. We also invite you to follow us on Twitter @GrammarChicInc for the latest in writing and editing tips and to give a “like” to our Facebook page. Text GRAMMARCHIC to 22828 for a special offer.


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Professional Writing Advice: When to Say “No” to a Client

Grammar Chic Writer's Block Blog Post

No matter if you are starting out as a writer or if you are a seasoned professional, the need to satisfy clients and retain their business never goes away.  Writing, as a profession, is hard work; it is often time consuming and research intensive.  Rewards are definitely there for professional writers who do it right, and indeed, the majority of the time, you are looking to please the people who pay you by saying “yes” to their requests.  However, there are times when “no” is the only correct answer that you can give to a client or a prospective client. Follow these tips to identify situations where you could be taken advantage of as a professional writer.

Professional Writing Client Red Flags:

  1. Demanding availability via phone, Skype or IM all day, every day.  I realize there are times when my client needs to get in touch with me, and I am happy to oblige.  However, it is also completely unfair for a client to think that just because they are paying me to complete work for them that they own me and, therefore, can interrupt me just because they see me on Skype.  As such, it is fair and completely reasonable to set boundaries from day one. As both a professional writer and business owner, I am very frank about when I am available.  This comes down to telling clients that if they need to talk to me it is best to set an appointment.  Realize I am not trying to put anyone off; rather, I am working to ensure that a client has my full and undivided attention and that I am also able to honor my daily deadlines.  If I know that you need to talk to me about revisions or edits, it is much more productive to say, “Amanda, I really need about 30 minutes of your time,” and allow me to schedule it accordingly.  On our office line, I have even gone as far to have the message state that we do not have a full-time receptionist and that the caller should leave a message.  It is important for clients and prospective clients to realize that a writer’s focus is essential.  When I am in the zone I can’t answer a call, because if I lose concentration it impacts the quality of my work.  At the same time, for every person who calls, their message is returned.  State your terms regarding communication from the get-go and set your boundaries. Remember, there is no need for a client to have unlimited access to you as a writer.  The only thing they are looking to satisfy is their own need to control you as they would an employee.
  2. Requesting a rush job without paying extra.  It is necessary to tell a client “no” if they call you up and request that they need something by the end of the day, but don’t want to pay extra for the rush service.  Remember, as a writer sometimes you need to demand respect and it’s not fair to your other clients if you push their work and ignore their deadlines simply to let someone cut in line without paying more.  Your options here are to say, “No, I can’t get your project done by the end of the day because of my current deadlines” or “Sure, I can do that. The rush fee is $X.”  At that point, they can choose either option A or option B, or they can negotiate a different deadline with you.  Remember, lack of planning on their part does not constitute an emergency on your part.
  3. Requesting you provide fresh sample writing to “determine a fit.”  You should never provide free sample work with terms dictated by a potential client. This is oftentimes a ploy to receive free content.  Remember, the moment you send anything out you lose all control.  If a prospective client asks for sample work, provide that person something from your portfolio; do not create anything new if they are not willing to pay for your time.  Moreover, don’t be afraid to say no to this request.  This is a huge red flag that they are not willing to pay you for your efforts and do not respect your skills or your craft.
  4. Refusing to provide a deposit on the work they request.  At Grammar Chic, we regularly ask for a 50 percent deposit upon project commencement with the balance payable upon project delivery.  This is not a crazy request, as I expect my clients to have some “skin in the game” if they want my team to dedicate time and effort.  Of course, for long-term clients, we are happy to work out payment plans, invoicing systems, etc.; but this comes after trust has been established.  Again, this follows the belief that “once you send out work product, you lose all control.”  If you don’t request a payment up front you run the risk of not getting paid at all.  If a client refuses to pay a deposit, pass on the project.  Anyone who respects your ability as a writer is going to be fine with a deposit.   Or, if the client worries about paying first without seeing the work, ask that the project funds be escrowed (freelance sites like Guru.com provide this).  Remember, much of the relationship between a client and a professional writer is built on trust and mutual respect.  Make sure you can deliver what you promise in order to make your client happy and come back, but also make sure that your interests are protected.
  5. Asking for major project changes without considering modifications in compensation.  Consider this scenario: someone calls you after a project has been completed per their specifications and suddenly says, “My boss just looked at the newsletter you created and said that he actually wants to focus on X topic now.”  Ultimately, if X topic wasn’t discussed when the project was originally contracted, then new charges are going to apply.  At Grammar Chic, we regularly have extensive conversations with our clients on project terms.  We record conversations (with client permission) and make sure we are well aware of what is required for the project to be considered complete.  We send confirmation emails stating what the project scope is and ask for confirmation prior to beginning the project.  If we do all of the work that is required, and then have the client come back and decide they want something different because of a change in direction, internal miscommunication on their end or some other issue, it is in our right to tell them, “No, we can’t do that without extra charges.”  I am willing to work with anyone to make sure that they get what they want and if it is my error or I misunderstood something then, of course, I make it right without charge.  However, if I was provided the wrong information, I won’t be penalized.  Remember, your time as a writer is valuable and it is fair to enforce these rules.  However, to make sure that you are in the right, insist upon a set of checks and a confirmation process prior to beginning a project.  It’s very hard for a client to argue with you on additional charges if they have signed off or offered written confirmation on the original terms.  As a writer you are no doubt good at what you do, but none of us have a crystal ball (I wish!).

At the end of the day, you are in business for yourself, and regardless if it’s just you or you have a team of writers to direct, you need to make sure your efforts are not taken advantage of or exploited.  The choice is yours.  However, it is the savvy writer and business owner who will make sure they have the terms and conditions in place that protect their interests and their business in the long run.

The team at Grammar Chic specializes in a variety of professional writing and editing services. For more information about how we can help you, visit www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444. We also invite you to follow us on Twitter @GrammarChicInc for the latest in writing and editing tips and to give a “like” to our Facebook page. Text GRAMMARCHIC to 22828 for a special offer.


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What Would Carrie Bradshaw Do? Writing Lessons from the Early 2000s

carrie b

Let me tell you, I’m one girl that truly misses Sex and the City.  This is even in light of the fact that I really do not want to see Kim Cattrall sans clothes one more time in my life.  Sex and the City has been off TV for nine years (the movies don’t count, ESPECIALLY the second one), but even with that in mind, I do admit to being one of the women who entered her 20s largely in awe of and enamored with Carrie & Co.  However, as a writer, I have to say, Carrie Bradshaw was the fictional character people like me put on a pedestal, and not because of her shoes.  Let’s face it, Carrie was awesome.  She had a fantastic life, wonderfully loyal female friends, a closet to die for (and this is the first clue her life is purely fiction…that closet space…doesn’t happen in MANHATTAN of all places) and truly the ideal job: a columnist and best-selling author.

Now, true, Carrie largely specialized in writing about dating and sex, and no doubt the storyline of the show provided her with plenty of fodder.  However, Carrie also taught me some very important lessons about writing; lessons that I carry over today into my career as a professional writer and owner of Grammar Chic, Inc.

Writing(ish) Lessons I Learned from Carrie Bradshaw

  1. Write about what you know.  There was a time when I wrote about things or places outside of my spectrum of experience and it didn’t work.  Now, I’m not saying that it’s wrong to write about something fictional; imagination is always good, but it’s important for you to be able to convey your expertise on a topic and it’s not always possible to do that if you have never been exposed to something before.  Take Carrie, for instance.  She based her column on her experiences with dating, her friend’s relationship issues and whatever other hijinks her Manolos teetered into.  Moreover, what made her fictional character so great was that she expressed her vulnerability, her frustrations, as well as her success, and this is what endeared her to her non-fiction, reality-based fans.  Writing that is fresh, open and based in experience is always welcomed and you can apply this rule no matter what your platform: a sex column, the blog about your kids or how to operate in a corporate setting.  Make it relatable and people will want to read it!
  2. Identify what you love and immerse yourself in it. Writing is definitely a passion and expressing myself via words is something that I feel truly lucky to be able to do.  But it is necessary to also consider Carrie here.  Sure, she wrote about men and sex and dating, but that wasn’t all she did nor all she loved.  She loved shoes and fashion and good restaurants and her wonderful friends, and she reserved time for all of these loves.  It’s one thing to be dedicated to your craft, I can tell you from my own experience that the high I get out of running and growing my professional writing business is second to none, but I also know that my ability as a writer isn’t the only thing that defines me.  I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wine lover, a food lover, a dog lover, a shoe lover.  The list goes on and all of those things make my life rich in experiences.  Make sure that you don’t get so caught up in writing that you ultimately only exist on paper.  It is a great writer who is able to balance it all and they are better off in their profession because of it.
  3. Consistency is forefront in your success.  So, before you can hit it big in any field, you have to know that it’s necessary to put in the work.  Carrie wasn’t a best-selling author overnight.  In fact, deadlines were a regular topic on the show.  Carrie knew that she had a weekly column to deliver and, while I am insanely jealous of the fact that she never seemed to have writer’s block (again another indicator of clear fiction!), I have to appreciate the fact that she showed her work ethic by honoring her deadlines, no matter what cosmopolitan or date with Mr. Big was tempting her.   In order to be successful in a writing career, no matter if you are trying to grow your blog, expand your client base or simply get started freelancing, you must be able to show you are dedicated and consistent within your craft.  My company, Grammar Chic, didn’t grow overnight, nor did I hire my first employee until my consistency on my own paid off.  Expanding my company and growing my revenues have been my reward for staying on task and delivering the writing that I commit to.  And now, it’s a rule so engrained with me that I couldn’t skip a deadline even if I tried.  My consistency is a habit.
  4. Attitude matters.  A great work ethic and a positive attitude count for a lot in the world of writing.  Clients want to deal with someone who believes in herself, other writers want to partner with someone who is inspired and, ultimately, in order to stay writing, you need to be optimistic and willing to put in some very long hours to succeed.  Remember, we were only introduced to Carrie when she was in her 30s.  We have no idea if she was rocking the Manolos when she was 22 and we have no clue when she got her column. The message here is that success does not happen overnight.  In order to be successful in any endeavor you have to put in the hours and do the grunt work.  This is especially true when it comes to writing.  You don’t land large copywriting projects just because you think you should and your blog doesn’t get thousands of followers without you putting in the time to grow it.  If you want to be successful and reap the rewards of your writing venture in the future, manage yourself and develop good habits now (oh, and in Carrie’s case, make sure you learn a thing or two about finances; successful writers are financially-savvy businesspeople).
  5. Have a backup plan.  Now, this is a broad statement that can be applied to many facets of your writing career.  Think of when Carrie’s Mac crashed; she lost the article she was writing and then completely flipped out (because there was nothing she could do) on Aidan.  Instead of going nuts when things don’t go your way, make sure you are backed up.  This could come in the form of not quitting your full-time job before you are sure of your income as a writer, or even making sure that you have a good external hard drive with all of your past work in case of emergency.  Or, maybe it comes in the form of hiring an editor or a non-biased third party who will tell you the truth about just how good your writing is.  Doing your due diligence, albeit in a variety of forms, will help you in your quest for writing success.

The team at Grammar Chic specializes in a variety of professional writing and editing services. For more information about how we can help you, visit www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444. We also invite you to follow us on Twitter @GrammarChicInc for the latest in writing and editing tips and to give a “like” to our Facebook page. Text GRAMMARCHIC to 22828 for a special offer.

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