The Art of Reading Faster

Reading is a favorite pursuit of many but it can be daunting when faced with lengthier novels and assigned academic reading. How is it possible that some people are able to read this kind of material faster than others? Is there truly an art to speed reading? This article will explore techniques that instruct readers on how they can perfect this sought after skill. Let us begin on a journey that will help you to become a great speed reader.
One article entitled “How to Learn Speed Reading” that can be found by visiting gives a step by step guide to increasing your productivity while reading. The first step proposed is to stop visualizing the spoken word and focus on blocks of text. The second step is to hold the book or screen at a distance as you read to absorb more text at once. Once you have mastered these steps, progress by hiding words you’ve already read so you won’t be tempted to re-read them to understand the context better.
A key part of an efficient reading experience is to read without distractions in a space that is quiet and well lit. Posture is essential as reading while in bed can make you more tired. Additionally, you should try to read at a time when you’re most awake and focused. Concentrate on the most crucial aspects of the text first and ask yourself insightful questions about what you’re reading to stop yourself from daydreaming or becoming distracted by your thoughts.
Even when practicing these techniques, you should try to understand the different types of reading and practice good reading techniques such as carefully reading instead of skimming to understand more difficult parts of the book you’re reading. When you’re practicing these steps, try reading an easy and light book first so you won’t have to think so deeply about the material. You should time your reading speed by perhaps setting a timer and seeing how much reading you can do in a set amount of time. When you encounter a text such as a magazine or newspaper, look at the section headings and headlines to see what you want to read and what you already understand.
Another article written by the Student Counseling Service at the University of Chicago that can be found at presents some techniques that have already been mentioned but also suggests using a pen to guide your eyes as you read. You can begin reading at your normal pace and mark where you left off before re-reading the same passage for a minute at a faster speed than before. It has you reiterate this step by reading three times faster than your slowest speed and then asking yourself how much you remember from the passage. The counseling service recommended practicing this process for 10 minutes a day for two weeks to become more comfortable with the art of speed reading, increase your reading speed, and improve your understanding of the text.
A speed reading expert, Dr. Richard L. Feldman, from Columbia University wrote a 10-step article entitled “Speed Reading: 10 Tips to Improve Reading Speed and Reading Comprehension” found on His ten steps are as follows:
1. Read earlier in the day when you are most awake and can maintain focus on important material.
2. Organize your reading materials by their degree of importance and then read the material in the order of importance. This will help improve your reading speed.
3. Skim for main ideas in nonfiction books by scanning the table of contents and beginnings and ends of each paragraph. Understanding the book’s structure will help you to know which parts to skim and which parts require more careful reading.
4. Turn headings and subheadings into questions to ponder and then examine the text to find the answers to these questions.
5. Use a bookstand and have your book angled at 45 degrees to avoid straining your eyes.
6. Write short notes after reading letters and then refer to these notes when you’re ready to reply to the sender.
7. Avoid highlighting key portions of the text as this will not improve comprehension of the book.
8. Preview the text before beginning reading.
9. Adjust your reading speed to the type of reading material and purpose for reading.
10. Enroll in a speed reading class taught by an expert on the subject.
Glendale Community College wrote a five method primer on self-pacing while speed-reading. Their primer is on its website at The five methods are named “The Hand”; “The Card”; “The Sweep”; “The Hop”; and “The Zig-Zag.”
“The Hand” is a method that has the reader place their right hand on the page and move it straight down the page so you move your eyes down as you read. Do this at a slow and even pace.
“The Card” technique has you use a card or a folded piece of paper above the line you are trying to read and draw it down the page slowly and evenly and try to read the passage before covering up the words. Slide the card down faster than you can go.
“The Sweep” has you use your hand to draw your eyes across the page. Cup your right hand and keep your fingers together. Using a light and smooth motion, sweep fingers from left to right underlining the line with the tip of your finger. Use your whole arm to move and balance on your arm.
“The Hop” has you lift your fingers and make two bounces on each line. Each time you bounce, you hopefully will read sets of three or four words. This makes it easier for you to keep a steady pace as you read.
“The Zig-Zag” has you take your hand and cut diagonally across the page for three lines and then back to the text. Scan the entire page and pick out the main ideas.
According to a 2012 Forbes article that published the results of a speed-reading test sponsored by Staples as part of an e-book promotion, the typical speeds at which we read and understand at different points in our educational development are as follows:
• Third grade students—150 words per minute
• Eighth grade students—250 words per minute
• Average college student—450 words per minute
• Average “high-level” executive—575 words per minute
• Average college professor—675 words per minute
• Speed readers—1,500 words per minute
• World speed reading champion—4,700 words per minute
• Average adult—300 words per minute
The article’s author then put these rates into context by applying them to typical reading materials of very successful businesspeople. For newspapers and blogs, at the average adult speed of 300 WPM you would spend 33 minutes a day on that part of your reading routine.
For magazines with an average length between 60 and 150 pages, you would spend 75 minutes reading one magazine and successful individuals normally read about five magazines per day. For them, the reading time over a course of a month would be 50 minutes a day. For books with an estimated word count of 100,000 words and the goal to read one book a month, that comes to 11 minutes a day at the average adult reading speed.
Factoring all of this in, you could easily spend at least two hours a day reading at the rate of 300 WPM. For more of the author’s insights on this topic, visit .
The Staples speed-reading test can be found on
One reader of this article gave her tips for speed-reading which included reading in phrases rather than word by word and learning to skim the article for its core concepts. The layout of the article would also impact how fast you are able to read it.
Another insightful commenter mentioned that absorbing more useful content could be obtained by listening to the news as you drive to become well-informed and able to reference important stories. You could also listen to audiobooks at the maximum volume to cram more content into a busy week.
One reader mentioned that there should be some scholarly analysis into how reading speed correlates with typing rates as many individuals spend a good part of their day typing. She compared the speed of listening to a book on tape versus reading it in print and then compared this to how fast that text could then be transcribed by writing or typing. She found that reading and typing at the same time averaged out at between three and four times faster than the typical speaking rate of a book-on-tape reader.
An interesting article that criticized the outlandish claims of some speed reading instructors and courses was published on the website of the Skeptic’s Dictionary at One of these speed reading instructors, Howard Berg, author of Speed Reading the Easy Way, claims that he is able to read 25,000 words per minute which is about 80-90 pages a minute. A professor at UC Berkeley, Anne Cunningham, examined test results that measured eye movements while reading that determined that the maximum amount of words a person can read accurately is about 300 per minute. People who claim to read 10,000 words per minute are really just skimming the material.
The author of the article believed that a better way to increase reading speed would be to enroll in a community college course that would improve study skills, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. It would certainly cost less than a speed reading course such as the Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics course.
The Evelyn Wood speed reading course is a very well-known program with techniques that have been practiced by US presidents including John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter. John F. Kennedy had Evelyn Wood instructors teach top-level staff members how to increase their reading speed as did Richard Nixon. Jimmy Carter took the course and was able to reach a 1,200 word per minute reading rate with a high comprehension rate. The techniques of the Wood program which was acquired by Encyclopaedia Britannica were explored in a comprehensive book entitled “Remember Everything You Read: The Evelyn Wood 7 Day Speed Reading and Learning Program.”
One technique mentioned was the visual-vertical approach which involves eliminating vocalization of words and replacing it with a visual perception of the material that entails sweeping the eyes vertically down the page. The book stated that the full emotional impact and intellectual understanding of most passages in books is enhanced with the visual-vertical approach to reading.
Another technique is the multiple reading process or layering technique which involves seeing and accepting words and phrases out of their expected order. The layering technique is a five-step process which includes:
1. Overview
a. Quickly skimming the book to determine its organization, structure, and tone
b. See what the cover and jacket state about the contents and author
c. Examine the preface and introduction if there is one
d. Flip through the pages at about one second per page
2. Preview
a. Read at about four seconds per page to draft an outline of the details of the book.
b. Divide the chapter you are reading into sections if it is a nonfiction text. If the work is fictitious, you can preview the book by identifying main characters, setting, time period, and general direction of the plot.
c. Look for key facts and concepts paying close attention to the introduction, summaries, and questions posed by the author.
3. Read
a. Preview the first subsection in a nonfiction book and read that section at your fastest comfortable reading speed and make notations to pinpoint important or difficult material to study later on. This will help you to remain actively engaged with the book.
4. Postview
a. Review the entire reading assignment and think about the relationship of each part of the book to the whole.
5. Review
a. Regularly try to remember what you’ve read and see how it relates to other course materials
It is evident now that there are a variety of techniques for reading faster and with practice perhaps you could also become a great speed reader. Try to remember though that speed reading shouldn’t replace savoring the experience of a good book. The various ways to speed read could certainly apply however to lengthy assigned readings for academic courses. Hopefully this article has allowed you to understand the methods of speed reading and helped you to determine whether speed reading is a skill that you wish to perfect.


How to Become a Freelance Writer

Freelance writing is a career path that is ideal for those who wish to potentially earn a good income and those who truly consider writing their passion. It is perfectly suited for someone who may not have a college degree but finds pleasure in writing about diverse topics. There is an abundance of online and print outlets that freelance writers can pursue writing for and although some outlets can be selective in their choice of writers, you should never give up on trying to break into the media outlets that you desire to write for. Moira Allen wrote about writing for publication in her book, Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer, when she said:
“Writing for publication is one of the most rewarding careers I can think of. It offers the opportunity for independence, creativity, and the occasional moment of fame. It allows you to speak to others—to entertain, to educate, to inspire, to motivate. It gives you a chance to earn an income by doing something you love. It may even give you a chance to change the world, or at least to improve one small corner of it, by giving your readers the tools they need to make their lives better. And there’s nothing like the thrill of seeing your name in print—not just the first time but every time!”
How would you define freelance writing though? It can be defined as a type of writing where the writer is self-employed and works independently writing what you choose to and then offering your work to markets that will publish your work. There are a variety of ways you can freelance including:
• Writing for magazines
• Writing for online periodicals such as webzines, e-mail newsletters, and websites affiliated with offline entities such as stores, catalogs, and media outlets
• Writing for newspapers
• Writing nonfiction books
• Writing and editing for businesses
• Editing and copy-editing
• Speechwriting
• Teaching
• Public speaking
• Writing educational and curricular materials
• Humor writing
• Writing essays
• Writing poetry
Freelance writing can really be adapted to your interests and passions so that you can write on whatever topic seems best suited for you. For example, as someone with disabilities, I have written pieces about disabilities for online media outlets and for a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting individuals with a specific disability. There is a market out there for any type of writer and doing some online research or consulting the Writer’s Market published annually by Writer’s Digest will help you find the right market for you to enter.
In addition to writing for specific markets, you may also consider registering for one of the many websites available to find freelance work like,, or Upwork allows you to place bids for posted projects and if your bid and proposal is accepted you will be hired for the job you applied for. It is very similar to another website, that will be shuttered by next year. You may not always be paid the highest rates but Upwork allows you to build a portfolio of work that can demonstrate your writing ability.
One thing to remember is that you will not necessarily earn a good living as a freelance writer in the beginning of your career. It takes time to build a reputation for the work that you have produced. If you’re a very talented writer you may be able to strike gold and earn high rates writing for major media outlets.
It is important to note that writing is something you must spend time on and practice regularly. I recommend that you take some online or in-person writing classes. Writing classes can be offered for a fee online, for free, or through your local college or community college. These classes can enable you to perfect your writing and work through any issues you may have encountered in the writing process. I have taken a few writing classes and I can’t say enough about what it has done for me as a writer.
Freelance writing is truly a fascinating career to pursue and one of the best perks of it is that you are able to work wherever you are most comfortable. There is no work dress code and you can even work in your pajamas! I have found that the opportunities I have found in my search for freelance jobs have enabled me to meet some interesting people and write things that I would have never considered writing about before.

Handling Trolls and Haters

Trolls and haters lurk in the depths of social media networks and their comments and actions can lead to a variety of emotions including anger, annoyance, frustration, and even hurt feelings. There is a distinction between these two terms that should be clarified. Trolls are often spam artists and input comments to social media posts that are often not even related to the topic at hand. Haters are those who are out to insult the work of other people and inflict their hatred in social communities and forums among other places.
The various ways that trolls and haters represent themselves online were explored in a blog post by a blogger who wrote for a blog managed by a start-up whose focus was to improve the civic process by leveraging modern technology to allow more people to become involved with better information. The author described the ways that haters represented themselves in a list:
1. They always find fault and focus on the negative
2. They express themselves harshly and dismissively
3. They often characterize what others say in broad terms presenting a straw man argument which they then cut to shreds
4. They don’t acknowledge information to the contrary, they do not give thanks when given what they want
5. They are never satisfied
Trolls were described in the post as people who “outrage and then tease the gullible into trying to save them, argue with them, prove them wrong, or whatever.” Their representations were enumerated in the following list:
1. They get personal
2. They insult and attack and provide a direct emotional response
3. They escalate to keep the fun going
4. They will never stop unless something more fun occupies their attention
There are different methods that can be implemented to reduce the influence of the haters and trolls that infect your social media channels, post reviews about your writing, or affect your personal life. A freelance writer, Andrew Hutchinson, wrote an article, “Bullies, Trolls, and Haters: Dealing with Negativity on Social Media” on LinkedIn that explored methods for resolving issues that arise with these types of individuals. These methods included:
1. Listen to all feedback
a. Analyze what has been said about you and your writing, absorb it, and take from it any useful advice.
2. Seek to improve what you can (in line with your mission):
a. Know what it is that you were trying to accomplish with your writing and be confident if you know that you achieved your goal with your writing
3. Accept that you can’t please everyone:
a. Not everyone will like what you produce and thought it may be difficult, it is important to accept it, live with what they said, and try to move on
b. If you understand the path you’re on and what you need to do to achieve your goals, you’ll be more resilient and able to accept the opinions of other individuals
He did provide good insight into being empathetic towards individuals who dislike or insult your work. He said,
“Be empathetic—everyone has issues in their life, complications that affect them in ways you can’t possibly know or understand. More often than not, negativity is not about you, keep that in mind and respond with kindness where possible. But also know that some minds can’t be changed. Sometimes you’re better to cultivate the community you have than expend effort on resolution you’re never going to achieve.”
Some propose that the best way to handle trolls and haters is to take a step back and be polite when addressing these people. You should never stoop to their level. Do not confront them but instead respond in a way that shows that you have understood their message and will resolve to address the issues they may have with you or your writing.
Haters and trolls may impact your professional life as well. I have had coworkers that have belittled me and insulted my intellectual abilities and although their words and actions did hurt I was eventually able to move on and realize that perhaps these were not the types of people I needed to have in my life. I realized that I wanted to surround myself with more positive individuals who knew how to support me and accept me for who I am.
It can be very difficult when there are negative individuals in your life but it is important to remember that not everything they say about you is true. Try to be confident and rise above the criticisms and insults they hurl your way. As was mentioned previously, see where they are coming from and the issues that they may be coping with in their personal life.
One excellent quote by Jane Roberts that succinctly summarizes what your approach to handling haters and trolls should be is the following,
“You should tell yourself frequently, ‘I will only react to constructive suggestions’. This gives you positive ammunition against your own negative thoughts and those of others.”
Negativity is an ugly fact of life that we all must cope with at some point in our lives. The key is to try to refrain from letting it impact you in such a way that it takes hold over how you live your life. Life is too fleeting to let it overshadow the great things that you know that you are capable of accomplishing. I know from personal experience how words can affect you and have learned from others that you can’t let the haters and nay-sayers affect how you perceive yourself as an individual.

The Rise in Crime

It seems like every day now we hear of a tragic crime occurring and we are left to wonder why there has been such an uptick in criminal behavior lately. Already this year, there have been high-profile shootings such as the recent shooting by a “drifter” during a screening of Amy Schumer’s popular movie, Trainwreck and a horrific shooting at a Bible study held in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. People are left to question what is happening to the world and what has led to this trend of criminality.
Some crimes have been attributed to racism or anger at the American political system but all too often crimes seem to happen for no reason at all. These crimes don’t always occur in areas where illicit behavior is a frequent occurrence and can happen at any time in any place in the United States or in overseas locations. Sometimes I feel like this is all I hear about lately on the news and it saddens me when I hear about tragedies that should never have occurred in the first place.
The parents of criminals are left to question whether they did something wrong and why their child would commit such heinous acts. Some may wonder whether they should have their own lawyers defend their child’s actions or allow the child to be defended in court by public defenders or court-appointed defense attorneys. I cannot even fathom how these parents feel when they see that their child has made headlines not for doing something great but for doing something terrible.
What factors contribute to a rise in crime? Is it the location that attracts criminals? Does something psychologically wrong with the criminal influence their desire to commit crimes? Some factors that influence criminal behavior include:
• High Population/Population Density—According to a report by the FBI entitled “Crime in the United States”, areas with large populations and high population density tend to have higher crime rates. Most of the crimes that occur in these areas are residential crimes such as burglaries, car thefts, larceny, and domestic violence.
• Commercial/Business Districts—Areas that have dense commercial areas tend to have more “business-related” crimes occur such as shoplifting, commercial burglaries, forgery, larceny, muggings, and thefts of bikes, cars, and personal objects left in cars.
• Economic Conditions—The United States has been in a terrible recession since the stock market crash in 2007-2008 and poor economic conditions according to a 2002 study by Bruce Weinburg at Ohio State University have a significant impact on crime rates. Weinburg and his colleagues studied crime rates between 1979 and 1997 and found that increases in crime during that period could be attributed to declining wages and increased unemployment. Weinburg held that crime increased with declining wages because there was a greater payoff for criminal activity.
• Climate—In 1984 John Rotton, a psychologist with Florida International University, conducted a study based on 858 cities in the United States and found that hot, dry climates was a significant factor in predicting crime and was as significant a factor as the state of the economy or population density. He found that rapes, robberies, and murders were more likely to occur on warmer days than on colder or rainier days. The FBI’s 2007 “Crime in the United States” report concurred with this by indicating that climate was an influential factor in crime rates.
• Distressed Neighborhoods—Neighborhoods that appear to be neglected and are run-down, covered with graffiti, and disorderly tend to have more crime than more orderly neighborhoods. This is supported by a theory devised in 1982 by two social scientists, George L. Kelling of Rutgers University and James Q. Wilson of Harvard University, referred to as the “broken windows” theory. In essence, the theory holds that when one window of a building is broken and remains broken, eventually all the other windows of the building will become broken. The first broken window symbolizes to citizens that no one cares about the broken window or any of the other broken windows. The remaining unbroken windows become targets of petty crimes which spread in a variety of ways through apathetic neighborhoods. Many studies have confirmed the validity of this theory including a 2008 study by K. Keizer and S. Lindenberg of the University of Groningen.
• Variations in age of the population particularly a large youth concentration
• Stability of the population with regards to ease of residential mobility and commutes
• Available modes of transportation and highway systems
• Cultural factors and academic, poverty level, and job availability
• Conditions of the family including whether there has been divorce in the family and the cohesiveness of the family
• Strength of law enforcement agencies
• Focuses of law enforcement officials in the area
Harold Pollack, the co-director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab, remarked on this current upwards trend of criminality when he said, “It’s a little bit like the stock market. These statistics go up and down. It’s like asking why did the stock market go up 75 points today.”
Pollack believes that larger police departments with more officers patrolling the streets contribute to a decrease in crime. What could also impact a decline in crime is the quality of policing and management of the police department. However, what has been documented lately is tensions between police officers and members of particular communities. There have been high-profile cases of police officers killing unarmed black men and it has become a political talking point on whether police reform is needed or whether there is a need for more aggressive policing.
Pollack stated, “Public safety is a joint product of the police and the community, and each side has to trust each other, and when that trust breaks down, it’s very hard for police to do its job and for the community to do its part as well.
Will we one day see a decline in violent crime? In some cities there certainly has been a decline in violent crimes and there is hope that residents of crime-plagued cities will one day be able to sleep peacefully knowing that they are safe and not at risk of being hurt.

How to Write Faster: Writing a Million Words in a Year

We all know about prolific writers such as James Patterson and Stephen King that are somehow able to produce five to ten books or more in a single year. Are there tricks and techniques that they employ to produce books at such a high rate? This article will enable you to learn how to become like these authors and possibly even write a million words in a year.
A blogger, Karen Woodward, summarized the techniques used by one author, Chuck Wendig, who was committed to writing 3,000 words a day in a blog post featured on her blog site, His tips included:
1. Doing your writing in the morning. He wrote, “Writing in the morning has more potential than writing in the evening and here’s why: writing at the end of the day means the candle is burning down. The timer is ticking. You’re watching the horizon eat the sun and with it, the remaining hours before sweet, sweet slumber. Write at the end of the day, you’re racing the clock. Write at the fore of the day, you own the clock.”
2. Waking up an hour earlier. Woodward explained that waking up earlier results in greater productivity. You should also make sure to attain at a minimum seven hours of sleep a night.
3. Drinking coffee in moderation
4. Using your time to write. Wendig stated, “If you’re going to write a lot, you’re going to need to feint and duck, stick and move, and reach in to grab fistfuls of time-flesh and use it for your own sinister purposes: in this case, writing. Got a lunch break? Write. Sitting at a long stop light? Take a few quick voice notes on your phone.”
5. Maintaining a schedule with the amount of work you’ll need to complete each day to meet your deadlines
6. Outlining the content of your manuscript. Wendig wrote, “If you start the day with a mission statement already in play thanks to an outline, you can jump in, eschew any planning the day might require, and just start writing. The goal is to give as much of your time to actually telling the story as you can.”
7. Asking your loved ones for the time you need to write.
8. Finishing your first draft without editing as you go.
9. Do not doubt your ability to produce a great story.
The origin of the challenge to write a million words in a year is credited to Raymond Chandler who had the idea that to make a living; pulp writers had to produce a million words a year. A key component of writing this quantity of words is keep track of your daily word count. One blogger, Alasdair Stuart, wrote though that this method only made him more anxious and finally succumbed to the fact that he could not produce a million words in a year. He wisely stated:
“What’s important is the willingness to try something new that will push you and shape you and make you stronger coming out the other side.”
However, setting word counts did work for one writer, Anthony Trollope, whose goal was to write 250 words every fifteen minutes. His method of writing was detailed by the writer, William F. Buckley, in an interview with the Paris Review, when he stated,
“He had a note pad that had been indexed to indicate intervals of 250 words. He would force himself to write 250 words per 15 minutes. Now, if at the end of 15 minutes he hadn’t reached one of those little marks on his page, he would write faster.”
In an article published on by Michael Agger, strategies for writing faster were explored. He wrote, “Since writing is such a cognitively intense task, the key to becoming faster is to develop strategies to make writing literally less mind-blowing. It’s obviously a huge help to write about a subject you know well. In that case, the writer doesn’t have to keep all of the facts in her working memory freeing up more attention for planning and composing.”
Another strategy for increasing your volume of writing is to write in longhand. An author, Karen Dionne, wrote an article for Huffington Post, describing why this method is so successful when she wrote,
“When an author working on a computer makes a typo, as I just did by typing “Whey” instead of “When” at the beginning of this sentence, they stop and fix it. Why shouldn’t they? The mistake will have to be corrected at some point, the author has noted the error in the here and now, and it only takes a second to correct it.
When I write in longhand, I don’t write “Whey” when I mean to write “When.” Occasionally, I cross out a word or a sentence, but there are no distracting typos, no time consuming regressions.”
Five tips for improving writing speed were examined in a blog post on the website of Hootsuite, a social media management application, with these strategies:
1. Skip the Introduction—Write your piece without the constraints of a planned introduction or lead.
2. Don’t Get Caught Up in the Wording—you have to maintain a rhythm while writing and keep the momentum going. Leave placeholders when you have difficulty figuring out what word to use in a particular context.
3. Keep Your Research in the Document—Copy any quotes, information, or statistics at the bottom of your document before you start and put a line across the page to distinguish between your writing and the research you’ve compiled
4. Write What You’ve Got—be concise and make your writing easy to digest for readers.
5. Talk It Out—ask a colleague for their perspective on your topic as they may offer a perspective that may alter the direction of your article
It is now evident that writing faster is a topic that is has been discussed frequently by writers. The tips and tricks discussed in this article can certainly enable you to become a more productive writer. An important thing to remember though is to never skimp on the quality of your work when you increase the speed at which you write.

Why I Chose to Become a Writer

It all started when I was eleven or twelve years old and I was attending writing classes at a middle school in Matawan as one of their Saturday morning classes. My teacher was a bit eccentric but I enjoyed practicing my writing and eventually presenting one of my short stories in front of the class. I didn’t fully consider myself a writer then because it wasn’t yet a passion of mine but things changed drastically a few years later when I was fourteen and in a writing camp at Brookdale Community College. At Brookdale I truly began to flourish as a writer as I wrote poetry, short stories, and other types of pieces. After that summer I felt I really was a writer.
Writing became an all-consuming passion of mine after that camp and I began seriously writing stories about the characters I had come up with in my head—Samantha and Michael Jaqueries and the friends that Samantha made (often other boys she knew). I was still very amateurish in my writing style but over time began to flesh out my characters more so that they were fully evolved and unique characters. Michael and Samantha are characters I wrote about up until this year.
In high school I always thought that I’d become a famous novelist that was recognized around the world but this dream began to evaporate over time as my interest in my novels began to wane by the time I was in college. After being critiqued on one of my novels I was crestfallen and came to the realization that I was uncertain about sharing my writing with the world.
Once I graduated college I still wrote my novels but not to the extent that I had in my earlier years of college. I began focusing more on finding the right job for me and dabbled in some freelance work for clients I was hired by on a website for freelancers, Elance. On Elance I did travel research for one client while also writing for Patch, an online media outlet, and the Holmdel Happenings, a local newspaper.
Writing became a job for me when I was hired as the assistant to the president of the nonprofit organization I had interned for in the summer before my senior year of college. I learned how to write press releases, formal letters, profile stories, and other pieces and really matured in my writing style. I knew then that I had truly become a professional writer.
When I lost this job it was a major setback for me both personally and professionally. Where was I going to write now? I had no leads for jobs and was once more back in the job market. I still haven’t found a regular office job since then and continue to look every day for the right job for me. Late last year I began my endeavors in freelance writing and worked for one client on writing articles about events and activities in Middletown and another client on a series of articles and lists about erotic poetry. I helped promote his book, The Naked Soul, and my work aided in its success in its category on
Today I write on a daily basis for my own pleasure and sometimes for my WordPress blog. I write 1000 words a day—sometimes more depending on my mood—while still looking for freelance writing jobs and professional office jobs. I’ve had a couple of job interviews this year but am still frustrated at my inability to be hired for these jobs. What does help is the knowledge that I am a talented writer with skills that I am regularly endorsed for on LinkedIn and that I am continuing to learn new forms of writing on a regular basis.
So do I really consider myself a writer today? I must admit that I am not the prolific writer I once was and no longer aspire to become a successful novelist but I can honestly say that I am indeed a writer. I have an established reputation for good work on Elance and although writing is no longer a consuming passion of mine I do still enjoy the writing that I do daily. I have written some great short stories, poems, and personal reflections this summer and I hope to continue to be a productive writer in the months and years to come.
People often wonder though if they too can become successful writers. I would have to tell them that it is hard work to become a writer and taking writing classes can really help in the long run but it is a worthwhile career to pursue. I would recommend that they look to others for advice on writing and learn from the mistakes that other writers have made. You must realize that writing can become a full-time job—it may not always pay well but it can become something that may eventually bring a good income and a great mental workout.
I chose to become a writer when I was still a child and I hope I never lose this drive of continuing to write. I know that my writing on certain topics can make a difference in the lives of others and can be a model for others to emulate. You have to envision what you want to write about and I’m excited about sharing my perspectives with the world.

Short Fiction: “Petty Criminal”

There I was, just standing there, when what I wanted to do was forbidden. I had the option to potentially commit a felony or go home and I decided to commit the felony. What were my friends and I going to do? We were going to attempt to shoplift from Rodgers, the major department store that we deemed easy to steal from as what we planned to steal was considered not particularly difficult to take.
One of my friends, Ella, would be the lookout while I went with my other friend, Jessica, to track down the items that we wanted to take. I did feel a pang of guilt when I thought of what my mother would think if we were caught. She would be so ashamed and disappointed and wonder how she could have raised a petty criminal. The thrill was so enticing though so I put aside those underlying feelings of guilt and went all in.
I slipped some earrings into my purse first before grabbing some necklaces and bracelets while Jessica stuffed a bra into her pocket book before we furtively exited the store. No alarms went off and Ella, Jessica, and I hopped into Ella’s Lexus before speeding away from the scene of the crime.
We thought we were home free until later on when blurry pictures of Jessica and I surfaced online with a message requesting help to track down the brazen thieves who had stolen expensive jewelry and other items from Rodgers. Jessica and I had to figure out what to do with what we had taken and we decided to dump the items in a wooded area by the local high school. Ella got us latex gloves from her dad’s stash and we put them on before grabbing what we’d taken and setting off deep into the woods. We dug a hole and buried the items before quickly leaving out of the woods.
I was really anxious that we’d still be caught and sure enough we were that night when the cops came to my house. My mom was horrified and tearfully asked me if I had actually done what the cops had accused me of doing. I couldn’t lie to her and confessed my guilt.
“Where is the stolen merchandise?” Officer Thompson asked me sharply.
“My friend, Jessica, and I buried them in the woods by the high school.” I replied truthfully.
“How could you do something like this?” my mom asked, “Did we do something wrong when we raised you? We always taught you that nothing in life is free and that you needed to pay your way through life. I think you need help and I’m not just going to stand by and let you continue down a path of crime.”
She let Office Thompson arrest me for shoplifting and I was taken away in the police car. I was terrified wondering what was going to happen to me and I was placed in a holding cell in the local jail. Jessica was eventually escorted in and gave me a sad smile. I knew that now my life was in the hands of the police and I regretted committing the crime in the first place.
Jessica and I were kept apart from one another and I knew that my mom was not going to bail me out of jail. I was led to my own cell later on and on the hard bed I put my head in my hands and began crying hysterically. All my life I had always tried to do the right thing and now I was in jail for something so stupid. I was so ashamed of myself as I had always envisioned myself having a bright future. Now this felony could jeopardize any chance I had for a good career and stable life for myself.
My trial was held a week later and my mom begrudgingly had her lawyer defend me. I guess she wanted me to have a fair chance at a good defense. I was guilt-ridden and hung my head in shame when I saw the expression on my mom’s face in the courtroom. She could barely even look at me and I wondered what kind of sentence I would receive as a first-time offender.
My lawyer spoke to me and I told her that I wanted to plead guilty and be subject to whatever sentence the jury deemed was suitable for me. She wasn’t thrilled with that but knew it was the best decision in the long run. After my lawyer defended me and requested clemency since I was a first-time offender the jury deliberated and finally sentenced me to six months in jail since the value of the items I had stolen was under $200.
I was escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs and when we arrived back at the jail I was placed in the same isolated cell I’d been in before. My reputation was tarnished now and it would take time to redeem myself to my family. While I hadn’t committed a violent crime I still had done something that was worthy of imprisonment and felt numb thinking of the future I had destroyed with one major lapse in judgment.
There was very little to do in my jail cell as there was only a small TV with a limited number of channels and a bookcase that contained old magazines and books. I wondered what I would do for the next six months and whether my family would even consider visiting me in prison. Why would they though now that they realized I was a criminal?
I contemplated suicide as a means to an end as I felt that I couldn’t possibly handle such a long time in jail. Six months was almost an entire year and I thought of all the family events I’d be missing out on and the time I could’ve spent with my friends engaged in fun social pursuits. All of that was out the window now and I knew that I was a lost cause.