I’ve been writing professionally and as a journalist for 15 years.
My accolades include three published books, hundreds of published news and human interest stories, a successful blog, two award-winning investigative television series and a comedic stage play that made its debut in 2014.
I have learned how to write from the best and the worst.
I have been told to write at least 1,500 words a day.
Or 3,000 a day.
Or whatever the hell I want every other day.
I’ve been advised not to use semicolons; that they are insignificant.
It has been suggested that I swear by the Associated Press Stylebook.
The next day I’m told to burn that book and worship The Cambridge Handbook for Editors, Authors and Publishers.
Never use slang.
Use slang whenever I want.
And dammit, Aaron Sorkin says I shouldn’t start a sentence with dammit or and. Ever. (He wrote “Newsroom,” which you should watch.)
Stephen King writes 3,000 words or more every day, even on holidays.
J.K. Rowling writes up to 11 hours most days.
Margaret Atwood writes between 1,000 and 2,000 a day.
Enter contests. Don’t enter contests.
Go to writer’s retreats and workshops. Don’t go.
Take an online course. Don’t take an online course.
I could go on and on with examples that so many offer on the rules of writing. But I won’t because despite all of the rules and suggestions, the best thing you can do for yourself is to DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU.
Does this mean you should disregard what seasoned writers and screenwriters say? No, not at all. Listen. Implement. But trust your gut, too.
I wrote a screenplay last year that I pitched to a production company in February. They requested it to read, getting back to me 4 weeks later to tell me the screenplay was overwritten and a slog to get through.
At the same time, a producer that thought my script was a hoot asked my permission to pass it on to Cobie Smulders’ agent.
In both instances, my writing had a different impact on two different parties based on their rules of writing.
THAT WILL ALWAYS HAPPEN.
Some will love you, some won’t. We know that. So why do we continue to try and conform to the rules of others, even when our gut screams at us to follow our own?
Look, I love to write. I do it almost every day. There are some days I don’t really want to, but because I make a living with my pen, I kind of have to. For the longest time, I thought the Writing Gods would come down from the Script Heavens and destroy me if I skipped a day.
“You’re never going to be successful if you don’t write every day,” they would say. “Because you skipped Sunday and Monday (and used a semicolon yesterday), we’re going to punish you by seeing to it that that production company doesn’t choose you. Tsk, tsk.”
I worked with a business coach once that said, “You are responsible for the box you put yourself in. If you live by the rules and beliefs of others, you will never experience true freedom. Break the rules. As long as no one gets hurt, break the rules all day long.”
So this post is your permission slip to do just that.
You may be torn on whether or not you should move a scene to the top of your script because someone very seasoned suggested it. You’re allowed to be torn.
You may be torn on whether or not you should change the title of your book because a very seasoned publisher suggested it. Again, you’re allowed to be torn.
What you’re NOT allowed to do is doubt yourself. (I know, I know, we all struggle with this…)
Believe it or not, there is an Inner Knowing within you that really needs to be trusted. That, coupled with the knowledge and experience that seasoned writers offer, is what makes a really good writer an amazing writer.
Having said all of this, make your own rules. Take pieces of what he said and she said and what you feel, and make your own. Want to use a semicolon? Use it. Want to swear and cuss and use big words? Use ‘em. Want to keep that scene intact? Keep it.
In the end, don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously (Quote: Lev Grossman). Just because you’re “not there” yet doesn’t mean you don’t know well enough to get there. It just means, well, that you’re not there yet. Keep learning, keep growing, keep believing, and you will be.
All my best to you.
Joleene moody is a freelance writer, blogger and speaker who lives in Oswego County with her husband and daughter. Learn more at www.takeyourvoiceback.com. Her column appears monthly in NNY Business. Visit nnybizmag.com to read past columns online.
Community Bank donates $10k to United Way
Community Bank, N.A., presented a $10,000 corporate check to the United Way of NNY.
Cathy Ward, Community Bank manager presented the check to Tobi Darrah, United Way campaign director, and Bob Gorman, CEO of the United Way of NNY.
The corporate gift will be used in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. Individual branches conducted employee campaigns through the end of November.
YMCA to open Sackets facility at former barracks
The Watertown Family YMCA will use the former Madison Barracks Health Club owned by Lawler Realty LLC to open a satellite facility early next year.
Steve N. Rowell, executive director of health and wellness at the Y, said the facility, at 119 Pike Road, will offer programs similar to the Watertown and Carthage facilities and potentially create new programs to meet local demand. The Y and Lawler Realty reached an agreement in October that will require the Y to pay only utility bills, taxes and interest.
“It’s one of the best things to happen to Sackets in a long time,” Mayor Vincent J. Battista said.
The Y will incorporate a full fitness center with family wellness programming and multiple youth and senior activity programs at the former health club.
Mr. Rowell said the Y will offer its preventive care program for senior citizens and its after-school child care program, which it offers at Sackets Harbor Central School, at the new facility. The Y also considered using its access to Lake Ontario to create watersport activities to accompany its youth sports programs. Members will have access to the facility’s gymnasium, weight room, locker rooms and cardio equipment. The Y has not determined its hours of operation.
“We will also offer a group exercise room with many different exercise classes,” Mr. Rowell said. “It would really just be an extension of our services out of the Watertown YMCA.”
To preserve the facility and accommodate his new tenant, Michael A. Lawler, owner of Lawler Realty, completed multiple interior and exterior renovations for the facility.
Mr. Lawler said his contractors have built a new roof, replaced the doors, repaired and painted the walls, repaved the road and installed new windows, lights, carpet and ceramic tile flooring since last summer. Lawler Realty received a $500,000 grant loan commitment from the Development Authority of the North Country to help finance the $600,000 project in July. Mr. Lawler said he expects the contractors and construction workers will finish most of the renovations by Jan. 1 if he receives funding from the grant loan commitment next week, with only some additional masonry work in the spring and brick work in the summer.
Lawler Realty purchased the former health club in 2010 from Madison Barracks Associates, which operated the facility from 1993 to 2005. Mr. Battista said the club closed about nine years ago.
“I hope that we as a community can help support” it, he said, “and make it an important part of our community.”
North Country Family Health director lauded
The Community Health Center Association of New York presented Joey M. Horton, executive director of North Country Family Health Center with the Jeffrey T. Latman Award at its annual conference in October.
Association Interim President and CEO Lisa Perry presented Ms. Horton with the award in Tarrytown, on Oct. 31 to recognize her achievements.
Ms. Horton became executive director in early 2014. According to the organization, under her leadership NoCo has increased its revenue by $1.15 million, obtained federal grants worth more than $1.5 million to enhance and grow its provider network, expanded its school-based medical and dental programs to three additional districts and much more.
The NoCo administrative team nominated Ms. Horton for the award, citing “her ability to be forward thinking and strategic, her ability to make difficult decisions with acuity and insight, and never losing sight of the mission that drives NoCo — to provide accessible, high-quality care to those who need it.”
NoCo is a federally qualified health care center working to provide affordable health care to approximately 9,000 residents in Watertown and Lowville. It runs low-income oriented programs including a WIC program, school-based dental clinics, and insurance enrollment assistance.
Keynote speaker Ruth A. Doyle encouraged emerging young leaders to embrace their potential and use it to improve the north country at the 20 under 40 luncheon Wednesday at the Hilton Garden Inn.
The St. Lawrence County administrator stressed the importance of remaining humble and sharing knowledge with the aspiring leaders at a time when the idea of the traditional workplace is “being challenged.” She said the young leaders should “maintain perspective” and accept the opportunities that were meant for them whether they involve their current organizations or other careers.
“It is no surprise that you have chosen fields that impact the world around you,” she said.
Family, coworkers, employers and industry leaders applauded as 20 emerging leaders under the age of 40 were honored with awards at the sixth annual 20 under 40 luncheon, hosted by NNY Business, a magazine owned by the Johnson Newspaper Corp.
The 20 were selected from 62 nominees with nearly 100 nominations and reviewed by a committee of Watertown Daily Times and NNY Business personnel, Michelle L. Capone, director of regional development for the Development Authority of the North Country, and Timothy P. Sweeney, general manager for Tunes 92.5/104.5 FM WBLH Radio and a member of NNY Business magazine’s 20 under 40 Class of 2012.
Mrs. Doyle said the 2016 class and its “depth of professionalism” showcased how small businesses, health care providers and municipal governments throughout the north country help young workers develop their abilities. She complimented organizations like BOCES and DANC, the banking industry and school districts in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties for fostering leadership and talent among young professionals.
“I must say, you are a mightily impressive group,” she said. “Indeed, a class to be proud of.”
Several members of the 20 under 40 class of 2016 said they were able to achieve success within the region by seeking out opportunities and communicating with local industry leaders.
Emily Hermon, 24, manager of the Scrub Hub and the youngest member of this year’s class, said the professors she had while attending Jefferson Community College helped her thrive in the local economy. Jake Moser, 38, who owns Moser’s Maple, Croghan, said that the north country’s ideals and virtues and the importance of tradition and family ties provide a support system for emerging leaders to develop their talents.
“Young people should look to get actively involved and give back to their community,” said Nathan P. Hunter, 36, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Northern Credit Union.
Also honored were David Adsit, 38, Kinney Drugs; Jennifer A. Barlow, 35, Children’s Home of Jefferson County; Todd J Burker, 36, Carthage Central School District; AmberLee Clement, 32, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County; Shawna Cutuli, 39, Watertown Family YMCA; Daniel D. Daugherty, 33, City of Watertown Fire Department; Rebekah L. Grim, 26, St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES; Kyle R. Hayes, 29, Gram’s Diner; Erica A. Leonard, 36, University Suites.
Also, Dr. Matthew Maynard D.O., 31, of North Country Emergency Medicine Consultants; Ashley E. Meade, 32, Community Bank N.A.; Sarah Parker-Ada, 29, Indian River High School; Korin Scheible, 39, Mental Health Association of Jefferson County; Melissa C. Schmitt, 28, Samaritan Medical Center Wound Care Center; Hartley Bonisteel Schweitzer, 29, DANC; Shane Simser, 33, the Morgia Group at HighTower Advisors, and Katy E. Troester-Trate, 36, of Jefferson Community College.
In six years, NNY Business Magazine has honored 123 emerging leaders who made an impact as rising stars in their professions and communities. The Times also honored 40 leaders younger than 40 in its 2009 Progress Edition.
In addition to the Morgia Group at HighTower Advisors, the presenting sponsor, event sponsors were the Northern New York Community Foundation, Watertown Savings Bank, New York Air Brake, RBC Wealth Management, Jefferson County Economic Development, Slack Chemical Co., Thousand Islands Young Leaders Organizations, the YMCA, Association of the United States Army NNY-Fort Drum Chapter, Timeless Frames, Decor and Expressions, Hilton Garden Inn, Watertown/Thousand Islands, Tunes 92.5/104.5 FM WBLH Radio, WBLH Radio and the Watertown Daily Times.