Sharing our stories changes our lives. The ability to talk comfortably about ourselves is such a precious and powerful communication tool. With storytelling, we can get the love, confidence and creativity that we need and want.
This is my message as teacher and life coach. You can find me in college classrooms, workshops and one-on-one sessions. I’m also here for you on this blog, with resources from decades of being a writer, journalist, blogger, adjunct college professor, speaker, writing consultant, media trainer and workshop instructor.
In other words, you are benefiting from my many, many mistakes. :)
I’ve made so many boo-boos, worked through endless regrets — and survived. If I can do it, you can too. To get started, please keep reading. (You can also subscribe to my blog for my free, nine-page workbook. Fill in the blanks and it’ll help jump-start the journey to celebrating your badass self.)
Below you will find a list of my most popular how-to and informational blog posts. I use them in my classrooms. Other professors and instructors use them too, which is exciting and gratifying for me. The posts about writing and journalism are especially popular. You can even use them on your own as a self-tutorial.
Writing tips to improve storytelling
My writing tips below really work. These are life skills, even for non-professional writers. The proof is in my students. They’ve become terrific writers with great careers in journalism, writing, activism, business and the arts.
The writing basics:
- What is a nut graf? — My most popular writing post. And, the post most hated by students. But they eventually become fans. Really. If it annoys you too, skip it for now and come back to it later.
- How to write concise — Instant solutions that will instantly impact your writing.
- Rule of 3 can help your writing — Too much to describe and/or summarize? Here’s what to do.
- How punctuation works — Punctuation is the ultimate writing accessory. Important for self-expression.
- My pet peeve: “it” vs. “they” — Get this straight to prove you’re educated and classy.
- The best advice I’ve ever given my students — This is usually the first thing I tell my students. But it involves profanity. So I figured it was smarter to ease it in at the end. ;)
Some writing-related extras:
- How to write a bio about yourself or someone else — A step-by-step guide to ease your pain.
- Books to help us write smart in the workplace — Strategic, on-the-job communication tips.
- Start that writing project with NaNoWriMo — Every year, these folks make November special.
- Three great writing tips that transform my students — If you can only stand to read one blog post, visit here to get links to three core posts (nut graf, punctuation, it vs. they).
Journalism deepens our storytelling
In my journalism classes, students learn to write — and report. That means developing skills in researching, interviewing and cleverly sleuthing out info not readily available to them. The links below provide a taste of how these additional tools function. Personally, I believe everyone needs them as life skills.
- 10 basic interviewing tips for journalists — Part 1, which covers core techniques.
- 5 interview tips that work in journalism and real life — Part 2, which is a bit more advanced.
- Pete Hamill chats about love, writing & more — My class interviews this eponymous journalist and coaxes him into answering some pretty personal questions. A wonderful experience.
- Rock your writing! 9 tips — There’s a reason journalists transition quite smoothly into other careers as writers of screenplays, speeches, fiction and other types of books. Journalists have very specific ways of approaching a story. Includes links to the nut graf, Rule of 3 and concise writing posts.
- How to take great photos & get published — 9 tips from Chuck Zoeller of AP — This post about photojournalism is unique because my friend Chuck actually gave me permission to post photos by Associated Press photographers. These photos dynamically illustrate the points he made during a talk he gave to one of my journalism classes.
Social media helps storytelling
People always want to know what I tell students about their employment prospects. This is what I say: The job market for journalists and writers totally sucks. That’s why you have to be entrepreneurial. The following links will jump start your ability to take care of yourself.
- 5 reasons why you need to blog — Blogging changed my life. I highly recommend it. Here’s why.
- How to start building your brand on Twitter — An overview of the issues and steps you can take.
- How to build your online brand — My class interviews a social media professional. Do’s and don’ts.
- Art trend: From Picasso to Facebook, Twitter & More — A fascinating art talk about curating data.
- How my students talk to me with Twitter — This one is just for laughs.
Asian American storytelling
Most of these posts include multiple links to studies, reports and other points of interest. I’m especially concerned about our mental and emotional health.
- 5 reasons why being in a Chinese family is murder — Jennifer Pan hired hit men to kill her control freak parents. Mother murdered, father injured. What this tragedy says about us and our culture.
- Pet peeve: Are you first- or second-generation American? — A confusing topic made easy. Learn about comprehensive new studies. Immigrants and their American-born kids now account for nearly 25% of all U.S. residents.
- Let’s share immigrant stories as @MoreThanALabel — Social worker grad students ask me to join their battle against immigrant stereotyping.
- New study on Asian Americans & money issues — Data about career choices, salaries, buying power.
- Asian Americans & therapy: Chat with Dr. Michi Fu — A broad-ranging Q&A.
- How to find a good shrink — If you’re wondering where to look, this post might help.
- Therapy talk to get us through the day — My first shrink, a Jewish grandma, has wisdom for us all.
- A look at Asian American immigrant population trends — The 2012 study by the feds.
- Chinese Americans in 2011 — Organization of Chinese Americans’s annual convention. This post is packed with information and contacts that remain relevant.
My personal storytelling
- My money story on NPR: Chinese family vs. personal happiness — National Public Radio interviews me!
- Photo album: Remembering Mom, 1917-2010 — Celebrating a stubborn, amazing diva.
- How to overcome childhood traumas & troubles — Why we need to talk about the past.
- Fear and getting over it — A chat with my shrink on my 55th birthday.
- Laughing at Asian parents — of course, this isn’t me! — I still love these YouTube videos: “Shit Asian Moms Say” and “Shit Asian Dads Say.” Hilarious.
- Parents like Amy Chua are the reason Asian Americans like me are in therapy — The 2011 rant that went viral. My only regret: By speaking out, I generated publicity that helped sell Chua’s books.
- Forget Amy Chua, Bigger fish to fry: 4 ways I’ve been conned by Confucius — Why cultural family values are ruining our kids.
- My food page includes links to posts about Asian food, culture and recipes. I’m into Chinese herbal medicine too.
- My art page reflects who I am as a visual learner. Self-expression through painting and drawing is my passion.
Born to learn, born to teach
My students and clients come in all ages (14-76). Love the energy of making deep connections with people as they sort through their lives and personal stories. You can find details about my gigs on my LinkedIn profile.
And here’s me, in the 9th grade. I was 15. Even back then, I hoped to be a teacher someday.