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Editors Unplugged: Get to know our panellist for Making Smart Choices: Which freelance projects are right for you?
Interview conducted by Sandra Otto.
Our popular monthly program meetings often feature a jam-packed agenda. We like to keep our introductions short, so you can hear more from our panellists and less from us! It’s hard to do justice to the incredible wealth of experience these guests bring to the table, so we are offering you a preview with this short Q&A beforehand.
This month, we are honoured to be joined by Michelle Waitzman, who will be talking about ways to evaluate new opportunities, so you can move your career in the direction you want.
Making Smart Choices: Which freelance projects are right for you? is based on her standing-room-only session at the 2019 Editors Canada conference in Halifax (co-presented with Jess Shulman).
Was there a time you stepped outside your comfort zone and loved it?
To be honest, I don’t find my “comfort zone” all that comfortable because I’m easily bored. As a result, I’m always pushing outside of it. The biggest leap I’ve taken out of my comfort zone was the most rewarding. In 2005, I moved from Toronto to Wellington, New Zealand, where I had no job lined up and no friends or family. I loved it there and stayed for seven years (and met my now-husband)! But professionally speaking, I think as a freelancer you sometimes need a “fake it till you make it” attitude. I often apply for “moonshot” gigs because you never know when someone will say yes. For example, I responded to a job posting for writing biographical material in the computer science field. I have no computer science background, and the only bios I’d written before were short website blurbs. I got the gig, and so far I’ve had the opportunity to write 15,000-word biographies of five fascinating people who’ve all won the highest honour in computer science, the A.M. Turing Award.
Date: Tuesday, January 28, 7:00 – 9:30 pm
Location: Viola Desmond Room (3rd floor) at the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), 192 Spadina Ave.
In 2020, get the jobs you really want and stop working on projects you might regret later. Michelle Waitzman’s Making Smart Choices: Which freelance projects are right for you? is based on her standing-room-only session at the 2019 Editors Canada conference in Halifax (co-presented with Jess Shulman).
The discussion will include ways to methodically evaluate new opportunities, so you can move your career in the direction you want. Bring a pen and paper (or your favourite device), and you’ll leave with a game plan for the year ahead. In this interactive presentation, we’ll crowdsource ideas and share experiences. Whether you are just starting out as a freelancer or have decades of experience, Michelle will get you thinking about what you’d love to work on and what you’d rather avoid.
by Michelle Waitzman
Editors sometimes have fun sharing—and inventing—collective nouns for various groups of creatures or people. When it comes to editors themselves, I propose to call the group “a generosity of editors.” When they gather in large (or even modest) numbers, editors are exceedingly generous with their knowledge, experience and wisdom. I was reminded of this recently when I attended the second annual Toronto mini-conference presented by the UK-based Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) and organized by Maya Berger, Kelly Lamb, Janet MacMillan, and Rachel Small. Their first generous act was allowing non-members to attend an event with very limited space, and even providing a discount for Editors Canada members. This type of cross-association cooperation is becoming the norm, and it benefits editors around the world.
The day consisted of five sessions featuring presenters from the UK, the US, and Canada. (The previous day, an editor and business coach from Australia, Malini Devadas, gave a pre-conference workshop aimed at freelance editors.) The topics covered were diverse, but a theme of “working smarter” connected many of them. This theme demonstrated that learning how to edit well is only the first step to becoming a successful editor. Editing skills can be enhanced by learning how to work efficiently, provide more consistent results to clients, and collaborate effectively with other publishing professionals.
by Michelle Waitzman
Most people take dictionaries for granted. They are available to us, at home or at school, from the time we first learn to read. Those of us who work with words rely on them regularly. But few of us spend much time thinking about how a dictionary is put together and kept up to date. It’s almost as though we expect them to spring into existence, fully formed. The truth is much more complicated—and fascinating.
Kory Stamper is a lexicographer,* and her book Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at one of America’s best-known dictionary publishers: Merriam-Webster. Sound boring? It’s not! Stamper takes us on a memorable journey through the ways in which the English language has evolved (and continues to evolve), the lengths that lexicographers go to in order to describe current usage, and the backlash that can result from a seemingly innocuous definition.
Each of the book’s chapters is named for a word chosen to illustrate the topic of that chapter. For example, the “Irregardless” chapter is about words that many people argue are not “real” words at all; the “Take” chapter discusses the challenges of defining small words that are used in a multitude of ways; and the “Nuclear” chapter is about differences in pronunciation.
by Michelle Waitzman
Can you tell whether a book was written by a man or a woman, based only on the words the author used? Is the road to hell (or at least to bad writing) paved with adverbs, as Stephen King once claimed? Do American authors write “louder” than British authors? If you’re intrigued by these questions, Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve will satisfy your curiosity.
Author Ben Blatt uses data journalism to apply statistical analysis to a wide variety of topics. In this book, literary works and bestselling fiction are subjected to his big-data approach, often with surprising results. While this isn’t meant to be an instructional book by any stretch of the imagination, writers and editors might find some of the takeaways applicable to their own work. His statistics on sentence length, repetition, gender balance, and other topics may give readers some additional things to think about when they write or evaluate a novel. But generally, Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve is simply an interesting and unusual way to look at writing.
by Michelle Waitzman
Anyone who has considered (or completed) any of the Editors Canada certifications has probably reviewed Professional Editorial Standards (PES). But how were these standards developed, and what do they have to do with the day-to-day tasks of editors and proofreaders?
Editors Toronto’s November program looked at PES through the eyes of four editors, each working at a different career stage and/or in a different editing niche. The speakers made it clear that the standards involve much more than taking tests; they are a practical and evolving guide to professional editing, which editors can use in a variety of ways.
The program started with an overview and history of PES from experienced freelance editor and instructor Elizabeth d’Anjou. Editors Canada first began discussing the standards in the early 1980s, and Elizabeth’s mother was a member of the committee that first created the standards, so Elizabeth practically grew up with them!
One of Editors Canada’s early goals was to set up a certification program so that professional editors could be easily identified (and their work properly valued) by potential clients. But before the organization could create a test for editors, it first had to define what it was testing. They considered questions such as the following: What skills are important? What tasks should editors know how to do? What kind of industry knowledge should they be expected to have? PES was created to answer these types of questions—a task that took many years and involved a number of consultations with members. The standards were not only important for informing a certification program, they were also a key tool for Editors Canada to use to raise awareness about editing as a profession and to explain what editors do.
By Michelle Waitzman
Working in front of a computer monitor all day, as most editors do, takes a toll on your eyes. Here are some tips on how to reduce the eye strain that can lead to fatigue, headaches, dry eyes, and loss of concentration.
Beware of Glare
Glare is caused by light reflecting off your monitor and into your eyes. It can come from your windows or from light fixtures and lamps. Glare makes it harder to read your documents, reduces contrast, and can reflect bright spots into your eyes causing you to squint. It’s best to reduce glare at the source, but if that isn’t possible you can purchase an anti-glare screen to attach to your monitor.
Glare from daylight can usually be fixed by moving your monitor to a better position. Your monitor should be perpendicular to the window in the room, so that the daylight hits it from the side. Placing your monitor in front of the window will cause the backlighting to be too strong, which makes your monitor appear dark. Placing your monitor across from the window will cause the most direct glare.
Even with the monitor angled correctly to the window, glare can be an issue when the sun is low in the sky. Curtains or blinds are the best way to control the amount of daylight entering the room. (more…)
by Michelle Waitzman
When you’re self-employed, saving for retirement is anything but simple. There’s no employee pension, no group RRSPs, and no steady paycheque to count on. I sat down with Aldwin Chin, a financial advisor with Edward Jones in Toronto, to get his insights on how to save for retirement as a freelancer. This is a very general overview, but you can use the links at the end of the article to find more information.
How much of my income should I be saving?
You need to prioritize your money to figure out how much you can and should save. Most freelancers should allocate their income like this:
- Pay for your current living and business expenses.
- Save three to six months’ living expenses in case of emergency or lack of work.
- Anything that’s left should go into long-term savings and investments for retirement or for other major expenses.