What to write when someone’s child has died

I will never, never forgive myself for once writing an email to a couple whose premature baby died just a few hours after he was born. In it I wrote, “never mind, you’re young. You can have another one.”  Stupid, ignorant, idiotic cow that I was.

what to write when a child dies

“We need your support, patience, understanding, love and friendship…” Dawn Allen, bereaved parent

At the time, I hadn’t become a parent. And unless you are a parent, it’s hard to understand just what agony the loss of a baby can cause – whether via a miscarriage (even an early one), via an actual birth, and of course later on through childhood and beyond.

It was only once I had a child of my own that it dawned on me what a vile, thoughtless and cruel thing that was to say. Here’s what I have learned that may stop you making similar mistakes… [Read more…]

What to write to a social media troll

Have you ever been trolled on social media? If not, let me tell you it’s like being attacked by a swarm of millions of mosquitoes all intent on biting you, but not quite doing it – only having thousands of pathetic little nibbles.

How to handle trolls

Although humans aren’t known particularly as pack/herd animals, it’s funny how the opportunity to troll someone gathers enough vitriol-spitting monsters to make victims feel they’re not even safe enough to go put their garbage out at night.

Result? You see the swarm but don’t feel any bites. They swarm around you until your head is buzzing, but suddenly just when you feel you’re about to get devoured by thousands of nasty little insects, poof! They’re off swarming around their next victim, and then they disappear out of your life.

There is no reasoning with the trolls once they’re swarming

[Read more…]

How to write for millennials

For the second time in a week, please welcome back the intrepid Jackson Rawlings. Last time he told us, er, older types in no uncertain terms how not to write for millennial audiences, and this week shares some further thoughts on we can do it right – if we want to be on the same wavelength. Pin back your ears (or eyes, anyway…) Sz x

Article on writing for millennialsI often get asked about the how to approach writing for millennials. Most likely because: a) I’m a writer and b) I’m a millennial. Makes sense, huh?

People ask me “should I write short pieces? Should I use jokes and memes?”

First of all, no. Or at least, probably no.

The assumption is writing for millennials is an entirely different game to writing for other audiences.

[Read more…]

How NOT to write for millennials

I am so thrilled to welcome back our favourite young columnist here on HTWB, the one and only Jackson Rawlings who now writes for much posher publications including Huffington Post and Medium. Here, though, he gives us old goats some sharp, short advice on how not to write to and for millennials…take heed, those born before 1980! Sz x

lauren-peng-43963-unsplashI happened to catch the end of a TV soap the other day. I’m not someone who usually indulges in that kind of show, but on that occasion, my interest was piqued.

There were a couple of characters on screen who would be what I’d describe as millennials — probably in their mid-twenties — having a conversation with each other, which went something like this:

“Oh my god I can’t believe he said that, it’s like when “celebrity” did “celebrity thing” and I was like “what?”

“I know right? Hashtag fail”.

I’m paraphrasing from memory, but trust me, the actual scene was equally awful and stilted. [Read more…]

But you’ve GOT to get written permission…!

“But you should have got written permission!” shouted the Chairperson of a charity group, connected to a public sector entity, of which I am a member. “Why the hell didn’t you?”

“Permission to do what?” I snorted.

“Well, permission to take photos of that department which we were asked to critique.”

“I made sure there were no staff members or other people in the photos as the rules state, and just illustrated the problem rather than write it all out.Must get written permission“But you should have got permission!”

“From whom? We don’t need permission if there aren’t any staff members or other people in shot.”

“Oh, well, I don’t know, but you should have got permission.”

Our Chairperson at the time was a retired formed Head Honcho within another public sector organisation. Given his high-flying title you’d think he would have been very comfortable with decision making and knowledge of who needs what permissions to do what, where, when and more. [Read more…]

Writing about cycling dangers: where next?

About a year ago I was trolled by nearly 400, er, trollers, because I wrote a social media post saying that the death of a lady cyclist – mother, and citizen – due to a collision with a van in one of the UK’s very crowded town centres – might have been avoided had there been better (and separated) facilities for motor-powered vehicles and cycles in that town.

Writing about cycling dangers: where next?

“Actually motorists give cyclists a wider berth if they aren’t wearing helmets, anyway” says Rosie. Would you take that chance? And with your small child in a flimsy cycle trailer?

These cyclist trolls infested every element of my social media presence, my Amazon author page, my Google status and more to the point threatened me in my home (at the time I lived alone) and followed me around in every imaginable online place.

They were furiously writing to all and sundry about what an awful woman I must be to say that cyclists should watch out for motorised traffic and ride defensively, rather than blithely hit the roads and expect any other road users to shape up and ship out of the way. Especially in the southern part of the UK where totally inadequate roads are mostly choked with heavy traffic and grumpy drivers, the self-righteous superiority attitude of many cyclists is, in my view, an accident waiting to happen.

Here we go again … are small children safe on crowded roads in these flimsy cycle trailers?

[Read more…]

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