How Do I Love Thee, Em Dash? Let Me Count the Ways.

I love you, em dash. There, I said it. Is it wrong to have feelings for a punctuation mark? Not when it is as versatile and graceful — and dare I say, attractive? — as you, em dash. Only a heartless anti-grammarian would claim otherwise. I remember the first time I noticed you. I must […]

How to Work Remotely … Really, REALLY Remotely

In spring 2015, my husband texted me a spreadsheet with the names of a bunch of Army officers and locations of their next assignments. His name was highlighted next to “Germany.” Germany. Germany? I was shocked. True, this was much preferable to many of the alternatives. But it did raise a major question: Where did […]

3 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block

1. Write Now. Revise Later. Here’s a secret: Even award-winning writers hate their first drafts. Just accept that your original takes will always need finessing. Bestselling author Anne Lamott calls these her “shitty first drafts.” And so can you, by using the “write now, revise later” approach, coined by English teacher Harry Bauld. Whenever you’re […]

Plagiarism? Come on, You’re Better Than That.

What do Joe Biden, Melania Trump, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and countless disgraced journalists have in common? They’ve all been accused of plagiarism. With the Internet at our disposal, stealing someone else’s words has never been easier. If you don’t have any moral qualms about doing that, I can’t help you. But plenty of people […]

Meet Eric Twardzik, The Hired Pens’ Style Writer

When you have a last name like “Twardzik,” you have to do some early grappling with the pain and beauty of letters. But once you’ve triumphed? Spelling all other words is child’s play. And thus Hired Pen Eric Twardzik began his writing career at the tender age of four-and-a-half. What did you want to be […]

Visuals Can’t Do It All; You Still Need the Right Words

Adam Villone is a veteran writer/producer/director/creative director with experience in everything from concept development and script writing to producing and directing video and live events. We’re thrilled to have him on board to help our clients tell their stories through video and other visual media. Adam will take it from here …  Visual storytelling may […]

When Work Doesn’t Work for Women: Saying Goodbye to Corporate America

Today we’re reposting a blog by The Hired Pens’ very own Tracy Quinn McLennan, copyeditor extraordinaire. Her story is a familiar one for many of our Pens who have also chosen to leave the inflexible world of corporate America for a work life that works for their life. We hope you find it inspiring. And if […]

Why the World Needs a Grammar Czar

Sometimes it’s good to have a benevolent dictator calling the shots. If you’ve ever been part of a committee or task force trying to resolve a seemingly inconsequential issue, you know where I’m coming from. Our friends at Wikipedia define a benevolent dictator as “an authoritarian leader [who] exercises absolute political power … but is […]

Pardon Me, but Your Manspreading Is Infringing on My Personal Space

As I write this post, 150 new words are making their debut on This seems like a shockingly high number, but it’s actually a pretty discriminating list compared to the 1,000 going into the Oxford English Dictionary and the whopping 1,700 Merriam-Webster said “kk” to. (Which you’d know means “okay” if you got an […]

How Graphic Designers Make Life Hell for Copywriters, and Vice Versa

The relationship between a copywriter and graphic designer can be a beautiful, harmonious thing — or it can be a disaster because each does things that drive the other one nuts. I’ll start with my perspective as a copywriter who has worked with dozens of designers over the past 20 years. Here’s one that kills […]