Lisa Hoekstra Is In Our Member Spotlight!

Lisa HoekstraHere’s another PWAC Quebec Member spotlight. Today we’re showcasing Lisa Hoekstra.

Why do you do the kind of writing you do?

I am a corporate/marketing writer. My talent is mimicking voice, tone and language – so I write for companies in their brand’s voice, ensuring that all content represents them and allows their target audience to think “oh, this is [insert brand name here].”

I do a bit of article writing and journalism on the side, but it’s not my forte… writing in my own voice can be  challenging after hours of being someone else!

I also write creatively… on the weekends, when my creative juices are ready to put my imagination on paper.

How do you deal with writers’ block? If you don’t experience writers’ block, why is that? What’s your secret?

Oh, the dreaded writer’s block. I get it often, regardless of what I’m writing about or the style I’m picking. Sometimes, it’s because I’m having a hard time transitioning into a client’s voice. Other times it’s because I feel like everything I’ve written is crap on a stick… or screen rather. And yet other times it’s because I’m not 100% sure how to write that particular piece.

To fix the first one, I read over the style guides, previous texts and other branded pieces so that I can get back into the head of the brand, so to speak. It usually doesn’t take long.

To fix the second, I just need to step away from the project/computer – go grab a coffee, make myself a sandwich, sit on the balcony in the sun. This lets my brain sift through all the things I want to say and form the right sentences. Then I can get back into it without any of that self-doubt lingering in there.

For the third, it’s all about the research. I will read everything and anything I can about how to write a particular form of content – like a Press Release, or a How to Piece on Optimizing SEO, whatever it is. I make notes and, as I’m researching, the content will form in my head almost naturally. It’s actually my favourite type of writer’s block to break down.

What’s the most unusual thing that you have experienced in writing, researching or interviewing for a story?

Hmmm… this is a tough one. I haven’t had that much “unusual” happen to me. Maybe the most unusual was having to interview someone in BC who didn’t have access to the internet (who doesn’t have access to the internet nowadays?)… and wasn’t available to talk on the phone. That was an interesting experience but the person was super awesome about it, answering my questions by email while he was on the ferry.

If you could interview anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Honestly? No one. I hate interviewing people. That’s why I’m not really into journalism. I much prefer a causal dinner talking about the meaning of life and what drives people to do what they do! I would love to sit down with Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Dickens or the Bronte sisters… anyone who has changed the landscape of literature.

I’d want to find out why they wrote about the topics they chose. There are so many interpretations out there about literature that it can get frustrating – what if they didn’t have any desire to comment on society! What if they were just writing because the story was in them and they needed to get it out? (That’s why I write stories, anyway!)

What made you want to join PWAC originally? What’s the best thing about being a PWAC member?

I joined PWAC because I was just starting out as a freelancer and I was told being part of a group like PWAC would help. It did! I love the workshops and the networking possibilities. I just wish I had more time to take full advantage of all the services/benefits PWAC offers.

If you were given $40,000 to fulfill a life-long dream, what would that be and why?

Oh man… I guess I’d take a year or two off of my corporate/marketing career and finish a 6-book fantasy series I’ve been building/developing for the last three years. Either that or I’d take two months off and travel the world. It’s a tough choice. One hand – I could finally put that story out of my head and get on with my life. On the other hand, I could see the world!!!

Maybe I’d do both at the same time.😉

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PWAC Quebec – We Rock!

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Congratulations to everyone across Canada who won awards during our Annual General Meeting in Vancouver this year!!! (See the end of this post for all the winners.)

PWAC Quebec chapter member, Mark Cardwell, was a finalist in the Best Feature Article category, and I got a lovely, totally unexpected surprise when I received my Regional Volunteer Award. As Chapter President, it’s been such a pleasure to organize professional development and social events for our members in the last few months.

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RECAP OF EVENTS SO FAR

In November 2015, Julie Barlow gave a stellar presentation on how to write a powerful book proposal. That was followed by our holiday party hosted by Eve Krakow, who also has been a dedicated PWAC volunteer throughout the years. Next came a series of pub nights during the winter right up into the spring. At these events, new and veteran members got a chance to mix and mingle in an informal setting. It was a great way to warm up our chapter and get it going again. Before our summer break, we capped off our events with a museum visit (on one of the soggiest days of the year! LOL!) and a great potluck party hosted by Tracey Arial. All of these events would not have happened without the dedication and hard work of all of our volunteers this past year. So, a big thank you to Kathe Leiber, Eve Krakow, Julie Barlow and Tracey Arial.

WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT?

Our executive is planning the upcoming professional development events, and we’ll announce those soon. In the meantime, here is information on our next couple of activities.

Pwac Reads at CD 2013

PWAC Quebec chapter members read during the 2013 Les Journees de la Culture in the Toucan Room, upstairs at McKibbin’s Pub in Montreal.

 

PWAC QUEBEC READS DURING LES JOURNEES DE LA CULTURE

Every year at the end of September, there is a province-wide celebration of all things arts and cultural. This time around, we’ll be participating by giving a reading. It will take place on September 30th from 2 to 5pm at Mariposa Cafe. (We send out a huge thank-you to Victor at the Cafe for hosting this event.) If you’re interested in reading some of your compelling non-fiction, fiction or poetry, contact Elizabeth at info at ownyourcreativity dot com.

NEXT PUB NIGHT

Our next pub night is September 15th, from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. It’s open to past, present and future members, and guests. The theme is “Most memorable back-to-school story.” Come prepared to tell your story. Props and pictures are welcome. Location to be confirmed.

VOLUNTEERS

Wow! That’s a lot of stuff going on, isn’t it? None of it would happen without volunteers. I encourage you to get involved. We have tons of things that we need help with — small and big — and it feels so good when you contribute. Contact Elizabeth at info at ownyourcreativity dot com to help out this great organization of ours.

FULL LIST OF PWAC AWARD WINNERS

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Member Spotlight – Carl Bindman

Carl BindmanWhy do you do the kind of writing you do?

‘Cause I think Journalism is the best way to be forced to write a bunch, about a bunch, in a bunch of different ways. That’s how I’m going to get good. I could be wrong, of course. But I’m an undergrad student, writing/editing for my student paper, and learning and making mistakes. Being wrong is part of my job.

How do you deal with writers’ block? If you don’t experience writers’ block, why is that? What’s your secret?

Deadlines. I won’t know what to write, or I’ll start writing and it’ll be bad, but writing something bad isn’t as bad as writing nothing and letting down my peers. But also I’ve found when I’m writing a news story or something, like, more real(?), it’s harder to get stuck than writing fiction or a play. There’s always that real story I’m trying to tell that provides guidance.

What’s the most unusual thing that you have experienced in writing, researching or interviewing for a story?

Uh. Well I wrote a story about snow cricket, which was pretty out there. And the way I went about it was by playing on one of the teams. And that  was unusual. And, when I was playing I dislocated my shoulder, which was also odd for a writing gig.

If you could interview anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Jon Stewart. There really aren’t a lot of successful white Jewish male writer/comedians, and I want to know his secret as a white Jewish male writer/comedian in solidarity. No but seriously I just want to pick his brain about how to help people care about things that matter. He helped me care about things that matter. That’s why I write.

What made you want to join PWAC originally? What’s the best thing about being a PWAC member?

I’m a student studying to work in a, y’know, difficult and competitive industry. If there’s anything I can have that’ll help me survive as a writer when I graduate and become a Professional Writer, I’ll take it. And, so far, while I haven’t taken advantage of a lot of the perks of my membership, just knowing that there’s a community out there is comforting. That enough working writers exist in Canada for there to be an association (I know it’s obvious and a bit silly, but still) gives me hope that I’ll end up as one of them.

If you were given $40,000 to fulfill a life-long dream, what would that be and why?

Invest it, so when I inevitably move to New York City I’ll have a few months of padding before I go broke.

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Member Spotlight – Carly Rosalie Vandergriendt

Carly Rosalie Vandergriendt, PWAC Quebec Member

Carly Rosalie Vandergriendt, PWAC Quebec Member

This is the first of a series of posts that highlights our members in a fun way. Our members are diverse. We have student members still completing their degree, some members with decades of experience and everything in between. The Member Spotlight will give you a sense of who makes up the Quebec chapter of the Professional Writers Association Canada, an organization that celebrates its 40th anniversary this year!

Why do you do the kind of writing you do?

Because whenever I try to do anything else, I think about stories I want to write—fiction, usually, but also CNF. I also write poetry from time to time. It’s hard for me to invest myself in other things when my mind is constantly circling back to writing. But I do corporate blog and content writing, editing, and translation to pay the bills.

How do you deal with writers’ block? If you don’t experience writers’ block, why is that? What’s your secret?

To me, the idea of writer’s block implies that writers have to feel inspired to work. But that’s not how books are written. E.B. White said, “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.” And any writer who’s worked on a long-term project can probably relate to that sentiment.

I’m not saying I always want to write. In fact, most of the time I don’t feel like writing because it’s challenging. Putting words on the page is scarier than thinking about the words that could be on the page. Once they’re on that page, they can be judged. Whereas an idea has infinite potential.

There are many obstacles to writing—fear, anxiety, domestic stuff, having to make a living—but to me, it’s not about being blocked or unblocked.

What’s the most unusual thing that you have experienced in writing, researching or interviewing for a story?

As a freelancer, I’ve written about a lot of weird stuff. New-agey things, like astral travel or clearing the chakras. I’ve also had to write about things I don’t have any experience with—like parenting and football. It’s a challenge.

If you could interview anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Tough question. Since I was in my early teens, I’ve admired CanLit’s female pioneers—Margaret Laurence, Mavis Gallant, Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood, and Gabrielle Roy.

There are so many more resources available to writers today. CanLit is a thing—it wasn’t back when they were starting out. But if today’s writers still have complexes about writing not being a productive endeavour, how did writers feel half a century ago? How did they overcome those feelings without a community, without the support of other writers, especially other women writers? It amazes me.

What made you want to join PWAC originally? What’s the best thing about being a PWAC member?

I think PWAC does a great service to Canadian writers in focusing on the business side of writing—contracts, negotiation, payment, etc. When I give quotes to new clients I still sometimes find I lack confidence, because creative work is so undervalued in our society. But creative work is still work.

If you were given $40,000 to fulfill a life-long dream, what would that be and why?

I would put it towards a down payment on real estate in Montreal—I dream about a place with a little shoebox office that I could call my own. It’s not exactly a lifelong dream since I’ve only been living in the city for three years. But I feel an overwhelming amount of love for this city. I’m planning on staying.

Carly Rosalie Vandergriendt
Montreal-Based Writer & Editor

 

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Writers Meetup May 17

May 176_30 - 8_30 pmWriters' MeetupYou're Invited!(1)This edition of the PWAC Quebec Pub Night has a special theme: Tell us a story about your best or worst trip.

Why? Just for the fun that’s in it!

A get-together for members — and friends — of PWAC Quebec and those interested in finding out more about the Professional Writers Association of Canada. You can also find out more about this year’s writers’ conference happening in Vancouver.

Come on out and meet like-minded writers, & enjoy the hospitality of an Irish pub, with its good food and cheer. If you’d like to have dinner beforehand, please join us at 5:45pm.

Fiddler’s Green Pub – 1224 Bishop Street

To RSVP, send an email to pwacquebec@gmail.com.

See you there!

All the best,
Elizabeth Johnston, president
Quebec chapter of PWAC

UPCOMING PUB NIGHTS FOR 2016 – Save the dates!

May 17 – pub night – Fiddler’s Green, 6:30 to 8:30pm
September 20 – pub night – Fiddler’s Green, 6:30 to 8:30pm
October 18 – pub night – Fiddler’s Green, 6:30 to 8:30pm
November 15 – pub night – Fiddler’s Green, 6:30 to 8:30pm

ALSO: MUSEUM VISIT ON June 5 – https://www.facebook.com/events/177155586012695/

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