Write Evocative Stories Now


We’ve all learned to “show, don’t tell” when we write.

But why does this technique actually work?

Let’s break down the method so you can master it in your own writing:

  • Take the sentence “Alan is upset.” It’s succinct, but not interesting. By telling the reader how Alan feels, we assume they cannot make that inference on their own. We also spoil the suspense; there’s little reason to keep reading as the statement is final and does not trail into the next idea.


  • Before you write, figure out why Alan is upset. What CONFLICT is happening in his world? Let’s say he got into a heated argument with his dad. Again, we do not have to reveal this directly, but we can keep this information in our back pocket.


  • As you write, set up your scene with sensory clues that allude to Alan’s conflict. “Alan needed some air. He sat heavy on the porch swing, clenching his fists so tight that his fingernails made tiny moon-shaped indents. And then - it began to rain. Lashing, driving rain.  Alan jolted up with a shout, and kicked the porch swing hard before stalking off.”


  • Notice how we never explicitly say “Alan is upset,” but it’s obvious that he is. We show it in his body language. We even show it in the quality of the rain.


  • Finally, we delay the payoff of finding out the reason he’s angry, which builds suspense and interest for your reader. Try it yourself!

How To Avoid Distracted Working

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The internet is a wormhole.

One minute you’re working on Calculus, and next you’re on your fifth video of “Dogs Stealing Food From Babies!” How did that happen?

A recent UC Irvine study shows that every time you take a break to check social media, it takes an average of 25 minutes to circle back to task. So if you check your phone 8 times, you’ve lost over 3 hours. Yikes.

But fear not: You can tackle procrastination if you can identify its root.

Here are three reasons we procrastinate, and how to beat them:

  1. EXHAUSTION: You may be working too hard. Establish a visual touchstone in your daily life. For instance, every time you see a window, ask yourself, “How am I doing? Do I need some water? Or maybe a brisk walk around the block?
  2. NO INTEREST: It’s difficult to commit to something you don’t care about. Make it easier to get that dreaded work done by briefly switching to a preferred format (ex: video vs. textbook explanation) or by delegating the task to other people (ex: barter with a sibling to do your chores.)

  3. FEAR: This is the big “what if” game that causes us to freeze in fear. Ever thought, “What if I do all this work, and I still fail?” Consider another question: “Does this task actually put me in immediate danger, or is it just math homework?” Sometimes a brief reality check is all you need.

You can also allay your fear by setting a 1-minute timer to “warm up” into the material. Once you minimize the pressure from thinking about the entire project, you'll likely find yourself making progress.

Good luck!

PS: Do you have a tip on how to manage procrastination? Share in the comment below.

Tour A College Recently? Don't Forget To Do This Simple Thing...


Did you visit any colleges over spring break? Or did a college admissions officer speak at your school recently?

If so, don’t forget keep the connection “human” with a simple thank-you note.

This doesn’t have to be an icky admissions gimmick — if you take the time to reflect on what truly mattered to you during the tour and presentation.

Thank the person for the clarity you gained about your desired college experience, and leave it at that.

If you’re stuck on what to write, consider this outline:

  • Address the person directly
  • Briefly mention where you met them
  • Add one thing from the conversation or presentation that you found most useful
  • Close with how this information shifted your thoughts about the university or your future goals
  • Finally, add your name, school, and graduation class


  • If you don't have the person's full name, call the admissions office to get it. Tell them you’re sending a card.
  • Address the envelope with the person’s name and in ℅ (care of) the admissions office.

Send this note simply in the spirit of genuine gratitude and watch how gratitude empowers both giver and receiver.

Let me know how it goes.

PS: Empower a friend’s admissions journey. Share this post with them.

High School Pre-College Programs | Myth vs. Fact

This past week, one of my clients asked me about summer programs.

She’d heard that she should apply to an astonishingly pricey program at her dream school. That doing so might give her a “leg up” in admissions process. Was this a good idea?

I heard the insecurity in her question and it reminded me, once again, about troubling aspects of our college admissions culture.

Her questions might be yours, too.   

You wonder (when you see glossy brochures for expensive pre-summer college program) if a program is the winning advantage you need for a chance to get into your dream college.  

Because maybe attending the on-campus summer program might show that "you're really passionate about the school."

I beg you to stop worrying. Don’t give into the college admissions madness around you.

There are other “roads less travelled” to your desired college destination.

Watch this video to learn more about the myth of pre-college programs.

If you need help figuring out other excellent summer alternatives, download my free guide: How to Land an Inspiring H.S. Summer Internship

Are there any other pre-college program myths I may have missed? Let me know in the comments.

Related post: College Essay Supplements: Intended Major

Related links: Telluride Summer Program, Research Summer Institute, Cosmos

How to Improve your Writing Style in 2 Steps [VIDEO]

Fantastic writing doesn't appear out of thin air. The greats often speak of toiling for countless hours to craft a sentence or scene.

So what does that mean for us "regular folk"? (Speak for yourself, Liz, I hear someone smirk.)

If your current goal is not to write the next great American novel, but to churn out stronger school or college essays, there are habits you can practice to give your writing that extra spark.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE for two helpful tips to improve your writing style. 

Was this post helpful? Or do you have more questions? Let me know in the comments.