[cross-posted from ChrisThilk.com]

Like the rest of you, I’ve been following the story of actor Geoffrey Owens over the last few weeks. After someone noticed him working at a Trader Joe’s — a job very different from his recurring role on “The Cosby show” in the 80s and 90s — his became an interesting tale. What started out as “job shaming” has turned into not only new acting opportunities for Owens but also a lesson for everyone on the dignity of work, no matter what kind of work it is.

The story struck a nerve for me and I’ve struggled…


For the last few months I’ve been using Medium as my outlet for, essentially, writing about writing. That made sense at the time and I gave it a long enough period of time to see if the experiment would work and lead to any sort of traction or other tangible benefits.

It hasn’t.

I have a new strategy in mind for this platform going into 2018 that I think, at the moment, is pretty solid in my mind. Maintaining a presence here is important as Medium is an interesting combination of publishing platform and social network. …


Today’s writing prompt from WordPress resonated with me. “Calling.” What does that mean?

A calling is a tricky thing. It means, in its most religious sense, what God has meant for you to do. It’s the answer to the question “Why are you here?”

Attempting to divine God’s will or plans is a sure way to either 1) prove your own hubris or 2) wind up in a lot of trouble. Countless people claim to know what God wants for themselves or others, usually making it clear they’re really out for their own self-interest. Or that they’re nuts. It’s a…


Music is a constant part of my life. If I’m not listening to it, I have a song of some sort going in my head. I’m humming a tune, tapping a beat. I feel music on a deep, soulful level. John Paul Jones’ minor chord progressions on “Kashmir” make me cringe in ecstatic pain. Clouds don’t float as easily or beautifully above the landscape as Roy Bittan’s piano solo at the end of “The Fire Inside” (the first one is great, the second is transcendent) floats above rhythm section. The moment in “Where The Streets Have No Name” where Adam…


There’s a scene in an episode of “Friends” where some of the characters have to answer questions about others because they have a bet going. When Joey and Chandler are asked how many types of towels Monica has they hem and haw before finally answering “11!”

Freelance writers have to be adaptable and have 11 or more personas and styles they can slip into easily. I’ve long prided myself on my ability to write in any number of styles and voices, from deeply casual to much more professional and serious to whatever the client in question needs I need to…


You probably got some form of the following advice from a parent, grandparent, guardian, friend or other loved one: Don’t write angry.

If you were angry at someone and wanted to write a strongly-worded letter, they may have told you it was a good idea to go ahead and write it, but then put in a desk drawer for 24 or 48 hours. Then pull it out and reconsider it. Are you still that mad? Or have you calmed down a bit?

We all get worked up about this or that in our lives. That cooling off period was often…


You’ve committed to a daily personal, public writing routine. You have a blog (or blogs) you maintain that serve one purpose or another, whether to express yourself and share a passion with the the world, position yourself as a thought leader in your chosen industry, market yourself as a freelancer of some kind, or just write dirty limericks.

In the best of circumstances, your schedule allows you to work a day or two ahead, queuing up posts ahead of time. That way, publishing remains essentially uninterrupted in the event life pulls you in other directions or a project demands more…


I tried.

I really did.

I started November fully intending to “win” NaNoWriMo, which I was attempting in earnest for the first time. I started a story I’d been mulling for a while on 11/1 and had a legal pad with a checklist of days in the month to track my total word count to show where I was on each day.

Somewhere around the 12th I started to peter out. My schedule filled up with other things, including freelance writing projects. And I was unwilling to let either this or my other personal blogs go unattended to while I…


There was a solid two or three days where I thought the story I’d written was done. I’d finished the third draft and felt that yep, this was the entirety of the story I wanted to tell. It had all the elements I felt were necessary and while it may not yet be perfect, this at least was close to the final form the story would take.

It stayed that way for those two or three days.

Then I started getting ideas.

There was nothing that would actually change the structure of the story as I laid it out. Instead…


Writers love to talk about their influences. I’m no different. I can unashamedly point to the writers that have inspired me over the years and the books I’ve read that have stuck with me.

It may sound somewhat trite and a tad immature to admit this, but there’s one book that had a bigger impact on me than any other. Perhaps it’s because I read it at a relatively young and impressionable age, or at a moment when I was more open to being inspired by what I was reading than I’d had before. …

Chris Thilk

Freelance writer and content strategy consultant

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