Phoenix Writing Clinic: What to Expect

As a story wrangler on the editorial team at Automattic, I read a lot of writing published on, discover new blogs and bloggers every day, and am always looking for great posts to feature on Freshly Pressed, The Daily Post, Hot Off the Press, Longreads, and our new, soon-to-launch destination site called Discover.

At Press Publish Phoenix, I’ll be leading a one-hour session called Writing 201: Clinic, where I’ll talk a bit about what makes a great post and what catches my eye, and then open up the discussion to conference attendees who have specific questions about their writing or would like feedback on a particular piece, whether previously published or not.

The bulk of this session focuses on sharing storytelling and self-editing tips and offering peer-to-peer feedback with one another, pulling from our own writing experiences as well as the ideas and techniques from our Writing 201: Finding Your Story workshop-style course on Blogging U. If you’re interested in attending this workshop, you’ll benefit the most if you come to the session with a draft in hand or in your dashboard — but please note that this isn’t mandatory, and all are free to attend, listen, and ask questions.

For those looking for concrete feedback, you’re welcome to share a piece of writing in advance and drop a post URL below in the comments section now. I’ll select a few examples that we can talk about together as a group. I’ll also have a piece or two on hand to discuss if the group is more interested in observing and talking about other examples of writing.

Looking forward to meeting you and chatting about writing!


  1. So the Blogging U sessions are opposite the speakers? In other words, we’ll need to choose between the two?

    I know, we can’t have EVERYTHING. But it’s not going to be easy to choose!

    1. Hi midlifemeg! Yes, I believe there are some sessions/talks running at the same time. Ultimately, I think you’re free to float around and do what makes sense for you. Feel free to pop in/out of this workshop as you see fit — much of it will be a casual, open feedback discussion to ask questions or share tips and ideas with one another.

  2. This is great Cheri – I recently attended the conference in Portland, and while this is a wonderful opportunity, it wasn’t as clear in advance how it would work for Portland. You’ve done a nice job of setting that up here for the Phoenix workshop — wish I could be there! Cheers, – Bill

  3. Okay, well hopefully I’ll get in on this one and show up with a draft in hand. In the meantime here’s a previously published post. Specifically, I’m interested in knowing how personal stories and stories written in this tone are received by people who don’t know me, since my blog is mostly read by people who know me well. I wonder if stories like this are of interest, should they be shorter, do they need more focus, is the point clear? Does the humor come through to people who do not know me, or is it just muddling things? And I am open to any other feedback as well.

    1. Thanks for sharing this post — I’ve gathered some bits of feedback that might be fitting to share at the session, so I’ll have my notes on hand in case you’re there ๐Ÿ™‚ If not, you can always find me later that day.

    1. Great — if you have a specific draft you’d like feedback on from the group, you’ll either be able to read the draft aloud (or an excerpt of it), or simply ask questions about it, if you prefer. It will depend on the time, how big our group is, and everyone’s preferences/comfort levels, etc. In any case, there is space and time to ask questions.

    1. Hi BB — thanks for your note!

      Just curious — why do you feel this Devil, Karma, Frito Pie post “clicked”? I took a quick peek at some of your other older posts (Thanksgivukkah, Loving Leggings, Ten Essential Back to School Supplies That Money Canโ€™t Buy) and noticed those seemed to do well or better (in terms of general engagement/response — comments, likes, etc.).


      Iโ€™m interested in learning specifics about what makes certain posts โ€œworkโ€ while others, that seem somewhat similar to me, just donโ€™t.

      Great question in general — I’ve taken note of it and will try to talk a bit about this during the workshop. Thank you!

      1. Cheri, thanks for your response. I wanted to attend your sessions, but didn’t want to miss the bloggers! Too many great choices at Press Publish yesterday. It was a great event and I’m so glad I went, but I’m sorry I missed the workshop. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  4. Can I leave 2 links? Is that greedy?

    This post has had the most views. It started as a Facebook status and although a controversial topic it seems less like a blog post to me and more like a finger wagging from my soapbox. Just curious as to what makes this more viewable than this next one.

    Which is my post with the most likes. What makes the second link more “likeable” with less views?

    1. Just curious as to what makes this more viewable than this next one.

      I have a few general ideas, and if you’re at the session and OK with me referring to your posts, I will try to address your question and also ask others their thoughts.

      Thanks for the note and your question — it helps me to shape the types of things we can talk about.

  5. I have been blogging for a long time, but am still learning, and hope to continue to do so. I have two semi-active blogs as self-hosted WordPress sites. I also have just started a business site on the Rainmaker platform because it is based on WordPress and Genesis which I use. I would love to have some feedback on how to successfully integrate a blog into a marketing and sales site. The post you can look at/use if you like is The blog is up but the site is not at all developed as yet.

    1. Hi there — thanks for the comment and for linking to your new site! Since your About page is blank, can you briefly tell me a bit what your business and the Women’s Legacy Project is about? That might help give me an idea of what kinds of posts you could consider. I’m happy to comment on ways to approach the blog component of your site from an editorial/storytelling perspective.

  6. It is about getting women to use their voices now to create a fun life and legacy on their own terms. I will have ebooks and eventually a couple print books for sale through the site. Membership will get you podcasts and video as well as curated feed on how to create books, toys, art that your family will cherish and learn from.

    1. Thank you! This context is helpful and if you’re there at the session and open to it, I can talk a bit about post ideas and approach for your blog, and we can also ask others for their input.

  7. Sounds great. I’m going to try to make it. I’m not sure what is happening in the parallel track. But a 201 sounds more like my speed than a 101. I love feedback!

  8. Really excited to be in PHX tomorrow and meet you. Here is the link to a post I wrote a few weeks ago. I intend to explore issues of identity and sundry things I come up with, mostly based on issues I raise in my book. Last month I wrote about my various mothers, honoring them as special women. Question: can this sort of writing gain a following? BTW, I have not created a unique name for my blog and the site needs to be fixed. Thank you! Catana

      1. It was fabulous meeting you, Cheri! The whole event became meaningful for me when you said you’d like to know more about my study of hands. I realize there’s a ton I can write about, and not only about hands. You also helped me realize that hands are only part of my fascination regarding the search for identity. It is an issue people grapple with universally. Therefore, my blog will focus on just about every angle and issue I have thought about throughout my life. Thank you so much! Now to redirect the focus of my blog. Hope you had a safe and enjoyable return home.

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