Writing for TWOM

These guidelines are provided for new authors on TWOM and those who are not familiar with WordPress. There’s a few points on general editorial issues for everyone, and indeed advice on how to volunteer to write here, but most of it is more about content and mechanics. If you’re familiar with TWOM and WordPress, you won’t need to read past the ‘Content of Your Post’ section – most of you won’t even need to read any of this! Indeed, people who’ve written TWOM or used WordPress before might find this dull and patronsing – that’s not the intention, obviously, but since we can’t be sure at exactly what level all new authors are operating at, you’ll find that this goes right down to the basics.

For those of you completely unfamiliar with TWOMming, I hope you find this to be a modicum of use.

First of all, DON’T PANIC! Even the old-hands here had a first time at this. It’s actually pretty straightford and you’ll soon get used to it, despite how long this stupid thing is.

Registering to Write for TWOM

To begin, you need to let the Editor know that you wish to contribute to TWOM. You can do so by emailing thus_spake_z at hushmail dot com. If you already have a WordPress blog or account, your address should be the one associated with it. WP will email you to advise that you’ve been added as an author here. If you don’t already use WP, we can add your email address anyway; WP will email you an invite to set up an account. You will have to set up a username, which will be associated with your email address in terms of TWOM adding you as a contributor. In the event that you have any difficulties registering, contact us via one of the above methods and we’ll try to help.

Title of Your Round-Up

We use a format of:

This Week in Mentalists – [The] Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Edition

where Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah can be pretty much anything you like. You can use or not use the ‘the’ depending on how well it suits the rest of the title. Previous titles, both here and on our predecessors’ sites, have included:

  • This Week in Mentalists – New Home Edition
  • This Week in Mentalists – The I Want A Public Holiday Too Edition
  • This Week in Mentalists – The Already Sick to Death of the Royal Wedding Edition
  • This Week in Mentalists – New Year, New Blogs Edition
  • This Week in Mentalists – The Big Birthday Obama vs Osama Electoral Apathy Edition

You get the idea :) Something topical, something important to you, or just something you find interesting or funny.

Content of Your Round-Up

This Week in Mentalists is a round-up any stories about mental health that you’ve found on the blogosphere in the past week. In an ideal world, your selection would come from both mental health professionals and patients, but if you only read blogs from the latter, that is fine. Although the emphasis tends to be on blogs, you can also include stories from Twitter, vlogs and the mainstream news as well if you like.

Limits on how many blogs (or stories) you want to feature will depend on how much of the text you wish to quote. Generally, the minimum number of inclusions you’d like to have in any one round-up would be about five. If you wish to include only a few snippets from a post, you can fit in quite a few links, but if you’re quoting several paragraphs from each blog you wish to mention, don’t go too overboard. Ultimately, though, the amount of blogs you highlight is at your discretion. TWIM is a collaborative effort these days, and we’re happy for each edition to be individual.

You should ideally start the post by introducing yourself and, if you write one, providing a link to your own blog. A sentence or two is fine, but if you want to add a little commentary on a theme related to the round-up or its title, feel free!

Please use the ‘Insert More Tag’ (which can also be accessed using the keyboard shortcut of “Alt-Shift-T”) after your first paragraph. Here’s where you find it:

Insert More Tag

Insert More Tage

Each blog or story you use must be related to mental health in some way. It doesn’t have to be something as obvious as “I’m depressed this week” (although of course it can be), but you could, for example, highlight someone talking about benefits, politics, science, physical conditions or whatever within a wider context of mental health.

Usually we include a ‘wildcard’ at the end of the edition; it’s so-called because it doesn’t have to be related to mental health in any way. It can be a picture, video or a link/quote – whatever takes your fancy. Generally the wildcards are something weird, quirky or funny that you’ve come across, but anything you think might be of interest to your audience is acceptable.

WordPress Basics

If you’re a complete beginner to the WordPress format, don’t worry. Once you’ve registered with WP, and when you’re ready to write your post, simply head to twim-blog.org/wp-admin and log-in via the prompt page with your username and password.

When you’re logged in, you should see a page like this:

Dashboard

WordPress Dashboard

This is known as the Dashboard. See the red underlining on the left? That’s where you go to start a new post.

This should bring you to a page like this:

Post Composition Page

Post Composition Page

Most of the above is self-explanatory, but for the sake of completion: at it’s simplest level, a post is written by entering the title at point one, the main body of your round-up at point two and, when you’re finished, hitting the big blue ‘Publish’ button at point three. (You need to do a little bit more before you actually hit publish, which is dealt with in the next section).

Writing a TWIM/TNIM Post in WordPress

Here is a closer-up look at the actual box you use to compose the main body of the post:Text Box

TWIM, by it’s very nature, requires links – in order to include people without infringing their copyright, we need to link back to their post (or story). Point 1 in the above image shows the button you need to hit to create a link. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut of “Shift-Alt-A”.

If you have already written the text you’d like to be linked (for example, in the sentence “Such and such is struggling with whatever issues:”, let’s say you want to put the link over ‘whatever issues’), simply highlight that text and hit the ‘insert link’ button (or use the shortcut). You’ll get this box:

Inserting a Link

Inserting a Link

Type – or, more likely, copy – the link to the relevant post or story into the ‘URL’ box. If you didn’t highlight any text in the previous step, you can write something relevant in the ‘Title’ box, and that will be linked instead. Please click the ‘Open link in a new window/tab’ option – this means that readers will be able to easily get back to your edition of TWIM to follow the other links – then hit the blue ‘Add Link’ button.

Ta-da:

Linky!

Ta-Da!

You’ve now successfully linked to the post, as you can see from the blue/underlined text.

The next step is to quote the interesting material from the post in question. Back to our composition screen:

Text Box

Point 2 – the ‘Blockquote’ button – is what you need to click for this (alternatively, the keyboard shortcut is “Alt-Shift-Q”). Simply click it, type or paste the text you want to quote, hit return to go to a new paragraph, and then click the ‘Blockquote’ button again to un-toggle the setting. You should see something like this:

Quoting Material

Quoting Material

The indented text shows what you’ve quoted. Seeing the text head back to the left-hand extremity shows that you have closed the quote box and gone back to your own words.

Back at our composition screen, you’ll see points 3 – 6 are included:Text Box

If you’re brand new to this, don’t worry too much about them. They’re included just in case you want to avail of them.

  • Point 3 shows the ‘Add an Image’ button, if you’d like to include some sort of picture.
  • Point 4 is ‘Add Video’. Using this button will allow you to insert a video right into the post without readers having to leave it to go to an external site, such as YouTube. Please note that, depending on the decision of the person who uploaded the video, direct streaming may not always be possible.
  • Point 5 is ‘Editoral Pedantry’ ‘Align Full’, which fully justifies the text. This is your host’s anal retentiveness speaking; I like things to be justified! But don’t worry too much about it.
  • Finally, point 6 shows the ‘Bold’ and ‘Italic’ buttons, in case you’d like to emphasise something. Generally, if you’re pasting text for quotation and an emphasis has already been made, WordPress will copy that (as well as other links) over, so you probably don’t need to worry about these for quotes specifically (unless you’re typing them).

Categories and Tags

Below and to the right of the composition box, you should see a section for ‘Categories’, which is followed directly underneath by a section for ‘Post Tags’:

Categories and Tags

Categories and Tags

You can read a full explanation of the differences between ‘categories’ and ‘tags’ at this link, but in rough terms, categories are general topics and tags are more specific.

  • If you are writing This Week in Mentalists, the category will always be…well, exactly that.
  • By the same token, if you’re writing This News in Mentalists, the category will be that.

Let’s say, though, that the content of your post covers borderline personality disorder, anorexia, welfare reform and schizophrenia. You would want to enter each of these terms in the box for tags, so people know more specifically what that week’s TWIM/TNIM is about. It also helps TWIM to come up in relevant search results and suchlike. You can enter the terms manually, or you can hit the link immeadiately under the box to see if any of the frequently used tags suit your content.

Please use only one category for your post, but feel free to use as many (content-appropriate!) tags as you like :)

Finally Publishing

You have two options when you’ve written the post. If you’re happy to go ahead and publish (or schedule) the post, please simply do so :) If you need clarification on something, are slightly nervous or whatever, and would prefer for it to be checked first, click ‘Save Draft’ (just to the right of the title text box), contact TWIM via one of the methods detailed way up above, and we’ll proof-read and publish it for you as soon as possible. Either way, the credit for the post still goes to you, and you’ll get to see your Gravatar (if you have one, or a more generic image if not) credited as a writer on the top right of TWIM’s homepage :)

That’s All, Folks!

Hopefully that pretty much covered everything, but if you do have any enquiries, leave a comment below and we’ll respond as quickly as possible. Compared, say, to Blogger, WordPress has quite a bit going on around the composition box, but other than that detailed above, you really don’t have to worry about any of it.

Oh, and if you leave something out, or put something in, or make a typo or whatever - DON’T WORRY! It will be fixed. It’s really no big deal.

Happy TWIMming all!

2 Responses to “Writing for TWOM”

  1. D’oh – I only just found this! xx

  2. I’m familiar with WP i will e-mail at pandora@theworldofmentalists.com. Thank you so Much

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