18 Things You Should Know by Now

Cold-call a client, overcome writer’s block, make a spectacular entrance, minimize your carbon footprint: A cheat sheet for women of experience.

By Rebecca Adler, Marisa Cohen, Lisa Selin Davis, Juliann Garey, Cathy Garrard, and Amanda Robb

Send Flowers Instead!

  • He’s in a better place. "That’s so pat. The best place he can be is with his family, in his life. You can’t assume anybody’s beliefs."
  • It’s for the best. "The best!? Are they kidding?"
  • I remember when my aunt/grandfather/parakeet died. "People try to bring in their own losses, and you have to say, ‘Uh-huh … uh-huh … that must have been really terrible for you.’ And you’re thinking, This doesn’t count."

Words of Wisdom

  • I remember when your dad…. "And then they share a wonderful memory or story or tell me something about his joie de vivre or some great moment I didn’t know about."
  • I’d really like to help with X. "Most people just say, ‘Let me know if you need anything.’ The idea is nice, but get specific when you offer. Then I don’t have to cough it up and make the call."
  • I see him in you. "I appreciate hearing about a quality of his that we share." And after listening to as many condolences as she has, what does Eisenberg say to friends who are suffering? "I tell them the truth," she says. "It sucks. And then give them a hug. Really, that’s what it comes down to."

How to Draw a Straight Line

"I start with a thumbnail sketch when I’m animating a character," says Michelle Cowart, who worked on the new DreamWorks film Bee Movie. "Whether you’re drawing a street map for a visiting friend, designing a vegetable garden for your yard, or planning a seating chart, you can do the same. Think conceptually and break down your project into simple shapes."

To draw a straight line, make two dots. Then connect the dots with a straight edge.

To draw a circle, lift your wrist off the paper. Move your arm in a loose, circular motion, feeling the movement to create a more perfect shape.

To draw a 3-D box, sketch a square (four lines). Then draw a second square, overlapping one of the corners. The box is formed when you connect the corners. A rectangle is formed when you space the squares farther apart.

How to Read a Blueprint

First, nobody calls them that anymore, says Mary-Ann Agresti, principal architect and owner of The Design Initiative, Inc. in Boston. It’s drawings or plans.

A floor plan is a birds-eye view showing the width of walls and the placement of windows, fixtures, even light switches and outlets. (There are also roof plans and basement plans.) Elevations show the front, side or rear of a house from dead-on and include finishes and roof pitches; cross-sections are just that: a slice right down the middle.

To make sure what you see is what you really want, take out a tape measure and actually plot out the size of that stove or bay window, Agresti suggests. Or "think in terms of rugs," offers Winifred Gallagher, author of House Thinking. "If I am looking at a plan for an 8-by-10-foot porch, I think of a rug that size so I can visualize it."

How to Overcome Writer’s Block

You would not believe how long it took us to write this. We stared at the blank screen. Took a nap. Had a nonfat yogurt. And a piece of pizza. Then we decided interviewing the subject of the article might help.

Jennifer Belle, whose hilarious third novel, Little Stalker, features a neurotic novelist with writer’s block, has a virtually foolproof method for this condition — the process she has used to write all of her novels and that she uses in her fiction workshops when her own students get stuck. "I really think writer’s block is fear or a feeling of being overwhelmed," says Belle, whose approach is all about taking away the fear.

Use a Journal to Gear Up

"I go to a cafe and write in my diary — anything that’s taking up space in my head. It helps me connect with the writer inside me."

Eavesdrop

"It’s a great tool. You can be inspired by everything that surrounds you."

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