The Secret to Successful Writing

The Secret to Successful Writing

I’ve been writing on a platform called Medium for about six months.

Six months of writing about 2–3 pieces a week. I publish to my website and Facebook page on Mondays and Thursdays, so there are no less than two blogs a week.

I would love to write more but a full-time job, two kids, and other commitments make that difficult. I strive for quality over quantity and have amassed over 400 followers in my time on Medium.

I try to interact with my followers as much as possible — if you reach out and comment, you’re sure to get a reply. I appreciate more than I can say those that support my writing.

But I won’t ever be able to actually live off of my writing.

And that’s ok.

That’s not the point for me.

There are TWO secrets to successful writing:

1.      Goals

2.      Passion


Ask yourself — what are you hoping to achieve?

Are you hoping to achieve international success and a book on the New York Times Bestseller list?

That’s an amazing goal! It’s absolutely obtainable through hard work and focus. Don’t think you can’t do it because YOU CAN.

This is not a goal of mine.

My goal is to increase my audience day after day, reach further around the world, and provide some advice/guidance/help to anyone that may benefit from the experiences I have had in life.

Putting it simply, I want to help mentor those that wish to be mentored.

Whether you are a 90-year-old man or a 20-year-old girl, I believe that some of my experiences can help you. I encourage you to check out my pieces.

For that person that has the goal of the NYT Bestseller list I offer one piece of advice. Set small goals that bring you one step closer to that ultimate goal. That way, you can still celebrate small successes and jump small hurdles on the journey.


What are you passionate about?

There are thousands of writing prompts that you can find to provide some inspiration, and I strongly suggest reviewing these — they are a great tool!

You may be a gifted writer who can take any subject matter and spin a yarn or two that will entertain your audience.

But only with true passion can you truly captivate that audience.

When a piece is written with true passion you evoke a feeling in the reader that is palpable. The reader will suddenly feel their heart beating faster and their breath being more shallow as their eyes move over the words.

This is one of the reasons that I only put out 2–3 pieces per week. I need to feel passion about every piece. I need to be inspired by it.

Otherwise, it is a waste of my time.

This may not be the same for you! I am not saying that writing without passion is bad — I am simply saying that you will not be able to make the reader feel for your piece without it.

Passion changes everything.

In order to write successfully, YOU must decide what metrics you deem worthy to measure that success by.


These are simply the two that I have chosen.

Until next time........................................................XO-JGF

Permanently Disfigured and Brutally Deformed

Permanently Disfigured and Brutally Deformed

In June of 2016, I received a strange phone call at my office. It was a representative from Harper’s Bazaar magazine, and they wanted to talk to me about a photoshoot.

I’ll give you some context.

In my day job, I am the owner/operator of a medium-sized Canadian business. I own a chain of petroleum stations and convenience stores located in and around Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Some of those stations are located in the neighbouring city of St. Catharines.

St. Catharines just happens to be the hometown of a supermodel. One Linda Evangelista spent her youth roaming many of the same streets that I did.

In June 2016 that supermodel came back to direct a photoshoot in her hometown. The piece was a feature about her youth, and the shoot featured one of the hottest young models at the time — Raquel Zimmermann.

They wanted to shoot at various locations around the city and had chosen one of my stations as a location they desired.


I was gob-smacked. Linda Evangelista knew MY business!

Why? Because my business was founded in 1967 by my grandfather, and one of my stations was frequented by the young supermodel.

Again — WOW!

My only request? Please, please put my logo in the shoot. I WANT to see MY logo in Harper’s Bazaar.

Not only did they comply with this request — but they made this photo a two-page spread in the piece.

Let me say that again, because even almost six years later it gives me chills.



Want proof? Here’s the picture:

Image Credit: Harper's Bazaar

As I mentioned, Linda was directing the shoot — so while she’s not in any of the pictures, she was behind the lens.

I had the opportunity to meet her the night of the shoot.

She was absolutely lovely.

I was onsite to ensure that everything went smoothly for the shoot. They were closing my site down for a few hours, and I thought it would be interesting to see a real fashion magazine photoshoot.

What I did not expect was for Linda to take ten minutes out of her schedule to come and speak to the owner of the company. I mean, she’s a supermodel for crying out loud! Even thirty years later, she is STILL a supermodel!

She went out of her way to say hi. To thank me for allowing them to interrupt my business. We chatted about how she loved being home so she could visit family she hadn’t seen in a while.

So, again, a SUPERMODEL took time out of her day to chat with me.

She didn’t have to.

But she did.

It was so incredibly decent of her.

One thing I distinctly remember was seeing her face. She hadn’t looked much like the photos from her prime. She looked somehow swollen.

I didn’t think too much about it — those days were thirty years in the past. We all change.

Today, though, I was shocked to see Linda’s face on the cover of People magazine. The title? Linda Evangelista Shares First Photos of Her Body Since Fat-Freezing Nightmare: ‘I’m Done Hiding’

Of course, I read the article. Then I did some quick math.

Turns out in the year before my chat with Linda she had non-invasive cosmetic surgery — gone wrong. It left her with hardened areas of fat that now bulge on her thighs, bra area, and chin.

This means when I saw her and thought she looked different, it was because she did.

Had I thought she looked disfigured? NO.

Had I thought she looked ugly? NO.

Had I thought she was a lovely person with a warm, welcoming personality? YES.

Looking at the pictures of her in the People magazine, do I think she looks disfigured? NO.

Do I think she looks ugly? NO.

Do I remember that same, lovely person with fond memories? HELL, YES!

It’s a crime that women feel the need to adjust their physical appearance to be more marketable. To attract the attention and opportunities that younger women do. To put their lives and body at risk of disfigurement or worse!

Shouldn’t Linda’s experience and hard work allow her the luxury of growing older with dignity and pride in who she is and how she looks?


It infuriates me that so many of us feel the need to nip and tuck as we grow older to fit society’s version of beauty. We work hard as parents, professionals, family members, friends, and more! We shouldn’t need to ‘fix’ our physical appearance — we’ve earned every stretch mark, roll, and gray hair!

Linda, if you ever read this (although I’m sure you won’t!) just know that no matter what you think you look like, you are a beautiful person.

Inside AND out.

And it’s what’s inside that counts the most.


Until next time………………………………………XO-JGF


Writing - Passion Ignited

Writing - Passion Ignited

I have always had a passion for the written word.

As a child, I was a bookworm in the truest sense. I could curl up for hours with a book, lost in worlds that allowed me to experience lives much different than my own. Sometimes those worlds were fictional — harbouring trolls and fairies and the like. Sometimes those worlds were real — allowing me a glimpse into the inner minds of others. I was whisked away to Nazi Germany or the Wild West or somewhere equally as captivating.

Written words allowed me to experience people and places that I had never dreamed of before. My imagination flourished and became a place of infinite possibility. As a young teenager, I began writing short stories of my own. I began to dream of being an author.

I was in high school when that fire was squelched and reduced to ash.

We were reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. We were tasked with writing an essay on why Gatsby was great. As I mulled this over in my mind I felt no inspiration. I approached my teacher and asked if I could write the essay on why I thought Gatsby was not great. I even offered to write extra words to argue my point more clearly.

No. That was not the assignment. I was not allowed to think outside the teacher’s provided ‘box’. I was to fall in line with all the other students.

For the first time, I resented the written word. I became petulant. Books were deconstructed and debated to the point that I resented having to attend class. I had enjoyed reading because of the sheer pleasure it allowed, and the worlds I could explore. Debating the meaning of passages written three hundred years ago became an exercise I loathed. I grew to hate English class, and I knew that I could not follow my dream of becoming an author if it meant years of similar education to do so.

While I never stopped reading I did put down my pen and did not pick it back up for twenty-five years.

Those ashes smoldered for twenty-five years. Until the day I picked that pen back up (okay, fine, the keyboard) and began writing again. For the sheer pleasure of it. I was reintroduced to an outlet that I had forgotten I loved. I began writing for myself.

That writing became my first published book. My memoir, about my journey with postpartum depression after the birth of my son in 2007. The exercise was cathartic — allowing me to relive and work through moments that had haunted me for years.

The flame that was sparked in that exercise was small. It was driven, focused with laser-precision on the task at hand — publishing my memoir. I wanted to help others know that they are not alone. To tell them about my experience. To show that I had struggled with PPD and become successful despite mental illness. To help someone, anyone, to get through hard times. To help break the stigma around mental illness.

What came next was, in ways, much more exciting. The flame began to grow. I knew I wasn’t done writing. I didn’t know what was next but it was thrilling to not know! To realize that the only limit was my imagination!!

It was suggested that I consider blogging.

I had of course heard of blogs. They were not something I’d ever paid much mind to, and not something I’d ever sought out. What would I write about? Why would people care what I had to say? ‘That’s the beauty of a blog’, I was told, ‘There’s always someone interested’.

I wrote my first blog not knowing what I was doing. I didn’t know how long it should be, or how to be engaging. I struggled at first to come up with something witty or interesting. I quickly became frustrated.

I stopped.

It was too hard. There was too much self-imposed pressure.

I put the idea aside for a few days, allowing my mind time to relax. When I sat back down at my keyboard I refused to worry about what others would think. What kind of criticism my writing may incur.

I wrote one blog. Then another. Then another.

Like a phoenix, rising from the ashes, my fingers and mind were again flexing with creativity. I was writing with a passion that I felt deep in my heart. I was writing with a palpable authenticity. The sentence structure may have been questionable, the wording could have been better — but the passion behind the words was tangible.

It was like throwing gasoline on a fire. Suddenly, I was exploding with creativity. I let go of my fears, and finally prioritized the sheer joy that writing provided. Simply by sitting down and letting my heart speak. I wrote for myself.

If nothing else, by following my blog you will find authenticity and passion that is second to none. You may not agree with what I write about — and that’s okay! It’s okay to disagree — it’s what makes the world interesting!!

I have found new joy in my life. I have found an outlet that I didn’t know about before.

With it, I feel like I’ve come full circle. No matter what happens from here, the joy writing provides me is something I will never again allow to be squelched.

The phoenix has risen.

Until next time......................................                              XO-JGF

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