Why “Chip on Your Shoulder?”

For more than two decades, my byline on newspaper and magazine stories read, “Christopher Scanlan.”

But my family, friends, co-workers and the thousands of writers I’ve taught or coached over the years have always known me by the nickname bestowed on me in the maternity ward of Greenwich Hospital. My uncle, Buddy, looked at me, turned to my father, noted the resemblance, and said, “Well, Jim, he’s a chip off the old block.” It’s stuck for nearly 70 years.

To have a chip on your shoulder usually means someone is spoiling for a fight. In my case, however, “Chip on Your Shoulder” signifies having an ally in the daily battle to make sense with words.

Often when I’m coaching a writer, I realize I’m talking to myself as well.

Writing is hard, often lonely work, and sometimes what a writer needs most is a little encouragement that all is not lost.

If you’re feeling that way, I hope you’ll read and engage with my blog, knowing that if and when you need it, I’ll be on your shoulder.

“Yes, you can do it!,” I’ll be saying. “And here are some ideas how.”

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