Since our brand relaunch in Spring 2018, we have been busy beyond belief with a variety of exciting and interesting jobs in the world of digital marketing, writing and editing. Sometimes it is a good thing to take a step back and look at everything you have accomplished, especially in quantifiable terms so without further ado, here is a little list of (most) of the new work we have been up to:

  • Built and launched a freelance translator’s website, social media and blog
  • Built and launched (this week!) a highly complex website for a non-profit association that includes a dynamic searchable directory of site members and global content restriction based on a member’s subscription plan
  • Built and launched a new website for a different non-profit association that included brand development and a membership function
  • Wrote 80 articles for a new client in the Caribbean to begin populating their 2 blogs with content and have established an ongoing relationship to continue to fill their content in using inbound marketing techniques
  • Edited a 235-page master’s thesis on the Syrian civil war
  • Mailed 823 print marketing material packages for a non-profit association and sent to relevant
  • Edited 7 scholarly articles written by a Professor Emeritus in their area of historical research
  • Wrote 6 editions of a religio-cultural newsletter for print and web publication
  • Ghost-wrote two articles for a client
  • Published one major research study with The Tessellate Institute and IRGS
  • Wrote 8 new articles for The Drawing Board blog (with 4 more set to be up before November!)
  • Wrote 12,000+ words for Nakita’s non-fiction memoir project and patron blogs
  • Participated in 7 media interviews
  • Delivered 4 keynote addresses
  • Delivered 5 public anti-racism talks
  • Edited a memoir writing pitch for a global influencer
  • Took part in one 5-week intensive non-fiction writing course for Professional Development
  • Received one major community recognition award
  • Signed up for NaNoWriMo 2018 – add Nakita (nvalerio) if you are doing it too!

It has been an exceptionally busy time and we couldn’t be happier than to support writers, businesses and academics in everything they endeavor to do while serving our communities and making our own art too!

Bring on the rest of 2018 and in to 2019!

Much love,

Nakita

Writing is the running of creative practices. It can be done anywhere, with minimal supplies or special equipment. To run you just need a path and a pair of shoes. To write, all you need is a place to sit and something to write with, whether computer or pen and paper.  Or that’s the minimalist ideal, anyway. Personally, I’m not sure that I would get much done if I was simply plunked down in a white cube with a pen and paper.

I like to write in public, usually at a coffee shop, but sometimes a quieter pub or bar. This works partly because if I’ve packed up my computer and books, dressed to leave the house, and taken the bus somewhere, I will do what I set out to do. I can’t just turn on Netflix in the middle of the coffee shop! Mainly, though, I find that the noise and stimulus of a public place helps me focus.

Some might find my routine to be counter-intuitive, preferring to do focused work in libraries and home offices that are by-design distraction-free. (How I envy those home office-workers for the money that they save on coffee and muffins, and the time they save on transit!) Other writers place more significance on having the right tools, such as a favourite type of pen or paper, a comfortable chair, or a mug of tea. So yes, you can write anywhere, with very basic equipment, but most writers have a routine or set of tools that support their practice. You can simply grab a pair of running shoes and get going, but stretching, planning a route, and maybe putting on a podcast will give you better, and more enjoyable, results.

Why do environment and routine matter? Some aspects of a writer’s routine may have clear practical benefits to productivity, but I think it is mostly a matter of ritual. A ritual is a deliberate and habitual set of actions which are imbued by the doer with deeper significance than their immediate, external impact. A ritual can be a religious ceremony or be as mundane as putting on makeup in the morning before work because it makes you feel “put together.”

Rituals of all varieties function to induce a changed state of mind, such as receptivity, calm, or focus – all of which are important states for different stages of the writing process.

Going to a particular place or using a particular pen, notebook, or chair signals to the brain that it is time to work. The preparatory process gently shifts your mental gears into the right state of mind for the task at hand.

So, how do you put together a writing routine or ritual that will finally kick your motivation into gear? I’m not sure that you can just build and institute the right routine and have it work immediately. My routine seems to have naturally developed from habits begun in university. Writing papers at coffee shops and the UVic Grad Lounge started as self-bribery, giving myself a treat to offset the struggle to be productive. Over time, the coffee shop, with its low-key noise and distraction, simply became my best work environment through habituation.

What you can do is think about how you work best, based on experience. In quiet, distraction-free environments, or surrounded by stimulus? In cozy comfort or with a certain degree of physical rigor? What items do you have around you that really help you complete and enjoy your task, versus the ones that are distracting luxury? Say, a cup of coffee rather than full plate of sandwiches.

Build on these observations. Experiment and be mindful of how you respond to different approaches, but don’t get overly involved in crafting the perfect writing ritual at the expense of writing. The key is to do the thing and evolve the support system – environment, routine, even superstition – as you practice. You can put together the best stretching routine, buy the best gear, and find the most idyllic 10 km running trail, but you won’t get very far if you haven’t also been going out and doing the training.


IMG_20180718_115103_621Elisabeth Hill is an Edmonton-based writer and researcher who currently works as a Curatorial Assistant at the Art Gallery of Alberta.

The Drawing Board is back! Well, to be honest, we never really left but we did take a year-long break from blogging, vlogging and social media for many good reasons.

What have we been up to?

We have been busy working! Throughout the year,  we have continued to serve clients, letting some old friends go and making some new ones! We have also continued to serve our communities through our advocacy and educational work.

We have been busy convocating! The owner and editor-in-chief of The Drawing Board, Nakita Valerio, finished her Masters degree in history at the University of Alberta last year so believe it or not, we were busy thesising, defending and graduating!

We have been busy researching! In addition to regular work for The Drawing Board, Nakita also undertook a research fellowship on anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim racism in Canada with the Tessellate Institute! Keep your eyes peeled for the resulting publications which should be out any day now!

We have been busy learning the Truth! While we have been off, two of our staff writers took the time to read all six volumes of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Reports. We encourage everyone to do the same.

We have been busy birthing! In addition to keeping new clients happy and getting her parchment, Nakita also went through an incredible (and difficult) 9 months of pregnancy which ended in a spectacular birth. We welcome Baby Sujood to The Drawing Board family!

We have been busy recruiting! In addition to our fabulous team members and contributors of old, Elisabeth and Erin, we have also added another fabulous femme to The Drawing Board team, just in time for our brand relaunch! We will give Olga a proper welcome shortly!

We have been busy learning how to center accessibility! We have spent some time learning about how to make our vlogs more accessible with simple tools like transcriptions and Closed Captioning. We hope to apply what we have learned to everything we are doing!

We have been preparing to relaunch! We have been hard at work reconfiguring our website to better reflect the work that we do for you!


The Drawing Board is delighted to relaunch our website and our social media after much anticipation!

The new site clearly outlines the philosophy behind our company and the two streams of services we now offer: corporate/non-profit and academics/writers. Our main goal with our redevelopment was to offer as sleek and as simple a design as possible to reflect the professionalism of our company, center accessibility and to let our services speak for themselves in the manner we know best: through good, clean writing.

In addition to rebuilding the design and layout of our website, we are also committed to reinvigorating our blog, Youtube channel, Facebook feed and have finally joined the Instagram revolution. Be sure to follow us on all platforms and subscribe to our Youtube to keep up with us!

dubaiNot a lot of people realize that we write and design catalogues, eBooks and informative handbooks at The Drawing Board. This past month, we had the incredible experience of developing an employee handbook guide about doing business in Dubai for one of our favourite clients! The experience of researching, writing and designing the handbook was great and we learned so much about Dubai that now we are thinking of booking a trip there! This is just one of the many perks of writing for a living and getting to work with ultra-cool businesses. Below are some of the fun facts we learned about Dubai in the process of our writing…

1. The Emir of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed is worth more than $4 billion and has been a visionary in expanding and developing the city. He is responsible for its massive growth and has spent much money on entrepeneurial, arts and charity endeavours to raise the status and prestige of Dubai.

2.Dubai is part of a federation of 7 emirates called the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which are ruled by hereditary Islamic rulers.

  1. Stuffed camel is a popular dish in Dubai, particularly for special occasions. Al Harees is also popular and is a dish made of meat mixed with wheat paste and baked.
  2. The official religion of the UAE is Islam but they are also tolerant of religious diversity and host a large population of Hindus and Christians. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world and is part of the Abrahamic tradition which includes Christians and Jewish people. Muslims typically pray 5 times per day so don’t be surprised if you see people pulled over on the side of the road, prostrating on little prayer rugs. It is a normal part of everyday life and is as natural as anything there!
  3. Developing strong personal relationships with potential business partners is very important. It is customary to have longer conversations with business contacts and to ask about their family and personal life (within the boundaries of decency), health and wellbeing.The work week is from Sunday to Thursday. Try and schedule meetings during this time and do not plan meetings on Friday, which is the Muslim holy day and a day of prayer and rest.

6. Some of the top sites to visit in Dubai are the following:

Burj Khalifa: The tallest man-made structure in the world at 2,722 ft. high. Outside the building is The Dubai Fountain which cost $217 million, is illuminated by 6600 lights, runs 275m long and shoots water490 ft in the air.

Dubai Creek: The original saltwater creek that formed the main sector of the city’s economy. Has been artificially extended and there are plans for further extension into The Lagoons in the future. Worth a cross to see great views of the city and crossings.

Dubai Museum: The main musuem in Dubai and located in the 1787 Al-Fahidi Fort, the Dubai Museum aims to present the traditional way of life in the Emirate of Dubai. It also shows life before the advent of oil.

DUBAI MALL : The largest mall in the world and is part of the $20 billion Downtown Dubai complex. Home to 1200 shops, the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, as well as the Ice Rink. Top of the line shopping experience.

PALM ISLANDS : Another amazing artificial archipelago in Dubai. Its aim is to extend the Dubai coastline into the Persian Gulf by 520km and is home to a number of hotels and resorts.

THE WORLD: An artificial archipelago constructed in the shape of the world map, located in the Persian Gulf, four kilometers off the coast of Dubai. They are supposed to be developed commercially with time.

SKI DUBAI : Inside the Mall of the Emirates, Ski Dubai is an indoor ski resort with 22,500 square meters of indoor skiing area. In case you think it is child’s play, it boasts a 400m long run and the world’s first indoor black diamond run.

JUMEIRAH MOSQUE : The most photographed house of worship in Dubai, this mosque is worth a visit for its beautiful architecture and a real cultural experience. Tours for non-muslims are available.

JUMEIRAH BEACH: This white sand beach is in the heart of Dubai and features numerous resorts, the Wali Wadi Waterpark and luxury hotels that are (literally) the best in the world.

BURJ AL ARAB HOTEL: This is the only SEVEN star hotel in the world and is one of the world’s tallest. Its central atrium alone is 590ft tall. One of its restaurants, Al Mahara (The Oyster) is accessed via a submarine voyage in a seawater aquarium. A tour is well worth the visit but staying there is highly unlikely. The Royal Suite goes for $18,000+ per night!

DUBAI DOLPHINARIUM: The world’s first fully airconditioned indoor dolphinarium has its home in Dubai. The dolphinarium has a number of shows to choose from and is incredibly popular with the public.

FALCONCITY: An unprecedented project, this is the creation of a mini-city in Dubai that houses life-size models of all the wonders of the world including the Pyramids of Giza, the hanging gardens of Babylon and much more. Under construction.

SAFA PARK:This beautiful park is in the center of the city and measures around 64 hectares. It contains 3 lakes, over 200 species of bird, and nearly 17,000 species of plants. There are waterfalls, touring boats and beautiful fountains.