Take Breaks

This is probably an unnecessary tip. It is take a break when you have nothing to write. 

Over the past few months I've not been inspired to write. I was busy on a new websleuthing project for a group which is always fun, but I don't earn money for that. 

I had worked on a new book I hope to release and sell, and after so many edits, decided to put it aside for a fresh look later. 

I thought I'd go back to article writing, but everytime I sat at the computer felt brain dead. I had no motivation to write. Some old articles have sold but if I'm not putting out anything new, money will dry up. 

I simply want to suggest if this happens to you that you do other things when your writing enthusiasm disappears. There's no point spending time on writing things your heart isn't into. Wait for your inspiration to return and don't feel guilty. 

The Power of Writing

Writing for an Audience of One

Someone in one of my Facebook writers groups posted a question about how to structure a book about her life experiences. I gave her this response and thought it might be a good blog post:

I know it will be therapeutic for you. To actually sell it, you need to consider who would read it and why. How will your experiences inspire or enhance someone's life? Why would someone want to read it? Why would someone pay money to read it? If you were going to buy such a book, what would you expect from it? I write non-fiction and weave life experiences in, but I try to ensure they have a point. I try to present a problem and provide some solutions. If you can find an interesting hook or niche, you'll have more success. Would it appeal to someone the same age you were at the time? Is it geared for others questioning their faith upbringing? What caused you to have one foot out? Who are those people that might be in a similar situation. Once you identify the person you want to share your story with, write it as though you are talking to them over coffee. Give them points to ponder. Ask them probing questions. That's just my 2 cents.

I Am a Writer

Reprinted from a 2013 blog post.


This is a cover my daughter and I
designed for a competition we
didn't win.
Yesterday I brushed by this blog, read the stats and clicked on to my next blog, checked its stats and moved on.  I had nothing new to write.  I was empty. There was zip, nada, nil, zero.  As the day wore on I wondered how I could possibly be a writer and be word-dry.

As dawn broke this morning(well, dawn didn't exactly break--it was rainy and dark), I headed to the computer with my coffee.  "Oh," I said to myself, "Today will be a good writing day.  It's always good to write in the rain because there is no temptation to play in the sun instead."


So I zipped past my blogs again, hoping to fill them with something to keep them optimized, but nothing profound came.


Instead of doing any actual writing today I fell back on the old R&R, Read and Research.  Mid-afternoon I stumbled upon some interesting free downloads and in them was the concept I'm about to explain.  The reason I've chosen to add them here is because half an hour ago the same concept came across my path.


When a concept crosses my path twice in short stead, especially by two distinct individuals who, as far as I know, aren't connected I pay attention.


THE CONCEPT


The first writer shared that if you make vague "I want" type goals, you merely attract more of the same.  You attract a re-occurring want.  For instance if you state, “I want to be a competitive jockey,” your time and energy will result in that outcome--the wanting to be a jockey.


Instead, you should say, "I am a jockey and will compete competitively in 2014." Then you will take steps to actually fulfill the goal."

  
Tonight I decided to re-read a free download called You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One), by Jeff Goins http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007YJEIAS?tag=kiq-free-e-20.  In this little ebook, Goins suggests a person needs to believe they are what they want to be, and then start acting like it.    

That kind of goes with something I discussed with my diet coach too.  I suggested to her I do some visualization seeing myself as thin and seeing the scale reporting a lower number.


So the concept is this:  If you want to be a thin, healthy person, say, "I'm a thin and healthy person."


If you want to be a writer, say, "I'm a writer."


Don't wait for someone to validate the idea.  Don't keep putting it in the future.  Accept your calling now.


Creating Your Online Platform

The professionals will tell you that to sell your writing you need a platform or following. That is always helpful. 

But many writers are introverts who love story telling about fictional characters or non-fiction writing about something they feel compelled about. They don't want to go out an meet people. Using online tools will be helpful for them.

Love of Writing

Getting your writing out there feels therapeutic. Most of us are willing to write for free in formats such as this one. Having access to a world-wide audience through the Internet makes the process feel even more powerful. 

Finding Your Niche 

The question becomes: How do you find your target audience? How do you build a following? Who will you ultimately sell to?

I suggest you don't make your focus your church members. I mean don't self-publish a book and try to sell it to your friends. I suggest you don't just write and put it on Amazon hoping it sells either. (Although I've done this too,.

There are probably a number of ways you can gain a following or connect online that I don't have in my arsenal, but I can tell you what I have done. 

When I became a life coach, blogging was becoming popular. I started a blog just to see what would happen. When I received feedback, I was amazed, and a little scared. Someone WAS reading my posts!

Nevertheless, I continued adding posts until I saw a direction forming. Analytics were everything. I could see what someone had put into their search bar to find me, so I saw areas of greatest interest forming. 

It was seeing those statistics that I decided I could write a book putting most of what was in my blog posts into it. I did, and my books continue to sell almost one a week. Somehow, I'd reached an audience. 

If you want to work yourself into a niche, you might want to do something similar. Try blogging as a starting point. 

Social Media

I admit, I still haven't defined what I want my social media to do for me. I know I want it for social interaction--being an introverted writer. 

I DO have my friends divided up into lists. When I post to Facebook, for instance, I decide who I want the audience to be for that specific post. 

A temptation on Facebook is to gather friends as a way of finding buyers. I don't like that at all. I have had friend requests from those who have just published a book. I have never had conversation with some of these people. I know they only want to friend me to try to sell me their book. The same goes for products. What a turnoff. 

Marketing in social media from my standpoint is always relational. If you're never going to visit my post and comment, why do I need you as a friend? I will read your posts and comment in most cases, but your posts had better be about more than what YOU'RE DOING and selling. Relationships are important in any type of sales. 

Well, a writer gets to spew his or her feelings in a blog and that's what's come out today. Hope something in this post is helpful. 

Best wishes in your writing endeavours. 


2019 Tip List for Writers


So you want to write and perhaps become published. Here is your 2019 kick-off list of suggestions:

  1. Get a computer with a word program as eventually all needs to be entered into the computer (even if you start your writing in a journal).
  2. Set aside time to write and let your family know you're going to be preoccupied.  Perhaps build it into your schedule.
  3. Start writing at your sitting. Let all your ideas pour out. I insist, this is the favorite part of a writer's hobby or craft.
  4. At your next sitting, either choose the "carry on where you left off feature" in Word and continue writing, or read back what you wrote previously to remind yourself of the flow and carry on.
  5. Write simply as though you're talking to someone. Don't use big words if you can get by with a simpler word. The average reader has a grade 8 to 10 comprehension.
  6. Vary your words. Don't use the same one repeatedly. Use the synonym feature to alter your words as I did here with the words vary and alter.
  7. Edit by reading back quietly or aloud. Take out excess words. Fix awkward sentences. Start moving things around so the piece flows better.
  8. Remove extra information that doesn't move the story along or help explain the points. (Being willing to cut large amounts takes bravery because we get attached to our thoughts.)
  9. Research and be mindful not to violate copyright laws. Give references for facts, Bible verses, and quotes no matter how familiar.
  10. Read your piece  back again as though you are the targeted reader, or better still, have it read to you by pasting it into NaturalReader.
  11. You can print your work if you feel it is helpful to do so. This can help when you significantly need to move things around. But you don't HAVE to print it out.
  12. Keep reading and learning. The best writers are readers.
  13. Join Facebook writer groups to gain motivation and free tips.
  14. If you want to self-publish, forget those agencies that make you pay to have your book published. Go to Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and start with a Kindle book. Read their many instructional tutorials to learn just what to do.
  15. If you want to try your hand at selling articles, look into Writing for Dollars, Contant-Content or other freelance content writing opportunities, or look into the guidelines of magazines who accept submissions.
  16. Add balance into your writing days by going for walks, joining an exercise group, finding social outings, and so on, because refreshing your mind and body will help your writing. You may also find fresh material when out with others.


    Well, I could go on. This list should help you for now. 


Do You Know How to Show Versus Tell?

Since I don't write fiction, I might not be the best to describe the "Show, don't Tell" principle of writing. It is, nevertheless, an important writing skill to hone. It is as important to hone as learning to write in active tense rather than passive. 

Just 12 years ago or so I was tutoring a high school student. I was teaching him based on old rules. I taught him to embellish his sentences with flowery adjectives. I didn't know doing so was now passe. No, we are not to say she donned a very lovely dress--very and words that end in ly are now to be axed.

The point is, we need to keep up with new writing rules. 

So back to the show versus tell example. The manuscript I'd looked at for a woman had deplorable descriptions that went like this:

Bob picked up his toothbrush, squeezed toothpaste onto it and began to brush his teeth. Then he turned off the tap, the lights, and made his way to his room. He pulled the blanket off the bed and climbed in. He was troubled because his wife was so belligerent to him and had cheated on him.   

I didn't see the entire manuscript so am unsure the importance of this detail, but it struck me as too much detail. It also struck me as telling not showing. I'm not sure it showed anything about his character or that it was important to the story. I mean, don't we all do this at night to get ready for bed? Isn't it a little insulting to the reader to give so many obvious details? Could she not have said: The man got ready for bed?

I told her she had written a report, not unfolded a story. It was like a detailed checklist. 

Here is a quick example of what she might have written in a more showing format:

Bob gripped his toothbrush tightly, brushing his teeth before making his way to bed, "Why did she have to cheat on me? What do I do now? I can't stay at my brother's forever."

The single bed seemed small, the room dark and lonely. The thin flannel blanket would be Bob's only solace. 

Again, I'm not a fiction writer so not sure I nailed it, but the second format explains the same series of events as the first, but in a way that unfolds the story. 

What do you think? Are you willing to practice showing over telling? 

Are you Open to Learning?

I just reviewed a manuscript of a woman who is a wannabe writer. I know using that term wannabe sounds a little arrogant. But we've all been there before. We pour our heart into something and by the end we think it's worthy of publishing. But it may not be. We want to be a good writer, but we aren't there yet. 

We sometimes become deluded by our work not because it's great and publish-worthy, but because we've spent so much time on it. We feel we've poured every ounce of ourselves into the project and so now we're done. 

Attachment Issues 

Pouring ourselves into a project can lead to another problem. We might become overly attached to it. Our writing becomes our child, so to speak. No one dares insult our child. 

Having spent so many unpaid hours on a manuscript, by the end, most of us just want to reap from it. We want it accepted by an editor or publisher or to self-publish it on Amazon, and we want to start earning royalties from it. 

The Value of Critiques

But to be a writer of something that sells, we need to be prepared to hear critiques, even if it's our own. What I mean by our own is we might let a manuscript sit for months or years and when we re-read it, see it's a mess. We give ourselves a reality check

The woman I mentioned above seems to think her three manuscripts are ready for publishing. It's obvious through the short encounters I've had with her that she isn't open to critique. She's defensive, as so many of us writers are. 

To become a good writer really requires ongoing learning. We can always learn from other writers--not just from their books, but from their input in online support groups or local meetups. There is also plenty of good material online and in the form of ebooks that will help us improve our writing. 

Tough Skin 

My web content articles are always edited/critiqued before I can offer them for sale. I've had to develop tough skin. Sometimes the editors are off base. Sometimes an editor points out stylistic changes which aren't necessary, it's just what they individually prefer. In those cases, I get frustrated. 

Where my eBooks are concerned, I'm a little more timid. I did pay $500 once to have a critique. In the end, it was valuable, but at the time it was a massacre. I scrapped the entire manuscript and started over. 

So are you prepared to take feedback on your writing? Or are you convinced you are stellar enough? 

Will you dedicate yourself to ongoing learning so you can improve in your writing?

Got Role Models?

Do you have some role models in your life?

Every now and then you meet someone who inspires you.  It may be their smile, their friendly personality, their demeanor, their thoughtfulness, their spiritual faith...


Role models can be picked up through books too. It's amazing how certain authors have impacted my life personally. I like to follow them on social media to stay inspired. I like to buy more of their books as they come out. 


We are always drawn to others who have something we'd like to emulate or who impact us personally in positive ways.


Social networking and the Internet are great ways to pick up mentors or role models that can come right into your home virtually at any time. 


It's good to keep a few good models in our relationship satchel, even if we only admire them from afar, through the pages of a book, or through their blog posts.  When we get side-tracked they will inspire us.  When we are lost, visiting them in person or virtually helps us feel "found" again.


Who do you have on your list?

Reference Your Work

Popping in to write about a thought I wanted to share. 

When I had a book critique done, my writer/editor doing the critique criticized me for having dictionary definitions in my work. She said it was the sign of an immature writing. I took them out. 

What do think about that comment? 

Whether or not you want to add dictionary definitions is up to you, but at the very least--please put quotations around direct quotes and footnote or give credit as to where you got it! 

The same goes for Bible verses--apparently today's publishers prefer you paraphrase the meaning of the Bible verse rather than directly quote it. If you do quote it word for word, please also do the proper quotation marks and add the reference.