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 concerning 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 or through the pages of a book or 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.  

Edit Until...

Writing is the easy part. You sit at a computer or pull out your journal and spew your thoughts. But if you want to share or publish your writing, editing is necessary. Blog posts can get away with a little less work, but articles take thought. 

When I edit something I've thrown together, I first try to decide where I can go with it. It has to serve a purpose. It has to ask and answer a question.

Then there has to be flow. The sequence has to make sense. 

That being said, I've gone back over some things I've written and published and much later see it could have flowed better. In most cases, the piece could have less words.

Cut Words

Cutting unnecessary words is an important edit. When I write eBooks, not only do I cut the unnecessary words I notice, I go to lists I've saved that professional editors say to cut (you can find lists online). I do a word search on various words or phrases and cut down drastically.

Nevertheless, time is needed between edits even if it is simply minutes. I will edit an article, leave it to work on another, and return to it later. I do this on and off until I can read an article through without making a change. Then I know it's ready. 

Of course, the perfectionist in most writers sees more to change. When this becomes problematic, I just call it quits. I say it's good enough, and I send it to the editors. 

How Much Time to Leave an Article Draft?

I read a question asking how long to let a draft article sit before re-editing it. I don't think there is a hard and fast rule, but here is a general impression from my own work experience.

If I'm writing an article to sell, it is usually 500 to 1,200 words. So it is relatively short. Often, the temptation is to just get it done and up on the Constant-Content site for sale or out to the client if it's a private project. (Less editing time would also mean I make more money per hour, always a challenge.)

But more often than not, it's better to let the article sit overnight. It's much easier to spot obvious changes the next day. 

Sometimes, I let drafts sit for weeks or months. In editing, I might totally make a new article out of it or break it into two or more articles. 

There is no time limit except it is better, in most cases, to let it sit a few hours or a day or two. 

That being said, most of my blog posts are published right after crafting them. 

Should You Take a Writing Course?

Every day there are courses offered for writers.  There are online courses and there are writing coaches who will help you walk through the steps of writing.  (I know of several if you would like me to refer you).  Do you have to take a course or have a degree to be a writer?  No.

Just get writing and see where the path leads you.

Do what suits your personality and skill level.  If you feel a course will help, sign up.  If a writing group is of interest, join one.  

Grow it at your own pace.  You should know when you're ready to take the next step of publishing a blog, writing a query letter, sending an article to a content site editor, signing up for personalized coaching, or sending a manuscript to an agent. 

The point is, there is no set path for a writer. 

The field of writing can be tough on you, though.  You will have editors rip your work apart. You will see yourself making dumb errors and feel embarrassed when important people point them out.  You will get rejections and hurt feelings.

Good writers take the pain in stride.  They take what they're dished and pour it back into their writing to be used for good.

A great way to test your skills is to put a piece past an inexpensive proofreader or editor to see how you fair.  Another way is to send it to an article site--preferably  one that has editors that will scrutinize your work before posting it.  If an editor in a situation like this offers you writing tips, take them and learn.

Writing - Where to Start

I've always loved writing and have looked for ways to make money writing.  Finally I've found it--creating web content articles, blog info and fillers, for pay. 

Sometimes the craving in our heart just needs the world to catch up to it.  Now that there is the World Wide Web there are so many opportunities for writers. 

Thank goodness for technology and virtual work!

Years ago, I started with a simple blog.  I began it never thinking I would actually publish it, have followers or get business from it.  But I have.  Not only that, blog writing has given me the opportunity to release my writing cravings.  I need to write.  I have to write.

Since then I have a few other blogs on the go and a website

So, if you're thinking of starting a blog or investigating writing opportunities, take the plunge.  Just get writing.  Leave your work to simmer (work that you plan to sell, that is) and go back to edit it in a day or two. 

This is a start.

Improve Your Writing Skills

The best way to improve on your writing is to write, then go back in a few days and re-read what you've written. 

A second way is to write and then ask an outside writer, proofreader or editor to give you feedback.

A third way is to write and submit your work to a site that screens it through an editor.  Then take heed to the feedback, if any is offered.

Blogging is another great way to grow your writing skills.  You are nudged to update your blog, and thus write.

One suggestion of how not to test your writing skills is through contests.  Many contests are set up to earn money off new writers who pay an entry fee.  Your piece may not even be read.  Look for other ways to have your writing viewed and then try to sell your writing, not the other way around!

Whats the ROI for your Reader?

I am saddened when I learn of a woman who has written books that aren't selling.There are many reasons books don't sell. It may have to do with marketing, reach, quality of writing and, of course, the subject matter. But one reason I've identified is that many writers make their book about telling their story more than about offering a reader something he or she needs or wants to know.

If the story is juicy or inspirational, then it makes sense to tell the story. But even life stories or memoirs can be converted into self-help books. It's all about how the writer chooses to sculpt the book. 

Look at the writing of author Joyce Meyer, for instance.  Her readers know much of her life story because she's shared tidbits of it as analogies throughout her various books. But her books are never about her life path alone. Her books are about helping her audience solve some problem. 

You too can do this if you choose to, Consider what lesson you want to share with your reader. Choose the parts of your life story that best demonstrate the lessons and write an abbreviated version of the story.   

What is ROI?

Aside from the eBooks I write, I'm also a web content article writer. I write on a variety of topics customers use in print publications and in online websites and so on. When I write my articles, I try to have an ROI--Return on Investment for the reader. That is, I try to give them something in exchange for the time they've given to read my article. 

I want my reader to learn something new, to become motivated, or better informed. I want my readers to discover easily understood takeaways. One book for writers I read so long ago I can't remember its name suggested every page have a takeaway, suspense or something to make the reader want to turn the page. 

If your book doesn't have an easily understood takeaway, perhaps you should take a second look. Finish 
these sentences: This book will give the reader hope about ______; this book will give the reader greater faith or inspiration because __________; the reader will feel a greater sense of ________ after reading this book because _____________. This book will help the reader take this type of action ___________.

There is so much more to say on this subject, but I'll save it for another post.  In the meantime, feel free to share your comments below.