Friday, December 21, 2012

Exclamation Marks

To my friends who are emerging writers, here's an important TIP:

Overuse of an exclamation mark (!) is a sign of immature writing. Exclamation marks can distract a reader. Try to use your words to create emphasis instead.

Make your writing more "mature" by using exclamation marks sparingly.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Use Your Gift

Writers' best gifts are within them.  Their gift for writing stems from a combination of their life experiences,  education, personal passions, current areas of study, their relationships, and whatever else is unique to them.

Writers take all the aforementioned, churn it about, and release it into content in a voice of their own.

Each writer's content is unique because it flows from their unique brain, unique set of experiences and all the aforementioned.  That is, unless they've been caught up in copying others.

Many writers get stuck in a temptation to copy.  Then there are times they write from their heads onto a blank piece of paper only to find similar pieces online.  Temptation to copy is always present.  Feeling as though you've been copied is angering.  These, however, are conditions of a writers' calling.  Their calling includes risk especially when much of their writing is online for the world to see (or copy).  Sometimes the coincidental similarities writers find are merely a product of current trends of the day to which they've been exposed.  Many today do talk in a similar voice.

As a writer, don't deny your gift!  Don't get caught up in all the would-bes or what-ifs.  Use your gift.  Use it in multiple ways.  Use it in good times and in bad.  Use it regardless of pay.  Use it because you know it will make someone's life better and your own more joyous and complete.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Challenge Yourself to Write

Try challenging yourself to write.  Yes, at times I feel I need to be in the mood.  I need to have inspiration.  Sometimes I just need to start writing.  Today I challenged myself to write 4 articles.  I challenged myself to do my first one in 15 minutes.  I did it.  It is now saved and simmering to be edited later.

Here's what helped:

  1. On another day I'd come across some material I thought might make a good topic.  My writing is sold at so I choose topics I feel will sell to the audience that visits there.  This topic stuck out (topic was fear), so I'd printed out ideas from a few websites and left them on my desk for a later.  Often I'll create a word document and gather ideas and save them.  Both methods are equally effective.
  2. Then I sat down not to copy from the printed material, but to have a conversation in my head about the topic. My thoughts would come out my fingertips (as I'm doing now).  The material was merely supportive.  I liked the tips it offered.  When I got to a place in my conversation where I needed a practical tip or the next paragraph direction, I glanced at the paper.  I adapted what I read to suit my article.  

So what I'm saying helps is to gather material you can use at a later date, and to write as though you're talking to someone.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Temptation to Copy or Plagarize

Even deciding to write on this topic in a way I'm plagiarizing because I chose to write this a few days after reading another person's blog post on this topic.


Avoiding copying, plagiarizing breaking copyright laws, and so on, is hard, mostly because there are a lot of topics that we all tend to study and are knowledgeable about.  Writing thoughts on the same topic isn't plagiarism, but writing almost word-for-work is.
Many of us sign up for the same blogs, read similar books, newspapers, magazine articles, etc.  The information we learn sticks in our mind.  We are a sharing generation and want to share what we have learned.

It can be hard not to copy when tackling a topic or offering tips you've read elsewhere that are so valuable you want to pass them on to your readers. 

Let's say another article teaches me having a pet can ease lonely feelings.  That isn't just someone's idea, it is a pretty proven fact.  Also, forcing yourself to get out of the house to meet new people is also a good solution.  If I include these fact in an article on relieving loneliness, does that make me a plagiarist?  It's complicated.


When we "live" in similar circles, we tend to learn the same things, talk the same language, so to speak.

In my writing for a certain website, there are many requests for certain topics.  Yes, I often rehash the same topics other writers have.  Most of us share commonly known information.  The question is, when does it become plagiarism?

Let's say, for instance, I've learned a few tips on building a platform, developing a social media network or pitching a small business.  Some of the tools I might include in my article are the same tools many others are teaching clients in courses or writing about.


I've read many articles that I think I could have written.  When another writes in a similar style to me, or shares similar information to what I have written on in the past, I begin to wonder if I've been copied.  The truth is, there are many of us that think alike and that's what it is about in many cases.

Yes, I've been copyright violated.  It makes me mad when I discover that.  I've also sold articles on use licenses and that means the buyer can use my piece where he wants.  I have to be careful not to incorrectly judge a piece--it may have been fairly paid for.


It's so easy to cut and paste and spin an article around or to use another person's information in your own ebook.  It is, however, unethical and, in some cases, illegal.

In order to make your writing genuine:

  1.  If you cut and paste, make a note that it is verbatim from someone else.  If you journal ideas, make a note in the column which write author, book and page # it came from. If you don't you may incorrectly think it's a piece you started writing, use it and get caught.
  2. Type from your heart.  Don't just list facts.  Think about why you're writing what you are and what you want your reader to learn from it.  Then include only the most important points and make it sound like they came from you (even though you may not be writing in first person).
  3. Put your own spin on it.  Try to pull something out that's different about the topic.  Use different examples, look at it from another viewpoint, etc.
Stay true to form, ethical, fair and do your best.  Forgive others as you hope they will forgive you if you slip up.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why? Because I Can. It's My Property! - Writers Take Lots of Punches

Why?  Because I can.  It's my property!

When starting to sell articles, your nose will get out of joint many times due to a variety of causes.

  • You will get rejections from proofreading editors, publishers, and clients.  It will hurt.  When hit with the rejection punch you may want to cry.  You might want to walk away and give up.  Of course, most writers are right brained artist types who are known to have a starving artist archetype, so it only makes sense to beat oneself up.
  • When you gain a private request, you will spend time researching the topic, perhaps visiting the website or blog of the person you're writing for.  You will eventually realize you are spending more time researching for the article than you will be paid for.  Your nose skin starts to crinkle as you feel time ticking away.
  • Once you write the mammoth 500 word piece, you'll try a variety of phrasing, include some researched topics only to delete them later.  You'll move things around, read out loud, ask yourself if it makes sense, go have a shower, and a cold drink and come back to edit it again.  You probably will even leave it a day and edit it again the next, after all, you want to perfect your craft.  Then it dawns on you that hours upon hours have past and the client's quoted price will only clear $19.50.  Something begins to stink and your nose is met with another powerful punch:  You discover your client charges $39.50 per hour to her clients.  Your client isn't even willing to pay what she herself would charge!  By this time,you've written for 3 hours and still have to upload the piece, write a summary, add keywords, and so on.  You do the math and realize you'll make $5.50 an hour if it sells.
  • You hear back from the client that she wants something in it changed. She expresses disapproval of something you've poured your heart and personal time into.  At this point, your nose really aches it is so badly out of joint.  At this moment, you choose whether to agree and edit it further, to ask for more money to do so, or decide to withdraw it.  It is your privilege.   What would you do?
  • You decline and the article remains unsold, but to add an over-the-top response, the person who owns the third party site which you have given a percentage of your earnings to for several years doesn't stick up for you.  They don't just declare a non-sale and live with it, they threaten to not give you more work if you don't comply--as though they own you.  That could be the final knock out.  Or not.  You can choose to dust yourself off and keep setting boundaries instead.  Who needs to work for someone that doesn't appreciate them?

In a freelance relationship where no contract is signed or payment promised, you risk using your time for a maybe proposition.  But just as a client has a right to decline your article, you have a right to pull it.  You don't have to agree to anything that seeks to take advantage of you, your time and your skills.

This article cannot be copied.  If you'd like to purchase this article, contact the blog owner. $45 use.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Accepting My Gift

I am getting more writing done than ever.

I am getting better at writing.

I'm loving writing.

I'm not shy to say I write.

I'm not shy to say I write and sell articles.

I'm comfortable with my gift at last.

One day back in around 2004, I was looking for my next significant calling in life beyond being an Executive Assistant and then an at-home mom.  I recall seeing a neighbour home during the day.  I had never met her, but I began to imagine what I thought she did for a living.  I can't explain why, but I imagined she was a writer.  I didn't narrow down who she wrote for or where she got projects.  I just imagined her life as a writer, if she indeed was one, must have been very fulfilling and high paying.  I was actually jealous.

That was before I realized just how hard it is to get writing gigs and make sales.  That was before I realized the publishing business was going into the dumper and writers were paid actually paid peanuts unless they were a major author.  That was before I actually considered myself a writer.  That was before I'd earned any money as a writer.

Well, as it turned out, this neighbour was not a writer.  She'd been laid off from a job and was in between work as--guess what?  An executive assistant!

What I find very funny is now I am that woman I imagined.  I am a writer who gets to drink coffee at a comfy desk in a home office.  I get to manage my workload and use my talent.  I get to find clients and try to sell my work.  I am a writer!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What Makes You a Writer?

What makes you a writer?  Every writer can write her own definition.  To say that I have the only definition of a writer would be completely contrary to the open and free less-ruled life today's generation of artists enjoy.  You see today, innovation is king.

Innovation changes the world.  It happens when someone takes a creative idea and puts it into trial.  As a writer you are free to try whatever your creative mind desires.

Is the outcome the measurement of whether or not you're a writer?  If you're putting out writing, then you are a writer.  If you have a piece to show, then you are a writer.  If you show a piece publicly, you are even more a writer.  If you sell a piece, you are truly a writer.  If you write a piece someone else reads or sings, you are a very creative writer.  If you write something that becomes a great and well-known hook, you're an acclaimed writer.

If the piece you put out is poorly written you are a writer who writes poorly.  If the piece you put out is too odd and unique for some, you may be a writer before your time or a niche writer.

A writer is not someone that takes writing courses, journalism classes, or is a member of a writers' guild, that is, not unless they are completing pieces and sharing them.  Just being part of a writing club does not make you a writer.  That is why I laugh when I see advertisements that require an applicant have a degree in journalism.  The question is, have they written anything since school?

Write and complete pieces.  Put your writing out there.  Proudly say you are a writer.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Wanting to Write a Book?

Be leary of self-publishing sites.  There are many.  Some merely want to make money off you and print a book that will never sell.  Why would they turn down someone who's willing to give them several hundreds of dollars to produce something that costs them little?

Read the small print.  Sometimes a publisher retains the rights to your material.  Some will only pay you a small royalty.  Some will restrict where and how you can sell. 

Do you want to make $0.10 or $1,000?

If you merely want a coffeetable book, or one to hand out for free at a special event, and you don't care about earning money and retaining full rights then it matters less. 

If you want to earn from your book, though, you will want a few things included:

  • Good editing.  Don't believe publishing houses that tell you your book doesn't need editing.  Another set of eyes is always helpful. 
  • A realistic deal that helps you profit from sales.
  • A good marketing plan.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Get Your Agreement and Order Right

Agreement and order. 

As I wrote an article for a client wanting real estate articles for his publication, it dawned on me how easily we can skim over agreement and order.  I know there's probably a more official name for it, but I'm not an official type of writer, so forget it.

Here's an example of what I mean.  Look at this:

Rent or Buy Housing:  What is Better for You?  (title)

Rent or own, there are reasons for both...  (improper)
Rent or buy, there are reasons for both...(proper, notice it reflects the wording in the title.  Of course buy means the same thing as own, it just is better to use the same wording.) their lifetime most will have both bought and rented... (improper) their lifetime most will have both rented and bought... (proper, words are in same order as title) a time to rent and a time to own...(improper) a time to rent and a time to buy...(proper)

Now in this blog post, I could have said, "it's easy how we can skim over our order and agreement.."  but notice that would have the words "agreement" and "order" in reverse order.  Get it?


Friday, August 24, 2012

Do You Have the Urge to Write?

Often a writer will know she loves to write, but jumps from there to asking what will I do with my writing?  Writers often want the reassurance that their writing isn't time wasted. 

When it comes to being a writer, the first person that needs to be convinced is often the writer herself.  If she is to fulfill her life call as a writer, though, she must resist the urge to view it as merely a  dream.  There are bigger reasons she loves to write.  There is a world to bless.


Successful writers include both those whose unpaid writing stirs, guides or blesses others as well as those who earn pay for their writing.  A writer needs to be convinced that she had been given the gift of writing for reasons beyond herself. 

If you're to fulfill your life calling and love to write, then write.  Then publish it online.  Try to sell it.  Publish in print.  Get it out there for eyes to see.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Don't Let What You Don't Know Stop You

Do you ever feel stupid when someone points out a grammar mistake you've made, say on your blog?  Ever feel stupid when you mispell a word or the name of a President or Prime Minister?  Do you feel you rely on Google Search too much as a writer?

Don't let grammar and mispellings stop you from writing.  I have sent in many articles only to have my editors use the harsh words "rejected" due to errors. I'm regularly surprised at errors I make and rules I never knew.

Here's the thing about writers that makes errors okay.  Writers are like meat grinding machines.  That's right, I said meat grinding machines.  I'm picturing the kind of little hand-powered tool my mother used to use to mince either ham or Spam with pickles to make the most delightful little crustless sandwiches for a church function. 

Writers do more than put out writing.  They take something--anything common in life--like ham or Spam--and somehow are able to make it into something more, something new, something spicy.  Writers can make a story or life lesson out of just about anything.  It's how their grinding tool--or rather noggin works.

If you're like me, your noggin is churning all the time, and that is what makes you a writer!  And for that you are forgiven of errors! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What's Your Tone?

Tone varies from person to person, post to post, article to article.  There is a time and purpose for every tone.

Today, most online articles are written in a conversational tone, which is a giant leap from the "reporting" or "speech giving" tone of yesterday.

Even a conversational tone can vary.  You may chose to "converse" tongue-in-cheek, you may choose to use slang, you may choose to use sarcasm, you may use assertive or powerful words.

Practice a variety of styles and see what works for you. 

If you're trying to brand yourself, you will want to stay with one style.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Writing Online Content

It is imperative content writers learn to write quick and snappy paragraphs.  Most readers today are scanners.  The quicker they can absorb information, the quicker they can move on.

For this reason, many conventional writing rules are broken.  Today's writing requires more paragraph breaks so that paragraphs are short and easily readable.  No long explanations are needed.  Getting to the point quickly is key.


The most popular ways to write successful content include:

  1. Short snappy sentences.
  2. Numbered lists.
  3. Bolded headings.
  4. Modern terminology.
  5. Editing out unnecessary wording and explanations.
Adding a closing statement is still suggested.  End your article with a sentence or two that ties it all in together.  This way your reader isn't left hanging.  When you write your next piece of web content, see if you've included most these tips.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Where to Get Your Web Content

One of the places I sell articles, website blurbs, blog content, etc. is through
Finding Constant-Content was really a miracle in the making for a writer like me.  It was even an answer to prayer!  One day I did some Google searching for places to sell articles.  I'd been registered with Elance as a writer for some time by then, but wasn't getting work.  During my search, I discovered a few places other places to try and one was Constant-Content.

I tried writing for Constant-Content and had three articles accepted right away.  They have a tough editing process where every article submitted is carefully scrutinized, so you can imagine how I felt getting those three articles pushed through so quickly.  I then sold my first article within the same month of starting to write and submit to them.  How energizing!

Who buys articles, blurbs and blog content from writers?  There are millions of people who need articles for their websites or online magazines.  They may want articles related to what services they offer or sell, fillers, or fresh content to keep their site optimized.

Writing articles is time consuming and it often makes sense for website owners to purchase the rights to use pre-written articles as they wish.    Some of these buyers spell out the details of what they need.  Others scroll through the extensive collection already written and still available.

Articles generally sell between $20 and $60.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Create Dynamic Tension in Your Writing

New Tips for Writers:

Every good fiction book needs to include pain and conflict followed by detailed attempts at pain resolution, if the story is to be more than grandma's garden variety brand of story telling.

If your story is to captivate an audience willing enough pay money to buy it, you will need to create something that catches the reader's attention. 

Once you have an idea of the pain or list of pains your character or characters either have or will endure, the story can then become the unfolding account of attempts at resolving the pain resolution.  In fiction, the pain and conflict can be outrageous and fantastic; after all, fiction stories do their best when they transport the reader into a new world.


Non-fiction books and articles can follow a similar format in order to pack an impactful punch.  A non-fiction book or article can talk to a need (pain), but the pain will be more common to the intended reader (how can you sell books or articles if there aren’t enough readers with a similar problem, right?).  The problem or pain will be one the reader wants an answer for and to which he is willing to fork over cash in order to solve.

Once the pain is identified in the non-fiction book, the writer can proceed with telling the stories of typical conflicts a person may experience while trying to resolve his/her pain.  To pack a wallop, the non-fiction book needs to have at least one but hopefully more good takeaways, otherwise the reader may feel the book was a waste of money and give it a bad review or rating, or non at all.

To write with this dynamic tension concept in mind, include these guidelines:

·              In fiction, focus on what the character in the story wants

·              In non-fiction, focus on what the reader wants or for a memoir type story, the pain of the author

·              Address self-created obstacles and questionings

·              Address obstacles or aids created by the immediate circle of relationships and environment

·              Outline obstacles thrown in by the outside world that the character may have little control over

·              Have your character lose some battles and win others—and in non-fiction, have your reader consider a number of problem-solving options

Friday, April 27, 2012

Writers, Don't Resist the Urge to Edit

This was a writing tip quote posted today: "Never resist editing, because your writing isn't etched in stone and can always be improved for the reader."

This is very true. 

If you're like many writers, your writing is your baby.  Slicing it up and chopping sections out can feel brutal.  Y

I've had sentences I've been very attached to, but in reading them back, while they may sound nice, they don't make simple sense. 

It's hard to dispose of flowery sentences we thought were brilliant.  But if they don't add to the product they are only fluff. 

Editing must be done.  So what can you do to help calm the pain?

  1. You can save the edited parts on a separate document.  If you ever want to re-insert them or use them again, you will have them available.
  2. Realize that cutting your article or book down may mean you actually can multiply your product.  That is, a lengthy article may be able to be split into two or more.  You can earn money on two articles instead of one.  The edited pages of your book may become part of your sequel. 

Don't resist editing!  Just do it!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Writing Tip - Outlining Your Manuscript After It's Written for Flow

When a writer is compelled to write, she/he will sit down and spew creatively and freely, not worried about sentence structure, punctuation, wordiness and so on.  (Unfortunately, blogging isn't so forgiving and needs editing right away if you are to appear knowledgeable on any level).  Once a writer has 300 pages or so of wonderful creativity, the problem them becomes how does she/he make edit it to ensure it flows and makes sense since no one can read 300 pages in one sitting? 

Using the Table of Contents Feature is the way.  I speak here of non-fiction, though I suppose fiction would be able to use this as well.  It is very helpful to learn to use the Table of Contents feature in MSWord for this. 


Here is how to set up a Table of Contents (TOC).  In my version of Word, I go to Insert, then Reference, Index and Tables, and choose Table of Contents (TOC).

Choose to Show 4-5 levels and choose Show Outlining Toolbar.

Then go to your document and highlight your titles assigning levels.  For instance, Level One might be Part One, or Chapter 1.  After highlighting the title, go to the outlining toolbar and choose Level 1.

Proceed with each sub-title, assigning levels. 

For the purpose of using a table of contents for editing purposes, I recommend allowing hyperlinks – which means when you Control-click on a heading in your TOC it will take you to that section.

When using this as an unofficial table of contents for editing purpose, you can even add levels that simply explain what the page or chapter is about. 

When you’ve gone through the entire manuscript, then go back to Insert, Reference, TOC and choose Modify.  It will put your TOC all together for you. 

When editing your manuscript, the TOC will help you see the existing order and help you identify if there is flow, identify changes and jump to sections easily.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Unpaid Work of a Writer

It is hard to make an income doing freelance writing.  A lot of work is done on spec.

On another note, with all the new dictionaries springing up I found this one which I can see meets a niche of its own.  Should be very useful:

Friday, April 6, 2012

To Write Well You Must READ

To develop as a writer:

Read.  When you read, watch what other publishers have done with punctuation.  There are so many rules around, but today, many are changing the rules.  Many are leaving commas out, for instance.

Read to develop your style.  Read to develop your vocabulary.  The Urban Dictionary may be a valuable resource to use.  Don't depend on Microsoft Word's grammar checker.  It is often incorrect and often isn't up-to-date with new words.

Read to stay current so you can write current.

Read online articles, magazine articles, books, blogs.

Practice writing summaries of what you've read.  Learn the art of highlighting and re-writing--putting things into your words.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Writing You, Your, They, Their - What's Best?

When you're writing articles for web content use, it is suggested you don't write in first person.  That means no "I" stories.  Of course, if your blog is personal in nature you may.

Another tip is to use "we" loosely.  Apparently, once you personalize your piece, you turn a few readers away. 

Generalizing for a wide audience is best. 

Using "you" is good.

It is also best if you don't use the term "one", such as in this sentence:
  • When going to the hair stylist, one might decide to bring his own shampoo.

There are ways to work around that.  Use the word "person" or "people", for instance:
  • When going to the hair stylist a person may want to bring his own shampoo.
  • When going to the hair stylist people may choose to bring their own shampoo.

Change the sentence around even more:
  • You may want to bring your own shampoo when you go to the hair stylist.
  • When you go to the hair stylist, you may want to bring your own shampoo.
  • Clients may want to bring their own shampoo when they go to their hair stylist.
Using He or She

Now, the problem with the sentence above that used "person" also required the term "his" or "her".  (If you say a person, it is never "their".)

You can, however, use "their" or "they" in a similar way as "you", if used correctly.  Example:  Whenever you visit the veterinarian, always thank him; he studied hard to get where he is.  OR  When you visit veterinarians, always thank them; they studied hard to get where they are.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Virtual Editing and Proofreading

Virtual editing and proofreading is something a good writer can get into as a sideline.  If you're good at proofreading (that is pointing out sentence structure errors, punctuation problems and mis-use of words), you could start an online business.

Ask your clients to send you their document in MSWord as an email attachment.  Then use the "track changes" feature in MSWord to make changes.  Return both a marked-up copy to show the suggested changes, and a final copy by return email.  Rarely is a hard copy needed.

Ask for payment by cash, cheque, or PayPal.  If you can live on a trust system, you can send them their document or part of prior to payment being mailed or delivered.  People will want to have their work in hand before they release money. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Be Wary of Approach

Things are changing rapidly in the publishing business.  It used to be a person would write a book--perhaps based on her established platform--and then her agent would frantically look for an audience to sell to.  Another way to write is to know what a niche is looking for and to write specifically to them, for them.  The difference in writing is one is writer-centric the other is reader-centric.

Since we live in a day where personal value, take-away and "what's in it for me" attitudes prevail, giving your readers what they're looking for is important.  Otherwise all you're doing is spouting, pontificating, reporting or commenting on something they may or may not care about.

Finding Words for Your Story

I usually write non-fiction. In non-fiction, especially articles for web content, we need to write concisely. That means, we don'...