Saturday, December 21, 2013

Treatment for Writer's Cramp


The previous post talked about writer’s block or what I call writer’s cramp. I promised a few tips I employ to get me over the hump. Here are a few of them:

  1.  When writer's cramp, or screen depression sets in, I leave go and surf fun stuff like Youtube videos, watch television, do housework, take my dog for a walk, workout at the gym, or I do some form of art.  Basically, I take a writing fast.
  2. Sales are also helpful in healing a cramp.  When I get notification of a sale, my writing is validated, and I'm often ready to return to craft more articles. The only way that’s within my power is if somehow I’ve been able to promote my material.  Otherwise, I’m at the liberty of buyers.
  3. I'll go and apply for jobs.  This is not really a good idea though.  More times than not, the next day or two I'm so glad I didn't take a job that would require I change out of my yoga pants and long shirt.
  4. Usually, I'll simply spend time doing non-goal specific research.  I might flip through magazines, including those builder ones that come in the mail, web surf, check articles I've bookmarked or that have come into my email and had had no time to read.
  5. One of the best relief comes through doing art work, housework, or walking outdoors.  More times than not, when I do these things my brain unwinds. Ideas pop into my head without looking for them. I’ve often left mid-cleaning because I've had an idea I’ve just had to write down.  
  1. Sometimes I’ll just open a rough draft and start reading. The editing brain kicks in.  
Writer’s cramp serves good purposes.  It forces me to take a break. The best writing happens when left to simmer. Ideally, I’ll let days, weeks, or months pass on some piece I’ve started.  Ideas have time to brew.  When I revisit a piece, if it still makes sense and I still agree with it, it's is validated. And that is a very good side effect.   

Friday, November 29, 2013

Writer's Cramp?

Some call it writer's block, I'm calling it writer's cramp.  

When I arose this morning I was ready to write.  It made me think I'd worked through my latest writer's cramp.

When I've thought of the term writer's block, I've always had the picture of someone sitting in front of a blank screen needing to write something and having no ideas or inspiration.  I guess I could say I've felt that now and then. 

A writer's cramp, on the other hand, is more frightening.  For me, it might set in while I'm sitting there doing what I must do--web surfing and collecting ideas I'll put into a fodder folder.  My eyes become blurry, my neck begins to ache, and my self-talk begins to get negative to the point I can no longer carry on.  

With no writer's cramp, I'll go to the fodder folder, review the ideas, and start writing on one of them.  Don't worry, this isn't about plagiarism.  The material in my fodder folder acts as starter fuel. I'll use it to start on a topic, and before long, my mind spews out fresh new ideas.

With a writer's cramp, I'll look through my fodder folder and have zero inspiration.  Not only that, my head may start to hurt.  With writer's cramp I simply can't write. Worse than that, I don't want to write. I want to give up the notion and run away.

One of the perks of being a freelance writer today is I can do both research and writing without ever leaving home.  It is a good era for writers (especially introverts or lazy types).

Unfortunately, though, most of us also spend a fair amount of free time on our computer for entertainment.  So we end up sitting for enormous amounts of time, in the same chair, in front of the same screen.  When we reach a point of wanting to flee our computer, we know writer's cramp has set in.

Worse, when I suffer from writer's cramp, I'm not only unable to write, I want to quit the profession altogether.  With writer's cramp, I'm tempted to run out and find what appears from my standpoint to be a real job, with real pay, and real people to interact with.  

So I'll usually go on a rampage, searching the job boards, and applying for jobs.

Writer's cramp can be painful because what we thought we once loved, we suddenly despise.  We get brain freeze from too many words, grammar rules, and we never want to edit a single thing again!  Worry about slow sales sets in, and doubt about the career grows.

If you were to ask me if I create a plan or put myself on a writing schedule, I'd probably tell you I don't.   Much as a runner with a leg cramp can't run, a writer with writer's cramp can't write.  And we never really can predict when we will become cramped.  Schedule or no schedule, it's not only mentally unhealthy to work with a cramp, it may be impossible.

I don't like really long blog posts, so I'm going to end this one here.  Stay tuned for a continuation where I'll let you know how I work through writer's cramps. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Collecting Inspiration

I migrate to articles that I feel might be important to read because:

  1. They will help my personal growth.
  2. They will teach me something new.
  3. They will keep me current.
  4. They will be fodder for my own writing.
  5. They might be something I can share for my own content marketing.

While all the reasons contribute making me a better and more informed writer, it is number 4 I want to comment on.  

Usually when I'm researching or reading, I'm not also writing.  So when I come across what I call "fodder" (material that is used for a particular purpose), I will cut and paste it and save it into a Word document.  Usually the url is included for further reference.  

I might save a bunch of clippings together on one document, or I might save fodder on separate pages under separate file names.  I put them in a file called "Fodder".  I don't always title the file because using the first line as the file name usually works for me.  


When I'm looking for something to write on, I'll often skim through my fodder folder,  visually scan a file to see if it's a topic I "feel" like writing on.  If it isn't, I leave it for another time.  

If I choose to write on it, it usually doesn't take me more than a few sentences in to start seeing a new viewpoint I can put on the subject.  I try to rite a fresh angle.  In other words, I am not a "spinner".  I may be a sinner, but I'm not a spinner.  


The finished article is then saved in my "Rough Drafts" folder under the new file name I give it.  The fodder file is closed and probably should be removed at that point, but usually I just leave it.  

When my article is ready for submission, after a few edits, I resave it in a "Submitted Writing" folder.  It is really helpful if I add a note to myself on the file confirming it indeed has been submitted.

You might have software that helps you do this more efficiently.  If so, good for you.  Why not leave your comments below so I can learn from you.  For now, this is what works for me. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Just because I haven't written this week doesn't mean I'm no longer a writer.  

Just because I haven't earned pay from writing this week doesn't mean I'm not a professional quality writer.

The same goes for you.

Monday, June 24, 2013

My Writing Love-Hate Realationship

When you're a writer you can't help but write. Maybe you write in a journal.  Maybe you have stories constantly forming in your mind.  Maybe you type pages upon pages of random unpublished material.  Maybe you write a blog.  No matter how it comes out, it seems a writer must get "it" out. 

Writing freelance as a career for myself is a love-hate relationship.  Some days I believe I might as well work out there in the real world where I'd have a regular wage and know where I'm headed day upon day.

When freelancing, there's a lot of unpaid work done.  There's often a feeling of pushing other more tangible chores aside as a gamble that the time spent writing will pay off.

I often feel I must justify myself after not getting dishes done, beds changed, floors cleaned, and so on, because I've spent time writing.  I often get so caught up in writing, I have to rush a shower before getting to an appointment.  I've often hopped into the car a raggedy mess, since I've had a teen to pick up and not left enough time for changing my clothes or applying makeup.

It's a horrible way to live. It often feels like an imaginary job.  But having a real reliable job would minimize free-flow writing time and perhaps become frustrating.  A writer must write when the inspiration is there mustn't she?

When I make an article sale, I announce it as far and wide as I can.  Article sales justify my work.  Having a few digital ebooks eventually, will give me passive income (if promoted well).  Having a book on a shelf may or may not bring the satisfaction I crave.

Because I have other sources of income, I have been able to indulge my passion.  I've learned that my writing is mostly about the message I must get out more than the income I must bring in.

I have been justified by the boundaries of having/wanting to be there to drive my kids to school and their jobs, and to pick them up as needed.  I've justified my work by being the one to buy the groceries and put dinner on the table by 6 or 6:30.  But soon both kids will be in university.  I suspect then I should get a real job.

Now, the time has come for me to jump into the shower before an appointment.  If there are proofreading errors, please forgive them, this writer must now change hats.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Individuals "write" for a number of reasons. 

  • It's a therapeutic hobby.
  • They need blog posts.
  • They want to create an e-book.
  • They want to write a book.
  • They want to sell articles.

I advise writing with a purpose in mind.  Sometimes it is to make a living.  I sell articles for a living.  That isn't what I'm referring to, though, when I say write with a purpose.  Here are some examples of purpose I have in mind:

  • Your writing will instruct someone.
  • Your writing will inspire someone.
  • Your writing will point customers to your products or services.
  • Your writing will entertain someone.

Focus on what your reader will gain by reading your writing.  As an example, my hope is as you read this blog, you will gain perspective that will help you hone your writing skills.  It is instructive, but I hope inspiring too. 

Done well, each of the scenarios can become income-producing.  Write in such a way that a would-be buyer will connect with your writing. Give them tips of value. 

Write about what you know.

I write on a variety of topics but try to stick to what I know best.  I have had invitations to write on a host of other topics from technology to solar power, but if these topics require too much research or involve a learning curve, I will never profit.  They will cost me too much time. Plus, I usually feel like a "fake" when I try to tackle things I know little about.


Instead I try to write on areas I am experienced in. 

Now you might be tempted to think you are only experienced in what you do as your main career.  Each of us, though, has many life experiences worth writing about. 

I have experience as a home buyer, parent, woman shopper, gardener, artist, church goer, car buyer, dog owner...Get the picture?

Writing what you know gives you the unique advantage of knowing an inside angle.  You might know how such an issue can go wrong and write about that.  You might know the right people close to the subject, giving you an insider's viewpoint.


When writing from what you know, resist making it about yourself.  One magazine platform I write for doesn't accept first person articles.  Removing myself from the writing has been a helpful exercise.

In one manuscript I'm working I have included first person.  I now find myself deleting large sections in the editing phase.  Some sections have too much information about me. 

Always keep your intended reader in mind and don't just fill their mind with encyclopedic information.  Give them solid takeaways.

Now, be kind enough to comment below.  Let me know if this gave you a takeaway?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Proofreader Errors Online

Forgive those with proofreading errors as you would have them forgive you.

Even good proofreaders and copyeditors make errors from time to time.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Buy Content from Outside Writers

When you have an online magazine or a website you want to keep optimized you will need ongoing fresh material.  Whatever your chosen themes, usually there are several angles they can be written from.  That means you can repeat themes.  But don't repeat them just for the sake of loading content or keywords.  Upload content that says something worth saying.

Choosing to purchase from outside writers will give you a greater chance of discovering fresh angles. 

Why is Content Updating Important?

It's important to include new material on your site because, in an ever changing world, clients need to be kept up-to-date on trends.  You can become their go-to place for new information.

When you are an expert in a certain field, your clients will let you (maybe even expect you to) do the homework they have no time to do themselves.  Over time, with good content, they will learn to trust your expertise.

Your goal should be to have customers look for your latest content, share your content, comment and talk about your content.  Your content should make a reader want to bookmark your page, add you to their RSS Feed, sign up for your newsletters, hire you, or buy your products. 

New fresh content will help optimize your site as web crawlers search for the latest material to include in their search engines.  But search engines aren't the only ones using crawlers, crawlers can be used by anyone searching for  information in an organized manner to be used for a variety of reasons.  Ensure you're found!

Use Freelancers for Article Writing and Blog Posts

Yes, you can purchase web content from an outsider to be used on your site.  You can put your name on it if you buy the full rights.  This doesn't make you less of an expert, it just means the craft of writing isn't your focus of expertise; the subject matter of the articles is your focus.

When you purchase pre-written or requested articles for full rights you can still personalize the material. You can put your name or your company name into the article and add links.  You can change thoughts that don't apply to your business or things you don't quite agree with. 

Purchasing rights is always the better way to use material thereby avoiding plagiarism by trying to re-write something you haven't paid for.

Content is a Vital Marketing Tool 

It is a constantly changing society and one that reads daily.  More people spend time on their computers than reading newspapers or books.  More people look online for solutions and they want to discover what's most current. 

Since there are many ways to cross-promote your business online, if done well, you will never truly be able to predict how a client will find you.  Would-be clients might click a link in Twitter.  They might click a link in LinkedIn.  One writer they follow may have a link on their page your website.  You'll need to have ongoing new material to post if you're to be discovered.

The Internet is like a playground where new friendships and discoveries are made.  It's important to be involved in the playground to effectively do business today.  Don't underestimate the power of adding web content to your blog or website and then adding the links to your Twitter feed, Facebook and Linkedin pages.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Transcripts and Re-Writes

I do audio transcriptions in addition to writing, proofreading and copyediting.  

     A client might want to have his/her audio transcribed to turn it into an e-book, to offer as a freebie, or to offer as an alternative for the customer that doesn't want to listen to an audio or watch an entire video.

    Now, if you're a speaker, chances are you have repeated yourself in your audio.  Speakers are encouraged to repeat important points for impact.  

     In writing, if something has already been said, to say it again might imply the reader is too daft to get the point.  For this reason, you may not want your transcription to be exactly the same as your audio.

     You could have your audio transcribed verbatim and save money by then editing it yourself since by then it will be in an editable MS Word document.  
     An alternative is to have your audio edited and/or re-written.  In this case, it is good to hire a transcriptionist who is also a copyeditor and writer.  


     Have your transcriptionist/writer give you a quote for both the transcription, editing, and/or re-writing.

     It can be a pricey process.  For instance, it can take me an hour just to transcribe 10 audio minutes.  No, I am not going to do the work for $3 an hour like some offshore transcriptionists might; and, you will get what you pay for. 

     With a transcriptionist like myself, you can expect to pay upwards from $80 for a 60-minute verbatim audio.  With basic copyediting included for flow, it would expect upwards from $100. For additional re-writing, estimate $130.

     If you send the work out to two separate service providers, it will cost you more; transcriptionist $80; editor/re-writer upwards from $130--for a total of over $200. 


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Style Guides and Rules of Writing

We embrace innovation.  We encourage new forms of communication.  We love creativity. We self-publish.  Rules are broken...well, not all the rules.

I've been taking a proofreading and copyediting course recently.  I'd like to broaden the work I do in that area.  Nevertheless, the course has reminded me of all the different style guides and style books I need to study.  Rules continue to be made and followed even in these older more established guides, believe it or not.

It can be overwhelming. Nevertheless, I choose to trust I have great English grammar skills and a good sense of writing flow.  It develops when I write.  So write I must.  And from there I'll see what happens.

What style guides do you follow?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Where Entrepreneurs Can Buy Content

Entrepreneurs have enough balls to keep in the air.  They'll need fresh material for their blog posts, though, articles to add to their website resource files, and perhaps other cross-promotion type material.

Entrepreneurs may be good at many things and writing may or may not be one of those things.  Writing is time consuming.  To help close the gap, there are a number of freelance writers available to write for them.

Writers also post pre-written material on sites such as

Why Buy Pre-written?

Pre-written content is helpful to the entrepreneur who's run out of ideas of what to add or write on next.  A buyer can look through a batch of pre-written articles at and choose those that are suitable.  He can buy exclusive rights.  With the full rights license the business owner can alter the articles to suit his needs.

The entrepreneur can take purchased articles and compile them into e-books or use as workshop materials.  Any entrepreneur can use pre-written articles, making them their own.  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

How I Write and Sell Web Content

I write and sell web content. I write articles, blog posts, website blurbs for clients.
Without the need for web content, I don't have a job.


I write on a variety of topics.  My work is picked up by a conglomeration of varied buyers.  I actually prefer to sell my own pre-written material on topics I’ve chosen, but always look at what’s been requested and what’s selling.

I usually try to specialize in what I’m most knowledgeable about or interested in.  I do research constantly too and try to keep up with current trends.

I sell most of my work through  They take a cut, but it’s kind of like my cost of doing business.  Why do I sell this way?  

a) Because I’ve developed a trustworthy relationship with Constant-Content.

b) Because they provide expert editing.  The editing advice I receive on pieces as needed, helps me learn what I may not already know and helps me mature as a writer. 

c) They draw buyers which saves me having to look for them.

d) They collect the payment from the client.

e)  They pay me on time as promised.

Help freelancers like myself stay in business!  Buy pre-written content for your newspaper, magazine, blog, website or ezine.
For my web content, see my profile page under my pen name Joy R. Calderwood at or visit my website at

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Magazine Writing


I just returned from a short trip that included a stop at a gift shop. There's something about me that may never change which is my love for visiting gift shops.  I'm a self-confessed gift-shop junkie.  

One area of airport gift shops I'm always drawn to is the magazine racks.  There are magazines on almost every subject to be had.  

Yes, of course we can read all types of information on the Internet, but one thing magazines do is provide gorgeous glossy pictures.  I'm a visual learner and artist, and pictures draw me in.  


It is still tedious querying to write for a magazine.  I don't know how many magazines have stepped out of former routines and are now purchasing content through new means.  For instance, articles and fillers can be picked up easily through content provider Constant-Content.  

Of course with all the web content available, magazine purchases have taken a dip.  You might have noticed the resulting compensating price increases on magazines.  (I paid almost $20 for a magazine for my daughter this week),  Still, writers and photographers still need to earn a living.  

No matter what you find on the web, there will always be a place for magazines.  As a writer, pitch in to keep magazines alive by buying a few.

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'...