Hi. My name is Noemi. I’m a Twitter addict.
Today, I’m sharing some writing tweets with you because…read the third sentence of this post.
Have fun! [Read more…]
Hi. My name is Noemi. I’m a Twitter addict.
Today, I’m sharing some writing tweets with you because…read the third sentence of this post.
Have fun! [Read more…]
Reading is essential to being a good writer, so here are the best blog posts I’ve seen this week, which I’d like to share with you.
TED Talks used to be the hottest thing online, and while that may not be the case anymore, it doesn’t mean TED Talks doesn’t have anything to offer. Today, check out this article which includes talks from Any Tan, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Tim Brown. Topics range from creativity (and where it hides) to success and failure and the drive to keep on going.
This is serious stuff, all backed by science, with terms like “fMRI neuroimaging” thrown in. The tips are concise and useful, though. If you need to read the article twice, then do so (as I did).
Learning to write better and getting the inspirational juices going does not mean you have to read serious material all the time. This blog post will give you some comic relief.
I’ve always been a firm believer in knowing the rules first and then breaking them if you have to – in the name of artistic freedom, writing style, or whatever you want to call it. This blog post is all about that and identifies rules which you can break if necessary. A reminder: you don’t have to break them – only if you want to.
They got me at Spock.
The essence of this blog post is this: “If something is logical it is, by nature, persuasive.” And we know that Spock is logic at its best.
Sticklers for punctuation seem to have a thing for the semicolon. There are those who don’t really pay much attention to its use, while others may not have a clue. Then there are those who utterly dislike it.
“Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.” – Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country
Whether you agree with that or not, here’s a fun but informative crash course on how to use the semicolon.
This post isn’t about the use of this punctuation mark in the usual way writers talk about it, though. Let’s digress from grammar, punctuation, job hunting, and usual topics we talk about.
I don’t know if you’ve heard of the initiative called Project Semicolon, but I think everyone should be aware of it.
Project Semicolon is dedicated to helping people who struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. Their vision:
The vision is that together we can achieve lower suicide rates in the US and around the world;
That together we can start a conversation about suicide, mental illness and addiction that can’t be stopped;
We envision love and hope and we declare that hope is alive;
We envision a society that openly addresses the struggle with mental illness, suicide and addiction;
We envision a conversation embraced by churches and addressed with love;
We envision a society that sees their value and embraces it;
We envision a community that comes together and stands together in support of one another;
We envision a world where an escape is not found within drugs or alcohol;
We envision a world where self-destruction is no longer a escape to be used;
We envision a revolution of LOVE and declare that our stories are not over yet;
Isn’t that a beautiful use of the semicolon in the “real world”?
Their tagline is just as inspiring: “A semicolon represents a sentence the author could have ended, but chose not to. The sentence is your life and the author is you.”
For people who are – or have loved ones – struggling with the issues mentioned above, Project Semicolon means so much more than a punctuation mark.
I took a look at Twitter, and I was touched by many of the tweets related to the movement. Here are several of them, which I hope will inspire you, too.
— Project Semicolon (@ProjSemicolon) August 3, 2015
— Elisa Hategan (@elisahategan) August 3, 2015
Some have even gotten semicolon tattoos.
— shindigity sam (@SamanthaAnnMill) August 2, 2015
— lisa brock (@TeachPR) July 29, 2015
This last one says it all.
— Sarah Spring (@sarahspringg) July 30, 2015
There is so much more to the semicolon than I previously thought.
If you want to help in any way, visit Project Semicolon.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but we all aspire to write a bestselling novel. Whether you’ve been writing for online or print, there is just something about seeing your name on a book – even better if that book makes it to the top of the charts!
The sad truth is that many of us just can’t seem to get a novel done. There’s freelance work necessary to make a living. There are so many other things that keep getting in the way.
You may be at a point where you think of your novel as “could have been”, but guess what? It is not too late to publish your bestseller.
Sure, you have to find the time to write, but take heart. Some of the most renowned authors were late bloomers. Some of them toiled for decades before achieving success.
If they can do it, so can you!
Here is an encouraging infographic that will show you examples of authors who struggled before reaching that status they have now.
The next time you feel down and think you’ll never become the author you always wanted to be, take a look at this graphic. Tell yourself that you can still publish your novel. It’s never too late!
Are you stuck on something today? Are you having trouble getting a paragraph/chapter just the way you want it to?
Maybe you ought to take a break. Maybe you have to do or write something totally different from what you are supposed to be working on.
Or maybe, you just want to write something totally new, something not related to work – even if you’re not stuck.
Here are seven writing prompts that may get you out of your comfort zone, maybe give you a laugh, or maybe even take you to a state where you realize you are more creative than you think.
I hope at least one of these writing prompts help you! Do you have your own writing prompts to share? Let us know in the comments below.
Or keep you going when you’re just about ready to throw in the towel. In other words, I’m sharing 14 inspiring writing quotes that ought to help you if you’re lacking in the inspiration department. If you’re looking for specific ideas for blog posts, take a look at my post last week: 5 Blog Post Topics When Your Inspiration Well Runs Dry.
So, hate them or not, quotes can help give you a boost, even though sometimes, it’s a temporary one. You know that we like sharing all sorts of quotes on Facebook and Twitter, so I thought I’d take a look at put together some of the most inspiring writing quotes I’ve encountered.
You may ask, why 14? I like the number, that’s all.
I leave you with that last quote from Tolstoy, which may seem counterintuitive, but it does give you the license to take a step back and reflect for a while – but only for a while, after which you get right back to work. 😉
Earlier, I posted a review of the Dylan biopic I’m Not There at Filmsy.com. Now, I’m using a little tidbit that caught my eye while prepping that post to get this one rolling. Others may caution against quoting Bob, but I’m hoping to pull it off.
Here we go:
“It is the first line that gives the inspiration and then it’s like riding a bull. Either you just stick with it, or you don’t.”
That’s a Dylan remark about the writing process.
I’m not a Bob Dylan nut. There’s a lot to like about the guy and his music. There’s plenty to dislike, too. I agree with his sentiments on some things and find other statements he’s made nothing short of silly. This one isn’t right or wrong, good or bad. Assuming he was quoted correctly and was being honest at the time, his perspective on writing and inspiration is true. For him.
I’m wondering if it’s true for others. For you.
There are times when a great opening grabs me and pulls me along at sprint, opening doors for me until the last period hits the page. In those situations, I’m a true believer in the power of a first line’s inspiration. It makes bull riding easier when that happens, too.
In other cases, I develop an almost visual understanding of the completed piece and it begins to write itself. It’s sort of like A Beautiful Mind, only it’s not high-level mathematics and rarely, if ever, represents what would pass for pure genius (unfortunately).
Sometimes, I know how the work ends and it’s all a matter of figuring how to get to that point. I almost work backwards to the beginning.
And I can’t overlook the times when every word is failure and the only way to put the train on the tracks is to keep plugging along until I have a draft to revisit.
I stay on the bull even when the first version of the first line is a clunker.
For me, the underlying inspiration in all of those situations more often involves the ideas at issue than the words I’ll eventually use to express them.
What about you?
Does it all start with the first line for you or does that initial kick-start come from somewhere else?
If the first line had been “Maggie comes fleet foot / face full of black soot” instead of “Johnny’s in the basement / mixing up the medicine”, would “Subterranean Homesick Blues” be materially different?
By the way… “It’s a Bob Dylan day” wasn’t one of those inspired openers. I wish it had been.
As much as I love old school – old school hip-hop, pen and paper interviewing, in-person interviewing, library research, etc., I have to admit, the new school is pretty darn fun too. Everyday there’s a new blog on how writers/freelancers can maximize their efforts to get work, get noticed and build a reputation through social media. AND everyday there’s another writer who is quick to say, “Bah! I don’t use all that stuff. I’ve got a website, a solid client list and I’m good.”
Those poor souls are wrong.
They are also likely the same people who wanted to hang on to their typewriter. Then their word processor, then their 486 IBM and finally that laptop that weighed 300 pounds. If being a great writer is about growth, why can’t technology be a part of that growth?
Where else can you hop on your little pedestal and say, “Have you ever tried [insert random product or therapy for depression]? How did it work for you? I’m writing an article on coping with depression,” and people instantly contact you with their stories and sources? Social media tools allow for writers to reach out to the lady in California, the guy in Idaho and the professor at Carnegie Melon without leaving their homes. Why is this important?
Access to real and diverse folks. Access to a homogeneous pool of sources – the choice is yours. Social media allows you to pull sources and resources from your audience making the articles you write more insightful, richer and more appealing.
Diversify Your Social Media
I know, I should slow down. I just got you interested in how it can actually help you in your work and now I want to get all crazy with it. Yeah well..So anyway, diversifying! Even if you aren’t a social media maven, you know about Twitter and Facebook, the two biggies. They are great, fabulous and…crowded. Don’t abandon them, they are still the hotspot for the social media community, but also look at other tools in the social media belt.
Like LinkedIn. Mainly a hang out for business types, meaning you’ll find less pictures of someone’s cats, LinkedIn still provides a wealth of information and connections to sources. Join groups that not only interest you but impact your particular niche. If you don’t have a niche, it’s still important to keep your ear to the ground with what’s going on in that world. Like in social media groups.
YouTube is not the wasteland of old Michael Jackson videos and dramatic squirrels most people think it is. In fact, it can be a wealth of knowledge for a writer. Video blogs and tutorials are rich sources of information and contacting those who produced them is a great way to get off the beaten path for sources.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed in this Tweeting, linking, YouTubing, Facebooking time, but it’s better to embrace it than being the last known user of dial-up. Take a look around, focus on your niche and see what connections you can make. It’s a big social media world out there, but the key is to scoot into an area that feels like home for you!
I talked to a friend and mentor the other day and she stressed the importance of being persistent and consistent in whatever you do. Initially, I was inspired to apply those key terms to another area of my life when I realized she said, “in everything you do.” It applies to article writing as well.
Are you persistent – writing despite things going on in your life or business? This is important especially if you’re a blogger, but applies to magazine and web writers as well. Blogging on a regular basis despite sickness and strife helps build and keep your audience. They know your blog isn’t another fly-by-night fancy and they will come to look for and depend on it. Good bloggers can write through any upheaval. Great bloggers write ahead so they can manage unforeseen circumstances.
Persistent writing for magazines and the web means staying on schedule no matter what is happening. It means making the deadline even if you’ve got to run to the library and work on their computers next to the kid sneaking looks at porn at the terminal next to you. It means doggedly shopping queries after rejections.
If you veer off your schedule ahead of your deadline in favor of coffee with friends or a movie with your honey, you are counting on nothing to go wrong before your deadline. How many times has this happened: You knock off early or a whole day for a little extra fun and then the day before a deadline the computer goes out? Or your cat knocks over a glass of water on your keyboard or there is a storm and the internet is affected? Now instead of pushing through work on days you’d rather play, you have to scratch to the deadline with one arm tied behind your back and an elephant standing on your foot.
Admit it. Sometimes you give a piece a little less love and attention than others because it’s for a small publication or a content site, or because you just don’t feel like it needs that extra tuck in and kiss on the forehead. Whether the publication is big or small if you blow off an article you are blowing off a clip.
There should be nothing in your portfolio you’d be embarrassed to show to a potential client. This is different than content that is appropriate for one client while inappropriate for another. If you write about ‘personal electronic massagers’ for one client and want to write about toddler tinker toys next week, I wouldn’t show a Parents Magazine editor your article “Buzz-worthy Products for Couples.” Though if you did, it better be written well! Stop giggling folks… This is a good time and place to move to:
Are you consistent about working within your niche? When you are committed to building yourself or brand within a niche, you have little time to take work from the four corners of the world about everything under the sun. Every piece that isn’t about fly fishing does help build your credibility as a writer, but can take away from where you want to be – the featured writer for Fly Fish Monthly.
Persistent. Consistent. For the next week check to see if you are living your life and managing your freelance writing career according to these principles. If not, figure out why!
Got a tip for other writers? What principles guide your freelance career? Share below!
On Monday, I felt the urge to write a short blog post about Memorial Day. Nothing big, nothing complicated. Just a nice little Memorial Day post.
In the middle of this little holiday gem, I referenced a historical event. My fact-checking and anti-embarrassment instincts compelled me to verify that I had the stated date right.
While double-checking that information, I ran across a reference to another historical event. Out of curiosity, I did a little research into that and realized it was an even better example for the post. I did a little more homework on this particular event. Then I did some more. And that made me think of something else. And that new thing seemed to tie into the original post idea but also had a connection to yet another little chunk of history.
You see where this is going, right?
Now I have a folder stuffed with material about a post-Civil War US military excursion in Asia, the nature of Ireland in the waning days of the potato famine, the nature of immigrant recruitment by the US Marine Corps, the 7th Cavalry Regiment’s participation in Reconstruction efforts, how three Americans died at the hands of spear-wielding Koreans serving a hermit king, a biographical sketch of a gray-eyed Irish carpenter named Hanrahan, the story of an old Irish drinking song’s use in Custer’s army, a series of quotations about faith, snippets of dialog from Clint Eastwood’s lousy Grenada invasion flick, and more…
That little post became a bigger post and then moved right into A Very Big Idea for something that couldn’t be a single post. In my mind, all of these little snippets of history and the stories they tell are slowly but surely clicking together in the form of a story. A novel, perhaps.
I didn’t write the post. I saved the notes. I put them in a folder. That folder is stuffed with other folders. Each of them has notes about an idea of some sort.
Not Quite Raisins in the Sun, but Still a Lousy Situation
I rarely crack those folders open. It’s sad.
I’m not saying that every one of them contains something unbelievably awesome. I’m sure most of them don’t. A few of them might, though. Who knows, if I toss in a few vampires, a murder mystery, a busty Kentucky belle with an eyepatch and three Zombie Sioux warriors in the hull of a warship, my Memorial Day thing might actually become a hit!
All kidding aside, some of the ideas really are good. Or at least I think they are. And I feel a real urge to test them or to prove them.
But I spend my days writing to keep the fridge stocked and the kids fed, you know? I spend non-writing time lining up more work, perfecting systems, etc. The free time I have goes elsewhere. Those moments of inspiration, excitement and ideas don’t get the attention they should.
I’ll make a few guesses:
And that’s why I’m a little bummed. I’m thinking that these potentially awesome, heartfelt, genius pieces aren’t in progress and that few of us are going to write them.
I’m not just talking about the random novel ideas, either. I’m thinking about the interview you’d love to do or the article inspired by that other article that takes a new angle on an issue. I’m thinking about impassioned essays and short poems. I’m guessing that the idea folders of the writing world are holding onto more great comedy bits and more tear-jerking eulogies than I can imagine.
And they sit there, rotting while we chase paydays and clock hands.
It’s a bummer.
Am I Alone Here?
Maybe I’m all alone on this and the rest of you find a way to tackle your great ideas and to bring them to life. If you do, share your tips for making that happen, please.
But if I’m right, and I’m part of a big crew of writers who are leaving plenty of ideas and dreams deferred, I’d like to do my little part to encourage folks to push back at the stockpiling of ideas without followup.
I’m making a point of revisiting my ideas folder and picking something each and every week upon which I can spend some time and effort. I’m not going to let the ideas sit in purgatory indefinitely.
A Challenge… Interested?
How about you? If you’re in the same boat, would you consider making a commitment to bringing some of your ideas to life–the ones from which you’ve walked away?
If so, consider this a challenge.
Fill the comment sections. I want to know how others handle (or fail to handle) this and whether they feel just a little guilty for letting great ideas sit around day after day, too.