Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tapping Into Raw Emotion – Revealing Your Soul in Your Writing

Tapping into raw emotion is never easy. These past few days, I found myself experiencing the gamut, as deep buried passion refused to be snuffed out and set aside. It’s what happens when you read a book like Taking Our Lives Back “The most powerful writing I see from students in my creative writing classes happens on the night I ask them to write about an unresolved anger or painful episode from childhood…it aims to show students how evocative writing can be when it touches bare feelings,” states author, Patti Sherlock. 

I can’t help but remember Little Women, where Jo is humbled into writing what’s really in her heart, rather than a superficial story. This is the novel that sets her free and makes a difference in the world, the story that needed to be told because of its unprecedented value to mankind.
We all have one of those buried deep within us. Sometimes we hold back, staying in our comfort zone and avoiding the depths of our souls. That’s okay when we’re merely writing research to meet a deadline. It serves a purpose well enough. Yet, each and every writer longs to develop the great, life changing novel that will expose the uniqueness of trapped character waiting to be revealed. Fear and so many other things block our path. Find a way around, over, under or through it. Take out a sledge hammer and break through the barriers that prevent you from being the great author you were born to be. Share your story with the world!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Setting Goals to be Successful

The art of success depends not on how much we accomplish, but how well we manage the ups and downs required to achieve great things. It can be completely overwhelming to mass produce content. It doesn’t matter if you submit articles to a community content site for upfront payments, or maintain a blog for fun. Both can quickly wear you out if you let them turn you into a workhorse, with too little to show for your efforts.
The reality is that you will only accomplish your goals if you believe in your heart that you can achieve them. You must be honest with yourself, recognizing the full truth surrounding your situation. If you’re uncomfortable with the truth, so much the better. That means you understand the need for change which can be as simple as a much needed attitude adjustment.
Your outlook on what you do matters. It’s nearly impossible to make things happen by dreaming about them. Dreams need to give way to plans which need to be implemented. So if you want to write a book, you need to plan a story, make an outline, and start typing. If you want to get your book published after you’ve written it, you need to write query letters and reach out to publishers who might be interested in helping you. In other words, you need to take the steps to make your dream a reality.
Dreams can and do change over time. It’s a good idea to tune into a vision of your future. Determine whether or not your dreams will help you get there. Don’t be afraid of the answers; use them to help you achieve your goalsIt might mean less is more, and it could mean learning new skills. Accept the challenge to make your vision a reality.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Learning How to Write

“Don’t let them teach you how to write!” I keep hearing my high school history teacher say that to me over and over again. “Don’t let them teach you how to write!” That doesn’t mean stop learning how to write. No way. What it means is that you need to be yourself and dig deep when you write. No one can teach you how to do that. It’s something you have to figure out how to tap into all by yourself.

The thing about this is that everyone has it. We all can be ourselves and we all can dig deep. The real question is, “Are you willing to go past your comfort level to write successfully?” That’s what it takes, friends. You need to push the envelope, not just once or twice, but over and over again. You need to be in touch with the raw you on a daily basis, and if you’re not, you’ll hit writer’s block or worse. 

Once you tap into your deepest self, you need to be able to express what you find there in a universal language, one that everyone else can understand. That means taking the message from the real you, and translating it by using traditional rules of grammar, spelling and writing etiquette.

Wow! Pretty bleak scenario, huh? Reality check…writing is intense. It’s not words on a page that people can take or leave. It’s raw material meant to make a difference in the lives of those who read it. Few people will ever get rich on writing. They may get rich on everything around writing (i.e. sales, teaching, business), but only a small percentage make the best seller list and reap pure rewards for their writing.

Don’t let that discourage you. Write anyway and share it with everyone you know. Use your gifts to develop new skills (for sales, teaching, business), and keep writing. Gifts like writing should never be wasted, so share yours with the world and make a difference for anyone who reads it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Blog Topic Resources

Choosing a blog topic can be a daunting task. You need to pick something that will lend itself to lots of content, without regurgitating the same old thing over and over again. It would help if you can add pictures to your blog; personally, my limited photography skills tend to intimidate this idea. More importantly, you need to be able to share important information about your topic. Content is king.
~Books are wonderful resources for blog topics. I’m literally talking about picking a book and following it along, snippet by snippet, chapter by chapter. If you’ve ever seen the 2009 movie Julia and Julia, you’ll understand what I mean. In the movie, Julia followed one of Julia Child’s recipe books and blogged about it. She gave it her own personal twist and eventually ended up becoming famous for it.
~Scholastic studies are another good source for topics. Pick a subject you excel in and write about it each day. Provide tips for students and lesson plans for teachers.
~Everyday life is a wonderful topic. Create a satirical blog that helps people laugh at themselves or recognize community problems. Hey, comedians do this all the time. If you have a good sense of humor, use it in your writing and poke fun at life a little bit.
~Advice is always welcomed in the blogosphere, provided it doesn’t get too personal, remains polite and actually helps people with their problems. Take it easy with this one, as disclaimers must be stated clearly to avoid unexpected fallouts.
Life is full of blog topics that lend themselves to unending information. Choose one that you will enjoy for years to come. Blogs tend to hang around for a while once you get them going. Whether you want to use your blog as a personal internet diary, or help others with anything and everything in it, your blog will become an outlet of expression for you. Use it wisely, remembering that most blogs are fairly public and meant to be read by strangers. Any notoriety you receive should be because people enjoy your writing, not because they are shocked by what you actually wrote. Although, shock value does tend to improve page views. Just saying…

Monday, May 10, 2010

How Writers Get Rich

I’ve been networking lately, trying to meet new people so I can get my work read by a larger audience. It’s funny when you do that as a writer. Everyone thinks you want to get into the business of selling a product or something. People start giving you their pitch, telling why their program works and asking you to sign up under them. Others tell you they don’t even have a pitch, but after you read their pamphlet full of free advice, they hit you up to buy the book that has all the good stuff in it. From there it’s a constant game to keep you up to date on the latest and greatest ways to build your own profitable business.

If life was only about money, I’d have thrown in the towel long ago. C’mon. Really? Do I need to offer free advice and start a network marketing business to gain financial freedom? Can’t I just write, network with the people who actually want to read my writing, and avoid playing games that manipulate my audience into buying a hope or dream that may or may not exist in the first place?

Oh, their advice is not useless, friends. We do need to know why we’re doing what we’re doing. We do need to understand what motivates us and how to connect with people. What we don’t need to do is sell everyone on our message. We don’t need to deliver headtrash in the form of a nicely wrapped up package that has a pretty bow on it. And we certainly don’t need to sell our writing.

True writers share a valuable message that people need and want to hear and receive. They don’t make empty promises about getting rich. They face reality, knowing that so many variables affect financial success, ruin, and everything in between. True writers relate to real people, not to sell them something after they’ve bought the message being presented, but because they respect their audience enough not to sell them anything at all.

True writers get read by a large audience because of the message, not the sales pitch. If you are a true writer, write the good stuff, from your heart. Don’t waste people’s time mass producing content that is meaningless. Be creative and insightful, and write things that matter, not things that sell. These articles, stories and novels will sell themselves, and then you really will be rich in many more ways than you can count.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Theme Writing

It’s Mother’s Day so this next tip might seem a little obvious. Nonetheless, there is always a call for stating the obvious because positive reinforcement and repetition tend to maximize results. Write to the theme or holiday of the times.

People are interested in current news and events. They don’t want a rehash of yesterday. They want a new twist for today. Mother’s Day happens every year. Celebrating it can turn into the same old routine. But, if you write an article that puts a new spin on decorations, gifts or recipes for Mother’s Day, and then link it where people can find it easily enough, you are sure to get a lot of page views around this very special time of year.

Every month of the year has some special event or holiday that you can write about. Your job is to come up with something unique and original to share with your readers. Don’t reinvent the wheel here; just dream a little about your perfect celebration of the day. Then write it all out and share it with anyone who might be interested.

To give you an example, here’s a sample of an article I wrote for Mother’s Day.

Great Places to Find Spanish Mother’s Day Cards

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Using Business Cards to Promote Your Writing Portfolio

I’ve been thinking a lot about business cards lately. It seems lots of places have prize drawings for them. You can win free lunches at restaurants, big coupons at supply stores and discounts at many retail stores. People with business cards also tell lots of people what they do and how to contact them.

Freelance writers may want to include an http address of their portfolio when they design a business card, but there’s absolutely no reason not to use one. Business cards can be left anywhere. You can leave them on the bathroom counter in a restaurant, hand them out at the library, drop them on the magazine table in the doctor’s office.

Business cards are your mini billboard that directs people to your business, freelance writing. Are you a poet attending local poetry readings? Why not make a business card to give to everyone in attendance? Did you meet someone interesting when you were walking your dog? He might want to read your work, and supplying him with your business card that tells him where to find it sure beats writing the details down on an old grocery receipt or scrap piece of paper.

Business cards are one of many tools you can use to promote yourself as a freelance writer. They’re easy to make, can be printed right from your computer, and help get the word out about your freelance writing work. Leaving them anywhere and everywhere is just good business.

Besides, you never really know who might be looking you up and viewing your portfolio. Could be that anonymous publisher that changes your life forever and offers you a book deal, all because he found out about your fabulous writing through a business card you left in an unsuspecting place.

I’ve written a whole lot more about business and public relations in my finance blog. You can learn about web marketing, keywords and starting a newsletter or emarketing campaign. The important thing to remember is that as a writer, you are in an entrepreneurial business. You need to represent yourself as a business person, displaying and presenting your work in ways that get you noticed. Business cards help accomplish this. Using them in combination with other tools like email and linking is good publicity.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Freelance Writer Resources: Writer’s Market

Writer’s Market is one book I believe to be invaluable for any freelance writer. This annually updated resource provides much more than publisher listings. The entire first section is devoted to helping you understand what it takes to prepare and sell your work in the freelance marketplace. You will learn about formatting, writing query letters and different media markets. This glimpse of the publishing world will help you determine what to write and how to write it.

Familiarity with the business side of writing is important. Writer’s Market provides instructional tools on how and where to submit your work, as well as a price sheet to help you determine how much you want to charge for your manuscript. The main portion of the book contains an organized list of book publishers, magazine publishers and writing contests – places you might consider when preparing your manuscript or poem.

Each listing provides important information that will help you make an educated decision including: contact information, pay scale, tips for submission and background information on the publisher. You can literally compare competitors through Writer’s Market, placing them side by side and weighing the pros and cons of submitting to them. If you don’t have a current copy of Writer’s Market, you should purchase one as soon as possible. This is one resource no freelance writer should ever be without!