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According to differencebetween.net, a writer is a person who takes others ideas or concepts, and then creates a piece based on them, while an author uses their own ideas and concepts to create. But, if you’re like most writers, at some point in your career, you’ll get tired of writing for everyone else and decide it’s time to create content of your own.

Perhaps you have a great idea for a novel, or you want to write a memoir. After all, once you’ve got the experience and confidence to write, why not use this skill to fulfill your dreams? But, before you begin, here’s one valuable tidbit of advice: Just do it. Drop those old, worn-out excuses one by one, so you can be an author. Here’s how.

Excuse #1: “I Don’t Have Time”

How many times have you come up with a great idea for a story, article or book, only to push it to the back of your mind? If you’re like me, you’re probably far too busy writing for others to find the time to do it for your own personal gains.

How long does it really take to create an article, a book or a short story? Believe it or not, it doesn’t take all that long. What really matters is consistency. Once you get in the habit of devoting 15, 30 or 60 minutes a day to your writing, it becomes easy.

Just like anything else worthy of your time, you may have to re-arrange your priorities. So, before you start that next level of Candy Crush or Hay Day, promise yourself you’ll write 300 words first. Before you know it, those 300 words could turn into 500, 600 or even 800 words.

Excuse #2: “I Don’t Know When or How to Start”

The next questions are, when and how? Some people like to write early in the morning when they feel refreshed and clear-headed, while others choose the end of the day, when all their other work is complete. I find I like to write at the end of the day, because once I get started, I don’t want to stop. I become so engrossed in my writing, I lose hours at a time.

You need to find your own style. Some people like to just dive in, while others have to create an outline. The great mystery writer, Mary Higgins Clark, likes to create the endings of her books first; something that has worked beautifully for her. Once you get started, you will discover what works best for you. The hardest part is to take that first step.

Excuse #3: “It’s Too Much Work”

Writing doesn’t have to be a lot of work. When, what, where and how you write all depends on your lifestyle and preferences. But, you don’t even have to write at the same time each day, or even every single day. The key here is to set goals that you can reach easily, so writing won’t feel like just another chore you have to do in your day.

Start by writing for just 15 minutes. Try this every other day, just on weekends or days off, or in the evenings. Most writers like to bang out their books without proofing or editing first. They write it while letting their imaginations run wild, creating characters and situations that tie their thoughts and their plots together. Once complete, they then go back and revise.

It’s Time to Stretch Your Creative Muscles

You probably create lots of wonderful content for your team, boss or clients, but when was the last time you wrote just for your own personal pleasure? If it has been too long, sit down and get started. It doesn’t have to be something serious. Grab a journal or notebook and just start. Put a pen to paper or grab your keyboard and start creating.

Yes, creating – write a poem or record a story about something that happened to you recently. I promise, you’ll be amazed at how good it feels. In fact, it will feel so good, you’ll want to do it again and again. Before you know it, you could have a novel sitting on your desk, bed, kitchen table or comfy couch.

My Writing Story

I have been writing since I could hold a pencil in my hand. It started with poetry and short stories. It went from there to newspaper writing, and then to writing for the web. Finally, about a year ago, I took an idea that was percolating in my brain and put it to words. It rumbled around in my head for years before I finally decided to make it a reality. Well, that reality is now up to 19,500 words, and if I can do it, so can you.

A Writer's Life is a Long OneAs a freelance editor and writer, you may think your job is to make articles and posts look pretty, read clearly and be error-free; however, there is one element that most newbies in the field don’t think about as much as they should, and that is meeting the exact needs of the client.

In fact, you should aim to go above and beyond their expectations. If you would like to have clients who can’t stop talking about you and your work, here are a few tips for clearer, more effective client communication:

  • Be available to talk often. Thanks to programs like Skype, Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger, it’s easy to keep in contact with clients. Features like voice chat and screen sharing can be valuable communication and collaboration tools.
  • Keep your client in the know. Many freelancers fail to check in with clients on a regular basis. Just send a message or email at the end of your workday with a quick outline of what you completed. Your clients will be certain to appreciate the gesture.
  • Ask a lot of questions. Instead of assuming you know what your client wants, don’t hesitate to contact them if you have a question. It’s better to take the time to ask about something, rather than submit work that is way off base. This means wasting way too much time, effort and money on a revision.
  • Learn to love deadlines. If you don’t follow any other tip here, make note of this: Your deadline is your mother lode. If you don’t respect deadlines, you will not make it as a freelancer. Clients count on getting your work on time, so submit it on time, even if you have to burn the midnight oil. They have schedules, too. Make sure you know all of your deadlines using a double-blind system: Google calendar for online and an old-fashioned paper calendar for offline.
  • Be honest. If you know you can’t make a deadline, say so. The best time to extend a deadline is when you get the assignment, so your client knows it will take a bit more time from the get-go. If you make a mistake, admit it. Tell your client you will make note of it and be sure to take action, so it will not occur again.
  • Be flexible. If a client has an emergency edit, do it. If there’s a push to get out a certain number of articles for an upcoming project, make an extra effort. In addition, you may be a stickler for active voice, but if your client prefers passive, bite the bullet and write the article the way they want it, not the way you want it.

Understanding your clients and what they want from you will make you both happy, so listen to instructions carefully. Dissect them and create a bullet list to make it easier to understand key elements. Use your eagle eyes to examine every point of assignments and projects.

Your end goal is to have a client who walks away from the project feeling more than just satisfied. You want them to be so thrilled with your work, they can’t wait to recommend your services to others. Word of mouth is your most powerful marketing tool. By being extra mindful of what clients want from you, you’ll be able to deliver exactly what they expect – and even more.

 

ImageWe use memos every day, sometimes scribbled on sticky notes and other times sent as a formal email or document to coworkers, clients or bosses. But whatever the reason, it’s important to know how to format and write a memo so the person receiving it understands exactly what you’re trying to say and then knows what they need to do in response. And like most types of writing, memos should be brief, easy to read and convey your message concisely.

 Make It Look Pretty

  • Use single line spaces.
  • Justify to the left margin.
  • Distinguish small blocks of text with line spaces, rather than indenting the first line of each paragraph.
  • Use clear, concise, direct language.
  • Outline main points with headings and bullet or numbered lists.

Make Headings and Lists Do All the Work

  • Make headings specific. Example: “Vacation Policy Recommendations,” rather than simply “Recommendations” or “Vacation.”
  • Restrict lists to a just few phrases or brief statements.

Start with Section One

The first section, the header, should the following items:

  • “To” field with recipients’ names and job titles
  • “From” field with the sender’s name and job title
  • The full date
  • A short, but specific subject line

Use Your First Paragraph to Clarify

Introduce the purpose of the memo in the first paragraph by describing the following:

  • Explain Yourself – Let recipients know the reasons you are sending a memo.
  • What You Expect – Tell the recipients what they need to do next. For example, items they should bring to the next meeting.
  • Add More Paragraphs – Expand on the context briefly, adding just the facts to keep it clear and concise.

Tie It All Together

  • Create a Call to Action – Close with a comment about any follow-up actions requested, such as asking for recommendations or responses. Add information about a meeting or other upcoming event.
  • Sum It Up – Tie up any loose ends by summarizing the main point of the memo and then add a salutation and your closing signature. Example: Regards, Barb Wright.

As you can see, it’s not difficult to compose a memo. Knowing how to write an effective memo improves communication, productivity and your overall success. However, be careful not to go overboard by sending them constantly, or by writing long memos that take forever to read. Keep memos short and sweet – and provide a clear call to action at the end. Used correctly, memos can keep everyone in the loop and working together in harmony.

These Bearded Iris plants add inspiration and joy to a writer’s life.

If you’re like me, you love to write. Perhaps you’ve created a blog of your own, or you wrote a book. If friends and family are constantly telling you how talented you are as a writer, you may already know how to earn a living with your writing skills. If you have just started down this road, or if you have hit a wall in your career, this article may help.

Where to Go for Information and Inspiration

There is a wealth of resources for writers nowadays. Here is just a small sampling:

  • Webinars and Seminars – Check your local newspaper for writing seminars and conferences. You can also check your local college or high school for adult writing courses. Some websites offer free webinars on writing topics from blogging to social media and beyond. Be sure to read the fine print, though, so you don’t end up unintentionally paying for something you didn’t want to accidentally. Many writing websites offer webinars, as well as marketing sites like HubSpot and Social Media Examiner.
  • Libraries – Your local library has a wealth of resources, and the best part is that they are free to use. You can find books and DVDs for writers, as well as writing groups and classes. Most libraries offer computers you can use, too.
  • Websites – One of the most popular sites for writers is Writer’s Digest. They offer a host of free resources and support provided by successful writers and other professionals in the field. They host writing competitions, and you can review past webinars free of charge. For those of you who love to write novels but need a little encouragement, NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month is a must. They offer a virtual summer novel camp, too.
  • Social Media – You can use social media to market your writing, but platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ are also a great way to meet other writers. WordPress has widgets you can add to connect your blog to social sites, so take advantage of this wonderful feature. Just click on “Appearance” in the left hand menu in your Dashboard to select “Widgets.” Choose what you like from there, follow the prompts and you’re on your way. In addition, you can sign up for webinars to learn how to use all three top social media sites effectively.
  • Job Sites – Let’s not forget copy writing, scripting and editing. If you are in between books, or enjoy helping others using your writing skills, you can find some nice little gigs at places like oDesk and Elance. Although it may take a while to build up your profile so you can get the higher paying jobs, these sites are a great way to make ends meet, or even to find some permanent clients. A great writer gets great feedback, and before you know it, you’ll get tons of job offers from these job sites. I strongly advise you to read their policies and procedures in order to avoid being scammed.
  • Blog Sites – We don’t want to leave out the obvious. Places like WordPress and Blogger have opened up the world of writing to many people. A word of caution: Watch out for plagiarism. Every so often, take a few lines of your text and input it into a search engine like Google to see if anyone is using your work. This happens more often than most people realize. Read this article, “How to Avoid Plagiarism on the Internet,” for some helpful tips.
  • Classes – There are many online writing classes and courses that cover a variety of topics in many price ranges, but I particularly like the ones offered by Writer’s Digest. Another great resource is local (and not so local) colleges, because so many of them now offer online studies. Many other writer websites also offer classes and workshops, so do your homework – you’ll be sure to find a class that suits you.
  • Groups – You can check your local library or newspaper for writer’s groups, too. They range from poetry groups, to creative writing groups, to groups where writers critique each other’s work. Another great resource is Meetup, where you can find tons of writing groups in your area, or you can use it to start your very own group.

I’m sure I could go on and on about the resources currently available, and I’m sure I’ve missed quite a few, but if you get out there and start meeting other writers, you’ll find exactly what you need. I honestly feel that writers support and nurture each other more than with any other field. Although there certainly may be some healthy competition, true writers recognize the fact that mingling is a good thing. I think this is because in order to become a really great writer, you must read, read, READ. You can’t just read your own stuff; therefore, you need other writers to produce good material, just as much as they need you to do the very same thing, so get writing!

Please feel free to come back to view my next blog, “How to Break Out of Writer’s Block.”

P061-389-256-433-0e078Everyone has something that they’re not only good at, but that they love to do. For me, it’s writing; it always has been. I write every day, whether I have to or not. I even write in my sleep.

If you love to write as much as I do, you may be wondering how to turn your life’s passion into profits. The answer is different for everyone, but once you know what yours is, it changes everything.

So, how do you make it a reality? For me, it was the way I do everything: I jumped in with both feet like a child leaping into a wading pool on a hot summer’s day. I’ve never done anything less than 100-percent. But everyone has their own style, and what has worked so well for me may not work for you.

Therein lies my point.

What’s your working style? You have to know how you work best. Do you like to start slowly and do methodical research? Would you rather talk to others in the same field or business? What about creating a business plan? Perhaps you like to work solo or do better as part of a team; rather than being the boss. Whatever it is that helps you operate at your best, if you know exactly what that is, you can be successful.

Having said all that, one more important thing to add is that you should push your limits. Go outside your comfort zone and stick your neck out once in a while. Although too much stress is never good for anyone, I’m not talking about doing something that strikes terror in your heart. What I’m talking about is doing something that you really want to do, even if it’s just a bit daunting for you.

Baby steps may work for some people while running at full speed works for others. Once you learn to work with your limitations, you can overcome them. You can push through and make progress on a more efficient working style.

Start by simply taking one thing and making it your goal. Choose something you have the desire to accomplish, and then do it. Make it happen in your way and in your time – and when that’s done, make another goal – and another – until, one by one, you’ve managed to make some really exciting progress.

I hope you found this helpful – please let me know if you did and don’t hesitate to send me questions: Writemystuff@yahoo.com.

And, please return for the next installment of this blog, “You Don’t Have to Go it Alone,” next week!

You know you are a talented and prolific writer, and you most likely have the spelling, composition and grammar skills to prove it. Maybe you also have the experience and education, as well. Most writers started as creative writers, so it’s quite possible your dream is to write a screenplay, novel or nonfiction book. But, as we all know, right now there are bills to pay. Here are ten ways that I’ve found for you to make the rent money while you work on your future bestseller:

  1. Journalism – The field of journalism offers variety, because you can choose any of your favorite hobbies or interests, and write about them while earning a reasonable salary. You also have a myriad of venues to submit your writing, including printed media, such as newspapers, magazines and trade journals; or broadcast media, such as television, radio and the Internet. The most important components of writing good news copy are accuracy and timeliness. You must get all of the pertinent details right and submit the story while the topic is fresh. You also need to find your niche. Do you love sports, fashion or travel? The best part about journalism is the ability to write about things you care about, which leads to great copy, because you’ll reflect your passion for the subject in your work, making it stand out above the rest.
  2. Technical Copy – If you are one of those people who are technical-minded, technical copy writing is the choice for you. This type of writing requires the ability to read technical specifications and engineering documents, and then understand them well enough to break them down into simpler language for the average reader. This field includes creating user manuals, technical specifications and company documents, such as equipment lists, for both traditional print and for the web. A strong background in engineering, drafting and mechanics will prove beneficial in this specialized field of writing.
  3. Scientific, Legal and Medical Research – You need a specialized academic background for this type of writing, such as law, research science, biology, chemistry and legal and medical terminology. However, there is a high demand for people who can write about medical products, scientific breakthroughs, new medications, legal issues and the latest regulations. There is also need for people who can write scientific research reports, as well as grant proposals for scientific research studies.
  4. Marketing and Advertising – There will always be a need for talented marketing writers. You can earn a steady income if you can write effective marketing and advertising copy. Copy writing offers variety, from writing product descriptions for catalogs to producing web content. Having a working knowledge of search engine marketing and optimization skills is a plus in this field.
  5. Public Relations – The ability to write and submit press releases and other copy to promote businesses and groups in the media is a great way to earn a living by writing. You will need a basic understanding of Associated Press style guidelines and press release format, but once you prove your worth, people will seek your services on a regular basis.
  6. Biographies and Ghost Writing – Writers can help people document the lives of loved ones, whether they are well-known or not. A new market has opened up with the introduction of one of the newest types of publications, the memory book, which contains both text and photos, to honor those who have passed. In addition, there is a great need for ghost writers to document the lives of famous people, who are either too busy to do it themselves, or simply lack the writing skills. Ghost writers also assist people write about other subjects, like an exciting adventure, unbelievable tragedy or historical event. The venues change with the times, for example, with the advent of the tablet (iPad, Kindle, Android and others), eBooks and Kindle publications provide yet another platform for writer to offer their writings.
  7. Newsletters – Many companies, clubs and groups publish a newsletter, either with traditional printed media or electronically, and need writers to provide content or edit the finished product before it’s released. Although most newsletters have a specific focus, they are a good way to get your feet wet before you advance to media with a larger audience, such as newspapers and magazines. Newsletters, published on a regular basis, are a good way to earn a steady income, too.
  8. Blogging – People blog for many reasons, however, blogging has quickly become an effective search engine marketing and optimization tool. E-commerce websites use blogs to attract new visitors to their websites, as well as to keep current users returning to read new content, with the hope that they will become regular customers or clients. Most people consider blogging to be an informal way of writing. However, in order for your reader to consider your blog informative and authoritative, excellent grammar, composition and spelling skills are a necessity. Good writers can earn a regular income with blogging.
  9. Poetry and Prose – Are you a master with words? Greeting card companies, magazines, newspapers, websites and gift manufacturers are always on the look out for people who can write short poetry, funny sayings or entertaining prose. With so many holidays and occasions, the greeting card industry is a booming business. People will always need cards with funny, sweet or serious poetry and prose.
  10. Social Media – Many businesses use social media to engage their customers, which increases their revenue, but they often don’t have the time to keep them updated. Many writers provide this service, posting for companies at websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, for example.

I prefer to work a variety of writing jobs at one time. You could pick and choose from this list, so that you won’t get bored. If you become skilled at any of the above ten types of writing, you can make a decent living and still have time to work on your dream piece of literature, poetry or prose.