by Richard A. Rowell, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
It’s long been believed that by being an active reader, you can become a far better writer. While that is certainly true, it is only one major component to becoming a “formidable writing professional” as I have tried to be in recent years. Of course, really, the most important part to being a good writer is simply pursuing the act of writing as often as possible.
There are many folks out there who seem to believe that he or she is simply not cut out for creating good, solid writing. Yes, there are those that are simply very talented at writing. However, writing is far more about developing skill. Even those with great talent don’t necessarily hone their skills nearly to the degree that they could. But mostly, writing is about your passion. If you care about something, and want to know more about it, then you should definitely write about it. It’s hard at first, but after awhile, you’ll begin to have a lot of fun!
Myself, I’ve been writing for quite some time. But as much of a bookworm as I was in my childhood, it took many years before I actually could call myself a writer. It took lots of practice. I would copy interesting quotes from things I would read and then commenting on them. I would simply write for the sake of writing. It got to the point that writing became a reflex. Whenever something was on my mind that I didn’t know exactly how to talk to someone about, I would write about it.
Putting words on a page has always been easier to me than public speaking. That’s true of many folks. The opposite is, of course, just as true. It took me a long time to find my voice through writing, though. I must say, it’s not quite the voice I speak with. Is that a bad thing? That’s for you to decide.
Reading is definitely important. I don’t need to stress that, since so many others have and there’s no point repeating such a truth. What I do need to stress is that even the most talented writers do not write near-perfection every time he or she sits down.
Everyone’s creative process is different. Some are easier to follow than others. My personal process isn’t so easy to follow. I’ve always hated doing outlines. I just tend to draft a piece in a semi-completed form before going back and revising it to make it more coherent.
I’m very much about voice in my writing. Sometimes, I perhaps get a bit too rhetorical or state things in somewhat peculiar ways that may not always get my point across. That is because writing is a skill you can never stop developing. If one does not grow as a writer, he or she will grow stagnant.
If a writer does not strive to write as often as possible, when it comes time to write something, it will most likely be a struggle. It’s especially a struggle when you’re trying to write about things you don’t care about - even if it will make you money. Let me tell you, my voice sounds cold and uninterested in a lot of things I’ve written before for money. Others thought they were good. But I knew that they weren’t.
There have been times where I will churn out a great deal of words in a short amount of time. I may not be proud of a great percentage of that work. Still, the exercise is nonetheless extremely valuable.
One thing that I have also done to a good degree is help others with their own writing. This is perhaps even more valuable than simply brainstorming ideas. Not only are you bringing another perspective to others’ work, but you’re also gaining insight into other perspectives, as well. You’re also helping them to find just what it is that permeates their writing, picking out their strengths and helping them to smooth out the flaws. Always be carefully critical, the way you would want someone to help you along. So much of writing is just practice. Writers are more like doctors than we realize sometimes; we’re constantly practicing!
I’d love to say that everyone has a hidden talent for writing and just needs to develop the skills. But I do know that writing is a skill that many people who don’t consider themselves writers can actually develop. Through persistence and patience with their own development, anyone can learn to write fairly well.
Writing is an art form, of course. We are artisans, much like sculptors and painters. Words are our material and the pages (or digital mediums) are our canvas. That may sound a bit clichéd but I think that is the best way to express that idea.
Even highly skilled writers such as myself grow stumped on how to put certain things. Every writer does. This is why collaboration is so important. It’s important for writers to help each other out.
When it comes to writing for assignments, there’s nothing wrong with being someone’s ghost-writer. There’s nothing wrong with giving a starving writer an assignment to get an idea expressed and out into the open. But when you are writing for money, take assignments that you believe in and truly want to write for the sake of writing it.
Once writing becomes about money, you can lose focus and just write what you think people want or what the assignment says. I believe that more people should try ghostwriting, but as a way to develop their own skills. Always keep that in mind.
I’m always happy to edit and clean things up for people. But people need to learn that they need to just write from the heart. I once read something that the best content comes from the most unexpected places. It’s a trend that needs to grow.
Remember that developing any sort of useful, applicable skill is an art form. Creativity, in whatever form it may take, is art. Like with any artists, many writers become discouraged when the words just aren't fitting together. It’s hard to break out of ruts when you get into them. But even when you’re in a rut, you still have to keep writing.
It's OK to take a break for a bit, but never leave writing completely behind. Even if you sit down again and you write crap, you’re at least producing something. It's better than simply letting thoughts spin around your head without any useful application.
Writing is most certainly more skill than some realize. Talent is certainly a component, but inevitably it’s skill that wins out. But it’s mostly the passion you put into it. Without the passion, the writing will feel stale. The passion is what keeps the writing living, relevant, and good.
Most web writers will get questioned about their price at least once, but usually quite often. Who doesn't like a bargain? But your writing's worth is dependent upon what you make it. Here's why.
Discounts Are Fine, To A Certain Point
It's fine to have sales or deals for new or regular clients. But you still should keep the worth of your writing in mind. The lower you are willing to go, the less valuable people will see your content as being. Give discounts, but don't go so low that it's not worth both your time, as well as the value the client will get from it.
The Proof Is In Your Work
Quality web writing is getting more difficult to find. More and more people are discovering they can put their words online. This is a good thing, as far as communication. But those looking up specific information need accuracy and quality. This is where you come in as a web writer and prove to your client that your work is worth top dollar. Sometimes it takes that client paying a low quality writer less and finding out the hard way that they should have continued coming to you. I’ve had clients return after doing this more than once. It’s like the old saying goes “You get what you pay for.” Some people charge less than they’re worth, but in many cases, quality writing will cost more because of the time and energy put into creating a quality piece.
Word Gets Around
Remember that business owners talk to each other often. This includes many topics, but who they hire for writing and other services essential to success is very common. If you charge one client a fee that is significantly less than you usually charge, other business owners will learn this and expect the same deal. The reason for the deal often doesn’t matter. Keep things consistent and accurate where your prices are concerned. You want the word to get around regarding your quality, instead of your low price.
Price According To Actual Value
The lower your price, the less value is likely to be given to your content. Remember that word gets around. So, whatever one business owner feels it’s worth may be what others are saying as well. In order to keep your value high, you need to keep your quality high and price your work accordingly and consistently. Obviously, there is some customizing involved in most web projects, based on topic matter, research, word count, and so on. But try to be as consistent as possible and consider the value of your time, as well as what the client will potentially get from said work.
Your work is worth what you make it worth. So, be sure to price it accordingly, limit the bargaining to a reasonable point, and show your clients what your worth via quality.
Many factors go into determining work and payments from business owners and other clients. These can differ depending on several things. While following this guide may not guarantee that you will receive more work with higher payments, you may see greater opportunities by adhering to the following suggestions. The key is not necessarily to increase every single payment, but to maximize the opportunities available, as well as maximize your long-term benefits from said work.
What types of content are eligible for payment?
All of it! Whether you are soliciting jokes, articles, blog posts, recipes, web page content, product descriptions, photography, or any other creation, it deserves payment if it’s quality material. The key is to submit to the most appropriate venue for best results.
Focus on a specific issue
When you have a tight focus on one topic, readers are more likely to be looking for your content. Think about the things you look for when searching the Web. For instance, instead of general tips on pet adoption, you may want something geared specifically toward the pet you are considering adopting. “Where to adopt a poodle in Denver” should perform better than “How to adopt a pet,” as an example. Write your articles on specific subjects that will be relevant and useful to readers looking for that topic.
Follow assignment details
If you are hired for an assignment, be sure you follow the exact instructions. That means if the instructions say something different from any advice herein, defer to the assignment. When editors and business owners see that you can follow all assignment details reliably, they may be more likely to offer you future opportunities. Remember that, while you should be creative, the content you’re creating is not for you. It’s for the person you are creating it for. Therefore, it should be the way they want it. It’s good to suggest corrections of facts that might be wrong or improvements that might help the client or their website. But again, if they do not agree, unless you are breaking the law or doing something you are strongly against, just do things the way the client wants.
Do your research
When you need to back up your content with facts, be sure these facts are from reliable sources. Also, make sure to cite those sources properly, according to submission guidelines and any additional assignment guidelines. Using multiple highly-trusted and relevant sources also helps to build credibility. Wherever possible, use sources from your client’s website, in addition to the others. This helps them build more relevant inbound linking.
Examine the intended website
If you are submitting to a new client, study the website you are interested in writing for. Think of topics that could work well there but are not yet covered. Having an idea of what could potentially align with a particular property can give you a greater chance at getting accepted. Being unique is key. That means that you don't want to submit something you already see covered on the property. Instead, try submitting something that works well alongside existing content, provides a new angle, or has not been covered at all but could appeal to that property's audience.
Consider the audience behind the topic
Are you writing about parenting? What stages? Think of the age of the kids you're writing about - and then think of what ages the parents are likely to be; they are your most likely audience, and you should cater your content to them. The tone and style used in your article should be something readers can identify with. For instance, if you are writing an article for kids, using complicated business terms is not going to keep them reading. Acceptances of paid submissions are more likely on content that shows attention to detail in this and other areas.
Personalize the experience
When you write an article or blog post, readers should see the real person behind the story (unless your client is not interested in first-person accounts). At the same time, you don't want to ramble about something that has nothing to do with the subject matter. Find that perfect level at which the article provides the information needed with relevant personalization where it fits in with the main point of the article. For instance, if I'm writing an article about picking the perfect daisies, instead of telling a long story about a time when I picked daisies, I would mention how I determine which daisies to pick. I would do that in a way that readers can tell I am knowledgeable and passionate. But it would also need to be something readers can benefit from to answer their questions. When you can use your own unique experience and style, readers can relate more easily. But at the same time, you don't want to say so much that they get bored and click away.
Focus on evergreen material
Focusing on evergreen material is one way to maximize your earnings, as most business owners can use long-lasting content. Evergreen content is that which will draw a reader's interest for long periods of time, such as unique ways to solve common parenting issues. Evergreen slants can also be applied to trending topics. Some editors may value those topics that have a longer shelf life. This is not to say that other content will not be valued, as articles with a shorter shelf life can be useful as well. They each have their own place and are both great ways to maximize your work in different ways. Getting the most out of paid opportunities often involves taking advantage of more than one way to earn.
Pay attention to spelling, grammar, and style
Category and vertical style guides are used for many assignments that offer pay. For the best chances at getting those assignments accepted, be sure to follow them closely. This also goes for any and all other instructions mentioned within the assignment details. Proofreading, even after using spelling and grammar checkers, has always been a lifesaver for me when writing for any venue. Yes, I am a great editor. But, I am also human, so it’s best to double and triple check. Read silently, out loud, and even have a writing buddy take a gander. Programs can miss little things, such as skipped words or typos that are actual words, but not words you intended to use.
Optimize your content for the Web
Studying The Yahoo! Style Guide is a great way to learn basic html, grammar, editing, formatting, and style as it all pertains to writing for the Web. Most content that is submitted to potential clients must be publish-ready. While some venues may have an editor, never rely on editors to fix poor writing. If your writing needs to be thoroughly edited, it is much better to study up so that your submissions are more likely to get acceptances than rejections. You can then submit at a later date when your skills allow you to submit content that is more in line with the platform's needs.
Good Web content displays certain qualities. Apart from being interesting, it must be easy for a wide audience to read. It also must be easily found by search engines. Keep your articles concise and informative in an easy-to-scan format. Web readers often look for something that answers their question quickly and accurately in an engaging manner. For more on writing for the web, again, The Yahoo Style Guide is an invaluable resource.
Maximizing payments on your content is about taking advantage of the many ways to earn. It's also about covering your bases all-around. A solid article is not just well written, but also speaks to the intended audience, giving them exactly the information they expected and needed in a clean, easy-to-scan format.
by Richard Rowell, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
Many content creators have been doing collaborative content for some time now. The greatest reason for this is that combining audiences can do a lot of good for all collaborators involved. But collaboration isn't just good for exposure and traffic. It also brings together different perspectives and talents in ways that you may never have before anticipated.
What’s so great about collaboration, though, is the fact that many times, you’ll end up with something unexpected.. Sure, sometimes a collaboration will start out well-intentioned and end up being a disaster. But when the chemistry is there between creators, something special can happen.
It’s sort of like a duet with musical artists from disparate genres. Different types of content creators can come up with some pretty unique stuff by using the best of their talents to complement one another. Writers connecting with videographers can bring their words to live. Bloggers teaming up with copywriters can find the missing bits to taking their marketing to the next level.
There are many cases where like-minded content creators can do a lot of good together. But by mixing and matching creators from different fields, the power of collaboration becomes that much greater. You have to be open to some interesting, sometimes completely unexpected partnerships, because it may be the collaboration that makes one or both of your lives a whole lot better.
Never underestimate the power of collaboration. That math professor may have a passion for gaming just like you do and add a new dimension to your blog that your audience might appreciate. Maybe you’re a vlogger with a strong core audience, but you found a blogger who wouldn’t seem to be a natural fit, yet found a way to connect to a brand new audience you never thought was there before!
So if you ever find yourself struggling on your latest project, you may find someone out there who’s willing to add their own talent to the mix. Not all collaborations end well, of course, but even those that don’t can teach all involved a lot. Those collaborations that do succeed, however, are to be treasured. Never be afraid to collaborate if the terms make sense. It’s always good to try something new and people love to be surprised.
Have you ever collaborated with other writers or content creators? Have they failed or succeeded? How would you suggest going about your first (or next) collaboration?
See our Writers Helping Writers page for all the ways that the Write W.A.V.E. Media Network is helping writers and other content creators for free!
by Richard Rowell, Article Writer for Hire
As a writer, research is an integral part of the creative process. There's always something more to know about any given topic. As a freelancer you can find yourself writing on topics that you may not be an expert in. But even if you are an expert in given fields, research is still important. It's not just for credibility or finding a way to reach a certain word count. Research should always be for your own edification.
Sometimes being an expert on a topic means that you should fall back on research in a different way. Is there a question that you may have asked yourself that you haven't seen answered? If you have the freedom of deciding on the exact topic for an assignment, researching those sorts of questions becomes a great focus point. It's likely that others are asking those questions and if they weren't will be glad you asked it and answered it as best as you could.
Whenever you go about writing something outside of your comfort zone, research can sometimes be difficult. Sometimes the research becomes the most painstaking and stressful part of the writing process. But it need not be. The research should not simply be treated as a necessary evil. You never know what your research could teach you that will become useful information later on in life.
by Richard Rowell, Article Writer for Hire
There is plenty of advice out there when it comes to Web writing. One of the most common pieces of advice is to keep your writing simple. That means keeping your work's “readability” at a middle school level. Basically, you are “supposed” to write so 5th or 6th graders can easily read and understand it. At the most, you shouldn't be writing articles for mass consumption over a reading level of 8th grade.
Is it dumbing down or just getting to the point?
As someone who has long written at a college level, this is rather difficult for me. It's not so much that I have to dumb down. I tend to be a bit verbose. Some audiences I have written for appreciate a “13th grade” level of writing. That is, high school graduate or college level. But yes, on the Web, being concise and easily scannable is important.
To assist with my dilemma with readability, I've been consulting the Hemingway app. I use it as a guide to see what sentences are simply too complex. I try to break up what I can. This alone often takes me from 12th or “13th” Grade to about 9th. But I did take one article from 13th to 7th recently.
Truthfully, I haven't had to really dumb down anything. I do sometimes go off on some esoteric rants. These the app probably won't help. I don't really take out all the adverbs it wants me to cut. I really like adverbs.
I am working on cutting unnecessary cases of “very.” For some reason, I'm fond of using that word for sometimes rather extraneous emphasis. And yes, I continue to use some higher grade vocabulary words. It's still OK to use a dictionary and/or thesaurus, you know.
Is being too “smart” in your writing a death sentence for your Web writing?
Trust me, you can still be smart with your writing while making it accessible to wider audiences. Actually, breaking down your sentences into smaller chunks is good anyway. Web readers consume so much content today that the easier it is to quickly peruse an article, the better.
Using high level vocabulary and having complex sentence structures just isn't “cool” anymore. I'm all for making my work more accessible to the masses. As Albert Einstein once famously said:
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.”
And, by the way, this article is written at a 5th grade reading level. Thanks to Hemingway App.
Are you a writer looking for a wider audience? Have you tried Facebook? I'm not talking about accepting friend requests from multitudes of people - unless that's your thing. Try creating a Facebook fan page. This is a public place where followers can go to get your updates without you having to give out too much information. From personal experience, I believe all writers should have a Facebook fan page.
What is a Facebook Fan Page?
A Facebook fan page is a page on the Facebook site dedicated to a media professional, celebrity icon, or other business entity. Facebook has built-in options to choose from, including "Writer". For an example of what a fan page for a writer may look like, check out mine: Lyn Lomasi; Web Content Specialist & Writer's Advocate. The Facebook fan page looks and works similar to a profile page. However, there is no need to accept friend requests, as people can only "like" your fan page.
How Can I Get a Facebook Fan Page?
Anyone with a Facebook account can create a fan page for themselves or their business. It's free and easy to set up. Just like many features on a facebook profile, page features are labeled and fairly easy to figure out. On Facebook, when you are signed in, navigate to Facebook Pages. Once you get on that page, click "create page". You may be asked to allow the application or agree to some terms. Facebook gives the instructions after that point. If you still can't figure it out, find a techie writer friend like me to ask for help. Feel free to ask me on my fan page, in fact.
Why Do I Need a Facebook Fan Page?
There are many reasons that a Facebook fan page is a good idea for writers. Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or prose, benefits apply. This is also true whether you are an online writer or produce content solely for print publication.
- - Cornering Promotion - Some don't like the idea of promoting their links to their Facebook friends. On the other hand, some friends don't like it either. A Facebook fan page can help you corner that promotion to a location for those who do want to view it. You may find that many of your friends will "like" your page to keep up with it.
- - Limiting Your Facebook Friend List - Do you like to keep your Facebook friend list low or limit it to just personal friends and family? By creating a Facebook fan page, you can do this more effectively. You don't have to turn away clients who want to interact, but you don't have to friend them either.
- - Creating an Online Presence - Many use Facebook fan pages as a means to help create an online presence. It's a public page. Therefore, it will most likely be crawled and indexed by search engines. If your Facebook profile is private, your promotion there is only limited to people you already know. You can reach a wider audience with a public fan page.
As you can see, there are many reasons why a writer should have a Facebook fan page. The networking and business opportunities alone are reason enough to jump in and try it out. It also can be quite fun interacting, just like on your Facebook profile. But be sure to keep your Facebook fan page fresh.
Don't have your Facebook fan page yet? Can you give me a good reason why? If not, go make one!
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
As a mentor among my online writing peers, I often get asked which route to go when it comes to freelancing. People want to know if they should take on private clients, write for content sites or contributor communities, or start their own niche sites. I have tried several different strategies. What's best for online article writers? I recently made the decision to slow down on certain work with private clients and dedicate myself mostly to my own venue, which also happens to be a contributor community. I am the happiest when mentoring peers and providing content for the Write W.A.V.E. Media network. I see the most income for the least amount of stress when I focus solely on projects that help others and make me happy, as far as writing goes. While this works for me, the best choice will vary for each person.
Know your work habits.
In any online writing, you need to be able to work independently. But if you are working for clients or content sites, you may need to pair that with teamwork. If you don't work well with others, you may want to go solo and write for your own blog or domain. But even then, you might still need to deal with people in one way or the other. If you like to be the only one to correct the work and will accept no changes to your material, you're better off writing for yourself. But keep in mind that even if you don't have to bend for editors, you still need to consider what your readers want.
Pay attention to your writing style.
What style and voice is present in your work? Can you change it up some to fit what clients want? If not, you may be better off either finding clients or content sites that align with your style or writing for your own venue. Check out contributor communities and content sites to see what the top writers are doing. Does it look like something you'd be interested in doing? If not, move on to the next or create your own venue that matches your style. When writing for private clients, I learned that analyzing their needs based on their audience and existing content helped me provide the best content for them. If you'd rather write freestyle without analyzing things, your own website may be the best option, providing you will still cater to the audience.
Consider your schedule.
Managing time and deadlines will be of more importance when writing for content sites and private clients. You'll need some sort of schedule when writing for yourself. But it will likely be more flexible that way. Some private clients may prefer to speak with you about projects during certain hours. Usually it will be normal business hours. If you cannot commit to that or are unavailable during the day, content sites, contributor communities, and your own domains may be the better option. Most contributor communities do not require you to be available during specific times. There can be deadlines if you claim certain assignments, but it is up to you at what time you write the material.
Think about your goals.
Are you looking to get your byline featured across multiple sites? Would you rather keep your name to its own venue? Do you not want your name out there at all? What are your revenue goals? Writing for private clients can sometimes involve a great deal of ghostwriting, which means your byline will not be featured with the content. Content sites generally feature your byline with the content. Some also offer opportunities to be featured on high quality web properties. It could take more time to build up a reputation on your own venue. But if that is what you prefer, the hard work can pay off, if done right.
The best fit for you is the closest to covering your main desires.
Consider all of the above, as well as any other factors that are important to you. Then, decide which option most fits that mold. You could be like me and choose a combination of two methods, choose just one, or go for something else together. Regardless of which choice you make, be sure it is one that aligns with your individual goals and dreams for the future. Remember that not everyone will have the same needs. Just because one plan works for your friends does not mean it will do the same for you. Align your writing career with your unique plans for the best results.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
If you are in a bind and need to get large amounts of articles done quickly, what do you do? Perhaps this is a common thing for you and perhaps it is not. There are various things a writer can do when large numbers of articles need to be written quickly.
Sort by topic, rather than client. If some of your article topics are similar, write those sequentially or at the same time. Save them to separate folders for each client so you don't lose track. But you can do articles for various clients all at once. This is especially helpful if their deadlines are the same or close.
Do all your research first. Research your topics before writing. This makes it easier to just sit down and write. You get bonus points if you took notes in your article document during research. Medical info and other extensive topics can require a good amount of research for accuracy. Bullet point what you discover under subheadings. Then, when you write the article, you only need to turn those points into sentences.
Group by article type. If you have several list-type articles to do, it can help to do those first. Those may be easier than other formats. Articles with bullet or numbered points can go quickly as well. You also may wish to group them according to word count. When large numbers of articles are due quickly, it's a better strategy to get all the easiest ones out of the way first. This way, if you do fall behind your goal, it happens with less articles.
Write intros and subheadings first. Go through all your article files ahead of time and write all the intro paragraphs and subheadings. This way, you can run through and fill them in faster. If you already have the subheadings labeled, you pretty much know the points you need to make. You then only need to figure out how you're going to say it. This speeds productivity trick. I've written an article with this type of pre-outline in less than 3 minutes.
Write what you know. If the topics are up to you, avoid too much extra research and just write about what you already know. When writing topics you have firsthand knowledge of, it's easy to just spout off info quickly. This is extremely beneficial if you're also a fast typist. It may take a touch longer if you aren't, but it should still help considerably, compared to articles that require extensive research.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
One page at a time - that's the only way to write. Actually, perhaps I should be far more specific: one word at a time. But since it is rather difficult to express complete thoughts in single words, we must use sentences. These will form paragraphs, which hopefully will form a coherent narrative that forms upon the page before us.
Yes, reader, I must involve you in this process. After all, writing is a very intimate, personal experience, and truly good writing should never just be for the self. Yet, some writers clearly do not involve the reader, and this is indeed a tragedy. But I do feel that the act of writing should not produce a sermon unless you are a bona fide preacher. No, it's all about connecting with your audience, your reader.
Some authors are obsessed with the idea of knowing who their target audience is. Now, I suppose in some cases - say in the case of writing a children's book - this is certainly an understandable tactic which you may take to construct your narrative. But I'm not convinced it's always a good one. I think, especially in children's writing, some authors take too many assumptions into account on the part of their reader.
The author's job should be to not bore you, and too many authors, in my humble opinion, bore so many readers. Okay, maybe you'll know this or that when you come to reading my piece and you'll feel like I should already know that you know these things. But there's a simple way around this. It's on me, the writer, to make sure if something is brought up that should be generally common knowledge that it is directly involved with what I'm getting at.
There's something to be had about giving you, the reader, a trail to follow. It's good to make your thought process somewhat intuitive through the writing. A lot of artists get really, really artsy. While there is nothing wrong with that, in theory, really a writer must work to draw the reader into the narrative. Even if you may be unfamiliar with all or most of the individual points, you must be able to find that there is clearly a thought process behind all of it. This is the challenge that all writers face.
So why should you care? I could ramble on forever about the half-million things (somewhat of an exaggeration) that go across my mind on a daily basis. It's actually rather incredible how many things actually are on one mind at any given time. The conscious and unconscious minds are so often not in sync. It's why sometimes we just get distracted and we don't really know how. Somehow, though, the act of writing actually can give one access to this sort of nether space between the conscious and unconscious.
When a writer really applies one's self to the task of constructing a narrative, things tend to appear on the page that seem a bit unfamiliar. At times, they seem out of place within the conscious realm. The human mind is really an incredible machine. There are so many things that it can process that often get shoved aside by the conscious mind. A lot of that is simply because of how cluttered "modern" daily life has become.
It's no secret that meditation techniques can help one write better. There is often just too much clutter in our heads to be able to construct anything incredibly interesting on a regular basis, even for dedicated writers. You can't force creativity. It just sort of has to happen.
I hate to reference a cliché. But my prefacing tidbit "one page at a time" is very much like "one day at a time" in that you have to take each challenge as they come. Even if you are not by profession a writer, you are in fact a writer in the sense that you are the scribe of your own life's story. You may say, wait a minute, how can I be the author of my own life story if so many things are out of my control? Now what I am getting at here is not trying to write yet another self-help book or tell you that there is some special secret to being this amazing writer. No, I am simply saying that many different aspects of life are not as disparate as they at first seem.
You may think, life is non-fiction and fiction is a way to escape that often grinding daily existence. Well, to be fair, there is a very startling similarity between fiction and non-fiction. Fiction is often compelling because of how colorful the settings and characters can be. But in non-fiction, that can also be true. You may say you like fiction because what you're reading you may be convinced couldn't really happen.
Truth is, anything is possible. Nothing is truly impossible, only astronomically improbable. So when you hear "nothing is impossible" it's not false, but it's only a half-truth. No fiction is totally made up. Fiction is, at the very least, a half-truth. We integrate plenty of fiction into our own lives. Say you're telling someone a "real-life" story and you don't have your facts straight. It's not completely true, so guess what? It's fiction.
So am I saying that life is just a world of half-truths with more fiction than fact? No, but in my daily life, it sometimes certainly seems that way. Many people I see function in such a way. We live in a world full of so many possible avenues of escapism. As soon as we step outside of what is considered "serious" there is a lot of grey area that you can play with. This is the writer's playground.
There are cold hard facts of life that need to be accounted for, yes. But what if we play around a bit and pretend that these cold hard facts were instead fiction? How do you rearrange things in such a way to make them more interesting? It's all about making your reader look at things from a different perspective. From a certain perspective, all of our lives are just a fiction that we create in our own minds. Perspective is the key word here.
If you're ever stuck, remember perspective. Don't take everyone's perspective into account. Yes, ask yourself if the reader will care. But at the same time, you have to make your reader care. If your reader doesn't care, then what's the point in writing it?
Keep perspective in mind. Twist things just a little bit to make it more interesting, without losing sight of the heart of the matter. You may find out some things you wouldn't have otherwise. And so won’t your readers.
“If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.” – Tennessee Williams
Here’s a fun little topic to tackle: what makes for honest writing? I try to be as honest as possible when I set to compose anything. It’s just not always easy, especially in trying to sound original. I think sometimes being brutally honest actually stifles creativity.
The God-honest truth isn’t always the best thing to put straight into print. There’s letting things off your chest, and then there’s saying too much. It’s not always easy to put things as succinctly as you may want to.
Your goal may not to be delicate or succinct at all. It’s still often difficult to say what you mean to say without somehow saying something you didn't. It’s too easy to read between the lines and try to find double meanings to certain words or phrases.
Sometimes in the editing process, you second guess yourself. You may expound on something that you probably shouldn’t have bothered spending too much time on. It’s what makes writing such a frustrating craft.
The idea of being so honest in writing that it becomes inseparable from the author who penned it is I suppose a sort of ultimate goal for all writers. The trick is to be honest, but not absolutely exhaustive in that honesty. You give away a little at a time, and that’s what can make writing so therapeutic.
For those minds as busy and often overloaded as mine, it’s a sort of necessity to be just a little honest with a thing or two. You can dress it up a bit and make it less threatening; it doesn’t make it any less true, really. But having a few secrets has to be healthy, right?
Writers seem to have more reason to be mysterious than most. The more mysteries the author has, the more material to be used in the craft. At least, that’s how I like to look at it.
So many times I have begun writing on a project and asked myself: why should anyone care about this? A lot of the time, I'll have an idea, then not really care for it myself. I don't discard it. I make a note of it and move on, because I never know where exactly I could find a purpose for that idea. Recently, I've been finding that I need to take more profound steps in my writing. I need to write about things that seem to be often avoided. People care if you bring something up that they don't expect, and sometimes such unexpectedness is met with lots of fear and negativity. But that cannot be a detractor in what a writer decides to write.
There is nothing wrong with writing reviews, or reflective journals, or informational articles. There's nothing wrong with writing light humor or a little piece of flash fiction. There's nothing wrong with writing an adventure novel that exists purely to thrill a reader. As long as each of those pieces of writings fulfill their specific purpose and not just some broad sense of having written something.
However, there is a bit of a paradox here, since it is important for a writer to write even when he or she is not finding a purpose for the words being written. But when publishing something, make sure people will have a reason to care about what you've written. Don't just publish something because it sounds good. I've been guilty of that myself. Publish something that actually will add something to the lives of those reading it. Otherwise, you're just spinning your wheels.
The blank page is like a canvas, they say. Actually, a blank page is more like a desert. It can be the most dreaded thing known to humanity. This is why whenever you try to always start with SOMETHING. some sort of opening theme like in a TV show, or a prompt, or something. Always have something to start with. Because just when you think you can't fill a page, you probably will.
How is this? Start with today's date, then just list some things that are on your mind. If your inspiration can't be sparked by something that you just wrote, list some of your favorite things, and see if you have anything to write about them. By this point, you've probably already filled a page and come up with writing ideas for about a week. Considering this sort of brainstorming is how I practiced writing on a daily basis for years, I can say from personal experience that it works.
However, I don't really participate in brainstorming sessions anymore, nor do I use many prompts. Why is this? It's because sometimes it's okay to just let ideas come to you as they will. Unless you desperately need to fill a need for some assignment, not filling a page is not some crime. Just jot down things in a notebook or some organization program like Evernote or a memo pad app of some sort. That way when you're starved for ideas later, you still have them. Then you'll fill many pages just from that single note.
Still, I've found more often that not, as long as you go into any writing with a purpose, you will fill that page. It works similarly with art. In photography, just point at whatever and shoot. In drawing or painting, just doodle for a bit and work from that. You'd be surprised in these supposedly dark moments of lacking inspiration that you'll find the beginnings of some of your best creative work ever.
Words will come to me whether or not I want them to. It is what I do with them that matters, to give them a meaning and a purpose. Then it is up to whomever reads them to decide if they are worthy. Words are just thought fragments, loosely translated into a common tongue never quite perfect. Limits to vocabulary hinder true perfect expression, but with care and practice, one can succeed in mostly getting a point across. At times, it is only with great difficulty, and often never on the first attempt.
Then, two similar but disparate ideas intermingle, distracting from the original thought. Confusion sets in, creative chaos ensues, and frustration builds. Then writing blocks emerge seemingly for no reason. Fear of losing that writer's touch begins to swell. The words must then be forced out, as thoughts are still there, but stubbornly refuse to be translated. Perhaps, those thoughts are not yet worthy of being shared. Or perhaps, there is a lack of the skill necessary to share them properly and precisely? Such awkward moments cannot be avoided when you constantly deal in words. Sentences and phrases never seem quite perfect, but then it is decided that they are good enough for now. They can be altered later.
The words will come, and they must. So I just let them come. I'll figure out what to do with them later. Then, it's up to you to do with them what you will. I am only a delivery boy. It's your choice what to make of these words I bring you. I hope they do you some good. Hopefully they won't befuddle you too much, and if they do, maybe they'll make you write something, too. If I inspire any positive action, or any action at all, then the words have done their part, I've done my job, and the world goes on.
And then I get writer's block again. Sigh.
The words will come.
Often friends and family of online writers don't understand their lifestyle or career. It's not something they do on purpose. They just really don't understand. Here are some of the top things family and friends of online writers need to remember.
Just because we are at home does not mean we are available. Online writers work at home. Yes, this means we are at home more than some others might be. But it does not mean we can always answer the door or the phone. All of a writer's home hours are not hours that the writer is available. We have hours that we work, just like everyone else. It just so happens that our work is done at home. Just like you would not want someone calling your job to interrupt your work, we feel the same.
If the phone is off, we are most likely working and probably not dead. The phone being turned off is not an invitation to bug a writer on messenger or Facebook. It's also not an invitation to keep leaving messages or show up at our door. It simply means we are working and will get back to you when the work day is over. Writing is no different than any other job. If we don't do the work, we don't get paid. So if the phone is off, please don't take that as an invitation to interrupt our work with other means of contact.
Call before coming over. Online writers might be working at various times of the day or night. Our schedule is flexible. However, because writing requires a specific thought process, when we are in the middle of it, interruptions can actually ruin our work. So, even though our work day is flexible, we need to be able to be the ones to choose the hours. If you'd like to visit an online writer, call first. If the phone is off, the writer is probably busy.
Facebook and other networking is not playing. Online writers get paid by page views on many of their pieces of writing. Just because your online writer friend or family member is on Facebook, it does not mean that person is playing. We need to stay social to keep connected with each other, as well as our readers. Both conversations and posting article links helps us with this aspect. Just because we are posting on Facebook, it does not mean we are not working. It also does not mean we are available. Facebook, twitter, and more can be an important part of an online writer's day.
Online writing is a career, not a hobby. When you ask your friend or family member how their 'little hobby' is going, expect them to be offended. Why? Online writing might be a hobby for some, but to many, it is actually their career. Does your friend or family member get paid for their writing? If you can answer yes, then it is not a hobby. Online writers are business owners, which makes writing their career. Just like everyone else, we have to file taxes, we have to put in the hours, and we get paid. Please do not call an online writer's career their hobby.
*This content was originally published by Lyn Lomasi on ListMyFive.com.
Why does it seem like writers aren’t taken very seriously? It really bugs me how it seems that writing has become such a poorly compensated skill. What bothers me even more is that it is considered one of the most important skills in any business today. Proper and clear communication is extremely important for any human being. Highly skilled writers are some of the greatest assets any business can have.
So why do writers have so much trouble finding steady work nowadays? People always need writers - ghostwriters, especially. Why is it that so many of we freelance writers and content marketers have to often resort to receiving pennies on the dollar for what we’re really worth? There are clients that truly appreciate a writer's skills and abilities and value them accordingly. But so many others don’t. I truly can’t comprehend this.
I've learned that it might be so easy for me to write articles. But for a lot of other people, it really isn't. So what takes me half an hour could take someone else hours. It's possible they won't get anywhere near the same end result. I love it when I learn that a piece of content I wrote touches someone, or convinces someone to buy something from myself or one of my clients. A little time and effort goes a long way.
Writing has always been that singular skill that I have long excelled at. Fortunately, I was smart enough to pursue it with due diligence. Some of us need more pushing than others. I always wanted to be a writer, from a very young age. The great deal of encouragement I had always helped. Eventually, writing became a reflex for me. As it turns out, as I’ve met more and more writers, it seems that this writing reflex is a common thing for us writers. Regardless of what it is we write about, we all share this compulsion that we just have to write.
Fortunately, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Many businesses are realizing that they need to hire more skilled writers to write content. Up until now, it’s been about writing for the search engines and hiring “marketing experts” that know how to game the system. It should be about just hiring writers that know how to write for people. It shows when you have dedicated writers that actually are writing for the audience and not for gaining traction on Google, Bing, et al.
The new paradigm shift that content marketing is taking means that there are more writers needed than ever. There's a huge amount of hyper-niche content needing to be created. It makes those without degrees, like myself and many other writers, a lot more valuable. We’re more than happy to crowd-source. We just expect to be fairly compensated. This simply hasn’t been happening as it should.
Do writers need to unionize to make this happen? Actually, there is a National Writers Union here in the United States. What we definitely need to do is not give into writing 1000-word articles for only $5 a pop. That level of content written well can be worth hundreds of dollars in what they will end up netting in the long run. Well-written and engaging content is proven to work on a regular basis. You can’t just post any old content and hope people will interact with it and share it. More of the world is finally waking up to that fact.
In fact, studies have shown that writers outside of a given field can end up with better results writing content for businesses. This is because they offer a fresh perspective that those in the field may never have considered. Some of the best content comes from guest bloggers. Writers always love a challenge. If you pay us decently enough, you may be amazed with what you’ll find. We’ll be writing anyway, so give us a shot!
Writing isn’t easy. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and practice. It also takes a lot of passion to always be looking to improve on the art. As writers, we must constantly expand our knowledge so we can infuse everything we write with all that we’ve learned. We writers need to find a way to set the market straight and prove to people that our skills are grossly under-compensated. We don’t just sit around all day typing away for pennies because it’s fun. We do it because we love to create. Honestly, we'd love to create for a fair living. We want to work. Just give us the chance.
I believe that it’s inherent in every human being who practices enough at the skill of writing to become a great writer. Every person has thoughts that need to be expressed. Intelligent discourse is the only way in which the human race can truly survive. Therefore, it is good that our society stresses the importance of writing skills to such a great degree. However, this dedication to teaching writing skills seems to be often conducted in the wrong way.
Schools seem to try to teach a singular method, one pre-packaged way to write for everyone. I’ve always been a believer that each individual needs to develop their own way of writing on their own. When you try to force everyone into a formulaic routine method, you strangle creativity. That is one reason why I suffered early on in junior high and high school: they stressed the importance of writing a five-paragraph essay and were very unforgiving in straying from their guidelines.
The five-paragraph method can be an excellent tool for outlining a paper. But to force students to write a five-paragraph essay on every assignment that they do is not always truly applicable. Perhaps it is the case that some believe that the five-paragraph form is the only way for some people to learn how to write. I don't believe this is so. It never was years ago. Why dumb it all down now?
What makes someone a great writer is not simply in how beautifully they craft a sentence – although that is a great skill to master. Perhaps, the verb master is the most important word that I can stress to budding writers. Do not concern yourself with being perfect, or you will only drive yourself crazy. Nothing in this world can ever be perfect, but theoretically, you can be close to perfecting your craft with substantial practice.
It’s the drive for discovering the truth that makes a great scholar, and it’s the obligation of great writers to share their own angles with the rest of the world. We can each approach reality from various angles. That is what makes each human being’s perspective unique.
The fact that reality is different for everyone is an inescapable conclusion. However, we’ve come to a point in our society where it seems that people simply cannot agree to disagree. We can't be forcing ourselves into join camps of opinion. We must learn to take our varying perspectives on reality, then reach a consensus on what the truth really is.
So, then, what is truth? Answering that question should be the goal of every writer. Do not simply regurgitate facts and ideas that you read in a textbook or read somewhere online – even from a reputable source. Criticize everything that you see, hear, and read.
You may not consider yourself a great writer in terms of “talent.” But with practice, you will find that the talent to share knowledge and ideas to the world is not simply a gift given to those extraordinarily proficient in vocabulary and composition. Critical thinking and writing teamed together, as well as great practice and effort, will help you find that perhaps there is a great writer living inside of you.
You'll never know until you just start writing!
Developing a voice in writing is something that requires plenty of practice. Having a voice in writing that's also both clear and consistent is very important, so it's important to watch how your writing sounds. It's OK if your voice in writing sounds different than your regular speaking voice. As long as you are speaking to people effectively through your words, then you are developing a good voice in writing.
My own writing voice is substantially different from my speaking voice. This is true for many people. Of course, if you use voice recognition software, it would be very much the same. In my experience, I would rather type than vocalize my writing, because I can work a keyboard far more quickly than I can talk. But vocalizing your writing can be a useful tool in developing your voice in writing. It's not the only way, though.
In my case, my brain often moves far more quickly than my mouth. Some people that know me may be surprised, with how often that I talk, that I often can’t keep up with what I’m thinking. Because of that, sometimes ideas come out very awkwardly through my speech. This is why I prefer so much to write. I know this is true for a lot of people. When I try to dictate writing, it's a lot more scattered than when I purely type. Using my voice for writing is a skill I hope to improve upon some day, but I do prefer typing, after all.
Even when instant messaging through a platform like Facebook, I find that I'm far more articulate and able to express things a lot more succinctly than with speech. This is because my words can flow more quickly than they could ever come out of my mouth. But, trust me, finding my own unique voice in writing took me quite a while. All of the many instant messenger sessions and notebook scribblings I’ve had over the years certainly helped in finding my writing voice.
When I was in high school, students were often forced to write their essays in the dreaded five-paragraph format. Being a passive-aggressive rebel, I often neglected to write that way. Because of this, I was often graded poorly on many assignments. I just let my words flow without any regard for the restrictions we were meant to respect. These restrictions seemed ridiculous to me.
I had been developing my writing abilities for several years up until that point. Still, I have to admit I was a fairly amateur writer in junior high, because I still hadn't yet found my voice. By the time I got to around my sophomore year in high school, however, it was clear that I had developed a specific style. No one could make me deviate from it.
I'm glad I stayed the course with finding my own writing voice. While my writing voice is far more refined now, I look back at work I wrote over a decade ago, and it's written with pretty much the same voice I started writing with back then! So, my rebellious nature when it came to developing my own writing style allowed me to bring you the voice in writing you read today.
Of course, the lesson here is that all it takes to develop a voice in writing is practice. Don’t let anyone try to force any arbitrary rules on you, besides conventions of grammar and spelling - those rules are fine. It's really as simple as just writing as much as you can and about as many topics as you can. Simply build your vocabulary and exercise your writing abilities at least once a day.
You’re going to struggle at times. A lot of what you write may not look too great to you later on, but you need the exercise. You'll find that after enough practice, you'll actually start to find yourself writing very naturally. Even without having some innate talent for it in the beginning, anyone can write given the proper practice and devotion to the craft. Once you develop a voice in your writing, you can write about anything, anytime, anywhere!
Outside of public speaking, writing is the best way to find your voice. Of course, many of the greatest public speeches were written down first, too. Be a rebel. Make your voice heard. Everyone has a voice, and having a strong voice in writing is something no one can take away from you. Don’t ever let anyone else tell you otherwise.
It’s a well-documented phenomenon that one often writes in a much different style than in which he or she speaks. I know for a fact that this is most certainly the case with me. I am a far better writer than speaker and not only in public speaking. I’ve had the tendency to misspeak on many occasions in ways that simply do not happen in my writing. I’m far better composed in writing than I am in speech. When I’m speaking on a topic that I am well versed in and knowledgeable about, though, I can at least sound reasonably intelligent.
In speaking, I have a way of stating the incredibly obvious without even consciously realizing it. Again, this does not happen in writing, unless some sort of sarcasm or “tongue-in-cheek” humor is intended. These differences between my own writing and my own speech patterns could make a very fascinating and in-depth study into the functioning of my own mind. Not being a social scientist, however, I’m not sure just how accurate my observations will be. To be honest, I’m far more curious about how others perceive the differences between their writing and speaking styles in contrast to how others perceive the differences. That would make for quite an interesting discussion.
On that note, how different do you feel your writing styles and speaking styles vary? Do others ever comment on those differences? Or do you feel that your writing and speaking are actually much the same?
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
One method of writer promotion is to maintain a Facebook fan page. But in order to take full advantage of having a Facebook fan page, you need to keep it updated. A freshly updated Facebook fan page keeps people coming back for more. This should be done in a variety of ways to attract more people and keep them interested.
Update your status often and keep it varied. Keeping your status on your Facebook fan page fresh keeps people interested. Let your fans know what you are doing at the moment. Post milestones, pitfalls, and goals. You can also post things that don't have to do with writing, but aren't so personal that they turn people away. Don't post the same thing all the time. For instance, we all know you are writing if you're a writer. Don't post "I'm writing" every single day. Post it sometimes, but not every time you write.
Share links to your work. If someone is following your writer fan page, they want to see your writing. Post it. Whenever you have a free second, share links to various things you have published on the web. This can be anything from blog posts to news articles to book links. Whatever you write, share it with your Facebook fans. That's what they want. You can also throw in work from fellow writers occasionally to mix it up and help them out.
Offer writing advice. Post random writing tips on your writer fan page. Although some of your followers may be random people that like your work, other writers might also follow you for inspiration. Let them know how you got there and possibly help them too with some tips when you can. Writing tips may even look good to potential clients.
Share news related to the writing field. Since writers often follow other writers, share news relevant to the field. It helps keeps you as well as your fans and fellow writers in the know. Plus, it can be interesting to share something other than your own work. Staying up to date can help you improve your writing. It's always good to learn something new and share it with others.
Auto-share blog posts and other article RSS feeds. Auto-sharing your work via RSS is an easy way to keep readers up to date, while still being able to focus on producing fresh content. The auto-posts will alert people to new posts and you can focus on your writing and on other updates.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Write, edit, write, edit, rinse and repeat. That's the norm for a writer. Even so, we can still make mistakes or use some constructive feedback. Whenever possible, it's always good to have a second pair of eyes - preferably a fellow writer. I like to call this person a writing buddy. By looking over each other's work, making suggestions, and correcting minor typos, you can help each other improve. Some clients do not edit your work. There are many clients who expect your work to be a finished product when it's delivered. The least amount of work they have to do before publication the better. Some clients will flat-out reject the work if they have to make corrections. Even if the company you are submitting to has an editor, that doesn't mean you should take advantage of that fact. Have your writing buddy double-check your work to be sure you didn't miss something vital.
A writer should always present clean, publish-ready content. If a client has to spend a great deal of time editing your work, they may as well write the copy themselves. They hired you so they wouldn't have to. Do your best to ensure their work is minimal. Most writing software has grammar and spell-check. But a human eye is still necessary to pick up errors the computer won't. Some typos can be actual words and the spell check is not going to pick up on that. A writing buddy can help make sure you catch all those tiny errors you and spell check might have passed over.
A writing buddy can offer fresh perspective. So you think you covered all the main points in a tightly focused manner? Maybe not. Your writing buddy can suggest extra points you may not have considered. There also may be ways to get your point across in fewer words. When a writer is passionate about a topic, it's easy to ramble without realizing it. A writing buddy can catch those sections and suggest where you should tighten it up.
It's easier to catch other's mistakes than your own. Because people are used to the way they write, frequent mistakes may be missed when proofreading your own work. For instance, if you frequently type 'had' instead of 'has' out of habit, you may not see it when checking for errors. But your writing buddy will likely have different typing habits and may notice it right away.
Learn from each other's styles. Each writer has their own way of getting across their message. They also each have their own preferred topics. Being writing buddies allows each person to learn new facts. By examining another person's writing, you can also learn new styles and techniques you may not have thought of. Ask each other questions and give each other advice often. It helps if you are close friends with your writing buddy because you'll be more likely to listen to each other. But then again, learning together can also bring you close. Who understands a writer better than another writer?
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Lyn Lomasi & Richard Rowell are life & business partners. Owners of the Write W.A.V.E. Media network, they are your content superheroes to the rescue! Running their network, tackling deadlines single handedly, and coaching fellow writers & entrepreneurs to be thought leaders is their top priority. While rescuing civilians from boring content and marketing, they conquer the world, living the RV life and making Crafts For A Purpose with their awesomely crazy family while recounting The Nova Skye Story, along with Kymani’s Travels. They also strive to one day cuddle with lions and giraffes. Until then, they’ll settle for furry rescue kitties and doggies.
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