by Phoenix A. Desertsong, The Prose Machine
For me, prewriting has always been a bit of an ironic term. After all, doesn't prewriting involve writing things down? But, really, the act of prewriting is actually helpful for a lot of writers. While I have rarely ever done prewriting in the traditional sense, there's a lot of usefulness to integrating prewriting into your own writing process.
"What the heck is Prewriting?"
In school, we were probably all taught that you needed to do prewriting before starting the first version of a writing assignment. I rarely did this, even in cases that the prewriting was part of the grade. I'd just start writing the assignment and go back and fix it later as I developed more ideas. I became a pretty good self-editor at an early stage. So, I could skip prewriting, really.
But not everyone can write a whole paper straightaway. Even the most seasoned writers sitting down to write something that isn't an assignment can find great value in old school prewriting. How do you start prewriting? You ask yourself some questions.
"What am I writing about?"
What is the topic or theme of what you're setting yourself to write? I usually am able to complete this task in the title of my work or in the first few sentences. But one benefit of prewriting is that not only can you set your topic or theme in writing efore you actually begin writing the actual work, but you can also ask yourself: "is this something I even care about?"
I used to ask myself "will anyone care about what I'm writing?" most times I set to writing. That's a question I'm sure many people ask themselves. The trouble is, writing ewhat you think people want to read often leads you to writing something you're not as invesed in.
Believe me, it's usually fairly obvious to people when someone writes about something they actually care about or are moved by. For some, prewriting is a great way to really decide the direction you want to take with your writing, whether it's for yourself or an assignment. After all, once you put something in writing, it can look a lot different.
And this is one very useful thing about prewriting. You can figure out what yu actually care to write about before writing a whole piece you're unhappy with. Now that I think about it, I could save myself some time by just doing this one part of prewriting. In a way, I already do something like that in my journals, where I often come up with my topics and themes for writing essays. In fact, this very piece came from an idea I wrote in my journal.
Still, formalizing this part of the writing process as the first step in prewriting makes a lot of sense. If you think it will help your writing, by all means adopt this idea.
But this is only the first part of prewriting.
"Why am I writing about this?"
If you're writing something for an assignment, this question seems to have an obvious answer: "duh, I have to write it!" But that's not what this second stage of prewriting actually means. This is when you decide on the purpose of your writing.
Well, the purpose of your writing should not be "a good grade" in a class or "get me paid" for a freelance assignment. No, by purpose, we want to know what this piece of writing is meant to accomplish, what job it has in life. One guide to prewriting has a great list of possible purposes to write for:
Your writing can be for multiple purposes. But typically, you're looking to focus on only one or two of these purposes – although you can do more. It's possible to entertain while also being persuasive, for example. You can narrate and move someone through your words. Really, you can mix and match any of these purposes.
If you do take up prewriting, it might be handy to keep this short list of purposes on hand. That way, you can choose the purposes that best fit what you're trying to accomplish with your writing. Sometimes an assignment will give you a strictly defined purpose. But many allow you to add an additional purpose to your writing. And, of course, if there are no exact purposes assigned, then just go with however you feel you can best write about your topic or theme.
For example, through this prewriting piece, I am informing while also hopefully explaining why I don't necessarily do prewriting myself. I find that I tend to have a purpose to explain and inform a lot in my writing, although I also aim to amuse, sometimes, too. Keep in mind you don't have to try and do all of these things in every piece you write, as you can't have any one piece do everything, after all.
"Who am I writing this for?"
Ah, yes, the ever important question for a writer: "Who is my audience?"
This is the point in the prewriting process where you may have to reconsider the purpose for your writing. Where is what you're going to write be posted? Even if it is for your eyes only, you still inevitably have to think about this.
The whole point of writing is for someone to read it, even if it's only for yourself. More often than not, you're trying to reach a specific audience. Your audience is, sadly, not just everybody. You must have an audience in mind whenever you write something.
Myself, I tend to write for other writers, authors, and bloggers, while also considering other creatives. Does that mean that my work is only meant for those specific people? Not at all. But what it does mean, then, to target a specific audience?
Targeting an audience just means that you need to decide who is most likely to get the most out of what you are writing. Then, if you decide your target audience prefers to read a more amusing piece or more of a narrative, you can adjust your "writing parameters" accordingly.
"How am I going to write about this?"
This is where things get juicy in prewriting. Some prewriting guides have choosing your piece's genre before figuring out your audience. But you kind of want to know your audience before deciding how you want to write about it. After all, you haven't actually started writing your actual writing yet, so you can go back still and adjust things.
By genres, here's what sort of things you could be writing:
Some themes are better written about through the narrative of a short story, for example. Other times, you may want to write something biographical and descriptive about someone who dealt with a certain topic or theme throughout his or her lifetime. Myself, I tend to prefer the essay, because it's versatile. I also use poems a lot to express certain ideas. But I've written all of these types of things in one form or another.
When it comes to genre, unless it's assigned, I always recommend to write to your strengths sometimes and to your weaknesses at others. Really, you should dabble in every kind of writing that you can.
The reason for this should be obvious. The more you grow as a writer, the better all of your writing will be, even if your forays into other genres seem to fail miserably. The very act of putting together a piece you wouldn't usually write makes new connections in your brain.
You can learn a lot by writing what you're weak at, because you could eventually find new strengths. After all, writing is first and foremost a skill. The more you develop your skills in different sorts of writing, the more you can do.
"OK, it's brain dump time!"
Once you have decided on the topic or theme, the purpose, the audience, and the genre for what you're writing, it's time to throw down! It's planning time! Planning my writing is something I rarely do, although I do brainstorm from time to time when I feel compelled to do so.
However, depending on what you're writing, there are lots of ways to collect your thoughts and ideas for the sake of prewriting. You can sit there and think and take notes on whatever floats through your brain for hours. Then you end up daydreaming and fantasizing and go write some poems or start some story that will go nowhere, instead. Yeah, I've been there and done that. But there are other ways.
Researching is actually pretty helpful. This is a part of prewriting that I actually have done a air amount. Reading on the topic or theme you want to write about is helpful for many reasons. Not only does it give you a ton of ideas to start from, but you also know what's already out there.
You can also interview someone. This is easier than you'd think. People love to talk. If you ask someone who you consider an expert on a subject, and you have a few good questions you're looking to answer, you'll likely get a positive response!
In fact, an interview itself makes for some good writing, in addition to what you're already writing! Plus, interviewing is an awesome skill to develop. But the greatest benefit of an interview is that you can get an expert source and those are awesome social proof for your work.
Of course, you can also discuss your topic or theme with friends and family. You may get some ideas that you don't expect.
However you pull your ideas together, it's the one part of prewriting that I actually do. You should do it, too. You'll probably end up getting more ideas than you need for the writing project you started with. As you find as a writer, too much is actually a good thing, because you have other things to write about later!
"Pull it all together now!"
The end of prewriting is now upon us! Now you have to organize your notes and put some sense to them. This is where some people engage in the dreaded outline or do some fancy flow chart or spreadsheet or whatever other crap you want to throw in Microsoft Excel. (Or OpenOffice Sheets, as I prefer!)
Myself, I just pick a few good ideas and develop them in a way that makes sense. Most of the time, I do all this organization in my head. Then again, especially with assignments, I will put headings and sections in a document first before the writing gears really start cranking. It's not an outline, per se, but it sort of serves the same purpose.
And yes, writing an outline is perfectly OK. But my own writing tends to be a but spontaneous, so outlines frustrate me. There's nothing actually wrong with them, though. And I've see flow charts and tables work wonders for some people. Really, however you best get organized in writing, go for it!
That's it! Now you're ready to start writing... even though you just did more writing in the prewriting than you'll probably actually do in the actual drafting... But hey, it's more writing, and who doesn't want to do more of that?
How do you prewrite? Or are you like me and mostly just fly by the seat of your pants? Whatever your process is, I'd love to hear about it!
~ Phoenix <3
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.
by Richard A. Rowell, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
I just want to write something important. To me, that’s not writing just another New York Times bestseller. It doesn’t involve taking advantage of a fad. I’m not seeking a cult following. There is a deep desire within me to write something not only significant, but undeniably unique.
I long to write something that could be the epitome of whatever creativity I possess. Is this asking the impossible? Can you write something undeniably important? There is always the possibility that by reaching for what at first you deem impossible, you could get yourself very, very close to that seemingly unattainable goal. So why not aim for it?
Even as the world gives you reason after reason to be bitter, it’s vital to do whatever I can to put things into a positive light. It’s important to be constructive. This is why it’s very important to understand the true power of creativity. I know that too often I don’t exercise my mind correctly to unleash my true creative potential. I believe this is true of most of us.
Throughout my education, people have been too impressed with many examples of my academic work. That’s not to say it’s all been relatively worthless busy work junk. Still, I look back at my academic offerings and feel tremendously disappointed from what I produced in the name of education. I believe I can tap far more from my abilities. So where do I dig up the fuel, the drive, and the motivation to pursue challenging myself in new and creative ways?
Not only do I wish to master merely the act of being creative, but also better comprehend the nuances of the greater concepts that creativity involves. I don’t want only to inform or educate in a basic sense. I want to expand minds in a significant, meaningful way beyond the simple facts, figures, or concepts I’m writing about.
Before any of us can truly learn how to learn, we must understand what creativity truly is. Creativity means never simply squashing your dreams, no matter how childish they may seem. Never be afraid to tackle big ideas. Reality is always going to be fascinating, and often more horrifying than anything any fiction can produce.
Never be afraid to create something. It doesn’t matter how slowly you build on your ideas, as long as you do it consistently. Add a dash of passion to everything you do. That’s true creativity at its finest.
by Richard A. Rowell
I tend to write in bursts. I'm terrible at being creative on a schedule. Is it even possible to be creative on a schedule? It probably is, but that has never been a real thing to me. I just create whenever I do.
There's nothing really inherently wrong with that. That's why I don't want to have any expectations tied to any of my creative work - because I'll always find some excuse as to why I fell short. It's pretty much my own expectations, really. They're rough enough. I don't need someone on top of that asking me if I'll have something ready by so-and-so date and time. That's why I am so personal about my creative stuff.
I'm not an "official" poet, even though I've written hundreds of poems and most of my poetry is published online. The reason why is actually pretty simple. If you're a "poet," people will ask you, hey, can you write a poem about so and so? Can you come up with some corny verses about such-and-such? Not only do I find that demeaning, but I'm not an "on-demand" poet. Some people can do that crap.
I usually will just be laying or sitting around and a verse pops in my head. Then another, and another, yet another. I usually write 3-5 poems at a time. Sometimes even as many as 10. I think my record is a dozen in a day, but I'm really not keeping track. Heck, if I were that prolific I'd be a millionaire right now just self-publishing little collections and selling them for a dollar or two a piece. Alas, I am not. I don't really care about that part anyway. I don't care if my poems make me a cent, really.
The problem is I do care if some of my more serious writing earns nothing. Sometimes my only motivation to write about certain topics is purely for financial benefit. I've been fortunate enough to get on rolls with assignments most of the time. Even if I'm uninspired to begin with, I can usually run with an idea. But when I have to force it, well, you can imagine how it turns out.
So what gets me on a roll? Just a thought. It just has to be the right thought. There's really no secret sauce or anything like that. You just run with it when it comes. If it's a lot in one day, okay, well, just go ahead.
It's often suggested to not batch too much together. But if you're writing stuff that's going to be just as relevant ten years down the line as it is now, go right ahead. Some people work better on schedules than others. There's no right or wrong way to work as long as you find what works for you.
So hay, I'm on a roll...
Sorry, I just had to.
But while I'm at it, I'll just keep at it.
by Richard A. Rowell
It’s quite enlightening to realize others recognize fine skill in composition. It’s even better to find those that appreciate the fine details woven through even the most basic of stories. Writing is not simply a form of communication or just used for recording purposes. It can be such a wonderful way to tell the world so many things.
Some use writing simply as a way to satiate their ego. Perhaps that is why I write, sometimes, to satisfy my own ego. Of course, it’s true that I am the all-powerful narrator in my writing. I can say, do think, and feel anything I wish for anyone or anything depicted through my words. It is a beautiful, liberating feeling. It can be highly intoxicating, too.
I can write forever on pages and type forever onto various digitized media. But when it comes to sharing these words, I am often at a loss in proceeding to do so. What I do hope is that there’s something to gain by having my thoughts mirrored into words. Namely, I hope it can be better understood that everything I do in the course of my day out in society is an experiment.
I look for reactions - causes and effects. The world is like my laboratory and I am studying all that is in it. I may at times write “gems of genius.” But all too often, there are thoughts I have which are so difficult to put into words. They fly by so quickly in this brain, and if I don’t catch them, they’re gone for good.
It’s a writer’s life for me.
by Richard Rowell, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
There wasn’t one particular moment when I decided to become a poet. About the time I was leaving junior high I decided that I would try my hand at writing some lyrics. But as they have never been put to music, outside of the occasional ditty in my head, they became mere poetry. Some people say that I do well at poetry. But I have never really considered myself a full-blown poet. Still, that hasn’t stopped me from writing hundreds upon hundreds of verses. Some of them are much better than others. A few were actually worth publishing.
Truthfully, I’ve always leaned towards focusing on writing prose. The poetry comes and goes, often in big spurts. But it’s not something I’ve ever dedicated myself to, as much as I appreciate the art of both conventional and unconventional poetry. Writing verses was once a passion of mine, but I longed to be a songwriter, not a poet. Then again, those two things are probably one and the same in essence. Poetry, too, especially of the unconventional variety, can be so very free-form.
Strangely enough, I’ve never been much good at free-write exercises. My attempts at free-form exercise often become somewhat unfocused essays with muddled theses. Occasionally, I end up making a decent article out of some of them. I merely don’t free-write. I just follow whatever my mind wants me to write at a given moment. So I try not to give much thought to why I should write about this or that.
Perhaps I’m a poet even if I’m not. Poetry by definition is not merely just metrical writing. The word can also mean a couple other things, according to Merriam-Webster:
“Writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm.”
“Something likened to poetry especially in beauty of expression “
The English language is funny sometimes, with all its many meanings of singular words. But clearly, poetry is more than just rhyming verses. Any form of expression can be made into poetry. I suppose what it comes down to is that I write simply to express something and try to make it beautiful. It may not even really matter what that something actually is. Merely writing something isn’t always enough for me.
The art of writing is so important to me. Simply composing articles to inform and perhaps entertain is not all there is. There’s a clear sense in my mind now that perhaps writing poetry is both easier and harder than most people think. Poetry is about finding the beauty in something, then finding the best way to express that something.
So while I never thought myself a poet, I probably am anyway...
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.
It has always proven to be the case that when my writing becomes too predictable, I simply cannot be at my best. Whenever I have a plan going into writing something, if it's more than a simple direction or idea leading me into it, what ends up coming out is a rambling unfocused mess. When I write, the more unpredictable the course of my work takes, the better it ends up being. In a way, I'm a fiction writer writing non-fiction. I always want to keep the reader guessing.
In a world in which answer-driven content has become the most sought after, I feel like a bit of a dinosaur. I want to lead people on and help them to answer questions they never thought to ask. It's not as if that sort of content doesn't work any more. Storytelling still works, of course. But I find myself greatly uninspired reading content that attempts the answer the same questions over and over again. You can find yourself at a point where taking a fresh perspective on something becomes immensely hard to do.
Sure, it can be risky to not have a plan. Most writers would find it ludicrous to not outline where you're going with a given piece. I've rambled on for hours and hours, pages and pages, many times before. Sometimes the words go nowhere good. But other times, I'll get three or four really good ideas that I can run with, and weave them together into a complete piece. I'm one of those writers who just needs to be let loose and edit it all down later. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed with the sheer volume I produce and it can be very tricky to pare it down into anything tangible - even to myself.
Lately, my writing has just been feeling too predictable. I have a topic and I just comment on it, basically. That just has become rather stale. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being strictly informational and coming to a sometimes fairly obvious conclusion. That sort of writing just isn't for me. There needs to be a fresh take on whatever I am doing. Having a strict topic doesn't always work for me, and for whatever reason I stopped dancing around the edges trying to make new connections. I've found when the words don't come the reason is usually as simply defined as "uninspired." Sure, what may follow many times is a hot mess of nonsense, but it's better than to not have just written it at all.
Do you ever feel like your writing has become too predictable? It's okay to shake things up. Perhaps a bit of misdirection here and there isn't a bad thing at all. Being straight and to the point obviously has its place, and I'm not saying I can't write like that anymore. My comfort zone when it comes to writing seems to be in making the reader uncomfortably unsure of where I'm going. But there's that delicate balance of losing your reader in confusion and making them think through why you're going in the direction that you are. One of the beauties of written communication is that ten people can read exactly the same words and come to ten completely different conclusions. It's also one of the shortfalls and one of the major limitations. No human communication is perfect. Nor do I think it ever should be.
It's high time I stopped being predictable and just let the randomness of life's ebbs and flow dictate where I go when I write. As moods shift and opinions waver, it's possible to stay the course while still having a few twists and turns thrown into the journey.
Choosing your words is essential. As a writer that seems obvious. Then again, sometimes, I’ll be thinking about something and my lips will start moving or my fingers will just start typing. I often don’t give myself time to necessarily explain myself and I start rambling and go off on tangents. Sometimes, this is pretty dangerous stuff. At times, it just ends up amusing someone. Other times, I’ll say something that someone will take the wrong way and then I have to figure out later where I went wrong. It’s really just better to choose the right words in the first place…
This isn’t to say that it’s always possible to not be misinterpreted. It doesn’t mean readers won’t read things into your work that you didn’t intend. Such is the nature of any audience; it is often going to have members that you did not intend. Those misinterpretations can lead to a learning experience for both you and the reader, and it’s best to treat them as such, even if you are the only willing party to actually learn from the experience. But sometimes both parties can be the best for it.
What’s one of the best ways to limit misinterpretation? Don’t be the one always trying to give the answers. You should ask yourself: Should I be asking more questions? There is always so much more to learn. Better yet, it rarely hurts to find new ways to phrase and rephrase things. Perhaps there are ideas that I have not yet perfectly conveyed, that is, if any idea can be perfectly conveyed in any simple thing as a word or words.
As a writer, the best you can do is the best you can do at the moment that you write something. Every writer is going to write a stinker here and there, and simply not publish them. But even published works that gain a good audience are going to have their flaws. It distresses me when I see one of my works in print, even one that was well received by the intended audience, and I’m simply not happy with it how it is. If you’re not happy with a work, chances are you’ve learned something that you will want to address in the future.
Sometimes you have to be your own worst critic. So welcome the critics when they come. At times, the critics will simply have their own opinion through no fault of your phrasing or word choices. But before you publish anything, make sure that the piece is the best thing you can produce at the moment. Make sure your words are saying what you intend them to say in the best way you know how. You can always learn from the mistakes, but the better you do in the first place, the more your writing will be the better for it.
When first starting to write for online venues, many writers are unaware they need to edit. Sometimes there is an editor, but oftentimes this is not true. Therefore, it is safest (and most of the time your responsibility) to self edit your articles before submission.
Writing for Content Sites
Most content sites require self-editing. Some do have editors on hand that may make changes. But for the most part, the work you submit should be ready for publication. Many content sites only have people who review your work to determine if it's fit to publish. They don't have time to edit your work, nor will they do so.
They'll just decline it and move on to the next piece. Also, on some of these sites there is the option to self-publish without review. Even though some may allow you to edit afterward, you should always edit before hitting that publish button. This avoids having readers (and potential clients) see those initial typos and errors.
Writing for Private Clients
When writing for private clients, it's pretty much expected by most that your work is ready to use. When someone hires you to write content, they don't want sloppy work. They want something they can just pay for and use right away. That's why they chose to hire a professional. That's you.
By making sure you self-edit everything, you will keep clients happy. Happy clients often return to the same writer and may even recommend that person to friends and business partners. By not proofing and editing your work, you are potentially hurting your writing reputation and career.
Maintaining a Good Writing Reputation
Sure, typos are going to slip through sometimes. But, as a professional writer, you should always do your best work. Even when you know there is an editor, you should submit clean copy that can be published as is. This way, they may not need to correct as many errors. Yes, that means more work for you - in more ways than one.
It may initially be just a little more effort on your part. But in the long run, it can create more opportunity. Also, self-editing is a requirement in some situations, as mentioned above. Writers who are completely or mostly self-sufficient will likely earn more gigs and clients than those whose work requires more tweaking before publishing.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
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
It's time to pay the bills but your freelance writing hasn't pulled in nearly what you need. Staring at the figures in black and white may make you cringe if you're a freelance writer who hasn't quite reached your ideal goal. Maybe you haven't even touched the surface. But don't give up hope. Perhaps you just need to change your strategy. If you have all the tools and talent, but still can't quite get there, try making your goals more attainable. It's easy to set goals and expectations too high or make the possible impossible by over analyzing. If you aren't meeting your goals in freelance writing, it's time do a complete overhaul of your strategy.
How high are your goals? It's good to set goals. But don't set them so high they are near impossible for you to reach. For instance, if the most you have ever written is 10 articles in a day, don;t commit yourself to writing 20 right away. Instead of saying "I am now going to write 20 articles every day," make your goal that of gradually increasing the amount of work you can handle. This makes the goal more attainable. You might even reach the initial number you had in mind. But you can do it with less stress and pressure.
Which numbers are you focusing on? When I first started out in freelance writing, I tried to figure out a workable income by making goals in terms of article numbers. While this can be logical if you make the same amount for every article, it makes no sense when it's variable. It can also get quite stressful for those who cannot produce a large number of articles every single day. In online writing, the amount made per article can vary significantly, depending on the venue, how pay is determined, and whether or not views will be calculated in the equation. To be sure my writing days are more productive, I had to change my daily goal strategy to make it more attainable.
Now instead of article numbers, I have a goal of how much money I should make in upfront payments each day. This keeps me on track and it also gives me some easy days with less articles to write when I have assignments that pay a little higher. Think about the way you make your freelance writing income and decide which numbers are the important ones to focus on. If what you are currently doing is something you consistently aren't reaching, think outside the box and adjust your focus.
Do your goals align with your schedule? It's easy to set a goal. But if that goal doesn't fit in anywhere it's going to be difficult to make it work. Determine goals not just by what you are able to do, but also by the time you have to get things done in. If you know that you have two free hours in the morning and four at night, break up your writing between those times. If you make goals that fit well with your schedule, they will be much more attainable.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Tips From a Workaholic Supermom
Creating a writing schedule that works is all about making something you can stick to. Is your writing schedule working for you? Or do you wish you could get more done? Just want to try something different? Try prioritizing in various areas and losing extra commitments.
Figure Out How Much Time You Need for Work
If you have a goal of 10 articles per day, figure out how long it will take you to write them. Be sure you will have at least that much time to work with. If you prefer, the time can be spread out throughout the day as long as it fits in somewhere. If you don't have any idea how much time it takes you to work, you may not reach your writing goals. Scheduling the proper amount of time can help gauge writing productivity.
Determine if You Need Set Hours
Some people do not need set hours. For instance, if you are generally at home all day, setting particular hours may not appeal to you. Doing a little work here and there may be a better option. Yet others will need an exact time. This may be due to personal preferences. It can also be a way to let family and friends know you take your writing seriously and do not wish to be interrupted.
Schedule and Prioritize Other Tasks
Instead of, or in addition to, scheduling the writing, try scheduling other tasks. This way, you know exactly how much time you have left to work with. If it's not enough, cut out things that are less important. Create your task schedule in order of importance.
Don't Commit to Things You Cannot Do
I know firsthand how difficult this can be. But do not take assignments you cannot do. Also, do not take a larger number of assignments than is possible in the allotted time. I'm well-known for writing large number of articles at once. Some writers can do this and some cannot. Also, just because you have in the past does not mean you can work this way all the time. Know your happy medium between having enough work to pay bills and having so much work you can't sleep. Take it from one who knows.
Make Sure You Have Breaks
If you don't make room for breaks, your schedule will ultimately fail. Everyone needs rest. Yes, I do have to remind myself this as well. An effective writing schedule will include adequate rest time so that the writer is energized when it's work time.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
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.
"Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers." – Isaac Asimov
Have you ever found yourself not sure what to write for your blog? There may be days when you sit by yourself and brainstorm a few things that you’ll probably write about later. Likely you won't use everything that you wrote, but you may find something that you were thinking about could make a useful blog post.
But more often than not, it’s likely that you find yourself uninspired by your notes. Other times, you won’t have any notes to go off of at all for blog ideas. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to make sure that you always have something to write about.
Consider this simple exercise. Towards the end of your day, jot down some of the challenges you faced during the day. Then, tell how you succeeded (or didn’t succeed) in solving them. You'd be surprised how little solutions can make for a short, but sweet post that your audience would find interesting.
Showing dedication to the little things is pretty important to people. It makes you more human to those that read your blog. You want people to be delighted by what they read, and be able to connect to these “little things” sorts of posts. Over time, the little things add up. Before you know it, you have a vibrant and interesting blog. Just three or four little successes can go a long way.
What about the challenges you haven’t solved? Are you still working towards solutions? It's fine to let people know what you're working on to better improve yourself and whatever it is you do. Looking natural is paramount to good blogging practice. In any case, be as positive as you can even when you’ve been dealing with bad days. Keep a bright outlook on things and your blog readers will thank you for it.
You may also want to write down any missteps you took during the day. Now, it would seem that missteps are not the best sort of thing to write about, since on a blog you typically want to be as positive and helpful as possible. But there is a way to spin such mistakes, especially if you find a solution to prevent such a mistake from happening again. You may want to write about what you do to prevent those sorts of mistakes in the future. Be sure not to draw attention to the failure, but instead the solution.
People want to see you succeed, but be sure to admit how you’ve overcome certain challenges. Human beings enjoy success stories. It's easy to be inspired by reading about others overcoming difficulties and challenges.
If you're ever stuck for a blog topic, just brainstorm and let the ideas come naturally. Just let the events of the day unfold in your mind and recount the little victories of the day. You might be surprised with what you find. That way, when you have a dull, uninteresting day, you have a post to inspire both yourself and everyone who happens to read your blog.
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.
Feel like you might be confounding readers with your writing? I know I've had times when my writing even confounds myself. The entire point of writing, of course, is to convey an idea in as clear and concise a form as possible, is it not?
Sometimes, I infuse my writing with a lot more emotion at times than at others. Other times I will even let my sarcasm take over, which can rub some readers the wrong way. At other times, I seem to leave people confounded. Perhaps, it's sometimes by design, but not always.
Sure, it might be okay to leave people a little confused for the benefit of making readers have to figure something out for themselves. But sometimes I just write something because it sounds good. Then, I just publish it. Then, it seems that I somehow expect people figure it out for themselves.
Making people think, I believe, is the core of writing in the first place. But confounding others with your writing probably isn't a sound strategy. Then again, simply stating the facts and stating opinions, however educated, does not seem to be enough to me sometimes. There's obviously plenty written out there about infusing personality and "spice" into writing. But I think the most important thing to do in writing is to expand one's horizons.
This process is two-fold. First, it is through the act of writing and expressing an idea in a written, tangible form. Then, it is through the act of reading, identifying and analyzing, then coming to conclusions afterwards. If it leaves you with more questions than answers that may not be a bad thing.
So confounding a reader may actually be a good thing, sometimes. It really depends on the topic. By having to think about something in more depth you'll remember it better. Then, those ideas will have impact beyond the words on the printed page. Still, be sure it's a topic worth that level of reader commitment. Someone might be looking for a quick answer that could reasonably have one. Then, there's no point in dragging it out.
But there are times that connecting with the reader on a deeper level can be worth it. I've written before about whether web writers should produce more questions or answers. In that piece, I came to the conclusion that articles that engage the reader in a conversation of thought are strictly better than "free information." While it may not be as simple to digest, it's overall better for the reader. Other readers offered up the opinion that writing that really engages your mind is most rewarding. It's especially good when readers can connect with pieces emotionally. Those pieces tend to perform the best over the long term.
People talk about trying to make emotional connections through writing all the time. But this is actually incredibly hard to do when it comes to certain subjects. Writing through personal experience is the only way I've ever been able to do it, I think. It's good to go into a piece in mind that others will need to take something away from it. You have to make it worth their time to read.
Confounding readers may sound like a bad idea. But it some cases it may not be. If you feel the need to write something, and aren't sure why you wrote it, write it anyway. Chances are someone else will get what you were saying. That's the whole point of writing after all, to share your ideas. You may not even fully understand them yet.
Here's a question I've been asked a ton of times: "Why can't you write a novel?" For someone whose dream as a four-year-old was to be a novelist - and a mapmaker, and a pharmacist, and a starship captain - this would be a legitimate question as I have not yet produced a novel. My obvious inability to properly compose a novel is a topic I've pondered many times. In fact, I've written a lot of drafts of pieces trying to answer that very question, but I was never happy with what i wrote on the subject. So yes, this is yet another attempt to try and answer that question, but this time, I actually have the answer.
I can't write a novel because I simply cannot write a novel. I can't do outlines, as I never have, and never will. Of course, there are novelists out there who have never outlined, either. There are novelists out there that basically just write forever, then let their trusted beta readers and editors do the rest of the work. But in my case, I simply change directions in plot too often and character development often meanders and stalls. It's not even a lack of focus. I just lose interest in what I'm writing if I spend too much time on it. That's right. I simply cannot hold focus for fifty thousand plus words. I can't even hold focus for ten thousand words, never mind anymore than that. Is it a weakness? Perhaps, it is. Or perhaps, I'm simply not a novelist.
I'm not saying that I will never, ever write a novel. But it is fair to say that my dream of being a novelist is indefinitely on hold. Truth is, I'm not even good at short stories. Flash fiction is perhaps the only creative future that I have outside of poetry - and poems are definitely a specialty of mine. The thing is, I can't combine my poetry with my stories. I've tried that, and it was a disaster. So basically, my future as a creative writer appears to be relegated to simply flash fiction pieces and poetry. I'm finally feeling content with that.
However, that being said, the truth is that writing a novel takes a ton of energy. For whatever reason, I do not ever want to expend that level of energy on one particular project ever. I feel that my energy needs to be divided more efficiently across a wider breadth of subjects. My brain is always hitting on many different things, so why should I force it to do simply one thing? Yes, I have a tendency to hyper-focus, but this hyper-focus when it comes to trying to write a novel is actually very, very bad. If I have to figure out where to take a story next, it is NOT going to follow the original path. It's going to go bonkers.
The interesting thing is if you give me someone else's story that already exists, I'm actually pretty good at identifying shortcomings and fleshing things out. So it's not that I can't tell a story. It's that the stories I try to tell are evolving so constantly in my mind that everything I write up to a point becomes obsolete. And that is so monumentally frustrating that I cannot begin to tell you how much worthless text I will have to eventually go through and pare down into flash fiction pieces. So, at least, I have a plan of what to do with all my failed stories.
So yes, it is very likely that I will in fact put out a book someday. It will be a collection of short flash fiction stories. Some will share characters. Many won't. But a novel will have to be a collaboration with someone else, because I simply do not have the capacity on my own to keep everything going in one direction or follow any logical plot structure. My brain simply does not operate in that way because real life is not that way. I am far too spontaneous to be forced into any sort of literary conventions. So perhaps one day I'll write a novel that is extremely disorganized and completely wacko. Not saying there isn't anything already out there like that, but since I doubt it will sell, I may as well just post my insane creative scribblings at will.
Have you ever considered writing a novel? Good luck. I think I'll just stick to the greatest hits from my Crazy Idea Bin. That should be good enough for me.
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.
Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Web writing can be like other forms of writing. But it also can be quite different. There are many things to learn if you want to succeed in this business. As an experienced online writer, I've learned a great deal about what works and what doesn't. Here are 10 things I feel every web writer should know.
People will talk negatively about you. Whether it's your neighbor, your significant other, or even one of your peers. Someone will have something to say. In order to succeed in online freelance writing, you need to grow a thick skin. Keep doing what you do best and prove your critics wrong. Rather than defending yourself with more hate speech, fight back through your work. Let it speak for itself.
Success in web writing takes work. Just because you can form a sentence does not mean you will instantly earn millions. Just like any other career - that's right, "career" - you need to put in effort to be successful. Some people will earn their way to the top faster, but regardless of speed, they all have to work in order to see results. The more you put into it, the more you get out if it. Taking shortcuts might seem to work at first, but it could all blow up in your face when you least expect it.
Online writing is not for everyone. Love to write? Good. Have talent? Good. That's part of the equation. But it's far from the entire puzzle. In order to make money, online writers need to be able to write just about every day. If it takes you weeks to get through one school paper, don't expect to immediately succeed in web writing. Some components are very similar. Can you produce quality journalism in a short time-frame? Do you enjoy the act? Then, you might be ready.
There's more to web writing than just writing. In online writing there is not always going to be an editor to look over and correct your work. Many times you will need to edit your own work. You also may need to promote yourself, be social with readers and fellow writers, and much more. Success in online writing comes from being flexible and having a variety of talents that complement each other.
Success comes from being unique. If you see another successful web writer, it's a good idea to study their techniques. However, it's bad idea to try to mimic their entire style. Why? They most likely succeeded because of being unique. If you are mimicking their style, you could be seen as a copycat, which will get you nowhere. Instead, follow their techniques and advice. Develop and apply your own style. Otherwise, the online world will chew you up and spit you out.
Learn while you earn. There is no one person who knows every single thing about online writing. Successful web writers learn something new daily. Study often and apply the knowledge, both in the beginning and throughout your career. You can never know too much. Things are always changing and evolving, especially in online writing.
Online writing is not the same thing as print writing. While both industries require quality, that definition varies for each. Web readers like to look up a topic and read something in simple terms to quickly answer their issue or interest. It takes great skill to simplify writing for easy scanning. This does not mean you need to sound uneducated. But it does mean you need to make your text easy on the eyes and easy to find. Think of the phrases you use when you search for similar things online. Obviously, you are more likely to search "homeschool tips" than "advisement for home educators". Your content should read the way you would search combined with what makes it easier for people to read.
You're obligated to your client, not the other way around. When working with others, especially long-time clients, it may be easy to feel like they owe you certain things. But the truth is, the client hired you. Their only obligation to you is proper payment for your dedication and hard work. Hopefully, they will also be respectful. But don't ask your client for extra privileges. Your client is not obligated to please you. If they want to give you something extra, that's perfectly fine. But, don't expect it and certainly don't ask for it.
You are a trusted source of information. Do your research. When people read articles that contain the information they need, they expect them to be accurate. If you can't do the proper research, don't take the assignment. If you continually provide accurate and detailed info, your readers will respect you more. On the other hand, if you do not, you can completely damage your online writing career.
Web writing is a career. While some may enjoy this as a hobby, it can indeed be a career and many people, like me, do this for a living. If you want to succeed, treat it like the career that it is. Not doing so can lead to failure very quickly. Be sure to also make it clear to family and friends that this is your career.
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.
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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