Ever feel like that your writing just isn't coming out quite perfect? You may feel like there's something missing. Do you feel like what you're saying doesn't sound right? That's okay. Sometimes, you simply have to take a step back and leave your writing aside for a while. It might only be for a few hours. Sometimes, it can be a day. If you have the time to do so, it could even be a week.
But if you feel like you're on to something, but you haven't quite figured out where you're going yet, it is actually okay to let your piece of writing sit. That way, you can come back to it with a fresh perspective. The idea should be to not rush a piece of writing if you don’t have to.
Why is Sitting on a Piece of Writing for a While Actually a Good Thing?
The most important part of writing is getting the ideas out. Once you get the ideas out, the hard work really begins. How do I actually turn this piece of writing into something that people can relate to and get some value out of it? Most important of all, you want it to be something to be happy with, especially if it’s going to be published somewhere.
Unfortunately, a large percentage of what we write finds its way into the recycle bin. Even the greatest writers struggle at one point or another. What's important to keep in mind is that not everything you write is going to be good, especially on the first draft. Don't ever feel like every word that you write has to see print, even if it's on a computer screen. If you feel bad about a piece of writing, taking time away from it is probably best so that you can detach yourself emotionally from it.
When Should I Set a Piece of Writing Aside?
Trust your instincts if you really think a writing piece has potential, even it's just not going anywhere right now. Save it and set it aside. Don't hit delete until you’ve given it a second chance. You may find later that you regret hitting delete on a piece that might have had some good ideas, but just needed better organization or more work.
Yes, sometimes a piece is destined to go nowhere, and that's okay. But if you're working on something like an assignment that you really absolutely have to do, then setting it aside for a while is actually the best way to go. In fact, you know how a lot of web writers purposely hold off completing assignments until the last minute? Sometimes, this is to help motivate the writing to get done, but for some writers procrastinating actually helps it get it done better.
Even if you’re a procrastinator, you actually still want to put something down. It may just be listing subheadings or questions that you need to answer in the article. Even sticking in keyword phrases and thoughts related to the writing work gives you a place to start if you really need to set it aside for a bit.
When Should You Just Get Writing Started to Work On Later?
The most important part of writing, or doing anything in general, is to get started. As long as you're able to put something down, you’re already getting somewhere. If you really get stuck, then leave it for a while. If you’re able to come back before it's due, you're probably okay. In fact, you're probably a lot better off than when you started.
But even if you put random thoughts down, why are you able to then write better. This is because your mind has actually been able to think through what you’ve written subconsciously.Never underestimate the power of the subconscious. Even though it does sound cliche to let ideas sit around in your mind for awhile, it really does help.
Some people may wonder why writers will rush to writing assignments and try to get something out right away. Doing this gains you momentum. Once you have that momentum, even if you stop and think about it for a while, you got it started. You're not always going to be able to produce your best writing work in one sitting. You shouldn't feel like you have to do that. If you do feel overwhelmed, it’s time to step back, and reconsider what you’re doing with your writing.
Is It Possible to Sit On My Writing for Too Long?
Contemplation and reflection is very important with writing. But it is possible to let writing sit too long. It’s important to get the ideas out of your head and let it sit for a bit if you have to. But, make sure you come back to it. Then, finish it or decide what else to do with it. If you find yourself taking writing work that you’re sitting on too long and it's due, it's perfectly okay to reach out for help. Writers do it all the time.
It’s important to find your place where you feel comfortable with writing. Sure, it's fine to put yourself out of your comfort zone once in awhile. This can help expand your skills and build discipline with your writing. But, don't ever feel like you have to get your writing done in one sitting if you really can't get it done.
Sure, you can try and write fifty articles in a day, but that’s rarely possible. If you feel fine trying to do a whole bunch in a day, then go ahead. Each of us has a different limit. But, once you reach your limit, don't push yourself past that limit. Otherwise, you're going to end up hating writing.
If you do find some writing is sitting too long and you can't finish it, you then have to make a decision. Don't feel obligated to finish, if it’s not vital that you do. You don't want to burn yourself out. Sometimes, you have to just let it go and move onto something else.
But, if a writing assignment is very important to get done, get help with it if you need to. Always give yourself a break before you feel like you have to finish something. Know when you need to let it go to someone else to be done in time. If you don't do these things, you're probably not going to be happy with your writing. Letting your writing sit for awhile is important to let yourself reflect and produce the best work you can. But you also need to get back to writing in a timely manner. Finding that balance is the key to being a successful writer.
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
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.
So you want to become a better article writer? Here is my simple three-step process to do just that!
OK, there you have it. Now go forth into the world and write your heart out!
Right, there’s a bit more to it than that. Isn’t there? Obviously, being highly literate definitely helps anyone. But as an article writer, constantly taking in new ideas is very important. Too often, we as writers just get stuck for what to write. The funny thing is, you never actually run out of things to write about. It’s just that any writer can get stuck on how to write about what they want to write about.
Appease the Skimmers
Especially in the online world, most readers do exactly what we writers don’t want them to do. That is, they skim. So, what do you do to appease the skimmers? People like sub-headings and little blocks of text that drive home important parts. Sometimes when reading an article online, those little blocks of text even allow us to share this bit of wisdom as a 140-character tweet. Then, you can make a button for anyone to share it with the world. It makes you look so smart!
Basically, something like 80 to 90 percent of online readers aren’t going to read every single word you write. It’s not quite that way for ebooks and traditional paperback and hardcover books. But even then, you still have to make your reading easily digestible. Whether it’s a good thing or not, most readers just don’t sit there and digest writing one word at a time. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
You’ve probably heard the saying, easy reading is hard writing, or something to that effect. No one is quite certain who said it first, but it’s true. If you’re writing online, it’s even harder. Why’s that? Because it’s harder to stand out among all of the millions of articles being published daily. So what you have to do is please both crowds: the skimmers and the close-readers. Yes, the majority of your readers will probably be skimmers when it comes to search engine traffic. But for the serious, critical members of your audience, your attention to detail will not go unappreciated.
You Can’t Make Everyone Happy. Just Make Sure They Can Learn Something.
While it’s important to find that balance of making your writing easy to skim, but also detailed and engaging enough to be search-engine friendly and useful to anyone who reads it, no matter how closely. Essentially, you want every reader that comes across your writing to take something away from it. This doesn’t mean making everyone happy. Don’t spend every last second furiously checking a thesaurus. And don't get stuck rewording the same sentence a dozen times until it sounds “perfect.” Make your points as well and as concisely as you can and move on to the next topic. Don’t get hung up.
So what if you do get hung up? What if it’s an assignment and it keeps getting sent back for revision? Well, if it’s worth your time, then just make the edits that you can and move on. The worst thing that can happen is to get burnt out on one piece. As a writer, that is very bad. Writers need to write. This is why writer burnout happens.
Some clients, venues, and some readers are simply never going to be satisfied with anything. Once you keep that in mind, you’ll understand which clients and venues are worth working for and which aren’t. Micromanaging as an editor may be fine in some cases, but sometimes you just write what you can. You can’t beat yourself up over any one piece. There will be plenty more to be written.
Learn All You Can, Even If You Don't Think You Need It
You've probably heard of always trying to venture outside of your comfort zone in both reading and writing. It's a good idea. Even reading fiction can give you article ideas! Diversifying your knowledge can only make you a better reader and writer. It can also help you to think of topics that you may never had considered before. Also, by reading all sorts of things, it opens you up to more writing opportunities.
Basically, to become a better writer, you need to read and write a lot. Sometimes you just have to write for the sake of putting thoughts together. It doesn't have to always be an assignment. In fact, reading and writing are like intense exercise for your brain. By exercising your brain more often, not only will you become more literate, but a more intelligent and thoughtful human being, as well.
There have been several times in my life in which I didn’t write much of anything for weeks or even months at a time. Life can come and sweep you away to more urgent things. But for a writer, having to write is urgent even if you don’t really have time.
Recently, I was thinking about how to get jump-started after long absences from writing, on the web or otherwise. Here are a few things to help you get back into writing after a long absence.
Ease Back into Writing
The number one thing to do when you’re returning to anything after a long absence is to ease yourself back into it. There’s a good reason why it’s suggested to work part-time first when returning to the workforce after long periods of not working.
Laura Whitelaw at Selfgrowth.com offers the advice to write down what you hope to achieve when you resume working. That’s excellent advice. The best way to start writing again is often to just begin by writing about what you are hoping to write about. That can help jumpstart your brain and get it moving on a good track.
Focus on What You Know
If you’re writing for money, especially for the web, it’s good to focus on what topics you can write at the highest level and jot these down. Having vague topics and ideas is perfectly fine. Writing these down regularly is good for anyone, even people that don’t write for a living. You never know when you might use them.
Whitelaw also mentions updating your skills at a local community college. This is also particularly good advice for writers if it’s something that may work for you. Online workshops are also a good idea if you can afford them. There are free webinars and workshops all over the internet, too.
Study.com has some online writing courses that offer credit. But along with their own offerings, they have a list of 10 universities offering free online writing courses. Of course, you may not have time for all that. Jst reading up on the topics that you want to write about is fine.
Refresh Your Online Presence
When you do get writing again, make sure any writers’ resume or “about me” sections you have online are up-to-date. Even if you’re not actively applying for any positions, you never know if someone may have interest in hiring you for your skills.
Donna Fuscaldo at Bankrate.com offers a couple of good tips when it comes to resume-writing after a long work absence. Her idea of a writing a functional resume, where you list your skills first, is an awesome idea for writers. Again, you never know who may need content in a given area.
Fuscaldo also mentions being upfront about everything you’ve been doing. Say you haven’t written much but have attended trade shows or other events related to your writing topics. It’s good to mention these. It’s also fine to say if you took a break from writing to attend to family matters. That simply happens, and helps explain long absences.
Also, every experience that you have is important to writing. Keeping anything that lists your experience when it comes to writing up to date is essential. Web writing resumes, in particular, need to be updated more often even more than traditional resumes, because of how fast the writing game can change.
What Else Have You Been Up To? What Have You Learned?
While it may not be absolutely necessary for writers so much, listing work outside of writing is not a bad idea, paid or not. Anything you’ve done that has given you practical experience that affects your writing is a good idea to mention, paid or not.
Looking credible is extremely valuable. It's become even more important in a writing world where the competition is continually growing ever fiercer. It also helps you in case someone just happens to be looking for someone to help them write about topics you’re an expert in. Backing up your expertise can only help you obtain potential work. It can also help you gain a better overall following.
Have you ever been away from writing for a long period and have found certain ways of getting yourself “back in the game?” Be sure to let us know!
Are you looking for a way to speed up your writing productivity? Think you've tried everything in the book on working faster? Perhaps you've even considered the possibility of networking household devices together for this purpose. Does using multiple computers speed writing productivity? Perhaps my experience with this method will help you decide if it will work for you.
Why Should I Set up Multiple Computers?
Setting up two or more computers may help speed up productivity for some article writers. You might delegate all internet activities to one and all the writing to another. This can help save the time it takes to switch back and forth from web pages to writing documents. It may seem like a small amount of time. But if you write articles for a living, that time really adds up. Even if you are not doing any web research at the moment, you could still make use of multiple computers. Splitting writing documents between two or more computers might be easier than flipping back and forth between documents on just one computer.
How to Set Up Two or More Computers for Article Writing
When setting up multiple computers to increase article writing speed, there are several factors to consider. First, be sure the computers are in very close proximity to each other. The computers also need to be angled in a way that makes it easy to transition from one to the other. For instance, if one computer is facing toward you and one is facing the complete opposite direction, you will need to move your chair or computer every time. If you will need to move across the room to switch computers, this will not be convenient either. It may even waste time instead of saving it. You can even network the computers that share the same operating system to save you from transferring files by disk. If the computers do not have the ability to share a network, you can also use cloud storage, such as Google Drive or OneDrive. A USB flash drive is also a very fast option for sharing files back and forth.
Tips for Using Multiple Computers
Results may depend on the person. Some may get stressed at the thought of multiple computers. Others, like myself ,may naturally fall right into it. Signs that it may work for you include the ability to quickly navigate one computer between documents and websites, being a multitasker, and having the ability to work in changing situations. Signs it may not work for you include having little knowledge of operations on just one computer, getting stressed easily, and not being able to perform in varying situations or under pressure. Like anything else, it will only save time for the person who feels comfortable doing things this way.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Amy Kampstra, Contributing Writer
An independent and voracious reader tends to be a better author. That may be partly why bonafide word addict, Sarah Winter, effortlessly weaved together a spicy, character-driven plot in her romance novel, Snowbound.
Throughout the pages, Liam and River are two 30-somethings stuck together in a Wyoming cabin during the blizzard of the century. He is a flourishing movie star from Europe, and she’s a tomboy living in the middle of nowhere after cancer rips her life apart. Is this change meeting merely life-saving or will it allow them to live their lives to the fullest?
Then, Winter didn’t stop with writing the thing! She took the reins, embracing the newness of self-publishing with an open mind, navigating through the steps like a bright reader charting the dark waters of a Stephen King novel.
Yes, self-publishing involves a plethora of tasks that can make any top-notch writer stuff their manuscript in their nightstand and dream about their dream of words in print -- instead of actually going for it.
Whether you love or hate her first novel, Winter vows to accept all positive comments and criticisms with open arms. Yet, she makes no apologies for her first effort. She believes authors need to give themselves permission: to read, write and explore self-publishing.
Heed her words! Winter’s Snowbound (2014) was a quarter-finalist in the most recent Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.
Amy Kampstra: Can you share a bit about the scope and process of self-publishing for fellow authors that may be considering or even starting their own self-publishing venture?
Sarah Winter: It takes longer to design a cover for the book than to actually have it ready for sale. Createspace is an Amazon company, so getting the book on paperback and Kindle at the same time is part of the process, and choosing your sales channels is another. Through just one simple step-by-step online process, I was able to make Snowbound available through every channel that a traditional publisher can. Self-publishing, once you have a finished manuscript, is easier than I expected.
AK: As a self-published author, how do you market or advertise your book? And, is it more work to write the book or actually market it yourself?
SW: I use social media and have the book listed on every website I can find that doesn't charge to list books that are available for sale. Tweets, Pins, and Facebook posts drive traffic to the sales pages and
to my blog as well. Also, by entering the Amazon contest, my book got exposure to the other entrants through the message boards associated with the contest.
I think the ratio of work on a self-published book is about 15 percent writing, 30 percent editing, and 55 percent marketing, especially if you don't have money set aside for marketing. If you're looking through free marketing options, a lot of time and effort get spent on that. Everything that a publisher handles for you when they sign you to a book deal, you have to do yourself. It's quite an undertaking.
AK: What is the best thing about having your words in print?
SW: Seeing a book on a shelf with my name on it. It's satisfying to have done something even I wasn't sure I would ever do. I can't lie though; royalties aren't bad either even if they don't amount to much.
AK: Now that you've penned your first novel, is there anything you'd do differently if you could do it all over again? For example, the recent buzz is that author J.K. Rowling now seems to have regrets about her choice to have Harry Potter characters, Ron and Hermione, end up together. And, she's written a short story about Harry and friends in their 30s. A) Would you have done something different with your plot or certain characters? B) Is it a possibility that you will resurrect your characters in future projects?
SW: I don't think I've had time to really think about what I'd do differently. I'm happy with the way Snowbound turned out, and don't think there's really anything I would change about it right now. It's always possible I could resurrect them in a new work, but I don't see that happening just yet, either. I've left the cabin for now.
AK: Do you have any goals left for "Snowbound"? That is, are you looking at shopping it around to publishing houses, selling a certain amount of books in a set amount of time, or entering more contests?
SW: I would love to get it published by a traditional house, and I will probably shop it to agents starting next summer, once I have another work released. (I'm shooting for a January release of my second novel).
I intend on entering one of the two in the Amazon contest next year, and hope it works out as well as it did this year.
AK: In retrospect, would you have done something different with the marketing or publishing of your book?
SW: The only different choices I could really have made are ones that are still available to me, even after publishing. I still have the option of getting my work accepted by agents and publishers, so I don't think
I went wrong or made a decision that I regret. I would have set aside some funds for marketing campaigns, but with two young kids there's always somewhere that money needs to be other than paying for promotion.
AK: Why do you write under a pseudonym? Would you advise other authors to do so?
SW: There are several reasons people choose pseudonyms. My motives are really simple. I like the surname Winter, but also it's for a separation of the two versions of me: the mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend; and the writer. It’s a matter of personal choice and, if you have a pseudonym you want to write under, go for it.
Pseudonyms have been used since publicized writing began for people who are trying to break into a genre dominated by the opposite gender. The Bronte sisters each used male names when they were first
published. Benjamin Franklin wrote under three different women's names, one of them in direct protest to women being punished for having illegitimate children while the fathers went unpunished. Romance author Leigh Greenwood is the pseudonym for Harold Lowry, who served as the president of the Romance Writers of America for two years.
AK: Are more Sarah Winter novels (or other works) on the way?
SW: I mentioned it in an earlier question. I have another romance novel in the works that I hope to release in January just like Snowbound. We'll see how it goes, as I plan to go back to work part-time this fall.
AK: On your blog you've written a past post in regard to authors giving themselves permission to write. Can you tell readers and any fellow writers a bit more about this concept, and do you have any other honest and helpful tips for anyone stuck on penning their first novel?
SW: Giving yourself permission, to me, is just about letting go of your hang-ups. They're your hang-ups to have, but they're also your hang-ups to let go of. It ultimately comes down to a choice: you either give up
your hang-ups or you give up your dream. It's unpleasant to think about those two options, but they're really what it all boils down to.
I don't mince words so for other advice, I say this: stop dicking around and write the damn thing. It's not going to get written by the excuses you make for not getting it done. If you're stuck on page five and make excuses for why [you] don't write for ten years, you're still only going to have five pages of a novel and 10 fewer years to write it in.
Whether you've gotten started in freelancing or have been doing it a while, it's important to network with others in your field. So, how do you know which social networking site is the best one for web writers -- and for you, personally? There are many out there and they aren't all the same.
Choose a Site for Networking With Other Web Writers
First, when choosing a social networking site, be sure it's one other writers frequent often. If you join a networking site based around parenting, you may find some other writers. But, you may not get the best results from it if other things about the site aren't geared toward writers. Also, there's no guarantee you'll find other writers there, just a possibility.
Instead, visit writing forums and find out where other writers are gathering. You may even find that networking within a content site you write for is sufficient. If not, find out where those writers network. The networking site you choose does not need to be solely about writing. But you should be able to find a good amount of other freelance writers interacting there.
Should Web Writers Use More Than One Networking Site?
Absolutely! Use as many as you can keep up with. That's part of creating your brand. It is so important for web writers to get their names out there. However, remember when I said "as many as you can keep up with?" Don't create so many online profiles that you cannot keep up with them.
That's counterproductive, as well as disrespectful to others in the network. The whole point of a social network is to...well, network. If you aren't doing that, you haven't found the right social network or you have joined so many you can't keep up with them all. I recommend first becoming active in one that you feel comfortable with and gradually adding others as you are comfortable doing so.
Why Web Writers Need Social Networking Sites
When writing online, it's important to keep in touch with new techniques and also to see what others are doing. Fellow writers can also be great connections for friendship as well as extra business. It helps to discuss various techniques and aspects of online writing often. This way you can test new things often and find out what works.
Different clients like different styles and techniques. So, it's to your benefit to be open about exploring the writing territory. Social networks are also great for promotion and for meeting potential clients. They can add a whole new dimension to your writing career that you may not find elsewhere. It’s very important to incorporate social media into your business plan.
What is the Best Social Networking Site for Web Writers?
The best networking site will vary depending on the individual. The main thing to think of when choosing sites is to find one you enjoy using. If you get frustrated each time you log in or you don't enjoy the features, it probably won't be beneficial. You should be enjoying yourself, even if you have signed up for business purposes. Take the above points into consideration and choose the site (or combination of sites) that best fits with your social and business habits. Web writers, like other professionals, thrive best in desirable and appropriate environments.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Writing, Financial, and Personal Goals Can Help Keep You Motivated
Are you having trouble staying motivated to write? Goal lists may be your answer. Keeping sight of various milestones helps some people see the bigger picture. Should you use goal lists to stay on task with freelancing?
Goal Lists May Help Freelancers Stay on Track
In freelancing, we are in charge of ourselves. No one can tell you what to do. In many ways, this can be a good thing. But for some, it can also lead to slacking off. Setting goals and writing them down in lists may help freelance writers stay on task.
Benefits of Using Goal Lists as Motivation
When using lists of goals as motivation, one benefit is always having that information available. If you keep it in your head, as opposed to writing it down, you may lose sight of some milestones. A physical goal list keeps everything front and center. On those days when you don;t feel compelled to d anything but slack off, take a look at the list of things you need to get done.
If there are bills that need to be paid and that next freelance project will pay them, that can get you moving real quick. Most freelance writers would rather pay the rent than live on the street and a goal list is a good reality check. As you accomplish each goal, you can check it off. Seeing such progress can lead to even more motivation.
What Type of Goal Lists Should I Use?
Make one or more goal lists for everything you need to accomplish as a freelance writer. Short term goal lists can include daily or weekly article (and other writing) projects. They may also include bills, items you promised the kids, home improvement projects that need funding, and more. Anything you need to accomplish in writing and anything you need to pay for can go on your goal lists. Long-term goal lists might include things you are working toward paying off, such as credit card debt, student loans, or a mortgage. Each time you make a payment, subtract it from the total.
Where is the Best Place to Keep My Goal Lists?
Goal lists should always be front and center. Stick them somewhere your eyes wander to all day. I like to tack my short term goals right on the computer, using a sticky note. When writing, I am looking at the computer all day. With the goals right there staring back at me, it's easier to keep my mind focused on them. I like to write long-term goals and on a magnetic dry-erase board on the refrigerator.
This is very beneficial if you have kids because everyone can see the goals. It teaches the kids financial responsibility and it gives them something to be excited about. This is especially true for goals pertaining to them. Freelance writers with families may wish to keep all or just some of their goals front and center, as I do.
What's on your goal list? Do you have other ways to stay on task? Share your thoughts and questions in the comment section.
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
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
If you freelance for a living, there may be days where you just don't feel like writing. On those days, it's hard to get into a rhythm and you may find those days turning into weeks and so on. It can be discouraging when you don't have the same inspiration you once had. But you can get it back by taking advantage of timing.
Don't feel like writing? Don't. This may seem counterproductive. But, try it. If your brain just does not want to write and you have no inspiration, sometimes you just can't force it to produce quality work. If you have a deadline, try taking a walk and then coming back to it. Otherwise, take the whole day off and just have fin. Don't think about writing. Sometimes your eyes and your brain just need something else to focus on besides words, thoughts, and the computer screen. Whatever you get out and do may actually get your brain working on things to write about.
Take advantage of inspiration. When the inspiration does take over, let it. Just keep writing. Unless you have something important to do, don't let those moments pass you by. As I write this, it's 3 a.m. and my brain is still in inspiration mode. I'm not saying you need to stay up that late if that's not feasible for you. I happen to be wide awake and I do write during the graveyard shift sometimes. So, it's no big deal for me. The point is to take advantage of those moments when your brain and fingers are being extra productive, whenever those moments occur for you.
Schedule writing when you'll actually be free to write. This can be a big issue for many freelance writers. Friends and family often don't think of what we do as a job. They think that because we do this at home, we can drop everything and go wherever they want at any time. If you just cannot get it through to your family and friends not to interrupt you at a certain time, try rescheduling your writing around that. I know that you should not have to accommodate them. But it might make things easier for you. Inspiration flows more easily without interruptions.
Take note of your most productive times of day. Whenever inspiration hits you, write down the time from beginning to end. Do this every time for a month. See if you can find a pattern and switch your writing schedule to write at that time on your work days. Some people write the best in the morning, some in the afternoon. Then others, like me, write the best very late at night on into the morning. Writing at your magical time will help boost your productivity and inspiration levels.
Take time off. I know this from personal experience. The weeks that I take one or more days off to have fun with the kids are more productive than those I take less time off. Why? When your body is tired, it also has an effect on your mood. Most freelance writers will agree that it's much easier to focus when you are in a good mood. For me, outdoor adventures and homeschool field trips with the kids will do the trick. As long as we are doing that every week, it keeps our family happy and it also keeps me ready to write.
*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
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
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
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.
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.
You're in the midst of a writeup and everything's going great. You just got an amazing quote from the perfect source. But suddenly, you've forgotten the rules surrounding that. Does the period go after the quotation? Or does it belong within? That depends on your sentence. In my years of experience in web writing, this has been a popular question. This tutorial combines my experience along with the time I've spent studying the Yahoo! Style Guide. The following is meant to help readers solve that and other mysteries surrounding punctuation and quotations.
Example of correct placement of a period when quoting a source:
--Tina Baker stated that "fries are better than chips when accompanied by hamburgers".
Because the noted quote was the end of a sentence containing it, the period belongs outside the quote. Had the quote been by itself, the period would have gone inside the quote.Example of correct placement of a period when the quote is a stand-alone sentence.
--Yesterday I spoke with Dr. Allen. His comments: "Looks like we're going to have to do surgery. This a rare occurrence."
Since this quote contains complete stand-alone sentences, the punctuation belongs inside the quotes.
Proper Punctuation When Quoting Exact Text
If there is a string of text that must be typed in an exact way, the punctuation belongs outside the quotation. For instance, if you want to put emphasis on a phrase, you would put any following punctuation after the quote. Some get confused on this because it may not look right to see a period after quotations. However, this is the correct way to construct such a sentence.
Examples of correct placement of punctuation when using exact text:
--To submit that assignment, click on the button labeled "submit".
--To check your daily views, first click on the "content" tab.
When In Doubt With Exact Text, Try Boldface Instead
If you are confused about the exact text and where to put the punctuation, consider using a boldface font instead. If you put emphasis on the text with bold characters, that avoids the need to use quotes.
Examples of using boldface to avoid quotations:
--To submit that assignment, click on the button labeled submit.
--To check your daily views, first click on the content tab.
Exclamation Points and Questions Marks Used With Quotes
When using question marks and exclamation points with quotations, unless that punctuation is a part of the statement being quoted, it belongs outside the quote. If a person exclaims something and you quote that, the exclamation point belongs inside the quotation. But if your sentence including the quote was an exclamation, it belongs outside.
Examples of correct placement of exclamation and question marks in quotes:
--Tommy said he "ran 150 miles today"!
--When Amy saw that yummy taste concoction, she exclaimed "It's all mine!"
--I ran into Brook today and she asked "How do you find the time to write so often?"
--Do you enjoy those sweet pickles - you know, the ones called "bread and butter"?
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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.
One of the most difficult aspects of effective blogging is finding not only relevant content to share with your potential readers, but content that tells your story. Many blogging experts commonly suggest that story telling is the best way to creature content that resonates enough with your audience to hopefully turn them into future loyal fans.
Telling your story sounds like something that an “about” page on your website can do that well enough. But telling your story in blogging is about telling stories on an individual level. This means writing about situations that you have dealt with personally, either professionally and privately. Perhaps there was a client or friend that you went above and beyond for on certain occasions. Those occasions are certainly topics for blog posts. However, the best sort of telling your story blog is situations in which someone had a problem, and you were able to help them solve it.
People search online for solutions. If you have a story, no matter how simple and commonplace it may seem, if it answers a common question your audience tends to have, you should write about it. Those sorts of stories will not only make you look human, but also help establish you as a thought leader in your field. It's one of the first steps to take in thought leadership: show that you know how to solve problems.
Now here's an interesting thought: what if there is a problem that someone came to you with that you weren't able to solve at the time, but later did resolve and in turn helped you better serve your blog audience and others? That's good, too. If you admit that you had to step back and learn something to better help people in the future, it shows your audience your willingness to grow and learn to improve the quality of your work. It's okay to fail sometimes, as long as you show that you learn from those times, and show that you're always working towards a solution.
There are many other ways to tell your story through your blog. If you have had success stories, or difficult lessons, that you may think that would make a good blog post, feel free to let us know in the comments. I'll be happy to look them over and let you know how you might use those stories to your best advantage, free of charge!
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
My writing peers often ask me how I get so much done in a day. How do I keep track of everything? What scheduling system do I use? How do I plan my articles? The truth is that I write more articles in a day by eliminating these unnecessary steps. Here's how and why.
Fancy schedules take up time better spent writing. Some of my work is assigned and some I submit at will. Assigned topics are already right in front of me in the account of the site who assigned them. Why should I waste more time by printing that info out or filing it elsewhere? I can just look it up right there in my account. It takes about the same amount of time to open a file on the computer as it does to log into my account at this site. By eliminating the step of writing up and saving this information, I can write more articles.
Over-analysis of a project wastes time spent on the final product. When I first started writing articles for a living, I spent way too much time analyzing how I would write each item. Instead of plotting and planning, just do it. When I know I have a project that needs to get done, I just get it done. Of course I still need to make sure the work is up to par. But I can do that in my proofreading, editing, and fact-checking. I look over what the client wants, do any research that needs to be done, study their website if necessary, and then just write. Even if my initial writeup is not in the requested style after my first draft, it's easy to rearrange and edit as necessary. Once the writing part is done, the rest is easier to do. Leaving more time in the day to get other writing projects completed.
Write first. Edit later. One mistake I used to make is to edit too much while writing. Sure, go back and fix a typo or two. But don't waste too much time proofing before you're even done with the work. I find that if I just let the writing flow and edit when it's finished, the work gets done much faster. The more articles I can write, the more money I make. Therefore, I let the writing flow when it's flowing and I save the edits for later. As mentioned above, what's written first can be easily changed or edited. It's easier to edit something down than it is to keep writing and rewriting.
Only make outlines when necessary. I have a particular style that I write most of my articles in, unless the client asks for something else. Other than copy/pasting that style template into each document, I don't outline much for most of my articles. Sometimes I'll fill in the title and subheads ahead of time. This is especially true if I know I want to make certain points or if there is extensive research involved. Otherwise, I find that if I just jump right into the writing instead of outlining everything, I get more articles done in less time.
Write what you know. This is my number one time-saver tip. Unless the client is requesting a researched piece, writing what you know eliminates the time of looking things up. For instance, I am an expert parenting writer. Unless I am looking for proof of facts, I use my own life experiences to write pieces readers can relate to. This helps me write more articles and it also helps me connect with my audience. When my firsthand experience needs to be backed up with expert advice, I have specific trusted sources on my bookmarks toolbar for my most common topics. This way, I can just click a button, search, and find what I need.
When you spend more time writing than planning and analyzing, it's easier to get more articles written in a day. I challenge all my writer friends to try this out and see for yourself how many more articles you can write in a day when you don't sweat the small stuff and just dive into the work. For me, this method means less stress, more productivity, and a decent return.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Are you pressed for time, but need to write a large number of articles? Try writing them all at once. I know you may be thinking "How in the world can I write multiple articles at the same time". It's definitely possible. This is how I write much of the time. But certain strategies will help to get it done efficiently and quickly. Since I am a workaholic momtrepreneur, I am constantly pressed for time and striving to write as much as I can in the quickest way possible. Both my children and my writing dominate my life, but I like things that way. Perhaps my experience will help you succeed at writing more articles at once as well.
Use All Your Writing Documents at Once
If you plan on writing ten articles, open and save your document for each one. Keep them all open during your writing process. You can flip back and forth as needed. If I am particularly into a certain topic, I might keep writing that one.
But for the most part, I will go back and forth to keep the process interesting. I determine when to move to another article by various factors. Being stuck on thoughts is a good time to move to the next article. Also sometimes an idea will come up for one of the other articles. That's another indicator to switch topics.
Make Outlines (or Templates) for All the Articles
Before getting started, consider making outlines or templates for each of the articles. This way, it's easier to determine what you need to fill in. That alone can speed up the writing. Example templates or outlines might include the title, subtitle, a space for intro text, and subheadings.
I sometimes change my subheadings after or during writing the article. But they are good for remembering what points you want to make in each section. When you don't need to think of the points during writing, it's easier to focus on the topic at hand. Doing the subheadings ahead of time also helps ensure you make all the points you wanted to.
Use Multiple Computers
Yes, I realize this gives away my workaholic status. But for those with capabilities, it really does help speed up the writing process. If your computers are networked together, it's even faster, but a flash drive can do the trick if they aren't. I often use my laptop and a mini notebook computer at the same time. When I had desktop computers, I would utilize those as well. I've used at most 4 computers at once, but two is my usual number when using this strategy.
Position the computers very close to one another so that switching back and forth is very simple. One computer can be open with articles and research for one client, another can contain the work for another, and so on. Or you can split up big projects for one client onto more than one computer. If the computers are portable, try doing this in a fun setting, such as the backyard or park.
Bulk Similar Topics
Writing similar topics at the same time can help increase productivity. For instance, if you are writing about a particular parenting method, you may write five articles. Each could describe how to apply that method to certain groups or situations. If you are writing about homemade household products, you might have an article on the benefits, another on the best materials, another on how to make it, and so on.
When you are writing an article and have ideas that branch off your main idea, use those as separate articles. Don't try to put too much information into one. It's better for readability and you'll also get more articles from doing this. In most cases, more articles equals more money.
Don't Stress - Just Write Instead
Yes, I know this one may be hard. If you are writing multiple articles, you may either have a goal or be on deadline. But stressing yourself out can reduce productivity. Stay calm and focused. Instead of thinking about your articles in numbers, just write them. Remember why you got into this in the first place.
You likely love to write or have some other good reason for choosing this as a career. Have fun and focus on that original inspiration instead of the fact that you have a large number of articles to write. Just write.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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
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.
Hire Lyn & Rich!
Stalk Us On Social Media!
Sign up for a free account to publish your free website using this special link and we both earn $10!
Peeps We Love
Write, Publish, Promote
SK Marketing Solutions
Working in Words
Accentuate Author Services
Ask Angela Advice
The Heart of Words
Living Life Abundantly