by Phoenix Desertsong, The Perpetual Prose Machine
Sometimes, I don't consider myself a very good writer. At times, I'll go without publishing an article or anything for even a month or two. Honestly, even though the common advice is to write every day, sometimes you do just need a break. If you feel like your writing is getting stale or is losing direction, it's actually a good idea to go and do something else completely different for a while in order to get yourself refocused. While your writing muscles do need the exercise, it doesn't make any sense to burn yourself out when you're not really producing anything worthy.
So, if you're asking yourself should I take a break from writing then the answer is most likely you should. The question then becomes for how long?
How Long is Too Long to Stay Away from Writing?
The answer really depends on how you feel. If you really are not feeling like writing anymore, then there's probably a good reason for it. If writing is how you make a living, however, then you obviously don't want to stay away from it too long. But, breaks are important to take.
The idea is to not let yourself go forever without writing. If you find that you're staying away from writing for days or weeks at a time, then you probably need the break. But when you find yourself not writing anything after months, even little notes in your journal, that's when you probably should reconsider if you're really even that interested in writing at all anymore.
I've actually been at that point in my life several times. There actually have been times where I haven't even written a single word for maybe even a month at a time, maybe even more. Why did this happen?
I can tell you straight up the main reason that I have gone long stretches without writing. It’s feeling forced to write things that I didn't feel like writing. For example, college papers were often a major struggle for me, as I just couldn’t get involved with the subject material. The other major thing is articles that weren't really paying a lot of money, but I needed the cash. So, when the writing started feeling forced like slave labor, it really was just no fun anymore. I didn't want to do it anymore.
Should Writing Feel More Like Work or Feel More Like Fun?
With anything that you do, it’s probably not going to be fun all the time. But should it be? Sometimes, if you get a lucrative opportunity you're going to take it, even if it's not for that much money. You may just need the cash. But, if you find yourself getting to the point where you hate writing, then obviously you need to take a step back and really reconsider your goals.
It's funny because for so much of my life I actually didn't really write with much of a goal in mind. But I will tell you this right now. If your only goal with writing is simply to make money, then you're probably really needing to find a deeper meaning and purpose to what you want to write.
For example, I really wanted to be a novelist for a long time. At other points in my life, I wanted to be a sports writer. So, at some point, there were actually times where I felt it was important to practice and polish my writing skills so that I could get a job later with writing. The practice alone was a good goal and it kept me focused. But as I became less interested in those jobs, my writing really lost focus for awhile. That’s why I turned to poetry and journal writing, and eventually articles.
Sometimes, you just have to find a different kind of writing to get going again. If it’s getting to feel too much like work, find something else that’s more fun. Sometimes you’re going to have to take assignments that feel like work, so be sure to balance it out with writing something fun. That way, you never have to take too long a break.
When Should Writing be More than Just a Job?
Even when you do something you enjoy, the sad truth is that you may end up feeling burnt out at one point or another. That's only natural. You may be overwhelmed with how much writing you're trying to do at once. If that’s what it is, you should probably scale back. Also, you might find that you don't have a good enough goal and motivation to keep yourself with the proper energy and focus that you need to write.
So, when should writing be more than a job? For a long time, writing for me was simply a hobby. It was something to take my mind off of other things. When I did try to turn writing into my regular job, it honestly didn't really feel that great. While I was making some money doing it, I started feeling like my skills were not being properly compensated. I kept asking myself: why am I even doing this anymore?
When you're writing purely for yourself, sometimes you find yourself saying: “Oh, well, I'll just write some more tomorrow.” Then, tomorrow becomes next week, and next week becomes next month. So what I suggest, if you're going to take a break from writing, is to switch gears. Take a break from writing, per se, as far as trying to write complete articles and the like. What you should keep doing instead, however, is to keep your mind coming up with ideas.
Take notes, whether that's in your phone, or a diary, or a little notebook. If you really are serious about writing, you need to keep putting things down. What I’ve found is that if you go too long, even a week, without just putting your thoughts down, it becomes very very difficult to get the momentum again. When you try to write again, you may find your writing is very sloppy for a while. But as long as you keep the ideas flowing one way or another, even if you just have to doodle in the margins of something, that's important.
Just need to keep the free flow of ideas going. If you’re continuously generating ideas, you'll find the other parts of your life improve, as well. If you sit there and let your mind stagnate, you're going to end up being pretty miserable. Even if you find that you’re not really writing for awhile, you can always use ideas.
Taking a Break from Writing Doesn’t Mean You Should Take a Break from Ideas
Even if you’re not writing, don’t ever take a break from ideas. If you continue to take down ideas, even when you're not actively writing something, you may find that you're able to start writing again all of a sudden. I know that I found this to be the case when I write poetry sometimes. If I haven't written for a while, it's great to try to force myself to rhyme a few phrases or even just keep track of syllables in a simple pattern. That way, I can sort of create a little framework to write around. Even if I only write 4 or 8 lines, I find that I've at least produced something. Producing something, even if it's only a little bit and even if it's not good, at least makes me force myself to put words together.
Trying to then force yourself to write a thousand word article is not always the best way to get going again. The trick that I found with writing is to not burn yourself out. Simply keep your thoughts flowing and note them somehow. The ideas don’t even have to be good. After all, to get good ideas, you have to have a lot of bad ones, too.
I can tell you right now that when I'm not doing very well with writing I'll still open up a whole bunch of documents and stick ideas in each one. Sure, probably 9 out of 10 of them never go anywhere. But, that's okay. Eventually I will find some way to connect those thoughts, even if they don't become articles on their own.
I've even found Speech-to-Text, even the simple kind that's on a lot of Google and Apple phones, is very helpful in getting your ideas out. Even when you don't actually feel like writing, using Speech-to-Text is different. That’s because when you talk, you're using a different part of your brain. You actually want to exercise this part of your brain, as well. By vocalizing your thoughts, all you're doing is expanding how you can express yourself. Heck, if you’d rather express yourself through art or other creative activities, that's good, too. The idea is to not let your mind stagnate. If you're not going to write, find some other way to express yourself.
How Long Your Break is From Writing is Up to You
So, how long should you take a break from writing it all is up to you. However long feels right to you is how long you should take. But, whatever you do don't keep the ideas from flowing. That's the most important part that is why I love writing so much. It’s a way for me to get my ideas out of my head so that they're not zooming around at a million miles an hour.
At times, I feel extremely unorganized, and that's when I feel like I need to take a break and refocus. If you can't focus with your writing, you're going to find yourself writing a lot of crap or things that you just can't do anything with. In fact, you end up confusing yourself. So, only write when you feel like you can have a clear path to what you're doing.
But even if you're not feeling clear, make sure you get the ideas down. The more ideas you get down, the more you have to come back to later. The worst thing you can ever do as a writer is to come in with a blank page with no direction. Make sure that you always come back to writing with some sort of direction. Even if you end up changing direction midstream, that's okay.
The idea is to make sure that you stay focused as a writer. Once you lose that focus, go do something else for a while. If you don't want to come back to writing maybe you never will. But that's okay. You can't worry about that. If you're meant to be a writer, you will come back to it. Even when I’ve felt like I was done with writing forever, I obviously still came back. That's what I've always found.
This post was originally posted at The Perpetual Prose Machine on Life Successfully.
It doesn’t matter what kind of writer you are. You don’t even have to be a writer right now. You can become a winning writer. Aimed at writers who want to become published authors, Joan Gelfand’s book “You Can Be a Winning Writer” takes a holistic approach to becoming a successful writer. While many writing advice books focus on one aspect of writing success, Gelfand’s book covers four main areas that need to be done all at the same time. She calls these the 4 C’s of Successful Authors: Craft, Commitment, Community, & Confidence.
While there have been entire books written about aspects of the four C’s, there hasn’t really been a book that focuses entirely on balancing all four of the C’s to become a successful author. That is exactly what Gelfand set out to do with “You Can Be a Winning Writer” and she does this well. She pulls together lots of great advice and anecdotes from many successful authors, many of them Pulitzer Prize winning. It’s well-researched and put together, whereas a lot of writing advice books seem like they’re all saying the same thing. As Gelfand breaks down the 4 C’s, any writers are bound to pick up some helpful hints in all areas of their writing lives.
“You Can Be a Winning Writer” is definitely worth a read. I’d suggest taking notes whenever something strikes you that you can apply to your own writing. There’s just so much good advice packed into every section of this book. It’s the kind of book you may read multiple times just to absorb all the lessons within, from Gelfand’s own personal experience and from all of the other writers’ stories she shares.
You may not even consider yourself a writer right now. But if you’ve even ever dreamed or even just thought of being a writer, go ahead and just do it. This book will help you not only get started, but also put you on the right path towards success. No, it’s not going to be easy. Gelfand doesn’t sugarcoat how difficult becoming a successful author is, but constantly reminds you that it’s possible with great dedication and discipline to sticking to a good plan. It’s a great writer’s manual and it should be on your bookshelf, no doubt about it.
Writing Better Articles: Outlining with the Questions People Ask and The Questions They Should Be Asking
Some of the best advice I've ever read on outlining came from the book “How to Write a Book for Beginners" by Ryan Stephens. This advice had to do outlining a nonfiction book, but it’s applicable to any kind of nonfiction writing.
Ryan asked his friend about how he outlines his books. He told him it's as simple as this: answer two types of questions. There are the questions people actually ask and the questions they should be asking. In the case of a nonfiction book, you want your chapter titles to be the questions people ask. Then, the subheadings are made from the questions you find people should be asking.
The best part about this advice is that it works for article writing, too. As someone who used to be rather allergic to traditional outlining, I find this simple approach refreshing. But while it looks simple on the surface, how easy is it to know what questions to ask?
What Questions Do People Actually Ask?
Fortunately, good old Google Autocomplete can give us a treasure trove of what people actually search around a given word or phrase. This is a helpful place to begin your research. Or is it?
The funny thing that came to my head as I set to writing on this topic is this: what if the best questions people want to ask aren't even being typed into Google? This is a good thought that I don't think I've ever thought before. It's funny how when you start asking yourself questions how you come up with more questions.
This is how I knew that Ryan's friend was really onto something when he said you should outline using questions. For so long I've often used dry subheaders and even really dry titles just to get the keywords in there. Before reading that Ryan Stephens book I didn't even really consider writing nonfiction books. But the idea dawned on me that I should seriously look into it.
But did I Google it? Nope. I searched Amazon for free Kindle books on writing. That's right. People still look for answers in books. Who would've thought? Believe it or not, though, there isn't a book readily available for every topic. Even if people write a hundred thousand articles on a topic, it doesn't mean there's a good book on it. So, why does it matter if you can't find a book on Amazon for a question you have? To me, it screams opportunity. As a writer, this smells like fresh blood does to a shark.
So, now we've established that people search Amazon sometimes before they even think about Google. That's not a tip you see everyday. But there are a lot of places to look for answers to your questions. You can't possibly check them all.
So, How Do I Find the Right Questions to Ask?
The best way I've been finding questions to ask is not doing keyword research. I certainly still do some initial keyword research, because you can find some good opportunities to target your content that way. But when you set yourself to answer a question, you should never limit yourself. The best way to know what questions to ask is to ask yourself what questions you would ask.
If you have a topic or question in mind, write it down. Then, ask yourself the questions you would ask in order to be satisfied that your question has been sufficiently answered. But, how do you know I'm asking the right questions when outlining my article or book?
I'm loath to say it, but I'll say it anyway because it will help illustrate a point. There's no such thing as a stupid question. Some will rebut that with: until you ask it. Others will follow up with: only if you don't ask it. I'm inclined to agree with the latter rebuttal.
So, What’s the Best Way to Find the Questions People Actually Ask?
It turns out we are not all brilliant masterminds who have billions of unique thoughts everyday. But I do have good news. The genius is in making the connections between thoughts and ideas. Anyone can do this if you work at it. So, yeah, if you're thinking something, it's highly likely someone else has thought the same thing. But, if you're acting on it, then you're doing something creative. That's important.
As someone who usually skips outlining entirely, why do I suddenly seem keen on taking a step back and really ask some hard questions? Because by asking questions, I find myself asking even more of them. Eventually, I'll recognize which ones seem the most important to answer. Then, I set to work.
What people actually ask is what you'd probably be asking yourself anyway. Yes, seeing what people actually ask is important through some research, too. But when you are trying to write something, you turn the idea faucet on and let it flow for a bit. Then, when you’ve come to a point where you need to turn to answers, this is when you know you have a whole bunch of good questions.
So, how do people even look for answers in the first place?
Should I Google It?
Or, in place of Google, insert your favorite search engine. Keep in mind people use Amazon and YouTube to look for answers, too. Google can be a great tool, but that is all that it is. Finding the answer your seeking may in fact be a click away. But it may not be. And even if there are results, will they satisfy you?
In my experience, if it's not a simple question, most of the time you'll find irrelevant results or feel underwhelmed. Don't blame Google. No one has answered it well enough yet anywhere the Google spiders can find. For writers, this is fresh blood!
But not everyone asks Google their burning questions. And not too many people actually type into Google “should I Google it?” when they’re figuring out how best to find answers. Choosing to use Google is an internal decision. There are so many other search engines out there and while Google is the most-used, not every good question people ask will be easily revealed to you that way.
Should I Look for Answers in a Book?
Turning to books to seek an answer to your question may seem quaint to some people. Actually, if you are even considering this, though,I applaud you. There’s solid reasoning to this decision making process.
By no means is the Google searcher is being lazy or anything. But there are some questions that would seem to require some digging. You can do this through Google, too, of course, but hitting the books means you want more than online articles can give you - no matter how good they are..
And, I hate to break it to you. What you read online is not always accurate. I also hate to break it to you that what you read in a book isn't always accurate. However, books seem to be much more trusted. Why is that?
Yes, it's true that books tend to be more robustly researched, edited, and scrutinized. But, online articles can be too. And since pretty much anyone can self publish not only e-books, but print books too, there isn't too much difference between what you find online or in books, right?
Actually, here's the key difference. Books are longer. Even short ebooks are longer than most articles published on the web. Books require more effort on the part of the writer, and a lot more research. If you’re turning to books to answer your questions, you're no longer just a searcher, but a researcher. Likely, you’ll have visit your local library or buy books to seek answers. If anyone goes to that much effort, it must be important..
This is where we must bridge the gap to what people should be asking.
What Questions SHOULD We Be Asking?
Many questions people are probably only asking internally, but not actually searching. Others have questions that may require more research than many people actually want to do. So, because we writers are wonderful human beings, we go do the hard work so others may benefit.
Or we're self absorbed jerks who want to get paid the big bucks for becoming the top expert on subject X. Either way, same result.
The questions that require digging, the ones not answered well or at all through the results of a Google search, are the ones we should be asking. Those are the ones we should be writing about and answering. Yes, it can be hard work, but the end result is going to be something pretty cool that probably hasn’t been done before.
How Does Listing a Bunch of Questions Help You Outline an Article?
It's quite ironic that when I first began writing this very article that I neglected to even outline it. But as I went along, I realized that I had something pretty profound here. At first, I began to ramble and lose focus. Fortunately, I righted the ship. I started taking a step back and just asking the questions before I just took off being the rambling fool I often am.
Or am I?
Turning the more common questions into chapter titles helps you get into the mindset of your audience. If you’re writing an article, this is how people are going to discover it in search. If you’re writing a book, people will find these in your table of contents, if you choose to make that part of a free book preview (which you should). You also show your audience (and potential publishers) that you have your finger on the pulse of your audience for a certain given topic.
People also like it when you’re asking questions that echo the ones they themselves have been asking. You position yourself as an authority by asking the right questions.
While turning your article or book into an FAQ of sorts isn’t a terrible way to go, you want to get down to creating something more. That’s where the subheaders come in. They’re quite useful in keeping your audience’s attention and allow skimmers to get some value from your work without reading closely. By turning your subheadings into questions, you force yourself to really answer them.
While asking these questions are really helpful in outlining and focusing yourself on the questions you need to answer, they’re good to keep in the final version as well. Many people, myself included, have long had many subheadings that read as statements or more like commands. While there isn’t anything wrong with this, asking questions instead adds a new dimension to your writing. Not only do people appreciate that you’re asking good questions, but you make your readers ask more questions of themselves.
By asking the right questions that people really ask and those that we should be asking, your writing will be a lot more focused and you’ll find yourself driven towards writing good answers more quickly and more often. The questions people ask and the questions they should be asking can serve as the backbone to any piece of nonfiction writing that you’re doing. Once I started writing this way, I can say I write more quickly and more effectively than ever before.
Plus, I started asking a lot more questions. Is that ever a bad thing?
If you’re a first-time writer, you may be reading a lot of different writing advice about how to get started. There’s plenty of writing advice out there, some good and some bad. Here, we’ll ask some questions about common advice that’s given to first-time writers. But, we’ll expand on these ideas a bit more and give you some actionable advice for your writing. Even if you’re not a first-time writer, these are questions you probably still should be asking yourself.
Before we get started, keep this in mind: You can be the most talented and skilled writer there is, but neither talent nor skill is a guarantee for writing success. What you’ll find is that passion is the most important thing when it comes to writing. We’ll get to why this is later.
Now, here are six key questions first-time writers should ask, or any writers, really.
Question #1: Why Must Writers Must First Be Readers?
A writer must be a reader, first and foremost. Whether you are a writer of nonfiction, novels, songs, poems, or even technical manuals, writers must read. While we each develop our favoritism for certain genres or topics, we must each always look to broaden our knowledge.
Why is diversifying your knowledge so important? True genius lies in making connections that others simply haven’t made yet. By diversifying your reading material and spheres of knowledge, you expand your mind and allow it to make connections with seemingly unrelated ideas.
If you limit yourself to a single genre or a handful of topics, you will limit your ability to discover new ideas. Also, by opening yourself to other genres and topics, even if on a whim, you expand your ability to learn. In a world that becomes seemingly more specialized everyday, the writer must learn to do the opposite.
First-time writers often struggle finding their writing niche, and that’s OK. Even experienced writers feel the need to branch out and find something new to write from time to time. The best way to find new ideas to write about? It’s reading.
Question #2: How Should You Choose a Topic to Write About?
You’re probably sick of hearing the same old advice of “write what you know.” First-time writers hear that a lot. As with a lot of common advice, though, there is a lot of truth to it. However, there’s more to choosing a topic than that. You might know a lot of things. Of course, there are always going to be more things that you don’t know than you do.
Yes, to be a successful writer you have to know what you’re writing about. But just because you know a lot about something doesn’t mean that’s the topic you should choose. Whatever you write about, it should either be something you love or something you hate. The truth is that you need to write about something that you’re passionate about, because that will show in your writing and make it better!
Can I Write Something I Don’t Know? This is when the common “write what you know” advice seems limiting. If you’re interested in some topic that you don’t really know a lot about, then, by all means learn about it. As you research this topic, if you find you’re actually rather passionate about it, then keep learning about it! You can eventually turn what you don’t know into something that you do know a lot about! Just make sure that you really love it before you dive into writing about it.
Question #3: Can You Ever Stop Learning?
No writer is ever going to be perfect. It doesn’t matter how skilled or knowledgeable you become. There is always room to grow, both as a writer and as a person. If you don’t continue to expand your mind, you will find your writing suffer as a result. There’s so much pressure to keep writing the same thing and sharpening your focus. As a writer, you should write what you love, but keep learning other things. Even if you focus on writing nonfiction, you should never stop yourself from reading fiction or poetry. You just never know where your next good idea will come from.
A mind that becomes too focused on just one kind of writing, one way to tell a story, or one anything will eventually become complacent. This can cause your writing to become stale. Much of your audience will grow bored with the same thing after a while. This is why you must keep expanding your mind. For example, even if you’re an established horror writer, you may draw inspiration from science fiction and romance. If you focus too much on what’s already been done without introducing new combinations of ideas and new perspectives, you and your writing will suffer for it.
Also, your writing will never be perfect. So, there’s always room to learn from other writers, whether it be through their style, their storytelling, or just their ideas in general. First-time writers certainly have the most to learn about the writing craft, but even the best writers still learn all the time; that’s how they stay the best!
Question #4: Why Should You Keep Building Your Vocabulary?
If you’re a writer, you should know as many words as you can, right? This seems obvious at first. But, one common piece of writing advice is to actually use the simplest words you can. Of course, Ernest Hemingway is quite famous for his poignant use of simple words in the narration of his stories. But we’re not all Ernest Hemingway, are we?
Yes, using uncommon words, often called “big words,” “college words,” or “SAT words” can be daunting for a lot of readers. So, yes, when a simple word is fine to use, just use that. It can be very tempting for writers to show off their vocabularies. But just because you don’t use them every day in your writing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know them. It’s actually good for your readers to have to look up a word in the dictionary once in awhile, after all. But, then, why use them at all?
Words are surprisingly complex when you actually study them. Etymology is the study of the origin of words and how they have changed in usage or form over time. The etymology of even common words is pretty fascinating. In fact, the study of individual words alone can actually help you develop writing ideas.
And, of course, building your vocabulary will allow you to reduce the chances of not being able to find just the right word for an idea. After all, words are little encapsulations of ideas, and the more of them you know, the more ideas you can easily express.
Question #5: Should I Write Down Every Idea I Get?
Here’s a question that many first-time writers ask: should I be writing down every writing idea that I get? Yes, the most important thing about ideas is to not let them get away. Ideas often occur to us at the most inopportune times. Writing an idea down on the back of a napkin might sound cliche, but it does actually turn out that doing that has saved some great ideas. Always be prepared to capture ideas when you least expect them.
The beauty of the human mind is its ability to come up with pretty amazing ideas unexpectedly. The idea for the next great novel of all time could occur you to just about anywhere. Even a piece of character dialogue could hit you as you’re walking down the street. If an idea sparks your interest, write it down in whatever way you can. Yes, even carry around napkins if you have to!
Don’t fool yourself that you might simply remember the idea later. Yes, sometimes you may remember it perfectly. But another beautiful, and often tragic, thing about the human mind is that it can be at time impossible to remember something you came up with just five minutes ago. Ideas are always racing around and can bury one another. We’re all brilliant in a way, and we all have ideas. Most aren’t going to be good, and some will be OK. But all it takes is one great idea to get you writing. That one idea could take you further than you could ever now imagine.
Question #6: What’s the Best Writing Advice of All?
Every writer can ask this question, and the answer is actually quite simple.
Write Because You Love to Write!
A lot of writers make publication the end goal for their writing. While wanting to be a published author is definitely an excellent goal, it shouldn’t be the only one. Your main goal in writing should always be writing what you love to write. You may not always love what you write, but you should love the very act of writing itself. No, not everything you write is going to be published. Even Stephen King has unpublished manuscripts.
You should only publish when you feel you’ve written something that you actually feel is worthy of publishing. So many writers spend so much time on trying to write something to be published and are frustrated when no one wants to publish it. Lots of times, there’s going to be nothing wrong with what you’ve written.
The truth is that publishers have to make money. If they don’t think an idea will make money, no matter how good it is, then they will likely pass. This isn’t your fault and you shouldn’t let it discourage you. If you’re looking to publish, you can always self-publish to get it out there. Then, just write something else. You can always follow the money with your writing, but it shouldn’t be ever be your only end goal.
As a writer, following your passion is all you should be doing. Your writing is going to be better when you’re not writing just to publish. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have publishing as a writing goal. What it means is that when you sit down to write, don’t worry about the publishing being the end goal. Passion is everything with any art, and it especially shows in writing. Writing what you know and love is what drives a writer to create. If you’re not driven to create, then you’re going to have a hard time writing. It’s as simple as that.
So, with these six important questions answered, get out there and just write!
by Phoenix Desertsong, The Perpetual Prose Machine
During my later high school and earlier college days, I found myself becoming an obsessive note-taker. At times, I found that these notes helped me to write essay assignments and to do better at remembering material for tests. But nearly a decade out of school, I finally thought to myself that I don’t take nearly enough notes anymore.
As a writer, taking notes creates valuable raw material that you can work from to start a variety of projects. But should you just take note of everything? When is it just too much or no longer valuable to take notes? Let’s discuss the finer points of notetaking.
Is it Possible to Take Too Many Notes?
This is sort of a tough question. Too much of anything can be a bad thing. What you take note of now may seem trivial later, but the opposite can be true, too. My general thinking with taking notes is to write down what seems noteworthy. This is going to be different for everyone.
If you’re truly interested in a topic, though, you can’t really take too many notes, can you? I’ve found that I haven’t taken enough notes at times. But as I find that my notes become extremely disorganized, I’ve found that I really needed to create a system for taking notes.
Should I Have a Notebook for Every Topic?
There is such a thing as too many notebooks… or is there? Digital notetaking has made organization a lot easier. You can have a nearly infinite amount of digital notebooks without wasting lots of paper. But for things that you write about all the time, such as poetry or finance or tech or whatever your fields of interest might be, you’ll want something physical that you can carry around with you.
Obviously, you can only carry around so much. But having two or three small notebooks with you at all times allows you to take notes on your favorite topics at any time. If there’s a purpose to each notebook, you’ll find your notes becoming more organized. Also, because you’re training your mind to write more things down, you’ll have more organized thoughts, too.
What About Random Thoughts That Don’t Fit My Usual Topics?
This is when a smartphone comes in handy. You can use notetaking apps like Evernote, Google Keep, or even just Google Docs to take down notes that don’t fit in your usual notebooks. You can even email yourself or put notes in texts to yourself. Whatever you find a quick and easy way to save something, use that , and be consistent. Then, every so often, weed through and pick out what’s useful and save them in a more easy-to-find way.
I’ve actually found that most thoughts I discount at random aren’t as random as they first seem. Your mind is always making connections, even if you aren’t aware of it. Don’t discount them. The more that you acknowledge your thoughts, the more that you’ll come to better understand the inner workings of your own mind.
Whether you’re a professional writer or just someone who likes to scribble for amusement, notetaking is a great way to get not only your writing organized, but your brain, too!
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 Perpetual 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
Reflections on Life?
When I was collecting my poetry, it was suggested to me that I call the collection Reflections on Life. I felt like that wouldn't be the best title to publish my work. I decided instead on From the Pages of Spiral Notebooks, for that's the medium in which my poetry adventures began. However, many of my poems are indeed reflections on life. So, that's an idea that I'd like to discuss.
For Christmas one year, I was asked what sort of books I would want to read. I made a request for poetry related books. While I've written hundreds of poems over the years, I have always found myself rather disconnected from pursuing the art on a regular basis. I've long reserved poetry as a means of expressing thoughts emotions or ideas. At times, I have some jumbled thoughts that seem to loosely fit together, but wouldn't be easily put into prose. Poetry, therefore, became a reflex, as much of my writing has become.
It's quite fortunate then that one of my best friends gave me a book about teaching children to write poetry. It's actually a rather old book, but just as relevant today as it was in the 1970s. It is entitled Wishes, Lies and Dreams by Kenneth Koch. It was a big deal when it was first published and sadly the great lessons it teaches have seemingly been forgotten by many people today.
When I was a child, our classes were sometimes instructed to write stories. My first few stories were absolute nonsense, but yet they were enjoyed. I often dreamed of one day becoming a novelist. But proper plot structure and development are two aspects of literature that have long eluded me. My imagination rarely remains on a single thread for long. My brain is ready to move on soon after I start.
Eventually realizing this, I shifted my focus to writing songs. But without musical accompaniment, they were “just” poems. I was rarely happy with my work. It was often very emotionally charged and often took cues from my dreams and my imagination. Actually, a lot of it was really good as I look back at it. Of course, a lot of it wasn't. But as I've looked back at my older pieces over time, I'm not so sure what I inevitably discarded was so bad after all.
Some years ago, I shifted back to writing stories. I created a great many colorful characters and imagined complex backdrops, both political and natural. But I never could get it all to work in harmony. It was suggested to me several times to work my creative work into poems. But, there was too much of a disconnect between poems and story writing for me that I could hardly attempt it. A few decent poems came out of it, and all are published in some form today. But it never became a regular outlet for me.
Are My Poems Reflections or Distortions of Life?
Going back to the idea of my poetry generally being reflections on life, from certain perspectives many of them probably are. But necessarily, reflections will also become distortions. But, distortions of life does not make for a “sexy” collection title, nor is it an accurate choice for putting a collective take on my works of verse.
This is when I realized that in my future poetry I should take cues from Koch’s work with Grade school children. Poems should be of the stuff of wishes, real or crazy. Poems should be the stuff of lies - innocent, pretty, or gross. Poems should be the stuff of dreams, free to associate even in the most seemingly absurd ways.
The work of a young poet should begin with “I wish” or “I dream,” Koch says. This way it's easy to make comparisons with seemingly disparate things to form vivid images. It's much too easy as an adult to let conventions and fear of rejection color our work, or worst of all force it into some sort of blandness.
Poetry is a creative art just like drawing, painting, sculpting or crafting. Poetry is doing all of these things in fact, but with words. And the last thing you want to do is over-complicate poetry.
The best part of poetry is that it offers a sort of freedom that no other art form I've found can offer. It should be an accessible art for everyone. It should be free to express and begin and end only with a simple idea. Complexity can come with time and practice, but poetry is not meant for dissertations, after all.
As I continue to delve more into reading about how to teach poetry, I certainly will have much more to say on the subject. But most of all, I need to rediscover my love of the craft. Perhaps to be a poet is my true calling. But my aim has and never will be to have my verses be the stuff of legend. I just need to say what should be said.
For even in the lies of poetry, there is always a hint of truth.
It’s long been believed that by being an active reader, you can become a far better writer. While that is certainly true, it is only one major component to becoming a “formidable writing professional” as I have tried to be in recent years. Of course, really, the most important part to being a good writer is simply pursuing the act of writing as often as possible.
There are many folks out there who seem to believe that he or she is simply not cut out for creating good, solid writing. Yes, there are those that are simply very talented at writing. However, writing is far more about developing skill. Even those with great talent don’t necessarily hone their skills nearly to the degree that they could. But mostly, writing is about your passion. If you care about something, and want to know more about it, then you should definitely write about it. It’s hard at first, but after awhile, you’ll begin to have a lot of fun!
Myself, I’ve been writing for quite some time. But as much of a bookworm as I was in my childhood, it took many years before I actually could call myself a writer. It took lots of practice. I would copy interesting quotes from things I would read and then commenting on them. I would simply write for the sake of writing. It got to the point that writing became a reflex. Whenever something was on my mind that I didn’t know exactly how to talk to someone about, I would write about it.
Putting words on a page has always been easier to me than public speaking. That’s true of many folks. The opposite is, of course, just as true. It took me a long time to find my voice through writing, though. I must say, it’s not quite the voice I speak with. Is that a bad thing? That’s for you to decide.
Reading is definitely important. I don’t need to stress that, since so many others have and there’s no point repeating such a truth. What I do need to stress is that even the most talented writers do not write near-perfection every time he or she sits down.
Everyone’s creative process is different. Some are easier to follow than others. My personal process isn’t so easy to follow. I’ve always hated doing outlines. I just tend to draft a piece in a semi-completed form before going back and revising it to make it more coherent.
I’m very much about voice in my writing. Sometimes, I perhaps get a bit too rhetorical or state things in somewhat peculiar ways that may not always get my point across. That is because writing is a skill you can never stop developing. If one does not grow as a writer, he or she will grow stagnant.
If a writer does not strive to write as often as possible, when it comes time to write something, it will most likely be a struggle. It’s especially a struggle when you’re trying to write about things you don’t care about - even if it will make you money. Let me tell you, my voice sounds cold and uninterested in a lot of things I’ve written before for money. Others thought they were good. But I knew that they weren’t.
There have been times where I will churn out a great deal of words in a short amount of time. I may not be proud of a great percentage of that work. Still, the exercise is nonetheless extremely valuable.
One thing that I have also done to a good degree is help others with their own writing. This is perhaps even more valuable than simply brainstorming ideas. Not only are you bringing another perspective to others’ work, but you’re also gaining insight into other perspectives, as well. You’re also helping them to find just what it is that permeates their writing, picking out their strengths and helping them to smooth out the flaws. Always be carefully critical, the way you would want someone to help you along. So much of writing is just practice. Writers are more like doctors than we realize sometimes; we’re constantly practicing!
I’d love to say that everyone has a hidden talent for writing and just needs to develop the skills. But I do know that writing is a skill that many people who don’t consider themselves writers can actually develop. Through persistence and patience with their own development, anyone can learn to write fairly well.
Writing is an art form, of course. We are artisans, much like sculptors and painters. Words are our material and the pages (or digital mediums) are our canvas. That may sound a bit clichéd but I think that is the best way to express that idea.
Even highly skilled writers such as myself grow stumped on how to put certain things. Every writer does. This is why collaboration is so important. It’s important for writers to help each other out.
When it comes to writing for assignments, there’s nothing wrong with being someone’s ghost-writer. There’s nothing wrong with giving a starving writer an assignment to get an idea expressed and out into the open. But when you are writing for money, take assignments that you believe in and truly want to write for the sake of writing it.
Once writing becomes about money, you can lose focus and just write what you think people want or what the assignment says. I believe that more people should try ghostwriting, but as a way to develop their own skills. Always keep that in mind.
I’m always happy to edit and clean things up for people. But people need to learn that they need to just write from the heart. I once read something that the best content comes from the most unexpected places. It’s a trend that needs to grow.
Remember that developing any sort of useful, applicable skill is an art form. Creativity, in whatever form it may take, is art. Like with any artists, many writers become discouraged when the words just aren't fitting together. It’s hard to break out of ruts when you get into them. But even when you’re in a rut, you still have to keep writing.
It's OK to take a break for a bit, but never leave writing completely behind. Even if you sit down again and you write crap, you’re at least producing something. It's better than simply letting thoughts spin around your head without any useful application.
Writing is most certainly more skill than some realize. Talent is certainly a component, but inevitably it’s skill that wins out. But it’s mostly the passion you put into it. Without the passion, the writing will feel stale. The passion is what keeps the writing living, relevant, and good.
I just want to write something important. To me, that’s not writing just another New York Times bestseller. It doesn’t involve taking advantage of a fad. I’m not seeking a cult following. There is a deep desire within me to write something not only significant, but undeniably unique.
I long to write something that could be the epitome of whatever creativity I possess. Is this asking the impossible? Can you write something undeniably important? There is always the possibility that by reaching for what at first you deem impossible, you could get yourself very, very close to that seemingly unattainable goal. So why not aim for it?
Even as the world gives you reason after reason to be bitter, it’s vital to do whatever I can to put things into a positive light. It’s important to be constructive. This is why it’s very important to understand the true power of creativity. I know that too often I don’t exercise my mind correctly to unleash my true creative potential. I believe this is true of most of us.
Throughout my education, people have been too impressed with many examples of my academic work. That’s not to say it’s all been relatively worthless busy work junk. Still, I look back at my academic offerings and feel tremendously disappointed from what I produced in the name of education. I believe I can tap far more from my abilities. So where do I dig up the fuel, the drive, and the motivation to pursue challenging myself in new and creative ways?
Not only do I wish to master merely the act of being creative, but also better comprehend the nuances of the greater concepts that creativity involves. I don’t want only to inform or educate in a basic sense. I want to expand minds in a significant, meaningful way beyond the simple facts, figures, or concepts I’m writing about.
Before any of us can truly learn how to learn, we must understand what creativity truly is. Creativity means never simply squashing your dreams, no matter how childish they may seem. Never be afraid to tackle big ideas. Reality is always going to be fascinating, and often more horrifying than anything any fiction can produce.
Never be afraid to create something. It doesn’t matter how slowly you build on your ideas, as long as you do it consistently. Add a dash of passion to everything you do. That’s true creativity at its finest.
by Richard A. Rowell
I tend to write in bursts. I'm terrible at being creative on a schedule. Is it even possible to be creative on a schedule? It probably is, but that has never been a real thing to me. I just create whenever I do.
There's nothing really inherently wrong with that. That's why I don't want to have any expectations tied to any of my creative work - because I'll always find some excuse as to why I fell short. It's pretty much my own expectations, really. They're rough enough. I don't need someone on top of that asking me if I'll have something ready by so-and-so date and time. That's why I am so personal about my creative stuff.
I'm not an "official" poet, even though I've written hundreds of poems and most of my poetry is published online. The reason why is actually pretty simple. If you're a "poet," people will ask you, hey, can you write a poem about so and so? Can you come up with some corny verses about such-and-such? Not only do I find that demeaning, but I'm not an "on-demand" poet. Some people can do that crap.
I usually will just be laying or sitting around and a verse pops in my head. Then another, and another, yet another. I usually write 3-5 poems at a time. Sometimes even as many as 10. I think my record is a dozen in a day, but I'm really not keeping track. Heck, if I were that prolific I'd be a millionaire right now just self-publishing little collections and selling them for a dollar or two a piece. Alas, I am not. I don't really care about that part anyway. I don't care if my poems make me a cent, really.
The problem is I do care if some of my more serious writing earns nothing. Sometimes my only motivation to write about certain topics is purely for financial benefit. I've been fortunate enough to get on rolls with assignments most of the time. Even if I'm uninspired to begin with, I can usually run with an idea. But when I have to force it, well, you can imagine how it turns out.
So what gets me on a roll? Just a thought. It just has to be the right thought. There's really no secret sauce or anything like that. You just run with it when it comes. If it's a lot in one day, okay, well, just go ahead.
It's often suggested to not batch too much together. But if you're writing stuff that's going to be just as relevant ten years down the line as it is now, go right ahead. Some people work better on schedules than others. There's no right or wrong way to work as long as you find what works for you.
So hay, I'm on a roll...
Sorry, I just had to.
But while I'm at it, I'll just keep at it.
by Richard A. Rowell
It’s quite enlightening to realize others recognize fine skill in composition. It’s even better to find those that appreciate the fine details woven through even the most basic of stories. Writing is not simply a form of communication or just used for recording purposes. It can be such a wonderful way to tell the world so many things.
Some use writing simply as a way to satiate their ego. Perhaps that is why I write, sometimes, to satisfy my own ego. Of course, it’s true that I am the all-powerful narrator in my writing. I can say, do think, and feel anything I wish for anyone or anything depicted through my words. It is a beautiful, liberating feeling. It can be highly intoxicating, too.
I can write forever on pages and type forever onto various digitized media. But when it comes to sharing these words, I am often at a loss in proceeding to do so. What I do hope is that there’s something to gain by having my thoughts mirrored into words. Namely, I hope it can be better understood that everything I do in the course of my day out in society is an experiment.
I look for reactions - causes and effects. The world is like my laboratory and I am studying all that is in it. I may at times write “gems of genius.” But all too often, there are thoughts I have which are so difficult to put into words. They fly by so quickly in this brain, and if I don’t catch them, they’re gone for good.
It’s a writer’s life for me.
by Richard Rowell, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
There wasn’t one particular moment when I decided to become a poet. About the time I was leaving junior high I decided that I would try my hand at writing some lyrics. But as they have never been put to music, outside of the occasional ditty in my head, they became mere poetry. Some people say that I do well at poetry. But I have never really considered myself a full-blown poet. Still, that hasn’t stopped me from writing hundreds upon hundreds of verses. Some of them are much better than others. A few were actually worth publishing.
Truthfully, I’ve always leaned towards focusing on writing prose. The poetry comes and goes, often in big spurts. But it’s not something I’ve ever dedicated myself to, as much as I appreciate the art of both conventional and unconventional poetry. Writing verses was once a passion of mine, but I longed to be a songwriter, not a poet. Then again, those two things are probably one and the same in essence. Poetry, too, especially of the unconventional variety, can be so very free-form.
Strangely enough, I’ve never been much good at free-write exercises. My attempts at free-form exercise often become somewhat unfocused essays with muddled theses. Occasionally, I end up making a decent article out of some of them. I merely don’t free-write. I just follow whatever my mind wants me to write at a given moment. So I try not to give much thought to why I should write about this or that.
Perhaps I’m a poet even if I’m not. Poetry by definition is not merely just metrical writing. The word can also mean a couple other things, according to Merriam-Webster:
“Writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm.”
“Something likened to poetry especially in beauty of expression “
The English language is funny sometimes, with all its many meanings of singular words. But clearly, poetry is more than just rhyming verses. Any form of expression can be made into poetry. I suppose what it comes down to is that I write simply to express something and try to make it beautiful. It may not even really matter what that something actually is. Merely writing something isn’t always enough for me.
The art of writing is so important to me. Simply composing articles to inform and perhaps entertain is not all there is. There’s a clear sense in my mind now that perhaps writing poetry is both easier and harder than most people think. Poetry is about finding the beauty in something, then finding the best way to express that something.
So while I never thought myself a poet, I probably am anyway...
by Phoenix Desertsong, The Prose Machine
Blogging is a highly competitive game - that’s for sure! But if you think you have something new or unique to bring to the table, it’s never too late (or early) to start! It doesn’t matter how young or old you are! I see bloggers as young as 12 (and there may be even younger, especially on YouTube.) Then I see bloggers well into their 60’s, 70’s and even 80’s! As long as you’re a competent writer and have something useful to share, then blogging is well worth a shot!
Starting Young as a Blogger
When you’re younger, you obviously have not only time on your side to build your blog and your personal brand… you have youth itself on your side! This is both good and bad. There are those that will think it’s “cute” or “adorable” that you’re starting so young! It may be hard for some of your audience to take you seriously.
But for those of us who have been in the game for a bit, we have a deep respect for young bloggers. This is because it takes a lot of time and dedication to build a successful blog. And yes, many kids have more free time than most of us adults, but there’s more to it than just time and energy.
You have to have a certain maturity to be a successful blogger - something many adults don’t even have - to be brutally honest. You have to have a plan and know how to take the steps to execute it. Having a blog, even if it doesn’t do particularly well, is a great learning experience.
At the very least, blogging can make you connections, and these connections can prove quite valuable! We’re more than happy as bloggers to build up the younger members of the community, as you guys are the future of our industry! Sounds corny, but it’s true!
Starting Older as a Blogger
Somewhat interestingly, the advantages of time that you have when you’re younger can be the same advantage when you’re an older blogger. I’ve seen so many retirees pour all of the time they would have used in their day to day jobs into their new blogs. The effort really shows and some of them make a decent side hustle from it!
The other advantage older bloggers have is that they tend to have a fairly substantial network of friends, family, and former colleagues to get the word out about their new endeavors. Also, life experience is a huge advantage when it comes to content. While most of us younger bloggers are still learning how to put the pieces of our lives together, retired bloggers can give us perspectives and stories we can only dream of one day sharing.
It really is never too late to start blogging, and it’s so easy nowadays to get started! Also, it’s an awesome hobby, even if you don’t care about actually making money from it. We really love the elder members of the blogging community and we’re always happy to welcome more to our ranks.
For Those of Us Bloggers in the Middle
A lot of us bloggers are twenty-somethings or thirty-somethings trying to make blogging our primary work. Many of us have regular 40-hour or more a week jobs on top of the dozens of hours we dump into networking, promoting, and the blogging itself. Younger and older bloggers definitely have an advantage when it comes to time.
But for those of us in the middle that are turning to making blogging our primary gig, it’s important to realize that blogging is a full-time job in and of itself. If you’re looking to get into the blogging game, realize it’s going to be a 40-hour a week commitment, and often more. And most of that commitment needs to be about building one another up, young, old, and in between.
Whether you are looking into blogging full-time, part-time, or just as a hobby, it’s all worth it. But as with anything, you get back what you put into it. Think of blogging as starting your own business. It takes the same blood, sweat, and tears. Even if you aren’t doing it as a business, you still have to treat it like one, even if it’s not-for-profit. In the long run, you may not get rich, but you can definitely make a living from it.
It’s never too early or too late to start blogging!
This post has also appeared at The Prose Machine.
If you’re a web writer, there are some things you’re probably doing that you just shouldn’t. Learn how to examine your web content to find the painful truths you can fix.
You need to write for search. This is where many people new to writing for the web often struggle. But it’s really not as hard as one might think. Start with one easy good SEO technique, such as LSI and build up from there. Stay away from blackhat methods, as these may appear to work at first but can be the downfall of your entire site or blog.
Many writers don’t write to their intended audience. Are you writing to yourself or to your targeted readers? Sometimes, that’s the same thing. But occasionally, it's really not. The good thing is you can fix that. Simply pay attention to comments, as well as where your readers are coming from.
Your content needs to be shareable. Read your content back to yourself. Is it something you would share if written by someone else? The title should make someone want to click and read it (but please avoid clickbait). The first paragraph should make them want to keep going. The rest should provoke them to reshare it when finished.
Proper grammar and spelling is a must. If you can’t spell correctly or use way too many commas, do you really think people are going to take you seriously? Study up on your grammar and spelling and use free tools like Grammar.ly to analyze your content before hitting publish. Your readers will thank you by not clicking away due to nonsense.
If you can’t word it right, your audience can’t read it right. This falls in line with grammar and spelling. If your posts are all over the place or are nonsensical, your readers can’t follow along and will just go away. Be sure you are saying what you mean so that people can actually read it and understand in the way intended. Otherwise, you’ll either get misinterpreted or skipped over very quickly.
Do you like trying new products or reading new books? Want to make money or earn free samples for it? Here’s how to start a review blog.
Choose a Platform For Your Review Blog
The first step in starting a review blog for books or other products is choosing the platform you will use. There are many to choose from, such as Weebly, Blogger, and WordPress. I personally recommend Weebly because of the versatility and the fact that beginners can jump right in. If you’re also a pro, not to worry. You can edit the CSS if you want to, but the default drag and drop options make it simple and fun for everyone. In addition to hosting, if you want a dot com domain, you will also need a domain manager. I recommend rcomexpress.com. However, there are lots to choose from.
Build Your Blog
Once you’ve chosen your platform, it’s time to build your blog. This is relatively quick and simple if you’ve chosen one of the more easy platforms. You can choose your template/theme, colors, and so on. You should also be able to choose which pages you’d like and customize each page with the text, images, and anything else you need to. If you’re going to be reviewing products, you’ll want sections for ads on each page. This will help you earn revenue.
Make Sure You Have These Important Pages
At the very least, in my experience, every review blog should have a homepage, a blog page, an about/contact page, and a review policy page. By law, you will need to have a review policy and disclose when you receive products or cash in exchange for reviews. All of the pages and policies mentioned will help your audience have a positive experience with your blog.
Monetize Your Blog For Revenue
Join affiliate programs, such as Amazon Associates, Rakuten LinkShare, CJ.com, and Google AdSense in order to generate revenue. This will allow you to earn revenue with ads that are aligned with the products you review. Sometimes you can align an exact product this way for the best results. Be careful to read the terms of each company and make sure you are following their guidelines if you join. Some may require your blog to be a certain age or have a certain number of posts first.
Start Writing Posts
Once you have made all of your pages, done what you can to monetize, and have something to review, start making posts. The more active your blog is, the better chance you have of people seeing it. At first, it might seem you are talking to yourself. Don’t worry. People will come if you keep writing. Be sure to learn some whitehat SEO techniques to help that along.
Market Your Blog To Companies
Once you have some posts up, you can market your review blog to companies via proper SEO, social media, and by sending pitches out to those who share your interests. It may take some time to build a steady following and you may need to at first review products and books you already own. But in no time, you will start getting more requests than you can handle if you do it right.
Happy blogging! If you have any questions, please comment below or Contact Us and we will do our best to assist.
by Richard Rowell, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
Why do you want to blog? Are you doing it just to have an outlet, or are you trying to make money from it? Is it possible to blog for pleasure and blog for business at the same time? It's completely possible. You just have to ask yourself: What does blogging do for me?
You just have to make it worth your time. As someone who's done both blogging for business and for pleasure, I know it's possible.
Blog When it Feels Right
The trap that so many bloggers, myself included, fall into is having to blog just for the sake of blogging. One great suggestion that some people give is to give shout outs to others by curating content that is worth reading. This is fine and all. But really, if you want to really succeed in blogging, just blog when it feels right.
Blog when you feel like you really need to say something. Curating is fine and writing about a trending topic can be OK, too, but you really need to be feeling it? When you’re feeling it, then it will show in your writing.
Blog Because It Feels Good
Sometimes you just have to get something off of your chest. The thing to do with that is to be constructive about it. Sure, go to town absolutely cussing your brains out in your first draft. But then, see if there’s anything good that others might connect with. I don’t really advocate cursing in blog posts, but done correctly, especially on personal blogs, I’ve seen it work. Then again, advertisers don’t really care for that and Not-Safe-for-Work (NSFW) content isn’t for everyone.
But really, you should blog because it feels good. Don’t turn into something that you have to do just for the sake of making some pennies. Yeah, sometimes that might be all you get. Believe me, I’ve done the homework and I know that most successful bloggers live off of a handful of blog posts. Whatever the rest happens to earn is just gravy.
The idea is to show passion in your blogging, because otherwise, it looks like you’re just making a money grab. Believe me, I’ve fallen short in this category way too many times. That’s why I’m writing this bit in the first place! You have to keep up the passion or it just won’t work anymore.
Blog Because You Can Make a Difference
You should ask yourself when you sit down to blog: how can what I write make a difference? You may be surprised just how much one article or blog post can do in someone’s life. A lot of people Google things just to see if someone else out there is thinking about something that they are. Chances are with the billions of people online today, you’re not alone in what you’re thinking. This is a good thing. People talk about how unoriginal most bloggers have become. It’s true. So you have to stand out. Blog because you can make a difference in some way just by putting your thoughts out there. Keeping them inside your head doesn’t really do you a lot of good if something useful and constructive can come out of them. If you happen to make a little money along the way, that’s good, but it should never be the end goal - despite what a lot of people say.
In the end, don’t blog for business, even if you’re blogging for a business. Blog for pleasure, but also blog when it feels right, because it feels good, and because you can make a difference.
So my fellow blogger friends, do you prefer to blog for pleasure, blog for business, or a little of both? Why do you blog? How you do think you could blog better?
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.
We live in a world where so much information is available at our fingertips. Yet despite the vastness of the internet, there's still a chance to write unique content that covers a topic no one has happened to publish online just yet. But what is the best way to ensure that you're setting out to write truly good and useful content? You'll want to think of each piece you create as a new tree in an evergreen forest of content.
Some pieces will never become more than saplings. They simply won't take root and will wither away. But from the dust of those failures, other saplings will gain a foothold and slowly grow. Once in awhile, one tree will shoot high above the rest. But while it's great to be awesome at the tallest tree in the forest, every tree is important.
Evergreen content is made up of timeless elements. There are certain universal questions that people will always be looking to answer. Sometimes, people will look for a better answer. Your evergreen trees must be able to adapt to the shifting winds of search queries and potential shifts in the online climate. The deeper your roots go and the better connected the forest is, the more sustainable it will be.
Organic search traffic brings your trees the nutrients they need. But you must water them a lot in the beginning. You must identify which trees are your strongest and be sure to invest time and energy into them. The stronger they are, the better the other smaller trees around them will do. You have to remember that your evergreen forest of content is an ecosystem all its own. It feeds off of the surrounding ecology, but it needs to sustain itself, as well.
Sometimes, you may pay someone to water and tend to your forest. You want to only hire tenders who will treat your forest with great care. You don't want to let in those who will litter or otherwise disrespect your forest. While you can't always prevent this from happening, you can always take care to focus on those who will understand how precious it is to grow a beautiful forest that can be enjoyed for countless years to come.
The last thing you want to happen is for a fire to start and burn down your forest. While rare, ecological disasters happen. Whatever you do, be sure to keep the seeds from your top content trees safe, in case you need to start over again. The beautiful thing about evergreen forests is that with the proper care, even a damaged or ravaged forest can one day thrive again.
You may not be confident that you can grow more than a small garden of content. Some of it may be made up of only annuals. That's okay to start somewhere. From the death of these plants can spring new perennial life. It's important to be patient. Prune and fertilize as necessary, but never overdo it. If it's meant to survive, given enough water and sunlight, it will.
Building an evergreen content forest will bring new fresh air to the world. Not only that, tending to it will yield fruits beyond the humble beginnings from which you planted. Good, solid contributions are welcome if they complement your forest. It may start as a small garden with a single plot or even a handful of seeds. But it's well worth the work, if you're willing to do what it takes. There will be those out there who will appreciate it if you just build it tall enough.
Do you think you're ready to grow an evergreen forest of content? You may be a lot closer than you might now think. If you need a little help, it never hurts to ask.
There are so many resources out there for web writers. But many of them cost money or are just not what you are looking for. As longtime career web writers, here are some FREE resources we have come up with, based on what we know web writers need.
Freelance Writing Gigs
Who wants to spend hours and hours searching online for legitimate places to submit posts and get paid? Apparently, we do because we did it for you and compiled a long (and growing) list of Freelance Writing Gigs that we update regularly. Categorization is based upon topics accepted. There are even symbols to denote the gigs that are known to pay the highest.
FREE Writer's Profile & Online Resume
The main thing a professional writer needs is a place to display a professional bio, experience, and resume, along with a place for potential clients to contact them. That's where our FREE Writer's Profile & Online Resume comes in. Fill out a simple form to get yours today!
WWM Blogging And Beyond
This is a free Facebook support group by Write W.A.V.E. Media that is open to anyone who blogs, writes articles, writes books, or any other kind of content. We also welcome those who are just getting started or are considering it. No question will be turned away. We also encourage writers to share their work with each other. Join WWM Blogging and Beyond to get writing help and support today!
FREE Writer's Forum
There are a good number of writer's forums out there. But we still decided to make our own Write W.A.V.E. Media Writer's Forum because most of the ones we found didn't fit what we were looking for. Sign-in is super easy. Just use any social network or the forum sign-in. Rules are simple and easy to follow. Posts are public, so if you just want to read in order to learn something quickly, but not sign in, that's fine, too. This is a very new forum with few members. So, if you have questions, please post them, so we can grow together!
Become A Writer!
If you are new to online writing or are wondering how to become a writer, let us help you for FREE!! Our free writer's resource, Become A Writer, has links to all of the free information you will need. Don't worry, this is NOT one of those places where the links are free, but then you have to pay. There is never a fee involved. You should never have to pay to receive work.
Writers Helping Writers
To go even further in our efforts to help fellow professionals, we developed Writers Helping Writers, which is our mission and resources for other writers, like ourselves. Network with fellow writers to help each other succeed by gaining and sharing access to valuable resources.
Guest Post Submissions
Are you ready to show off your work? Maybe you already have before, but you have some non-exclusive posts collecting dust. Put those posts to work for you! Use our free Guest Post Submissions form to get your content posted to our popular network of sites. We are not asking for your content without offering you benefits. So, we want you to be sure to include links to your existing work, affiliate links, as well as ad codes in your submitted content. More perks are included, as well. Details are on the submission page and in the Submission Guidelines. We accept all topics from lifestyle, to hobbies, home improvement, parenting, media, science, technology, news, plumbing, gaming, art, entertainment, book teasers, education, literature, and so much more. There isn't a topic we don't accept, as long as the work is quality.
Media & Tech Blog
This blog offers advice to both writers and business owners, as well as features tips and information related to media and technology. You can subscribe to the Write W.A.V.E. Media & Tech Blog to be sure you don't miss anything or just come check as you please. This info is all free for the taking, so be sure you don't miss out!
Thought Leadership Associates Blog
Thought Leadership Associates was developed to bring together thought leaders to discuss tips and advice related to being a successful thought leader and entrepreneur. Read the info shared on the accompanying Thought Leadership Associates Blog to learn how successful experts do what they do. We take guest submissions for this and all of our blogs if you have valuable info to share.
Writing Tips Blog
That''s the blog you're reading! The Writing Tips Blog from Article Writer For Hire caters especially to our fellow writers, even though the others are relevant as well. Get helpful info, writing tips, motivation, links to resources, and so much more. We might be a bit biased, but subscribing is a must if you want to benefit from all of the info. Subscription to any of our blogs will only get you email notifications for published posts. So, if you're looking for a spammy service, we aren't it.
Many factors go into determining work and payments from business owners and other clients. These can differ depending on several things. While following this guide may not guarantee that you will receive more work with higher payments, you may see greater opportunities by adhering to the following suggestions. The key is not necessarily to increase every single payment, but to maximize the opportunities available, as well as maximize your long-term benefits from said work.
What types of content are eligible for payment?
All of it! Whether you are soliciting jokes, articles, blog posts, recipes, web page content, product descriptions, photography, or any other creation, it deserves payment if it’s quality material. The key is to submit to the most appropriate venue for best results.
Focus on a specific issue
When you have a tight focus on one topic, readers are more likely to be looking for your content. Think about the things you look for when searching the Web. For instance, instead of general tips on pet adoption, you may want something geared specifically toward the pet you are considering adopting. “Where to adopt a poodle in Denver” should perform better than “How to adopt a pet,” as an example. Write your articles on specific subjects that will be relevant and useful to readers looking for that topic.
Follow assignment details
If you are hired for an assignment, be sure you follow the exact instructions. That means if the instructions say something different from any advice herein, defer to the assignment. When editors and business owners see that you can follow all assignment details reliably, they may be more likely to offer you future opportunities. Remember that, while you should be creative, the content you’re creating is not for you. It’s for the person you are creating it for. Therefore, it should be the way they want it. It’s good to suggest corrections of facts that might be wrong or improvements that might help the client or their website. But again, if they do not agree, unless you are breaking the law or doing something you are strongly against, just do things the way the client wants.
Do your research
When you need to back up your content with facts, be sure these facts are from reliable sources. Also, make sure to cite those sources properly, according to submission guidelines and any additional assignment guidelines. Using multiple highly-trusted and relevant sources also helps to build credibility. Wherever possible, use sources from your client’s website, in addition to the others. This helps them build more relevant inbound linking.
Examine the intended website
If you are submitting to a new client, study the website you are interested in writing for. Think of topics that could work well there but are not yet covered. Having an idea of what could potentially align with a particular property can give you a greater chance at getting accepted. Being unique is key. That means that you don't want to submit something you already see covered on the property. Instead, try submitting something that works well alongside existing content, provides a new angle, or has not been covered at all but could appeal to that property's audience.
Consider the audience behind the topic
Are you writing about parenting? What stages? Think of the age of the kids you're writing about - and then think of what ages the parents are likely to be; they are your most likely audience, and you should cater your content to them. The tone and style used in your article should be something readers can identify with. For instance, if you are writing an article for kids, using complicated business terms is not going to keep them reading. Acceptances of paid submissions are more likely on content that shows attention to detail in this and other areas.
Personalize the experience
When you write an article or blog post, readers should see the real person behind the story (unless your client is not interested in first-person accounts). At the same time, you don't want to ramble about something that has nothing to do with the subject matter. Find that perfect level at which the article provides the information needed with relevant personalization where it fits in with the main point of the article. For instance, if I'm writing an article about picking the perfect daisies, instead of telling a long story about a time when I picked daisies, I would mention how I determine which daisies to pick. I would do that in a way that readers can tell I am knowledgeable and passionate. But it would also need to be something readers can benefit from to answer their questions. When you can use your own unique experience and style, readers can relate more easily. But at the same time, you don't want to say so much that they get bored and click away.
Focus on evergreen material
Focusing on evergreen material is one way to maximize your earnings, as most business owners can use long-lasting content. Evergreen content is that which will draw a reader's interest for long periods of time, such as unique ways to solve common parenting issues. Evergreen slants can also be applied to trending topics. Some editors may value those topics that have a longer shelf life. This is not to say that other content will not be valued, as articles with a shorter shelf life can be useful as well. They each have their own place and are both great ways to maximize your work in different ways. Getting the most out of paid opportunities often involves taking advantage of more than one way to earn.
Pay attention to spelling, grammar, and style
Category and vertical style guides are used for many assignments that offer pay. For the best chances at getting those assignments accepted, be sure to follow them closely. This also goes for any and all other instructions mentioned within the assignment details. Proofreading, even after using spelling and grammar checkers, has always been a lifesaver for me when writing for any venue. Yes, I am a great editor. But, I am also human, so it’s best to double and triple check. Read silently, out loud, and even have a writing buddy take a gander. Programs can miss little things, such as skipped words or typos that are actual words, but not words you intended to use.
Optimize your content for the Web
Studying The Yahoo! Style Guide is a great way to learn basic html, grammar, editing, formatting, and style as it all pertains to writing for the Web. Most content that is submitted to potential clients must be publish-ready. While some venues may have an editor, never rely on editors to fix poor writing. If your writing needs to be thoroughly edited, it is much better to study up so that your submissions are more likely to get acceptances than rejections. You can then submit at a later date when your skills allow you to submit content that is more in line with the platform's needs.
Good Web content displays certain qualities. Apart from being interesting, it must be easy for a wide audience to read. It also must be easily found by search engines. Keep your articles concise and informative in an easy-to-scan format. Web readers often look for something that answers their question quickly and accurately in an engaging manner. For more on writing for the web, again, The Yahoo Style Guide is an invaluable resource.
Maximizing payments on your content is about taking advantage of the many ways to earn. It's also about covering your bases all-around. A solid article is not just well written, but also speaks to the intended audience, giving them exactly the information they expected and needed in a clean, easy-to-scan format.
by Richard Rowell, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
Many content creators have been doing collaborative content for some time now. The greatest reason for this is that combining audiences can do a lot of good for all collaborators involved. But collaboration isn't just good for exposure and traffic. It also brings together different perspectives and talents in ways that you may never have before anticipated.
What’s so great about collaboration, though, is the fact that many times, you’ll end up with something unexpected.. Sure, sometimes a collaboration will start out well-intentioned and end up being a disaster. But when the chemistry is there between creators, something special can happen.
It’s sort of like a duet with musical artists from disparate genres. Different types of content creators can come up with some pretty unique stuff by using the best of their talents to complement one another. Writers connecting with videographers can bring their words to live. Bloggers teaming up with copywriters can find the missing bits to taking their marketing to the next level.
There are many cases where like-minded content creators can do a lot of good together. But by mixing and matching creators from different fields, the power of collaboration becomes that much greater. You have to be open to some interesting, sometimes completely unexpected partnerships, because it may be the collaboration that makes one or both of your lives a whole lot better.
Never underestimate the power of collaboration. That math professor may have a passion for gaming just like you do and add a new dimension to your blog that your audience might appreciate. Maybe you’re a vlogger with a strong core audience, but you found a blogger who wouldn’t seem to be a natural fit, yet found a way to connect to a brand new audience you never thought was there before!
So if you ever find yourself struggling on your latest project, you may find someone out there who’s willing to add their own talent to the mix. Not all collaborations end well, of course, but even those that don’t can teach all involved a lot. Those collaborations that do succeed, however, are to be treasured. Never be afraid to collaborate if the terms make sense. It’s always good to try something new and people love to be surprised.
Have you ever collaborated with other writers or content creators? Have they failed or succeeded? How would you suggest going about your first (or next) collaboration?
See our Writers Helping Writers page for all the ways that the Write W.A.V.E. Media Network is helping writers and other content creators for free!
by Barney Whistance, Contributing Writer
It's hard to imagine the time when we didn’t use apps. They have just been around for the last 5-7 years, but their effect has been so powerful, engulfing, mesmerizing, easing, soothing & above all connecting that they have changed the way that we live and interact with each other. Their power has been so immense that now anyone who is not using them skillfully is bound to lag behind others in terms of productivity and social interactions. Apps have invaded and violently changed how we function in different spheres of life from working out to finding locations to playing games, apps have it all covered. You name the function, there will be thousands of apps trying to work out a way to increase productivity or give you more options for solving or helping that function that was previously possible. People used to give a name to eons that were known on the technology humans were using at that time like the stone, bronze & iron ages. I call the time we live in, “The App Age”.
But why have apps been so successful and powerful and why have we been accepting towards them? We as humans are normally highly resistant towards change but this was a change that wasn’t shown the resistance of any kind. There are some factors that work in the favor of apps which are linked to our functioning as humans. The psychological hit often accompanies acceptation. Let’s explore the factors which bestow apps their massive popularity and power!
Optimizing the Power of Attention Span!
We as humans have quite limited attention spans and if we get distracted too much and switch on between different things, we tend to start skimming very easily. Apps are powerful mediums to catch and optimize attention spans as when you are engaged with an app it's quite a move to close it down and move to on another one. You have to come back out it once you are in it, that’s the best use of our psychological factor of remaining in touch and exploring.
We all have our smartphones and handheld devices with us all the time and apps can be accessed from them very easily, anywhere. We can use them on the go, while on the bed, in the loo, just about everywhere imaginable. This convenience fans the power of addiction. Through apps, if we like something, we can stay on it for as long as we want to.
Apps are highly useful when it comes to getting things done in a faster and much easier manner than ever before. Our emails are now on our phones and we can respond to our emails faster than we could previously. No late reply and acknowledgments know. We can get connected to our employees and work in a virtual workplace even if we are not physically present in the office, this duality makes it easier to get more things done in the same time period.
Increasing Brand Power
Because brands can now have dedicated apps, they can now send their updates and promotional deals right to the hand of the consumer itself. Now that’s direct marketing! This has fanned the economy and increased sales for nearly all brands who have utilized app power to a greater extent than others. It's now more sensible to get a customized app than spending money on advertising through conventional means as the ROI is much higher on this one. Apps can also be linked back to company websites which can offer troves of information to all those who want to learn more. Redirecting traffic increase conversions into sales.
Harnessing the instinctive drive to communicate
We humans are social animals. We love to devour any tool meant for increasing our interaction with others. From Facebook to Snapchat, everything is apter as apps than as websites. The possibility of constant revisits and ability to keep a conversation alive has turned apps into a social behemoth. It's not just people, companies are also jumping the bandwagon by getting customized social media campaigns for themselves.
With the number of apps now in the millions, apps are set to further revolutionize the way we live more yet and the more ability you have to harness its power, the more you will be able to get what you desire.
Barney Whistance is a passionate Finance and Lifestyle blogger who loves to write about prevailing trends. You can find him using Twitter and LinkedIn.
by Richard Rowell, Article Writer for Hire and Gaming Blogger
Really, I am much too fond of Google Correlate as a research tool. While most of the time, this tool comes up with related searches that actually makes sense, other times it seems like you can actually create a profile of the type of person who searches certain terms.
Recently, in my constant research of trends in the mega-popular trading card game Magic the Gathering, I noticed that a particular card has been quite popular among my audience: Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker. I also noticed that cards that are played alongside this Legendary Creature are also big sellers on Amazon. So I thought, well, in my research about Mirko Vosk, why not learn more about who actually plays him in their Magic the Gathering decks?
My research gave me some interesting insights, at least, as far as their Google search habits are concerned. I checked both the weekly correlations and monthly correlations. The basic difference between these two is that the weekly ones tend to be more focused and the monthly are much more broad search habits. For example, in the weekly correlations, we find people searching other cards in the same expansion set, Dragon’s Maze, as Mirko Vosk. The monthly results give us a bigger idea of who is searching Mirko Vosk on a regular basis.
Being someone who is very much into marketing and understanding my audience, this is my profile of Joe/Jane Average who plays Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker in Magic the Gathering
Favorite Trading Card Game: Magic the Gathering
Other Favorite Magic Cards: Lavinia of the Tenth, Master of Cruelties, Tajic, Blade of the Legion, Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts, Varolz, Scar Striped (all cards are also from Dragon’s Maze)
Favorite Songs: “Horizon” by Singularity, “Like I Am” by Rittz, “Laila Teri Le Legi” from the Indian film Shootout at Wadala, “Nasty” by Logic
Favorite Cellular Phone: Samsung Galaxy S4
Favorite Exercise Plan: 30 Day Squat Challenge
Favorite Face Makeup: Smashbox CC Cream
Favorite Image Search: “4 Pics 1 Word Red Carpet”
Favorite Mobile App: 4 Pics, 1 Word
Favorite Video Games: AdventureQuest Worlds (PC) & Dead Island Riptide (PS3)
What can we learn from this?
Keep in mind that Dragon’s Maze was released in 2013 so it may explain the timing of some of the search terms that led me to these conclusions. It’s still fun to see this information. The most surprising search term for me was “Smashbox CC Cream,” which is face makeup. It would suggest to me that there are a good number of female Magic players who play Mirko Vosk in their deck. It also shows me that there were a segment of the Magic playing population who actually liked Dragon’s Maze as a set - it was widely panned by most of the MTG community. As we’re learning over time, Mirko Vosk and a few of his compatriots, like Tajic, Teysa, and Varolz, have turned out to be pretty solid creatures.
We also see that Mirko Vosk players like to stay in shape, as evidenced by the 30 day squat challenge. They also prefer Samsung Galaxy to other cell phones. They also play a lot of AdventureQuest Worlds on the PC. I’ve never played Dead Island Riptide, but I remember people talking about it a few years ago and apparently it was pretty popular.
I don’t remember ever seeing the “4 Words, 1 Pic” game, but I wasn’t paying attention to mobile apps at that point. It’s available on Android and Windows Phone from what I can tell It actually looks pretty fun.
Does this information actually help us to write about Mirko Vosk as a valuable piece in a Magic the Gathering deck? Not really, but it’s still fun.
Read more of Richard’s Magic the Gathering and other gaming content at Gaming Successfully.
by Barney Whistance, Contributing Writer
In the world of content marketing and SEO, there is a growing group of professionals that realize that quality content has become king.
When the internet first revved up and search engines like Google created their algorithmic programs, strategic keyword mentions were enough to get a website high ranked and well-noticed; now all that’s changed. As the filters grow more refined, and social media sharing explodes, we’re learning that it’s not the words we use, but the meaning and value that we create for our others that gets our organization or company noticed.
This means that it’s important to take the time to craft elaborate content webs stretching from printed materials, to guest posts, to featured articles and interviews on high-ranking news websites and blogs, to our own website content, blogs, and social media posts. First and foremost, content needs to tell our organizations’ story – and for that, enter the experienced storytellers.
The next wave of online marketing and writing will become more nuanced, more elaborate, and also, yes, more creative – making it easier for creative writers to find professional well-paid jobs as corporate content writers.
As you set off on this new journey, it’s important to keep a few pointers in mind about creating these new content webs filled with original and provocative content that will keep your readers coming back for more. Here are eight tips for creating valuable and engaging content to your readers:
Read and relate. Make an effort to read books, magazines, quarterlies, and other periodicals on a regular basis. Summarize your readings and document your ideas. When you share your thoughts with others you clarify your own passions, spread your new-gained wisdom around, and introduce your readers to interesting concepts and ideas.
Join a Mastermind group. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase that two heads are better than one? Well, try three, four, five, six or more! When you brainstorm with others on a regular basis by forming a team of trusted advisors, you boost your creativity and launch your ideas forward or create a website or an app for your brand. You’ll also get great feedback on new concepts as well (before you share them with the world).
Invest in developing yourself. Conrad Hall, the American cinematographer born in Tahiti, French Polynesia, once said “You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.” Developing yourself means that you will have more of yourself and your unique insights to share with others, so if you always invest in yourself you will never stagnate and run out of new ideas.
Question assumptions. Pulling apart your own assumptions, and those of your clients and advisors, will help you gain new insights and formulate new and innovative solutions to existing problems.
Play devil’s advocate. If there is a hot topic to be discussed, don’t jump on the bandwagon too quickly. Discuss both sides of the issue and demonstrate that you have a thorough understanding of all points of view. Most of the time we’re here to educate our clients. We should want to help them make reasoned and informed decisions that will help them improve their business - not just tell them what to do.
Use the power of story. Terrance McKenna said “The engineers of the future will be poets." When you use a personal or professional story to illustrate a concept or idea it lends personality to the message and makes the delivery more effective.
Conduct interviews. Interviewing others is a great way to both learn and explore new ideas and also harness the marketing potential of those new connections. It’s also a great way to develop audio and video content for both your website and that of the person you’re interviewing.
Utilize social networking. Join smart and effective online communities to keep a pulse on current trends, gain inside industry knowledge, and be of help to others.
Each piece of content we put out on the web is potentially valuable real estate. However, more than seeing them as their own unique entities it’s important to craft and create value in both the meaning and message of the content we create, as marketers and as writers.
Lyn Lomasi & Richard Rowell are life & business partners. Owners of Brand Shamans & the Write W.A.V.E. Media network, we are your brand healing, soul healing, & content superheroes to the rescue!
Running our network of websites, tackling deadlines single-handedly, and coaching fellow writers, brands, & entrepreneurs to be thought leaders is our top priority.
While rescuing civilians from boring content and brands, we conquer the world, living the RV life and managing our Intent-sive Nature with our awesomely crazy family while recounting The Nova Skye Story, along with Kymani’s Travels.
We also strive to one day cuddle with lions and giraffes. Until then, we’ll settle for furry rescue kitties and doggies.
We support many causes via our business ventures, such as homelessness, support for trans youth, equality, helping starving artists, and more! A portion of all proceeds from Intent-sive Nature goes toward helping homeless pets in local shelters.
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