It's time to pay the bills but your freelance writing hasn't pulled in nearly what you need. Staring at the figures in black and white may make you cringe if you're a freelance writer who hasn't quite reached your ideal goal. Maybe you haven't even touched the surface. But don't give up hope. Perhaps you just need to change your strategy. If you have all the tools and talent, but still can't quite get there, try making your goals more attainable. It's easy to set goals and expectations too high or make the possible impossible by over analyzing. If you aren't meeting your goals in freelance writing, it's time do a complete overhaul of your strategy.
How high are your goals? It's good to set goals. But don't set them so high they are near impossible for you to reach. For instance, if the most you have ever written is 10 articles in a day, don;t commit yourself to writing 20 right away. Instead of saying "I am now going to write 20 articles every day," make your goal that of gradually increasing the amount of work you can handle. This makes the goal more attainable. You might even reach the initial number you had in mind. But you can do it with less stress and pressure.
Which numbers are you focusing on? When I first started out in freelance writing, I tried to figure out a workable income by making goals in terms of article numbers. While this can be logical if you make the same amount for every article, it makes no sense when it's variable. It can also get quite stressful for those who cannot produce a large number of articles every single day. In online writing, the amount made per article can vary significantly, depending on the venue, how pay is determined, and whether or not views will be calculated in the equation. To be sure my writing days are more productive, I had to change my daily goal strategy to make it more attainable.
Now instead of article numbers, I have a goal of how much money I should make in upfront payments each day. This keeps me on track and it also gives me some easy days with less articles to write when I have assignments that pay a little higher. Think about the way you make your freelance writing income and decide which numbers are the important ones to focus on. If what you are currently doing is something you consistently aren't reaching, think outside the box and adjust your focus.
Do your goals align with your schedule? It's easy to set a goal. But if that goal doesn't fit in anywhere it's going to be difficult to make it work. Determine goals not just by what you are able to do, but also by the time you have to get things done in. If you know that you have two free hours in the morning and four at night, break up your writing between those times. If you make goals that fit well with your schedule, they will be much more attainable.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Tips From a Workaholic Supermom
Creating a writing schedule that works is all about making something you can stick to. Is your writing schedule working for you? Or do you wish you could get more done? Just want to try something different? Try prioritizing in various areas and losing extra commitments.
Figure Out How Much Time You Need for Work
If you have a goal of 10 articles per day, figure out how long it will take you to write them. Be sure you will have at least that much time to work with. If you prefer, the time can be spread out throughout the day as long as it fits in somewhere. If you don't have any idea how much time it takes you to work, you may not reach your writing goals. Scheduling the proper amount of time can help gauge writing productivity.
Determine if You Need Set Hours
Some people do not need set hours. For instance, if you are generally at home all day, setting particular hours may not appeal to you. Doing a little work here and there may be a better option. Yet others will need an exact time. This may be due to personal preferences. It can also be a way to let family and friends know you take your writing seriously and do not wish to be interrupted.
Schedule and Prioritize Other Tasks
Instead of, or in addition to, scheduling the writing, try scheduling other tasks. This way, you know exactly how much time you have left to work with. If it's not enough, cut out things that are less important. Create your task schedule in order of importance.
Don't Commit to Things You Cannot Do
I know firsthand how difficult this can be. But do not take assignments you cannot do. Also, do not take a larger number of assignments than is possible in the allotted time. I'm well-known for writing large number of articles at once. Some writers can do this and some cannot. Also, just because you have in the past does not mean you can work this way all the time. Know your happy medium between having enough work to pay bills and having so much work you can't sleep. Take it from one who knows.
Make Sure You Have Breaks
If you don't make room for breaks, your schedule will ultimately fail. Everyone needs rest. Yes, I do have to remind myself this as well. An effective writing schedule will include adequate rest time so that the writer is energized when it's work time.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
If you are in a bind and need to get large amounts of articles done quickly, what do you do? Perhaps this is a common thing for you and perhaps it is not. There are various things a writer can do when large numbers of articles need to be written quickly.
Sort by topic, rather than client. If some of your article topics are similar, write those sequentially or at the same time. Save them to separate folders for each client so you don't lose track. But you can do articles for various clients all at once. This is especially helpful if their deadlines are the same or close.
Do all your research first. Research your topics before writing. This makes it easier to just sit down and write. You get bonus points if you took notes in your article document during research. Medical info and other extensive topics can require a good amount of research for accuracy. Bullet point what you discover under subheadings. Then, when you write the article, you only need to turn those points into sentences.
Group by article type. If you have several list-type articles to do, it can help to do those first. Those may be easier than other formats. Articles with bullet or numbered points can go quickly as well. You also may wish to group them according to word count. When large numbers of articles are due quickly, it's a better strategy to get all the easiest ones out of the way first. This way, if you do fall behind your goal, it happens with less articles.
Write intros and subheadings first. Go through all your article files ahead of time and write all the intro paragraphs and subheadings. This way, you can run through and fill them in faster. If you already have the subheadings labeled, you pretty much know the points you need to make. You then only need to figure out how you're going to say it. This speeds productivity trick. I've written an article with this type of pre-outline in less than 3 minutes.
Write what you know. If the topics are up to you, avoid too much extra research and just write about what you already know. When writing topics you have firsthand knowledge of, it's easy to just spout off info quickly. This is extremely beneficial if you're also a fast typist. It may take a touch longer if you aren't, but it should still help considerably, compared to articles that require extensive research.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
What’s the best way to write fiction?
What’s the only way to write fiction? It’s one word at a time. But, it’s difficult to express complete thoughts in single words. So, then, we must string these words into sentences. These will form paragraphs, which hopefully will form a coherent narrative that forms upon the page before us. Then, we continue to write paragraph, after paragraph, one page at a time.
And, yes, reader, I must involve you in this process. After all, writing is a very intimate, personal experience. Truly good writing can’t just be for the self. Yet, some writers clearly do not involve the reader. Indeed, this is a tragedy. Still, the act of writing shouldn’t produce a sermon unless you are a bona fide preacher. No, it's all about connecting with you, my dear reader.
Many authors are obsessed with trying to know who their target audience is and to know them inside and out. In some cases - say, with children's books - it’s a tactic which you may take to construct your narrative. But, some authors take too many assumptions into account on the part of their reader.
The author's job should be to not bore you. In my humble opinion, too many authors bore so many readers. Yes, maybe you'll know this or that when you come to reading my piece. You'll feel like I should already know that you know these things. But, there's a simple way around this. It's on me, the writer, to make sure if something is brought up that should be generally common knowledge that it is directly involved with what I'm getting at.
I must give you, the reader, a trail to follow. My thought process must be made somewhat intuitive through the writing. Many artists get really artsy, and this artsiness can become distracting. While there is nothing wrong with taking artistic liberties, it’s the job of a good writer to draw the reader into the narrative. Even if you may be unfamiliar with all or most of the individual points, you must be able to see a thought process behind all of it. This is the challenge that all writers face.
So why should you care? I could ramble on forever about the half-million things that go across my mind on a daily basis. It's actually rather incredible how many things actually are on one mind at any given time. The conscious and unconscious minds are so often not in sync. It's why sometimes we just get distracted and we don't really know how. Somehow, though, the act of writing actually can give one access to the nether space between the conscious and unconscious.
When a writer really applies one's self to the task of constructing a narrative, things tend to appear on the page that seem a bit unfamiliar. At times, they seem out of place within the conscious realm. The human mind is really an incredible machine. There are so many things that it can process that often get shoved aside by the conscious mind. A lot of that is simply because of how cluttered "modern" daily life has become.
It's no secret that meditation techniques can help one write better. There is often just too much clutter in our heads to be able to construct anything incredibly interesting on a regular basis, even for dedicated writers. You can't force creativity. It just sort of has to happen.
I hate to reference a cliché. But my prefacing tidbit "one page at a time" is very much like "one day at a time" in that you have to take each challenge as they come. Even if you’re not a writer by profession, you are still the scribe of your own life's story.
You may think, how can I be the author of my own life story if so many things are out of my control? I’m not here to offer you self-help or reveal some special secret to being an amazing writer. No, I am simply saying that many different aspects of life are not as disparate as they at first seem.
You may think, life is non-fiction and fiction is a way to escape that often grinding daily existence. Well, to be fair, there is a very startling similarity between fiction and non-fiction. Fiction is often compelling because of how colorful the settings and characters can be. But in non-fiction, that can also be true. You may say you like fiction because what you're reading you may be convinced couldn't really happen.
Truth is, anything is possible. Nothing is truly impossible, only astronomically improbable. So when you hear "nothing is impossible" it's not false, but it's only a half-truth. No fiction is totally made up. Fiction is always based in some bit of truth. We integrate plenty of fiction into our own lives. If you tell someone a "real-life" story, and don't have your facts straight, it's not completely true. So, guess what? It's fiction.
Am I saying that life is just a world of part-truths with more fiction than fact? Not exactly. But, daily life sometimes can seem that way. Many people I see function in such a way. We live in a world full of so many possible avenues of escapism. As soon as we step outside of what is considered "serious" there is a lot of grey area that you can play with. This is the writer's playground.
There are cold hard facts of life that need to be accounted for, yes. But, what if we play around a bit and pretend that these cold hard facts were instead fiction? How do you rearrange things in such a way to make them more interesting? It's all about making your reader look at things from a different perspective. From a certain perspective, all of our lives are just a fiction that we create in our own minds.
If you're ever stuck, remember perspective. Twist things just a little bit to make it more interesting, without losing sight of the heart of the matter. You may discover things you wouldn't have otherwise. Then, so won’t your readers.
“If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.” – Tennessee Williams
What makes honest writing? I try to be as honest as possible when I set to write anything. It’s just not always easy. Sometimes, I feel being brutally honest in writing actually stifles creativity.
There’s letting things off your chest, and then there’s saying too much. It’s not always easy to put things as succinctly as you may want to. You don't want to rant aimlessly. After all, if you're writing, you're trying to organize thoughts and get something out of them. But, you do have to be honest with yourself:
Your goal may not to be delicate or succinct at all. Still, it's often difficult to say what you mean to say without somehow saying something you didn't. It’s too easy to read between the lines and try to find double meanings to certain words or phrases.
Sometimes in the editing process, you second guess yourself. You may expound on something that you probably shouldn’t have spent time on. It’s what makes writing such a frustrating craft.
The idea of being so honest in writing that it becomes inseparable from the author who penned it is sort of an ultimate goal for all writers. The trick is to be honest, but not absolutely exhaustive in that honesty. You give away a little at a time. That’s what can make writing so therapeutic.
For those minds as busy and often overloaded as mine, it’s a sort of necessity to be just a little honest with a thing or two. You can dress it up a bit and make it less threatening; it doesn’t make it any less true, really. But having a few secrets has to be healthy, right?
Writers seem to have more reason to be mysterious than most. The more mysteries the author has, the more material to be used in the craft. That’s how I like to look at it.
"Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers." – Isaac Asimov
Have you ever found yourself not sure what to write for your blog? There may be days when you sit by yourself and brainstorm a few things that you’ll probably write about later. Likely you won't use everything that you wrote, but you may find something that you were thinking about could make a useful blog post.
But more often than not, it’s likely that you find yourself uninspired by your notes. Other times, you won’t have any notes to go off of at all for blog ideas. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to make sure that you always have something to write about. A lot of it is just letting your blog post topics come naturally.
How Do You Let Blog Posts Come Naturally?
Consider this simple exercise. Towards the end of your day, jot down some of the challenges you faced during the day. Then, tell how you succeeded, or didn’t succeed, in solving them. You'd be surprised how little solutions can make for a short, but sweet post that your audience would find interesting. You may not want to post about your failures right now, but if you take note of them and find solutions later, including those makes for an interesting narrative
Showing dedication to the little things is pretty important to people. It makes you more human to those that read your blog. Blogging effectively involves connecting with your audience on an emotional level. You want people to be delighted by what they read, and be able to connect to these “little things” sorts of posts. Over time, the little things add up. Before you know it, you can have a vibrant and interesting blog. Not every blog post is going to be a hit. But, just three or four little successes can go a long way.
Should I Write About Challenges I Haven't Solved?
What about the challenges you haven’t solved? Are you still working towards solutions? It's fine to let people know what you're working on to better improve yourself and whatever it is you do. Being natural is paramount to blogging effectively. In any case, be as positive as you can, even when dealing with bad days. Keep a bright outlook on things and your blog readers will thank you for it.
You may also want to write down any missteps you took during the day. Now, it would seem that missteps are not the best sort of thing to write about. On a blog you typically want to be as positive and helpful as possible. But, there is a way to spin such mistakes, especially if you find a solution to prevent such a mistake from happening again. You may want to write about what you do to prevent those sorts of mistakes in the future. Draw attention not to the failure, but instead to solutions.
How Do I Get Readers to Emotionally Connect to My Blog Posts?
People love success stories. Most people want to see others succeed. Admit how you’ve overcome certain challenges. It's easy to be inspired by reading about others overcoming difficulties and challenges. You can create those if you just let your successes, failures, and solutions flow naturally throughout your blog posts.
If you're ever stuck for a blog topic, just brainstorm and let the ideas come naturally. Don't self-edit until you're actually about to write the post. Just let the events of each day unfold in your mind. Recount what struggles and successes you had and the little (or big) victories of the day. You might be surprised with what you find even from little victories. What's little to you may be huge to someone else. This way, when you have dull, uninteresting days, you can still write a blog post to inspire both yourself and everyone who reads your blog.
Many times I begin writing on a project and ask myself: why should anyone care about this? Lots of times, I have an idea that I hardly care for myself. Still, I don't discard it. I make a note of it and move on. Who knows where I could find a purpose for that idea?
After several years of blogging, I found I needed to take more profound steps in my writing. In particular, I felt a burning need to write about things that seem to be often avoided. People do care when you bring something up that they don't expect. Sometimes, such unexpectedness is met with fear and negativity. But, potential negative reaction must not be a deterrent in what a writer decides to write.
Whatever You Write, There Will Be Someone Who Will Care
It doesn’t matter what type of writing you do, because someone out there will care about it. There’s nothing wrong with writing reviews, or reflective journals, or informational articles. There's nothing wrong with writing light humor or a little piece of flash fiction. There's nothing wrong with writing an adventure novel that exists purely to thrill a reader. As long as each of those writings fulfill their specific purpose, and not just some broad sense of having written something, someone will care about it.
But, there’s a bit of a paradox here, since it is important for a writer to write even when he or she isn’t finding a purpose for the words being written. Still, when publishing something, make sure people will have a reason to care about what you've written. Don't just publish something because it sounds good. I've been guilty of that myself. Publish something that actually will add something to the lives of those reading it. Share your passion to others through your words. Without adding value to your readers’ lives and sharing your passion, you're just spinning your wheels.
For some time, I decided to give up on SEO. Tired of worrying about keyword search volume and competition, I would focus on searcher intent, not the search engines themselves. It often seems that trying to write for a moving target like an ever-evolving search algorithm is really counterproductive. Sure, there are people out there making a lot of money trying to "crack the code" and get "instant results." But, true sustained success doesn't work that way.
What I would come to find is that you still need SEO. But your potential audience’s questions must always come first. SEO should be a tool to capture your audience, not be what drives your overall content. Instead, it makes the most sense to find what your audience is searching for and how they are searching for it. It's not just about finding the trending topics and keyword phrases. There's a lot more to it than that.
Once you know your audience’s burning questions, it’s simple as answering them. But, it’s sometimes difficult figuring out exactly what those questions to answer actually are. So, how do you find these questions?
Can Chasing Long Tail Keyword Phrases Help You Discover the Right Questions to Ask?
Many SEO services claim to help you chase the "long-tail" keyword phrases that deliver valuable search traffic. Some of these services are quite reputable and they do fantastic research in finding golden opportunities to take advantage of in search. But you’ll be happy to learn you can actually save a bit of money; you can do a lot of this work on your own with just a bit of critical thinking.
Think about the questions that your audience have asked you or might ask you. Those are the questions you base your writing around. Then, if you do find something trending, there's no hurt in writing about it. But, try to spin it in a way where that information will still be useful down the road. That’s what’s known as evergreen content - information that will be good for years down the road. Then, after you’ve done the writing, then work on finding keyword phrases that will get it found and integrate them naturally throughout your content.
There are many different perspectives on how to create content in an organized and systematic way. Particularly in business blogging, the most predominant method is understanding "buyer personas." By this method, popularized by marketing giant Hubspot, a business would go through an entire process of researching where these fictional characters are on the "buyer's journey" and what they are asking search engines at various points on that journey. The common interests and habits of these people are often also considered as supplemental content to lure in people not even realizing they're being led to a landing page to a sell a product that's actually unrelated. While I’ve never been terribly fond of creating hundreds or even thousands of landing pages, understanding the buyer's journey is actually a good idea.
But, wait… What if I’m not a business and I’m not selling anything? It turns out that everyone out there is a buyer of some sort, even if they’re just seeking information. So, what is the buyer’s journey?
How Can Understanding the Buyer’s Journey Help Me Ask the Right Questions with My Content?
The buyer's journey consists of three stages: identifying a problem, researching solutions for that problem, and making a decision on purchasing or otherwise acquiring that solution. Obviously, depending on which of those three stages a potential reader or client may be in that journey, different questions are asked.
Many companies come to a better understanding of their audiences through market research. But you don’t need to hire market research experts to do this. You don’t need to worry about marketing funnels or lead capturing - except maybe for email subscribers. For purposes of web writing, you’re not really looking to build landing pages or anything. You should be most interested about the topics themselves, and why people ask certain questions about them.
The psychology has always been more fascinating to me than the attempt to create a perfect "persona" that defines your target audience. You're not writing for personas, after all. You're writing for real life people. Yes, well-researched personas can lead to a lot of successful content being created. But you don't need a big marketing company and a huge staff to be successful in knowing what your audience wants. You just have to put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Imagine what questions they may be asking, and seek out how to create the most valuable answers for them.
Answering people's questions successfully and thoughtfully positions your as a thought leader on a given topic. Not every piece of content has to be a sales pitch, after all. You should always focus on the best answers you can give, then soft-sell a solution if you have one.
But, What If I Don’t Have the Answers to My Audience’s Burning Questions?
If you can't answer the questions, it's possible there are other expert sources out there that can. This is where curating content comes in handy. Whether the answers come from your competitors or non-competitors it doesn’t matter. The trick is to combine information and ideas that answer questions into a resource that people will find.
Basically, the best way to do it begins with simply typing a question into a search engine. If it's not clearly answered without some work, you can do the legwork, and create content that brings answers to searchers quickly. The search engines smile on well-researched content that clearly shows effort to answer questions. People will remember that you were the one who answered their questions, not where you got the information from, even if a source was actually a competitor!
Creating personas for your audience is cool and may help you better understand where your audience is coming from. But the real trick to knowing the right questions to answer is to naturally provide timely and useful answers for everyday questions. You may find that while your "hits" may not be as high as some marketing gurus may promise you, your interaction and organic traffic will be a lot better than you might expect.
Quit obsessing over SEO. Just answer your audience’s questions. Once you know what those are, you’ll find your content being a lot more valuable and successful. Stay on top of answering your audience’s questions the best that you can, and eventually you’ll profit!
Feel like you might be confusing readers with your writing? Heck, I've had times when my writing even confuses myself. The entire point of writing, of course, is to convey an idea in as clear and concise a form as possible, right? But, sometimes you set out to make your readers think, and you just end up confusing them instead. So, how do you make your readers think without confusing them?
In an earlier version of this same post, I used the word confound instead of confuse. My word choice wasn't incorrect, but because "confound" isn't really a common word, I feel that it may have confused some people. That's why I decided that I should expand on what confound actually means. An examination of two definitions of confound will actually help illustrate the points I'm trying to make.
What Does it Mean to Confound Your Readers?
Confound is an interesting word because in confounding someone, you can do something both good and bad. One definition of "confound" is to "cause surprise or confusion, especially by acting against their expectations." Well, sometimes in writing you'll need to give your readers something they don't expect. But this is where this definition of "confound" gets interesting. The synonyms range from amaze or astonish to dumbfound or stagger. That is to say, a piece of writing that confounds may amaze some but dumbfound others. This isn't really what you want, is it?
The second definition of confound is to "mix up something with something else so that the individual elements become difficult to distinguish." That's to say, you may ramble on and mix things up to the point where you simply confuse people. You certainly don't want to confound your readers in this way.
However, it's not always a terrible thing to confound your readers if it leads to the benefit of making readers have to figure something out for themselves. If you're going to confound your readers for the purpose of making them think, though, you want to go into writing with that purpose.
How Do You Make Readers Think Without Confounding Them the Wrong Way?
Making people think is the core of writing in the first place. But, dumbfounding readers with your writing isn't a sound strategy. That's not to say that some readers won't be confused. You can't always help that. Still, remaining focused on your topic will help reduce confounding your readers for the wrong reason.
It's true that simply stating facts and opinions, however educated, isn't enough to hook readers. There's plenty written out there about infusing personality and "spice" into writing. But, the most important thing to do in writing is to expand one's horizons. You want to amaze not dumbfound and astonish not stagger.
This process is two-fold. First, you express an idea in a written, tangible form. Then, through the act of reading, you can identify and analyze what's been said to come to conclusions afterwards. But if a piece of writing leaves you with more questions than answers, that may not be a bad thing. Being a little confused is OK, as long as it leads the reader to actually think about what was written.
So, in this way, confounding readers may actually be a good thing. By having to think about something in more depth, readers will remember it better. Then, those ideas will have impact beyond the words on the page. Still, it needs to be a topic worth that level of reader commitment. Someone might be looking for a quick answer that could reasonably have one. In those cases, there's no point in confounding anyone.
But, there are times that connecting with the reader on a deeper level can be worth it. I've written before about whether web writers should produce more questions or answers. In that piece, I came to the conclusion that articles that engage the reader in a conversation of thought are strictly better than "free information." While it may not be as simple to digest, it's overall better for the reader. Other readers offered up the opinion that writing that really engages your mind is most rewarding. It's especially good when readers can connect with pieces emotionally. Those pieces tend to perform the best over the long term.
How Does Making Emotional Connections Through Writing Reduce Confusion?
People talk about trying to make emotional connections through writing all the time. But, this is actually incredibly hard to do when it comes to certain subjects. It's especially true with topics that many people are already confused about.
Writing through personal experience is the only way that many people are able to write on many subjects. The good news is that this is also true when it comes to readers looking for answers. People like to read about how other people have figured things out. It's good to go into a writing piece in mind that others will need to take something away from it. Make it worth their time to read.
Confounding readers may sound like a bad idea. Sure, sometimes you'll leave them confused. But as long as you stay on topic, connect with your readers on an emotional level, and ask the right questions, it may not be a bad thing.
If you feel the need to write something, and aren't sure exactly where to go with it, write it anyway. Let it sit for a bit, come back to it, and make the best writing out of it that you can. Chances are someone else will get what you were saying. The whole point of writing after all is to share your ideas. You may not even fully understand them yourself yet. But if you get readers interested in the ideas, you may start a valuable conversation that helps both yourself and many others.
Here's a question I've been asked a ton of times: "Why can't you write a novel?" For someone whose dream as a four-year-old was to be a novelist - and a mapmaker, and a pharmacist, and a starship captain - this would be a legitimate question as I have not yet produced a novel. My obvious inability to properly compose a novel is a topic I've pondered many times. In fact, I've written a lot of drafts of pieces trying to answer that very question, but I was never happy with what i wrote on the subject. So yes, this is yet another attempt to try and answer that question, but this time, I actually have the answer.
I can't write a novel because I simply cannot write a novel. I can't do outlines, as I never have, and never will. Of course, there are novelists out there who have never outlined, either. There are novelists out there that basically just write forever, then let their trusted beta readers and editors do the rest of the work. But in my case, I simply change directions in plot too often and character development often meanders and stalls. It's not even a lack of focus. I just lose interest in what I'm writing if I spend too much time on it. That's right. I simply cannot hold focus for fifty thousand plus words. I can't even hold focus for ten thousand words, never mind anymore than that. Is it a weakness? Perhaps, it is. Or perhaps, I'm simply not a novelist.
I'm not saying that I will never, ever write a novel. But it is fair to say that my dream of being a novelist is indefinitely on hold. Truth is, I'm not even good at short stories. Flash fiction is perhaps the only creative future that I have outside of poetry - and poems are definitely a specialty of mine. The thing is, I can't combine my poetry with my stories. I've tried that, and it was a disaster. So basically, my future as a creative writer appears to be relegated to simply flash fiction pieces and poetry. I'm finally feeling content with that.
However, that being said, the truth is that writing a novel takes a ton of energy. For whatever reason, I do not ever want to expend that level of energy on one particular project ever. I feel that my energy needs to be divided more efficiently across a wider breadth of subjects. My brain is always hitting on many different things, so why should I force it to do simply one thing? Yes, I have a tendency to hyper-focus, but this hyper-focus when it comes to trying to write a novel is actually very, very bad. If I have to figure out where to take a story next, it is NOT going to follow the original path. It's going to go bonkers.
The interesting thing is if you give me someone else's story that already exists, I'm actually pretty good at identifying shortcomings and fleshing things out. So it's not that I can't tell a story. It's that the stories I try to tell are evolving so constantly in my mind that everything I write up to a point becomes obsolete. And that is so monumentally frustrating that I cannot begin to tell you how much worthless text I will have to eventually go through and pare down into flash fiction pieces. So, at least, I have a plan of what to do with all my failed stories.
So yes, it is very likely that I will in fact put out a book someday. It will be a collection of short flash fiction stories. Some will share characters. Many won't. But a novel will have to be a collaboration with someone else, because I simply do not have the capacity on my own to keep everything going in one direction or follow any logical plot structure. My brain simply does not operate in that way because real life is not that way. I am far too spontaneous to be forced into any sort of literary conventions. So perhaps one day I'll write a novel that is extremely disorganized and completely wacko. Not saying there isn't anything already out there like that, but since I doubt it will sell, I may as well just post my insane creative scribblings at will.
Have you ever considered writing a novel? Good luck. I think I'll just stick to the greatest hits from my Crazy Idea Bin. That should be good enough for me.
The blank page is like a canvas, they say. Actually, a blank page is more like a desert. It can be the most dreaded thing known to humanity. This is why whenever you try to always start with SOMETHING. some sort of opening theme like in a TV show, or a prompt, or something. Always have something to start with. Because just when you think you can't fill a page, you probably will.
How is this? Start with today's date, then just list some things that are on your mind. If your inspiration can't be sparked by something that you just wrote, list some of your favorite things, and see if you have anything to write about them. By this point, you've probably already filled a page and come up with writing ideas for about a week. Considering this sort of brainstorming is how I practiced writing on a daily basis for years, I can say from personal experience that it works.
However, I don't really participate in brainstorming sessions anymore, nor do I use many prompts. Why is this? It's because sometimes it's okay to just let ideas come to you as they will. Unless you desperately need to fill a need for some assignment, not filling a page is not some crime. Just jot down things in a notebook or some organization program like Evernote or a memo pad app of some sort. That way when you're starved for ideas later, you still have them. Then you'll fill many pages just from that single note.
Still, I've found more often that not, as long as you go into any writing with a purpose, you will fill that page. It works similarly with art. In photography, just point at whatever and shoot. In drawing or painting, just doodle for a bit and work from that. You'd be surprised in these supposedly dark moments of lacking inspiration that you'll find the beginnings of some of your best creative work ever.
Words will come to me whether or not I want them to. It is what I do with them that matters, to give them a meaning and a purpose. Then it is up to whomever reads them to decide if they are worthy. Words are just thought fragments, loosely translated into a common tongue never quite perfect. Limits to vocabulary hinder true perfect expression, but with care and practice, one can succeed in mostly getting a point across. At times, it is only with great difficulty, and often never on the first attempt.
Then, two similar but disparate ideas intermingle, distracting from the original thought. Confusion sets in, creative chaos ensues, and frustration builds. Then writing blocks emerge seemingly for no reason. Fear of losing that writer's touch begins to swell. The words must then be forced out, as thoughts are still there, but stubbornly refuse to be translated. Perhaps, those thoughts are not yet worthy of being shared. Or perhaps, there is a lack of the skill necessary to share them properly and precisely? Such awkward moments cannot be avoided when you constantly deal in words. Sentences and phrases never seem quite perfect, but then it is decided that they are good enough for now. They can be altered later.
The words will come, and they must. So I just let them come. I'll figure out what to do with them later. Then, it's up to you to do with them what you will. I am only a delivery boy. It's your choice what to make of these words I bring you. I hope they do you some good. Hopefully they won't befuddle you too much, and if they do, maybe they'll make you write something, too. If I inspire any positive action, or any action at all, then the words have done their part, I've done my job, and the world goes on.
And then I get writer's block again. Sigh.
The words will come.
Lyn Lomasi & 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!
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