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Writers Matter

5 Sep

The State of Montana is known as Big Sky Country.  I never really understood why until I went camping one time along the Yellowstone River.  Our campsite was located a good twenty miles from any real town or city, so ambient light was non-existent where we were.

That first night, laying on the ground in my sleeping bag, looking up at the stars, I finally understood why Montana had that nickname.  I had never seen so many stars in the sky as I saw that night. It was one of those sights which leave you gasping, and it was one of those sights which also leave you humbled.

I felt that way again three days ago when I received notice that my articles and stories have been viewed one-million times.

Unbelievable!

This isn’t a pat-on-the-back sort of post.  This is a “HOLY SHIT” sort of post.

There’s nothing special about me; at least I don’t think there is.  I’m just a guy, one of over seven billion on this planet.  I grew up in Tacoma, Washington, and really lived a very “under the radar” sort of existence.  I never made the news.  I really never did anything that I consider noteworthy.  I’ve stumbled and bumbled my way through life, just like everyone else.  I eat, I sleep, I work, and I love.

So the realization that my words have been read over one-million times is amazing to me.  Thank God for the internet, right?  It has allowed a nobody like me to have friends in over fifty countries and in fifty states without ever leaving my writing studio.  It has allowed me to work on my craft and receive unbelievable support along the journey.

For an introvert like me, we are talking a huge bonanza I never expected.

My message to my writer friends: what we do has an impact.

When I first started out writing, I wrote a lot of articles about alcoholism.  It was only natural that I do so since I’m a recovering alcoholic, closing in on eleven years of sobriety.  Now I mention that because those articles were written seven years ago, and I’m still receiving emails from complete strangers, thanking me for those articles and telling me how much they have been helped by my words.

Complete strangers, helped by my words!

We make an impact with our words!

So treat this gift of writing with the respect it is due.

One million times!

Who would have thunk it?

Thank you, all!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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Guest Blog by a Dear Friend

30 May

I call her my Lil Sis, and she receives that name because I love her to pieces and wish I had a little sister like her.  Her name is Cynthia Calhoun and she has offered to do my post this week, giving me a needed break while I heal some emotional wounds.

With that out of the way, I turn it all over to my Little Sister!

 

Writing is a craft, a calling. We pour our souls into the project at hand and hope that the rest of the world appreciates what we have borne through life experience and sheer hard work.

And Bill – or Big Bro, as I call him – truly exemplifies experience and hard work! I’m so glad to be here writing a post on his blog!

I wanted to create a post that would speak to his readers, while giving ideas to be creative!

So here goes….

Even the most adept writer needs help with making their writing more engaging, more powerful and more colorful.

Just how do you, as a writer, make your work more colorful, descriptive and engaging?

It’s not as difficult as you’d think, and there are a number of ways you can spruce up your writing.

Practice and Practice…and Eliminate Distractions

Every writer worth their salt knows this. But actually doing that is another thing.

How many folks out there sit down to the computer and find other distractions? You sit down at 9am to write, and before you know it, the clock almost mocks you as it says, “12:54 pm.” You glare at it, silencing the little sneering voice that beams out from the numbers.

There are ways to help with distractions. You can install a “distraction free” app on you computer so that you can’t check the internet.

Similarly, you can use the “focus” setting in Microsoft Word (or similar program), or there’s a program called, “Focus Writer,” which is a bare-bones writing program that uses a full-screen mode. If you use Scrivener, there’s a similar function.

Other things you can do: Set a timer. Some folks get motivated by seeing a countdown. This is something I use almost daily. Set it for an hour and FOCUS.

At the end of that hour, step away and give yourself a break. Then come back to it and use the timer again.

Have a policy of checking email once, or at the most, twice per day. If you constantly answer emails as they come in, you have to refocus and bring yourself to concentrate all over gain. Getting into a “flow” state takes at least 20 minutes of uninterrupted activity. It’s also extremely easy to slip out of it.

Experiment with what works for you, though: set a word limit. How much do you want to do in a day?

Try different things to see what works for you. Ideally, you do this every day and establish a routine with it: same time, same place.

Journaling

If you know me at all, then you’ll know that I’m a life-long journaler (yeah, I made that word up). I can’t live without getting words on the screen (or paper).

This tip will work for people who naturally like to do this, but we’re all different. My friend Bill here says he’s not a journaler, but obviously that has not held him back. Have you SEEN all the books he’s published!?

However, when you sit down to journal, it’s good to do this first thing in the morning (or after a mindfulness exercise) before other activities in the day crowd out this special time.

If you don’t have ideas, think about a quote that resonates with you, explore ideas for your next book, or you can talk about a problem you want to work out. Still, you can talk about dreams and things you want to do with your life.

The point of this exercise is three-fold: you get out all those stray thoughts that might otherwise occur to you while you’re working, you boost your productivity by actually getting a block of writing done early in the day, and it allows you to work on your craft in a pressure-free environment. It’s also a good idea to make this a daily activity.

Free-Writing

This is related to journaling, but with a different goal: to stimulate the generation of ideas. Sometimes you are staring at a blank screen, feeling the pressure you’re putting on yourself to produce something. Anything.

A free-write can be about putting a word down on paper and see what your mind does with it.

For example, right now, get out a piece of paper and find a place where you can write down a note for a quick free-write.

Now, write down the first word that comes to mind. Don’t judge your word.

For me, in this instant, I thought of “giraffe.”

Next, I’ll let my mind wander for a moment about all the words related to giraffe and what it makes me think of: African safari, animals in zoos, beautiful patterns, gentle creatures, feeding giraffes, the tale of the extra tall giraffe, and more.

As you write all those words down, you can put them into a list, or just write them across the page – whatever you’d like to do.

But then, think about the other ideas that come from those words and phrases and start writing – don’t worry about punctuation or a story line, just write whatever comes to mind in stream-of-consciousness style.

Here’s mine: “giraffe went to the department store he wasn’t supposed to be there but why is it his fault, the kid brought him there and made him wait outside, well it was hot and he got tired of waiting, so he walked through the revolving door much to the surprise of the greeter in a pantsuit who was going to call security but then decided to just let him walk through the store it was like she understood the giraffe was trying to find someone” – that’s what I came up with in 60 seconds.

You can keep going for as little or as much time as you want. But the key is to give yourself permission to just write like crazy, no editing or backspacing, and just see what happens. Do this whenever you need ideas.

Mind Maps

Similar to free-writing, mind maps are fun. You start with a single idea. Perhaps you have the subject or a theme for a book you’d like to write. In the center of a large paper, you write it down. Then, attach a line to that circle and add another idea. Try to keep them to fewer than four or five words; shorter is better.

Let your mind go wild and try not to censor any ideas. Sometimes the most outlandish idea will actually lead to that one perfect one for your next book or project.

Again, this activity can be as short or as long as you want, but aim for a minimum of 5 minutes. It’s especially useful to do before starting a big project.

10 Ideas a Day

The thing about writing is that we’ll come across someone else’s work and say, “that’s a good idea! Why didn’t I think of that?”

The truth is, that person just didn’t come up with a good idea without having to work at it. Coming up with good ideas is an art, and you have to start with a lot of bad ideas, first.

This exercise is actually more about quantity rather than quality. While that may seem counter-intuitive, think of it like creating Michelangelo’s “David” sculpture: “you just chip away everything that doesn’t look like David.”

Incredibly, this is how idea-generation works: you have to chip away at the bad ideas to be left with the good ones.

In the mornings, as often as possible, make yourself write down 10 ideas about a theme or subject. About anything.

Why? Because often, unrelated bad ideas help to uncover the one good idea – that you can use immediately or for another project.

Date your list of ideas so you can refer to it later.

Then write down a topic for which you want to generate more ideas.

Don’t let yourself get up from the chair until you’ve come up with ten.

If you can’t think of anything, try the free-write activity, first.

Since we were talking about giraffes in the free-write activity above, let’s go with that.

The guidelines: no judgement about how good or bad those ideas are, don’t let yourself get up until you have 10 ideas, bad ideas allowed – the more the better – because that gets you closer to uncovering a good idea!

10 Ideas: Writing a story about Giraffes:

  1. Giraffe meets a unicorn.
  2. Giraffe meets a family on safari in Africa.
  3. A giraffe born with three legs.
  4. The giraffe who was set free.
  5. Giraffes and civil wars in Africa.
  6. The giraffe and the baby monkey.
  7. Giraffe gets a yellow hat.
  8. Giraffe becomes Aware.
  9. The mindful giraffe.
  10. Giraffe helps banish Barnum & Bailey’s circus from existence.

It might seem like all I think about are giraffes, and while they are awesome creatures, I can assure you I don’t think about them with reckless abandon.

I may or may not ever use anything on this list. That doesn’t mean that this list is useless.

There are other ideas I can possibly take away from this: civil wars, baby monkeys, awareness, mindfulness – these subjects make my brain go, “hmm.”

When I come back to do another 10 ideas, I can take the words that piqued my interest and go with those.

When you first start doing this, it might be hard to come up with 10 ideas. But, it gets easier over time and you start to get really good at coming up with ideas.

Index Cards

In this digital age, the ubiquitousness of the smart phone has allowed us to easily take notes. But what if our phone is charging or we’re standing in the rain outside, or we’re not near our phones, or we don’t feel like typing a whole narrative onto a tiny screen?

Cue the index cards!

Some of the best ideas come when we’re away from work and away from writing.

I personally carry index cards (and a pen) in my car, in my bag, in my office, and they’re in several areas around the house.

Any idea I have gets a place on these cards.

I’ve come up with some brilliant ideas and having a card around to immediately write it down prevents me from completely losing that idea.

They’re easy to refer back to and don’t take up much space. When you’ve had a chance to properly work with the idea you had on the card, then you can recycle it.

One of the best places to keep an index card is in the book you’re currently reading. When you have an idea, it’s so easy to quickly jot it down.

Read Others’ Work

This is a huge one. If you’re a mystery writer, it’s good practice to read other mystery writers’ novels – you’ve probably heard that before. There have been countless times I’ve been reading a book and that triggers an idea for an upcoming story.

Even so, get out of your genre from time to time. It’s a great way to get a new perspective. Often times you’ll learn something new and you never know how you’ll be able to apply that back to your own writing.

But as you read, always be thinking, “What if?” 

What if the giraffe was purple? What if the giraffe was a prince in disguise? What if the giraffe was supposed to be on an ark somewhere?

Those “what-if” questions can really make your mind wander.

Do Unrelated Activities

You’re in the shower and a brilliant idea comes to you. Or, you’re on a hike and you think of the perfect solution to the problem you’ve been working on.

Sound familiar?

When you’re working on something, and you’re consciously thinking about it, ideas can be harder to come by. But, when you really want to find a solution to a problem or get ideas, doing a completely unrelated activity can generate ideas because your subconscious continues to work on it.

So, sometimes it pays to take a well-needed break, refill your cup and let your subconscious work on its own. You might be surprised!

Be Mindful

Okay, now for my favorite. This one activity can really change the way you look at things and your level of creativity.

Each morning, before I do anything else, I set a timer and spend time in mindful silence.

I try to focus just on breathing, and try to limit any thinking about work or ideas about things.

Of course, if my mind insists on thinking about something, I’ll grab an index card, write it down, and continue with my mindful silence. These days I spend 60 minutes in silence, but over a decade ago when I first started, I only did 5-10 minutes.

But now, spending this time in silence, focused on my breathing, clears out my mind completely. It is then that I feel primed to generate ideas.

Indeed, all these activities are on my list for whenever I need original ideas for better, more creative writing. I’m also grateful Big Bro let me share some of the techniques I use to generate ideas for my own writing, whether it’s a blog post, a drawing, a poem, or fiction.

 

About Cynthia

Cynthia has been a life-long writer. Most of her writing centers on non-fiction, although she makes occasional forays into the world of fiction. She writes over at Intuitive and Spiritual and enjoys a mindful existence, filled with journals, artwork, and walking all over the place. Her coloring book, The Tree of Life: A Coloring Journey is her newest work, due out on June 2, 2017.

ONE FINAL NOTE FROM BILL

I’ve seen her coloring book and it is fantastic…I’ve even colored in it…so, if you want a great gift for someone, or a great gift for yourself, this coloring book is my suggestion.

Thanks so much, Lil Sis!  You’re the best!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

 

 

 

I Am Writer Hear Me Roar!

7 Mar

INTROSPECTION

I was a quiet child.

I was the one in the corner at school dances, watching everyone else.

While friends went out and partied, I took walks in the woods.

I avoided crowds. I still do!

I would rather listen than talk.  That’s always been the case.

I am an observer and not an active participant in group activities.

I speak when spoken to, but do not offer information unless asked for it.

This is who I am.

I didn’t keep journals as a child.  I rarely wrote, preferring to play baseball, or football, or go fishing, but I suspect my muse was working overtime during those childhood years, for now I have a treasure chest of ideas and experiences to write about, all of those memories stored up over the years.

I am a writer!

I listened to stories told by my grandparents, stories about the Great Depression.  I heard every word as they told me about life on their Iowa corn farm, about losing that farm, and about their journey out west to a better life.  I watched as my mother and father worked hard, providing for me and my sister, never complaining, always giving love in an abundant supply.

I grew up in the 50s and 60s, transitioning from idyllic Leave It To Beaver to the tumultuous protests, my country suffering growing pains, the stalwart words “liberty and justice for all” under fire, all of us experiencing growing pains, and all the better for it when it passed.

Sixty-eight years have molded my writings, and those writings will continue as long as I am able, for I am a writer and proud of it!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Sorting Through Priorities

25 Oct

003Sigh!

I’m late!

I have no excuse.

Shall we continue anyway, or would you like to hang me in effigy?

Actually, I have an excuse, but I don’t feel like sharing it, so there you go.

Or maybe I will, but I’ll do it in a roundabout way.

Pay attention and you might figure out my excuse.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Stephen Covey
THOUGHT OF THE DAY

I readily admit that I can be a bit obsessive. That’s both a blessing and a curse, depending on the day.  Recently I have obsessed over finishing my latest novel “Shadows Over a Hangman’s Noose.”  I want to publish it sometimes in November and come hell or high water I’m going to do that . . . but I can’t lose sight of my daily priorities because of that obsession.

I recently acquired a freelance gig that pays pretty good, and I was in danger of missing that deadline because of my novel obsession.

So I had to step back and get my act together.

Long-term goals are wonderful, but don’t forget the daily goals in the process.

That’s a long-winded way of saying this blog almost didn’t happen because I wasn’t thinking clearly.

The novel can wait a day while I take care of my new customer and post this blog.

Problem solved!

TRAVEL ARTICLES

I’m still trying to find an ad that appeared on NIUME regarding pay for travel.  A friend of mine on HP recently said she saw an ad stating that a company will pay writers the cost of travel if they write travel articles for them, and I can’t find the darned ad, but I’ll keep trying.  This is something I’m not aware of, but it’s interesting enough to keep looking.  Stay tuned!July 21, 2012 041

MAKING MONEY ONLINE

While visiting a forum on HP recently, I came across a writer who wanted to know what the secret was to making money faster while writing online.  My answer is simple: there is no fast way to make money as a freelance writer. There are no “get rich quick” schemes in freelance writing.  You have to build your platform, practice your craft, and market wisely.  It takes time. The successful freelance writers I know, and I’m including myself in that conversation, are the ones who have spent years building their professional platforms and who treat their writing like a business.

Yes, I said they spent YEARS!

If you want to get rich quick, play the Lotto.  The odds are horrible but you just might beat them in one week.

NOTHING MORE THIS WEEK

I’m on empty, so let’s wrap it up.  As always, I appreciate you stopping by.  I promise to have more interviews in the near future, just as soon as I get my act together and take care of some pressing priorities.

town_876And yes, Christmas is coming, and I mention that because a great gift for anyone buying for a reader is a book by an independent author.  Why give more money to James Patterson when some great writers who just started out could use a sale or two?  If you want some suggestions of great indie writers, I’ll be more than happy to give them to you…and I’ll include them, from time to time, on this site.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Don’t Be a Pain in the Butt

18 Oct

003NO INTERVIEW TODAY

Sorry, but time was short, storms kept threatening the power, I had a birthday, and I never got around to interviewing any writers this week.  I’m afraid you’re just stuck with little old me, one year older and hopefully slightly wiser.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to wish me Happy Birthday last week.  I am humbled by the outpouring of love from my friends and peers.  It’s been a good life and it only gets better.

We are in the middle of 72 hours of some serious weather here in Olympia.  No, not on the scale of a hurricane, but the winds are hovering around the fifty-to-sixty mph level, and the rain is non-stop, and flooding is happening . . . in other words, it’s great weather to write.

LET’S GET STARTED WITH THE QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide.” Marcus Tullius Cicero
THOUGHT OF THE DAY

I’m currently teaching myself Twitter.  I know, I know, I’m a little late to the show, but I can only do so much, folks, and Twitter has fallen by the wayside and that’s just the real of it, as one of my characters, Billy the Kid, is fond of saying.

Now the reason I mention that is because I realized there are a lot of social media sites available where writers can market their brand, and I mean A LOT!!!!!  Too many, in my humble opinion, so I concentrate on just a few, namely Facebook, Pinterest, my blog, sometimes Linkedin, and now Twitter.

Why too many?

This is just my subjective opinion, so if you do differently, don’t get all bent out of shape over it.  I’m more concerned with doing quality marketing rather than blizzard marketing.  I want to do select sites and do them extremely well, rather than belong to twenty different social media sites and do them poorly.

And my other concern is I never want to flood the market with my book marketing to the point of becoming an annoying pain-in-the-butt.

TIP OF THE DAY

Be a real person first and a writer second.

I am betting the metaphorical farm on my personality and my writing abilities.  I am convinced, in the long run, that the quality of my writing and my personality will both be huge factors in whether I am successful or not.  In that light, it is very important to me that I let you know me as a real human being and not just some huckster who is trying to sell his books.  I want there to be a very real personal relationship between me and my followers, a connection of two human beings.

I may never be famous or rich because of writing, but the followers I do have will follow me into hell, and I can live with the smaller numbers knowing I’ve touched, deeply, a select few.

Be a real person first and a writer second!

UPDATE ON NIUME

I got my first payout, a grand total of ten bucks, but hey, it only took a month and hey, that was without me making much of an effort on that site.  In other words, I think NIUME has real possibilities for someone who really wants to become an active member of that community.

CONTESTS TO CONSIDER

FanStory has a Lune Poetry Contest with a deadline of October 24th, a $100 prize for the best.  What is Lune?  It is 5 syllables in the first line, three in the second, and five in the third…it does not have to rhyme.  Check it out here.

Write a Halloween story for another $100 prize, also offered on FanStory. Check out story requirements by following this handy link.

A SHOUT OUT

A shout out to a new writer friend of mine, Sarah Potter, on her website SarahPotterWrites.  This is a talented and personable writer and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed by following her.

A QUESTION ABOUT LENGTH

Someone recently asked me “what’s the difference between a short story and a novella?”

The answer is you!

Ta-Da!!!!!

Seriously, the difference is length.  A short story is in the neighborhood of 3,000-8,000 words, give or take a paragraph.  A novella is shorter than a novel, so figure 10,000-60,000 words.  Please note these designations are flimsy at best so, my best suggestion . . . don’t worry about it!

AND THAT’S ALL FOR THIS WEEK

I thank you and I thank your parents for giving birth to you.

How’s that for a farewell?

Bill   #greatestunknownauthor #shadowskill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

 

 

 

A Slight Change of Focus

6 Sep

003BACK WE ARE AND HAPPY FOR IT

I’m going to make every attempt possible to be a little more consistent with my postings here.  I do believe in consistency, but life has tossed me a few lemons of late, and that’s knocked me off my schedule and stride.

So I’m shooting for once a week from now on. Wish me luck.

I’m also going to attempt to be more helpful as we move forward, toss out some suggestions, see if I can’t help all of you as you travel along your writing path.

So let’s see how it goes!

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.” Saint Francis de Sales
THOUGHT OF THE DAY

That quotation hits me right between the eyes.

I am my own worst enemy.  Always have been.  I am never satisfied with what I do.  I am always convinced I am falling just short of where I should be.  Let me tell you, it’s one hell of a burden, and for a writer, who should exercise patience above all other attributes, not being patient is not a great recipe for success.

Writing is a long-term undertaking.  Overnight success rarely happens in this business, and those who think that rule does not apply to them probably should not be writers.

I have to constantly remind myself of that fact.

TIP OF THE DAY

Your ultimate goal probably will not, and should not, change, but the way you attain that goal can, and probably should, change.

If your approach is not working then for the love of the gods, try a different approach.  My dad used to say there is no sense in beating a dead horse.  The same philosophy applies to marketing.  If your marketing plan is failing then find a new one.  Never be afraid of trying new marketing approaches.  I recently tried selling my books at farmers markets.  That idea failed miserably when measured by the sales of books, and I probably won’t do it next summer, but that doesn’t mean it failed totally.  It helped to get my name out to the buying public.  It put a face to a name, and allowed me to discuss writing with real-life people.  All of these are good things and should never be minimized.

There are a thousand and one ways to market your writing, so if you’ve only tried five so far, you’ve got a few to go.

NEW SITE

Well, not really new, but relatively new, a couple years, but I want you to check it out if you’re interested in making a little online money while doing what you love to do…writing.  It’s called NIUME and it is causing a stir, kind of like HP did six years ago.  I believe the corporate entity is out of the UK, and they advertise themselves as a blogging community.  They are getting well-established, or so the reports go, so it might be worth a look.  Let me know what you think.  I’m intrigued enough to consider it with some of my old Hubs that are gathering dust on HP.

If you are interested, use my personal referral link https://niume.com/?ambassadorID=48484 and I’ll receive money when you sign up.  You have nothing to lose.  It costs nothing to check it out.  You know I’m a staunch member of HubPages, so I must feel pretty good to even mention another site.

What I loved first about this site is the ease with which you sign up for revenue share.  You simply give your PayPal login email address and that’s it. No signing up for Google Adsense, no waiting to qualify with a certain amount of articles….ten seconds and you are in the payment system.

Anyway, check it out.  This is not a recommendation as much as it is a suggestion.

SECOND QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Outlast the lucky, outwork the lazy.”  Jeff Goins

ANOTHER RELATIVELY NEW SITE

I’ve mentioned this site before but it bears repeating.  A friend of mine on HubPages, John, known as Jodah on HP, has started a new site specifically for creative writers and poets. That site is called The Creative Exiles.  Check them out if you are tired of the constrictions and restrictions that sites like HP put on you.

This is not a revenue-based site but it is a site where you can rub shoulders with a supportive community of writers, and it is a site where your creative writing will be showcased.

What do you have to lose?

IN A PERFECT WORLD

In a perfect world, here’s what I would have happen: I would be left to just writing.  I would then turn my writing over to my own personal publicist.  At the same time I would hire a tech whiz who would handle the setting up of podcasts, videos and other tech gadgets so I didn’t have to sweat blood trying to learn it all.

But it’s not a perfect world, is it?  What we are left with is what we can do by ourselves.B.T.K.C. x5A

In other words, we do what we can.

CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS

Yes, I said Christmas!  Mea culpa, Mea culpa, Mea maxima culpa!

But let’s face it, it’s getting closer, so we might as well acknowledge that fact…and for most of us, Christmas will eventually mean Christmas shopping for those near and dear to us.

Might I suggest a couple ideas for gifts?  How about supporting your writing friends and give one of their books as a gift?  If we truly do belong to a writing community of friends, then let’s truly support those friends by buying their books as gifts for other friends….and the circle goes round and round…sing it with me!  James Patterson has sold enough books.  Let’s spread the wealth a little.

Need some ideas?  How about the following:

“The Carriage Driver” by Mike Friedman

“Versions of the Self” by Christy Birmingham

THREE KEYS TO SUCCESS IN WRITING

  • Make personal connections
  • Tell stories
  • Practice and when you are finished, practice again.

 

THAT’S ENOUGH FOR THIS WEEK

I’m busy doing some marketing research.  I’m interested in new ways of getting my name out there without shoving it down my friends’ throats and becoming tiresome to those who have already supported me….so I’m killing the rest of this afternoon scouring the billions of tons of information out there, looking for an idea that resonates with me.

I wish you a fantastic week of writing. Thank you so much for your support and friendship.

In the next few blogs I’ll be interviewing some fellow writers and picking their brains. Stay tuned for that.

And for those who inquired, the latest in the Shadow series is coming along nicely.  I’m at the 1/3rd mark and it is flowing better than I had hoped.  It will be titled “Shadows Over a Hangman’s Noose.”

Bill    #greatestunknownauthor

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

The Value of a Writing Coach

13 Jan

Why is it that weekends go by so quickly?  I don’t ever remember a Wednesday flying by, but Saturdays?  Gone in the blink of an eye!

I spent the weekend fixing our quail enclosure…our aviary…would that be a quailry???  Anyway, making any bird enclosure predator-proof is quite an undertaking, but I think we are done and ready to put the quail back in their outside home.  They’ve had it a bit easy for the past couple months in the garage, warm and safe from the elements and raccoons.   It’s time they get back outside as the gods intended.

Working on projects like that one is a hands-on job, but my mind is always tossing around writing ideas while I cut the wood and fit it into place.  Short story ideas, novel tweaking, new characters, they all visit me while I’m screwing and pounding. (I know that sounded dirty but it’s what I was doing)

The point is that my mind never rests, and I suspect it is true of most writers.  My muse will whisper sweet nothings in my ear at the strangest times, and I have to be receptive and willing to listen.  When she does, I write her ideas down in my ever-present pad, and then refer to them on Monday when my writing week continues.

I’m babbling now, but I’m sure you’ll find a couple worthwhile suggestions in that babbling if you look close enough.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

In the end, it’s about the teaching, and what I always loved about coaching was the practices. Not the games, not the tournaments, not the alumni stuff. But teaching the players during practice was what coaching was all about to me.

John Wooden
THOUGHT OF THE DAY

I was recently contacted by a writer friend of mine who wants to hire me as her writing coach.  She needs some assistance as she prepares to write her first book, and I’m excited to be working with her.

A writing coach?  Yes, a writing coach.  People pay music teachers to help them play instruments, so why not a writing coach to help you as you learn this craft?

Everyone can write, but not everyone can write well, and that’s what a writing coach can do for you.  Let me ask you a question:  are you a good writer?  Most writers can’t answer that question.  We’ve all been told by friends and/or family that our stuff is good, but they are expected to say that.  How about an objective appraisal from an objective coach?  Would that be beneficial?

TIP OF THE DAY

If you have doubts, or you feel you are stuck at a certain level and don’t know how to elevate your game, give some consideration to hiring a writing coach.  It just might be the best decision you can make.  When people hire me as a coach, they are taking on some tough love.  As a writer my job is to support and encourage.  As a coach, my job is to yank you out of your comfort level and give you the truth whether you want it or not….and you should expect that from any writing coach.

CONTEST OF THE DAY

Let’s do something different today. As many of you know, I’m in the final edits of “Shadows Kill,” a psychological thriller that is a bit unsettling but never boring.  I still have time for a few additions, so I thought I would give you a chance to have a character named after you.  All you have to do is correctly answer the following question, and I’ll place your name in my book where it will remain forever.

Here’s the question:  What high school did I attend?  Here’s a clue: I attended high school in Tacoma, Washington.

CLARIFICATION OF THE DAY

I recently wrote an article and in that article I mentioned that making a couple hundred bucks a month is not a problem.  I had a reader mention that she disagreed with me and she hasn’t found that to be true for her.

I’m standing by my assertion.  Just writing for content mills can earn you that much, and there are a great many content mills out there.  You’ll be working for peanuts when you do write for a mill, but it’s entirely possible to make ten bucks per article and write twenty articles in a month.  I don’t suggest doing it, but desperate times call for desperate measures.  Add to that all the opportunities that await you in your own community, writing blogs for businesses, and all the online and hard copy magazines and newspapers….there are many, many ways to make money in this business.

LATER, GATOR

It’s time for me to wrap this up so I can wrap up a couple more projects outside. Have a great week of writing.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

What’s Your Angle?

17 Sep

003Look at me, back on Wednesday, twice in one week. Will wonders never cease?

I’m actually getting comfortable with the new schedule, and that means more efficiency, and that means you are burdened with another blog post.  LOL

I received two more rejections for “Resurrecting Tobias” today.  Good thing because the kitty litter box needed cleaning.  Think about it…think about it….I knew you’d find the humor in that eventually.

Okay, let’s get this show started.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared
believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance.”
– Bruce Barton

So, let’s talk about naysayers and self-doubt.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

I don’t really use my rejection letters for the kitty litter box. I print them out and hang them on the wall of my writing studio.  I need a reality check daily, and a little motivation never hurt me either.

Check out the quote by Mr. Barton, whoever the heck he is.  Do you believe there is something inside of you that is superior to your circumstance?  It’s an important question so give it some thought.

Writers live an isolated life at times.  We are sitting on a tiny island in a vast sea, and there are days it feels like the rescue ship will never arrive.  Those are the days you better believe in what you are doing.  Those are the days you need to take those self-doubts, and the negative words you have heard from others, and you need to either push them aside or use them as motivation…but whatever you do…don’t believe them.

TIP OF THE DAY

Begin each morning by standing in front of a mirror and repeating these words:  I am a writer and a damned good one.

Then go out and prove it.

GUEST POST OF THE DAY

My dear friend Liz Davis (Radcliff on HP) agreed to do another post for me, so I’ll turn the rest of this blog over to her. I just love it when my friends do my work for me.

WHAT’S YOUR ANGLE?

In an early episode of Seinfeld, Jerry and Elaine forged a plan before heading out to a party later that night. The plan was this: If either were to become stuck in dull conversation with a stranger at the party, Jerry or Elaine would signal one another by patting themselves on the head. The free one would swoop in to pull the other away, saving the victim from ongoing boredom.

But they weren’t prepared for the inevitable. Both ended up stuck with twits, and both ended up patting their heads with no one to relieve them. Jerry finally broke free and rescued Elaine.

“Where have you been?” She asks. “I’ve been beating myself senseless over here.”

Like so many other Seinfeld moments, it’s funny because we’ve all been there. Whether it’s the chatterbox at the supermarket or the egomaniac on the plane, your insides tingle as anxiety mounts. Your brain screams in agony while you sit and nod politely with glazed eyes.

Whether you’re writing an essay or having a conversation, no one wants to tell a dry story devoid of that gasp-factor. Yet we’ve all had amazing tales to tell that simply fell flat straight out of our mouths or onto the page.

So how can plain stories be saved? How do we avoid putting readers to sleep with humdrum writing?

The answer is in the angle.

An angle adds an element of surprise to your personal essay or memoir. Although the angle is called something different in fiction writing or advertising, the gist is still the same. It’s what makes your story interesting, even if it’s happened a million times before.

Once you find your angle, you have a roadmap. A clear angle keeps your story trimmed down to the essential elements, making sure you don’t drift down any dead-end alleys.

For example, say I wanted to write an article on my current hometown of Hudson, Florida. This is about as dull and drab a place as you’ll ever find, so creating an angle is crucial. I could base my article on the subject–Hudson is six-point-something square miles, it’s an hour north of Clearwater, it’s in the Tampa Bay area–cluttery data no one cares about. Another option? I could interview my high school teachers who still teach, asking them how students here have changed over the past 25 years. This creates an angle from the subject. It adds interest–and perhaps surprise elements– to the story.

So how do you find an angle?

  • Talk it through. Speaking out loud is a great way to pull the angle from your story, especially if you’re talking to an audience (spouse, parent, friend).
  • Look at what’s trending on Google. Why is this story so gripping? The answer is your angle.
  • Did you overhear someone say something that grabbed your attention? Did it make you angry/happy/worried? There’s your angle.

So if your story has you smacking yourself in frustration, remember: there’s an angle in there somewhere. Find it and your muse will rescue you from that crowded party of boring storytellers.

I invite you to come check out my new blog called Mellow Mother. The tagline/angle: enjoying simple moments amid the chaos. At Mellow Mother, I’ll talk about easy creative projects, simple stress management, and painless teaching techniques. I’m delving into the subjects of Montessori education and the Reggio Emilia approach to learning, so I’m sure I’ll soon be writing about those subjects as well.

WRITER OF THE DAY

Check out this new poet I found on HP…crissalina is her profile name and I think you’ll enjoy her.

AND THAT’S IT FOR TODAY, FOLKS

My thanks, again, to Lizzy for that great post.  She hit the proverbial nail on the head with that one. I don’t think there are boring topics. I do, however, believe there are boring writers.

Please check out her new blog at http://www.mellowmother.com.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making An Impact With Writing

5 Nov

003Welcome to a new week of artistry.  Shall we begin?

Today I think we will talk about having an impact with your writing.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.
Jackie Robinson

So, what kind of impact do you want with your writing?  Are you looking for comments? Are you looking for book sales? Are you looking for acceptance from editors or the reading public?

Remember that negative responses can be considered an impact as well.  When I first started writing, I received a rather nasty comment one day on an article I had written for HubPages.  Now I admit, at first I was upset…angry….and discouraged.  I mean, nobody wants to hear that he is full of it or that he completely missed the mark, right?

Over time I have come to realize that even negative comments mean I have had an impact, and isn’t that why we all write in the first place? We want to make our mark in this world. We want to inspire or inform.  So whether the comments are negative or positive we are still making an impact, and I find that comforting.

The same can be said when you get rejected by a magazine editor or a book publisher.  There is one thing that is much worse than being rejected by an editor and that, my friends, is to never have tried and thus assured yourself of never having a chance.  Being rejected puts you in great company and it means that you made the effort and took the chance, which means you have big cajones. J

It’s all about perspective my friends.

SITE OF THE DAY

If you don’t already follow Kelly’s blog then do so now.  Her blog is called The Real Housewife and you can find it here.

PROMPT OF THE DAY

town_131

One of my newer pictures from my trip to Pe Ell this weekend.  Yes, the new travel series, Exploring The Back Roads, has its initial entry today and you can find that here.

As for this picture, see me, feel me, touch me, sing along with me. J  Use your senses and write a paragraph.

CONTEST OF THE DAY

The White Pine Press Poetry Contest is taking submissions now until November 30th. Entry fee is $20 with a $1,000 first prize.  Here are those submission guidelines.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

I’m currently writing an article about writing excellence.  Simply stated, I do not understand writing without trying to be excellent in writing….but then, I don’t understand parenting without trying to be excellent in parenting, or any other job or vocation or hobby or whatever.  We have limited time here on earth; we have incredible gifts and talents; why would we settle for mediocrity?

I just don’t get those who are willing to settle for 50%.cropped-summer-of-2010-015.jpg

THAT’S ALL FOR TODAY

Anything that I missed? Probably, but if so I’ll do it again on Thursday and try to plug the holes. Have a great week of writing and remember to drop me a line if I can do anything to help you and your writing career.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

 

Not Writing For Better Writing

20 May

003Welcome back!  I hope you had a restful weekend and that your mind is refreshed and bubbling over with ideas.  That leads me to the tip of the day.  Shall we begin?

TIP OF THE DAY

Take a break!  This is one I recently began adopting.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am somewhat of a prolific writer. I churn out the words daily in an attempt to beat the clock and Father Time….but….

I have learned that I am much more refreshed and my writing is much better if I take weekends off.  I can’t say in truth that my mind shuts down because I am always coming up with ideas for articles, but I do not allow myself to write on weekends.

A good friend of mine, Cyndi, talked about this recently. She said she needs to get out in nature and feed her soul, and I believe that is crucial for a writer.  All work and no play makes for a very one-dimensional individual.  Give yourself permission to go have fun.  Your writing will be better because of it.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

In Hollywood the woods are full of people that learned to write but evidently can’t read. If they could read their stuff, they’d stop writing.
Will Rogers
I’m laughing out loud at this quote. Why? Because it is so true in the world of writing.

I found great inspiration the other day when I came upon a novel in the library that was so poorly written as to be embarrassing.  The dialogue was dull….the plot juvenile….the phrasing stunted….and this guy was published!

What I deduced from that was that a lot of writing and being published is being in the right place at the right time.  There are many great writers who have never been published.  There are many mediocre writers who have been published.  Do not bother to try and make sense of it all.  Just hold out hope and keep writing.

WRITER OF THE DAY

Say hello to my dear friend Vicki.  You can find her here on HubPages.  She is a reflective sort with wonderful insights about life, and on top of that she is a fine human being.  Give her a shout out and in the process do yourself a favor. vicki

CONTEST OF THE DAY

500 Words Writing Contest can be found here.  Write a short story of 500 words or less.  Due date in September.  Great contest for you flash fiction folks out there.

SITE OF THE DAY

Practical tips on writing a book from 23 authors is here.  I ran across this blog a few days ago and found it interesting. There are some very good suggestions from some people who know what they are talking about.

AUTHOR OF THE DAY

I’m not much for religious writing, and I try to avoid preaching about God.  Having said that, years ago I came across Og Mandino and found his books so good that I devoured them all.

Mandino wrote in such a simple style that one could easily read an entire book in a day. He was a master storyteller and every single book had an important, inspirational message. I highly recommend his books.  If you ever want a kick in the butt motivational boost, try reading “The God Memorandum.”

PROMPT OF THE DAY

odds and ends drive on Nov 11, 2012 002

Here is another picture from the beautiful Pacific Northwest.  If you have never been here then you owe yourself a visit. We really are surrounded by stunning natural beauty.

MORE TOMORROW

Enough for one day!  Have a great day of writing and I’ll toss some more tidbits at you tomorrow. Thanks, as always, for the visit.

Bill