Tag Archives: how to be a better writer

Revolutionary Growth As Writers

29 Nov

003I hope you all had a safe and happy holiday….and Happy Friday to you all!  The weekend is upon us…the blessed weekend.  What are you going to do?  Resting sounds good to me right now.

I’m writing this on Wednesday, and as soon as I finish this post I’m going to get busy on my new novel. I don’t know what the name of it is yet; my working title is “The Coffee Shop Quixote” but I’m sure that will change in time.

Today I’m doing something I rarely do and that is go back and do some fill in.  I usually write the novel first and then go back on the 2nd write and fill in character descriptions and scenes, but I’ve got a wild hair this morning about one part of the book, and I’m not going to be happy until I go back and fix that section up a bit….I have a vision of a scene and I need to write it while I still have it, if that makes any sense.


I have a great respect for incremental improvement, and I’ve done that sort of thing in my life, but I’ve always been attracted to the more revolutionary changes. I don’t know why. Because they’re harder. They’re much more stressful emotionally. And you usually go through a period where everybody tells you that you’ve completely failed.
Steve Jobs

Too bad he died. I think it would have been cool to sit down and have a chat with Jobs and pick his brain. Some of his quotes really move and inspire me. This quote for example; I love how it fits in with writing.  I can see it in my own writing. I will make incremental improvements based on accepted writing theory, and then I’ll say “to hell with it” and head off in an illogical direction and just see what happens.

And yes, there will be those who tell me that I failed and I’ll be honest, it hurts when I hear those words….but I am secure enough in my talent to know those folks are a minority and that I actually do “have game” with regards to writing.

So the message of the day is always keep improving.  Improve in small ways and take a chance in big ways….and, like my father used to say, always keep moving forward.


Say hello to my friend Suzette and her blog. You can find it here.  I’ve known Suzette on HubPages for quite some time. She is a former teacher who is quite knowledgeable about authors and the classics.  I’m sure you will find her interesting and informative….and loyal.



Enjoy it ….feel it….use it to practice with….write one paragraph describing it….and above all have fun.


Have a great weekend and thank you for being here.  Do something special for yourselves this weekend.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

An Appreciation For Poetry and the Love of Writing

14 Nov

003And a very Happy Thursday to you all.  Shall we begin?

I greatly admire poets and let me tell you why.  While so many of us scramble to rack up as many views as we can, and earn our passive income on HubPages and other sites, poets just write for the passion of writing.  They have very little hope of garnering tons of views; they have very little hope of making passive income; and they have very little hope of having their poems published, or at least less hope than writers who chase after other genres.

Still they write.   They write for the love of writing.  They write because poetry is in their hearts and souls.  I admire that. I truly wish I had the poet gene in me because beautiful poetry is soothing and peaceful and Lordy, does this world ever need more soothing and peaceful.

Let me share a quote with you and then I’ll get to the whole point of this seemingly aimless rambling of mine.


Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.
T. S. Eliot

LOL….I love that quote.  I guess I must be missing the personality and emotions necessary to write poetry.

Now on to my point.  It saddens me at times that so many writers spend so much effort and time trying to find ways to make money.  I have been in contact with some who are constantly stressing over the lack of money, and they scramble to find new ways to generate an income from writing…..but…..what falls by the wayside in that quest is writing just for the sake of writing.

Don’t ever let that happen.  We are writers because we love the art of writing. Never lose sight of that fact because once the love is gone this just becomes another job….and that would be sad.


My friend Christy has a blog called Poetic Parfait and I invite you to take a look at it.  You can find it here.  Christy is one of those poets I spoke about earlier, and if you want to partake in a bit of beauty this morning, give her a visit.  Besides, she is just good people. J


The Charles Causley Poetry Competition is currently taking submissions. This is a renowned international poetry competition so check it out here.



Sing “Tommy” while you look at this picture…see me, feel me, touch me….ooooooh, I’m getting turned on. LOL


So you want to be a poet, eh?  Remember the five senses.  Use them in descriptions….us similes…use metaphors….as John Lennon was fond of saying, “turn off your mind, relax and float downstream.”


Well, that’s a bit vague, isn’t it?  I’ll be back with more tips on this blog next Tuesday. Of course, if it is writing tips you want then it is writing tips you will get three times a week on my HubPages site.  Stop by, say hi and get high on the art of writing.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Taking Chances As A Writer

7 Nov

003Welcome back and Happy Thursday my friends! What shall we talk about today?  I know…how about taking chances?


I believe in taking chances and living your life. Sometimes doors open and others close and you have to figure out which one you’re going to take. I’m always for the one that’s challenging.
Gisele Bundchen

Rarely does a day go by when I am not approached by someone who says their writing career is going nowhere and they don’t know what to do about it.  Well I know the one thing you shouldn’t do and that is to remain stagnant.

What is the worst thing that can happen if a new idea does not work out?  It fails!  Oh well!  We will never know if a new approach will work unless we work it.

This new online world is a learning ground for us all.  Half the time I don’t have a clue what I am doing, but I keep doing something in hopes that I’ll hit the mother lode and find success.  I keep trying new angles. My new Exploring the Back Roads series is an example.  Who knows if a collaborative effort of travel articles will help or not? I certainly don’t know, but there is only one way to find out and that is do it.

One of my best writing buddies is Mike Pugh, or Cloud Explorer online.  Mike is constantly trying new things. His latest gig is Bubblews, but he has spent countless hours making videos for YouTube with limited success.  Next month who knows what he will try, but I guarantee you he will try something.  Mike doesn’t have an ounce of quit in him, and he will always have my respect because of it.

That leads me to my two tips of the day.


Improve your writing skills.  This is a broad-ranging tip but one I don’t think enough writers pay attention to.  You can have the greatest marketing idea in the world, but if you are a terrible writer people will leave you in droves.


If you have writing skills then find a unique way to package those skills.  Don’t be part of the flock that includes hundreds of thousands of other writers; find your own path and make it work.  If you write recipes then find a new angle; if you write travel articles do the same.  Find a way to showcase your unique qualities as a writer, and if you fail then try something else.


My friend Suzette has a lovely blog that certainly does not get enough visitors.  Here it is for your reading enjoyment.


Yellowstone 2009 167

Inspired by this? Then write about it. J


Writer’s Weekly is looking for new articles. They pay $60 per 600 word article, and lately they are looking for “success” stories.  Check them out here.


I want you inspired.  I want you to spread those wings and prepare for lift off. I don’t want to hear about the challenges; I want to hear about your solutions.  What are you going to do to find success with your writing?


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


Writing Outside Of The Box

31 Oct

003And a very Happy Thursday to you all.  I didn’t do a blog for my other blog yesterday; seemed a little strange not posting one, but I’m ready and willing to carry on today so let’s get started.

Today I think I’d like to talk a little bit about thinking outside the box as a writer.

First a quote and then we’ll get started.


If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it.”….Jesse Jackson

Let’s begin by stating that if you are a writer then chances are you have an imagination. I think I’m safe with that statement.  Okay, good, step one is out of the way.

Now let’s turn to some marketing questions:  who is your audience?  Next question: what do they want to learn or read?  Now the final question: how can you give them what they need in a unique way?

The key to this all is finding a unique way to reach your audience.  It does not take an Einstein to figure out that online writing is an incredibly competitive gig.  Everybody and their mother writes articles about travel and finances and crafts and food and on and on and on….and when I say everybody, we are talking about millions of articles on each of those subjects.

So, how are you going to make your article pop? How are you going to make it stand out among the millions already online?

Use your imagination! Boldly go where no man (or woman) has gone before. J

The same can be said for your freelance business.  How are you going to reach the customers who desperately need your writing service, even if they don’t know they need you yet?  Use your imagination!  Don’t post an ad on Facebook and think you are done.  Don’t start a new business page on Facebook and think the job is completed.  Find new ways to reach your customers.

Let me put it another way:  are you a lemming or a creative entrepreneur?


It’s not a site per se, but rather my new travel article idea.  You can read about it here.  Like I said, use your imagination.  I want to find a way to draw traffic to my travel articles, and this is an attempt to do so. It may fail miserably; it may be successful.  I’m never going to find out if I don’t try.



Another glimpse of my home town of Olympia.  What do you see? What do you feel? Write it down; brainstorm your reactions to this picture.  Maybe you can use it as a scene in your next novel?


I’m approaching 500 words and that is more than enough for this posting.  If you want more writing tips then check out my articles that appear on HubPages about writing three days a week.  As long as I have ideas you will have things to read.  I hope it helps all of you.  Notice that there is no advertising on this blog. I don’t do this for money; I simply try to share ideas with you in hopes that they will help my peers.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Writing Is Never Wasted

29 Oct

003Welcome back my fellow writers and friends!

Today’s topic is the never-ending quest for perfection.  Of course we never achieve it, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying.

I am of the opinion that there is no such thing as wasted writing.  Like any other skill or craft, the more you do the more you improve.  The last thing in the writing world I wanted to do when I began was articles for content mills.  Still, in doing those articles I became a better writer. I had to pay attention to grammar. I had to pay attention to delivering a message within a set number of words.   None of it will win me a Pulitzer Prize, but all of it helped me to grow.

I’m willing to bet most of you have some old writing sitting on the proverbial shelf somewhere….a short story you never finished, or a novel that went into a literary coma about halfway through.  I have notebooks full of stories that were never finished; they are literally sitting about two feet from where I type daily.  One day I will pull those stories out and re-work them, for today I have the skills to finish them and finish them well.  That was not true when I started them years ago.

It makes no difference what you write.  Every piece of writing that you do helps you to develop into the writer you were meant to be.


Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.
Winston Churchill

That Churchill guy should have been a writer. J


Try different genres. If you are comfortable writing poetry then step out and write a mystery short story.  It may not end up being a great story but it will help you become the writer you were meant to be.



My latest picture taken with my new camera.  Does it speak to you?  200 words, please, using your five senses in describing this picture.


The Fiction Desk Flash Fiction Competition is now accepting submissions.  The story must be between 250 and 1,000 words and the deadline is January 31st.  You can read about it here.


Don’t quit a minute before the miracle happens.

I have tried and tried to pound this notion into the heads of writers.  Becoming a successful writer is a marathon and not a sprint.  Regardless of the fact that online writing and ebooks can make a “writer” out of anyone, they cannot make a “good writer” out of anyone.  That still takes work and dedication to the craft of writing.

I have given myself five years to find success. I am in year three of that quest.  The novel I am now working on is my greatest piece to date, and when I finish it, whenever that may be, I will be very proud of it.  Each word is important….every sentence is crucial. A bridge will collapse if poor materials have been used in the foundation; so it is with writing.


I wish I had time to do one of these every day but I don’t.  Reality and time dictate that I only do these twice a week, but I hope you get something valuable out of them when I do write them.  We are in this together; any writer who does not understand that truth just hasn’t paid their dues yet.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


A Writer’s Self-Image

17 Oct

003And a very happy Thursday to you all!  What’s happening in your literary world right now?

I have a rather self-reflective and serious question for you today.  I can hear you all groaning from here but that won’t deflect my purpose.  Are you ready?

How do you see yourself as a writer?  In other words, what is your writing self-image?

Let’s start with a quote and then we’ll discuss this more.


The person we believe ourselves to be will always act in a manner consistent with our self-image.
Brian Tracy

I love that quote and it is oh, so true.

So back to the question: what is your self-image regarding your writing abilities?  This is a bit tricky, isn’t it?  If we say we are incredible then maybe our self-image is a bit inflated, and that isn’t good…if we say we are horrible then obviously we have some work to do with that regard.

Do you have a trusted friend who will be honest with you about your abilities?  Family member?  Do you belong to a writers’ group where you can get objective opinions about your writing?  Hell, do you even want to know?  LOL

Think about it.  We must believe in ourselves because let’s face it, our fan club is rather small on the best of days….but…..our image must be realistic as well so that we can move forward and affect improvement.


street fair Aug 2012 013

Yes, you know what I want you to do….write 200 words describing this picture, but put it in fiction form today.


The Colorado Prize For Poetry is accepting submissions. Entry fee is $25 and first prize is a $2000 honorarium.  This is for poetry books, or collections of poetry.  You can read about it here.


Go find the best thing you have ever written.  We all have a favorite piece so don’t tell me that you don’t have one.  Now, read it and then ask yourself what it is about that piece that makes it your favorite. Once you have answered that question, then replicate the strength of that piece the next time you write something.  Build on your victories…they are your strengths….they are what make you a good writer.


Time to go; I have a novel that is demanding my attention.  Have a great day writing!


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


Learning To Be A Good Writer

10 Oct

003First, I have to thank all of you who voted for me for Best All-Around Hubber.  I don’t think any of us are immune to the wonders of praise, and I am humbled and honored by your faith in me. I will write an article about my HubPages experience next week but for now, my sincere and heartfelt thank you.

Now on to the business of the day…learning to be a good writer.


Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.
John Wooden

What wise words from a wise man.


This business of talent with regards to writing is an interesting topic so let’s explore it a bit.  Are great writers born with exceptional talent or did they work to maximize what gifts they had?  I personally think is a combination of many factors.  I think having a solid foundation is important.  As much as I hated the nuns for drilling into me proper grammar, I can now look back and say thank you for doing it.  I know that my mom and dad insisted that I read and read often, so I’m sure that had a role in helping me to become a writer.

I have read about many of the great writers of our time and every single one of them had determination and a willingness to go to any lengths to succeed.

I know from my time in a classroom that a mediocre writer could become a good writer with proper teaching and encouragement.

So what is the answer?  I think, and this is just my opinion, that anyone with a pinch of talent can develop that talent and become a good writer.  I won’t use the word great because that word is bandied about too often.  Great is Blake.  Great is Hemingway.  Great is Hawthorne and great is Steinbeck.  The rest of us are just trailing in their path hoping for some crumbs of greatness.

To develop talent requires hard work.  Writing is considered an art form and as such it requires constant practice and constant attempts to improve.

Let me ask you this:  what have you done to improve your writing skills this week?


summer of 2010 004

You know the drill.  Write 200 words about this picture and appeal to all five senses in those 200 words.


Gemini Poetry Contest is now taking submissions.  The application fee is only $5, which is a very reasonable fee.  Submit three poems before January 2nd and you just might win $1,000 or a number of secondary prizes.


Chicken Soup of the Soul is taking essays about how you have rebooted your life.  I believe they pay $200 if they accept your story.  You can submit your story here.


But I’ll be back next Tuesday with another installment. I hope you all have a great weekend and thank you for dropping by during your busy day.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”




You Can’t Fake Quality

8 Oct

003Welcome back to a new week of writing discussions. I trust your weekend was rewarding and restful.  Now let’s get to work.


There are as many opinions as there are experts.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

And you know what they say about opinions, don’t you?  It’s a bit gross so I won’t repeat it here. J


The point is this:  simply stating that you are an expert in the writing business is practically worthless.  That statement and a couple bucks will get you a small coffee.  You had better be able to back up your claim.

I liken it to building a house.  If you use sub-standard materials you are most likely going to have a pile of sticks the first time a good wind blows, or you’ll have a small pond in your living room the first time a cloud burst arrives.

Building a writing platform and establishing credibility takes time.  You can only fool an editor once.  You can send the greatest query letter in the world, and an editor will bite, but if the promised work is sub-standard you will never hear from that editor again.

The same can be said for those customers who want you to write for them, be it a newsletter or a blog or whatever.  If you promise quality writing you damn well better be able to deliver quality writing.  You might be able to fake your marketing campaign but you’ll never be able to fake good writing.

Work on your craft!


Check out Janine at J9 Designs if you want help setting up a profitable blog. I have known Janine for over a year now and I can tell you without hesitation that this lady knows her stuff.   She is a perfect example of claiming to be an expert and having the platform to prove it.  You can find her company here.


winter in my little slice of heaven 009

Remember the five senses.  Do a little writing exercise and write a couple paragraphs, based on this picture, that appeal to all five senses.


Writer’s Village has an international short story contest going on now. Cash prizes and feedback from professionals about the quality of your short story. Deadline is November 30th and work max is 3000 words.  You can find them here.


If you want a successful and professional platform then work at building it.  No shortcuts.  Learn as much as you can about freelance writing or just writing in general.  Read the classics.  Join a writer’s group.  Look for feedback.  Try different genres.  This is how it’s been done for decades and it is a proven path for success.


I need to get back to work so that’s it for today.  I’ll see you in two days with more thoughts on writing.  You can find me on my other blog, A Moment With Bill, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”



Writers Helping Writers

26 Sep

003Welcome back and Happy Thursday to you all.

Today we are going to talk about sharing as writers, but first a quote.


There’s a great joy in my giving. It’s thrilling. It’s exhilarating. It’s important to be a part of sharing. It is my love. It is my joy.
W. Clement Stone

So here’s the thing: today I’m not going to give you prompts or sites to visit or any of the stuff you normally associate with this blog. I’m just going to give you my thoughts on this giving thing.

I have been active for over two years now in this professional writing gig, and I’ve been quite active online on Facebook and on HubPages.  I try to help other writers because writing is a tough job on the best of days. On the worst of days it is demoralizing and lonely and frustrating and on and on….so I try to give to other writers. I try to share ideas and make suggestions, and I try to answer questions and support in whatever way I can.  I get nothing for those efforts other than the warm fuzzies I always get when I do something for someone.

And my question to you is this: why don’t more writers do the same?  I do not consider myself a saint for helping others; it just makes sense to me to do so.  I help you…you help me….we all help each other.  When we share ideas we are expanding our knowledge and expanding our network, and everyone wins when that happens.

Do people not share because they consider other writers to be competition? Do they not share because they consider themselves “too busy”  or do they not share because they just can’t be bothered?

I want to know what works for you. Maybe it will work for me too. I want you to know what works for me; maybe it will work for you as well.  There are seven billion people on this planet; I can afford to share some of those readers with you. LOL

You would not believe the number of people I have helped who cannot find the time to even read my works let alone share them or make a comment….are they too busy? Or do they simply not care?


Obviously I’m preaching to the choir, because every person that reads this is a giver. I know who each of you are and you are always good about supporting other writers and supporting me and I am so very grateful to you…..but I wish I could get this message to those who live in their little writing world and do nothing to help other writers.

We need each other. I know some writers who do not even receive support from their families.  How sad that must be.  We writers are a select group, and only another writer will fully understand what we go through on a daily basis…sooooo

How about making a special effort to help some writers today? I know you will but I thought I’d ask anyway…..and….

How about kicking a few writers in the butt if they never help other writers? J

Have a great day and thanks for listening to my rant.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


The Brotherhood and Sisterhood of Writers

12 Sep

003And a very Happy Thursday to you all!

Okay, now is where I come clean….I forgot to get a post ready for today.  I am totally unprepared, and since it is actually seven pm Wednesday night, trust me when I say I have no plans on trying to put together sites, contests, tips, quotes and suggestions for you today.

Having said that, I have one quote for you and then I’ll leave you to take care of other business.


When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.
Henri Nouwen

As I was frantically scouring my mind for something to say in this post, friendship came to me in a flash.

My two best friends in the world are Bev and my son, but they are not why I write about friendship today.  Today I want to acknowledge all of you, my online friends and my writing brothers and sisters.

Only you know the struggles that a writer goes through.  Only you can accurately feel the joy when a minor success comes our way.  And only you understand the passion that keeps us going against ridiculous odds.

For almost two years now I have needed you, and I have come to consider many of you very close friends even though we have never met.  I have shared my weaknesses with you. I have shared my triumphs and my fears and my hopes with you, and throughout it all you have been accepting and compassionate and yes, loving.

I am proud to be a part of your community.  Thank you and love to you all.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”