Tag Archives: how to be a better writer

Marketing and Writing: An Uneasy Partnership

10 Sep

003And a very Happy Tuesday to you all.  I hope you had a great weekend or at the very least a restful one.  Shall we once again tackle the subject of writing?

I had a very sobering conversation with Bev yesterday.  I read her a new article that I posted today, and I told her how much I enjoyed that type of writing….the social conscious stuff…the inspirational stuff…but I also said I don’t know how to make money doing it.  I’m an essayist if I had to narrow down my niche…I’m kind of a Henry David Thoreau without his talent. J   Or put it another way, I’m one of those coffee house poets of the 1950’s and early 60’s….I have important things to say but don’t have a clue how to translate my passion into money.

Well, I do have a plan, but whether it works or not is another question….but back to the point. Bev listened to me and then told me that I needed to call on my first college degree and start marketing my work.

Of course I started to get defensive and tell her that I do market my work, but then the truth smacked me in the face…..I don’t even come close to doing the marketing that is necessary to become known in this business.  I need to get out of my comfort zone and start hawking my wares….and God how I hate doing that.  Truth be told I just want to sit in my writing studio and write, and I want millions to knock on my door and buy my stuff.

It just doesn’t work that way.


Don’t blame the marketing department. The buck stops with the chief executive.
John D. Rockefeller 

 Unfortunately for us writers, the marketing department and the chief executive are the same person….us.



I don’t know why I chose this picture.  Just look at it and see if you get any vibes from it.


UCross Foundation Residencies in Wyoming.  A quiet place to work on your craft…room, board and stipend. Deadline is October 1st and you can find the application here.


The Dogwood Multi-Genre Contest with a $15 entry fee and a submission deadline of October 15th. Submission guidelines can be found here.


Do one thing each day to market yourself.  If you need some ideas I wrote a couple articles on marketing writing and you can find them on HubPages…..and I think I better read them again because I need to pick up my game.


Maybe you have no desire to sell your writings. If that is the case then ignore 75% of this blog.  If, however, you would one day like to be paid what you think you are worth J  then you need to start marketing.  How else will the world discover just how talented you are?

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Writing About Nature

6 Sep

003And a very Happy Friday to all of you.  What do you have going on this weekend? One thing I definitely won’t be doing is writing. This has been a full week and this boy needs to gear it down for a couple days…..now I wish I could just shut off my writing brain so all of me could relax. LOL

Summer comes and summer goes; ours is hanging on as long as possible here in Washington. The gorgeous weather arrived on June 6th and it hasn’t left yet, but there is a chill in the air now in the evenings and it won’t be long before the leaves change and fall.

Have you written about nature before?  I just posted an article today about the Earth and our responsibility towards it.  Read it if you have a couple minutes and let me know what you think, but more importantly, give some thought to the message in that article, that we all are responsible for protecting our planet.  Here is the link to that article.

Anyway, this is a writing site so let’s talk about writing. Thanks to Sha for guest blogging on Wednesday and giving us great suggestions about subheaders.  Now let’s move on to a new topic….nature writing.


To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.
Helen Keller

This coming from a woman who couldn’t see nature.  Sheez!  She does, however, point to our tip of the day regarding nature writing, and that is…..


Write to all five senses of your readers.  When you are writing about nature, engage sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste.  All five senses are alive and well when we are out in nature, and those basic memories are what we want to attract when we write about the beautiful outdoors.

The second part of this tip is to grab a notebook, go outside, and write down random thoughts as you walk through the woods or by the shoreline. Remember the senses…what does the sand feel like between your toes? What do you smell in the forest?

And don’t forget to take a camera on your walk!


Mt. Rainier 2010 094

Yep, nature, and if this doesn’t move you then you ain’t breathing. J


If you enjoy poetry then say hello to my Canadian friend Epi….you can find his site here.  His real name is Colin but why be formal? J


I had a surprisingly difficult time finding a nature writing contest, but I did run across something called the Earth Vision Writing Contest and you can read about it here.


Grants of between $500 and $15,000 are made available by the Furthermore Group, but they are for unpublished authors only.  You can see the application process here.


Enjoy your weekend, thank you for stopping by and remember to do all things with love.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Writers Who Seek Quality

2 Sep

003And a very Happy Monday to you!  Shall we get started?

Let’s talk about online writing sites that promise you passive income. That seems to be a hot topic these days.

Listen up, and hopefully everyone will understand me this time when I say this….I have nothing against online sites like HubPages or Bubblews.  I have nothing against passive income.  I know some friends who make a few hundred bucks a month writing for sites like those and I say congratulations and well done!  But that’s not why I write for HubPages, so all of this whining about Panda and lost income goes in one ear and out the other with me.  It simply does not affect me, and I’ll give you an economic reason why I don’t care.

I can make more selling one article to a magazine than I can make in three months of writing for HubPages or Bubblews.

Need I say more?

No, I have nothing against online writing sites, but I have major objections to poor writing and I always will have.  Writing 400 characters just for the sake of making fifty cents, with no quality control, is not writing…it is bean counting!

This is a writing site for serious writers, so let’s focus on writing.


Quality is not an act, it is a habit.

I have nothing to add to Aristotle’s words.


Throw nothing away.  Delete nothing.  An article that did not work the first time may very well work six months down the road.  Maybe it just needs a rest for you to see it differently.  Like a fine wine, allow it to breathe before you truly taste it.


I am a big fan of The Writer’s Digest. I have mentioned this magazine before but it bears repeating.  You can find it here and it is loaded with great articles about this writing path we have chosen.


I give you a friend of mine who works hard…very hard…at improving her writing craft. She deserves your support and I ask you to give it to her.  Sha is her name…on HubPages her name is Bravewarrior…and you can find her website here.


Yes I believe in supporting each other. If we don’t then who will? I know writers who don’t even get support from their family members, so I think it is very important that we do whatever we can to help each other.  Mention some of these wonderful people in your next blog or in your next article.  Put their link on your website or blog.  Form a group of your favorite writers and support each other.

The writing pie is big enough for all of us; make sure you pass around a piece to your friends.


I’ll be back on Wednesday. Of course, if you are Jonesing for more writing tips, I’ll have articles about writing on Tuesday and Thursday this week on HubPages, so I hope to see you there as well….oh, right… you can find my HubPages site at http://billybuc.hubpages.com/.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

You Can Lead A Writer To Water But You Can’t Make Them Drink

29 Aug

003You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

I’m reminded of that old saying today as I read some articles written by people I follow on HP.  Yes there were some good ones, but many of them are the same old same old, or as my dad was fond of saying, same shit different day.

As a reader I want to be dazzled. I want to be entertained.  Now tell me of a reader who does not want those things.  Oh sure, many online are just looking for information, the McDonald’s drive-through source of all knowledge….but still, if you are trying to establish yourself as a writer and gain views, wouldn’t you think it would be a good idea to improve your craft and become a more interesting writer?

Well a miracle happened this morning. I read an article by a friend of mine who I have followed for about two months now, and she wrote a recipe article that was outstanding.  Hell actually froze over this morning.  Her introduction was exceptional. In fact, it was so good that I didn’t realize there was a recipe coming. LOL Read it here and see if you don’t agree.


Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.
Benjamin Franklin

It’s the teacher in me and I can’t help it. I want all writers to work on improving their craft.  I am so tired of seeing apathy and complacency and half-assed efforts in society today.  The idea of excellence seems to have very little relevance in today’s world and I think we all suffer because of it.

What have you done to improve your writing today?  Not last week, or a month ago, but today? What new technique have you tried? What tips have you incorporated into your daily writing routine?

I wrote an article last week about HubPages vs Bubblews, and for the most part it was well-received, but I had three people who were quite upset about it.  How dare I attack Bubblews?  I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about!

Well folks, the fact of the matter is that the article did not attack Bubblews…it attacked poor writing.  It was a metaphor about pigs (bad writing) and on HubPages the pigs are well-dressed, while on Bubblews the pigs are naked.  If those folks had taken the time to actually read the article instead of getting their panties in a knot over an imagined wrong, they would have seen the truth….bad writing is bad writing no matter where you post it!

I’m done. Let’s move on.


Pull out an old article right now and read the introduction.  Does that introduction grab the readers by the throat? If not then re-write it today.  One article…one introduction…half hour tops….do it! J


Use an intriguing example or a provocative question for your introduction. I have used this technique many times and it works wonders for grabbing the reader’s attention.



Have fun with it. Write an introduction based on an imaginary article about this picture prompt.


Tomorrow it will be time for A Moment With Bill, so I’ll wish you all a happy and relaxing weekend, and I’ll catch up with you on Monday. Thanks for stopping by, and remember that if you have a tip you want to share, or you want to write a blog entry as a guest writer, drop me an email at holland1145@yahoo.com.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Writing and Paying the Bills

27 Aug

003Happy Tuesday to all of you.

“And what do you do for a living?”

“Well, I’m a writer!”

“Can you make a living doing that?”

That was a very brief snippet of a conversation I had this weekend while at the Street Fair. The guy who asked me that question was amazed….I say amazed…that I could make a living by writing.  I’m not sure if he really believed me.

There are so many ways to make money in this writing gig.  Are you making yours?  If so, what do you do? If not, what aren’t you doing?


The writer must earn money in order to be able to live and to write, but he must by no means live and write for the purpose of making money.
Karl Marx

And there is the eternal struggle for writers.  We have to make money to survive, but making money is not the true reason why we write.  A constant give and take battle if you will is always being waged.

I have to pay my bills…..I have to write for enjoyment…..the customer is always right….the customer doesn’t know a damn thing about good writing…..and on and on we go.

Yes, there are many ways to make money in this writing gig.  It is not always easy to find them, but they are out there.  Perseverance my friends. One step in front of the other my friends.  Don’t give up my friends.


Yellowstone 2009 123

Yes, it ties into today’s theme.


Look locally for article ideas for magazines and newspapers. There are interesting topics and ideas right outside your door in your own community, but you have to look for them.  I’ve got an article coming out on HubPages this week about this topic…writing travel articles from home.


Hunger Mountain Creative NonFiction Prize…first place wins $1000…deadline coming soon and I believe it is September 10th….read about submission guidelines here.


The Herbert Hoover Artist In Residence Program, held in Iowa, is a rather unique opportunity for two artists or writers each year. Read about it here.


Only two entries this week so I’ll see you again on Thursday, the 29th of August.  On the other three days you can always visit my other blog, A Moment With Bill.  You are always welcome.

In the meantime, give some thought to being a guest blogger on this blog.  If you want to share a writing tip or a favorite writing site, or just give some random thoughts about writing, I’m always willing to help a fellow writer. Drop me an email at holland1145@yahoo.com if interested.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Writing Goals and Focus

22 Aug

003And a very Happy Thursday to all of you.  What do you have going on in your writing world? What projects are you working on?  What goals do you have?

I guess that’s the topic for today:  goals.

Let’s start with a quote and move on from there.


When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.

Or, if you don’t like that one, how about a quote from my man Thoreau:

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.
Henry David Thoreau

So, which of those do you like? I’m kind of partial to the Confucius quote only because I have seen so many people over the years give up on their goals because they did not reach them, when in fact their logical next move would and should have been to adjust their approach to their goals.

I don’t like seeing people give up.  I always tell people not to give up a minute before the miracle happens.  I am a believer in hard work, and I’m a believer in being goal-oriented.  I do not shuffle aimlessly through life; I know exactly what I want in writing and everything I do is aimed at those goals. I also know that success in writing takes perseverance and a willingness to hang in there despite the odds…and that may mean hanging in there for years before the goals are met.

So….what are your goals in writing and how are you doing with those goals? Do you need to make some adjustments?


hoover dam

Write a creative introduction for a story based on this picture.  It will take you five minutes tops and you might find it to be a helpful exercise in writing introductions.


The British Columbia Arts Council has some grants available with a deadline of September 15th. For more information look here.


The Mighty River Short Story Contest has a deadline of October 1st and a $15 entry fee. You can read the submission guidelines here.


Hey, I’ve got goals, and I need to go work towards them.  How about you? Any goals for today?


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Does Your Writing Have Rhythm?

20 Aug

003Happy Tuesday to all of you writers!  Are you ready to dazzle the masses?  Let’s start with a quote and then we’ll get down to business.


What is a poet? An unhappy person who conceals profound anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like beautiful music.
Soren Kierkegaard

I’m not all that certain what Kierkegaard was trying to say, but I know what I heard from his words.  To me, good writing is like beautiful music.  There is a rhythm to good writing, just as there is to the coordinated notes played by a symphony orchestra.

Does your writing have rhythm, or is it a series of disconnected thoughts that couldn’t find flow in a raging river?  When I think of writing without rhythm I think of the word staccato.  It is like a short burst from an automatic weapon and equally as deadly.

So how do you develop rhythm in your writing? I’m glad you asked. J


Avoid extremely long sentences.  Long sentences tend to ramble without flow, and long sentences tend to lack punctuation. As you all know, punctuation is one of the great tools in establishing rhythm, so why not use it as it was intended to be used?


Something a little different today.  Here is a video of an orchestra playing Mozart.  Humor me and watch, and listen, to it here.  Now imagine those notes being your words.



I could write a story about this picture. Can you?


I have an article coming soon about Bubblews.  I decided to try it for a week and see what all the talk was about….so I did….and briefly, let me summarize my thoughts about that site…and about HubPages as well.  Are you ready?

Good writing is good writing is good writing.  Conversely, bad writing is bad writing is bad writing.  It makes no difference which site you write on, and it makes no difference whether you dress it up with pictures and videos and spacers and polls, or whether you do a vanilla extract….the quality of writing is what should be important.

There, I’m done until my article comes out.


I know, a short version today, but life is calling me….customers, obligations, goals and dreams…they are all calling me, so no contests today and not funding sites. I’ll give those to you on Thursday.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Rejections Are A Way Of Life In Writing

13 Aug

003Welcome back to the second full week of August. I trust you had a nice, relaxing weekend.  I was going to post this on Monday and then posted my other blog by mistake, but in the final analysis it really makes no difference now does it?  And that is the subject of our installment today….it makes no difference!


I really wish I was less of a thinking man and more of a fool not afraid of rejection.
Billy Joel

That’s right, I just quoted Billy Joel.  LOL

There are good rejections and there are bad rejections, and they are all necessary if we are to grow as writers.

A bad rejection:  when Mary Jo turned me down for the Junior Prom.

Okay, I’m kidding, but Mary Jo did break my heart and it was worth mentioning.

A bad rejection would be a scathing comment….being ignored by a publisher or editor….a bad review on your novel….any and all hurt, do they not?  Of course they do; we are only human and we all want acceptance.  We spend months and years on some works and then to have them callously rejected hurts to the core of our being.

A good rejection?  Is it even possible? I would say yes it is. I have received rejections from editors who told me they liked my voice and style but just couldn’t use that particular article.  There is no way that is not good news my friends.  A professional tells me they like my writing….that is great!

The bottom line is this:  rejection is a way of life in writing, and we had better find positives in it or get the heck out of the writing business. J


“Man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments.”
– John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 14

That, my friends, is incredible writing.



Take a few minutes, look at the picture, and let your mind drift…what are you reminded of?  Now write about it as a writing exercise.


How about a contest for you nonfiction writers? The Lumina NonFiction Contest is accepting submissions from now until October 15th. Word limit is 5000 words and you can find it here.


Do your Thoreau imitation and walk through the woods soon, or at least take a nature walk of some sort.  Walk for fifteen minutes and then stop and jot down some ideas in that notebook you are supposed to be carrying around with you.


If not before….gotta run right now and get some stuff done. Customers just want their product; they aren’t terribly interested in excuses.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Struggling Is A Way of Life For A Writer

1 Aug

003Welcome back to another installment of Artistry With Words.  I hope this installment finds you productive and energetic, and I wish you well as you go about your day.

Times are tough right now for this writer financially.  The money is not flowing in on a regular basis; just one of those down times when one starts to question whether writing is all it’s cracked up to be.  Bills need to be paid, and that naturally leads to thoughts of working part time or full time to meet obligations.  I could substitute teach this fall to make some extra income, and that of course would take me away from writing, and that of course means a delay of my long-range plans.

Then I think of all the greats who came before me, and the struggles they had to endure to continue writing.  Many waited tables in cafes, and took extra jobs just to get by.  Many lived in poverty while they wrote, and many died poor never having realized financial security from their writing.

I guess the best way to describe what feeds me is to call it a passion, and thank God I have a partner in Bev who encourages me to continue and does not let money worries deter her from encouraging me.  We are a team, and we will either make it as a team or we will fail as a team, but we are united in our belief that I should be writing….that I need to be writing.  We have, in effect, bet it all on my writing abilities. No pressure there for goodness sake. LOL


Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.
Marie Curie

Often times, during these down times, my thoughts go back to my father.  He had no dreams, or if he did have any they were not known by those of us who he called family.  His job was to support his family, and I suspect that any dreams he had dried up during the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s.  He grew up understanding that a man works hard, dreams little, and goes forward one step at a time.

I admire that way of thinking and the work ethic involved, but I can’t give up my dreams, and I hope that you don’t give up on yours either.


Ah hell, I don’t feel like telling you about contests today. LOL….oh wait, my friend Sha wants me to include Writer’s Relief, so here it is.  Check it out….great ideas for submissions.



I almost forgot this…glad I didn’t. Have fun with it.


Hey, I met a new writer yesterday and thought I would share her with you.  Well, she isn’t a new writer, but she is new to me.  Her name is Randee and here is her blog.  I like what I’ve seen so far and I think you will too.


Seriously, I have to figure some things out, so that’s all you get. I hope you have a great day my friends…make sure you have a dream….and then make sure you follow it.

As with all things in life, this too shall pass, and brighter days will visit us. J


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Stagnation Kills A Writer

22 Jul

003Welcome back my friends and Happy Monday!  I know, Mondays are not our favorite days but hey, it beats pushing up daisies, so Happy Monday!

Today we talk about the growth of you as a writer.  Check out the quote and then we’ll chat a bit.


The joy of life consists in the exercise of one’s energies, continual growth, constant change, the enjoyment of every new experience. To stop means simply to die. The eternal mistake of mankind is to set up an attainable ideal.
Aleister Crowley

“To stop means simply to die.”  Heavy words for sure, but how do they apply to your writing career?

I have harped and I have harped on expanding your writing abilities and continually building your writer’s platform.  I am about to harp some more.

We will begin with the assumption that you all have some game with regards to writing.  You all can write an intelligent sentence and you all have the ability to use grammar and construct a paragraph that would make Sister Mary Yardstick proud….but what’s next?  What is the next step you need to take?

This is a competitive business my friends, and if you ain’t growing you ain’t going anywhere.  Everyone wants instant success but few are willing to put in the time and effort to attain success.  Writers sign up for HubPages and then wonder why they aren’t earning passive income after three months.  Writers submit articles that they wrote ten years ago and wonder why magazine editors don’t get back to them singing their praises.  Writers churn out recipes or how-to articles in a matter of a couple hours and wonder why nobody is reading them.

There are no short cuts in the writing game.  You either improve and grow or you stagnate and slip into obscurity.  How’s that for blunt?


Constantly look for ways to become a better writer.  Take a sentence at random and ask yourselves how you can re-write that sentence so it is better.  Go back and look at one of your old articles and ask yourselves how you can improve it.  Step out of your comfort zone and attempt a new genre of writing.  Do something each and every day to expand your abilities and give yourselves a better chance at success.


I gave you this on Friday and I’m giving it to you again.  This is a great monthly competition that is free to enter, and if you win it will look great on your resume/platform.  Freestyle Writers.com is the site and you can find it here.  Do yourselves a favor and check it out.


What would make you a better writer?  Serious question and one each of you should be asking yourselves.



Let your imagination roam free…..what do you think of when you see this picture?


I keep making this offer and so far only one person has expressed an interest in it.  I am inviting you to guest blog for the day here or on my other blog, A Moment With Bill.  Just send me an email with your blog to holland1145@yahoo.com and I’ll give you a byline and a moment of cheap fame. J  The more you expand your audience the more your platform grows.


You know me by now, so you know I’m serious when I say I want you all to succeed, but success comes with a price.  Pay the price of just be a diary writer the rest of your life.  I respect diary writers for they are writing for the pure joy of writing….but….if you actually want to find financial success in writing, then you have to step up to the plate and take your practice swings.

I’ll see you all tomorrow. Thanks, as always, for stopping by.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”