Why All Writing is Good Writing (even the bad ones)

{Etsy journal by CraftColorfully}

{Etsy journal by CraftColorfully}

What you write is worth the effort.

Even if it never gets published. Anywhere.

Even if not a single person lays their eyes upon it.

Even if no one emails you, calls you or messages you that it’s the best thing they’ve ever written.

It’s worth it even if it’s the worst thing you’ve ever wrote.

Even if it follows hundreds of rejection slips.

Even if it’s tucked in a drawer, never leaves your computer or your laptop.

It’s worth it simply for the act of writing itself.

Let your words write itself. Don’t judge it. Don’t tear it apart. Don’t pull at it the way you would a loose thread which would unravel the whole quilt before it’s even complete.

It’s worth it because all writing is a work-in-progress.

Respect your words. Let it be the unfinished canvas. Love it for what it is though it may not buy you fame, wealth, or prestige. It will buy you practice. It will give you confidence. If you let it be, one day you will understand its purpose.

How SCBWI Schooled Me: Fiction Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

{Etsy print by thedreamygiraffe}

{Etsy print by thedreamygiraffe}

Going to the SCBWI Hawaii Chapter Conference was well-worth the Benjamin this weekend. I learned a ton about fiction-a topic I rarely write about. It was an eye-opening experience teaching me all the mistakes I’m making and probably will make in my fiction future. I thought I’d save you the expense by sharing all the secrets I learned this weekend. So close your wallets and pull up your laptop. It’s going to get good right now.

1) Showing off.

It’s tempting to be like a peacock and show off your feathers. But puffing up your ego with superfluous verbiage may make for pretty prose or witty wording, but if you don’t have a good story, forget about it. You’ll lose your audience.

2) Not reading enough.

I’m guilty of this. Not that I don’t read. In fact, I’m a readaholic. But when it comes to fiction especially kid’s fiction? Yikes. I need to jump on it. The thing is, you can’t write a good piece of work, if you aren’t familiar with what’s out there. So thank you Matt de La Pena for reminding me of the obvious. Great writer = great reader

3) Rushing it.

You want to finish it. You want to see it in print. But rushing the process makes for hurried, chaotic and unintentionally messy writing. Take your time to enjoy the scene you’re currently in.

4) Writing shallow.

Nancy Galt literary agent Marietta Zacker says all good stories have one thing in common. They all have a distinct voice that comes their emotional truth. What is your emotional truth and how has it directed your life and the life of your current work-in-progress?

5) Hitting send prematurely.

I’ve done this one before. But Zacker reminds me that you should only send in your submission when you can imagine the editor and agent on the receiving end. If you would feel proud of what you’re submitting, it’s ready. If not? Step away from the computer!

6) Gabbing more than writing.

Writer groups are beneficial for a lot of reasons. But you need to be clear about why you’re spending time together with other writers. Make sure the time you’re spending is helping, not hurting your ability to complete your work.

That’s the 6 golden rules I learned this weekend. I’ve got a few more nuggets I’ll share later this week. So grateful for both Zacker and de la Pena’s words of wisdom and the writing community for motivating me to get hopping on my fiction WIP.

P.S. Have any fiction tips I haven’t included here? Please share.

Cruisin’ to Make the Muse Come In

Your muse. That nefarious, unpredictable, fickle elf (but don’t tell her that, I want to get on her good side!).

Many writers say you don’t need one. Just put fingers to keyboard and type.

Me? I need one. When I write when I’m fatigued, when I’m ill, when I’m uninspired, my work is kind of trashy. Ends up being deleted the next day. In my opinion, sick days are best for transcribing and editing.

But there are secret ways I’ve learned to ease the muse out. It’s the reason why I’ve been bubbling up with ideas lately. I can’t write them down fast enough. I thought I’d share the things I’ve learned with you. Things like…

1) Visiting a museum. 

Museums are mecca for inspiration. Drown yourself in the artistic splendor of another and it’s difficult not to be inspired. They’ll quench even the most thirsty creative.

2) Lying down.

When you’re lying down and resting, your mind suddenly floods with ideas. Believe me. It’s happened every time I’m about to go to sleep. Keep a notebook nearby.

3) Taking a shower.

Maybe it’s the sound of the water or the fact that like the one above, your mind is suddenly excited that you’ve stopped playing with your smartphone long enough to listen to it.

4) Exercising.

Why is that the best ideas come when I’m swimming, on a treadmill or doing something else where I can’t jot down an idea with a pen and a notepad?

5)  Pouring over books and magazines.

I’m notorious for this-I’ve got a stack of books and magazines piling up on my nightstand or spilling over my Kindle at any given time. And it’s not just on one topic. I’ve got non-fiction and fiction in there and everything from healing illness to taking care of kids because I know it only takes one idea to inspire another. And when you’re not paying attention, that’s when the muse is in.

What about you?

What do you do to invite your muse in?

 

Don’t Make These Rookie Mistakes

{Modern Embroidery by CheeseBeforeBedtime}

{Modern Embroidery by CheeseBeforeBedtime}

The Internet would have you believe we’re all shiny, happy writers. We’re perfect and typo free. The truth is the longer we’ve been in business and the more successful we are, the more mistakes we’ve accumulated.

In the 7 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve pumped out prose for companies and publications I’m pretty proud of. That doesn’t mean I haven’t made my share of embarrassing mistakes.

Here are 2 I hope you never have to make:

1) Applying to everything.

When I first found jobs online, actual writing jobs, I got a little apply happy. In other words, every time I saw the words “writing job,” I applied to it. As you can imagine, it wasted a ton of time. It left me with little energy to focus on the jobs I really wanted and when I did get recruiters, hiring managers and potential clients calling me back, I was confused. I couldn’t remember what job I applied to and what company it was for. Pretty embarrassing. Which leaves me to #2.

2) Winging it.

Because I wasn’t focused on what I wanted to do, I got a lot of response from companies I didn’t have time to research. Talk about humiliating. When they asked me the standard, “Why do you want to work for us?” or, “Can you tell me what we do?” I was at a lost for words. It still haunts me. In fact, I’m cringing as I type this.

What it taught me is the importance of waiting for the right job. When I say “right,” I mean writing projects that a) you’re qualified for 2) you’re passionate about. Nowadays when clients contact me, I’m clear about who they are and what they want me to do. I’d say I’m pretty lucky. And that luck is dependent on me being choosy about who I decide to work with and for. It eliminates writing jobs that aren’t a good fit and it leaves me time to research those that are.

Have you made any embarrassing mistakes in the past? Let’s share our awkward moments together.

How to Live Happily Ever After With Your Editor

{Etsy sign by CastleInnDesigns}

{Etsy sign by CastleInnDesigns}

It’s not over once you get that writing gig. To sustain a prosperous freelance writing career, you need to do more than get a job. You’re going to need to work hard at cultivating a mutually satisfying relationship so editors and clients will want to call you the next time a writing job comes around.

How do you do it?

Here are 4 agreements (inspired by Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom) to help you be that editor/client’s next go-to writer:

1) Be impeccable with your word. Being impeccable with your word means more than just being honest. It means delivering what you promise. If you agree to submit a 900-word article by Friday, make sure you do it. To develop trust, your actions and words must match up.

2) Don’t take anything personally. No one likes rejection. But when your idea or even your article gets canned, it sucks. And rightfully, so. But the only way to make it worse is to think that every person who doesn’t like your work, doesn’t like you. It’s difficult not to equate your own self-worth with your creative endeavors. It’s hard because everything you create feels personal. Let the process be personal, but be like a parent and when it’s all grown up, let it go. No matter what critiques you get back, don’t let someone’s words take away the power of what that piece did for you.

3) Don’t make assumptions. Just because you haven’t heard back from an editor in a few weeks, don’t assume they didn’t like your work. Most likely, they’re drowning in manuscripts and paperwork and just haven’t had a chance to respond. Check in with a quick email to see if you can help in anyway.

4) Always do your best. It doesn’t matter if what you’re working on pays $$$$ or $. You should provide every project with the same effort. You can’t control a lot of things in life. But what you can control is the quality of your work. Continuously show up with great content and you’ll get noticed.

Do all 4 and you’ll be on the right path toward freelance writing success.

Wooing an Editor

{Etsy greeting card by dekanimal}

{Etsy greeting card by dekanimal}

Since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, I’d thought it’d best to cover the topic of how to make an editor fall in love with you your writing. The key is to approach your new connection as you would a new relationship. Most writers take for granted how busy editors are and they send off an email as if they were already well-acquainted. But it’s a process. Take it slow and you’ll skip the fling and end up in a long, mutually satisfying relationship.

1) Get to know them.You don’t want to come across as a stalker so tread carefully. What you do want to know is how to spell their name correctly, and what their editorial needs are.

2) Get to know their audience. You’ll impress any editor if you can deliver ideas that are unique, are spun in a new way or that really speaks to their audience. Tip: Imagine you’re that publication’s biggest fan, what content would you wish they would cover that they haven’t already?

3) Get to know their publication. It helps if you’re a long-time reader. But if you aren’t, at least read a few issues and search their website to get a feel for the tone and style of the magazine.

4) Be enthusiastic. Just like people can tell how excited you are on the phone, I’m certain editors can read your true emotions from your email. You may be eager to just get published, but if you find a publication you really adore, it will come through in your writing.

5) Follow their guidelines. These days, it’s pretty easy to go searching online or through books like Writer’s Market to find out just what publications are looking for. Make sure you dot your i’s and cross our t’s. Because of how busy they are, some editors will quickly hit delete on anything that doesn’t match up with their rules and expectations.

6) Be persistent and patient. You don’t want to annoy them. But sometimes editors mean well, but get so busy they forget to respond. Give them enough time to let you know what they think of your pitch and then follow up. If that idea doesn’t work and you really want to write for that magazine, continue to query. It’s how I ended up writing for a few major publications. I just didn’t give up.

That’s how you get your foot in the door, but how do you maintain a relationship once you get it? I’ll cover it in my next post. But how about you? Was it a helpful tip? A kind note? Going out of your way to provide a perfect pitch? What tip(s) do you have to get an editor to fall in love with your writing?

Top 10 Words I Wouldn’t Miss

{Etsy painting by JessicaJeree}

{Etsy painting by JessicaJeree}

If these words were on the endangered, threatened and extinction list, I wouldn’t miss them for a second.

  1. kick-ass
  2. juicy
  3. awesome
  4. amazing
  5. literally
  6. sexy
  7. twerk
  8. hashtag
  9. delicious
  10. random

What words are on your hit list?

*Over on The Inspiring Bee, I’m teaching you how to do the easiest Valentine’s Day onesies ever. Seriously! They hardly need instructions. 

The Difference Between Fiction and Nonfiction

{Flickr photo by psyberartist}

{Flickr photo by psyberartist}

You’re a writer. Fiction, nonfiction it’s all the same. Or is it?

To me, they feel like two different literary monsters. One’s like breathing. The other? It’s what I imagine skydiving would feel like. Super fun and exhilarating, but also vomit-inducing.

Which one you experience all depends on your comfort level.

For me, nonfiction is safe. There are research, experts, facts to back up my words. Fiction? Fiction is like free falling. I never know where my imagination will take me. It’s part thrilling, part walking on the edge scary.

When I’m feeling particularly insecure, my left-brain tries to pry out logic from the illogical. It grasps on in desperation for something concrete. The left-brain is my worst critic. It’s the one that gobbles up any creative idea, late-night inspiration and spits it out in disgust. “Crap,” it says. “It’s just crap.”

While it does an equal job of tearing apart anything nonfiction, there’s also editors and fellow writers who can critique it. It’s like math. You can filter out what’s right, from what’s dead wrong.

Fiction?

Fiction’s a lot murkier.

It’s why I have 3 stories mid-written. There’s always another way it can go. I can’t control my imagination, the way I can push around words here and there in a nonfiction article, for example. It’s a constant battle-this desire to create, compose and let be. My right brain’s continuing working, running amok while my left-brain’s trying to manage and understand it all. It’s like a funnel trying to filter through all the stuff that’s in there and translate it into something that makes sense.

Is it just me?

Do you have a hard time juggling fiction and nonfiction too? Let’s commiserate.

A Press(field)ing Matter: And the Winner Is

Thanks for sharing my post through likes, updates and tweets last week! It’s just a few days before Christmas and I hope all of you are keeping up with your writing. And if you are, can you motivate me? I’m lagging behind and taking a little to much sunshine here in Hawaii.

But back to the real important stuff!

For those of you who entered to win this Christmas giveaway, thank you all! I really wish I could send each of you a bundle of these books for free. But after using random.org to figure out the winner, I came up with just one name…And I’m really happy to be giving this writer, these books. She’s helped me a lot over the years from her tweets, newsletters, and making me smile daily with her Facebook updates.

Thanks Jordan! I’ll be sending those books your way soon.

The Secret Sauce to Freelance Writing Success

{Secret Sauce by trixieandmilo}

{Secret Sauce by trixieandmilo}

I’m pretty sure you’re going to be disappointed when you read this.

Why?

Because the title made you think you’re getting the answer to quick, fast, and easy success.

I’m going to be honest with you.

Although books and blogs like to sell you sexy solutions, the truth is it’s all a marketing ploy to nab your cash.

I know because I fell for it too.

Truthfully, just like there’s no secret to holiday weight loss, there’s no secret to doing well in freelance writing.

Here’s the bottom line:

You want to do well?

You need to leave an imprint on your seat to do it.

Hard work. Time. Energy. That’s the difficult truth.

Just like there’s no real pill to lose weight, (there’s only that hard pill to swallow that it takes exercise and good diet), the only way to a bustling freelance writing business is to work hard.

You need to confront those demons, face those fears, write, write and write again.

That’s it people.

You don’t need to subscribe to a program, add a certain type of text, update your social media sites at certain times of day or buy a book to know that. Those things help. They are the go-to resources to get you started. But rely solely on those things and you will have a lot of good resources collecting dust on your shelf.

Do the work. Get the jobs!

That’s it.

That’s the secret.

 Psssttt…Here’s another: You have until the end of this week to win my biggest giveaway yet. Alls you got to do is comment, share or like this post.

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