Thursday, September 24, 2015

4 Annoying, alienating habits of writers

Writers can never simply read a book. We edit everything by habit.
We writers are a crazy bunch. We can be endearing. We can write you a thank-you note that will get those happy tears rolling like rain. We can also be quite annoying. The habits and experience that we gain while writing and editing our own content can make those around us completely miserable. Hey, at least we know it. That means we can work on it, right? Meanwhile, though, you'll have to put up with us. Here's some of the things we do to annoy our friends and family.

Predicting movie story lines and plots.

Never watch a movie for the first time at home with a writer. We'll predict nearly every plot twist. We often see them well before they happen. We take pride in knowing what will come about in the (seemingly) most unpredictable of movies, shows or plays. Not only that, it's nearly impossible for us to keep our mouths shut about it. The theater silence vow keeps us quiet. Take your writer to the theater if you want to be surprised by plot lines. Don't do movies at home.

Criticizing contrived story lines.

Writers hate nothing more than an extremely predictable story line. The true surprise element is vitally important to us. You will hear us roar when a story ends in happily ever after. That's because we've not only seen it all, we live and breathe writing structure daily. Unexpected story lines are our life. We know that the surprise element is money in the bank. Yes, even when it comes to writing tip articles, like this one. They absolutely must contain at least a few original ideas or approach a subject from an interesting angle.

Editing everything we read.

It's impossible for a writer to read a thank-you note, a letter from a teacher or any other random document without mentally editing it. We notice every little bitty error in every little thing you write. The very necessary, yet habitual, editing of our own work carries over to include yours. Unfortunately, some writers don't keep the knowledge of your mistakes to themselves either. Surely, you've heard of the grammar police? They're just waiting to pounce on you. Not only that, they feel that everyone should be just like them.

Judging others according to their writing talents.

Writers have a habit of basing their opinions of others on their writing finesse. If someone has bad grammar or can't spell, some writers feel it's an indication of stupidity. On the contrary, not everyone aspires to be a writer. Not only that, but out of those who do, not everyone chooses to get their point across using picture perfect writing style. Some of us prefer the Mark Twain style. We write like we speak, regardless of the rules. Shhh, don't tell the grammar police, but some writers are exceptions to the rules!

Can you make a good income writing online?

I began writing online for a living in 2007. Since then, I've been asked this question many, many times. What is my answer? Well, to tell you the truth, I usually don't answer, because it usually comes out of the blue with no consideration of other factors. And there are far too many factors that determine the success of online writers. If I were to tell you that you will absolutely have monetary success as an online writer without knowing anything about you as a writer, I'd be lying.

So, my answer is often something like, “well, uh...” Then they cut me off by saying, “That's what I thought.” or something of that nature. That leads people to believe online writing is just another scam or hoax. It's not. Can you make a good income writing online? Well, that depends mostly on you.

Do you have a talent for writing?

Well, now, that should be the ultimate question, shouldn't it?

Do people enjoy reading what you've written?
How is your grammar and spelling?
Do you have a way with words?
Can you turn a phrase, make a point and be entertaining?

Most importantly:

Do you have a genuine love of writing?

After all, you're going to be doing a lot of it.

Are you willing to work hard?

As with most jobs, writing success does not happen overnight.

You have to work very hard to succeed.
You have to learn what type of content sells.
You have to know how to get the search engines to love you, etc. etc.
You have to put in many long days and nights educating yourself.

That's a lot of “have to's.” Are you good at “have to's?”

What is the main reason I hesitate when asked about writing online?

Most people who don't do it, look at it as an easy buck. It's not. Writing is just like any other job. You get out of it what you put into it. I don't know what you plan to put into it or how talented you are at it. Therefore, I don't know how successful you will be at it.

Can you tow the line?

Surprise! Even if you'll be a freelance writer, there are still rules to follow. You may not like them. You may be dead set against some of them. However, if you want anyone to accept your content, you have to follow the rules set down by their website. Once again, it's just like any other job. Follow the rules or go play in another ballpark.

Website owners are constantly changing the rules.

To write for them, you have to bend with the winds of change. Why are they always changing? The people who run them are full of new ideas, just like you. You have to face facts. This is their website. They have a perfect right to run it any way they want. If you can't go with the flow, you will be left behind. Not only that, you have to follow the flow enthusiastically and without complaint.

How's your attitude?

Your writing reputation depends on it. You can't flit from one site to another, grimacing all the way. While it's true that you can write anywhere you desire, you may not be welcome if you have a bad attitude. Plus, there's a funny side fact about these websites. They often employ people who work part time at other sites. So, maybe, if you have a bad attitude, your reputation will get there ahead of your application.

Always leave on a good note.

You are writing online. That means that anything and everything you do online will be seen by your former and potential clients. News flash: They spend a lot of time online too, just as you do. It's their job. So, never, ever, ever bash a website you've worked for in a public forum. Better yet, be happy with your life so you won't be tempted to.

Do you work well independently?

Are you committed to doing a good job, whether anyone is watching or not? Can you sit in front of a computer screen, in your own home, on your own time and stay on task for as many hours a day as it takes to get the work done? You may not make any money writing at all if you don't have the discipline it takes to do so.

Other factors for making money with online writing:

It may take years to build up your income.

Do you have the patience and the financial capability to support yourself until that happens?

Note: This is the reason many writers keep their old jobs until the writing starts to pan out.

You may have to learn to write all over again.

Online writing is very different from print writing. You may have many old habits to break.

Note: You might be surprised at how hard this is. If you're stubborn and set in your ways, it can be quite daunting.

Is your family supportive?

If not, you will have to struggle with their negative thinking, lack of respect and comments like, “When are you going to get a real job?”

Do you have a thick skin?

The comments on your articles can be downright brutal, even on non-controversial subjects. Do you have the strength to ignore the naysayers and hold your head high?

On a lighter note:

If you love to write and you're not afraid to put in the work, writing can be a very satisfying and lucrative career.

So, am I saying you will make a good income writing online?

I'm afraid I can't answer that. I can only tell you that I do. Whether you do or not is completely up to you.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Are you a slave to your writing queue?

Don't let that nasty queue get to you!
Got a bunch of great beginnings and potential rewrites clogging up the old queue? Has it become a gloriously mundane task to keep up with them? Feel like you'll never clear your queue? Well, guess what? It just doesn't matter.

Your queue isn't going anywhere.

Right now, it isn't going anywhere because you're not doing anything with it. So what? So what if it never goes anywhere? So what if you never get through it? Will the world end? Will anyone but you know the difference? Then, stop stressing about it. (I know it would take years just to plug through mine, even if that's all I ever wrote.)

Writing can't be forced.

So, work on what you're feeling enthused about. Don't worry about those old articles from that now closed website unless there's one that suits your writing mood. Forget about those great beginnings to stories you'll never finish. Write what you want. Write what inspires you. Or, if you're under a deadline, write what gets you paid. That is, if deadlines work for you.

Personally, I don't do deadlines well.

They slow me down. I write what I want, when I want to write it. I used to be a slave, not only to my writing queue, but to a writing schedule and several demanding clients and websites. Sure, it paid the bills. Sure, it was necessary at the time. Or not.

Now that I ignore my queue....

Now that I write by mood, it's actually much more enjoyable. What else? I have full confidence that in time, it will also be more profitable. That's because, when it comes to writing, my mood shows. When I feel miserable and forced, my writing reflects that. I bet yours does too.

So, tell your queue to hop up on that shelf.

Just let it sit there until it serves your purpose. After all, who's in charge here? You or your queue? That's right. You are under no obligation to clear your queue except for the imaginary obligation you've invented for yourself. You don't have to clear your queue unless you feel like it. There, now doesn't that feel better?