Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Why you should be flattered when writers use you for a jump off post

My friends, if you find yourself the inspiration for an article, blog post, book or rant, please don't take offense. All writers take material from their everyday world. It's nothing personal. In fact, most of the time, it's not even about what you said, but what you inspired them to consider.

Be flattered that your opinion means something to someone. Be happy that someone's listening. Be assured that even if a writer disagrees completely with what you have said, they value your opinion enough to talk about it.

And speaking personally, as that famous quote suggests, but in simpler terms, I will defend your right to say what you feel, no matter how screwed up I happen to think it is.

Inspiring a writer to think isn't as easy as it seems. Give yourself some credit.

Speaking personally, again:

I've written about every subject under the sun at this point. So, if your thought process presents an avenue I haven't yet taken, you should be flattered. No, really, you should. Even if I'm dissing you, calling you on your bull-crap or reacting negatively to your views, that means I value your thoughts.

Think about it. I'm a writer. Taking ideas from life is kind of what I do. So, don't be insulted if something you say inspires me to express my own thoughts on the subject. In fact, you should expect me to. It's nothing personal. It's my job. I'm always looking for things to write about. And the fact that what you said or did or posted inspired me says a lot about you.

The same goes for the majority of writers out there, I'm sure.

You should be flattered that your subject is the one I chose to write about out of the thousands of subjects I consider addressing every day.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Effective time management for online writers

Having a time schedule for writing may sound strange or silly to those new to the game. Writing online seems like a very easy going lifestyle to those who aren't in it. Those of us who have been at it for a few years or even a few months know better. There's so much more to consider when writing for a living than the writing itself.
Promoting your work is time consuming.
In fact, it takes just as much time as writing. It's not enough to post links on social networks when you first publish your work. If you want to be successful, you have to look for opportunities to promote your older work too. Expect to spend at least a couple hours daily just getting your links out there where people can see them. Plus, there's much more to it than that.
Leave time to support other online writers.

Since these people read your articles, it's only fair to read and promote theirs. Why focus on your own work all the time? It's certainly more interesting to hear other viewpoints and subjects than your own.

Social networking is vital.

Writing online often means being paid per click, ad view or page view. Obviously, it's very important to schedule time to promote articles through social networking. Still, the true value in social networking lies in creating friendships with fellow writers. Other writers are a great source of inspiration, tips, support and more.

Education keeps online writing quality in check.

Schedule time to learn more about producing articles that are well written and search engine optimized. Quality writing is the only writing that sells. Each day the online writer must schedule time to learn more about their craft. Online writing is just like any business in this respect. Writers must hone their skills if they wish to remain a member of the online writing community in good standing.

Consider your personal style and needs

When making up your writing schedule, consider the most important person in your day. It's you! Your writing habits, strengths and weaknesses all determine how you spend your writing day. For instance, I work better in the morning, early in the week, whereas, some of my writer friends work better in the midnight hours or under deadline pressure.

Personal considerations:

  • Where and when do you prefer to write?
  • Where and when are you most productive?
  • Do you work better alone or with plenty of company?
  • Is there a certain individual who invariably distracts you from writing?
Scheduling isn't just about you.

When my partner's home, I'd much rather spend time with him than write. So, I do my work when he's at his job. This has the added bonus of giving us both the same days off so we can spend more time together. Is there anything more annoying than having someone you're trying to spend time with occupied online? I think not. So, when you schedule your writing hours, keep the people who care about you in mind as well.

Writing for my audience and ignoring the naysayers

As I mentioned in my last post, my way of life and my writing are unconventional. I'm well aware of that. I don't follow social norms or do things just because that's the way they've always been done. I try my best to base my actions on fact, not habit, rumors or doctrine.

Those of you who read my posts know that I have recently vowed to stop defending myself. This is a revelation toward that end. After answering some recent comments, I realized that I'm answering comments from naysayers as if they were the people I direct my articles to. They're not.

My articles are directed to people who are not so set in their ways that they ignore evidence in favor of old habits that refuse to die.

Please understand that I mean no offense by this statement. We are all subject to human nature, part of which is adherence to our beloved comfort zones. I'm no exception to the rule. In fact, I'm constantly trying to wriggle out of my own habits and comfort zones in order to remain open to new ideas. Admittedly, it's sometimes a losing battle, but I do try.

Anyway.... The point is that I am now extending my offense, not defense strategy to the comment section of my articles.

I will no longer be defending my point of view to trolls who attack my way of life or express opinions different from my own. Why? Because it's not productive. These are people who will never change, despite evidence that indicates they should. They are set in their ways, with lead shoes on their feet and wearing ear muffs. There's no point wearing out my fingertips trying to explain my choices to them.

Instead, I will focus on writing factual and/or funny articles for those who either agree with me or are open minded enough to at least consider my viewpoint seriously.

You know, those who do not read my articles with the intent to bash me already set in their heads.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love all my readers. I'm just choosing to direct my articles to a more receptive audience.

Naysayers are still more than welcome to read them. I love hearing opposing viewpoints. It gives me article fodder, as well as making me think.

I'm simply not defending myself to naysayers in the comment section or making them the focus of my article subjects. It's a waste of time and energy. Instead, I will focus on those people who are truly interested in what I have to say.

Personal growth makes me giddy. How about you?

Eliminate Facebook comment wars with interest pages

What's the most common problem people have on Facebook? Well, among my friends, it's comment wars. I've been a victim of them. I've been in the thick of them. Heck, I've even caused them. In fact, they used to frustrate me so much, I would write about them daily. I'm writing about them now. Are you at your wits end with negative Facebook comments on your cause posts? Have you considered making or liking some interest pages to keep animosity to a minimum?

I'm a shining example of non-conformity.

I'm not saying this to get attention or to brag. It's just who I am. I'm a card carrying, vegan leaning, tree-hugger. I'm an atheist, an animal activist and a liberal. I speak out for gay rights and gun control. I'm a minimalist and an extreme organic gardener. I campaign against GMO's in our food. I detest large corporation subsidies and loopholes. So, as you can imagine, I am responsible for a lot of Facebook comment wars. That is, I seem to inspire them. I wonder why?

Believe it or not, I don't enjoy arguing on Facebook.

I don't have time for it. I have work to do. What I do enjoy is keeping people informed on the subjects that interest me. I like to post a few things, possibly have a laugh or two, maybe enjoy an enlightening conversation, then go back to writing. It just doesn't ever seem to work out that way. I have a really wide variety of friends with an even wider variety of interests. That fact is the whole reason for posting my pet subjects on pages for my like minded Facebook friends

My most recent experience with comment wars:

It may sound like nothing. I was getting incredibly tired of bacon comments on my vegan oriented posts. You see, I don't think of pigs as bacon. I think of them as fellow animals who are getting a rough deal. You don't have to agree with me to see the problem. To make a long story short, negative comments were making my stomach turn and my heart ache on a daily basis. It upset me so much, it was keeping me from doing my job. When I asked my friends to respect my sensitive nature, it started a whole landslide of comment wars.

It was then that I realized, I was talking to the hand.

What is the point of hammering something into someone's head, over and over if they're just not interested? There is no point. It's absolutely futile.

I also realized I was not merely an innocent bystander.

I can be pretty opinionated when it comes to my passions. Not only that, I enjoy posting sarcastic memes. It gives me a chuckle and gets me through the day. Unfortunately, some of my friends don't find my sarcasm funny. Well, I certainly know how that feels. I don't want to be that person. I don't want to bring my friends down. I want to lift them up. So, rather than posting my slightly “snarky” vegan posts on my news feed, I found several vegan interest pages to post them on.

By posting my vegan stuff on vegan pages, I don't have to worry about offending anyone. We're all on the same page. Pardon the pun.

I also don't have to put up with those bacon comments or endure hour long comment wars with my fellow writers. As you can imagine, writers can rattle off some pretty elaborate (not to mention stinging) jabs and comments. All the more reason for using or creating interest pages.

Do you have an uncommon interest?

Do you tire of promoting and explaining your causes to Facebook friends who have no interest in them? Are you trying to keep the peace in the comment section? If so, you might consider creating a page or two of your own. Just click on pages. It's on the left side of your news feed (home). Once you click, you'll see a button for creating your page. Click that too. Facebook will walk you right through the process of creating your own interest page.

Not into managing interest pages?

Just like a few that align with your beliefs and allow you to post away for those who agree with you and can relate.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Keeping ego out of your online writing

Just admit it, you're no Shakespeare anyway. LOL
If you're like me, you're not too fond of snobbish, perfectionist writers. Now, I have my pet causes, my pet peeves and my long winded rants, for sure. Don't we all? That's not what I'm talking about when I use the term “egotistical” in reference to writers.

I'm talking about those writers who are constantly trying to impress you with their big brains. I usually get about three sentences into their articles and click off. I know all the big words. Language Arts are kind of my thing, you know? I even read actual books sometimes. (Gasp!)

I just don't like those big words shoved down my throat like a spoonful of unwanted peas. Yes, even if I like the peas. And I'm not the only one.

One of the first things I learned about writing online has served me well consistently over the years. What is it? Write on an eighth grade level. Now, that's not because your readers are stupid. It's because they don't have time for your silly, self centered, big worded, headache promoting, requires too much thought for the time they have passages.

Sorry if that offended anyone. It's natural to try to impress with your writing. I do it myself on occasion. Maybe I'm doing it now, to a certain extent. Still, the whole point of online writing is to entertain and/or provide an answer to your reader's questions, not to rival Shakespeare. Online readers are looking for a chuckle or quick answers in an easily understood format. That's it.

The point is that your readers don't care how eloquent you are. They just want to skim your article, find the information they came for and move on. Leave your inflated ego out of it if you want to be read. Simply put, it's not that tough to write for an online audience. Pomp and circumstance aren't really necessary here.

Just be easy to read and you'll be read!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Daily earnings charts for online writers

Do you know how much you need to earn a day from your online writing in order to generate a decent income? Online article writers often forget to do the math. It's easy enough to stop and perform the calculations. Do you have the time? If not, maybe this earnings chart can help you put things in perspective and meet your writing goals. Pardon the formatting please. These are charts I made for my own personal use and decided to share with you.

These figures are based on writing 5 days a week (20 days per month)

Daily                 Monthly                Yearly

10.00                 200.00                   2,400.00
15.00                 300.00                   3,600.00
20.00                 400.00                   4,800.00
25.00                 500.00                   6,000.00
30.00                 600.00                   7,200.00
35.00                 700.00                   8,400.00
40.00                 800.00                   9,600.00
45.00                 900.00                  10,800.00
50.00                 1000.00                12,000.00
75.00                 1500.00                18,000.00
100.00               2000.00                24,000.00

These figures are based on writing 7 days a week (28 days a month)

Daily                 Monthly               Yearly

10.00                 280.00                  3,360.00
15.00                 420.00                  5,040.00
20.00                 560.00                  6,720.00
25.00                 700.00                  8,400.00
30.00                 840.00                 10,080.00
35.00                 980.00                 11,760.00
40.00                 1120.00               13,440.00
45.00                 1260.00               15,120.00
50.00                 1400.00               16,800.00
75.00                 2100.00               25,200.00
100.00               3000.00               36,000.00

You can have a lot of fun comparing these statistics. For instance, look at the enormous difference between the lower right hand totals on the two charts. Obviously, it pays off in the end to work those longer hours. However, you must weigh your own odds when it comes to what you're willing to give up for the larger paycheck. Plus, there are those viral posts to factor in. Don't despair!

By the way, in case you are curious, in order to reach an income of 100,000. a year (a six figure income) writing online, you would have to earn an average of 277.77 per day, working 30 days a month, or 416.66 per day, working 20 days a month. And remember, these figures do not account for income taxes!

Better get to writing, I guess!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Blogging is great for ending writer's block, etc. etc.

Sometimes you just have to write away your writer's block. Informal blogs are the ideal place to do just that. For the most part, blogs are about jabbering away on whatever subject strikes your fancy. Yes, I know. There are some very serious bloggers out there. I respect them. That's just not the kind of blogging I'm referring to.

Now comes the confiding part. You see, every once in a while I used to go into a mode where serious writing just wasn't something I was all that into. With casual blogging, though, I was able to free myself from writers block by just rattling off about any old thing that struck my fancy too. With all the censorship and rules now dominating the internet, that was a refreshing relief.

I liked that in their own blogs, people from all walks of life and writing levels could express themselves freely, without the grammar police stepping in with their badges and whistles. I liked that I could write like I talk in my blogs. In fact, I could write however I want.

And then, it happened. Turning to blogs to unclog my writer's blog brought about a realization. Which is this:

If serious articles cause me to experience writer's block and blogs never do, perhaps I should be blogging instead of trying to write like someone else wants me too, just to make make a buck.

And that realization is exactly why I stopped writing for private clients, and other venues.

And furthermore:

I also just don't see the point in forcing myself to comply to whatever standards some dude back in the 1800's set for all writers everywhere. I know that's not a popular thought among professional writers, but it's exactly how I feel

A writer should bleed their personality onto the page without a filter. They shouldn't be writing how someone else wants them to. They should be writing how they write. They should write as who they are.

Maybe it's just me but I feel that otherwise, we would all essentially be writing the same exact way, which would encourage living and believing the same way too.

Following someone elses rules is just not my thing, you guys. It's not worth my health, my sanity and my freedom. I love writing how I'm naturally inclined to write and for myself and myself alone. Well, and for my readers, of course. The majority of whom are just as sick of outdated, unreasonable formalities as I am.

And yes, I do believe that there is something to be said for writing and spelling well enough to be understood. I get it. I just don't think the world is going to come to an end if someone puts a comma in the wrong place or a period outside quotation marks or whatever.

I also don't believe that people who are still learning the language should be expected to speak or write it “properly.” As long as I understand them, or even if I don't, I hope they continue to write. Because practice is what it takes to hone your craft, ladies and gentlemen. And neither practice nor any human being on the planet is ever, ever perfect.

Personally, I like it that way.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bye bye Facebook, hello more writing – Conversing with myself

Me : Are you guilty of writing long Facebook posts or preaching about your pet peeves on Facebook (ie, driving everyone nuts?)

- Why yes, I am. How did I know?

Me: How much time do you spend doing that?

- Oh about 3 hours a day. Is that bad?

Me: How about those tweets? How many do you do a day?

- Um.... I'd rather not think about it.

Me: How much money do your ranting posts and tweets make you?

- They make me exactly Jack-diddly-squat

(That's a saying of my Dad's. You know what it means? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero.)

Me: So here's an idea. Stop ticking off all your Facebook friends with those sarcastic posters and your silly long winded posts.Write something on those topics. Put it where it can make you some money. Brilliant, right?

- But what about my friends? What if I want to share those thoughts with my friends?

Me: Duh, post a link.

- Oh... Right.

Writers, I'm not the boss of you

I'm not the be all, end all of writing, for sure!
I'm not the bossy type. Heck, sometimes I'm not even the boss of me. Who has the energy for worrying about other people's writing errors? I always find it odd when people worry about how or what others are posting on their blogs. I love to read the posts of those I subscribe to. I just don't worry about whether they're following the rules. To each his own.

Oh, I understand that quality posts make for a quality site. I just don't feel it's my place to take issue with what other people are writing. Isn't that what admin is for?

I never liked being a hall monitor in school. Never been a tattle tale. Abhor being the middle man. Not into drama. Never been much for gossip or talking crap. Always had enough responsibilities of my own. Too many to waste time worrying about what everyone else is doing.

I'm the type of person who, if I had a bumper sticker, would probably have one that said, “Focus on your own d.... family.”

Who has time to be a watchdog anyway? I'm too busy writing, editing, gardening, cleaning, cooking and generally maintaining our little fixer upper house. I just can't imagine pausing in the middle of all that to check someone else's word count. Heck, I don't even care if you use complete sentences or aren't familiar with the English language. Goodness knows, I wouldn't have a clue how to write in another language at all. If you do, even if you''re only halfway familiar with more than one language, that's admirable to me.

I love all my writer friends, regardless of their level of writing progress. I don't care if they can't spell or don't use proper grammar. I'm interested in what they have to say. Now, if they start getting crazily offensive, I might flag them. If you're cruel or bigoted, something like that, I might call you out or make you aware of how you sound. Ethics and morals are important to me.

Might is the keyword, though. Might not. Depends on the day. Lots of times, I even let the mean spirited posts slide. After all, not everyone is perfect, like me.

Bwa ha ha ha ha ah aha ah! Sure, I am.

So, there you go, fellow writers. Write what you will. Write it your way. Post what feels right to you. I'll still read it, especially if it's interesting. I don't go around flagging everything that doesn't comply with the rules. That's not my job.

I'm here to write my stuff and read yours. I'm not the rule enforcement police. I'm just a writer, like you. Doing my best to do my own thing, better myself and possibly make a few bucks. No time for dirty looks and nasty complaints. Got work to do. I'm betting you do too. So, I'm not going to waste your time and undermine your hard work by filing complaints or engaging in pointless gossip about your writing.

It's a beautiful day to write! Hope yours is beautiful too!

Best way to make money writing online – a brief reminder

Choose your weapon!
It's not a big secret. Most online writers know it's true. A small percentage actually do it. What is it? It's the best way to make money writing online. You can read all the tip articles in the universe. You can attend virtual seminars. 

You can social network until you're blue in the face and your hemorrhoids have you reaching new heights. You can hole yourself up like a hermit to study SEO, LSI, all the while minding your P's and Q's.You can study all the latest theories and methods known to man.

You won't make any money after all that, unless you do the one thing that makes you all the money you need while writing online. So what is it? What's the big secret? Why is Jaipi beginning to sound like a bad infomercial? 

Well, it's because, if I put the secret in the first paragraph, you can see it in the description, thereby eliminating the need for you to click on my article.

And the secret is: Write your butt off!

Yup, you have to write and WRITE A LOT in order to make money writing online. If you sit on Facebook all day, jabbering away, there is no payout. You might as well get paid for all your ranting and raving by putting it into a reader friendly, clickable, money-making form. OK, so why are you still here? You know the secret.

Now write!

5 Reasons to edit your old content

For the last several months, I've been editing my old content, revising some for blogs, etc. I have literally thousands of online articles under my belt. Many of my writer friends have asked me why would I put myself through such torment. Well, right now, for me, the main reason is that a lot of the sites I wrote for have closed and I hate to see all that work go to waste. There are, of course, a lot of other reasons to go back and edit your old online articles and photos. Here are what I consider the top five.

1. You have changed your evil ways.

As time goes by, we writers undergo growth, just like anyone else. What we once considered vital information, may no longer reflect our lifestyle. For instance, I have gone from vegetarian to 90% vegan. I refer to it as changing my evil ways because a lot of the articles I wrote in the past don't reflect my current views. It's important that a writer maintain a consistent voice, content wide. When past articles cease to reflect current views, it impacts your writing reputation.

2. Times have changed.

A writer bases their facts on currant information. Over time, new research may come out that disproves old theories. Links also have to be updated from time to time. Websites “go out of business.” Site managers delete and edit old content. This means your older articles may have links that lead to nowhere, or to irrelevant pages.

3. You have improved your writing skills.

I certainly have. When I first began as an online writer, I was convinced my articles were stellar. I was wrong. They're still not! LOL Just like with any other job, you improve as you go. No writer should ever stop learning new skills and gaining new experience. As you improve, it's important to go back and take a look at old content to insure it was written skillfully, according to the knowledge you've acquired on the way.

4. Formatting rules have changed.

Every website follows a different set of formatting guidelines. Not only that, as time passes, editors change their ways too. For instance, a few years back, everyone went from multiple page to single page articles. Spacing requirements change. Heading preferences change. Some sites even change writing styles. Some prefer AP, others have their own formatting rules. It's important to make sure your content is up to date with website requirements.

5. SEO rules have changed.

Those creepy little “spiders” that find your content in a search have changed their minds. They want things done a whole different way now. Remember when keyword stuffing and article “spinning” stopped working for all those spammers? Most legitimate writers never did that in the first place. However, some of us did use a few more keywords than we should. Editing old content is a good way to catch and correct any embarrassing errors and past mistakes.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

5 Awesome side jobs for online article writers

So, you write articles for a living? How does that pay? Well, sometimes it's very lucrative. Sometimes it's not. What can you do in between article assignments to make a little extra cash? You can write a little more. You don't have to write articles. Write other things. Use your online skills to generate a little extra cash. Here's a few ideas to get you started.

Social media management

Managing Facebook and Twitter accounts for local businesses or fellow writers is a great way to make an extra buck. Some larger companies pay the equivalent of a full time salary for these services. They have a business to run. They don't have time for social networking. You do. It only takes about an hour out of your writing day. It's a win for both of you.

Writer website building and maintenance

Surely you have a website for your writing business. Did you build your own website? Many authors haven't a clue how this is done. You have a large writing community network. If not, you should. Advertise writer website building and maintenance on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or wherever else you have a social presence. Once a website is built, it takes just a few minutes a day to maintain it.

Blog management

Most savvy business owners have blogs on their websites. Unfortunately, they know a lot about their business, but very little about writing . That's where you come in. They feed you current events and topics related to their business. They tell you some personal stories. You blog about what they're doing. It's ghost writing, personalized.

Editing for dummies (No offense intended)

Have you ever gone to a business website, read their articles and sighed? Why not offer your services to beef up their grammar, formatting or punctuation? You do it every day with your own articles. Every website has a contact form. Use it. Who knows? They may have been waiting for someone like you to help them out.

Writing E-Newsletters

Some companies put out monthly or bi-monthly newsletters to keep customers interested and informed. Your word program likely has newsletter templates that will allow you to easily format them. Email the finished newsletter to your client. They forward it to their contacts. Charge a per-word fee. It's that simple. Advertise this and other extra services you offer on your writing website and social media pages. You never know until you try!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Online writing tips – How to gain a reputation as an expert

Becoming an expert on your pet topic increases readership. Writing about your interests is probably the simplest way to build a reputation as an expert. Within your topic of interest is a vast library of information. Accessing this information on a daily basis can provide you with the material to become known as an expert in your field.

Repetitive research can make you an expert.
You may not know everything about your chosen subject. If you write about it enough, that could change. You probably remember how repetition helped you learn in grade school. Researching the same or similar subjects over and over gives you an informal education. As you do research to write your articles, you learn more and more until you are considered an authority.
Impeccable research will reinforce your expertise.

Just researching isn't enough to give you a good education in your subject matter. It's important to do quality research. Check to see that the sources you learn from are reliable and unbiased. Bad information does not constitute expertise. It just makes you look foolish and ill-informed.

A history of writing on specific topics can make you an expert.

As your writing history takes shape, your name will come up in searches for similar topics. That makes you an expert in the eyes of search engines. The more you write on a specific topic, the better your search value will be. If Mr. Smith from Washington DC searches for information on your pet subject, he'll soon see a vast array of articles by you. Voila! Instant expert.

Your article base can make you an expert.

What happens when someone goes to your page or website and types in a search for your pet topic? All your articles on that subject come up to stare them right in the face. In their eyes, you are an expert on that subject. You have the experience and background researching that subject that they are looking for. Now you become a reliable source.

Your readers might already consider you an expert.

Your regular readers know what you write about most. They learn to come to you first for answers on your favorite subject. They might even message you for advice. What happens when they do?

Give the best advice you can.

When people ask for advice, double check your research. Don't just rattle off the first piece of advice that comes to you. No way. Research the answers to people's questions just as if you were writing an article. Better yet, write a follow up article. That way they get the best advice possible and you get an education to further your expertise.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What is a writer?

I seem to be in a philosophical mood today.
Society often dictates the attachment of labels on things and even on people. So what classifies someone as a writer? To me, a writer is simply someone who writes. Whereas, society suggests that to be a writer or an author, one must first be published.

My opinion, for what it's worth, is that if one is inclined to write, enjoys it, has something or even nothing much to say and an urge to put their thoughts down on paper, that person is a writer. Now granted, I'm not much into lofty ideals. I could care less whether I am ever published. For me, it's about the pure train of thought that comes pouring from my brain and onto the paper.

I don't care much about perfect grammar, unless of course, whatever has been written is completely undecipherable.

I don't care much for using big words, either, even though I know a heck of a lot of them. No. I prefer that my writing be easily understood by anyone who cares to read it. After all, that is why one writes, isn't it?

Well, no. That's not why everyone writes, actually. Some people simply write for their own entertainment. That is, because they enjoy the act of writing. I pretty much lean in that direction, myself, although I do enjoy it more when someone reads my writing and enjoys it for whatever reason.

So there you go. I say that a writer is simply one who writes. Society dictates that in order to be classified as a writer (or author if you prefer the loftier term) one must be published. But honestly, they're all just words, you know,. We made them up.

So I guess they can mean whatever we choose them to.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Cleaning up the dead weight in your writing queue

If you're like most online writers, you use a word program for your writing. Chances are, your queue is filled with abandoned articles,thoughts, notes and titles for posts you've never written. There's good and bad ideas in your writing queue. Why not make it a practice to spend one day a week (or a month) going through those archives? You can turn all those old thoughts into gold. Or at least clear some space for new ideas.

What about those impossible dreams?

We all have a few of those ideas sitting in our queue that we know will never come to fruition. There could be a lot of reasons for this. Maybe you're not qualified to write that particular article. Maybe it requires more research than you care to do. Maybe you're just not interested in the subject matter any more. Maybe someone else beat you to it.

You could delete it.

What are the benefits of deleting abandoned writing projects? It's somewhat satisfying. It also saves you from looking at it. Who wants to be reminded of their 'to do' list every time they check their queue? Deleting those lost causes sure feels good, doesn't it? Wait. Isn't there anything you can do with it before you say goodbye?

Could you simplify it?

Maybe instead of writing a factual article, you could use it as a blog post. You could talk about your personal experience on the subject. You could rant or rejoice about it. You could make it funny. You could whip off a couple quick paragraphs with links to further info. By keeping it casual, you won't be required to do quite so much research.

Could you change the subject?

Maybe you could take a look at that abandoned title you're no longer interested in and be inspired by it.
Could you take it in a different direction more easily? Is there a related subject that interests you more? Does it remind you of something else you've been wanting to write about? Does it have any merit outside your original thought?

Could you part with it?

You know your fellow writers pretty well. You read their work all the time, right? It's only fair, since they read yours. Do you have a writer friend who might take your prompt and run with it? Is it right up their writing alley? If so, why keep it to yourself? It's not doing you any good sitting in the queue anyway. They might as well give it a go.

Never say never.

Some of those ideas you have cooking in your writing queue are worth saving. Others may not be. Just don't give up on them until you've explored all the possibilities. So clean up your queue by using those old ideas or losing them. Either, make some money with your old ideas. Or delete them. After all, the idea is to make a living at this writing gig, right?

Friday, July 8, 2016

Now that Examiner has shut down, what will we do?

Oh man, here we go again. Another one bites the dust, right? I know that's what all my writer buddies are thinking. That's especially true of those of us who have been through this all before. Chin up! There are good things about the shut down. There are also alternatives.

My daughter would never forgive me if I didn't mention that she is co-owner of a writing website that is still very much alive and quite successful. There are opportunities to blog, write articles or do just about anything you did on Examiner and more. Contact Lyn Lomasi or her partner Richard Rowell at Write W.AV.E. Media. She's also recovering content from Examiner.com for quite a few writers who don't have time to do it themselves. She can do it for you too!

Do you have your own website or blog? If so, this is a great time to transition to writing exclusively for yourself and/or private clients. Doing so is much more profitable than writing for someone else, anyway. If you don't have a website or blog of your own, why not use the opportunity to start one up? It can be done for free on Weebly.com or any number of other venues. And no worries if you don't know HTML. Weebly is point and click. So user friendly!

On a personal note, I will miss Examiner.com. They gave me many years of income, exposure and great opportunities. However, I must admit that I was getting to a point where I was conflicted about whether to place my work on my own blogs or on Examiner, since both have the same topics. And sometimes sharing was difficult due to the way their site is set up. I'm not bad-mouthing them, though. As I said, I greatly appreciate what they've done for me. It is what it is and I have no bad feelings toward them.

So, now, here I am, able to focus entirely on blogging, which I love to do. It's very freeing for me. Down the road, I may or may not go back to seeking out private clients. I may even look for another website to write for. But you know, I'm in forced retirement right now, so the blogs are a great fit. I have no deadlines or clients to worry about. I do things my way without interference. And if I'm not well that day, there's no one to answer to but myself.

Preparing for writing website closure

Folks, I wrote this one a few years back and updated it today. Thought it was timely, considering the shut down of Examiner.com. It's certainly all still true. You should never put all your writing eggs in one basket, so to speak. A lot of you are finding that out this week. But hey, it's not too late to save your work or do better next time! So let's talk about being prepared for that next website shut-down.

Online writing is a fickle mistress. There's no telling when your favorite writing venue may disappear from the web. It's best to write for sites that have a long term history. Like Yahoo Voices or Examiner.com.? Right... 

So, what if your favorite place to write suddenly shuts down like they both have now? Would you be prepared? Have you backed up your work? Do you know your rights as far as publishing content featured there on another site? How can you be assured of a smooth ride when they “pull the rug out” from under you?

Do you write “on site?”

Most online writers know to write in their word program, rather than in website templates. If you're new to the game, you might not realize how important this is. If you don't retain a copy of your work off website, you may never be able to retrieve it when a website shuts down without advance notice. Do you have online content that isn't stored safely in your word program and backed up on a flash drive? If so, take steps now to see that you don't suffer a permanent loss.

Are you a single venue writer?

I'm not. Plus, I make sure I remain in good standing on all the sites I write for, no matter how successful I am there. Having back up income makes a huge difference. That way, if the main site I write for goes through any major changes, my income doesn't change drastically. If the main site I write for should happen to shut down, I also know that I can transfer my saved non-exclusive work to other sites or to my own blogs with ease.

What about exclusive content?

Whenever you write exclusive content for any website, you're taking a calculated risk. Doing so may get you better assignments or other perks. On the other hand, once the website closes, it's up to them if they wish to relinquish the rights to your work. The best rule of thumb is to retain your rights whenever possible. That way, you can do as you wish with your content in the event of website shutdown.

What does your old content look like?

What if the website you write for shut down? What if a closed venue put your less than perfect exclusive content on another site you don't have access to? Why not make sure you've dotted all your I's and crossed all your T's in the articles you've already written. It would be awful if there were typos left in something you could no longer change.

Don't walk away mad.

Writing online is no different than any other job in that respect. No one wants a disgruntled employee working for them. Behaving in a less than professional manner when a venue changes or shuts down reflects badly on you as a writer. It's not their fault you weren't prepared for any eventuality. Being ready for such an event before it happens can make a world of difference.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Is writer's block just an illusion?

One of the many conversations I had on Facebook this morning brought up this question for me. My grand-daughter posted that she was struck in the writer's block zone. A mutual friend commented that writer's block is an illusion. 

While I commented that it's true we can set our mind to do almost anything, I've had some afterthoughts. Turns out that writer's block is not a “black and white” issue after all. And sometimes, it's very real. Here's why.

Writers need a large portion of their brain to come up with something readable. Granted, you can often just start writing and break through the mental blockage. However, the blockage itself is very real. Yes, you can put your mind to it, get through it and go on to pen an astounding piece of work, most of the time. But if your brain is busy with other things, doing so can be daunting.

Writing isn't like most jobs. You absolutely cannot do it unless the perfect mindset exists in you. Your mind must be receptive, free of stress and most of all, completely engaged in what you're doing. Otherwise, you're probably going to turn out something that's a little less wonderful than you wanted it to be.

Take this little blog post.

Today I am in a lot of pain. I know the points I wish to make. Unfortunately, with that back pain occupying my head, things are not quite coming out as I hoped they would. But it isn't just extenuating circumstances that can cause writer's block to become real. It's other factors too.

Here are a few:

*A negative attitude
*A bad mood
*Outside distractions
*Being upset about the subject matter
*Running out of new ideas
*Trying to project positivism when you're depressed.

I could go on as there are many more obstacles we face as writers, but you get the point. While it's true that all these things can be conquered by adopting a more productive and positive, “can do” mindset, writers still have to get past them. They are very real. That's because, they are in our heads where we live. But more importantly, they are in our heads where our thoughts live. And we can't put those thoughts on paper without thinking.

In fact, writing is literally your brain on paper. So, if your head is not clear, your writing is not clear.

Is writer's block an illusion?

Yes, in that you can talk your brain into doing anything you want it to.

No, in that the blockage is very real until you figure out how to leave it behind, work around it or eliminate it.

You can be as industrious and positive as you want but you still have to conquer those obstacles before you can keep writing. And that, my friends is why they call it writer's block.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Choose your writing venues wisely

It's more important than you think!

Whether you write for online or print publications, choosing your writing venues wisely simply makes sense. What kind of writer are you? Do you enjoy working at your own pace or following guidance from another? When does your best work happen? What are your goals and interests? Are you character driven, agenda driven or dollar driven? All these factors and more determine the type of writing venue you should be contributing to. Choose your venues carefully to avoid regrets.

Some venues are deceiving.

The general feel of the venue should suit you. However, there is much more to it than that. While you may be a liberal, all liberal sites are not created equal. Some have a more pacifist tone. Others are constantly up in arms. There's nothing worse than starting to write for someone and having to leave abruptly after discovering their sentiments don't match yours as well as you thought.

Don't bash the venue.

Some writers, when leaving a site will bad-mouth it for months. They just can't let their disappointment go. Somehow, it's easier for them to be critical of the business than admit it was simply a bad fit for them.

By doing this, they accomplish nothing but to tarnish their own reputation. Every venue has it's good and bad points. If you find a site that doesn't meet your needs, it's best to leave peacefully. Move on to something that works better for you. Leave your mistakes in the past.

Are you agenda/cause driven?

I don't mean this in a bad way. Many of us have high moral standards. There's nothing wrong with that. Others have causes they promote that don't jive with certain writing venues. For instance, since I'm an animal lover, I wouldn't be writing articles for a hunting magazine. It goes deeper than that, though.

I once wrote for an earth friendly sustainable living magazine. Unfortunately, they occasionally featured articles on raising animals for food, something I oppose as a Vegan. They were also great supporters of the NRA. While I believe in the right to bear arms, I disagree with many of the extreme right ideals the NRA supports.

You can't dig too deep when researching the venues you work for if you want your work to be a reflection of your ideals.

Workaholic multitasking fool or not so much?

Some venues really make you earn your money. Now, don't get me wrong, there are writers that thrive on the maddening hustle and bustle, strict deadlines and constant game plan changes. Others prefer to go at their own pace and create their own topics.

To each his own is what I'm saying here. If you're an adrenaline junkie, go for it. Go balls out for the money with no regard for the amount of work it takes to earn it. If not, relax and write what you love. You might just discover that the money is good on the peaceful side of the fence too.

Suit yourself, not your homies.

Some writers make the mistake of choosing a venue according to the recommendation of colleagues alone. Remember, we all have different needs. Something that works out splendidly for a co-worker, may not be suitable for you. Writing is just like any other job. Choose the right company based on your own needs and interests, not someone else's.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Humble writing reflections on a snowy day

Photo by author. All rights reserved.

Snowy days are perfect for doing major re-writes on old, terribly written and formatted articles. Listening to the wind blow while watching the flakes pile up is somehow very calming. There's no pressure to go anywhere or do much of anything. That fact lends a little more patience to my writing process so that I can deal with all my past mistakes with slightly less frustration.

It's a real eye opener sometimes to see how much improvement you've made since day one of being published. Makes you wonder why they even accepted some of it. Ha! I mean, I really have to dig into some of these. Once I'm done, some of them are barely recognizable as rewrites. That's OK. In fact, it's more than OK. Getting those awful first articles offline and putting up new and improved work is better for my writing reputation.

That being said, I did have some great ideas back then in the land of mental freshness. Just didn't get them across as well as I can now. In fact, sometimes going through my older stuff helps get my writing blood pumping. It's been so long since I wrote some of these articles and posts that I've completely forgotten them.

I also love adding new experience or new slants to my old articles. It really makes them “pop” as they say. Sometimes, if I'm in a particularly peaceful mode, I can get several article ideas from just one old, crappy article. But that's not all.

The funniest thing is, it gets me wondering if, in the future, the ones I write now will seem just as elementary as those oldies but baddies to me. I bet they will. Because, as writers, we never really stop growing, do we?

Anyway, it sure is a relaxing day. Just sitting here waiting out the storm and working on posts long forgotten. Pulling those old relics from the grave and making them new again. Isn't rebirth glorious?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Writing what you don't know

What can you say on a subject you know nothing about?

And there it is. That assignment you've been putting off. You know the one. You know nothing whatever about the subject at hand but it's your job to get it done anyway. Maybe it's a private client. Maybe it's a writing site big dollar offering. Whatever the case, how in the world do you write about something you've never done and know absolutely nothing about? And the answer is, very carefully.

First of all, exactly what does the paying customer want?

If you're writing for a private client, ask for their input. How many words do they want? What type of format best fits their site? Are there any other special instructions? You want to reflect their style and fit into their venue. So, while it may sound biased, it's also important to know how they want the article slanted. I actually wrote an entire ghost op/ed piece once only to have to rewrite it because my opinion differed from that of the client. Oops!

Note: It was actually a fun re-write. I just imagined the guy raging at me to prove his point and it was done in the blink of an eye. Hey, whatever works.

Check out the website the article will appear on.

If this is a private client, their site will tell you a lot about what they want. It will show you what they didn't say. You may even find out that you don't care for their politics or personality. Normally, that's not an issue unless your beliefs clash loudly. In that case, you may decide not to work for them at all. Better to find out now, than later on, when you're in a heated argument over how things should be done.

There's no getting out of the research.

When you write what you know, as the saying goes, the article practically writes itself. You have all that personal experience and previous research to draw on. It's a snap. But when you tackle what you don't know, extensive research is absolutely essential.

Use multiple sources.

Don't be so quick to believe everything you read. Research from a single source may not reveal the big picture. So, read several articles before even typing a word. Don't just rely on one kind of source, either. Watch some videos. Go to the library for a little history lesson on the subject at hand. You know, that big building downtown with all the books? And then....

Talk to someone in the know.

Sure, you read about it online. You watched a couple of informative videos. You even took your happy butt downtown to the good old fashioned library. You have conquered the Dewey decimal system at last! Isn't that enough? Nope. Now, you need advice from someone who's been there. There's nothing like a little personal experience to reveal the facts. Advice from a professional or expert in the field fills in the blanks and rounds out your article.

Now you're ready to write.

Luckily, this part works out the same as any other article. Choose a title. Write an opening paragraph. Create sub-titles for all your major points. Fill in the blanks. Write a closing paragraph. Link to your sources, etc. etc.

Go back and double check everything you've written.

You will be judged on the accuracy of any information you put out there. This will impact the number of future assignment you're given as well as the pay that goes along with them. You can't possibly be too careful. Be sure to double check those reference links and list your sources in case questions come up later. If the client does not want or require links, they can remove them or request that you remove them easily enough. Better safe than sorry, though. They may want to know where you gleaned your information. This way, they don't have to ask.

Now, turn it in like this....

(Client's name): Here is a first draft of the article you requested. Please look it over and note any changes you would like me to make.

By doing this, you allow the client to inform you of any issues without feeling as if they're insulting your work. However, hopefully, since you've been so thorough, there will be no changes and you can get on with your life.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The misunderstood writer: What to do?

It was satire!

As writers we're sometimes misunderstood or misinterpreted. This can lead to hurt feelings and mistaken impressions. In fact, if we don't word things very carefully, we may end up misrepresenting our own thoughts, beliefs and convictions.

I'm sorry to say that I've been responsible for hurting the feelings of a fellow writer in the past. She took a sarcastic blog post that I wrote quite literally. Ironically, I was making the very same point she made in her retaliation post, just in a satirical way. 

And them was fightin' words. 

In all seriousness, though, I was truly sorry that I offended her. Apparently, my satire was so good, she took it to represent my true feelings. Was it flattering that I could be so convincing? Sure. That doesn't mean I should have ignored her ire, though.

What can you do in this situation? Well, I apologized, quite sincerely, several times. I even rewrote the post. You might think this was unnecessary because it wasn't my fault she took my sarcasm literally. I disagree. Why?

Well, because no matter what my intent, I did indeed hurt her and I am sorry for that. My friendships with my fellow writers are very important to me. So, even though she directly insulted me in her retaliation post, I didn't take offense. I might have done the same if I took one of her articles the way she took mine, especially under her current circumstances. Sure, I could have been rude to her, but I think she genuinely thought I was insulting her choices. 

Plus, we were both making the same point. She was on my side. 

So, there you go. If you are a writer who offends someone, even by mistaken impression, try to look at it from the other person's viewpoint. Try to see what they're saying. And above all, be understanding. We all make mistakes. No point in hurting each other in the process.

Isn't it worth a little rewrite to save a friendship?