“How do I get rid of the fear?”
Alas, this is the wrong question.
The only way to get rid of the fear is to stop doing things that might not work, to stop putting yourself out there, to stop doing work that matters.
No, the right question is, “How do I dance with the fear?”
Fear is not the enemy. Paralysis is the enemy.
You can find my posts on Squidoo. I like to write about art, culture and technology. Some book and product reviews too. At Squidoo I am currently level 64 with 89 published posts (lenses) and 48 badges. One badge was added just after I took this screen capture and another went missing about a month ago (a glitch). I took the screen shot because of the missing badge, partly. It is silly but I like the badges. Where ever I am in how ever many years, it might be nice to see and remember them.
If you also wrote for (with) the BackWash community network of writers/ columnists join us for a BackWash reunion.
Here is the content from the post above. In text for those who can’t read it from the screen captured image above.
Spin your Thoughts with a Journal
Do you keep a journal? Sometimes its called a diary, I think thats the old fashioned term. What you write in your journal is up to you. Be creative, rant about your family, chronicle your life, or just spin your thoughts on the web.
Keep your journal in a secret place if you don’t want anyone to read it. Or, if you feel like sharing you can read what you write to friends or even keep your journal online with sites like Blogger. Of course, you can do both. Have an online journal and another secret journal for just yourself.
Journals can be kept in plain notebooks or fancy lined paper books you buy in stationery stores like Hallmark. I like to write with a fine tip black pen but you can experiment with all kinds of pens and colours. Add stickers or stick in clippings from newspapers and magazines. If you really want to put in a lot of clippings have a look at scrapbooking. Thats another form of journaling but there tends to be less writing and more drawings.
There are lots of websites about journaling and scrapbooking. Have a look around and see which appeals to you.
I was a letter writer until my last older relative died, the Grandmothers and their sisters. I did write to my Grandfather sometimes but it was mainly the women who wrote back and gave me more reason to write back. It is much easier to reply to something in a letter than to break out fresh inspiration each time all by yourself.
However, not everyone answered my letters and I would not have known they actually liked them if it weren’t for my Mother and others who knew the older women I wrote to. Maybe they didn’t know what to say to reply back to a grandchild they would only see a few times a year. Weddings, births and funerals as they say, but I would see my Grandparents at family holidays too.
Writing a letter seems simple enough when you decide to start one. Then the blank page… it just sits there so untouched and unhelpful.
So how do you start a letter?
Salutations! Greetings are a simple place to start. A simple Hello gets you into the letter writing process. Address them by name or title (I went with Aunt Emma, the title and the name, when I wrote to the older ladies). You would likely write something else if you were writing to someone you knew on a casual basis.
Next, remind them who you are in some way. Just like leaving a phone message, you tell people who you are and why you are calling. This is pretty much the same when you put your message into print too. Simply give your own name and title (in the family letters I was usually Diane’s daughter or Violet’s granddaughter). Then say you are writing to see how they are, let them know how Christmas/ Thanksgiving/ Easter/ etc went with your family… there are endless reasons you can think up as the purpose of your letter. (You don’t have to say you’re writing because you thought they might be feeling old, lonely or left out).
At this point you start the real letter, the actual content, like a leap out into space. Don’t get tangled up – just talk about your day. The ordinary occurrences can be far more interesting than you think.
Next paragraph, talk about whatever you said you were actually writing about, your reason for the letter. I don’t start with that. If you get right to the point in a letter you seem to be pressed for time, unsocial and not really wanting to connect with your letter reader. With the older ladies this was especially important. I didn’t want them to think someone had told me I had to write to them. No one had, it was all my own idea.
The body of your letter can go on for as long as you can think of some bit of this and that to write about. Often as I get started I think of several things I can mention in the letter. Trivial stuff is fine. Life is made up of the little things.
Don’t ever forget to ask about your letter reader, how are they doing, what are they doing? Ask questions in the body of your letter too. Make it interactive. It’s not likely you will get your questions answered, not all of them, but it does give your letter the feeling of being directed to the reader rather than your own personal monologue to no one in particular.
When you are reading to end your letter, or when you realize you’re close to running out of paper to write on, give some kind of conclusion to the whole thing. Wrap it up with a bow. Something simple like: I hope this letter gets to you before Christmas. After all, it is traditional for letter writers to talk about the post office and the cost and reliability of mailing a letter.
Sign off with your name. Dating your letter is optional – but you never know where it might turn up far in the future when some relative picks up an interest in family history.
Don’t forget to actually mail the letter.
I usually pick an interesting stamp too. Sometimes I get into mail art as well and doodle/ draw on the envelope before I mail it out into the big, wide world.
This is a great list. I haven’t heard of all of these, most of them, but not all. As a reader do you like to pin down your style of fiction or does it matter more when you are writing it?
Young Adult Contemporary
Sword & Sorcery
What would your life be like if you had never gotten to be 30 years of age, or older? Maybe you are not yet 30. Do you look ahead and cringe at the very idea of “being old”?
The story behind Logan’s Run is all about human population, available resources and getting rid of people before they get old – old age being 29 in this case. Of course, there is a secret resistance. A sanctuary which no one has ever returned to talk about, but enough people believe in (or hope for) it’s existence that there are runaways/ runners who try to escape their fate. Logan, the hero of the book, is one of the Sandmen/ trackers who capture these runaways before they get far.
Logan also asks questions, which is his downfall. As Logan gets too close to finding out more than he should, his own light comes on and he is now a target for death (an event where people fly in the air as if they were dancing in a spiral around a Carousel, until they suddenly get zapped to death) – but Logan isn’t old enough yet!
Logan runs – he escapes the city and discovers the reality of the ice world, the world of frozen food which has come a little off track. Logan runs farther and does find more, but not really a sanctuary. Instead he finds an old man in an old world which no one in the city of young people knows anything about.
The story is a little sad, Logan’s Sandman friend becomes his tracker, his enemy and things don’t go well between them. Logan finds befriends Jessica along the way, she takes up the run with him and helps him introduce the old and the young worlds to each other eventually.
I wish there were another book with the after story. So much potential for me. I’ve tried not to give too much away of the story – I hope you will read the book, or watch the movie. It’s been a favourite of mine long before I was 30!
I write a diary. You could also call it a journal but I prefer diary because that feels connected to history and all the women who have kept a diary through history. Since the early days of writing on paper women have documented their thoughts, their lives and their ideas.
We write with someone in mind, a reader.
It may be a generic reader or you may think of an actual person as you write. I do. The person I write to has changed over the years. I think I wrote to myself when I was a kid. It’s hard to remember and know for sure what I was thinking as I wrote so long ago when my mind was so much less complicated. Then I wrote for the people. I used to think my diary would be read long after I’m gone but it would be used for my biography, whoever took up the task of writing it.
At some point I began to edit myself as I wrote. Having that reader in mind, I started to think about how much I didn’t want the world to know versus how much I wanted to write about everything in my head. Writing a diary is a release, a freedom of thought and a way to organize your emotions too. But, when you think of someone else actually reading all of that… your outlook changes.
Now I try to write just for myself again. Thinking too much about the reader took away too much of what I needed from the whole thing of keeping a diary. So, they all join each other in a big storage box as I run out of space to write. But, I don’t know if anyone will ever read them. At least not until I am long gone and will never know (or hear) what people say about the real me in the pages of those hand written books.
The history of women is in our diaries, our letters and our crafts. I’m so glad to see the history of women being pulled from obscurity.
So few women managed to become a part of recorded history, other than being mentioned as the daughter, wife or sister of some important man. So much of women’s history is lost. What was it really like to be a woman, daughter, wife, Mother or sister in the 1600’s? Those were the days when North America was being discovered by Europeans. I’d really like to know about women in early, ancient and prehistory. In such early days we don’t have history of any people but those who were politically important, enough to have been written about. Of course, in those early days of writing, it was rare for women to be taught to write.
I think about that sometimes. I don’t take writing and being about write for granted. We record our own history, in our own words. That is something of value – our way of having a mark on the world, even if we aren’t sure we really want someone else to read it!
How much does it cost to write for other sites, like HubPages and Squidoo? There is a push for writers at these sites to add video along with the content they write and the images they post too. No one quite dares to make video mandatory (as far as I have seen). However, for me personally, the addition of video to my posts has cost me $20 a month more on my ISP (Internet service provider) bill.
Viewing several videos for each post takes up bandwidth. My account is not one of the huge packages, I live on a budget (as most writers who don’t have money to burn, do). There is also the image added to a post. Some writers at these sites pay for the images they use. I don’t. I use my own photos, create images myself or go to sites where the images and clipart are free to use.
Don’t forget to count your writing itself. No matter how you feel at the time, writers should be getting paid for the content they create. I find many of these content marketing sites don’t pay writers a single cent. Over time a writer may make a pittance or two. However, how much time writing, promoting and researching has the writer spent to earn $10 over the months… years… they gave.
I used to think writing community sites were a good thing for web writers. I don’t any feel that way now. Mainly the cost of viewing video and the push for writers to add video – that is what has me a little angry actually. No big deal for these sites to ask for video added to posts. The sites make money on the farm of writers they keep. Don’t think they are struggling too much. Their success comes from the people they pay nothing to almost nothing. It doesn’t matter to them if the writers are happy, not really. People who write for them are a dime a dozen, cheaper actually.
So why write for them and spend more than you get paid? Pick yourself up, copy your content from the site and put up your own site. It’s not hard and you shouldn’t be intimidated. You don’t have to be a huge success right away. If you can improve your earnings from cents to dollars you’re ahead of where you were before. Plus you can have pride in what you have done, you are your own editor (along with spellcheck) and every penny you make stays in your pocket.
I admit I don’t write and send a Christmas newsletter every year. Often I have it started, get it written, find the art to put inside and then I don’t get it mailed in time. Or, I get stalled out somewhere along the way. So, the best I do is send Christmas cards and try not to feel bad about not getting the newsletter finished and mailed out in time. But, the years I did work everything out and send the Christmas newsletter (inside the standard, yet cheerful, Christmas cards) were good years and I had the feeling of a job well done and having done a good deed.
Who to Send the Newsletter To
The first people I send a newsletter to are those who are a bit isolated among family and friends. Elderly and singles can feel disconnected from friends and family at this time of year. I think it’s important to make them feel included. If you want them to come for Christmas dinner or meet for coffee over the holidays, add a personal invitation to the newsletter.
If you want a newsletter for people who don’t really have a personal connection to you (like business connections or people you know online) send an edited down version, with less personal information about you and your comings and goings.
Consider the people you are sending the newsletter to and decide how much you really want them to know. Why not boast a bit if things are going well? If you don’t go too far, stick to the facts, the people who know you should feel happy for you. Encourage people to write back about their own great moments and events so you can add them to the newsletter for next year.
Never write a pity letter. The holiday season is about good cheer. Find yours before you start to write. The only people you might want to send a whiny letter to are your parents, maybe.
How to Create the Newsletter
Creating a holiday newsletter is fun. It’s a chance to find my Christmas spirit early. I look for holiday images and think up something to write about whatever we are doing for the holidays. Sometimes I find great seasonal quotes too.
In a non-digital way, I like to make the newsletter in the retro zine publishing way: glue, clippings from magazines and I hand write at least some part of them. It’s too much to write them all by hand, but you can stash in a few sentences or at least hand write the salutations for each one.
Add a recent photo of yourself and family. Take a photo in the middle of summer with everyone wearing antlers if you plan ahead that far. Pick something you do, like a sport or a hobby and make that the focus of the photo. There’s no reason the photo(s) need to be seasonal or holiday photos. Make a cake and decorate it for Christmas, get everyone’s face around the cake and use that as a holiday photo. Take pictures of your family (or yourself) making paper snowflakes, snow angels outside or pulling the Christmas decorations out of storage. You don’t need “deer in the headlights” posed photos.
How to Write the Newsletter
If you tend to babble once you put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard) read it over the next day, or the next week. Decide if you really want to tell EVERYONE that much about yourself, your plans and what you’ve been doing. Consider the person you least wnat to communicate with… do you really want them to have all that information?
If you can’t think of anything to say, recruit help. As your direct family (husband, kids, parents, siblings) what they have planned for Christmas and include that. Or, interview yourself. Write out a set of impersonal sort of questions and then answer them. Or, include more photos and less text, if you really can’t write about yourself. Add captions or some explanation to go with the photos. Let people know what they are seeing.
Three paragraphs of text should be plenty. Stick to one side of a full sheet of paper, add images and illustrations. If you have kids they can decorate the back of the newsletter with their own drawings. But a newsletter doesn’t need to be continued on the next page, one page with about 200 words is just fine. You may add personal notes to individuals if you have the time and interest. Just make sure you get those sent in the right envelopes.
How to Mail the Newsletter
Sending the newsletter via email is the fact that it’s impersonal and defeats the purpose of connecting with people and making them feel valued and important. There is a very different feeling to having a real newsletter made with pictures glued to it, hand written (versus typed) and opening an email file to see what someone made with their computer. It lacks the personal touch. Email never has been great when it comes to sharing emotion, feeling and atmosphere.
Weight and packaging. If you plan to mail it out you can’t create a newsletter which won’t easily slip into the envelope or cost too much to mail out. Think light if you want to add extras. Also, don’t add anything which could poke a hole through the envelope. Light and flat.
Can you write when you don’t feel inspired? Or do you stall, hoping something will come along?
We need to find our own inspiration or just start writing without it. If you are working on a long project it is a bit easier to pick things up and go ahead and write. It is harder when you have a project to plan and write from the beginning. You may need to stop looking for artistic inspiration and instead think of more practical inspiration.
Practical inspiration is simple to find. We need to write to pay bills. We need to write to finish a project by the deadline. Everyone has this kind of inspiration but we sometimes take it for granted and don’t think it is the kind of inspiration a writer should put first. This is a silly attitude.
Let your own practical inspiration take over when you lack something fancier and artistic. Take a few minutes to get into your writing routine and then plug yourself in there and get to work. In the end, writers are those who write.