Stop the Blame Game

Do you catch yourself thinking about why you can’t write or why you can’t succeed or why you can’t try for bigger markets? Following that people will tend to look for something or someone to blame. Maybe they hope to find the blame so they can fix the problem. But, I think, the blame game is a waste of time. You may blame yourself, momentarily. Likely you don’t settle there and instead look for someone else who can be at fault. Why bother?

Stop playing the blame game and start making better use of your time. If you want to write more, do it. Set up a writing schedule and stick to it. Let your family and friends know the schedule and that you will not be available. If you feel you aren’t succeeding stop being negative. Instead look at the things you are accomplishing. Make a list and keep it visible where you work at writing. Inspire yourself with the success you have rather than looking at the glass half empty and discouraging yourself. If you want to try bigger markets suck up your courage and just do it. The worst they can do is say “no thanks”. If you know you’ve done your best to send them work that is topical for them, work that you have diligently proofread and directed to the right place at the right time, then you have done well. Let it go. Move onto another market goal and send work out to the intermediate markets too. Keep trying and keep your name on the desks of editors and publishers. Someone will say yes if you keep sending them quality work.

So, next time you look for someone to blame for whatever the problem is, stop wasting that time. Put it into doing rather than blaming. Find solutions for problems without stopping to find someone to blame. In the end, what you do and how you do it are in your control.

Spelling Style

Spelling is tricky all on it’s own. When you throw in different languages and cultures it gets down right complicated.

First, consider English and American spelling. Then throw in Canadian spelling, which is some combination of the two. Same for other countries in the commonwealth.

Have you seen words spelt with an s instead of a z? You would if you were English or from South Africa. Do you see words with a u in them or without a u in them? You would see them with added u if you were English or Canadian.

Which is right? How do you know which spelling to use? Will people think you just don’t know how to spell? Possibly.

But the world is a big place, if you were writing locally you would spell for your readers. But, when you are writing on the Internet, your readers come from all over the world. Which spelling should you choose?

First, talk to your publisher or editor. Find out what they use for a standard. They call those style guides. It’s a good idea for publications to have one. Not just for different spelling issues. If you’re more or less on your own as for style, go with what comes naturally to you. It’s hard to remember to spell a different way. Likely you’ll miss a few anyway. You may hear from the odd reader who thinks you don’t know how to spell. But, that just gives you something to chat about in your reply to them.

Is spelling an art or a science? I think I’ll leave that as thought fodder for you.

Members of the Media

In the columnist message boards at BackWash, someone said “Don’t you just love the media.” They meant it sarcastically in reference to how an interview was handled. But, what they didn’t consider is that WE ARE the media.

I think a lot of writers take shots at ‘the media’ and forget to count themselves among them. Do you? Have you thought of yourself as a writer or publisher or member of the media in general today?

Well you are. Each time you put something out there for the masses to read you become the media. We may not all carry cards saying we are writers or publishers or editors, etc. But, that doesn’t mean we aren’t just one more member of the media.

Anyway, the discussion in the boards was about how someone was credited in an article. That is something to consider as you write an article using sources for information such as quotes or statistics. Always make sure you know how your contact sources want to be credited and then do your best to see that it comes out that way in print.

On the other hand, when you are the contact, make sure you tell the writer how you want to be credited. Make sure they have your URL along with your other information. Make sure they know it’s important for your website to be included as part of identifying you as a source of information for the article.

If it comes out in print you can’t do much to change it. You can get them to add it to a future issue but that’s not very useful without the rest of the content of the article. However, if it’s on the web you can get them to update the HTML or text quite easily, it just takes a moment of their time. So there is one more benefit to writing for online publications.

Well, members of the media, that’s it for this week.

eHarlequin

I’ve joined up the Book in Year challenge. Wish me potatoes. Luck has nothing to do with it.

Plot 101

Book in a Year
Kate Hardy’s 10-Step Plan for Writing a Book

1. Write your synopsis. Maximum one page, main events only, with no adverbs, adjectives, dialogue or description. (Action, action, action. Keep it really spare.)

2. Check it for holes (i.e., what’s missing?). Are there enough plot twists? Is there enough emotional punch?

3. Write your character biographies, then take another look at your synopsis. Now that your characters are developing, does that affect any events in your book? Can you add more emotional punch? Can you fill in the holes?

4. Break your revised synopsis down into chapters, determining what action will take place at each point in the book.

5. For each chapter, write a more detailed chapter plan. If your characters suddenly start having a conversation while you’re writing the chapter plan, fine — add it in. The chapter plan is for you to work from, so it can be as long or short as you like.

6. Set yourself a target — if you write two double-spaced pages a day (500 words), that’s a 50,000-word book in a little over three months.

7. Keep to your schedule — it’s all too easy to watch a film/call a friend/write a few emails and promise yourself you’ll catch up tomorrow. Do that for a week and you’re setting yourself up to fail — 500 words is manageable but 4,000 need a bigger chunk of time!

8. But be flexible, too. As you’re writing, you may find the book changes — as your characters develop, you might have a better idea for a twist in the plot or decide that something else will work better. (In my case, I get two or three more chapters than planned….)

9. Read it through, then write yourself another single-page synopsis based on the actual book.

10. Check the new synopsis for holes. Do any sections look weak? Is there enough emotional tension? Make notes on what you want to change, make your revisions, then read the whole thing through and ensure the book still works. (If it doesn’t, repeat points 9 and 10 until it does.)

Congratulations! You’ve just written your book!

The Writing Route to Success Everlasting

I’ve been looking at some sites for writers today. Some of them have writing exercises, some have just a lot of links, some try to be a support group with message boards and chat. It made me think about what I have as my own support group here. In my life, outside of the blogworld, I have a pressure group.

My family think writing is a waste of time, nothing will ever come of it, etc. The pressure me to move on and forget it all. They remind me of every bill I need to pay, everything I don’t have, and all the time I’m wasting. That’s all just pressure. I think some people try to be supportive, when they have time or think about it. But, it just feels like more pressure that way. I remember any sincere compliments but most of the time people just ask how the writing is going, am I done that book yet…? It’s not going all that well.

I feel so pressured to pop out something and I can’t find even a starting point to write it all. I think that’s why I am okay writing short articles and short stories. They only need a momentary focus and a burst of inspiration and then in an hour or so they emerge, complete. Writing a book isn’t like that. Still, I have to find my way. It is something I want to do. For the money, yes but also for myself. I want to have something big I took on and won. It would be nice. It’s so easy to get sidetracked though.

I don’t think a support group is going to help much now. I can’t hear that and take it as support any more. I just feel more pressure, as if there are more people waiting, expecting me to perform. I need to find my own way in this. I don’t know how anyone else can help. Not at this point. It all has to come out of my own brain anyway. There is certainly enough packed up in there. You’d think it would be simple to squirt some out onto a blank page. I don’t have writer’s block in the traditional sense. I just have no idea how to begin, where to start.

I think I will take a break from trying for the rest of the daylight hours. I’ve been hearing about how cold it is outside but I will brave the weather anyway. I checked the bus route schedule so I can time it and not be stuck waiting out in -14C for long. Unless I miss the bus of course. Ug.

Writing Content Contentedly

Being a freelance writer online is challenging. The biggest hurdles are copyrights and finding paying markets. Of course, that’s subject to change depending on what I’m working on at the time.

If you are a self publisher you will know all about fair use and copyrights. You’ve carefully borrowed content. You’ve asked almost everyone you know for a contribution to your ezine or newsletter. You’ve left them notes on their car window when they keep forgetting you finally hounded them into saying yes, a month ago. Or is that just me? Luckily there are several sites which distribute free content. But, you have to find the content you need from the general stream of articles offered. Often it’s all content you’ve run before, sometimes said in a new way or by another writer but still the same information.

Yes, ezine publishers can write all the content themselves, put up the site, create the graphics, the layout and all the little odds and ends. It is a lot to maintain and create a whole site though. If you have a life you can decide which pieces to discard such as pets, parents, jobs and kids. Friends might understand and give you some slack. Really, it’s much better to find help, free up some of your time and keep having a life.

There are endless free places a writer can be published and I don’t knock those, too much. A new writer can be published in some really good places and get their name seen in the markets they want to specialize in. But, at some point even the most timid new writer wants to see a cheque in the mail.

Also, make sure you are getting something out of the freebie work you do. Don’t give your work away to a site that publishes poorly edited work. If you want this as a writing credit make sure it really is a credit to you.

Most of all, don’t pay a site or publication to run your content. Never, for any reason. They are not doing you a favour.