Tag Archives: writing tips

Writing Wins and Woes: Spring Cleaning your Writing Life

760I’m finally finishing off this series. The idea for this just came to me in a haphazard way. I’m a cleaner. It’s spring. Let’s write about what I know best. I clean so much that I dream about cleaning at nights. So really I pretty much clean round the clock. Today, I thought I’d focus on cleaning supplies. Without the proper equipment, you can’t clean well. I could use any old rag and a bucket of water, but crayon marks, scuffs and lots of other nasties just wouldn’t vacate the premises. At our job, we use microfiber cloths and I’ve come to appreciate the importance of microfiber. It tends to attract dirt like a magnet. It’s also very soft and flexible. Cleaners are important, too. You can make your own cleaner. I’ve mentioned that before. It’s actually easy. You just use a mixture of baking soda, lemon juice, water and vinegar. The lemon juice helps to counteract the vinegar smell. But these ingredients all help with odor too. I made glass cleaner from two simple ingredients already, dish detergent and water. Mostly, I tend to buy cleaners now. I like anything that smells good and cleans. Other essential equipment for cleaning is a good mop and bucket. I prefer the mops we have at work but have not really found them very available for private use. We have rectangular microfiber mops and buckets that have mop pads. The pad releases from both ends and is squeezed out in a special bucket then stretches again for cleaning. It is light weight and cleans great. A light weight vacuum with good suction is essential for cleaning; also with attachments. We have vacuums at work without attachments and it is frustrating when you want to clean under desks so I now use a backpack vacuum at work which has a long hose and nozzle for picking up anywhere. Here are some little extras that make cleaning easier: Magic Eraser (great for crayon marks, marker and many other things) green scotch brite pad, rubber gloves.  You don’t really need a lot to clean; just the basic supplies.

Now, how does this relate to writing? The proper supplies are essential for writing. I like to put them into two categories. Old School and New School. If you are old school and I’m in transition, you need pen and paper. I use lots of notebooks. I often write ideas down for stories, novels, and even write the story first in a notebook. I definitely do a lot of my research this way. But New School people don’t touch the pen and paper anymore. They just use their laptops, and a good Word program. I love Word. However, it now costs me a lot to have it and I’ve switched to Open Office. Many people say Open Office is just as good and it’s free. I just find it passable. It erased one of my novels and I will never forgive it for that. Writing books are another resource for writers. I like Ryan Lanz’s The Idea Factory which has about 1000 writing prompts. When I first started writing, I bought some of the Writer’s Market books but it’s easy to look a lot of stuff up o the internet now, and you don’t need them as much. Writing doesn’t require a lot, mostly just a lot of hard work and determination. Just like cleaning. So, I hope you enjoyed this series.

As an added bonus to this edition, I am presenting a little book review for Jane Yate’s new book, Octopus Pirate. I really enjoyed this book, and surprisingly I didn’t think I would. I love Jane’s Garden book, which is a modernization of the Secret Garden. It’s beautifully told. But I’m not a big pirate fan and I find  octopus revolting, but this book snagged me from the beginning. It starts on a sea voyage with a wife almost ready to have a baby who slips overboard. She delivers her baby in the ocean, and dies, but somehow the baby is rescued by an octopus and lives. Sounds quirky but it works. The baby is pushed to shore where a nun who lives on an island with lots of goats and cats, finds the baby and raises him. She names him Coco and he discovers that’s he’s quite an unusual individual. He has unique characteristics that come from the octopus that rescued him. Coco has many adventures, including joining a circus.  The only disappointing factor in the book is that Coco doesn’t actually start his pirating. We’ll have to see the next book for that. So, if you’re interested in a quirky story with splashy characters, try Jane’s book, Octopus Pirate.

Writing Wins and Woes: Spring Cleaning your Writing Life

This has been a fun week. Dripping sarcasm. Besides dealing with extra hours at work and doing twice as much work in those extra hours, I was sick. Saturday which was also the funeral day for my boss at work who unexpectedly died last week, was also the day that I got the flu. Although, I wrote Friday for the five minute challenge. I was down for the count all day Saturday after the funeral. Sunday I felt some better but still didn’t write and Monday I felt crummy again. Finally, Tuesday I wrote an article and Weds. I researched for another article. Thursday, I worked two jobs and didn’t write.  Today, I will write. I am writing here and will write some more, even if it is just journaling.

Besides this, I almost had a major melt down at work due to the added stress of having to do too much work with too little time. I kept it in check, though, and just told myself “Just shut up and do your job.” Things aren’t right, but there is nothing I can do about it. Being sick isn’t helping my attitude right now.

So, I thought I’d do a little series for the rest of April on Spring Cleaning your Writing Life. Spring Cleaning your closets is something some people do to get rid of stuff they haven’t worn in a while. I was thinking about this idea applied to writing of getting rid of the things that bog down your writing life. I’ve come up with a few purges that might help you if you’re struggling with writing.

  1. Do a Facebook cleansing. Some people are into cleansing. Cleaning out the body of toxic stuff, so they do a cleansing. I don’t do this but I know that I waste way too much time on Facebook. So to encourage your writing juices, stay off of Facebook for a set amount of time; say a week, or two or even a month. Apply that time to writing.
  2. Set a small goal for a limited amount of time. Last week I started this with the five minute challenge. But don’t beat yourself up if you fail a day or two. Things happen. Just jump back in the game the next day. Increase the challenge weekly. Keep yourself accountable.
  3. Lenten your life. Some people give up something for Lent. Even when it’s not Lent, give up something, then replace that something with writing. (This could be a t.v. show, a newspaper time, or even something that is not fun like cleaning. I’m always happy to give up cleaning something for a week. Nothing terrible will happen, trust me if you don’t clean for a week.)
  4. Reorganize a writing atmosphere. I was thinking about doing this. My writing area is normally the kitchen table which is full of clutter. Right now, it has napkins, salt and pepper, the coffeepot, my husband’s meds, my tea, etc. You get the picture. Make a nice, cozy spot to write in. Make it appealing. Put a scented candle there, some special pictures, inspirational words or whatever. Make it appealing. Half the battle of writing is making it attractive. My kitchen table is not attractive. It is cluttered, and it makes it distracting to write.
  5. Have accountability. I talked about this before. Melinda Moore has Spark Tally nearly every week where a writer can record how many words they write or what they write. Join in. Or find another buddy to fess up to; maybe another writer friend. Being consistent is important with writing. Once you get out of the habit, it’s hard to get back in. So, these are some tips for Spring Cleaning. Hope they’re helpful.0703151114

Writing Wins and Woes: Why Blog at All?

265After a recent post by Melinda Moore, who also has a blog at Enchanted Spark, Link here: http://enchantedspark.com/wordpress1/   where she mentioned that she considered ending her blog, and then also reading a blog by someone else that said basically, Why blog at all if you’re a writer, there is no proof that blogging helps your sales, and instead you should write articles, that you can sell for real money. I admit, I was shaken. By the way, I have written articles for real money, and I love doing that. Articles are educational and if you write about what interests you, they are also fun to write.

But I began seriously questioning. Should I be wasting my writing time on a blog? Here’s what I gleaned from my blogging research:

Why do I blog:

  1. To encourage other writers. I put this down as number one because it is my primary reason for blogging. I’m not blogging for a cathartic experience or to brag or to wail, I’m blogging because once upon a time, a writer encouraged me with their blog, which incidentally was just a blog relating their rejection letters from publishers. I know it’s hard to believe but it encouraged me. It sounds wacky but just knowing that someone somewhere out there was experiencing what I was experiencing made me feel like I could keep on doing what I was doing.
  2. 60% of businesses who blog acquire more customers. If this is true of business, I would think it can be applied to book sales as well.
  3. To get people on my team. Yes, a writer needs faithful backers who will follow what he does, both to buy books and help promote his books. Enough said.
  4. To share my expertise. Do I have expertise? Everybody has some. Since I’ve sold myself some sixty plus times, I do have expertise on how to do this, at least somewhat.
  5. To keep me thinking about possible writing topics, where to submit, publishers etc. To stay in the game I have to keep myself current with what’s happening. Blogging helps me do that.
  6. To keep writing. Blogging is a creative way to express myself. Even if I don’t have any other ideas to write about for a story or a novel, I can write a blog, because let’s face it, there’s a lot less pressure when I’m blogging than when I’m writing to sell something.
  7. It is free PR. Advertisements cost money. Blogging is free. Now I did read someone’s blog who said that blogging can be costly, too, if you hire people to help you with it, designers, consultants. I skip all that. My blog is my voice. It might not be as good as some, but it’s my authentic voice.
  8. To give me insights into what books people will buy. The comments that people make help me to determine what I’m good at and what they are interested in. Blogging helps me get a feel for what subject I might write about next.
  9. To be encouraged. I started with to encourage others and I end with encouraging myself, because yes, I want to be encouraged to keep on writing, and when someone says, please, don’t quit, it makes me sigh, gather my wits about me and push forward once again. So, I say to you fellow bloggers, blog on.

Writing Wins and Woes: Write Right

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This week I’m going to share some tips on writing well. I’m no expert. I’m just learning like every other writer. If you have some thoughts of your own, add them on the comments.

1. Read aloud what you wrote. If it sounds bad, it probably is. Even better, read it to somebody else and get their opinion. Try to make it someone objective. Your family and friends will usually tell you that it’s good.

2. Check for repetitive words or non-descript words. Example: very and nice.

3. Write in the proper tense. Looking back at some of my old writing, I find things like “She had started…” or “She was thinking…” It takes only a few seconds to change those mistakes to “She started…” and “She thought…”

4. Eliminate unnecessary words. I once cut a story that was over 2000 words down to 900. If you can do that, you’ve overwritten.

5. Don’t use too many speaker tags. I’m sometimes guilty of this. You don’t need to share every spoken emotion. The reader can figure it out.

6. Watch your punctuation. You’ll often hear, “Make sure you’re using commas, semi-colons or periods where you need them.” I’ll add to this. Don’t overuse commas. I call myself the Comma Queen because I’ve done this so much.

7. Begin with an interesting sentence. Nobody wants to start out a story/book already bored.

8. End with an interesting sentence. If first impressions matter, so do last ones. The last sentence will stay in the reader’s head. Make it a good one.

9. Choose the right words. Many words are good. Some are better. Only one is best. Work on picking the best word.

10. Keep your story simple. I hate reading a story with too many characters, too many plot twists, weird language. The reader wants to understand what you write. If they don’t, they might give up on your story, even if it’s good.

So, that’s it. Take them or leave them, but keep writing.

The Three P’s of Publishing: How to Publish Your Prose and Poetry

The Three P’s of Publishing: How to Publish Your Prose and Poetry.

I thought this was worth sharing. I especially liked the quote, “keep up a certain positive momentum as we edge toward that publishing goal”.

She also advises people to put their rejections in a special box and reward yourself when it gets full. This puts a whole new spin on rejections. Read the article if you write. It’s valuable.