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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Grab a Whip and a Chair – It’s Time to Tame That Social Media


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Social media is a good thing if used for the right reasons….misuse it and you can forget ever finishing that current book you are working on. Let’s face it folks…social media can be an addiction worse that drugs for a writer.

It is easy to get hooked on the drug “social media”. You try it once and are almost instantly hooked and why wouldn’t you be, it speaks to the very primal part of human nature…the part that makes us innately nosey. I mean, what a great invention…we can go on, spy on our friends, potential new partners, we can even stalk someone and they are none the wiser until the rabbit is boiling in the kitchen. Social media can be a dangerous tool.

For the writer a “tool” is what social media should be. We can get some great PR off of it and what a great way to announce current and future projects. Facebook even allows you to do separate pages to promote just your work…how cool is that? The thing is, just as it can be a great tool, it can also take over your life. I have seen writers get literally obsessed with their web stats, visitors and even followers. (This applies to all social media by the way, Twitter, Myspace, all of it) You can spend so much time on your social media sites that you never actually do any work.  I have one writer friend who hasn’t actually written a book in four years and she blames Facebook. She says that the pull to check her Facebook status is so strong that she sits down at her desk, logs on and it is hours before she looks up again.

As with any “drug”, social media needs to be a thing handled in moderation. It’s okay to use the sites to promote your work but try not to get sucked in to all the social interaction that goes along with these sites. (By the way, hopping up on my soapbox for a sec…it isn’t really “social interaction” if the only interaction you have is online. I know that many people say that it is, but it isn’t…it’s simply you on your computer, alone…it’s creepy if that’s the way you live…stop it! Hopping back down now) While these sites are a great tool it is important to ensure that they stay that way and not take over your life. I have found that the best way to deal with the time loss these sites cause is to schedule the time you spend. Visit, check it out and then leave closing the virtual door behind you and then don’t visit again until the following day. If you don’t handle it this way you will soon find yourself hemmed up in Candy Crush hell along with the zillions of other people spending real money for virtual items. (THAT’S a whole other column)

So keep your social media interaction in check. If you don’t you will look up one day to discover that you no longer have a life and the kids have even moved on without you. Get your nose out of Facebook and back on that book project.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Business of Writing, Writing

 

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Procrastination – 1….Motivation – 0


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As I sit here with my coffee it occurs to me that my computer cursor is mocking me. There it sits blinking…”failure…failure…failure…. Of course it isn’t actually “saying” or “blinking” any actual wordage at all, however, because this morning procrastination appears to be winning in the battle over my writer’s soul…it seems to be blinking that.

Getting started in the morning is often the bane of my day. I have a ritual, I get up, check e-mail, complain to my journal about the previous day, light the candles in my Himalayan salt crystal candle holder, grab a cup of coffee and then sit for several minutes before the urge to write strikes me or I have to force it…either way, I end up writing. More often than not, during the summer months, I have to force the start. I think that summer is just not my time to feel inspired but regardless, write I must. Often times the writing begins with that little blinking cursor…like this morning.

Here’s the thing though…just because I have trouble getting started, it doesn’t mean I am a failure as my dark alter ego would have me believe. Writers have to be very careful of self-talk because it can take something like the urge to procrastinate and turn it into a battle between good and evil. This morning my self-talk spent some time trying to convince me that procrastination was winning the contest so  I should give up for the day, grab a box of Twinkies and hit the remote control. I had to fight to leave those Twinkies in the box…and that is how strong self-talk can be…good or bad.

So then rather than allow your negative self-talk to rule your day…we need to turn it around. I do have to force myself to begin this morning but at least, in the end I won. It’s like road trips for with my family. My spouse has a hard time getting out of the house. They want to go on that road trip but actually getting up on a day off, stocking the car with snacks and then actually getting into the car is the battle. Once on the road, we are all glad we did it. Your writing has to go that way sometimes.

So whatever you are feeling put it in a box and write anyway. I guarantee that once you begin you’ll be two pages in before you know it and wondering why starting was so hard in the first place.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2013 in Inspiration, Writing, Writing Tools

 

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Common Sense or Advice?


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I’ve been a writer for a very long time and over the years I have heard a lot of advice. You see, when you choose to write the craft comes with various people who will tell you that they know better than you how to write. Some of them might but there will be a rather large number of them who won’t know better than you BUT that won’t stop them from spouting advice from time to time. So how does a writer know when the person giving them advice actually knows what they are talking about? The sad thing is…most of the time you won’t because the folks who know what they are talking about won’t be wearing name tags that say, “listen to me, I know what I’m talking about”, no those folks wearing their knowledge on their chest, they are usually the ones who don’t know what they are talking about.

I like to think that I know a few things that can help a fledgling writer along but by far there is only one piece of advice I can truly offer that makes sense….pay attention to what you are being told and then ask yourself…does that sound like common sense? If it does…it’s probably not actual advice and you probably should know better. Truly good writer’s advice should lead a writer to the truth behind the hype. Most of what we do is, in fact, common sense. Things like:

Know your audience- Really? That’s advice someone needs? They don’t just know?  Granted there are those who seem to want to Hail Mary their novels out into the mainstream but those people are few and far in-between. Most writers get that not everyone reads the same types of books. This is definitely in the common sense column….use your noggin folks.

Know your genre – Again….Really?! Why would you write a supernatural novel for a romance crowd? Does that make sense to anyone? Just like everything else in life your writing has a place where it fits. Stop round pegging into a square hole please.

Create real characters – This one irritates me to no ends when I hear writers vomiting out this little gem. It is a giant cop-out for a writer to delve out this advice…it says that as a writer you really don’t know what to say. I always want to go up to the writers I hear give this advice and ask them…”as opposed to fake characters?” If you are a writer who needs this advice become a plumber.

Show, don’t tell – Okay, I’m a little on the fence on this one. There are some writers fresh out of kindergarten who don’t realize that they shouldn’t have to walk their readers through their story while brow beating them with details. I can let this one go in terms of common sense.

These are just a few of the pieces of advice that “seasoned” writers dole out that really should be common sense to a writer no matter how new they are. If you are a writer and you find yourself feeling like you have to walk a newbie through these…maybe the newbie you are talking to needs career counseling instead of writing advice. We can’t, in good faith, enable young writers in this way…we have to provide them with real advice and hope that they get the common sense stuff. So stop giving out common sense disguised as advice…you aren’t doing those new writers any favors.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2013 in Healthy Writers, Writing

 

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Looking for Something to Read this Summer?


Project Stowaway cover-final  Don’t forget to stop by http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Jai%20Farris&search-alias=digital-text&sort=relevancerank and pick up one of two books by me. Project Stowaway is a mystery thriller set to the backdrop of Vietnam and the US where a project by the military unleashes a killer and Passion’s Revenge tells the story of two people who fall in love and as they embark upon their personal journey together are shadowed by an evil neither of them are aware of.

 
 

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Some “ME” Writing Time


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I work as a freelance writer most days. I write for magazines, blogs, websites and I even ghost write books for other people. My days often consist of laying down word after word creating coherent sentences so that other people can communicate their concepts, ideas and stories. Yep…I’ll write for just about anyone, (I’d totally do Satan’s biography… how much fun would that be?) but there is one person who seems to come last on the long list of writing jobs that occupies my mind….that person is, sadly….me.

It is so easy to lose yourself and your own work within the chaos that is the writing life. A friend once gave me a little sign that now hangs in my office, it says, “Writing is like prostitution, first you do it for the love of it but you almost always end up doing it for the money”….OMG that’s true. Even though you may feel passionate about the writing, at some point, if you do it for a living, it becomes more about the money than anything else and that is a very bad thing.

Recently I have found myself in that place that all writers visit from time to time…we’ll call it “the flogging room”. Come on, many of you know it well…it’s that place where a writer goes to condemn themselves for not enjoying the art any more. We enter this room after bouts of despair and constant questions like, “why am I here” and “why couldn’t I have been a window washer” ? (the answer to that last question is because we are afraid of heights but that’s another column) We have allowed doubt to creep in and now we are sitting in that chair in the middle of the flogging room hitting ourselves over and over again with self-doubt and distain; it’s a horrible place to be.

So how does a writer get a one-way ticket out of the flogging room? Easy…you have to create some “me” writing time. Personally, I had forgotten how good it felt to actually create something for me. I got so wrapped up in what everyone else wanted to say that I forgot my own voice and so I stopped trying to tell my story. I had to tell my story again. So….I sat down at the keyboard, pushed all of the client work out of the way and started working on “my stuff”. The longer I worked, the better I felt. Then it hit me…I have to do some of this every single day from now on. Just like all those meditation sites will tell you to take time to meditate every day…take time to write every day but not just any writing…YOUR writing. Your inner artist needs you on a regular basis. If you stop feeding the cat, after he tries to kill you once or twice, he will die…so will your writing. So friends, feed that cat and then sit down to work on your writing….don’t let it die. That other stuff can wait a few hours…so invest in some “me” writing time…you won’t regret it.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 

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