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Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Friday Writing Pebbles #8


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Like throwing a pebble into the water some writers put advice out into the ocean of hopeful newbies hoping the ripple effects will reach them and they will learn a thing or two. Fridays here at The Writer’s Advice is pebble collection time. I will post some of the pebbles of wisdom I discover and I encourage you all to do the same. Each Friday we will help each other. So here are mine….show me yours!

2 Books Every Novelist Should Read Annually – http://jenniferblanchard.net/read-these-books-annually/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+procrastinatingwritersblog%2Fnxhh+%28Procrastinating+Writers%29

Before You Can Write a Good Plot, You Need to Write a Good Place -http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/04/why-every-good-story-needs-a-good-setting/361110/

10 Novels That Will Scare The Hell Out Of You – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/julie-buntin-/10-novels-that-will-scare_b_4156089.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

Six Essential Books on Writing – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristen-levithan/six-essential-books-on-wr_b_5185983.html?ir=Books&utm_hp_ref=books

Are You Really a Writer … Or Just a Copyist? – http://www.copyblogger.com/writer-or-copyist/

 

 

© The Writer’s Advice, 2014. 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 April 25, 2014 in Writing, Writing Tools

 

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I’m so Good I Could Teach it


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There are a number of things that I am pretty good at. I’m pretty good at making stir-fry. I’m really good at annoying my kids. I am an expert at making the spouse question why she never questioned my dusting skills at the beginning of our relationship. You know what else I am good at? Procrastinating.

Yep, of all the really annoying things that I am good at I have to admit that procrastination is on the top of the list. Keep in mind that I have the best of intentions when I sit down to work but then I have to answer my e-mails, check out what’s for dinner, cruise the internet, wait…I HAVE to check Facebook…damn it now I have comment on Facebook….it goes on and on.

I know I’m not alone. Procrastination is the bane of any one who works from home. It’s too easy when there is no one standing over you cracking the whip. No one is going to tell me not to check Facebook (or Twitter, or Instagram, or Google+) and no one is going to tell me to get back to work. There’s only me and sometimes I suck at cracking the whip.

So here’s my secret to getting things done…and it doesn’t always work but most of the time I can get something done. I have to schedule the crap out of myself. Yep, I have to schedule everything, checking e-mail, Facebook time, writing, editing, annoying the kids…all of it. I sit down at the beginning of the week, usually on Sunday, and I lay it all out. Keep in mind that life sometimes happens and things get moved around or delayed but having a basic plan helps.

So if procrastination is the only thing on your list of things to do most days try scheduling your week out and schedule EVERYTHING because it is amazing how the smallest of things can bounce us back into the procrastination zone.

 

 

© The Writer’s Advice, 2014. 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 April 24, 2014 in Writing, Writing Tools

 

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How to Avoid Getting Screwed as a Writer


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So you take on a writing project and you pour your heart and soul into it but when you deliver the first draft your client looks at you and says they aren’t paying you. You have a contract. You did the work. Still they look at you and make 100 excuses why paying you is not an option…it sucks. I know because I just went through it myself.

As a writer we have a harder time getting paid than any other profession out there. I’m not sure why this is but to be sure it is frustrating. I have been freelancing for over 30 years now and I have to admit that I probably have as many clients who have not paid me as those who have. I’m not sure if it is because what we do is not as physical as “goods” like a television or a washing machine or it it’s because, to date, there are no easy fixes to getting our money…either way it is maddening.

So what are some of the things you can do to protect yourself? (And keep in mind that these may not always work either)

1. Use a contract – This is the most important words of advice I can give any long term freelancer. I use contracts and even though I have refined them over the years I still get occasionally screwed. Clients say things like they didn’t understand the terms or they try and rework the contract when it comes time to get paid. Make sure that your contract spells everything out and then make sure it is signed. It can help in most cases.

2. Define the terms of your agreement – Whether it is a contract or a plain agreement make sure that the terms are clear. I currently have a client who is haggling over what the term “first draft” means. In her mind it is the draft after the editing is all done, in my mind it is the first draft – the first run through – but she is the one holding the money so what do I do?

3. Be professional at all times – The minute you become “friends” with your client the landscape changes. Your new “friend” will do everything in their power to get a better deal from you. Keep it professional and there will be no room for “friendship” deals.

4. Define your timeline – This one bites me on the behind all the time. That client who is reading the “first draft” before she pays me…well she will get around to it. You can see where that is an issue. It could be months before I get paid.

5. Finally, try and vet your clients – With Google, Facebook and all the social media stuff at our disposal we can now do a simple search on a potential client. You may not always find information but 8 out of 10 times you will and then based on that info make the decision as to whether to take on that client or not. Make sure that you ask questions too making sure that this is a person you can work with.

These things should help protect your writing. Keep in mind that there are folks out there that, even though they seem sane, are not. Sadly we live in a society that has gotten pretty good at masking their true selves. Just be careful and choose wisely. While it may be “just writing” to everyone else…it’s who we are…don’t let people mess with who you are.

 

 

© The Writer’s Advice, 2014. 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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Did it Hurt? Use That!


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Life hurts sometimes. We lose people, we hurt ourselves doing stupid things like bungee jumping and trying to hug our mother-in-law, we get dumped and sometimes we do something so stupid that we don’t want to remember what we did but the hurt sticks around for a while. Sometimes…life…just…sucks.

At the risk of sounding like the glass is half full guy…sometimes life sucking is a good thing…at least for a writer. The quote above from Stephen King is very true. As a writer it is necessary to remember all the crap that hurt us because it actually makes us better writers. What better way to write about pain than having experienced it? I often take an event in my life that has left me scarred and I bestow it on a character in a novel. Scars give us character, they make us interesting and they help us grow.

Sometimes a scar may run too deep and in that case, don’t force it, but as a writer I have discovered that, when the time is right, even those deep scars are of use. I have a friend who was abused as a kid and for years she wanted to write about the abuse but just couldn’t get herself past all the scars. She shelved the idea thinking that it would never happen but then she had a baby and it changed everything. Suddenly those scars that had kept her from writing her own story burst wide open and she found that she couldn’t NOT write about it; the timing was finally right.

So don’t hide from those tough times in your life, use them. Use the scars to give your characters life, and, well, character.

 

 

© The Writer’s Advice, 2014. 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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The Friday Writing Pebbles #7


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Like throwing a pebble into the water some writers put advice out into the ocean of hopeful newbies hoping the ripple effects will reach them and they will learn a thing or two. Fridays here at The Writer’s Advice is pebble collection time. I will post some of the pebbles of wisdom I discover and I encourage you all to do the same. Each Friday we will help each other. So here are mine….show me yours!

Do Negative Thoughts Give You Writer’s Block? 5 Ways To Cut Loose – http://writetodone.com/toxic-thoughts-prevent-writing-5-antidotes/

I’m in Love With a Writer: A Survival Guide – http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/im-in-love-with-a-writer-a-survival-guide/

The Geek’s Guide to the Writing Life: Never Give Up- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephanie-vanderslice/the-geeks-guide-creative-writing_b_5134567.html

How the Ups and Downs of Writing Can Improve Your Craft – http://thewritelife.com/ups-and-downs-of-writing/

These Are the 21 Female Authors You Should Be Reading – http://time.com/63548/goldfinch-female-authors-reading/

 

 

© The Writer’s Advice, 2014. 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 April 18, 2014 in Inspiration, Writing, Writing Tools

 

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Sometimes I Can’t Find the Fun and then it’s One Dragon at a Time


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Today I am overwhelmed. I want to write. I need to write. But somehow, over the past week, I have managed to get so far behind on my assignments that I feel buried. Today…I don’t want to write.

We all have times like these. Writing seems like an easy task to the outside world but what they don’t know, those non-writers, is that we are our own worst enemy. We fight with deadlines…sure…but we also fight ourselves constantly. I have two sets of deadlines…I have the ones set by the clients and I have the internal ones that I hold myself to. I have to do this because so much runs through my mind at any given time. My brain is populated by stories, lists, characters and the need to procrastinate.

So what do you do when you’re overwhelmed as I am right now? My motto is, “one dragon at a time”. Yes I don’t want to do any of it because I feel like it is a tsunami of work that I want to run from, but I know it all has to get done so I choose one thing and I work on that one thing. I work on that one thing until it is done and then I go about slaying the next dragon.

As a writer, the work will always be there no matter what kind of writing you do. If you are serious about writing and you freelance as well it can get crowded and thus overwhelming. The key is pace. You have to pace the work and yourself. Followed by pace comes persistence. Persistence is handy when the weather is good outside and you would rather be out soaking up the sun which can be sort of elusive here in the Pacific Northwest. Persistence is what keeps your butt in the chair so that the bills get paid.

Finally, persistence is followed by caring for the writer in you. Understand that the work will get done but don’t allow it to at the expense of your sanity. Take it on one dragon at a time and allow yourself to relish the victories as they happen. This morning I did 25 pages and then took a break to sit in the sun for a half hour, then, I went back to work. These small allowances will ensure that you don’t feel like a prisoner trapped by the work. So don’t get overwhelmed and pace yourself…it will get done.

Remember…one dragon at a time.

 

 

© The Writer’s Advice, 2014. 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 April 13, 2014 in Writing

 

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Spring Cleaning Time – Throw out the Crap


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Spring is a time of renewal for the planet but let’s be honest, for us writers it is a time of complaining about having to clean out your office. I know at my house I get this look about this time of the year that translates to “get all that paper and crap out of there – it’s a fire hazard”.

Over the winter we writers tend to horde. I know for me personally I come up with all sorts of ideas in the dead of winter and I half write them all down. I have to be honest; I do a lot of brainstorming to get out of other things like shoveling snow or running the kids back and forth in the freezing rain. I “suddenly” get an idea that I “just have to get down on paper”; go figure that still works after over 10 years…yeah me. But now that it is Spring it is time to sit down and rummage through all those “ideas” and see which ones work and which ones are just stupid.

Although I hate doing this myself, it is an important part of the writer’s year. If we don’t take the time to weed through our winter slush pile we can get overwhelmed by the large stack of potentials. I take great care in going through mine because sometimes, despite why a story idea was created, it turns out good. I have pulled out some real jewels but I have also pulled out some real dogs.

So take a moment while the sun is out and tackle that slush pile before making your writing excuses for the summer. You never know, there may be something in there that gets you really excited about writing even if the sun is out.

 

 

© The Writer’s Advice, 2014. 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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