Author Archives: thewritersadvice

About thewritersadvice

Jai is a full-time writer in the Pacific Northwest. An award winning journalist and published author, Jai writes mystery thrillers, ghost writes articles and books as well as feature articles for several national magazines.

The Importance of Clarity


I have been a freelance writer for over 10 years now. Before becoming a freelance writer, I was a journalist for more than 30 years so to say that I have a little bit of writing experience…well…it would be an understatement to say the least. Still, here I am, years later, still learning things. Recently I got schooled in a subject that one would think I would already have a handle on…clarity.

I work with many different people on projects that are near and dear to their hearts. Some of those projects come with tons of handwritten notes while others I have to work with the person one on one to pull the story out of them. It is much easier to work with someone whom the notes have to be pulled out because when a person takes their own notes they are often unsure what exactly it is that they want done with the notes….case in point….a recent freelance job that is now costing me money.

A client, we will call him Doug….came to me wanting to write a book. His concept is unique and he had done a ton of research on it. When we began the project Doug handed me over 200 pages of handwritten notes to be gone through and used. It was a bit overwhelming at first but when we spoke it was understood that I would impute his notes into the computer and then create his book from his notes…made sense…it is, after all, his book.

After months and months of transcribing Doug’s work I sent him the first section to revise and add to. Doug had a reaction I wasn’t expecting. He wrote back, irritated that I had “transcribed” his notes instead of just wading through them and creating his book. Doug is now refusing his monthly payment until I create the first 100 pages of his book.

The issue here is clarity. Doug and I missed each other in terms of what his expectations were. (I hope) While he was apparently thinking that I would just create his masterpiece from the tons of handwritten notes to be used as research, I thought that he wanted his book to be his words…now I am in a quandary….do I continue the work with his change of pace and lose money or do I let the project go? I will end up writing Doug’s book but he clearly didn’t understand the process and I clearly failed at explaining it.

My advice today is to make sure that you are clear with your clients in terms of the process through which you work a project. Every project is different so this is very important. Sit down and talk to the client ensuring that he/she knows that needs to be done and what the outcome should be. Doug has a great book if it is told in his words, as a ghost writer that is my job…let’s hope that Doug understands that so that his book sees the light of day.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2016. 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 12, 2016 in Writing


Blocked or Lazy….Same thing Really…


It’s been a while since I have written for this blog. Health issues have kept me from doing any serious work and now I am just getting to a point where I can jump back into the deep end of the writing pool. I apologize for my absence.

One of the things that I have been dealing with since my butt hit the chair again in procrastination at it’s worse. Being in poor health taught me the joys of sitting on the couch binge watching television shows that I would not have otherwise watched…Wynonna Earp is really good by the way…. Getting back into the chair has been painful enough with the heath issues making it physically hard to do BUT getting motivated has been equally as tough. I found myself last week declaring to a friend that I was “blocked”…I’m fibbing…I’m just being lazy.

When you have had your writing interrupted from any reason it is often hard to get back into the flow of things. Writing means you have to show up and if you have spent any time at all on a couch in a haze of pain pills and television it can get even harder. The easy way is to tell yourself, “one more week and I’ll be ready” but the long and short of it is…it’s now or never.

My health issues are not resolved yet but the writing is helping me focus on the work rather than the pain. I am still finding myself on the couch but now it is with my computer with the television off. I said all of that to say this…if you have a life issue that takes you away from your writing, don’t allow it to do so for very long because the longer you stay away…the harder it is to get back. If you have to write in smaller blocks but write because it is a muscle that needs to be exercised. As for me…I’m back and I have to tell you…I really have missed you all!


© The Writer’s Advice, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


Mystery Series Book 2 -Get it Now!

The Raven Michaels Series Book 2 is now on Amazon….grab it and step into the mystery!


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Posted by on January 28, 2016 in Writing


New Mystery Series Now Available!

PassionsRevengecov_epubThe Raven Michaels Series, book one is now available on Amazon! Head over and grab one now.

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Posted by on January 28, 2016 in Writing


Feel the Writer….Be the Writer….

How many times have you restarted your writing career? I’ll admit it…I do it virtually every….single….day. For some odd reason, we writers seem to feel like we need to reset all the time. I think it has more to do with the lack of validation from others than anything else. I never “stop” working after all…

So how do you get validation in terms of what you do as a writer? Well, first off, stop asking for validation. There is really no point in trying to justify what you do to folks who muse over why you don’t have a “real job”. You know it’s a real job and that is what really counts. I have learned over the years that, in order to feel better about what I do, I have to act like a writer. It is too easy to lose track of being a writer because so many people don’t get it. But how does one act like a writer?

First off you gotta write. Every day. Yep…oddly…writers actually write and they do it ALL THE TIME. I work freelancing but that doesn’t count when you talk about “being a writer”. Sure it’s my job to write for others but to truly be a writer I have to also spend time working on my writing. So no matter what other writing you do….work on your stuff.

Second, make no excuses. Come on now…you’ve heard yourself do it, I know I have. Stop making excuses for not having a “real job” and tell those naysayers that you do have a real job…you are a writer. My mom is still waiting for me to find my true career and I was a journalist for over 30 years! Ignore those folks and stop explaining yourself.

Finally, jump into the deep end of the pool and create your own support system. Talk to other writers, spend time studying writing and treat yourself to all those really cool writer’s gadgets. My office is full of toys and things that light up but also books on writing, a tablet, a laptop and soon a Surface Pro…I’m a writer and those are the tools of my trade and I am not making any excuses for that…you shouldn’t either.

You have to BE the writer. So remember write…no excuses…create your support system. Ignore people who question your being a writer…you own it to your craft.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2016. 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 January 22, 2016 in Writing


Recovering from Illness – The Myth of a Writer Who Doesn’t Need Downtime

I had total knee replacement surgery on Oct. 28th. This was no small operation. They literally cut me open, sawed off my leg in two places, put in a fake knee and sewed it all backup. The recovery time was supposed to be 6-8 weeks and there is where I made my mistake.

I thought that because I am a writer I could just keep working through the recovery process. I could, after all, sit on the couch, leg up and still write….ummmmm nope. I didn’t account for several things. First, the pain….wow the pain…the first three weeks was amazingly painful and no amount of painkillers appeared to help for very long. Second, there were those painkillers…I am not a “pill” person, I hate them. So when I started taking the pain meds I had no tolerance what-so-ever. I would take a dose and sleep…my body gave me no choice. By the time I woke up from my stupor, it was time for more meds…it became a circle of unconsciousness. Finally, there was the lack of desire. Yes, I am a writer and yes I live to write but when you hurt and you are stoned a lot of the time your desire to get creative does not include a keyboard. I wanted to sit and wish the pain away…not create.

What should I have done? I should have recovered. I didn’t do myself any favors, I frustrated a lot of my clients because I kept saying I could do it and then couldn’t…it was a mess. The truth is I owe it to myself to take care of myself and in order to do that I, like any normal person, need to follow the doctor’s instructions. I am still fighting this, 9 weeks out. Knee replacement surgery takes up to six months to fully recover from and every time I go to physical therapy it’s like they opened it up all over again. The bottom line is…you can’t create if you can’t take care of yourself.

So talk to your clients, help them understand that it is a process. Don’t put it off for your clients either…one of the things about working for yourself and from home that sucks is that clients tend to hold you to a different set of rules…don’t let them do that. You are no good to your client if you are in pain all the time. So heal….take the time to heal and in doing it correctly you will be back at that keyboard twice as fast.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2016. 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 January 11, 2016 in Writing


If You Are Looking for Common Sense…Don’t become a Freelance Writer

I learn something new every day and sometime those lessons leave me shaking my head; I got one of those lessons recently. I discovered that as a writer, I am also expected to be a therapist. I don’t want to be a therapist…I want to be a writer. Here is the rub though…often times, if you refuse to be a therapist you could lose money freelancing. Doesn’t make sense? Here let me explain…

Recently I took on a ghost writing job. It was an interesting job. The guy, our want-to-be-writer, was your average older gentleman who’d had an interesting life and now wanted to pen about it. I respect that…in fact my motto is, if you have a story…tell it. I have had many ghosting jobs where I spent hours with the client listening to their tales and then transferring them into book form…it is, after all…what I do.

Every now and again though, this scenario goes hilariously wrong. Case in point…this particular client not only wanted to write a book, he wanted a friend. And not just any friend…he wanted a writer whom he could hold hostage twice a week while he repeated the same stories over and over. I became that hostage. Four weeks into the work it became very clear that this guy wasn’t interested so much in the book but in talking. I explained that I would need some actual time to write the actual book but he insisted…no, you have to come to my house twice a week so we can talk for several hours. When I realized that he wasn’t actually adding any more information to the book I cut the visits off. I explained that I now needed to write the book…he…a month into the work, after countless hours of interviewing and tons of notes…said come visit me or I quit. I refused, he quit and I lost all that time and money. Sadly, his book will probably never get written.

This particular freelance job made no sense at all but it isn’t the first time it has happened to me. There is a certain type of guy (and it is always a guy) who needs to control the writer and make them their slave of attention. It is a waste of time and money for the writer. These folks need so badly to “talk” that they never let you finish the job. AND when you realize that you are in that type of job, it is often too late to recoup your losses.

So how do you know? First off, if the client is more interested in the visits than the work, run the other direction. If the client insists on weekly visits, run the other direction. If the client appears lonely and insists that you pet his cat or dog and continues to offer you a sandwich every time you work…run the other direction. These guys are lonely and that is what your visit is about to them. Make things clear in your contract in terms of visits and interviews and be ready to cut things off if they get odd. You have to make a living too and you can’t do that if you are stuck being some lonely person’s therapist. Often nothing in freelancing employs common sense so you have to create it yourself. Let them down as easy as you can, see it for what it is and try and stay in control…otherwise you will find yourself in a room with a cat on your lap, sandwich in hand listening to how his mother hates peanuts.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2016. 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 January 6, 2016 in Writing

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