April 8

Punishment vs Reward

Writer

Writing should be fun and inspirational, but how do you do it more often. I often think of writing like exercise:

  1. It’s something I want to do;
  2. It’s something I need to do;
  3. It’s something that will benefit me;
  4. If I build it into my routine it becomes easier;
  5. It’s something I don’t have time for;
  6. I just don’t feel like it right now.

Number 5 and 6 can make you go years without writing. Either you don’t have the time or just don’t feel like it. A lot of people will set about to punish themselves. In almost every case, this is a bad solution and won’t work in the long term. Sometimes punishments can masquerade as time management or self improvement. Some examples of punishment might be:

  1. I’ll stop watching television;
  2. I’ll spend less time hanging out with my friends;
  3. I won’t play video games ever again.

Taking something out of your life that you enjoy isn’t a permanent solution. You might find yourself writing more, but you might also end up being more unhappy. Certainly if there are things that waste your time that you don’t enjoy, cut those out. That would be a reward, so go for it. Otherwise, think about rewards that work for you.

  1. Once I complete my first chapter, I’m going to buy myself that new pair of shoes I’ve been wanting;
  2. I’m going to watch an hour of television right after I write a poem;
  3. Once I’ve completed that short story, I’m going to play video games.

For those who have very little time, keep in mind the time where you wait. Almost everyone has to wait for something at some point. You wait for the doctor, the dentist, friends, business meetings, family members, husbands, and wives. For those who take buses, trains, or planes, you can write while you’re commuting. In all of this time you spend waiting, you might be able to get a full novel complete within 2 years.

Good luck, and starting writing again. Feel free to contact me if you want to chat about your next project.

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September 9

Writing is the Cure for Everything

Are any of the following true for you?

You:

  1. Can’t sleep at night.
  2. Feel to sick to do anything.
  3. Are currently unemployed or not working enough hours.
  4. Are suddenly bored all the time or find yourself with a lot of free time.
  5. Have been injured and can’t do much.

Is writing really the cure for everything?

  1. Writing your thoughts and feelings down might help you to resolve things, calm down, and sleep better at night.
  2. Writing can help take your mind off of feeling sick.
  3. If you’re writing for money, that will help get you out of the unemployment slump.
  4. Writing something very unique and adventurous will help cure boredom and kill some free time.
  5. Writing can help take your mind off of your injury.

The reality is, writing won’t really cure everything, but it can help. More importantly, people often think they don’t have time to write, but they still spend time being injured, bored, unemployed, sick, and unable to sleep. These are opportunities for anyone that normally doesn’t have time in their lives to write. For instance, I don’t have any work to do at this very moment, so I’m writing a blog post about how writing is the cure for everything.

My answer to free time is always to fill it with television until I find something else to occupy my time. Then work, family, exercise, or sometimes even texting and Facebook come along and take any little bit of free time I have left over. The real question I have for myself and any other writer/procrastinator out there is, what the hell are we waiting for?

Let’s show the damn world that we can write. Even if it’s not perfect and they don’t love it. You have a better chance of writing something great if you try hundreds of times than not at all.

Here is what free time could equal in writing:

  1. 1 or 2 hours a month: a poem a month, 12 poems a year, 120 poems a decade.
  2. 1 or 2 hours a week: a short story a month, 12 short stories a year, 120 short stories a decade.
  3. 1 or 2 hour a day: a novel a year, 10 novels a decade.

Finding just a little bit of free time in our day to day accumulates to massive gains in terms of writing. Let it be your cure.

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February 27

Content Ninja

Content NinjaA ninja is someone who is stealthy, patient, intelligent, and cunning. A good web writer is like a ninja, except we don’t usually wear cool costumes or intimidate people with sharp weapons.

Here are five reasons to hire a content ninja:

  1. SEM Plan or Ninja Infiltration Scheme – a content ninja will start out with a plan of the keywords that your site needs to target. There will be some separation between words you actually target, words you want to target, and words people are searching for. Having this plan ahead of time will create transparency, so anyone working on the site will know which words to and how to better target them.
  2. SEO or Ninja Sneakiness – every word a content ninja writes on a web site has value. A carefully crafted page can encourage search engines like Google to rank your site higher for specific keywords, like Content Writers for Hire. This follows the SEM plan to directly target the words that have the highest value to your business.
  3. Readability or Ninja Intellect – non-ninja human beings are reading your site, so it’s important to know that content ninjas don’t just stuff your keywords too full of things like Expert Content Writers. You don’t want someone to think that you grabbed content from a Japanese site and ran it through Google Translate. The messages must be clear, concise, and when appropriate, even thematic. Engaging readers is probably the most important part of web writing.
  4. Corporate Message or Ninja Throwing Stars – a good, consistent business message is the weapon of the content ninja. It lends the business credibility and builds trust. Without this strong and consistent site wide message, the ninja would be going in unarmed. Don’t worry though, a good content ninja can help craft this message.
  5. Call to Action or Ninja Exit Strategy – a ninja always has an exit plan. A content ninja has an exit plan for site visitors. A site with a strong and obvious call to action, is a site that gets results. For instance, a message that clearly states hire me now, with a link to a hire me form would be one simple example of a call to action.
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June 12

Experience Tea

This piece was originally a writing test that I did to show my ability to write a positive review. This was not written for Teavana. Teavana is more than bulk loose leaves; it’s where tea lovers go to experience a cup of comfort, brewed to perfection. Teavana’s sommeliers of the tea world have a welcoming and open nature to the first time buyer and the seasoned expert. Brewing time, filters, types of tea, and even what to pair with your drink all factor into the taste. At Teavana they know this, live this, and train for this. If you’re new to the tea world, you can:

  • go into the store;
  • ask to smell a few different blends;
  • get a single cup;
  • and when you’re ready, buy the oolong, green, black, or herbal that’s right for you.

This summer, cool off with an Exotic Iced Tea at any one of the Teavana locations across North America. See http://www.teavana.com/retail for more information.

April 9

Ghostwriters

It's a ghost!
It’s a ghost! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ghostwriting is evil. Now that I’ve shared my obvious bias, let me try my best to give you my impartial views on ghostwriting.

Ghostwriter Defined by Son of Sappho

A writer who writes anything for remuneration (usually money) without receiving the official credit for it. This means that you do the work, sell it to someone else, and they get all the credit for it.

Three Reasons to be a Ghostwriter

  1. You should get paid a lot more money;
  2. You can do it as a second job without anyone knowing about it;
  3. You could get the opportunity to be paid for creative work that you might not otherwise get.

Three Reasons not to be a Ghostwriter

  1. You usually can’t use any of the work in your portfolio;
  2. It’s next to impossible to get ahead based on your name, since you are always promoting other people;
  3. You’re less likely to ever create the type of work that you envision, since you are always creating another person’s ideas.

I’ll certainly grant that there might be times a writer doesn’t care about having their name on something. Perhaps you wrote a boring manual that you don’t want in your portfolio, and maybe you got paid really well to write it. For me, if I write anything that is at all worth mentioning, I put that in my portfolio, and I’ve never had to hide any of the work I’ve done.

Imagine for a moment that I go to an artist and ask him to paint a beautiful sunset for me, but I tell him that I’m going to own 100% of the rights to that painting. I pay the artist accordingly, and I get to put my name in the bottom right hand corner and tell everyone I painted it. I’m not suggesting this has never happened in history, but the idea of it is preposterous, and I feel the same way about ghostwriting.

I can’t even begin to understand why anyone would want to let someone else take credit for their work.

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March 17

Write Something Everyday

The greatest bit of wisdom I could share is to simply write everyday. This is advice that I need to follow too, but if you can write something everyday, anything at all, you are a writer.

Write a poem, a story, a diary entry, or a tip in a writing blog about writing something everyday. Write whatever you want, but write something. This will make the difference between launching the career that you want and spending your existence in a job that you don’t really care for.

If you write and it’s terrible, write more. It will get better. People argue that you’re either a writer or not a writer, but you have 365 days a year to practise. You’ll get better in no time. If grammar is an issue for you, take classes. That doesn’t clear up on its own. If the writing is too concise, not concise enough, or just no good, read other work, get inspired.

You will get there if you write everyday.

November 8

Great, you found your muse. Now, before you go and write 10,000 more incoherent and in-cohesive sentences, stop, #edit, and #read.

Image of a modern fountain pen writing in curs...
Image of a modern fountain pen writing in cursive script. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I spoke about getting your muse on in an early post, but what happens if the writing ideas are flowing like a faucet? Is it cool to take up your days and nights with unlimited, unleashed writing.

My thought on this is no. There are a few times when I will have, what seems like, an infinite resource of writing ideas to source from. If I get carried away and just write and write and write, sometimes the work starts to suffer a lot. The one good thing about writer’s block is it gives me a chance to reread my work, edit it, and think about what I don’t like and do like about my style. It makes me think about where I should try to go with my style. It even makes me wonder if I should change my style often.

Having a fountain pen full of ideas that just spill out all over the place is great, but it’s messy. Right now, I’ve found my muse, and I’m starting to write, write, write, but I’ve set a limit for myself. There’s a maximum daily quantity that I allow myself to write. That amount of time is different for everyone, but I need time to sit down and reflect on the work I’ve written. As much as I think I’m great at writing when the words are coming out, reading something two or three days later can really make me wonder what I was thinking.

My advise is to write everyday, but take time to read and edit everyday also. It makes my work better and easier to follow, and I hope it will do the same for you.

November 1

Where’s the Muse at?

Hesiod and the Muse
Hesiod and the Muse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes when I’m writing anything, a story, a poem, or maybe even a clever email, I run into a touch of writer’s block. I even ran into writer’s block while writing this writing tip. Here are five ways that I battle writer’s block.

  1. Write down ideas through out the day when you have them.
    Writing is often a very “mood based” type of activity, but you can’t always write when you have inspiration. If you jot down the basic ideas you have while you are in the mood to write, you have already got yourself passed most of the writer’s block (the idea stage).
  2. Read and get inspired.
    Reading and even watching TV can help you with style and stories. If you have free time while you aren’t writing, fitting in a small amount of reading can give you that inspiration you need for writing time.
  3. Set aside time everyday to write.
    If you can legitimately argue that you can’t make the time to write because you are too busy, the harsh truth is that you probably aren’t a writer. Most of us already set aside time for eating, sleeping, using the washroom, and working. If you set aside time to write when you aren’t doing anything else – truly nothing else at all, you will find your muse. Sometimes I can only find half an hour to write, and even if I only come up with one good idea or one good sentence, I’ve started to push the idea snow ball down the giant mountain of literary snow.
  4. Get your mind right.
    This is my way of saying that you need to clear your head of all the bad juju. If you feel stressed, go for a run. If you’re mad at a friend, talk to him/her about the issue. If you can write better when your mind is in angst, go for it. For those of us who can’t do anything when we feel that way, clear it up, fix it – do whatever you can to get past the feeling and just write.
  5. Write what you want.
    If you’re writing the greatest novel that ever was and you’re stuck on Chapter 2, try taking the time to write a short story or a poem. Get your mind off of Chapter 2, but keep writing. I know this doesn’t mesh well with deadlines, but if you’re at risk of blowing a deadline because of writer’s block, the best thing you can do is write about something completely different. It will sometimes cure your writer’s block and allow you to get back on target with Chapter 2.
October 27

Meeting Goals

Empty Net
Empty Net (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For the last few years, I’ve been struggling to meet goals. The goals are simple, become a writer and get into shape. Neither goal is particularly difficult; they’re both just long and time-consuming.

I’ve never been what you would call overweight, but getting into really good shape would still take a lot of dedication, maybe 12 months of working out 6 days week. Well, I’m about 6 months into this schedule already. This wasn’t an easy task for me, since I’m not, by any means, a jock.

It’s easy enough for me to sit down and write here, but to make it my life and career is a longer goal. I need to treat it like exercise and just keep devoting time to it, no matter what. Right now, I’m going to volunteer for some writing jobs to build a portfolio.

As for this site (sonofsappho.com), you can expect to see stories, writing tips, and perhaps just general musings in the weeks to come.

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