April 8

Punishment vs Reward


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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August 3

Put Yourself Out There

The Critic
The Critic (Photo credit: Kevin B 3)

If you are a writer, you have to open yourself up to criticism. You have to “put yourself out there.” Not all critics are worth listening to. Sometimes people will tell you something is good when it isn’t, and other people will tell you something is bad when it isn’t. The most important thing to understand is that the best critics are the people who don’t know you, don’t understand your work, and have nothing invested in what you’re doing.

Put up a blog, a Facebook profile, and get a Twitter account. Ask people what they think, and allow them to publicly say bad things about your work. Yes, it is defeating; however, one bad critic doesn’t make your work bad. It means that one person doesn’t like that one piece. It could be that you wrote something bad also. Either way, as a good creative writer, you need to write what other people can understand.

I could always tell if I had written something worthwhile because people would either give me a very positive or very negative response. The work I’ve done that gets a neutral response is always the work I rework. If someone hates my work, I know they feel passionate about it. If someone just doesn’t like, that’s when I think I’m in trouble.

Good luck with your writing, and try your best to make people either love or hate your work – as long as they’re talking about it.

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April 9


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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April 8

Writing Online

English: Jack Dorsey and Barack Obama at Twitt...
English: Jack Dorsey and Barack Obama at Twitter Town Hall in July 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I often hear people saying how writing online is so drastically different from other kinds of writing. I’ll admit that online writing isn’t the same as academic writing, but despite the innovation of Twitter, the ideal article length online is around 300 to 400 words, about what you would want a newspaper article to be.

Also, like a newspaper article, you want a reasonably short, effective, and catchy headline that will get the reader interested. In the age of social media, the important thing is to get your article shared by as many people as possible. Making your article concise, interesting, and easy to read will do this. These are all very similar guidelines to what a newspaper editor might ask for.

The big difference between writing online and writing for print are keywords. You don’t want to overuse your keyword terms like “writing online” because your readers will feel an awkwardness in the writing. You do want to occasionally pepper your article with your specific keyword terms, like “writing online.” This will allow search engines to easily get the idea of what you are trying to communicate without readers getting frustrated and moving on to something else.

A smaller difference that people run into with online writing is the issue of editing. As soon as I’m done writing this article, I can press the publish button, and there isn’t an editor on the other end of it. The beauty of online writing, is that it isn’t set in stone. If you make a mistake, you can always fix it. The issue here is taking responsibility for your own work. Glaring errors happen to the best of us, but with online writing, it’s important to read and read again. After I hit the publish button, I go back the next day and read it one more time to make sure that I haven’t made any obvious errors that I missed the day before.

Keep up the good work, always edit, and try to stay within the 300 to 400 word range.


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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