Posts Tagged ‘writing courses online’
Writing like a rock star
Think back to your teen years. What sort of music did you listen to? Country? Ballads? Jazz? Rock? Regardless, you probably supported your favorite musicians by purchasing their albums and hanging goofy-looking posters on your wall. You listened to their amazing tunes for hours on end, wishing you could step into the singer’s shoes for one, brief, magical moment.
Pause to think about your favorite musician. What was it about him (or her) that you wanted to emulate? Here’s what I liked about some of my favorites:
- They paid their dues. Many sang back-up for years or played small venues before “making it big.”
- They were fearless. They stood on that stage and sang/played their hearts out.
- They were talented. Not just a little talented, but over-the-top skilled. They didn’t stand up there half-singing. They gave it their all!
- They had a certain “sparkle and shine.” They stood out above other artists because they had something special.
- They were “known.” All I had to do was say the name of the artist or group—Kansas, Styx, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Janis Ian, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, Queen—and everyone knew who you were talking about.
These musicians stood the test of time. They weren’t just flash-in-the-pan artists.
Now think about these things in light of your writing. Most of us set out to write that first book thinking we’ll be famous. We hear the words “pay your dues” and pray they don’t apply to us. We’re not willing to play the small venues (i.e. write for the church newsletter, compose blog entries, etc.). We want to jump straight to the big time. More often than not, we’re not ready. We should follow the lead of our musical superstars and work, work, work our way up the ladder. We need to take writing courses, go to conferences and lean heavily on our critique partners.
We have a lot to learn when it comes to being fearless, too. Oh, sure…we say we’re bold. We say we’re brave. But when the rubber meets the road—say, we have an opportunity to sit across from an editor or agent at a conference—we shake in our boots. It’s time to stand straight and tall. Summon up the courage to see this thing through from start to finish.
Our musical stars inspire us with their talent, but great talent doesn’t just happen. Most of us have to work hard to learn the craft. Writers grow into their talent with extensive training.
Sure, rock stars sparkle and shine. They’re in the spotlight, after all. But, what about you? What sets you apart from the crowd? Do you have that little something extra? Writers set themselves apart by using strong verbs and writing tight, brilliant stories and articles.
One final thing in closing: being “known” is great—and many writers have achieved that sort of success. But consider the fact that most writing is done in solitude. We’re not in front of the cameras or the lights, singing our hearts out. We’re sitting in front of a computer screen, pounding out words, then paragraphs, then whole stories.
My advice for the day? Be a rock star! Strive to be the very best you can be.
Tags: How To Be A Freelance Writer, how to begin writing, online writing courses, writing course, writing courses online, writing skills, writing tips
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Ten No-Brainer Writing Choices
Oy, the life of the wannabe writer! The ups, the downs, the in-betweens. Maybe you can relate. You come into it convinced you’ll be the next bestseller. Day One: You’re seated in the chair, banging away at the computer. Day Two: You’re slightly distracted by a good friend, who invites you to lunch. Day Three: You’re facing the blank screen, struggling with writer’s block. Day Four: You’re suddenly wondering what ever made you think you could write in the first place. Day Five: You decide you’d rather go to culinary school.
If you’re trying to figure out how to begin writing, start by making a few simple, no-brainer, choices:
- CHOICE ONE: Keep your rear in the chair. I know, I know! It’s so tempting to get up and leave the room. To stop mid-stream. To watch TV. Don’t! Stay put. Pound your way through the writer’s block. Keep writing, even if you have to put a steady stream of S’s on the page.
- CHOICE TWO: Find an accountability partner. Choose someone who will call you routinely and ask tough questions…questions like, “What’s your word count?” “How’s that magazine article coming?”
- CHOICE THREE: Start with short pieces. Many writers give up early on because they tackle projects that are simply too large.
- CHOICE FOUR: Begin your day with creative writing exercises. You’ll tease your muse and stir up your imagination in the process.
- CHOICE FIVE: Hang out with other writers. Nothing will motivate you more than spending time with others who love the craft. If you’re writing articles, find other article writers to hang out with. If you’re a novelist, learn alongside other novelists.
- CHOICE SIX: Start a blog or keep a journal. Doing so will keep you writing every day. Writing in a routine manner such as this will be the equivalent of pouring water from a magical flask. The more you pour, the fuller the flask.
- CHOICE SEVEN: Consider taking a class at your local junior college or perhaps a few online writing courses. Remember, all writers are on a learning curve. Acknowledge your need to learn then do all you can to develop your skills.
- CHOICE EIGHT: Set clear, concise goals. You might not hit all of them, but you’ll come closer if you actually set them.
- CHOICE NINE: Go to a conference but choose wisely. Some focus on fiction only. These won’t be of any help to you if you’re a magazine freelancer.
- CHOICE TEN: Don’t give up. Think about the great writers from days gone by. If Louisa May Alcott had given up, we wouldn’t have Little Women. If Charles Dickens had given up, we couldn’t enjoy A Tale of Two Cities. If Jane Austen had given up, millions of women around the world couldn’t sigh over Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. You get the idea. Whatever stories or articles lie inside of you will be nothing but ideas if you give up. Project ahead to those readers you’ve not yet met. Don’t deprive them of the great things they could one day read.
That’s it for today, writers! Read over these ten choices again and make up your mind to do everything you can to stay the course.
Tags: freelance writing, freelance writing courses, how to begin writing, ideas for writers, online writing courses, writing course, writing courses online, writing tips
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Writing is my time machine, takes me to the precise time and place I belong.
Happy March, everyone! What a glorious time of year! Here in the South, the cold weather is behind us. Glimpses of spring are everywhere! This is the perfect season to discuss a new approach to making money with your writing. After all, the rebirth of this fabulous season could very well lead you to a rebirth in your writing career, as well.
This month I want to focus on short pieces. You’ve read them all of your life: short stories, devotionals, personal experience pieces, tiny “blips” in perpetual calendars. They’re everywhere, and they’re all the rage. So, how do you go about selling them? Is there money to be made? As one who’s earned her way freelancing, I respond with a resounding “Yes!” And trust me when I say, “If I can do it, you can too!”
Let me start by giving you an assignment. Go to your local grocery store. Most have a carousel of inspirational books tucked away near an end-cap. Take a good look at what’s selling. Some of those projects (devotionals, for instance) are compilation projects. Others (perpetual calendars, small gift books, etc.) were written by one author.
Next, think about the themes in your novels. What are you already writing about? Love? Marriage? Raising teens? Grief? Relationship woes? Health problems? Empty nest issues? Great! These all make great nonfiction topics, as well. Make a list of topics that fit your brand. Trust me . . . this will come in handy when you get ready to sell that next novel!
Spend some time thinking about your writer’s voice. Are you comedic? Lighthearted? Serious? Literary? Whatever voice you use in the fiction realm will fit here, too! I’m known for my lighthearted novels, so I’ve been taking on projects that make sense to my career. (More about this later.)
Let’s assume you write about health-related issues. Your latest novel—the one you’re pitching—is about a woman struggling with chronic fatigue syndrome. You’ve already poured heart and soul into this novel, so you know the issue pretty well. Why not put together several devotionals on the subject and pitch them to an editor?
You could compile them into a book, or offer to sell them off one by one. You might even give thought to starting a blog on the subject and writing a few short pieces there, as well. That way you’re building your platform and becoming known as an expert on the subject.
And speaking of becoming an expert, here’s a little trick of the trade. If you’re interested in selling short pieces, scour the writer’s market guide for nonfiction editors (perhaps homing in on those at the house where you’ve already published fiction). Instead of pitching a particular devotional or idea, simply let the editor know who you are and what you like to write about.
A few years ago, I wrote to a nonfiction editor at a house where I’d already been published. The fiction editors knew me well, but the nonfiction editor did not. I took the time to get to know her, sharing my heart. I’m sure she noticed the tagline at the bottom of my e-mails: “Love, Laughter, and Happily Ever Afters.” I told her that I would love to work on assignment, would do a fast/clean job, and was open to thinking outside the box. Beyond that, I told her a little about myself: author of comedic, wedding-themed books, upbeat, cheerful, fun, mother-of-the-bride (all four daughters got married within four years of one another).
She got it! As a result, she began to give me work based on the areas I already knew. My first assignment was a devotional book titled Everyday Joy. I was asked to come up with 200 mini-devotionals (about seventy-five words each, plus a Scripture and header). What fun I had writing it! I was then given a bride-to-be project, which I coauthored with my oldest daughter. I was given the task of writing a perpetual calendar titled 365 Views from the Sunny Side. Why? Because it matched my lighthearted novels! I was also asked to write 365 Creative Ways to Beat Stress because I do a pretty good job juggling many projects at once. Besides these, I contributed to several lighthearted compilation projects: Heavenly Humor for the Dog Lover’s Soul, Heavenly Humor for the Teacher’s Soul, and Heavenly Humor for the Dieter’s Soul. You get the idea. Some of these pieces were 100 words. Some were seventy-five. Some were fifty. Some were even less!
One reason I love short nonfiction pieces so much is because they allow me to rest my brain while I’m working on my novel. (Yes, I bounce back and forth between the novel and the nonfiction projects.) I consider it a privilege to dabble in both worlds. Best of all, the Lord always manages to coordinate things so that I’m learning from my nonfiction work. I’m being energized for the task of writing my novel! (See?! Another perk!)
• Think outside the box.
• Ask God to open new doors.
• Learn to write tight. Practice writing seventy-five word devotionals. Kill off superfluous words (i.e. adjectives, adverbs, purple prose). Just say what you need to say.
• Write what you know. If you’re struggling with chronic illness, offer to write about it. If you’re homeschooling, write some devotionals about the experience. If you’re infatuated with nature, pitch some devotionals on the subject.
• Before you pitch any devotionals, short stories or personal experience, take the time to get to you know yourself and a couple of nonfiction editors. Ask your writing friends which publishers/editors they recommend. Chances are pretty good you’ll enter into a lengthy relationship with this editor, so be prepared to take on some fun, unexpected short pieces! I was recently asked to write 365 Great Things about Getting Older. Ha!
That’s it for now, friends! Go forth . . . and write short pieces.
Tags: How To Be A Freelance Writer, online writing courses, writing courses online, writing ideas, writing tips
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How To Be A Freelance Writer: Write…For Hire! by Janice Thompson
Writing is my time machine, takes me to the precise time and place I belong.
What do you think of when you hear the term write-for-hire? Do you envision yourself going door-to-door, trying to drum up work from your neighbors? (“Hello, my name is Janice, and I’ll be happy to write that Christmas letter for you!”) Or do you see yourself standing on a street corner, wearing a placard that reads, WILL WRITE FOR FOOD? The concept is similar. The term write-for-hire basically means that you get hired by a publishing company to do a temporary, assigned project. In some ways it’s like working on assignment for a magazine or newspaper. When that particular project is over, it’s over.
I love write-for-hire projects. Believe it or not, I use them to rest my brain between novels. About a third of my freelancing income comes from these quick projects. They are varied and enjoyable, so I recommend this avenue if you’re serious about writing for money. (And, hey, who isn’t interested in earning extra money while you’re waiting on that next book contract?)
Over the next few months we’re going to address some questions related to write-for-hire work. We’ll figure out where to find these projects and how to maintain good, healthy relationships with editors. We’ll also address a variety of topics related to contracts, rights, payments, the editing process, and more. I hope to stir you up so that you will consider write-for-hire work as another fabulous way to use your writing gift to earn top dollar.
Let’s start by talking about the various types of write-for-hire work:
Compilation projects: devotionals and short-story collections: Many publishing houses put out a steady stream of compilation books (devotionals, in particular). Most of these books are written by more than one author. For example, over the past couple years I contributed devotionals to compilation projects for caregivers, stepmoms, dog lovers, and so on. If the book contained 100+ devotionals, ten might have been mine. Or twenty, even. My assignment usually came with detailed instructions and a clear deadline. Over the next few months we’ll talk about compilation projects in depth.
Books: Surprisingly, a handful of the novels you see on bookstore shelves, particularly those for kids, are actually write-for-hire projects. Some time ago, I was hired to write a complete book of mini-devotionals titled Everyday Joy. I didn’t have to share the project with anyone else. I had so much fun (and was tickled to see the book on the ECPA best-seller list not long after it came out). My name is on the cover of the book, but I received a flat payment, not royalties.
Book packaging: Book packaging is a bit different from compilations. In this scenario, a series of books is put out under one name. (For example, the Nancy Drew books were supposedly written by Carolyn Keene. In reality, they were written by a host of unnamed authors who were given a formula and an outline for the book they were to write.) One thing that sets book packaging apart from other write-for-hire projects is that the author does not receive credit for his or her work.
Ghostwriting: Initially, the term ghostwriter was used because the writer would never be disclosed to the public. Thankfully, the process has morphed over time. These days, the name of the ghostwriter usually appears along with the owner of the story. I’ve done some ghostwriting and have been acknowledged as the writer. Perhaps this holds some appeal for you, as well.
Business writing: Think for a moment about the following: advertising materials; catalog copy; technical, medical, and marketing materials; newsletters; Website copy; brochures; etc. Who writes all of that stuff? You . . . if you’d like! There is money to be made in business/technical writing. We’ll discuss this in detail over the next few months.
Potential write-for-hire markets: The first is the Sunday school curriculum market. Someone has to write those lessons! There’s also write-for-hire work available through school and library publishers. Finally, you might consider writing press releases for authors or businesses. The potential for income is unlimited!
Closing thoughts: If you’re already published but need more work, consider asking your current editor if he or she has any write-for-hire projects coming up. If you’re a fiction writer, you might ask your fiction editor to give you the name and contact information for the nonfiction editor at your publishing house. Also, don’t forget about your agent (if you have one). When I first signed with my agent, I told him up front that I was a freelance author, not just a novelist. In our first phone call, I said, “If you hear of a publishing house looking for an author to write a book on a specific topic (be it fiction or nonfiction), think of me. I’m fast, flexible, and willing to learn and research.” He has since come to me with “special projects” from two different houses. In most cases, though, I’ve drummed up the work myself, or have garnered work as a direct result of previous relationships with editors.
The primary thing is to see yourself as more than a novelist, particularly if you need the additional income. If you’re like me, you will see these short-term projects as a welcome change from the day-to-day novel writing experience.
What do you think, writers? Do you have what it takes to handle the pressures associated with write-for-hire work? If you’re motivated, disciplined, and willing to think outside the box, you’ll do great! Stick with me over the next few months as I take you on a journey inside the write-for-hire world.
You can also take a look at Janice’s Online Writing Lesson about Write-for-Hire Work by clicking here.
Tags: How To Be A Freelance Writer, make money writing, online writing courses, Write for Hire, writing courses online
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Freelance writing offers freedom and flexibility in your personal life. If you are a self starter, motivated to succeed, not afraid to meet new people, and are able to organize your time and effort, you can succeed in a freelance writing career.
Here are a few things to keep in mind.
First, you’ll have the freedom to set your own schedule. You must show self discipline to write every day, set appointments with clients, or editors, meet deadlines once you have an assignment, and keep track of your submissions and income. Freedom always comes with responsibility
Second, mind your own business. You will need pay your own taxes and set up your own office. You will have to be a self starter and proactive about how you get your work done. It also means that you will have to learn a variety of skills, including bookkeeping and marketing, as well as continuing to hone your craft as a writer.
Third, you will have to learn how to promote yourself. As an independent freelance writer you will be a one man or one woman show, at least at the beginning. You will have to get out there and “hustle.” No one knows that you are a competent writer and available for work unless you make the effort to let them know.
Fourth, find your niche. What do you know? What do you like? Who is your audience? Asking yourself these questions will help you to find your place in the writing industry. Do you like writing short stories and articles or do you have a book just waiting to get out? There’s money to be made as a freelance writer, but what area or areas will you focus on?
Fifth, learn to persevere. This is not an easy industry. The road to success is filled with disappointments and setbacks. To those who learn to persevere and develop a “thick skin,” the rewards can be both physical and emotional.
The biggest secret of all is that there are no real secrets. Learn your craft. Study the business side of the industry. Determine to succeed. Take steps every day in the direction you want to go. One step at a time, you will learn how to be a freelance writer.
Tags: How To Be A Freelance Writer, how to begin writing, online writing courses, writing courses online
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