Writing

Have you ever thought of joining a writing group?

Hang on – do you know what a writing group is? There are several different types:

  • Writing groups – authors hanging out together and typing away
  • Critique groups – examine each other’s writing for tone, style, clunky passages and moments of brilliance
  • Commenting groups – for blogging, usually, where you read and comment on each other’s blogs
  • Review groups – swap reviews on Amazon.com or other online reviewing sites

So, back to my original question: Have you ever thought of joining a writing group?

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Here’s why you want to take a look at joining one or more groups:

Writing Groups

The Good:
Writing is a lonely business so it’s nice to get together with other people who are doing the same thing. It’s a lot like when I was in college and would head to a study room to work. I wasn’t studying the same subject in a group – like quizzing each other but rather working on my own stuff in a room of other people who were really focused. It always helped my concentration and focus.

The Bad:
These types of groups can quickly become a social event. Which is totally fine (and fun) UNLESS you’re really just there to work and everybody wants to chat. There’s also the challenge of hauling your materials to a location and hoping you have all your resources, research, and tools.

The Business:
Writing groups usually accept any type of author. They might not be the best place to make connections for clients or referrals but you can also be inspired by sharing a table with a novelist, poet, or playwright! Remember that the purpose of the group is to write – not to network so be respectful of the rules of the group.

Critique Groups

The Good:
It’s always a great idea to have somebody read over your work! Critique groups might focus on the technical aspect of writing (spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.) but they usually are more of big-picture view looking at flow, rhythm, tone, plot, etc.

The Bad:
When you’re picking a critique group, it’s easy to fall into a group of writers who aren’t experienced. While I believe that everyone has something to offer, if you’re years down your writing training road, you might not get a lot out of a group filled with college students. Try to find a group with a mix of wanna-bes, trying to break ins, established authors, and career writers. Also look for a mix of ages – you’ll get a better perspective on your work. Also be wary of groups who ONLY tell you everything is wonderful – that doesn’t help you grow as an author.

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A headline is one of the most important pieces of writing – ever. And it’s also one of the most difficult to write!

A headline is designed to attract attention and create desire in a person to read the rest of the piece. Don’t fool yourself that headlines are only found on articles or sales pages. They’re not! For the purposes of this article, a ‘headline’ is anything that needs to attract a reader’s attention and get them to take a second action; usually to read the piece of writing.

Headlines can include:

  • Article or blog post titles
  • Book titles
  • Email subject lines
  • Headlines for sales copy

There are three main types of headlines:

Positive Attraction

These headlines focus on the pleasure words. They’re often benefit laden and overtly promise that the following copy will solve your pain.

Negative Attraction

These headlines don’t just unearth a reader’s pain, they POUNCE on it, sink in their claws and drag it kicking and screaming from under the bed. Negative Attraction headlines make you feel uncomfortable.

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Have you ever NOT mentioned something to somebody because it’s “old hat” to you? Something that you’ve lived with, day in and day out, to the point that it’s become a part of you and you don’t notice it anymore.

Be careful of those moments!

My degree is in Creative Writing and I’ve spent YEARS studying the craft. I read magazines about writing. I go to writer’s conferences, critique groups, and online forums about writing. You’ve seen my shelf of books about writing! It’s safe to say that I have a whole slew of writing tricks up my sleeve. That level of living with the written day in and day out has led to a false perception of the world around me.

In the past few weeks, having calls with clients and answering questions online about what I do, I’ve come to realize something. There’s a WHOLE WORLD of writing resources available that people have no idea about!

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*** This is my 100th post! Wanted to celebrate with you! ***

 

Ah, to be BORN a good writer. No matter how much raw talent you have, nobody is BORN a good writer. Writing is like anything else all the raw talent in the world doesn’t do any good if you don’t invest the time to learn what to do with it.

Trust me, I’ve had plenty of writing training:

  • Bachelors Degree in Creative Writing from University of Arizona
  • Attended writer’s conferences all over the world
  • I have SHELF of “How To Write ____” books

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There is value in all this knowledge. But at the end of the day, do taking classes make you a writer?

Does buying paint and an easel and canvas make you a painter? Hmm…

Here are seven questions to ask yourself before you invest in any writing class:

1. Will this class teach me something I don’t already know?

This is my Number One filter I use before I invest in another class (or book). There’s no right or wrong answer here! But I do apply this additional knowledge as well:

If yes: take the class.
If no: Is it because I am already familiar with the material or is it arrogance on my part?

 

2. Does this class advance my career?

Sometimes you need to take a class because while the material is familiar to you, the credential you get from completing the class is something that is really valuable.

Other times, the class itself has the knowledge you need.

Here’s an example from my experience: taking a class on how to create an index for a book. Did you know that you can get a certification as an indexer? I had no idea until I was researching how to create an index for my cookbook! So then the question was: Would this class (certification) set me apart from my book-publishing-competition in the markets that I work in?

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For me, there’s a big difference between being inspired to write and having the motivation to write. One is about fun and ideas and flow and the other is about working towards a goal and keeping the end in mind.

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I think that most books START with inspiration. You get that great idea, have that little voice whispering in your ear, or just get flat-out excited. It’s perfect to take those great feelings and get started! It’s that serendipitous moment that kick-starts the creativity.

Motivation is what keeps you going after the initial inspiration fades.

And inspiration probably WILL fade over time. Work ethic and the “I’m not going to let anything get in my way” take over and eventually, the writing gets completed. Motivation is a needed ingredient in your writing. But inspiration, ah, inspiration! Without it, nothing would get started.

Don’t for one second think that inspiration is limited to writing fiction! All writing is creative. You have to find the right order of words to express your thoughts. (If you’ve ever struggled to convey your thoughts you know what I mean!) In fact, MOST of my inspiration lately is about articles for the blog!

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t believe in writer’s block. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a LOT easier to write when inspiration is knocking.

5 Ways to Stay Inspired

1. When inspiration hits: WRITE
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, drop everything and get words on paper. Period. No excuses. Inspiration doesn’t come around every day so make the most of it when it’s around. I’ve scribbled article drafts on napkins and done character sketches on the back of envelopes. And yes, I’m THAT WOMAN who’s pulled over to jot a note in the dust of the hood of my truck.

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Have you ever had the feeling that you HAD to do something and that it had to be done right now? Right now! In fact, the feeling of NOT taking action made you feel uncomfortable, antsy, and emotional?

A mentor of mine calls these moments “taps from the Universe” and it’s where God is tapping you on the shoulder and saying, “Do this!”

Last week, I had no fewer than FOUR conversations with different entrepreneurs who were getting the taps about their book but they each had the same concern:

Each wanted to write a book BUT it didn’t tie directly into their business. Each author expressed feeling like the book was calling to her and that SHE had been chosen to be its author. But, was the book still worth the time and effort to write since it didn’t fit neatly into the business box? And once it was written, what should be done with it?

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