Making a Pen Name Work

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about pen names. I shared previously that a pen name was a way for writers to branch out in various genres without sacrificing their reputations in a particular field of work. According to Dictionary.com, a pen name (pseudonym for writers) is a fictitious alternative to a person’s legal name or a name used to hide an individual’s identity.

Annette Charles was not a writer, but was an actress best known for her role as Cha-Cha DeGregorio in Grease. Last week, while reading about her passing, I also read that “Annette Charles” was a pseudonym and that she was also a speech professor in California. Shocked, I read that Ms. Charles used her birth name to teach classes.  I would have never guessed that Annette Charles and Anne Cardona were the same person.

This is how a great pseudonym works. It effectively keeps two (or more) careers separate. For writing, a pen name allows for a writer to work in different genres. I use my name for all of my non-fiction work and some fiction pieces. But, I keep a pen name on the side for those pieces that would be too racy to publish under my own name.

In this way, writers can avoid backlash in one genre for writing in a different one. Such as writing parenting articles and then writing erotica. All genres have their places, but writers can write in more than one.  A pen name allows for writers to move between genres.

Writers, how do you make a pen name work for you?

Happy Writing!

Travel down Memory Lane for Ideas

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post was inspired by my lack of ideas last week for a parenting blog that I write for. I just could not come up with anything current to blog about.

I actually went back to the blog to read posts by other writers there. We all have children of different ages. My son though is probably one of the older kids written about on the site and sometimes I just run out of things to say.

Cruising on the site for awhile found me laughing at the adventures in potty training that some of the other moms had posted. I laughed because their posts reminded me of my own problems with diapers and potty training. So, I decided to go back in my memory to write about my own adventures. And it worked! I came up with two posts on the spot and then a couple more for future publishing.
Writing consistently for a website can be challenging when you’re idea bank has been exhausted. If you Freshman Writers are stuck on ideas, try going down memory lane to see what ideas jump out from the past. You never know where it’ll take you.

Happy Writing!

June 10 is Ballpoint Pen Day

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Just wanted to send a happy hooray out to the ballpoint pen. I don’t know about you, but the computer wasn’t the first writing tool I used. It was my handy, dandy Dr. Grip Ink Pen. I’ve used this particular pen for nearly 15 years and I love it! Thinner pens broke in my hands because I pressed down very hard on paper or caused my hand to hurt from writing. Someone gave me a Dr. Grip pen when I was a teen and never looked back.

You can check out Idea Finder for the history of the ballpoint pen, which was years longer than I thought. I’m anxiously waiting for my newest Dr. Grip Pens after losing my last one about a month ago. The cheaper pens I’ve found just don’t do it for me. And no, it hasn’t stopped my writing at all, but missing my favorite pen has pushed me to get back to my portable word processor.

Hope you have a great Ballpoint Pen Day and please share your favorite brand of pen in the comments. 🙂 Happy Writing!

Under Pressure

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about being under pressure and how that affects your writing. I came up with this after going through my own ‘dry’ period and wrote about it here.

For some, being under pressure works. It can motivate you to push yourself harder and further in your writing. That kind of pressure can get you to try new forms of writing, submit to that magazine (that you think is out of reach) or start a new writing project. It can help.

For others (like me recently), being under pressure doesn’t help. It turns our brains into mush, keeping us from writing a coherent thought. Pressure can be intimidating and makes the road to publishing daunting.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way. I have a couple of tips that can help you depressurize and get back to your writing.

1. List all of the things that are bugging you. Even the small act of writing out our stresses can lighten the load and helps get the junk out.

2. Separate the things that you can change and the things you can’t. There’s so much that we think about that is out of our control. The weather, the economy, gas prices – there’s just too much out there that we can’t do anything about. So why worry about it? Get rid of the stuff that you can’t fix and work on the things you can.

3. Figure out ways to deal with the things you can change. Maybe change your writing schedule or read a good book. Take a walk or start a journal. Your power is in your hands and you can make your writing happen. No one else can do that for you. Life will continue on without you anyway, so focus on the stuff that matters to you.

4. Give yourself a break. Being under pressure can be hard because you feel you don’t have a chance to breathe. Take five minutes or 30 seconds to just sit and breathe. Take in the oxygen (good stuff) and get rid of the carbon dioxide (bad stuff).  The act of deep breathing (if you allow it) can calm you down and prepare you for the next step.

Life is hard and we all know that. These tips have helped me let go of the junk, empowered me to get back on the horse and allowed me to write again. I just wanted to share with you the tricks that get me through challenging days. Feel free to share what helps you Freshman Writers release pressure and write.

Happy Writing!

Need Inspiration – Take a Walk

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post came from my walk this morning.

When I heard the weather this morning (62 degrees), I decided to walk to work today. The 20 minutes of solitude was great. It allowed me to run through the things I did yesterday, things I needed to do today and things that were picking at my brain.

Sans Ipod, I was able to think about goals, dreams and tasks. I also enjoyed the silence of the morning. There were a few birds chirping, but there was silence for the most part to join me on the walk. 20 minutes was enough to bring me clarity about things that were bugging me and inspired this post.

Writers, if you stuck on a piece or can’t get yourself organized to write – go for a walk. Stepping away from writing for a while can help you stop, breathe and think so that you can get back to it.

Happy Walking and Writing!

Sharing is Caring

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope you are well and writing. I am a believer that sharing is caring and I want to share some great information with you Freshman Writers.

Today’s post is a collection of some of my favorite websites for writers at all levels. As writers, we will continue to learn and grow in order for writing to improve. You can also (if this is your thing) end up teaching other beginning writers or at least give them advice to help get them started.

In keeping with this tradition, here my list of favorite websites that I go to for tips on writing. Some are new and others are classics that I love visiting over and over again. Check them out, see what gets your attention and get to writing.

Keep learning and happy writing!

Women on writing

Writing world

Freelance Writing Gigs

WM Freelance Writing Connection

The Renegade Writer

Freelance Writing at About

Mridu Khullar

Funds For Writers

Problogger

Media Bistro

March is Humorists are Artists Month

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about humor. So, here’s a brief joke to get you started.

Knock, Knock.

Who’s there

Humor.

Humor who?

Humor me will ya!

Okay, I know that wasn’t a good one at all. Humor writing is HARD. It is much harder to make someone laugh through writing (at least for me) than it is to make that person laugh by telling a joke.

Writing about humor is hard, I think, because it seems easier to write about anger, happiness and/or sadness. All of these feelings can be communicated, especially when you’re in the moment. I’m not saying that writing any of these is simple, but humor is something that has to be thought out, timed well and executed well also.

Ok, now that I’m writing this I guess all writing is hard. I’ve also tried my hand at it so I know that humor-writing is hard.So scratch this idea writers. Instead, I’ve got a few sites for you all to check out. A few pals of mine write humorous posts and I love them. Read on for some humor writing and see if you get inspired!

Happy Writing

Amy Mullis – This is an amazing writer if I do say so myself. She’s fun about all the things you expect and some of the things you don’t. She’s a great humor writer and I want to be like her when I’m further along in my humor writing.

An Army of Ermas – This website is packed full of Erma Bombeck fans and writers of wonderful humor. I love reading as much as possible and I know you will, too. And you’re welcome to submit your work should you take on the challenge writers. And I think you should!

Naptime Stories – I blog once (or more) a week on this site about my adventures as a mom. I’ve tried to make it as humorous as possible. Not necessarily for the readers per se, but to crack myself up when I want to tear my hair out! lol

A book recommendation – Since the website above was inspired by Erma Bombeck, I’m recommending Forever, Erma – a great collection of years of her columns sharing her parenting adventures, advice and humor.

Attitude is Everything

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. As we’re all fresh off the Oscar train from last night (if you watched it), today’s post is about attitude.

Last night, Anne Hathaway and James Franco hosted. I was looking forward to a great show. Unfortunately, there were moments were the jokes went flat leaving me saying, ‘huh?” Hathaway was funny, quirky, even weird at times, but she seemed to be having as much fun as possible.

I love James Franco in his movies, but during the Oscars, he fell flat. He didn’t seem to connect with the viewers and I could tell that he was thinking about the names of the presenters on the show. He seemed to be reminding himself of the names so he wouldn’t forget. He also seemed to be too serious to the point where the funny moments were unfunny.

What does this have to do with you Freshman Writers? The problems that Franco experienced are the same ones that writers do in presenting their work.

An editor can look at a query letter, article or blogpost and KNOW that a writer is nervous, insecure and unsure of him or herself. What gives a writer away? The tone of the piece, lack of details and even a lack of enjoyment in writing. Franco showed all of us that attitude is everything and his left me feeling that he could’ve easily stayed home and let Hathaway do the job by herself.

Before applying for a writing job or sending out that query letter, Freshman Writers, have someone look at the piece for you. If you don’t have a proofreader, let it sit before you revisit the piece. Read it as a reader, highlighting the good and the bad. Then tweak the piece to show your best self. Let the editor see your strengths and enjoyment of writing.

More than anything, your attitude reflects how you feel about yourself as a writer and your work is a key example of that. Let the best of you shine!

Happy Writing!

Writing & Self Confidence

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Freshman Writers, self-confidence makes a difference. Writing is hard enough without us writers being down on ourselves and/or our writing.

I recently confessed to a couple of writer pals my aversion to entering contests. I don’t want to be measured against other writers and found lacking in someway. Logically, I know that every time I apply for a writing job, I am measured against other writers or at least a writing standard.

But, I find it challenging to enter a contest, because there is a first, second, and third place in it. There may or may not be a cash prize or a prize at all except knowing that one’s writing has come out on top against so many others who entered.

I’ve entered a couple of contests sporadically in my writing life. Two as a matter of fact. But, to constantly push myself to enter so much, no way.

What I do focus on is writing that I know will help others in someway. To me that is the purpose of my writing. I want to be able to help others gain insight, set/accomplish goals, or even make the decision to let the writing come out.

I also focus on my accomplishments as a writer. I’ve been writing consistently for several years now; I’m complimented on my writing style at the day job and I’ve been blogging for a few years about various issues. Reader comments and compliments are also a big help to boosting my self-confidence.

I guess I wanted to share this with you Freshman Writers so that you know you’re not alone in dealing with self-confidence issues and writing. And to let you know that sometimes a kick in the rear end from a great pal is enough to get you started again.

Happy Writing!

PS – Thanks to Gary and Abielle for your encouragement and support today. You’re amazing friends and writers!

How to move on from a writing job

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Happy 2011. I’m hoping to write more for you this year as I’ve recently let go of a long-term part-time writing job that I’ve enjoyed.

How do you move on from a job? Simple – do it gracefully.

Writing a resignation letter isn’t easy. When I had to resign from my previous full-time job (a job I truly detested), I took my time to write about the good things I learned there. It was challenging but, I was able to do it once I focused on the great tasks I’d learned.

What also helped was that I wrote it for the second supervisor I had there. She and I had our differences, but I was able to see that she prepared me to work at my current, high-pressure job in social services. Since I left in 2007, I’ve been back to see her a few times and really let her know how grateful I am for her guidance and persistence in challenging me to push myself more.

This time around, I did the same thing. I wrote about how much I enjoyed working for the employer (because I really did) and added how much I loved working with a great team of people. I also added my sadness for having to leave (due to budget cuts & more responsibility) as well as disappointment for not being valued as an individual working for two years with the company.

That being said, Freshman Writers, always highlight the good stuff that you’ve learned and acquired through the position. What goes around comes around. Editors talk to each other especially if you highlight where you’ve worked in the past when applying for new writing jobs.

Remember, that there are first impressions and lasting ones that will follow you wherever you go. Being classy can take you far.

Happy Writing!