Information Overload?

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about information overload. There is no shortage of ways we can get the information we need and even the information we don’t need. According to Brownielocks, October 20th is Information Overload Day.

I know I get very overwhelmed by all of the information out in the world especially that on cyberspace. Here are some tips to keep information from overloading you.

1. Find the one medium that works best for you. These days we can get information from television, radio and online. Figure out which of these is more convenient and practical for you. Stick with the one you use most and chuck the rest.

2. Clean out your inbox. I’m an email junkie. I admit it, I have an email problem. Recently, I went through my inboxes (I have three) and deleted emails that I simply don’t read anymore. I also unsubscribed from any groups or subscription lists that just take up space. If you don’t read it, you don’t need it.

3. Limit the number of email addresses you have. I have one for fun, one for writing and one that I’ve kept for a million years because it was my very first email address. By keeping separate accounts, I’ve found that I can better organize my information.

4. Life is busy, but multi-tasking can make it worse. I read my personal emails on my way to work. I have my emails connected to my Blackberry so I have them organized there. Since I commute to work, it saves me time to read and reply to emails. But, I’ve also learned to put my phone away one stop before I get off. I’ve missed my stop once or twice because of my inbox.

5. Check in on your lunchhour. Lunchtime is a great time to check your email or catch up on your favorite bloggers.

6. Limit your RSS Feeds. I LOVE to read and have subscribed to several blogs. But, I reached the point of hating the number of feeds that I get and don’t have time to read. So as I cleaned out my inbox, I also cleaned out my RSS Feeds. Again, if I don’t read it, I don’t need it.

Hopefully, these tips can keep you from being overloaded. And remember, information helps you write, but too much can keep you from writing. Happy Writing!

 

5 Ways Business Cards help you

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about business cards. October 9 – 15 marks ‘Build your business with business Cards” week.
As writers just starting out, maybe the last thing you Freshman Writers thought of was a business card. ‘What do I need a business card for, I’m just starting to write?’ I had the same thought when I first started writing in 2005. I had a hard time just figuring out what I would write. A couple of years later, I received an offer from VistaPrint for 250 free business cards. (I’ve used them a couple of times since then and it is a great service for writers starting out.) I checked out their website and took them up on the offer. I only paid for shipping and handling.

Business cards are useful for so many things. Here are some ways you can use them:

1. Getting a card helps you find your niche. In a limited space, you only have so many words to describe who you are and the writing you do. Having to write your pitch in a few words can help you find your writing groove.

2. You can list your talents in one place. If you already know what your writing niche is, you can simply transfer it to a card. By putting “writer” on your card (along with your other skills) you let clients know what they can expect from you.
3. You can accept yourself as a writer. One of the biggest challenges that writers face at any level, but more so as beginning writers is acknowledging that you ARE a writer. After receiving my cards, I had something tangible that says I am a writer.
4. You can let others know what you do. Business cards are great for networking especially at events or gatherings. If someone asks for your number or email, pass them a card.
5. Business cards help you showcase your work. By getting a business card, you can list your website or online portfolio. This way, potential clients can view your work and contact you right away.

Business cards can help you grow as a writer. But remember, being a writer is about doing what you do best – writing. Happy Writing!

Use Your Senses – Do you hear what I hear?

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. “Do you hear what I hear” is a popular Christmas song, but for me,  it’s an inspiring way to write.

In my last post I challenged you to use your senses to get you writing. We writers can often get bogged down by the writing process and get side-tracked. Sometimes we forget that writing is about using all of our senses – listening is a great one to use.

My day job requires me to listen to people  – everyday I listen for needs, requests and feelings. Part of my job is to be an active listener – ie – giving my full attention to someone else. I pay attention to the content of the statement and then repeat it. I also pay attention to what isn’t said out loud. Hearing something – ie in the background – is very different from actively listening to something and being able to repeat what you heard.

Your challenge, Freshman Writers, is to sit on your own and close your eyes. Listen to the sounds around you for five minutes and then write about it. Did you hear a train rolling by (as I do everyday at work) or did you hear the buzzing of a bee? If you have a hard time recalling the sounds you hear, try using a digital recorder or use the voice note function on your smart phone if you have one.

If you can take the sounds you hear and convert them into words, you can help your writing shine by being more descriptive and expressive. Your readers will be able to understand how the screeching of a howler monkey can resemble nails on a chalkboard and cause you to grind your teeth in reaction. Not pretty sounds by any means, but you get my point – those sounds are painful to the ear.

Use your hearing sense to write and see what you come up with. Feel free to come back and share your experience.

Happy Writing!

Use Your Senses – Eyeball it

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. This post is one of five that I’ll be sharing here about using your senses to help you write. Read on for this week’s prompt and come back here for more in the coming weeks.

My day job finds me working with people everyday. I listen to what they say (or don’t say) and watch their body language.  I have to figure out how people feel, whether they reveal it with words or action. After lots of training at school and experience in the field, it’s very natural for me. Eyeballing people can be a great way to get yourself writing.

What does this have to do with you Freshman Writers? Here’s a prompt for you. Find a comfortable place to sit where it’s busy with people. Describe what you see and only that. Use active words to describe actions, colors, textures, etc. See what you come up with and feel free to share it here.

Happy 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

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!

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!

Recommended Reading

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. I’ve been offline and sidelined with a bad head cold. Though I’m still recovering, I wanted to share some great resources for you to check out today.

Freelance Writing Gigs – While there are daily jobs to check out, there are also great posts on article writing, freelancing, blogging, etc on a regular basis.

Writer’s Roundabout – My pal, Rebecca frequently writes about freelancing and addresses writers concerns on her site. She also has guest writers that cover a variety of topics. She covers both fiction and freelance writing.

Freelance Writing (About.com) – Weekly, writer Allena Tapia serves up articles and posts about the world of freelance writing. Check it out!

That’s all from me today. Have a great one and keep that pen moving!

Play to write

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s editorial is about how to play yourself back to writing.

Writers get stuck. It is a fact that writers run out of steam during the process from time to time. After doing this myself, I found my way back to writing. Try these games to get you back on track and no you won’t need a partner for them either.

1. Scrabble – I tried this one yesterday while kiddo was working on a project. Broke out my Scrabble board and letters. I started and completed a Scrabble game of 20 words. After the first five words, I realized I had a theme about a hero, a struggle and a rescue. After filling the board with words, I got an index card to write all the words down for a story later. Try it yourself and see what happens. I also realized later on that the words I chose had to do with a book I’m currently reading. If I could get a series of words just from reading, I can’t imagine what other words lists I’d come up with while doing other tasks.

2. Boggle – This one is a great one because you shake a box full of letters and find words. Usually four-letter words or more, you’ll end up with at least ten words to use. Try writing a haiku with this wordlist. Or challenge yourself by finding longer words.

3. Newspaper crossword puzzles – If you’re really in a bind, check out your local newspaper. These puzzles are written with themes in mind. You can try to solve the puzzle for the words or write based on the theme. In the NY Post, the puzzle is called Wonderword. It is a search and find puzzle with a theme as well as a list of words you need to locate. After that, you take this list of words to come up with the final Wonderword. There is a clue to help along the way. The Daily News (NYC’s other hometown paper) has a Wonderword puzzle, too. But, there is a long word (20 letters) and you have to find 25 five-letter words. Again, all around a theme, but a lot of fun.

Next time you’re stuck, Freshman Writers, try a game. You never know where it’ll take you. Happy Writing!

Be considerate

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. I apologize for the lateness this week, but time got away from me a bit. I’ll be back on track for the Notable Quotable and Fav Friday item this week. On to this week’s lesson of being considerate.

As I rode the bus yesterday for my day job, a passenger complained that the driver was taking too long at a particular stop. The passenger bellowed and cursed from the back of the bus as I stood near the driver shocked that someone would have a tantrum. The driver was just doing his job and while the passenger had a point, he failed to see that his complaining only added to the frustration of the other passengers. I laughed to myself because it seemed this passenger thought the bus was his personal limo, the driver his chauffeur and the rest of us a cheerleading squad I guess.

After his first rant, the passenger proceeded to yell at the driver to turn on the air conditioning on the bus. Now, I was hot, too. But, again, the driver was doing his job and if the bus didn’t have air conditioning, I could tolerate it.

What I could not tolerate was an idiot on the public bus yelling and cursing at someone to do his job. Yes, I wanted the bus to move a bit faster (because I had my job to do) and yes, it would have been nice to have some air conditioning, but this was an inconsiderate way to approach the driver. Not only that, but it was disturbing to the other passengers myself included.

Freshman Writers, as you go further in your writing journey, remember to be considerate of other writers. Both those with more experience than you and those that have just begun. Share your knowledge with others AND ask questions.

Sometimes, we want to know so much about writing that we forget that we already know some things about writing. We already have some wisdom about the writing process. Share your wisdom, ask questions and be considerate of others. Don’t take it for granted that you have smarts about writing. People want to learn from you as much as you want to learn from them. So let them learn from you.

Happy Writing!