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!

Stepping out of my comfort zone

This past weekend, I attended an exhibit for my friend’s son, who is a photographer. I was happily surprised when a picture of my living room was there and told him so. He apologized and I told him how honored I was to have my living room in his photo exhibit.

As each photographer presented, I noted that some were less confident than others in talking about their work. Some of the students were nervous, fidgety and it was clear that speaking was not their forte. Enter me with my bright idea.

I quickly jotted down the idea to talk to one of the staff members at the program about working with the students on their speaking and presentation skills. Then I picked up a course calender to quickly scan for classes on speaking and presentation. I didn’t find any there.

Surprised at myself, I waited (a bit nervously) patiently until the end of the exhibit to speak to a staff member who enjoyed my comments on the students’ work. (The audience was invited to share comments on the pictures exhibited.) She asked me how I was connected to my friend’s son and when I replied, I added that young people need support from adults who care about them.

It was here that I launched my pitch to work with the teens on speaking and presentation. I asked if there was any thought given on working with the teens on presenting their work and added that I didn’t find anything on that in the course schedule. She stated that the students are busy for the ten weeks of class and don’t get the chance to work on it whereas students in the year-long program had presentation lessons scheduled in. The staff member then stated that it’s definitely a need that someone could fill. So, I presented her with my handy, dandy business card (since I keep them with me at all times). To which she replied that she would pass it on to the program manageer.

Yes, I was scared, but I was also really excited about my idea. My goal in life is to make a difference. Whether it’s with my writing or counseling skills doesn’t really matter as long as I can help people be better for themselves. I’ll keep you posted! Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Catching up with myself

This week brought me one major accomplishment – passing my licensing exam. I rarely share it here, but one career goal is to be a licensed professional in my field.  No more waiting for the exam date, no more stressing out over what I know or don’t know and no more darn studying.

I’d been studying for seven months now and felt stuck in other aspects of my life because I was waiting to pass this one exam. I stuck with it because I knew that gaining my licensure would open many doors.  I’m in shock right now that something I set out to do six years ago has finally come to pass.

I realized that this morning as I shared the news with a friend. Six years from the time I started grad school until now. The first thing I wanted to do was sleep because I hadn’t slept well for several nights prior to the exam. To suddenly have the weight of this lifted from my shoulders and see this huge goal achieved has really caused me to stop and reflect on what I want to do next.

Of course, the next step is to find a new dayjob with my shiny, new license (ie better pay and better hours). Then I started thinking of what else I wanted to accomplish because I really can do anything I put my mind to.  So, I thought about my writing.

I’ve felt stunted in the writing process simply because it wasn’t my central focus for the last several months. I still wrote, but not in a planful way because I didn’t make the time for it. My time was for studying and building up my self-confidence for the exam.

I’ve now been doing research on breaking into magazines (yet again), but with small goals in mind. I’m starting with fillers just to get my feet wet. I’m also doing research on effective blogging so that I can grow The Freshman Writer blog as well as to market myself better as a blogger in general.

I can see that my writing talent now is in blogging. Since I know I can blog, why not put my energy into it? Other ways I’m catching up with myself is to focus on things that I love doing – writing, reading and having time to myself. I really missed just being me.

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!

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

Writing Moments Galore

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s posts is about writing moments. I recently realized that we have a chance to learn things about writing that we can pick up anywhere and everywhere. In the last post over at my portfolio, I wrote about a learning moment after being at a kids’ party yesterday and another while helping kiddo with a homework assignment.

Learning moments come whenever we gain insight into something new. Maybe a new way of looking at something or a new way of understanding yourself. For example, at that party (held in a large kid-friendly restaurant/play place), I realized how much I hated listening to kids’ music. Once in awhile okay, but not for four hours straight. I also realized how far I really am from my son’s toddler days. And now, I’ve got some ideas to blog about.

Freshman Writers – if you worry about finding ideas to write about, look no further than your everyday life. What do you do on your free time? What is work like for you? Who do you like/dislike? I’ve found ideas just through observing others, acknowledging my feelings, or just reading something.

So the next time you think you’ve nothing to write about, Freshman Writers, take a look around you because the writing moments are all around.

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!

Ch-Ch-Changes & hot topics!

Hello all. I’ve decided recently to be more proactive here on my blog by expanding my subject range and writing about hot topics in my life.

As I have more time on my hands lately, I’ve chosen to keep busy by writing regularly here or at the very least once a week or so.

That being said, thanks so much for keeping up with me as I’ve struggled for the last several months with writer’s block. My hope with changing the mood here is to keep my writing fresh with news of the day, week or simply anything that I’m thinking about. Feel free to come by to visit, comment, or suggest topic ideas. I hope you like what you read here and keep sticking by me.

Thanks!

Last Post for 2010

Well, as the new year will be here in about 15 minutes, I’ve decided to write a bit. This last several months kicked my butt – personally and professionally. And all of that butt-kicking took a toll on my writing.

I’m in the process of applying and interviewing for new day jobs while trying to write for the two steady writing gigs that I have. My goal is to maintain both writing jobs this year while sitting (for a second time) for my licensing exam which I didn’t pass a couple of weeks ago. Too much personal stuff damaging my self-confidence.

I’ve realized it wasn’t the right time to take the exam rather than my lack of knowledge. I’m over it and ready to test again in three months.

That being said, I want to share that my highlight of 2010 was going back to my blogs and realizing that I’m a great writer. I need to repeat this mantra for myself over and over again, especially when doubt creeps in.

Thanks so much for reading. May your 2011 be the best year ever! Happy New Year!