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!

 

3 Ways to Be Kind to Editors & Writers

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about being kind to Editors & Writers. September marks Be Kind to Editors & Writers Month. We all know that there’s so much negativity in the world today. This month, I wanted to share my tips for spreading the love. Here are some ways to spread kindness all around and keep the positivity going. Enjoy!

1. Be polite. Remember that good manners (online and off) speak volumes about who you are.

2. Sharing is Caring. Freshman Writers, you have expertise in something. Share what you know if a writer/editor asks. And even if you don’t, pass it along to others in your circle. You never know who you can help.

3. You get more flies with honey than vinegar.  The world of freelance writers is small, even though cyberspace can seem huge. People communicate to one another; especially editors & writers. Stay positive on-line and share negativity offline with trusted friends. When I get upset about something, I talk to friends offline to gain perspective. In this way, I get my feelings out without hurting anyone’s feelings.

Hopefully, these tips will help you keep the positive energy flowing all around you; both online and off.

Happy Writing!

9/11

Hiya Freshman Writers. Hope this finds you well and writing.

I hadn’t planned on writing today. I planned to rest today. Given the solemnity of the occasion, I really wanted to stay home to rest and reflect. Then a friend of mine over at Mommylink’s asked me to share my 9/11 story. Everyone has one, but as New Yorkers, ours can be very unique.

So, in honor of the many loved ones lost, I encourage you Freshman Writers to write your story. Express your thoughts and feelings about that day. This is how writers live on, through poignant messages and stories. Please come and share them here as well.

9/11 – We will never forget.

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!

It’s All in the Taste

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is one of a series on using your senses to get your writing going. If you enjoyed my posts on sight, sound and smell, then you might like this one on the sense of taste.

I’m a foodie. I LOVE all kinds of food in moderation (Otherwise, I’d look like Willy in the Free Willy movies). My favorite thing about any meal is the very first bite. I can taste the big flavors and nuances of more subtle flavors in the dish. As a writer, I’m able to describe why I love the taste so much. So here’s today’s challenge for you Freshman Writers should you choose to accept it:

1. Line up a spoonful each of – salt, sugar, lemon juice and coffee grounds. You can use any flavors you’d like so dont’ worry about sticking to this list. It’s just to give you a starting point. Make sure to keep a glass of water nearby to cleanse your palate after trying each sample.

2. Have a pen and notepad ready to jot down your initial thoughts.

3. Let the tasting begin! Start with a sip of water and try the first item on your list. So if you taste the salt first, what does it remind you of? Do you think of a specific dish or event? And don’t cheat by saying it’s salty. Use other words to describe the flavors.

4. Write something down for each flavor until you complete the exercise.

5. If you have trouble finding the words to describe flavors, try watching Andrew Zimmern on Bizarre Foods. I love his show and he is great at sharing his thoughts on specific flavors and textures of food.

Bon Appetit and Happy Writing!

Use Your Senses – Smell’s the word

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is the next in a series about writing using your senses. We’ve already covered seeing and hearing. Now, it’s on to our sense of smell.

According to the Social Research Center, the human sense of smell can detect thousands of odors such as  dinner being ready, fire (eeek!) or even things invisible to the naked eye. We have two small odor-detecting patches high in our noses with millions of cells that allow us to distinguish various smells from one another.

Today’s challenge for you Freshman Writers is to use your schnoz to help your writing along. Open your window and inhale. Then write down what you can detect. Do you want to go towards or away from the smell? Have at it and let your nose do the 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!

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!