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!

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!

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.

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!

Not Writing much

Yesterday was “I love Writing Day” (November 15). Haven’t been writing much lately except for the day job. I haven’t been loving writing lately either. Between work and issues with kiddo (and his father), my writing muse hasn’t shown up much. I think she decided to take a vacation without telling me. Not very nice of her.

Then again, I’ve not been making the effort to write-through my negativity. My journal has been collecting dust in my bedroom instead of being pressed in my fingers while I write down all of my thoughts and feelings. So I haven’t had a place to put all of the crap I’ve been dealing with. And that has not been good for me either because (therapist talking here), my negative thoughts get stuck in my head and have no place to put them.

In this way, my writing has suffered so much. Simply because I’ve been ignoring my inherent need to write. Even my negative thoughts. Time to get back on track and be good to my writer-self and my muse.

Btw, still writing for Momslikeme.com and Naptime Stories. I like the new blog and love the focus on parenting. My blogs go up on Fridays so I get to cap off each week. lol Look for me there if you like.

Every Writer needs help

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is based on an article I read on Yahoo about Jane Austen. Turns out that one of the greatest writers ever  – sucked at spelling and grammar.

An Oxford professor read through a little over a thousand of Austen’s hand-written materials and found that Ms. Austen missed the mark on good writing. According to private letters, Austen’s work was edited by William Gifford who gave a polished look to “Emma” and “Persuasion”.

What does this mean for you Freshman Writers? Simple, every writer needs help. You cannot make it in the writing world alone. And the great thing about being on a computer is that you have many resources available to help you get your writing published.

Remember that success comes from hard work, but also from learning. And learning comes from your peers. Make sure to check out other writers online, read writing magazines or network to get connected to someone who can offer you a helping hand.

Happy Writing!

5 Tips to Curb Self-Doubt

Hiya Freshman Writers! I’m back on the scene after a long time away and ready to help you Freshman Writers with your writing goals. I got the idea for this post on self-doubt after writing about my own writing challenges this summer. You can read that here and let me know what you think. Can you relate?

Since I know many writers (anyone really) struggle with self-doubt, I’ve come up with some tips to help you Freshman Writers look self-doubt in the face and kick its butt! Here you go:

1. Acknowledge that you have doubts. Everyone has them from time to time. Rather than admit that I was doubting my writing talent, I avoided it instead. Til it came to bite me in the rear end. Admit that you have them because then you can deal with them.

2. Let a friend know about your doubts. It’s always good to have a cheerleader, someone on your side who wants your dream to come true as much as you do. Freshman Writers, you cannot go it alone. A cheerleader has faith in you, can pick you up and help you see what they see – a talented writer.

3. Connect with your mentors. If you don’t have a writing mentor, get one. It can be someone you chat with online or someone you can meet with regularly to talk about writing, goals and life in general.  Also subscribe to free newsletters from your favorite writers. It may not be the same as having a personal relationship with your mentor, but that nudge in your inbox can motivate you to get writing.

4. Get back to basics. In a previous post, I wrote about how to return to the beginning of your writing journey. By remembering how you did things during a successful time, you can see what works to get rid of your doubts.

5. Be good to yourself. My biggest challenge in the last few months was taking care of myself. I didn’t sleep well, didn’t have much of an appetite and couldn’t really take a break. Check out this post where I share tips on avoiding burn-out. Remember that your writing is affected by anything and everything affecting you. Taking care of yourself allows you to take care of your writing.

6. Finally, recognize that you’ll screw up. You are going to have doubts. Period. There’s no way to get around that reality, but there are ways to curb it. Just do what works best to get you believing in yourself and writing again.

I hope these tips are as helpful to you as they have been to me so far. I’ve been slowly working to get each one up and running as well as my writing. Treat yourself well and remember that you have the talent within. You just need to work to get it out.

Happy Writing!

Joy and how I found it again

This week’s Prosperous Writer newsletter by Christina Katz asked its readers to talk about joy. I had to stop and think for a while on this because I forgot when I lost my joy.

I know that my highly stressful day job worked me to the bone, kept me from spending quality time with kiddo and got me into easy spats with my son’s father. When the usual case was for me to be a trooper and joyfully live well, it just wasn’t so from April through the first week of June.

Thanks to the advice of my wonderful pastor, I went to a weekend retreat for women in Riverdale, NY. Yes, still in the Bronx, but far enough for me to find my joy again. A weekend for me to breathe, not worry about kiddo or cooking and sleeping in a box big enough to hold a twin-sized bed, simple desk and sink.

I had time to separate myself from those things that were stealing my joy primarily the day job, not sleeping or eating well and not spending enough time with my favorite kid in the whole wide world. It was enough for me to be joyful again. Not necessarily well-rested or with a hearty appetite again, but enough to make some changes. Looking for a new job and spending time away from the computer until I found the joy again in writing, which I had also lost as a result of the stress from the job.

The only writing I did over the weekend was journaling my thoughts and conversations with God. Complaining of course, but also to ask what was the point of all of this for me. Regardless of the answer, I was able to hear and accept it with a joyful, open heart.

That first weekend in June allowed me to regain a sense of appreciation for everything in my life and allowed me space from the joylessness of my job. Joy is about being able to laugh in the midst of hard times and remembering why I’m doing the things that I do. Remembering that I want to help others through counseling as well as through writing and remembering that my child brings me joy.

I had forgotten that in the midst of the chaos of several weeks and reconnected with my spirit. By doing so, I was able to let go of a lot of anger and negativity. And recuperated my joy. Joy in myself, my writing and my life.

Taking Rest

Hiya Freshman Writers and happy Tuesday! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about a topic that I find myself going back to frequently. Mostly, due to my own challenges in getting enough rest.

This past weekend found me enjoying four days of doing mostly nothing, including writing, which is why there was no Fav Friday or editorial yesterday.

For me, the greatest challenge is making sure to keep my plate 85% full. I tend to get overwhelmed when I have so much to worry about. And I do. I’m a single working parent with a full-time AND part-time job. Granted, my part-time job is online, but I tend to get glued to my computer and not give myself enough time to simply rest.

So, this weekend, I did that. I went to a couple of barbecues, but I slept in a lot and took several naps. I also stayed off the computer most of the time. I tweeted and responded to emails from my blackberry, though.

Not only trying to take rest, I’m also cutting things out. I recently dropped out of a writing class that I’d been wanting to take for the last couple of years. Yes, it bothered me to drop something I’d enjoy, but I couldn’t focus enough to do even the first assignment! You see, exhaustion and stress have been wreaking havoc on my eating and sleeping habits. Mostly coming from the day job though partly from stressors stemming from single parenthood.

Bottom line, I need a break. So, this past weekend was the beginning. Next weekend, I’m off on a women’s weekend retreat. It’s local enough for me to get to, but far enough away from everything that I can enjoy my time away.

So Freshman Writers, what’s stressing you and how are you taking rest?

Happy Writing!