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!

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!

Catching up

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. First, I’d like to apologize for not posting the Fav Friday item last week. Overwhelmed with the day job and home issues, I’m back on track today. So I’d like to give you a two for one deal this morning.

What would have been my Fav Friday item is my subscription to The Writer Magazine. I love this magazine for its straightforward advice about the work of writing. Not only does it provide info on various genres and forms of writing, but it is also offers exercises to boost creativity and get you writing. I’ve had my subscription for a year, but purchased individual magazines here and there up until I found I was getting it more often.

Now, the editorial. Ever find yourself so overwhelmed that you have to take a break in order to catch up? That was me in the last week. I found myself having to deal with one task at a time until completion. This was hard for me because I’m used to multi-tasking regularly.

But, I just could not seem to catch up with myself. I felt like I was rushing through everything and still not getting anything done. So, I took a break from writing and even reading about writing. I’ve been focusing so much on learning the craft and using writer-speak all the time, that I forgot everything else.

In order for writing to have life and be found credible by the reader, you need to feed it. How do you feed your writing? Live your life. As simple as that sounds, it isn’t. You’d think that I’d be able to do that since I have so much on my plate. Only trouble was my plate was too heavy and I couldn’t focus on anything except the weight and pressure coming from it.

The good thing is that I recognize that. Another good thing, the plate has gotten a bit lighter. I’ve made decisions, completed tasks and have decided to take time to relax away from the day job. By taking small steps, Freshman Writers, I’ve found that I’ve got a much more positive outlook. I feel like I can accomplish goals.

So Freshman Writers, what do you do to catch up when you’ve fallen behind? What advice/tips would you like to share with other writers? What works for 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!

Taking on too much

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about taking on too much. Even if you are at the beginning of your writing journey, you can take on too much and be easily overwhelmed.

I spent Easter Sunday in City Island with my father, his girlfriend and my son. I was so excited about going because it had been years since I had been there. I spent many weekend afternoons there with my parents as a child and the magic of it hasn’t changed. And this time I was able to share it with my son.

Well, my eyes feasted themselves on a dozen fried shrimp, half a dozen raw clams and fries. Chasing all of that with a pina colada, I knew that I should’ve stopped halfway. I was shocked that I could walk back to the car as stuffed as I was. After running around at a local park, I was still stuffed, but not so much that I couldn’t add a strawberry ice cream sundae. See where I’m going with this Freshman Writers?

Instead of slowing down and really gauging how much I could take on (in this case – food), I kept going and going. Last night, I felt the effects of my chowdown and was sick to my stomach. It was a late lunch so I skipped dinner. Obviously, I skipped dinner.

The lesson here Freshman Writers is to see what is ahead of you, look at what you have on your plate right now and analyze what you can and cannot do. This same concept works for many situations, but especially for writers.

I recently had to let go of a possible writing job because I saw that I could not do the work. After all, with a full time job, part time job, my son and other responsibilities I have, there was no way that I could do the tasks outlined. So I let it go. It was hard because it was a decent paying job with opportunities for growth, but it wasn’t for me.

Freshman Writers, learn to see what you are capable of doing and how much time you have to devote to it. Writing can be a career; you just have to plan it out. And when you can’t, your best bet is to slow down, regroup and start over.

Happy Writing!

Discpline yourself

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about discipline. That is, how to discipline yourself to get your writing done.

As I sit at my computer in my pajamas rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I think  of my nice, warm bed. I woke up 15 minutes earlier than usual to get this editorial done. And this after not getting much sleep. Lately, I haven’t been able to stay in bed until 7am, so I figured I might as well use the extra time to do what I love: writing.

It takes discipline for me to do this. I have a child, a full-time day job and a part-time writing job. My time is precious as you can see, but my writing is important to me. How do I discipline myself? I use my time to my advantage.

I wake up before waking my son up to get him ready for school. I take notes on my blackberry on the way to work. I write during lunch. I have to travel for my dayjob, so I use that commute time to write or read about writing. But, this is hard. Being disciplined is very hard.

I don’t always get up early to write and sometimes I have to write my editorial during lunch because I was too lazy to get up. But, the writing gets done somehow. Being disciplined takes effort and willpower. And the desire to write.I can’t go a day without writing something. Whether it’s at my part-time writing job or jotting notes on my blackberry or checking my stats here. I have to write. I need to write. I want to write.

Work around your schedule. Get up earlier or stay up late or find time on the weekends. Do what works best for you so that you can produce your best writing.

So Freshman Writer, how do you discipline yourself to get writing?

Overwhelmed?

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about being overwhelmed and ways to overcome it.

All of us get overwhelmed from time to time. Whether it comes from family responsibilities, work or writing. We can fall behind due to different factors such as emergencies, illness, etc. How are some ways you can deal with this?

1. Plan. The first step to combatting the overwhelming feeling is to plan effectively. Create a writing plan that works around your schedule and utilizes your peak writing times. For me, that is in the mornings. When I get up early to write, I feel that my day has started off on the right foot. I have my writing time scheduled in my planner and it works well for me. Find what plan works for you.

2. Take it slow. Sometimes Freshman Writers want to rush through the writing process to get published. This does not work. By taking your time to study your writing process, you can better gauge how much work you can or cannot take on. You can also see how much writing you can do and change your goals to reflect your writing speed.

3. Take care of yourself. Eat right, get enough rest and schedule time to have fun. Being overwhelmed can be a result of too much work and no fun. Schedule time to relax and recharge your batteries regularly.

Hopefully, these tips will help you meet your goals and keep from being overwhelmed. Let me know how they work for you. Happy Writing!

Slowing Down

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

Today’s post is about slowing down. Writers often get ahead of themselves by rushing through. Rushing to get your work published can lead you to mistakes and poorly written work. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about taking your time to write.

I took my own advice and you can read about it here. As writers, we need to slow down and find what works for us. We have to use tools and strategies to produce our best writing.

If your feel hurried, your work will show it. Slowing down does not mean the work does not get finished, it means that you take the time to examine the steps you take to produce great writing. How can you slow down, Freshman Writers?

1. Carefully review writer’s guidelines. Take apart the requirements for the writing project.

2. Make sure to give yourself breaks whenever you feel overwhelmed or rushed.

3. Ask a writer pal for help. Go to online forums or call a friend if you need advice.

4. Give yourself plenty of time to include breaks. Whether you need a day or two or (like me) you need a week to focus on other tasks.

5. Know your limitations. I get scared when I take on a new project and without the extra time, I make mistakes. My limitation is rushing myself.

Hopefully, these tips will help you when you need to focus on your writing. To produce your best work, you need to know yourself. Happy Writing!

Safety & Security

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s editorial is about safety and security.

My Twitter account was hijacked yesterday afternoon. I found out when my online pals informed me that they received several naughty direct messages. I was shocked by it, but made the necessary changes to my account.

Since then, I’ve been wary of even sending out tweets. All of my pals were understanding of this, but I apologized anyway. What did I learn from the experience? That I need to make sure to change my password on a regular basis. I’ve been on Twitter for a year and a half. Even still, I had the same password.

While I’m discussing passwords here, Freshman Writers, be sure to update your spyware and security options to keep nasty hackers (like the one who hijacked my account) out of your hair.

Make sure to keep your passwords in a secure place and don’t share them with anyone. Common sense I know, but things happen. Also, be sure to have a spyware program that will check all any items downloaded on your computer. This way, you’ll keep your computer (and your writing) safe from viruses as well.

One last tip, don’t download anything from unknown emails or sites. If you don’t recognize the email address or your computer detects something strange on a website, avoid downloading. You’ll be thankful that you did.

Happy Writing!

Take your time

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. This week’s editorial is about taking your time and comes after a day home with my eight year old son.

Kiddo tends to rush through chores and homework to get to the good stuff…watching cartoons. I loved cartoons as a kid so I understood that.My challenge was to get him to do chores and homework without rushing so that he didn’t have to go back to redo them.

Freshman Writers at the beginning of their careers can rush through the writing process to get instant gratification. “I want this now!” as kiddo says when he’d rather not do chores and get to the good stuff.

The benefit of taking your time in writing is that you will learn the process step by step. From coming up with ideas, researching markets for your work, working them into draft form, editing and then sending it out. The writing and publishing process takes time and even though it may take longer than you Freshman Writers may like, it’s better for you.Why?

You won’t have to go back and do the work twice if you establish a good system. Write, rewrite, edit, let the work sit, and then submit. If you find yourself rushing just to see your name published, it won’t happen.

Not only that, but you only have one chance to make a good first impression with editors. And if you think editors don’t talk, think again. It hasn’t happened to me, but I’ve read about writers who were blacklisted because of editors communicating with one another. Writing can be a very small field and you want to maximize your chance to succeed.

Freshman Writers, take your time in learning the craft of writing and publishing. You’ll find that your work will stand out and be recognized.

Happy Writing!