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!

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!

June 10 is Ballpoint Pen Day

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Just wanted to send a happy hooray out to the ballpoint pen. I don’t know about you, but the computer wasn’t the first writing tool I used. It was my handy, dandy Dr. Grip Ink Pen. I’ve used this particular pen for nearly 15 years and I love it! Thinner pens broke in my hands because I pressed down very hard on paper or caused my hand to hurt from writing. Someone gave me a Dr. Grip pen when I was a teen and never looked back.

You can check out Idea Finder for the history of the ballpoint pen, which was years longer than I thought. I’m anxiously waiting for my newest Dr. Grip Pens after losing my last one about a month ago. The cheaper pens I’ve found just don’t do it for me. And no, it hasn’t stopped my writing at all, but missing my favorite pen has pushed me to get back to my portable word processor.

Hope you have a great Ballpoint Pen Day and please share your favorite brand of pen in the comments. 🙂 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!

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

March is Humorists are Artists Month

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about humor. So, here’s a brief joke to get you started.

Knock, Knock.

Who’s there

Humor.

Humor who?

Humor me will ya!

Okay, I know that wasn’t a good one at all. Humor writing is HARD. It is much harder to make someone laugh through writing (at least for me) than it is to make that person laugh by telling a joke.

Writing about humor is hard, I think, because it seems easier to write about anger, happiness and/or sadness. All of these feelings can be communicated, especially when you’re in the moment. I’m not saying that writing any of these is simple, but humor is something that has to be thought out, timed well and executed well also.

Ok, now that I’m writing this I guess all writing is hard. I’ve also tried my hand at it so I know that humor-writing is hard.So scratch this idea writers. Instead, I’ve got a few sites for you all to check out. A few pals of mine write humorous posts and I love them. Read on for some humor writing and see if you get inspired!

Happy Writing

Amy Mullis – This is an amazing writer if I do say so myself. She’s fun about all the things you expect and some of the things you don’t. She’s a great humor writer and I want to be like her when I’m further along in my humor writing.

An Army of Ermas – This website is packed full of Erma Bombeck fans and writers of wonderful humor. I love reading as much as possible and I know you will, too. And you’re welcome to submit your work should you take on the challenge writers. And I think you should!

Naptime Stories – I blog once (or more) a week on this site about my adventures as a mom. I’ve tried to make it as humorous as possible. Not necessarily for the readers per se, but to crack myself up when I want to tear my hair out! lol

A book recommendation – Since the website above was inspired by Erma Bombeck, I’m recommending Forever, Erma – a great collection of years of her columns sharing her parenting adventures, advice and humor.

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!