Archive for November 15th, 2007

Butt-in-Chair Advice

hope_000.gifTime Management Mastery for Writers
By C. Hope Clark

Who doesn’t have a problem keeping, if not putting, one’s behind in the chair and writing? Let’s see a show of hands. I thought so. Any writer, if he or she tells the truth, has trouble with the stick factor of one’s derriere in a computer chair.

Following are some tips that can help you organize your writing station and yourself to ensure you spend more minutes facing the blank page on which you’re supposed to be writing, hopefully until you type The End.

1. Reference tools within arm’s reach. Don’t risk having an excuse to look for a book, a thesaurus, dictionary, calendar, address book or journal. Put them within three feet of where you’re sitting. And remember that most of these tools are online, if they’re not physically in reach.

2. Telephone. Same rules apply. Speaker phones and mobile phones are cheap these days. You don’t have to run catch the call…assuming you want to catch it at all. Jumping up to answer the phone makes you more susceptible to distraction, lengthening the time before you return to your writing duties.

3. Printer. Whether you are writing queries, sending out a stack of submissions or pitching agents with synopses, you’ll find yourself up and down like a pogo stick if your printer is not close. Put it within a yardstick’s distance from your desk.

4. Pictures. To the right and left of my computer screens are pictures and maps of Beaufort, South Carolina, the setting of my second novel. Every time I sit down, I’m immediately thrown into the story just by glancing up. These visual aids are a constant reminder of what I’m supposed to be doing. Photos, items that symbolize your protagonist––such as a watch, hat or brooch––even covers of the magazines you’re trying to pitch, can help trigger your creativity and inspire you to finish your assignment.

5. Next day’s work. At the end of each day, I place a to-do list, guidelines, edits, whatever needs doing the next day front and center on my desk. I duplicate the list on my Google To-Do Gadget home page so that if I miss it on my desk, I see it when I check e-mail.

By keeping all the ammunition you need to be successful within reach, you can keep yourself focused and help increase your productivity ten-fold.

C. Hope Clark is founder and editor of FundsforWriters.com, annually recognized by Writer’s Digest in its poll of 101 Best Web Sites for Writers. She delivers four newsletters each week to thousands with her specialty being grants and income opportunities for writers of all sizes. She’s published over 200 articles on paper and online. Her magazine credits include Writer’s Digest, The Writer Magazine, ByLine Magazine, NextStep Teen, College Bound Teen, Landscape Management Magazine, TURF Magazine, and American Careers Magazine. Hope is a motivational soul known as “Freelance Hope” in many circles. Those reluctant to promote their writing cherish her trade paperback The Shy Writer: An Introvert’s Guide to Writing Success. Find more hope for your writing career at www.fundsforwriters.com & www.theshywriter.com.

Ask Wendy Your Writing and Publishing Questions

wendywotr.gifBy Wendy Burt

Because I’ll be on maternity leave from “Ask Wendy” for the rest of the year, I’m using the opportunity to share publishing advice from other authors. This column includes answers from Laura Benjamin, author of The C.A.R.L.A. Concept: How to Raise an Issue, Prove Your Point and Communicate with Confidence & Clarity (carlaconcept.com); and Steve Burt, author of 13 books, including Activating Leadership in the Small Church, A Christmas Dozen: Christmas Stories to Warm the Heart, and the Stories to Chill the Heart series (burtcreations.com).

1. What books do you recommend that writers read?

Laura: Definitely Stephen King’s On Writing, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and John Kremer’s 1001 Ways to Market Your Book.

Steve: For inspiration read and follow Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, then Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and its sequel Wild Mind. For technique, all fiction writers need to absorb Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer. Also, Gary Provost’s Make Your Words Work is a must-have for all writers, fiction and non-fiction.

2. What’s the difference between a “wannabe” and a “successful” writer?

Laura: A “successful” writer writes. Whether you journal, blog, do a column for community newspapers, write resumes for job seekers, or create workbooks you sell off your Web site or out of the back of your VW, you don’t get anywhere if you’re just sitting there waiting to be inspired or discovered. If you write regularly, you will find outlets for your work and people will seek you out. But you have to be disciplined about sitting down and dedicating x number of hours each day to the process. A successful writer also recognizes that writing is just part of the process. Marketing yourself and your book is also important. You want to create a personality, a brand, a career around being an author or writer. Then what you write supports and enhances that brand/image/career.

Steve: Wannabes are those who want to be writers, but writers want to write. It takes commitment to write, courage to submit and face the possibility of rejection, maturity to accept and act on criticism, and determination to rewrite and keep submitting. Wannabes submit a piece and wait to see what happens (get rich, get famous) but writers know they’re only as good as their next book or story, so they push onward regardless of the results.

Articles, books, greeting cards, oh my! Wendy Burt is a successful full-time freelance writer and editor who has more than doubled her income since leaving her job as a newspaper editor just three years ago. With two women’s humor books for McGraw-Hill and more than 1,000 published pieces, Wendy’s typical day might including writing ad copy, greeting cards, health articles, personal profiles or her marketing column for Her Business magazine. Her work has appeared in such varied publications as Family Circle, The Writer, MSNBC.com, NewYorkTimes.com, Home Cooking Magazine and American Fitness. Wendy teaches “Breaking Into Freelance Writing” and still finds ample time to spend with her beautiful baby, Gracie. Visit www.BurtCreations.com to see books by Wendy and her award-winning dad. More info at www.WendyBurt-Thomas.com.

Dear Fellow Writers (November/December)

cmkwritermama.gifThe Final S-T-R-E-T-C-H of the Year
By Christina Katz

I’d say, “I cannot believe it’s time to wrap up 2007,” but, in fact, I can.

I can feel it in the number of times my fingers have hit the keys on my keyboard, in the ink cartridges my G2 pens have gone through, in the reams of paper I’ve recycled, in the number of e-mails I’ve sent and received, in the number of posts in my blogs, in the newsletters I’ve published and subscribed to, in the articles and press releases I’ve written, in the travel reservations I’ve confirmed, in the number of new people I’ve met, in the writing conferences I’ve enjoyed, and, finally, in the speaking and book signing events I’ve attended and organized.

At the beginning of 2007, I’d just turned in the final manuscript for Writer Mama and had spent the holidays requesting endorsements on a very short turn-around. I knew the steeplechase ahead of me as a newly published author was going to be a live-and-learn kind of experience. This was on my mind when I chose my keyword for the year, in response to a favorite blogger’s New Year challenge.

The word I chose was “Stretch.” And I spelled it like this: S-T-R-E-T-C-H, just to make sure I really got it.

On the stretchy front, my 2007 calendar did not disappoint. Whether it was my idea, my publicist’s idea, or a surprise invitation I received, my “dance card” from January through October was consistently full-to-overflowing. Frankly, I sometimes struggled to keep up with myself and with all of my professional obligations.

I even, out of absolute necessity, turned a few opportunities down or asked for better timing. Goodness knows how many opportunities I never heard about for a lack of time to explore the possibilities. A few times I over-committed and then had to back-pedal. And that’s how I learned that I sometimes needed to say, “Not now but maybe later.” Some people were flexible. Others may have chosen to be offended. What could I do? I’m a mom and a wife and a pet owner and a lot of other things as well as an author.

While juggling it all, I was aware that I could always take advantage of whatever opportunities I missed next time. And as a result, I was able (just barely) to keep up with my commitments and let it be good enough. As we all know perfection is unattainable but by consistently pushing myself, I grew. As I approach the end of this calendar year, I am not, professionally speaking, the same person I was when the year began.

And I feel pretty darn proud of myself. Writer Mama is still (as of this writing) on F+W’s top sellers for the year list and has been on it since it came out. My first royalty statement arrived and was totally respectable. Thousands of people now own Writer Mama and are clearly spreading their enthusiasm

They tell me (and I overhear) how much they appreciate the book as a writing instruction tool. They say it’s “a quick read” and that they go back to it or plan to return to it as a reference over and over again. They say, in short, that a book I wrote makes an encouraging companion along the writing road.

I wish I could put into words how gratifying it is to hear these kinds of comments from folks I’ve never met. I feel like readers really “get” the good intentions I poured into Writer Mama. And this is an incredibly satisfying feeling. What more could I ask for?

At the end of this very rich year, I want to share my gratitude and joy with all of you and wish you a strong sense of satisfaction for hard-won accomplishments you’ve achieved this past year (as well as the many years that led up to it). If I’ve learned one lesson this past year, it is this:

In writing for publication, you will reap precisely what you sow…and usually so much more. But you don’t get to coast. You have to hustle.

So thank you, readers. I know that Writers on the Rise subscribers and supporters have been a major force behind the success of my first published book. Many books actually fail, right out of the gate. Some never make it that far. I appreciate your readership. And I feel like now that Writer Mama has been successfully “planted” and is taking root, this is a natural time to let go a bit and switch my attention to the next book. And that’s exactly what I plan to do. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on what happens next.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Christina Katz

Christina Katz is the author of Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (Writer’s Digest Books, March 2007). She is a featured presenter at the Writer’s Digest/BEA Writer’s Conference, The Whidbey Island Writers Association MFA Residency, and the Willamette Writers Conference. She’s been teaching writing-for-publication classes for six years and has appeared on Good Morning America. She is also publisher and editor of this e-zine and another called The Writer Mama. Christina blogs daily at http://www.thewritermama.wordpress.com/. For more about Writer Mama, visit Christina’s website at http://www.thewritermama.com/.


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  • This Blog Moving to ChristinaKatz.com as of December 30, 2009… December 27, 2009
    We’re moving! Writers on the Rise archives have been here for years. I hope that WordPress will let the archive live on for a good long time. However, it’s time to move on, bittersweet as change may be. Please come and find me at my new digs: http://christinakatz.com. And while we’re both thinking of it, […]
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