Archive for the 'C. Hope Clark' Category



Time Management Mastery: Calendar Management

hope_000.gifA writer’s calendar is more than a reminder of the date. It’s a permanent record of the effort and work production of a serious artist. It’s a business tool to make a writer more successful. It’s a tax tool to help you track and manage deductions. A calendar can help you best when you develop a management routine, clearly noting items such as these:

  • Editorial deadlines. That doesn’t mean just the date your story is due. Your calendar should indicate the date the assignment was accepted, the drop-dead date and an interim date about a week before it’s due. If this is a major project, include dates of interviews, photographs and first drafts. These benchmarks keep you motivated while indicating to the IRS that you are a serious writer putting honest hours into your work.
  • Meetings. Chats and teleconferences can slip by easily without a reminder. In-person meetings are important to record, because every mile counts at tax time. Even your writer’s group should go on your calendar¬¬–if not as a reminder, as a record of activities contributing to your writing life.
  • Conferences and tours. Note the day you leave home and the day you return. This way your receipts and expenses coincide for tax purposes.
  • Completion dates. Maybe you didn’t have a deadline and you wrote a piece on spec or prepared a query. Note the date you sent it, then flip the pages and post a follow-up date.
  • Phone calls. You might appreciate knowing when you last spoke with a client before you call him again. An editor’s confirming phone call for an assignment should be recorded somewhere other than your memory.
  • Bills due. Note when your website hosting and domain registration are due for renewal. Missing those dates can be devastating to a writer relying upon a website for sales.
  • Benchmarks. You have your goals. For them to be realistic, they need measures. Give your plans tangible dates for follow-up to ensure you are successful with this year’s writing resolutions.
  • Expirations. Free trial offers of databases or online services can creep up and cost you. Note when they expire a few days ahead of time so you don’t miss the deadline.

Make your calendar work for you, and at the end of the year, you’ll have a comprehensive record of your writing life. With detailed documentation to prove that you earn a living as a writer, you will be eligible for all the deductions that go with the profession.

TIP: For great online calendars and calendar aids, see Calendar Zone. For an endless array of hands-on calendars, see Calendars.com.

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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. 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.

Time Management Mastery: The Layman’s Version of Income Tax Management

hope_000.gifBy C. Hope Clark

An accountant I’m not. However, my parents are, and I’ve heard the horror stories about their tax clients who don’t know a receipt from a pizza menu or have thrown away tax benefits by forgetting to maintain records. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) loves people who can’t keep records. That way when audits occur, the benefit falls on the side of the government. You and I can avoid that and keep more of our hard earned writing pay in our pockets. Here’s how:

  • Set up files with clearly marked labels like “income,” “meetings/ conferences,” “travel,” “supplies,” “bank statements” and “postage.” You may have other categories in mind, but the easiest way to determine which files you need is to look at a tax form and note the categories the IRS likes to see for a self-employed individual with a freelance business.
  • Keep files at your side––and use them. If your files are not handy, you won’t maintain them. Mine are to my right in a file drawer. I don’t leave my desk chair to toss receipts in them; deposit slips, mileage records and sales tickets are all filed properly.
  • Keep a calendar. You may lose a receipt, but if you consistently maintain a calendar of your comings, goings, submissions, payments, interviews and mileage, then the IRS will give you some latitude.
  • Keep a mileage log in your car. Or, do like I do and make mileage notes in your writing notebook; then transfer the information to your calendar when you return home. You’d be amazed at how many miles you travel for business that you forget to record. When you’re headed to the grocery store, if you stop by the office supply for printer ink, you can claim the round trip mileage. I try to organize my business trips alongside my personal needs so I don’t make duplicate trips.

You don’t need an elaborate system. Just introducing these few simple steps to your recordkeeping regimen can make tax time easier and less stressful––and will help you claim all expenses that are rightfully yours.

TIP: The Internal Revenue Service website has great resources. Freelance writer Cyndi Seidler, an author and professional organizer, has written a great article on organizing for income taxes.

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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. 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.

Time Management Mastery: Benchmarks Measure Your Path to Publicaiton

October 2007 Family Fun MagazineNew Year’s resolutions ooze out of every publication on the planet in December and January. Still, I’m a fanatic about having a writing resolution each year. So far, knock on my wooden desk, I’ve successfully achieved nearly every resolution I’ve ever made. The secret is in setting and achieving clear goals along the way.

Making resolutions is easy: eat less, exercise more, write a novel, write everyday and so on. It’s establishing benchmarks, however, that make your resolutions meaningful-and achievable. Once you’ve set your New Year’s goals, hold them at arms’ length, pick up a calendar and decide how you will track and measure your performance along the way.

Three years in a row, I vowed to double my writing income. I succeeded. Sound easy? That resolution wouldn’t have been so simple to achieve if I hadn’t established measurements along the way. I set up a spreadsheet to track submissions, follow-up dates and my income.

At the end of each month, I calculated my average monthly income and an end-of-year income projection. If I’d waited until August to tally the numbers, I might have discovered I was way behind. The monthly benchmark kept me on target. If income was lagging behind my projections, I could quickly maneuver to pick up the slack before it was too late.

To keep on top of your self-imposed deadlines, purchase a week-at-a-glance calendar. My favorite is Bylines (www.bylinescalendar.com). Editor Sylvia Forbes devotes a writer’s picture and his or her 300 words of wisdom to each week of the year. I was lucky enough to be selected for a page in February 2007 and will be in 2008 as well. Bylines motivates me to keep up with my benchmarks, reminds me there are other ambitious writers like me and helps me maintain records for income tax time by offering a place to record mileage, meetings, chats and deadlines.

Making resolutions is a grand start. Defining clear performance, publication and income benchmarks along the way is better. Recording your progress is best. Add a dose of diligence to these efforts and you’ll have it made for 2008.
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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. 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.

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.

Writing On-the-Go

hope_000.gifTime Management for Writers

By C. Hope Clark

Anyone who knows me understands I like my life simple. Most everyone makes that claim, but how well do you follow through? The world is a busy place. Everyone is always coming and going, running and jogging through obligations and deadlines. When are you supposed to sit down and write?

The answer is simple: be a writer–––wherever you are. And no, that doesn’t mean carrying a suitcase of materials. Even when I’m riding with someone to the mall, I have my basic writing tools with me. It’s not hard. And the sooner this practice becomes a habit, the more prolific you’ll become as a writer. Here’s what you’ll need:

Spiral Notebook: Five-by-seven or four-by-six inches, it doesn’t matter. The point is to have something easy to carry and tuck into the glove box, your purse or your briefcase. The spiral feature makes it easier to lay flat and tuck a writing instrument inside for safekeeping throughout your travels. They are cheap, so no excuse; I buy them by the dozen. They’ve even accompanied me to the track where I challenge myself to think of a new editorial for each quarter-mile lap.

Pen: You know the style you like. I like a fine point, blue ink Zebra. I spend more on my pens than my notebooks, because picking up that pen makes me want to write more. I also write in the margins of my books, and this pen makes for better note taking. I use the clip to tuck it away in the notebook.

Non-Fiction, How-to Book: My current one is Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver. If I have more than five minutes but less than 15, I open to my bookmark and study. I don’t like to waste the larger chunks of time reading when I can be writing. so I absorb my how-to material in between the gym, the grocery store and while waiting at the doctor’s office.

Camera (optional): If you have a streak of journalist in you, or you are one who likes to “see” your characters and settings, keep your camera handy. Frankly, you can carry a camera case as easily as a purse, so purchase a case that acts as both.

You can’t get any simpler than that. Not enough time to write? Oh, please.
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.

Schedule Just One Week

hope_000.gifTime Management Mastery for Writers

By C. Hope Clark

We never have enough time. We blame a lot of our obligations on the kids, poor things. Then we dump on the spouse or significant other. Add to that a day job (like your boss has any interest in sabotaging your writing), and suddenly your week is shot. You’ve had barely enough time to read two chapters in your mystery novel and jot down a thought in your blog. Soon you’ll reach retirement age, still trying to make room for your writing. Then it’ll be the grandchildren’s fault.

At this very moment…and that means right now…stop. Take out your weekly calendar. Make an appointment with yourself every day for seven days. Don’t wait until Sunday to start a perfect week. Don’t wait and see what happens at work tomorrow or at school this afternoon. Mark a period of time each day. Even if some of your days are crammed with busy-ness, find a minimum of fifteen minutes, then pencil it in on your agenda book. It doesn’t have to be the same amount of time every day or even occur at the same hour. Just schedule some time each day.

When that time arrives, drop what you are doing. Don’t catch the end of the show on television or finish folding the towels. Stop. Sit down at your notebook or computer. Don’t log on to the Internet. Turn to a blank page or open a blank screen in your word processing program. Start writing.

Ding. Your time is up. Please lay down your pencil. (I always wanted to say that.) What did you write? While at first glance the material is rubbish, or a close cousin thereof, it doesn’t matter. Save it. Get up and go back to your life.

The next day, drop everything and start writing again. If you happen to not be at your typical workstation, you have no excuse. Find some paper. Next time bring your laptop, if you have one. Set your watch. Write. Ding. Time’s up. Move on.

If you can follow a diet for seven days, catch a serial movie or read a novel every night, you can follow this regimen. At the end of the week, you’ll see that setting time aside for writing isn’t quite the hurdle you thought.

Try another week.

By the third week, you’ll catch yourself planning ahead about what to write. Uh-oh. Could you be working on a story? A real writing project with a plot and everything? Will wonders never cease? Goodness knows…one day you might even write a book, because this is how it starts.

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.

Keeping Track of Your Writing Success

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

Don’t scoff. While you might not have hundreds or even dozens of bylines, one day you will. How do you intend to keep track of those publishing credits and recall them for interested parties? Right now you can remember your writing successes, maybe count them on two hands. But downstream, you will be published online, in print and maybe even in book form. That’s why you need a series of bios––each fitting a specific need.

The E-mail Bio – Some call it a signature block, but this little jewel is worth a mint. It needs to clearly state who you are and what you’re known for. Make sure a Web site address is included. Make it too long, and you give the impression of a novice or someone reaching to look impressive. Keep it simple––no more than four to five lines. But remember that many people read it, and it gets forwarded to the world––even in the jokes you send your sister.

The Short Bio – This bite-size resume fits in a query letter and consists of a simple paragraph. Include your Web site, your best credits and awards, and the information that’s most relevant to your career. It may start out as a three- or four-sentence paragraph and grow to a bit more, but keep this baby updated. It’ll come in handy when you’re interviewed, attend an online chat or submit a query to a magazine editor. Create several if you write in different genres or arenas. Have one about your parenting writing, your fiction, your poetry or your business articles. An editor only wants information about what pertains to her, so having a few of these is a bright idea. Also, your biggest publishing credits will change as time goes on, and you want to present your best side. Keep your short bios current; you will use them often.

The Resume – This one-page document tells a prospective reviewer, editor or employer your employment history, publishing credits, education, awards and references. It can be included in a press release package for a reviewer, an application for employment or in a packaged pitch to speak. Keep it updated with your brightest work accomplishments.

The Whole Ball of Wax – The difference between this history bio? and the three above is that this one maintains just about everything you’ve ever done. Mine is online, and I’ve had editors peruse it without my asking. It’s ever ready and constantly maintained. When I have a new credit, I pop it in there so I don’t forget. I will delete old, freebie pieces, especially those on Web sites that no longer exist, as my paid pieces increase, but this bio covers me head to toe, educating anyone interested. I earned a $750 gig once by an editor Googling my name and reading this resume. It must include your mailing address, e-mail address and phone number.

The Database – If you wish to know everything you’ve ever published, keep a simple chronological database or spreadsheet. A database will allow you to recall sorted information in case you wanted all business articles or pet articles or all paid articles in magazines.

A writing career grows faster than you think. While you may sometimes feel rejections are beating you down and acceptances are few and far between, the credits eventually accumulate if you stick with the business. Plan now for when you have too many bylines to count. Nice thought, eh?

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.


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