Thursday, June 29, 2006

Words, words, words

It's moments like these I'm grateful for the ability to express myself through the written word. However, what do you do when you can't seem to make people understand what you're trying to say? All the words in the world won't mean a thing if people don't comprehend what you're saying. I won't get into specific details here, but suffice it to say that I am at a loss for words with my sister.

WHAT in the world do you do when you can't seem to form the words that are running through your head? I'd really like to hear your thoughts on this matter.

Warm Regards,


Generic ramblings

Phew! Four hours later, I'm finallly done with these backgammon articles. I've learned more about the game in the last four hours than I ever thought possible! The funny this is, I've never even played the game.

I've been looking for additional work to take on recently. Wish me luck, I've had a few prospects but not sure if any will pan out yet. For some reason, the summer months always seem to lag for me as far as work goes. Does anyone else share this strange little phenomenon, or is it just me? Wouldn't it be great if bills decided to lag during the summer, too!

It's been a frantic week, and it's not quite over yet. Before I go though, I'd like to introduce you to one of my all-time favorite websites. If you're a reader like I am (of course you are, what writer DOESN'T read?!) you may enjoy this website. They have a huge selection of vastly discounted books covering all sorts of topics. Who knows, you may discover a new favorite autho you've never heard of before. Personally, I love when that happens.

Wishing you a beautiful day,


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Do Freelance Writers Need Websites?

Lately, I've been pondering a question that's been running through my head for awhile now. Do freelance writers need websites? People seem to be on opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to this question, and nobody can agree on one answer. Some will say, "Yes, absolutely a freelance writer must have a website." Others don't think it's necessary.

I'm not sure where I lie on the spectrum. On one hand, I think it's imperative to market yourself as a freelance writer so your name is out there for clients to take notice of. However, if you're just starting out a website might not be as critical during the beginning stages of your career. So I'm asking you -- what do you think? Is it always necessary for a freelance writer to have a website, or can they forego having one? Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Specialize, Specialize, Specialize!

You hear it all the time -- really successful freelance writers specialize in one specific niche. The question then is should you specialize? It's useful to have one area of expertise under your belt, because then you'll become the "go-to" writer for assignments dealing with your specialty. However, it's not necessary to start specializing if you're just getting used to the freelance world. Once you've written over a diverse range of subjects, you'll be able to find your niche.

Obviously, your niche will be a topic you enjoy writing about. Similarly, it could also be a type of writing you enjoy more than others, such as web content writing, short stories, or press releases. These are just a few ideas to get you started; there are tons more out there waiting to be explored. Once you have a good amount of writing experience behind you, you'll want to start seriously thinking about the types of writing you enjoy most and how you can become even more knowledgeable about your subject area.

Monday, June 26, 2006

What Makes you a Writer?

My apologies for the lack of updating. It's been a busy weekend!

Now, I'd like to concentrate on a question that's been running through my mind for a few days that just seems itching to get out of my head and onto a computer screen. What makes you a writer? Surely, anyone who puts pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and creates words are writing, but does that create a writer? What defines a writer, anyway?

Personally, anyone who has the urge and desire to see their words on paper or a computer screen; any person who strives to improve their writing every day and make a conscious effort to stick to a writing routine is a writer in my eyes. Writers come in all different variations. Some seem to have the ability to make their words flow naturally, without any pre-thought or brainstorming beforehand. Others need to hone their talents by creating outlines or rough drafts of whatever they're working on to ensure they create a quality piece.

I don't think it matters how you write, just that you do. If you do what works best for you as a writer, the words will follow. Some are gifted with natural talent, while other writers must work to improve their skills on a daily basis. Regardless, if you desire to write and take steps towards creating that reality, then you are most definitely a writer.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Freelance Writing Links (Continued)

Hello, fellow readers. It's been a busy week so far, and it's not over yet! Here's a few helpful links to get you through the weekend.

Writer's Weekly A great writing e-zine packed with information about paying markets, writing resources and a variety of other information to help with your career.

Sun Oasis A wealth of freelance writing jobs you can apply for. Updated frequently.

The Burry Man Writers Center An informative, excellent listing of freelance opportunities around the web.

Writing World I just came across this website today, and it looks quite promising. It offers a blog, job postings and forums for writers as well as many other resources. Check it out!

Write from Home I absolutely love this website. With tons of handy information all about freelance writing, this website is sure to become a bookmarked favorite.

There you have it for now. Best wishes!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Dream It, Do It, Live It

Today's post is about dreams. As a popular saying goes, "If you dream it, you can do it." The same can be said about writing. It's one thing to dream about doing something with your words, but it's another thing entirely to take steps towards achieving your dreams. It's a beautiful saying, but one I disagree with because of the previous reason.

You must conciously make an effort every day to accomplish your dreams. It's not simply enough to wish something into being. You must actually "climb the ladder of life," if you will, in order to fully realize your potential. A person can say all they want that they dream of one day creating a masterpiece with their words, but until steps are taken to achieve this goal your words are meaningless.

If you want something enough, it can happen. But it will not be handed to us on a silver platter. We work for our goals, and we must strive to reach our ultimate peak of happiness. I have know too many people throughout my life and career who have many ambitions for themselves, but fail to do anything about them. It saddens me, but at the same time it forces me to take a look at myself and see where I am falling short when it comes to realizing my dreams.

Dream it, do it, live it. That's my motto of the day, and that is what keeps me going through the hard times.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Helpful Freelance Links

I come across great new blogs, websites and resources every day pertaining to the freelance writing world. I swear, I need to compile a list to remember all of them sometimes! Anyway, here are a few links I found useful. Hope you can enjoy them, as well!

Cobwebs Of The Mind The posts are long and informative, but they're also interesting -- meaning you won't scroll through pages and pages of text searching for relevant information.

Freelance Writing A veritable wealth of information regarding freelance writing tips, jobs, books and a wealth of other resources. It's a great source for all of your freelance needs.

Freelance Writing Organization Intl. This website offers a variety of market listings, articles, writing resources, funds for writers and tons more to get you started on your career, or to advance your existing one.

These are just a few of the great links I've stumbled across throughout my career, and I hope they'll help you out as much as they helped me. Feel free to leave your thoughts or comments, or share a link or two with me.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Writing for Money

I'm sure all writers dream of some day making it big with their words. However, money doesn't grow on trees as the saying goes. Writers have to work to earn, and there will definitely be dry spells. The key to staying sane during these times? Stick with it! You can't make money if you don't try, and if you love what you do the money will follow.

However, if you enter into a freelance writing career with the idea you'll become an overnight success, think again! It takes time to build up enough of a client base that you can safely quit your day job and move to writing full time. I was working at a dry cleaner's before I made any strides in the freelance world, and as it were I happened upon it by a pure stroke of luck. After putting in exhaustive 8 hour shifts each day at the cleaner's, I suddenly became very ill shortly after starting there. No one could figure out what was wrong with me, until finally it dawned on everyone that I could be allergic to the chemicals used at the cleaners.

Sure enough, after a doctor-approved leave of absence my health dramatically improved, and I had to bid farewell to my fellow employees and supervisor. I've never been one to sit long without a job, so I got to work the following week searching for employment. I've always been interested in writing; since I was a small child, I knew it was what I wanted to devote my life to. Searching for jobs online, I sent off a few e-mail messages in response to advertisements looking for article writers. I never really thought it would turn into anything, but a few weeks later I heard back from one of the companies I'd applied to and the rest, they say, is history.

Don't get me wrong, there are days I struggle to make ends meet -- let's face it, some WEEKS are a struggle. But I love what I do, and one minute there's a dry spell the very next a lucrative project can come my way. The bottom line? If you love writing, if you live and breathe writing and could do it for the rest of your life regardless if you ever make a substantial income out of it, then you ARE a writer. Don't give up your dreams just yet! If you're willing to work hard and endure the tough spots, you'll make it just fine in this business.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Why do you Write?

There are countless reasons people choose to devote their life to writing. It can inspire, motivate, instruct, inform, direct, encourage, evoke emotion, and a myriad of other things. Personally, I believe the written word has power beyond comprehension. So I ask you, fellow freelancers: Why do you write? I'd love to hear your thoughts or comments about this. Feel free to comment below so others can benefit from your words, or simply drop me an e-mail.

With warm regards,


Saturday, June 17, 2006

10 Tips to Improve your Writing

I know that when I have some free time on my hands, I enjoy researching everything I can about ways to improve my existing writing skills. No one can know everything -- each day is a learning process, and hopefully you pick up something interesting on your day's journey! The following tips are some ideas I found useful to build upon your skills and continually improve and shape your writing into quality material you'll be proud to show off.

Tip #10

Read, read and read some more! A great writer can be born from a great reader. By reading a variety of things in different genres, you open yourself up to entirely new perspectives and ideas you may not have had before. Even if you don't feel you'd enjoy a particular genre, reading bad writing can be just as important as reading great writing. With that being said, enjoy the classics, trashy romance novels, horror greats, suspense novels, etc etc etc. You'll be surprised at how many ideas you come up with for your next work of art.

Tip #9

Learn how to take rejection. You may wonder how accepting rejection can improve your writing skills, but read on. How many of you have sat around looking at the latest rejection letter with a pint of Ben and Jerry's and a box of kleenex! (Tell me it's not just me!) Personally, I've found rejection just the tool I need to furiously begin working on my next masterpiece. The attitude of "I'll show them" can really work wonders for your writing skills, forcing you to work harder than you ever have before to impress the pants off those critics. So have your ice cream and a good cry, then get to work!

Tip #8

Understand what you're writing. A well researched, thought out piece will attract an audience much better than an article that shows you haven't mastered the art of research just yet. Good writing entertains, instructs, depicts, informs and/or draws your reader into the subject matter at hand. Show them you know what you're talking about with a well crafted and researched piece.

Tip #7

How does what you're writing benefit readers? If you can step out of your zone for a moment, think about how what you've written will resonate with the intended audience. Oftentimes, we gain a better perspective on our own writing by trying to understand how others will react to it.

Tip #6

Study the craft of writing. Read any book that interests you on the subject, then take the advice that resonates with you and try to incorporate it into your daily routine. Be careful, though! Sometimes you'll find that learning about writing is a great distraction from avoiding writing, but you can't put your newfound knowledge to work if you don't use it!

Tip #5

A pretty common sense tip, learning to use grammar and punctuation properly is key to impressing others with your writing. As criticial as this is, you'll be surprised at how often simple mistakes are made! There's a wealth of information online and in print form designed to help you master the in's an out's of grammar and style. Put that information to good use, and your writing will be all the better for it.

Tip #4

Don't stress! When you're up against a tight deadline or find yourself faced with writer's block, pause and do something else momentarily. A short break from the task at hand can allow you to return to your article renewed and invigorated, with fresh ideas to try out.

Tip #3

By keeping distractions at a minimum, you'll really allow the time to focus on the task at hand - your writing! For many of us, the internet offers boundless distractions that cut into our precious writing time. Let's face it, there are times when the last thing we want to be doing is writing, and distractions are inevitable. However, by working in a low-traffic area, unplugging the phone and committing to staying on task, your writing will benefit.

Tip # 2

Set a routine and stick with it! Find the hours of the day you are most productive, and get to work. Whether you work best in the early morning or late at night with a box of stale pizza and a six pack on your desk, it's important to spend time regularly writing.

Tip #1

Finally, practice! You can't improve your writing without writing on a regular basis, so get out your pencil and paper or plop yourself down at the keyboard and get crackin'! You'll be surprised how easily the words flow once you get started.

Whether you use all of these tips, just a few, or are inspired to create your own list of helpful hints, you'll be amazed at how quickly your skills improve on a daily basis. Writing is hard work, but with determination and effort on your part you'll be wowing the critics before you know it.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Controversy runs Rampant

This thread details exactly why I should stay away from forums. On a side note, Digital Point Forums offers a wealth of information and resources on a variety of topics, including content writing and the like. It's a site I visit on a daily basis. As a matter of fact, I've picked up a few gigs here and there. The trick becomes weeding out the low-paying cheapskates who don't care a wit about quality. I digress.

In any case, I found myself involved in a semi-heated debate on a very controversial topic -- the acceptance of gays/lesbians within society. I won't get into details here. If you're really interested, feel free to check out the thread. Suffice it to say, I'm quite peeved! Intolerant chumps frustrate me beyond comprehension.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Something to Think About

Since freelance writing is a highly competitive market, it can be hard to find jobs that offer rates you can actually live on. If you're just starting out as a freelance writer and think you can make 100,000 dollars your first year ABANDON that notion. Right now. Seriously, leave it at the door when you walk in. Oh, and don't forget to wipe your feet.

It's true you can make a very lucrative living as a freelance writer. However, you have to understand that it's a process, just like anything -- you must take baby steps at first. Beginning writers generally work for very little money or even *gasp*... for free. "Hold the phone," you think. "Isn't the reason I got into this business to make money?"

Of course! But money isn't everything. Writing is hard! You have to love what you're doing, without expecting to get rich quick because let me tell you, it's not an overnight thing. If you're not writing because it fulfills you in some sense, you may be in the wrong profession. It takes drive, dedication, determination and not a bit of talent to make it as a freelance writer. Without those key traits, you have nothing but a blank sheet of paper and a leaky pen. Or a busted monitor and a keyboard missing the "a." Well, you get the point.

The bottom line? Write because you love to write. Write because it fulfills a deep seated need in you to see your words in print or on a computer screen. Write to show Mr. Brown, your 10th grade English teacher, that you do have a modicum of talent. Write because the world needs more talented writers and hey, you actually think you could make a living at it.

Guess what? You can. See you at the top.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Controlled Ranting -- A GREAT Form of Therapy

In lieu of smashing my fist through a wall (okay, I'm really not that violent, but I bet it kept your reading further!) I decided to vent to the online world. Excited yet?

As a professional freelance writer, I find myself struggling occasionally on slow weeks. Being a contracted or freelance employee, I'm not always guaranteed a set wage every month. This is to be expected, and is not the source of my frustration; rather, trying to make a decent living when so many clients refuse to pay AT LEAST minimum wage. What's more, writers who claim to charge only one cent a word and believe that's decent believe my rates are too high. I just wonder, who can live on a salary of one cent a word without killing themselves trying to make ends meet? Perhaps some feedback from the writing community could help sort out this issue for me.

I know from experience my rates are not at all extravagant, and I've never had a client who expressed disappointment towards my work in the least. I suppose there will always be those people who refuse to pay writers what they are worth, but in the end they really do get what they pay for. Really.

Senseless Monotony

Wow, it was a scorcher today! If there's one thing I despise, it's working in 90 or 100 degree weather on a topic I could really live without. Iced tea, anyone? Oh, and bring a fan please. Ours decided to break the moment we turned it on. Le sigh.

Meanwhile, the blood thinners my mother needs are STILL not available. We've had to run all over the place, picking up vials that will "hold us over" until the prescription has been filled. It's been over a week, you'd think they would have gathered everything together by now. I'm really unhappy at the doctor for this unfortunate situation, but I suppose it can't be helped.

Uuuugh.... 4 more articles to go, and tomorrow I'm DONE writing about fertilizer. Thank goodness. I'm about to pull my hair out! Any fellow writers out there, how do you cope with procrastination? Furthermore, how do you keep from going crazy when you're writing on a topic that's less-than-thrilling? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a hot date with a frozen T.V. dinner and a Corona. Oh, the joy.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Ignore the strange references to TV

Staring bleery-eyed at the illuminated glow of the computer screen, I wonder how I can still be awake at midnight following a long day of work. The eternal insomniac, I am -- and I'll be wide awake at the crack of dawn tomorrow, ready to churn out 10 articles on fertilizer. Fertilizer! Definitely not one of my most exciting projects, let me tell you.

Tomorrow afternoon my mother has her followup appointment with Dr. Hanson. Hopefully, he'll be able to tell us if things are progressing as planned. She's a little worried, because the swelling has yet to go down and she's got a few marks on her thigh that bother her. Hopefully it's nothing. At least, that's what I'm praying for. There's no sense in worrying about it at this hour of the morning however... I should really be in bed.

Has anyone ever noticed how eery the television looks in the middle of the night on mute? No sound, just the picture, Television characters moving their mouths in unheard gestures of surprise, sadness, gratitude? Perhaps it's just me, then? Ack, I'm exhausted. I'll let ya'll know how everything works out tomorrow.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Words of Wisdom

I find strength in the support and condolences of both friends and strangers. Thank you for creating a "safe haven" for me to express my thoughts freely without judgement. Words cannot express how deep my appreciation runs.

Today, my mother came home from the hospital. It's hard not to be a mother hen when it comes to her care. She can be stubborn, but at the same time I know it's not easy for her to be looked after by her daughter. After all, that's a complete role reversal there. She raised my twin sister and I for many years, looked after us and nurtured us during our downtime. Now she must sit patiently and allow me to do what she has done for so many years of her life, and I realize the difficulty in that. Hopefully, my family and I will come through this stronger than ever before.

In other news, I've picked up a couple new assignments here and there. They're all relatively straight-forward, so I don't foresee any problems getting them completed while simultaneously taking care of my mother. We'll see what happens, though -- life has a funny way of throwing you a curve ball when you think all the players have already left the field!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

It's been a long week

Twelve hours at a hospital can be incredibly grueling. My mother's surgery commenced on Tuesday (hip replacement, gah!) and it was a terribly long and emotional day. To make matters worse, several members of my family took it upon themselves to create unneeded drama between one another. It was quite hectic, I must say. Additionally, I've been put into the role of caretaker, which in and of itself does not bother me. However, that requires taking time off work, and being not only nurse, chef and maid but the mediator between my disgruntled family members. It's a lot of work for one person to tackle. What's more, she's been running a fever between 102-103 and her blood pressure looks worrisome. We'll see what the doctor's say tomorrow; I have to arrive at the hospital at 9:30 to speak with the physical therapist.

In other news, work has trickled to a slow crawl. I find myself picking up any odd jobs I can just to get by. Of course, my mother's condition makes it difficult to do anything, including concentrate on churing out 20 500 word keyword articles on the Amish country. (Kidding, but you get the point.)

I'll continue to keep you all updated on my mother's progress. We shall see what happens at the hospital tomorrow. Did I mention I HATE hospitals?