Thoughts on Books about Writing

Amazon Kindle DX Graphite displaying Pride and...

Amazon Kindle DX Graphite displaying Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know I have mentioned before, I love bookstores and love to read!  This week I got a new book on my Kindle from Amazon and also picked up a new book at Barnes & Nobles in the mall on a trip with my daughter.  I have spent way too much time reading this week.

The book I put on my Kindle is Crafting the Personal Essay : A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction by Dinty W. Moore.  Actually saw it in the mall, but just wrote down the title for future reference.  Well, ended up deciding to get it sooner than later, so did the Kindle version.

The book was so good to me, I have already finished reading it.  It contains so much information on writing personal essays.  Many different types of essays are discussed : memoir, contemplative, spiritual, gastronomical, lyric, nature, travel, and humerous.  I found out there are way more types of essays than I even knew existed.  The author does a good job of providing personal, historical, and more modern examples of essays.  There are also plenty of ideas provided for writing exercises and prompts.

The author shares essays are in a way like poetry as you have the freedom to explore any subject without being forced into a certain mold.  As with other forms of writing, details are important.  Again I saw the recommendation I’ve read in other places of the importance of “show, don’t tell.”  Making a point to try to include the reader of your writing into the world you are sharing with them.

There is general information and recommendations in the book, which would be beneficial to any writer.  Things such as expect the first draft of anything to be bad, expect rejections, and write anything as long as you are writing if faced with writer’s block.  There are sections about blogging, writing groups, and preparing submissions as well.

Even the appendixes in this book are great.  They contained lists of essay examples, books about writing, and places in print as well as online that will accept personal essays.  Overall it was an easy to read book written in a friendly tone and the only sections I occasionally skipped over were if there was a rather lengthy essay example that was not catching my attention.  It is a book I plan on referring to again for pointers and ideas for writing essays.

The other book I got at the mall was Writing The Life Poetic :  An Invitation to Read & Write Poetry by Sage Cohen.  Besides writing essays, I have found a true love of poetry and enjoyed this book on my initial thumb through.  It has 80 short chapters and instead of reading it straight through as I do most books, I’ve started on chapter 56 and read about 10 chapters so far.  So far so good.  Has lots of examples of poetry, good information about writing poetry, and how to share your poetry with others.  I will try to share more once I finish reading it.

Power of Words

*I apologize for little different than usual post, this is more of a venting.*

Words have the power to build up or breakdown.  I read a blog post the other day, which broke my heart.  It was so tragic, I don’t even want to post the link to it here.

The blog post was a book review and the writer of the post was extremely too harsh, in my opinion, to the book author.  Some of the words used were dull and mediocre to describe the book.  This wasn’t enough of a critique, so the post writer had to go on to say they couldn’t read any more of it and how bad it was it was part of a series. 

Even without having read any of the books in the series, I could applaud the book author just for being able to complete a book.  As a fairly new writer with limited experience in rejections it could about make me hesitant to ever publicly offer any writing for critique.  I will though and look forward to feedback.

One day I or any of us may be in a situation to offer feedback on a fellow writer’s writing and I hope we offer honest constructive criticism.  At the same time I hope we are not cruel.  It takes a certain amount of bravery for someone to share their writing with others.

Life experiences with emotional and verbal abuse have also colored my opinion on this subject.  If you’re made to feel you can’t do anything right, where’s the incentive to try.  I guess I could also blame it on living in the South.  I wholeheartedly believe the wise saying many mothers have taught their children, “If you don’t have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything.”  Guess I’m heading that direction, so I’ll stop my ranting and go write.

Finding a Voice Through Writing

Image of a modern fountain pen writing in curs...

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I read a lot.  Maybe too much for my own good sometimes, but sometimes you learn some interesting things.  Since much of my reading has been about writing, I have found a common thought shared amongst most writers.  It is usually said, “Write what you know.”  It calls out over and over again from writers much like  “use the force” from Star Wars.

Many fiction writers say many of their characters and scenes come from real life.  Topics for many non-fiction writers are derived from situations in writers’ lives.  Many poems have been written throughout history because of something that touched the poet’s life.

Anyhow, sometimes I am one of those people that can know something, but not really get it.  Sometimes my little insecurities keep things hidden from me.  The other day it did dawn on me.  I made the connection.  I do have something to share.

Writing is an amazing outlet to speak what is inside us.  Writing even allows some things to come out, which are not necessarily so easily spoken.  Writing is giving me a voice.  A form of writing I have just become acquainted with is the personal essay.  I am in love with this form of writing.  It tops my list with poetry.

Just this week I have written several personal essays.  Some I will keep to myself, not sure they should be shared yet, but others I want to try to find places to submit.  Here is an online article about writing personal essays : http://www.poewar.com/having-your-say-writing-personal-essays/.

Another type of writing I am becoming familiar with are editorial pieces.  I have submitted one before, but just found out this week my second editorial piece was accepted and I got offered a small payment for it.  Hooray!  Here it is :
http://voices.yahoo.com/pharmaceutical-advertising-profit-driven-medicine-11092326.html.

It is a slow process, but writing is helping me to find my voice.  Right now I am still exploring and haven’t per se found my niche.  I am trying different types of writing, sometimes out of my comfort level such as writing short stories.  I guess the main thing that matters is I am writing.

Searching for Writing Ideas and Motivation

Cover of "How to Get Ideas"

Cover of How to Get Ideas

I am in one of those discouraged moods.  I know I won’t stay there long, but at the moment I am having one of those self pity “woe is me” parties.  I know things take time and I just need to persevere.  Life just doesn’t seem to move as quickly as I want it to at times.  When I am in one of these moods, it zaps my motivation and makes it hard to get things done.

Right now I could either curl up reading a book for hours or watch television without really watching it, but just to distract my mind from thinking about things.  Neither one of those would really be productive choices, when there is so much that needs to be done.  Yes, we all need some down time, but I feel I have had way too much down time this week.

Instead I thought I would write, because usually it seems I feel better when I write.  The only problem is I don’t know what to write about and there is nothing I really have a great desire to write about right now.  I have looked at my list of article ideas, but none of them are interesting to me at the moment.

This blog post may be the only writing I accomplish today, but I am exploring the internet some for article ideas.  I found a website called Quips and Tips for Successful Writers at http://theadventurouswriter.com/blogwriting/how-to-get-ideas-for-magazine-articles-freelance-writing-tips/, which had an article with some useful suggestions on how to get ideas.  If I can get motivated at least maybe I will work on a list of some ideas after answering some of the questions I found there.  Well, away I go to surf the internet some more, but hopefully will not lose myself there too long and will find a spark of motivation.

Setting Writing Goals

0610 list

0610 list (Photo credit: paloetic)

I tend to be a bit of a free spirit and will never be one of those sorts of people to plan my day out by the hour. No offense meant if you’re reading this and you are one of those type people.  I do use a monthly calendar and write out to do lists, as I know planning does help make things happen.

Through the tools I use, I do accomplish quite a bit, but have been thinking it might help to set some goals for myself.  I believe it may help restore a little balance in my life as I can get carried away a bit. My daily activities usually depend on my mood, what interests me, and if something has a deadline. There are times I may curl up reading a good book for hours or sit and write for hours on end.

To give my life more sense of direction and balance I have started to really think about goals as well as write them down, so I have a good visual to keep me motivated.  It’s wonderful to do things I enjoy, such as write, but clean clothes and healthy meals are also vital.  Goal setting will be a project I will work on some this week.  Goals will always be subject to change, but I thought I would share some of my writing goals so far:

  1. Blog twice a week atleast (both blogs)
  2. Read two books a month
  3. Write two articles per day
  4. Check boards on my website list for freelance writing jobs (so far www.freelancewritinggigs.com , www.craigslist.com , and the job board on www.wow-womenonwriting.com )

Here’s a quote by C. S. Lewis on goals-“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”  Best wishes for balance in your life and happy goal setting.

 

Inspirational Book for Freelance Writers

English: Amberg - Paperblanks ® books on displ...

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Last week I found a book in a used bookstore I have really been enjoying. The book is Achieving Financial Independence as a Freelance Writer by Ray Dreyfack. The author says he has been a writer for over 30 years so he speaks from the viewpoint of experience. There is good information shared about specializing and using your experience to write. I have found, it is much easier to write about things I am passionate about and have some knowledge or experience regarding the subject matter.

One repeating phrase in the book is “think small grow big”, which simply put means to start small and build from there. This is good advice for beginning freelance writers like me and I think it will become one of my favorite mottos for future reference. This seems to fall in line with a lot of advice I have read for beginners. Advice which recommends beginning freelance writers with limited experience may want to write free for non-profit sources or articles for websites allowing submissions meeting their guidelines.  This provides an opportunity to gain experience and help build your writing portfolio.

The book shares the importance of making contacts, networking, and writing groups. There are numerous groups and associations for writers with membership fees ranging from free to about $100. I have found a local writers’ group through the website www.meetup.com and am looking forward to my first meeting next week.

 This book has been a good source of inspiration and I hope to finish reading it this week. Besides finding a great book, I also had some good news last week. I called to follow-up on an article I wrote for a magazine and later during the day received an email saying the article will be published!

Writing Resources

The World Digital Library.

Image via Wikipedia

It has been a slow writing week for me.  I definitely need to work on my time management skills and atleast write a little everyday.  Some days I spend hours writing and other days I do not seem to find the time.  It is easy to also get lost in time, researching information online, rather than spend time actually writing.  Maybe I need to start setting a time limit for reading blogs and researching information online.

I do find some very helpful information, so at least I am not wasting time.  I have found two books which are on my wish list as writing resources : The Yahoo Style Guide :  The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing, and Creating Content for the Digital World by Yahoo and the Associated Press Stylebook.  Another of my favorite freelance writing websites, www.freelancewritinggigs.com , has a link to several free writing resources : www.freelancewritinggigs.com/2009/10/4-free-stuff-for-writers/ .  A dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedia are among some of the resources you can find there. 

I have been saving useful links I find as favorites on my computer, so I can find them easily when I need to refer to them again.  Some of the favorite folders I have on my computer are writing jobs, reference resources, nurse freelance writers, and writing contests.  I may have to go through and reorganize them again, but atleast it’s a beginning and you have to start somewhere.  Same thing with writing.

I did finish writing a short article today and submitted it on www.firehow.com .  Here is the link to it : http://firehow.com/2012020530040/how-to-make-the-most-of-your-healthcare-provider-visit.html .  Well, maybe this will be a more productive week and I will get more writing done.

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