WMBTSD Giveaway Day 25: September 25, 2007

The Renegade Writer by Linda Formichelli and Diana BurrellToday’s giveaway is…

September 25th: The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success, by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell (Second Edition, Marion Street Press 2005)

Since we’re doing two of their books in a row, I’ll feature Linda tonight and Diana tomorrow night: Linda Formichelli writes for Redbook, USA Weekend, Health, Women’s Health, Business.com, Writer’s Digest, and other magazines. Linda co-authored The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success and The Renegade Writer’s Query Letters That Rock. Linda lives in Concord, NH, with her writer husband and three cats. Her interests include science fiction, languages & linguistics, Archie Comics, Thai iced tea, and cats. Linda’s website is http://www.lindaformichelli.com, and the Renegade Writer blog is at http://www.therenegadewriter.com.

Here’s the description of The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success: For decades freelance writers have been told to follow the “rules” of the business or risk poverty. Keep your query letters to one page! Don’t call an editor! Accept every assignment you’re given!

Now the truth comes out: Many highly successful freelance writers ignore those basic rules and many others, and even flaunt them to their own advantage.

Authors Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell have published articles in Redbook, Woman’s Day, Men’s Health, Writer’s Digest and scores of other consumer and trade magazines. When they began freelancing they read all the freelance writing books, followed all the silly rules and struggled to get by. Eventually, they realized that certain “rules” didn’t really benefit them. One by one those rules dissolved and were replaced with clever ways to get assignments, get paid more for them, and finish them more effectively.

Formichelli and Burrell share their insights in The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success. This book teaches freelance writers how to break into previously unattainable markets by eschewing the old way of doing things. It explains that freelancers can negotiate for more money and better terms, without risking their careers. It teaches that editors are not the writer-gobbling monsters many freelancers fear, and explains how to establish and foster relationships with these important gatekeepers. In short, The Renegade Writer helps freelancers become renegades and succeed!

The Second Edition of The Renegade Writer is a thorough update to the classic book that has helped thousands of freelance writers make more money. The new edition contains many new “rules” to be broken, updates to the existing rulebreaking ideas, and a new feature: profiles of bona fide Renegade Writers!

Here’s the Question:

What is the one most practical piece of writing career advice that you could offer to your fellow writer mamas (or writers)? Try to make it something that you’ve learned from personal experience.

Answer with anywhere between 50 – 300 words to be entered into the drawing for this book.

Thank you for participating in the Writer Mama Back-to-School Daily Giveaway! Come back tomorrow to find out who won. I will announce the winner by midnight on September 26th.

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45 Responses to “WMBTSD Giveaway Day 25: September 25, 2007”


  1. 1 Eliza September 25, 2007 at 4:23 am

    Shut up and get up. Quit whining about not having time and make time to work, even if it means you have to get up three hours earlier than your family. You’ll be happier once you’ve gotten on a writing schedule.

    Off to finish revising manuscript for Interested Editor Man! How exciting! –Eliza, who didn’t get up until 6:30 and feels like a bum.

  2. 2 beediva September 25, 2007 at 4:48 am

    As a beginning Writer Mama, I honestly have to say that I am the one in need of practical advice. And I am looking for it everywhere which is why I need to win at least one of these drawings! 🙂 I suppose if I had to come up with something I would recommend two books that have inspired me, “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott and (I know that this has absolutely no weight in the drawing so this is NOT shameless ass-kissing!) “Writer Mama”!

  3. 3 Andrea McMann September 25, 2007 at 4:53 am

    My biggest piece of advice is simply to keep plugging away. Keep writing, keep submitting, keep searching for markets for your work. Your “big break” may be just around the corner, but you’ll never get there if you stop trying. This is advice I give myself every day. Another tidbit of advice: write whenever possible. With my two young children, I have to beg, borrow, and steal my writing time. Every day is different, so I don’t get to write at the same time every day. I take my writing time when I can get it.

  4. 4 Dawn September 25, 2007 at 5:05 am

    (I think this is the best consumer writing freelance book out there!)

    The one piece of advice I pass on all of the time is: Keep showing up. Whatever kind of writing you’re doing, whatever kind of success you’re aiming for, keep heading in that direction. The difference between talented writers who don’t get there and talented writers who do is often the ones who do keep trying. It CAN be hard (for me it IS hard) and that’s the reason more people don’t have freelance careers. Every time I feel like tossing in the towel I think about how far I’ve come and how I’d have to start over and then I put my head down and keep going.

  5. 5 Elizabeth September 25, 2007 at 5:14 am

    My advice: Find or create a critique group. You may have to search a long time, but don’t settle until you find a group of congenial friends to share your writing with. Writing for many of us can be a lonely, discouraging, misunderstood effort, and it helps enormously to have like-minded people to talk to — and occasionally be accountable to.

  6. 6 Meryl September 25, 2007 at 5:27 am

    Always keep marketing even when your plate overfloweth. Sometimes clients respond slowly or don’t get around to starting a project until later than expected. When you do find new clients, they may be willing to start when you have the time or it may take time to start that by the time you finish with another client, you’re ready for the new client.

  7. 7 Bet September 25, 2007 at 6:05 am

    I can’t say that I have a writing career as yet, however the best advice I think I have ever received, advice that affects every area of my life in a positive and productive way is this: Don’t wait until you have a huge block of time to write- if you have 10 or 15 minutes, start writing. When you have another few moments, write some more. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done when you learn to write in small blocks of time. We mothers can’t wait for hours of freedom to be given to us, can we?

    To give credit where credit is due: I first learned this concept at Flylady.com, and later in Pen on Fire by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett.

  8. 8 Mrs. Jones September 25, 2007 at 6:57 am

    What I’ve learned isn’t really anything practical in regards to getting published, so much as it’s a philosophy of life. I’ve learned that even though the outside world may dictate (or that I may THINK that), a regular career path is the way to go, veering from that path to follow my heart and use the gifts God gave me is really the only way I should go. To ignore this passion is to deny my true life. I’ve also learned that I must seek the wisdom and knowledge of those that have followed the writer’s path to learn how to walk… run… fly.

  9. 9 Kelli September 25, 2007 at 7:34 am

    My practical advice? Keep writing and submitting even when you don’t feel like it or our having self-doubt. Many times I see the books out there and I think that it’s not necessarily the best writers, but the writers who donned their thick skins and succeeded past the rejection slips and self doubt. These were the writers who kept going.

    I read that Cat in the Hat was rejected 72 times before it was accepted for publication. He kept going and we have the books of Dr. Seuss because of it.

    I’ve learned that there will be times (months!) of straight rejections, then something will shift and acceptances come rolling in the door. It’s the ebb and flow of things. We can’t always be geniuses, but we can continue to write.

    I’ve found submitting is like putting money in an IRA, you don’t receive the reward for it until later on. You need to write now and maybe six months from now, or a year, or longer, you will receive the rewards, the publication, the success from your writing today. I remind myself that my future self will be much happier if submit today because she will benefit in the future.

    Also, I always remember this quote I saw tacked to an artist’s easel– What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

    Best,
    Kelli

  10. 10 jess September 25, 2007 at 7:38 am

    I/ve been out of town for several days and don’t know if I’m doing this right — or if I’m qualified or eligible to post, but here goes anyway. Just ignore me if I’m totally off base here. 🙂

    My entry:
    When my daughter Chaney was little, I included her in my writing. I bought her a garage sale typewriter and set her up in a corner of my office and we wrote together. That’s not to say she didn’t continuously chatter and disturb my thinking process as she pounded on the keys writing her little books, but our together-time made us close. Through the years Chaney joined me at writer’s meetings and conferences. She eventually became a published writer in newspapers and magazines. Sharing my love for reading and writing with my daughter—from the time she was six weeks old to adulthood—blessed my life and educated her in the rules of writing and publishing. I realize moms with more than one child might find it difficult to do as I did, but as writers we’re told to think outside the box. Because each of our children have a different personality, I think we need to think outside the box with them too.

  11. 11 Amanda Hyatt September 25, 2007 at 8:33 am

    The best piece of advice? Never send your first draft. For some reason, first drafts always seem absolutely perfect, faultless, written straight from the heart so they ‘must be good’. It’s just incredibly, unbelievably amazing how this perspective can change even after a mere 24 hours sitting in a bottom drawer. The number of times I’ve seen what I thought was a powerful, imaginative piece of writing ‘mutate’ overnight into something I wouldn’t have dared present as Early Grade homework! As much as you believe in it – don’t send it. It’s just not worth it.

  12. 12 Mary Jo C. September 25, 2007 at 8:50 am

    Wow! So much advice has been given to me; I need to put it into practice before I preach it!

    1. Most recently, a wise member of my writing group had a very simple reply to my feelings of doubt and anxiety in regards to my novel-in-progress. He said, “Just write. Keep moving forward. Edit and revise later. Get all the way through the first draft.” Duh? That gave me the permission I needed to be a “rebel” in my own right.
    2. I keep an ongoing list of motivating quotes, most for writers, some for dream chasers, all touch that place inside that makes me believe…it is going to come true! My favorite this week: “So what do we do? Anything – something. So long as we don’t just sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we’ve satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late.” ~ Lee Iacocca
    3. Keep company with positive people and writers you admire, who will help nurture your dream of writing, who encourage you and respect your time.
    4. Don’t say, “I’m too busy being a mom!” Writing makes you whole, makes you a better person – and a Better Mom!!

  13. 13 Heather Haapoja September 25, 2007 at 9:08 am

    My best piece of advice is something I constantly have to remind myself of – just relax. This is a constant struggle for me, as I have a tendency to be a little Type-A about things. The need to earn some income is at peak right now, but things are moving at a frustratingly slow pace and the bills keep piling up. I feel the stress building. Red flag! Once the joy goes out of the writing process, full-scale writer’s block won’t be far behind.

    But I’ve been here before, and I’ve had some breakthrough moments where I realized that a little down time can fill the well and bring back the joy. I’ve been reflecting on that lately, and I’m trying to practice what I preach. Take a minute to breathe, pray, meditate, read, work on other projects and find some perspective. Success will come, all in good time, with diligence and perseverance, but not with counter-productive pressure and stress.

  14. 14 Kate September 25, 2007 at 9:12 am

    If you want to be a writer, you have to write. You don’t build a career as a novelist by writing short stories for literary magazines, you become a novelist be writing a novel. You don’t become a freelance writer by talking about what you’d like to write, you become a freelance writer by doing it.

  15. 15 Susan Gardner September 25, 2007 at 9:50 am

    Shut up, already! The single most important piece of advice was to stop talking and get writing. Writers often have a very active “inner life,” or a “life of the mind,” but those who talk too much about writing don’t listen to their quiet inner self. Their expended talking energy drains their vitality and reason for writing, which is to communicate on paper to other “listeners.” So, to get off the block as a writer, sit down, shut up, and write!

  16. 16 Audra September 25, 2007 at 9:53 am

    One thing I’ve learned it that we need to trust our instincts in our writing. The more we write, the more our own writer’s voice will shine through. Give yourself time for your own unique imprint to emerge and then your writing will be authentic.

    If we try to write a certain way because we think it’s more professional or we think it’s what an editor or publisher wants, yet it goes completely against our natural writing gift, it will come out stilted and awkward.

    Write with abandon and get those words on paper, but when you edit, don’t edit your ‘voice’ out of it. Let the piece showcase the style only you can give it.

    I hope this makes sense. I’ve got serious mommy brain thanks to some sleepless nights lately.

    By the way, this is one book I’ve really wanted to read.

  17. 17 Cyndi Pratt September 25, 2007 at 10:00 am

    Keep on writing. I tell myself that I don’t have time to write but the truth is, I don’t take the time to write as often as I should. I keep looking for those blocks of one or two hours when my work in progress would progress more quickly if I wrote every time I have 10 or 15 minutes.

    Keep on reading. I can study writing skills books and writing advice books but reading the genre I am targeting and seeing how sucessful authors form their words and sentences, weave their characters into the plot and seeing who publishes that genre, is just as educational.

  18. 18 contentmama September 25, 2007 at 10:15 am

    Start knocking as a daily ritual. If nobody answers, knock somewhere else. If an editor rejects your work or ideas, identify a new target. Always.

    After a five-year Mama Hiatus, I dusted off my notebook and returned to writing. It’s been almost two years on this return trip. Reminding myself that one of my humble comeback articles went out the door five times before it found a home keeps me honest.

    Write, rewrite, submit. Repeat.

  19. 19 Rose September 25, 2007 at 10:29 am

    Try something new.
    I try to challenge myself in my writing by taking some risks and challenging myself in life. As a mom, I have found the freedom to revisit my childhood. What was it like before I learned fear? What was it like when everything was immediate and tangible and a big question mark? Before I had everything figured out. I try to find small ways each day that I can try on a different perspective. It helps free up my mind and fuels my writing. What if I switched off autopilot? What if I tuned in to another radio or TV station, ate a new food, took a new route, went down that alley, called an old friend, traveled to that country, tried a new sport or took up a new hobby? What if I submitted that article, wrote that novel, interviewed that author, read something completely different from my usual default, stood up at the open mic, asked that burning question at the conference? What if?

  20. 20 Stefanie F September 25, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Trying not to repeat much of what has already been said. Excellent suggestions! My latest piece of advice for us busy folk is to set writing goals. I set daily goals, monthly and yearly now. I got this idea from Bruce Holland Roger’s Word Work book. Wish I had thought of it earlier! Helps me keep focused, helps me keep from doing nonsensical stuff. Or at least, putting off the nonsensical stuff until it is nonsense time. After the goals are crossed off.

  21. 21 Besu September 25, 2007 at 10:55 am

    I read on an agent’s blog a few months ago that “It only takes one yes.”

    I’m repeating that mantra in my head. Yesterday, I offered the United States Postal Service a sacrifice of my first five query letters to agents. I’m terrified. I know I can’t even expect to get any feedback for another week, at least, but the thought of getting the mail makes me feel all quivery.

    Rejection is part of the industry, I know that. But… it only takes one yes. It only takes one yes.

  22. 22 Sue Lick September 25, 2007 at 11:14 am

    I think the most important thing for a writer is to follow through. That means you take that scrap of paper with the great idea, set aside time and actually write the article, short story, poem or whatever it is. Then you polish it up, find a suitable market and send it out. If you don’t hear within a reasonable time, you contact the editor to see what’s up. If you still don’t hear, you move on to the next market. You keep following through until it’s either published or you’re convinced it’s not going to work. Likewise, if an editor whom you’d like to write for has given you the tiniest encouragement, you contact her again with another idea or at least an update on what you’re working on. Don’t just disappear.

  23. 23 Beth K. Vogt September 25, 2007 at 11:14 am

    Write what you know. My translation: Write what you live.

    Don’t waste your time writing like somebody else or writng what somebody else is already writing. Write what only you can write.

    And, while you’re at it, dare to write honestly. If you’re going to put time and effort and blood sweat and tears into this writing mama life–make it honest blood sweat and tears.

    Writing what I know = my book about late in life motherhood. I kept it honest, even when it meant I shared my less-than-shining-mommy-moments.

    If I pick up your book, I want to know you’re telling me the truth.

  24. 24 Kristina September 25, 2007 at 11:18 am

    My best advice for breaking into any area of writing is to read *everything* you can on the subject…not just one or two books, as many people do. Then “just do it!”

    Bravery has won me more book and article contracts than anything else. I might think, “Who am I that they’ll give me this assignment???” But if I just go for it, often I land the assignment anyway. Of course, you have to know the professional rules for the genre (how to write an awesome nonfiction book proposal, what the specific requirements are for a toddler’s book, etc.), so you must do your homework, too.

  25. 25 Shawn September 25, 2007 at 11:27 am

    My advice is try not to be afraid to start small. Local and regional publications are often easier to get started up with, and can offer great early-on advice and editing. Plus, regular paychecks if you’re lucky. Plus, you can then turn those paying gigs into bigger paychecks if you know what you’re doing, which I do not. : )

    Other than that: Read. Read everything and anything. Don’t skim; read.

  26. 26 Mar Junge September 25, 2007 at 11:46 am

    The definition of a professional writer is someone who gets PAID to write. So even though it may be satisfying to write fiction, get out there and offer your services to nonprofit organizations who need writing/editing help for their marketing, letters or grant proposals. They’re always willing to work around the schedules of writer mamas. Now that you have portfolio pieces that enhance your credibility, find publishing events and mingle. Because if you’re not NETWORKING you’re not WORKING. My best assignments have come not from a query letter out of the blue, but from a phone call to an editor or journalist I met at an industry event. It all comes down to what you want. My three teens were raised by a professional writer mama and while they may have missed a few play dates because I had a deadline, they’re as proud of me as I am of them.

  27. 27 Desire Hendricks September 25, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    Develop a writing space, a place where you sit daily and write. Your daily writing practice is unique among your other writing activities. It acts as a warm-up for future writing activities and should have its own special space and accoutrements. Set it up with the writing implements you prefer, and keep it fully supplied. Once you sit to write, you want to insure that you’ll have at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted writing time.

    If you don’t have a place, where you can write, make it portable. Choose your writing implements and place them in a case or box. Only take them out when you are about to complete your daily writing activity.

    Schedule it. Your writing time should be an action item, not an intention. Determine a specific time you’ll dedicate to writing. It can be early morning, lunchtime or late night, but commit time to yourself and your writing.

    If daily freewriting isn’t working for you, create external deadlines and audiences. External deadlines create a sense of urgency which can help motivate you to get the writing done. Join a writing circle, either on or offline. Enter contests and look for calls for submissions. Submit your work. When it gets published, tell people about it. Did I hear? “How do I do that?” If you don’t have a blog, get one while they’re still free!

    Experiment. Find the method that works best for you. If 5:00 am writing as soon as your slippers hit your feet is your thing, do it. If keeping a notebook handy and jotting down facts and quotes throughout the day works for you, do that. Find a source of writing prompts to use on the days when free writing feels more like a sentence. Basically, make sure you write!

  28. 28 Heather M. September 25, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    If I were to give a practical piece of writing advice, it would be to perservere. Push through those difficult writing assignments. Do not let the negative feedback of others get you down. Write for yourself and the joy of writing and being creative. Your style is not for everyone, yet it will be for someone and when you find that person life will be golden.

  29. 29 Cheryl M September 25, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    I’m just starting out so am interested to see what advice is given. However, my impression is that writing takes the same organization, dedication, determination, and inspiration that planning and implementing a science experiment does. Can you tell my background is in chemistry? For me what has been helpful is to just sit down and write, rather than think of reasons why what I’m writing might not work or might not be accepted by a particular magazine.

  30. 30 Megan September 25, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    I love how these questions are bringing up a chorus of answers each day — the melody is very clear, with some harmonizing notes to round it out!

    That said, I agree with the melody: to be writers, we must write, and keep writing.

    And, to add to the harmony, a few other things that work for me:

    1. Connect with writers you admire. They are people, too, and you can learn so much from them if they respond (and they often do!). Send a note to the author when you read something that excites you. Send a piece you’ve written to an author who writes on similar topics. Connections are gold.

    2. Let pieces stew, simmer, sit. For as long as they need to. This could be overnight, or for months. Then go back and it will be more clear.

    3. Read Christina’s mistake contract in Writer Mama. It’s fabulous. Allow mistakes. Learn from them. Embrace them. They are gold, too.

    This is fun! 😉

  31. 31 Tricia Grissom September 25, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    I’m on board with what Audra said about trusting your instincts. A weird word or phrase will pop into my head and the little voice will say – You can’t write that! That’s just crazy talk! Who talks about feeling like a 24 hour grocery store at the apocolypse!? That turns out to be my best stuff.

    I think I’m actually telling people to listen to the voices. Mayhap I should reconsider…

    Big ditto on the you actually writing stuff and sending it out, too. It took me years to finally get into a routine that wasn’t derailed by an episode of Gilmore Girls, leading to Oprah, leading to a lifetime movie starting with the word “She” in the title.

    I haven’t seen my t.v. in two years at this point. Okay, more like 24 hours, but I only watch at night. Really.

  32. 32 Lea September 25, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    As a writer mama who has just started putting pen to paper after a 10-year hiatus, I’ve loved reading everyone’s advice. “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg is a book I often refer to and my favorite line is, “Go further than you think you can.”

    Starting a freelance career is daunting, and rejection is a given. But every single day when I sit down to write, I decide I will go further than I think I can because no one else will do it for me. I have to believe in myself and know that I am good enough for this business that has me pulling out my hair more days than not!

  33. 33 Cath September 25, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    Write, submit, set goals (repeat)…great advice already given eloquently by all the writer mamas here.

    Here’s my little piece of advice: ALWAYS be ready, because you never know where opportunity may strike.

    I attended several writer’s conferences, doing the networking thing, but getting nowhere. For fun, I went to a Book Festival, thinking I’d hear a few authors speak, get inspired. But what I found was booth after booth of writers, happy to pass on info and tips. One of the tips: a children’s publisher had set up in a booth (just walk down the path, turn right). I thought I’d just say hello, mention my children’s manuscript. “Send it,” she said. I had a few things to tweak, but that’s not what I said. I said, “Great!” And I tweaked like a crazy woman and mailed it within the week.

    I don’t know if anything will come from that opportunity, but hey, it could happen.

  34. 34 LauraE September 25, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Don’t use the words SHOULD or SHOULDN’T. EVER. Heather Sellers talks about this in her book, “Chapter After Chapter.” These two words have been a big part of my stumbling blocks as a writer–why I shouldn’t write for a certain magazine or a certain type of article, I shouldn’t write that for “free,” or I shouldn’t try to cover a press junket, because I had never covered entertainment before. My brother calls it “shoulding” all over your self. So my advice: There is no should only what you will do and what you want to do.

    I get myself so worked up over what I should and shouldn’t be doing at this point in my life, or in my writing that it makes it hard to go after freelance writing work. So…I should myself to death, thinking I’m not qualified or good enough for writing jobs. Or in my fiction, I think I shouldn’t even try to write the books I write.

    My best moments as a freelance writer have been when I thought I shouldn’t do something and did it anyway. The beni-s of going for it has been making awesome friendships, meeting and interviewing celebrities and entrepreneurs, taking a bath and getting paid for it [in bath products]. Money seems to elude me, but I have been so lucky with all the other things that writing has brought to my life.

  35. 35 lifeinthegravy September 25, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    My best piece of advice (which ironically leads to my best writing) is to write with honesty. This is just a little tweak on the ‘write what you know’ maxim. Writing what you know comes naturally. Writing honestly is a bit harder. It’s natural to not want to offend others or come off as a know-it-all.. but honest work pops off the page and makes a difference to readers.

    What comes naturally for some writers (at least THIS one).. is to tone it down, make it more acceptable to the masses–while what I really want to say rambles around the back of my brain until I find the guts to write it down somewhere. Sometimes this takes awhile.

    My favorite quote about this is by Stephen King: “If you intend to write honestly, your days as a member of polite society are numbered..”

  36. 36 Dara September 25, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    Best advice ever gotten was to never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone in terms of writing and to find new ideas to write about whether fiction or nonfiction. By creating another avenue of writing you will open doors to new ideas, new friends and possible new income. Join blogs or groups related to a new writing idea to learn more about it. Or team up with an expert in that particular field to get first hand knowledge. Always work to expand your writing horizon because it will lead to a bigger field of opportunities.

  37. 37 Chris September 25, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Never, ever give up. Successful people make more mistakes than anything else. You must put in the time, put out the feelers, keep the education going, and keep trying. Find out what you love doing–and you will find that you will do that no matter what–free or for pay, day or night, when happy or when sad.

    I’m taking my own advice because I want to win one of these great books–I keep trying!!!

  38. 38 Karrie September 25, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    I really believe (but sometimes forget) all of your wise words about just writing.

    Something I learned recently was to look at an editor as a partner in bringing about the work that is truly yours. There was a passage in a book I was reading about a famous author. The new editor assigned to his work saw that it was really rough and made a lot of comments/corrections before sending it back to him. She braced herself for an angry tirade and was shocked to get flowers from him instead. It struck me that viewing my critics as partners that can make my work better could totally change the way I look at revision. Anyway, that’s my thought on writing advice.

  39. 39 Terra Hangen September 25, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    First of all, happy birthday to my sister today!
    My family is vacationing in Auburn California today, and the Internet connection in our motel room keeps ending, so I will type fast.
    The piece of practical advice I offer is to buy the current Writers Market, and if you are a Christian, as am I, also buy the current Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers Market Guide.
    These 2 books are published each year and are incredible sources of info: book publishers by subject, magazines and what they want from writers.
    These two books are GOLD.
    There I shouted.
    I recall Linda from membership in Magwrite (the late lamented group) so her book will definitely be super.
    Terra Hangen

  40. 40 Stephanie September 25, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    What a great question! I’m noticing a theme in the responses – start writing, keep writing, and don’t give up! I plan to take that advice seriously in the upcoming year.

    Here’s the one piece of advice I would like to add to the list:

    Encourage other writers – both the famous ones and the not-so-famous ones. Did you read a particularly scintillating op/ed piece in the newspaper or an easy, breezy piece in a magazine that you picked up at the doctor’s office? Did you read a riveting novel by a first time author or an inspiring self-help book by a multi-millionaire? Jot down the author’s name and send them a postcard or an e-mail. Taking time to make positive connections is an imporant “step to success” in any career – and a writing career is no exception.

  41. 41 Laura September 25, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    I think the best advice I was ever given was to write whenever and wherever you can. I know this is good advice, because I have seen it repeated many times, in Writer Mama, in Wishcraft, in Writers Guide to Paris. As another Flylady devotee, I know that you can do anything in 15 minutes.

    However, I think I just found the very best writing advice I have ever heard, and I just found it here. Eliza said “shut up and get up”. Wow. I will have to write this one down, and post it. Thank you Eliza. My biggest problem is that I procrastinate too much. I need to stop watching tv and reading so much. I need to stop letting other things get in the way. I need to get up earlier, and write in the quiet of the morning. Wow. “Shut up and get up”.

  42. 42 Darren Lipman September 25, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    Relax. Smile. Write.

    And for extra credit: Read, read, read.

    I tend to busy myself…a lot. I enjoy always having something to do, but at times I do get carried away and take on too much. Rushing around makes it harder for me to concentrate and get it all done. Taking even just a few moments to knit or watch some TV makes all the differences. Going for a short walk outside, taking a moment to see the world refreshes the mind and recharges my ability to worked with focus and determination and increases my ability to work better.

    Smiling. You need to be happy. If you’re not, you need to find out why and fix it. If you’re not happy, you won’t write well at all.

    And never stop writing. I often succumb to the “I don’t have time” mentality and put off writing to tend to other commitments, but when I move it up in my day, I get the writing done and still manage to finish everything else. Even better, because writing is almost meditative for me, I function more wholly if I’ve had time to write every day.

    Lastly, never stop reading. Even read the road signs. Reading stimulates the mind, and when you read, you tune your mind to seeing what works well and what doesn’t. For any good writer, this ability is priceless. Plus, it’s just fun and enjoyable, both a must.

  43. 43 Karen September 25, 2007 at 8:39 pm

    Holy cow. I’ve marked this day in my favorites; I am going to come back and re-soak up all the incredible advice here. Thanks, everyone!

    I’m pretty new in the freelance arena, so writing advice that I give comes in many shades of green. The last ten months have raised the challenge bar on what I can accomplish as a writer and single mom–I think it will always be like that. What I’ve learned and will always pass on, is “walk through it.” If your’re scared to submit, walk through it and do it anyway. If you’re scared to shake the hand of an editor or put your work out there, walk through it and do it anyway. If you’re dead tired, sick with sick kids, snowed in, have a deadline and a flight to catch the next day…you got it. Walk through it, and somehow it will benefit you.

  44. 44 Joanna Nesbit September 25, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    My advice? Develop a relationship with an editor. After you’ve put pen to paper, of course, and have decided you’re ready to publish (really ready). My break happened when an editor from a new national magazine read an essay of mine online and called me. Was I interested in writing for the magazine? Uh, yeah.

    The magazine published an article I wrote (I had my doubts at moments), and I learned the meaning of hard work and professionalism.

    Nothing else big happened for awhile, but I stayed in contact with the editor, zinging off one-liner topic proposals. Either the mag had just published the topic or just assigned it or couldn’t use it, but this is the beauty of knowing an editor: No need to crank out a well-crafted proposal until after she decides the idea is worth pursuing.

    Finally, I threw out an idea no one had written about (yet), and the editor said, write a proposal. I did, and I got the assignment. And here’s another reason to know editors. They pass your name on to other editors. Right after that assignment, I received an e-mail from that magazine’s sister magazine, a well-known family mag, wanting to know if I’d like to help with a family travel article. Short version: my family and I just returned from an all-expenses-paid trip that I’ll write up for a spring article. Now I have another editorial contact to propose topics to. Writing builds on writing. Contacts build on contacts. Keep at it, and eventually it all starts to flow (especially after you take Christina’s pitching class).

  45. 45 Laural Ringler September 26, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    Congrats Joanna! I too am finding that if I work as professionally as possible, more writing work is offered. Now I just have to make the jump to trying a more national market, after 3 years of writing regionally. Lately the advice given me on that is to research well and then query, query, and query again. As Christina says in her book, “if you aren’t getting some rejections, you’re not aiming high enough.”


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