Why Do You Write?

Don’t worry about the type of writing you do or how long you’ve had the creative bug. Focus on the reasons why. Some of you may feel an overwhelming need to express yourselves. Others feel a passion for the written word. In both cases, writing comes as naturally as drinking water to satisfy a thirst. You write because you must.

Perhaps you write for yourself, taking satisfaction from forming an idea into a finished piece. Perhaps you write for you family, preserving bits of history for future generations. Perhaps you write for publication, sharing your work with anyone willing to read beyond the first few lines.

What about money? Wouldn’t it be great to be paid for your work? A fiction teacher once told me to consider my reasons very carefully. If I sought fame and/or fortune, I ought to give up writing in favor of more practical skills.

Is it really that difficult to earn a living as a writer?

In the world of creative writing—particularly literary fiction and poetry—proper compensation seems like a halfforgotten dream. A select few literary journals offer high fees, but competition among writers is fierce. Smaller and less established journals may offer little or no monetary compensation.

In order to earn a living, many writers turn to trade and specialty magazines for more lucrative deals. Feature articles tend to generate considerably more income than creative writing. However, most editors aren’t interested in reading unsolicited manuscripts. For the writer, that means extra time spent on research and crafting a convincing query letter. Why is your article unique? Why are you the best writer for the job? Why should the editor care?

Ultimately, you have to decide if the benefits outweigh your efforts. If you’re making good money but hate what you’re writing, you’ve probably gone off track somewhere along the way. On the other hand, an old adage suggests that if you do what you love, the money will follow.

Betty Dobson is an award-winning writer of short fiction, essays and poetry. She also writes newspaper and magazine articles but is still waiting for those awards to materialize. In the meantime, she continues to run InkSpotter Publishing, which has three new books available and several more in the works for 2012.


When I think of maintaining both a sense of inner peace and personal ambition the following quote by Lao Tzu comes to mind "By doing nothing one could accomplish everything.'"
As a busy mom, writer and psychotherapist, I rarely have time to "do nothing." As I type this entry after midnight, I have two loads of laundry in progress, a feverish child in my bed, and a desk piled high with work. A part of me thrives on burning the candle at both ends and having multiple projects in the works. However, a larger part of me, simply just wants to be relaxed and enjoy exactly where I am in this moment. For me, inner peace is simply about being in the present and knowing that everything will be okay, regardless of how crazy it seems now. Meditation is a great way to infuse your day with inner peace. I try to set aside ten minutes each morning to simply sit and breathe. During meditation, I slowly breathe in and out through my nostrils and gently let go of any thoughts or worries. I allow everything to be as it is. Having thoughts occur during meditation is as natural as breathing. I welcome the thoughts and then quietly let them go as I surrender to silence. At first, I found meditation challenging. I ,too, am ambitious. It was hard for me to sit still and I was eager to get started with the next item on my list. However, after a lot of practice, meditation is now my favorite part of the day. Paradoxically, I find that after this ten minutes of "doing nothing" but meditating, I am most productive. Some of my best ideas and freshest writing come to me after meditation. In a sense, meditation fuels my ambition yet also sustains my sense of inner peace.
Meditation feeds my soul and infuses my writing with passion.  What activity works for you?  For some of us, a ten minute walk deeply enhances creativity.  Others may enjoy cooking, gardening, yoga, or a leisurely telephone chat with a treasured friend.  Find out what revives your creativity and make some time to do it. After engaging in your favorite activity, take five minutes to respond to each of the following writing prompts.
1. If I knew that I would not fail, I would immediately...

2.  If I had enough time, I would write.,,,

3.  If I had an endless supply of money, time, talent and energy, I would make the following changes in my life....

Aileen McCabe-Maucher is the author of the book "The Inner Peace Diet" which was published by Penguin Books and released in December 2008. Aileen is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist who has helped many people find inner peace and discover their unique life purpose. Aileen has worked for over fifteen years as a licensed psychotherapist and registered nurse providing individual and group counseling to a diverse client population. She is a graduate of West Chester University, Widener University, University of Delaware, and The Gestalt Therapy Institute of Philadelphia at Bryn Mawr College. Aileen studied yoga and the chakra system at The Yoga Lifestyle Center in Paoli, Pennsylvania and is currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania and writing her third book.
Get your completely free Inner Peace Diet E Course today by visiting Aileen's website now at


We all deal with fear whether we are conscious of it or not. As writers, we can deal with the fear of failure and rejection. Mark Twain once said:

                  Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear.

Courage is a decision – not a feeling. It looks fear in the eye and decides to move forward anyway. It doesn’t have to be a determined march either. It can be simply putting one foot in front of the other.

Fear paralyzes. We understand the one who becomes “frozen” with a fear of heights. Writers can become frozen, too, and not move forward.


Some fears that can stop a writer:
  •     Manuscript rejection(s)
  •     Lack of encouragement
  •     Comparing yourself to other writers
  •      Lack of confidence in your voice or craft 
  •      Overly sensitive to critiques
  •      Lack of freelance employment 
  •    Failure
The only way to be successful is to keep going no matter how you feel or what your experiences have been. If you give up, how will you know if the very next assignment or query may be your breakthrough?

Writers must learn to believe in themselves when no one else seems to. Chances are you write what you love. Keep going and don’t give up! Someone out there needs to read what you write.

Can you list some fears you may have had and how you dealt with them? Or fears you are currently dealing with? 


Kathleen Moulton is a freelance writer and nature lover. She is married, has 8 children, ages 10-28, and has been homeschooling for 25 years. You can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at  “When It Hurts” http://kathleenmoulton.com/

Photo Credit: Pattys-photos / Foter / CC BY

To Beat or Not to Beat

To Beat or Not to Beat

          What is a beat? And what is its purpose? A beat is a little bit of action that can involve physical gestures. They are used to remind you of who your characters are and what they are doing. An example of a beat is:

            “Where are you going?” Charlie grabbed her arm, his fingers digging into her flesh.

They can increase the tension where needed or they can give the reader a bit of relief where the tension is really great.

          A reasonable balance is necessary or you can interfere with the flow of the scene. You have a scene where the dialogue is building the tension (example: an argument that is increasing in tension and building toward a critical moment such as a murder). Too many beats can interfere or disrupt the tension and make the murder scene less exciting. This can damage the flow of your scene and keep your scene from building. In other words, it can slow you pacing. The result can be the loss of your reader’s interest. So your goal should be a proper balance between dialogue and beats.

            Interestingly beats can be used to vary the rhythm of your dialogue. Remember, good dialogue has an ebb and flow to it. The areas where the tension is high you need to cut the beats to a bare minimum. If you have two high-tension scenes in a row, you should allow your readers to relax in the next scene with some quiet conversation containing more beats.

            If you are not sure just where to put a beat, read your scene out loud. Where you find yourself pausing between two consecutive lines, insert a beat.

            Beats can be used to define your character. A good example of this is body language. It can allow breathing room in an emotionally tense scene. To reinforce the point I’m trying to make, beats can accomplish three things: 1) They can increase tension; 2) They can allow breathing space for the reader; 3) They can define your character.

            In looking over your scene(s) there are some questions you should ask yourself:

            1. How many beats do I have? Try highlighting them. 
            2. How often am I interrupting the dialogue?
            3. What are the beats describing?
            4. How often am I repeating a beat?
            5. Do the beats help illuminate the character?
            6. Do the beats fit the rhythm of the dialogue? Read it out loud.

Faye M. Tollison                                                                                                                                                                              
Author of: To Tell the Truth
Upcoming books: The Bible Murders
                             Sarah’s Secret
Member of: Sisters in Crime
                    Writers on the Move

Take Time Out.


I't's no wonder insurance companies
often place writers in their high risk
categories. Writers are always on the
job--watching and noting everyone and
everything, plotting and planning the
next article, the next novel.

We may find it fun, always whizzing
through life, brain 100% alert. But very
few of us can survive solely as writers.
Add in the day job, the family and
friends, the everyday commitments and
sooner or later you're running on empty.

If you're a freelancer, reliant for some or
all of your income from writing, then the
pressures are all the more stressful.

Writing is stress.


Do you fine yourself sitting at the
keyboard longer and longer and
achieving less and less?

Are you snappy with friends and family,
always wanting to be left alone with your

Are you off your food, eating erratically,
drinking more? Unusual behavioral patterns could signify
that it's time to take stock.

The signs of burnout can be confusing
and contradictory: undereating or
overeating, insomnia or oversleeping,
chronic fatigue or brain chronically

    Writers often suffer panic attacks and
feelings of failure, or find that they
haven't two ideas to rub together.

Time Out

The hardest thing is to force yourself to
rest, to be nice to yourself.  But an hour
or two pampering yourself, taking a long
scented bath might well double your
productivity later.

A visit to an art gallery, a theater or
giving yourself permission to read a great
book--and not one about writing--could
make you feel you've had a real holiday.

l swear by brewer's yeast, high in iron and B vitamins
Stretching exercises relieve muscles tired from sitting pounding computer keys.

Schedule some quality time to  yourself each week and see your productivity increase.
 Anne Duguid is a senior content editor with MuseItUp Publishing and   her New Year's Resolution is to blog with helpful writing,editing and publishing tips at Slow and Steady Writers far more regularly than she managed in 2011.

Writing Exercises

Have you tried any writing exercises to spark some creativity?

Recently, my local writers group met for a writing exercise called Hide & SEEk. We gathered at a coffee shop and drew slips of paper from a bag. On each piece of paper was written the name of a nearby location, such as an ice cream store, cafe or a park-style bench. We dispersed and walked to the various places where we were to observe and write. We “hid” in plain sight and watched people walking or cycling by, catching bits of conversations. The purpose of this exercise was to come up with ideas for characters we might want to write about. We could also draw scenes of what we saw around us. After a set amount of time (about  45 minutes) we walked back to the coffee shop and discussed what we observed and the ideas we had generated.

Members found it successful to varying degrees. I did not have a lot of luck, as the place where I went was having an open mic night and there was more music than talking! One group member, at another location, struck up a conversation with a gentleman who was nearby.

If you decide to try a similar exercise, I suggest going to a safe public place, where you will not disturb others. Buy yourself an ice cream, cup of coffee or ice tea and blend in with the crowd. Spend some time watching the local scene as you dream up new characters. Then write that next book or short story!

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is currently working on her first children’s book.

Summer Solstice -- A Hiatus from Writing

Today, in the northern hemisphere, it is the summer solstice.  It’s the longest day of the year and the shortest night. It’s one of the built in shifting points in the rhythm of our universe—a magical moment when light and dark start swaying towards a new direction. For me, the solstice is a metaphoric tipping point.  It’s a point in time when I look at what I’m doing and decide if I need to change my course.    

I’m part of a dedicated critique group.  We meet every two weeks for most of the year, but right around the summer solstice we take a short hiatus.  Life seems to get in the way of writing during the heat of the summer, but I also think it is a time to give our manuscripts and writing dreams a chance to germinate. 
One of my critique partners has dabbled in illustrating.  He's a writer, who likes to make pictures.  He would be the first to tell you he's not an illustrator.  His vision of what the illustrations for his story might look like is often as engaging as his writing. 

Like all experienced writers, he understands that it is the illustrator who decides on the picturesbut he really can’t stop himself from thinking about how his story might be illustrated.  At our last meeting, I challenged him to abandon his keyboard during our break and instead of writing, just “play” with illustrating. 

I believe we all need an occasional change in direction.  A time to explore a new genre, try on a new style or experiment with another form of creative expression.  Why not give yourself a brief pause from writing and see what you discover?  Imagine the possibilities.  Use the solstice, as a writing tipping point to change up what you do.  You never know what inspiration you’ll discover while making sand sculptures along the ocean or penning a new haiku!

       Longer nights coming
                The shift of summer solstice
Unveils a new me .

Mary Jo------

Mary Jo Guglielmo is writer and intuitive life strategist.  She helps clients chart their course of action so they can DO their True North.

For more information check out  www.donorth.biz
or folllow her at:

You and Your Imagination!

"You and Your Imagination!" These were familiar words when I was growing up, and they weren't meant as a complement.

Yet a good imagination is vital for a writer.
Recently someone said to me, "I wish I could write like you, but I don't have any imagination." 

I looked at her for a moment, then asked, "When you cross the road, do you remember to look both ways?"

She looked baffled. "Of course. Why?"

I could see she just didn't get it. But you see, if she didn't have any imagination, she surely wouldn't check the road for other cars. Why would she? She looks out for the traffic because she imagines what would happen if she didn't.

I did a search of a number of online dictionaries for a definition of the word, "imagination" so I could quote it for you and found something interesting. They all used the identical wording.

1. the formation of a mental image of something that is not perceived as real and is not present to the senses
 2. the ability to form mental images of things or events
 3. the ability to deal resourcefully with unusual problems

The same words were used each time. This tells me two things:

1.  It is probably a good definition.

2.  The writers of the dictionaries are somewhat lacking in imagination.

Going back to my original illustration .  . . The lady concerned could imagine how a car might hit her if she stepped into the traffic. If I had spent longer with her and asked her more questions, I'm sure she could have described the sound of the brakes as the driver tried to stop the car before it hit her. She would tell me about the thud as the car slammed into her. She could have pictured the crowd gathering, heard the sound of the ambulance and felt the terror that came as she realised she had no identity with her.

That's imagination, friend. You see, hear and experience images that are not real. You form mental images of events that aren't really happening. You deal resourcefully with unusual problems. After all, you're not limited by your physical abilities! 

Interestingly, if you spend time imagining a scenario, it will start to feel real. So much so that it can increase your heartbeat or bring tears to your eyes. Try this right now. 

Read this through, then stop reading, and follow my suggestion. Imagine your favourite chocolate bar--or fruit if you're not able to eat chocolate. See yourself handling the object. Bring it to your nose and smell it.

Don't rush.

Mmmm. The smell of dark creamy chocolate. Nothing like it. Or the rich tingling fragrance of a ripe orange.

See yourself peeling off the paper or skin. Break off a piece. Slip it into your mouth and suck gently. . . okay. Stop reading, and spend a minute or two doing this exercise. 

Are you back? Did you try it? Now tell me honestly. Don't you long for some chocolate? Or an orange? Or whatever you imagined? Does your mouth perhaps have extra saliva from the anticipation? Are you heading for the store or the fridge as soon as you've finished reading?

Your writing will come alive when you use your imagination. Don't just write from your head—write from the heart. Put yourself in the scene you're describing and let yourself go. In no time, you'll find yourself experiencing the emotions of your characters, and you'll have a new ability to write what you're seeing . . . in your imagination. 

If your story is slowing down, throw a problem or a crisis at your characters, then put yourself in their skins. Now allow your imagination to react, not as you think they should, but as if you were them. As you capture your feelings on paper or screen, you will find you can't get the words down quickly enough. 

Are you struggling to describe a scene accurately? Stop writing. Close your eyes and create the picture in your mind. Place the people where you have them in your story. Now start the action--and see what your characters show you. Allow yourself to go with the flow. Then write it down.

Are you writing non-fiction? The same technique helps. Close your eyes for a moment and conjure up the scene or situation in your mind before you put your message into words.

Are you writing about bereavement? Let your imagination show you a situation where you were involved with the loss of a loved one. How did you feel? What do you have to share with your reader?

Writing without the use of your imagination is going to be stilted and sterile. Your characters will seem to be cut from cardboard, and your advice will lack empathy.

One more thing before you go. What are you having for supper tonight? Can you imagine it? What does it look like? How does it smell? Most important, can you taste it? Is it chewy? Tough? Juicy? Now tell us what you just had to eat.

SHIRLEY CORDER lives near the coast in South Africa with her husband Rob. She is author of Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer, available now for pre-order at  Amazon.com or at Barnes & Noble (B&N.com), and contributing author to nine other books. You can contact Shirley through her writing website, her Rise and Soar site for encouraging those on the cancer journey, or follow her on Twitter or Facebook. 

The 8 Ps of being a writer

Patience: This may be the hardest one. Patience is required to survive as a writer. There may be times when you consider giving up, if you really want to be a writer, do not. Figure out what you can do during the lean thought periods. If you give up when the going gets tough, do not even think about being a writer, you will not make it. It takes a tough skin to be a writer, you toughen up, or quit, it is up to you. How much do you want to be a writer?

Performance: Performance is giving the publisher or literary agent what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. If publishers or agents want a hard copy, a PDF, Word, RTF, on CD, or some format, you as the writer will have to supply it. If they want a hard copy, that copy should be on time, clean of any errors, and print ready. If the manuscript is due on the 14th of the month, then have it ready to go by the seventh of the month at the latest. This way, you have time to look it over and make any corrections you may have to make. Never turn in sub-par work.

Perseverance: You may find that a particular job requires more work or time than you thought. If you signed a contract, finish the job by doing whatever you need to, to complete it on time. Just because something is difficult, you cannot give up. You said you would do a job, finish, or do not take it in the first place. Furthermore, you may find lean thought periods when first starting out. If you want to be a writer, find something to keep you going during these lean periods. If you are not willing to work through the lean periods, perhaps you should give up now.

Personal Contact: Never leave your publisher hanging in the wind. Give then status reports, so they know how the project is coming along. What do you have completed? What amount of research have you completed? How much do need to complete the project? Keep in touch. Publishers or literary agents want to know how projects are coming along and if they will be completed on time.  This is your job, to keep the publisher abreast of your progress. If you do not think this is part of writing, think again. Personal contact with the publisher is just as important, if not more, than the writing itself. Keep your publisher informed of you’re promoting your book, and your manuscript's progress.

Polish: Polish your copy to make it the best you can. Polish, edit or whatever you choose to call it, is as necessary as writing the manuscript in the first place. You need to check for typos, subject verb agreement, grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, or anything else needed. An author does this for their story, the writing must be correct on all levels to create the best book possible for the reader.

Practice: You cannot just sit on your butt, and do nothing while you wait for your next inspiration. Read what others write, write, and improve your writing by taking a course at the local college, or adult school. Take online writing courses, anything that you write will make you a better writer. If you want to be a writer, you must constantly strive to improve your writing to make it the best you can for your next project. You have all heard the cliché, “Practice makes perfect”, it is true for writers that want to write good copy.

Presentation: Presentation is a multifaceted concept. Presentation is not only the copy you write for publication. Presentation is also the way you present yourself, as a professional, and as a business. If for some reason, you must meet face-to-face with your publisher or literary agent, dress accordingly.

When using a voicemail, make sure that your recording that people hear says professional. Do not have your kids record it. Make sure it sounds professional. Presentation also means the way you sign any e-mails. Consider an e-mail account for business only. There are many free e-mail accounts. It is best to have a web site and use that e-mail for your business contacts. If you cannot afford a web site, or do not know how to build one, a separate e-mail for business only is required. It is much easier to keep things separated.

Professionalism: The first thing about being a professional writer is, never miss a deadline. If something does come up and you're in the hospital, let the someone know as soon as possible. Never wait for the deadline, nothing will destroy a reputation, and scream amateur faster than missing a deadline and not letting the publisher know if there is a problem. Also, be sure to calculate the time required to finish a project. This may be hard at first, but it will become easier over time. The bottom line is, how much time do you have have available to devote to the project along with a day job, family obligations, and anything else that might come up in your life. This is what a professional considers. In addition, a professional contract should state in clear language, the payment method, and signed by both parties, so that each has a clear sense of what each party is responsible for, and when you as the writer will complete the job.

These eight Ps are the basics of being a writer. The eight Ps are what each writer must consider as part of the title, “Writer/Author”. How a writer chooses to implement them is up to them. This list is for thought only. Do you have to implement them? If you want to publish more than once, without a doubt, they are necessary.

Think about jobs you have had. How you purport yourself is as important as the job itself. Even as an automobile mechanic, you cannot be sloppy, if you are, or your work area is, you will not be acting like a professional writer. You must know where everything is and have it within reach.

Robert Medak
Freelance Writer, Blogger, Edit, Reviewer 

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