Showing posts with label beginning writers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label beginning writers. Show all posts

Three Ways Writing Builds Strength

"I never give in. I never give up. And I never take no for an answer."
Doris Roberts, Actress
1925-April 17, 2016
There are lots of ways to build strength in life: Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, be social, stay mentally active. That last category? We writers have that covered in spades. After all, challenging our mental acuity is our game. I like to think for reasons beyond simply making an effort to stay healthy.

Tucked into suggestions to challenge our gray matter by the Alzheimer's Organization, which lists such activities as attending lectures and plays, playing games and working crossword puzzles, is writing. With all that serious writing entails we writers must be way ahead of the game.

Subtle Strengths Reaped from Being a Writer
1. Don't talk about it--DO IT: How often have you had this conversation with someone who wants to lose weight?
  • Weight Loss Challenger: I'm trying to lose weight.
  • You: Good for you.
  • Challenger: My goal is 15 lbs. but I don't know if I'll ever get there. I've tried every kind of diet and nothing works for me.

Too often the person who talks about weight loss winds up in an endless weight-loss-weight-gain cycle and doesn't reach her goal UNTIL she stops talking about it. Only then can she get down to business and DO IT. It takes strength to drum up the necessary discipline.

I use this example to illustrate the mistake I made as a beginner writer and the mistake other beginners might make: I talked about what I planned to write, even expounding on the details of the piece/story. Maybe I even started the project . . . but never finished it. Why? Talking about what you're planning to write can take the wind right out of your sails--it can rob you of the energy you've put into coming up with your idea in the first place, so that when it comes time to write, your enthusiasm is gone.

2. Now that you've leaped over one of your initial hurdles, pouring out your heart and keeping it between you and the page, you find that you soon enter THE ZONE--that magical place any serious creator occupies while working, be it an athlete, a musician, a homemaker who establishes a loving and pleasing environment--it doesn't matter. The very act of creating will get you there. The world will open up to you. You'll be in the candy shop, given carte blanche to pick any kind of confection you want: cake, ice cream, cookies; or hey, anything made with semi-sweet chocolate, my personal favorite (while being "strong" enough not to gain weight, mind you). You will begin to build or continue to build on your knowledge and skills and explore any and all aspects of life to your heart's desire. A writing friend once told me one of the benefits she loves about writing is that you become an expert on many subjects and you carry this knowledge with you for the rest of your life. There's a great deal of strength in that.

3. Learning your craft and sharpening your skills: This is a great accomplishment. You literally transform yourself into the ranks of successful people who have arrived at their success like you have, from their relentless efforts and hard work. A likely trajectory to becoming an accomplished writer can go something like this:
  • Write for your school newspaper beginning as early as possible; then become editor.
  • Establish a place to write and a schedule so that you write regularly every day, if possible.
  • Keep a journal. Come up with subjects that are important to you and think of ways you can write about them.
  • Take courses, read "how-to" books, join writing organizations and attend workshops and conferences. Share your writing with other writers.
  • Explore publication outlets online, at the library, with writing organizations you belong to. Find a publication(s) that would welcome what you have to say.
  • Learn photography, a handy skill to accompany your writing.
  • Learn how to speak in front of others.
  • Network, see what other writers are doing and learn from them. We are a sharing group .We have been known to go to great lengths to help and promote our fellow writers.
Before you know it you will have found your niche and if you keep working at it you will eventually reach your goals. Once you've reached your goals you can flex those buff writing muscles you've developed to benefit yourself, your readers and those fortunate enough to come in contact with you.

Photo: Courtesy of

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. She worked as a weight-loss counselor for several years and understands firsthand the challenges facing anyone wanting to lose weight. Recently, she completed Joyce Sweeney's online fiction courses, picture book course and mystery and suspense course. She is currently working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook

Is Thinking about Writing .... Well writing?

Do you find yourself thinking about writing, dreaming about writing, and making up characters in your head? Is thinking about writing..... well the same as writing?

The answer is yes and no. Writers spend a good part of the time with their characters and actions for their characters twirling in their heads... thinking. Some call it percolating, others call it day dreaming, and yet others may call it procrastination. Keeping all those thoughts in your mind though and not on paper may be all of the above and could not be defined as writing.

Thinking about writing isn't writing if you never put pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard. We are not talking about publishing here or seeing your byline. We aren't even talking about revised and polished work. We are simply talking about getting those thoughts in your head onto the written page. That action makes you a writer even if you never get published.

Saying you are a writer when you have not written so much as anything more than your grocery list doesn't make you a writer. It makes you a wanna be.  Writers write. And all of this goes back to having three major writing goals, action plans for each of those goals, and using some of your time every day or every week to put those actions into play. Simply said, a writer writes with purpose.

When life gets in the way and keeps you from your writing it never keeps ideas from formulating in your heart and your brain. Take note of pain, sadness, and all happy things happening and record feelings or key words that will help you recall the incidents later to put on paper. Keeping in tune with what you feel, see, smell, and experience makes real life the percolating part of your writing process. Don't allow real life to assist you in procrastination. That won't make you a writer. Pulling those real life details out later to weave into a paragraph or chapter makes you a writer.

 If it is in your heart to write as it is with mine,  the seed to becoming a full grown writer has been planted. It is our job to tend to the seed by practicing our craft so at harvest our crop will be plentiful in the form of many pages of written words, our words. We are writers. It will never be enough for us to be thinkers so what will you write today?

Terri Forehand is a nurse, writer, and recently a quilt shop owner. She writes from the hills of Brown County Indiana where she resides with her husband, several rescue dogs, and 5 rescue cats. Visit her blog at and her author site at


Both readers and writers can benefit from a surprise once in a while.

Creating surprises in your writing can take many forms. You can surprise a reader by choosing a word that is new to them - or at least one that is rarely used.  Consider ailurophile - one who is a cat lover, or bucolic - a lovely rural setting. 

Or consider a surprising metaphors. "A hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running." - Groucho Marx or  "Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." Marcel Proust

Similes are another great way to surprise your reader. A simile uses the words like or as to form an image for your reader. "The snow fell like billions of breadcrumbs, promising a flurry of activity and a huge pile of shit in the aftermath."

Finally you can create a surprise for your reader by a turn of plot or by a character doing something, well, uncharacteristic. Some ideas for how to surprise: 
  • have a character share an embarrassing secret
  • cause your character to fail at achieving their goal
  • increase the emotion in a scene or change the expected emotion
  • introduce a new character in an unusual way
Creating surprises for your reader ensures your reader will want to keep going. Creating surprises while you write does the same thing for you. So go on - surprise me!


D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, Flight from the Water Planet, Book 1 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.  

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at

You can also follower her at or on Facebook

Keeping a Journal

If you're just launching a freelance writing career, keeping a journal is key to productivity and success.

Let's look at some reasons why:

A journal keeps you organized.

Beginning writers are learning all sorts of new things - developing a platform, creating an online         presence, networking - not to mention fine tuning the craft of writing. It can be overwhelming. Listing what you've learned helps keep the path you are on clear so it doesn't interfere with your actual writing.

A journal keeps you on track.

Most of us are not full-time writers. We're mothers, wives, employees, care-takers, or business owners. There are lots of responsibilities vying for our attention! Keeping a journal of daily accomplishments, no matter how small, helps you see you're making progress.

A journal keeps you encouraged.

We all get discouraged for one reason or another. Breaking into freelance writing requires hard work and patience. Being able to read over the last week or month of your hard work encourages you to keep going and not give up. Emotions cannot dictate or determine your future. The real deal is written down.

Your journal doesn't have to be fancy. I have a composition notebook. Every time I apply for a freelance job, take a writing course, submit a magazine article, or work on a long term project, I jot it down in my journal. Just the act of documenting these things makes me feel great because I'm so busy, I forget.

There are several ways to organize your journal. I keep it simple. I just list the date line by line, and write what I did that day. Having a record of accomplishments is valuable for every writer.

Do you have a journal? How does it help you?


Photo credit: Smallest Forest / Foter / CC BY-NC

Kathleen Moulton is a freelance writer.  You can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts -

The Gift of Feedback

Feedback, otherwise referred to as constructive criticism, can make the heart beat a bit faster. Each of us, in our lifetime, have been subjected to this feedback, yet society doesn't tell us either how to give or receive feedback well. Consequently, even when our intent is to help another, the feedback we give feels hurtful or mean. With writers, too often, this "constructive criticism" may stop a person from writing.

Some suggestions: When giving feedback:
1. Ask for permission first. "May I make a suggestion . . ." This gives the person the option of saying, "no."

2. Use "I" statements. "I have found . . ."

3. Remember that even though you may appreciate and accept feedback well, others may be more sensitive to criticism. Keep that in mind and adapt your comments to reflect how they may be received by someone else.

4. Do not say something to someone on-line that you would not say if that person was standing in front of you.

Some suggestions: For receiving feedback:
1. Resist the urge to become defensive. Remember, it is difficult to give feedback too!

2. Take a deep breath. You are not perfect. No one is. We all have things we can work on. This is not about whether you are liked or not.

3. Listen. Then find the truth. Okay, so we are all not perfect. We all have things we can work on. Somewhere in the criticism there will be a suggestion that will allow you to take your writing to the next level. The message might be filled with untruths, but somewhere, trust me, will be something that can be taken and used. So consider and evaluate the criticism. Then decide how to act.

4. Ask for help with your writing challenge. If you need it, ask. Trust me, there are people who want to help.

Finally, thank the person who have you a gift, the gift of believing you are worthy of feedback.


D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a Young Adult Science Fiction series. Her latest book, Flight from the Water Planet, Book 1 of The Exodus Series was written with her coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth  where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.  

She has also compiled a collection of short inspirational material for writers in The Write Balance, Journaling the Writer's Life.
She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at
Her novels are available in electronic format here, or print format here
You can also follower her at or on Facebook

Writing & Your Health

I will not spend time on a litany of my medical conditions that require medication and visits to different doctors about every three months. This is beyond things like X-Rays, an MRI, like today.

Why do I even mention this?

I will tell you.

If you are or want to be a writer, no matter your age, your physical and emotional health are of great concern to your writing.

You can't spend time writing if you hurt, or have a migraine, or any condition that requires monitoring. If you have any chronic conditions as I do and many others, writers need to closely monitor these conditions so that writer down time from illness is minimized.

Having to spend more than five hours visiting doctors and hospitals for tests can certainly cut into a WIP time and make one tired just from the time in waiting rooms and waiting for people to do their thing.

When trying to write your book, blog post, or promoting your book, it’s hard to when you are not physically able to because of health issues.

You’ve all heard the saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Insert any name you wish.

To do your best work writers needs some time to get out and smell the roses, please do whatever they need to remain healthy.

Work hard, but not to the point that your health takes a back seat. You might just live a happier and healthier life. Spend time with family, friends, and pets if you have any.

Robert Medak
Freelance writer, blogger, editor, marketer, reviewer
Owner of Robert J Medak Writing & More

Setting Writing Goals for 2012...How are Your Goals Working for You?

Writing takes planning and implementing, reviewing and revising. In nursing we learn to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate for a patient problem. That process can apply to many things outside of delivering nursing care. It can also apply to your writing goals for 2012.

Assess: Sit down and make a list of what you have accomplished in  2011 against what you wanted to accomplish. This activity is the time for assessing what has worked for you this year and what has not related to your writing goals. Assuming we want to be published and to sell our work means the honest assessment of how much we published and how much we sold. This is crucial to setting goals for 2012. After you have assessed where you are and where you want to be as an author, list 3 or 4 major writing/publishing goals for the New Year.

Plan: Now to make a workable plan, your smaller action steps must be actions that work towards one of your major goals. The actions you took in the past year that led to more submissions and acceptances needs to be placed in the plan again. The marketing actions that you took that produced successful sales needs to be added and tweaked for the coming year. The things you assessed that did not work or that hindered your writing need to be deleted. Sometimes that means deleting an activity unrelated to writing but that takes time away from your writing. Keep in mind if the actions you want to take don't move you towards your goals, they are not part of this plan.

Implement: January 1st will be here before you know it so try to have your assessment and your plan figured out before the first of the year, or at least the first week of the New Year. Then decide what day your plan will start and begin implementing the actions you have decided on. If I want to monetize my blog for instance, I may put something in my plan that lists the actions I will take to do this. Here is a sample for January if one of my major goals would be to monetize the blog-
  • Week 1- research products to incorporate on the blog/affiliate products
  • Week 2- add links to my blog with 2-4 affiliate links with posts about each product
  • Week 3- post at least once about the products, send out newsletter to remind readers about products
  • Week 4- post at least once about how one of the products has helped me with my writing career
 This is just an example, but you get the idea.

Evaluate: Set up time in your writing schedule to evaluate your goals and your actions steps at least 3 or 4 times a year. Many writers evaluate weekly and set up a new plan for the next week. Awesome if you can do that, but realistically many of us are lucky to jot a few notes every week. In some ways we evaluate every day about what we did and what we need to do. A serious evaluation every 3-4 months includes looking at what you have circulating out with publishers, what you need to resubmit, what needs revisions, and what are the next target markets on your list. However you decide to evaluate your goals, make sure the new changes will be action steps that will make your writing soar.

Keep in mind that the rule for goals is this:

Goals should be specific.
Goals should be realistic.
Goals should be attainable.
Goals should be measurable.

Remeber that you also may need to hone your skills as one of your major goals in order to make your writing and publishing goals attainable and realistic.

Now, looking at your goals for last year, be honest in deciding what is working for you. Can you expand your career this next year? Do you need more education? Do you need to focus on submissions? Do you want to attend a conference? Do you want to become active in a critique group to help hone your skills? Do you want to publish a novel? Be specific in what you want and go for it. There is no time like the present to take actions steps towards making your writing and marketing career soar for 2012. My writing mentor, Suzanne Lieurance always tells us to write like the wind, and I will add soar like an eagle. Make this next year your best.

Your Children's Story and the Message

  By Karen Cioffi, Children's Writer I get a lot of clients who want to tell children something through a book. These people want to sen...