Saturday, March 31, 2012

Do You Need a College Education to Become a Writer?

Like so many writers, I began writing from the moment I was able to hold a pencil in my hand. But was I talented enough to make a career out of writing? 

To find out, even though I was 36 at the time, I went back to college, signed up for the most difficult writing instructors I could find, and plopped myself into their classrooms. And I learned that no matter how much talent I thought I had going in, the knowledge I gained from taking those college courses helped me immeasurably to refine my technique and master my voice. 

Though I used to have odd dreams about algebraic equations in the stratosphere (yes, really) and though I couldn't understand WHY I had to take classes in which I had no interest, I never regretted my decision to go back to school and, as a matter of fact, I still marvel at how well I did. I raised kids, worked two jobs, and still managed to handle a full-time course schedule!

The great thing about earning a college degree is that no matter what field interests you, you can write about it. And when you are too busy to attend traditional schools, you can always make time for online schools in virtually (pun intended) any field.

Say you want to become a nurse and write about your experiences. Online msn programs offer certification and licensing so you can earn your Masters of Science in Nursing.

Or obtain an online finance degree and become a business professional. With the economy suffering from so many upheavals, periodicals and online web sites need qualified business writers.

Business management certificates offer even more opportunities for writers. Six Sigma training online, for instance, was originally developed by Motorola to help people identify and repair defects in the manufacturing process. Writing skills help customers and management alike understand the entire manufacturing process.

Criminal justice courses, legal or paralegal courses, religious studies, education, health care, and technology are all areas that contribute to the wealth of information writers can access to find work in a particular niche.

So do you need a college education to become a writer? No, but you should educate yourself on the proper use of the English language and discover more about the subjects that interest you. College gives you an edge that allows you to write, not only what you know, but also what you don't know – with the added assurance that your knowledge has been expanded beyond your comfort zone.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Creative Way to Find Your Stuff

Creativity sometimes means having scattered thoughts. I know. My ideas are scattered everywhere, and I'm fortunate in that I am always around a writing implement when I get them. I've written notes to myself on my hand, on numerous notebooks, on scraps of paper, on napkins, on toilet paper (difficult), and even on grocery bags and envelopes.

My problem has never been coming up with great ideas; my problem has always been losing those great ideas.

I was so happy when I realized that my iPhone came with a notes mode. I decided to use it instead of my numerous note pads to store ideas – until it stopped working one day and I couldn't retrieve any of my notes.  

After my iPhone stopped working, I thought I could rely on my laptop for holding all of my ideas together and even became adept at naming the folders something I would remember – an "idea" folder, a "screenplay" folder, a "done" folder, and various other folders to help me streamline my work – but then my laptop broke. Well, it didn't actually break, but it did stop working, and I was unable to retrieve my data for a while.

In addition to losing files, I also lose things. I've written numerous blogs about poltergeists who must come in and steal my things and now – finally – I have come up with an idea that will save me from losing any more of my belongings, allow me to see exactly where I place things, AND show me that pesky poltergeist: a home security system.

You read that correctly. I am going to get a home security system in my home and have it pointed directly at me at all times. That way, when I lose that fabulous screenplay idea I wrote, I will have a visual image of the idea. I'll even see myself writing the idea, so I can retype what I previously wrote.

Whether I lose a lens cap (an ongoing problem), a nightgown (mysterious problem), or my mind (might not work for my mind), I will have visual proof of where all of my things are located. I might even capture that poltergeist (would be funny if it turned out to be me).

If, like me, you tend to lose things and you want to keep track of where you put them, consider getting one for yourself.

Yes, I must keep my home safe – from myself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Writing Creatively for Companies That Don't Seem Creative

Writing creatively is sometimes difficult for writers who feel stilted by writing about topics that don't lend themselves to creativity, but you can write creatively about anything – if you are willing to think creatively.

As writers who rely on clients for our writing business, we need to be professional and flexible. When clients ask us to write about topics that are unfamiliar to us, like chemical investment banking, for instance, our job requires us to research, and we have to captivate our audience (and theirs) with our own special writing style. 

Familiarizing ourselves with our clients' web sites and reading any written material they provide should be our first objective. Finding out from clients their purpose in posting the blog is important and necessary to know as well.

Let's say, for example, that a customer asks you to write about chemical mergers and acquisitions for his web site. If you are unfamiliar with chemicals, you must search his web site to understand what is expected of you. And if, after searching the web site, you still don't understand what is expected of you, ask. Maybe the client's chemical site is a specialist investment bank. If you hadn't read the web site, you wouldn't know to include that information in your blog.

Sometimes clients approach us with requests to write about subjects that we have no interest in writing or that don't fit in with our own blog's theme. In those cases, you can refuse to write the blog, thereby losing money, or you can spend time learning about the company, think creatively, and post the blog anyway.

Whatever you decide to do, be professional. Politely declining a blog request in the following way, rather than ignoring the client, is the better approach in dealing with prospective writing clients – "I'm sorry I will have to decline. My blog topic doesn't fit in with your request. If, however, you have anything related to my blog theme, I'll be happy to write about it." – In this way, you are not blatantly refusing to write the blog, you are politely declining to write it in a way that leaves you open for more job opportunities. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Not to Brag, BUT…

As I wrote the title of this blog, I reminded myself of Dr. Phil's comments made about the word, "But." He often says that whatever precedes the word, "But," is completely erased by the word.

And so it goes that I must confess – my "not bragging" has a but. You see, I love when something I have written is featured. I love seeing that same something featured twice, but when an article I wrote appears THREE times on the same page, how can I help BUT brag.

It could happen again, true. But it happened today, and, if only for my eyes, I am reminding myself – in this blog – about the day I wrote something that was featured three times and that I want to remember forever. Click Mesmerism, Hypnotism, and Artificial Somnambulism if you would like to read the featured post.

And if you want to read more from this author, look at the upper right-hand side of this blog under the Donate button.

Why a Business Degree Might Improve Your Chances for Writing Success

Most writers I know are more concerned with the creative aspect of writing than they are about publicity and marketing. Sadly, unless they are abundantly wealthy or famous, they soon discover that unless somebody else markets and promotes their writing, the book they wrote never gets published and their best seller remains in a drawer. 

How many writers have written a book that they KNOW will make it to the top of the BEST SELLER list? They printed a copy, mailed it to publishing houses around the world, and waited patiently (or impatiently) for a response. After several months nobody calls, and they don't understand why. 

Maybe it's time they – and you – learned how to market your own material by going back to school or by continuing your education. 

"OH, NO!" I can almost hear some of you screaming. Like most of us, the thought of returning to school seems so foreign – and impossible. With kids to raise or grandchildren to care for, who has time to drive to class, spend time in class, and do all of the after-school work required? 

That's when online learning comes to the rescue. You can attend classes in well established business schools, like Southern New Hampshire University, without ever having to leave your Southern California (or wherever you live) home. Learning about the business side of writing helps you understand the theory behind what works and what doesn't in promoting your book (or whatever you've written).

While you await your "Big Break" with your novel, your screenplay, or you children's picture book, you can study for your online MBA in Marketing and your MBA in Social Media Marketing. 

Consider the alternative: You could stay where you are, using your methods, hoping one day to become recognized, or you could take the plunge and learn how to market and promote your works.

Worried about losing your creative edge? Don't! If you are creative, that creativity will seep into everything you do – even when it comes to marketing your works, thereby giving YOU an advantage, because armed with knowledge and creativity, you will be a dynamo others will notice.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Looking for Ideas for Your Next Book, Blog, or Article?

Probably my most treasured asset is my imagination and creativity. Never at a loss for ideas – as a matter of fact, deluged by them – I have numerous files filled with ideas I've yet to explore, research, or write about.

I know. I'm lucky. But I know others who scratch their heads until they are practically bald trying to come up with even one idea worth pursuing. For you, my little balding friend, I offer the following help:

The Creative (Writing) Spirit explores creativity and imagination and offers some creative writing exercises that will give your imagination a workout. 

Sometimes the problem with conjuring ideas is writers block. For those of you suffering from writers block, a nightmare for many writers, I offer Writer's Block – the Key to Unlocking the Block

Still at a loss for ideas? Check out Daily Writing Tips for everything from The Winning Formula for Writing Success to Creative Writing 101, and so much more. 

In closing, just pay attention to every sight and sound around you. As I mention in The Creative (Writing) Spirit, freeze the frame around you and write about it. Then send me your link.

Want to read more from this author? Check out the blogs and articles located under the Donate button.

Friday, March 2, 2012

How to Help Writers and How to Add the Donate Button

You love your writer friends and family members, and you want to help them financially because you know that the only way they make money is if somebody uses their writing services. Or maybe they receive their income from AdSense, where people purchase items by clicking on AdSense ads that sit alongside their blogs.

New bloggers don't make a lot of money from AdSense though, because writers have to wait until the amount grows to $100 to access AdSense money. For some of us, that takes a couple of years.

If writers are lucky enough not to live in Illinois, they might make money from Amazon. (Illinois is – and is in – a sad state. Businesses, online or not, are pulling out of Illinois because Illinois requires of businesses – and residents, I might add – too much in taxes.)

In addition to, or instead of, making money from AdSense and Amazon, writers can also make money through paid-to-blog sites; however in the initial stages, writers are lucky if they make as little as $50 a month or less.

Knowing their financial predicament, you might want to hand them some money but they will probably refuse to accept it. So what's a friend to do?

Guess what! You CAN help your writer friends by donating money to their blogs. And they won't be upset with you for doing so! After all, they were the ones who placed the Donate button on their blogs in the first place.

How can you help, you ask? By clicking the DONATE button on their blogs!

And if you are a writer who doesn't have a Donate button on your blog, and you want a DONATE button, please read the instructions below to get one:

Before you begin, if you don't have a PayPal account, get one. Just go to PayPal and set up an account. Of course, if you have a blog, you already have a PayPal account, but if you want to start a blog, you're going to need a PayPal account.

Then, after you have a PayPal account, click this link: Buttons for donations. After you arrive at the PayPal site, click Create your button now (located next to the Donate button). PayPal will walk you through the steps (you'll have to log in), and you can then place the button on your blog. Your readers won't need a PayPal account to donate. They can donate with their credit or debit cards.

The Donate button will not appear on WordPress blogs that have WordPress in the url, but it does work on Blogger blogs. Just go to Layout, then to Add a Gadget, scroll down to HTML/JavaScript, click the + sign, give the entry a Title (or not), enter the code given to you by PayPal under Content, and click Save. Your readers can now donate money to you.

Want to try it out? Click the Donate button on this blog ;)

If you would like to read more from this author, I invite you to click on any of the blogs or articles that sit under the Donate button on the upper right hand side of this blog.



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