How do those words hit you?
I find that for a long time the words and concept of enjoyment weren't present in my mindset or brain space at all. For so long I was in what could be called a reactionary-survival mindset. So much so that to actually enjoy something? I mean, what is that?
Lately I have been put in a place to observe a different social group of people. People who speak in the language of enjoyment. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy your day. Enjoy your meal. Did you enjoy your sleep? What is all of this enjoyment they speak of? However, this goes back to an older lesson. If you don't ask the Universe for it, you don't manifest it. That which you think and speak about the most in your life is what you bring into it. Right?
So when most of the chatter in your head and your mouth is a complaint. When it is about what sucks or what isn't working, then that is what is magnetized to you. It is where your attention is so it is what you notice more often. I did this way too much for too long. But when you begin to embrace the mindset of enjoyment that worldview begins to change.
The first thing I noticed when thinking in an enjoyment mindset was how my shoulder muscles became more meaty and less stony. Before, if you were to touch my shoulders they would be wound tight, hard with tension. I would beg someone to rub them to get my circulation going again. Now not as much, if at all. Because no matter where life is, how challenging it may feel in the moment. There are things to enjoy. A sunset, a smile, a cup of coffee or your favorite drink. There is something if you look for it. Enjoying a rest or the sound of a friends voice telling you a story.
When you are enjoying life people want to enjoy it with you. Enjoying life is a practice like any other. And like any practice, it becomes a habit over time.
I've been on social media for about as long as it has been around being a GenX kid. I recently got kicked off of one of the major players for playing too rough apparently which led me to explore an up and comer platform. It was nice. It reminded me of the Golden Age of social media, the time before governments, big corporations and advertisers get a hold of a platform and destroy it. Here are my thoughts about the transformation from what I would define as a pure platform and its slow demise as outside forces attack and destroy the social fabric of social media.
Average people when left to their own devices will often share posts about music, travel, children, pets, food, inspiring quotes and stories, some sports perhaps, play games maybe, and share jokes. That's what we do on our own without interference. Often there is beauty and love in the posts. People share the things that bring us together, things that we care about the most. This usually builds large platforms of users happily chatting and sharing like a fun picnic or cocktail party.
Politics can come into these early stages, particularly now a days because it has become so prevalent and worrisome in our daily lives. But often in the pure phase of a social media platform, politics is a spicy side dish that a few wish to partake in, but it is far from the entire content meal. It's over there, not center stage. It's not the main driver of clicks and shares.
Then as a platform becomes more popular the bad actors arrive. My heart sinks and angers simply at the typing of it. They ruin everything! And here's how. Often you hear snide comments laughing about people sharing snaps of their lunch. Then they come in with vicious kinds of politics for clicks. Not problem solving politics mind you. They are articles and posts meant to incite anger and inspire an attack on an individual. That individual is chosen because they represent a group, teachers, police officers, public servants, and groups. Groups are racial, ethnic, class, however humans can be divided up and set against one another.
Don't get me wrong. There are times when this outrage is absolutely called for. There is a great deal of corruption going on in the world today. Abuses of power and valiant struggles to find Justice in and unjust world. However, the side effect of a cesspool of this kind of strike and attack content created solely to create outrage and hatred without channeling that energy into an outcome that is more suitable to the group only creates a community of hostility and destruction. Not one of coming together in a spirit of finding out how to harmoniously share public space with one another which would be a far more meaningful discourse to engage in. It would be far more productive to solve problems that way.
This dark social space is not the fault of the average user. They only reflect the world in which they live. The pain forced on them from an increasingly authoritarian and austere political and economic environment is like the boiling frog in that they don't feel the heat until it is too late and they are captured in it. Where else can they go to let off steam and feel heard? If they don't let off steam life feels a great deal less manageable. So though a casual observer might find this behavior unhealthy and unreasonable it is quite the opposite. It is very healthy and reasonable especially when due to lack funding or access, no professional counseling or guidance is available to them.
Nevertheless, as advertisers begin to take up the time line which people resent because they come to social media to escape the pressures of corporatism and finance. As the political forces fear monger and vomit false platitudes on the screen. As corporate media churns out miles and miles worth of vicious click bait the environment of social media discourse becomes more acidic and vile until it breaks. That hasn't happened yet but it is close. A societal reckoning.
It is not that this vicious content doesn't hold a truth to it. People are telling their truths on social media. Each personal lived experience, even if totally fabricated holds a truth because to advertise how you would like the world to be and your place in it holds as much powerful truth as reporting strictly in unemotional terms what is happening in your space. However,when that becomes a pumping of a particular kind of manipulative communication which is not meant to do anything but spread a false narrative like a virus in order for people to participate in destructive behavior that is not beneficial to anyone but a few who profit off of it that holds no moral or social value.
I am happy that I have been released from that Hell. It is nice to be on a new platform again looking at puppies and kitties, lunch, and beautiful landscapes. Smiles of laughing families having fun. This is the best of us as humanity. This is the best of not only what social media can be, it's also the best of what we as humanity can be as well. I support that.
Hello out there!
I started this site mostly to journal my own thoughts as I had time. I felt like I was just sending things out like a message in a bottle to see if anyone received the message or cared about it.
I was happy to get some positive feedback from readers that found value in what they read. That is fantastic! If you have anything that you would like me to post about feel free to comment and let me know. If my writing is given purpose here, I'd be happy to give more time to it. What would you like to know more about? I am listening.
Until next time. Happy Writing!
My journey as a writer is approaching a decade now. I have been sporadically documenting the path going from writing for fun, to writing for funds. I have learned a lot during this time. Would you like to know my conclusion about the process? It is complicated. I cannot stop there and give you that vague answer though. So let me break it down a little more.
There's a place for us.
There is a place in this world for talented writers. There are billions of people wanting their stories heard. This creates both a tremendous audience and a tremendously large, noisy crowd to contend with. If you want to write for money, you must write about things that people (most likely a corporation or industry leader) would like to pay for.
Selling or sell out?
One thing that is quickly learned is that money is not the best indicator of what is valuable subject matter for humanity. Therefore, we choose. We choose to pursue the subject matter of most interest to us, the writer, and all else be damned. Or we choose to write about the things that others want to pay for. Those blessed few who are able to have a passion that people are willing to pay for are extremely fortunate--and rare.
About the bills.
I am $16,000 in debt from my Communication Degree. I wonder if it is worth it. I thought the process was interesting, engaging. I felt like I was accomplishing things. I was extremely happy that I did this in my forties instead of my twenties. If I had gone through this process when I was younger I may have allowed it to define me more. When a person is in her forties she knows who she is and what she is capable of, for better or worse. The process held me accountable to my writing process and that is the most important gift that the process of gaining a degree brought to bear in my experience.
About the cost.
Why does the cost of the degree matter? It matters because unless a person makes a decision to give ALL of themselves to the writing. ALL time, ALL energy (and then some), ALL self; it is very unlikely that a writer will be able to make a living otherwise. Working as a writer is ALL CONSUMING! For some it is a calling and not a choice. It matters not that it is all consuming. However for anyone wanting relationships, children, and other things to happen in life simultaneously, it is a serious decision to make. If it is your calling perhaps the decision has been made for you. If you came to this calling late in the game, as I have, the decision becomes what are you willing to give up to make enough room for the writing to make something of it.
For all those out there who are still hungry, who still have that craving for the keyboard. I say go for it! Learn all you can learn about your craft and give it every second you can. Between the demands and the obligations of life. Sneak away for awhile for you and your writing. Your voice is needed by someone. It is not your job per say to know who that someone is. Just do your best to craft your message for them. Perhaps it will touch them, move them, inspire them. And after all isn't that what it is all about? I think the money comes later, like love, it comes when you least expect it. But you must create yourself first. Create yourself as a writer, the best writer you can be, and when that happens. The rest of it comes with the work.
Good luck fellow writers!
"Don't let the turkeys get you down." This is my favorite phrase to tell myself after reading the comment section of some articles. I am fortunate that many times I have more positive comments than negative ones. However, the important thing for any writer that wants to go from writing for fun, to writing for funds to remember is, not to give either kind of comment too much weight in your writing life. That is not to say that a writer should ignore comments. I think comments are the best part. I am able to get feedback and see how my readers received the information I put out there. I get to be enriched by my reader's experiences, which I find to be an extremely rewarding part of the process.
However, as many writers know there is always at least one in the group. Especially when writing for more populated sites, the one turkey that wants to take pot shots for whatever reason because that is what they like to do. I have seen many writers get frustrated by this, sometimes to the point of wanting to give up writing because of them and to those writers I say "Don't let the turkeys get you down." Keep writing, keep improving, learn your topics, be brave in your point of view and keep at it.
The other difficult challenge is to face the notes given by professors, colleagues, or editors about your work. It is difficult to know what type of weight to put on their notes. I think there is value in listening to what they have to say. However, there is also the need to understand that they are people too. Some people just don't get where you are coming from and that's okay too. There are changes that need to be made in writing and there are also times to stand your ground and stick up for your writing. That is something that a writer must develop in her gut. Being able to correctly engage or know when to back down in order to write another day, is an important social skill to have as a writer. Nevertheless, when a writer comes up against an editor or other in authority that "Just doesn't get it." That is another time to remember "Don't let the turkeys get you down."
The most important thing is that a writer puts her best writing out there. Some readers will get it and others won't but just keep writing.
Until next time.
What would you do if you were exactly where you wanted to be with your writing career? Every day as I strive to go from writing for fun to writing for funds, I attempt to shape my day as that of a writer. What would a writer do? I watch the news in the morning and tweet comments to my favorite shows. I scan for the trending topics of the day. I attempt to read a few blogs about how to be a better writer, and a few sources about the topics I like to write about the most, and then I write. Some days it works out better than other days, because I still have other responsibilities. Nevertheless, the more I "act" like a writer, the more habits of a writer I take on, the more I become a writer. I get stronger and better by practicing and by developing the successful habits of a writer. When I go to writing lectures or conferences and meet other writers I always feel inspired. This is what writers do. So if you are still writing for fun and you'd like to write for funds take on the habits of successful writers.
One of my writing friends recommended this blog about getting work as a writer. It's worth a read: http://bit.ly/HSKSsW.
Until next time...
Happy Writing! :o)
Writers who want to transition from writing for fun, to writing for funds often place all effort on a jump into the big pond too soon. Excited about finding a place on the big websites and those websites see them coming. Competing with tens of thousands of writers to get a a dollar a month if your lucky for work can be disheartening. It is a good way to build skill and hone your craft. It is nevertheless not the best way to get paid money to purchase the required amount of caffeine, for example,that most writers need to fuel their efforts.
On my personal writing journey, I was very excited to get a message on Facebook from one of my writing buddies Tamra McRill, she offered me the opportunity to write a guest blog for her on http://www.punditthis.com (look for it next Monday April 16, 2012). As writers it is important to come together and help others with their work. Don't be selfish with your talents, trying to hoard them all on your page or on big sites where your work is buried for the most part until you can develop a large following. Get out there build your audience and make the kind of money that folds, not jingles. It's a winning situation for all involved.
It gets me thinking.Perhaps, I'll start paying for quality guest blogs here on Writer's Notes. Hmmm let me look into that. Stay tuned for more information.
Until next time...
I love that by some freak of cyber nature--I'm calling it my guardian angels-- the share screen for this speech by Randy Pausch about Time Management (see below) pops up first when I look for Facebook on my most visited websites list. Watch it! It is worth the time :o)
How many genuine opportunities in life pass a person by while she's deep into someone else's Facebook, Twitter, (or whatever other site) profile? It sucks you in, like that sticky licorice spot on Candy Land, and you miss your turn. You miss your turn to see what you could have accomplished today. You missed a dip in the river of inspiration, which as a writer knows, its never the same river twice.
This may be one of the bigger challenges when transitioning from writing for fun to writing for funds. A writer cannot accept her own excuses for not writing. The only way to be a successful writer is to write....A LOT!
Facebook can be a good thing-- in moderation-- for inspiration. Especially when you can be inspired by other artists, writers and interesting thinkers. For example my Facebook friend and fellow writer Sender, who posted on his profile the quote:
"Write a thousand words a day and in three years you'll be a writer!"
So getting some inspiration is fantastic as long as the writer takes that inspiration and then uses the rest of the day to write, write and write some more!
Happy Writing All :o)
Til next time...
I've been away for awhile. Partly because there was a fire at my house and I've been rebuilding from that. It's taught me a lot about myself and what is important about life. I felt glad that I was a writer gpoing through this. Because being a writer allows something good to come from this madness. I have a story to tell that I didn't before. Would I have forgone the experience if I could choose? I don't know. That's hard to answer because none of it had to do with my choices. These choices were made for me, so all I have now is to decide how I reflect on this moment of my life. I choose to find the silver lining and move forward with life.
What's great about being writer is having something to show for having gone through the experience. So what do I want to say about it? What are my observations, my unique point of view? What do you have to share? As one can see through Facebook or speaking to people sharing the story I have found many people have a similar story of some sort, they just don't know how to share it.
The other good part about being a writer is the ability to get the thoughts, the fears, the anger, the hope and the lessons I've learned out onto the page and for me that is a huge help in healing from this traumatic event. Yes, I feel very blessed to be a writer. Blessed that good things can come out of the worst of situations.
Until next time. Happy Writing!
A writer who wants to be taken seriously must first take himself/herself seriously. Their work must live up to the additional scrutiny given to those who put themselves out to the public in the light of being an expert.
This seriousness is shown in the writer's work in the following ways:
I wonder, is it really harder or more work to write as a professional as it is to write as a hobby? Is it merely an abstract placed on typing the same characters onto a screen? I think they are two different things. When a writer wants to be taken seriously, she makes an oath that what she portrays will be factual if writing non-fiction, it will be at least believable when in the realm of fiction. The promise that the brand will be well-written and as a matter of course will be placed for all to see and to inevitably criticize. That is the nature of the beast. Will the work survive the criticism? That is the question which comes into play any time a writer posts their work in a venue to display.
When a person is a hobby writer she can merely take the critique and say "Hey I didn't say I was an expert, I'm just writing my thoughts." and in so doing, there is a cushioning effect. When a professional places work out to the public, the notes given back are more direct, sharp, because the writer presents her thoughts as truth. As an assumed truth they must be based in some form of logic, some meaning, some semblance of a valid argument to be taken with the respect that an expert deserves.
Expert. The word itself grabs the air from my chest. It's what holds some writers back. The fear of stepping from the center of the pack out front to pronounce "Hey, I know what I'm talking about." It comes with responsibility and hard work to be sure that when facts are presented they are in fact the best information and/or entertainment available.
Responsibility is something many hope to avoid. I am no exception. That being said I continue to create scenarios in my life (being a wife, a mother and a business owner) not to mention community responsibilities that I took on in the past which come with the need to be very responsible. Such a dichotomy to want the benefits of responsibility with none of the bite. This is the fire that every writer must walk through. Writers usually hope that people appreciate their point-of-view. Many writers also know that a least a few readers will not, and could be harsh in relaying their feedback to that effect. A writer is compelled to write despite this fact. Because the urge to write is greater than any fear that possible retribution may hold.
So what about you? Are you up to the task? When thinking of yourself as a writer,,,
Are you serious?!
Until next time. Happy Writing!
With the New Year coming it's time to plan for the future and make New Years Resolutions. Have you made any yet? I am about to sit down and make mine. Do you take yourself seriously as a writer? I didn't really but 2012 is the year. And in order to take myself seriously as a writer I must set goals in order to achieve them a goal set is the first step to a goal met.
Good questions to start out with:What is my topic of expertise?
Who can I help?/ Who is my audience?
Is the audience of this topic a wide or an exclusive audience?
How much do I want to make?
How many people would I have to help in order to reach that number?
What media methods can I use to reach them?
How many units of my work would they have to purchase in order for me to meet my goals?
How many hours will it take to research and write these stories?
What does this audience want to learn about regarding my topic of expertise?
What can I do to make myself the top expert in the topic of my choice?
As a writer finds the answers to these questions and others that will most certainly come up and puts a chart together, a strategy, then they are able to transition from being a dreamer, to a person who makes dreams come true.
Make it your New Years resolution to take your writing seriously and act upon it with focused action. Bring in a consistency that your fans can count on.This will begin the fateful steps that all writers must take to writing for fun to writing for funds.
It's so simple and yet it's not. As a writer it is so easy to get caught up in writing for a purpose. And you know, you should write for a purpose, however you should also write without a purpose. Because there are times when I am not able to write about what my assignment is and so I must write about something else. If it turns out to be any good I can stockpile it away for later. Like a squirrel storing up for winter, a winter of ideas. I can pull the work out later where it may fit another contest or assignment (or not). That's really not the point. The point is to write it down. That's the only point. That can be the most difficult thing to get behind. Especially when the bill collectors are calling and the pantry looks thin and that mental accountant is screaming "WE NEED TO GET PAID!!!!!!" from the back of my mind, I get lost in it to. Each writing, each journey, is like the SIMS game, it improves your skill level I can see the little stars collecting in my head now. Sometimes that's the only point. But after mindfully practicing the craft for while a nice compilation of work begins to accumulate that is actually marketable. And then what do you know? Perhaps it is something others will find valuable and pay for! Bonus.
All writers go through phases.
I have seen articles along my cyber travels about the process of becoming a writer, it's one thing to read about these growth phases, but it's quite another to understand them because you lived them. These phases are not meant as a put down, only an illustration of the process as I've come to experience it, the more experience a writer gets the faster they go through the process and become successful we would all hope. So, the purpose of this post is to laugh together and to know you are not alone.
The phases go something like this:
Writer writes, thinks they are a brilliant writer, but in reality they don't even know what they don't know , they are writing in a fishbowl and clueless to the whole process. ( I will write a future blog to fully explain what writing in a fishbowl is about, but essentially it's a writer who writes about themselves, for themselves, and doesn't take the outside world full of readers into account.) It's during this stage that you'ill hear desperate screams from the writer's den with declarations such as
"Everyone is crazy, they just don't get me!"
No, really they may get you, but you're vague, self-indulgent and dull and are in no way taking the reader into consideration. Most likely they have no idea what you are writing about because they weren't at Aunt Phyllis' house when the jello mold ended up in the begonias, so they don't know the history of the characters, nor the parameters of this whole social power play, and how it all fits together and THAT, my friend, is WHY they don't get your writing. (Yeah, I don't know where that came from either, I just made that up. Anyway, long story short--clarity in your writing is key for the reader having an enjoyable experience which is what writing is all about).
In Phase II, our writer has some experience, they are using grammar well, breaking up their paragraphs and balancing white space on the page quite nicely. The writer at this stage has better reader awareness they write with greater clarity while at the same time honoring the time of the reader by avoiding long winded diatribes, that frankly no one gives a crap about. And so the process starts. The writer is aware that they need to know more about effective writing and they set out on this magical quest to find these precious gems of information.
The writer learns about SEO writing, topics of interest, how to write to categories and add effective tags. In Phase II writers learn about sourcing information, backing up assumptions and opinions with reliable data. They find out that writing is about and that is communicating an idea, and so the writer dives into the process of finding out what it is he/she really wants to say. The writer attends seminars and web chats, reads information from other writers, he/she might take a class at the local community college. And as the writer fills their proverbial tool kit with tips and techniques that have previously been missing, they begin to write interesting prose that other people--people who are not heir dear old granny --are interested to read.
Phase III I can't speak to with that much vigor because I am somewhere between Phase II and III on my writer's journey but, I can speak to what I suspect it is about. Phase III is about. It's about polish, panache, having style. This is developed by taking in the world, listening to language, thinking about another way to say a sentence that has been said so many times before. How can your voice be as fresh and desirable as a virgin at the prom? Yeah, uh, something like that. But how do you say it? That is the next step. Also,marketing and branding. Who are you as a writer? What is your brand? This is something a writer develops. Become an expert and specialize in something. This helps to develop your brand and someone that people seek out as a source. Let your local radio station and television station know you are an expert at that topic and have information ready so that if an opportunity does come along to share your expertise on-air you are prepared to do so. Develop your talent and your network. Read, read and read some more. Read work from successful writers and absorb it. What have they got going that you haven't got yet. Yet. But you will have success as well when you continue to show up at the keyboard everyday and work on your craft. Create your process and work at it long enough and with some luck, things will happen.
As for any of the other Phases, I can't tell you I haven't been there yet. But when I do, I'll be sure to let you know.
The only place spam might be good is on a sandwich. Other than that, no one likes a spammer. It's difficult to find balance getting your name out to the public in a way that brings positive attention, not by driving potential readers crazy.
What is spam?
Spamming is defined as sending out unsolicited emails. Spimming is sending out unsolicited instant messages. Any message that is unsolicited takes up broadband space, steals time, and is annoying. My personal pet peeve is when selfish self-promoters hijack a Twitter trending topic or Facebook comment section with their annoying unsolicited self-promoting posts. There are also those coattail riders that go on a celebrity page to post their unsolicited messages which is bad, but it's worse when they continue to repeatedly post the same message . This doesn't make anyone want to know what this person is up to and be a part of it. All it does is agitate people so much that they never want anything to do with that person or company again!
Inform don't inflict.
Jay Baer says in an interview with Klout that "sells and helps only have two letters that are different but those two letters make all the difference." When interacting within social media parameters there's some leeway regarding self-promotion. Contacts who may know you online because they're friends, old school buddies, or people you play social networking games with may want to know what you are doing and will allow a certain amount of self-promotion into the mix. However, if your mix of self-promotion goes significantly over the 60%-40% where 60 is self-promotion and 40 other things, chances are people are going to start blocking content from your profile. Other more diligent game players will tolerate less, so don't make your self-promotion excessive and unwelcome. Keep posts down to one or two a day unless people are subscribed to a Fan page where there is an understanding that the page is about promoting your work.
People like to be informed. If you're sharing knowledge or stating opinions about topics that are already being discussed online you can add to the context of the information in a meaningful way and have your name recognized for being a credible source. This is a positive way to gain attention with online marketing. Join the conversation the way you would if you had just met people at a party. Don't take up too much of the comment section conversation but add interesting points that will entice others to find out more about you and your work.
If someone asks you what you do answer them in a private message if the comment section is located on someone else's page. If it is on your profile, you have the power to choose how much information to share on that comment thread to engage the person asking the question without losing your other comment thread followers.
It always goes back to the Golden Rule.
It always goes back to the "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Respect people's time and attention and don't do any posting on other pages and feeds that you would not want others to do on your pages and feeds.
By using common sense and Netiquette a writer can build a presence on the internet and everyone involved can share information and have a good time.
Writing is not just something you achieve, you're never finished. There's always more to learn. More to do. It's a practice, like medicine, or law, its constantly in motion. As writers we must keep up.
That's why over the next few months I will be filling in a calendar on the Writer's Resource page which will include writer related events and opportunities. If you know of one that is not on the calendar yet, please let me know by leaving me a note on the Contact Me Page or in the Comments section of this blog. The calender is brought to you by America and Beyond Travel. Ridha Lanouar, specializes in international travel, and can also help with domestic travel to conferences, retreats and the like. Ridha wants to help you find your Inspiration Destination. So check out what he's got going on over there at America and Beyond Travel.
On my own journey, I have decided to take the Communications Degree path at my local community college. I have already noticed an improvement in my writing, and am excited for the progress. Education is an important step to taking your craft to the next level from hobby writer to professional.
Monetized. The moment when your webpage, blog, or article has the opportunity to make money. It's one of the major stepping stones when moving from hobbyist to professional writer, blogger, web content producer.
Two of the most common ways to monetize content is listed on the Writer's Resource page. Google Adsense and Amazon.com affiliate programs are two of the most popular ways to get started. By adding these links to a page the page owner gets compensated a modest sum for each time a page visitor clicks an ad link. For Amazon.com there is the ability to get a small percentage of profits from sales that result from visitors to your page clicking through and purchasing something from Amazon.com.
These are not ways to get rich, however they can offset some of the costs for paying for maintaining a domain. I was able to purchase my domain name with a little extra birthday money I got from relatives. (Thanks Aunt Mary!) It is important to make investments and treat your writing as a business if the goal is to move from hobby writer to professional.
Having ads is only the beginning however. The more challenging part is the marketing. In order to make dollars instead of cents on a site there must be traffic. That is the magic X-factor that everyone searches for. What do people want to read? What will bring them to my site? What will make them come back? That is the holy grail of information that every content creator, no matter which medium they create with would love to know.
Being able to add ads to this site is merely the next step in the journey.
I am finding in the development of my writing style that a lot of my style is dependent upon creating a space and a mood. I don't like to get lost in too many details because I feel there is a balance between creating a creative space for the reader's mind to visit allowing them to mentally walk around and experience it and to project themselves into it and see what comes back to them.
I learned about this many years ago in chat rooms. Virtual conversations in an MSN community I hosted long ago called The Metaphysical Mixer. It was a place where people of all types of spiritual backgrounds would come together to meet and mingle. Speaking of many topics and of metaphysical experience. It was a fun time.
In the chat rooms we would create a mood, a setting, we were around a campfire, or in a lavish chamber in India, we could be anywhere, passing around virtual food doing virtual activities.
It is there during these collective meditations that I discovered something about what would grow to be my writing style. I like to go on a journey and take you with me. I like to watch the reaction of the reader and see what their personal experience adds to the scene. I love to get feedback about what they saw while in this mental holographic chamber. Creating a space and a mood is so important in successful writing.
Take a moment to create a virtual space in your mind. Use all five sense to feel it, see it, smell it, touch it, and taste it. After this space has been fully developed in your mind share it with us. I'd love to know what your virtual space is like.
I have been having a lot of fun with my writing over the past few days. It's up for debate whether that is a good thing or not but that debate is another blog post all together.
One thing that the past few days did bring up that is of value, I think, as a writer is --drum roll please--branding yourself.
No not burning yourself with a brand that would hurt, or doing something with Russell Brand that may be fun but is not advisable. Creating yourself as a brand. This can be difficult when you like to write in many forms and genres. It can be strength to be able to write this way because you can work in many genres and with many people and that can lead to more freelance work. However, it is also a great detriment when a writer is not able to make any traction in any one genre because their work is too spread out.
Add into that some attention deficit type qualities and what you have going is a hot mess. Because titles are scattered everywhere and the attention is scattered several unrelated subjects this doesn't work well especially in the world of search engines. You see search engines want you to define yourself. The more postings you have with the same word set in it the stronger your presence on the web for that topic is. For example the more I have with writing, writer, blog, author and other similar terms the higher up the web link food chain I go when someone is looking up information about being a writer.
Search engines, fans and publishers are the same. They want experts, people who know about a specific something, they don't usually call on Jacks (or Jills in this case) of all trades. They want to know that you are a sports writer, a romance writer, a poet, a political wonk, an entertainment writer, a fashionista, too much diversity is confusing.
This can be frustrating to people like me who are children at heart, that have never grown up. I am constantly curious and wanting to experiment with different things, I am bored quickly, and move on to something else that I can learn about. So to work at one thing day after day is not fun for me. Some would call it stability I call it tedious.
However, if I don't pick something and stick with it. At least until I am known as a brand, I will be one of the many "Gee I wish I could make some money at this writing gig." type of writers. Frankly, I think the world has enough of those already.
The Muse comes on Tuesdays
By Sophia Tesch
She won't speak to me on Mondays.
The muse comes on Tuesdays.
Wednesday won't do at all,
Thursday is too close to Friday,
She never works on weekends.
Then it's Monday again.
But the muse always comes on Tuesdays.
Copyright 2011 Sophia Tesch
I just had one of those moments when things started coming into focus. I think they call it a moment of clarity. Just a moment in time when there is a flash of inspiration saying, "Look this is how it works!".
Over and over I have read and heard writers say, "Just write", and to a beginning writer it is easy to ask the question "Write what?". Because somewhere along the way, maybe in school a person picks up the notion that you must be doing something for a specific purpose in order for it to be valuable.
So, I did. I wrote. Today in my literary travels I came across a poetry contest. Submissions are due tomorrow and what do you know? I had something to submit! Something I had written months ago for no specific reason, just doing my morning writing. That poem was a perfect fit for the contest. I'll wait and see how it does against the competition.
The important thing is that I now see why they say Write, write, WRITE! Create a stack of work that can be taken out and used as needed. Write for every holiday, every occasion, just write and at some time down the road when material is needed you will be able to have a quick and thoughtful turn around on work. After awhile it starts to catch on and you have all sorts of material to work with and submit as needed.
It felt wonderful to get that flash. Now that I get it, now that I see it, there really is nothing left to do but do it and make it happen.
I've been thinking about it a lot lately.
Q. What is the difference between artists that make it and those that don't?
A. An outstanding team.
We all know talented people, with ambition and drive, not lacking in any of the the things that makes a good artist. So why aren't they able to be considered at the top of their profession, or even a working artist? No team.
The truth is no one can make it alone. In order to be able to make a living, whether it is art or truly any other business, one needs a really good team. In the famous book by Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich, for which Hill interviewed Andrew Carnegie a very wealthy self-made industrialist and other successful business people to find out why they became successful they found several common threads one being that they all had a Mastermind group. A group of professionals that they often conferred with to share ideas and build successful strategies together.
A really good writer who enjoys success, has an editor, a publisher with resources, perhaps even a publicist and agent not to forget the business side the copyright lawyer, the accountant and the emotional support from home not to mention cooking, cleaning and all the usual duties of life. Oh yeah and be creative too while you are at it.
When someone is getting started they need to wear all these hats and more. Which often leads to inconsistency, rushed work and basically going no where. There are only so many hours and so much energy in a day. That is why finding your team, people to share your success and vision with, people who believe in your talent and will help you reach your goals as they are in turn able to meet theirs is a vital part to becoming a successful and employed professional writer.
I have had clinical depression all my life. However during a particularly challenging bought I was battling over the last few days I do what writers will tend to do. I researched it. And what I found is that I am far from alone in this deal.
What is it about writers and depression? Hemingway, Platte, Poe are a few of many who had it some lost the battle. Is creativity and madness a thin line? Is it the dark-side of creativity. The spiritual bargain made somewhere that the sensitivity given with being a keen observer, one able to capture the essence of humanity and capture it in some art form comes with it this dangerous poison of depression and anxiety? Is there a connection?
Either way I hardly know an artist that would give up the feeling of creating art. It is what I live for. That feeling of intense emotion that I place into my writing. It scares a lot of people off. Many claim either to me or in other ways they "can't handle it". I am deep and intense and too much to take by many. I used to feel bad about that though as I approach my fortieth birthday in a few months and I feel the shortness of life I don't feel the need to apologize for myself or hide who I am to accommodate the comfort of others in my presence. For people to be uncomfortable with me is a fair statement to make. That is why many artists and writers live alone. The muse of creativity is very jealous and wants no distractions from the artist's attention.
However, some of us choose to take on the challenge of balancing family and other aspects of life with art and depression. It's a huge task to undertake, but it is possible.
Some days depression wins and nothing gets done, yet many days I win. Every day I don't quit I win. And I notice today I have already surpassed what I didn't do in a week.
Being there for the next day is a victory that is so beautiful. Like those who survive a hurricane or tornado I would imagine, having that awesome appreciation of life the day after. Being able to play with my kids and to be there to love my family and try once more to see what I can do with my writing. I am glad I am here to try again and that which doesn't kill you makes awesome material to write about! :o)
Emotions are a writers "paint" the more rich the experiences the dark places of despair and heartbreak and the highs of love and bliss the more vibrant the colors to create with. That is our palette. It is not authentic unless it is experienced first hand it comes across as cheap and untrue. I think that's why those who are able to write and move people with words off the page. Are often ones who have experienced this broad palette of emotion and the vehicle with which that strong current of emotion moves often is depression. Like dealing with fire or electricity it can do amazing feats and make miracles happen...or it can kill you.
Today is the first day of my professional writing career. Because it is the day that I placed my writing in top priority right after my family being taken care of because that will always be my tippy top priority.
As I began to work on adding links to my Self Empowerment blog and interlinking them I began to think about my body of work. They spoke about this with President Obama in the beginning when he was getting Nobel Peace Prizes and then not getting an honorary award from the Arizona State University because they felt he had not shown a body of work to deem worthy or not at that time. So I started thinking about a body of work and what I would leave behind.
A writer's body of work is her immortality. Watching history channel and watching the dusty scrolls being unrolled by excited scientists we realize the power of the written word. What will I leave in the time capsule for future generations both for strangers and my family? Most of my work is online so who even knows if any of it will be preserved it's not written in stone or anything.
Even that term written in stone challenges my mind. What would I write in stone if I could? What would I want future generations hundreds possibly thousands or hundreds of thousands of years from now to know? I must contemplate that for awhile.
My words would be my immortality. If that were truly the case. They'd better be good!
So my article about whether the Jello Temptations commercial set to scare the crap out of any child thinking about eating mommy and daddy's "adult" dessert is set to break the 300 page view mark! That is my personal best so it feels pretty good. If you want to read it click here.
The great thing about this article in the great scheme of this writer's journey is that I again hit that sweet spot of being in my lane. Doing what I do best. I am finding what that is and it has to do with starting a discussion that facilitates change for the greater good. It's my thing.
The interesting thing about doing your thing I found is this feeling of being perfectly aligned in the Universe. This feeling of energy that everything is just as it should be and as a person I am hitting that perfect place of potential. It doesn't happen often yet when it does, it is a thing of beauty. It is worth trying again the next day.
I imagine this is a feeling that many people feel in their own individual careers and crafts. That moment specific to that experience when all is as it should be and in alignment with the world. It is a universal "potential" the thing we call success.
Success is just being in that zone for as long as possible. As we practice something in life as each individual strives to reach their particular target bulls-eye. The more we can hit it consistently with that which we do. We achieve success. People want the magic formula, they want to take a potion or be bestowed the magic fairy dust from someone who has been there before them. What it is difficult to relay what cannot be told is that the only way to get there is to do it. You don't need anyone's permission, nor can anyone honestly give it to you.
The film Limitless, which I still have yet to see but want to very much, touches on this idea. That even if someone were to place the lightning in your hand the only way to be capable of holding for any length of time is only if you have earned your place. If you have done the time, build the muscles and experience. It takes time to learn the techniques and know what to do with them. That can not be transferred, it can't be stolen, it can't be bought.
Often people covet. They covet true love, they covet material wealth, they covet fame and good fortune. They think they can slide in and take someone's place and have the same result. It doesn't work though. Because there is a magic, a spark, a je ne sais quoi that cannot be duplicated when something is right, it's destiny and meant to be. Only that connection works that way.
Knowing that there is only one perfect fit can cause despair or it can be something to be hopeful for. No one can take what's yours because only you can create it. This is where the saying about you being unique and only you can be you comes in. As humans we appreciate and honor those who are the very best at what they do. The very best at being "them". It's something to think about. So many times we are trying to be really great at being someone else and that is why success is not attained.
Sophia Tesch is a graduate of the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University. Sophia is a community advocate. She lives in San Tan Valley, Arizona with her husband and children.