5 Super-Sized Tips For Encouraging Your Inner Writer

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You are a writer. Creator of stories. You fabricate realities–transforming letters and words into DNA strands; giving birth to life and breath from your imagination. By your skilled hand and chosen tools—pen, paper and keyboard—you pull dreams and fantasies from the atmosphere and fashion them into literary portals through which everyday people can book momentary vacations: temporary escapes.

Unfortunately, in a world of constant remakes, recycled and retold stories, reprocessed and  regurgitated content—though creativity in some areas of the Arts, and advancements in various regions of technologies may shine bright,—originality suffers a long time creative-imagination drought. As a result, the business of writing has caused many exceptional writers to go on hiatus, while others leave what they love, to find different ways to create an income.

Still, more and more writers struggle with their craft. Most crave encouragement, inspiration, and motivation to push forward. Others need to hear some confirmation that it’s okay to take on other jobs, including freelance writing jobs to pay the bills, while they continue working through their literary works. Sometimes, it’s the simple, free and practical tips that are the most help.

Here’s 5 Super Simple, Yet Highly Motivational & Practical Tips For Encouraging Your Inner Writer.   

1. See Your Own Work In Print

On a few occasions I’ve taken various collections of my poetry, shorts, devotionals, and essays, sent them to http://PrintingPeach.ca so, once I got them back as a printed booklet I could flip through the pages, not only to get a feel for its flow—and make changes so the whole work reads better—but also for the feeling it give me to see and hold, in my hands, the project in a finished (though first-print draft only) form. There’s nothing that encourages you more to work through the kinks; break through any block, and submit your work, than holding and seeing it in print form. It can be the sunrise in your long literary night helping you to find new fresh momentum for reaching the finish line.

2. Professional Business Cards

If you don’t have professional business cards, WHY? There’s really no reason for a writer—or any kind of creative for that matter—not to have a business card on their body at all times. It’s never when you plan on handing them out that you end up being asked; it’s those times when you don’t expect it all that you run into THE person who could change your writing future. Then, if you don’t have any cards, you feel stupid. And you should. Cards are easy to make and really cheap. I get mine from VistaPrint.com. Don’t be the one who misses that amazing opportunity because you wrote your contact info on a napkin and your contact accidentally throws it away after needing it to clean up a productive sneeze. You can spend $10 right now, for 500 cards.

That’s basically the cost of one dinner out or, two fast food lunches or, two venti caramel macchiatos. You can do that.

3. Take Head shots

Some writers come by it naturally, others really get uncomfortable with the thought of having someone take photos of them. Either way, once you have your head shots finished and you’re looking at them, it just feels good. I was browsing the web looking for character ideas and I stumbled across smilesunlimited.ca and thought, ‘you know, it’s time for some updated head shots.’ I was dreading it at first, but afterwards I really liked how they turned out. Some were professional-business, and others were just us having fun. It was great. There’s a wonderful, ‘I’m a creative professional’ feeling that comes with having your own professional head shots done. There’s also great to have for interviews, speaking engagement advertisements, and to use on your website, social medias, and blog posts.

Here’s a few of those goofy shots.

sam looking down thought 2sam thumb up 3  sam angry 4 sam square 6 Sam main 2 sam no yes 3

4. Your Blog

If you have a blog than this point may be a commonsense point, but there are still way too many writers that I run into that ‘just haven’t gotten to it yet’. Most businesses have a website and more and more are finding the benefits of having blogs. Even real estate agents, like KimAlvarez.ca., have blogs, and they’re finding ways to make their websites and services reach more clients through relevant social campaigns.

A blog, for writers, makes perfect sense. A blog, after all IS a result of content creation. It helps people, fans, editors, and potential clients connect with you; it allows you to showcase your literary skill; helps you solidify yourself as a professional and—something I never planned on when I started mine—it can open doors (if you’re open to it) for you to pick up some extra cash and experience, writing guest posts, being featured on other sites, and writing ghost posts for other companies.

I have 5 blogs, [TastingThePlanet / AShotOfLiteraryCaffeine / SippingOnLiteraryEspresso / SamTheWriter’s Tiny Tips For Writers / Perception Speaks ] (a three special project ones I can’t mention at the moment)  and I also write ghost posts (when I can handle the workload) for 44 different national and international businesses and storytellers. I hate that they’re ghost written, so I can’t take credit for my work, but I love knowledge and I’ve learned so much about so many companies and authors; sharpened my skills around conducting interviews, investigative reporting, journalism, deep research, data mining, conducting various market analysis, uncovering stories and hidden people and information; furthering my experience and success with many writing processes, social media strategies, SEO, B2B, B2C, and all the other alphabetical business combinations (ha ha I’ve been wanting to throw that in somewhere).

I’ve learned how to write effective newsletters, employee manuals and handbooks, create effecting social media strategies that have seen measured increase in business connections (in two businesses I created a multi-social-platform strategy that saw a 300% and 325% increase in social traffic–which specifically resulted in greater sales…one was over a 3 month period of time, the other took 6 months. However, the average business strategist that many companies spend between $60,000 on east coast, $40,000 in mid-west, and $80 – $120,000 on the west coast (Annual Salary) can’t usually ever boast a 200% increase in an entire year.) I say that to say this: I learned these skills while conducting interviews and working as a ghost for many international companies.

Most of my ‘luck’ came from interactions with my blogs. Blogs, my friends, are powerful tools.

5. Revisit Reader / Fan Comments

Where have you posted your work? It is on a website? Writer’s community site? A blog? On your Facebook or other social media? Maybe you have some work in a writing competition? In most of these cases there’s a place for readers to add comments or feedback. Go visit those comments. When the writing life gets hard and stressful—and it does, unless you’re brand new to the writer’s life and haven’t submitted much—the encouraging words you’ve received on past works can revive a weary spirit.

A fictional literary poetry project that I started a few years back started to wear on me. I loved what I was writing, but life was demanding other things from me. I almost lost faith in my work, until one day I received a notification that someone had commented on a past poetry work. It was an email from a University English Professor asking for my permission to share a few works with his students, because “I am very inspirited with how you merged the literary life with a romantic relationship with the artist’s muse…” This made me feel wonderful. I looked through a few other comments and found a treasury of reader appreciation for my works. I printed 27 pages of comments off to keep around me as a reminder of the beauty and escape my work has provided for others.

Here’s a few of those comments:

“I really enjoyed this poem. ‘Kiss me My Mistress Muse, your lips are the ebb and flow of the art-spring we call literary life.’ This really sums up the passion of the prose.” – Janet R.M

“‘A ray of sunlight cracks through the morning cloud cover. It touches the earth several miles away, and works its way towards me. It’s you my Love, and it’s even more beautiful because the rest of the world is still sleeping.’That is what makes it so special. that is what keeps the phone from ringing. That is what makes the coffee taste right. Thank you for this.” – Opeo Tao T.

“Yes I’ll take this dance! I agree with Jordan, it has been waaaaaaaay tooooo long since your last post. I got this one yesterday while I was in my office and it made my whole day. It really did, so I went back and read, “I Will Love You,” and “I Feel You Tonight,” and it really took my breath away.  You need to keep writing, I want to keep reading! – Melody W..

“Amazing post! absolutely amazing.” – Lua

“ ‘All of life moves and lives and begins to create an orchestra of beautiful existence…’ Yes, it makes perfect sense to me…Merry Christmas.” – Jingle

With such amazing reader / follower/ fans, how could a writer not be encouraged and super inspired to keep writing?

I encourage you to keep doing what you love. Keep writing because you must, and know that it’s ok to do what you must to keep writing. Writing is in your blood. Writing is not an option for you, it’s a necessary for you as exhaling. If you could no longer write, you would cease to be you.

You’re a superhero of sorts. The greatest kind. The kind that challenges and shapes perceptions. Keep fighting for creative inspiration. Keep recording your ideas and dreams, even if you feel like you’re the only one who believes in what you do. The truth is that there’s a whole world full of reader / follower / fans starving for a writer, like you, to save their day.

Write, Write, Write, and submit.

Cheers to you Writer.

-SamTheWriter

Let’s Connect:

Online – SamTheWriter.Com

Twitter – @SamuelWConnelly

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5 Writer’s Tips For Renovating, Flipping And Reintroducing Written Realities

 

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As writers we create reality. If you don’t believe me, then welcome to the wonderful world of writing. I don’t have enough time in this post to break out the science, but let’s sum it up so we can move on. Perception is reality. Reality is literally made up by the building blocks of your own imagination and the raw data that your senses feed your brain.

Reality is relative—or I should say, relatively based off of our perception of it. And our perception of reality is formed by what our senses tell us is real; the education we’re brought up with, our passions (both love and hate), all the data we receive, and how we process it into the space around us. These are the most valuable tools we as writers have. Understanding how to use these perception molding tools will make us better storytellers; the worlds we create becoming truly real in the minds of those experiencing it.

We give people what they want and need the most—outside of love, food, and companionship; although, the companionship part is up for up for debate. What we give people are new realities to experience. We give them vacations, adventures, and moments. Best of all, we give them a safe place to escape into—even if the place they desire to escape to is a world of horror, dark science fiction, mystery, or fantasy.

Dreaming up a story idea is only a fraction of the craft of creating a story. Molding the idea you dreamed up, into a believable literary work—a living, breathing, magical portal into another world—is a process to be taken seriously. We are, after all, literary architects.

Here’s 5 Tips For Renovating, Flipping And Reintroducing Written Realities

1 Discover What Moves You

I’ve mentioned this many times, but for different reasons. This time I mean it quite literally. What moves you to feel joy, peace, excitement, fear, hate, embarrassment, longing, desire, emptiness, loneliness, hopelessness, love or lust?

Think about each of these and write down the sounds, aromas, food and drinks, textures, places, and objects that stir up each of these emotions.

Example:

Here’s a few from my own list of emotions and things that stir them.

Emotion Word Associated Reason
Fear Broken Locks / Lack of security.
Peace Coffee / Books / Silence / Harmonies Just things that have always brought me peace. Warm silence, like in summer or in winter under a blanket with a book and coffee.
Loneliness Grey / Maze / Silence Maze: Always walking and never finding a way out.
Joy Laughter / Melons / Frozen Grapes Eating watermelon with my Dad when I was young. Frozen grapes and melon chunks on hot summer days.
Embarrassment Naked / Forgetting Shorts coming off in pool and lake and others seeing me naked.
Disgust Food Grease / Aroma of Body Odor Seeing cook at fast food put gross stuff in peoples hamburgers. Scraping thick grease from oven, range hood, deep fryer.
Anger Tomatoes / Children w/snotty faces I was punished as a boy by being made to eat tomatoes. Parents neglecting their own children.
Freedom Ocean / Blue / Sushi / Short stories & Poetry I grew up around the ocean. She is like a mother to me; and mother that I could always count on being there. Blue reminds me of the ocean water, and also the ocean sky.
Claustrophobic Crowds / White / Disorder / Dirty I can’t think when things are dirty; when there’s trash piles, and also when I’m blind in the day and can see that there’s no foreseeable boundaries. When there’s so many people I can’t see what’s happening about me.

2 Landscaping

Your character’s yard tells a lot about them. You think I’m kidding, but you’d be surprised by how the details of a well kept or under kept yard can help solidify the reality you’re trying make authentic. I like to look sites like this landscaping site I found, check out the innovative and creative ways people invest into their yards. Of course, there are also many character types that could not afford great yard maintenance, and other who do not care about the state of their yard of what anyone else thinks, either.

3 Ideas From Painting Projects

Sometimes your work is really good, but when you read it, you get the feeling that something isn’t quite right. What is it exactly? You’re not sure. Something about it just doesn’t feel quite authentic enough to believe—like those crappy films you paid to see recently.

Maybe your world doesn’t need a complete overhaul; maybe your world needs a paint job. Sound silly? Try it. See how different colors can change your emotional connections; get ideas from places like http://airdriepaintanddecor.com and Lowes. Look at photos of trending in-house paint projects, especially before and after photos. Now figure out what locations in the world around you makes you feel as those certain colors do.

Examples:

  • Are happy moments (reuniting lovers, marriage proposals, birthday celebrations etc.,) happening in places that are either too dark.
  • Are dark moments, or terrifying events taking place at times when those kind of events never happen?
  • Is your psychological thriller trying to give birth to its climactic scene in the middle of the day, at a busy park, or in some place that doesn’t inspire any kind of suspense? Well it can work, you’re just making it really hard on yourself.

Red, yellow, gold, silver, green, blue, pink, purple, white, gray, black, brown, teal, maroon, periwinkle. How do these colors make you feel? Use them in your world, associating them with the emotions that they stir up.

4 Born Again Basements

Sometimes the scene doesn’t connect because the room doesn’t make any sense. Think about where your character is (if it’s not there own place) and who or what normally occupies the space. I’m a writer so I require an office, a desk, computer, research tools—things that make sense for me to have.

Maybe you need to do a bit more than painting. Maybe adding furniture, getting rid of furniture; adding items: dry bar, cigar humidor, book shelves, flat screen TV, pool table, medieval torture antiques collection, etc. It’s about making a place reflect the character of the one who occupies it. Sometimes it only takes a little cosmetic changes like I found in some of the basement renovations at http://empirerenos.ca ; other times it’s bigger things that need to be better thought through.

  • Is your junkie living in a multi-million dollar home or driving a Porsche? He shouldn’t be.
  • Is protagonist whose suffering OCD unable to find her car keys when the intruder breaks into her house? She’s OCD—she’s that last person who’d misplace anything; especially when it’s that important.
  • Your gadget geek doesn’t have a big screen—or better yet, his wifi doesn’t work? Really? Do you even know any gadget geeks? They may run out of enough groceries to cook a full meal, but they’d starve before they’d allow their wifi connection to break down.

5 Look At Flipped Houses

Have you ever got in one of those home-makeover-nonstop-Hulu binges? Yes you have—it’s just me here—you can be honest. I consider myself quite a manly-man, and I have even been sucked-in by its mysterious tractor beam. Why? Why—if you’re like me and don’t even like thinking about home renovations—do we get so fascinated with those shows? I think part of it has to do with amazing transformations that occur.

Shows like ‘Flip This House,’ ‘House Hunters,’ and ‘Fixer Upper,’ show us the magic that can be re-discovered upon an already existing foundation and framework. Buildings that almost no one would be interested in are stripped out and turned into dream homes.

Sometimes your story’s framework (or the bones) are completely useable; however, the problem is that there’s cracks in the walls, the plumbing or electricity doesn’t work, the house is dated or not up to code. It’d be safer if no one ever entered your story—with all the problems it has—if you had you never written it. But you are a writer, or aspiring to be one, and that means you must write.

Instead of tossing your story, why not flip it.

  • Break it down completely, back to its original idea or concept.
  • Brain storm with your original idea
  • Ask a lot of new “What If” & “Why” questions.
  • Make sure everything makes sense.
  • Remember that your final story is a product of many re-writes.

Make Them Believers

If you are going to write a story, do it right. If you put all the elements in the right places and ask yourself along the way, “Does this make sense?” you’ll find capture a greater audience. If you read it aloud when you finish each chapter to make certain that it flows off your lips smoothly it’ll be easier to read. And if your characters, places, interactions, occupations, timings, and seasons are written well and connected with the right associated emotions in mind, you’ll discover a new world of literary breath that will breathe the life needed to set your realities free and make your stories come to life.

There are lessons all around us, in everyday life, that can teach us a lot about become better writers, if we can make ourselves stop pay attention to what is really occupying the space around us.

Cheers to you, writers!

Keep writing and submitting.

-SamtheWriter

www.SamTheWriter.com

@SamuelWConnelly

5 Ways To Create Even More Traffic To Your Blog or Website

 

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When you make money through your posts, have a syndicated blog, offer services, are selling a book–all of the above–or have any other reason to need to draw people to your website, you want to use as many avenues for creating traffic back to your site as possible.

5 Ways to Create Traffic to Your Blog or Website.

1. SEO

It’s not as hard and complicated as it may seem. There are a ton of businesses and individuals out there that are spending a pretty penny for someone else to writing SEO content for their sites. Most of them even know what they want to say, and how they want to say it—they’re just intimidated by all the technical talk about SEO. Without all the jargon and tech talk here’s the things you need to know to publish an article or post using SEO:

  1. You need a Key WORD or up to 5 words ( I like to stay with 3 Key words): What is your article about?

  2. Make sure that you can fit most of your Keywords into a compelling title or headline

  3. Break your longer articles up with subtitles or sub headers and use the keywords in those sub headers.

  4. Try to incorporate your Keywords into the content of your article at least 5 times per word.

  5. If you have pictures or videos, tag them with your keywords. If you’re able to, apply tags on your article, like when tagging in WordPress or Blogger.

EXAMPLE

Subject or Client: Umm, let’s say… http://AndroidTvBoxesCanada.com/

Key Words: AndroidTVBoxes, Canada Business, Google TV,

Title: AndriodTVBoxes: The Canada Business Rocking Google TV.

Sub-Headers: (a) AndroidTVBoxes: Why the Rage? (b) The Canada Business Blowing Up AndroidTVBoxes. (c) Doing Google TV…Like a Canadian.  

Tags / HashTags: #GoogleTV #AndroidTvBoxes #CanadaBusiness #Android

2. Invite Guest Bloggers

Both being a guest blogger for another site and inviting guest bloggers to your site are a great way to connect with new groups of people that will find your website interesting and possibly just what they were looking for.

3. Domain Masks

I enjoy the use of Masks, there’s just so much you can do with them. So you have a website: SamTheWriter.com and you have a few other business or writing interests like (we’ll stick with me for the example): Short Fiction, Poetry, Writer’s Helps, Seminars…

With a mask, I can purchase domains names like: ‘Amazing Poetry.com’ , ‘Really Freakin Awesome Short Stories.com’ , ‘International Writers Seminars.com’ , or ‘The Internets Best Help for Writers.com.’ This way when someone search Google with any of these search phrases they get my website…which is actually all leading back to SamTheWriter.com). Although I haven’t actually done this on my site.

Here’s an actual example:

Clay’s Lawn & Snow INC. is the main site. However when the winter hits and you need snow removed quickly you can make that happen by contacting Clay at http://snowremovalfast.ca/. Then when the winter is over and you need sod installed, Clay is the man again at http://bluegrasssodinstalled.ca but when you follow either link you’ll noticed that the sites are branded: Clay’s Lawn & Snow INC. Clay figured out that it was easier for people to find him if he made searching for him easier…like specific in-season sites.

4. Create Lists

By turning your blog, newsletter, highlights, etc., into a list of 5 or 10 (sometimes more, depending on your reliable content and the popularity of the list), you can draw a lot more traffic to your site. Look around online, in magazines, even newspapers—people like lists. fast content, organized content, laid out in numerical order.

EXAMPLE:

5 Tips For Traveling to Paris for Free

10 People who Became Accidental Billionaires

10 Companies You really Want To Give Your Money To

5 Movies That Screwed The Whole World Up

5 Companies That’ll Pay $50., For Your Recorded Farts, For New iPad Apps

5 Links ABOVE That You Know You Tried to Look Up — ha ha ha whatever you know you did.

5. Internal Linking

As you put more content on your website or blogs, link what you can internally. It not only makes it easier for search engines to find and point searchers in your direction, but it shows readers that you are a real resource, with real content, and possibly an expert in your area of interest.   

If you have any great tips, ideas, or have a great site or blog you’d like me to share please email me at Sam@SamTheWriter.com

Cheers to you Writers!

-Sam

SamTheWriter.com

@SamuelWConnelly

Of Writers & Wroters: Pressing in to your Future or Settling Somewhere in your Past

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Where do you find the inspiration you need to make it to your writing desk faithfully? Is it your financial obligations pushing you forward? Is it your desire to prove everyone wrong who told you that you wouldn’t make a living as a writer; those family members and childhood friends who still crack little sarcastic jokes, asking when you’re going to get a ‘real job’? Are you in the fresh young love stage: you’ve recently discovered your passion for writing and have been caught in the honeymoon phase? Or, have you been writing long enough to realize that there’s nothing else able to bring real pleasure to your life than releasing the stories that are constantly being birthed inside you?

When I moved to Wichita Kansas from Northern California, I had a really hard time acclimating to the midwest culture. Over the next few years I became pretty impressed with Wichita’s music, art, and Independent film scene. Being excited about the art scene—and being the social butterfly that everyone says I am—I was invited to several Writers groups and I jumped at the offers.

Unfortunately, these groups didn’t bring any encouragement to me as a writer at all. In fact, after ‘hanging out’ at these so called ‘Writer’s Groups’ I ended up depressed with nothing to show for all the time I’d spent each week at these meetings. I wasn’t being encouraged to write. I wasn’t being encouraged to push myself; any encouragement I gave to the groups, to press on and believe that their best was yet to come, was shot down. I soon realized that:

(1) At these writing groups there wouldn’t actually be any writing happening

(2) There wouldn’t be any talk or challenging of each other to write

(3) Everyone was more than satisfied to live in the memories and stories of the few things they had written and had published somewhere in years long past.

The ones who had invited me to these groups, and those who filled the chairs in the quaint houses and local coffee shops where they met to tell their publishing stories from the ‘Good Old Days’—a time and place, within the stories of past moments. A place that I am not willing to live my future in—were all wonderful people. I love to sit and sip on a mug of hot coffee or tea and listen to their stories. I still do it today. I couldn’t, however, do it any longer as part of a ‘Writing Group.’ They were not writing groups; they were all reminiscing/talking groups—which were great for hanging out and reminiscing and talking. Not for writing or becoming better writers.

In a recent post, Gary Bizzo (www.garybizzo.com), shares an interesting quote from one of his friends. A quote that has been rolling around in my mind all morning:

“Some entrepreneurs are emotionally tied up in their smallness.”

Although Gary was using the quote to make a point about the potential that many small business owners miss out on because they’ve allowed themselves to find comfort in the ‘safety’ of what they are used to; the comfort zone of present success.

They’ve become satisfied living within the unsatisfying refuge of what they’ve already accomplished; giving themselves to the fact that thought that they’ve done their best, there’s nothing else to give, and they’ve accomplished all they are going to accomplish.

I don’t fit in with a group like that. You don’t fit in with a group like that. Those Writers (or I should say, Wroters) won’t be having cups of coffee or tea at 4 or5am—eyes barely open, still half dreaming—to continue working on their latest WIP; to edit pieces from the day before; to start their morning writing exercises; begin their routine submissions process, or—if like me or any number of literary Jedi out there—juggle the insanity of all-of-the-above.

Tenacity, Confidence, Addressing a Real Need.

These are what the patent specialists (www.2innovative.net) call “Key Concepts” when patenting business ideas. The same is true in the life of a writer.

  • TENACITY, to go against the flow; against the whispers and little cutting, sarcastic jokes; and against the temptation to find a home among the ‘Wroter’s Groups’ living in yesteryear. Tenacity to keep writing even when technical issues and computer crashes cause you to lose hundreds of thousands of words. Ouch, yes, I know and it’s happened to me too many times as well. That’s why God created Google Drive, iCloud Storage, BOX, Microsoft OneDrive, DropBox, and the Calitso it guys [ok maybe God didn’t create them but they can all be your literary salvation when your computer crashes.]
  • CONFIDENCE in your personal passion as a writer. The kind of confidence that propels you towards your computer, tablet, pen & paper, or typewriter every day to create the kind of literary magic that you do. It also takes confidence to respect your work enough to stay with it through edit and submission.
  • ADDRESSING A REAL NEED is at the heart of your talent. Humanity isn’t happy. Everyone is looking for happiness. Everyone is running after it as fast as they can; though no one is quite sure where to find it. Stories, books, novels, movies, comics, graphic novels, television shows and series, etc., ect., – these are the momentary escapes which, no matter how bad the economy is, continue to become more and more popular—and even more so when times are harder on people—because people want escape. People need their temporary escapes from reality to cope with a life that they’re not happy with. You and I are the writers, artists, filmmakers, who dream up and create those escapes.

Our creative talents and abilities create the alternate realities and escapes that fuel the mental vacations keeping the masses from becoming infected with the ‘crazies.’

For me, this is more than enough inspiration to meet my computer every morning over coffee. This is more than enough reason to keep romancing my Muse, to keep faithful with daily edits and rewrites; more than enough reason to keep submitting regardless of the rejections slips and resubmissions. With each published work we share another opportunity to offer hope and momentary relief to our fellow friends and family of humanity.

What inspires you to write?

What inspires you to keep meeting that computer each morning?

What inspires you to honor your heart, respect your purpose, fight for your freedom to be a creator?

I’d love to hear from you.

Cheers to you, Writers!

-Sam

@SamuelWConnelly

www.SamTheWriter.com 

Fresh Eyes: Stepping Away to Get Closer

Futuristic glasses image by Syda Productions via Shutterstock

Futuristic glasses image by Syda Productions via Shutterstock

Some of us have been writing so long that we find ourselves going through the motions and not really seeing or expecting as much as we’d like from it. But—and this is the few times you’ll ever hear me say this—sometimes the best thing you can do for your writing is to stop writing. Sometimes the best thing we can do is take out hand off of it, long enough to reclaim ourselves, renovate ourselves; look at our piece of work, our collection of works, and in some cases our goal or dreams again and examine them through new lenses.

While doing my normal weekly web surfing—for ideas about writing from unexpected places, for my other writing blog at SamTheWriter.com—I ran across a home renovation site, and these guys got me thinking about a simple yet essential practice that writer’s often forget about, or neglect. In neglecting or pushing it off, for ‘a better time,’ writers often end up suffering some very severe consequences that show up in quality of work, quantity of work, accessing creativity, and/or desire to continue their pursuit of a writing life.

The Lesson: Fresh Eyes, Fresh Mind

As writers, we suffer a creative form of literary bipolar disorder. It not only affects us writer’s but all Artists and Creatives. Some, like myself, see it as a frustrating rollercoaster-like relationship with our Muse. Other’s describe it as ‘being in’ or ‘falling out’ of touch with the Spirit of Creativity. However you define or describe it, you know what I’m talking about.

We love our WIPs (Work In Progress) one day and the next day we’re looking at it thinking, ‘What was I so freakin excited about when I wrote this?’ This is how many really great story and article ideas end up in the waste-basket-graveyard when they were good enough to be published—if only its creator had spent a little time away and had come back to it with fresh eyes it wouldn’t have died so premature. This is also the reason that many great story and article ideas get reject when the ideas were publish-worthy; the article or story’s creator, this time submitted it too early because they were so excited about the idea that they just couldn’t wait to send it off after the needed edits or rewrites.

A break, mini vacation…something—just get away from you work. I don’t care if you have to book a flight to Las Ventanas Del Mar [I’ve even highlighted the link for you], just get away from you work for a few days, even a week. When I finished my first 60,000-word novel, I literally hated it the day after I typed the last sentence. I was about to erase the whole thing when instead I decided to save it to a new flash drive I had been given, put it in my desk drawer. I didn’t look at it that week. One week lead to a month and that lead to forgetting about it for seven years!

About a year after I had written and saved the novel onto that flash, I moved to St. Louis to host a rock video show. Once I’d finally gotten around to setting up my office again I found the drive, popped it in and, after a few hours found myself, mouth gaping, in total shock and amazement at this work of fiction. Even more amazing to me was the fact that I had written it.

Yes, I took way too long of a vacation from it, but no I didn’t regret it being so long since I’d read it because it was like the manuscript has matured and evolved into something beautiful. IT hadn’t matured, of course, I had gained an important and essential writer’s resource. I was reading it through brand new specs: Fresh Eyes, a fresh mindset, and a fresh perception.

Everytime I write short fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, blog posts (like this), articles for news sources or magazines and, especially posts or content for clients — as soon as I finish writing the piece I set it aside for as long as it needs to be; usually the time I spend away from it depends on length of word count, my emotional connection to it, or deadline.

I know several professional photographers and, it’s crazy how many photos they shoot, of the same subject, and crazier the time they spend going through each picture to find the perfect one to represent their work. You can tell a great photographer by, not only the quality of their work but, the quantity of quality work they put on their website. One could look at The Wright House Photography website and say that it’s a nice, clean, simple site. But when I look at it I see a photographer who has spent countless hours mulling through mountains of photos to represent herself—and her skill—through many hours of personal sacrifice.

Artists don’t just create a work and throw it out for all to see; they know that what they put out is a presentation of who they are. It’s the same with every single piece of work we writers complete. They don’t say, “Writing the first draft is easy, it’s the 20 to almost infinite following that’ll drive you insane,” for no reason.

If you really want to put your best work forward — take a break from it. Read it through the filter of fresh eyes. Time away will show you many things—both great and not-so-great—about your work; things you need to see with fresh eyes to edit properly.

Try them on now…

Maybe you have some great pieces of literary work right under your nose that you’ve filed away in a cabinet or computer file because you didn’t give it a chance. Maybe you stopped a project right in the middle because you decided it wasn’t what you originally thought that it was; it wasn’t turning out as you hoped it would. Maybe you need to pull those things out and look at them with fresh eyes and fresh mind. You never know, you could have the next best seller on your hands; or at least some really great idea to use as the framework for some new idea. You may just shock yourself at what you wrote and walked away from.

Maybe you’ve been staring at your monitor for the last few days frustrated because you don’t know where to take the story. The best thing you could do for that work is get away from it for a few days or week.

Try it. Let me know if you find a hidden treasure. I won’t be shy about accepting a finder’s fee if you end up at the top of a New York Times Best Sellers list. Just kidding, but not really.

Cheers to you writers!

As always: Write, Write, Write as if burning on fire…then submit!

-SamTheWriter

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10 Life Saving Rules for Writers

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How many times have you found yourself hunched over your desk, eyes barely open, brain so overloaded from all the things you, ‘have to come up with’ to please some editor you don’t even like writing for, for a paycheck that really wasn’t worth all the time, effort, creativity, and burnt brain cells it took to write it?

As a full-time independent writer, I’ve experienced this on way too many occasions. I know what it’s like to get so stuck in a financial rut that you’re doing everything you can to get those jobs that pay something, but, then you find yourself weeks or moths or—God forbid—years down the road without any real literary work to take pride in; bitter that you have wasted so much of your creative talent; and stuck with what feels like an imagination-drought.

Although it seems impossible to recover after one of these ‘dessert’ moments—and many writers give up on their writing dreams altogether—it is possible to not only revive yourself, but thrive again as a writer. Let me throw you a few literary life-preservers.

10 Life-Saving Rules that saved my literary (possibly mental and physical) life:

  1. Find something every day that makes you laugh a good belly laugh.
  2. Make a point to read daily for pleasure—not work
  3. Write something for yourself once a week
  4. Organize your day so that it includes breaks, a walk, and real food.
  5. Stop when you’re body tells you it needs to stop
  6. Make sleep a priority
  7. Discover a routine that works for you and keep it.
  8. Work diligently towards Someday without sacrificing your relationships Today.
  9. Make time for a hobby
  10.  When it’s time to write, Write!

Be proud that you’re a writer, but don’t make the mistake that some many others have made by getting so overloaded with ‘projects’ and ‘stuff’ that they stop loving life and miss out on everything that is meaningful in the world around them.

Someday is coming, I promise. You will get there. But remember that Someday will be a product of what we do and how we live our lives Today. Like the old saying goes: Practice Makes Perfect. Be careful then what it is that your perfecting, heed what you’re practicing.

Cheers to you!

Sam

10 Writing Tips to Help You Kick Off Your 2015, w/ Advise from Bradbury & Baker

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“I make my films because I have to! I have stories I have to tell and I won’t be satisfied until my movie is done, and out.”  

– Kelley Baker

“...writing is survival. Any art, and good work, of course, is that. Not to write, for many of us, is to die.” – Ray Bradbury

Ok so we’re already seven days into 2015 and between your routines of trying to lose 25 pounds, attempting to stay warm, creating a new habit of writing ‘2015’ on your checks and homework (because you really didn’t even get use to writing ‘2014’), and already making amendments to your ‘new year resolution daily planner’, you’re a writer and you’ve determined to be that. So I want to offer you a few tips to help kick your new year into full gear.

Let’s face it, the beginning of the year is one of the best times to kick yourself into gear and start training yourself to cultivate new and better habits. Why? Because our minds are already in this ‘new year, new me, new life, new choices’ kinda thinking. Why not use the time to examine ourselves: get rid of old habits that are not working and start some new ones that just might.

With ‘new year habits’ in mind, I’m going to break this list into 10 habits: 1 – 5 are HABITS TO STOP and  6 -10 are HABITS TO START, maintain or re-cultivate.

I enlisted two amazing experts to help with these 10 Tips: The legendary Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing’, and The Angry Filmmaker, Mr. Kelley Baker,The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide, Part 1: Making The Extreme No-Budget Film.’

This is a longer post than usual so lets jump right in…

Tip 1: NO EXCUSES

“I never waste my time lecturing people who claim they ‘used to write.’ You either write or you don’t”. – Kelley Baker

Truth is truth: To be a writer you have to write. No more excuses for not writing. It takes work to sit down, and writing is not for everyone. It’s for writers. If you’re not a writer and won’t find time to write, then stop telling people that you’re a writer. If you are a writer, then by nature you must write. You have to make it happen. As the old saying goes: ‘Where there’s a will there a way’. Find it.

Tip 2: NO DISTRACTIONS

To be a writer you have to write. You cannot write if you’re allowing yourself to be distracted. Netflix is one of my big distractions. I love having sound in the background as I write so, I turn on some movie to play and before I know it I’m fully enthralled in the show, having wasted all my writing time. I had to realize the problem and put a stop to it. Now I turn on Pandora, the music works to my creative advantage.   

What distracts you? Is it music, friends, your local coffeehouse, social media — do you have to check your Facebook and Twitter feed every hour? Social media can be great but they’ve been the reason many writers never finish their WIP (Work In Progress). Many writers let their ideas waste away in their minds, or leave them locked away in a first draft in some desk drawer or filing cabinet  for years, because they allow distractions to take all their time. It’s time to turn the TV, radio, social notifications and text messaging OFF. And WRITE.

Tip 3: NO FIRST DRAFT EDITS

This is a really hard rule to follow, but it’s important. Allowing yourself to look at the screen and see the red underlining from autocorrect will not only slow you down but it becomes a serious distraction that’ll pull you out of your creative flow; this is the most important element to capture in your first draft. Creative flow: Passion, and firestorms, and literary hurricanes. The first draft is for explosions.

Ray puts it like this:

“Tomorrow, pour cold critical water upon the simmering coals. Time enough to think and cut and rewrite tomorrow. But today–explode –fly apart– disintegrate! the other six or seven drafts are going to be pure torture. So why not enjoy the first draft, in the hope that your joy will seek and find others in the world who, reading your story, will catch fire too?”

Tip 4: DON’T WRITE WITH PUBLICATION IN MIND

To be a writer you have to write. Putting this limitation on yourself is a sure fire way to extinguish the creative passion-flames that your Muse desires to help you consume those blank white pages with. The biggest ball and chain we writers weigh ourselves down with is writing for publication alone. Not only is it impossible to stay on top of what sells today, but writing for publication alone keeps you from exploring what’s in you, what you have gathered over your life; trading it for a short-lived space on the ‘Today’s Trending Reads’ shelf. Which is nearly impossible to get on anyways. Don’t sell yourself short by writing only to sell.

“Do not, for money, turn away from all the stuff you have collected in a lifetime. Do not, for the vanity of intellectual publications, turn away from what you are — the material within you which makes you individual, and therefore indispensable to others.” – Ray Bradbury

“I don’t believe you write something because you know that it has been tested and it will appeal to a certain group. I know, I am in the minority here. But if you’re going to go to all the trouble to create a story, write it, and rewrite it, again and again, then you should be passionate about it! Don’t do it because of a marketing survey!” – Kelley Baker

I don’t know about you, but if being in the minority puts me in the company of guys like Ray and Kelley, the minority sounds like a pretty freakin awesome place to be. Count me in!

Tip 5: TALKING ABOUT IT ISN’T WRITING

To be a writer you have to write. It’s way too easy to get caught in a coffeehouse or Barnes & Noble sipping on coffee with your laptop or ipad in front of you with the best ‘intentions’, but lets be honest: how many times do you end up hooking up with friends and telling them about what you’re gonna write, and by the time you leave the place, you had a great chat with your friend and not a paragraph to show for it?

I’ve been caught in this situation too many times and, I just about fell out of my chair when Kelley basically called me out — from his book — while in my favorite coffeehouse trying to write, read, and chat it up. Multitasking has NO PLACE at the writer’s first draft desk. Here’s the words the Angry Filmmaker used to pimp-smack me straight out of his book;  

“Talking about your great script idea is not going to get it written. You can sit in all the coffee shops and cafes you want and tell everyone about your movie, but until you sit down and write it, your idea doesn’t mean squat. You’re a poser.”

Tip 6: READ TONS

If you hate to read you’ll never be an effective writer. We learn our craft, learn about ourselves, learn writing styles, and learn the meaning of literary flow, or as I call it ‘read-ability’, as we glean from those who have paved the literary pathways before us with the yellow-brick-road of a billion stories, upon which we travel.

“Books! that’s what I’m afraid you’re going to have to start reading. that’s right, books. They’re not evil, and they won’t bite. They can actually teach you something. Like storytelling. Storytelling, what a concept…I just don’t get people who don’t like to read.”  – Kelley Baker

Tip 7: WRITE DAILY

To be a writer you have to write. Let’s go back to the Angry Filmmaker, Kelley Baker, for this point because he ‘gets’ it. He not only understands the importance of creating the daily habit as an exercise as Bradbury mentions in the quote below, Baker also shares the simple, practical and effective side of writing daily. Even if that means sitting in front of the computer screen for an hour or writing one page and calling it success.

A screenplay doesn’t write itself. You need to sit down, clear your desk and your mind. Then start writing. It takes commitment. Personally, I make myself sit down every day to write. I psych myself out. I only have to write a single page, then I can stop. And why not? If I just write a page a day, then in less than four months, I have a screenplay. How easy is that? …”

And Baker’s money quote…

“Sitting down to write is not rocket science. If it’s a habit, and you set up the same time every day or every other day to do it, then you feel bad when you don’t. So you do it. Simple, right? Make writing a habit!”

Bradbury reminds us of how important this daily habit is as well,

“The smallest effort to win means, at the end of each day, a sort of victory. Remember that pianist who said that if he did not practice every day he would notice, if he did not practice for two days, the critics would would, after three days, his audience would know.”

Tip 8: WRITE FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH, YOUR SANITY

I’ll let Ray take this one…

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you…The horrors are not to be denied. In my own circle , an aunt, and uncle, and a cousin, as well as six friends, have been destroyed by the car. The list is endless and crushing if we do not creatively oppose it. Which means writing as cure. Not completely, of course. You never get over your parents in the hospital or your best love in the grave. I won’t won’t use the word “therapy,” it’s too clean, too sterile a word. I only say when death slows others, you must leap to set up your diving board and dive head first into your typewriter.”  

Tip 9: The Angry Filmmaker’s ‘3-Easy-Steps for Writing a Screenplay’

I hate giving away too much, but I believe that the Angry Filmmaker wouldn’t mind me sharing his  ‘3-Easy-Steps for Writing a Screenplay’ and they are brilliant. Perfect for ALL writers of ALL experience levels.

Step 1. Put Your Butt In The Chair!

Step 2. Put Your Butt In The Chair!

Step 3. Put Your Butt In The Chair!

[ NOTE: These 3-Steps are from ‘The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide: Chapter 2 ‘Scripting, Scripting, and more Scripting’. This is one of the highest recommended reads I could ever encourage any writer to eat up. It’s a 6-course steak dinner. Get it, read it, devour it, read it again. Then repeat the process until it’s apart of you.]   

Tip 10: WRITE BECAUSE YOU MUST

To be a writer you have to write.

“I make my films because I have to! I have stories I have to tell and I won’t be satisfied until my movie is done, and out.”  – Kelley Baker

“…writing is survival. Any art, and good work, of course, is that. Not to write, for many of us, is to die.” – Ray Bradbury

Final Thought:

I plan to go for the Gusto in 2015. Hold nothing back. Give my best. Write more than ever before. Get to know myself better. Write never before ‘as a man on fire’. I want to encourage you to do the same. If you’re a writer, WRITE! Examine yourself and discover those habits that hold you back as well as those habits you want to maintain and cultivate. Begin new habits. Find time to be productive, to cultivate YOU the Writer!

-Cheers

SamTheWriter

Featured Quotes:

This post’s featured quotes come from books by Ray Bradbury and Kelley Baker. Both books mentioned below I highly recommend. If I had the money I would honestly buy a copy for anyone seeking to be a better writer. There’s thousands of books out there that are marketed as ‘Writer Help Resources’ that end up being a watered down writer’s devotional, but no meat, no practical application advice.

Bradbury’s ‘Zen in the Art of Writing’ is full of amazing essays that truly get you into the mind of one of the greatest writers to ever live. Get a copy at Amazon.

Baker’s ‘The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guides Parts 1 & 2‘ are exactly what they’re branded: survival guides. In my opinion these guides are ‘The Survival Guides’ and could honestly replace almost every ‘Writer’s Help’ book in my library — had I known when they were first published I would have saved hundreds of dollars.

Get your copies NOW at the AngryFilmmaker.com. Let him know that SamTheWriter recommended you.

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