Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Making Time for Writing without the Guilt

It’s summertime! Sunny and warm days inspire us to spend some time outdoors, enjoying nature. But do outdoor activities inspire you to write? In my personal experience, writing is as whimsical as the weather in Montreal. Last year I was typing away and producing almost a story or two per week. This year I’m involved in different projects, leaving me almost no time for my writing. However, I’ve decided not to feel guilty about it because it stresses me out. And when I stress I definitely cannot write.

So here are some tips that work for me (without the added guilt):

• Forget about schedules. Not everyone can adhere to them. Go with the flow, especially if you’re the free-spirited type.

• Carry a small notebook with you. You might get inspired while riding the metro, the bus, or just strolling down the street. Jot down ideas as they flutter in your mind.

• Make some time for quiet time. It could be sitting on a park bench, indulging in a bubble bath, going to the library, and / or even at your place of worship.

• Join a writers’ group. Writers feed from each other’s energy.

• Register for a writing workshop. It’ll get your writing juices flowing.

Writing should be fun, not stressful. So go out there and enjoy your summer….your writing will soon follow.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

How Your Writing Can Help you Land a Job

Three weeks ago I had a job interview.
My writing played a key role in getting me the job. The two interviewers told me that creativity was paramount for this position. Who would have thought that my published stories would get me the job? The interviewers told me they were impressed with my writing accomplishments which also demonstrated passion and determination (Let me add that this job is not in the writing field).

Fellow writers, don’t underestimate the power of your writing or your creativity. You can add this valuable skill to your *curriculum vita.

Let’s not forget that typos are detrimental to your résumé, especially when you’re applying to a position in the writing industry. A dear friend and fellow writer pointed out that the term curriculum vitae is plural. She said that a lot of people often misuse this Latin-based word. Vita in both Italian and Latin mean 'life', so it is only logical to keep your CV alive by avoiding typos. Isn’t it wonderful? We always learn something new, and learning is power.

Have you ever used your writing as means to getting a job?

* According to Dictionary.com, the definition for curriculum vita (singular), vitae (plural) is a brief biographical résumé of one's career and training, as prepared by a person applying for a job.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Plot Development

A lot of you may already know about plot development. However, I would like to share with you some new pointers I learned from my writing teacher and poet, Ilona Martonfi, founder of the Yellow Door and the literary events at the Visual Arts Centre. She's teaching a workshop called "Start Writing Your Book" and we started with a great exercise on plot.

She said that every character wants something. This "wanting" is the basis of plot. As opposed to life, plot has an ordered structure, continuity, and careful selection of relevant and discarding of non-relevant information. For instance, characters may want:
  • to escape
  • to retrieve something
  • to stop something
  • to win something
In a story arc, the character moves from one position, meets challenges, hits a seemingly unsolvable crisis, and resolves to a changed position through the storyline. This may be a fall from grace (which is often a tragedy), a hero's journey, or simply how a character confronts and overcomes challenges, often finding new strengths. A short story usually has one arc. A novel may have multiple arcs.

This pointers have helped me save some stories that needed editing. Now I know why: my character needed something...and this was lacking.

Do you usually pay attention to your characters' needs?

So now that you have some pointers on how to edit your wonderful short story, I invite you to be daring and enter your story in the Writer's Digest Short Short Story Competition Good luck to all of you!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Future of Publishing

Last night, I attended a writing workshop to help us finish our book. One of the participants said she'd been considering self-publishing. I told her one of my friends and fellow writers had opted for that choice. So in light of that conversation, I'm sharing an excerpt from a longer article from The Book Marketing Expert Newsletter. I hope everyone who's trying to publish finds this information helpful.

A lot of people claim that traditional publishing is broken and will eventually die. I disagree. Much like the changes that have occurred in the past in publishing, the big six will survive and so will agents. I do not have any insider knowledge or hidden agenda, nor do I profess to know everything about publishing. Not by a longshot. But I do know how to read the signs of this evolution or revolution, depending on which side of the fence you are on. I believe there have been many signs. Here is how I foresee they will do it.

Self-publishing: In the very near future, all of the houses will spend some of their equity on self-publishing. In order to survive, they are going to have to reinvent the way they do business. This means digging into the self-publishing arena. It's rumored that two major houses are already doing this, and there are likely more to come.

Hay House, for example, has already lent their name to Balboa Press which is their self-publishing arm. I have no experience with Balboa so I can't speak to their process, but I do know that part of their sales pitch to authors is that a successful book published with Balboa will be considered by Hay House for republication. Does this actually happen? I don't know, Balboa hasn't been around long enough to show a track record. If publishers get into self-publishing, does that mean they won't be publishing traditionally? Not at all. The traditional model won't go away, but with publishers becoming more and more risk-averse, the model has to change if they're going to survive. And, let's face it, while the number of bookstores is declining, opportunities to sell books and flood the market with books continue to increase.

Direct to consumer: While some publishers are dabbling in this, I'm not clear how successful they will be. Consumer engagement on e-commerce sites such as Amazon, etc. will significantly change the way we buy. What does this mean? I think you're going to see a lot more social buying in the future. Social engagement, consumer recommendations, etc.

We're already seeing a lot of this, but I believe we'll see much more of it. Can publishers offer this? Yes, they certainly can, but first they have to overcome the hurdle of consumer awareness. Consumers don't know publishers, they know authors and they know the big e-commerce sites like Amazon, et al. Direct to consumer is great, but when you've been a behind-the-scenes entity for so long, the awareness process can take a while.

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com