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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Meetup.com: A Networkers' Goldmine

September 4, 2008 Leave a comment

Are you a writer that seeks the company of other writers?  Can’t find a group nearby?

I came across a great site for people who want to connect with others with similar interests.  Try www.meetup.com.  Although I have not joined it yet (my cup runneth over), I did surf through the site and read comments.  Since it is a self-directed site, you can be in control.  You either join an existing club or form your own.  You can search by topic or geography. 

Group members often leave their comments about the group.  It seems whether you are there to make new friends in the area or joined to talk about a specific topic, almost all the comments were a strong endorsement. 

Here’s a review from Bryan-Carey on http://www.viewpoints.com/Meetup-com-review-3b7f

So if you are interested in spreading your wings, try something different.  Wouldn’t this make a great venue for a mystery novel?

Staring at the Brick Wall

August 25, 2008 Leave a comment

brickwall-2  I have hit a brick wall.  I haven’t posted in two weeks…or has it been longer?  So I do apologize for being absent.  Unlike some writers, I’m not stuck for ideas.  Or ability.  Or skill level.  It’s just plain poor time management. 

In Victoria Schmidt’s book, a self help book for the miserably time challenged (Book In A Month), she identifies several self defeating thoughts.  The one that I identified most was “I feel like I have no control over my time and how I spend it; writing is always pushed to the wayside.”  I don’t blame anyone but myself.  

Here are some strategies that I am employing to see if I can get over the brick wall:

1.  I started blogging to see if just the act of writing daily would morph into writing more substantive material.  Result:  It turns out I like blogging, but as you can tell by the last two weeks, I haven’t had much time. Results:  Blogging keeps me sane and as focused as I’ve ever been. 
2.  I have been searching for a writing buddy.  I’m not thinking about writing collaboratively, just someone to talk about writing, critiquing each other’s works, and to keep me from sliding into the nonwriting abyss.  Results: The first three people whom I approached wanted to be a writing buddy, but time management got in their way.   A little disappointed, I figured it was  better to know early in the game than later…and if they have more time issues than I do, how was I to ever improve?  I have a new writing buddy.  I am ever hopeful that this will be the one that helps me push through my writing dormancy.
3.  I have set deadlines for small assignments.  Results:  These have come and gone…and another deadline for a short story at the end of this month looks like more of the same. 
4.  I have daily to-do lists.  I have started listing writing at the top of the list instead at the bottom as an afterthought.
5.  In my spare time, I am always reading.  Results:  I’m enjoying the reading.  Am I more a spectator when it comes to writing?
6.  I’ve mapped out every hour of my day to see where I could be amiss.  The last two weeks I was sidetracked by the Olympics and now the political conventions are full steam ahead.   Results: No excuses.  I shouldn’t have given television a priority over my time with the computer.  
7.  Part of my problem may lie in the fact that I am working in front of a computer 8 hours a day.  I try not to hop back on the computer right after dinner.  I get a little exercise and then write.  Results: Obviously, this area could use some improvement.  Is my job the large elephant in the room?  Would I be more productive, if the best energy hours of the day were open to personal writing?  Do I have to wait until retirement, because I’m too undisciplined to make any progress?
8.  I am trying to say “NO” to people, but I often slip up.  Results:  When I do say no, which cuts down the level of noise that runs through my head, I am able to sit and write and enjoy myself.

Anyone have any suggestions that I can employ?  Giving up my day job is not one of them. 

Btw, writing is a great cheap form of therapy.  Try it.  I understand that writing also aids good health.

 

 

Lucky Bamboo

August 7, 2008 Leave a comment

Lucky Bamboo

 I took a photo of three bamboo stalks a while back.  What interested me was the curling.  As I looked at the stalks, I realized that in its simpleness there is much symbolism. 

Bamboo is a Chinese symbol for longevity.  It earned this distinction because if you ever had bamboo grow in your yard and tried to get rid of it, you realize that bamboo is hardy.  It springs back even when you have pulled all the stalks year after year.  The bamboo root system is extensive and prolific.  Despite my efforts to eradicate the plant, every year the tender stalks poke their way through the underbrush.  Its endurance and adaptability are a lesson to us all that the secret to a long, happy life is to go with the flow.

It is significant that there are only three stalks in this vase.  You’ve heard people say that “things happen in three’s.” 

Three seems to have a completeness about it.  Many phases of life and other references exhibit how three is important in understanding higher concepts of life.  Take these for example:

  • child/adult/senior
  • mother/father/child
  • life/death/rebirth (meaning life after death).
  • birth/life/death
  • red, blue, yellow – the 3 primary colors with which all other colors are created
  • three phases of the moon
  • three wishes for a genie
  • three wise men
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • physical, mental and spiritual
  • thought, word and deed
  • animal, vegetable and mineral

In writing combinations of three also appear:

  • beginning, middle, end
  • creating a scene: goal, conflict, disaster
  • creating a sequel: reaction, dilemma, decision
  • three acts in a play
  • rising action, climax, denouement

If you are looking for some real insight, I don’t have any.  I’m just writing whatever comes to my head in the early hours of the morning (1:22 AM).  I could go on and make some connection to the fact that the stalks remain green all year round.  And maybe there is something symbolic in that the leaves, which are much more tender than an oak, are few and appear at the end of the stalk. 

This exercise shows what can happen when you let your mind wander, connecting the dots between the universal truths and that which is real and concrete.  Every writer needs the ability to dream, because that is his or her well of inspiration.

        

Blogging Expectations

July 22, 2008 Leave a comment

Sorry about the hiatus.  I was contemplating in what direction I was taking this blog.  I am debating whether introducing more of me into the content would dilute the content.

 

So, I have been scouring other writing blogs to see what other bloggers say on the topic.  A couple of them have two individual blogs.  One dedicated to writing and the other dedicated to more personal perspectives. 

 

I can barely find time to write this blog (I work full time).  So sustaining two blogs is not happening. And while I could blog at work, because I am often alone in the office, I do not.  No, I don’t consider myself a goody two shoes (I wonder where that strange expression came from?) by any stretch of the imagination.  I just think that I can accomplish more if I try to keep my activities confined to blocks of time. 

 

Okay, I also think that when you are hired to do a job and you do your own thing on company time, you are in essence stealing from the company.  It isn’t traditional stealing in tangible goods, but nevertheless, it impacts the bottom line.  How does a small business truly grow if everyone on the payroll takes undue advantage of the situation?

 

I began this blog on a whim.  Writing daily was my first goal.  I know that if I keep the channels open, writing becomes easier.  It’s like playing piano.  You lay off the keys for awhile; you get rusty.   It also builds a readership.

 

During my hiatus, I have been learning about search engine optimization and working on writing projects.  I sense that I am spreading myself thin, so I’m paring down again.

 

I will stick with this blog, because I have things about writing to share.  I will work on my writing. 

 

And while we are on the topic of knowledge and sharing….did you ever notice that as we grow older, we seem to know less? 

 

Visit again and learn what I just noticed about aging and learning.  Sometimes, it is painful to be that observant.

How to Get Focused When You are Woefully Undisciplined

May 25, 2008 Leave a comment

When you think that almost everyone you know can write, you would think that it would be easy to find someone who shares similar writing goals.  For me, this hasn’t been easy.  I have found people with whom I’ve had exchanges over the years, but either the person has loses interest, gets discouraged, or our evaluative skills differ too widely, and we naturally drift apart. 

So, after awhile I decided to go it alone.  Months and months passed without a  body of work.  There have been lots of notes and first tries.  And from my posts you can tell that after months of dabbling, the end product were a lot of isolated paragraphs on various sizes of paper. 

Yes, I know, I could be more disciplined. So in light of my shortcomings, I am remedying it by setting some personal goals. 

My first goal was to find another writer who wants to write a novel or has written a novel.  I want to meet with that person at least once a month.  Goal: to share information, to make editing suggestions and for me, most importantly, make me accountable to my time schedule.  I decided I would meet with only one writer.  Call me selfish, but I am tired of critiquing endless pages of dribble.  While I like poetry, I don’t feel qualified to comment on it much beyond the cursory connections of symbolism and great word choice.

My second goal is to write, and I emphasize WRITE, a reasonable time table.  I spend so much time catering to family goals in addition to a full time job that my writing goals never bubble to the top of the To-Do list.  This needs modification, if I’m ever going to get beyond the initial attempts.  (I plan to add my time table to my blog to add more incentive to reach these goals.)

My third goal is to write a couple fiction pages a day in addition to this blog.  However, much to my surprise, this blog consumes more time than I ever thought it would.  So some days, when I am engaged in my fiction, this blog will no doubt be affected somehow.  I will have to figure out how I am going to make this work.   

My fourth goal is not to whine and make excuses for not adhering to my schedule. 

Okay, there are probably a half a dozen more goals I would like to share, but I think if the list is too long, it will be overwhelming and I will have difficulty staying on track. 

Goal one is in the works.  Next Saturday I plan to meet a long time local journalist.  Nan has written a novel.  It is still a bit rough she informs me and has been lying in her desk drawer for months.  This union has possibilities.  I don’t know Nan very well.  I don’t know how interested she is in sustaining our relationship.  Unlike the other writing workshops I have been in, I want this one to work.  I want this one to yield results.  I want someone to hold me accountable when I start to make those excuses.

Tomorrow I plan to tackle my second goal, so watch for my page entitled: Cori’s Writing Time Table.  If you would like to share your time table, email me cori@corichu.com.

               

Five Good Sources for Starting Your Writing Business

May 20, 2008 Leave a comment

When someone gives me websites to visit, I tend to cringe because either the list is way too long and well, it seems more like a chore on my to-do list.  One suggestion I can handle, if I remember.   But much more than that, I get distracted.  However, here are five great sources for getting ideas on how to turn your writing into a business.

For writers seriously thinking about turning their writing into a business, I suggest a couple of things.  You should first check out your local small business development office to see what programs, grants, and free education classes are available.  Often times the small business development counselor can help you craft a business plan or give you ideas for marketing as well.

There are two general websites that cover the topic start up businesses thoroughly.  It might be well worth a peek.  www.entrepreneur.com and www.inc.com.  Use these sites as a reference or as a jumping off point for further research. 

Sometimes SCORE might be able to shed light on how to develop your business.  It used to be SCORE counselors were primarily composed of retired small business men, volunteering to give sage counsel to new businesses.  Now current business owners are participating as counselors.  While this doesn’t change the program, it adds a different dimension to the advice.  Current business owners may be more in tune to the trends, the current local economic conditions, and may be able to connect you with other networking contacts.  The downside is because they are running a business, they may not have as much time available.  SCORE retirees can also provide a long view of the whole business cycle.  They may be more experienced in the various business models and can provide a longer historical context.   In any case, having a “mentor” works well and keeps one on track.

One other great source is other writers who have made it their business.  It is great to ask questions about how people achieved what they did.  What was their best advice?  What were the defining moments for their business choices?  And if you are worried that other writers are too busy…well, maybe…but there are many out there that will feel flattered that you thought of them as successful.

None of the sources I listed are not knowledge specific about the writing industry.  The information is broad and can be applied to starting any business. 

ADVICE:  Figure out some kind of filing system that you will be able to keep track of your brilliant ideas, because if you are like me, they seem to disappear quite easily. 

If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to comment. 

 

Where Does Your Time Go?

If you haven’t yet blocked out what you do during the day, especially a week, you are in for a real eye opener. You think you know where your time goes, but in reality, you only have some vague notion how you spend your time.

Below I have blocked out my next week. I used shades of green for personal tasks, shades of blue for work related time spent, purple for writing or reading activities, and pink for family time. What jumps out at me is that sometimes the time allotted is not so rigid, so some activities spill over into the next hour and maybe the next one after that, depending on what kind of project it is.

The second thing that jumps out at me is that the white areas are left for more writing activities. However, look at where my writing activities fall…very late at night, which most times doesn’t work well, because I end up nodding off. Someone once told me that what we spend our time doing most is what we want to be doing most. I don’t think this is an absolute statement, but it holds some merit. What do you find yourself doing most? Is this what you want to be doing? Is this something you feel you have to do to have a steady income or keep peace in the family? Or is it obligatory?

The question is “Where to find more quality writing time?” Do I have to wait until I retire? I am still pondering the answer. If you have found a solution, I would love to hear from you.

You too can try this exercise to see how your time is spent. I have posted a page so you can use this same technique.

Time Log

Discovering Who You Are as a Writer (1)

April 22, 2008 Leave a comment

In my last post, I invited everyone to join me as I begin the journey of crafting my writing talent into a business.  I discussed the definition of SWOT in fleshing out my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  We are going to take this information now and see how this information is useful.

STRENGTHS:  Strengths are always easy to work with because they are what we do best.  It is easy to be enthused, proud of your talents.  When you list your strengths in regard to your writing, you will see the talent you have that you have not tapped into yet.  Use those abilities to augment your chances of achievement.  For example: For years I have known that these were my strengths, but I never looked at them as a whole and think…hmmm…if I were counseling someone, what do all these strengths add up to?  What career am I going to be successful based on the list below?

In my case, I see it as a slam dunk.  These traits scream some kind of technical or business writer.  And what does my blog gravitate toward?  The business, more formal side of writing.  

Yet my goal is fiction —to write a novel.  180 degrees opposite of my skill set.  In further analyzing this information, it is obvious that the technical, more formal writing is my sweet spot.  Like the comedian who wants to be a dramatic actor, or the basketball player who wants to play football, human beings want to be what they are not naturally.  I think it is the thrill of the challenge and the adrenalin rush of achievement that drives us. 

And so, tomorrow I will examine my weaknesses and figure out how I can take action to be more efficient and take back some of those squandered hours and write.

Please feel free to share or comment.  Or jump in with a question.

STRENGTHS
Writing ability
Good foundation in research
Computer literate
Good imagination
Marketing skills
Small business management knowledge
Analytical
WEAKNESSES
Need more fiction writing time
Easily distracted by family and responsibilities
Too eager to help others
To-Do List is overwhelming 
OPPORTUNITIES
Opportunity to meet many people where I work
Member of a Writing Group
Contacts at colleges where I attended
Understanding how to use the Internet and viral marketing as a tool
 
THREATS
Lack of focus. 
Energies too dispersed.
Self confidence