So I Want To Be A Writer…Do You?

I’m not sure what happened.  One day I woke up and decided it was time to be a writer.  The desire has always been there, lurking but aside from this blog and a few random pieces that nobody but I have read, being a writer – a professional paid writer – seemed a distant dream.  Sometimes we just have to take the leap, especially when we’ve run out of excuses.

I did it.  I woke up.  I took the leap.  I signed up on a freelance writing site and dove…hard.  I’m submitting proposals for every job I’m interested in and for which I’m qualified.  I’ve been at this for about 2 weeks, give or take a day.  I’ve secured 3 contracts.  There have been hiccups as is expected with any new endeavor.  That’s okay.  I call those hiccups “learning experiences.”

I’ve a few suggestions if you’re interested in freelance work.  Tidbits I’ve learned during my so far short career as a freelancer.

1.  Be prepared for rejection.  It will happen.  If it does happen, that’s okay.  Assume that wasn’t the right job for you and move on.

2.  If you choose to sign up on a freelance writing site, read the policies CAREFULLY.  Understand fully the ins and outs of how the site works and what they expect from you and the clients who might hire you.  The terms of the site are set up to protect you so don’t ignore them.

3.  Get organized.  Secret:  I’m not.  Not at all.  I have multiple legal pads with outlines,  I’ve got to make a run to Office Max for more post-it notes, pens are running out of ink, nothing is in one place, my hours are weird, I’m not sleeping well or long, I’m not eating right and in general my organization at the moment can only be described as “WTF?  A bomb went off in here or what?”  That not only applies to my workspace but my brain, as well.  I’m focusing on different projects with different topics and to say my thought process is scrambled is an understatement.  I’ll get it together.  My writing isn’t suffering but my advice to you is to get it together BEFORE you start writing.  Have a plan.

4.  Quiet the little voices in your head.  You know those voices (I call them Little Bitches) who attempt to cause doubt?  The ones that make you question every single word you write telling you they aren’t good enough?  That you aren’t good enough?  Shut those Little Bitches down.  QUICK.  They are evil and they are wrong.

5.  Write for yourself.  The most important thing writers should remember is at the end of the day, we are the ones who need to be happy with our work.  Yes, we may be writing for a company website or composing articles for a publication and yes, we want our clients to be 100% satisfied with our work but really, when it’s all said and done, we must be happy with our work.  We need to feel good about what we’ve written.

6.  Don’t overload yourself.  In other words, don’t be me.  I’m taking on whatever contract I can get.  I’ve got 4 articles that must be written by tomorrow.  I’ve got proposals waiting to grow up to be contracts.  I know me well enough to know I will take on everything I’m offered even if it means I’m working (too) many jobs at once.  I don’t care.  It happens that I’m rather skilled at multi-tasking.  Having multiple jobs doesn’t inhibit my ability to focus on what I’m writing.  But I will become frazzled.  I will get grouchy.  I will not sleep and forget to eat.  I will also love every second of it so unless you thrive in chaos, do yourself a favor and don’t bite off more than you can chew.

7.  When in doubt, ask questions.  If you feel unsure about a client, do not hesitate to investigate on your own.  Check out their website or blog, search Google for reviews of their business, ask the client direct questions and at the end of that if you’re still unsure or don’t feel comfortable with an offer, move on.  Intuition is key.  Listen.

8.  Don’t be afraid to negotiate terms of payment.  Some clients will pay by the hour, some pay by the job, some pay by the word.  Decide how you want to be paid.  Do your homework.  Research what other freelancers charge for their work.  Obviously, if you’re a “newbie” you can’t expect to make the big bucks but you can certainly expect to be paid what you’re worth.  Don’t undersell yourself.

9.  Pay for nothing.  If a client approaches you and says you must pay for a product or pay for the opportunity to write for them, just say no.  Those types of shady folks are out there so beware.

10.  Have a comfortable place to work.  I’m so struggling with this right now.  I am not comfortable in any place I sit so I’m constantly moving and it’s disruptive.  I’m having to use my bedroom as an office space and let me tell you, there is simply no room for both.  The other problem I’m having is I’m hot all the time.  I’m old, there are hot flashes from Hell.  I’m most comfortable sitting directly in front of the window AC but doing that means rearranging…well, rearranging a lot.  It’s a pain in my butt.  I am making it work but it isn’t ideal so set-up your work space before you start taking on jobs.  You’ll be glad you did.

11.  Take classes.  Update yourself on the latest Internet jargon.  Understand SEO.  Get a feel for basic marketing techniques.  Brush up on your grammar skills.  Free courses online are available.  Tons of them.  Take the time to educate yourself.  Learning should be a lifelong pursuit so take advantage of the freebies.  Alison is a great place to start but remember – Google is your friend.

12.  Don’t forget to write for yourself.  Don’t allow your own ideas and goals to get lost while writing for others.  Make time to continue writing for yourself.

13.  Build a portfolio.  Another secret:  I’ve not yet done this.  I need to work on it.  How does one build a portfolio, you ask?  Hard work.  Approach businesses you have some knowledge of or interest in and offer to write a blog post or maybe a newsletter for them, place an add on Fivver stating you’ll write an article or blog post in exchange for a good reference, maybe consider an add on Craigslist.  Don’t get sucked into huge projects.  You want a relatively small writing project to showcase your skills.  Make your expectations clear.  Write a letter to sell yourself, state your reasons for needing to build a portfolio and offer your services for free.  You really only need a few written pieces in your portfolio to begin your freelance career.  Once you establish yourself you then build your portfolio allowing you to seek out higher paying jobs.

Being a writer is about passion.  Passion for words, passion for seeing ideas come together to create a story, article or blog and passion for the very act of writing. Believe in what you’re doing.  Believe in yourself.  Make the committment and remember to own it – I AM A WRITER!  YOU ARE A WRITER!  We must claim it to be it.

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Bookworm is the Devil

I’m addicted to a game on my iPhone.  It’s called Bookworm.  For the record, I am officially an ULTRA BOOKWORM.  Thought you might want to know that.

Here is the little bastard that keeps me up half the night.

Looks innocent enough but trust me, he’s evil.

Bookworm 1

During the course of “x” number of games (if I had to guess I’d say the number was somewhere in the trillions), I often end up inventing words in an effort to rack up more points or beat those damn flaming tiles.  I wrote a few of them down and have come to the conclusion these non-words should actually be legitimate and added to Webster’s dictionary.  I’ve even come up with meanings.

1.  TWUK (n.):  a new-fangled pair of tweezers that don’t make you want to scream like an idiot every time you pluck your brows.

2.  CLOFF (adj.):  a term used to describe an individual who gets pissed off because they can’t figure out time zones to save their lives (this may or may not apply to me).

3.  HOWEL (n.):  the last towel you stole from a hotel.

4.  QUOG (n.):  a vicious, interplanetary, cross-breed species of duck and hog trained for combat.

5.  THUB (adj.):  the sound my boobs will make when they finally, one day, hit the floor when I get out of bed in the morning.

6.  SNOX (n.):  A disposable, sock-like device that can be worn on the hand during flu and cold season for blowing your nose.

7.  CHOWIE (adj.):  really, super hungry.

All useful, I believe.  Don’t you?

Did you laugh?  Smile?  Chortle out loud?  Good.  Now that you’re in a good mood, do me a favor.  My friend Nicki is trying to raise money to help those who are living with AIDS/HIV.  This is a super-extra worthy cause and for every dollar she gets, Penn & Teller will match.  $5 becomes $10, $10 becomes $20 and so forth.  Even a $1 donation will help so PLEASE consider supporting her effort.  She’s a kick-ass chick!  I’m proud of her.  THANK YOU!!

Trifecta Weekend Challenge…

Challenge:

On to this weekend’s challenge, which will be judged by the community.  The trickiness of this past week’s prompt has us thinking about the various ways we use words.  This weekend we want you to write a 33-word response using the name of an animal as a verb.  Some examples are: to dog, to snake, to bear, to duck. . .you get the idea.  Write about anything you want and use whichever verb tense you need, but give us an animal as a verb in there somewhere.  Let’s see if we can discover new things by looking from a different perspective.

My entry, a conversation between friends (And yea, I realize that last line doesn’t use wolf and sheep as a verb.  Rest is pretty cool though) :

“She’s foxy trying to dig for info like that.”

“Yes, but that’s her cross to bear.”

“Wonder what she’s trying to ferret out of him?”

“Who knows?  Such a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Invitation to Writers and Readers…

My friends!  I finally did it.  I’ve created a book page on Facebook.  It’s called Lisa’s Bookbag.

You are all invited to “like” the page if you’re on Facebook and if you are interested in having yourself and your work featured, please let me know.  The title says book, but if you’ve written anything at all you’d like to share, I’d be more than happy to showcase it for you.

You can comment here on this post, or send me a friend request on Facebook or shoot me an email at lisa_bookbag@yahoo.com

I’M EXCITED!  It’s already been received with a lot of positive feedback so I can’t wait until it really gets off the ground.  Also, if you’d be willing to share the link I would GREATLY appreciate that!

The first author is up.  His name is Leonard D. Hilley, II and he’s a good friend of mine.  I met him on MySpace years ago and have been a fan of his work since I read the first word of his first book.  Good stuff!

Hope you all are having a wonderful day!

Trifecta Challenge

Haven’t done this in a long while!

I checked out the Trifecta challenge for this week and it seemed like a good one so I’m going for it.  I made the decision to incorporate two challenges.  Use of the word normal and an opening line for a book (I believe the opening line challenge was week 35).  Anyway…as usual, I kept mine to 33 words because I find that to be a bit more interesting.

Using the 3rd definition of normal:   3: a form or state regarded as the norm : standard

My day began with a hot cup of coffee, a beautiful sunrise, a dead body, a call to 911 and an alibi.  Some might find this odd but for me, it’s unbelievably normal.

Trifecta: Mother

Weekend challenge:

This weekend’s Trifextra is the first of its kind.  This weekend we only need 32 words from you, because we’re giving you the 33rd.  Your challenge is to write anything you want, in whichever form you please, so long as your response is exactly 33 words and includes the word “mother.”

ENTRY:

The bond between Mother and Daughter is born from a miracle.  

This closeness is a sacred gift meant to be treasured.  

Best friends and soul mates, 

This bond signifies a true, unconditional love.

My Mom and my Daughter…my best friends.