Write from the Depths of Your Soul

I just read an amazing inspirational piece about writing something that is uniquely yours and as far from cliché as possible. The only way I can summarize it is to say this:

Write from the depths of your soul. Dig deeper and forget about everything else you have ever read or written before. Search within yourself for something that no one else can unleash. Let it be raw and unexpected. Don’t do what has already been done.

“Write what’s real and true to you. That’s what stories are made of.”

“The Write Stuff” by Charlene Teglia is highly worthy of link love.

Should you have a daily writing goal?

I read a blog post about Effortless Writing which offers some tips on how to allow writing to flow more easily. The first point struck me and made me think. The author, David Turnbull, suggested that setting high daily goals like thousand of words or sitting at the computer for eight hours can take away from the feeling of fulfillment that comes when writing occurs without pressure.

I can testify to the fact that a tall goal can take the fun out of the writing process. It is much easier to set a tiny goal and surpass it than it is to set an extremely challenging goal and barely make it. I can see how demanding a certain amount of writing from ourselves everyday can be a bit difficult, and dry.

So I wonder now: Should a specific amount of writing should be done everyday? Certainly we all need a certain amount of money, and therefore we must do a certain amount of writing to get it. Aside from that, what kind of writing goals should we set? I think a freelance writer should definitely set some sort of goal, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be the same everyday.

In order to truly enjoy the experience, it is important to relax and not be hindered by self-imposed standards that can remove the joy of writing. At the same time, we should aspire to challenge ourselves to improve the quality of our writing and be productive enough to keep the business growing…I would propose that one good way to approach daily writing is simply to “accomplish something.” Perhaps that can be a certain number of words, or a certain amount of time spent writing. It depends on each writer and what will motivate them.

For me, I think that focusing on the overall purpose of my business, and the broader goals of my writing business (producing high quality writing, helping others promote their businesses, and teaching others what I know) motivates me more than a certain amount of money or a goal of a certain amount of words everyday. That might be too general to motivate some freelance writers, but that works for me. Setting a word count goal or a dollar amount does not.

I work within my deadlines and think about why I do what I do, as opposed to how much I am doing.

What about you? Do you need a specific measurable amount or words, time or money to motivate you to write?

Loneliness and Freelance Writing

It is important to connect with other people on a regular basis, and that can be difficult to arrange when your face is staring at the computer screen on a daily basis. Freelance writing doesn’t come with coworkers, so it can get very lonely if you don’t make time for live human interaction.

Social media can be helpful at times when you are pushing to meet a deadline and need a break. This can only go so far, however, because people need live connections with other people. It is simply human nature.

Having lunch (dinner or breakfast) with a friend once or twice a week is a great way to fit in time with another human being.

Other ways that you can meet your needs for contact with other individuals include:

-working out with a partner

-joining a local writer’s group

-volunteer in the community

-teach or take a class

-bring your work to a café or bookstore (and talk to people)

-go to local events

-meet up with a group of friends for a weekly game night

Whatever you like to do, besides writing, can most likely be turned into an opportunity for you to connect with other people and combat the loneliness of the business. Be creative.

Writing Rituals

Many writers, if not all, have some sort of ritual. There is something that each writer will routinely do before they actually get started writing. This can be a very good thing, because people are creatures of habit. A writing ritual can get you into the proper mindset to get some work done. Everyone has something a little different that works for them, so my tip is to make one up, if you don’t have one already, or perhaps take notice of what you usually do before you can really get into writing. You may have a ritual, and you don’t know it.

My writing ritual goes like this: I check my email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, and blog stats. I will respond to important emails and plan out what needs to be done that day. I set up the files that I need or tab the websites that I am going to use, then I close my laptop. This is when I eat breakfast, exercise, shower, and tidy up. I cannot write unless I am fed, energized and organized. Once I get back to my computer, I check my messages again, look over my to do list, and get started.

What is your writing ritual like?

Better Writing: Write Less

I know. When I offer advice on how to write better, it usually includes writing more and not less. What I mean to say is write concisely. If you can write a good article, you should know how to write a powerful paragraph. When you limit your word count, it forces you to choose your words even more carefully. The art of being concise is to say as much as you can with as few words as possible.

Editing is a major factor in concise writing. You may have to go back three or four times before you are able to come up with just the right way to say a particular thing. It can be difficult to chop down your words to the bare bones, but it will make you a better writer.

Twitter is a great website for practicing concise writing.

Here are my tips for concise writing:

-make your point immediately

-don’t repeat the point

-avoid modifiers like really, very, totally

-use the dictionary and thesaurus to improve vocabulary

-replace long phrases with inclusive words

-avoid empty, general openings and closings

-cut, cut, cut

Do you have any concise writing tips? I’d love to see them. Share in comments.

10,000 words in one day

I just heard about a challenge coming up this week for writers. The challenge is to write 10,000 words in one day. This is a single day out of every month to sit down and just write all day, and this month it is on the 16th. Milli Thorton, author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers presented this challenge on her blog. You can read the rules of the challenge here.

She explains, “The purpose of a 10K Day is to try to write 10,000 words. The spirit of a 10K Day is to liberate myself and celebrate my creativity.”

It sounds like a lot of fun, and I would like to encourage everyone to participate. I am going to try to do this as well, schedule permitting. This is something that I would definitely do every month. I am really excited for the challenge and I hope that you are, too.

Website of the month: www.thewritenetwork.com

The website of the month is The Write Network. It is a collection of the best writing tips from a variety of trusted websites. No matter what genre of writing you practice, The Write Network has tips for you. The feed is updated daily with old and new tips from all of the members of the website. It is a one stop shop for writing tips, business tips, productivity tips, and publishing information. There are more than 25 contributing bloggers, including yours truly, Men With Pens, and Get Paid to Write Online.

You can subscribe to the daily updates at: http://www.thewritenetwork.com

Why Freelancers Need to Focus on Details

A while back I wrote a post titled: Freelance Writers Should Pay Attention to Detail

There I explained what to look for when applying for writing jobs and when working on projects. I would like to take it a step further and discuss the benefits of being detail orientated in your freelance writing career.

It makes you look good. Following instructions correctly requires that you focus on details. Editors certainly appreciate not having to repeat instructions and deal with copy that was not done to specification. Clients are usually impressed when I ask specific questions about their needs and preferences. It assures them that I will do a thorough job on the project.

It helps you land the job. I have been on the client side of freelancing, and to be honest, I weed out any applications that don’t follow my specific instructions. I always choose the writers who respond in the manner that I ask. This is because if they don’t pay attention to the instructions in the ad, they are likely to miss important instructions in the projects I assign.

It makes clients want to rehire you. I always go back to the writers that took care of the details. Clients should never have to edit your work because of typos or fix formatting because you simply overlooked instructions. Do everything that they ask, and make sure that you ask them if there are any more details you can take care of. It is simply good customer service.

It can eliminate the need for revisions. If you check and double check the project description, as well as proofread and edit your work, revisions may not be needed. It can save you a lot of time to get things done correctly the first time. Sometimes revisions are still needed, but if you give clients a preview and ask for feedback before you turn in the final copy, you won’t have to worry about payment delays because of preference related changes.

Being a detail orientated freelance writer will win you business, save you time, and earn you more money.

Using the Internet for Research

Problogger had an interesting article early this week: Why Writers and Bloggers Should Not Rely On The Internet

I cannot deny that the advice is smart. You never know if the information you are reading online is accurate. Relying solely on the internet for factual information is risky.

If it is your goal to present facts, you have to be able to sort through which sources are reputable and which ones are not. Depending on the source, it is more likely that incorrect, altered, or misinterpreted information will be found on the internet than on a print source. Then again, certain print sources are likely to have outdated or altered information.

The problem is that mistakes can be found anywhere, even in print. The only thing that writers and bloggers can do is cite their sources. It is virtually impossible to dig deep enough, even at the library, to find out where every so-called fact originated. It is best to cite experts, government publications, and interviews that you have conducted yourself. Otherwise, the only thing that writers can do is present the information that they were able to find and add a disclaimer saying, “according to this source…”

Personally, I do use the internet for a majority of my work. I do use books sometimes, and I try to verify the information that I find with websites that have some authority (experts, government websites, not websites that any user can edit). Honestly, you can’t trust everything you read, whether it is on the internet or in print. The internet simply makes it easier to come across second-hand information. I do my best to try and filter out information that has no support and I check several different sources to make sure that general information is widely accepted.

I can’t live at the library, so I have to use the internet for my work. There is no control for the amount of false information that is posted online on a daily basis. As a writer and blogger, the only thing I can do is point to someone else and say, “They said it before I did.” I write with the understanding that I could be wrong, but I wasn’t the first one to get it wrong. I try to dig deep enough so that I have a greater chance of being right, but no matter what, you can’t trust everything you read.

Freelance Writing During a Recession

My best advice regarding freelance writing during the recession is to persevere. There is a lot of writing work out there, granted, not all of it pays well, but there is a great deal of it. Since many people are now turning to the internet to start their own businesses and websites, the demand for webpages and internet articles has certainly increased. Companies are also looking for ways to cut costs, and outsourcing writing projects is one way to do that.

What you need to do is focus on honing your craft, developing your skills, and improving your services. If you offer high quality service, your freelance writing business is likely to survive, or even thrive. Don’t slack up on the quality that you offer your current clients, and write to impress in order to attract new clients.

You may also want to expand your promotional efforts or broaden your search for projects and assignments. Keep your web presence strong, and think out of the box when it comes to searching for freelance writing work. I always say that you should look for new clients constantly, because you never know when your most faithful clients will have financial struggles and have to end business with you.

Here are more tips on freelance writing during a recession on Getting it Write.

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