• April is National Poetry Month!

    Prose writers can click here to find one way to honor their poetry fellows. See what Pacific Northwest poets are doing in April here.
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    On 12.01.09, I estimated that I had about 32,000 words left to write to complete my first draft of the opening book in my paranormal mystery series, THE LOST & FOUND.

    Here's my progress updated 2.12.10:

    33% of 32,000 (10,648 wds)
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When one thing leads to another (using nautical metaphors for no good reason)

On Wednesday morning, I had the pleasure of landing a freelance writing gig based on an email I sent to a web magazine publisher less than two weeks ago, in which I made suggestions for a new section for their monthly.

2009 has been choppy seas, and yet, opportunities are still out there for those willing to dive in.

Remember, things happen only if you take action. If you want freelance work, you need to be mixing it up with queries, inquiries, formal pitches, and other networking efforts. These things don’t happen in a vacuum while you’re updating your Facebook page, after all.

It really is as simple as having an idea, giving it shape, and offering it to someone who you think would respect it. Through a sea of rejections there’s still bound to be a “yes” flag floating from a buoy.

I say, ahoy! Float your ideas, see what comes back in the tide.

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June dispatch: Can writers ever take a break?

Check out these cautions against taking your laptop or handheld with you on vacation.

Creative solutions for the writer who doesn’t want to be yet another Voice in the Dark

Something that’s been coming up a lot with my other clients: marketing issues. These boil down as follows:

  • submitting short work
  • finding agents
  • considering self-publication
  • considering electronic publishing
  • finding venues for reading
  • making webpages
  • building reputations through P2P (person to person) networking
  • online social networking
  • maximizing Twitter

Are you struggling with any of these concerns? They seem so “business-like,” and yet, as a creative person, you have the right foundation for making these things work on terms that mesh with your creative life.

I’ve co-hosted a writers’ marketing group for years and many of the things we learned as a group can be applied across disciplines.

I’m no marketing guru, per se, but I know how to find ways to balance the creativity life with the necessary work of promotion and networking yourself.

I’m a firm believer that we make or do things to communicate with the larger world; it’s an existential question as to whether it matters to be creative if nobody notices. For me, and for most of the people I’ve worked with as clients, it definitely matters that people notice; otherwise, we’re just voices in the dark.

These days, the marketing models are changing as well, and social networking is becoming a great equalizer, making it possible for people to generate platforms of followers/fans/connections that are responsive to their creative work in a way that the old corporate framework never really supported.

Do let me know if this is an area where you are challenged or want to learn more about, and give me some details of what it is that you are challenged by or what you have already done but would like to do more of. I’m happy to discuss, perhaps even to demystify or de-stigmatize, this “business-side” application of your creativity.

Taking new clients August 1.

Business Plans for Writers? [cross-posted from Jane’s Stories]

from JANE’S STORIES

Business Plans for Writers?
by Tamara Kaye Sellman

“Over the last few years I’ve worked away at developing a business plan for my writing life.

Now, before you smirk and say, “That’s just more busywork,” let’s get one thing straight. Just as there is no wasted writing, there is no wasted planning in the writing life. There’s a lot of “busywork” that goes into the writing life that’s just …”

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Struggling with writer’s resolve?

Why not check out Zenhabits list of tips for real simple goal setting? This could be used against your personal resolutions, your writing life resolutions, etc.

By the way, I’m one who sets many goals but I do compartmentalize and prioritize them, thereby keeping them simple to track. That’s really the only way to keep from spreading yourself too thin.

It’s not that everyone should make New Year’s Resolutions, but now’s as good a time as any to make objectives. Let me tell you, first hand, that if you work without resolutions or goals, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Having a writing life without a road map or a daily plan will keep you in that category of writers who never quite make it because you simply can’t compete if you don’t take your writing life seriously. Planning, folks, is the first step.

In 2009, I resolve to…

• Put aside all attention previously given to short stories and poems to give my novels the attention (i.e. revisions) they deserve.

• Enforce a balance between my working life and my writing life so that my writing life isn’t all tuckered out when I finally get to sit down to write.

• Expand my interests in food writing.

• Master social networking as it relates to my writing and literary outreach lives.

• Read more, write more, BUT take fewer classes and travel less.

• Avoid people in my life who aren’t supportive of my writing life and my literary outreach career.

• Focus on work that pays.

What are your resolutions for 2009?

Writer’s Resolutions for 2009

It’s time to start making writing plans for 2009.

What, you don’t compose an annual writing plan for yourself? Maybe you don’t need to. Maybe you have the One Thing, and that’s all you will focus on. If so, then you’ll probably want to skip this blog entry.

But chances are pretty good that you’re more like me, with several irons in the fire. I wouldn’t have it any other way, myself. I like to work on several different projects at any one time. I’m the person with 5 books on the nightstand. If I only had one project, I’d be b-o-r-e-d. Such can be the curious mind.

So what to do with all that creative energy? Now’s the time to take a look at what you’d like to accomplish in the coming year, and one of the ways to figure out what these new objectives are is to look back over what you’ve done in the past.

Ask yourself:

• Did I write the things I wanted to and/or planned to write in 2008?

• Did I adequately submit my most promising manuscripts over the last year?

• Did I revise the work I said I would?

• Did I clock in enough writing time to feel good about calling myself a writer?

• What other things did I do over the last 12 months which I can count as successes in working toward the writing life I want?

• What other things did I not do over the last 12 months which could have helped bring me closer to the writing life to which I aspire?

Yes, it’s important not only to check your list for successes, but for failures. Failures are actually where we get our grist for the future. Writers who focus only on their successes tend to suffer more dry spells because they refuse to borrow from their own compost, in a sense. And what about the things you didn’t do, or did do and failed at, in the last year? The most important step is to admit to such failures, because everything after that is compost tea.

You may need to break your resolutions out into compartments if you write across form and genre. I’m a novelist, a blogger, and a freelance nonfiction writer these days, so I’ll give myself a short list of objectives for each of these areas. In the past, I’ve chosen poetry or short fiction. I’ll do far less of that in the coming year because my energy is really blazing for the other kinds of writing. It’s not a choice made because of success or failures, however. It has more to do with following ambitions, which I strongly recommend. Follow your spirit’s lead and write where the energy is positive and exciting. Not only will you get more done in the coming year, but your finished work will exude that same energy organically.

Finally, if you work in the writing world in other ways (as an editor, a publisher, a coach, a consultant, a teacher), you may also feel it necessary to set out resolutions for all of those aspects of your literary life just to be sure that you have a good balance between your various callings. For my part, my mentoring and literary outreach work will take up a bit of time in the coming year, so I really need to keep these goals in mind as I chart my entire working life, which includes not only my volunteer and paid obligations, but also my freelance writing obligations. I plan to cut back on both teaching and taking classes, so as I make my plan for 2009, I’ll be keeping in mind the time that opens up as a result of that decision.

Once you have some idea of what your goals are for your various literary tasks, then it’s as simple as writing them down in simple lists, then posting those lists in a conspicuous spot in your writing space so that you’re reminded all year long what your goals are. Be as vague or as specific as you are comfortable being. Truly, the point is to initiate your intent for the year. If you write your goals down, the chances are better that you’ll actually meet them all at least halfway (if you’re being reasonable about your expectations).

So go ahead, in the white spaces between family and shopping and cooking and holidays and parties, put some thought into what you want 2009 to be like. To borrow from a campaign slogan often spouted over the past year, “We are the change we’ve always wanted.” The gift of one’s own success nearly always has its roots in positive intent, hope, flexibility, and an open mind.