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Monthly Archives: June 2010
3

Musings From the Inkwell—Why Did You Become a Writer?

Have you ever thought about why you became a writer?

It seems to me that writing was just a natural progression because I loved books as a child. I remember how happy I felt the day my kindergarten teacher taught us to write our names. I raced home at warp speed and entered the house shouting, “I can write! I can write! I can write my name. Now I can write a book!”

Well, hey, I was only five. How was I supposed to know that there was more to writing than just my name? Still, it was exciting and I impatiently waited for the next morning so I could ask my kindergarten teacher to teach me more so I could write. When she explained that everyone in class needed to learn the entire alphabet first, I asked if she could teach it to us that day because I already knew it.

Another writer I know said she became a writer because it was something she could do from home and she couldn’t concentrate in an office environment. Ditto that, too. My first mentor, a an older technical writer who had been freelancing for nearly 20 years by the time we met said that he enjoyed the challenge of putting into words other people’s thoughts and ideas. Only one writer I know mentioned wanting to write from a young age.

When I was in kindergarten, I remember feeling impatient with how slowly we had to go and how long it took to learn to write a few words. To keep boredom at bay, I remember pouring through my storybooks and copying words that contained letters I recognized. Then I’d ask what the words were. I slowly and painstakingly put together a list of words I knew, so I could write a short story with them.

To this day, I don’t know why my fascination with writing has persisted. It’s not an easy profession. Yet, there’s something about it. I’m naturally drawn to writing. It’s a great way to share  knowledge (both mine and others’), express my feelings, explore my thoughts, and even to find a few answers when I’m puzzled by an issue or problem. I guess writing is as much a part of me as breathing. I rather like both.

Why did you become a writer? Dip your pen into the Inkwell and tell us.

Write On With Confidence.
The Writers Inkwell Muse

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A Cure for Writer’s Block—Part 2

A Cure for Writer’s Block — Part I

Writer’s Block often strikes unexpectedly. I’ll be writing just fine and then, nothing. The words won’t come. They’re on vacation. No contact phone. No email. Nothing. Not a word.

When I first started writing for a living, my frustration level would rise quickly and fear would set in. “How can I not have the words to write?” I’d ask myself. “I’ve been writing ever since they put a pencil in my hand and taught me how to write my name in kindergarten!” That would only make it worse.

I knew I needed a more effective approach. It took a while, but eventually I began to find ways to cure writer’s block. Once I realized that it was not permanent, I was able to put aside the almost choking fear that would swallow up my ability to think clearly and calmly when I was suffering a bout of writer’s block.

I began to view writer’s block as a boulder blocking the way of my car on the Pacific Coast Highway. What’s the cure for that? Move the boulder. Go around it. Walk around it. Climb the hill. Go over it. Turn around and take another road.

Are you beginning to see that there are multiple solutions? The beauty of multiple solutions is that you only need one, so you can continue your journey. How I cure bouts of writer’s block depends on a lot of things, including where I am physically at the time (home, a client’s office, an airplane, or someplace else), what I’m writing (or supposed to be writing) about, how I’m feeling (happy, sad, fearful, irritated), what’s going on in my life and in my world…I could go on, but you get the idea.

One of my most subtle cures is to write about something else. The other day, I was working on a technical document for a client and the words wouldn’t come. Instead of trying to force them, I switched gears and hand wrote a thank you note to a friend who had done an unexpected favor for me a few days before.

After I finished writing the note, I returned to my computer and there they were—technical words—flowing smoothly, logically, and effectively. Sure, this was a simple block and a simple cure. What matters is that it worked.

This is the second of several ways to cure writer’s block. As I compile the various methods I use, I will share them with you.

Please dip your pen into the Inkwell and let us know how you cure writer’s block.

Write On With Confidence!
The Writers Inkwell Muse

Writers Are Like Sharpshooters

I recently had the privilege to practice pistol shooting with a friend of mine who is an expert sharpshooter. It had been some years since I had had a gun in my hands, so I was shamefully rusty and felt like a complete novice. ‘Have things changed so much,” I asked myself, as I struggled to remember all of his instructions. Then I realized that I hadn’t been properly trained and my friend was teaching me what I should have learned all those years ago.

When this man is in the field, you can be confident that he is doing everything right. Every move he makes is deliberate. focused on his target. His life depends on it. When he squeezes the trigger, he hits his target, every time. He is an expert sharpshooter. A true marksman.

A good writer is a lot like a sharpshooter. Most writers know that the saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” refers to how powerful words are. They know that a well-placed word (much like a well-placed bullet) can break a heart, make someone cry, shatter dreams, or emotionally scar you for life. Conversely, the right word or words can mend a broken heart, make someone laugh, make you believe in your dreams, or heal an old wound.

Some writers are better than others at selecting the right words to convey their meaning. Writers who do this best are like sharpshooters. They can hit their target every time and their readers know that they can count on them to deliver.

How do these writers do this? They practice. They hone their craft through daily practice, just like my friend. Practice. Practice. Practice. It’s a litany that they live by. Although our lives may not depend on the well-placed word every time we write, our livelihoods certainly do. We know we must practice our craft daily if we want to earn our living as full-time writers.

So dip your pen into the inkwell and tell us how you hone your craft.

Write On With Confidence,

The Writers Inkwell Muse

4

A Cure for Writer’s Block — Part I

It’s a malady every writer experiences from time to time. The words just won’t come. It’s the dread, dare I say it…Writer’s Block. You’re stuck and you know it. But what to do?

We’re writers. Most of the time when we write, the words flow, sometimes easily, sometimes only after some thought. However, they continue to flow. Yet, every once in a while, we find ourselves looking at a blank page or, in my case, a blank computer screen, and there’s nothing. Not one word and after a few days of this, panic sets in.

What if I am never able to write another word again? What if everything I’ve ever written is all there is? Who am I if I’m not writing? Talk about sheer, unadulterated terror grabbing you by the throat and squeezing the river of words dry. It’s enough to send me to the beach.

Hey, that’s it. Sometimes you just gotta get away from it all. In our home, when the going gets tough, the tough ones go to the beach. Or maybe hiking in the woods is your thing. Or camping in the desert. You get the idea.

When you truly are stuck and can’t get unstuck, you may need to try a change of scenery. Even if that change is only a 15-minute walk around the block or the company parking lot. I fondly recall several times I puzzled my clients by walking around their company’s parking lot, even in winter, because there was no place else but the nearby highway to walk. Those were the times when I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the complexity of some high-technology product and its accompanying documentation.

Naturally, I prefer to walk in the woods, along the shore, or even in my own neighborhood. However, just the act of getting outside into the fresh air and doing something physical often is enough to refresh my mental neurons and help me sit down and write.

This is the first of several ways to cure writer’s block. As I compile the various methods I use, I will share them with you.

Dip your pen into the Writers Inkwell and let us know how you cure writer’s block.

Write On With Confidence!

The Writers Inkwell Muse

Practicing What I Teach

Have you ever had one of those days when you can’t write what you’re supposed to be writing? The kind of day when the words just won’t come. No creativity. And you start to panic. . .

The other day I was telling a friend that I just couldn’t finish a chapter in my latest book. The words, the thoughts just weren’t there. I told my friend that when I teach my Writing for Publication class, it’s so easy. I started to say, ” I teach my students how to use The Professional” and Oops! I realized where I was going wrong.

“I think I just got the answer to my dilemma,” I laughed, then continued. “I need to practice what I teach.” You see, in my class, Writing for Publication, I teach my students how to use The Professional Writers Secret Weapon. This Secret Weapon is so amazing because when writers use it, their article, book, newsletter, whatever they are writing, practically writes itself. Honest!

I’ve been teaching this class for nearly 15 years and every student who correctly uses and applies the Professional Writers Secret Weapon not only has reported back to me that they’ve sold what they wrote. They’ve each confirmed that what they were writing practically wrote itself.

If you’re curious about The Professional Writers Secret Weapon? Check out my online Writing for Publication class right now. You don’t want to miss a thing.

But back to that last chapter. It’s finished and the book is ready for publication. It’ the Business of Freelancing and it’s available to you, my readers, at the Writers Inkwell store.