Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Tag: writing tips

Stay at Home Writer? How Not To Become a Hermit

When you’re asked by a new acquaintance what it is that you do for a living, and you say that you’re a writer, you can almost hear the cogs turning in their brain and you can visualize the images that flicker into their mind. Immediately, they picture you at a desk in a dimly lit room, sitting behind a laptop. There’s something slightly sinister about the scene of the reclusive writer, a la The Shining. While all work and no play doesn’t send you quite as cuckoo as Jack Nicholson, the life of a writer can be solitary; and finding the time to venture outside of your four walls can be tricky. However, you must resist the urge to become a hermit. Take a look at these ideal activities that will see you up and out of the house and enhance your writing.

Book Clubs

It may sound a little cliche, but it’s true that the more you read, the better the writer you become. As you read reams of novels from umpteen different genres, writing styles, vocabulary and literary devices flood into your subconscious. If you’re able to link up with a local book club, you can network with fellow book enthusiasts. This new network of friends can be a great support if you ever suffer a bout of writer’s block or if you just fancy popping for a coffee after a hard slog on your penultimate chapter.

Courses

Just because you’re a writer doesn’t mean you can’t undertake professional qualifications related to your field of work. Research local creative writing courses in your area. You may find that there’s an evening class at a local college; or if you fancy something a little more formal, you could even enroll in a literature degree. If you feel that your English credentials are already top notch, you may want to branch out and take a look at studying something else that is wholly unrelated to writing but will keep your CV looking relevant. The latest top of the range VBA training classes or SEO introductory courses will keep your IT skills up to date, just in case you ever want to enter the world of full-time employment again.

Visit Schools

If you’ve been lucky enough to have had some of your work published, try and make links with some local schools. It doesn’t matter whether you write for children or adults, local education establishments will relish the opportunity of having a published author to engage and enthuse their students. You could take samples of your work, run a workshop, or create a school text in conjunction with the children. Sometimes, you are paid for these school visits. Make a name for yourself in this field, and you could effectively supplement your income from writing.

Becoming a writer is very much a vocation. The hours are long, you need supreme self-motivation, and the rewards aren’t instant. However, if you stay committed and break up some of your long spells at the laptop, you won’t ever run the risk of becoming the stereotypical writing recluse.

contributed article

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Ditch the Notebook! Get the Writer in Your Life Something Great for Christmas

If you’re a writer, chances are you’ve received dozens of notebooks and journals over the years; if you’re the friend or family member of a writer, chances are you’ve bought dozens of them too. Although there’s nothing wrong with a good notebook (in fact they’re pretty great), they aren’t exactly a surprising gift, which kind of takes the excitement away.

So, maybe it’s time to ditch the notebook and get the writer in your life (even if that’s you) one of these great gifts for writers instead:

A Subscription to Novlr

Novlr is an online writing platform created by writers for writers. It makes planning and writing a novel a whole lot easier with features like split chapters, offline backup, writing stats, and ebook publishing capabilities, which means the aspiring author in your life will love it. It’s very reasonably priced, too.

Aqua Notes

Aqua Notes is sort of like a notepad, so you’ll have to forgive me, but it deserves inclusion because it is so much more awesome than the average Moleskine. Why? Because it’s completely waterproof and you can hang it in the shower. Every writer knows that their best ideas tend to come at the most inconvenient moments, but with Aqua Notes, those shower inspirations don’t have to be lost forever!

Postcards from Penguin

Penguin Classic books are iconic, so you can bet that the writer in your life will appreciate being presented with Postcards from Penguin: One Hundred Book Covers in a Box, which showcases some of the most beautiful and most important book covers in history, and serves as a good place to write important notes and messages. Check it out here to get some idea of how fantastic a gift it really is. Simply beautiful!

A Fountain Pen

Instead of buying them the notebook, why not get them a pretty fountain pen instead. Sure, it might seem just as unoriginal as a notebook; however, writing with a fountain pen makes you feel something a bit special. Also, if you look for the best fountain pen under 50, you’ll quickly see that you can buy some beautiful pens that will impress. They’ll also last a lot longer than the average notebook, too.

A Kindle

Writers love to read, which means that their homes tend to be taken up with lots of hefty tomes, and they have trouble meeting the baggage limits when they travel. That’s why, if they aren’t adverse to technology, buying them a Kindle (or any eBook device really) is sure to be a winner. Buy a pretty cover for it and perhaps add a gift card, so they can start buying some of their ‘To Read” list in digital format for a Christmas package that they’ll be delighted with.

A Literary Tote Bag

If they have a favorite classic book and you know what it is, chances are you’ll be able to find a tote bag printed with the cover, and that will make a pretty special gift. 

If you ditch the notebook for any of these suggestions, I guarantee you’ll have one happy writer come Christmas morn.

(contributed article)

 

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Unofficial Writing Week: Let’s Look at Blog Posts

If you’re a writer, most likely you have a blog OR will have to write a blog post for someone else for promotional purposes.

I did a series on WOW! Women On Writing a few months back about tips for writing good blog posts. Here are some excerpts and links to the rest of the articles, if you are interested.

ALSO, if you haven’t had the chance to enter to win one of Claire Gem’s supernatural novels or her new writer’s help book, The Road to Publication, you can enter on this post until the end of the weekend.

Post 1:

3 Tips to Title Your Blog Post and Draw Readers In:

You’ve heard time and again from articles, blog posts, and conference speakers that titles do matter, and you’ve probably spent countless hours coming up with titles for your prose. Here’s another point to consider about titles: the titles of your blog posts DO MATTER too. I feel like they are even more important than for an article or book, especially if you are tweeting and Facebook posting about your blog to draw more traffic. I have been WOW!’s social media manager for years as well as blogging for the Muffin. I also have my own blog and have done guest posts on several sites around the blogosphere. Your title needs to tell readers what you’re writing about–cute and clever doesn’t work well for a blog post. Here are three tips to help you create a good title to draw readers to your blog and keep them coming back:  1. Put a number in your title (if that works for your post):

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by orangeacid (Flickr.com)

Post 2:

How to Write the First Paragraph of Your Blog Post: 

Blog posts are important when used as marketing tools, freelance income, and editorial expression. To reach your audience online, connect with them, and get them to read an entire blog post, you have to begin with an opening that either gets right to the point (like this one), makes them laugh out loud (not like this one), or reaches them on an emotional level. This is not much different from what you’ve learned about article writing. However, with a blog post, you have a fewer number of words to catch your readers’ attention because they’re probably in skimming mode, until something catches their eye. (Have you seen the way people scroll through social media apps on their phones at top speed?)  Here are some beginnings that work well and why:

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Post 3:

4 Ways to Close a Blog Post:

On the last day of 2016, it’s only appropriate that I close my series on blogging …with blog post endings. WOW!’s executive editor Angela said in a recent comment that she sometimes had difficulty with blog endings; and it seems if a person covers beginnings, she should also cover endings. So here we are saying good-bye to 2016 and discussing how to say good-bye to your blog post readers, too.  1. A Question If you want to see a good example of ending a post with a question, then please see just about any post on the Muffin written by Crystal Otto.

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