Archive for the ‘writing challenges’ Category

Creative Link Love

I’ll admit that when I stumble upon Link Love posts I usually just scan through the links, and sometimes I move on to the next blog on my daily reading list of my favorite blogs. However, tonight I read a Link Love post in its entirety – from beginning to end!

As I made my way to Michele’s blog, I knew I was going to be reading another Link Love post before my arrival. I knew this because she left me a comment saying she gave me some love. Therefore, I had to read what she said and comment to thank her for the love. I had also planned to scan through her links, but instead of scanning I read the entire post. Why? Well, because she thought outside of the box, which in turn made her Link Love post worth reading. Not only did I find the way she chose to give her love interesting, but I thought to myself, “Hey, I would read more Link Love posts if they were all written this way.” I also thought it was a fantastic way for a writer to show creativity on her blog, and I think it would be a great writing exercise for all writers who blog. In fact, learn from this one and try to apply it to your next Link Love post.

I don’t normally do Link Love posts for the reason mentioned at the beginning of this post, but Michele has inspired me to write at least one Link Love post just the way she did. I too may have to think, so it could be a little while before you will be able to read my first Link Love post, but I will write that post and hope that Michele doesn’t mind me borrowing the idea and suggesting that other writers and bloggers give it a try.

If you want to see what I’m raving so much about, hop on over to Writing the Cyber Highway and read Bringing in 2008 with (Link) Love, by Michele Tune. Trust me, friends, it’s a MUST read!

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Struggle for Words

For the past few weeks, I have had a terrible time trying to put words onto paper. I guess my brain froze up and wouldn’t allow me to think, because the words just wouldn’t flow! I got so darn aggravated with my brain and myself, and the more agitated I got, the worse my struggle for words became. I had several ideas that I had written down, so coming up with something to write about wasn’t the problem. Instead, coming up with what to say was the major problem! This whole struggle for words hit me at bad time, but doesn’t it always? It hit me at a time when I was working long hours to churn out query letters, cover letters and articles so I could find some freelance writing gigs to help get my family out of the financial rut we’re in right now. Therefore, when this struggle for words hit me like a ton of bricks, everything came to a sudden halt! However, I’m happy to report that I didn’t come to a halt, just my words. Regardless of the words not flowing freely, my butt remained in my chair, and my fingers remained on my keyboard… but nothing else happened. Moreover, the longer I sat with my eyes fixed on that stupid blinking cursor and a blank Word document, the worse my struggle for words became. Even though I fought my struggle for words, I will admit there were times I just wanted to scream, but I knew if I did, I would wake everyone in the house and probably the neighbors too.

Finally, late Friday night my struggle for words ended! When the blinking cursor made my struggle worse, each night I would still continue my usual search for freelance writing jobs. Then, after I applied for the freelance writing jobs I qualified for, I went to read other writers’ blogs. Once I finished reading the other writers’ blogs, I headed for Google to search for free short stories in genres I enjoy reading. (When I don’t have a book to read, I search the Internet for some free reading; sometimes reading helps get the words to start flowing again.) Turns out all of this must have helped, because as I just mentioned, the words began to flow again, and I mean flow! On Friday night, words for an article ran rapidly through my head, and I knew I had to open Word and start typing as fast as I could. Within minutes, the article was complete, and I had no struggle at all for words. I was as happy as a child on Christmas morning!

I had been praying every since the struggle for words hit me. I asked God to help me overcome my obstacle, so when I completed the article Friday night, the first words that came out of my mouth was, “Thank you, Lord!” After all, I owed him that and much more. It may have taken him a few weeks to answer my prayer, but he did answer. They say that sometimes the Lord may not answer when we want him to, but if what we’re asking for is in his plans for us and we have faith, he’ll eventually answer. Of course, I knew all of this already from past prayers and talks with the Lord, but the thing I need to work on is patience. I guess that will be my next prayer — a prayer for patience.

Until next time, may all your words flow freely, and may the Lord bless you with an answer to your prayer.

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Selling My Life

Please excuse the title; it was the only thing I could think of. I went through a few in my head, but that title is the one that stuck. Hmmm… I bet it caught your attention, though. Seriously, did it catch your attention? Anyway, I’ll get to back to what this post is really about, and I can tell you for a fact it’s not about titles or titles that grab your attention. However, it is in fact about my life, and it could be about yours too… if you want it to be, and if you think you’re ready to go down that road.

You see, like many, I too have had hardships in my life — hardships I’ve learned to overcome — and some I’m still learning to overcome. Even though I have learned to put the past behind me, sometimes it still bothers me, but I found a solution. The solution allows me to release my stress and even help or inspire others. I can let others know they’re not alone, and that eventually things do, and can, get better. What’s the solution you ask? Well, it’s simple: I write about it and then sell it. When I’m ready to write about what happened, I tell my story through words, and then I search for publications looking to buy stories related to mine. Therefore, not only do I release stress and hopefully help or inspire someone else, but I also make money from something good, bad, tragic, funny or embarrassing that happened in the past. And that, my friend, is where I got the title “selling my life.”

The first piece I wrote was a personal essay. I didn’t sell this one, I wrote it to help a charity; however, I now sell the reprint rights to it. The founder of Absolute Write, Jenna Glatzer, started the “Stories of Strength” project, and when she did, she asked writers to contribute to the cause. Well, I supported the cause, and when she said she needed more personal essays for the “Stories of Strength” anthology, that’s when I decided to first write about a hardship I had to overcome in my life. I’ll admit, at first it was hard to put my experience with domestic violence into words, but I did it. The best part: afterwards I felt a tremendous relief of stress, and knowing that my experience could help or inspire someone else made every word I wrote and every tear I shed writing it worth it.

Deciding to share that one moment in my life has inspired me to write more about my life, but now I sell those words about my life to editors who are looking to buy just what I’m selling. For instance, as a Christian, I like telling others how a hardship brought me closer to God, so I can sell a personal essay telling readers how escaping domestic violence brought me closer to God. To whom would I sell this personal essay? A Christian publication might buy it. Of course, I would have to check the publication’s guidelines first to see if they accept personal essays.

If you think you’re ready to write about a hardship in your life, I challenge you to go ahead and try it. Then once you’ve finished writing about your hardship, search for markets and sell it. You may be surprised at how you’ll feel after you’ve written about it.

If you don’t think you’re ready to write about something bad or tragic that happened in your past, then write about something good, funny or embarrassing in your past and sell it. Many folks enjoy reading about someone else’s life, and many editors enjoy publishing it.

Need an example? Following is an expert from the personal essay I donated to Jenna’s “Stories of Strength” anthology. The title of the essay was “Behind Closed Doors”:

“I’m sorry, it won’t happen again.” His words played over and over in my head. I believed him, but the beatings continued no matter how much I begged and pleaded for him to stop. And there was a time in our relationship, when I thought maybe if I fought back, he’d leave me alone. I painfully remember that day as if it was yesterday. . .

Nervously walking into the living room to approach him, I felt my eyes sting with tears.

“What’s wrong with you?” He asked, halfway withdrawing his attention from the television.

“I just… voice shook….miscarried our baby.”
He darted up from the couch. “Why didn’t you tell me you were pregnant?”

Taking a step back from him, I feared his next move.

“I didn’t know I was pregnant, not until I went to the bathroom.”

Sternly scrunching up his face while placing his hands on his hips, he waited for me to continue.

“I thought I was just on my period until I saw gray matter in my stool. With my experience in the medical field, I know that the gray matter is a miscarriage. Also, it explains why my bleeding is heavier, and why I hurt more than usual.”

“It wasn’t mine! Who have you being sleeping around with, Bi***?”

“You know cheating is not my style. Besides, you always make sure I’m in your sight.” Fighting back my tears, I continued, “So how could I cheat? Furthermore, if you hadn’t been so angry last night we wouldn’t be having this conversation!”

Like a flash of lightning, he was standing smack dab in front of my face! I knew right then, I had made a mistake.

The rest of the essay can be read in the “Stories of Strength” anthology. 100% of the sales from the anthology will go to charities to help with disaster relief.

Have a great weekend! By the way, if you do my challenge and “sell your life,” please comment and direct me to the publication your piece was published in — I would love to read it.

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Great Tool for Writers

Whether we’re stuck, blocked or our fingers are typing nonstop, we writers can always use a little assistance. Just the other day I needed some assistance with ideas, so what did I do? I headed to my favorite search engine (Google, of course) then typed in “writing challenges.” I had many results to choose from, but when I came upon Seventh Sanctum my searching came to an abrupt halt! Turns out Seventh Sanctum’s Quick Story Idea Generator gave me the boost I needed to start tapping away on the keyboard again.

Not only did I bookmark this great tool for writers, but I decided I would share it with all you writers, too. If you haven’t discovered it yet, it really is a great tool for writers. Not only will the Quick Story Idea Generator produce writing challenges that could turn into a short fiction or book, but it can do so much more!

Have you ever found yourself looking for a theme or setting for a story you were working on? The Quick Story Idea Generator could have helped you. Next time you need a name for a fantasy character, a Greek-sounding name, weird name or some other type of name for your character, head over to the Quick Story Idea Generator and take your pick.

The above are just a few of the many things this great tool for writers can help you with. Check out the Quick Story Idea Generator today to discover everything it can help you with. Moreover, don’t forget to come back here and let me know if you agree that it is indeed a great tool for writers.

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Setting New Writing Goals

At the beginning of this week, Jennifer Mattern posted another weekly writing challenge on her blog, and I decided to take part in this one. After all, it’s time I re-evaluate my writing goals anyway. With that said, I’ve been spending way too much time on writing articles and not enough time on the projects that I have had sitting on the back burner for a while now. The following is my new set of writing goals:

1. Write only two articles a night (I’m a night owl writer).
2. Once a week, complete at least two chapters in the second edition of On the Net Resource Guide for Writers.
3. Each night, write nonstop for one hour, on the Creating a Successful E-zine eBook.
4. Every other night, send two query letters for different articles to editors.
5. Every night, check job boards for writing gigs, and reply to only the gigs I’m qualified for.

That should sum it up. However, if I have a client I’m doing a project for, I would have to get that job done first, and then I will go back to my list of writing goals. My clients ALWAYS come first.

At least once a month, I plan to let you know how far I’ve come with my writing goals. In fact, if I finish any of the books I’m writing, you’ll be the first to know. Yes, you’re that special to me. 🙂

Do you need to re-evaluate your writing goals? On the other hand, maybe you don’t have a list of writing goals yet. Either way, I’d like to invite you to take part in Jennifer’s writing challenge, and if you happen to post your goals on your blog, comment and let me know; I’d love to read your writing goals.

Remember, never give up on your dreams — work toward them!

P.S.: For those of you waiting to read the article I mentioned last Monday — the one for aspiring writers looking for ways to build their portfolio — good news: Associated Content approved and published it, so now you can read Tips to Jump-Start Your Writing Portfolio when you have a little extra time. Enjoy, and don’t forget to leave your comments! Oh yes, I sure would appreciate it if you could also rate it, which will only take a few seconds. And by all means, if you know of another writer who could benefit from the article, feel free to refer them to the article.

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