Monday, September 30, 2013

Make a Living As a Virtual Writer

By Lisa Ramsay

Being a writer is something thousands of people aspire to be. However, there will only ever be a handful of authors whose work is remembered in the decades and centuries to come. The rest of us can accept that while we’ll never be Jane Austen or Dan Brown, it is possible to make a living as a writer. Most aspiring writers who want to put pen to paper, or fingertip to MacBook, do it because they love their craft. It’s this passion for writing which means that many writers work for free, or for a very low wage; but it is possible to make a living from doing what you love. Although the romanticism of writing a novel in longhand might belong to the previous century, the digital age means there’s now more outlets than ever before for wannabe writers.

Traditional media

Trained journalists can write for local and national newspapers, magazines, and media websites. Specialist reporters may write about the arts, culture, sport or business. There are also a huge variety of trade journals which provide news to different industries, such as farming or pharmaceuticals. These are called B2B (business to business) titles. The huge variety of printed and online established media means that there’s plenty of opportunity for writers. Most journalists who work for publications such as these are trained reporters, however there are opportunities for writers who are not specifically trained in journalism to get their work published.

Many local newspapers have leisure, sports, and business sections, either in print, online, or both. To start writing for a local audience, why not get in touch with a title to see if they need any help writing features? If you have a specialist subject, such as farming, flower arranging or pet care, then you could write about this, either as a one-off article or as a regular column. You may not get paid much (or not at all) but if the editor knows that he or she can rely upon you to write good quality material to deadline, then you might be the first person they call when a paid opportunity comes up.

Get paid for writing at home

There are more websites than ever before, and the number is growing by the day. Site owners don’t want empty pages so there are lots of opportunities to write online content. Most online writing includes knowledge of SEO – search engine optimization – and there are lots of online courses and tutorials to help you learn the basics about the importance of key words. The Internet is vast, and so the topics you could write about are endless: from business and finance, to arts and holidays. Unlike printed media, there is a greater opportunity to be paid when it comes to writing online content. Website owners want good quality content which attracts readers to their pages, but they often won’t have the time to source this themselves. This means that online content writing agencies have become an easy way to match writers with websites which need content. By writing for you will have the opportunity to have your work read by thousands of people across the world. It’s a great way to start getting paid for writing. You can even write in the comfort of your own home, at any time of the day you want, so whether you’re an early bird or a night owl you’ll find work to suit you.

Join the writing community

For most people it is a dream to work from home, but some also worry that it will be lonely. Fortunately writers are all in the same situation – and they’re good at expressing themselves! This means there is a lively online community of writers and those interested in writing, all typically sitting at home but connecting with each other online. Twitter is a great place to ‘meet’ other writers, as many well-established and novice authors and journalists have their own accounts. It can be a useful resource for writers who feel they need some moral support, and can also offer practical advice. Accounts such as @writingupdate can offer tips and news about the wider writing community, keeping you in the loop.

Take the first step

Whatever you decide to write, just make sure you fill that blank page. Whether you start by writing your own blog, online content, or features, there is something out there for everyone. The most important thing is to enjoy the process – as that is what writing is all about. 


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Today's Writing Tip – Close Your Clauses

Often in haste, or without realizing that we need to do so, writers will begin to separate a segment of a sentence and then forget to close it off.

Here's an example – "My brother is bringing his fiancée, Diane to Thanksgiving dinner." What's wrong with that sentence? Diane is my brother's one and only fiancée – one would hope. We start out by separating her first name by a comma, but then we don't add the remaining comma which would complete the sentence.
How should we write it? "My brother is bringing his fiancée, Diane, to Thanksgiving dinner." The way you can tell that the latter is right is that you can eliminate Diane altogether from that sentence and it will still make sense. "My brother is bringing his fiancée to Thanksgiving dinner."

Of course, Thanksgiving wouldn't be the same without Diane so we are not eliminating her invitation!

Sigrid Macdonald is an editor and the author of five books including How to Be Your Own Editor, available on Amazon:





Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tips for Writers Honing Their Skills Later in Life

Tips for Writers Honing Their Skills Later in Life
 by Lisa Ramsay

We are often in awe of writers who find success when they are very young: after all, there’s something impressive about reaching the top of your game and finding literary success in your 20s, especially if this is achieved without support. We can all reel off a long list of award winning young things, but it’s much harder to list those writers who came to the art and found success later in life. However, there are many, and some of those might come as a surprise. There are many reasons writers choose to come to writing later in life: redundancy, empty nest, even overcoming a lifelong addiction of some kind. 

Famous Late Bloomers

Donald Ray Pollock, author of 2011’s award winning novel The Devil All the Time, was the ripe age of 55 when this, his debut novel, garnered success. Pollock actually dropped out of school at the age of 17, and went to work in a meatpacking plant. He then worked at a paper mill for 32 years and it was only then he began his education, enrolling in Ohio University’s MFA program. He published a set of short stories the year before he graduated, when he was 55, and his award winning debut quickly followed. A similar tale is that of the more famous Raymond Chandler. Chandler didn’t decide to become a writer until he lost his job as an oil company executive when he was 44 years old. He published his first short story in 1933 and The Big Sleep, his most successful and debut novel, was published in 1939.

Another writer choosing to come to the craft later in life is Deborah Eisenberg, who decided to start writing whilst quitting her three packs a day smoking habit by going cold turkey. She went on to become one of the most amazing living short story writers when her first collection was published at the age of 41, and all because she had an addiction she wanted to quit! Writing is a great way to overcome an addiction, whether that be to cigarettes or alcohol, an illegal substance, an eating disorder, or all the above. When you are struggling with an addiction, you tend to be withdrawn and to focus inwards; however, writing forces you to focus your energy on looking outwards and to channel your emotions in a positive way. If you have a dual-diagnosis of eating disorder and addiction, then it's likely that you will have a multitude of difficult physical and emotional problems to process in order to begin healing, and start your recovery process: perhaps even more so than someone facing just one addiction to overcome.  Dealing with difficult emotions is a great, and very common, reason that people choose to begin writing. It is a positive and productive way to deal with any hard or confusing times in your life.

Top Tips for New Writers

If you are, for whatever reason, thinking of coming to writing later in life, then here are some tips for taking up the craft and honing your skills as a serious writer:

Try Not to Procrastinate

Procrastination is part of the human condition. When you decide you want to write, you’ll suddenly find yourself fascinated with the temperature of your coffee, the color of your pen; anything to avoid actually poring yourself onto that piece of paper. Mary Heaton Vorse famously said that “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” And it’s true that if you want to write, the most important thing you can do is sit down and start writing, even if you have to edit out most of what you have written at the end of every day!

Read a Lot

Having told you not to procrastinate, I will now provide this next tip, which will seem odd: sit down and enjoy a good book. One that wasn’t written by you! Read everything you can get your hands on, and read as many different genres of literature as you can too. You can’t write well without reading: the two skills go hand in hand. Perhaps this is why writers who come to writing later in life find success so quickly: they are well read, they know what they like to read, and this makes writing a successful novel decisively a little easier.

Be Honest

If you’ve lived a long and varied life, and seen a lot of things you never expected to see, then why not incorporate this and embellish it in your writing? People love to sense honesty when they are reading: by writing about what you know, you can make the story you are trying to tell seem more real. And say the things that people think but that no one ever actually says. You’ll soon find that you have a novel that everyone will want to read! 





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