Why do you write?

Recently I had someone ask me why people blog. I explored a few blogs to see what other writers are saying. If I were to sum it all up I would say we write for two reasons: ourselves and others–we want to give something to others and we want them to give something back to us.

We want to share ourselves and have others do the same. You tell me your story. I’ll tell you mine. We are looking for subjects that resonate with us and we are looking for people who get it, or get us.

I enjoy creating and discovering meaningful dialogue. I feel rewarded and even excited when I read a blog where someone expresses a thought succinctly or uses language in a way I would never have thought to express myself.

It happens in comments too. I don’t think we give comments enough credit, not only from the reader’s perspective, but also as writers who comment. A good comment can be as skillfully crafted and insightful as the blog itself. Comments are reflective responses that allow us to see how readers received what the author of the blog wrote. They are also an opportunity for creative dialogue.

I guess I am just plain fascinated by how people think and communicate. Some are all compassion and understanding; others are aloof and intellectual; still others are agitated and insulting. Why? What is it in their experience that makes them react this way?

I was facilitating a discussion group this weekend and had an amazing opportunity to watch in person how people interact with each other. One of the participants started out by clarifying that she is a “thinker” and not “emotional.” She didn’t like to be “told”…. Another participant immediately revealed something very personal, hurt from the past, and shared how he was willing to risk being vulnerable. I appreciated both of their openness. But I noticed that the other people in the group were more responsive to a third person, a song writer and performing artist. I think years of experience had taught her how to anticipate the kind of response her words would generate.

In blogging we are looking for a response. How do we get people to talk about what matters to them? Of course, we want to talk about what matters to us, but if we are not tuned in to others we can actually impede communication, as happened with the two examples I gave.

Some bloggers are naturals. They have discovered not only what others want to talk about, but how to get them talking. We love to read their blogs. They are the writers that tend to get picked up by publishers.

I love this writing journey. I love the blend of experience and thought and communication that makes each blogger unique. I think this joy of discovery is the reason I blog. Why do you blog?

Posted in Blog, Creating, Giving, Inspiration, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

6 Things You Can Do to Keep From Getting the Flu

6 Things You Can Do to Keep From Getting the Flu.

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Don’t give away all of your marbles

© Krisjacobs | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Krisjacobs | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images


If you have been on my site recently you will have noticed that I removed a post I wrote this week. It was a post about a specific resource offered for half price for a limited time. In the post I questioned the wisdom of spending large amounts of money on writing resources.

Although I removed the post because I did not want to adversely affect someone’s business, I still think it is important for writers to realize that our vulnerability can put us at risk.

Take vanity publishing for example. Some publishing companies will ask for as much as $5,000 from an author in exchange for a publishing contract. The author never sees a dime for all their hard work.

Unless you are paying for a limited number of copies outright, remember, the publisher pays you, not the other way around.

An author I know, who has published over thirty fiction books, tells me that $2,500 is typical of what she gets as an advance. She’ll probably get $5,000 total for a book. It’s not a lot of money, but at least it was paid to her, not the other way around.

At a writer’s conference I attended, a speaker in one of the small groups offered attendees a weekend of one-on-one mentoring in her home, along with a month of follow-up that included a couple of hours of coaching twice a week, for the total price of $3,000. Think of it, even if you came out with a book on the market, most of your income would already be eaten up.

There are people out there who prey on the vulnerability of new writers.

As my Christmas gift to my readers I am making my recently published short story entitled 101 Marbles available for free until December 24. Enter this coupon code QU66L to get your free copy on Smashwords.

Posted in Christmas, Giving, Marketing, publising, Self-publishing, Short Story, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What I learned from the NaNoWriMo process

The first two weeks of National November Write Month went better than expected. I managed to keep up with my target word count, more or less, or at least catch up. But then we ran into a bit of a crisis at work and my job had to take priority, with extra hours and more responsibility. Life happens.

I was in an educational program once where I had four hours of classes a day and a lot of reading to do. I don’t read very fast, and I underline and make notes at the back of my book. That’s what those nice empty white pages are for, in case you didn’t know. It’s great to go back and find the highlights of your reading at a glance.

But what I was going to say is that I had to pace myself. When I started the program I didn’t think I had the health or the energy for it. But I learned that if I devoted five hours a day to reading I managed to stay caught up. And there was no getting behind, with that amount of material to cover. After I finished my reading I would work on my papers and presentations.

With NaNoWriMo, I tried to use the same systematic approach. I had a target of 1500 words a day. Some days I was not able to do as much, but I could not allow myself to get far behind. On weekends I would catch up.

I tried not to do a lot of editing. The idea was to get words on a page.

I would have liked to be able to continue, but I value my health more than sticking with a pre-determined plan. One thing I have learned over time is that my life goes better if I pace myself instead of acting like I am super-human. So I looked at the NaNoWriMo project and said, yes, I can put this on hold for now.

The two weeks I spent on it were a lot of fun. While I was driving or cleaning or cooking I would think about my plot, what I was going to add, where I was going, what my characters needed to do, how I planned to put it all together. Then when I’d sit down I had material in my mind to work with. I eagerly anticipated getting at it.

So now I have a 20,000 word start on a new novel. If I do another two week sprint, I’ll just about be at my goal of 50,000 words. December will be a very busy month, so I don’t have high expectations, but I think I will pick it up again in January. If anyone who is reading this has ever accepted the NoNaWriMo challenge, I would love to hear of your experience.

Posted in Fiction, Novel, Pacing, Priorities, Self-discipline, Time management, Writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Life is Like a River

Just like a river, life keeps on flowing. It never stops and takes a break.

I have been in the habit of dividing my life into segments, somehow thinking that there is a “stop” when one segment comes to an end. But life does not “pause.” It doesn’t even slow down. It just keeps flowing like a river.

And one day this river will be swallowed up into the great ocean of eternity.

As long as I am on this earth I have influence. I can make choices. I can affect outcomes. One day I will no longer be able to do so. Maybe I will look down from somewhere in the sky and see what is going on here on earth. I don’t know. But I won’t be able to talk to anyone, or do anything. Have you ever thought of this?

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NaNoWrMo

I’ve heard about it. National November Writing Month. Write a novel in a month.

Here is a synopsis from the NaNoWrMo website:

NaNoWriMo is all about using the magical power of deadlines to tell your story. Give someone a goal and a goal-minded community and miracles are bound to happen. Pies will be eaten at amazing rates. Alfalfa will be harvested like never before. And novels will be written in a month.
Part of the reason we organize NaNoWriMo is just to get a book written. We love the fringe benefits accrued to novelists. For one month out of the year, we can stew and storm, and make a huge mess of our apartments and drink lots of coffee at odd hours. And we can do all of these things loudly, in front of people. As satisfying as it is to reach deep within yourself and pull out an unexpectedly passable work of art, it is equally (if not more) satisfying to be able to dramatize the process at social gatherings.

But that artsy drama window is woefully short. The other reason we do NaNoWriMo is because the glow from making big, messy art, and watching others make big, messy art, lasts for a long, long time. The act of sustained creation does bizarre, wonderful things to you. It changes the way you read. And changes, a little bit, your sense of self. We like that.

Doesn’t that sound exciting? Doesn’t it tempt you? Well, crazy as it sounds, I’ve decided to give it a go. I’m sure I’ll learn something about writing during the process. I also want to see if I can do it. After all, Barbara Cartland wrote two novels a month for many years, although I think she dictated them. Trust me, I have no intentions of writing over 700 books.

So, here goes. I’ve signed up. It’s free. I plan to have fun doing it. Anyone care to join me?

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A look at blog titles and focus

Michael Hyatt just drew my attention to a couple of important issues for bloggers in his articles, Why I Stopped Reading Your Blogs, and Do You Make These 10 Mistakes When You Blog?

Two things that stood out for me relating to blogging were

  • the importance of catchy headlines, and
  • the need for focus.

    Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net


    Hyatt suggests putting as much time into choosing a title for your blog as you invest in writing it. Well, I admit I don’t and probably won’t do that. There is just something in me that resists putting a disproportionate amount of time into a six word title.

    But I’ve realized recently that it is not enough for blogs to merely reflect their content in their titles, like news articles. Blogs are like storefronts. The more interesting the display the more likely people will be drawn in.

    If we are just reporting news, we can get away with a title that is just a summary. But if we are writing a feature article we are competing for attention and need to be creative. My articles on this site fall somewhere in between and this may be why I don’t feel compelled to wow people with my headlines. My blog is more of a resource and, as my husband pointed out, people need to find key words in my title. So, I probably won’t write something as attention getting as “You Got Me at Hello.”

    Hyatt also nailed a problem I have with one of my blogs. My blog Writing for Life lacks focus. Referring to blogs like mine, Hyatt says he gets “lost in the forest of [our] eclectic interests.” Ouch!

    Image courtesy of Feelart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Image courtesy of Feelart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    I know it’s true. I feel it myself and I’ve known it for sometime. Now, to figure out what to do about it.

    Believe it or not, we all love blogs where we know exactly what to expect. We keep returning to them, like a faithful friend. You know the kind of blogs I am talking about. They may be blogs on knitting, or traveling, or jumping for joy, and it sounds very narrow, but this is what we want.

    The best comparison I can think of is the dining out experience. I may want Chinese, or Mexican, or Italian, but I don’t want everything served at one place. I have a special Pho place where I like to go for soup. There is a Thai restaurant where I get my favorite–Chicken Rama in Peanut Sauce.

    We like specialty shops and brand names that define a product. And our readers, surprisingly, want consistency and predictability.

    I have a few focused blogs and I notice that, even as a writer, there is a security in knowing what goes where. Although I really like the freedom of “sharing the journey,” I admit that I hesitate to write, because I keep on asking myself, “Why this?”

    I can see I need to do a little soul searching. Maybe I can find a single theme that will represent what I want to share on my currently eclectic blog. Or I may need to lay out my “wide-ranging, broad-based, extensive, comprehensive, encyclopedic; varied, diverse, catholic, all-embracing, multifaceted, multifarious, heterogeneous, miscellaneous, assorted” (Thesaurus) interests and pick a couple and create a few specific spaces.

  • Posted in Blog, Focus, Self-discipline | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments