Monday, October 18, 2010

Build A Successful Writing Career By Taking Baby Steps

A quick update on my writing journey: Since last posting, I've managed to get a good amount of writing done even after giving birth to a beautiful (and healthy) baby boy just seven weeks ago. I've recently been doing some copywriting projects in addition to article writing...and I just have to say that I really love being able to make money doing something that I enjoy so much!

Now I just wanted to share a link to an interview in which Christina Katz (aka The Writer Mama) discusses how to become a successful writer. In the interview, she notes the importance of taking baby steps towards success.

How to Become a Successful Writer: The Christina Katz Interview


Thursday, August 5, 2010

20 Minutes to Write

"When we talk about practicing our creativity, many of us think we will do it when we have "enough" time. By that, we mean some vast savannah of unclaimed time -- something we're not very likely to get. We must learn to work with the time we've actually got. Almost anyone can find 20 minutes -- it's enough to start." - Julia Cameron

Steadily Building A Writing Career

I just read a Chinese Proverb that I thought would be good to share with fellow writers, especially moms who might think that the busyness of daily life will keep them from building a writing career:

"Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid of standing still."

If there's one thing that I've learned as a writer mama, it's that life never really slows down and presents the perfect opportunity to begin writing -- you have to make a conscious effort to build your writing career, one step at a time.

Sometimes - especially in the beginning - it can be really discouraging to see what a slow process it is. But, from a different perspective, it's pretty cool that you can actually create a lucrative and fulfilling career doing exactly what you love by simply taking small, steady steps forward.

As long as you set your goals and keep working towards them, you will make progress. Instead of becoming discouraged by the slow process, try to remind yourself that you are succeeding in your endeavor, and that the only way to fail is by giving up and doing nothing. So keep taking those small, steady steps towards your goals and amaze yourself with where you end up!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Balancing Family and Writing Career

I know I've told you before that this is definitely the toughest pregnancy I've experienced so far, but the amazing thing is that I've managed to really advance my writing career during this difficult pregnancy. I now go to three to four doctor appointments weekly, and take care of two toddlers, and write -- all while feeling extremely tired and pretty crappy physically (because of this high-risk pregnancy and the medications that my doc has me taking). One word comes to mind: BUSY.

There was a time in my life when I would have said that just making it through these nine months with my sanity intact would have been a big enough feat on its own, much less actually setting and reaching some lofty (for me, at least) writing goals. So I have to say that I am actually quite proud of myself and very grateful for having come to the understanding that I am really capable of doing quite a lot if I set my mind to it, busy or not.

In fact, I think that might be one of the most important things I've been able to do -- realize what is and is not a priority in my life, and then plan - and act - accordingly.

In my case, my family takes precedence over everything. While writing is important to me, it still comes second on the list of priorities. Knowing this, I am able to schedule my days so that I can be a good mother to my kids, spend quality time with hubby, and still have time to write. Granted, I don't always have as much writing time as I would like, but I make it work. And, for me, the pressure of time limitations works a lot better than self-imposed deadlines, so I've managed to remain quite productive.

Unfortunately, this means that I have to be extremely selective with how I use my time. For example, I often find myself in a situation where I have to choose between drafting an article or sending out a pitch versus writing a blog post. Nine times out of ten, I write the article or pitch letter. But it can be disappointing having to do that because I really enjoy blogging.

My goal here isn't to complain, but rather to show that you really do have options -- you can choose to have a writing career while raising kids. And succeed at both. It's a choice. Everyday you make little choices that end up dictating the life that you lead. Those choices reveal what's most important to you, and have a large influence on the person you are and the person you are becoming. These choices allow you to develop and share little bits of yourself with your family, friends, editors, readers, etc.

In a nutshell, I am busy. A busy mom. A busy writer. A busy wife. A busy preggo woman. Would I prefer to be less busy? No way! Because that would mean that I was giving up something that I love.

So are you a busy writer? And would you change anything?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The First Step to a Writing Career

Let me start by saying that I hadn't planned on posting two quotes in a row, but I read this today and just thought it was really relevant to my blog, especially considering my title -- Baby Steps.

“The grace to be a beginner is always the best prayer for an artist. The beginner’s humility and openness lead to exploration. Exploration leads to accomplishment. All of it begins at the beginning, with the first small and scary step.”

-Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

Yesterday, I was thinking about how far I have come in creating my writing career, and it struck me that I am so happy that I had the guts to take that first step. Without doing that, I would still just be dreaming about the day when I would be "a real writer" instead of reaping the benefits of the writer's life.

So if you want to make a living as a writer, just take the first step...and before you know it, that first step of setting out on the path to becoming a writer will lead you closer and closer to the realization of your writing goals.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Importance of Daily Writing

"It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop." ~Vita Sackville-West

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Writing Query Letters

I know, I know - I disappeared again. You're probably not surprised anymore, though, are you?

Well, if you're not getting sick of my occasional updates on the life of this particular writer mama, then please read on and don't give up on me yet. I promise that I will soon gain some consistency with blogging. It just might take a little while.

So where have I been?

Well, let me just say that this is definitely my most difficult pregnancy. You see, in addition to feeling just plain miserable due to all the medications I am taking every day, I also have to go to at least two doctor appointments every week. With two toddlers at home, it's been quite difficult to procure babysitters to fill in for me while I attend all of these appointments. Not to mention, I'm shelling out cash to cover my ever-rising co-pay for each appointment. However, I again must say how grateful I am that the baby seems to be developing just fine and everything is basically going pretty well. If the baby does not come sooner, I am scheduled for delivery on August 30th, so the end is in sight.

In addition, I have been taking Christina Katz's writing class, Pitching Practice, which has been a real learning process. In this six-week class, you write a query letter each week, which she reads and comments on (also providing two detailed critiques in Weeks 3 and 6), and you are given weekly workbooks to go through as well. I just turned in my Week 5 work, and feel like this class is a tough workout, but totally worth the cost and time-investment. In fact, I just wish that I had more time to spend on it, and I really don't want it to end anytime soon because I feel like I am finally starting to make some great strides.

Working on writing a query letter each week has been really good practice for me in sticking to a deadline. You see, when it comes to assigned articles and writing projects, I always turn them in early. But when it comes to marketing, it's much harder for me to stick to my self-imposed deadlines. I guess this is where I can see the importance of being disciplined if one wants to maintain a successful freelance writing business.

Am I the only one who has a hard time with staying on top of marketing? Can you offer me any insights or helpful advice for tackling this in a productive and efficient manner?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Business Cards for Writers

Hope you had a wonderful, long, relaxing weekend!

I certainly did. While I had originally intended to finish up some writing projects over the long weekend, I ended up just enjoying the time with my family. Taking the weekend off actually proved beneficial in more ways than one: I was able to have some real quality time with hubby and the kids AND came up with numerous ideas for query letters and fillers. Not to mention the fact that I caught up on some much-needed sleep and now feel ten times more refreshed.

Writing projects have been pretty steady for me lately, which is great. The only downside of it is that I am never able to get everything on my "To Do" list done because new projects pop up before I finish the old ones - but I guess that's really nothing to complain about. In fact, I am really grateful to have reached this point in my writing career.

Which brings me to my question: do you think it's important/necessary for writers to have business cards?

I have been in several situations recently where it would have been quite beneficial to have had some business cards for my freelance writing business on hand, but instead had to scribble out my website address on a piece of paper because I had put off designing and purchasing some cards for myself. After giving this some thought, I figured that it would be much more professional to have a business card on hand next time someone asked for information regarding my writing services. So I finally took the plunge and ordered my business cards tonight. And if I do say so myself, they look pretty darn good! I will try to post a pic when they arrive so that you can see firsthand.

But I guess that I just got side-tracked from my question. So, I will ask again: do you have business cards for your freelance writing business? If so, have they proved helpful in marketing your business?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Creating a Writing Career

Every week I look forward to receiving The Prosperous Writer in my inbox. I read it faithfully, and always finish with the intention to respond to the thought-provoking topics -- but obviously fail in that pursuit.

As I sit here on this beautiful, sunny, Saturday morning, I decided that I will finally blog about this week's topic: being or becoming self-producing.

In pursuing a writing career, I believe it is essential to assume full responsibility for that career -- because no one is going to hand it to you on a platter. This career, like any other, requires an investment -- an investment of time, money (if you should choose to take writing classses, which I highly recommend), dedication, and good old-fashioned hard work.

For most of us, a writing career does not happen overnight. It takes many steps, repeated, over time. We have to work hard, and slowly reap the fruits of our hard work. Of course, depending on one's determination and the amount of time spent writing and marketing, the process can definitely be quicker. It really depends on each individual -- what their goals are, how much time they are willing to spend working towards them, and how dedicated they are to writing as a career.

In my case, I have wholeheartedly embraced writing as my chosen path. I love it! It is thoroughly enjoyable, very fulfilling, and I am able to do it while caring for my two toddlers at home. In saying this, though, I must mention the many hours that I have put in to get to this point (where I am finally seeing my name in print more and more and receiving payment for those articles.) Doing some freelance writing for local businesses is also helping me to achieve my income goals with my pen.

So, yes, I do think that writers must be self-producing. In fact, I think that it is absolutely essential. After all, if you are not your biggest cheerleader, who will be?

After saying all this (my apologies for being so long-winded!), it is only right to tell you that I attribute my writing success, in large part, to Christina Katz. I picked up her book, Writer Mama, from a local Borders about a year and a half ago -- and before I finished the first chapter, I knew that I had found my calling. Since then, I have taken her classes, followed her advice, and put into practice what she recommends. And now, I am proud to say that I am a writer.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Writing Life

Hiya Writers!

It's been too long again.

I know.

Instead of making excuses, I'm just going to 'fess up and say that I'm happy to be as busy as I have been lately. More work has definitely left me with less time to do some of the things I really enjoy, such as blogging, catching up with all my Twitter peeps, and having fun on Facebook. But, like I said, I really can't complain because I'm trying to get in as much writing as possible before the baby comes in August.

My portfolio has been growing steadily, I'm editing a book for someone and helping her craft a query letter for an agent, and also trying to spend some more time on copywriting projects. Crazy as it might sound, I really enjoy copywriting, which is definitely starting to increase my (much too small!) income.

I've been wondering: do many magazine writers also branch out to copywriting? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts and experiences in this regard!

I'm also considering adding a bit more to my plate soon by taking a couple classes. I am planning on signing up for Christina Katz's "Pitching Practice" class because I thinks it's time for me to start querying the glossies. I've met with some great successes writing for regional publications, but would love to see my byline in - and receive the check from - national magazines, too. Christina's class starts on May 12, and I am really looking forward to it. In addition to taking that class, I am also looking around for a good copywriting course. If you have any recommendations or suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it!

How has your workload been lately?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Working Away

Hi Everyone,

Sorry for the sporadic postings, lately! I am trying to get on a better schedule so that I can be more consistent in posting.

I have been getting a lot of work done recently, which is great, but also means that it's taking up quite a bit of my time. So, again, I am finding a greater need to really manage my time better.

How has work been going for all of you? Are you still finding yourselves plenty busy -- even in this rough economy?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Just Around the Corner

No doubt you all think that I simply dropped off the face of the earth. I have felt like it a bit at times...but I'm still here. You know how I'm always talking about how crazy my life is? Well, the last couple months have been beyond crazy. Let me explain.

First off, my grandmother (who has lived with my family for years and whom I have always been extremely close to) was in and out of the hospital since Christmas day and then passed away in January. It was definitely difficult for me and my family, but I am grateful for all the time that we got to spend with her over the years.

After she passed away, many of my relatives from out of town came and stayed at my house for a week so that they could attend the funeral and wake. They were a huge help in handling the many arrangements involved in a funeral, not to mention, the support of having extended family around was really wonderful.

Then a few weeks later, a very close family friend (who I grew up knowing as a grandfather) passed away. (Both of my actual grandfathers died when I was very young, and I don't have any memories of them.) Thus, losing this close family friend so soon after my grandmother made it only harder to deal with. But again, I thank God for all the wonderful memories that I have with both of these loved ones.

On top of all this, I was having the worst case of morning sickness - that lasted all day and night - that I've ever had with any of my pregnancies. Dealing with this, on top of taking care of two toddlers, and losing two loved ones, and having a bunch of people stay over for awhile, made for some crazy times.

But then, things have gotten even crazier. Because now, my pregnancy is considered high-risk.
After giving birth with a prior pregnancy, I had a pulmonary embolism, which was definitely a frightening experience. So my doctor says that I am at a higher risk of having more blood clots now, and am thus having to give myself daily injections of blood thinner. (Some side effects: increased nausea and a nasty stomach.)

While this probably sounds like an endless list of complaints, all of these events that I have experienced in the past couple of months have really made me appreciate everything that I am so blessed to have in my life: my family, my children, my incredibly supportive hubby, a baby that is growing right along despite the risks involved with this pregnancy, and many wonderful memories with all the people who are so important to me. I truly am grateful!

And even though I feel like I've been through a lot lately, I am reminded that even though Winter comes each year, I know that Spring always follows. And on a perfect day like today, one can't but notice that Spring is just around the corner. :)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Checking In

Hi Everyone.

Again, I kind of disappeared for a while. My apologies! Things have been even more hectic around here than normal.

You see, my grandmother (who has lived with me for about 18 years) has been in and out of the hospital since Christmas. She ended up passing away last week. This was definitely hard on our family, but we are grateful for all the time we were blessed to spend with her over the years.

Her wake was on Thursday and funeral on Friday, so we had some relatives come in from out of town and stay with us. It has been really great getting to spend time with them, and I am extremely appreciative to be so fortunate to have such a large and loving family.

In addition to losing my grandma, I have been having an extremely nasty time with morning sickness that seems to last 24/7. This clearly pales in comparison to losing a family member, but I'm just trying to fill you in on what it's been like around here.

Anyway, life will slowly start getting back to normal, and I will be back in touch soon.

I hope that your writing is going well, and look forward to catching up with you all again soon. Keep up the good work!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Big News!

The other day I said that I was going to set specific goals for the new year and that I would share them with you. Well, I did sit down and determine what I wanted to achieve in 2010 as well as the necessary steps I would need to take to do that...but then I realized that I was too tired this week to start putting my plan into action. Then I realized the reason behind my sudden bout of extreme fatigue: I'm pregnant!

I am extremely excited! And a bit nervous. But very happy! I love my children, and know that I am blessed to be able to give birth to and get to share my life with another little munchkin.

But, I am definitely going to have to re-evaluate my plans for this coming year - just to make sure that they are still realistic in light of this pregnancy. Once I do this, I will then share them with you. :)

Hope you are all having a productive week! See you soon.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year, Everyone!

With the start of a new year comes the opportunity to do more than just dream about the future and its possibilities - it presents you with the ability to look ahead and see what you want to achieve and then to decide the concrete steps that will help you to get there.

For this reason, many people begin each year with "resolutions" for the year to come. As a writer, this is a good time to see what goals or resolutions you want/need to make in order to create or advance your career so that you can get where you want to be. This is a step that I have decided to really put some thought into this time around. So tonight I am going to sit down with a notebook and pen, and determine exactly what I want to achieve this year as well as the specific steps I will need to take in order to attain my writing goals. As I previously decided not to work during this holiday time so that I could enjoy some much-needed R&R with my family, I have not put enough thought into my 2010 Game Plan just yet. Once I do, I will share it with you.

I wish you all a very happy, healthy, and prosperous new year! :)