Challenge Yourself

In Uncategorized on September 1, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Folks, if anyone ever tells you that building a successful writing career is easy, they’re lying to you.

These last two weeks have seen some marked achievements for me.  My Twitter following continues to grow (every follower is a potential reader), I have had the most site hits on this blog in one day, I am hosting my first giveaways, and I’ve gotten more comments on this blog in one week than any other week since I originally launched.

In the spirit of continuing to grow my writing career I am embarking on two more challenges. 

Number one: The 100 Day Writing Challenge, by  One of the best things about this particular endeavor is that it’s customizable.  The only stipulation is that you write for at least 100 days.  My goal is to write at least 1000 words per day (not including school assignments), and include at least a couple different genres of writing per week.  Go here for more on the importance of writing often.

Number two: 1000 Twitter followers by the end of October.  This one is simple.  One of my biggest goals at the moment is to grow my following (and of course to make sure I am producing content for said following).

Now that I have challenged myself, I am challenging you.  I have two more gooks I’d like to give away.

  • Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose –> Make sure you’re following me on Twitter, then Tweet about this post and/or giveaway.  Every tweet counts as an entry.  Winner will be chosen randomly and announced on September 8th.
  • On Writing Well: A Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser –> Share your writing questions with me!  Tweet them, post them as comments, or e-mail me.  Every question counts as an entry.  Winner will be chosen randomly and announced on September 8th.

If you want to be a successful writer, you’re going to have to push yourself.  I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Get Your Writing in the Hands of Readers

In Getting started on August 20, 2010 at 1:46 am

Before I jump right in, I wanted to remind everyone that I am hosting my first giveaway to celebrate the re-launch of this blog.  You can win a copy of Christina Katz’ book Get Known Before the Book Deal.

Breaking free of the “beginner” or “aspiring” writer titles can be tricky.  It requires that you have actually done a fair amount of writing, and if you’ve gotten paid to do so that’s an extra boost. 

Querying is a necessary evil in the writer’s life.  But it is not the only proactive step you can take.  Getting published is not only about pure ability and persistence; it is also about demonstrating that you have an audience.  So, it would stand to reason that building your audience would be a worthwhile endeavor (I talk more about that here and here).

In the posts linked above I talk a lot about building your audience through Twitter and online networking – which is great.  But it doesn’t get your product into the hands of your audience.  Having hundreds of followers is lovely, but those followers are an untapped resource if they’re only reading your tweets.  You want people reading your work.  You want to show editors and publishers that you are writing, and people are already reading/buying your work.  Show them you’re a good investment!

Now for the “how“.  I have chosen to start with blogging, which is an excellent example of getting your writing into readers’ hands.  However, you’re options aren’t only limited to blogging. 

If your goal is to become a best-selling author, then a good place to start would be with an e-book.  There are some opposing opinions on this, but if you ask me it’s a great way to get your first book in the hands of readers, at no cost, and build fan base in the process.  Bare in mind that “e-book” doesn’t mean you put in any less effort.  You will sill have to promote it and make sure it’s flawlessly written.  You can get away with making it shorter than your average full-length book though, depending on how much you decide to sell it for.  Smashwords is a great resource for selling your e-book.

You can produce an e-newsletter, or an e-zine.  The benefit of the newsletter is that it gives you the opportunity to collect the email addresses of potential customers for when you do have a product to sell.  You can search out online writing opportunities as a contributing writer (in most cases larger sites will be looking for more experience).  This gives you the growth potential of a blog without the pressure of facilitating the site yourself.

Whatever avenue you choose to take – keep the mission in mind.  You want people reading your work.  How are you going to get your writing out there?

When Being a Mom Isn’t Enough by The CrayonWrangler

In Guest Blog Posts, Writing & Motherhood on August 19, 2010 at 12:01 am

I had big dreams for myself.  Then I had kids.

For four years I believed that my dreams could not exist alongside motherhood.  I settled myself down to changing diapers and answering questions like, “Can God make a rock so big He can’t move it?” I began to feel out of touch with the rest of the adult society, being able to only discuss meal options for toddlers and bathroom schedules for potty training. I felt brain cells dying an agonizing death each time I sat down with the children to watch some animated character sing a song about “not biting your friends.”

My dreams for myself were now sitting in the bottom of a diaper pail.  Until I began an online journal about my three girls as a way of documenting their lives. I assumed that as those brain cells were dying, I better get it all written down.

Day after day I dutifully recorded the events of that day and began to take pictures to compliment the written words. One glorious day something amazing happened. I had a comment from a reader that said how much she enjoyed reading about our adventures and how it made her feel not so alone. She commented on a post where I was almost at my wit’s end with one of my daughters who had made artwork out of a dirty diaper. I began the next day with a mission to not only journal about our daily life, but to do it in a way that others could relate.

I began to use a more descriptive voice and took the time to take better pictures. Much like a pea thrown at the dinner table, it hit me. I was living my dream. My experiences with my girls and all the years I was putting behind the camera and computer to journal, my creativity was exploding. There are many days when being a mom is just too much. Too much noise, too much mess and too much personal space invaded. At the same time, being a mom sometimes is just not enough. Not enough times to fulfill dreams and not enough time to be the person you were before kids.

For a long time I felt guilty that my dreams were still so important that I mourned them. I felt that as a mom, I needed to let go of the dream of being a writer and photographer and be content just being around my kids. I have begun to see that by finding a way to continue living my dream, I am a better mom. There is no rule saying that you have to quit being who you are and who you wanted to be just because you became a mom. By continuing to strive for your goals keeps you in touch with who you are and gives you a chance for growth. You can come watch me live my dream by visiting me at where I still talk about our daily adventures and learn to laugh at them along with you.

You can also follow me here.