The Page a Day Writers Group

Posts Tagged ‘freelance writer

Every author — whether he writes  novels, essays or how-to articles —  wonders about their readers. Where did they find my work? Did they like it? Did they pass it along to a friend? Is it lining the bottom of their bird’s cage?

Well, as it turns out, readers are just about as organized as writers!  I enjoyed this post “Your Audience is Unorganized” by Dan Blank on the Writer Unboxed site about how to reach readers of every shape and size.

I hope you find it as useful, entertaining and informative as I did.

–Claire Yezbak Fadden

Never mistake activity for achievement. —John Wooden

It’s true. I used to confuse motion with action. As long as I was busy in the motion of writing a novel (taking classes, attending workshops, reading how-to books), I thought I was getting closer to my goal. The reality is, while I was in the motion of writing, I wasn’t truly engaged in the action of writing a novel. The possibility of producing an actual book was slim. I liken it to constantly going to the grocery store buying the ingredients for a delicious cake, but never actually baking it.

I was happy — highlighter in hand — with my nose in the latest or time-tested how to write books. I garnered every tip, idea, theory and tidbit imaginable. And I read every writer’s blog. Actually that last one may have been what saved me.  Thanks to a post from James Clear, I learned the folly of my ways.

Don’t get me wrong. It is important to learn about writing. The knowledge I’ve gained through my critique partners is invaluable. But after gathering ideas from other writers, wannabe writers, editors and agents, there comes a time to put all that learning to the test – or in my case – to the page.

I talked a lot about how hard it is to write fiction. Anyone who would listen, heard my lament. It is a much tougher task than writing a magazine article, where the challenge is to uncover the facts and put them into a readable prose.

One my critique partners, Sharon C. Cooper, called me out on my penchant for hovering around the idea of writing a novel . “You’ve taken more classes than any other writer I know,” she lovingly said. “Girl, you need to start writing.” Those words hit home. I got the message. I needed to stop preparing to write and start spending my  time getting words on the page.

Bum glue, butt-in-the-chair, chained-to-the-computer. It all amounts to the same thing. A writer writes. So get writing.

–Claire Yezbak Fadden

Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” may have been the last time agents and book editors were excited about reaction words that don’t characterize and move the plot forward.

Shallow words like smiling, shrugging, grinning, nodding and laughing can make many agents and editors cringe. Sadly, I employ these “empty” words as placeholders in my prose, but they fail to give insight, depth or motivation to my characters.

Rewrite consultant Jean Jenkins advises her clients to give an internal reaction, a thought to interpret the mood of the character for the reader. “Have your characters do active things that show their feelings during a scene,” suggests Jenkins. “Or, couple these words with an action so the scene doesn’t feel choreographed, like a stage direction.”

What empty words are you working to eliminate from your writing? Let me know so I can add them to my list.

Here are some examples of wonderful word pictures from books I’ve recently read:

WORRY –“Mrs. Maguire dropped the silver polish. She fished a handkerchief out of her sleeve. She blew he nose mightily on it and said, “Dear Lord, don’t let a hair of head come to harm.” — Elizabeth George, “In The Presence of the Enemy.”

FEAR– “I crouched and kept my head low. I tried to swallow whatever was rising from my stomach, which tasted like lemonade, something fruity and sour.”– Tim O’Brien, “The Things They Carried”

LOVE –“She smiled at me, that sunrise of a smile that colored her whole face and seemed to enliven her whole body.” Robert B. Parker, “Mortal Stakes”

INSIGHT–”When Roark had gone, Wynand sat behind his desk, smiling. He moved his hand toward one of the plastic buttons–and stopped. He realized that he had to assume a different manner, his usual manner, that he could not speak as he had spoken in the last half-hour. Then he understood what had been strange about the interview: for the first time in his life he had spoken to a man without feeling the reluctance, the sense of pressure, the need of disguise he had always experienced when he spoke to people; there had been no strain and no need of strain; as if he had spoken to himself.” Ayn Rand, “The Fountainhead”

–Claire Yezbak Fadden

A creative mind may be the most important tool for a writer, but nimble fingers run a close second. Fingers that dance across a keyboard, keeping up with the author’s thoughts as she develops characters, describes settings and fine-tunes dialogue.

But fingers, hands and wrists are just like any other part of your body. They have to be cared for, pampered and maintained. As cold winter mornings approached, I was reminded of these facts when I sat down to let the writing flow and my fingers decided they weren’t ready to join in.

Joints were stiff, and my fingers felt prickly. My brain was warmed up but my hands were not. I asked my yoga instructor, Linda, about this dilemma. She said it all about blood flow and shared a few hand exercises, to get the blood moving again in my fingers, hands and wrists. One of my favorites is placing my hand in namaste (prayer) pose, spreading my fingers wide, and then pushing the fingers away from each other. (see photo).

If your fingers are fighting back, craving a bit more circulation, check out these three yoga videos (links below) that offer great yoga exercises you can do sitting at your desk, sitting at a red light or on the couch while you’re waiting for the next great idea to appear.

Something as simple as opening and closing your hands slowly can get the joints lubricated. Don’t forget to occasionally, wrap your arms around yourself and give your self a hug. It’s a great way to stretch your back and shoulders after hovering over a keyboard.

Namaste.

Three youtube videos to get you started.

Jamie Shane (7 minutes)

Yoga for Arthritis: The Hands & Wrists–KimMcNeilYoga (7 1/2 minutes)

Bridget Briant (4-1/2 minutes)  

–Claire Yezbak Fadden

Some people think being a freelance writer is a dream job. You set your own hours. Write about fascinating topics. Meet interesting people. Rake in the big bucks.

Did I say rake in the big bucks? Hardly. Most freelancers I know barely make minimum wage if you divide the amount of time it takes to write a publishable 1,000-word article.

But that’s OK. We choose this path because of our passion for words. Everything we see is a potential article or novel.

What gets me, though, are the publishers and editors who print our work–sometimes without our knowledge and permission–then refuse to pay our fee. They’re the ones putting the FREE in freelance. We may work cheap, but we’re definitely not free.

I continue to nag, cajole and beg some magazines to pay my modest fee. Some are slow payers. My only weapon is to refuse to send them any other manuscripts until they catch up on their past-dues.

I’m at a loss on how to get payment from those one-timers who use you in a pinch and now can’t seem to find the time to cut a check for $35. Many of these pubs don’t require contracts and the amounts are so small that incurring the expense for a certified letter seems impractical. On their web site, the American Society of Journalists and Authors offers a few suggestions.

Short of sending their names out into the universe as deadbeats, I’d love to hear how other freelancers deal with this issue.

–Claire Yezbak Fadden


Who are we?

The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!

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