Before this blog I had a free blog at WordPress.com that was originally entitled WISPS OF WRITING WISDOM and offered up small snippets of writing advice often based on my own recent experiences while freelancing. Later on due to a series of events it morphed into SHANNON MUIR’S ANIMATED INSIGHTS: THE BLOG. With the advent of creating MUIRWORDS.COM as well as other more targeted sites for my varied audiences, I’m in the process of letting that blog go entirely but didn’t want to lose those interesting nuggets of information. So here in one single post are all the WISPS OF WRITING WISDOM segments that were done for that original blog, slightly rearranged from the original order. Hopefully they inspire you!
FINDING WHAT ONE WRITES ABOUT BEST
One of the most challenging things to do if you want to be a writer is find out what you write about best. By that I don’t mean even what a person may technically know the most about, but more accurately what someone is passionate about. That deep interest should shine through the work and keep others interested far better than just well-crafted accurate yet dry facts.
MY FIRST PODCAST
To promote my first book, I had the opportunity to do my very first podcast. My interviewer was on the East Coast while I was on the West Coast. The hardest part was actually finding a time that would mutually work for both of us. This ended up being a Sunday afternoon my time (early evening his time).
Basically, it went like this. I called, admittedly somewhat nervous because I had no idea what to expect. He briefed me on what to expect, and we launched into it. We spoke for quite a while, but I got so into it that time felt like it flew. By the time I was done, I wondered why I’d ever been nervous in the first place.
So if you ever get the opportunity to do a podcast… relax, go with the flow, and most importantly have fun!
Hear the podcast here: http://www.catchdacraze.com/episode94.html
SPEAKING AT CONVENTIONS
As discussed here before, publicity is a necessary evil of being a writer. Personally, I do great typing things out but not so great in front of an audience. That said, I’ve been involved in three convention appearances this year. Two were with people (I moderated and guided the discussion) and I did the third on my own. Some people would probably find going it solo easier, where complete control of the presentation is a plus. However, I found I missed having others to bounce off of. So there’s no one right way, it’s a matter of finding what goes best with your style (and, if you prefer group appearances, if you can find others appropriate to appear with!) and comfort level.
THE STRUGGLE OF PUBLICITY
Selling a piece of writing does not end with acceptance from the publisher. A writer needs to work hard to let people know the work is out there, and that’s easier said than done. Books prove to be even more a challenge than articles, as I’ve learned firsthand with my own first book being published. Competition for book signing space, panel appearances, print or radio interviews, and podcasts is fierce! Keep knocking on doors in hopes that an opening shows itself somewhere, because if you stop doing so that’s a guarantee nothing will happen. It could very well be someone else’s last minute cancellation that gives a much needed big break!
BOOK FAIRS AND EXHIBITIONS
Book fairs and exhibitions seem like they should be easy to get into. After all, the idea is to showcase books from a wide variety of authors, right? In reality, my experience is that this arena is very competitive. Getting in these kind of shows can be easier if you find one tailored to your writing’s audience versus a general show if you are not a well-known author. These “specialty shows” may be willing to see what they can do to fit in a few more people and make a smaller event grow than a giant mega event that’s likely turning away a number of names at the door. That’s not to say don’t try, just don’t be surprised if those larger venues are less likely to bite.
WRITING ARTICLES AND ADVERTISING YOURSELF…
I found recently I generated more buzz than I expected to about myself when I did an article on animation writing for WOW!-Women on Writing for their online April issue. Simply by having information about myself in my attached bio at the end, those few short lines motivated more than one or two people to seek me out and send emails. Still having to figure out how to answer most of them, I honestly wasn’t prepared for it. So, when dashing off those few sentences at the end to summarize yourself at the end of any article you’re asked to do a bio for, choose those lines carefully. You never know whose attention you might attract!
THE DIFFICULTIES IN NETWORKING
In the entertainment industry (and in the writing industry in general) one thing that is always emphasized is the need to network, Network, NETWORK. There are many ways to do this – phone, email, and attending events.
This last also tends to be somewhat problematical in a certain way I only really became aware of in the last year – finding oneself at events with people that you may not be on the best terms with, people who aren’t comfortable with you, or people with a mutual aversion to one another. To be honest, I’ve now found myself in this situation twice, and in both cases I just did not interact with the people in question. It didn’t keep me from people I needed to talk to (if it had, I would have gone and talked to them in any case and endured what came), but it just made for an awkward atmosphere.
As I said, I’d been networking for years before I found myself in this situation. It was a bit of a shock but I got past it. Don’t let this kind of discomfort stand in the way of what as a freelancer needs to accomplish. Opening new doors and keeping doors open depends on it.
LOOKING FOR LEADS
With the Internet, the ability to advertise leads for freelancing has become easier than ever. By this, I mean easier for people to find opportunities as well as them to be posted. Unfortunately, this also opens the door wide for scammers (people who talk writers into doing work on spec with promise of pay on publication, usually once something launches). Often these scammers have a basic webpage claiming “coming soon” or “under construction” and seem quite credible, which makes checking up on their credibility harder than ever. So before approaching any company, one should run the name through a search engine and see what comes up first… just in case something has been uncovered in the past about the company. It may save a lot of heartache in the end.
MOONLIGHTING AND WRITING…
Most of us can’t make a living on writing alone. That includes me. After two books of nonfiction I’m working on trying to get a fiction novel done, but it’s so easy to get distracted by other things after I come back from a long office day at a job I enjoy (and I don’t write at work, for the record!). Still, I know I have to keep at it so as not to get rusty. I can alrady see places where my fiction skills need some work because nonfiction has been my sole focus the last two years. I can only imagine how much more I’ll slip if I don’t keep at it!
FINDING TIME TO WRITE
I’d love to say there’s an easy solution for this, especially for those of us who also juggle a full-time day job. But there really isn’t one. Many articles advise setting aside a dedicated time each day, which frankly I’d love to do but with the reality of having to be up out of bed and out the door in time to make the morning commute and then not always being able to leave work at the same time each day affecting what time I get home… well, you get the idea. Then, even with the assistance of digital recording devices or even your trusty old videocassette recorder, shows on TV can be captured for later but sometimes after a long day’s work you just want to watch it NOW.
Or, perhaps you work that regular schedule and always set aside a time to work. Creativity, in my experience, doesn’t seem to operate like clockwork.
What I wind up doing is writing when I feel bursts to do so, as long as it’s appropriate (i.e. while not on the clock at work). Whether it’s out at lunch, at home, in the park, I always take something to write on with me. Then I take those transcriptions and flesh them out when I get home. Overall, I’ve found I get more done that way and don’t lose my best flashes of inspiration to feeling like “I need to keep a schedule”.
NOTE: These snippets were originally separate, individual blog posts that appeared at WISPS OF WRITING WISDOM/SHANNON MUIR’S ANIMATED INSIGHTS: THE BLOG between October 2007 and April 2008.