Girl on the Write

October 21, 2008

On the Move!

Filed under: Blogging — Wendy Sullivan @ 9:05 pm
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October 20, 2008

Save the Words!

Filed under: Words — Wendy Sullivan @ 12:22 pm

I read this funny post yesterday, on the extinction of words from the vernacular. It’s funny, when we’re a society that puts so much emphasis on saving every little bit of mold from extinction that we would let parts of our language fall away.

Here are some of the words.

Compossible: Possible in coexistence with something else

Embrangle: To confuse or entangle

Exuviate: To shed (a skin or similar outer covering)

Fatidical: Prophetic

Fubsy: Short and stout; squat

Griseous: Streaked or mixed with grey; somewhat grey

Malison: A curse

Mansuetude: Gentleness or mildness

Muliebrity: The condition of being a woman

Niddering: Cowardly

Can you help save them? I think I can work niddering into a few conversations. C’mon people – pick a word and save it!

October 19, 2008

E-Book Writing: Shacked Up With My Muse

Filed under: E-Books — Wendy Sullivan @ 11:13 am

So there I was last night, surfing the Net like I do every night before turning in with a book, when the idea hit me like lightening. I opened a new Word document and started to put down a few ideas. Time flew by and then next thing I knew I had almost 2,000 words!

In addition to an intro, I also had section headers and a vague table of contents. If I keep at it this way, the book will be completed in a matter of days.

It’s an e-book on how to move house. Seems painfully simple, yet it can be one of the most stressful experiences in a person’s life. And it just so happens to be one of those things I’ve been through 28 times in my 32 years. I have the ulcer to prove it, too!

Fact is, anyone can turn out a valuable e-book full of great advice, because everyone is an expert at something. I just can’t believe it took me so long to realize what my specialty was! Anyone reading this has a specialty too, whether it’s something you do every day as part of your job, or a hobby you are passionate about, or even a life experience like mine that could be helpful to someone else.

Somewhere out there are students moving in and out of dorms and apartments. Military families that have to haul their lives around every few years. People downsizing due to this current economic downturn. And desperate people who have just had their houses repossessed and need to start over. I think it is with them that I identify the most.

Follow me on this e-book journey as I strive to put as much advice and useful information down as I possibly can.

October 17, 2008

Freelancing till the Apocalypse

Filed under: Freelance — Wendy Sullivan @ 9:07 pm

The Wall Street prophets (not profits) would have us believe that the end is nigh. Pack your rosary and make your peace, because the stock market is going to crash and take us all down with it, like some kind of Lower Manhattan Titanic. Sky is falling and all that jazz.

No one is going to hire a freelancer now, right? I mean, every one is cutting back on their advertising and marketing budgets. People like you and I are going to starve to death in a cardboard box under an overpass, and no one will notice except the guy who stops to steal our shoes (he was a jingle writer once, you know).

Wrong. So very, very wrong.

Yes, businesses big and small are cutting back on their allotted marketing budgets, but that’s actually good news. Larger corporations will begin to downsize their in-house marketing operations and source to outside firms, if they don’t already. Those firms won’t be in much of a position to hire full-timers with benefits and pensions, so they in turn will outsource to freelancers.

And medium and small businesses who would normally go directly to  a firm instead of having help in-house will now eliminate the middle man and his high overhead by going straight to the freelancer.

Really, the only marketing and copy writers who stand to lose are the ones who work in-house, and most of them have side businesses freelancing anyway. They will simply leave their cubicle, go home and put on a pair of flannel pj’s and some Uggs, make some tea, and contract themselves right back to their previous employer to do the exact same job they were doing in heels and stockings.

This is the new reality, and I for one plan to embrace it. What’s your plan?

Do You NaNo?

Filed under: NaNoWriMo — Wendy Sullivan @ 11:21 am

I got hooked on National Novel Writing Month – or NaNoWriMo – back in 2004. I had just moved to Toronto from Glasgow, didn’t have a job, was very bored, and had something (I felt was) important to say. So on November 1, I sat down and began writing my first novel. For 30 days I labored to crank out a minimum of 50,000 words. I went to writing events at coffee shops with other aspiring NaNo-ers from around Toronto. I was interviewed by the CBC as part of the project. I got up on stage and read excerpts aloud to other writers. And on November 26th, with four days to spare, I hit my 50k mark! I completed the challenge!

Ok, the novel was terrible. It couldn’t even be saved in subsequent edits and rewrites. But that wasn’t the point! the point was that I sat down to challenge myself as a writer, and I met the challenge head on.

I tried again in 2006, but didn’t make it to the finish line. However, the story was so good that it will soon be available as an e-book! And I will be NaNo-ing again this year, too.

Do you NaNo? Would you like to NaNo along with me? Here’s what you have to do:

  • Go sign up. Pledge to write 50,000 words in 30 days.
  • Don’t panic that you’ve just pledged to write 50,000 words in 30 days.
  • Invest in a good coffee machine. Trust me on this.
  • Plot your characters and/or storyline between now and November 1, but DO NOT begin writing the story.
  • On November 1, disconnect your telephone and get to work. Check back in here at Girl on the Write and we’ll compare notes.

October 14, 2008

Are You LinkedIn?

Filed under: Blogging,Freelance,Networking — Wendy Sullivan @ 3:05 pm

Do you blog? Hang out on Facebook or MySpace? Does anyone actually know you’re a writer?? Time to get LinkedIn!

The idea of social networking has been around as long as the Internet has, with chat rooms and BBS. But now it is becoming more streamlined. Facebook helps you find friends you haven’t seen since childhood, or set up an action committee. MySpace launches indie bands and gets bored teenagers into trouble. LinkedIn is a networking site for professionals and their communities. Twitter is for the little ADD in all of us.

I use LinkedIn so that people seeking writers might find me there. There’s a Q&A section that can not only be very informative, but can help spread your name and recognition. I keep my work info as updated as possible so that people know I am active.

Twitter is where I go to a) hang out, b) bitch about politics in 140 words or less, and most importantly c) tell people what I’m working on at that moment.

Are you using the Internet to its full potential? Every single gig I have gotten has come through some type of blog (including my own) or on-line job site. In writing my own blog and in reading others’ I have been able to form relationships that have led to writing or research jobs. Someone who reads me hears that I’m looking for work, and someone who reads them drops me an email. All of a sudden, I have clips. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know!

If you are not involved in social networking yet, get on it! Sign up for a free LinkedIn account and tell people what it is you do. Tell them your specialty. Tell them who you’ve worked with/for in the past and what you have on offer now. And send me a contact request!

And if you’re not blogging, why not? Back in February, Deb from Freelance Writing Jobs (bookmark her site – do it now!) wrote about why writers need to blog.

Talk to Other Writers

One of the reasons I stuck with FWJ for so long is because of the great discussions we have here. I do believe this is the best community. I learned so much from the other writers who visit my blog. Many times my community inspires my blog posts. I’m always touched by how willing everyone is to share information and ideas. I wouldn’t have met many of you if not for blogging.

Build Up a Reputation

A blog is a great way to build up your online reputation. If you offer useful information, people will trust you not to steer them wrong. They’ll also recommend you for gigs.

Learn About Other Resources

Through blogging I learned about other blogs and bloggers, great websites, books and tools to help make our job easier.

I suppose I could write an e-book called Everything I Need to Know I Learned From My Blog… Stay tuned – maybe I will! And if I do, naturally it will be available here on my blog. You’ll hear about it on Twitter…

October 13, 2008

That’s Just Not My Style, Man

Filed under: Writing Style — Wendy Sullivan @ 3:42 pm

What’s your style? I don’t mean what you wear, I mean how you write. Every writer has their own voice that’s just perfect for what they want to write about.

But what if you’re writing for someone else? As a freelancer, you are representing a client who may have a different voice in mind. You have to adjust your style to meet their needs.

“That’s fascist, man! I’m an artist!”

Ok, but do you want to be an employed artist? Yes? Then shutup and learn to take criticism. Learn to work toward filling your clients’ needs, before they find less of an artist and more of a writer. You’ve heard it before, and it is never so true as during a weak economy: You can’t sell what no one wants to buy.

I will admit, there are some jobs I don’t apply for because I don’t feel there’s any way I could do them justice because of my style, tone or beliefs. I leave those jobs behind for a more qualified person. The idea of my writing about green technologies and veganism is highly unlikely, as I hop in the pickup to go get a steak. Nor could I write coherently about radical left-wing feminism from a positive viewpoint. If I can’t bear to read it, I can’t bear to write it.

That’s not the same thing as tweaking your voice for an existing client. For example, a client today asked if I could write more like the writers of another large publication. I had to clarify that she didn’t mean content-wise; she just meant style. No problem! I can make myself familiar with their way of doing things in order to better emulate their voice.

After all, if I want to write in my own style, that’s what I have my own website for.

October 12, 2008

Freelance Writing Means Never Having to Wear Pants

Filed under: Freelance — Wendy Sullivan @ 8:19 pm

Or so I said to Amy, over at Write From Home. Freelancing is not a 9-to-5 job. There is no dress code. I have been working on a huge project for the past few days and have lived in my sweatpants. Who cares? I launched my freelancing career from my couch in Toronto, and now I’m working from a friend’s guest bedroom in rural Kansas. This is a job that can be done from anywhere, regardless of whether or not you’re wearing pants.

I’m not saying it’s an excuse to be lazy and slovenly (though I did have to remind myself to take a time-out to shower today). I’m just saying that when you aren’t working Wall Street – or Bay Street as I did in Toronto – there’s no need for heels.

Remember to eat healthy. Remember to shower at least every second day. If you start to feel down or burned out, put on a pair of your favorite jeans. They will re-inspire you. There is more to life than coffee, or even Diet Coke. Have you tried this miraculous substance called water?

After a few weeks of living without pants, you will discover that you miss being dressed. That’s when your real career can begin: when you have let go of your work-related petulance and rebelliousness, and you are ready to simply work for a different employer – you.

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