Tag Archives: writer

Why I Became A Writer

by Catherine L. Tully

Editor, Catherine L. Tully
Editor, Catherine L. Tully

Today’s post is simply a sharing one…

I’d like to tell you why I became a writer. (And, I’d love to hear why you became, or are becoming a writer in the comments section.)

Ultimately, at the heart of things, I became a writer because I have always been one. When I was little, I came up with a “newspaper” called The Little Town Daily News. I don’t really remember what I wrote about, but I know that I put a lot of time into making copies, and I sold it for about .10 cents each–which, for back then, was not that cheap!

I’ve always been writing, whether it was in my journal or coming up with a newsletter for my childhood club. I’ve written stories, articles, nonsense, letters, cards and countless other things. Even if I weren’t getting paid for it, I’d probably still be writing in some capacity. (Luckily, I’ll never know for sure!)

Not everyone makes it in this business, but some people really do hang in and stand the test of time. My hunch is that almost every one of the tenacious ones that breaks through and does this for a living–or even part-time for some extra cash–is somewhat like me.

So…what is it dear reader? Have you always been a writer in some capacity–even if you have just been composing poetry in your head or writing song lyrics that never made it to paper?

Drop us a note here and tell us your story!


Helping Another Writer = Good Karma

by Catherine L. Tully

Catherine L. Tully
Editor, Catherine L. Tully

It may seem counter-intuitive, but helping another writer get work can actually bring you good writing karma.

Many writers I know are reluctant to share information they come across about jobs in the field. There’s always this feeling that you should keep it to yourself–just in case you need it.

I take another approach…

If I hear of a job I can’t take on – I pass it along to another writer who I know is deserving. Now…that is where you have to use sound judgement…you don’t want a recommendation from you to be associated with a writer who can’t do the job…so you have to know they are a decent writer. And if they are, I say, give them the job–or at least share the opportunity with them to follow up on.

Part of the reason I do this is completely unselfish. I know how hard it is to get jobs in this field and how competitive things are when it comes to work. I’m sincerely happy to help out a fellow writer.

The other part is not as unselfish. I’ve gotten jobs this way too. Writers  that I have helped out along the way have done the same for me from time-to-time. It’s nice. It’s like a big job pool. And I have to say, it feels really good when we’re all working together rather than elbowing each other out of the way.

So…for the holiday season, that’s my pitch to you in the coming year. Look out for your fellow writer.  It will not only make you feel warm and fuzzy, but it may come around and net you a little cash down the line. Let the writing karma abound!

The Holidays, Writing & Marketing

by Catherine L. Tully

Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully
Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully

Every year I do something that helps move my career forward during the holidays…

I market myself.

This means reaching out to people to touch base, getting my contacts organized, sending out some new feelers and other strategies designed to both keep me working and find new jobs. Here are some great things you can do to stay on top of things for 2013:

  • Send holiday cards. Sending out a simple holiday greeting is a great way to remind editors you are out there. Touch base and write a short note in the card. It’s good business.
  • Organize your address book. Add contacts that you should have in there and delete old e-mail addresses.
  • Research places to send an outreach e-mail to in the NY. Get an Excel document going with names and e-mails of people that you would like to reach out to for work in the New Year. Don’t send these e-mails over the holidays–they’ll probably never see light…but do get ready for your marketing push in January.
  • Look for reprint options. Sift through any articles you sold in 2012 and see if you can re-slant them for another publication in 2013.
  • Do your tax prep. I’d advise using an accountant, but no matter what you do for taxes, you’ll need to organize your receipts. Get it done while things are quiet and you’ll be thanking yourself in April. Believe me.
  • Network. Arm yourself with business cards for all of the holiday parties that you will be attending and pass them out like crazy. You just never know when someone will need a writer.

Do you have any good tactics for marketing yourself during the holidays? If so, we’d love to hear from you!

Writing The Rough Draft

by Catherine L. Tully

Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully
Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully

I’m going to encourage you today to write from your gut and just go with it.

Writing a rough draft should be a kind of mental dump of your research, your personality and, most likely, your clichés. Getting everything out of your brain as quickly as possible is something I think works very well for most people. I’m going to take you through my general process in hopes that something here clicks for you…

First there is research.

I do a lot of surfing on the web–first getting overall concepts, then fact gathering. The concepts I don’t write down, the facts I often do, along with a link to the site I found it on in case I wind up using one and need to give some kind of attribution. I spend a while doing this, then – and this is really significant for me – I take a total break. I go and do something completely unrelated and let the things I just learned simmer in my subconscious.

This portion of the rough draft-writing process keeps me from plagiarizing. All the things I have learned kind of melt together and become a tangle of ideas that I can then sort through to create an outline in my head for the piece I’m going to write.

Next step? Pen to paper–or in my case–fingers to keyboard.

I sit down and write the entire rough draft in one go. I don’t care if it stinks. I don’t care if there are clichés everywhere. I just get it done. You can always (and, I would argue, should always) go back  and polish later. Just get it out. There’s no big secret here, but there is definitely a predictable process that works–at least for me.

If you struggle with writing a rough draft, try some of these ideas and see if they work for you. If you have suggestions to add, please do leave them in the comments section below–I’d love for you to share them!

No Pressure! Do You Need A Deadline?

by Catherine L. Tully

Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully
Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully

Some writers work better under pressure. At least – they think they do.

I used to be one of those writers. But now, I do something a little bit differently. I set my own deadlines.

This is a monumentally different approach. You see, I’m still putting pressure on myself, but I am also able to control the workflow much better. Instead of working all night long to meet a client’s deadline, I can schedule myself a few rough draft deadlines first. And I don’t miss them.

I take my deadlines every bit as seriously as if I were the client. Otherwise the approach simply doesn’t work. The pressure must be real, but the deadline can be your own. If you are one of those writers that finds themselves working like mad at the last minute to get something in on time–I challenge you to try my suggestion.

It’s simple, but it works!

Here are three ways to incorporate this type of deadline system into your work week:

  • Put it on your calendar/to-do list. If it’s actually in print (or online), it is far more real than when it’s in your head.
  • Start with one project. Don’t try to do this with everything at once. Try one project first and see how you do, then add more.
  • Reward yourself! When you meet your deadline, do something nice for yourself. Take a bike ride. Buy a latte, or an ice cream cone. After all, it feels pretty darn good!

Do you create your own deadlines? How do you make it work?

Feeling Stuck? Use Reverse-engineering

by Helen Gallagher

book magnified

Reverse engineering refers to taking something apart, such as a product, seeing how it is made, and then making it better.

With so many self-published author triumphs lately, I’ve begun teaching people how to use reverse engineering to identify a path to success. (Four self-published books, created at Smashwords.com, made the New York Times bestseller list last week.

Here’s a brief rundown on the reverse engineering strategy as it applies to author marketing, by looking at a successful book launch.  Maybe some of you with engineering minds can improve on this description:

1. Define your task, in this case an independently published book that lands on the best seller list.

2. Ask yourself  “How did they do that?”

3. Look up the author and write down all the elements of the successful author’s platform:

Web site, blog, Amazon author page, the number of reviews, where else is the author published (articles, online, guest blogs).

4. Visit their social media pages. If you follow the people you admire, you have a back door into their strategies and can implement similar ideas for your own work. If you are working on or promoting book that is similar  to theirs, you can even ask for an endorsement, or extend an offer for the author to write a guest post for your blog.

The next time you read of another person’s success, turn that glint of envy into curiosity. Figure out how they did it, and use that model for your own work.

Helen Gallagher writes and blogs at releaseyourwriting.com