5 Questions to Ask Yourself about Writing

Have you ever seen someone’s eyes light up when you tell them you’re a writer? I bet they even tell you that they have a book inside of them waiting to be published. They could even tell you that they’ve started writing their book. While it’s exciting to finally have a published work, and the right to call yourself a writer, to continue writing it takes more. You should have answers to the following questions.

1. Why do I write?

The answers can range from “I write to help others” to “I write to make an extra income” to “I write to comfort myself” to “I write to become a famous author.” There are as many answers to this question as there are writers, except we always hear the same ones regurgitated. The important thing is that YOU have an answer to it.

2. What is my mission when I write?

Your mission as a writer is deeply personal, but you should have an answer to the question. Why? You need to remember your mission to remain focused, and to give your writing its unique tone.

3. What am I trying to teach readers?

Every writer is a teacher of some type or another. There is a lesson in fiction, and there are lessons to be learned in non-fiction. What do you want your readers to learn from reading your work?

 

4. Who am I writing to? Who is my audience?

If you don’t know who you’re writing to, then you’re just writing. That’s okay too, but you want to understand who will receive the most benefit from reading your work. Is it women or men and women? Is your audience older or younger? Keep asking yourself questions and keep doing the research to find out who is reading your work.

5. Where will writing take me?

Writing is a journey. You can take a short trip or you can go the distance, but it is so important to know where you want it to take you. Knowing where you want to go leaves room for strategy. Every writer should have a strategy. Every writer should have goals.

 

Do you have an answer to these five questions? You can rush through each question, but take your time. Develop really good answers. Who knows? You could be interviewed, and one of these questions could be asked.

It’s All about Love: 14 Quotes that Inspire Love

February is love month. People are always fascinated by love, and willing to share love. Here are 14 quotes about love by notables to share with your social followings.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

“You may not be her first, her last, or her only. She loved before she may love again. But if she loves you now, what else matters?” ― Bob Marley

“One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.” ― Paulo Coelho

“So, I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you.” ― Paulo Coelho

“Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.” ― Oscar Wilde

“I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me, ‘I love you.’ … There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.” ― Maya Angelou

“Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.” ― James Baldwin

“Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.” ― Robert Frost

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” ― Jimi Hendrix

“Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.” ― Albert Einstein

“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” ― C.S. Lewis

“It is easy to love people in memory; the hard thing is to love them when they are there in front of you.” ― John Updike

“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.” ― Kahlil Gibran

“The music in his laughter had a way of rounding off the missing notes in her soul.” 
― Gloria Naylor

“My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.” ― Maya Angelou

Do you have a favorite love quotation? If so, share in the comments. Thank you and happy love month.

Black History Month Hacks for Social Media and Your Blog

What’s a hack? A hack is a shortcut. February is Black History Month and there is a plethora of resources online to assist you in keeping your social media timelines filled with information and inspiration. Here are several hacks for you.

  1. Create memes with quotes by black authors found at Goodreads.com. You can share quotes directly from the site to Facebook and Twitter too. Brainy Quote enables you to make a colorful meme for social sharing.
  2. Do you have some favorite musical artists your followers could enjoy? Go to Youtube.com and search for inspirational music to share.
  3. The Library of Congress of millions of historical images you can use for free. Find some that fit your interests and share them.
  4. If you love books, then share links to the books that changed your life and inspire you.
  5. Hold a discussion on your Facebook page about the importance of observing Black History. Create an event to discuss what matters to you and your followers. For example, create an event and discussion on books and authors that inspire you.
  6. Change your cover image to reflect the month.
  7. Post documentaries on your page. People can watch them at leisure. Youtube.com and PBS.com have documentaries on their sites, and so does Vimeo.

These hacks are easy and not time-consuming at all. The point is to share and engage. Some of your non-black followers could appreciate the knowledge and inspiration too.

Begin 2017 Encouraged with These Quotes by Some Favorite Celebrities

No matter where you are in life, encouragement is always important. There are times when we look at others and believe they live a charmed life without consideration for their pasts. Perhaps you’ve heard that saying, “You see the glory, but you don’t know my story.” Well, these quotations contain the truths of some people you see celebrated in the news almost every day.

“In 1995 I had $7 bucks in my pocket and knew two things: I’m broke as hell and one day I won’t be.” – Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

“My father was abusive. We were afraid for (my mother’s) life because whenever he would have a real bad outburst, he would threaten to kill her.”Nicki Minaj

“I could go to this park (in my mind) that my mother and my aunt had taken me to. … I’m there in this park running and playing, and it was such a good day. So, every time somebody was doing something to me that was horrible, that was awful, I could go to this park in my mind until it was over.”Tyler Perry

“My mom struggled. My dad struggled. Everybody in my family struggled. It was nothing new, the lights being cut off or anything. I mean, it was something I had been dealing with my whole life.” Allen Iverson

I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized, and I still had a daughter who I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. J. K. Rowling

When I think back. … Not 25 years ago, I was living in basically a very elevated hut with no running water or indoor sanitation. I can’t trick myself into getting stressed by First World problems.” – Trevor Noah

Turn your wounds into wisdom. Oprah Winfrey

If you’re wounded, stuck, or just in need of a pick-me-up, remember that these people have overcome adversity to become successful. Be inspired.

Maintaining Blog Content in 2017

Blogging can be a chore. Many of us don’t have time to maintain them yet we have tons of ideas for topics. The beauty of blogs is that they can draw new readers to your site, and they can provide useful information. Here are 10 ways to maintain your blog this year. They are simple ways.

  1. Use the NOTE app on your smart phone to jot down ideas and outline blog posts. When you’re ready to write the post, then you can send the note to your email account to copy and paste into a blank post update on your blog.
  2. Compile a list of 12 guest bloggers, and sit down and email them an invite.
  3. Save your money and explore the idea of hiring someone to write blog posts for you. Hire a ghost-blogger.
  4. Take the first two or three paragraphs from an article you like and copy them in a blog post, then link the rest of the article back to its original source.
  5. Use photographs and video on your blog. Give credit to the photographer and owner of the video content. Write one or two brief sentences introducing the photo or video.
  6. Write holiday and observance blog posts in one sitting. It is totally okay to write your Easter and July 4 posts now and schedule them for later.
  7. Use a social media scheduling tool to recycle old content to share again on Facebook and Twitter.
  8. Market your products in blog posts. If you have a new book coming out, write those posts in one sitting. Give readers links, dates, and even discount codes.
  9. Do list posts. Those are easy and fast. For example, do a list of your top 5 bloggers each month. Or write a list of 5 authors you’ve discovered.
  10. If you use WordPress.com, then utilize the follow feature to find content from other blogs to re-share on yours.

Yes blogging can take time, but blogging is one of the best marketing tools ever. You can write in short form or long form. You can talk about your work and services, and you can use a blog to share your interests. Also, blog content can be the gift that keeps on giving. Post something today that people will still find on the internet years later.

If you have a blog, drop the link in the comment section, please.

Have a ‘Date’ with Your Characters

Talk about finding inspiration in the oddest place. The Grey’s Anatomy character Dr. Richard Webber (episode “The Room Where it Happens”) chastises the surgeons working with him in surgery to humanize the person on the operating table. He tells them to give the person a name, a story, a past, and some interests. Each surgeon around the table does as he commands, and in the process, the viewer learns something more about the surgeon. What if you had an imaginary date with your novel or story’s characters that forced you to know them so well, you make yourself disappear?

Quite often, we recycle the same character in different versions, because the character is a direct (or indirect) reflection of some part of ourselves and our experiences. Force yourself out of a comfort zone by forcing your characters to be anyone but some part of you. How do you do it? Date them.

Dr. Webber made the person on the operating table his late mother. He gave the person his mother’s face, name, her love for the cello and classical music, and he gave the unconscious patient his mother’s no-nonsense disposition. Some of the other surgeons scoffed at his command, but one got it immediately, and at the end of the surgery she tells the others that the person who consents to the surgery does so with the hope of living. It changes how you fight for them as a surgeon.

Writers are physicians and surgeons in a way. We diagnose plots and prescribe endings for each of our characters. Here are a few questions to answer about your characters:

  • Where are going on this imaginary date with your character? Did you choose the place or your ‘date’?
  • What is your character wearing? Why? What do you have on?
  • How does the character feel about the date? How is s/he expressing their feelings? Do you believe them?
  • How does the character feel about you? How do you feel about the character?
  • What internal battle is your character fighting? Do you want them to win or lose? Why?

Just keep asking yourself questions and creating information about your character based on this one ‘date.’ Don’t be concerned about how absurd they could become or how dull. Just fight for them so they can live on your pages. Authors who do well, who achieve success, write fully-formed characters.

Don’t feel like you have to do this for just the main characters. Experiment with minor characters too, because they help drive a story along.

Think of some of your favorite fictional characters. What do you like about them? Share in the comment section, please.

New Tools to Simplify & Organize in the New Year

All of us, at one time or another, said we just don’t have the time to begin or complete a favored project. People who long to write won’t write, because they’re juggling a ton of activities from caring for children and other family to demanding day jobs. Make some time for you by organizing your life.

Here are a few new online and app tools you can use to free up some valuable you time. The descriptions are straight from their sites.

PodKeeper is a free online organizer for busy parents with busy kids. PodKeeper offers 1) a communications tool that works even with those who aren’t on the site, 2) a calendar that syncs up with your pre-existing online calendars, 3) easy sign up lists, 4) an agenda and more. Users can create a Pod for each of their activities (office parties, Zumba class, book club, holiday planning, etc.) and their family, so there’s no need to download a handful of separate apps to keep track of it all.

Meet Edgar isn’t just another social media tool – he’s a smart scheduler who fundamentally changes the way social traffic works. He gives your best content new life, never runs out of things to say, and is absolute aces at Double Dutch.

LastPass Stop wasting time writing, remembering, and resetting passwords. Only remember one master password, and keep the rest locked up and easy-to-find in the LastPass password manager.

iPhone Bedtime Mode Apple recently introduced a new feature to iOS that’s designed to help, but it’s possible you missed it. The default Clock app on iOS 10 contains a special “Bedtime” setting that will nag you into better sleep habits.

Focus Keeper (Free) A simple but effective app to prevent burnout while working or studying (I use it for studying Japanese). The Pomodoro method helps not only with keeping you at your peak of attention span, but also helps with the much more subtle fear that feeds wandering attention and procrastination: the fear that the workload will never end. It’s perfect and very comforting for overwhelming tasks that you dread sitting down to tackle.

Yes, organization takes time, but you have to do it to do what you love. Do you have a favorite app or tool to stay organized? If so, share it in the comments.