When You Put It Like That…

Here’s the article that you must read, today.

Write Epic Sh*t.

Three little words. It makes it sound so easy right? You came to the internet, bought a domain, got a little space, and it was the same as a blank piece of paper and a pen in front of you.

With 1,000 people/day looking over your shoulder.

No pressure!

You’re a writer. So write. And write with an impact that will blow minds, save worlds, free countries, change lives.

Or post pictures of food you’re cooking and yoga you’re doing.

Not everyone can spend the time it takes to learn about and provide SEO tips (or explain to little people like me that SEO doesn’t even matter on a wordpress hosted blog).

But man is there a market. There are so many bloggers out there if you are looking for them, telling you tips, tricks, and ideas to grow your Twitter followers, your Facebook brand, and your website. It’s easy to get too caught up in it all.

For the most part, they have it all wrong. This article tells you to stop trying those little “tips”. No amount of strangers on Twitter are going to click a link they don’t care about. I’ve met some neat internet buddies, for example thank goodness for Gina Begin and Stephen Weiss (and HOW I MOUNTAIN!). People, internet people, who take action on your message. I just need to take that message from mediocre to epic. Got it. Working on it.

My tip would be don’t forget to return the favor! That interaction, with others who are writing and trying to make a site work, that matters! If someone reaches out to you, take the time to say thanks in the best way you can. Comment on my blog, and I’ll try to comment on yours. I’m not always coming up with something relevant, but it’s always at the back of my mind. I’ll hit refresh on your photos. I’ll forward something cute to my mom.

And you’d do the same for me. That’s a good way to grow!

UPDATED to add How I Mountain. Too funny to read her post today! 🙂

Half An Idea?

The link there is the original article. I took the whole thing cut and paste style since it’s one of the best things I’ve read in a forever or two. Wish I had come up with it 😉
It basically makes me sigh. I hate when someone calls out all the things I totally do and think and remind me they aren’t going to get me anywhere. Duh.
You might need a good kick in the pants every once in a while. So really, I don’t hate it. I’m just ready to get to the writing brilliant things part.
The challenge is learning from it, right?
Wondering when that part will start clicking for me.
Every time I think I’m on to a break through I can only formulate half an idea.
Makes me worried that’s all I am. The half an idea guy.
What’s next?
I wouldn’t be mad at you if you aren’t a writer and so you don’t read the whole article. I want to be a famous writer and I’m so far behind on  the copyblogger emails and updates and past posts I don’t think I’ll ever get through it. I love all the information, but man is it a lot. I don’t even need a story. I think Twitter is turning me in to someone that can only handle bullet points and Patterson novels. Ugh. I’m going to have to take my laptop to the gym to hide from MK and multi task!

image of broken down typewriter

Is it just me, or is the whole starving artist thing highly overrated?

Yes, there’s a certain romanticism to being a penniless vagabond, sacrificing material goods in the selfless pursuit of art.

Yes, it’s fun to fantasize about everyone suddenly realizing you’re a genius after you’re dead and auctioning your once-soiled toilet for nearly $20,000.

Yes, it’s hip to take a stand against evil capitalists and proselytize about constructing digital economies based on currencies of cool.

But eventually, it gets old.

I know, because I’ve been there. In college, I was the epitome of the starving artist, winning poetry competitions and acing English classes with ease and then bumming gas money to get home, but eventually I realized three things …

  • No matter how good your poetry is, girls think you’re lame when you take them out for a romantic dinner at Taco Bell
  • After sleeping in your car for a week, you don’t feel like writing a damn thing
  • Pretty much the only job available to English majors is to become an English teacher, and they’re some of the most underpaid, under-appreciated people on earth

Sooner or later, you begin to reconsider. I mean, no, you don’t have to be rich and famous, but would having your own apartment and being able to afford food be so bad? Hell, it might even help your writing.

So, you embark on your quest to make some money.

You try to write some articles for magazines and newspapers. You hire yourself out as a freelance copywriter (even though you probably have no idea what copywriting is). You start a blog and wait for the world to beat a path to your door.

And if you’re lucky, you survive. No, you’re not sitting by the beach drinking margaritas, but you have food and a bed and a car, and people don’t worry about catching weird diseases when they’re standing beside you in the elevator. It’s nice, but you still haven’t “made it,” and you wonder why.

In my experience?

It’s because you don’t have your mind right. You have these nasty little demons sitting on your shoulder, feeding you lies about the relationship between success and art. You probably picked up some of these ideas from your parents, others from your teachers, and still others from fellow writers and artists.

And if you let them, they’ll cripple you. You’ll go through your whole life knowing you’re talented but never quite making it and forever wondering why.

We can’t let that happen.

Below, you’ll find some of the most common beliefs that hold writers back. Take a look, and see if any of them look familiar:

Crippling Belief #1: It’s all about you

The most heinous lie to ever infect the mind of a writer is the belief that your work is all about you.

You believe your writing is a form of self-expression, an extension of your mind, a little piece of your soul imbued into the page. To write well, you just need to be authentic, and if the world doesn’t like it, the world can go to hell.

Provocative, right? And like all the best lies, it has a grain of truth to it.

Yes, authenticity matters, but only to the extent people enjoy what you do. You’ll never find me auditioning for American Idol because, the fact is, I couldn’t carry a note to save my life. Yes, my voice is authentic, but it’s authentically bad, and that means I’ll never be a singer.

Writing works the same way. To be successful, stop worrying about who you are and start thinking about what your audience wants.

What do they like? How is it done? Only after you’ve answered those two questions are you ready to ask the third one: is it right for you?

I can’t overstress how important the order is. Them first, you second, never the other way around.

Crippling Belief #2: Building a following takes time

The last bastion of hope for any struggling writer is that building a following takes time.

Sure, life sucks right now, but if you’ll just hang in there, things will snowball, and everything will be all right.

It seems reasonable. After all, no one gets famous overnight, right? Everywhere you look, there are stories of successful people persisting when there was no hope, trudging forward one weary step at a time, unwilling to quit, clinging fiercely to their dreams, manifesting success through sheer power of will.

It’s inspiring… but it’s also deceptive.

Yes, building a following often takes time, but it’s not because people are slow on the uptake, incapable of seeing your brilliance until you’ve been around for a few years.

It’s because, when you’re a newbie, you do everything wrong, and most of us get knocked around for a few years until we figure out how to do it right.

In other words, you’re not waiting on the world. The world is waiting on you.

Yes, persistence is important. Yes, learning takes time. Yes, it’ll probably be slow and painful. But the sooner you learn, the sooner it will be over. So get busy.

Crippling Belief #3: You know what you’re doing

So, let me guess:

You’ve always been a pretty good writer, right? No, you haven’t won a Pulitzer or anything, but your teachers fawned over you in school, and your friends and family are awestruck by your skill with words.

Maybe you’ve even written for a magazine or newspaper a time or two and gotten some real credentials to put on your resume.

You believe all of that makes you different. When you start a blog or write a press release or hang up your shingle as a freelance writer, you believe things will be easier for you than all of the other bumbling writers out there. Unlike them, you know what you’re doing.

Heh.

It never ceases to astonish me how many writers believe this. They honestly think being able to spell, write a grammatical sentence, and make a few aunties and uncles smile is enough to make them a good writer.

It isn’t. The difference between writing for free and writing to become recognized as a worldwide authority is like the difference between taking a jog after work and running an Olympic marathon. Like running events, each type of writing is also quite different, and even a legend might need years of training to switch.

The bottom line: if you want to make a career out of writing, you have to be serious about it.

You’ll need to commit years of your life to mastering it, and even then, you’ll have barely caught a glimpse of everything there is to know.

Also, if you’re not willing to make that commitment, that’s fine. Just hire someone who is. It’s far faster and much, much less painful.

Crippling Belief #4: Writing can only be a labor of love

It’s about the art. It’s about the fans. It’s about the ideas themselves.

If you start trying to squeeze money out of it, you’ll just pervert it, commercialize it, transform it into a cold and hollow substitution for what it could have been. Right?

Well, yes and no. Once again, this one is dangerous precisely because it’s partly true.

Yes, all the best writers love what they do. The thing that separates Stephen King from a lot of other horror writers isn’t the gore or the suspense or the characters. It’s the joy. When he’s chopping off heads or destroying the world, he doesn’t just tell you about it. He revels in it.

Also, Stephen King is far from broke. I think he made something like $50 million last year.

Granted, we can’t all be Stephen King, but one of the greatest fallacies in writing is that art and money are mutually exclusive. If you love something, you can’t make money from it, or if you want to make money, you can’t love the work.

That’s just silly. You can have both. In fact, I would even say you need both, or you’ll never have the staying power to become truly great at what you do.

Crippling Belief #5: You’re a writer (nothing more)

Many writers take enormous pride in what they do, and rightfully so.

We use nothing more than little splotches of ink to communicate with people across the globe.

We speak the unspeakable. We snatch ephemeral ideas from the air and bring them to life on the page.

It’s delightful. Amazing. Humbling.

But if you think it’s your only responsibility, you are horribly mistaken.

The best way I know to explain it is, imagine a mother carrying a child for nine months, religiously taking care of her body, doing everything a good mother does, and then the day she delivers it, she leaves the hospital and sets it on the side of the road. “Goodbye, sweet thing,” she says. “It was a pleasure, but now I have other things to do,” and then she walks away.

It’s a horrifying thought, right?

Yet, as writers, it’s something we do every day. We finish working on a piece, publish it, and then prop our feet up, praising ourselves for a job well done. “Finally, I’m finished,” we think. “On to the next project.” And then we watch from afar as it struggles to gain attention, weakens, and finally dies.

It’s a morbid metaphor, I know, but this point is absolutely essential for you to understand:

If you want to be successful, you can’t be a writer and nothing more.

You also have to be a constant caretaker, a shameless promoter, a fearless champion. You have tofight for your ideas the way a mother fights for her children.

Your job isn’t over the day you publish. On the contrary, it’s just beginning. More than likely, you’ll spend weeks, months, and years fighting to get your words the attention they deserve, and it’ll be the most tiring, nerve-racking, and yet unquestionably rewarding experience of your life.

Don’t neglect that responsibility. Don’t try to outsource it to someone else. Don’t rob yourself of the experience.

The truth is, the joy of writing isn’t the writing itself. It’s seeing your ideas spread. It’s seeing them touch other people. It’s seeing them take root within the minds of those people, where they continue to grow into something more wonderful than you could have ever imagined.

Do you want that?

If you do, then be more than just a writer. The world already has enough of those.

What we need are more warriors. What we need are more heretics. What we need are wordsmiths with the courage to change the world.

Words aren’t just words, you see. They’re the medium through which writers accomplish change.

Great writers don’t just inform you. They don’t just entertain you. They don’t just persuade you. They change you, leaving you a slightly different person than you were before you read their work.

If you ask me, change should be the standard we hold ourselves to, not merely scribbling words down upon the page.

Then again, what do I know?

I’m just a writer. Nothing more. ;-)

About the Author: Jon Morrow is Associate Editor of Copyblogger. If you’d like to learn more about what it really takes to become a popular writer, check out his free videos on guest blogging.

Spelling And Typos

We all, from time to time, make mistakes. I have a sweet Momm and Dadd that will read my writing and let me know if I make a mistake. And husband. And brother. And Snippy. And anyone else I might ask for feedback. Here, Facebook, Twitter, Ski Utah. Doesn’t matter. It’s important to me that I express myself clearly and part of that is not being ignorant of something I may have overlooked.

You wouldn’t hire someone who couldn’t be counted on to be consistent and professional, and writing well is part of that, even if it’s not the main focus of that person’s job. As an advertiser you’d quit giving a site money if it made mistakes too often.

Maybe not everyone has time for someone to help proofread their work. But it is starting to drive me totally crazy that so many people who have an online presence are simply terrible at spelling. Grammar and writing style are one thing. Sometimes I’m trying to convey something funny or snarky and write it a certain way that may not work for you. That’s allowed. I won’t pick on you for that. But if your ‘career’, no matter how serious, has you posting online, I think you should spell or have someone proofread your work.

Does it matter to you if you get a work email that is barely legible? Not a quick text from a friend written more to convey an idea than tell a story, but something that is supposed to be professional. I’ve been seeing some blogs, Facebook business pages, and Twitter accounts lately that have typos that hurt my brain. What would you do? I’m tempted to find the equivalent of the online ‘red pen’ and go around correcting people. But I’m betting it won’t make me many friends…

To The Masses

Sitting around here is a bunch of my thoughts and life stories I’d chosen to share with my family and friends. If you google “pumpkin” you might find my Halloween post and glance at it, but I never worried whether or not you’d come back.

This new ‘job’ of mine will only be a success if you find me and are struck by my wit and banter so much so that you come back over and over, increasing the traffic to the site. At least, that’s how I’d measure my success. Not sure if the metrics over there will even tell them it’s my hard work increasing site traffic. I have a few skit and post ideas I’m really excited about executing over the winter, and hope humor and my concept of ‘skiing for the average masses’ connects with readers and helps promote skiing in Utah.

I’m supposed to start with an about me, where I plan to stress that this skiing thing seemed totally inaccessible to me not all that long ago, and then BAM!, here I am now, writing to others to tell them how to break the wall of ‘brosef’ and let skiing come to them in a whole new way.

What I’m wondering is if I’ll see just how effective a blog can be to media and marketing. Why would anyone go to that site? Well, the weather reporting is the bomb. To me, if you live here or have internet access while you’re here skiing, the site tells you where you should be that morning. And that’s valuable. I hope to produce content that makes you just want to hear from me, I think that’s all I can do. Any one else think there’s more to it? Let me know…

Bad Marketing

The more I think about what I want to do with myself I think about what I’ve done. I’ve been blogging badly for four years now. It didn’t make me famous. I’ve been running around on the internet looking for ways to think of a next big something. I’ve written books I’m too chicken to show anyone (that’s where all the chicken references come from in case that made no sense).

My sales pitch might be the problem. “Tastes like chicken” might not be the most thoughtful tagline. I’ve been thinking about what to put on my resume for how lazy I’ve been the last three years – I never thought “housewife” could be me until I watched those Bravo shows and realized you don’t need to do crap to be called a “housewife”. We joked about getting business cards- Realtors keep asking MK for one and we both laugh. What we he do with those? Build card towers? It would have his name and email, which is his name. And maybe his phone number, which ironically is also his name.

from toothpastefordinner.com

from toothpastefordinner.com

Can you tagline yourself? What would your tagline be? “Hard worker”? “Mother of 18”? “Boisterous”? “Business oriented with a goal of success and growth in an emerging new media industry”? Tell me in the comments.

Journaling

Even though I’ve found this website a great place to chronicle adventures, I don’t post ‘here’s what I did today’ everyday. I just try to stay in the habit of writing little blurbs to make my brain work. I wanted to post stories and poetry but have totally chickened out for three years straight. Then I thought about socail commentary until I realized my thoughts on current events aren’t all that funny or though-provoking.

What I have done, since high school in fact, is buy a planner every year and keep track of what I do day to day. Even if it’s laundry. It was so fun to go back around the time we got married and remember all our dates. As the years go by, I’m less meticulous, some weeks accidentally go empty as I draw a blank when I sit down to jot down notes. But for the most part, there is my life, at least the events that comprise it, in a hard copy, on paper.

I would readily suggest to anyone with a terrible memory like mine to try journaling. A dream journal, or a day planner. Maybe even one quote a day that you find and like. Taking pen to paper just feels more rewarding than the laptop sometimes.

I’m Asking The Question(s)

The interaction we have on this site is my favorite, more than telling you about my day, or making you look at pictures of me, or making lists for you. So I’m going to try to force a little on you and see if it works. I want all of you, even the ones who aren’t regular commentors (make up a name if you’re shy, no one has to know) to answer my question in the comments.

Let’s say that you get stopped on the street and offered 100$ to write a quick informational article about anything, simply based on your own knowledge. “Write what you know”.

What topic* would you pick that you’d consider yourself most expert on?

 If you are a stay at home mom parenting articles should come naturally to you. If you are a home school parent you know that is a full time job and will lead to many good topics. Your hobbies are a good place to start. Things like classic cars or crafts. Things that may be routine to you are totally foreign to many of us. If you do it for a living you are probably more knowledgeable than 95 percent of us on that topic.2

Think of things that you get asked questions about by friends and family. What do people call you for advice on? That would be a great place to brainstorm. Do you get called for cooking tips? Are you the neighborhood backyard mechanic? Maybe you have a great marriage and your friend ask you for relationship advice. Anything people turn to you to pick your brain is a viable topic. (via ehow.com)
Does this count as an example?
😉
*Of course if you’re so smart you can’t pick just one, I’ll accept lists**.
**Craig.

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Normal Is Chaos

Oh, by the way- we’re in Austin. We moved into our new home on Halloween, spent the night checking out the kiddo’s costumes at the B’s, then grabbed a plane at the crack of dawn. MK wouldn’t let me party style announce our trip because apparently we had so much to do – I think that was mostly he wanted to be in peace while he had his Rudy’s, Taco Cabana, and Rudy’s breakfast tacos. And Brick Oven, and more Rudy’s.

We did accomplish going through all our things and I now have nothing to whine about missing besides my desk. It at first felt depressing but I can remind myself better now than I did years ago that it’s all an adventure some people wish for. PH was hilariously thinking it was a dream come true without any drama, setting her straight on our virtual eviction from paradise was fun. Also letting the H’s know if they don’t visit us in Winter Wonderland they are dead to us was hopefully productive – and hilarious.

Important to note is that it is November. If you feel like perusing- here’s last November. For the last two years I wrote books with NaNoWriMo in November. Last year I also blogged every day for NaBloPoMo. This year, I am going to focus on publishing a book instead of starting another one. And this bog clearly didn’t make the first week, so I’m going to keep it normal around here this month. That’s plenty.

Most importantly, there was this election- maybe you heard about it. It meant something very meaningful to me. MK and I got to take his mother to vote for the first time in her life. Regardless of the outcome – you know I’m not going to fight with you about that here – moments like that make a statement too. It was fun to watch the news into the night with her and hear MK answer all her questions.

We’ll be back in Park City soon – apparently we already missed the first snowfall. But I’m not too worried – something tells me there will be more.

Changing The Plan

I’m so glad that we all agree that I shouldn’t be expected to make the book “work”. That is surely someone else’s job. Someone that won’t change each little thing and over-analyze, like I have been. I’ve done the hard part. I made some stuff up and put it ‘on paper’. Now to find an editor. The going rate appears to be a penny a word. It’s abstract accounting at best. Will there be more or less words when all is said and done? What if there’s a typo that makes one word two? Who are these people anyway? Am I going for quality or content? I can’t be over 60,000 words, so the price seems reasonable considering I don’t even know what I’ll get in return. What an adventure!

Next, submitting to publishers. There are a lot of little publishers. I’m going to try ‘going local’ first. Always a camaraderie-type thing. If no one in San Diego wants me, I can pretend I am local “Seattle” where I was working on the editing, or local “Austin” where I wrote the first book. Most publishers that I’ve found will accept a synopsis via email, which apparently is unusual? I’ll take it. My goal is to start finding them and getting myself out there. I think I know how to sell, but this is different, it’s personal. I think having a place to ask for help (here) and admit that I’m lost is a great big help.

There are a couple reasons I’m waiting to explore self publishing. One is the husband, who takes the doing it myself idea as a last resort that is only acceptable if no one else wants my book (in my mind in that case why bother…). It’s going to cost more, of course, since I would want to use every resource they offer to give myself a best chance, and so few books make it big that go that way, and I’m sitting here thinking I have something good to work with.

We’ll see…

best seller