The Benefits of a Writer Friend

While today’s topic is not as much about the actual creative process of being a writer, it’s been on my mind a fair bit lately. Should writers network? Should we make a blatant attempt to seek out writer friends? What is it that other writers really do for our writing lives?

To answer the first question, I think that writers should absolutely network! Writing, as all of us know from experience, is a lonely activity and getting connected to the community is a wonderful way to add a bit of solidarity to your days.  A network of excellent writers offers a multitude of benefits, which are not available in their absence. In my long years of writing and rewriting my first novel, I found my writing buddies to be immeasurably valuable.

Without them one would not have:

Someone to commiserate with when your writing is not going according to plan: Writing is hard; that is the absolute truth. No matter how hard we try, and regardless of much we write, there will still be days in which our words don’t flow and our ideas are leaden with dullness. What we need in such instsances is a friendly voice to commiserate with. Someone who has been there many, many times. And despite the fact that your mother tells you that everything will be okay, a writing buddy can give you solid proof of real life instances when their writing went smoothly after being derailed.

Someone to read your work: One makes mistakes in writing. Perhaps your main character is an ass. Perhaps your plot is a bit threadbare. Perhaps your style needs a bit of oomph. The only person who can offer you this kind of critique, and still remain your friend, is another writer. A writer friend’s feedback is priceless. But please return the favor sometime! Offer to read their work if they are ready, and give helpful and encouraging critiques.

Someone to help you traverse the world: The writer’s world is full of deadlines. Some set by your editor, some by the courses that you are attending, and some set by yourself. A writing buddy will help you make sense of this world – help you apply to a writer’s conference, or to an MFA program. And you want to know about that cool gig that your favorite magazine is hiring for, yes? The only people who know are other writers.

Someone to go drinking with: Everyone knows that writers drink – all artists do, it’s just a part of the creative process! But it’s no fun drinking alone, is it? For a really good time, you need a gang of writerly buddies!

If you have made some valuable writer friends on HubPages, please let us know! We love hearing your stories.

[Image courtesy Big Mind Zen Center on Flickr]

On Writing Well: Using All Your Senses

One of the hardest things to communicate as a writer is immediacy. As I sit here at my desk, I am very aware of all my senses- the sound of the keyboard tap-tapping as I write, the slightly acrid taste of my coffee, the glow of the overhead lamp, reflected on the screen- I am connected to all of these things. Yet, often, when sitting down to write about an event, I forget a lot of what I have experienced and my sentences are wooden and dull.

The quickest way to put some verve back into your sentence is to write from your senses. While describing a place and event or even a character, incorporating all your 5 sentences within your writing will communicate the immediacy of your experience and make your writing more authentic.

Smell

This is possibly the most powerful of all the writing tools. Everyone associates smell with memory and memory with emotions – so use this one well.

Look at this sentence: He bit into a delicious apple

But it can be made to work harder, telling us more about the protagonist: He bit into the apple, releasing the tart, fresh smell, and transporting him immediately to a younger self grandma’s kitchen table, doing homework as she cut mounds of apples for the Thanksgiving pie.

The second sentence is a launching ground for a great deal of character development, and opportunity that does not truly exist in the first sentence.

Smell can be used in several different ways:

  • To offer a backstory: In came father, reeking as usual, of whiskey and smoke.
  • To develop character: She smelled of cheap perfume and yesterday’s sweat.
  • To create a sense of space: The house smelled of furniture polish and fresh linen. OR The house smelled of sorrow and long disappointment.

In the last sentence, see how the smell is mostly an emotion? This is the only sense where you can legitimately pull this off, without moving into melodrama. With all the others, it’s best to stick to more concrete descriptors.

  • Sight: The sun rose

Using the senses: The sun rose over the hills, its pale gold rays lighting up the valleys

  • Taste: He drank the lemonade

Using the senses: He drank the lemonade, its icy freshness reviving him as nothing else could.

  • Touch: She touched his face

Using the senses: She touched his face, his skin papery under her fingers.

  • Hearing: She heard him approach

Using the senses: She heard him approach, his tread slow and heavy, and his breath growing louder and louder and he got closer.

As you can see, with a touch of added feeling, you can easily transform dull descriptions into vivacious explorations.

[Image by Dennis Wong, CC-BY, via flickr]

 

 

Where to Hunt for Writers!

Writers may have a reputation for being solitary, reclusive beings, but that doesn’t mean that they should write in a vacuum.

Sites like HubPages offer great means of getting feedback on one’s work… but sometimes written comments from semi-anonymous readers are not enough. Sometimes even the most solitary beings require in-person interaction.  The problem with interacting with other writers is that they can be difficult to find! Many writers are hard to identify (they don’t have a uniform, after all), and more often than not, the more dedicated ones are at home writing and not outside networking.

That said, Pia Chatterjee put together a blog post a couple of days ago about various places where one can hunt for writers. The post was so popular that we thought we would make a podcast on the subject (How to Meet Other Writers). We hope you enjoy it!

If there is a place where you have found a high density of writers that was not discussed in this podcast, tell us about it! Just send an email to podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com. We would love to hear from you!

Tips on Creating Engaging Writing

Online Writing InsiderWould you like to be an interesting, engaging writer? Tune into this episode of the Online Writing Insider for some helpful tips on creating interesting writing shared by HubPages’ resident PR and writing expert Pia Chatterjee.

This podcast is based on an earlier installment of Pia’s On Writing Well series- check it out if you’re not already familiar with it.  It’s stuffed with useful tips, interesting interviews with writers and publishers, and helpful guides!

Would you like to share your feedback on these podcasts with us, or perhaps suggest a theme for a future Online Writing Insider installment?

On Writing Well: How to Create Brand Awareness as a Writer

As a writer, it’s becoming more and more important to market yourself to your readers, to create a brand perception by which you will be recognized so that your readers are able to seek out your writing. Wonderful as it sounds, very few writers successfully manage to create enough awareness of themselves, let alone create a positive brand perception, so that they are invited to reading events or to submit work for journals.

Yet it is not very difficult to create brand awareness, and many of the tools – regular writing, personal style, social media marketing – are easily available to all writers, regardless of how long they have been crafting their work.

Keep a constant stream of writing

As a writer hoping to create a specific brand awareness of your writing and of yourself as a writer, you must set up a regular stream of writing. You have seen examples of this, have you not? A writer who publishes a book every summer as opposed to a writer who last published seven years ago, and has not been heard from since, not even within an essay or a short story? Of the two, who is it that you have a stronger recollection of?

Readings and events

As a writer, you are both the words on the page, and also the creator of the work. Writers who stick the longest in the memory are those with whom the reader has had some positive interaction. Hubber Thooghun agrees, “The best exposure I have ever received for my personal writing (including projects and job offers — no lie!) came from public readings and guest writing in literary journals. The latter was immensely rewarding. I’m quite a good orator so the fact that I “acted” my work out made it appear better than it probably was.” As a writer, most of us want to hide behind the page, and don’t want to have the public interaction that Thooghun describes. But it does work magic for creating brand awareness. If you are so inclined, you could also record your reading, and post it on YouTube or even create a series of podcasts.

Social Media

Social media has made it a lot easier for writers to get their name out there. Posting your writing on Facebook and tweeting your work to your friends and followers is a great way to publicize what you’ve been working on. It also creates the potential of going viral. Hubber laral recommends this technique as well – laral says, “Create a Facebook page and finally send your work for reviews to relevant magazines, newspapers and editors.” I agree!

Specific voice

This point has come up before in my previous post. The more recognizable and unique your voice is, the closer you are to having a brand perception working for you. Whether you write exactly as you speak, or have a humorous or ironic style of writing, you’d be best served to stick to it within all your writing.

On Writing Well: The Importance of Structure in Writing

Pia Chatterjee

I am an incorrigible planner. I plan everything, down to the last detail. Yet when I am writing, I forget my planning ways, and try to write spontaneously. “I’ll be creative today!” I tell myself. “Structure is for construction, not for writing.” Yet inevitably, I run out of steam and give up on my piece. But when I structure my work in advance, such a thing never happens, and both my fiction and non-fiction articles read better, are more interesting, and most importantly, I don’t put it off until another time.

Some popular ways of structuring your writing:

Inverted Pyramid approach: Most commonly used in journalism, this approach quickly gets to the most important information first, describing who, what, when, where and why in the first paragraph. The later paragraphs include less important information, with the background and general information appearing last. The reader is immediately involved, but does not have to read up until the end, if they are short on time. It’s also very easy to edit.

The AIDA approach: This technique is popular with copywriters and is wonderful when you are describing something that requires an action in the end. Within this structure, you first grab the readers ATTENTION, create an INTEREST, inspire DESIRE, and then call for an ACTION. This is wonderful when you want your readers to actually do something at the end of the piece, whether it is to buy a product, get more exercise, or try a recipe, this form really works

The Dramatic approach: Shakespeare did it and so can you! Try structuring your writing into 3 acts, with the first act offering the set-up, the second act creating the conflict, and the third act involving the resolution. Every good novel or short story is structured in this way. It’s pleasant to read, involving an arc of action, and leaves the reader very satisfied

The Essay approach: Most popular in academic writing, this form offers an introduction, moves to the thesis which describes an assumption (for example: the earth is round) goes on to discuss proof points and arguments for an against this assumption, and then goes on to create a conclusion, based on the value of the proof. This is a very logical process and is wonderful when you are arguing your case.

So now, I’ve run out of excuses! Whether I want to write fiction, persuade readers to action, argue my case, or write a news item, I have some actionable structures on hand! So, now I actually have to write J But that’s another blog post!