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So how has your week been? With editing work and computer problems forcing me to move to another machine, this week has been a bit stressful. But I managed to keep up with this blog regardless (my other one wasn't so lucky, but I already have an editorial calendar set up for both next week to get me back on track). So I hope your week was a bit more productive on the writing front. So let's see what the web has to offer for this week.

Blogging
You Can Use the 5 Laws of Writing Magnetic Blog Headlines Right Now: Headlines and/or titles are key in most media, but with blogs, it's even more so. When your reader searches for a topic, thousands of hits are often the result. Your headline needs to be able to compete with the others to grab your audience's attention. This article discusses how to do that.

Fiction Writing
Literary Devices: Foreshadowing: This post from Fantasy Faction gives some suggestions for incorporating foreshadowing elements in your fantasy story. Some of it can be applied to other genres as well, so even if you don't write fantasy, you may want to take a look. 

Productivity
7 Ways to Double What You Get Done Each Day: Not enough can be said about the importance of productivity. This article shares some helpful advice to increase your output. And don't forget to take breaks. It doesn't help to get a lot done if you burn yourself out to the point of being sick and hence useless for a few days at least. (Trust me. I've done this.)

Writing Discipline
7 Tricks to Write More with Less Willpower: I prefer to practice what I preach on this blog, but I am human. I needed this article badly this week, or maybe I just needed more willpower. If you need some help with this as well, these tips from The Write Practice will help get you writing when everything seems to be conspiring against you. Some of these are tips I've recommended as well as a few that I'll have to try.

Have a productive Friday and a great weekend!

 
 
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Last week I mentioned blogging as a way to build confidence in your writing. But do you ever wonder if writing blog posts is a good investment of your time? After all, that's time you could be spending on other creative work. Before you decide to abandon your blog (or not start one at all if you don't have one), consider the benefits of blogging. It can be used to promote your work and even share blurbs to entice your potential audience. But maintaining a blog can have other benefits as well. It can also help improve your writing.

So what are the benefits of blogging for writers?

1. Regular Writing Habits
This is assuming, of course, that you intend to keep a regular or semiregular blogging schedule. If you only post once every few months, it defeats the purpose. But if you want to gain and keep a following, you need to provide regular content. That means posting at least once or twice a week if not more often. So you'll be writing at least as often as you post. You can transfer this writing discipline to your creative work.

2. An Audience for Your Writing
On the days when you don't feel like writing, you'll think of that your audience, the people who follow you on Twitter or have subscribed to your blog. If you stop posting regularly, they'll look elsewhere for content. Besides, as you develop a relationship with other bloggers in your niche and your regular readers, you'll look forward to offering them fresh reading material.

3. Feedback for Your Writing
Once you build an audience (and it can take time to build a substantial one), you'll find out where your writing needs improvement because your readers will not hesitate to let you know. You'll receive feedback in comments, emails, Twitter posts, and links to your blog from others. This feedback can tell you where your writing is strong and where you need to refine it.

4. Improvement in Your Writing
When I look back at some of the old posts from blogs I abandoned or deleted (I still have the posts in .rtf form), I cringe. In some places they were choppy, and in others, they were wordy and almost academic in style. But I've improved and continue to do so. And you will too. Writing regularly will make your sentence structure and word choice better as you refine your process. Blogging also allows you to experiment with style—another opportunity for writing improvement.

So do you blog? If so, how has it helped your writing?


 
 
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Do you lack confidence in your writing? Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, you've probably gone through a time when you doubted your work was good enough for public consumption. Perhaps you've received some negative feedback, or maybe you're just coming out of a dry spell. Either way, you're not alone. Every writer experiences this at some point or another. But here's the good news. Like writer's block, it does not last.

When those doubts creep into your mind, deal with them before they cripple you. Like any other skill, the best way to overcome lack of confidence is to study and practice the craft of writing.

1. Write regularly
While not all of your writing needs to be for an audience, you need to practice often. That's the best way to hone your skills, and the improvement will build confidence in your craft. Are you a new writer? Or maybe you're just breaking out of a long period of writer's block. If so, start by keeping a private journal or responding to writing prompts.

Are you struggling with a certain aspect of your writing? Then work on it. Whether it's dialogue, description, grammar, you will improve with practice.

2. Read often
If you follow this blog with any degree of frequency, then you already know my sentiments about the importance of writers reading. It applies here. It exposes you to different writing styles, expands your vocabulary, and inspires you in your own creative work. And by all means, be versatile. If you usually read novels, try a collection of poems. Do you prefer memoirs and biographies? Consider a short story anthology. Expanding your horizons can help improve your writing.

3. Spend some extra time on revisions
Often, when you struggle with a certain aspect of writing, it's all too tempting to review those difficult spots quickly to get them over with. But when you do this, you miss an opportunity to make a rough passage shine. Spend extra time editing those elements you find problematic. You can improve your work dramatically.

4. Share your work and ask for feedback
There has never been a time when it was easier to share work and get feedback. If you're not ready to join a local writing group, many writing forums have private sections for members only. You can post short passages and get feedback from fellow writers. When you're ready to move beyond that, start a blog and post short passages there.

Ultimately, the goal is to build your confidence enough that you can join a local or online group and contribute regularly. Honest feedback will allow you to move on to publishing for a wider audience. And isn't that why you're here? You want your writing to be read.


 
 
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Ever had an assignment that really burned you out? I just wrapped up one of those. It wasn't particularly long, just intense. I hope your week has been better. Anyway, I'm relishing my blogging time and thoroughly enjoyed picking out these articles for you, so hopefully you'll find something you can .

Blogging
7 Powerful Ways to End Your Next Blog Post: You've probably read before that the headline and opening line of your blog posts are paramount to arousing your readers' interest. However, as Ali Luke's guest post at ProBlogger reminds us, the way you end your post is important too since that's what keeps your audience coming back. So check out these ways to end your blog posts in an engaging way. 

Fiction Writing
Creating God: Religion in Fantasy, part 1: While I tend to stay away from this topic in a business blog, writing fantasy definitely offers more breathing room in terms of religion. In this first part of a series of posts on religion in fantasy, Amy Rose Davis at Fantasy Faction discusses some of the things that should be included if you intend to create a religion for your fantasy world.

The One Thing All Great Love Stories Have In Common—And What It Means To Your Writing: Ah, love, how could I possibly end a link love post during the week of Valentine's Day without it? In this case the title of this article from Writer's Relief speaks for itself. There's one element your love story cannot go without, but there are others that help bring it to life. 

Marketing
Freelance Writers: How to Make Time for Marketing: I know I've said it before, especially in the past few weeks. I don't have time for marketing. Of course, it's easy to overlook marketing when the work schedule is busy. But what do you do when things slow down? Chris Bibey, in this concise post at All Freelance Writing, gives tips on how to make time for it along with a few reasons why.

That wraps up link love for this week, and I wish all of you a wonderful weekend.

So who's working on President's Day? Actually, if you're freelancing, the question would be: who isn't working?


 
 
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Valentine's Day is upon us, but don't worry. I won't taunt you about whether or not you bought your beloved a gift. But with tomorrow being a day to celebrate love or, more specifically, those we love, now seems to be an appropriate time to reflect on the reasons we started writing in the first place—our passion to write. Many of us, freelancers especially, tend to get wrapped up in the financial aspect of our work and lose sight of those days when we were brimming with enthusiasm for the written word.

So whether you're creating client copy or selling novels and/or short stories, take some time to remember that first love. And while you can, and should, profit from your work, the following will help keep you from losing that love for writing.

1. Write for fun.
Yes, writing should be fun for you. If it isn't, why are you doing it? I spend a great deal of time helping others with their writing, but I always look forward to that time I have set aside to write these blog posts—because I enjoy doing it, as I also love my personal writing time.

But if you spend a great deal of time creating copy for others, set aside some personal writing time: a private journal, a personal blog, a poetry journal, fiction. Give yourself time to “play” as a writer.

2. Stop looking for perfection.
If you're waiting for the perfect time to write that book, launch a niche blog, or submit that short story, it will never come. Now is the right time. And most importantly, when you're working on a first draft, turn off your inner editor. The rough draft will never be perfect, ever. It's just the first part of the journey to your masterpiece.

3. Take small steps.
As I said in my discussion of writing goals, divide the project up into smaller elements. Plan to write 500 words a day or set a time limit. You want to look forward to returning to it, rather than overwhelming yourself to the point where you dread it.

4. Believe.
I don't mean believing in a religious sense, although you're welcome to do that if you think it will help. But what I mean is trust in your abilities. Believe in yourself. Believe in your writing and what you are looking to achieve with it. You do not need anyone else's approval as validation. After all, this is what you love.

So do you write for love, profit, or perhaps both? What keeps you going when that passion you started with seems to be a distant memory?


 
 
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Opinions tend to vary when it comes to the necessity of correct grammar in blog posts. Some bloggers openly say that they just write, without worrying too much about correct grammar and punctuation. Others, however, are strict, even to the point of zealously correcting other bloggers for their miscues. After seeing a few writers publicly browbeaten for a few typos, I figure this is worth discussing.

Bloggers are free to choose their own style and monitor their spelling and grammar as they see fit. But for the sake of effective communication, I recommend some proofreading regardless of your sentiments. Writers and editors should be a bit more cautious since this is a reflection of their skill in their chosen profession, but before you go criticizing others, keep this in mind.

1. Blogging is informal. As a less formal writing style, blogging leaves writers with a bit more wiggle room regarding the rules. While you want well-written copy in your blog, you don't want it to read like a college term paper. Communication is key here, so know the rules and break them with care when it seems necessary.

2. There is no editorial staff. When a blogger is publishing time-sensitive material, like a news article, there isn't always time to have a second set of eyes. This is also the case when a ghostwriter may be writing a blog post for a tight deadline. While writers should always proofread their own work, sometimes there just isn't time to have someone else look it over to catch the errors they've missed. Besides, with the exception of blog networks, blogs are often a one-person show in any event, with no editorial staff to review the writing before posting.

Correcting Others' Grammar Errors
While I can't tell other people what to do, my policy for commenting on the grammar of other bloggers is similar to the way I handle other people's errors in conversation. I comment privately or not at all. If I see something that would be potentially embarrassing or may cause misunderstanding, it is better to send an email letting the author know rather than publicly humiliating anyone. This is especially the case when someone is sharing their valuable expertise for free.

Ultimately
The goal, as I said before, is communication. So for the sake of readability, I recommend attempting to use proper grammar and punctuation but keep the tone informal. If you can, type your blog post in your word-processing program. That will not only give you access to the spelling and grammar check feature, but it is also easier to proofread since you can zoom in and out to a text size that's comfortable. Also, if at all possible, have someone else go over it before you post. This can make a big difference.



So how seriously do you consider grammar and punctuation in your blog?

 
 
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So we're wrapping up the first week of 2012. How has it gone? The first week can be exhilarating as you begin pursuing new goals. But it can also be difficult, as many people are coming out of a two-week break and two holidays. I've experienced the excitement of starting a new year with all its promises and attempting to getting back into a normal routine (some days more successfully than others). Here's hoping for the first of many productive weeks in the new year. And with the end of the week comes the year's first link love.

This week's theme may seem a bit surprising on a writing and editing blog, but since it's something I've been working on lately, I figure I'd share what I've learned. Optimizing a blog is necessary to increase traffic and conversions, whether a conversion means someone clicking on an ad or buying a product or service. This is important to any writer. After all, you are writing with the intention of somebody reading it, are you not? Besides, who doesn't want to improve a reader's experience on their blog?

Increase Web Traffic Cheaply and Effectively: 11 Virtually Easy Ways: Easther Sudharta's guest post on ProBlogging Success discusses several ways to bring traffic to websites, including using social media, posting on relevant forums, Craigslist, and my personal favorite, blogging.  

5 Reasons YOU Need to Link to Other Blogs: Jacob Duchaine at Writer Tank tells us why we should be linking to other blogs, although the preference is reputable blogs. If you continue sharing the “love” some bloggers will link back, but that doesn't necessarily mean you should expect it. Obviously, I have no trouble doing this, as I prefer to give credit where credit is due and willing recognize a job well done. It's good to see that great minds think alike. 

12 Essential Tips for Revitalising Your Blog in 2012: Link love with a blogging theme would not be complete without a post from ProBlogger, and in this case, it's a guest post from Gregory Ciotti offering a dozen great tips for establishing credibility as a blogger as well as increasing traffic and conversions.

So with that, I leave you to the tasks of optimizing your blog, bringing in quality traffic, and of course writing as you wrap up the first week of this promising new year

Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend!



 
 
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It must be Friday. The temptation to take a long weekend is strong, but the client manuscripts beckon me to do otherwise. Another busy week is approaching its end, so how was everyone's week? Busy, productive, profitable, and all those other positive words will hopefully be part of the response. And maybe you had some time for holiday shopping as well. Anyway, thanks to a few fast-approaching deadlines, this post, like last week's, will be short. On the bright side, this should leave you with more time to take in the articles I'm referring you to this week.

Admittedly, the list is a bit shorter this week too, but one of the articles links to a free gift so that should make up for it, right? This week's theme is blogging, either launching a blog, how much to charge for a blog post, or getting attention with great headlines for your posts. So let's get started, shall we?

When Should You Launch Your New Blog? [Complete or On the Go?]: I've been thinking about launching a new blog. I have a long list of article topics and, thanks to a tight schedule and holiday preparations, only one post written. And this post from Darren Rowse at ProBlogger could not have come at a better time. He definitely mentions some things to consider before launching, including content, design, promotion.

Advice on Charging for Writing Blog Posts: This comes from Sharon Hurley Hall at Get Paid to Write Online, and in it she discusses the sticky question of how much to charge for a blog post and some things to consider as you decide. This is a great post for anyone looking to blog professionally.

Sex, Lies, and the Art of Commanding Attention: I promised a free gift from one this week's bloggers, and here it is. Jon Morrow at Copyblogger not only discusses the art of writing great headlines, he also links to an earlier post where he offers a free gift, Headline Hacks.

Enjoy these articles, including the free gift from Copyblogger.

Have a great Friday and an even better weekend!