Writer’s Wisdom 52


Even if you hate doing research, at one point or another (if you are serious about writing) you will have to get your hands dirty.  When we think of research we welcome images of books, online files, and hours of study.  That is a part of research, but there is more to it.

It all depends on the piece that you are writing.  Is it a SEO article, a poem about life in a distant land, a report, or a novel?  The depth of your research will be tailored to the piece you are writing.  Thanks to the internet and the technology available today, we don’t have to travel to that distant land if we are writing a poem about it.  But if you are writing a novel that requires a deep understanding of the place, the culture, the landscapes, and the people, you might have to take a trip.  It all depends on what you want to accomplish with your project.  Not everybody can take a plane and just go to do research, of course, but the type of project and to a degree, the status of the writer, influence the type of research.

As readers, we tend to demand more of best-selling authors than non-published writers.  Not because the work of one will be better than the other, but more because of expectation and anticipation – they thrilled us with the latest best-seller, and now, we crave more.  At one point, best-selling authors were non-published writers, so it is not fair to say that the works of the later, lack quality.

Some well-known authors travel for their research, others hire research assistants, and others love to do their research.  So, research as best as you are able to do so, according to your means, and you will have a well written piece. 

Writer’s Wisdom 51

Respecting your character’s background

Your characters will evolve throughout the story or a series.  They will naturally evolve and will become deep and complicated; their personalities will start showing more strength and charisma.  If you are attuned to your characters you will respect their evolution in your writing.  A character that was bubbly in the beginning of the story, but has gone through a lot of heartache and difficult situations as the story progresses should not be presented in the same way – the situations that you create for your characters will permeate their personalities and modus operandi.  Ignoring that important part, will result in a lack of credibility and will make your writing appear fake.  Readers interact and identify with your characters, they feel what the characters feel.  If a reader does not “feel” a character, he/she may get discourage and stop reading or lose interest in the story.

By being true to your characters, you are engaging the readers and respecting them.

Writer’s Wisdom 50

 Tracing your path to success

What is a successful writer?  How do your define your own success as a writer?  Do you have to compare yourself to other writers?  Do you measure your success against Best-selling authors?  These questions will make you ponder about what you truly think of yourself as a writer.  Sometimes, it is a subject that we avoid, and a mirror that we cover because we don’t want to see our own reflection.

The measure of success is different for everyone.  It could be as simple as going throughout the day and being able to write a chapter or a few pages of that novel that you have inside – you did it!  Or it could be the first contract that you land as a freelance writer – your first paid project.  Or maybe, your book is getting published!

Whatever it is for you, success doesn’t happen without effort.  Best selling author Dan Brown sits to write in his office at 4:00 am.  In an interview with Borders, he said that he sits down to write “the best book he can possibly write, whether it is for one reader or millions.”  That is the attitude with which we should approach our writing. 

Mapping our success as writers, should include more than projects, and future goals, it should include the now, the approach and effort that we put every day.  Is the material that we put out there in writing sites for everyone to see, free of errors (to the best of our ability)?  Have I revealed too much from my private life and affairs?  Will it hurt me in the future or will it help my writing?  Every step that you take as a writer, will either help or hinder your future development. 

So, let’s approach our craft with a similar attitude to how Dan Brown approaches his writing – repeat with me:  “whether it is for one reader or millions, I will produce the best work I am capable of at this moment.”

Happy Writing!

Writer’s Wisdom 49

A place for everything and everything in its place …

Organization – Oh, the dreaded word!  Do you spend unnecessary time looking for writing material, tools, or that article that you know you wrote but can’t seem to find now?  If your answer is YES, then you are wasting valuable writing time. 

For many, writing is their full-time occupation and what brings the bread to the table.  Producing quality material and meeting deadlines, is of the essence.  If you fall into this category, then you need to organize your writing environment – that being a desk, an office or the kitchen table.

When you waste time looking for “stuff” you might end up frustrated and this affects your writing mood and quality, and of course, your productivity.  I am not talking about having a neat and sterilized working place; some people cannot work on such environment.  What I am talking about is a place where you know where everything you need to accomplish your task is located and you can retrieve it with ease.  It should make some sense to you and make your work flow easier. 

Organization can be a writer’s best ally; it certainly will help your productivity and disposition throughout the day.

Autopsy of an Email Scam

Email scams keep getting more creative, elaborate, and humorous.  I get many on my email inbox, and have learned to recognize them blindfolded (ok, maybe not blindfolded).  The ideas that these scammers come up with keeps my writing list full.  Let’s take a look at one that I received today, and I am sure many of you have seen.  Take a look at what it looks like: 



You have been chosen to receive ($852,000.00 USD)in the on-going CHEVRON/TEXACO OIL&GAS COMPANIES END OF YEAR PROMOTION.
Please Send your Names,Telephone Number & Contact Address to Mr Kenneth Davids at(awardpayment@sify.com)to file for your claims.
Note:All email response should be sent to the claims processing officer (MR Kenneth Davids) to his official email address at awardpayment@sify.com
OR Dial +2348034481687 for more information on this program.
Yours Sincerely,
Mrs.Lay, Sandy.
Online Co-ordinator…
 Sandy Lay
Accounts Receivable
Vi-Jon, Inc.
8515 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63114

Office (314) 592-1429  

 This e-mail (including attachments) is covered by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. 2510-2521, is confidential and may be legally privileged, and is not to be used by anyone but the intended recipient(s). If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any retention, dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify the sender by reply e-mail or call Vi-Jon, Inc. at 314-427-1000 and delete the message. 

Unfortunately, many people will fall victims of this scam before the end of the year.  To recognize these scams, look at the signs throughout the email. 

1.  The most obvious is:  Why would the Chevron/Texaco company would want to give me that amount of money, called in the email “a promotion”?  

 2.  Take a look at the amount of grammatical and punctuation errors in the email.  Even if you are not good at grammar and punctuation, look at the obvious spacing mistakes that jump out at you.  Also, take a look at the split words that are not supposed to be written like that (on-going, co-ordinator). 

3.  Did you notice how in the first paragraph it reads:  please send in your names? – names is in plural, which gives you an idea of the mentality of the scammer.  He/she has in mind all the names that will be captured via the email, all the potential victims. 

4.  Look how the email makes a point of creating an “official environment” by using words/phrases like:  to the claims processing officer (MR Kenneth Davids) to his official email address – this is an effort on their part to build trust in the reader’s eyes. 

5.  All this is followed by improper spacing, commas, and many other errors, leading to the end of the email where the person who is emailing identifies herself as Ms. Lay, Sandy (who gives you her many titles) – in an attempt to make it official, and hopefully by now, you are hooked and pick up the phone. 

6.  And as in a last attempt to convince you, what follows is an email disclaimer with “official wording” citing the law. 

So here you have it, the more you look at it in detail, the more signs screaming scam you will find.  If anything, it has provided me with a good laugh and writing material.  Hopefully, this autopsy will help you in learning to dissect your own email scams.  Have a good laugh.  


Writer’s Wisdom 48

The Role of Music in Writing

Music can inspire you, influence you, and help your mood while writing a piece.  Despite your taste in music or writing style, you can use music to create a mood in a scene or a chapter of a novel.  Are you writing poetry or a Love affair?  Try some romantic music.  How about a dangerous scene?  Try some fast hard rock.  Keep your pen and your feet dancing – and your muse shaking.

Writer’s Wisdom 47

Making a writing list

Ever ran out of material to write?  Or experienced writer’s block?  You are not alone, most writers have.  There are many ways to attack writer’s block (see other postings here), but now, I will talk about a simple and easy way to have material at hand – always.  It is called a writing list.

What is it?  It is a list of ideas or themes, as simple as that.

How do I make such a list?  Well, there is a simple and fast way to do it, anytime and anywhere.  Even when you are waiting for a doctor’s appointment.  This is how to do it.

Pen and paper in hand, for a minute or two (look at your watch), start writing every word, theme or idea that crosses your mind.  It has to be fast, do not think about it, just write anything that comes to mind.  When the time is up, look at your list and number it.  Everything in that list can be turn into an article, a poem, a novel, a piece of writing.  When you ran out of ideas, take your list out and look at number one in your list.  Write about it.  And so on.

You can repeat this process any day, at any time, and anywhere.  I assure you that you will always have material for your writings.

Writer’s Wisdom 46

Poetry and mood

I am no poet, but when the mood strikes I have to write it.  I find that my mood influences my writing, sometimes, with an overflow that cannot be stopped.  Sometimes, a piece will lead to another, and another, like a well with no bottom.

Music also inspires my mood.  So what is playing translates into my writing.  It permeates the piece.  When combining both, the gates of inspiration are open, and a river of words, flow effortlessly.

You cannot depend on your mood to write.  Although there are instances when your mood makes your writing flow easily, those instances are few.  You must sit down and write, moody or not.