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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 145

Updated on April 10, 2017

Perfect Writing Weather

The rains continue and that means I am stepping up the pace with my writing. I finished another coloring book and will publish that soon; I will finish my latest Shadow novel in about three weeks. In other words, all pistons are working properly on this old engine.

Best wishes to those of you who are participating in National Poetry Month, the poem a day thing. I’ve read some incredible pieces so far this month.

We have some pretty good questions this week so I think we should get to them while I still have power during this windstorm.

Welcome to the Mail Room!
Welcome to the Mail Room! | Source

Too Much Information

From Zulma: “Bill, is it possible to read so many books on writing that you begin to doubt your own abilities? My approach to writing goes against the accepted knowledge yet, I feel stifled if I do it 'their way. Maybe it's the rebel in me but I prefer to follow the road less taken. The creativity flows better when I don't concern myself with shoulds and shouldn'ts.”

Zulma, I’m with you all the way on this one. Books on writing have their place and purpose, but how many does a person need to read?

I had a friend once who wanted to go into the craft business. She must have read twenty books on craft businesses, and small businesses, and marketing. Hell, every single time I spoke to her she was talking about a new book that had just what she needed.

After three years she still had not started that business.

I feel the same way about books on writing. At some point you have to put on your big boy pants and start writing, and to hell with the instructions, warnings, and recommendations. And I’ll say one more thing about this and then shut up: some of my favorite writers break rules all the time. I think good writers know when to break rules and when not to, and it’s all about voice and rhythm, and if someone doesn’t understand that maybe they never will be a talented writer.

ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE

From Mary: “To what extent do you think writers need to be actors, in order to make a character believable?”

This is such a great question!

I do exactly that, Mary! I sit and imagine myself in the scenes I create. I wonder what it feels like to hold that gun and put another human being in the sights. I wonder what it feels like to look down on a dead body, the emotions that must arise, the anger, revulsion, etc., and yes, I put myself in the love scenes and remember the intensity of making love to someone you adore.

I will say this until I’m blue in the face and the cows come home: writers and readers have five senses, and we, as writers, must make the senses of our readers come alive with our words. We can only do that by becoming part of the story or book, in my opinion.

Inspirational weather for murder.
Inspirational weather for murder. | Source

Weather and Mood

From Bill: “Glad the sun was shining for you. That made me think, Bill. Do you find the weather affects your mood when you write? Just curious.”

Well, Bill, the sun was only with us for two days, with glorious temps around sixty, and now reality is back with a windstorm and heavy rains. LOL Life in the Northwest, my friend, is never dull.

As for your question, I think…no, I know…that weather affects my mood greatly when I’m writing. My darkest writings and stories are created during stormy, dreary weather. It’s just the way it is with my mind, and considering the weather we’ve had for the past six months, I’ve created a whole bunch of dark stories.

You want a love story? Bring me some sunny, warm weather!

How do you walk down the path of a freelance writer?  Put one foot in front of the other.
How do you walk down the path of a freelance writer? Put one foot in front of the other. | Source

Getting Started

From Jeffrey: “How do you get started as a freelance writer?”

How much time do you have Jeffrey? I’ve answered this question many times before, and the answer never changes. You first have to learn your craft. Poor writers do not last long in the freelance business.

Next you learn as much as you can about freelancing. Read a few books and articles on it and try to learn from others who have done it, or talk to someone who is currently making a living as a freelancer. There are do’s and don’t’s in freelancing just like any other business.

And then do it! Start bidding on jobs. Get out in your community and look for businesses that need a writer for their websites. Start small and work your way up in the business . . . and don’t quit your day job! You are not going to get rich as a freelance writer but eventually, if you pay your dues, you will get established and pay some bills.

Good luck!

WHICH IS CORRECT?

From Anastasia: “I read an article the other day, some famous writer, and he said you should practice your craft daily and write daily. But then the next day I read another famous writer and she said you should write when you are inspired. It’s all a bit confusing. Which is correct?

Anastasia, my answer to you is this: which approach works best for you?

I guess I take a little of both as the ultimate truth. I do not think a writer improves his/her craft by sitting idly for weeks or months, but I also don’t think anything of value will come from forcing yourself to write. Creativity must flow. It does not appear at gunpoint.

I personally write five days a week, but remember, also, that I have a lot to say and I am usually inspired to write. For someone else it may be different and I respect that.

So, bottom line: write when you feel like writing but remember, improvement does not happen by simply wanting to improve.

And there’s another bottom line: stop reading books on writing and start writing! LOL

No More Questions?

Well then we’ll call it a day on this Mailbag. Thanks to those who asked questions, and thanks to those of you who visited. I’ll see you all next week.

Oh, I almost forgot. I actually received a couple other questions about the changes happening on HubPages, and do I know what it is all about, and the answer is I don’t have a clue. I have never understood HP. They are a business, they are after a profit, and I’m sure all of the changes and demands are related to their quest for more money. Beyond that I don’t know, and quite honestly I don’t care. I’m a writer. I let others worry about SEO and content writing tips and blah, blah, and more blah. I’m a writer…period!

A quick example: I am currently at 1215 words on this article. HP suggests 1250. Now, if I really cared, I would writing some nonsense here at the end of my article that had nothing whatsoever to do with the article, until I reached 1250 words, and it would all be to please HP, but I won't do that . . . oops, I just did it!

My bad!

2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 2 weeks ago from New York, New York

      Aw, the end totally made me smile. Seriously thank you for that and more. Happy Monday, Bill!!! :)

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 2 weeks ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! Love the ending of this mailbag, lol. Wow, another coloring book and your next Shadow book about to be released? You are on a roll!

      Have a great rest of the week!

    • louise-barraco profile image

      Louise Barraco 2 weeks ago from Ontario

      I love the end :) I still haven't fixed the hub that they have issues with the truth is im afraid so I'm going to make copy's of them today in case I get shut down :( I'm totally confused on how to fix it

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Just move on, Louise! You can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out HP.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Melissa! You gotta ride the hot hand while it lasts, you know?

      Thanks always my faithful friend, and Happy Monday to you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Glad you liked it, Janine! I was wondering if HP was going to let me get away with that gibberish. LOL

      Happy Monday to you, Janine!

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 2 weeks ago

      Good questions and answers today, friend Bill. I love the way you ended this mailbag. I just wish they would get their technical problems worked out. You are sending your rain this way again. Hope the sun is shinning on you in Olympia, because it's about to storm here. Happy rest of the week to you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      MizB, there seems to be a glimmer of hope on the weather front...at least it's not raining constantly now, and the temp is slowly reaching for sixty. We have to find positives wherever we can, right? :) Happy Monday my friend, and thank you!

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 2 weeks ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Every several months or year or so, I look again at books on writing by Natalie Goldberg, such as WRITING DOWN THE BONES and WILD MIND. Even when not inspired, a writer can do some minutes each day of what she calls "writing practice" and what is commonly called free-writing. Pianists play scales and chord progressions; boxers jump rope; baseball pitchers toss balls to warm-up; artists make sketches, and writers free-write.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      Happy Mailbag Monday!

      Re: TMI or Too Much Inaction? Your writer friend who kept reading (and dreaming) about starting a craft business has TMI (too much information) and TMI (too much inaction). It's quite a common malady. These people feel that if they get just one more bit of information, then they'll be ready to start or be whatever. Actually what they have is FOF (fear of failure).

      Hope your week is successful (and maybe sunny?)!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I totally agree, Heidi,and isn't that a shame?

      Thanks as always and Happy Monday to you. Sun yesterday, sun next weekend, rain in-between. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Brian! I take Saturdays completely off from writing, but other than that one day, I practice free-write for sure.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 2 weeks ago from Riga, Latvia

      Always great to get here on a Monday for advice and things to think over. Here's one for you as the poetry challenge month continues When you have an overload of inspiration how can you keep looking at what you have written positively and be your own critic to decide what you will finally post? Hope your week is inspirational Bill.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 2 weeks ago from Fresno CA

      Hey Bill,

      I'm smiling over the last paragraph! Your answer to Zulma is great. As an artist I too went to the library and read everything I could get my hands on concerning freelancing but didn't even start trying it for years. I think without meaning to the books really do hinder rather than promote creative courage. Finally I jumped into the deep end and yes, floundered a bit, but eventually I was treading water. I think new things are like that. If you don't try it you won't know if you like it or can possibly handle it. I do know it was nice to know the "rules" before feeling free to break them. I still have artist friends who squint at my work and ask when I'm going to get back to traditional painting. Maybe never. I am having so much fun breaking the rules and creating things that make people say oooow, and ahhhhh, that I may never go back. It took years to get here though. I was really inhibited by the rules for a long time and created work that was nothing exceptional until I started trying something new.

      We have clear skies today but expecting more rain on Wednesday. *heavy sigh* How much more can our puny reservoirs take? The Governor finally declared that the drought was officially over last week. Ya think?

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Buildreps profile image

      Buildreps 2 weeks ago from Europe

      You're a busy man, Bill, and you certainly plan your work thoroughly. Wish you a great week, my friend.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

      HaHa, you bad, I really don't see how anyone writes without some kind of inspiration and writing from the heart is the only way I can write anything. Thanks again for all you do....

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      John Hansen 2 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

      Great job again, Bill, especially the last paragraph that got you to 1250 words without even trying. I don't care about the word count either :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks John! I'll be over to read your latest in a few.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Ruby! I felt compelled to give a tribute to HP right at the end. Giggle-Giggle!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks so much, Buildreps, and I hope your week is all you wish it to be.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Denise, perhaps that's why I love fiction so much. I can run free without being restrained by certain rules, and I love that freedom.

      It's good to hear your governor has finally acknowledged that which everyone else has known for quite some time. LOL

      blessings always

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Interesting question, Rasma, and hopefully I'll have an interesting answer next week. Thank you my friend.

    • Fiddleman profile image

      Robert Elias Ballard 2 weeks ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      In the words of Delbert (Oh Brother Where Art Thou) "I'm with you fellers." Thanks for the write.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 weeks ago from Hyderabad, India

      One more entertaining mailbag as always. I love these mailbags so much and so do not like missing them. The last week's mailbag was my minor surgery day. I had it in my foot due to some ulcer-like thing below my feet. But, I got through the mailbag from my bed the next day itself. Now, I am doing fine.

      Regarding freelancing, most of them want daily submissions which I could not meet at all with my other daily routine of responsibilities. Whenever I quote that I can submit only 3 articles in a whole week, they keep silent. Do you have any advice?

      I like that image above telling to put one foot in front of the other for freelancing. And, your last paragraph was much amusing, completing the quorum of 1250 putting some wit there.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 weeks ago from California

      Aw-you made me chuckle--glad you got your 1250! Another coloring book and a novel? You are firing on all pistons!

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 2 weeks ago from South Africa

      So true - the more we read about writing, the more incompetent we feel. Practice makes perfect (not reading and studying). But this doesn't mean a writer or aspired writer should not read about writing. One has to find the perfect balance. For example: Reading billybuc's Writers Mailbag once a week is highly recommended in order to keep a healthy balance :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Aww, Martie, that was nice of you to say. Thank you! I think I'll totally agree with you on that statement. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I am for sure, Audrey, and I need to ride that horse as far as it will take me.

      Thank you my talented friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      And thanks for the chuckle, Fiddleman!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Good luck on that coloring book. Looks like you found something fun that is also profitable!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I think so, Flourish, and thank you. My heart will always be in dark fiction, though.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Venkatachari M, thanks so much for your kind words, and your thoughts on freelancing. I hope you are recovering nicely from the surgery.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 2 weeks ago from Brazil

      Great mailbag as usual.

      Thanks for answering my question, I think I get too muddled when trying to describe a scene. The conversation in my head goes like this, "It doesn't matter if the sofa is scarlet red or dung brown, just pick a gosh darn color and move on!"

      Have a wonderful week.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Some of the questions that have been asked lately have been very interesting. It's great that you are at installment 145 of the mailbag and still helping people!

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 2 weeks ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hi Bill - Mary's question ranked right up there with the best questions asked in the mailbag. If you cannot step inside the scene then your reader may also not wish to step inside.

      Funny how that 1250 word destination, is like the ribbon at the end of a track event.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I know, right, Mike? I feel so much better when I cross that finish line. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda! I, for one, never thought this would go beyond #10. Shows you how little I know.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Too funny, Mary! I'm the other way....the sofa was, hmmm, red, and if they don't like it, tough! LOL

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 weeks ago from Oklahoma

      Always informative.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      The theme of the questions and answers in this mailbag seem to be about getting in the action instead of listening to what others say about it, or watching how other people do it. Hoping that everyone including me would continue to do just that. Thanks, Bill.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 weeks ago from london

      Cool! I knew you were heading in that direction towards the end. Nice questions and great answers as usual.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks as always Manatita,and blessings to you always, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      That did, somehow, become the unspoken theme, Dora. I hope you found some value in it.

      Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Larry! I give it the old college try.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 2 weeks ago from United Kingdom

      With regard to being an actor, I do the same thing, Bill. Which got me to thinking: How accurate can we be when we are not our characters? For example, if you're acting as a serial killer, how can we manage this when we didn't have the same upbringing or possess the same brain chemistry as a killer. Also, how much of ourselves are bringing to the character?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      You, Zulma, are a writer! No one but a writer could even think of those two questions. I look forward to answering them in my own subjective way. :) Happy Weekend my friend! We made it to another one.

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      Athlyn Green 2 weeks ago from West Kootenays

      You are such an inspiration, Bill, and a huge asset to HubPages. I always find your topics interesting.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I really appreciate that, Athlyn! Thank you so much.

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      Bill De Giulio 2 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. Great questions and answers this week. That 1250 word recommendation baffles me and to be honest I never really pay attention to how many words my articles are. They pretty much are what they are. Hope the sun comes out soon! A Happy Easter to you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 13 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, the sun is out...a sunny Easter!!! Who would have thought it possible after our winter? Wishing you and your family a beautiful day, and thank you.

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      Nithya Venkat 12 days ago from Dubai

      Great questions and answers. I believe writing when inspired brings out the best.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 12 days ago from Olympia, WA

      I do too, Vellur! Thank you!

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      William Kovacic 11 days ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi Bill,

      I'm getting around really late, but anyway . . . thanks for taking my question. I'd surely send you some sunshine if I could, but dark stories are always good. thanks again!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 11 days ago from Olympia, WA

      No problem, Bill. I get a lot done in weather like this, so it's all good. Thanks for the question and the visit.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 10 days ago from Hawaii

      Finally got around to this article. And a great one it is! Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Bill!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 10 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you vkwok! Greatly appreciated, as always!

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      Mel Carriere 10 days ago from San Diego California

      I guess we know now why the world's most famous serial killers come from the Pacific Northwest. Maybe this makes you the best qualified to write about them, because you understand the environmental factors that create this murderous psyche.

      Hope the sun shines on you soon, buddy. Great mailbag.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 9 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Sheez, Mel, the longer we talk about this, the more I worry about my own mental stability. LOL Thanks, buddy!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 9 days ago from Oakley, CA

      I love your answer to Zulma! I get so annoyed with MSWord pointing out sentence fragments, for instance. If used correctly, a fragment is perfectly understandable, from the surrounding context, AND it is also more true to the way people speak.

      I just had a 'charmed' thought...(whatever that means; LOL it just popped into my head to say that)...I'm betting no one has asked you this one before! ;-)

      Have you ever entered or considered entering the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest?

      I have not, but am thinking about doing so. It's all in fun. The general 'rule' or task, is to create the opening sentence to a novel or story, which should be the most awful sentence you can think up.

      The fellow after whom the contest is named, was the originator of the now trite, "It was a dark and stormy night..."

      Cheers!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 8 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Wow, really, Liz? I've never heard of that contest, and I did not know who was responsible for that phrase....great tip! Thank you so much!

      Have a superb weekend!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 8 days ago from Oakley, CA

      Here you go, Bill:

      http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/

      Enjoy!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 8 days ago from Olympia, WA

      Got it...thanks again, LIz!

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