The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Three
Welcome Back Y’all
No, I’m not Southern. I just like writing y’all.
Welcome back to Installment Three of the Writer’s Mailbag. This is where you get to ask your questions of the Writing Guru, and hopefully that same guru will have an intelligent answer. One of my followers called me the Ann Landers of writing. A fair comparison for sure, but quite frankly I have better legs than Ann.
If you have any questions you would like Ann….oops, me….to answer, simply include them in your comment below, or email the questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will include them in the next installment.
So, without further delay, let’s get started on this week’s mailbag.
Enjoy my new novel
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE VARIOUS GENRES?
I can and I did, and I don’t feel like doing it again. LOL I actually wrote an article about this, and here is the link http://billybuc.hubpages.com/hub/Literature-Genres-and-Their-Definitions so feel free to read that and hopefully that will answer any questions you have.
I will say this before we move on to the next question: there will be times when a book that you have written does not fit comfortably into one specific genre. For example, the difference between “literary” and “mainstream” is clouded at best. On my recently self-published novel, Resurrecting Tobias, I had one heck of a time choosing a genre, and finally settled on mainstream.
All you can do in those cases is take your best guess and go with it. The worst thing you can do…the absolutely worst thing….would be to tell an agent or publisher that you don’t know what genre your novel falls into…that is like saying, “hey, I wrote it, but I don’t know a thing about it.” You can imagine the reception that will receive.
ONLINE CREATIVE WRITING COURSES
“Bill, what do you think about an online creative writing course? I've been thinking about taking one. How does it work?”
What do I think of them? I’m all for them if you can afford them and have the time….heck, you can probably find some that are free, or so inexpensive as to appear to be free.
Like all online courses, though, there are good ones and bad ones, so I would get a recommendation from a writer friend who has taken one, or find recommendations in periodicals like The Writer’s Digest or The Writer.
The quick answer: if you are serious about improving your writing skills, a good writing course can definitely help you. And as far as how does it work, it depends on the individual course that you take. There are about one-hundred answers to that question, so do some research and find the course that best fits your needs….or hire a writing coach and receive one-on-one tutoring.
- The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Two
Welcome back to the latest in this series, where writers ask questions and I attempt to answer them.
WHERE DO IDEAS COME FROM?
“Bill, where can I find new ideas? I’m weighed down by writer’s block.”
This is one problem I have not experienced in the three years I have been a freelance writer. My problem is too many ideas. I’ll be glad to share some with you, but that isn’t going to solve the writer’s block problem.
I have this theory that writer’s block comes from being up-tight….from trying too hard. My first suggestion would be to relax. Go for a walk, go for a bike ride, go for a run, just go. While you are doing that, observe closely the world around you. Try to draw parallels from what you observe. Many of my ideas come from this type of observation. I will see a baby crying, and a mother soothing her, and I will think of the pure essence of love.
Now, if you are a magazine writer, we have a different problem. Again, the first thing that comes to my mind is to think of a topic in your field…..say,Touring France….and then think of a new approach. There are millions of tourism articles about France, but what angle would be fresh and unheard of? Those new approaches are the ones that editors love to hear about.
The same can be said about writing a novel. Truthfully, there are few new ideas in novel-writing, but there are constantly new approaches and new voices. Discover a new voice, or new approach, and you will find an audience. I promise.
“Bill, where do you find the time to write so much?”
I get this question all the time, and I smile whenever I receive it.
I don’t find the time to write. I make the time to write. There is a big difference, my friends.
Whether you are like me, and have a full day reserved for writing, or whether you have a full-time job and only have limited time to write, you must make time for writing if you expect to improve. Set aside an hour for writing, or two hours, and allow no interruptions during that time. Tell friends and family that you write from six to seven daily, and you are not available to them during that time.
It really comes down to the question….are you serious about writing? If the answer is yes, then you will make the time.
- The Writer's Mailbag #1
Do you have a question about writing? Then send them to me and we'll answer it in the next mailbag installment.
VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE
“How can I spice up my writing? Everything I write sounds the same.”
This is a good question and it is a problem that I, too, have on occasion.
It is easy to fall into a rut, and that rut means that everything you write sounds like blah, blah, and more blah. When I fall into this quagmire, I turn to a few tools that are available to any writer. I try to add some similes or metaphors to my writing, and suddenly my writing sounds fresh and interesting once again.
The great writers are quite fond of metaphors and similes. The average writers think they are too hard. Which are you?
STANDING ON A PLATFORM
“Bill, I don’t have a platform. What should I do?”
Start building one, daily, and start now.
If you are serious about your writing career, you must have a platform, and the only way to have one is to build it. Your body of work is your platform. Thus, you need a body of work. Join a writing community and start writing articles. Submit articles to magazines and newspapers. Guest blog for other writers. Self-publish a book. For the love of all that is holy, do something. Start your own blog. Create a Facebook page for your writing endeavors.
Call yourself a professional writer and then act like one.
And then to it again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…because…that’s what writers do.
IN SEARCH OF MONEY
“I’m not making any money from writing. What would you suggest?”
You have probably heard about the 10,000 hour rule for success: in order to perfect a craft, a craftsman must work at the craft for a minimum of 10,000 hours. I happen to subscribe to that theory, and I’m currently over 7,000 hours and counting.
Freelance writing takes hard work. I was lucky in that I started paying most of my bills after only six months of writing. I am now at the point where I pick and choose customers, because I want to devote most of my time to writing novels. However, if I wanted to make more money writing magazine articles, or writing a column for a newspaper, or ghostwriting, I could do it….and I would do it the old-fashioned way…I would spend countless hours chasing those jobs and proving to editors that I have what it takes.
There is no other way.
Join me on my writing blog
- William Holland | Helping Writers to Spread Their Wings and Fly
For more questions and answers about writing, and helpful tips to help you follow and enjoy your passion.
That’s It for This Installment
Thanks for tagging along this week, and I hope you found something that helped you. Drop me a question if you have one, and I’ll give it my best shot next week.
Until then, remember that excuses are a dime a dozen, and just about as profitable.
Put in your time. Make a plan and stick to it. And write!
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”