All posts tagged “Writing”

10 Tumblr Blogs To Follow For Great Writing Tips

Few websites are friendlier to creatives than Tumblr, a place to scroll through, like, and reblog posts like there’s no tomorrow. It’s not surprising, then, that hundreds of writing blogs have popped up all over that site faster than you can say “dashboard”.

With so many to choose from, it can get a bit daunting when trying to figure out which you should pay attention to. Therefore, I’ve gathered here 10 of the best must-follow Tumblr blogs for writers. Whether it’s helpful feedback or just some inspiration that you need, these sites can help you keep on writing.

1. The Right Writing

“A tip a day keeps writer’s block away.” This, in a nutshell, is The Right Writing‘s tagline (if it had one). Unlike most writing blogs, TRW does its best to give more than generic writing advice such as “Set a daily writing quota” or “Just keep hammering away at your keyboard”. Instead, it gives specific, actionable tips on how to craft a first line, how to describe a character, how to craft an eye-catching title, etc. The blog also occasionally posts interesting, writing-related links.

2. Quotes From Books

Whether you need life advice from the world’s greatest writers, or inspiration for writing awesome lines, Quotes from Books is the blog to follow. The site also provides book recommendations, in case you’re looking for something new to read. After all, writers need to read as much – if not more than – they write, right?

3. Writing Quotes

If “writer’s block” is bugging you (again), check out this site. Writing Quotes dishes out tips straight from the greats themselves on how to write, how not to write, how to read, and “all sorts of wordy things”, as the blogger put it. Pro-Tip: You can reblog the quotes that resonate the most with you, and tag them “writing quotes”, so you can refer back to them later when you need them. More Tumblr tips here.

4. WordStuck

One of a writer’s greatest weapons is an expansive vocabulary, and WordStuck does a wonderful job of filling that need. The site regularly posts about words from around the world and their respective meanings, framed in beautiful graphics created by the blogger. It’s especially fun when the site posts words that have no direct English translation – and you’re a native speaker of the language that uses that word!

5. Yeah Write

Yeah Write doesn’t just dish out writing advice, post daily prompts, and write about industry news, it also encourages writers to come together as a community through their “workshopper” program, where people can publicly offer their editing / proofreading / workshopping services. Whether you need any of these services or not, Yeah Write is a must-follow site.

6. Writing Problems

Ever felt that you’re the only one who suffers from (insert writing problem here)? Don’t worry; Writing Problems is here to let you know that, yes, you’re not the only one who types a word, presses “Backspace”, types that word again, and presses “Backspace” again. Scroll through their posts for a dose of side-splitting, “Hey, I can relate to this!” humor, and feel your writing-related stress melt away.

7. Fix Your Writing Habits

Writers have a nasty habit of doing everything except – irony of ironies – writing. Douglas Adams, for instance, was notorious for missing deadlines, and had to be locked up in hotel rooms to have any of his work done. (In case his name doesn’t ring a bell, he’s the man behind The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.)

As the blog’s title implies, Fix Your Writing Habits tries to give you the best advice possible for getting you back on track, as well as vanquishing the Procrasti-Monster forever. The site is run by multiple authors, who put their money where their mouth is by posting on the blog regularly.

8. Reference For Writers

If you’re a writer who constantly works under tight deadlines, Reference For Writers is for you. The site posts comprehensive lists and links to research materials that would have taken you hours to find on your own. Occasionally, it posts the usual writing-blog material: tips, ideas, and inspiration for wordsmiths.

9. The Writing Café

Don’t want to clutter your dashboard with too many writing blogs? Just follow this one, then. The Writing Café is your all-in-one resource for writing advice, writing resources, links to research materials, etc. The blogger is friendly enough to answer questions, and patient enough to direct you to existing links if you ask a question that’s already been answered.

10. Your Favorite Author’s Tumblr Blogs

It’s difficult to link to just one author, since there are so many of them, and each of them caters to a specific taste. Personally, I follow Neil Gaiman for updates on his work, as well as Joe Hill, the eldest son of Stephen King and a formidable horror author in his own right. You can find more author blogs when you click “Find Blogs” on your dashboard, and click “Writers” in the Spotlight tab.

Conclusion

These blogs are just the tip of the iceberg. As writing keeps evolving as a craft, it’s inevitable for new writing blogs to mushroom all over the web (not just on Tumblr). If you know other writing blogs that haven’t been listed here, please do share them in the comments section.





hongkiat.com

Reasons Why You Should Improve Your Writing

The skill of writing is more of an art than mechanical function. To mold and shape words to suit your needs requires talent, and some are naturally born with this ability. However, for those people who feel they do not have the innate ability to write well, listen up: you are not alone. In fact, those who have to work for their writing accolades drastically outnumber the natural authors.

Reasons Why You Should Improve Your Writing

Understanding the difference between the two types of writers and identifying yourself as one of them is the first step towards becoming a better writer. Don’t worry—we will discuss why you should improve your writing later in the article.

Am I Naturally Talented or Do I need Some Help?

Really sit down and analyze your writing ability. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Has anyone ever read your writing? Who were they and how reputable of an editor are they? What were their comments?
  • How easy is it for you to sit down and write?
  • Are you able to write in a variety of different modes?

If you’ve answered that people of high standing have read and approved of your writing, then chances are that you are a skilled writer. Then, if you answered yes to the last two questions you are more than likely a naturally talented writer.

Even if you have a tendency to write well without much effort, there is always room for improvement.

Either Way, Have a Slice of Humble Pie

Humility here is key—you may think that you are the best writer, but exposing yourself to new niches and broadening your horizons may help you feel differently. Regardless of the effort you put in to your writing, it is important to understand that there will always be someone who writes “better” than you; there will always be a more “creative” and “talented” individual. However, there is no other person who brings all of your unique talents to the table.

Every legendary writer has had that one professor, editor, or mentor who has utterly crushed their syntax—torn apart their grammar, and insulted their paragraph structure. There has been at least one driving influence to push further and keep pursuing the goal of professionally writing. If the drive is not there, then there is no way for a writer to last.

Realizing that your writing can always improve is pivotal towards becoming an even better writer (and sometimes person, too!). Good writers consistently receive constructive criticisms on their writing and always seek to improve; therefore, here’s our first reason as to why you should improve your writing.

So, Why Should I Improve My Writing?

Follow us as we document some of the top reasons why you should serve yourself some humble pie and pursue improvements in your writing:

Peer Pressure—All of the Professionals Do It!

Every talented writer continuously seeks room for improvement from other reputable writers and editors. Emulating the professionals should be the goal of anyone looking to write, regardless of the reason. Whether you want to write for fun or for an audience, it is advisable to always seek improvements.

It’s Easy to Do

Many claim they do not have the time to put towards their writing, and others feel they do not even need the extra effort. However, did you know that fixing your writing can be a quick and painless process? There are a variety of different ways to improve your writing; some options may be more painstaking and time consuming than others, but selecting just one and working gradually can be quite a simple task!

Writing is the Most Important Skill Anyone Can Acquire

Regardless of your profession, the ability to write can put you ahead of the competition. Think about it—when was the last time you judged a potential worker based off of their website or business card? We all do it! Spelling errors, lack of description or attention to detail, punctuation mistakes: all of these errors will have you noticed and not in the most desirable way.

If you run your own business especially, then it is in your best interest to brush up on your communicative skills. It might be underestimated how powerfully your words speak volumes for you and your business.

But Wait—Before Looking into Ways to Improve Your Writing

It is first important to ask yourself why you would like to improve your writing. Are you writing for fun and looking to be more creative? Or are you seeking publication? Writing is an art due to the fact that no two people can perform it alike, and every writer is unique. However, writing goals and tasks should be taken into consideration.

Various Ways to Improve Your Creative Writing

There are a myriad of different options to help yourself open up and become more authentic in your writing.

1. Lose the Technology

Our lives are filled with useless junk that clouds our creative abilities. Spend a day keeping track of all the times you search the Internet, scroll Instagram without a reason, shop online, play videogame apps, and much, much more. If you then spend the next day without any of these distractions, then you will begin to notice the unique aspects of life.

2. Spend Time Outside

Nature affects writers by enhancing senses and emotions. The transcendentalists were on to something when they sought natural settings removed from the industrial boom. While technology and its effects are important to our ever-growing society, it is quite detrimental to creativity. Spending time outside will force you to take in your surroundings. Writing about nature will naturally help you enhance your imagery and vivid detail, which can in turn only enhance your creative writing.

3. Find a Muse

It might sound cliché, but having a purpose for your creative writing, a muse if you will, can be very helpful. Keeping one person or object in mind can help you remain focused, thus making it nearly impossible to stray too far off into the “other” possibilities.

4. Keep a Journal

Journaling is a great way to become more creative. Writing down anything that you think can be both helpful to your writing and therapeutic! Eventually, once you have started writing in your journal quite a bit, you will grow to love your journal. Bring it with you to jot ideas in. Try to keep yourself from writing your grocery lists in it, though—creative ideas only! Also try to keep your mind open when writing inside the journal. If you fall into the “dear diary” routine, then branch out of it by finding some creative prompts online. There are great prompt generators that can give you plenty of ideas!

5. Move Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Playing it safe is not an attribute of the creative. In order to tap into your unique, original style, it is essential for you to take risks, both compositional and creative. If you consistently write poems, then branch out into a short story. (Perhaps you can take it easy by working with vignettes first!)

6. Join a Niche

Creative writing groups are inevitably within your area, you just might not realize it. Google “Creative Writing Groups” and find some nearest you! Collaboration with others can help you push yourself further and in turn receive feedback and ideas from others. After all, two brains are better than one! And the best part? Everyone else who is there is in your same shoes; they too are seeking to better their writing, so the pressure is off and you are all on an even keel, despite you talents and abilities.

So What About Non-Fiction Writing?

Beyond creative writing, a whole world of non-fiction writing exists within the realm of the writing universe. If you are looking to improve your non-fiction writing, then here are some ways to go about your efforts:

1. Brush Up on Your Mechanics

Whereas creative writers can narrowly escape grammatical rules; however, those writers branching into the non-fiction realm cannot so easily sneak by. Unfortunately, writers are immediately judged by all—after all, your writing says everything about your ability, right? Readers will automatically create a preconceived notion of you as both a writer and a person upon reading your work, so it is pertinent that you brush up on your grammar and mechanics. Any non-fiction writer should have a strong command of their language; so if you need to educate yourself then do not be ashamed!

2. Write a Few Samples

If you are writing non-fiction pieces, then chances are that you are looking for publication of one kind or another. Therefore, it is advisable to create a few samples first. Build a portfolio of your writing so that any future clients can view your skills before risking a job on you.

3. Keep the Task in Mind

Depending on the type of writing, a client may be waiting for your work to send to one of their superiors; therefore, you need to consciously write with the client in mind. Are you writing web content for a makeup company? Then keep the sales pitch in mind. Are you writing an article about the Ebola virus and you need to use medical terminology? Then research your topic fully and keep the prime focus of information in mind.

4. Educate Yourself

Keep yourself informed of the various types of non-fiction writing available and the differences amongst them all. A powerful writer knows how and when to switch their voice for the desired audience. Therefore, if you are looking to improve your non-fiction writing then you should dabble in all of the different genres. Try a web content type job where you need to dip into the marketing world, or pick a topic to research and write an explanatory article. Staying up to date and informed will keep you both marketable and highly sought after by potential employers.

5. Take a Class

Many institutions offer classes for up and coming writers and veterans. Search your area for any writing classes available. Some may cost a small fee, but for the most part they can be attended without cost! Often times many of these classes are held by aspiring writers or author’s groups, so attending a class may provide you with essential networking.

 

Here are our suggestions for implementation

1. Seek Constructive Criticism

It is important to note the difference between regular and constructive criticism. Instead of finding someone to critique your work, find someone who will help you grow as a writer. Anyone who offers only critique and no help towards getting there is not worth your time or energy.

2. Stay Positive

Regardless of your desired outcome, whether it’s to become a more creative writer or attain acceptance with one of the top newspapers, you should always stay confident in your abilities. Remember that no one can produce the writing that you are capable of, and you are unique (which is great!). It is important that you stay positive and confident in yourself.

3. Always Educate Yourself

Staying up-to date on the most recent idioms, formatting rules, and terminologies is key to becoming a stellar writer. The times change quickly, so make sure that you adapt accordingly.

4. Stay True to Your Original Intentions

At the end of the day, you are the writer and it is your writing you seek to improve. Therefore, you should always take a step back and ask yourself if the work you are putting in is for an outcome that you desire. The world or writing sometimes can try to change a person; an editor may not like the way you write, or a client may disagree with your verbiage.

 

We wish you all the best in your future writing endeavors! Remember that writing is truly an art form—no two people can create the same masterpiece. Instead, take ownership of your words and craft them to your liking. While one reader may reject your writing, there may be another out there just waiting to read your wonderful creation.

Visit us at InstantShift.com

PSD to HTML


InstantShift

Top 6 Sins of Article Writing

A wise man once said: “Tell me where I’m going to die, so I won’t go there.” One way to figure out how to do something is to figure out how not to do it first – then invert.

Take article writing, for instance. To learn it, you can either (1) plow through a ton of Internet resources on the do’s of article writing; or (2) keep an eye out for these basic, but important, boo-boos, and cut them out as soon as you spot them. Here, I’ve put together the 6 sins of article writing.

1. Missing Mission

Problem:

You want to talk about Topic 1, but you’re also itching to discuss Topic 2. Oh, and Topic 3 also looks interesting, but then there’s Topic 4…

And then there’s the rub. If you don’t have a clear, singular idea of what your article is about, or what you want your article to do for your audience, you’ll struggle with the rest of your piece. Your travel article may end up looking like a personal blog post, or your sales copy may look as though it’s more appropriate for a user’s manual.

Solution:

Imagine what your ideal reader looks like. Then, imagine that you’re facing this person right now, and the person asked you: “How would you sum up your topic in one sentence?” Give the most concise answer you can come up with, and try to center the rest of your article around your answer.

And…Presto! You have a focused, coherent article that doesn’t try to be too many things at once.

2. Ho-Hum Headline

Problem:

Your article is otherwise informative, engaging, and bookmark-able, but you’re getting only a handful of hits for it. If that’s the case, you may need to work on your headline, since 8 out of 10 people read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.

Solution:

Many writers prefer to start with a headline and write their article from there, but your case may be different. If so, you can write the article first, figure out the article’s main benefit for your target reader, and compose your butt-kicking headline based on that benefit. For example, instead of a so-so and done-to-death headline like “How to Write a Good Article”, you can use “Article Writing 101: 5 Steps to Wowing the Socks Off Your Readers”.

Be careful not to use hyperbolic words in your headline, though. If you develop a reputation for writing click-bait articles (i.e. articles that have attention-grabbing headlines but have little in the way of good content), your readers won’t be so keen on clicking an article of yours the next time it shows up in their feed.

3. Sub-Par Sub-Headings

Problem:

You managed to reel readers in through your headline. But, for some reason, these readers don’t seem to take time to read your article, as evidenced by your high bounce rate. It could mean that you don’t use enough sub-headings, or your sub-headings just aren’t as interesting as your headline.

Solution:

As a writer, you may be wary of “listicles” (articles in list form) in general. Here’s the thing, though: Sub-headings break up your article’s intimidating walls of text, making it more digestible for your readers. Sub-headings don’t have to get in the way of your creativity; in fact, they’re actually great for exercising those wordsmithing muscles.

For example, you may have noticed that every sub-head in this article (with the exception of the one for the conclusion) uses an alliterative pair of words. They give a nice rhythm to the article, and will (hopefully) make the points here easier to remember.

4. Prissy Prose

Problem:

“This is a sentence. This is another sentence. I will follow up the last sentence with another sentence. This sentence ends this paragraph.”

Individually, those last few sentences are grammatically correct, but together they sound “off”. They’re robotic, lifeless, and feel as though the writer just wanted to hammer out some words and get his job over with.

Solution:

You may have heard this advice before, but it bears repeating: Write like you talk. Or, more accurately, write like how your best self would talk: confident, authoritative, and respectful of your audience’s sensibilities.

5. Wordy Words

Problem:

It’s possible to take the whole “Write like you talk” thing too far, though. For example: “Hey, uh… I just want to talk to you about article writing, and I have so many things to say, and they’re quite important, so…”

Solution:

Admittedly, I’m guilty of this too. What I do is write a draft as fast as I can, then cut out all the unnecessary adjectives, adverbs, usage of passive voice, “be”-verbs,”that”, and “there” later. I don’t always follow this rule to the letter, though, since there are times when including those “unnecessary” words actually makes the article flow better.

6. Constipated Conclusion

Problem:

You’ve poured so much of your creative energies into crafting your headline, intro, and body, that you forgot to save some for your conclusion. You end up with parting words that feel flat, and leave readers feeling cheated somehow.

Solution:

Don’t give away everything in your intro. The intro’s job is to hook your readers in, while showing them the general premise of your article. The conclusion’s job, on the other hand, is to tie up the loose ends in your premise, while leaving your readers with a feeling that they’ve just alighted gracefully from – rather than thrown out of – the train that is your thought.

Anything Else?

Personally, I’m a “keep a few guidelines in mind” kind of writer, rather than a “stick with a ton of rigid rules at all times” writer. When you’ve been in the wordsmithing business long enough, you tend to develop an instinct for what works and what doesn’t, and that spills over into your work. The best advice I can give is this: Write often and long enough, and you’ll master those pesky writing “rules” in no time.

Here Are More Articles On writing…





hongkiat.com

Sidetracked Magazine: Adventure Travel: Rich photography, heartfelt writing and journeys beyond the beaten path

Sidetracked Magazine: Adventure Travel


Spirited travelers know the value of immersing oneself in the unknown. Getting lost is a real possibility, if not a given. Dubious roadside food will no doubt be consumed alongside the most memorable, high-quality meals. While travel guides and local tips all have…

Continue Reading…


Cool Hunting

Prototype animation without writing a line of code

Read more about Prototype animation without writing a line of code at CreativeBloq.com


Knowing how to code shouldn’t be a prerequisite for being able to prototype your design ideas and get them in motion. In this tutorial I’ll walk you through how you can quickly mock up your UI animation ideas code-free with Adobe’s Edge Animate CC.




Creative Bloq

Why “Just Write” Is the Best Writing Advice You’ll Ever Get

When I first started out as a professional writer, I read every resource I could grab on the subject. As I read, read, and read some more, I noticed that one piece of advice kept cropping up: “If you want to become a writer, just write.”

At first, I thought, well, that’s not very helpful. Obviously, writing is what writers do. Besides, that doesn’t tell me anything about how to be a better writer. If writing is that simple, then everyone who does it for a living should be bestselling authors by now, right?

But the more I thought about it, and the more I wrote, the more it made sense to “just write”. Over the course of my writing career so far, I realized:

(Writing) Theory is Nothing without Application

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that you completely ditch “How to Write” books, articles, and the like in favor of mindlessly tapping away at your keyboard all day. Trying to write without a solid grasp of the basics is like trying to swim without knowing how to float and hold your breath underwater.

via Ed Gregory

Still, you can’t spend time reading about writing without actually writing. Otherwise, what did you do all that reading for?

Writing Rules Can Be Broken

To me, writing “rules” are more guidelines than dogma. While it’s true that the likes of the passive voice, long sentences, and adverbs can weaken your writing, there are written works that incorporate all of those into their prose, and still turn out great anyway. Case in point: Stephen King once chided J.K. Rowling for her overuse of adverbs, but that never stopped her from becoming one of the world’s most beloved and influential authors.

Of course, in order to pull that off, you need to have a complete mastery over the “rules” first before you even think about breaking them. And, in my opinion, that level of mastery is achievable only if you practice good writing habits on a regular basis.

No Two Creative Processes Are Exactly the Same

I usually write first thing in the morning, after drinking a cup of coffee and taking a nice, warm bath. I consider these habits as part of my creative process, since they help prepare me for a long day of turning my jumbled thoughts into coherent prose.

But I’d never go out and tell any writer who cares to listen that “Hey, this is what I do before I write, so you should do it too!” I recognize that what may work for me may not work for other writers. Sure, there may be writers who also write in the morning after drinking a cup of coffee and taking a nice, warm bath, but I’m also positive there are writers who do none of that, and still churn out great work anyway.

It doesn’t matter whether your creative process resembles another writer’s or not. What matters is that, regardless of how you prepare for the act of writing, you’re still able to write, and able to write well.

“Good” Writing is highly Subjective

Pick a book – any book – from sites like Amazon and Goodreads. Chances are it’s rated 5-star, 4-star, 3-star, 2-star, and 1-star – all at the same time!

It’s ridiculous, right? How can one book be both above-par and sub-par?

The thing is, the concept of “good writing” is subjective. Sure, there are universal criteria for “bad writing”, such as poor grammar and syntax, but for the most part, your readers’ individual preferences will affect how they perceive your work. In other words, it’s pointless to try to please everyone.

Instead, think of a specific person who will benefit the most from your writing, and write only for that person. You’ll be surprised at how your work will turn out.

Starting Is the Hardest Part of Writing

Actually, starting is the hardest part of anything.

According to this article, the human brain does a funny thing when confronted with a Jupiter-sized project: It automatically visualizes all the possible ways your project can go wrong, so it attempts to “simulate” productivity by filling (read: wasting) your time with small tasks. (“Oh, my first draft is due tomorrow? Wait, I need to check my email first…”)

To avoid that, you need to plunge into your project from the get-go. Once you get going, you’ll have this uncontrollable urge to finish no matter what, in accordance with the Zeigarnik effect. As the Nike slogan goes: “Just Do It”.

You Can’t Be “Good” If you’re Not “Bad” First

You might say: “But what if I try to write, and all I come up with is a pile of crud?” To that, I say this: “Well, improving on a pile of crud is easier than improving on a pile of nothing.”

When you’re writing the first draft, you’re at the point where you’re still trying to transform all your research and ideas into words. Naturally, you’ll end up with something that may need some extra polishing, or even a whole rewrite. If you think about it, that’s marginally better than trying to “polish” a blank page.

Bottom line: You can’t learn to do something well, if you don’t try to do it at all.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received? Let us know in the comments section.





hongkiat.com

Designers: Why Writing Your Own Copy Helps

Designers tend to freak out when they hear the word “writing.” That’s not my job, someone else will get paid to do that – right? Well, not always. Sometimes, the writer is you – or perhaps, if it isn’t, it should be.

via janaka Dharmasena

Writing copy isn’t the frightening prospect many designers think it is, and in fact, it can help you to have a broader perspective on your design work. Graphic design is the arrangement of words and images – doesn’t it make sense to know at least something about how those words are created? Let’s explore some key reasons more designers should be writing their own copy.

The Client Knows Less Than You Think

Most clients are just as puzzled as you are about what the content of their website should be. That’s why lorem ipsum text is so popular. If the client knew what to put in that little box, they would have put it there already. They assume they’ll just “figure something out” later, or grab some random person from the office to write something quickly.

Yes, it’s puzzling, but many business owners don’t seem to factor in the importance of hiring a professional copywriter. Or, perhaps they do, but they simply can’t afford the services of a professional – or at least they don’t think they can. Personally, I think that businesses can’t afford not to hire a copywriter, since copywriting is so fundamental to the success of any business. Without one, their businesses are earning a fraction of what they could be, because whatever copy that ends up there is surely going to be lackluster.

So, your client has no idea what to write to entice their customers. That’s where you come in. Again, you don’t have to be an expert, but even studying a little bit about copywriting will improve your writing skills tremendously, making you better than 99% of everyone else at the company. If you can show your clients the best way to grab users’ attention with just the right words, your reputation as a great designer who knows your stuff will increase.

Helps You Understand Your Audience More

Through your research, you will connect with your client’s target market and what they’re looking for in terms of storytelling, calls to action, and other copywriting essentials. This is very important when you’re working within your client’s niche, as you will become more and more knowledgeable about the client’s industry and target market. This will make you more valuable as a designer, as more and more clients start to demand for someone who knows their industry inside and out.

Makes You A Better Designer

Copy isn’t the only thing you will have to write when dealing with a client. Sometimes, clients will have only the vaguest idea of what they want you to create for them, and the brief that they give you will be, literally, quite brief. A good exercise to improve your writing skills is to actually flesh out your own briefs, thinking for the client and attempting to figure out exactly what he or she needs from you. When you present your sketches along with the revised brief, you can amaze your client with your mind-reading skills.

Writing to fill in the gaps of your design briefs will help you be better prepared for the next client who is unprepared (and believe me, there will be a next time). Your clients will be grateful to have someone on the team who knows what they’re doing when it comes to writing copy and thinking about the needs of the end user.

It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect

Don’t worry if your writing is not of professional quality. Again, you’d be surprised how many startups have had their copy written not just by their designers, but by their programmers, marketing directors, and even personal assistants. Startups are often scrappy and have limited resources, and if you can add any type of value to the team at the ground floor – no matter what they originally hired you for – they will appreciate and use it.

Even if the client ends up not using your copy, you will learn a lot about what goes into copywriting for the next time. Chances are, the client or your other team members will learn something as well. Copywriting is an ever-expanding discipline – even for professionals – and there is always something new to learn. Don’t forget to keep records of everything you write as well. Like your designs, they will be a visual record of how much you will improve. I’ve been writing copy professionally for the better part of a decade, and I’m constantly surprised at the things I learn with each new assignment.

What Do You Think?

Are you a designer who has been asked to write for your clients? How has writing your own copy helped you to strengthen your niche and connect better with your audience?





hongkiat.com

Get Published (Part 2): Discussing Writing Terms With The Site

Last time, we talked about identifying your niche and the right site for you to write for. The process involves checking out the guest-posting guidelines, and understanding what the site needs, and what their readers are looking for.

This second part on our how to get published series will touch on what you can do before you pitch an idea to the site you want to write for. Yes, expect to have to do a lot of work, but understand that it’s necessary if you don’t want to end up pitching titles that won’t be accepted anyway. The earlier you recognize how your writing fits (or not) with a publication, the better.

Let’s take a look at how you can make a stand out pitch and some of the details to look into when dealing with the site you are hoping to pen articles for.

Craft a Standout Pitch

Want to pitch a title? Here are a few tips:

1. Give (Sincere) Compliments In Your Intro

Compliments show the editor that you genuinely gave a thought about their publication, not just their ability to give you a byline. If you’ve been following them for a while, this should be easy. For example, you can say "I’m John Smith, a blogger with a passion for history. I read your article last month about the Jamestown mysteries, and I must say, I was impressed enough with it to visit the place for myself."

Remember: Be sincere. Insincerity will backfire on you.

2. Be Original With Your Idea

Your pitch may be good, but if there’s already a similar article previously published on the website, the editor may turn it down, unless you can put a new spin on the topic that will still be interesting for the site’s readers. Speaking of which…

3. Emphasize How Your Idea Will Benefit Site Readers

This strategy is especially helpful if you’re not the most experienced or bemedalled writer in the editor’s queue. After outlining your pitch, say something along the lines of "I think this will benefit your readers, because…"

Or you can explain, in a sentence or two, how you’re going to gather information for the article (e.g. interviews, surveys, etc.) if your research will involve more than just the regular search by Google and read everything method. You want to show the editor that you’re serious about your idea, and of turning it into a full-blown article.

4. Include A Call To Action

As Rajiv pointed out, editors are a busy lot. You don’t want to force an editor to think too much about what to do with your pitch email. Most of the time it is a hit-and-miss; you just need to know whether you are getting a red light or a green one.

Always end your pitch with something like "Let me know if this is a good fit for your publication" or "What do you think of this idea?". If your title gets rejected, try to refrain from asking them what title will definitely be accepted for publication; that comes off as a little desperate and pushy. Instead, tell them you will write them again with another pitch soon.

Iron Out The T&C And Payment Options

Suppose that the editor said "Yes" to your pitch, in which case you’re probably doing the Happy Dance after the fact (if his/her answer is "No", don’t fret about it. There are better uses for your rejected pitch.) At this point, it’s your chance to prove that you’re a "professional writer". That means you’re reliable, you know what you’re doing, and you’re easy to work with.

How Much To Charge

This is also the point where you discuss payment with your editor. Don’t make the mistake of asking for payment only after your post is accepted, or after it is published (things may get real complicated if payment is discussed at so late a stage).

Sometimes, a website’s submission guidelines will specify how much they pay for an article, or for different types of articles. Sometimes, they won’t. In the case of the latter, you’ll be expected to negotiate a fair rate for an article on your own. What’s a "fair" rate, you ask? There’s no straight answer to that question, really.

You can refer to the going rate for similar publications. You can also estimate the time and effort you need to put into writing your article, take stock of your skill set, and come up with a ballpark figure based on that. While you’re at it, make sure you incorporate any extra charges for revisions, just in case.

Up For Negotiations

Now for the fun part: the negotiation process itself. Although there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for negotiating, since the most appropriate strategy will vary on a case-to-case basis, bear in mind that the final terms should always be fair for everyone involved. When haggling your price, consider the needs of the publication you’re writing for, as well as your own.

Don’t forget to find out when and how you’re going to be paid as well. Some websites pay on acceptance; others pay on publication. "Acceptance" means you’ll receive payment the moment your editor green-lights your piece; "publication", on the other hand, means you’ll have to wait for your piece to show up on the website before you get paid. The latter usually takes weeks and/or months to happen, so be sure to prepare yourself for that.

Payment Methods And Rights

Your target website might prefer popular payment services like PayPal, or the alternatives listed here. To know more about invoicing your work, you can check out this article on how to do it professionally.

Aside from rates, you should also negotiate publication rights. Why? Because these rights basically determine to what extent a publication can use, re-use, and distribute your piece via print and electronic media. Since the concept of rights can be quite tricky, it’s best to consult a lawyer and/or refer to this article first before you finalize anything concerning rights with your editor.

Don’t forget to include information like your single point of contact, kill fees, allowance for revisions/rewrites, and deadlines, as detailed in this piece about freelance clauses. In case you have any reservations about the contract, or even the assignment itself, this stage is a good time to bring them up with your editor. You don’t want to end up with problems that could’ve been avoided if you thought things through first.

Your Work’s Not Done (Yet)

So now you’ve gotten everything straightened out and your post is written, polished, published and paid for, you might think you can rest. Well, sorry to burst your bubble but you still have to pull your weight marketing your article, the details of which will be covered in the third (and final) part of this series.

Stay tuned!





hongkiat.com

Nest wants anyone, even Apple, to start writing software for its products

Nest is about to give its Learning Thermostat and Protect smoke detector a big potential boost in functionality. The Google-owned company has just launched its developer program and API, which will let anyone write software that can integrate with Nest’s products. The initiative was first announced last September, but Nest’s developer portal is now open after a year of work to anyone with a free Nest account.

Greg Hu, senior product manager at Nest, said the program’s goal was let anyone with a connected platform talk to Nest’s products. “It could be software, it could be hardware, it could be a service,” Hu says. “You just need a connected platform and that’s it.” To show off what its new platform can do, Hu and the Nest team have…

Continue reading…

The Verge – All Posts

10 Helpful Writing Sites For Fiction Writers

Your creative process as a fiction writer may differ from those of your peers, but one thing’s for sure: all of you struggle with the same basic problems.

For example, how do you beat writer’s block? How do you develop the habit of writing every day? How do you flesh out the finer details for your latest historical novel? How do you make your alternate sci-fi universe more believable? How do you solve that annoying tip-of-the-tongue problem?

Luckily, there are websites that help you solve those problems, or at least make them more bearable. They help your story come to life, through exercises and practice, advice and motivation. You’d be surprised with what you find in this list of sites fiction writers should visit. Keep in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is meant to address the most common of storyteller woes.

1. Writer’s Block – 750 Words

According to creator Buster Benson, the idea behind 750Words.com is to help you develop the habit of writing 750 words (or three pages of 250 words each) every day, no matter how crude, unfiltered, or unedited those words may be. The site generates a monthly score card to help you track your progress, and saves copies of your writing, in case you need to revisit them for any reason.

[Visit site]

2. Writer’s Block – StoryWonk Story Generator

Most writing prompt websites give you only a few words or phrases to work with. StoryWonk takes it a bit further, and generates interesting (not to mention humorous) plot ideas like “He’s a generous professor with a bad attitude; she’s an idealistic sales clerk with doting parents. Together, they must learn to cook without ever meeting.”

Don’t worry if you end up with an idea that’s complete nonsense; you can always refresh the page again and again until you find what you like.

[Visit site]

3. Research Aid – OneLook (Reverse Dictionary)

While writing your story, there will be times when you have to stop and ask: “What’s the word that means (insert definition here)?” Obviously, a normal dictionary won’t be helpful here, because dictionaries are designed to help you look up unknown definitions of known words, not the other way around.

In this case, you need OneLook’s reverse dictionary, which helps you search for words that best describe or sum up the definition or description you have in mind. For example, if you type “urge to travel” in the search bar, the system will return “wanderlust” and all other related words.

[Visit site]

4. Research Aid – Dictionary of Symbolism

In good fictional works, even the tiniest details have meaning and significance. A flower, for instance, can symbolize either romantic love (as in the case of red roses) or happiness (as in the case of sunflowers). If you want to know whether you used the right symbol to express a concept in your story, you can always refer to the University of Michigan’s Dictionary of Symbolism.

[Visit site]

5. Research Aid – Best of History Websites

Even if you can invoke “artistic license” as an excuse to get creative with your historical or medieval fantasy novel, it’s always better to keep the details as realistic and believable as possible. If you need help in this area, look no further than BestofHistoryWebsites.net, a comprehensive resource for serious history researchers.

It boasts of over 1200 annotated links to history websites, and claims to be recommended by the likes of the New York Public Library, the BBC, Princeton University, among others.

[Visit site]

6. Research Aid – The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

Do you want to write a story with a science fiction element (e.g. time travel), and ensure that your take on that element hasn’t been done before?

If you look it up on “The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction”, you might find at least one entry that explains the element, talks about how authors have used it throughout history, and relates it to other useful entries. The encyclopedia also has entries on fantasy elements here.

[Visit site]

7. Inspiration – Advice To Writers

At some point in your writing career, you’re going to question why you chose a life of pounding away at your keyboard, when you don’t have a “real” guarantee that you’ll land on the New York Times’ bestseller list. If you’re not ready to throw in your writing towel yet, head over to Jon Winokur’s site at Advice to Writers, and get your daily dish of wisdom slash inspiration from the world’s finest writers.

[Visit site]

8. Inspiration – M. Kirin’s Writing Blog

M. Kirin’s Writing Blog aims to set itself apart from your usual Tumblr blogs as a one-stop shop for budding writers. Here, you’ll find story seeds, weird prompts, answers to OC (Original Character) questions, writing advice, and writer positivity quotes.

[Visit site]

9. Fiction Markets – Writing Career

If you already have a story, but you’re not sure where to submit it, visit WritingCareer.com. The site lists the fiction publications currently open for submissions, as well as their respective guidelines, deadlines, and payment terms.

[Visit site]

10. Fiction Markets – All Indie Writers

Another site that lists fiction markets is AllIndieWriters.com. Just click “Writers Markets” on the home page, then the drop-down menu under the heading “Browse by Category”, then “Fiction Writers’ Markets”. Here, you’ll find heavyweight publications like Asimov’s Science Fiction, Clarkesworld Magazine, and Strange Horizons.

[Visit site]

These are just 10 sites of the many thousands of other websites out there, available for the benefit of fiction writers. If you know of other sites that have greatly helped you in your fiction writing career, do share them in the comments section.





hongkiat.com