Why You Should Follow Your Passion (like, NOW)

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I’m a new(ish) mom of a happy, healthy, exhausting 10-month-old bundle of snakes and snails and puppy dog tails. His name is Deklin. And he is my everything.

While I was pregnant with D, I was working a night shift for a newspaper conglomerate that had been rough even before I saw the little pink + on a stick. I knew in my gut that going back to work after my leave would likely be the complete end of my sanity after a newborn left it in shreds, so I decided to start looking into self-employment that would enable me to remain at home with my little. I tried Thumbtack, I tried Freelancer, I tried what I thought was the whole gamut of options for a wannabe stay-at-home-mom.

None of them panned out.

With defeat on my mind and a baby on the way, I turned to a dream I’d longed to do for years and never took the time to actually fulfill: I put all of my extra time and energy into my blog.

In my spare time both at work and at home, I was constantly brainstorming prompts for the blog, writing outlines for blog articles, and even forcing my beloved then-coworkers into being my sounding boards for any and every blog-related thought that crossed my mind (Kelly and Mark, I’m sorry for that, but I love y’all!).

The result is a site I’m obsessed with and want. When I decided to set my own deadlines and stick to them, blogging stopped seeming like an obligation, even less like a job, and became an escape. It was based on my passion for writing, and through it that passion has only flourished. I’ve launched into Round 3 of revisions for my first novel, plotted out the remainder of my second, created weekly writing prompts that are seemingly well received on Pinterest, and written more articles than I should have any right to.

I’m having fun.

No, my blog isn’t crazy-successful like some seem to be, but what I get out of it is more than money can buy: fulfillment. And what’s even better is that my little chunky monkey of a kiddo has a momma who is proud of herself. As a parent, being able to show your child that success comes in more forms than money is incredible. It’s a lesson I hope he one day understands, so that he, too, can do what makes him happy, even if it’s only in his spare time.

Transforming this site into something that brings me so much joy makes me only regret not putting this much effort into it sooner. So, go forth dreamers, go forth #Mompreneuers, go forth everyone, and follow that unique creativity within you.

You have so much yet to gain.

Think running a blog is your calling, too? Check out these walk-throughs on getting a blog started and see where it leads you:

How To Start A WordPress Blog On Bluehost from Making Sense of Cents

http://www.makingsenseofcents.com/2014/08/how-to-start-a-wordpress-blog-on-bluehost.html

THE FOOLPROOF WAY TO START A BLOG from Drink Coffee & Prosper

http://drinkcoffeeandprosper.com/foolproof-way-start-blog/

HOW TO START A MOM BLOG IN 2017 (FOR BEGINNERS) from Twins Mommy

https://twinsmommy.com/start-a-blog-for-beginner/

Did this article help inspire you? Let me know in the comments! And be sure to check out our other Tips & Tricks articles:

Please feel free to share any additional tips or your personal experiences with writing/blogging in the comments, and stay tuned for more prompts every Thursday!


Why You Should Make a Soundtrack for Your Novel

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Making story soundtracks was one of my favorite procrastination techniques as a writer, but in recent years it has stopped being a diversion and started being essential.

Personally I am a big fan of Spotify, so I make playlists on the app that are labeled with the names of my current works-in-progress. You may favor iTunes, Pandora, or some other music program, but the key here is the ability to make your own playlists with the songs and artists in your arsenal. Most of the time, I’ll be listening to a song on the radio in my car on the way to work, and find myself imagining a world or a character I’ve created, so when I get to my destination, I add it into the applicable playlist. Later on, I’ll play it while I’m writing the scene or about the character it called to mind.

I’ve done this for three of my big projects so far with the intention of being part of my writing process instead of a way to avoid my work, which brings me to the whole point of this article: why you should make soundtracks for your own novel.

Music makes the story easier to visualize

Listening to music while you write can have the extremely cool effect of making it more like a movie in your head, so you can go on the epic journey alongside your characters. This makes it easier to “see” things happening, which in turn makes writing them easier.

It can help you gain a deeper understanding of your world

Many of the songs I use for my world-building are those loud movie trailer types, such as songs from Immediate Music, Pendulum, or even existing movie/game soundtracks like Pirates of the Caribbean and Assassin’s Creed. Many of these songs tend to be wordless and instead of telling me what the place or period looks like, they make me feel it.

Is your world dark and post-apocalyptic? Peppy and bright? Ancient and intense? There are thousands of songs out there that can get your pulse racing in a way that feels as though you are living in that world.

Great music can take you on a journey, so find songs and artists who will take you on the kind of journey you want to write.

It can help you gain a deeper understanding of your character

In contrast to the above point, some songs resonate on more personal levels. If you can, try to find at least two songs for each major character in your story: one that sounds like what would be playing during their greatest triumph and one for their greatest challenge. When you reach those points in your story, play those songs and stand alongside your heroes and villains as they tackle their experiences.

Music can get you out of a rut

Have you ever had that frustrating feeling of not knowing what to write next? No?

Liar. Even the greats have moments of pause, when the right words just aren’t obvious. Some people are fortunate enough to experience it on very rare occasions, but most of us have to trudge through the dreaded swamp of writer’s block at least a few times per project.

When the inevitable wall hits, having a story soundtrack to turn to can work wonders. Maybe giving one of your world-building songs another listen will spark a new city into your mind, or playing a character’s song of tribulation will show you a way to overcome it (or, if you’re in the business of wrecking your characters’ lives, it’ll prompt a new roadblock to throw in their path).

Did this article help you to create a soundtrack for your novel? Let me know in the comments! And be sure to check out our other Tips & Tricks articles:

 

 

Please feel free to share any additional tips or your personal experiences with writing/blogging in the comments, and stay tuned for more prompts every Thursday!

5 Reasons to Stop Comparing Your Work with Others

Please feel free to share any additional tips or your personal experiences with writing/blogging in the comments, and stay tuned for writing prompts every Thursday!

This idea was unoriginal, I knew that going in. I thought it was a brilliant idea, then stepped back, thought about it for a beat, and realized that someone had undoubtedly written about this same subject before.

Then I came across this post on Tumblr from HeyWriters:

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That is and will forever be some of the best advice: WRITE.

It doesn’t matter that someone else has written about this before. Maybe only one word differs between me and them, but one word can make all the difference.

So now, it’s your turn to find that inspiration, to write even when the inner voice says  “we’ve heard that one before.”

Steal like an Artist

There is a wonderful little book with this title that sums this entire concept up much more eloquently than I ever could. In all honesty, you should probably stop reading now and go buy that book. But the general idea is this: copy the greats or those whom you admire. Not exactly, but similarly. Make works that are not identical, but pay homage to what interests you and your personal creativity will flourish. That said…

Don’t rip off… Recreate

Read, read, read, but after all you have read, find what works and make it your own. Do not plagiarize someone else’s work, but instead see how you can transform it, mold it into something new and exciting, something that is perhaps better than the original, or is at the very least something different. Use what you have read before as a roadmap to discover what lights your soul on fire. One popular way to do this is to take a fairy tale (i.e. Cinderella) and modernize it or completely revamp it until it becomes its own piece of work (i.e. Cinder by Marissa Meyer).

Nothing is truly unique

There is a common thought that there is nothing truly “new” or “unique” in this world. Like the Tumblr post above explains, everything is recycled material in some form or fashion, sometimes knowingly, most times not. Most stories are, in essence, fanfictions of other stories. While a number of these are widely broadcast as Inspired By [insert work here], many are more subtle in the tributes they pay to their predecessors.

Comparisons are for reviews

I love sites like Goodreads for this with their Community Reviews and Readers also Enjoyed sections. It’s one of the easiest ways to hook readers: tell them how it relates to other things they like. If they liked that, they will like this. But that is something best saved for reviews. Let reviewers make those connections, and while not all of them may be exactly what you had in mind, those connections will draw your audience in. More often than not, authors who tell their readers what they are expected to link the book to will alienate those readers. Unless you are pitching your finished work to an agent and those comparisons are absolutely necessary to show that you meet their submission guidelines, leave them out.

It’s only hurting your process

Comparing yourself to others is the best way to make sure you never finish anything. As a lifelong procrastinator, this was typically my surest form of ending a project prematurely. It already exists. Someone else already did that. Someone else did it better. Someone else will eventually do it better. It’s a ridiculous means of pulling the ripcord, and returning to the comfort zone. So what if someone else did something similar? I guarantee you if you gave the same story idea to 100 different writers, you may find some similarities between the results, but they will all be true to the individual writer’s form.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: write from the heart and your work will already be ahead of the game because it’s yours.

Now, WRITE.

 

Have some writing tips & tricks you’d like to share or see discussed in future posts? Let me know in the comments! And be sure to check out our other Tips & Tricks articles:

 

 

How to Use Pathos to Maximize Your Reach 

Please feel free to share any additional tips or your personal experiences with writing/blogging in the comments, and stay tuned for more prompts every Thursday!

We’ve talked about ethos, pathos, and logos a lot in school. In my college philosophy course, there was an entire unit devoted to them. What I’ve learned since then is that these three concepts are HUGE in the marketing world. To get people hooked, to draw them in, you have to give them something they want–to appeal to something inside them that incites that index finger to smash that clicky mouse button.

For most of my posts, pathos tends to be the most effective of the three tools. I toss this up to content creation and writing being very emotionally driven activities, so my most successful posts tend to make the audience feel something (whether it’s great, good, bad, awful, or a little bit of everything instead of just the typical pathos concepts of pity or sorrow).

Now, a lot of my personal blog traffic comes from Pinterest and other image-heavy social media outlets. That said, I have to not only tailor my content to be verbally interesting, but my images as well (which I discuss in Why You Need Featured Images For Your Blog Posts).

Sometimes, I use a photo that corresponds with the prompt or article’s concept (like the one attached to this article that likely led you here), but other times a solid black or white background with the text is just as effective. In that regard, I’d encourage you to play around with design and typography to see what works, while keeping in mind that if something wouldn’t catch your attention, it probably won’t catch anyone else’s.

But I digress.

While you’re experimenting, take note of how different images succeed or fail, and try to identify themes. I do this with my content by monitoring individual blog post traffic (which ones get the most like/comments/views) and by monitoring my Pinterest pins (which ones get the most likes/repins/tries and how quickly they grow over time).

This kind of research tells me exactly what my audience likes, so I can focus on making applicable content for them. This process also helps me stay engaged with that audience, which is crucial to success. If something absolutely does not work for someone, I want to know why and–more importantly–how I can fix it in the future. If something is the most amazing thing someone has ever seen, I want to know that, too, so I can continue to produce interesting and useful content.

By keeping up with each post and pin, I am able to assume five things:

  1. Images with photos are not very successful on their own,
  2. Images with plain backgrounds and contrasting text are highly effective,
  3. Thrilling/suspenseful prompts are more successful than abstract concepts,
  4. Shorter prompts are better received,
  5. Fantasy prompts are a clear favorite.

These exact points might not translate to everyone, but they’re the kind of insights I have gained and encourage you to try to gain. It’s clear from these points that the people in my audience are drawn to more jarring, emotionally-laden prompts, so that is what I have been trying to deliver via pathos-inspiring prompts.

Perhaps your audience wants great money-saving tips like in Making Cents of Sense, or perhaps they want fashion advice à la Writes Like A Girl. These ladies have figured out what attracts their audience, and mastered delivering that kind of content.

And you can, too.

Start with an idea. Does it stir up something in you? Call you to action? Make you want to grab your notebook/sketchbook/etc.?

If it doesn’t, move on until you find something that does.

If it does, use it. Push its boundaries. Flesh it out into something you’re satisfied with.

Creative types are generally driven by our desires. If you make something that creates a longing in you, chances are it will create a similar longing in someone else. This is true for blog posts, stories, poems, artwork, and so much more. Share it, but if it falls flat, try to figure out why. Then, use that knowledge to try something a little different, and keep the cycle going until you hit your goal.

Have some writing tips & tricks you’d like to share or see discussed in future posts? Let me know in the comments! And be sure to check out our other Tips & Tricks articles: