Are you taking yourself seriously as a writer?

Remember: whether you’re writing fiction, creative non-fiction, graphic novels or a research paper on the mating habits of termites in Madagascar… (wait, whaaaaaat?!) there are some rules of the road that apply to everyone.  Today’s post comes from the co-founder of an exciting new literary venture out of Toronto, Nicole Brewer – hold onto your hats, check out her site, and when you’re done – get busy being a writer!


words(on)pages
is an organization created by emerging artists for emerging artists, so that we can help writers and poets find the validation and acknowledgement that every budding writer needs to keep going. We want to give writers the opportunity to showcase their work online, in print, and in front of an audience, so that they can value themselves as much as we do. Often, the most difficult part of being an emerging writer is getting yourself noticed, so words(on)pages wants to give you a few pointers on what you can do to help get yourself out there. We may not be experts (this is an art, not a science!) but it’s been working for us.

Take yourself seriously. If you don’t take yourself and your craft seriously, why should anybody else? Write like it’s your job. Write every day, regardless of inspiration or lack thereof. Writing isn’t just about writing, it’s about honing your craft, and that means rereading and editing anything you’ve already written. Don’t say you “want to be a writer,” say you are a writer, and participate fully in that vocation. Realize that a great deal of what you write will never see the light of day, and that’s okay. It’s practice, it’s improvement, it’s proving yourself. You don’t need to pump out War and Peace every single day, just write another paragraph of your novel, another verse for your poem, another entry in your journal. If you can’t write, edit. Still, you’re only human, so don’t beat yourself up for the days life gets in the way. Even the most successful writers need to have a day job.

dog 2Read. Read everything. Don’t dismiss anything because of its reputation, good or bad—don’t feel like you should hate a book because it’s commercial, don’t feel like you should love it because it won the GG. Read critically and feel confident in your literary opinions, but don’t let those opinions define what you read. As someone trying to find a place in CanLit, you need to know exactly what CanLit publishers have been doing. On those days when you’re having a hard time finding inspiration, your library should be the place you look for it—you won’t get better as a writer if you aren’t conscious of what came before you. Don’t be afraid to embrace different voices while you’re trying to find your own: there’s nothing wrong with paying homage, just don’t be a rip-off artist.  Continue reading

Manuscript Mark-Up: Are YOU a billboard punctuator?

A guest-post by Suzy Manuscript Marker

A warm welcome to the first edition of Manuscript Mark-Up.

I hope we’ll have all sorts of fun together, and talk about the stuff of writing without getting our shorts in a knot. This should be a relaxing experience. (Listen to this as you read along!)

Today I’d like to discuss an editorial phenomenon I call billboard“billboard punctuation”that is, the incorrectly applied punctuation used mostly by novice writers who believe these props will enhance words, phrases or messages in their work.

Unfortunately, the reverse is often true, causing (at best) momentary confusion with readers and (at worst) an eventual loss of the author’s credibility as a writer, and potentially as a subject matter expert.

Punctuation creates a road-map for your dear readers, and you want to carry them along the path gently and without distraction from your all-important message. Good writing is an art and a science. So how can you reduce or eliminate billboard punctuation from your writing?

Here are four suggestions to consider:

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It’s not me, it’s you: Shepherdian logic

A few years ago, Internet was snarking at novelist Lynn Shepherd as her featured Huffington Post blog titled, “If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It” masw the rounds. I wrote this in reaction.

The gist of her argument is this:

“…this is my plea to JK Rowling. Remember what it was like when The Cuckoo’s Calling had only sold a few boxes and think about those of us who are stuck there, because we can’t wave a wand and turn our books into overnight bestsellers merely by saying the magic word… But it’s time to give other writers, and other writing, room to breathe.”

Everyone loves a good underdog story, right? Imagine how much better they’d be if there were no top dogs! The pool of underdogs would shrink as each competitor succeeded and then left the arena – everyone would be given the chance to win! Gold medals and awards for everyone because LIFE IS PERFECT & FAIR, & PERFECTLY FAIR!

*sigh*

I gnash my teeth as I imagine how dull, and freakin’ AWFUL the literary landscape would be if prolific writers like Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, and William Shakespeare put away their typewriters (and quills) after one successful book to make room for works like this.

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Crowdfunding ABCs: F is for Finance First

We love to jump into new things, especially when it comes to MAKING MONEY, and crowdfunding is no exception. I’m guilty of it myself.

You can be successful (and 142,647 Kickstarter projects as of today have been to the tune of $3.6 billion!), but it isn’t a slam dunk. On average, 36% of Kickstarter campaigns succeeded, and Indiegogo’s success rate is even lower: about 34%. The reasons for campaign failures vary, but one thing you CAN bet on is that if you don’t prioritize careful financial planning in advance of your campaign, you run a high risk of not achieving your campaign goal.

Kickstarter-logo

Before you get too discouraged, however, let’s look at some other stats: While 10% of Kickstarter projects finished having never received a single pledge, 80% of projects that raised more than 20% of their goal were successfully funded (meaning they reached their goal, as Kickstarter is a fixed funding model, requiring you to make your goal to receive funding). And let’s not forget that one of the reasons for Indiegogo’s low percentage of successes is that they will accept any project; unlike Kickstarter projects which are curated.

Giving yourself the best chance for success in crowdfunding means making sure that crowdfunding is the best financing option for your project or company. Financial planning for your first crowdfunding campaign (whether rewards-based for a project, or equity-based for a company) starts way before the actual campaign—or at least it should.

You need to be able answer four key dollar-related questions before you even decide if CF is your best option, and if so, to design your strategy:

  1. WHERE are you going?
  2. HOW MUCH do you need?
  3. WHY do you need it?; and
  4. WHAT KIND of money do you need? Continue reading