Monthly Archives: March 2011

Decompressing…


after a couple of really hectic days filled with brainstorming and frantic writing. Not quite as frantic as her, but pretty exhausting just the same.

They say that procrastination is a bad practice, but sometimes it’s necessary.

And sometimes it’s the best tool a writer has.

I have several steady clients who give me assignments at the beginning of the month, along with dates for when the projects are due. Usually I have all the assignments by the 5th and the due dates are scattered throughout the month, so as long as I put everything on my calendar, I can manage my time and workload.

Well, I don’t know if February being a short month threw stuff off or what, but I ended up not getting my assignments until 8th, with THREE sizable projects all due within 2 days of each other. To put a number on it, 12 articles, ranging from 400 words up to 1,000 each.

And I had two weeks, one day to complete them.

Yeughhhh….

So I started tackling the smaller ones first, and as ideas came to me for the larger articles, I’d jot them down. Once the smaller articles were done, I moved on to the mid-sized articles. These went a little quicker because unlike the smaller ones, these weren’t as research intensive, mainly because I had the research readily available.

Knocked those articles out and I still had a week left before everything was due.  I was proud of myself, I could now focus on the big ones.

The LARGE articles…

And I was fresh out of ideas.

I researched, I brainstormed, I doodled. I drew words from a hat. I re-read old articles.

Nothing.

Days passed — still nothing.

Finally, two days before the due date, I started getting ideas.

The day before they were due, I had the outlines. But I still had to fill in the blanks.

Yeah — wasn’t happening.

Back to doodling, brainstorming and mumbling to myself.

The due date arrived. I had no choice — I just started writing.

And writing.

And writing.

Finally, I pounded out a lot of articles in about 10 hours.

But I wasn’t thrilled. I was sure I had written total crap and the client was going to hate every.single. one.

The next day, I got an email from the client.

“As usual, your submissions were spot on and perfect for what we needed.”

Okay, then! 🙂

I wasn’t trying to wait until the last minute to write those articles. Matter of fact, I did everything in my power to clear the path for them. But try as I might, I could not get those words to flow. Inspiration did not strike until it absolutely had to.

I guess, sometimes procrastination knows best. *shrug*

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Huh!


So, I am several posts into this blog, and it just occurred to me: y’all have no idea what I write about.  Maybe I should remedy that.

I write everything!

Oh, come now, surely you’ve figured out that I’m a smart-a$$ by now, haven’t you?

But, to be honest, my response isn’t all too far from the actual truth. I refer to myself as a Nonfiction Generalist. There really is not a topic I cannot write about. But, of course there are areas in which I both prefer and excel.

Here’s a brief list of things I have written about in the last week:

  • Scabies
  • Itches of the really REALLY icky kind
  • Feline depression
  • Dog warts
  • Blogging
  • Twitter
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Dehydrating food in an oven’s warming tray
  • The differences between a Bachelors in Arts and Bachelors in Science
  • Current news events
  • The happenings in Japan

And this is a typical week. It’s rare when I spend more than one day a week on one topic. However, it does keep things from getting boring and I’m always learning something.

And this week is going to be just as diverse, but with an extra twist — I landed a new client and I’m trying to learn their template system and the writing style they prefer. That’s always an interesting process.

OK — but back to the actual topic of this post. I write a lot of business articles.  A LOT. I write very few articles about writing. I write rudimentary medical articles (as in I can define a term or take a condition and explain it), a decent amount of legal articles and the periodic craft/hobby article.

Anyway, that’s me and what I write about? Feel free to comment and let me know what you do.

OK — back to work I go!

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Powering Through (aka the “Neener Neener” Theorem)


I woke up with a headache. It moved into my frontal lobe and made itself at home.

Of all the types of pain, I really think I dislike a headache the most. Other types of pain I can either ignore or treat and keep working.

But a headache automatically effects my ability to think.  Not a good thing when you make your living putting words on paper. And call it a quirk, but in my experience, readers prefer that those words be in some semblance of order.

Case in point — I started this blog post around 10 am. The first sentence is the ONLY portion that remains from the original post. I started to keep some of it so you could see how a headache effects me, but it’s pretty early in our relationship — you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see what an actual loon I am. 🙂

Anyway, after spending most of the day just doing nothing (or as close to it as possible), I’m trying to get some work done.

Deadlines don’t meet themselves and commitments don’t go away because your frontal lobe is throbbing. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and power through.  One word leads to five words, then a sentence. Put a couple of sentences together, you get a paragraph. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Before you know it, you’ve got several paragraphs, and in this case, a blog entry. It ain’t poetry, and it’s not going to win me a Pulitzer, but it’s writing, and from what I’ve been told, it’s what I do.

So, whether it’s a headache, writers block or some other obstacle that’s keeping you from putting pen to paper or fingers to keys: suck it up and power through.

And no, it’s not a miracle cure. I still have my headache. But I stuck my tongue out at it and said “Neener neener — I got something done in spite of you!”

And that made me feel better!

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I’m A Writer?


On an almost daily basis, someone asks me the following:

“When did you become a writer?”

“Why did you become a writer?”

“When did you know you wanted to be a writer?”

“How did you become a writer?”

I don’t think I’ve ever asked a doctor or a lawyer when, why or how they decided to enter their professions. Didn’t ask my mechanic the last time he fixed my car (though, in hindsight, considering what he charged me, I should have!), nor have I asked my hairdresser, cop buddy or my mother who is a retired nurse any of these questions.

However, all of the specific people I mentioned above (read: Hi, Mom!) have asked me repeatedly. And if they have asked, I’m sure many others have wondered.

So, with that in mind, here is when, why and how I became a writer.

The short answer: I don’t know. It just happened.

Seriously.

Sure, I could lie and say I had some great epiphany while walking in the forest, or near the ocean or in the desert, but it wasn’t a spiritual revelation.

I’ve always liked to write. I wrote my first short story when I was six, received my first writing award when I was seven and won my first writing competition when I was eight. Teachers constantly commented on my writing abilities. The term Gifted Writer was all but tattooed on my forehead. I rocked essay tests (to the chagrin to one high school history teacher  who thought giving an essay test was the ultimate way to humiliate his students), and while my college classmates were sweating coming up with a 10-page paper, I was striving to shave away the five extra pages I always seemed to have.

Outside of school, I wrote for fun. I finished my first novel when I was 12. I wrote a bit of poetry when I was in high school, and always kept a diary or journal.

But even with all that writing;  even after reading Master of the Game and The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank and wanting to write Just. Like. Them…

I still didn’t consider myself a writer.

Years passed. I still wrote, but mainly for myself. I because a business consultant, business teacher, and eventually a proposal writer.  But even when I had a job with “writer” in the title, I still didn’t consider myself a writer.

Even when I wrote a column for two publications and provided business articles for several others, I STILL didn’t consider myself a writer. Writing was still just something I did…

Then one day, about 4 years ago, I was hanging out with a group of friends, and someone I only knew in passing asked me what I did for a living. Before I could answer, another friend replied, “She’s a writer.”

My friend’s bestowal of the title kinda shocked me. I started to protest, but then my friend continued, telling the other friend about things I had published and what a great writer I was.  I was forced to smile and nod acknowledgement, even though it still felt like phony to me. Sure, I wrote for a living, but in my head, I wasn’t a writer.

A few weeks later as I was preparing to back up my hard drive, I opened my “Documents” folder.

I had over 1,000 documents that I had written. Papers, articles, business plans and other writing projects I had completed, in folder upon folder.

That’s when it hit me. I might not believe my own press, but my friend’s pronouncement of me as a writer combined with a vast array of documents I had actually written could not be denied.

I was a writer.

And I’ve been one ever since.

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Why A Writer Needs A Blog


The above was the title of a blog post I wrote as a featured writer for Writers Access.  The post went live today, check it out here if you are so inclined.  And if you really love me, leave comments. 🙂

But here’s the thing. The post on the blog — is the SECOND version. There was a first version…a less..um…shall we say mainstream version.

Here is the original, much more snarky and in many ways more realistic reason why a writer REALLY needs a blog.

There’s a plethora of reasons for a writer to have a blog. One of the more obvious is so readers can catch a glimpse into the personality of the authors they follow. Somehow, learning your favorite author’s three-year-old throws temper tantrums in WalMart over a package of Skittles makes the incident in KMart with your toddler the day before seem less catastrophic. It’s also a great way for a writer to keep his fans up-to-date with new releases, book signings, newly published articles or conferences he is attending.

But there are more personal reasons why a writer should have a blog, at least for me. I’ve been a writer for twenty (mumble mumble) years, and a blogger since 2001– well before the blogging craze. But I knew from Post #1 that a blog was a good idea for me, and for more than professional reasons. So, why do I, a writer, have a blog?

So the voices in my head will shut up.

OK, before you track my IP address and inform the local authorities that there is a crazy women in their midst, allow me to explain. As a writer, my strongest skill is the ability to convey information in a way that others will understand. To accomplish this, I read voraciously, take a lot of notes and commit a lot of facts, figures and general bits and pieces of data to memory. Sometimes this information takes on a life of its own, but try as I might I cannot fit it all into an article on Business Finance, Feline Depression or repairing a hitch on a Ford F-150. But that doesn’t stop the information’s demands to be used somewhere.

So what’s a writer to do when the voices in her head band together, threaten to revolt and perform a frontal labotomy from the inside? She finds an outlet for them so they’re heard by someone other than her. First I tried a journal, but that didn’t satisfy my narcissitic nature. (Oh, c’mon, admit it — all writers are narcissitc — it’s the uncontrollable need to share information that drove us to start writing in the first place!)  I tried speaking the words out loud, but this just made me look crazy. (Beleive me when I say wandering around mumbling to youself will cause others to question your mental stability.) it was obvious that I needed to find a way to blend the eviction of the voices with my need to share information.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is why I blog. These pieces of information can finally vacate my hopelessly cluttered gray matter and become blog content on a page hosted by WordPress, Blogger or Tumblr. They’re happy, I’m happy — happiness abounds.

So, if you’re overflowing with information, start a blog. The extra information finds a home, and your head will be much quieter.

And no one will threaten to size you for a straight jacket.



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Why…


The Classic Quill?

Well, for some of you, this name is more than a bit familiar.

For others, it’s just a name.

For me — it’s the comfortable pair of shoes that even though I’ve had them for YEARS I could never bare to part with.

The Classic Quill was my very first writing name.  I created it on AOL in 1997. The screenname is a few years younger than my kids, outlasted my marriage and has endured through my countless stops and starts at this thing I call a writing career.

So, it only seemed fitting that, since my career seems to have finally taken root and is starting to grow, I pay homage to the one constant throughout the years.

When I was trying to think of a screenname for AOL, I knew I wanted it to be writing-related, but was drawing a blank. As I was sitting at my desk, killing myself trying to come up with something, I noticed a box on the hutch. At the time,  one of my hobbies was calligraphy, and I had recently received a quill pen and inkwell as a gift.  What caught my eye was the blurb on the box:

“A classic calligraphy set. Quill pen, ink, and parchment paper included.”

Hmmm…Classic…Quill…

Thus The Classic Quill was created.

I’ve had several writing-related names since then, but no matter how many new names I create, I’ve never even considered deleting TCQ from the list. It’s part of my history. I received my first article acceptance at an email addy with that name. I met a LOT of people, some of whom are still in my life right now with that screenname. The Classic Quill is a part of me and I don’t imagine a time when it will not be.

I am The Classic Quill. Welcome to my world.

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Beware…


The Ides of March.

Bwwwwaahhahaha!!!!!

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