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Posts Tagged ‘writing tips’

How To Be A Successful Writer

Terry McMillan has had the kind of success most aspiring writers only dream of. After two semi-successful first novels, McMillan hit the jackpot with her 1992 classic Waiting to Exhale, which remained on the New York Times Bestseller list for more than nine months and cemented her status as the queen of contemporary African American literature. She went on to write five more acclaimed novels and served as screenwriter/executive producer on three films based on her work (How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Disappearing Acts and Waiting to Exhale). In the latest installment of So What Do You Do?, she tells Mediabistro how she creates unforgettable characters and why up-and-coming writers truly need to love the craft:

You’ve had such a long and successful career, what advice do you have for a new writer who wants to break into the industry and have the kind of longevity that you’ve had?
Well, I think first and foremost, they don’t need to think of it that way. I think that’s a big mistake. Do you think when I wrote my first book, Mama, in 1987, that I was thinking, “Oh, I want to have a long writing career?” No. This is not a job. It’s not that. [Writing is] not a career to me. It’s what I do. And to me there’s a difference, you know? But I would suggest that young writers take the craft very seriously [and] not worry about fame. But read. Everything. And I do mean everything. Take some writing classes. And they’ll know if this is what they really are compelled to do. But it shouldn’t be an ambition. “I want to be a famous writer;” “I want to be a bestselling author.” Those are the wrong reasons for doing this. And if those are your motives, chances are it won’t happen.

To get more advice from McMillan, read So What Do You Do, Terry McMillan, New York Times Best Selling Author?

–Aneya Fernando

Mediabistro Course Social Media 101

Get hands-on social media training for beginners in our online boot camp, Social Media 101! Starting September 4, social media and marketing experts will help you determine the social media sites that matter most to you, based on your personal and professional goals. Hurry, this boot camp starts next week! Register now!

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How To Balance Your Freelancing Life With Your Personal Life

There are a myriad of reasons people choose to freelance. Although it can a be a difficult and often isolating profession, some writers prefer it to the monotony of office work. Gossiping colleagues, an unfair boss, a tediously long commute: all understandable complaints of working a 9-to-5.

But the downsides of freelancing are just as overwhelming: no benefits to speak of, an unconventional schedule and the difficult task of separating your home and work life (when they are arguably one in the same). In the latest Mediabistro feature, a freelance writer shares her experience of the challenges:

One of my favorite books is by Marcia Golub, and for all of its chapters on the distractions of working from home, it’s ironically titled, I’d Rather Be Writing. We often choose to become freelance writers because we’re invigorated by the idea of doing what we love all day long, only to realize that, as Golub puts it:

No sooner would I sit down to write than I’d find myself going into the kitchen to brew coffee or defrost something for dinner. I’d force myself to get back to my desk and sit there, splitting my ends or examining my eyelids in the mirror. I’d put the mirror away and the phone would ring. With a theatrical sigh of impatience (knowing full well how delighted I really was at the interruption), I’d answer and get into a long conversation about skin cancer with a friend who was trying to put off something she was supposed to be doing.

When there’s no boss hovering over your shoulder, and you can’t get that vision of the overflowing laundry basket out of your head, and you don’t really have any immediate deadlines, it’s difficult to stay on task.

To hear how she overcame the challenges, read Balancing Your Freelance Life with Your Personal Life

Aneya Fernando

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

4 Career Tips for the Online World

The transition from print to digital has brought layoffs, budget cuts and general woes to newsrooms across the country. But the flurry of change also brings new opportunity.

In Mediabistro’s latest AvantGuild feature, seasoned journo Ben Goldstein recapped his own resume and shared some valuable tips for writers in the online world. For example…

If you’re not fending off job offers, you’re doing something wrong.

To give yourself some leverage, start networking and learning new skills while you’re still employed. ”Classes and workshops related to your profession are great places to meet people,” said Charles Purdy, senior editor of Monster.com. “The teachers are often experts who are still working in the field, and the other students and attendees will be professionals like you. And, of course, there’s the side benefit of learning something new.”

Read more in 4 Lessons for Writing in the Digital Age. [subscription required]