Tips for Writers

Designate a writing space to promote creativity and productivity

Just as my granddaughter spends lots of money on shoes and gear that increase her running safety and efficiency, having a designated writing space can promote your creativity and productivity.

Whether that space is in a corner of your bedroom or in a separate room, surround yourself with the tools of your trade: files, notebooks, reference materials, or anything else that keeps your focus on writing.

For example, inspirational posters, famous author quotes, or photos of writers you admire can enhance your writing experience,

My former office was an unused bedroom in a five-bedroom house; it was my writer’s cave.

I hung framed copies of a health newsletter that I had previously published; kept a small, antique pillow from a deceased colleague–whose work I admired–at my desk; and had a glass wall hanging engraved with the words, “Your story begins at home.”

Of course, you can write just as well from a kitchen table, but nothing says “serious writer” as much as having an at-home office.

You “go” to work there, just like you do at your job.

The difference: on your job you produce for someone else; at home, you produce for yourself–and hopefully, the world.

I am in the process of setting up a writing space in my new apartment. With less space, I need to get creative about where it will be.

The “where” is less important than the “why:” increase my productivity and nurture artistic expression.







Tips for Writers

The Art of Interviewing

Artful interviewing is the key to successfully crafting an article.

I have conducted hundreds of interviews over the years–in-person or by telephone–with ordinary folks, government types, public officials and celebrities.

Since most of these people have busy schedules and little time to waste, it is imperative that you make sure the time you spend with them is well-planned.

Do lots of research on the topic so your questions demonstrate that you have, at least, a minimal knowledge of the subject or topic.

For example, if you are interviewing a celebrity about their career, you should have totally researched their successes, failures, and life stories, so you can get beyond questions of fact to more substantive issue such as why they made certain choices or how these choices affected their lives.

Also, make sure that you record the interview and take notes. The recorder captures everything; your notes capture what is significant.

Your goal is to discover something new, something real, something provocative, or something moving that will engage your reader.

Readers want to read about celebrities and others who have experienced or overcome the universal problems of  life–loss, disappointment, self-doubt, failure, or deprivation.

Whether a celebrity or ordinary folk, we are all travelers on the journey of of life.

Help your readers connect with your interview subjects and your mission will be accomplished.


Tips for Writers, Writing Tips

Finding the Right Publication for Your Article

I am about to submit a query letter (explained later for novices) to a national magazine for parents. It has taken me several weeks to research various publications–print and online–to find the best venue for my article about how to make a day at the zoo educational and enjoyable.

My granddaughter asked what the delay was in sending the query letter. I told her that I had to find a  magazine that publishes articles similar to the one I am proposing; to do otherwise is a waste of time.

For example, Family Fun wants first-person articles from parents. (My children are all adults.) New York Family seeks submissions from New York City writers. (I have relocated to Las Vegas.)

Eventually, I found a magazine that publishes articles about things that parents can do with their children.

I spent several weeks drafting my query letter. I suggest you do the same.

There are numerous websites that offer advise about and examples of effective query letters, so I won’t go into too much detail; however, it should include a brief (a few sentences) description of the content, the reason you are the best person or expert to write the article, and a listing of publications you have written for.

Market yourself!

Most magazines or e-zines post submission guidelines. Read them carefully. Do they want only e-mail submissions? Do they want copies of your previously published work? How do they pay–per word or per article?

One big no-no. Do not submit to more than one publication at a time.

After you hit “Send” or drop the envelope in the mail, expect to wait several weeks for a response.

If you get a rejection letter, don’t fret. Do more research, brush off your query letter, and re-send it.

Rejection is part of the professional writer’s reality. We all get rejected at one time or another.

With each rejection, consider yourself one step closer to success.