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.



The Write Life: Procrastination

On more than one occasion, I have heard a best-selling author tell an interviewer that he or she begins work at home by 9:00 or 10:00 AM and writes up to 8 hours a day.

Whenever, I hear of such professional discipline, I question whether or not I am a “serious” writer because my writing schedule is not so regular. There are days when I do not put fingers to keyboard.

Writer’s block, however, is seldom the culprit.

Oftentimes, I arrive home from my part-time job as an adult education instructor (at a community college) mentally drained; correcting papers or planning lessons (for the next day or week) adds to my fatigue.

In addition, most days, financial issues occupy my thoughts. I worry constantly about how to stretch my income to cover my bills. Creativity does not flourish under these circumstances.

The antidotes: sleeping, watching TV, or reading.

This is ironic because during my days as a full-time magazine editor, I worked 10 to 12 hours a day writing and editing.

I love writing, so why am I not more consistent about doing it?

Despite this,  I write two blogs–on criminal justice issues and on writing and host a weekly Spreaker podcast. Likewise, my 200+ page memoir is completed and awaits a final, professional edit.

Perhaps, it is unfair to compare myself to writers who no longer work at other jobs to earn a living; they can afford to spend whole days creating memorable prose.

I have not achieved such status, so the demands of my life and work dictate when and how often I write.

Could it be that I am not a procrastinator, but someone whose writing schedule suits my current lifestyle?

What do you think?