An Exercise in Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving Day approaching, I’m taking an inventory of all the things I’m thankful for. I practice daily journaling and decided to dedicate today’s journal entry to a list of things I can give thanks for today. I don’t usually do writing prompts but I thought it appropriate this week to introduce a writing exercise on the topic of thanksgiving.

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Instead of just listing all the things you are thankful for. I challenge you to write an alternate version of what life might be like if you did not have all of the things you are thankful for. What would your living space look like? What if you never went on that first date with your spouse? Who would you be if your parents never met? It doesn’t have to be long. 250-500 words are enough to remind you to be thankful because things could be very different.

Have fun with your writing assignment and remember to give thanks everyday.

Until Next Time,

Nicole D.P. McLaughlin

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The Business of Writing

The moment you decided to become a writer, you become a business. Not only are you in business, you are the CEO of You Incorporated. Everything you do and say from this point on will be scrutinized. People will suddenly care what you have to say and genuinely want your opinion on everything. What exactly, is the business of writing?

Writing as a business is about more than putting words on paper. It’s about sharing ideas and at times challenging beliefs. Writing is about giving a voice to the disenfranchised or being an authority in a field. It’s about communicating effectively as both a teacher and a storyteller. The hardest part of the business of writing is discovering your platform. Once you decide what being a business means for you, then you can sit down and be about the business of writing.

When I began my publishing company back in 2004, I branded myself as a writer of Christian books for children and young adults. I’ve since expanded that to include adults. The subject matter is on a different level but my message is still the same. My mission has not changed. There is room to grow and evolve even within the brand and platform you’ve chosen.  Just be strategic in how you roll out the new direction of your company. I’m always looking for ways to improve the business and to find what I consider to be success.

Success for some writers is being published. For others, it’s writing a best seller. For me it’s being able to use my gifts and talents to make a living that will help support my family. It’s writing this blog in the hopes that I’ll share something that will help you take things to the next level in your writing. This is the cake for me, public recognition would be the icing.

Until Next Time,

Nicole D.P. McLaughlin

Outlet

images-1Writing is used as a form of therapy. The act of journaling provides a much-needed outlet for many. However when you are a writer, what do you do? I still journal but I find that I need something more at times. I’ve taken up running and exercising to release tension and stress. I work through many issues and plot twists while I’m out on the trail or sweating it out on the elliptical. I often write listening to music because it helps me to relax and provides the emotions needed to write from the heart.

It’s so important that a writer has an outlet or a way back into the regular world. The mind of a creative person can be a playground but it can also become a toxic place. It doesn’t matter if your outlet is a social (bowling) or solitary (knitting), you just need a way to decompress and exit the world of your latest and greatest masterpiece. There is a reason writers gained the reputation for being a bunch of drunkards. Some turned to alcohol as a means of escape. Others thought alcohol sparked creativity. I’d caution you to choose your muse wisely.

In addition to adopting a hobby, it may also be beneficial to totally unplug from time to time. Many years ago, I instituted what I called, “unplugged weekends”. From Friday morning through Sunday night I would totally unplug all of my electronic devises. I’d let my family and close friends know on Thursday, not to call me till Monday and where they can find me in case of an emergency.  I’d spend those times of silence, reading, praying, and journaling. I’d often add fasting and meditation to detox my mind, body and spirit. On Monday morning I awoke refreshed and at peace with renewed vision and energy.

If you find yourself feeling stuck and uninspired, look for a new outlet. Do whatever it takes to sharpen your focus and rekindle your passion for writing. This often means taking a step away and doing something else for a while.  Distance indeed makes the heart grow fonder.

Until Next Time,

Nicole D.P. McLaughlin

Focus

Today’s post is about how to make it as a professional writer.  Most artistic types are  resigned to struggle and barely make it in life.  I for one have never wanted to be a starving artist, and so I’ve done my best to find ways to make money writing.  I know a hand full of writers who like myself, are at various levels of making it. I also know many other writers who would love to write for a living but for now, writing is basically a hobby. The difference between writing as a hobby and writing to pay the bills is an issue of focus.  If you know anything about self-actualization, you know that what you focus on the most is what will manifest. So where is your focus?

If your focus is off, try adopting some of the following practices to renew your focus.

  1. Write everyday. Give yourself a word limit and do it everyday.
  2. Read something everyday. Preferably in the genre you want to write in.
  3. Learn the business. Everyday research and learn something new about the publishing business.
  4. Enter writing contest. If you’re writing everyday, you should have enough material to enter several contest every year.
  5. Travel as much as you can. Journal about your experiences and the people you meet.
  6. Attend book fairs, writer’s conferences, and any gathering of authors and or publishers. Get to know people who are already doing what you want to do.

Until Next Time,

Nicole D. P. McLaughlin

Why Write

English: penulis = writer

I began this conversation on my Facebook fan page this weekend. I asked, “Would you continue to write, even if you never publish?” We are always talking about publishing. It’s now easier than ever to self-publish and so that is no longer the big obstacle it used to be.  However, I wonder if people are so focused on publishing that they are losing the why of it all.

There are only a few reasons to sit down and write. If Fiction is your thing, it’s the thrill of plotting the perfect story. If Non-Fiction, it’s about sharing information. At the end of the day a writer writes because he or she must. There is a deep desire to tell the tale or relay the message to the masses. My question to you is, “What happens if the masses never read a single word?”

A few years ago, I shut Azreal Publishing down and contemplated giving up on being in the publishing business. After a year and half, I decided to rebuild and give a second try. Through it all I never stopped writing. As a result I have books waiting to be published. I have several other book ideas in various stages of development. A writer must write.

When you’re wondering, why you continue to sit down day after day and write keep the following thoughts in mind:

  • Writing benefits the writer as much as the reader
  • Readers want new books to read
  • Books are not the only things you can write
  • Experimenting with different genres makes you a better writer

Hope that you find that the act of manipulating words is enough for you. That yo u never lose focus of your why and the reason you write. Keep producing quality works and in time your audience will find you.

Until Next Time,

Nicole D. P. McLaughlin

April is the Month for Poets

English: Spoken-word artist Zena Edwards

English: Spoken-word artist Zena Edwards (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In honor of National Poetry Month I’d like to share a poem.

A poet; I am not

But I’ll give it all I’ve got

April is the month for poets

to celebrate their rhyming sonnets.

Maybe a haiku or iambic pentameter

it doesn’t really matter

rhyming or not

I like poetry a lot

 O.K. you don’t have to tell me.  I know that poetry is not my thing.  I was not blessed with the poetry gene, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it.  I especially enjoy spoken word sessions when poetry is spoken over music.  I do believe that one can learn the art and craft of poetry and produce good, technical poems.  However, I also believe that when someone has the gift of poetry they can connect with readers and listeners in a way that will defy all mechanics. 

Poetry as an art form was born out of humanity’s oral tradition of passing stories down from one generation to the next.  As a result, poems are best transmitted orally.  But as a written medium poetry is just as beautiful.  The physical shape of a written poem can enhance its meaning and give life to the words. 

When you meet a poet, they often have a collection of poems they have published or are about to publish.  While having your works bound in a book that you can sell is great, there are other ways that you as a poet can turn your verses into to dollars.

  • Jingle Writing
  • Advertising (print and commercials)
  • Greeting Cards
  • Novelties (bumper stickers, posters, key chains, t-shirts, etc.)
  • Public Speaking

Poetry and poets can often be misunderstood and viewed as a lesser art form, but be encouraged this month.  You have a voice and a unique way of viewing the world.  Poets have led movements and changed nations.  Our world is so much better due to the poets in it.  So celebrate this month and let your collective voices be heard. 

Until Next Week,

Nicole D. P. McLaughlins