Magical Words: Motivation (D is for Diver)

Photo by Ricky Shirke on Unsplash, meme words added by Erin Penn

The admonition of the meme is harsher than my normal, but I think the picture captures the base of it well. The dancer works to have her body respond elegantly and swiftly to the dance requirements. Her workouts don’t only include the present dance, but other muscle memory building techniques, stretches, balance, movement, and freezes.

Writing is the same. It can’t be a sometime thing. It can’t be put off until tomorrow, and then tomorrow again and then tomorrow again. A to Z blog tour can help break the cycle of “I’ll find time to write tomorrow.” Writing muscles – from speed of typing, creative flow, self-editing as you go, having the characters actually talk to you, grammar and paragraph flow, and dozen of other techniques and skills, need constant work. Of course sometime life interferes, just like sometime a dancer can’t dance.

I’ve been a better writer. I write faster and more, when I write daily. It’s what works for me. A doctor-author-friend can only write on weekends; this method works for him. What writing exercise builds your muscles and gets you to your goals, that is the path you need to dance on.

I got the meme words from Lucienne Diver in her Magical Words post from October 3rd, 2012, “Motivation”. The URL is:

REPRINT: Exposure

Meme Exposure

Image acquired from the internet hive mind

Exposure will Burn

Have you ever been asked to do something for free and the person sells it to you as “exposure”? Happens all the time for writers, artists, musicians, and web programmers. And while some exposure is good, having only exposure goes from getting a good tan to receiving third degree burns. Frankly, most creative people are getting tired of being burned by exposure.

The above meme is a recent reaction to exposure burn.

Why the strong reaction from the musicians? Well, I know several amazing singers who are expected to sing at family weddings for free. The bridal couple chooses a song, the singer has to learn the song, practice it either to music or a live musician, present it at the recital wedding, and then finally perform it at the wedding. Basically a total of 10 to 20 hours effort, not including travel time, getting a hotel room if required, etc. All for free. Maybe getting a meal out of it for the wedding reception; the singer rarely gets to attend the recital dinner. Oh, and if they actually attend that reception, half the time they are asked to sing again. Something off the cuff.

And what do they get from this “exposure?” Another family obligation when the next person gets married when they have to do it all for free again.

Make a website for free, other people expect to get the same results. Give massages to your friends; they talk to their friends who also want free massages. Make art, expect to give it away. Edit for friends, and continue to edit for friends. No food on the table, no roof over the head, and no giving up the day job.

That is not to say “exposure” is not part of creative people’s advertising plans. For example, a writer rolling out a new book may go on a blog tour providing content to dozens of sites. Words written without pay. But it is “pay”, because it is part of the advertising; instead of renting billboards with money, the writer is spending time to advertise. In other words instead of spending $21 on Facebook to expand a post, they spend three hours (worth $7 per hour) to find bloggers willing to host them, write four posts, send them out, and then respond to any comments. Instead of spending money out-of-pocket, they spend time-off-the-clock. And practically anyone in the modern world will tell you they have even less time than money. Time is expensive.

Exposure is expensive because it is time not spent earning money or being with family and friends. The object for artists is to have exposure make them look good, be useful, like a tan. Which means they need to choose and prepare for that exposure like time at a beach. Does the exposure produce the results they need, or is it just going to produce a burn?

If you know creative people and ask them to do things, think about the cost they are incurring, not just money-wise but time-wise. Don’t try to sell it as “exposure.” If at all possible, reimburse their money costs. Accept it if they say “no” the same way you would if you asked for money and they had to turn you down. Sometimes they are “broke” and have nothing to give for the occasion.

And realize just what a “yes” means. They are offering is a true gift to you.  It is a wedding gift, birthday gift, … a gift from the heart … and treat it as such … because they are giving themselves to you.


Magical Words: Sit Down, Shut Up, and Write!

Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

The title is a little harsher than I normally see from Edmund Schubert. He is the nice editor-writer I want to grow up to be, but in the Magical Word article “Sit Down, Shut Up, and Write!” on November 20, 2010, he lays down some solid rules in some no-nonsense language.

  1. Study is okay. Going to panels, being part of on-line communities, and other ways of learning the business and how to write is okay. But you REALLY want to learn to write – then write.
  2. Don’t drown yourself in writing-related activity, write.
  3. Read other people’s books to see what to do and what not to do, and then write.
  4. Great creatives like Mozart and Shakespeare didn’t write one masterpiece, they wrote hundreds of pieces of which some were masterpieces, quality emerging out of quantity, so write a lot.
  5. Great inventors like Edison and theorists like Einstein didn’t have just one patent or one theory paper, they had hundreds, producing regularly, therefore write constantly.
  6. It’s okay if you can’t write daily, or a lot at a time, write when you can and as much as you can when you can. Do the writing.

So Sit Down, Shut Up, and Write.

The comment section on the blog also has some good comments too – the URL is .


Writing Exercise: Paper vs. Tech

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Last Thursday, I wrote “Learning through Paper vs. Tech” Geeking Science blog post (7/20/2023). Ready to apply science to your writing?

In the studies, scientist pointed out while tech allowed faster reading and faster note-taking, comprehension and higher level processing and retention suffered.

How would this apply to writing? I remember when I first began writing, and the computer was buried in the basement and not constantly on, writing the first draft on paper and then spending hours in the slightly damp and slightly dark basement transcribing the material. When transcribing the first draft into the second draft, I was rewriting so much of the material – making it better, getting the flow right. The story bloomed during my dark, damp times.

As time has gone on, computers and typing have become a way of life and my hand now cramps within minutes of writing instead of hours. All the muscles are for typing, not writing.

Hmm, that is telling – “not writing”. Is not writing the first draft out by hand one of the reasons I am not writing much? I know a lot of my writer friends, who are writing regularly, swear by their journals.

Obviously tech lets writing be faster with the computer, but is it better?

Today’s writing exercise is to physically write.

WRITING EXERCISE: Write a scene out by hand, and then retype the second draft. How is this product different from the normal written scene done through typing?


Magical Words: F is for Fast

Photo by Jonathan Chng on Unsplash

Writing fast, especially to a deadline, is required to go “pro” (i.e., actually attempt to make a living through words). A to Z for April is just a taste of the day-in day-out delivery required to pay the mortgage and bills for the roof over the head and the food on the table.

In the December 6, 2011 Magical Words post “Abandoning Standards,” Diana Pharaoh Francis, discusses abandoning her normal methods to get the Zero Draft done so she can turn in her book on time … in January, just a month away. Her answer – concentrate on getting the action down on paper.

Or, if I was following this advice, get my dialog down. I don’t see action first, I hear people talking. Whatever you need to do to get words on screen so you can edit them.

Forget the deeper characterizations, themes, set design – all these can be added during the second pass to flesh things out. First pass, get the plot down through action or dialog or whatever gets you beginning to end the fastest. Live life in the fast (writing) lane.

Again the URL for the post is: – be sure to catch all the comments. Many of the responders are other pros making a living at writing, and the hints are wonderful.