Don’t Be Drab: How Your Art Can Influence Your Fashion

Many authors are fluent in many subjects and because they write about different topics and in different styles, they need a unique wardrobe to accompany their writing. With such a variety of techniques, styles, languages, and genres, why should our fashion taste be the same?

UntitledEclectic writers, listen closely. The key to pulling this style off is having a ton of confidence and being yourself. An eclectic writer often wears vintage clothing items. To better accompany this look, include cowboy boots with lace. This eclectic look uses a bright colors and prints, each balancing each other out, not breaking the mix and match rule. Choosing this style also provides comfort and somewhat sophisticated look.

5569NBLACKEBAYMAIN_zps3259660eThe “sexy” writer and the business writer can merge into one group. If the clothes worn are too revealing, then agents and editors may not take you seriously. Both writers wear skirts and button down shirts along with heels and panty-hose. While these styles should be worn with confidence, caution should be exercised as well. If too revealing, a “50 Shades of Grey”-esque scenario might occur, and nobody wants to be fetishized or blamed for any sexual harassment that may take place. (It sucks, but it is a reality… unfortunately.)

f3f6d56dce1f0a6ca488196524ea2dd8If you have been in the writing game for quite a while now and have connections, this style is for you. The casual writer is a look of both clean and comfortable, but not suitable for the event. Wearing every day, comfortable clothing, you will, as a writer, present yourself as someone who has enough a ton of confidence. You may impress everyone around you by your style, giving off the “I don’t need to impress anyone” aura because of the simplicity of your outfit and what you’re wearing. Because it makes you look like you know what you’re doing and like you’re part of the “in” crowd, this look will be especially effective for you.

UntitledThe exact opposite of the casual writer, the dressed up writer, is presented as a more serious writer who sticks to their promises. They often wear fancy dresses or even three piece suits. Much to one’s surprise, ladies can pull off the suit look off. If you decide to take after this type of writer, you will end up demonstrating that you take your job seriously and play no games. If you want your outfit to trigger conference faculty to treat you with a more gentle touch than otherwise, this is the perfect look for you!

UntitledLast, but not the least stylish, is the funky writer. Funky writers often wear ripped or skinny jeans with concert t-shirts and a more 21st century haircut. The funky writer’s wardrobe and outfits can be degrading if you’re trying to appeal to an older audience. Although you may have lost the older generations, you will not lose the younger generations. Because your style may be thought of as the average teenager’s style in today’s world, you may be able to speak to them and get your point across to them better than you would have with the older crowd.

We have the ability to control what we write and make it our own, so we should be able to control what we wear. When it comes down to picking an outfit, we need to consider what kind of writer we are, and what kind of writer we want to be perceived as.

What do you wear? Do you unconsciously rock any of these styles, or do you take the world by storm in a style of your own? Be sure to share in the comments below!

Is Joining A Writing Group Important?

As a writer, new or not, you have a lot of ideas running on your mind. Ideas that you want to put into writing and showcase to the world. There will be times though that you will experience getting stuck on a certain part. You will even experience the fear of starting or sharing your work because you are afraid it is not as good as you think it is. You may also experience not getting the support that you need from your loved ones to be the best writer that you can be. You can’t expect them to always understand your needs or how you think because you are a writer and they likely are not.

Will this be an indication that you need to spend more time alone? Absolutely not. This is just an indication that perhaps it is time for you to join a writing group.


A writing group is comprised of people who are equally as passionate as you are about your craft. People who can provide you the support that you need during challenging times. Like-minded people who understand you and what you are going through.

You may be hesitant in joining a writing group for many different reasons, but the benefits of joining one can outweigh your doubts.

  • Finding your support group. At times, you will be faced with many different difficulties as a writer. From experiencing the writer’s block to feeling down because of a lack of understanding from your friends or family, your writing group will be there for you. They know what you are going through because they have likely experienced it.
  • Improving your skills. In joining a writing group you will be exposed to many different types of writers. You may even get acquainted with an editor or a highly experienced writer who can give you honest feedback for your work. In sharing your work with the group, you’ll get a fresh set of eyes to review your work. You will receive their honest opinions, builds, and valuable advice which will be beneficial not just for you but for your work as well. This perhaps is one of the most important reasons why one should join a writing group.
  • Getting valuable information. Aside from helping you further improve your writing skills, you’ll also get exclusive information on the latest ins and outs, conferences, talks, workshops, and contests that you can join. You’ll receive tips from your fellow writers which can help you further build your name as a writer or help you become a better writer.
  • Getting published. Since you are in a group with other writers, chances are they have their own blog or they are affiliated with publishing companies. You’ll get a chance to be a guest blogger or be published for a work you shared in your group. Aside from this, your group will also be your source of encouragement to help get your work finally published.
  • Free Promotion. If you do have a published book, article, or a blog your fellow writers from the group can help spread the word about it. This gives your work extra mileage for free.
  • Staying motivated to finish your work. Everybody needs a bit of encouragement every now and then. Even the most seasoned writer will face hard times that will discourage them from finishing what they have started. Taking part of w writing group does not just mean finding comfort with like-minded people and building your connections, it also means giving and receiving encouragement. You will have people who will persistently ask you for updates about the novel or article you are writing. Being part of a group also means taking part in mini-exercises that help you stay on track and train your mind to meet deadlines.

Being part of a writing group is highly beneficial not just for new writers but for seasoned writers as well. Look at it as being part of a community that has the end goal of helping you the best writer that you can be.

10 Books Every Writer Must Read

You know how the saying goes… “every great writer reads”… or something like that. As much as I’ve read throughout the years, I will say that I’ve never been more motivated, challenged, or creatively stimulated than after I’ve mentally engaged in a good book. I’m not just talking about your average Homer, Shakespeare, or Faulkner; I’m talking a variety of authors and genres – from Zane (urban fiction) to Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (academic nonfiction), Toni Morrison (American classic), and Langston Hughes (poetry). While those were great to use as examples of what an ideal final product should look like, I believe most writers, like myself, need to learn the technical skills and refine our ability to convey our messages to our readers. Here, I compiled a list of books that are very effective at teaching writing. Read them at your leisure!

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE (WILLIAM STRUNK JUNIOR & E.B. WHITE)

downloadThe Elements of Style is a prescriptive American English writing style guide in numerous editions. The original was composed by William Strunk Jr., in 1918 and published by Harcourt in 1920, comprising eight “elementary rules of usage”, ten “elementary principles of composition”, “a few matters of form”, a list of forty-nine “words and expressions commonly misused”, and a list of fifty-seven “words often misspelled”. It was much enlarged and revised by E. B. White for publication by Macmillan in 1959. That was the first edition of so-called Strunk & White, which Time magazine named in 2011 one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923.

EATS, SHOOTS & LEAVES (LYNNE TRUSS)

ES&LIn Eats, Shoots & Leaves, former editor Lynne Truss, gravely concerned about our current grammatical state, boldly defends proper punctuation. She proclaims, in her delightfully urbane, witty, and very English way, that it is time to look at our commas and semicolons and see them as the wonderful and necessary things they are. Using examples from literature, history, neighborhood signage, and her own imagination, Truss shows how meaning is shaped by commas and apostrophes, and the hilarious consequences of punctuation gone awry.

Featuring a foreword by Frank McCourt, and interspersed with a lively history of punctuation from the invention of the question mark in the time of Charlemagne to George Orwell shunning the semicolon, Eats, Shoots & Leaves makes a powerful case for the preservation of proper punctuation.

THE AP STYLEBOOK

AP_stylebook_coverThe Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, usually called the AP Stylebook, is a style and usage guide used by newspapers and in the news industry in the United States. The book is updated annually by Associated Press editors, usually in June.

Reporters, editors and others use the AP Stylebook as a guide for grammar, punctuation and principles and practices of reporting. Although some publications use a different style guide, the AP Stylebook is considered a newspaper industry standard and is also used by broadcasters, magazines and public relations firms, in part because its style guidelines offer short-form advantages over other style manuals designed to save scarce print space, such as dropping the Oxford comma and using figures for all numbers above nine.[1] It includes an A-to-Z listing of guides to capitalization, abbreviation, spelling, numerals, and usage.

ON WRITING (STEPHEN KING)

on_writing“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

THE JOURNALIST AND THE MURDERER (JANET MALCOLM)

tjatmIn two previous books, Janet Malcolm explored the hidden sides of, respectively, institutional psychoanalysis and Freudian biography. In this book, she examines the psychopathology of journalism. Using a strange and unprecedented lawsuit as her larger-than-life example — the lawsuit of Jeffrey MacDonald, a convicted murderer, against Joe McGinniss, the author of Fatal Vision, a book about the crime — she delves into the always uneasy, sometimes tragic relationship that exists between journalist and subject. In Malcolm’s view, neither journalist nor subject can avoid the moral impasse that is built into the journalistic situation. When the text first appeared, as a two-part article in The New Yorker, its thesis seemed so radical and its irony so pitiless that journalists across the country reacted as if stung.

Her book is a work of journalism as well as an essay on journalism: it at once exemplifies and dissects its subject. In her interviews with the leading and subsidiary characters in the MacDonald-McGinniss case — the principals, their lawyers, the members of the jury, and the various persons who testified as expert witnesses at the trial — Malcolm is always aware of herself as a player in a game that, as she points out, she cannot lose. The journalist-subject encounter has always troubled journalists, but never before has it been looked at so unflinchingly and so ruefully. Hovering over the narrative — and always on the edge of the reader’s consciousness — is the MacDonald murder case itself, which imparts to the book an atmosphere of anxiety and uncanniness. The Journalist and the Murderer derives from and reflects many of the dominant intellectual concerns of our time, and it will have a particular appeal for those who cherish the odd, the off-center, and the unsolved.

THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE MISPLACED MODIFIER (BONNIE TRENGA)

download (1)Most people think that good grammar leads to good writing. But the truth is that while good writing may be technically correct, it’s also strong, concise, and specific.

This guide identifies the seven writing weaknesses that editors everywhere must fix again and again; in fact, almost all of an editor’s corrections on any piece of writing will come from the material covered in this book’s lessons. In an engaging solve-the-mystery format, you’ll solve these cases:

  • The Tantalizing Tale of Passive Voice
  • The Peculiar Puzzle of the Vague -ing Word
  • The Confusing Caper Concerning the Super-Long Sentence

You don’t have to wade through hundreds of pages of dry grammar references to improve your writing. Rather than memorize the picky details that very few people care about, learn what really leads to good writing in this easy-to-use and friendly book.

THE WAR OF ART (STEVEN PRESSFIELD)

download (2)A succinct, engaging, and practical guide for succeeding in any creative sphere, The War of Art is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul. hat keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do? Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece? Bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success. The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline. Think of it as tough love . . . for yourself. Whether an artist, writer or business person, this simple, personal, and no-nonsense book will inspire you to seize the potential of your life.

PLAYING IN THE DARK (TONI MORRISON)

download (3)The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Beloved and Jazz now gives us a learned, stylish, and immensely persuasive work of literary criticism that promises to change the way we read American literature even as it opens a new chapter in the American dialogue on race.

Toni Morrison’s brilliant discussions of the “Africanist” presence in the fiction of Poe, Melville, Cather, and Hemingway leads to a dramatic reappraisal of the essential characteristics of our literary tradition. She shows how much the themes of freedom and individualism, manhood and innocence, depended on the existence of a black population that was manifestly unfree- and that came to serve white authors as embodiments of their own fears and desires.

Written with the artistic vision that has earned Toni Morrison a preeminent place in modern letters, Playing in the Dark will be avidly read by Morrison admirers as well as by students, critics, and scholars of American literature.

WRITING TOOLS (ROY PETER CLARK)

download (4)One of America’s most influential writing teachers offers a toolbox from which writers of all kinds can draw practical inspiration.

“Writing is a craft you can learn,” says Roy Peter Clark. “You need tools, not rules.” His book distills decades of experience into 50 tools that will help any writer become more fluent and effective.

WRITING TOOLS covers everything from the most basic (“Tool 5: Watch those adverbs”) to the more complex (“Tool 34: Turn your notebook into a camera”) and provides more than 200 examples from literature and journalism to illustrate the concepts. For students, aspiring novelists, and writers of memos, e-mails, PowerPoint presentations, and love letters, here are 50 indispensable, memorable, and usable tools.

ON WRITING WELL (WILLIAM ZINSSER)

download (5)On Writing Well has been praised for its sound advice, its clarity and the warmth of its style. It is a book for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day, as almost everybody does in the age of e-mail and the Internet.

Whether you want to write about people or places, science and technology, business, sports, the arts or about yourself in the increasingly popular memoir genre, On Writing Well offers you fundamental principles as well as the insights of a distinguished writer and teacher. With more than a million copies sold, this volume has stood the test of time and remains a valuable resource for writers and would-be writers.

Are there any books I missed? What books helped you develop your craft? Share your responses in the comment section below!

How to Conquer Writer’s Block

Have you wanted to begin your article or blog but can’t seem to progress after seeing a blank page? Are you riddled with lots of great ideas, but can’t quite figure out which one to use? Are you stuck on a certain part of your writing outline?

Unfortunately, aside from procrastination, you are probably experiencing the writer’s block – a hurdle in your creativity that prevents you from finishing your task.

Perhaps the most common occurrence of experiencing the writer’s block is in starting your project. You are faced with a blank page or paper and you experience either a lack of creative ideas or fear of not being able to write something you can be proud of. Every writer experiences it and most get overwhelmed. This often leads to procrastination that results to a poorly and hastily written post or article created just to reach your deadline. The article you wrote may just get rejected or you may get asked to re-write it over and over until it becomes good enough to meet your editor’s standards.

There are ways to overcome and conquer the writer’s block. Take time to read and try the different ways to conquer the writer’s block. Just remember that not all of what is shared below can work for you, so it is important to figure out which one helps you beat your writer’s block.

  • Don’t allow the fear of failure get to you. Instead of thinking about the negative feedback you might get from what you will write, think about getting recognition from it. Remember that it is natural to get asked to revise a few parts of what you wrote. In the case that your work gets rejected, do look at it as a way for you to learn. Take notes, review your work and try again.
  • Affirm your talents. Get up, look at your reflection in the mirror and read an affirmation. Repeat it three times or as much as needed until you believe what you are reciting or saying.
  • Calm your nerves. If you are just new to writing, you may get too excited or too scared. Listen to calming music, preferably one with no lyrics. Drink a cup of tea or something warm to help soothe your nerves. Your task may be overwhelming so tackle it one sentence at a time.
  • Take a 10-15 minute break. Sometimes you just need to take a break. Give yourself time to settle down. Perhaps you have overworked your brain cells and all you need is some down time. Do something that will help you de-stress, something that is not related to writing or to your writing task. Think of doing what you like to do or something that interests you.
  • Think of happy thoughts. Stop thinking first about meeting your dreaded deadline. Watch something funny, a viral video, or something inspiring to help lift your spirits after beating yourself up for getting stuck with a blank page in-front of you. This will be especially true when you watch babies laughing or animals doing funny things.
  • Set up your workstation somewhere else. Your mind may start churning out words for your article when you have a change of scenery. Working on a different station or looking outside your window allows your mind to drift away. Play your favorite song, daydream and let the ideas in while you are at it.
  • Get moving. Try walking up and down the stairs or go for a 5 minute walk around the block. After being active for even a short bit of time your mind will get re-charged ready to finish the tasks you have.

Try each one of the tips mentioned above and see which one works the best in helping you conquer writer’s block. Do you have any suggestions? What tips and tricks work best for you? Let us know in the comments below!

10 Great Resources for Writers

As a poet, spoken word artist, writer, entrepreneur (and several other amazing adjectives), I found it very difficult to find affordable and practical resources to help better myself and my craft. I had been writing since about 2000 and performing since 2010, yet, I was still having some challenges seeking quality programs and general guidance to help move my career to where it needed to be – correction – where I wanted it to be. That being said, here is a list of the best 10 resources that every poet or writer should utilize BEFORE they even begin planning their goals for the year:

1. Grants, Scholarships, Fellowships

Poets & Writers, Inc., is the primary source of information, support, and guidance for creative writers. Founded in 1970, it is the nation’s largest nonprofit literary organization serving poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers. Their national office is located in New York City. Their California branch office is based in Los Angeles.

2. Writing Prompts

The Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library promotes student and faculty success in learning, teaching, and research.  They build, manage, and preserve research and information collections; serve the information needs of our community in a welcoming physical and virtual environment; and create and foster collaborative opportunities for research and service.

3/4. Writing Workshops & Seminars

The famous Gotham Writer’s Workshop is the leading private creative writing school in New York City and online. Professional writers present workshops in more than a dozen forms of writing. The school’s interactive online classes, selected as “Best of the Web” by Forbes, have attracted thousands of aspiring writers from across the United States and more than one hundred countries.

The charter publication Writer’s Digest literally “wrote the book” on writing and getting published. For more than 90 years, the experts at Writer’s Digest have been publishing books, magazines, competitions, conferences and distance education materials for writers who want to polish their skills and hone their craft.

You are also likely to find free writing or poetry workshops at your local library!

5/6. A Dictionary & A Thesaurus

Writing involves a lot of words and phrases – whether it’s jargon or rhetoric – but basically they’re all the means to a well-written end. While dictionaries definitely enhance your ability to use more concise words, thesauri gives you a wider spectrum of synonyms and antonyms when you hunger for a variety of words.

Suggestion: If you’re serious about increasing your vocabulary, visit Dictionary.com and sign up for their Word of the Day email, or simply download the app on Android or iPhone.

7. The Elements of Style

The Elements of Style (1918), by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White, is a prescriptive American English writing style guide comprising eight “elementary rules of usage”, ten “elementary principles of composition”, “a few matters of form”, a list of forty-nine “words and expressions commonly misused”, and a list of fifty-seven “words often misspelled”. In 2011, Time magazine listed The Elements of Style as one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923.

8. Finding Words that Rhyme

Write Rhymes is a fairly simple site to use. Simply write a word that you want to find rhymes for, hold alt + click the word to get the rhymes.

9. A Notebook & Pen

Carry a notebook and pen with you at all times. Inspiration can hit you at any moment. Be prepared.

10. Writing Regimen

Use a calendar or planner (I prefer to use Google Calendar since it syncs with my phone) to create and keep up with a weekly 2-hour writing session. Utilize Poets & Writers, the Library, or Creative Portal to create three writing prompts per session. Plan out the next six months and begin writing as early as next week!

Traditional, Indie, Vanity, and Self Publishing

Today the publishing industry is not just limited to the traditional press. Writers are given more options to get their work published. What seemed to be impossible before has been easily achieved by many writers.

However, the many options available to writers nowadays have raised confusion as to which is “best”. The thing is, it is extremely important to know the differences between the many types of publishing – the advantages as well as the disadvantages – because what is ideal for one person may be the complete opposite for someone else. This especially reigns true for indie, vanity, and traditional publishing.

TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING

Traditional publishing is perhaps one of the most known ways of getting work distributed. The process for this type of publishing usually starts with a writer completing a good portion of their manuscript, producing a query letter and book proposal, then pitching it to a literary agent who best has been successful in pitching other authors in their genre(s). The agent then sends it to their connections in the Big Five traditional publishers (Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillan). The publishing house that receives the manuscript reviews the submission to ensure that it is both profitable and marketable. If it is something that they would want to work with, they move forward with the process by reaching out to the literary agent.

In most cases, the author will be paid in advance for future royalties of the manuscript they submitted. This advance can range from $10,000 to $100,000, however, the rights of the book will be bought from the writer before the manuscript is published. Once the smoke clears, traditional publishers take care of everything: editing, marketing, copyrights, ISBN, cover designs, so forth and so on.

This entire process may take as long as several years when compared to the immediacy of indie publishers and self-publishing.

WHAT IS INDIE PUBLISHING?

From the word “independent,” indie publishing simply means that you are working with an independent publisher, one who is not affiliated or part of major publishing houses. Indie publishing is often referred to as small press, because they are not (yet) reaching a certain level of annual sales. Aside from this, they also publish fewer titles per year, generally ten or less. Because of the smaller nature of these publishers, it is much easier to get your work in their hands without hiring a literary agent.

An indie publisher often specializes in specific genres. This means that there is room for every writer, they would just need to find an indie publisher who specializes on the subject that they are writing about. Indie publishers will also help you market your book to make it profitable; however, it is commonly known that the author is expected to pull their weight with marketing and promotion as well. While they don’t offer as much money as traditional publishers, they do tend to provide between $500 and $10,000 as author advances.

Indie publishing can take as few as two weeks or as long as six months to get a response.

WHAT IS VANITY / SELF PUBLISHING?

Vanity publishing is also often referred to as self-publishing because the author is paying to publish their work. Although the two are similar, they are NOT the same.

With vanity publishing, the author pays a third party to complete the tasks needed to publish the book. This third party is called a vanity publisher and is sometimes referred to as a vanity press or subsidy publisher. Some examples are Xlibris and BookBaby. These types of vanity publishers provide all the services needed to publish your works, but also charge a pretty penny for it in addition to taking more than half of your royalties.

Unlike vanity publishing, where all the resources you need are in one area, when an author self-publishes, they have two options: “self-publishing” companies such as CreateSpace, Kindle Direct Publishing, and Lulu that are “free” to publish, but have contractual agreements, or actual self-publishing.

“Self-publishing” companies such as KDP automatically remove royalties from each unit sold, and make it nearly impossible to sell your books independently through another “self-publishing” company. For instance, with Amazon’s KDP company, an author has to exclusively sell their eBook with them for 90 days. If they find out that the author is selling it elsewhere, the author’s work will be pulled from distribution. Even after the 90 days, the author isn’t even allowed to price their book lower than what is listed on Amazon. Otherwise – you guessed it – it could be pulled off of Amazon’s bookshelves.

With true self-publishing, an author is in charge of the entire process from manuscript to marketing. They will deal with hiring a graphic designer for exterior and interior book design, an editor to revise and format the book… the author has to purchase an ISBN from Bowker, handle the copyrights, and purchase advance reader copies (also known as ARCs) and other materials for marketing. It costs significantly more money upfront than all of the other options, yes. Yet, one of the better qualities of this option is that the author have more flexibility on where you can distribute your work, and can potentially keep up to 100% of the royalties.

In all three instances, the author is responsible for the marketing campaign on all fronts. The author has to work with the press to promote themselves and garner attention to boost sales.

MORE OPTIONS FOR WRITERS

Because of the presence of indie publishers and ability of self-publishing, authors are no longer limited to knocking on the doors of big publishing houses. It is important though to way the options available and see which type will best fit your work. Luckily for you, the Hodge Agency can assist you in your decision making. Contact us today for a consultation!