#TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter – Just a few things not to say to a Writer

tea-cup_1a

Writers can get discouraged in the pursuit of craft and trade. The night I am writing this, Twitter lit up with a hashtag of #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter. I remembered a few of those things I heard and decided to share a handful of them and why they are discouraging and in many instances, just disrespectful.

1. That’s a great hobby.

For as long as I can remember, I never viewed writing as a hobby. The general reading public may still look at it that way. From the time I was younger, I always believed it to be a trade and an art form at the same time. I pursue this business and trade with passion and perseverance, and harder than any “hobby” than I might enjoy.

2. Good Luck With That

Let me explain why saying this to a writer or anyone has a negative connotation. Say this phrase out loud. The “that” part of this sentence can imply sarcasm. People might view the pursuit of something in the arts as a pipe dream. This is rather unfortunate. There are many people who have said this sentence to someone who has gone on to be successful. Being successful in this business does not necessarily mean being a best-selling author. Being able to work is a basis for being successful in itself.

3. You are not published so you’re not a writer.

There are many in this business who may not be published or never will be published. People can and will chase a dream of publishing their entire careers and may never see their names on the page. However, break down the trade further. Technical writers may never get formal credit in print for designing manuals they might produce. Ghost writers who are putting together books for others will likely be paid a nice remuneration for their work, despite never seeing their name in print. Most in this business chase a dream of being published. If you are writing because you want to, then you are a writer. End of discussion.

4. You make money doing that?

I have actually heard this one recently. I write because I love it. It just so happens that I’m fortunate to be able to earn some money doing it. Few who love this business and the craft are in it for the money. Let’s face it. It is very easy for companies to look online at a seemingly endless pool of freelancers across the globe. It is a challenge to market oneself and keep putting yourself out there. So yes, you can make money doing it.

Twitter has brought out these and many dozens more that are worth. If you have Twitter, check out the #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter hashtag on and read away. Or share a few of your own in the comment section. 

@WriterDann

Note-Booking on paper & on screen

Power of Words

How often has it happened to you?

A decent idea that might be workable. Front and center. You think about writing it down but trust yourself that it will be so good that you will recall it later.  Only when you recall later, you just recall that you had a seemingly brilliant thought that vanished. Gone completely.

Inspired ideas cannot be left lost. Whether they become something worthwhile down the road, or something that gets shelved. Why take that chance? Keep paper close by. Most dollar stores sell small notebooks and pens for cheap. So stock up and place them wherever in your home you might most frequent. Just knowing you can reach for a place to write something down can put your creative mind at slight ease.

If you have a smart phone, you have an extra note-booking device on you at all times. Anyone with an iPhone can easily tap out an idea on to notes for transcription later. If you have dictation enabled on your phone, you can verbalize that thought directly on to the notes application.  On occasion, I have used Voice Memos to dictate something and expand on it just so I can remind myself of any extra things in connection with the idea.

Even with the assistance of technology, I still think it is vital to keep paper around. Ultimately you will do whatever is best for your writing practice. For me personally and professionally, having both options available is makes it a seem like writing insurance policy for ideas.

It is minimizing the potential for loss of potentially brilliant writing. Something that may seem insignificant at first can be revisited later with a fresh mind and fresher approach. It could be the premise to an eventual best-selling book, a highly-read and trafficked blog post. Anything. So why risk losing those creative sparks?  Give them the imprint and guarantee they stand a chance at existence and eventual development.

@WriterDann

One for the Bass Players

string%20bass

It is one of my oldest friends, and enemies. I have four representations of the instrument in my home office. A beat-up Samick 4-string which I paid a hundred bucks for at a local shop in Halifax. A 6-string Ibanez which saw a great deal of work on stage and at many a drunken jam session or two. In Alberta, Ontario and here in Nova Scotia. There’s also a Cort Acoustic short-scale 4-string. Something that I can jam with, minus an amplifier.

Then there is this great thing you see in the picture below. A custom-built 5-string electric upright that I would call my favourite of the lot. This pristine captured moment is a jam session involving my Grandfather on Harmonica, and my Dad out of sight on guitar and voice. It was some horrid gospel song that Dad was playing and Gramps and I were just going along with it.  This happened a few months before Gramps passed away. He was out of breath after his Harmonica solo. He knew I hated the music but that was not important. It was important that after all these years I was able to play music with the two of them at the same time. I enjoyed that moment, as awful as it might have sounded to some.

jocko and the jam

I have long considered the bass as part of who I am. An extension really. For the longest time I was worrying that I did not continue to at least maintain what skills I have. There would be times that I would pick up a bass or stop at the upright and just play what I felt at that moment. So many times I sounded like garbage. Probably because that is how I felt. Inadvertently I would want to get mad at the bass and blame it for not sounding good. I would walk away a frustrated writer with some musical talent.

This week past has been different. For a few weeks I wanted to spin one of my favourite records and see if I could play all of one side without stopping. Incidentally, the record was The Northern Pikes “Big Blue Sky”. Jay Semko (vocals and bass) is still one of my favourite musicians and an early bass influence along with Rush’s Geddy Lee and Baz Donovan of Blue Rodeo. Much to my delight I barely missed a note. I felt a bit rejuvenated in the musical abilities I have. It was reconnecting with an old friend.  It was a reminder of how enjoyable it is to be able to play an instrument and play it well.

@WriterDann

Content Control & Social Media – A Short Refresher

Social Media

Summer is here. Which means your social media probably has a few summer pics. Pics of the cottage, the water near the cottage, and the food being eaten at the cottage…all for your viewing pleasure on Facebook, Twitter, Instacoffee (my nickname for Instagram) and other platforms.

One of the great things about using these platforms is the fact that you have the say on what content you are viewing. You can view what you want on these feeds and simply hide the content you don’t want to see. Social media is one of the greatest technological tools of the information age. It is often better than watching a news broadcast.

I am personally not a major fan of watching or reading the news often. So I take great strides to have my social media news feeds looks more like an entertainment wire versus a news broadcast. I enjoy content that is going to make me laugh or think. I tend to spend more time on Twitter than Facebook. With Facebook I felt like I was spending too much time on it. Gradually I have eased off on my usage in an attempt to devote that time to writing.

Since I use only Facebook and Twitter I would offer the following refresher tips on content control.

For Facebook, if someone is posting constant content that is bothersome to you, unfollow or unfriend. You do not have to continually have them in your news feed. Spend some time cleaning up the content you allow to appear and reduce the negativity.

For Twitter, take up some of the suggestions it automatically offers you on who to follow. If you have for example some great comedic talent that you follow, Twitter may generate some people to follow whose humour you have yet to discover.

In between summer book reading, I hope you find some great entertainment through social media. I never cease to be in amazement at how many interesting and informative articles turn up just through my time on Twitter.

Read lots,

Write often,

Have a good rest of the summer.

@WriterDann

“Planned UnParenthood” – A Revisit & Revision

book Cover

It was only a few weeks ago where I swore that I would never read this book again. This was born out of a fear of finding too many things that might need to be changed. Revising is one of my favourite things about work. I long viewed Planned UnParenthood as being finished completely. It has been nearly three years after the first publication, why would  I change it? The content is still relevant today and will remain relevant years from now.

So, the other night I sat down and read it straight through. With the script open on my screen I made a small number of changes. I cleared up some of the wording, found one typo that was missed in the final edit and added a new afterword to reflect my reasons for releasing a new edition.

Last August, I had the privilege of winning International Childfree Man of The Year 2014. Part of my reason for winning the honour was because of this book. It remains to my knowledge the first book written about not having children from a male perspective. For this year’s award I will be part of the judging panel along with International Childfree Woman of The Year 2014 Magenta Baribeau, and others. I do want to emphasize that it is equally important to promote matters for people who cannot have children by choice. In my book I mention those who are considered “childless”, adoption as a positive option while touching lightly on the still delicate (to many) pro-choice topic.

Incidentally, the nomination process for International Childfree Woman and Man of the year will open on June 15, 2015. If you know of anyone who should be nominated, head over to the International Childfree Day Website for information on the nomination process and to read about the rest of the panel.

To those of you who own copies of my book. The content overall has not changed the direction of the book.  As I explain in the new Afterword, it really was about seeing my own growth as a more experienced writer.  Revising this book was about making the final product a better read. I was really happy with the first one and am extra happy with the new version. It is a reminder to me as a writer that even a few small revisions can make something great even better.     

For more information, I highly recommend Nina Steele’s http://www.nonparents.com where I have contributed some content. The site highly encourages readers to submit stories and engage in discussion.

If you or someone you know speaks french, please check out Catherine-Emmanuelle Delisle’s Femmes Sans Enfant at http://femmesansenfant.com  You can have google translate the page into English for you and you can get some great reading even from the translation.

Planned UnParenthood is available through Amazon and other online book retailers worldwide.

Thank you all for your continued support!

@WriterDann

Picking Up The Pieces

Power of Words

That moment where you realize you may not have worked in a few days. Or is it weeks…

Months?

It can happen. You might feel a sense of craft ignorance. Do you feel as a writer like you have been ignoring writing? Not necessarily. I have written much on these pages about how even thinking about work can be considered working.

http://dannalexander.com/2015/03/02/thinkwork/

For example. This is my first post on these pages in a few weeks. By no means does it mean I have not been busy. Ignoring writing just does not happen for me anymore. I need to always be working. I have also been on a bit of a break to refocus on health and live a little bit again. I spent a few days in one of my favourite places in the world. That being good old Las Vegas. You have to take breaks. You have to have your health. I’ve often said and written that continuing to write is very vital to my health. For as long as I can remember, working the words has been part of my active and healthy lifestyle. If I stop writing it can and has affected my overall well-being. So I try to never stop. I try to think of ideas while on those breaks. Even a few minutes of silence can inspire hours and pages of writing. My books are proof of this.

Remembering to live can be difficult in any business. Many in the business like me have day jobs and it is a balancing act. I’ve said multiple times that I live in order to write. Well, it seems more and more that I write in order to live. We write as part of living. Sure it would be nice to make a full-time living at it one day and that will happen for many of us. During difficult times it is important to keep going forward. Use your self-identity as a writer as a coping mechanism to pick up the pieces and get back at it.

@WriterDann

Waterfront Wanderings and Irresponsible Pet Parents

halifax in front of Saltys

Tuesday was one of those days worthy of a long walk along the Halifax waterfront. I know I needed it. It is around the time of the year where it starts to get busier. Cruise Ships start coming in. I again resist the urge to show up at Pier 21 with a sign that says “Welcome to Port Hawkesbury” just to see if I can fool anyone. (Hey I am tired, my sense of humour is probably off a bit)

The springtime runners are all out in full force determined to see how much sweat they can generate in the sunshine. The patios are lined with freshly poured beer and plates lined with mostly fabulous fare for diners of all tastes.

While not blazingly hot, it was warm enough that for a dog walking along the surfaces it was a bit too hot. I walked past one large dog then a small dog, both were lifting their legs in a silent but visible protest of the heat on their paws. Their owners just continued to rush them along not seeming to care. I was out of shouting range at this point and on reflection I should have went after them.

A few further steps ahead, a lady had picked up her little dog and was carrying her along. The right call indeed.

As the warmer weather has finally returned, it is that time to remind all pet-parents not to be irresponsible careless idiots. Dogs cannot be left in vehicles. If the road surface is too hot for walking, don’t walk them. This is so simple yet many pet-parents still cannot get this through their heads. This is animal cruelty.

I want to openly thank all of the Halifax business owners downtown and everywhere who are leaving constantly fresh supplies of waters for the dogs that walk by. That is common sense compassion for our pet friends.

No matter where you are. Please be mindful of any animals left in hot cars. Call the authorities and do what you can to save an innocent life.

Do not ignore distress.