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6 Pros and Cons of Being a Writer

You might be asking what are the pros and cons of being a writer. Well, I could think of six answers. However, each answer has a good side as well as its downside.

1. Low overhead cost

Pro: Nowadays, you need a working computer and a reliable Internet connection to work as a writer. But long ago, William Shakespeare just used a quill and paper. That’s how low-cost writing as an occupation could be.

Con: A fabulous equipment like a computer, a printer, and a router may give you a little bit of a head start but it will not guarantee success in your writing business.

2. Anybody can write

Pro: Anybody can write, or could set himself up as a writer, no matter what your education or professional background is. Just look how many bloggers out there and check out their background. Some of them didn’t even finish college but can write well.

Con: Too many competition. You may have the award, the recognition from peers, etc. but the person beside you might also be another writer who is much better than you (and you don’t even know).

Anyone who says he wants to be a writer and isn’t writing, doesn’t.Ernest Hemingway

3. You can make money writing

Pro: I’ve mentioned in another blog, you can turn your writing into cash. Depending on what kind of writing you do, or whom you’re writing for, writing pays a lot. You can charge per word, per page, or per project, depending on what you’ve agreed upon with your client.

Con: Sadly, there’s no minimum wage for writers. Although there are some writers who earn a lot, some writers still struggle and receive low pay. That’s why many people still think that writing is not a real occupation or a good source of income.

4. Anybody can start at any time

Pro: The late Sidney Sheldon published his first novel past his age 50 although he had been a screenplay writer before that. Other writers started their writing career late, too. I am also a late bloomer, I started writing professionally in my 30’s.

Con: Distractions, discouragements, and chores may get in the way while you’re in the mood for writing. Well, all writers agree that the hardest part of writing is the beginning. Therefore, you could not just start writing any time.

5. You have the basic materials

Pro: Actually, you are the basic material. Your talent, knowledge, skills, and experiences can provide the basic materials you need for writing. Write first of what you know about.

Con: Sometimes, your material is not enough. You need to seek out and research more. Writing is hard work.

6. You write alone

Pro: Writing is a good career choice for introverts who are shy to interact with people but have something more to say to the world. Most writers are introvert, come to think of it. You can lock yourself inside your room and write.  (I love this part.)

Con: However, no man is an island. You need to socialize, interview, and network from time to time. In the end, you have to deal with editors and publishers, too.

So there you have it, six pros and cons of being a writer. Let me know your thoughts or if you have something to add on this one.

6 Reasons Why You Should Have a Website

One of the characteristics of being a freelance writer is the freedom to write for anyone. Having one’s byline on different websites fills your heart with a sense of accomplishment. However, when it comes to getting new clients, this method spreads your brand thin. They see you all over the place without a permanent identity.

At this age and time, when Google is not just a noun but also a verb, it pays to have a website. Yes, even freelance writers and independent authors need an online presence.

Here are the reasons why:

1. A website makes you look professional and stand out.

A freelance writer or an independent author should be like an entrepreneur (and I always call it “author-preneur”). Having a website is like opening your business’ front door. Freelance writers may not have a physical office building but a web page serves as a writer’s virtual office space.

Let’s face it, you cannot expect everybody to take your freelance writing business seriously if you don’t have an office or a website.

Another issue about having a website is the domain name. Although any freelance writer or author could set up a website for free, the domain name will be like yourname.website.com. Not only it is long, it also gives an impression that you have not invested enough on your brand.

If you want your website to be more professional, invest on a domain name like yourname.com. (or .net, .org, .co, etc.) Paying for a domain name lasts for a year or even more and make sure you pay the dues annually so others may not get it once it becomes available in the domain name market.

And since your name becomes the domain name of your website, somehow it automatically becomes the brand. It now gives you and your freelance writing business a face, something that will differentiate you from the others.

2. A website serves as a portfolio.

Having a website is a perfect opportunity to showcase your body of work. It represents you and your work. With a well-written About page, readers will get to know you better.

Also, blogs integrated into a website can serve as writing samples. So there’s no need for you to provide written samples when clients request for it. Encourage web traffic by having them visit your website instead.

Also, remember that a blog is different from a website. Blogs cannot stand as a website. Blogs are dynamic and keeps on changing once updated. There are clients who want to see a static page that sums up your works. They don’t have time to read your blogs one by one just to know you.

3. A website serves as your marketing tool.

Even established authors need to market their own books. They don’t rely on their publishers to do the marketing. So they use their website as a marketing tool to reach a wide-range of audience. Also, people tend to remember the title and the author but not the publisher, so the tendency is to Google the title or the author. How could a prospective reader find you if you don’t have a website?

Websites allow you to sell your books, give it away for free, or announce a promotion. With different e-commerce features, having these can be programmed into your website. Or you could just link them back to another website like Amazon if you don’t know how to set-up a web store .

Create a website that expresses something about who you are that won’t fit into the template available to you on a social networking site.Jaron Lanier

4. A website serves as your permanent place where people can find you online.

Consider your website as your home where you can entertain your visitors and readers. It is also a good way potential readers and agents to find you. You can turn a casual web visitor to a loyal fan with your website. Write blog posts that attract readers like reviews, interesting facts about your books, etc. Don’t rely on the power of social media. Yes, social media are also good platforms, but you have no control over the social networking site. So it is better to gain social media following through your blogs and website.

5. A website shows your personality.

A downside of having your own website is having the time to maintain it like adding a new blog, updating the calendar, etc. Don’t leave your website unattended. Update it regularly.

If you don’t invest time and effort in building your online presence, how do you expect your clients to value your work as a writer? How can you demand a high rate for writing when they don’t see you practice what you do? Having a decent website and a decent following may get you better rates for your work.

6. Websites are easy to set up these days.

Basically, a writer’s web page has three important elements: About, Contact, and the blog. You can easily set up one with WordPress, a blog site that I stumbled upon back in 2012. With so many themes to choose from, designing one comes easy. I set up this site in a day or two (choosing the theme, customizing it, adding the necessary plug-ins, constructing the menu, etc.).

As I’ve mentioned before, investing on a website will pay off. Let your social networking accounts boost your online presence, and your potential readers and clients will find you settled and ready. But before I go, I would like to thank 3w Corner for hosting this site.

Idea Is Not Just a 4-Letter Word

Have you ever thought how authors come up with their ideas for their novels?

You may have browsed writing books and magazines and have been told that an idea comes from an endless list of sources. But how do authors come up with a novel from an idea?

In this article, let us see how it works by spelling idea itself.

I – IOTA OF TRUTH

Always remember, for every idea, absurd or otherwise, there is an iota of truth behind it.

Take for example the idea of Superman. Clark Kent may be an alien who grew up on Earth, but there is a scientific truth behind clairvoyance, intuition, and other extrasensory human powers that were magnified in the Superman story.

They say that truth is relative, so what may be truth for you may not be an acceptable truth to others. Do not fret. You do not need to please everybody with your writing. Just believe that your idea has somehow an iota of truth in it.

So have that idea ready and let’s move on to…

D – DEVELOPMENT

Of course, we have entertained so many ideas in mind that we do not know which to choose. They say that there are only eight stories in the world. If that’s the case, then try the mix-and-match method and see if an idea or a mixture of two or more ideas work.

The Bestseller by Lila Ramsey plus The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie plus the nursery rhyme Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star produced a story about a mad serial killer who wants his victim to guess who will be his next kill.

If you look at stories, books, and movies, you would notice that most of them combined an idea or two from some old stories, books, and movies, too.

So now that you have developed an embryo, let’s try to…

E – EXPERIMENT

How are you going to express the idea?

The format — be it prose or poetry, novel or screenplay, full-length or short feature, — depends on your choice. Experiment on how you would present the idea. Some stories are better on film, some on print, and some made well in both.

Trust your gut feel when experimenting. Not only on the format but also on the way it is presented. Would you go linear — beginning, middle, end? Or would you go a la Quentin Tarantino style — middle, end, beginning, middle? Would you present it in the first person point of view or the third person point of view? Do not be afraid to experiment.

And now we go to the…

A – APPLICATION

At last, you have decided on what you plan to do with the idea. The last step is to apply the idea by writing. Once you see the words appear on paper, you will see and feel how the ideas take shape into a good yarn of a story. Write everything down at first. Revisions and editing would come later.

Be a sculptor by starting with a large chunk of wood and slowly carve out the unnecessary parts to form the best literary art — your novel.

Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow.Louis L’Amour

So if you have a story idea that you would like to write, go ahead. If you think there’s a truth in it, and you can develop it, don’t be afraid to experiment and express it in writing. Good luck!

writing myth

Don’t Be A Victim Of This Writing Myth

Once upon a time, we believed that writers get a stroke of inspiration from the muses. They sit down and pour out their emotions and transform them into words on paper. It was the stroke a an Inspired Genius.

But like the muses, those writers were just myths. Writing doesn’t work that way. And if ever you believe in this kind of myth, you’re harming yourself as a writer.

Writing is hard work with blood, sweat, and tears. Behind successful novels is a process. And when we talk of a process, it has stages that we have to go through. But those who believe that the Inspired Genius myth exists, they don’t know what is really happening behind the scenes. Instead, they see the finished product and wants to get there fast.

What happens when you believe in the myth of the Inspired Genius? You’ll show the three signs of writer’s block.

THE PRESSURE

Because you believe in the inspired genius myth, you start to do the same. Sit down, wait for the muse to inspire you, and once stimulated, write. But what if you’re not yet inspired? You get up, look for inspiration somewhere else. And you end up doing something different other than write. This is one reason for procrastination. And it’s hard to get back to sit down and write. Fear sets in and you’ll get scared to try again.

Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. – Sylvia Plath

LOST STEAM

They sit down, write brilliant prose, then run out of steam in the process. You’ll reach the point where you don’t know what to write next.

SELF-DOUBT

Believing in the Inspired Genius myth can make you doubt yourself in the process. You’ll lose confidence in your writing once you compare your piece to someone else’s novel. “How I wish I could write like that!” But what you don’t know is, you’re being unfair. You’re comparing your failed draft to someone’s successful novel. What a big disparity!

So what do you do once you have these signs? Accept the harsh reality of the writing life. Authors don’t wait for inspiration. They show up on their desk, sit, and write like it’s the only work they know. A brilliant piece of writing comes from a pile of messy drafts. Writers spend months or years planning their novels. Even those writers who join NaNoWriMo plan first before starting to write their draft.

Joining NaNoWriMo can be an exciting challenge. Write and reach the 50,000 word count by the end of November and you’ll have your first draft. But if without a plan, you’ll end up revising a lot to the point of losing steam and starting all over again.

So start planning your novel now in time for NaNoWriMo. I’ll try to make one, too. I can’t let myself feel the pressure, lose steam, and cast self-doubt now. Writers who are susceptible to this myth’s trap should bounce back.

mentor

In Search For a Writing Mentor

It is not just a question of having or not having your own writing mentor. The real question here is: Do you really need a mentor or could you do without one? Opinions vary from writer to writer. But first, let’s take a closer look at what mentoring a writer is.

When we say “mentor”, it is synonymous to a “guide” or “counselor”. He/She is someone who could give sound advice not just on our writing career but also on life in general; someone who has been there and done that and has inspired you to become a better writer.

Most likely, the mentor a writer has in mind could be someone who is well-known or experienced, who have written and published numerous articles, stories, or novels, and probably still be busy writing his/her next book. How could that mentor squeeze in time for mentoring is something the mentor can only determine.

Another common source for writing mentors is from the field of education. Teachers, professors, and even workshop instructors are always ready to act as someone’s writing mentor because it is innate in their personality and job.

I don’t have a mentor in the strict definition. I take as much advice and inspiration as I can from the people I am close to.Natalie Massenet

Mentoring follows three stages which are:

  1. To lead — It starts with the mentor leading the mentoree the way, teaching what and what not to do most of the time.
  2. To follow through — The mentor will let the writer do things on his/her own, following through the steps — this time giving advice, commenting, giving suggestions, etc.  , and
  3. To let go — When the mentor feels that the writer is successful and can do things independently without him/her, the mentor starts to let go.

But the relationship doesn’t end there. The friendship still continues.

On the other hand, there are people who don’t maintain this kind of mentor-mentoree relationship with someone. These writers would just take advice from different sources and take it from there. They are too independent that they don’t need to be followed through. Others are those who had a bad experience with mentoring before that they decide to do things on their own instead. Which brings me back to my question: Do you really need a mentor or could you do without one?

Every writer would claim to have been taught and inspired by someone to write and be the person and writer he/she is now and would consider that someone as a mentor. To maintain a professional mentoring relationship with someone is his/her own choice.

research

Who Cares? Just Make It Up! It’s Fiction.

As a fiction writer, that title is something easy to say. But as a journalist, writing should be based on facts.

I’m not a professional journalist but I’ve been a news writer and managing editor for our school paper back in college. Writing news follows an inverted pyramid pattern and has to be factual and up-to-date. With that kind of training, my logical side has this tendency to put down facts in my fiction, yet my creative side wants to mangle with these facts to bring out an incredible story.

But readers nowadays could tell if a novel or story was well-researched or not. And once a reader had sensed a not-so-well-researched story, he or she could drop the novel and walk away.

All writers will agree that even crime fiction writing still needs to be researched. An author should take time to look for facts regarding characters, places, events, business establishments, and even the industry where these characters work. It could be by reading books and other printed materials, watching films and videos, or interviewing experts on the subject matter. Whatever kind of research and information related to the story has to be taken in and noted down.

Most of the time, I have more information than what I need or would use in the actual novel. But that’s okay, better to get the facts straight first and discard the unnecessary information afterwards.

How much research will I put in my fiction? I would say enough to make the characters, places, events, or business establishments realistic and logical for the readers to relate with. At the same time, something enough to provide me the creative liberty to put in fictional elements to make a story become larger than life.

Research should be used more as background information to give me the confidence to write about the story without sounding too ignorant or too all-knowing.

I’m taking my time to do research for this novel I’m currently writing. Good thing I have a good set of reference books and an online writing tool that helps me map out my story as I research. I’m even contemplating to interview a criminal lawyer cum police officer. If you know someone I could talk to, feel free to contact me through this website.

WordPress

My Love-Hate Affair With WordPress

issabacsa.com home page
Previous home page image

Yes, I’m back to WordPress, the blog site I stumbled upon way back in 2012 and fell in love with, only to leave a year and a month later in favor of another website.

Three years ago, when I started out with a blog I named Bottom Line Chronicles, I couldn’t figure out how I could turn the blog into a website, with portfolio and other writer website elements. My knowledge of WordPress was so limited at that time.

So I scouted around the worldwide web for site builders and found something that includes a blog, too. So instead of maintaining two blog sites, I left WordPress in July 2013.

For two years, I didn’t log in hoping that I would forget my WordPress account eventually.

website 9july2015
my old website from 2013 to mid-2015

However, in early 2015, I had no choice but to deal with WordPress again. I had to create two websites: a student portal and an event website for a school where I worked as Communications and Student Affairs Officer.

Also, my online course obliged us to create a WordPress blog for our online class discussions.

Things have changed after three years. WordPress has more beautiful themes to choose from and creating websites became a lot easier than before. And I fell in love with WordPress again.

my wordpress
my former personal blog on WordPress

So I re-activated my free account, renamed my blog, used a different theme, and made a lot of changes on it. I also created a separate business website for my freelance writing.

But things come so often unexpectedly. Sometime later in 2015, I was hired by my husband’s employer and asked me why not let his company host my website. “I will think about that,” I said. And it took me months to ask back, “How much is the domain and web hosting once again?”

screenshot of 1ngmanunulat.wordpress.com
my former freelance writing business website

Right there and then, he looked for my domain, found it available, took it, and viola! I have my issabacsa.com back. You wouldn’t believe how happy I was when I saw my log in credentials. I was excited to start re-building, like an architect who builds her dream house. I’m happy. And I hope I made the right decision returning to WordPress.

But most of all, thank you, 3w Corner for the web domain and hosting!