Sunday, July 28, 2013

"Real artists ship."

This should be especially interesting to those of you who, like me, crave more time for writing. We put in a lot of face time at the screen and keyboard, but perhaps the following excerpt from  Notes From My Desk, the weekly motivational blast from Mridu Khullar explains why we aren't shipping the goods, metaphorically speaking...

Productive people ship, as she quotes Steve Jobs who said "“Real artists ship.”

Mridu continues:
"It’s not about how many blog posts you can write or how much you can tweet or how many relationships with editors you can build, though all of those things are important. What matters most, is how many words you can write, how many projects you can finish, how quickly and how often you can ship. How are you going to use those relationships? What is the purpose of the blog posts? Is tweeting taking you away from your goal of shipping?"

You can read her full post here.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Does technology bring us closer or further apart?

Poet Rita Dove, in The Writer's Chronicle, was asked how the audience for her current anthology differs from the audience for older poetry anthologies published in the 1970s. Her response likely resonates with many of us...

"It's tempting to think we're connecting on websites and so-called social networks, while we're actually turning into physical hermits in the guise of social butterflies, fluttering about in our quotidian cocoons of cyberspace."

One can only hope at least a few of us will be as articulate after we survive a few more years of social media and its related distractions.

Helen Gallagher

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Do you measure up online?

We used to measure our popularity and successful relationships by the number of friends we had; those who exchanged birthday cards, met for lunch, sat on the front porch on a summer night. now, though, our friends are measured by the activity in our social media sites.

We measure our business success perhaps by a fully booked calendar, making large bank deposits from speaking gigs and book sales, or signing contracts for lucrative freelance writing.

Who knew that today's mark of "Success" is defined instead by social media? How many followers are enough to make you popular? If you have more social media traffic, are you inclined to make more frequent posts?? Is it an effective way for you to keep in touch with close friends?

A recent Writer's Digest article posted counts for notable pageviews for writers trying to prove they have a decent following for their work.

Notable numbers are high, starting with:

Blog page views: 20,000/month 
Twitter followers: 5,000 followers or newsletter subscribers
Speaking appearances to 1,000 people per year
Book sales total:  4,000 for self-published nonfiction, 2,000 for fiction

By those standards, most of us are lurkers - reading just the blogs and Facebook/twitter feeds we can scan in a few minutes.

Don't take it too seriously though. It's summer, and we know where our real friends are - out on the porch, reading a good book.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Diligence in our writing

Do you quit when your writing is 'good enough?"  Most of us revise our work three or four times and feel its ready to publish. I try to follow the good advice to set any piece of writing aside until at least the next morning.  When I read it over again, with fresh eyes, I almost always find another error.

That's what the professionals in the news business do too, although they have to work much faster. The following journalism fable comes from Carl Sessions Stepp, who marked 50 years of journalism with 50 lessons learned. Here is #49..

49. My favorite fable about journalism.
"According to John Hersey, in the New Yorker's early days a critic complained that unsophisticated theater audiences would "laugh at the drop of a ha on the stage." The pun on "drop of a hat" looked like a typo, so Editor Harold Ross determined to make sure it survived. He wrote "do not change" on galleys. He followed it through the production process. He even climbed into the press, read the plate to make sure "drop the ha" remained, and told printers not to change it. The next day, he picked up the new issue and saw "hat." The printers had changed shifts after he left, and someone proofreading pages had made the change.
The fable, Hersey said, offers two eternal truths. Writers should be willing to risk their lives by climbing into the press to save a word. And they should recognize that no matter what they do, the work will never be perfect."

See Stepp's full list of fifty items here at American Journalism Review.

Over 30,000 viewers...

Thanks to all my readers for letting me reach the 30,000 visitor mark here at the Release Your Writing blog.

Helen Gallagher