Archive for the 'Articles' Category

Guest posts on this site

Requests

From time to time I get requests from readers to write guest posts for this site (or my other sites Trevor’s Birding and Trevor’s Travels).

All my own writing

I guess I should be flattered that someone else would like to write articles here for me. It is somewhat encouraging that other writers value this site so much that they wish to write for me. The truth is – I write all of my own material. I have always written all of my own material on my various sites, except for our church site which is mostly my writing but occasionally the writing of others.

Over a thousand articles

This writing site has been in existence now for almost eleven years – I will celebrate its 11th birthday in early March. During that time I have written over a thousand articles. These have included examples of my poetry, some of my short stories, reviews of books I have read recently, and articles about the craft of writing. Included in the latter is a whole series on how I went about writing my novel and thesis paper for my Master of Arts Creative Writing degree a few year ago.

How to search my site

All of these articles, stories, reviews and poems can be accessed via the search facility at the top of each page, or via the archives, also near the top. Or you can use the cloud on the sidebar to look for specific topics.

Future policy changes

Things may change here on this and on my other sites. I may get to the point where I am so busy working on new projects – such as writing, publishing and promoting my novels – that I won’t have much time to write articles here. If this happens, I will announce this change of policy here, as well as in my regular newsletter.

Get my newsletter

You can easily subscribe to my regular newsletter by clicking on the title of any post, then going to the bottom of the page to sign up. I plan to publish these newsletters once a month this year. They will have information not included on this site, as well as details of upcoming publications. I would be delighted if you joined my growing number of regular readers.

Trevor

PS The photo below has nothing to do with writing. I took it on a recent holiday and think that it is a lovely photo of a beautiful Australian native plant.

Photo: Trevor Hampel

Photo: Trevor Hampel

How to submit your writing to literary journals

Over the last three decades or so I have submitted hundreds of pieces of my writing to a variety of publications and competitions. A reasonably healthy percentage of these have been published or performed. My list of writings have included:

  • poems
  • short stories
  • articles
  • plays
  • songs – well, one song!
  • comedy routines
  • picture books
  • novels
  • teaching materials
  • devotional material

Writing published on my blog sites

In addition to the above figures I have self-published over the last 10 years more than 4000 articles combined here on this writing site, and on my other sites, Trevor’s Birding and Trevor’s Travels and on our church website where I am the webmaster.

That’s a heap of words. And I have many, many more waiting to be sent off to various publications, and heaps more ideas for more stories, novels, poems and articles. Finding a balance between creating new writing and submitting one’s writing is always a fine line to walk.

I must admit that I err too much on the side of not sending out my writing to places where it stands a good chance of being published.

In the light of that last statement I find that it is good to come across an article which outlines some basic reminders of what to look for when preparing a manuscript for submission to a magazine or a literary journal. I recently came across an article titled “7 questions to ask yourself before submitting to literary journals.

It is worth taking a look at; while you are gone I think I will prepare a few submissions of my own. After all, I’ve had a list of them ready for a week now.

Good writing. Good submitting.

Trevor

A major writing milestone

Over the years I have plodded along with my writing on this site with little attention to milestones along the way. Only today I suddenly realised that I have passed two significant points quite recently.

Milestones:

  1. I have now written over 1000 posts here on Trevor’s Writing.
  2. I have now written approximately three million words over the last 22 years.

Not all of those words were on this site – the figure includes several novels, a daily journal, dozens of essays for my Masters degree, more than 2600 articles on my other sites Trevor’s Birding and Trevor’s Travels, and thousands of emails and letters. Oh… I forgot – I also do all of the maintenance and most of the writing for our church website here.

No wonder my fingers are tired.

Archives

The archives of this site now contain over 1000 articles about writing, writing ideas, reading, books, teaching, reviews, poems and short stories. You can access this amazing resource here, or go to the Archives button above.

You can also access articles on various themes or topics in 3 other ways:

  1. The Contents section on the sidebar.
  2. The Categories on the sidebar.
  3. The search button near the top of each page.

The future

As impressive as all of the above is – in my mind anyway – there is one thing I would like to add: “You ain’t seen nothing yet, folks.” Planned for the future include:

  • Many thousands more articles about writing.
  • More reviews and essays.
  • More writing hints and ideas.
  • More poems and stories.
  • News of forthcoming ebooks and printed books.

Please help me:

I am open to suggestions about what my readers would like to see here on this site. Please respond in the comments, or send me a short email via the Contact form above.

Good writing and reading.

I think I need to give my fingers a rest – and go read a book.

Rules of writing

Books about writing

Over the years I have read a growing number of books and articles about writing. I still have quite a pile to finish; some I haven’t even started. Funny thing is that the pile never seems to diminish. When I was doing my Master of Arts (creative writing) degree I devoured many quite wonderful books about writing. Here and there I picked up little gems of wisdom from great practitioners of the craft.

The key to success

Over the last decade I have also trolled the internet for that magic bullet, a priceless pearl of wisdom, or the key to open the door to success as a writer. I am still looking. I am slowly coming to realise that I should have looked in the dictionary first. Work – hard work – is the only real key to success.

That is not to play down the importance of reading about the craft of writing in books and on the internet. Much can be learned from these sources. Every now and then I come across a sentence, or a paragraph and even a whole chapter or article which makes an immediate impact. Putting that wisdom into practice is the hard part.

Lists, lists and more lists

One thing I have noticed about internet and blog articles in particular is the love of lists. It seems like hundreds, maybe even thousands, of writers are making lists. 10 ways to be a better writer. 7 sure ways of getting published. 9 methods of securing an agent. The ‘list’ could go on and on.

No; I am not going to write a list. (Confession: I have been known to – see here.)

Instead, I am going to reflect on a list I read a few days ago. The article is called Zadie Smith’s 10 rules of writing. I will comment on just a couple of them.

Avoid cliques, gangs, groups. The presence of a crowd won’t make your writing any better than it is.

I understand what the she is trying to say. Sometimes a group of fellow writers can muddy the water, and they will make suggestions which are not only not helpful, but are downright harmful. An example occurred with one of degree supervisors; she didn’t understand the climate of the country where my novel was set. Generally however, I find that belonging to a writers’ group can be very beneficial. Many of my reasons are included in articles here and here and here and here.

Work on a computer that is disconnected from the ­internet.

Guilty as charged.

I spend – often it is waste – too much time checking and reading my email, Facebook updates and Twitter feeds. I guess I should regard that wasted time as lost income from writing.

Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.

Dealing with this one is far more difficult for me. While my wife encourages me by giving me the time and space to write, most other people regard me as retired. Sure, 10 years ago I retired from classroom teaching. Now I try to be a full time writer. That has been very difficult over the last few years when my wife was caring full time for her mother and left me to deal with the housework. We were also without a pastor at church, so I was spending 10 – 15 hours or more running the church. Both of those situations have now changed, so I am without excuse.

Further reading:

The photo below has nothing to do with this article. I just think it’s a lovely flower.

Grevillea flower

Grevillea flower

 

 

 

The benefits of writing short stories

This morning a friend posted on Facebook a quote from another writer, inviting comments in response. The quote went:

Writing 20 short stories of 5,000 words each will teach you more about writing fiction than writing a 100,000 word novel. And they’ll make more money for you too.

The quote is from an article “Writing short stories: 3 tips for creating characters readers love

I certainly agree with this statement.

Instead of one set of characters and one setting in a novel, you will have multiple settings, you can experiment with different voices and points of view, and include various types of characters in 20 or so stories (unless the stories are in a series written about one character).

Dealing with a diverse range of characters, settings and so on would certainly hone one’s writing skills. For beginner or emerging writers this would be particularly helpful. And to those writers my advice would be “Just write” – anything and everything. The more you practice any skill, the better you should become. Of course, mentoring and getting advice from experienced writers helps too; that’s why I did a Master of Arts (Creative Writing) a few years ago. I would also encourage the devouring of as many books and articles about writing as time allows.

Ray Bradbury (Science fiction writer) once told an aspiring writer to go away and write a million words – then come back and he’d mentor him. Malcolm Gladwell (“Outliers“) says it takes 10,000 hours of practice to develop expertise in any field of endeavour.

I never had much published until I had passed both of those marks. Once a writer has achieved those benchmarks, THEN it is time to tackle that 100,000 word novel – if that is what you want to do. By then you will know how to write, how to develop a character, how to plot and have a fairly good grasp of what it takes to be a writer. As an aside, I spent 35 years in elementary classroom teaching; it was only in the last few years that I caught myself saying that “now I know what this teaching thing is all about.”

By the way – later this year I should pass the 3 million word mark and next year the 20,000 hour mark. Despite this I have so much more yet to write about, and the more I write, the more I discover and imagine to write about.

I’ve only covered on small quote from the article my friend found. It has far more to say, especially about turning those short stories into e-books to make more money than a novel might ever produce.

Thanks to Jade for the inspiration to write this post.

Good writing.