Blog Archives

Prompts or Actions?

Today’s post was going to be a simple written prompt to get your words flowing, but then I thought, maybe that isn’t what you guys actually want. Maybe prompts aren’t suitable for the stage you’re at in your writing career. Maybe you have plenty of ideas, but no idea what to do with them or how to make them work. Maybe what would be useful to you is one simple, actionable step you can take today to create the writing career you’ve always wanted.

Though I currently only make a part time income from writing, I am actively working every day to further my career as a writer, and I know the next steps of my journey as well as the steps I’ve taken before. I don’t know everything about writing–nobody does–but I do know enough to help you, either by inspiring you to write more or by showing you the steps you can take each day to move forward.

My question to you is, what do you want from me? Do you want prompts, or do you want actionable steps you can take to move forward in your career? Please leave your thoughts here

The New Name of Dianna’s Writing Den And Other Changes

Friday ended with the votes tied between The Serious Writer and The Dabbler, so I made an executive decision:

Henceforth, I will be blogging at The Dabbler.

I now have the domain and the hosting and I’ll be spending the next two weeks setting this site up. In order to set the site up, I’ll be extending my usual week long blogging break. There will not be another post here until next Friday, when the new site will hopefully be up. If the new site isn’t up by next Friday, I’ll definitely be in touch to let you guys know what’s going on and why it’s not there.

With the new website you’ll notice some other changes, too. I have finally chosen a few coherent packages that will be available to writers and other professionals who need help with their websites. The packages will include things such as a website consultation designed to make your website look and work better for its intended purpose email support while you implement the changes. These packages will be offered at a discount for the first three weeks the new site is open and will go up after that.

Of course, my ebook The Ten Commandments of the Serious Writer will be releasing sometime this summer and will be available through the new site. I am still looking for feedback on this 20 page booklet and the exercises within. If you’re interested, please leave your name and email in the comments below. I will be responding to email, just not writing blog posts.

If you’d like to be updated on the new site via your email, you can sign up on this page. This is also the sign up form for a monthly newsletter I plan to start showcasing both popular articles on the blog and articles exclusive to the newsletter itself, so if you’d like to support my work going forward, please sign up.

Frustration–and a Cry for Help

This blog has long been where I pour out my heart and soul. Sure, I don’t talk much about my life outside of writing, but writing is really the core of who I am and how I live. I write every day, or as close to it as possible. I’ve wanted to be a professional writer since I was eight years old, and I’ve never stopped pushing for that dream. Instead, I’ve fit the rest of my life around my writing, trying desperately to keep it from conquering my writing time, with varying amounts of success.

Through this blog, I’ve seen lots of success. I have over three hundred and fifty subscribers, which seems like a small number compared to, say, the millions of subscribers Firepole Marketing has, but is a pretty big number for me. It’s an even bigger number when you consider how crowded the blogosphere is, and that every writer has a blog–and that I’m not famous for other work. This blog has also been the thing that set me apart from other applicants and gotten me all the writing jobs I’ve ever had, and best of all it’s been a lot of fun.

It’s also been very frustrating. Maintaining a regular posting schedule is incredibly difficult during the school year. I’ve had to cut back on the amount I post per week to focus on other things. I’ve even started taking whole weeks at a time away from the blog to work on my other projects. Since I don’t make any money directly from the blog, often it also feels like a waste of time.

Perhaps the hardest part is getting people involved in the discussion. Many of you have joined in the conversation on different posts, but I still haven’t figured out the magical formula to create a healthy, thriving discussion. I’ve had mixed success with everything I’ve tried. When I posted these three questions, I had an overwhelming response, yet when I posted more questions in last week’s Friday Forum, nobody responded. It’s impossible to tell whether that was because of the long weekend, the questions themselves or perhaps something else about the post itself.

I guess what I’m saying is I’d like a little help, guys. This blog is only partially about sharing my own journey as a writer. It’s also about helping you guys become better writers and creating a community where we help each other. It’s also about sharing the love between writers and helping others promote their work. It’s also about sharing great books with you so you’ll never run out of good things to read. Really, it’s mostly about you.

Without your response and participation in this community, I’m shooting in the dark. I’m writing what I think, what I hope you guys will like, because you haven’t told me what you’d actually like to read. I’ve debated starting a newsletter, but because you guys are so quiet, I’m not sure what you’d subscribe to, so I haven’t–I don’t want to put weeks of effort into something nobody will like. And without your help to spread the word about Dianna’s Writing Den, this community will never grow.

So please, share your thoughts about what I do here. You can say whatever you want, as long as it’s genuine criticism and not internet flaming. Tell me what you like about Dianna’s Writing Den, but especially tell me what you don’t like. Frankly, negative feedback is almost more useful–after all, how else would I figure out what not to do?

Next week being the last week of May, I’ve decided that I will only run one post next week on Friday. I’ve decided not to take the whole week off, but I do need a bit of a breather. Please bear with me.

If you haven’t put in your two cents yet, now is the chance. Help me make Dianna’s Writing Den by giving your feedback–even if all you do is tell me why you never comment.

Happy Victoria Day!

I’d like to wish all you lovely people–at least all you lovely Canadian people–a happy Victoria day. In keeping with my rules of productivity, I will be taking the day away from Dianna’s Writing Den to work on other things: editing my novel and working on other long term projects.

You might have noticed that I didn’t manage to reach 400 subscribers in two weeks, but that’s okay. When I do reach 400 subscribers, I’ll still be hosting a massive giveaway. I am still working on my ebook, Ten Commandments of the Serious Writer, and I’m planning to release this when I hit 400 subscribers–with the very first copy being given away to one of you.

Now, off to writing! Have a wonderful day, and thanks for being a loyal reader.

Three Hundred and Fifty… Two!

Today I was going to wrap up my series on disturbances in your writing, but then something very exciting happened: the number of people subscribed to Dianna’s Writing Den reached three hundred and fifty. In fact, it reached three hundred and fifty-two.

Usually I don’t make a big deal of these markers, but three hundred and fifty seems like a really big deal. So today I’d like to say a few things about Dianna’s Writing Den.

The first is that I appreciate every single one of you, and that I’m thrilled to be forming such an amazing community of writers here at Dianna’s Writing Den. I’m really proud of the work I do here and I’m glad to be helping all of you. I hope you’ll stay with me on this journey and that someday when we’re all famous authors we’ll be able to have a big party together, sipping tea and talking about the early days of our journeys.

The second is that I’ve learned a lot from you, maybe even as much–or more–than you’ve learned from me. I know a lot of my subscribers are also wonderful authors who I’ve interviewed or who have written posts for me, and I learn a lot from these interviews/posts. I’ve also learned about what the most common challenges for writers are, and you’ve taught me how to foster an amazing community. Again, I thank you.

The third is that I’d like your help. Inspired by hitting three hundred and fifty subscribers, I’ve thought of a big goal. That goal is to reach 400 subscribers by May 20th. It seems lofty, but I know with your help I can do it. What do you get for helping me? Well, if I hit 400 subscribers by the twentieth, in exactly two weeks, I’m going to host a giveaway. I’m not sure how big it will be as I’m still working on prizes–if you’re an author and you’d like to donate a book, shoot me an email(diannalgunn@gmail.com)–but I do know that it will involve something special: a small ebook I wrote myself, full of advice for writers. And at least one issue of Penumbra, so if you’ve wanted to check it out for a while, now’s your chance.

I haven’t decided what this ebook will be about yet. I might use the Ten Commandments project I’ve almost finished, but I thought I’d ask you first: what would you like this ebook to be about?

Let me know what you’d like to see in the comments–and don’t forget to spread the word about Dianna’s Writing Den over the next couple of weeks.

The Why and How of Guest Posts

Last week I created the Great Guest Post Exchange. I got some emails and I’ve already agreed to work with a couple people. You being writers and all, I don’t think there’s a lack of interest–I think it’s a lack of confidence. Or perhaps you don’t understand how guest posts can be beneficial to you. So I decided to discuss why and how to pitch a guest post.

So, why write a guest post?

  • Writing a guest post puts you in front of a new audience.
  • Guest posts also help you build relationships with awesome bloggers.
  • Being featured by these bloggers lends your name credibility.
  • Accepting guest posts brings fresh perspective to your blog–it also brings you a new audience and lightens your work load.

On a more personal level, many famous bloggers attribute their fame to guest posts, and the guest posts I’ve written have definitely increased my traffic. Every time I feature an author on my blog, whether it’s through an interview or through a guest post, I get some new visitors, and quite often those visitors stick around. I also make a friend and send a few of my readers their way. It’s a win win for everyone.

So, are you sold on the idea of guest posts but have no idea where to get started? An entire book could be written about how to pitch and write a guest post, but by keeping a few simple rules in mind you can greatly increase your chance of being featured on someone else’s blog.

How do you land a guest post?

  • Do your research— Before you email a blogger to pitch a guest post, first make sure that they accept guest posts. Check their guidelines and read a few pre-existing guest posts to figure out what they want. You also want to make sure the blog will have a similar audience to yours and is likely both to work with the topic you’d like to write about and to bring you loyal readers.
  • Create multiple ideas–Brainstorm ideas around the themes of the blog you’ve chosen to pitch a post to. The more ideas you have, the more likely it is that one of them will get selected by the blog.
  • Outline your ideas–Outline your three favourite ideas. This way you have three posts prepared in case they don’t like your first one.
  • Remember the guidelines–If they want a full post, by all means write and send them a full post. Many blogs would prefer you to pitch an idea. Pitching two or three ideas that you’ve fleshed out pretty well often gives you a better chance, unless the guidelines specify to only discuss one idea at a time.
  • Be polite–Start your email with “Dear ____”. Always know the person’s name. Say thank you to them for the time it takes them to read your email. Let them know why you want to blog for them and why their readers will like reading your post. Don’t be pushy. Thank them for their time.

Following these rules won’t guarantee that your guest post will be accepted, but it does mean that you’re giving it the best chance possible, which is all we can ever do as writers. Put your best foot forward and don’t be afraid: bloggers are nice people, and if you follow these rules, they won’t spit in your face. They might not be interested in the post, but as writers, we have to accept that other people won’t always be interested in our work. Bloggers, at least, are other writers and will generally make an effort to be nice about it when rejecting your post.

Personally, my goal is to help all of you become better writers and achieve your writing dreams, so if you’ve been thinking about pitching a guest post to me–whether or not you’d like to do a proper exchange–don’t be afraid. I will not only be friendly and professional, but if a post has potential I will also edit it with you and help you shape it into something awesome. And if you’re looking to send a guest post somewhere else, send me the pitch and I’ll give you some feedback to help you move forward with your writing career.

Was it Me or Technology?

Hi guys,

You might have noticed that I didn’t write any posts this week. This is true–I had a ridiculously busy week, and I spent very little time at home. I’m even three days behind on email. But, foreseeing that I would be extremely busy this week–lately I’ve had little time to write during the week–I wrote some posts last week that I planned to publish on Monday and Wednesday.

One of them stayed in my system, ready to go but not scheduled. The other didn’t even make it into the system.

I’d like to remain optimistic and say that WordPress simply failed to register it when I scheduled the post, but it’s more realistic that I forgot to schedule it. To be honest, I’ve spent so little time at my computer this week that I didn’t notice the failure of my post to go live until just now.

Let me start by saying that I’m deeply sorry guys. I have been extremely busy this week and last week, but that isn’t an excuse. I made most of those plans myself. The only thing I have no control over is the hours I spend at school–which should leave me enough time to post regularly and work on my other projects. The rest of the time I’m visiting friends or going to events which I don’t have to say yes to.

This week is a prime example of why I need more discipline in my life and I need to follow a schedule. I’m an adult now and I need to move out by the end of this year. It’s hard, and it means cutting back my social life even more than I already have, and that’s a painful decision. But I have to do it.

I also have to cut back on my commitments. I’m committed to too many things right now. There are so many projects I want to start, so many things I want to do. But I can’t do them all at once, and right now my focus needs to be on my career. I need to start asking myself the hard questions about everything I do: what does this do for my career in the long run? In the short term? Will this project make me money? Will it help me support myself by the time this year is over? And I need to focus on the projects that will help me become self-sufficient by the end of the year.

What does this mean for Dianna’s Writing Den? I’m not sure yet. For now I am going to stick with my current posting schedule and cull my social visits. But there might soon come a time when I cut back my blog posts to two per week, because so far, this blog isn’t my best money maker. I love running this blog, I love the connections I’ve made and the community I’ve created, but I can’t let blogging come at the detriment to my other writing projects.

So here’s the plan. For the next month I’m going to continue with my regular posting schedule and cut back on my social visits, and I’m going to see if this gives me enough time to do the work required to lay a foundation for my career. This time next month–March 15th, also a Friday–I am going to assess my progress and make a final decision on my blogging schedule. If I find that blogging is doing me more harm than good by eating up all my time for other projects, I will cut back on the number of posts I write each week. If I find that blogging isn’t damaging my time for other work, I’ll continue with this schedule.

All I know today is that it’s time to create a big change in my life. I hope you’ll stick with me on this journey and I want you to know that no matter what, I won’t abandon this blog completely. I love it too much and I’m too committed to you guys. I just need to make sure that my commitment to helping you become better writers doesn’t damage my own writing career.

Thank you for reading and being part of the community I’ve worked so hard to create.

~Dianna

Have you committed yourself to too many projects? Do you need to renew your commitment to your writing career? And how would you feel if I cut back from three to two posts per week?

The Reality Blog Award

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It would seem that my dear friend Matthew Kirshenblatt over at Mythic Bios has nominated me for the Reality award. I’d actually never heard about this award before, but it’s pretty cool. Here’s how it works:

1.) Visit the blog of the person who nominated you, thank them, and acknowledge them on *your* blog.

2.) Answer the five questions listed below and nominate up to 20 bloggers whom you feel deserve recognition. Visit their blog to let them know.

3.) Cut and paste the award to your wall.

If you could change one thing, what would you change?

If I could change one thing about the world, I would get rid of money and instead create a system where all the goods were distributed evenly and people were appreciated based on how hard they worked rather than how much they can earn for other people.

If I could change one thing about myself, I would make myself more of a routine animal. My spirit always bucks against routine, and when I try to create routines after school, I find they’ll often work out for a few days but on the third or fourth day I’ll be so exhausted when I get home from school that I just pass out and ruin it. This would be fine if I wasn’t trying to create a writing career for myself, but since I am, I’d like to find a way to make myself more accepting of routine.

If you could repeat an age, what would it be?

The age I’m at right now. I’d love to be nineteen forever. I really love my current school and I’d also love to stay in the program forever. I’m pretty healthy, I’m old enough that people respect me as an adult and have stopped treating me like a child, I’m doing pretty well in all my endeavors, and I don’t yet need to worry about paying rent. If I got to repeat the year, I’d be much better set up to support myself by the time I got out of high school.

Oh, and I shouldn’t forget that it’s nice to be able to legally buy cigarettes and alcohol–though I buy very little of the latter.

What one thing really scares you?

There are a few, though only a small few, but the one I’ll talk about today is the fear of being unable to pursue my passion. I have tendonitis in both wrists–at least, that’s what they *think* it is–and it’s pretty terrifying. I also know that it is possible–my grandmother dreamed of being a ballerina, but her feet were bad and she was short, so she would never have made it too far dancing in a company and she had to give up altogether one day because of the pain it caused her. Keeping her story in mind, I’m grateful to be a writer, because nobody will ever try to tell me I’m too short to pursue my passion.

But more so I am afraid. Afraid that someday I will lose the capacity to write, because writing is my life and without it I would be nothing. I would be useless. I would be really crazy really quickly, probably extremely suicidal. Writing has carried me through a lot of things, and my desire to make my voice heard has kept me from suicide on many occasions already. Without it, I’d be lost.

If you could be someone else for one day, who would it be?

That’s a good question. I think, though, rather than being somebody else, I’d like to just be me… except rich. I’m pretty happy with who I am and though I’d like to have 50 books published, I don’t think I’d like to be Terry Pratchett for a day all that much. And though I’d like to be a famous actress, I wouldn’t want to be Helena Bonham Carter for a day. But I’d love to be independently wealthy so I could focus on my craft and not have to worry about finding a job that, you know, pays the bills until I become a famous novelist.

And now for my own nominations:

Iamzion

Patricia Yager Delagrange

L.K. Mitchell–Pocketful of Dreams

Pub Rants

I hope that you’ll all take the time to check out these blogs and that the bloggers will be doing this exercise soon themselves. Oh, and I’d also like to throw out a big thank you to everyone who’s subscribed to Dianna’s Writing Den–I crossed the three hundred subscribers mark a few days ago and I’m ecstatic! I can’t make any promises, but I’m thinking up a contest for when I hit 350 already, so keep tuned.

Define Your Success

Success means different things to different people. The media often portrays success as a house, a long-term partner, kids and money. Your family probably has their own definition of success, based on both the media’s definition success and their own feelings. Your friends probably each have their own definition of success too. Even the strange old hermit down the street has her own definition of success. Though success is only one word, it has as many definitions as there are people.

What is true for everyone, though, is that you will never be truly happy if you don’t strive to reach your own definition of success. Too many people go chasing after their parents’ ideas of success, and end up with diplomas and careers they care nothing for. They gain all the trappings associated with success–a well-paying job, a house, a family–but remain miserable because this definition of success isn’t what they really want.

As the year comes to a close, I will be figuring out the steps I need to take to get closer to my definition of success in 2013. The changing of the years is always a good time to think about how you’ve lived over the last year and to find ways to improve upon it next year. And so as I struggle to figure out what the most important things I can do to reach my definition of success, I’d like to help you create your own definition of success and a plan for getting there.

At first it might seem simple, but creating your own definition of success can be difficult. It requires total honesty with yourself, and requires you to abandon everything you’ve been taught about what success is. It requires you to look beyond what society expects you to say and figure out what’s really important to you.

Lucky for you, I have an exercise designed to help you do just that.

First, close your eyes and imagine that everything you know now is gone. The cars have all run out of fuel. The internet and most electricity is gone altogether. Governments are falling apart, one by one.

In this time when the luxuries of the modern era are gone, what is still important to you? Write down everything that comes to mind. These are the things that truly matter to you–the things that would still matter to you even if your circumstances were completely changed.

Now ask yourself what your definition of success is. Feel free to make it as long or as short as you want to. Include everything you can think of. You might want to do this as a free write and time yourself to make sure you aren’t thinking too hard about what you put on the paper.

Once you’ve got a definition written down, look at the list you created earlier. How does each item fit into your definition of success?

If any of the items on your list don’t fit into your definition, that means it isn’t really true to who you are. Now is the time to start editing your definition. Don’t stop until it includes all the things on the list of what is most important to you. A definition that’s missing anything you care deeply about won’t actually make you happy, even if you get there.

Once you’ve got your definition of success, please share it in the comments below. In this case, I’m not just asking this because I want to hear from you–I’m asking you to share your definition of success because sharing it will give the words power. Anyone brave enough to share their definition of success will also get the opportunity to work with me in order to refine it and to create a plan to move towards that success in 2013.

So what is your definition of success?

Freedom

Last Friday the doctors freed my wrist from its prison. It’s only been a few days but I can already feel the difference in my psyche. I’ll be wearing it to bed for another two months, which is a cakewalk at this point.

I’ve already seen an increase in productivity–though it may be imagined because I’m happier–but it’s going to take me a while to get back into my routine. I never managed to finish my edits of Moonshadow’s Guardian, which is my first priority this month after paid work.

It’s going to take me a while to get back into my routine. My wrist is in a particularly fragile state after a month of disuse, and I’m still battling the depression that came with the splint. Unfortunately this means I won’t be returning to my full posting schedule right away. Instead I’m going to commit to one weekly post on Wednesdays updating everyone on my recovery and my editing progress.

This week, however, I have a couple exciting things in store for you. Tomorrow Gabriela Pereira of DIY MFA will be joining us for a lovely interview and on Friday I’ll be participating in the SheWulf Whirlwind tour by Novel Publicity. I hope you’ll enjoy these posts while waiting for me to hit my stride again.

I’d like to say thank you to everyone who’s still reading. I know it’s hard to bear with a blogger who only posts occasionally; they fall to the back of your mind and sometimes end up completely forgotten. The sporadic appearance of posts is difficult to track. I understand, and it means a lot to me that many of you have chosen to stay loyal readers while I go through this. Dealing with tendonitis has been a long and difficult journey for me and everyone’s thoughtful comments have made it easier. To me, there’s nothing more amazing than knowing that all of you–most of whom I’ve never met in person or talked with on the phone–actually care enough to read what I have to say.

Thank you for all your support.