Month: October 2014

Writing Exercise – Wanted: The Ideal Part-Time Job

There are several schools of thought when it comes to whether writers should have other jobs or not while they pursue their writing goals. Some writers support working a non-writing job – one that pays the bills and provides some sort of stability in your life. Some find this necessary financially, or find that it helps keep them dedicated to writing when they schedule out time to devote solely to their craft. Other writers believe more along the lines that to truly dedicate yourself to writing, you must concentrate on it solely, and – if you must – only take freelance work or part-time work to make ends meet, until (conceivably) you can support yourself with your writing itself. Of course, there are also those in between – writers who love teaching writing, or teaching in general to support their writing habit. There is no right answer – however you best write is the way that works for you.

Today’s writing exercise gives a nod to those writers who believe that writing should be your main focus, and jobs secondary, to support the writing either financially or as an idea generator. We’ve heard stories of writers who worked odd jobs that helped them gain experiences and stories that they then folded into their novels (or told to us outright in accounts), but what would be your ideal part-time job to support your writing habit?

Today’s writing exercise: “Wanted: ___________”

Write a Craigslist ad from the perspective of someone advertising for what you would consider the perfect part-time writing gig. If you’re stuck, I suggest heading to the Part-time or Etc. section of Craigslist for inspiration. There are some amazing posts there. For example, these are just a few I’ve seen: “Crime Scene Clean-Up Assistant,” “Hair Lice Removal Aide,” “Erotic Book Ghostwriter,” “Jogging Partner,” and (I know someone who took this one) “On-Call Driver for Busy Producer”

Here are some tips as you write out your Wanted ad.

  • Think about who is writing this ad. What type of personality are they? How much are they willing to pay? Are they sane? Naive? This will help develop a character you might come to use later.
  • Remember the logistics. No one responds to vague Craigslist posts (or do they…) – so remember to give details such as rate, responsibilities, schedule requirements, location, and contact details.
  • Have fun with it. This is idea generation, so don’t get too caught up in the brainstorming process, and just start writing!

Want to share your Wanted ad here? Post it in the comments section below. Who knows, maybe you’ll get some responses…

3 Ways to Stay Connected via Video Conferencing

These days, with the universality of the internet and social media, it’s becoming much easier to maintain long-distance relationships with people you care about… and that includes other writers that you might not have been able to stay in touch with in previous times.

Case and point, I have a group who I met back in August 2011 at the Squaw Valley Writers Conference. Our homes? Venice, Santa Cruz, Sacramento, Colorado Springs, and Springfield. We became close at the conference (see my previous blog entry for my thoughts on the awesomeness of writing conferences, especially that particular one), and we have stayed in touch ever since, even meeting up for a reunion in Santa Cruz, CA a couple years ago.

Lately, we’ve been discussing adding a visual element to our monthly online discussions via video conferencing, and we set up our first Google Hangout this week. So in honor of that, I wanted to share three ways to stay connected via video conferencing with other writers, so you might expand that writer’s group to limitless boundaries.


Skype is a chat program that works very much like any other instant messenger, except that it is feature-packed, and includes an ability to easily video conference with one or more people, and even screen-share or chat while you are connected. You can even easily share files with other chatters. There’s a free version and a paid version, and a pro of this program is that it has been around for awhile, and so many people already use it or are familiar with it.


Google Hangouts is a newer method of communicating that is Google’s response to other forms of video chatting and connection. Google Hangouts offers all the same features as an application like Skype, but integrates it seamlessly into all its other applications and systems (such as Google Drive, YouTube, and Google+). You have to have a Gmail (or Google+) account to sign in, but as a host, you can invite non-Gmail accounts to the Hangout. This Hangout works via a phone, a computer, a tablet – and it allows you the same features as an app like Skype: screensharing, group chat, integrated video-sharing, etc.


Facetime is Apple’s video chat application that is automatically installed now on iPhones, iPads, and even the newer computers. Facetime allows you to video chat with someone by calling either their phone number or their email address. You can easily chat across devices, and because it merges with your contact list, it’s simple and quick to call someone up on Facetime from your phone. The only (current) downside? You can’t multiple-video conference with the app currently. The last time I used Facetime with a group, three of us crowded around the iPad video screen to talk to the one other person we called. However, with the advances that other companies are making, I would expect to see this feature soon on Facetime.

These are three of the most popular ways I know of video conferencing in with others to add a visual element to your long-distance discussions. What about you? How do you like to stay in touch with those closest to you who are furthest away? Do you use video chatting or do you stick with emails, Google Groups, instant messanger programs, or texting. Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


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