Saturday, October 31, 2009

100 Tools for Writer’s Block
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Jonathan Franzen on How He Writes

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My Advice to Writers: Never Beg!

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received for getting writing assignments was this: Never ever act like you’re begging.

That came from a pretty savvy, super high-level editor friend of mine.

“Always make editors seem like you’re this very hot writer, even when you’re cold,” he said. “All editors, just like all movie directors, want to work with people who are hot, not cold. Heat in any industry is huge. So always act confident, even when you’re not. Just fake it for awhile. Eventually, if you’re good enough, you’ll catch up to your own hype.”

Mind you, this doesn’t mean that you’re acting like an arrogant diva, just someone sure of his or her talent and track record.

A couple of ways to accomplish this:

Get across to editors that there are time limits on your story pitches (be reasonable and give them 2-3 weeks max) and if they ultimately are willing to assign you to a story don’t jump at the first payment offer (be reasonable and gently ask, “Is there any way to get a little more for this?).

You’re establishing a line of respect. In the long run, this attitudinal shift will get you more work and money than merely begging for a shot.

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Writing Habits

Responding to my post about writing habits, blog reader Lora Mitchell sent me hers:

1. I write at my desk or comfortable recliner.
2. I also do my best writing at night - often until dawn. (a benefit of being retired).
3. I often take time to read something before I sit down to write.
4. I like this, Will work on it.
5. Great idea. Which vocabulary books do you suggest?
6. Lucky you. No caffeine for me. Doc's orders.
7. I take walks during the day to get exercise and fresh air.
8. I often write 5-6 hours straight or until the bum gets sore.
9. I catch up on my reading while taking long bubble baths.
10. A notepad is always at my bedside table. First thing in the morning, still in the lazy, dreamy state, I often get a solution to a current project ~ or struck by a fresh idea for a story A few weeks. ago, I had such an unusual, vivid dream, I quickly jotted down a synopsis, got to my laptop after a quickie breakfast and gave birth to a lovely short story.

Check out Lora's journal at:
Click here

What are YOUR writing habits?

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

NaNoWriMo Saved My Life

NaNoWriMo Saved My Life
By Emilie Staat

NaNoWriMo saved my life. Or at least, my writing.

Let me tell you a story.

Summer 1992. Two girls sit on the stairs of an apartment building, their heads and shoulders crowded close together over a notebook. They are ten and twelve, the only girls in the neighborhood, and they’re taking a break from roughhousing with the boys to work on a story. A., the elder, rolls her eyes as E., the younger, says, “We should re-read the whole story first. We can edit and we’ll remember where we left off.” A. takes the notebook and flips to a clean, fresh page, saying, “Let’s just get started.”

Summer 2007. A. is a nonfiction editor and a new mother. She doesn’t have time or energy to write. E. has just finished two writing degrees in seven years. She has a lot of ideas, but she doesn’t write. She is crippled by the critical voices in her head. They’re so loud that she can’t hear her characters speak to her. The characters whisper. The critical voices – they holler, “Show, don’t tell! This is garbage!”

Fifteen years changes a lot. It didn’t change my friendship with A. (for I am E., the younger), but we both had drifted so very far away from our youthful joy in our shared story. I’d just moved to a new city and started a new job as a paralegal. A. hadn’t written for years.

I don’t know where I first heard about National Novel Writing Month, but I know my first exposures to it were disdainful sneers about NaNoWriMo telling everybody that they can write, creating a hobby atmosphere around what some of us spend years and lots of money learning to do. In the fall of 2007, I felt very far away from the writing community I had spent years cultivating and really only knew one other writer in the city who I could talk to about what I was (writer) but wasn’t doing (writing).

So I researched NaNoWriMo – 50,000 words in one month! I bought the book, No Plot? No Problem! And I sent out the infamous e-mail. Confess to attempting something crazy so that whenever you’re tempted to quit, you’ll be too embarrassed not to keep going because you told all those people. And it works. I send the e-mail and asked my family and friends to support me by occasionally asking about my progress. A. received this e-mail and though we live 300 miles apart, distance has never distilled our friendship and she became my avid supporter.

I won NaNoWriMo 2007, which means I wrote 50,000 words in one month. It was one of the most freeing and educational experiences of my life. There was no time to worry about the quality of my writing. I could only write. Those crippling critical voices receded and my characters turned up their volume, sometimes screaming me awake in the middle of the night. The pace is so intense (over 2,000 words per day average) that you can only revel in your story and your characters, can only do your best to get their bones on the page. The flesh will come later, if it turns out your extended writing exercise is something you want to pursue.

A. and I did NaNoWriMo together last year, but neither of us finished. I cheated on the NaNo rules and tried to do 50,000 new words on an old book (my thesis). So while I didn’t finish, I actually did get a ton of new writing done. NaNoWriMo 2008 reminded A. that she’s a writer, not just an editor of other people’s work. Doing NaNoWriMo together – that reminded us both about the joy of playing with words that we knew so easily, instinctively, on that long-ago apartment staircase.

This year, A. and I have started early by sending each other writing exercises most days. For the first time, I’m reading the forums and talking to other participants in my area. When November 1st comes along, we’ll just get started. We’ll get our first NaNoWriMo Pep Talk and we’ll chuff each other along. And we’re gonna win this year. Because now that I’ve told you about our crazy attempt – we both just have to keep at it until we finish.

Emilie’s NaNoWriMo Must List:

1. Send the e-mail. My 2007 e-mail went like this, if you need a template:

Dear Family and Friends,

I'm going to write a novel in November. As part of National Novel Writing Month (check out:, I will start writing a novel of 50,000 words November 1 and finish by midnight on the last day of November.

By reading this email, you've already done all I need you to do as my support team. NaNoWriMo recommends you tell everyone you know that you're writing a novel so that when you're tempted to quit, you can't possibly because people know you're doing it. So thanks!

If, in the course of November, you'd like to drop me a line of encouragement or ask me how the novel is coming, I'd love that. And of course, all of you should consider writing a novel in November as well!! NaNoWriMo favors output over literary quality. As they say -- December is for editing.

Those of you on this list are family members and writerly friends who I care about. In those dark days when I'll question what the hell I'm doing, knowing that *you know* I'm supposed to be writing a novel may just keep me going.

All my love and thanks,


2. Read Chris Baty’s book No Plot? No Problem! Cheap copies are available online.

3. Use the Write or Die application online. []Click here

4. When you finish each day’s writing, have goals for what scenes you want to write the next day.

5. Eat and sleep – try to maintain a schedule so you’re geared up to write when it’s time to write.

Guest blogger Emilie Staat lives and writes in New Orleans. She’s thatagirldarling on and maintains her sanity at her personal blog: Click here while finishing her first novel.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Paul Muldoon's Advice for Young Poets

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Local NY Bloggers Speak: Why Write, When You Can Aggregate?

Local NY Bloggers Speak: Why Write, When You Can Aggregate?
By Drew Grant
Click here

"300 words, max...anything else, it's an essay." Those were the words of New York blogger Jake Dobkin at last night's panel for The Future of Local Media.

The topic this month was "Local Journalism: What's Cool In Your Hood?" But, the only thing the panelists could seem to agree upon was the more posts, the better -- even when it means the death of any original journalism.

"We write 20 to 24 pieces of content a day," said Jonathan Butler, founder of Brooklyn blog Brownstoner. "And only three of those pieces are original reporting...Picture posts are great."

Dobkin, who founded Gothamist in 2003, was definitely seeking to provoke his audience. When asked about the concept of pay walls for online publications, the young entrepreneur flippantly replied that this would be the best thing for his business. "Have them charge $20 for content! No one else will pay, but we will, and we will steal their stories," he said. "That's my two year plan."

Read the rest of the post:

Click here

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Ceridwen Dovey: Pressures Young Writers Face in New York City

video platform
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The Power of a Great Story

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Joy of NaNoWriMo: Or Crystal Meth for Writers

The Joy of NaNoWriMo: Or Crystal Meth for Writers
By Cat Connor
Guest Blogger

For the last three years, I have taken part in National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. The first year wasn’t a success for me, but it set me up. I had a taste. I knew what was possible and I liked it.

The second year, I discovered I was already signed up to do NaNoWriMo. No conscious choice needed. I knew I wasn’t prepared to have a string of failures under my belt. I had to do it. (And I was already using familiar terms to explain what I was doing. “I’m doing Nano, you?”)

The joy of pounding the keyboard got me over the dreadful frustrating slowness of the NaNoWriMo site. I ignored everyone and everything around me. I told my kids I was busy and wouldn’t be available for anything all month. And unless there was copious blood and or unconsciousness involved the little ones (and grown ones) were to leave me alone. I got so organized I surprised myself. I utilized the crock-pot to the fullest. I did everything required of me, quickly and efficiently, and it was on with the writing.

I did it. I wrote my first kiwi novel. A fun spy/thriller type novel that totally kicks ass. And one day when I get time, I will polish the hell out of it and send it out into the big wide world.

Last year – reeling from a string of rejections and disgruntled with the whole publishing industry I did Nano again. Same deal – I was already signed up (and I will not have a failure next to my name!) this time however I wanted to write the fourth book in a series. (Turns out it’s the 5th book, but never mind)

I did it and then some. I passed the 50,000-required words; I think the word count was around 80,000. The novel is tremendous (And sitting here waiting for polishing.) The difference in word count came from using established characters that I knew very well indeed. I still had no clue about plot. This didn’t matter, because frankly I never do when I start a story. It just happens. It was much easier writing with familiar characters.

It’s all looking rather straightforward. Hell all you have to do is 50,000 words in 30 days. Easily achievable. (Yet I failed the first time but we don’t have to dwell on that.) It works out to fewer than 2,000 words a day. Then, I discovered that people actually planned for Nano! The whole thought of planning felt like cheating (and I struggled with being able to use established characters, because that felt like cheating too). Yet it’s apparently not. I didn’t plan for my first two attempts. I just sat down and wrote, no freaking clue about the characters that would show up, plot, none of it. I winged it from beginning to end. And it was fun but it wasn’t as easy as the third year.

This year, I thought I’d flag NaNoWriMo itself and do a 50k challenge at Backspace (a writers site I belong to) instead, that way I can write the 50k I want to write to finish a novel I’m working on. Then, I went over to the Nano site and found myself already signed up. (This is getting to be a habit)

I have to do it. I just have to.

Time could be an issue. In all seriousness, this November may drive my family to the edge without adding Nanowrimo to the mix, and I suspect that all it will take is the whisper of Nano to make them throw themselves from the cliff.

Things have changed dramatically since November 2008 when I was an aspiring novelist collecting rejections. This year I have a publisher. My first novel is out and my second due for release on Nov 10th. (This means interviews, guest blogs, a release party, and all the other fun stuff that goes with a new release.) Then there is the little fact, that I’ll be away and be starting Nanowrimo two days late. Our youngest is now at afternoon kindergarten and that means 10 hours a week disappear into the great abyss. Plus, pre-Christmas craziness. Birthdays. School commitments.

Doing NaNoWriMo for the first time is probably not insane, let’s face it – you don’t really know what it’s like until you’ve tried it. But there really is no excuse for the torturing of families beyond that once. That being said, I don’t know anyone who has only done it once. That’s the hook, you do it once just to see - but it’s insidious, it gets in, before you know it, thirty days are gone in a haze of word counts and challenges.

It’s like a drug.

It’s crystal meth for writers. (But even cheaper and easier to obtain.)

I’m sitting here dreading every second yet knowing I have to do it. The sad thing is I’ll love it while I’m doing it – while in the clutches of the frenzied writing watching that word count go steadily higher. Resenting every interruption, neglecting everyone except my characters. Living on adrenaline and coffee. Unable to sleep unless I’ve written at least 2,000 words a day, but not being happy until I achieve more.

It’s a drug.

I’m an addict. Hello, my name is Cat Connor and Nano is my drug of choice.

I fully expect to find NaNoWriMo on the DEA drug information list in the next few years, the effects are far reaching and it’s most definitely open for abuse. It’s worldwide and they’re already pushing it to kids.

Roll on November; I can’t wait to start my fourth Nano experience! I may be away from the keyboard for the first few days…but I’ll be writing longhand so I don’t get behind in word count.

So anyone else doing Nano?

You know you want to.

Cat Connor is a crime thriller writer. Catch her blog at:
Click here

Or on Twitter:
Click here

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Sandra Lee Schubert's One-Minute Interview with Gary Vaynerchuk

Sandra told me about this video:

"One of the new exciting things I get to do is interview wonderful people on my radio show. Some of my guests are million dollar authors. Since I co-facilitate a writers group I am always interested in hearing the stories of how people can take their book ideas and make them a reality. The other day I went to the book signing for Gary Vaynerchuk and the launch of his new book CRUSH IT! Why Now is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion. He has a huge following of devoted fans and then turned out in force to hear him talk about just getting out there and doing it. It makes a difference to hear someone who walks the walk. After all if your publishers signs you to a ten book deal it must mean you are doing something right.

"Much later, at the after party, I was able to get a one minute video interview with Gary as he discussed not being different then you or I (except for the 10 book deal). In essence I may not have his huge personality but I still have passions, dreams and goals that can be achieved with hard work. At the end of the day it gives me hope to see someone make it. I’ve got passion. Don’t you?"

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When I have Fears that I may Cease to Be

When I have Fears that I may Cease to Be
By John Keats

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;--then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

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What's your biggest frustration as a writer? Responses!

Here are all the responses to the question:

What's your biggest frustration as a writer?

The 5 winners will be named Nov. 8.

russelllindsey said...
My biggest frustration is translating the richness of my imagination into the written word.

Carpe Diem.


October 17, 2009 6:36 PM
Ken Weene said...
The greatest frustration is getting an agent who can actually place work. Without one, I am left dealing with the small publishers, etc.

October 17, 2009 6:36 PM
Terry said...
My biggest frustration is trying to remember all the rules, whether its POV, showing vs. telling, passive voice, too much back story or doesn't move the story forward. Rules, rules rules.

October 17, 2009 6:38 PM
Lora's ~ Journal said...
What's so frustrating? Not enough hours in the day or night(I never get enough sleep) - especially when "normal life duties" interfere with creativity.

Lora Mitchell

October 17, 2009 6:40 PM
Single Parent's Soul said...
My biggest frustration as a writer is having so many great ideas for whatever will be the next book project that I often find myself in a state of intertia...because I can't decide where to put my attention first. Then top that off with TEN children/stepchildren, TWELVE grandchildren, ONE slightly annoying husband, and a cramped attic space in which to work...and, well, there you have it. I think I'll go pour myself that glass of Merlot now. Nancy Vogl

October 17, 2009 6:43 PM
Scott R. Davis said...
The most frustrating aspect of writing is knowing how to communicate to an audience and to be effective in conveying the point of view.
It also is frustrating working under a deadline when I also have the pressures of everyday life to face.

Scott R. Davis

October 17, 2009 6:44 PM
RebeccaSRevels said...
Being taken seriously. When I attempt to discuss my current work in progress only to have nonwriting friends laugh and question my sanity rather than attempt to understand can have me wanting to bang my head against the wall. To have them ask what additive is in my coffee or just what type plants I have growing in my backyard simply because the only time they use their imagination is in coming up with reasons why they can't show up for work or why it was necessary for them to drive 55 in a 35.

October 17, 2009 6:58 PM
Apryl Gonzales Sweet said...
My greatest frustration as a writer has to be the barrage of doubtful thoughts that consume my confidence. Some days are spent staring at the blank screen after rewriting sentences with little hope of successfully communicating my ideas and consequently deleting them all. However not all my struggles are internal, I also have conflict with practical matters such as how to manage my time more effectively. This particular frustration has always been an obstacle for me. I enjoy being creative, my desire is to learn to steward well my creativity and move beyond this fledgling writing state that I am in. I hope to learn how to overcome these obstacles or at least learn to combat them.

October 17, 2009 7:04 PM
JoAnn said...

harnessing the mind
the thoughts
the monkey mind
making the most of my thoughts

finding my public audience niche

October 17, 2009 7:18 PM
Elise Krentzel said...
Getting advice from professional writers.

October 17, 2009 7:19 PM
Jules said...
I guess it would be not believing in myself and my writing abilities.

October 17, 2009 7:50 PM
Jeff said...
My name is Jeff Bennington and I love writing. When you ask what is frustrating about writing, it's like asking me what's frustrating about playing drums (I'm also a drummer) or what's frustrating about running, or whatever it is I'm passionate about. Other than the effort and the mind bending that goes into writing books, I find very little in the act of writing dissatisfying. The creative stimulus, learning, and challenge of making something from nothing is what makes it so good! But like anything else, a hobby or a passion can become dry and mundane when it becomes a business.

But alas, being a writer is not all bubblegum and lollipops! To follow ones dreams of becoming a best selling author requires initially low expectations with great ambition mixed well with a cup of poverty. And lets not forget to add a dash of dissapointments and several gallons of rejection. As a result, the flavor of writing is certainly bittersweet, hense the frustration.

So, my answer to your query is not a direct response to the frustrations of writing, but rather the frustrations of the writing institution. You see, the act/art of writing is what it is. It is a work in progress, and a masterpiece in the making. Whether it is your first work or your thirtieth, writing comes from the soul, and that is pure freedom. No frustrations attached. But when something as pure as art is minimized to a "means" or a "paycheck" or a "contract", like anything else, it begins to go south. When writers are recognized because of good timing, while more talented writers are passed over, the "system" becomes a frustration. When a creative person who has something to share with the world can't find an agent, or afford to self-publish (like a lady I met today), the beauty and self-satisfaction of that creation is smashed into feelings of inadequacies and sometimes dispair. So in my opinion, it's not the writing. It's the system that is the frustration!

PS. Just a side note: I love the system and will continue to kiss the systems butt like the rest of the writers out there until I am homeless and broke or a best seller. I know, it's pretty likely I'll end up somewhere in between.

Jeff Bennington
Author-Killing The Giants: The Road to Nihilism

October 17, 2009 7:55 PM
Susan said...
Organizing thoughts and ideas into structured, readable material! It's why I write well under duress and less well (if at all) when left to form something from free floating thought. If I don't have a solid deadline, it's likely to NEVER get done!

October 17, 2009 8:31 PM
Lee E. Shilo said...
My biggest frustration as a writer, is trying to get Publisher's to look at my manuscripts. I have read all of the advice's and have followed them, but to no avail. It can't possibly be that hard, can it?

October 17, 2009 8:39 PM
jdistefanonyc said...
Hi Mike,
First I was going to say discipline. Then, I was thinking self-
confidence. It's neither of those though. My biggest frustration as a writer who blogs about food is seeing things I've blogged about first show up in print media afterwards as if the print journalist had discovered it.

October 17, 2009 8:45 PM
writeloudly said...

October 17, 2009 9:22 PM
Amy L. Harden said...
My biggest frustration is keeping my editor and critic quiet until I am finished writing the story. I write all the time in my head or while I am sleeping, doing things, waiting in line or at the doctor...whole chapters, character creations, dialog...I wake up or get home and when I hit the computer the words are gone or they are not a good as I thought when I was talking them through in my head.

October 17, 2009 9:40 PM
Liz said...
My biggest frustration as a travel writer is other people's reactions upon learning my occupation. "I should be a travel writer--I love traveling!" Or, "I could do that job!" Or, perhaps best of all..."You're so lucky! It must be great to get paid to go on vacation."

I endured comments like this over and over and OVER again, while working a full-time day job and researching then writing my first 650-page travel guidebook. I hadn't bothered putting my suitcase away in months. I was working 14-16 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Writing is the best job there is, but it's also the hardest job I've ever had.

October 17, 2009 9:43 PM
Armchair General said...

October 17, 2009 9:58 PM
Melanie said...
So, I wrote a book. Took me two years so I've worked through all the garbage and frustration that seems something of a natural by-product of the writing process. It's work. You do it, or you don't. If you have to write, well then, you write... Fairly simple in my mind.

What annoys me most about writing in this particular moment of my life is-

Query letters.

When I take the time to research an agency, and then research each agent in that agency, and then research each genre and book published by the agents to see what fits my style, and then to craft a letter (minimalism sucks) which must condense the universe into a sentence, no-- a period at the end of a sentence--to be told I must wait six weeks for a non-response to know if they are not interested, to not even be afforded the courtesy of a generic rejection letter (e-mail takes what, three minutes tops?) Well,
this annoys me.

It's very unprofessional, not only that, it is rude.

I have gotten to the point that I am actually happy to be rejected--as long as it comes quickly. (Two weeks should be as long as it takes.)

I know that rejections are part of the deal, that does not bother me, but it is annoying that agents will spend two minutes reading a query (that took me several hours to compose) and decide in that two minutes if they are interested or not.

This annoys me also. How can they judge ability by this? Seems something of a crap-shoot to me.

October 17, 2009 9:58 PM
cvwriter said...
My biggest challenge is trying to find a box, label, genre for my quirky, complexly plotted writing.

October 17, 2009 10:13 PM
BrennaLyons said...
I can deal with almost everything. I can deal with writing outside the box and all that entails. I love indie press, after all, though I'd like a shot at NY someday. I can deal with the grammar, punctuation, and spelling "rules" changing every few years and there being no such thing as a "standard format."

What frustrates the heck out of me? NY editors and agents who CLAIM they want a certain thing (say strong urban fantasy written for women or dark erotic romance), but when you provide it, the results (selling well in indie, I'll note) freak them out, and they (and their marketing folks) shy from it.

Why? Because they are so busy trying to change what works in indie to fit their sensibilities (which makes it no longer what worked in indie) and "remaking" established genres to tap into existing markets with some Pablum that tastes good to their execs (irritating readers of the genres in the process), they aren't asking for what they really want. THAT frustrates me to death.


October 17, 2009 11:02 PM
Gerri George said...
I just want to go out and play.

October 17, 2009 11:13 PM
Mark Terence Chapman said...
My biggest frustration is striking the right balance between writing and promoting. If I spend too much time writing, my work gets lost in the sea of other books. If I spend too much time getting noticed, nothing new gets written. If I had the money, I'd hire a publicist, but that's for somewhere off in the future. (I hope.)

October 17, 2009 11:37 PM
Krissy Gasbarre said...
OMG I have worked and dreamed so hard to be a writer and today I'm a WRITER! It's the best job in the world!

So, no frustrations from this girl...just so grateful for my fortune.

October 17, 2009 11:57 PM
Backfence said...
My biggest frustration is trying to get BEYOND the query. Knowing my book's future - perhaps even my whole writing career - rests in the hands of that one singular page is without a doubt the biggest frustration. Even the best written query is subject to the mood of the reader, his genre preferences, the time of day and whether he's reached his query saturation point just prior to picking up my letter. I was much impressed that Nathan Bransford (Curtis Brown), in response to readers’ comments, recently changed his submission guidelines to abate this very issue. He now allows a partial along with the query letter.

October 17, 2009 11:58 PM
Scott said...
The most frustrating part of being a writer is generating content upon content and not making any money from it. This is especially hard when you write plays--there are only about 40 playwriting agents, mostly not taking new writers, and the best theatres require an agent to get your work done, and the more ambitious your work, th harder it is to get smaller theatres to do.

October 18, 2009 12:00 AM
Robert Medak said...
Finding clients for my writing. I have written all over the web and have edited manuscripts, but no steady clients is what is frustrating at this point. Everyone expects cheap writing, not a decent rate for what they are asking for.

October 18, 2009 12:23 AM
Poetscontestcorner said...
The discipline that it takes to sit at the computer and actually write. Being able to forego the distractions of checking email, weblogs, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, et. el. Then, of course, ignoring the additional, enticing diversions of the links that are in your messages or on the aforementioned websites. Gone are the days of Papa Hemingway, when sitting at an unconnected, mechanical typewriter truly allowed you to face a blank sheet of paper. I wonder if Kilimanjaro would ever have been written.

October 18, 2009 12:27 AM
Mary E. Burt said...
When I DON'T write!

October 18, 2009 5:52 AM
valentinedefrancis said...
My biggest frustration, at this moment in time, is not being able to control the urge to get up and eat when I have a mental block.
I try to stay focused while staring blankly at the computer screen, but the words 'chocolate cake' magically appear in my character's dialogue; I don't know how they get there. The next thing I know,I'm heading towards the kitchen. I think I need to be hypnotized.

October 18, 2009 8:37 AM
JenKnox said...
The blank page.

October 18, 2009 9:00 AM
Tim said...
Getting out of the way of the words.

October 18, 2009 9:13 AM
Bodilates said...
Fear of success. I have had successes with getting agents, having my screenplays read by the NY Academy of Television Arts & Sciences at HBO, but then I stop pushing and let things drop. Is there such a thing of "fear of success".


October 18, 2009 9:13 AM
Theresa Chaze, Wiccan Writer said...
Finding an executive producer with network connection.

October 18, 2009 2:14 PM
Kwoody3939 said...
Mu biggest frustration is that people think "anyone can write," and often have the interns do it. Hence, web writers get paid a fraction of what web designers make. Because designing is considered an actual skill.

October 18, 2009 2:29 PM
G Thomas Hedlund said...
My biggest frustration as a writer is chasing down those perfect words sometimes. The little buggers are slippery and manage to wedge themselves in the tightest places. Then, of course, I have to hear them laughing like giddy children when I actively search for them. Then, only when I've given up and move on to the next sentence, they tiptoe up beside me, snickering, and then dart once more when I turn away. After a while, though, they give themselves up and all is good. Until next time.

October 18, 2009 3:48 PM
RowenaBCherry said...
My biggest frustration as a writer is how much is beyond my control: the typos and not-quite synonyms inserted after I've signed off on the galleys; short blurbs on book pages that mislead readers; good and bad reviews written by people who apparently haven't read the book; returns and the premature "stripping" and pulping of books; the ease with which book lovers can "share" copyrighted e-books but the difficulties and opprobium authors and copyright-owners encounter if they protest...

October 18, 2009 5:11 PM
Alia said...
My biggest frustration as a writer is that once my idea is in print its never seems as good as the way I had pitched it to myself in my head. I think it will take years of practice before I attain the effect I imagine in my head.

October 18, 2009 5:28 PM
eddiexray said...
Why I Didn’t Write Anything Today

I didn’t write anything today because the sky is blue. Cerulean blue. Cerulean is one of those words only found in books on writing and old poetry. It’s from Cerul – the god of blue. Or maybe it’s not. That’s why I didn’t write anything today.

I didn’t write anything today because of the air. The air is necessary for breathing and it moves the wind around, too. Or maybe the air IS the wind. The air can be cold or warm – it depends on the weather. The air goes way up in the sky – the sky of Cerulean blue which I already covered. That’s why I didn’t write anything today.

I didn’t write anything today because my #2 pencils were not sharp enough. The reason my #2 pencils were not sharp enough was because my pencil sharpener wasn’t working. The reason my pencil sharpener wasn’t working was because it wasn’t plugged in. The reason my pencil sharpener wasn’t plugged in was because I forgot to plug it in. That’s why I didn’t write anything today.

I didn’t write anything today because it was raining. Rain is composed of water and makes things grow. The things are crops which are important because we eat crops when they’re fixed up and placed in cereal boxes. That’s why I didn’t write anything today.

I didn’t write anything today because I think there should be world peace and no more world hunger. These are deep questions and I thought about them so much my head started to hurt.

I didn’t write anything today because I had a headache and I ran out of aspirin.

I didn’t write anything today because I went to bed feeling poorly.

Maybe I’ll write something tomorrow.

October 18, 2009 5:56 PM
Cher'ley said...
Worrying about getting an agent and then getting published. Trying to write a query letter strong enough to stand out from the crowd.

October 18, 2009 7:49 PM
Blade said...
The "thoughttopapergizmo" converter I spent a year developing and prototyping doesn't work. It fits funny on my head and the little steel probe things hurt a bit, the massive bundle of cables is a quite unwieldy and the propeller on the top has never worked. All of which I can live with, but when I fire 30,000Volts into it I just get a headache and nothing comes out of the printer connected to it.

Seriously, what is so fluid and uncomplicated, what appears so vivid and real, what is amazing and outstanding in the mind, is often so hard to express on paper.


October 19, 2009 9:40 PM
trilby said...
Thanks Mike! My frustration is me taking myself & my writing seriously. My writing always seems to take a back seat on other tasks and other people. When I don't write, my butterflies in my stomach flutter, and my little angry girl leaps up & down in my psyche. Sigh.... but, I did start a blog! :)

October 20, 2009 12:12 AM
Eleri said...
Even though I set aside the time to write on the story I know will make me millions. I dont. I wait till I feel inspired to write.
2.)Finding an Agent
I still haven't found one

October 20, 2009 7:57 AM
Lyndon Baptiste said...
The biggest frustration is the biggest joy; unravelling the human heart.

October 20, 2009 11:35 AM
JuJuthePoet said...
I love writing and I do not get frustrated by the process. I am more frustrated with the publishing industry and the lack of representation for voices like myself- young, single parent, poor, and black. All of those qualities are often frowned upon and yet there are so many people who live within those adjectives. The "cannon" also infuriates me; it makes literature seem elite and dull, I think. I don't like that literature has a hierarchy attached to it. I read the New Yorker and think is this is what good poetry is? No wonder why mainstream America does not support it like poets and artists should. To me, most, if not all is a load of crap, and I hate when universities and schools make me have to take out the pooper scooper.

October 24, 2009 6:42 PM
CeeBee said...
I'm taking an online course about Internet writing markets, so I'm going to be too busy to be frustrated. (As a librarian, I lived in a world of print, so this course is amazing!)

But I will send you a batch of homemade caramel brownies (also with gooey chocolate and pecan halves inside)if you pick me.

October 25, 2009 9:50 PM

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Wallace Shawn at the NYS Writers Institute in 2007

An excerpt from an interview with character actor and prize-winning playwright Wallace Shawn who appeared at the New York State Writers Institute on March 20, 2007.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rodes Fishburne: The Writer's World

Rodes Fishburne, a journalist, playwright and novelist, ruminates on the role of writers, what they read and how they create.

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Athena Reich's Music Video - Love is Love

Athena told me about this video:

"This song is from my newest album LITTLE GIRL DREAMS. An interesting thing about this video is that I made all the art work of the flowers and landscape. I got into visual arts a ...couple of years ago when I had to be mute for a few months due to vocal chord problems.

"I made this a week after my girlfriend and I broke up. So basically we were still in love but going through that terrible transition of a break-up. The filmmaker, George Lyter, was in love with the idea of using Annica because of the chemistry he had seen that we had, in past youtube videos where she had sung back-up for me. I put out a casting call but found it really hard to 'replace' Annica. So I went ahead and asked her if she still wanted to be in the video and she said she did (The original plan, before we broke up, was for her to be in the video with me).

"It was crazy to 'act' like we were together that weekend, while shooting the video. But it was also a way of celebrating what we had together - LOVE IS LOVE after all and "For all you've gained and all you've lost, Love is always worth the cost". It was emotional, difficult, a total high and crazy filming the video in one weekend. But we did it and that marked the end of our relationship. We will always have a video to celebrate the good times we had and, like I say in the song, 'No one tells you love is crazy, and can catch you from behind... But Love is ALWAYS worth the cost.'"

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Build Platform and Find Opportunity by Listening to Your Network

Build Platform and Find Opportunity by Listening to Your Network
By Don Lafferty

Most writers I talk with are concerned about the time suck when it comes to the effective use of online tools. When you add up all the resources available to us online, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the constant deluge of updates piling in from email, Google, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other online community outposts.

Follow these step-by-step instructions to maximize the time you’ve budgeted for online business development. You’ll wind up with a professional-quality “listening post” that will filter out most of the noise, and provide you with an effective tool for building platform, deepening your key industry connections, and creating highly targeted business development tactics.

1. Build a list of Key Words

Do you write YA Vampire books, or health related magazine articles? Heart-stopping military thrillers or political satire?

It doesn’t matter who your target reader is, a growing number of them are out there “talking” in millions of Internet-based conversations every day.

What words are people using when they talk about your stuff? What other authors, titles, publishers and industry terms tip you off to conversations your readers are likely to be having?

Brainstorm that Key Word List and come up with your top ten. Tuck the list away in a folder with your other social media tools. You’ll revisit this important list from time to time to keep it relevant, so remember where you put it.

2. Set up a FREE Google Reader

Go to [] Click here and take the Google Reader tour. There are plenty of articles out there on the Net that can guide you through the simple process of setting it up. Once you have it set up, check out my instructions for the simple process of setting up RSS Feeds here: Click here

Then every time you find a blog or a website you want to monitor, you simply click the little orange RSS subscription button that you’ll find in the address bar of your browser, click through the simple subscription process, and place the feed in the appropriate folder in your Google Reader.

You can also create RSS Feeds for the various searches you do, but I’ll go into more detail on that later.

3. Install a Twitter management application.

I use TweetDeck and it’s awesome. Go to Click here where you’ll find instructions for downloading and installing the application. Connect all your Twitter accounts to TweetDeck and create groups to which you’ll add the people you follow on Twitter.

I create my groups starting with the people closest to me, and categorize from there: Family, Colleagues, Authors, Indie Booksellers, Publishers, Agents, Reviewers, etc…

TweetDeck arranges groups in columns, enabling you to log on and quickly determine who has tweeted what. So instead of signing on to Twitter via the web and hunting down each person of interest individually, everything you care about is delivered right to the TweetDeck dashboard. You can quickly assess which messages you want to re-tweet, respond to, or dig into a little further.

If managed with discipline, a Twitter application like this will eventually become your primary source of new business opportunities.

4. Set up Twitter Search Feeds.

Grab that list of key words and combinations you brainstormed in step 1, then go to Click here and do a search for the first key word.

You can scan down through the search results as you find them, or you can create a feed to your Google Reader. In the upper right corner of the screen you’ll see an orange RSS button next to the words “Feed for this query.” Click on the link and it’ll step you through the process of feeding the Twitter search for this key word into your Google Reader, where the most recent search results will always be refreshed and waiting for you.

Do this for all the key words on your list, and then again every time you come up with a new key word or key word combination.

Be sure to direct the feeds to the correct folder in your Google Reader so you can easily access the search results during your regular business development session.

5. Set up Google Alerts

Browse your way over to Google Alerts. Click here Using the key words from your master list, create Google Alerts for each term. In the drop-down menu under “Type,” choose “Comprehensive,” and under the drop-down menu “Deliver to,” choose “Feed.” After you click “Save,” click on “View in Google Reader” and finalize the subscription, making sure to direct the feed to the appropriate folder.

LinkedIn provides options to subscribe to RSS Feeds for groups, answers and news. If you’ve done your homework on LinkedIn and participate in these places, subscribe to the feeds and direct them to the appropriate folders in your Google Reader.

Okay, your basic listening post is built. The following description of my work process will give you a feel for the way you can customize this tool to meet your specific objectives.

I open Google Reader. The first feeds I look at are the Twitter Search feeds I built with my key word list to see who is saying what about each key search term.

I scroll down through the Twitter search results, discovering people I should be following (listening to) which usually leads me to more people I should be following, and blogs to which I subscribe using the RSS Feed. I find opportunities for work, people who need help, companies asking questions I can answer, and all manner of material I can use as writing prompts or for research.

As I follow new people on Twitter I keep a text document open where I note their Twitter username for later when I open TweetDeck.

I run through my Google Alert and LinkedIn feeds in the same way, subscribing to blogs, following people on Twitter, and bookmarking websites where I find something I can use later. I do this as time permits, usually for 15-30 minutes, and then I open TweetDeck.

As I mentioned earlier, I work in the publishing world so my TweetDeck groups are designed to capture the activities of publishing industry people on Twitter. Instead of sifting through the tens of thousands of tweets in my network in the hopes of find out who’s doing what, I’m able to go right to one of my TweetDeck groups and engage as appropriate.

This is where I have to filter what I find through the lens of my objectives.

If I’m promoting an upcoming event I may write a blog post about it, find everybody tweeting about the event, or about similar events, or about an author attending the event, or something else related to the event, and engage each -- again, as appropriate. Sometimes I’ll direct a person to my post with a link. Sometimes I’m more subtle, leaving the link on my own Twitter feed with an introductory headline designed to catch my target connection’s attention. Then when I mention my target connection in a re-tweet or a reply, they’ll find my link waiting when they come to check me out.

If I’ve done my homework right, chosen my key words wisely, and engaged appropriately, there’s a high probability I’ll connect with a new group of followers every time I execute one of these tactics. More importantly, I’ll be on their radar where they can engage me when they’re inclined.

This is where individual objectives, personal style, and social skills shape your moves and lead you to a completely different discussion.

Research has determined that you’ll receive 1 piece of social media love for every 12 you give. As you pick up momentum, the ratio shifts more into your favor.

This is why a well designed listening post is such a critical piece of your social media tool kit. It compresses the front end of your business development cycle, providing you with a focused, steady stream of high-value leads based on the key words you created which were, from the outset, designed to find the conversations being had by your consumers, your colleagues, and interested media.

The first step in every Internet-based strategy is finding the people you want to connect with, and the first step in accomplishing this is listening well.

Set up this simple listening post to get a handle on your social media activities, refine it every time you use it, and soon you’ll be hard pressed to keep up with the opportunities that’ll come your way every day.

Don Lafferty is a sales executive, writer and, social media marketing consultant. He's the Social Media Director of the Wild River Review, and the Web's wackiest canine comedy series, It's Todd's Show. You can find his blog, Don Lafferty’s Strategies, Thoughts and Instructions for Including Social Media in Your Marketing Plan, at:
Click here

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chris Brogan: Overnight Success

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Moby on Creativity

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Kudos for the Blog!

"Michael..., WOW! Your blog is far out awesome.....
Tons of great tips, more info that I know what to do with.. andddd Soooo simple and beautiful to read... Love, love, loved it !!!"

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Diana Arnold in Monologues

Monologues, an evening of solo performances of monologues, spoken word and hip-hop, explores Jewish identity inspired by a 10-day trip through Israel. It is directed by the Hebrew Mamita (Vanessa Hidary) and written by Taglit-Birthright Israel alumni. All of the stories are original and told by their creators.

Diana told me about this video: "This was one of the first times I told a story instead of reading a poem. it is the story of the steps: the steps we all must climb...the steps it took for me to reach my father again."

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Blue's Revolutinary Rhetoric at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe

Warning: Adult Language/Mature Viewers Only

Blue told me about this video: "This poem was inspired from growing up in a poverty stricken neighborhood (Harlem 1970’s). And not knowing that we were poor until my dad joined the service and we began to travel and see how others were living. So one day while living in Tennessee some friends and I were listing to the radio, the DJ had visited New York City and he was making fun of New York City. The DJ had never seen a Bullet Proof Kentucky Fried Chicken Restaurant. So in the Poem, when I say, ”Bullet Proof Corner Stores never stop to take a breath’ I was basically saying that the stores stay open 24 hours a day. And the poem in its self just tells a story about me growing up in poverty and reminiscing about my younger years… and also laughing about it now...(I come from place where the scent of Roach spray gets me homesick.)."

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Lauren Willig - 3/2/09 Lady Jane's Salon, NYC

Author Lauren Willig reading an excerpt from her NY Times Best Seller book THE TEMPTATION OF THE NIGHT JASMINE at Lady Jane's Salon, Madame X, NYC. March 2, 2009.

Lauren told me about this video: "A valiant crowd battled their way through an unseasonable March snowstorm to attend the second ever meeting of Lady Jane's Salon, New York's first romance reading series. The other writer's plane had been delayed... and delayed... and delayed again, so I wound up having a good deal more time to fill than anticipated. I usually read from the beginning of the book, to set up the story, but this time, with extra time on my hands, and people in need of a laugh on a grim and blustery night, I picked my favorite passage from the middle of the book, in which my modern heroine's best friend attempts to classify the male sex by comparing them to various ice cream flavors. It went over very well. Of course, that might also have been the champagne everyone was drinking... including me!"

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Jeffrey Cyphers Wright plays David Byrne's Organ

Jeff told me about this video: "David Byrne's installation of an organ the was hooked up to pipes and vents in the Maritime Building was a perfect space for a guerilla performance. I decided to get a gang together and go down there and film a dance/ poetry performance. Afterwards we had a great time editing and splashing jumpcuts together. Finally Kim Keever and I used a pretty little ditty we'd laid down as a musical score for the event."

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Jay Rosen: What Journalism Schools Do Wrong

NYU Prof. Jay Rosen says J-Schools need to retire their newsroom models and embrace the future of reportage.

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Lynda Resnick: The Future of Media

Roll International Co-Chair Lynda Resnick on the death and rebirth of journalism.

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Future of Journalism: The Complete Responses

Here are the complete responses from industry leaders to my “Future of Journalism” questions:

What do you tell young and aspiring journalists about the future of the business? Can you still be encouraging? What advice do you give them? And how can they best get a decent-paying job in these tough economic times?

Lesley Jane Seymour
Editor-in-Chief of More
Former Editor-in-Chief of Marie Claire, Redbook, YM

As a life-long journalist who also teaches journalism at the grad school at NYU, I have to tell you that journalism will never die. It is an integral part of our democracy in the US and an important part of helping the world develop properly. Without the eye of the public exposing crimes, wrongs, cheating, evil, etc. we can be too easily duped and swayed and our governments hijacked. Just look at Iran: the first thing you do to solidify an illegitimate regime is sweep the journalists off the street. What is going away is print. Don't confuse the two. And we may need to separate sensationalism from journalism: they are not the same thing just as the New York Post is not the Washington Post.

Michael Caruso
Owner/Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Tube
Former Editor-in-Chief of Men's Journal, Details, and Los Angeles Magazine

In good times, you have to have a passion for a profession. In bad times, that is true x 10. If you are very motivated and dedicated to journalism and storytelling, those will always be things you can pursue. There are all new, exciting ways to do that--from video games to social media to e-books to augmented reality and beyond. But it is more harrowing than ever to make a living at it.

Lucy Danziger
Editor-in-Chief of Self
Founding Editor of Women’s Sports & Fitness

Encouraging? Yes! People will always read, always want the latest info and inspirational imagery, and whether it's on paper or something resembling it, we will always need content. Encourage young people to create the next generation of magazines, and then hire all of us.

Jimmy Jellinek
Editorial Director of Playboy Magazine/
Former Editor-in-Chief of Maxim, Stuff, and Complex

Story telling is the most ancient form of communication. No matter what platform - a painting on a wall to a post on a blog - people will seek out the news and have a need to tell it. Whether or not you will get paid a living wage to do that is a different story. That said amongst the clatter of a million voices it is the job of an editor to know good from bad and provide context to all the noise. Beyond that you just have to be that much better than everybody else at what you do.

Bill Minutaglio
Clinical Professor, University of Texas at Austin
Award-Winning Journalist and Author

Mike, I'm in this unique vantage point situation for your questions, in that I am a full-time member of the journalism faculty at one of America's largest universities—one that draws people from around the nation, the world. And I work with aspiring, young journalists every day. So I hear their concerns, ambitions. I have students that range in age from 18-30—graduate students, undergrads.

One thing is clear: There is no shortage of young people who want to report and write great stories. They know the technology has changed, is changing. They know it better than anyone else, because they are changing it themselves—they are inventing the paradigms.

They also are fully aware that there are fewer and fewer guarantees of full-time jobs, 401ks, even year-long contracts with magazines. They know all of that: And yet they continue to commit to studying journalism. And they continue to have a huge thirst for knowledge, for growth, for studying the still basic, eternal, elements of journalism: They want to know how to interview people, talk with people, investigate stories, drill down on stories, change hearts and minds. The young people getting into journalism today are, in many ways, far more courageous than anyone who got into journalism in the 1970s and the 1980s.

People who are in their 50s today went into journalism back in the '70s and '80s, knowing full well that there were plenty of jobs, publications, opportunities. They entered the work force secure in the knowledge that there would always be another newspaper, another magazine, they could work for. Think about it now: Students are still lining up to study journalism, to commit to journalism, knowing full well that things are vastly different today.

If that doesn't give you hope in some way, then you are a dead soul indeed. Young people are moving into journalism with a wonderful idealism and level of commitment. Are they naive? No—they are hopeful. Their primary concern remains protecting journalism's eternal ideals—shining the light on the truth.

Are they worried about jobs? Yes, of course they are. But they seem to recognize that they can and will be far more nimble than the generations that came before them: They have to be and they know it.

What I hear repeatedly from journalism students—mine range in age from 18-30, including graduate students—is that they are going to master all the multimedia skills they can and then be prepared for any opportunity that fits their interest and circumstance.

As for advice, I tell young students that they can be served by acquiring more knowledge—but not general platitudes. They need specific tools. To stand a better chance of getting employed, it's beyond obvious that you have to be able to master—or do well—a variety of multimedia tasks. And not just social networking.

These days, almost every newspaper and magazine is asking that its staffers bring multimedia skills to the table—yes, the social networking, but also the visuals, the audio, the packaging, the web design, Flash, etc. That holistic, multimedia knowledge is now being offered by almost every good university journalism program. If you can afford it, if you have time, one very practical step is to find a year-to-two year graduate level journalism program and immerse yourself in all that it offers.

The technology is changing so fast that it is not a bad idea to take time out and spend a year or two, if you can, in a quality graduate program that will not only yield you a master's degree—but will expose you to the latest, cutting edge knowledge surrounding multimedia. You will emerge with skills that are cross-platform, that put you in a position to really be a jack-of-all-trades, that will help you take control of your own career—you can offer yourself to a journalism entity as someone who comfortably wears many different hats.

It turns out, by the way, that major universities also happen to be enormously fruitful networks for jobs—employers, editors, routinely contact universities hoping that there are some bright students who can help those "old school" editors make the transition to the newer technologies, and who can speak to the next generation of readers.

My sense is that so many editors are so afraid of the future that they look toward some large institutions of higher learning and assume that the researchers there, the educators there, are studying the trends - and that the students from those programs might be well-versed in the latest trends. We have, as an example, several young journalists who pulled out of their budding magazine or newspaper careers to go back to graduate school—so they can steep themselves in "the new thing." Or be around full-time journalism researchers who are trying to perfect or predict "the new thing." Universities, good ones, also routinely hold conferences that bring together great journalism minds—people who share that cutting-edge knowledge and who also provide wonderful networking opportunities for students, for young journalists. Again, not everyone has time or money to "go back" to school—but, in a sense, everyone is "going back to school" these days, whether you are formally enrolled somewhere or not.

We are all learning something new each day—the social networking, the multimedia, etc. My argument is that some young people should consider, if they have the time and money, enrolling somewhere where they can be exposed to a full buffet of new paradigms, new ways of doing journalism, new ways of making yourself an attractive candidate for editors, publishers, producers, etc.

Jackie Leo
Director of Digital Operations at Peter G. Peterson Foundation
Senior Advisor, Business Development at iAmplify
Former Editor-in-Chief of Reader's Digest, Senior Producer/Editorial Director at ABC News

Great reporting and editing is not going to go away. And why should we care about the delivery system, which is changing yearly? My advice to young people is not to wait for someone or some thing to "authorize" you. Got an idea for a great story? Start reporting it. Start blogging. Start taking photos, if that's your talent and passion. And find a mentor - some professional who will read your stuff and give you an honest appraisal.

Neal Boulton
Founder & Editor-in-Chief of
Chairman and CEO at Neal Boulton, Inc.
Former Editor-in-Chief of Genre Magazine, Corporate Development Editor, Men's Fitness, Shape, Natural Health and more at Weider Publications, Editor-in-Chief of Men's Fitness

Reading is how we get that reminder that we are not alone, that we are a part of a human race with disparate feelings and incongruent behavior. And as long as we humans are kicking around, the journalist who can capture their STORIES will have a craft to hone. Neither fame, wealth, nor terms like "cutting edge" really apply to us journalists, but if a good story is what you live to uncover, to write and share with those hungry eyes and souls needing to remember they are not alone, then keep listening and keep writing—you're a journalist at your core, and you will succeed.

Amy Haimerl
Morning producer for
Former Executive Editor of Gotham Magazine/Hamptons Magazine; Managing Editor for Silicon Alley Reporter; News Editor for Westword

People will always love stories. Find them and write them well and there will always be an outlet. We're culling the herd, so to speak, but those willing to work and be creative will always be prized.

And don't be meek. Be thoughtful but assertive. And be willing to go to a small market and earn your chops. You'll get more out of it than you will fetching coffee in New York. You need to set yourself apart.

Find a small daily or weekly somewhere. If you click with the editor, go and get experience. Do good work. Have interesting experiences so that you have something interesting to write about

Don't worry about your voice. Learn the craft of reporting and beat development. It will serve you well later when you're writing the big pieces.

To me, it really all depends on how you answer the question: Do you want to be a journalist or do you want to be in the New York "media"?

There is a vector of overlap, but it is small.

Mike Dolan
Former Executive Editor of Maxim and FHM

Don't be nostalgic. The world needs smart, intellectually curious people who can tell stories. The technology may change. The delivery system might be different. But that skill will always be in demand. My other advice would be not to label yourself. Don't be just a "newspaper journalist" or a "magazine writer." I think so many people have adapted these labels as their identity that they feel left behind by all the changes in the industry. Do what you think is fun and interesting. And the words of Woodward and Bernstein still ring true: "Follow the money."

Stanley Mieses
Writer, Editor, Broadcaster at National Public Radio
Former Staff Writer for The New Yorker, Features Editor for New York Newsday, Staff Writer for the New York Daily News

I would say do NOT start your own blog. . .you cannot learn anything by being self-indulgent. Someone else said it the other day....don't major in journalism, rather, gain an expertise or an informed familiarity in a particular field; the problem with 99 per cent of the bloggers out there is that they DO NOT KNOW more than you or I--anyone can invent attitude. Find someone to learn from. Read. When you think you have three words to say, swallow two.

You get into journalism to become the interlocutor between what ''they'' want the public to know, and what the public ought to or needs to know...whether it's government, institution, corporation or your local boutique or restaurant. The rest is marketing: "To keep the light shining on yourself." If it's old-fashioned to let the work do the talking for you, then I am happily old-fash…but in the end THE WORK is your personal brand.

David Mathison
Publisher of BE THE MEDIA
CEO of natural E creative group, LLC

In most media fields the container maybe dead, but the industry is thriving. The CD is dead but music is thriving (see MySpace, iTunes); Books are dead but publishing is thriving (see web sites, blogs, wikis, eBooks, POD); VHS/DVDs are dead but video is thriving (YouTube, Blip, iTunes, iPods); Newspapers are dead but journalism is thriving (citizen journalism, blogs, web sites, etc). There's also the explosion of creative writing via social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Reddit, blogs, etc. We are in the middle of a renaissance period unlike any other.

Matt Pepin
Sports Editor for
Adjunct Lecturer at Marist College
Former Sports Editor at the Times Herald-Record, New Haven Register, and Journal Register

The skills of a journalist apply to so many media. Write the story, and it can be spun for TV, the big screen, print, web, countless possibilities. But it all starts with the well-written story.

The media that tell stories the best and the media that devote the resources needed to tell the stories the best will survive. Newspapers can be among them with the right approach.

Newspapers must look for stories they will have exclusively. For many, that means concentrating on local, local, local. For others, that means breaking national news. Just make sure the story you are telling has value to your readers.

It's clear two things drive readership regardless of the format - fascinating, compelling features and breaking news. Journalists must relentlessly pursue those to make it in the world. Aspiring journalists should start wherever they can get a foot in the door and then dominate their coverage area. Editors will notice, and then it's survival of the fittest.

Also, be willing to make difficult decisions. Don't cover a story if it doesn't even pass your own "Who Cares" test. Don't fall into the rut of feeling like you must write certain stories out of tradition, like town meetings, if there's just nothing there.

Randee Dawn
Freelance Writer
Former Senior Editor, Features for The Hollywood Reporter, News Editor for Soap Opera Digest

I tell young, aspiring journalists to not major in journalism. To minor in it at best, and get expertise elsewhere you can use to write about, and apply wherever the need is. If you've already graduated, for God's sake, don't go to graduate school for journalism!

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