writing without stress

highlights
Writing involves seeing and spotting little things that require spotlights. How can we see better or know where to highlight? My experience is that I see by reading others. I just read three biographies, two are translations from German and Russian. One is in its original language-Chinese. How did I have time to read three books in three days? I read them while I walked on my treadmill or ride on my stationary bike. Instead of watching TV I read while doing my physical exercises. Why do I do exercises? Because I enjoy them. I also unwind and relax my strained muscles from long hours of typing.

By pacing myself in my body and my mind I manage to complete five out of seven parts in the book I am translating and re-writing. Quite a good progress considering my reluctance to write this book.

On top of keeping fit body and soul, I keep fit in my spirit. Being a Christian I enjoy my daily communion with my Lord, reading the Bible, praying and sitting and talking to God before dawn. I receive my day’s supply of spiritual nourishment by actively seeking God. When not reading I pray too while walking (not running). Being refreshed in body, soul and spirit help me to write without stress and burnout.

writing memoir for others

truthful memoirWriting memoir is like taking a magnifying spotlight and shine it on certain parts of one’s memories and blow them up for others to see.

It is hard to write a memoir for ourselves not to mention for others. Why? Because we cannot be truthful. Not that we do not want to but we cannot. Our memories tell us things that may not be true and we tend to select the more pleasant or the more politically correct parts and ignore the rest. We do not want to hurt ourselves or others. We put some window dressing like we put on makeup when we go out and do not want to be seen as too colorless. There are many reasons for not being truthful. I personally find it hard to write untruth which is why I do not write my own memoir. I write memoirs for others. They speak and I write. It is different from writing my own. However, even though the onus is on him or her to be truthful I still find it hard when I know it is not her or him at all, this nice person they try to portray. Does this mean I stop writing for them? My answer is no. As long as they put their own names as authors and be accountable for themselves.
I believe the readers know too. Many readers are their friends and relatives. Their colleagues, their bosses, their subordinates, their suppliers and consumers. People who have worked with them and for them. Their church friends and pastors. Their corporate organization and community too. Their husbands, wives and children. So how can anyone think or imagine or fool himself or herself by telling tall tales and believe that the tales will hold water?
When I interviewed someone who was a friend of someone else, I often heard another side of the story. Shall I put them into the book? A question hard to answer.
My advice to young writers and copywriters is be really careful and do research before you agree to write for someone. Always look behind the facade for credibility and integrity of the person concerned. The onus is on you to check before you commit to the writing assignment.

10 Universities Offering Free Writing Courses Online

creative_writing
creative writing

For those who aspire to write or want to improve their writing, many schools offer free online courses and materials through OpenCourseWare (OCW) projects. While formal admission isn’t necessary to access lectures and other materials, these courses don’t usually award college credit. Students looking for the same ease of access and the opportunity to apply their study time towards a degree or certificate program might want to consider courses that can lead to an alternative form of credit.

Free Online Non-Credited Writing Courses
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Writing and Reading the Essay
Writing and Reading Short Stories
Through MIT’s OCW program, students can download a variety of undergraduate and graduate-level course materials that cover topics in, among others, essay, expository and technical writing. Course activities and formats include assignments, exams, lecture notes and video presentations.Writing and Reading the Essay focuses on the essay as a popular literary genre. The syllabus indicates two essay anthologies as course texts, which can be purchased online. Course activities include a reader’s journal and a series of personal writing assignments.The course in Writing and Reading Short Stories offers students the opportunity to study character development, plotting and point of view. Featured authors include, among others, Flannery O’Connor, Alice Walker, William Faulkner and John Updike.

New Jersey Institute of Technology
Technical Writing
The New Jersey Institute of Technology is a scientific and technological university that offers OCW courses and materials. The Technical Writing course is geared toward the advanced writer. In this course, which consists of about 40 video-taped lectures, students apply theory to analyze and solve complex communication problems. Course topics include audience awareness, document design, ethics, gender equity and rhetorical theory.

Open University
Start Writing Fiction
Writing What You Know
The Open University is the largest educational establishment in the United Kingdom, as well as the country’s only distance-learning school. The university’s free online classes may not provide access to the same resources used by formally enrolled students, but course formats might include Web- and print-based content as well as the ability to interact with other students through a comments feature.Start Writing Fiction is a 12-hour, introductory course that can provide students with the inspiration and tools they need to put their words on paper. The course emphasis is on developing character and settings within a variety of fiction genres. Writing What You Know is designed to help students improve their descriptive writing skills. This 8-hour, introductory class encourages students to view their everyday lives from a new perspective, demonstrating how an author’s personal life can serve as a source of inspiration.

Purdue University
Professional and Technical Writing
The Writing Process
Through Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL), students and teachers around the world can enjoy 24-hour access to a variety of Web-based resources, including handouts, podcasts and PowerPoint presentations. These include topics in grammar and mechanics, professional and technical writing, English as a Second Language (ESL), research and writing style. Professional and Technical Writing provides a list of varied Web-based resources that can show students and professionals how to research and write business letters, memos and other office-related documents. Topics include audience analysis, parallel structures and writing tone. Additional technical writing resources include information on how to write scientific abstracts and white papers. The Writing Process includes a list of mostly text-based resources and exercises that cover everything from overcoming writer’s block to proofreading strategies. Additional topics include pre-writing, thesis statements, outlining and audience analysis, which can be applied to a wide variety of writing tasks.

University of College Falmouth
Introduction to Novel Writing
Writing for Children
The University College Falmouth is a specialized art institution based in the United Kingdom. The non-credit classes offered through the school’s ‘openSpace’ project allow students to work at their own level and pace but don’t provide all the materials from the original course. Although registration isn’t required to access assignments, lectures and other materials, registered students may be able to participate in online chats and peer reviews. Introduction to Novel Writing was designed to provide graduate-level students with the structural skills to organize and develop extended pieces of creative writing. In addition to writing assignments and suggested readings, open course materials include YouTube videos by Joyce Carol Oates, Salmon Rushdie and Amy Tan. Writing for Children introduces students to the genres and styles integral to the market and helps them find the right age group for their story. Open course materials include assignments, background reading, examples of children’s books and an online lecture.

University of Iowa
Flash Fiction
How to Find the Short Story Within Your Novel
The Writing University is a Web-based resource for the school’s literary and writing community, providing direct access to a number of free audio presentations. Recent podcasts have included presentations on the sentence, creative nonfiction and experiential writing. Flash Fiction introduces students to the concept of the super-short story and its emergence as a mainstream literary trend. Listeners can learn how brief experiences or even a life story can be condensed to a paragraph or a couple of written lines.How to Find the Short Story Within Your Novel helps listeners identify the dissimilarities between these two literary forms. Students learn how to extract a quality excerpt from a longer piece of prose and how first-time authors can prepare their work for publication.

University of Massachusetts at Boston
Critical Reading and Writing
Critical Reading and Writing, with some course materials available through the school’s OCW project, is designed to help students achieve college-level reading and writing skills through a critical exploration of U.S. foreign policy. Students have access to the course syllabus, an assignment list and website. Through the course site, students can open and download text documents and PowerPoint presentations on topics like critical analysis strategies, brainstorming and building concepts, as well documents and links to online resources on foreign policy issues.

University of Michigan
Principles of Research and Problem Solving
This university participates as a member of the OpenCourseWare Consortium by providing free access to educational materials and course content through its Open.Michigan website. Principles of Research and Problem Solving is a course directed toward graduate students in pharmacy school. In this class, students develop scientific writing skills as they develop research proposals. OCW materials include ten PowerPoint lecture presentations, handouts and examples of student projects, as well as a syllabus and reading list.

Utah State University (USU)
Intermediate Writing: Research Writing in a Persuasive Mode
Introduction to Writing: Academic Prose
Utah State offers OCW materials in several academic departments. Students may be able to apply the knowledge gained from use of these open materials to pass exams to earn credit. USU may give credit to students who pass subject tests offered by individual departments, the International Baccalaureate Organization or CLEP exams, among other options.Intermediate Writing provides access to 16 weekly lessons, with links to readings and related writing assignments. Students learn how to engage in various components of the writing process while developing critical reading and thinking skills. Topics include writing about controversial topics, argumentation styles, source documentation and how to use multimedia resources. Introduction to Writing: Academic Prose is an online complement to a graduate-level course. The course materials are presented in a similar 16-week format, with links to several online readings and assignment descriptions. The syllabus begins with assignments related to debate and dialogue, cultural myths and visual literacy. Additional writing activities include a family narrative, a school board project and a media analysis.

(above quoted from online sources)

“WORD NERD” on copywriters’ charges etc.

Wordnerd UK2When we read blogs from other nations we understand how much the writers around the globe are really alike and yet different. I find richness in varieties. Today I post a random link called “WORDNERD” from UK (my former and nostagic abode).

https://www.wordnerd.co.uk/2016-trends/

Here is a sample of what this article shares: How much do copywriters charge?

Let’s start with competition.

Competition is only one element of how I charge. If I really wanted to be price competitive I’d have to charge $5/hour to compete with non-English speakers who live in countries where the cost of living is a fraction of what it is in the UK.

I can’t compete with them on price and they can’t compete with me on quality so I’m not $5 an hour!

If you compete on price it’s a race to the bottom
– said someone insightful
Like lots of freelancers, I don’t see myself as having direct competition not because I’m an arrogant twit but because I’m the person my clients have met and like, I might be local which appeals to them, or they particularly like my work or what I offer, and they choose to work with me rather than anyone else.

Copywriting isn’t competitive in the same way as, say, children’s books. Last week I bought my Godson some books for his 3rd birthday and while I knew they had to be by Julia Donaldson (she wrote ‘The Gruffalo’ – my Godson’s got very good taste) I could shop around to save myself money. Wherever I ordered them from the books would be exactly the same.

Not so with copywriting…If you do work with freelance copywriters who charge by the hour, £35 to £100/hour is the going rate (or £250–£800/day) depending on their experience, location (you’ll pay more in London than elsewhere), specific skills or specialism…– ROI (Return on Investment): this is a funny one. Copywriters at the top of their game can charge £20,000 to write a sales letter, which would translate into a pretty hefty hourly rate. They’re using their competitive advantage – their experience, skills, masses of hard work and understanding of how to convert readers into paying customers to put that letter together – to justify that rate.

They’re also taking the client’s ROI into account.

If the letter is sent out to 500,000 homes and results in an increase in sales of £2m, it’s well worth the £20,000 spent on it.(read on in their website)

HOW LONG SHALL A BLOG BE? Here is another blog from them on 2016 trend:

https://www.wordnerd.co.uk/seo/writing-long-blog-posts/In 2009, the average blog was 250 words, now it’s 900 words and the average length of the results on page one of Google is over 2000 words. The first result has an average 2416 words, the tenth is a bit shorter at 2032…Why are blogs getting longer?1.
SEO
As I’ve mentioned, to get onto page one of Google for popular search terms you need to write longer posts (75% of people searching never go beyond page one and 60% of web traffic goes to the top three results).
Long-tail keywords (which account for 85-90% of searches) have far less competition so you’ve got a good chance of getting onto page one if you focus on them.
2. To rise above the noise
Google has to index billions of pages competing for readers’ attention, there are 4.87 billion pages (Source: World Wide Web Size) on the internet as of this moment and that number increases every day.
3. To build relationships & become a thought leader
But long posts are a lot more work. So how should you approach blogging for your business in 2016?
Think about what’s right for you
Don’t write long posts for the sake of it
be consistent…(read on in above link)
You can read more from the same author here: https://www.wordnerd.co.uk/author/directora/

Longreads Turns Seven Years Old: Unfinished Business — Longreads Blog

I’m quite proud of what this community has accomplished.

via Longreads Turns Seven Years Old: Unfinished Business — Longreads Blog

foundation laying in Spring

Spring nearA friend sent me a series of audio lessons on the ministry of words. Focused teaching on how to be a profitable and successful ghost-writer/commercial copy-writer/editor/consultant/writing for fund raising etc. I am thankful. Occasionally I get invited to write for a church or a non-profit organization the appeal letter or web pages for donations to good course. The lecturer started as a humble unknown script and ad writer and went on to join a Christian organization to be their pamphlet and online web-page writer for sometime before he was finally given an opening to ghost-write an autobiography for a world famous evangelist. he has since been commissioned to write more books under that big name. He is of course now lecturing and having his own consultancy for others in the same writing industry. Will any of the others get this kind of exposure and opportunity? I have no answer. I have forwarded an article of his to another person struggling to raise funds for the Christian charity organization he is currently attached to. Knowing and actually producing results are two different things. I know from my own experience. One trusted way of learning is hands-on practicing what we learn. I am thankful for the exposure and opportunity I have personally encountered. My advice to my readers is, “Hands on and press on.” My personal conviction: Never look down on even a small opening. I never know what the next turn will bring. I like the analogy of building a house. I start by laying a foundation. A small opening is like adding a rock to the foundation. It counts.

Zechariah 48 Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying:
9 “The hands of Zerubbabel
Have laid the foundation of this temple;[a]
His hands shall also finish it.
Then you will know
That the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you.
10 For who has despised the day of small things?
For these seven rejoice to see
The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
They are the eyes of the Lord,
Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.”

We preserve words. Merely.

keeper of wordsI have in recent years encountered this question reading, writing, talking, interviewing and pondering over the matters of communication using words. In previous times it was very simple. We used a note/exercise book with lines and recorded our personal thoughts and we called it journaling. Journaling is good like a medicine or a therapy or a hobby or a physical training of the brain cells etc. It is good even on its own without any agenda or defined purpose. The mode that I have adopted up to this point is a free flow note/jot/scrawl/scrabble/put on paper of words just for its own sake. There is no agenda. No defined purpose. No motive to put the product into a book or publish. No marketing strategy. No customer-oriented or niche-focused intention in the production process. Nothing commercial whatsoever. In a way, this is exactly like the doodle I used to do on the margins of all my school texts and exercise books. I did it naturally without concern or even any conscious effort. While the teachers talked I doodled. This is a lifestyle. I started as a pre-schooled kid. I have built this into a whole life occupation without being consciously affecting, effecting, exerting, asserting and directing. Was I bored when I doodled or wrote? Or was I filled with passion and dreams in a un-physical zone? When I try now to analyze I admit I do not know. Is it strange not to know like the highly knowhow-oriented commercial publishing zone when every process must be precise and practicable and proceeded with robotic formula based on publishing industrial best practice and tested ROI  (return on investment) if any? Yes, it is somewhat strange. Not so to a non-profit-oriented journal keeper. To be honest, many of us are mere keepers of some words which do matter to us a lot. We do not want to forget. We preserve words. Merely. We preserve life.

a strange sight: trade writing demand

cropped-letter-writing.gifWriting is not what it seems to be. I used to think that being a writer means you have to be an author of books, fiction or non-fiction. I thought it would be difficult to make a living unless you are pretty good and/or popular. I thought most writers, given a chance, would have chosen something more stable and more widely in demand in terms of earning stable monetary return. However, one day I registered myself with a job hunter and am now on their mailing list for writing/editorial/reporting jobs. Daily I receive an email advising available related jobs. I do not apply them. I just look at them as a way to gauge the writing profession as a viable gainful commercial employment. The list of jobs looking for candidates to fit in is an eye-opener. Writing is not what it seems. The scope and demand for good or relevant writing are beyond imagination. All sorts of commercial and non-commercial corporate organizations and a wide range of trades and industries are looking for persons who can write or rather copy write their information and promotion materials, online or in print. Another kind of data processor. This influx of new demand amazes me. Writing is not such a bleak and lonely lofty industrial island after all. You become part of the corporate team, working with all departments and become a know-all-generalist. Suddenly you have stepped onto the fast track of the corporate machine. There are various related jobs like: Online writer, Content marketing,  Social media marketing,  Modern web writer (infographic). Commercially speaking, “one of the best things about starting a copywriting business is that copywriters are always in demand and you can start your business with little up-front cost and even run it on a part time basis.” Someone said. Indeed, the Word Business. It requires nothing except you.

As for me? I thought I have left the selling scene before.  It seems quite attractive and interesting to re-enter. Perhaps on piece-meal. Freelance. Just to test the water.

words of conscience: a writer’s nightmare

conscience writing Sometimes I sit here and ask, why am I writing? The answer is: I am working on a project for others. I am doing an autobiography on behalf of someone. I find it hard not to think the way I think or put in my own values in others’ lives. My perspectives. My conscience. Why am I writing another person’s “autobiography”? Why is she not writing it herself? It is her story. To be fair it should be her burden. Her own conscience. Not mine. Why bother? For money? No. I do this project for free. For fame? No. It is her name and not mine that will receive all credits and fame. For relationship? No. She was a stranger until I was invited to write for her. She is still a stranger. I have not been able to know this person. I only know what she says she is from the transcription done by another former journalist based on her audio recording. She does not really say much of what she thinks. She merely tells stories and accounts from her life experience with others. Others’ stories mingled with hers. When I interviewed her and tried to gather more so that her memoir has more factual depth and soul reflection about her, I failed. It was like I was confronted with a blank wall. I never realized the difficulty caused by the superficiality of intermittent stories which insist on being put into an integral book calling itself autobiography or memoir. My conscience says, No. This is not how the book should be written. If she writes it herself, she can call it whatever she reckons it to be. She can tell stories and other stuff based on her own imagination, perception, and recall of a past real or imaginary. It will be her conscience and not mine at stake. I read my favorite guide book, written by my best friend, God Himself, the Bible. Everyday He speaks to me through some verses specifically. One day I was shown this verse which I had never paid any attention before. I was reminded of Apostle Paul’s conscience. This is what he wrote:
[From the Bible 2 Corinthians 1:12-14 New King James Version Paul’s Sincerity
12 For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.
13 For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end 14 (as also you have understood us in part), that we are your boast as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.]
The exact advice I received therefore from the Apostle Paul for writing (or copywriting) is: write in simplicity and godly sincerity.
This is the most difficult challenge for a writer. If I am writing my own memoir I can fall back on my conscience (and values). But if I am writing other’s memoir how can I? This has become like an endless nightmare. Is the language boastful? Am I misleading others? Because the book has a purpose to raise funds for a charitable course the burden is heavy. If I had followed the original audio transcriptions it would not sell. It would not appeal to the heart-string that pulls the purse. What am I to do? Follow or not follow?
Since I had agreed to this project and had spent the last seventeen months on it and had already produced the book in English language last May, and now working on another book in another language, I cannot back out. Languages and cultures differ in terms of telling stories and reading stories. The language with its own prejudicial presupposed-value and cultural preferences create further complication and distortion on the truth.
An English writer or copywriter or translator attempting to write in another language knows the almost impossibility of writing truthfully trying to retain the original English meaning in another language. Not only that readers of another language have different words they think differently and have different values. We need to get into the mind and life of that language to be truthful. Such are the challenges of a dual-lingua writer. First you get into the language and life of your English story-teller. Then you get into the languages and lives of your readers of both languages. Suddenly you become a split personality. We are not just mere pen-wielders. We are livers (or experiencers) of others’ lives and words. Willingly or not, we have no option except to follow the flow of the language we write in. Coming back to my initial question, how to write in simplicity and godly sincerity? My resolution is to be humble and trust the ultimate Writer Himself to pull me through. After all, He created languages and words.