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532604863If you’re thinking about becoming a freelance writer, these steps can help you realize your dream.

  1. Write Well

Some people like the concept of writing without enjoying the actual craft. If you don’t have much experience writing, you might want to take a course. You should also have in mind whether you want to freelance for fun, for extra money, or as a career.

  1. Communicate Confidently

In order to be a freelance writer, you will often need to advocate for yourself in order to gain work and clients. This involves looking for opportunities, following up on emails and sometimes meeting with potential clients.

  1. Be Able to “Just Do It”

You will sometimes find yourself having to meet a deadline for a topic that doesn’t much interest you. In these moments, you’ll need to be able to set goals for yourself. It can also be helpful to use your own writing projects as a reward.

  1. Be Comfortable Alone and With Others

In order to be a freelance writer, you’ll have to enjoy your own company. You’ll also want to be able to motivate yourself to get out of the house and socialize. You can work in a coffee shop, or just meet up with people for pleasant conversation.

  1. Have Self-Discipline

You’ll need to be able to have the self-discipline both to generate your own income and to allocate it properly to your financial needs. You will also need good organizational skills in order to manage your work, deadlines, queries and documents.

  1. Ease into It

You don’t have to become a freelance writer in one fell swoop. Instead, you can begin working on it while still doing your day job. As you gain clients and assignments, you can slowly transition into freelancing full time…if that’s your desire.

  1. Be Part of the Writing Community

It’s important to network with others. You can find associations or meet-ups, attend conferences or become part of organizations. These connections will help sustain you and help you hone your craft.

  1. Narrow Your Focus

You can do magazine writing, novels, ghostwriting and marketing just to name a few.

  1. Reach Out

Find magazines on topics you’re interested in, and click on their submission page. Research query letters, and follow up on a query after two weeks. You can also find opportunities through job sites like Indeed.com and Craigslist.

  1. Write

Once you’ve landed a gig, or if you’re sending an article or story you’re hoping will get picked up, it’ll be time to sit down and write.

  1. Build Your Craft

Keep improving, looking for better opportunities, and building connections with the professional contacts you’ve made in the industry.

The most important step to becoming a freelance writer is to begin the journey. As the popular adage goes, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

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86487362Writer’s block—the dreaded phrase. What do you do when your mind is blank, when you have no words or thoughts to put on the page? This is a paralyzing and incredibly frustrating experience for many writers. But while it may feel impossible, there are many things you can do (and many things you shouldn’t do) to overcome this paralysis. Here are a few of them.

What You Should Do

  • Do something active—being physically active will get your heart pumping and your thoughts flowing.
  • Change your environment. If you’re working at home, move to a different room, or get out of the house and go to your favorite coffee shop. Reconsider your writing space—are you writing in a space that encourages creativity and productivity? If not, rearrange or relocate.
  • Listen to music.
  • Brew a pot of coffee.
  • Play—do something fun and creative: grab your favorite coloring book or paint a picture.
  • Find joy in your writing. Remembering why you started writing in the first place can provide encouragement and renewed motivation.
  • Talk to a friend.
  • Think of your writing as a job, not a hobby.
  • Do a few writing exercises.
  • Read some inspiring quotes.
  • Read a book.
  • Brainstorm ideas using bullet points.
  • Work on multiple projects simultaneously. This can maintain variety in your writing and stave off boredom, often preventing the onset of writer’s block.
  • Create a writing schedule and stick to it. Designate certain writing hours, or a certain word limit, for each day. Even if you feel writer’s block creeping in, keep writing until you’ve filled your scheduled time or reached your word count.
  • Don’t be overly critical. Criticism might be essential to editing, but it is detrimental to writing.
  • Take time off. If you’ve just completed a project, don’t rush into the next one. Idleness and relaxation are key to the creative process—give yourself some time to be creative and generate new ideas in a pressure-free environment.
  • Set and keep deadlines. This can be a challenge, especially for writers who are working for themselves. Accountability can be a great motivator—share your deadlines with a friend and ask them to hold you accountable to keeping them.
  • Examine issues behind writer’s block. Writer’s block is often caused by fear and anxiety, and examining the underlying issues can help you to work through it and prevent it in the future.

What You Should Not Do

  • Procrastinate
  • Wallow in self pity
  • Refuse to write anything (whatever you do, keep writing)

At the end of the day, there is only one guaranteed solution to end writer’s block: start writing. Write something, write anything. Just put a few words on the page. Write for the joy of writing—write because writing is what you do. Write, and you will defeat this paralysis called writer’s block.

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87159158If you have difficulty finding interesting gifts for the wordsmiths you known, here are several gift ideas that are unique, fun, and thoughtful. Whether the writer is working on the great American novel, a screenplay that’s not about zombies or vampires, or the next viral blog post, these gifts are sure to please.

Note Taking Gifts for Writers

Some writers get inspiration and great ideas for stories while soaking in a warm bath or daydreaming under the shower head. Aqua Notes are waterproof notepads that are really handy in the bathroom.

Postcards are another way writers can make notes, summarize a story idea, write a short poem or flash fiction. Postcards from Penguin is a wonderful gift showcasing the covers of 100 Penguin paperback books over the years. Writers can use the postcards in a variety of ways, even mailing them to friends and family.

Gifts for Writers with Writer’s Block

To help treat writer’s block, there is Writer’s Remedy. This is a bottle filled with a variety of magnetic words that a writer can place on a refrigerator door or other metal surface and use for inspiration.

A similar option is a version of Scrabble that has magnetic tiles. With these magnetic tiles, writers can create their own words to get the right side of the brain working harder.

Games for Writers

For right brain stimulation, consider giving The Writer’s Toolbox. This toolkit offers exercises, prompts, and challenges to get the creative juices flowing.

Another game is Bananagrams. This anagram game is great for traveling because there isn’t a board. The idea is to create a crossword grid based on players’ words.

Awards Time

One fun way to celebrate the accomplishments of a writer is with a trophy. The Trophy Buffet lets you personalize a trophy for any writer. The writer can place the trophy on a bookshelf, desk or mantel.

With some imagination, and online research, you can find the perfect gifts for a writer.

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482342151Many writers find themselves agonizing for hours over the appropriate character names for their stories. They understand the importance of the right name to convey who their characters are, but don’t know how to figure out the right names. Sometimes, it can be a real drag because you have the feeling that you can’t move on and keep writing. Again, you won’t be managing your time wisely if you spend a lot of time thinking about your character name. However, choosing character names shouldn’t be a daunting process if you understand a few character-naming tips.  Without much ado, here are five tricks that you can use to help you perfect the art of coming up with more character names you like—faster:

Try Random Name Generator

This is a great tool. All you need to do is to choose your character gender and whether you want a common, average, or a rare name. You will be surprised about what you get.

Borrow From Ancient Civilizations

Ancient names will give your character some flair and sense of mystery. Figure out the geography and the history of your plot when you are looking for character naming inspirations from ancient civilizations.

Capitalize On Nicknames

Try to give your characters some silly monikers that sound like them. Some of the most common examples include:

• Tick and vex from Lost Girl

• Jack Limberleg from Kate Milford’s  The Boneshaker

• Tiny Doom and Nini Mo from Flora Segunda series

Play With Sounds And Syllables

You can also play with those hard-hitting dental consonants to make your character appear tough.

Keep a record of character names you like

Make a list of some of the favorite names you’ve heard or jot them down whenever you hear them. You can use some of the names straight from your list. To ensure that you pick the best name, ask yourself what you like about a particular name to get a better sense of how you want your character name to sound.

Your Digital Publishing Cheat Sheet is a versatile blog that provides insightful freelance writing tips. Follow us for more tips, articles, and resources on freelancing writing, blogging, and publishing.

465167525Death and taxes are the only things in life that are inevitable. You can defer your tax, evade or avoid it, but sooner or later, you will pay it, one way or the other. Employees never have to worry about paying their taxes, just filing their returns. After all, the employer has the responsibility of computing and withholding income tax on behalf of the government. Self employed individuals who work as freelancers, however, have to calculate and pay their taxes. They also have to file their own returns.

Tax Tips for Freelance Writers

Freelancers normally earn an irregular monthly income. For instance, a freelancer may earn a substantial amount of money one month and fail to make any money the next. The annual income may also differ from one year to the next. For this reason, freelancers usually pay estimated tax every quarter. Tax is usually calculated using the applicable tax rate for the previous year.

It is important to note that if a freelancer did not make any money the previous year, they do not need to pay estimated tax. Similar, freelancers who owe less than $1,000 in taxes do not need to pay quarterlies. Estimated taxes are usually paid through form 1040-ES. Paying estimated tax helps taxpayers to avoid heavy penalties for late payment of income tax.

To avoid penalties, freelancers have to pay tax according to the rules outlined by the IRS. For instance, if last year you owed $4,000 in income tax, you should pay $1,000 every quarter. Any deficit or overpayment can be settled at the end of the financial year when filing returns. Overpayment can be claimed as refund, while any shortage can be bridged through cash payment to the tax authority.

If at the end of the financial year you would have paid 90% of your tax bill, your tax bill is less than $1,000, or you paid 110% of your tax bill if your adjusted gross income was over $150,000, you will not suffer any penalties. According to Your Digital Publishing Cheat Sheet, you should pay your quarterlies before April 15th, June 15th, September 15th and January 15th.

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Figuring out viable freelance writing paychecks is often not as simple as it first appears on the surface. A common mistake among freelance writers is miscalculation of how much money they are truly earning per assignment. They frequently forget to factor in certain expenses and percentages they’ll need to pay in taxes at the end of each fiscal year. Some basic guidelines can help them avoid these problems and get a better sense of what they should be charging clients in order to turn a profit.

Hourly rates as an independent contractor and as a paid employee are not the same. Freelancers first need to consider all the benefits they receive besides their salaries at their regular jobs, such as health insurance and paid vacation time. They also need to factor in the extra expense they incur as freelancers that they didn’t as paid employees.

Extra expenses independent contractors need to pay for include health insurance out of their own pockets, unpaid time spent marketing, self-employment tax payments and much more. These costs take up a good percentage of what might otherwise appear to be a good hourly rate as a freelancer.

Although every freelancer’s standards of living and circumstances are different, each should aim to earn a relatively high rate per hour in order to build a solid business. Since health care coverage has traditionally been a major expense, it’s recommended to look into options for getting covered for less. Joining a spouse’s or domestic partner’s health plan is one option. Applying for free or low-cost national health plans is another possible alternative for freelancers.

To help with figuring out true freelance writing paychecks and these expenses as an independent contractor, a number of online calculators are available for free. Another recommendation for freelance writers is to track each payment per project in a spreadsheet and compare the totals to expenses. A few of these basic accounting practices can go a long way in terms of avoiding financial shortfalls as a freelance writer or other type of independent contractor.

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Writing food articles comes with some different criteria than articles on other topics. Writers need to include certain elements that will both appeal to readers and lead to a piece they’ll find interesting. Many first time food writers discover that creating an original and attention grabbing article is not as easy as it might appear. To get started with writing a great food article, the following five prompts will help with the process.

The first step for the food writer is to consider a dish’s personal meaning and what emotional connection exists when he or she prepares the dish. The next logical step is to tell a personal story that makes that emotional connection more relatable for each reader. Everyone has personal stories, many involving family, tied to food and cooking. This part of a food article is a strong element that makes it completely unique compared to other food articles found on other blogs or websites.

A third component of a great written piece on cooking involves the dining experience itself. After writing a brief story about a dish’s personal meaning, the food writer can then add a brief anecdote about a particular occasion where that dish was served. Fourth, a great food writer always tries to add rich language that invokes the readers’ senses, including smell and taste. This style of writing goes beyond straightforward visual dish descriptions and takes some practice, but it definitely makes a food article memorable. Finally, the food article should bring together all the elements of preparing the dish as well as the highly personal connections that come from sharing a prepared meal around the table with friends and family.

Writing food articles can be challenging at first, but they also present opportunities for creativity along with the cooking process. Food writers get the chances to tell personal stories that other writers may not. Along with an excellent and engaging narrative, photos of the cooking process and of the finished dish are a must. Colorful, high quality digital photos will do a great deal as far as mentally transporting the reader into the kitchen as the meal is being prepared.