Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Anyone can Publish

No, really. It's true. In writing two book reviews this month, both books that came across my desk were pure drivel. It's not so much the content or subject matter that irked me, but the lack of writing structure and sequence. Another too common phenomenon I've seen lately (again, these authors are published!) is the overstating of the obvious. Like we don't know. Like we're idiots unless they spell out every single thought in their head.

But their writing ability isn't why they are published (obviously). Rather, they promoted a marketable idea in a way that made sense to someone else. So if you want to get published too, find an idea that is relatable and intriguing, one that will spark people's interest. Just please, pretty please, take note of the books you read, specifically how the words are chosen and the sentences structured. Find what annoys you and avoid it. Don't overcompensate for your reader. People are smart. They will understand where you are coming from.

Hopefully, with this in mind, by the time you publish you can save book reviewers (and readers!) the trouble of sludging through your work with the same motivation that one would have while mopping a floor.

-The Writer Librarian

Friday, November 21, 2008

Knocking Out Writer's Block

Much of writer's block comes from putting on too many restrictions. It is helpful to reduce limiting factors, such as inner critics, bogged-down writing rules, and time constraints. Once you break free, you can customize your writing process in a way that works for you. Below are some handy tips, adapted from Outwitting Writer's Block and Other Problems of the Pen by Jenna Glatzer:

-Learn to silence your inner critic
Don't get stuck on the wheel of self-criticism ("that's cliche," "the work isn't really ready," etc.). Turn your critic into a pragmatist in order to give yourself realistic and constructive feedback.

-Make your own rules
You don't have to start at the beginning. A lot of writers get tripped up on introductory paragraphs due to the pressure of covering the impact of the whole piece before it's even written. Instead, write two or three key ideas on a separate sheet of paper, or start an outline. You can then use the starting thoughts to formulate some of the later paragraphs, and return to the introductory paragraph when you're ready.

-Don't let looming deadlines get the best of you
If a strict deadline is upon you, just keep writing. If you freeze in panic, the work will never get done. Just write something, anything, even if you think it stinks. You can also delegate the workload by having a trusted colleague proof your work. To avoid future looming deadlines, treat the writing process like eating an elephant: do it a little bit at a time. If you need 10 pages by Saturday, write 2 pages each day until Friday. If the writing flows more than 2 pages a day, feel free to do more. Make your own schedule.

-The Writer Librarian

Monday, November 10, 2008

Write for the Tech Static

The Tech Static is an upcoming journal about technology-related collection development. They are currently soliciting for collection development article queries. Current needs are here, guidelines can be found here.

-The Writer Librarian

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Writing Outlines with Bubbl.us Concept Maps

Sometimes I have trouble organizing my thoughts before writing. Doing a concept map usually works best for me, and today I happened upon an ILI-L listserv post that linked to a free concept map tool: http://www.bubbl.us/index.

Once you log in, you can create interactive mind maps to help organize your thoughts. This can also be a good teaching tool for you IL librarians out there.

-The Writer Librarian

Question of the Week: What organizational tips have helped you as a writer?