Your Opinion Please

Every day, it seems I receive more than 100 emails. This morning already I have 13 new messages and it’s not even 8:00 yet.  Thing is, most of these messages really aren’t for me.  They are blasts that come from gardening supplies to sexual performance enhancement companies; from BCC’s to yahoo group loops.  My index finger and my delete button are the best of friends.

So you can imagine my surprise when I received a message, a real, true, honest to goodness message from a person I’d never met before.  Joe works for The Ladders (this link will take you to a career search page)–a more human form of from what I can tell, and his role is to be a community manager. I’m not sure what that is, but seems part of his responsibilities include reaching out to people on the Ladders mailing list and building one-on-one relationships.

Pen and Ink Thoughts

Capturing & writing down your opinion–a messy but fun project!

Joe’s first email was to invite me to be part of a group of “influencers in the writing space.” Cynically, I thought of about 3,000 authors and writers who Joe could’ve contacted that were truly more influential than me, but heck, who doesn’t like their ego rubbed the right way now and then?

Joe asked me to write a few notes to aspiring writers or people considering a career in writing. And then, because he said yes to being on my mailing list, I thought, why not? And I sent him my notes.

When Joe replied (replied!) to my effort, he again successfully used flattery to pique my interest and asked if I were planning to post my notes on my blog. Yippee!  A blog post practically done a few days early.  That’s a momentous accomplishment for me, the one who my good guy calls Last Minute Liesa from time to time.

So, because Joe asked, here’s my opinion on things you might consider when working on your writing career:


Advice for writers?  Have you got a year?  Seriously, there are several kinds of writing work and each has its own path to success. Here are a few tips I hope you can use:


    • Join a critique group — you may need to try a few before you find a “home,” but the free advice, emotional support, and networking opportunities are more than worth your time commitment
    • Continually challenge yourself with new efforts in the main areas of good writing: plot, characters, themes, settings, background research, etc.
    • READ! — Learning to read like a writer means both enjoying a good read, and reading with a critical eye.  I keep a reading notebook and jot down quotes and thoughts as I go sometimes.


    • Start and keep a blog — you don’t need to keep up daily posts (unless your articles are short,100-250 words), but be consistent in order to build readership
    • Write for free — ouch! I know, but in the beginning the by-line is as important as the pay
    • Cultivate contacts — you never know who will bring you that next best quote or lead
    • Build a beat — it’s easier to break into print when you’ve built an expertise


    • Build a mailing list of prospects and mail occasionally.  Email is becoming as annoying as the old mail box. Try not to abuse your ability to blast out your message, but do stay in touch on a cyclical basis
    • Follow up mailings with phone calls — multiple touches and becoming a “real person” will help
    • Write tight and make it look easy — page real estate is expensive for your clients — show ‘em you understand that value with good, clean copy.
    • Do pro-bono work — again, not fun, but important for building your portfolio and community exposure


    • Write well and write daily—keep the writing knife sharp!
    • Use social media wisely—be yourself, but be your public self
    • Network—online, off-line, in social groups, anywhere and everywhere—and if you’re an introvert, make the effort just the same.

Now it’s your turn.  I know several of you are successful writers.  What advice would you give someone just starting out?  Share your thoughts here, and I’ll make sure to follow up with Joe to help build a more successful career guidance program with the Ladders.

One thought on “Your Opinion Please

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