Is It Worth It To Drop Several Hundred Dollars on a Writing Conference?

I am a cheap bastard. Instead of spending money on pricey project management systems, I run my life through Google and GQueues. I avoid paid teleclasses and webinars in favor of business books that I dog-ear and pore through over and over again. I even married a web developer so I could get him to [...]

Where Are All the NJ Word Nerds Hanging Out?

Maybe 15 years ago, back when the Montclair Book Center was still the Page One Café, I barely stepped into my local Barnes & Noble. Why would I? Instead, I spent hours browsing the books — old and new — on the left side of Page One. On the right side, there was a café. [...]

How to Find the Right Balance Between Connected Writer and Crazy Recluse

I crossed and recrossed my legs uncomfortably, picked cat hair off my skirt, and leaned away from the passenger sitting beside me as the 195 bus made its way in fits and starts into the city. Only several hours before, I’d been having a Skype video chat with fellow writer and YEC member Dave Ursillo [...]

Join My Quasi-Secret Word Nerd Facebook Group Maybe?

Hey guys. This totally doesn’t count as this week’s actual blog post, but I just wanted to let y’all know that I’ve created a quasi-secret Facebook group for word nerds. Basically, it’s an invite-only Facebook group I’m using as a testing ground for features that will eventually appear on the still-being-developed Word Nerd Networking site. I’m [...]

How I Learned to Live and Write with Intention

In November 2010, I hosted a speed networking event at the Galway Hooker in NYC, a bar just a few blocks south of where I used to work full-time for an academic book publisher.* The event was a shot-in-the-dark idea I had for promoting my brand new career coaching business… one idea among many. I [...]

How To Be Generous with Your Writing Community

Over at Project Happily Ever After, my blogger-buddy Alisa Bowman wrote a post I’m absolutely smitten with: How to Put the Love Back in Valentine’s Day. In it, she writes of one man’s quest to re-brand February 14 as Generosity Day, and then lists the ways in which we could all be more generous to each other. In this way, February 14 becomes more about giving than about getting (a fancy meal… sparkly jewelry… chocolates…).

I found the timing of this post fortuitous. Just last night, I was reading Patty Digh’s Life is a Verb, which has an entire chapter on living life more generously. It had gotten me thinking about how I could be better, more generous, more open to others.

I’ve already written extensively on the powers of good karma within the writing community, and on how much of my freelance success can be attributed to the generosity of my fellow writers.

But just for today — Valentine’s Day — why don’t we all commit to doing at least one generous act for someone in our community.

Some suggestions:

  • RT, stumble, or pin another blogger’s post.
  • Pass along an article that you think would be helpful.
  • Forward along a job lead to someone you know is looking.
  • Email someone to tell them how much you love their work.
  • Share an editorial contact.
  • Let someone do up a guest post for your blog.
  • Rave about a fellow entrepreneur’s product or service, assuming you found it to be awesome.
  • Send a handwritten thank you card.
  • Review a fellow writer’s book on your blog.
  • Send your writing partner a word nerdy gift.

I could go on. But I haven’t had enough coffee yet.

Report back in the comments on your one, generous act today.

Related: Today’s Definition of Networking? Not So New, Community: The Crucial Ingredient to Freelance Writing Success

Community: The Crucial Ingredient To Freelance Writing Success

I like working alone. I prefer fuzzy slippers to pantyhose. And my commute these days is fantastic. But these aren’t the only reasons I chose freelancedom.

I’m an introvert, and having to be “on” for long periods of time leaves me exhausted. I also have social anxiety, and have had panic attacks while out in public. Working from home — quiet, calm, and with my three cats for company — makes me feel safe. I love that being a writer makes this possible.

But I credit my success — my ability to sustain this lifestyle — with the community I’ve built up around me. Through Twitter. Through Brazen Careerist and the Young Entrepreneur Council. Through past projects and jobs. Through this blog. So I was thrilled to get the chance to hang out in Carol Tice’s Freelance Writers Den, a virtual community for freelance writers, as a guest on her weekly podcast.

On my first visit to the Den, I kicked off my shoes and made myself comfortable. I wandered the forums, where there were active discussions going on about publications, marketing tactics, contract negotiations, and more. There were also forums dedicated to goal setting and accountability partners, and one board filled with writerly resources — a virtual library.

Over in the Learning Corner, I found links to e-courses on content mills, business and marketing basics, boosting rates, and building an online platform.

The events page was filled with info on Carol’s monthly webinars and weekly podcasts, like the one I’d been a guest on just yesterday. (p.s. If you weren’t able to make it, and would like to hear us chat about freelance startup plans, you can still register for the Den and head on over to the Multimedia Shelf to access a recording.)

There was also a Junk-Free Job Board, specially curated to eliminate the flim-flam you typically find around the Internet.

Finally, I took a look at the other writers involved in running the den, and was duly impressed. Linda Formichelli, for example — one of my other fave writing gurus — is a fellow Den mother!

We all build community in different ways. Why?

  • Your community can give advice when you’re facing a particularly difficult writing conundrum.
  • Your community can share contacts, and even pass along job leads.
  • Your community can open your eyes to new and fantastic resources.
  • Your community can provide you with tough love, accountability, and critiques.
  • Your community can provide opportunities for pretty damn exciting collaborations.
  • Your community can keep you sane when your most in-depth conversations happen to occur between you and your cats.
  • If you build authentic connections among your community — and maintain them — you’ll eventually find that freelance writing success doesn’t have to be chased down. Instead, it comes to you.

If you’re curious about the Freelance Writers Den (and for more than just hearing my melodious voice on that podcast recording), I highly recommend registering to become a member. Freelancing can be a lonely endeavor. But we should strive to connect, and to support each other.

Related: Using Twitter to Achieve World Domination (in Your Field), How to Harness the Power of NaNoWriMo… All Year Long, Motivational Trick: Fear (of Letting Others Down), Are Professional Organizations Worth the Cost?

*This post contains affiliate links… but know that if I’m plugging something , I truly believe it’s holy-shit-fantastic.

I Created a Pinterest Board for Word Nerds Because Why Not?

I know it seems as if all I do lately is futz around on various social media platforms.

But I swear to you. I’m getting shit done.

It’s just that…

I’m always looking for new and fun ways to build my brand, and to build my word nerd community, and I’ve been seeing various small businesses do interesting things online lately.

My latest obsession?

Pinterest. (Yeah, you and everyone else, Steph.)

Would it up my cool factor to tell you I’ve already been using Pinterest for about a year now in order to collect photos of pretty kitchens? Or does that just make me seem even dorkier?

Either way, I’ve decided to create a Pinterest board for word nerds, on which I can pin fun word nerd quotes, letterpress prints, lust-worthy reading nooks, and more.

Are you on Pinterest, too? If you come across anything particularly word nerdy, pin it with the #wordnerd hash tag, so I can easily find it and share it with the rest of the word nerd community!

My blogging buddies, and other people across the web, have been going gaga over how Pinterest can be used to drive traffic to your blog or business.

Have any of you guys been using Pinterest in new and interesting ways as a part of your business model?

Related: Freelancing and Yoga Go Together Like… Nutella and Pound Cake, The LinkedIn Lowdown: How To Pump Up Your Social Media Campaign, How To Avoid Social Media Fatigue in 5 Easy Steps, Using Twitter to Achieve World Domination (in Your Field)

Don’t Forget To Thank Your Writing Partner

Earlier this week, I sent query letters out to four literary agents. This was a big step for me. I’d been dreaming of becoming a published author since the age of 5 and, since then, I’d done absolutely nothing to make it happen. Now I have a book proposal — polished and ready to go — and four query letters out the door.

In fact, within 15 minutes, one of the agents responded to me, asking to see my full proposal. I thought I was going to pass out from excitement, but I pulled it together long enough to send him what I had. He responded almost immediately, saying he would try to get back to me either way by the end of the week.

This very well might mean I’m about to get the quickest rejection ever (well, okay… not ever) but, nevertheless, I’m ecstatic. I’m closer than I’ve ever been to making this happen.

And I never would have done it if I wasn’t being held accountable by my writing partner.

What my writing partner did for me:

  • helped me choose one big project to focus on
  • helped me set regular writing, querying, and business goals
  • helped me set deadlines for the above goals
  • read my weekly status reports, cheering me on when I was extra productive
  • threatened my life when I slacked (or just generally emanated an aura of disapproval)
  • marked up everything I sent her with edit marks and insightful comments and questions
  • scheduled regular Skype chats with me to discuss those suggested edits (and to talk work gossip, sex, infertility, and Chicken McNuggets)
  • held me accountable
  • kept me on track
  • made my book a possibility, rather than an elusive dream

The day after I sent out those queries, we had another Skype chat. At the end, we discussed what our next writing goals would be. I was feeling distracted by the thought of those book queries. How could I concentrate on anything else!? But I attempted to pull my weight. ”I still need to make revisions to that Freelance Awesome Starter Kit,” I said, “but I should really concentrate on developing magazine queries and drumming up new work.”

“Well, can’t you do both?”

Yes. Yes I could.

Lyz Lenz is a so-funny-she’ll-make-you-snort writer who blogs over at She also writes for Babble, TruTV, NewParent, and other publications. We met when I was permalancing at YourTango. She manages the community there (among her many other responsibilities). She lives far, far away (Iowa), but she is my platonic life partner. I’m lucky to have her as my writing partner as well.

And since it’s Thanksgiving and all, I want to thank her. I want to thank her for forcing me to accomplish this despite myself.

Writing partners are one of the best things in the world. They’re up there with Candy Cane Kisses and cats and yoga and So You Think You Can Dance. They’re up there with episodes of Castle and The Sing-Off, and with pillow-top mattresses and coffee. If you need a reminder of why you should get one yourself… well, here.

Have you thanked your writing partner this Thanksgiving?

Related: Finding a Writing Partner Who Will Make Your Dreams Come True, Breakneck Book Report: Adair Lara’s Naked, Drunk, and Writing, Wanted: A Writing Partner Who Can Kick My Writing Ass