Ian Scofield’s Wednesday Writing Prompt

This week you are going to sit down and imagine something catastrophic happening with your character, what happens is up to you.  The catch is that the story cannot have a finite ending but it must have an ending that is clear.  Something that leaves the reader hanging.  This is an exercise in catching the reader’s attention.

Write until you are done.  There are no specific rules other than that this week.


Thanks, Ian. Leave your writing in the comments below, please….

Why You Can’t Make a Living Writing

This comes to use from Josh Sarz via the Make a Living Writing blog. I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I’m not even going to try…

I can’t do it.

That’s what I say to myself after reading how other people are making a living writing.

Sure, they can do it. They have experience. They have talent. They were born to be writers. I’m just a regular kid. I’m only good at playing computer games and watching TV.

That’s why I’m writing this piece to you. If you’re reading this with hopes of learning ways to make a living writing, stop.

Let me give you nine reasons why you’re better off looking for another way.

10 reasons why you can’t write for a living

  1. You don’t know anything – That’s right. Just like me, you don’t know anything about writing. What makes you think you can just ‘decide’ to be a writer and then magically produce quality writing.

Click here for the whole post. Seriously. You’ll be glad you did. 

6 Ways to Share Your Work (Part One)

Freelance writing is really very simple….

Step 1: Write

Step 2: Submit

Step 3: Repeat



Just about every aspiring freelancer already has step 1 down. They have drawers — or hard drives — full of manuscripts. They scribble all the time, about anything. They may even have looked at some submission guidelines.

And there they stop.

Step two is the tricky part. For some, moving on to step two is a matter of confidence. They don’t feel their writing is worth showing out in public. If this describes you, the best cure is to ignore those doubts and send something in. It’s likely you’re wrong, and if you’re right — you’re better off knowing.

For many others, the trouble with step two is not knowing where to begin. If that’s you, consider these six places to share your work with the world. Some pay. Some don’t. But once you’ve gotten a few hundred page views, it will be easier to take yourself seriously as a freelance writer.

1. Blogging

Nearly everybody has a blog these days, but it’s easy to tell the talent from the rest of the pack. You can make one in five minutes and update a few times a week. Not very profitable in most cases, but a great way to get used to the idea of others reading your work. Once you’ve established yourself as a solid blogger, you can start getting paid surprising amounts of money to blog for others.

2. Nonfiction Magazines

I’ve said it before: if you want to write for a living, write nonfiction. The world is full of aspiring fiction writers, and publishers who pay next to nothing — or actually nothing — for their work. Nonfiction publishing suffers from a shortage of excellent writers. You’re an expert on something, and there are a minimum of two magazines on that topic. Reach out and see what you can do.

3. Social Media

This one is just a step above showing your poems to your grandmother, but is a great interim step for people working up the courage to submit. Post your work on Facebook, or in a Tweet. Serialize longer work, or use it as a teaser for your blog. It’s not too aggressive, but some people have experienced major success starting from this mode.

Check in next week for part two, where we’ll discuss commercial websites, local ‘zines and guest posting. Meanwhile, what have you done to share your work with the world?

Image courtesy of Nationaal Archief. Used with permission.

Finding Clients

I buy groceries with the help of my toddler. He likes naming and counting food. I like getting the job done. Win-win. Today in line, a young woman offered me her nannying services while in line. Total stranger. Hit me up for a job.

We can learn things from this experience.

On the plus side:

  • She observed the first rule of freelance job hunting: tell everybody what you do, and ask them to pay you for doing it.
  • She opened the conversation by demonstrating knowledge of her field. In this case, she engaged me about parenting and her experience with children.
  • She asked me for work in a straightforward, almost abrupt, manner.
  • She told me about her experience level, and offered to provide references.
  • Her entire communication was professional, yet approachable and friendly.

An overall excellent pitch. Now for the bad news.

She was dressed in a ratty sweatshirt and very (very) tight camo pants. I know it was Sunday morning at the grocery store, and she apologized for the outfit. But if you’re in the game of asking for work every time you leave the house — be dressed for work every time you leave the house.

She smelled like cigarette smoke. I don’t consider this the sin many people seem to think it is these days, but is a deal-breaker for anybody who wants to spend time with my kid — and it’s a common deal-breaker in my part of the country. That’s simple market research. If a certain behavior will keep you from getting good clients…discontinue that behavior.

As it turns out, I already have an excellent nanny. I took her information and plan to pass it on to some parents I know who are smokers themselves.

What can this tell us about job hunting as freelancers? Comments below, please….


Friday Fun: Webcomics

Howard Tayler's Schlock

Webcomics are another way freelance writers can make a viable career on the web.

For the three of you who haven’t heard of them, webcomics are just like the comic strips you see in your daily newspaper…only on the Internet.

In many ways, this medium is previewing the fate of other writing forms. Independent distribution, direct-to-advertiser income deals and self-published collections have been part of the landscape for 15 years. It’s how a webcomic artist makes a living. In the past few years, we’ve seen the same shift begin in fiction and nonfiction publishing.

Take a moment to check out some of my favorite webcomics. Besides enjoying the humor and art, pay some attention to their business models. What can we apply to your own careers?

  • Schlock Mercenary is the far-future saga of an interstellar mercenary company. Author Howard Tayler does a great job of combining thrilling plot with effective punch lines.
  • Order of the Stick by Rich Burlew is a comic for Dungeons and Dragons players. It follows the story of an adventuring party, with equal parts of situational humor and pokes at the game and its culture.
  • PVPOnline reminds me of 1980 sitcoms. Take the employees of a gaming magazine. Make their personalities over-the-top. Add a troll and a homicidal panda. Scott Kurtz makes it even more fun than it sounds.
  • XKCD is for the true geek, with jokes about everything from advanced math to obscure history. Randall Munroe’s stick figures show you can make it as a webcomic with few art skills — as long as your content is excellent.
  • Sluggy Freelance has been around for almost 20 years. Join two best friends, their pets and assorted hangers-on for quirky adventures. Was really funny in the 1990s, but Peter Abrams has transitioned the strip into more serious storylines.
  • User Friendly is another granddaddy webcomic, with author Iliad’s first panels showing up in the mid 90s. The cast and general attitude remind me of Bloom County, only for geeks.
  • Darths and Droids takes panels from the Star Wars movies and adds speech balloons to make it the results of a wildly dysfunctional role-playing game. It’s a team effort, still in progress, that has worked through Episodes I, II and III — and is in the early stages of “A New Hope.”
  • Alien Loves Predator experiments with the form. Instead of drawing panels, Bernie Hou poses action figures and takes photos, then adds the speech balloons and other effects. It’s hilarious, often crude, and occasionally NSFW.


This is definitely a geek-centric list, but so is the genre as a whole. We geeks love our comics, and were among the first to enthusiastically embrace the web.

What are some of your favorite webcomics? Comment and link below.