8x NATJA prize winner; #TBINchat host; pericarditis patient. Found on: Newsweek, Cruise Critic, MSN Travel. Writer’s Toolkit https://melindacrow.substack.com/

Writer’s Toolkit

They should even boost your creativity

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Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

You can actually set your creativity free when you use templates. Let’s consider what parts of a writing project belong to which part of the brain. This is the order we often use for our writing projects.

  1. Idea generation: creative
  2. The actual writing of the story: creative
  3. Layout, formatting, and design: critical
  4. Editing and re-writes: critical

But one little swap could be a game-changer. What would happen if you tried planning your layout and design before you begin writing? That’s what templating is all about.

By starting with a template, you already know what your layout will look like. You save time on the back-end in the rewrite phase, because everything you write has its proper place before you ever start writing. …

Writer’s Toolkit

Even if the word ‘mindfulness’ makes you gag

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Photo by Christina Victoria Craft on Unsplash

First things first, let’s define what “mindfulness” means in practical terms. All too often, I think we associate the word with spending an hour a day sitting cross-legged on the floor chanting “ohm.” And if that floats your creativity boat, more power to you. But some of us need smaller, easier snippets scattered throughout our crazy lives that can help keep us grounded.

I’m going to define mindfulness for writers as this:

A state of focus and awareness of not only your physical body in any given moment but also of your thought processes and state of mind, acknowledging that the two must work together in order for creative thoughts to flow freely into readable material. …

Looking for a new and easy way to create short-form posts that put more eyeballs on your work, earn followers faster, and even pay you a few extra pennies? I’ll…

Writer’s Toolkit

Rule #1: Never, ever, ever forget about the bots

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Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Let’s get real. We all love to sit around blaming editors, publications, platform changes, fate, Karma, or Kismet for everything that isn’t working in our writing careers. Writing skills aside, the thing standing between us and the careers we dream about might be inhuman.

Our relationship with the bots that control our writing lives is a determining factor in our success. There are rules for every bot or algorithm in our lives. Knowing even a little about those rules might be the magic sauce you’ve been searching for to boost you into the big leagues.

First, let’s define bot. The shortened form of robot is often used to mean any computerized function that acts independently of human interaction, at least for periods of time. For writers, bots in our lives can be as simple as a hashtag on a social media post that helps a computer determine whether to show your post to a random person known by the computer to enjoy the topic of your hashtag or not. …

And maybe you should too

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Author diving off the coast of Bonaire. Photo by Gary Crow.

When I was five I distinctly remember wanting to be a mermaid. I have no idea where that came from; it was long before Disney’s underwater princess arrived and I had never even seen the ocean.

I prayed. I sat in the bathtub until the water was cold and my mother insisted I dry off and go to bed. I stared at my skinny little legs, longing for just one fish scale to appear. One would be the sign I needed.

My fish scales finally arrived when I was thirty-three, in the form of a wetsuit, fins, and a tank of air strapped to my back. Twenty-eight years later, I still long to be beneath the waves. The pandemic put a big dent in my diving last year. Luckily, hubs and I completed our annual January trip to Bonaire just before the lockdowns began, otherwise 2020 would have been a rare diveless year for us. …

Anybody else have a case of fan fever when someone who is a way better writer than you reads and responds to your work? I’ve been writing professionally for 30+…

#1 I have a pretty decent voice when I can set aside the fear

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Photo by Naitian(Tony) Wang on Unsplash

This is not a sponsored post and none of the links are affiliate links because guess what? Anchor is free.

I was recently asked this question by MaryRose Denton:

“Hi. Quick question. You mention [on the audio attached] that you can make an income on Anchor even without any followers. Can you explain how this works or what one must do?”

Here’s what I know

My first exposure to Anchor was as a guest on This Week in Writing, the podcast produced by The Writing Cooperative, but even after that, it took me several months to stop dragging my feet and give it a try. …

It’s a subtle mind shift you must make to succeed there

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Photo by Grant Durr on Unsplash

I said it before, but I’ll repeat myself: News Break is not a platform. It’s a media outlet. More specifically, it was previously a news aggregator. They began contracting with writers directly for a portion of their content in November 2020.

If you are under contract, you are not there to grow your own readership; you are there to grow theirs. Writers they contract with must apply for acceptance and provide stats about their social followings and proof of past published work. You know, kind of like a job application.

Obviously, you can choose to stop writing for them at any point, but keep in mind that they can void your contract anytime they choose. I keep reading News Break writers asking whether others plan to continue to write there if they don’t meet the contracted minimums after the “early bird” special runs out. …

Just write, damn it

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Photo by Mark Duffel on Unsplash

Asking someone how they stay motivated to write is like asking what motivates them to eat. There’s only one clear answer to either question: hunger.

But the honest answer is that I am not always motivated to write. Here’s how I do it anyway.


If your only motivation for writing is money, stop writing. There are better ways to make money. But notice I said, only. It’s okay for money to be one of your motivators, but for it to work, you must acknowledge that you may never earn more at it than you would decorating cakes at Walmart. …

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