Tips for New Writers

In this discussion we talked about tips for beginner writers.

March 14, 2019

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Audio Transcript


Tips for New Writers

Presented by Diane O’Neill and Jennifer Ottowitz

Diane O'Neill: Hello my name is Diane O'Neill and Jennifer Ottowitz and I will be facilitating the meeting today. 301 did you have a question?

Skipper: Hi it's Skipper from New York.

Diane O'Neill: Hi.

Skipper: Hi, sorry I muted my phone. My question is, as a new writer I'm at a disadvantage because I don't have an agent. I don't have a publisher. I have nowhere to begin. I don't know what I'm doing. I wrote a book. I'm working on my second book. I did get some feedback from people on my first book that said it was good. It's about identity theft and there's a lot of interest in that, but I can't get anyone to even look at it because I'm an unknown.

Skipper: So if there's any way that you can pass information along to us about what do we do? We send out query letters that just go in the trash. Now, they just go in the e-mail trash box. How do we get somebody to take a looksy at what we present to them? I don't get help from the Commission For the Blind. I'm on "Ticket to Work," but they didn't help me, the commission, with that either. So I don't know if you can talk about "Ticket to Work" to people.

Skipper: I'm really in the dark, literally. I'm totally blind so, if you could give me some information on that I would truly appreciate it.

Diane O'Neill: That's a very good question. Right now, I'm answering just questions about how to actually navigate this if you had questions about muting and unmuting. We can talk about that later. Just off hand, maybe we should have a session that's all about the submission process.

Skipper: Absolutely.

Diane O'Neill: Yeah, there are some actual ways that you can ... Yeah, there's the how to write a good query letter. In April, we're thinking about doing poetry, but I don't know if poetry needs to take up the whole time. Maybe we could do half of the session poetry, half about how to send a query letter.

Skipper: Okay.

Diane O'Neill: And in the questions, we can go into that a little more. I first I just want to make sure if anybody has any questions about just muting, or unmuting or raising their hand. So if you have any other questions other than that, if you could just hold it for a minute I'd appreciate it, thank you.

Skipper: Thank you.

Kirsten: Diane, this is Kirsten from Rochester. I missed the dial-up phone way to raise my hand for a question later.

Diane O'Neill: Sure. To raise your hand you press *9.

Kirsten: *9, thank you.

Diane O'Neill: You're welcome. Number 122, did you still have a question ... oh wait no, let's take 414.

Alice: Hello, this is Alice. I just wanted to check, but this time my phone said muted, because before I had hit *6 to unmute, but I found out that I guess we don't have to hit *6 to unmute. That must automatically from what you're doing there. So I think my question was already served.

Diane O'Neill: That's fine. Somebody else sounds like they have a question? [inaudible 00:03:00] Thank you.

Abbey: It's me, Abbey. I'm sorry, I thought I was unmuted, I wasn't sure. The problem with the PC, I wish there was something we could do about this. When I'm on the Zoom [inaudible 00:03:12] just keeps popping, announcing that people are coming in and coming out and I'm having a hard time hearing if I have to switch to a different window and then come back in and so it takes me a minute, so please be patient in the future.

Abbey: My question was only to respond to the lady in New York she had about submitting. And if we're gonna be having a different session about that, I won't [inaudible 00:03:34] that here. So, that was all I had to say.

Diane O'Neill: Okay, thank you and I apologize for any technical goose about this. I'm new at this, so I apologize for anything I may [inaudible 00:03:45].

Jennifer: Diane, this is Jennifer. As a JAWS user myself, I can tell you unfortunately your screen reader is going to announce any time anyone enters or leaves the room.

Abbey: Right.

Jennifer: [crosstalk 00:03:57] have to hit the control key to silence that.

Abbey: That's what I've been doing, but sometimes I don't always ... It's kind of a pain. That's why I switched to a different window, but I might have to keep hitting ...

Jennifer: No problem. We understand. Thank you.

Diane O'Neill: Thank you, next, what I think we would might like to do for the next 10 minutes is have people just check in and talk about how writing was for the last month. Especially if you were part of the group last month, chime in, or even regardless, just mention about how was your writing last month. And I'm gonna set a timer just because we've got a lot of things to cover today so let's give us 10 minutes and again if you'd like to participate and talk about your writing last, how it went last month, raise your hand.

Abbey: And I just did that again. I have to monopolize things, but if nobody wants to start, I will. I have been sending [inaudible 00:04:50] stories to contests. Wyoming Arts Council here in my state has a fellowship competition and I also sent a story to the Nelligan Prize for short fiction competition in sponsored by the Colorado Review. So that's what I've been doing.

Abbey: I'm hoping to get back to my novel here [inaudible 00:05:10] and get that ready to be sent. I did do some editing and I'm putting it aside again for a bit to get in some of the contests.

Abbey: You know, it's important as a writer to create a balance between writing something and then submitting things because we need to be recognized, so I'm trying to balance all of that. So that's what's going on with me.

Diane O'Neill: Great. Thank you. You know what? In fact, to back up, I forgot to introduce ourselves. Jennifer, did you want to say a little bit about yourself?

Jennifer: Hi, everybody. This is Jennifer. I'm one of the learning experts at Hadley and I'm just really here in the background behind the scenes to help out Diane. I just wanted to, before we go on, confirm that we are recording.

Diane O'Neill: Yes. I saw the recording button a second ago.

Jennifer: Okay.

Diane O'Neill: Yeah, I see the recording button right by your name.

Jennifer: Perfect. Okay. Thank you all for joining us. I look forward to the discussion.

Diane O'Neill: Thanks, Jennifer. And my name is Diane O'Neill. I'm one of the learning designers and when I'm not working for Hadley, I do creative writing and I've had a couple of children's stories. One accepted by Highlights and one published in Lady Bugs. And I also write poetry and essays, so I'm really happy to be with a bunch of other writers so we can have fun with this.

Diane O'Neill: I meant to do the introductions earlier. I apologize for that. This is my first time doing this as a facilitator.

Diane O'Neill: Who else? We have ... I see a number 906. Okay, number 906?

Deborah: Yes. I'm Deborah in Michigan. This is my first time in this meeting. I am a private edition writer. I basically write for myself. I do a lot of creative writing and I do a lot of poetry and I illustrate my writing. And I am working on a large novel. It's about 27 chapters. It's both fiction and reality mixed in, but it's a kind of long process. The writing has been a journey. Just in all of the different directions that I have been pulled in the research that I have done on my book, so it's exciting. Even though I want to get it done, I'm still in the learning phase and I've gone through a lot of different subjects on ... It's taking me through a lot of things, so the writing process is very much a journey and it's fun learning and it's fun being creative and learning about the character and the characters, their background and just all the things that you could put into the writing, their mannerisms, just certain aspects about them.

Deborah: And one of my poems was just printed in the side newsletter for Hadley, so I was thankful for that. I have two of them that were printed in that, so now I am a published poet, but for the most part, at this time, with the three books that I've self published and illustrated, I keep them to myself and I've shared them with other people and then the larger ones, that's a few more years in the making, but writing is exciting. I am not a professional writer. This is just what comes to me, so that's what I want to contribute at this time. Thank you very much.

Diane O'Neill: Well, thank you. I apologize.

Unknown: Oh that's what that is. Okay.

Diane O'Neill: I apologize. I thought I muted this. It sounds like you're doing great work and your novels sounds very ambitious and wonderful. Thank you for sharing. Let's see, Joe. I see Joe there. Joe, would you like to talk about your writing?

Joe Marshall: This is Joe Marshall in Oklahoma.

Diane O'Neill: Hi.

Joe Marshall: I just into several of the other programs, one is on gardening. The other is using technical devices. That problem that you have with it announcing every time someone comes in and comes out, is there someway we can do a different setting on the computer in order to get away from that?

Jennifer: This is Jennifer. Unfortunately, there is not that we found yet, but we'll keep trying to investigate it.

Joe Marshall: Alright.

Abbey: Joe, what I've been doing, which doesn't always work, and I have to get back into it, I just switch to a different window. Like, I clicked on the link in the email message and it opened up a browser and it opened up the zoom. I just do alt tab to get back into the browser, which works great and then when I want to get back in here when I'm acknowledged, I don't get back in there quick enough to get in there and unmute myself, so but that's one way if you're not interested anymore to talk, then you can try that too.

Joe Marshall: What I do is use the ... going by the telephone instead of the computer and you avoid that.

Abbey: Oh, well that can. Considering doing that in the future. We'll see.

Joe Marshall: The other question I have ... I was interested in taking more of the courses from Hadley on technical things, on the use of the keyboard and all, but they've been down for some time. Are the classes back up again? The technical classes?

Diane O'Neill: Diane speaking. I'm not sure but you can check with student services and they'll let you know what's available and I will be happy to help with that.

Joe Marshall: Okay. Thank you very much.

Diane O'Neill: Great. Anybody else? Let's see, who else? Mary, would you like to talk about your writing in the past month?

Anne: Hello. This is Anne. I don't know how to raise my hand, I'm sorry, and I came in a little late, but right now. Sorry. Right now on my writing, I'm working on a fantasy novel. Why a fantasy novel? It's the first time I've done fantasy. Otherwise, I've got four books published and I've got several projects currently in the mix. I don't know if I answered your question.

Anne: And I'm also taking some learning courses through Reedsy. You have to set up an account to Reedsy. The site is pretty accessible if you use Google Chrome. It's not very good with Internet Explorer, but what you do is you subscribe to the course, you enroll in the course by subscribing to their emails, and you get one lesson each day and you can only take one course at a time. You can't take any more than that, but they're ten day courses, so there's courses on writing, publishing, marketing, and a host of other things. And they have other services that Reedsy provides too, so it's a really good resource.

Diane O'Neill: So that's called Reesy?

Anne: Yes.

Diane O'Neill: Excellent. Thank you. Anybody else want to talk about their ... Well, let's see.

Kayla James: Hello?

Diane O'Neill: What number?

Kayla James: Hello?

Diane O'Neill: Yes?

Kayla James: Can you hear me?

Diane O'Neill: Yes.

Kayla James: Okay. My name is Kayla James. Hi, everybody! I'm new. Can you still hear me?

Diane O'Neill: Yes we can hear you.

Kayla James: Oh, okay. I wanted to say about my writing. Yesterday, I just sent out a proposal to the Harlequin Love Inspired Line for a romance and I'm currently getting ready to send off another proposal to Wild Rose Press. And I am also trying to work on becoming a freelance writer alongside my novel writing and I am very happy to be here.

Diane O'Neill: Well that sounds great. I've heard of Wild Rose Press. Well, good luck with all that.

Kayla James: Thank you very much.

Diane O'Neill: And let's see. We have like five seconds left. I'd like to change topics right now because our main ... yep, there's our timer.

Diane O'Neill: I'd like now to ask about tips for new writers and I'd first like to ask people if you consider yourself an advanced writer and then I'm gonna ask the beginner writers, and for example of one tip. I know of a lot of writers that say, you have to write every day. One of my favorite writers, who's pretty well known is Walter Mosley. He writes even on vacation. He says, "If you're a writer, you write even on vacation."

Diane O'Neill: But other writers say differently. Lorraine Hansberry, who wrote A Raisin in the Sun, says telling a writer to write every day was silly because what about their creativity? What about their freedom? To be able to write is [inaudible 00:14:40]. So I have an in between quote, so my tip is I make myself write at least 5 minutes a day because if it's a really bad day, it's okay. I'm still a writer. And if it's a good day, sometimes that five minutes ends up being an hour or two writing, so that's my tip. I have to write at least five minutes a day and it's worked for me.

Diane O'Neill: Advanced writers, what are your tips out there?

Abbey: Diane, this is Abbey Taylor in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I have spoken earlier and one piece of advice I would share with new writers is, one thing I've discovered that if you publish something on a website or a blog or any online location that is accessible to the public, it is considered previously published. And maybe publications do not take previously published worked.

Abbey: I learned this the hard way. As soon as I got married back in 2005, my husband gave me a very special wedding gift. He gave me a website. He hired a friend to develop it and he encouraged me to put my stories and poems up on it, so I was putting stuff on there left and right. And then I went to a writer's conference, where I found out that anything that is published on a website is considered previously published, so I could not send any of that stuff anywhere else unless the place says they welcome previously published work. So that's something to take into consideration. It's a good idea to have a website, but don't put everything that you write up there.

Abbey: Now as a rule of thumb, the only time I put something on the website. One of my stories or poems or essays is if it has been published somewhere else first. So just keep that in mind when you're starting out.

Diane O'Neill: Okay. Thank you Abbey, that's an excellent point and I've read that myself. A lot of places will ... If you put it out there, whether it's on Facebook or whatever, it is published. Let me see who else has raised their hand. 343 ... I'm trying to go by the hand raised. 343? 006, I don't know if that person's ... okay.

Speaker 12: Yes. I think it told me I'm unmuted.

Diane O'Neill: Okay? We can hear you.

Speaker 12: Okay good. Now, I've got two things, if that's okay. One thing I was gonna suggest is on the problem with the computer speaking every time something happens, JAWS has a function that you can either speak everything or you can speak what's highlighted or you can tell it to speak every time something happens and that is an option that can be turned off.

Speaker 12: I'm not sure that insert S will do it. Insert S toggles between beginning intermediate and advanced and advanced turns everything off unless you ask it something, so if you have JAWS, you might look at that and there's a way to just turn that off.

Speaker 12: I have a question about what Abbey was just saying. You said something about if it's on a blog or I think you said if you had posted to a list, does that mean that things like if you send something in an email or like we do the little critiques and stuff, does that also count as already published?

Diane O'Neill: Diane speaking. I believe if it's in an email, that's different. It's more if you put it out there on a site where everyone can see it. Like on Facebook, it's not just your friend your emailing something. It's not like a critique group where it's a limited number of people, but if it's out there for the public like Facebook, yeah, that's considered previously published.

Speaker 12: Okay.

Abbey: And I think what [inaudible 00:18:36] was trying to ask because she and I belong to a writers' group. And we submit to an email list for a critique and no, that is not considered previously published, so you don't have to worry about that, as long as if it, what Judy ... I'm sorry, I keep wanting to call you Judy. Is your name Diane?

Diane O'Neill: Yeah.

Abbey: So what Diane says is true. If you're putting it on Facebook or on your website or on your blog, then it's previously published, but if you're sending it in email to a writers' group list, where it's exclusive and nobody else can see it, then there isn't a problem. I hope that clears it up for you, Anne.

Speaker 12: So it's just when it's out for the public to see.

Abbey: Yeah. Right, right.

Speaker 12: Okay.

Speaker 13: I have question, Judy. I have a question. Hello?

Diane O'Neill: Yes?

Speaker 13: I'm [inaudible 00:19:34] in Birmingham and I have a question. It seems that most of my writing has been for professional journals. I'm a clinical social worker in private practice. The articles are published, could I put those on my website and be okay if I want to write something else?

Diane O'Neill: Diane speaking. I'm not really sure about that. Depends if after they have been published, you own the rights to them or not. That's something you would probably want to check with whoever published you.

Diane O'Neill: Let me get some people whose hands are up. I'd like to call on people who's hands are up because I want to make sure that ... we don't have that much time. Patricia Fletcher. I don't know if you've spoken yet?

Patricia Fletch: I have not. Can you all hear me?

Diane O'Neill: Yes.

Patricia Fletch: Okay, it automatically unmutes. Good, okay.

Diane O'Neill: I unmuted you.

Patricia Fletch: Oh, okay. That's even better. It's good to have a facilitator. I haven't quite learned how to use this. First of all, I haven't been to this meeting before, and a friend of mine sent me the information. We're talking about ... to try to stay on topic, people are concerned about published work, what is considered and what isn't considered. A couple of questions I've heard is where is it considered published and what if I've already published it somewhere, is it okay to put it somewhere else. So I'm in the business of marketing, so I do a lot of research on these topics.

Patricia Fletch: Most places where you will publish your work or where you will submit work for publish have a list of things they consider published work. If you've published your work in a journal, for example as the one caller said, as you said, you have to get permission from the place where you published unless you retain all of your copyright. If you retain all of your copyright, then you should be okay to publish, and as far as places that are considered published, if you have put it on Facebook. If you have put it onto your blog, if you published in a magazine, in an anthology, all of those places, in a book, what have you, that's considered, anywhere that's public domain, is previously published.

Patricia Fletch: And what I've noticed is there are some magazines where they call for submission like Chicken Soup for the Soul, Guide Post, different places like that, they'll have a list of what is acceptable for previously published work and I've just spent some time submitting some pieces and it specifically stated that if they were published on your blog, they were still acceptable, but if they had been published in books that were purchasable by the public, they were not acceptable.

Patricia Fletch: So my advice is always make absolutely sure to read your guidelines when you are making your submissions. There are always very specific guidelines and they usually have an email where you can ask questions if you are unsure of your guidelines.

Diane O'Neill: Let's see 686. I don't know if we talked to you yet. Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

Alice: This is Alice from Milwaukee and I've not made a comment about this yet. I'm going to the very beginning aspect for very beginning writers. If you are not yet subscribing to The Writer through your cooperating Talking Book and Braille Library, I highly recommend receiving the audio magazine that's simply called The Writer. That magazine has been published for so many decades and there's a wealth of information for writers in that monthly magazine.

Alice: Also, if you access NFB Newsline either on the phone or through your iPhone or whatever means you have of accessing NFB Newsline, the magazine Poets and Writers, which comes out every other month is available on that system. That is another good source to read and it just gives you a variety of information for writers.

Alice: Then third little tip is instead of developing folders, what I've found is easier is when I'm writing my blog, and I save the file, I just use BLOG and then the last two digits of the year and then a keyword to identify the file that will become one of my blogs, so I know whenever I got to blog 19, it's going to be one of those files that I have used for my own blog. If I'm writing a poem. I can do poem 19 and then it keyword for the filename, but find a consistent way of naming your files. If it's an essay, then essay 19 and then a keyword and so forth. That has been really a good way of managing my many, many files more easily. I've recommended this to other people and they have also found that ...

Alice: Now what I do when I'm going to mail out a piece, submit a piece, then I use my last name, Mazza the year, the last two digits of the year, and then a keyword from the title. That way I know those pieces are the ones I have submitted. And, you need to find a way that works for you to keep track of what you have submitted, where, and when you submitted it. Whatever system that's going to work for you, develop a system because while at times we think "Oh, we're going to remember all of this." As [inaudible 00:26:21] goes on, we don't. So develop a system that will work for you.

Diane O'Neill: I'm sorry, I think I accidentally cut you off. I'm sorry about that. What's now. I'd to now ask people who are new writers to share something that they've learned that they might want to share with other people. So any new writers out there? If you're a new writer. I'd like to see the new writers raising their hands. I'd like to hear that from them.

Kayla James: Hello?

Diane O'Neill: Have you raised your hand? I'd like to pick people who have raised their hand, if that's possible.

Kayla James: Oh, I'm sorry. I don't know how to do that.

Diane O'Neill: Well then, go ahead, if you don't know how to do it go ahead. I don't want to ignore anybody. Please.

Kayla James: Well, I have learned to be careful about over researching sometimes. Like researching markets and things that you can get involved in because in my experience, once I over research something, it makes me afraid or something like that and not willing to try it and it cuts down on writing. If you're reading too much and thinking too much into some things, so I guess that would be my tip. Don't over research too much and to just do it, just write.

Diane O'Neill: That's a good point Kayla. Thank you so much. I've heard other people say the same thing where that sometimes researching too much is a hazard and sometimes it's just better to get out there and be creative and write and maybe later research to fill in what you don't know, so that's a great tip.

Diane O'Neill: Anybody else? Let's see. 018? Are you a new writer and you'd like to give a tip?

Speaker 16: I'm not exactly a new writer, but I was going to say that I am one of the people that they all preach against because I am one of those people who writes when the spirit moves me, so I'm not one that sits down and writes to be writing to be in the habit, so if an idea comes to me to write a poem, I'm not an editor either, I will sit and I will think out a line, so I might be revising that line about five or six times in my head before I actually write it down on paper per se, because most of us use technology these days. When I used to write it on paper, same thing.

Speaker 16: And so once I get it written, I usually consider that the final product. I know that's bad, but that's just what I do.

Diane O'Neill: Well, you know. Thank you for that. I have actually heard of people how actually use that approach and are very successful. From what I've read, different writers have different styles. What works for one writer does not work for the other and if it works for you, hey that's great.

Diane O'Neill: Let's see. Who else I haven't called on. 208 are you a new writer with some suggestions?

Speaker 17: Oh my God.

Gayle: I believe that's me. My name is Gayle. [inaudible 00:30:02] Beach, Florida. I am feeling very, very, very under accomplished after listening to you very wonderful people. This is my first meeting, so my first question is, are the previous meetings, are the recordings available for us to get to because I think I may have missed out on very, very valuable information in your earlier meetings.

Diane O'Neill: Diane speaking. This is our second meeting and unfortunately we didn't record the first one, but we are recording this one and we will be recording all the future ones.

Gayle: Sounds great. My problem is I cannot get from brain to page.

Unknown: Amen.

Gayle: I have probably a hundred ideas floating around in my brain and I just could not just get started so where do you start?

Diane O'Neill: Does anybody have a good suggestion there? Let's see.

Gayle: Do you keep a list of all your ideas?

Unknown: Deb? Or Diane?

Diane O'Neill: One of my writing friends has this thing where she keeps an idea a day book. So I started doing that where every day, I write an idea down. It might be goofy. It might be silly. It might be something I'll work on, maybe it's something that will ... and sometimes I'll write an idea and it'll actually appeal to me a year later or something, but I find that that helps my brain work with creativity. It just keeps me in the creative zone. I'm wondering what other people do.

Kirsten: Diane? This is Kirsten from Rochester again.

Diane O'Neill: Hi Kirsten.

Kirsten: I've raised my hand, but I don't think it's shown up in your log.

Diane O'Neill: Maybe not. I apologize, there's lot of people I'm sorry.

Kirsten: I hate to interrupt, but I'm so glad that the caller asked that question. I also have a head full of ideas and feel overwhelmed by sitting down at a keyboard. Back in January, I began a process called The Artist Way. I think it's called the spiritual path to finding your higher creativity.

Kirsten: One of the exercises. The twelve week course that you just do via the book. You can download it and listen to it, but it requires doing morning pages. Three pages to write in each morning and it's about absolutely nothing or you can write the same sentence. "I have nothing to say. I have nothing to say."

Kirsten: I just started every day for the last three months writing and it's feeling so good just to be getting something on the page, developing a habit for me, and I know there are some nuggets in there that I'll be able to go back to, but there are also task prompts each week that you can choose to do that kind of give you some memory jobs and inspiration to try to unblock your sensors. And just start feeling inspired to put it on a page and it's been wonderful to me. I'm anxious after the twelve weeks to see what I've gotten and maybe pick some things out and work on them, but I'm just getting started as well.

Unknown: Could you tell me the name of that [inaudible 00:33:19] again?

Kirsten: Yeah. It's called The Artist's Way, like apostrophe S, belonging to the artist. It's by Julia Cameron. C-A-M-E-R-O-N and it is available from an LS [inaudible 00:33:35], Audible, Bookshare, those places. I listen to it on my Victor Stream. It's just been a great start for me. I also subscribe to a weekly online writing publication called Pulse: Voices from the Heart of Medicine and it's a collection every week it publish a poem or story relating to a particular topic in healthcare, but it's caregivers, patients, medical providers and I that's the only thing I have published, is a poem there because they do solicit publications or submissions as well and publish them weekly and they compile them into volumes too. They often use the medical schools.

Kirsten: But probably all of us having lust and vision have stories to tell even about our process with that, which is what my poem dealt with.

Diane O'Neill: That sounds like a great idea. I've read The Artist's Way too and it's a great book. I just have one tip before I pass it on to the next person, but one teacher once told me that when you get stuck, write whatever you write [inaudible 00:34:52] to your best friend, your friend who you would get away with anything with. And sometimes that has freed me when I feel stuck. I'll write a friend, "Dear so and so" and I'll write it as a letter and you can take the dear off later.

Diane O'Neill: Let me see how else.

Kirsten: Hi, this is Kirsten again. You actually found me, from Rochester. I already put in my two cents about The Writer's Way and the online journal, but I also had a thought about wanting to share our work or at least our offline resources because they can get only so much accomplished in an our together, but I'd be very willing to submit my phone number and email to you so that if anybody had any interest in connecting outside of our monthly chat, they could do that.

Diane O'Neill: This is Diane speaking. Let me give you my email address and I can check with Hadley and see how we would [inaudible 00:35:53] help with or whatever. My email is

Kirsten: Thank you. Perhaps if anyone else likes that idea, they can send in their information as well.

Diane O'Neill: Because I don't know if Hadley [inaudible 00:36:11] want to coordinate something like that or allow that or be part of that. I don't know. So, since I don't know. Let me find out for you. So that's my email. So great.

Diane O'Neill: I see a 353, I think that has a hand raised.

John: Hello.

Diane O'Neill: Yes?

John: Oh, this is John. I've been trying to get through. I keep trying to raise my hand, but nothing is happening for some [crosstalk 00:36:31].

Diane O'Neill: Okay, go ahead.

John: I just wanted to make a comment about new writers or keeping ideas in your head. And what I do is, because I travel independently a lot on buses. I have metros and stuff. I keep a portable recorder with me so when I have an idea, I record my idea where I am or include a basis of a story. I record that basis of a story, which will then will allow me when I sit at my desk to write a bit is to go back and revisit that idea or that thought I was having when that idea came up. Because it's kind of hard when you're out walking around and something occurs to you that you wanted to write about or something has happened to you that you want to add into one of your stories that you don't necessarily have your computer or a pen or paper. For us being visually impaired, it's kind of hard to sit down with a pen and paper, so carrying a portable recorder with me, just a little handheld one, works perfect for those topics.

Diane O'Neill: That's an excellent idea because most writing teachers say bring a pad of paper, just something with you because sometimes you'll think of a great idea and you're not gonna think of it later.

Diane O'Neill: I'd like us now for the next 10 minutes to see if we would like to share some resources. I have a couple of resources that I found lately that you might be interested in. Let me set the timer again because I want to make sure we have enough time for everything. Because this hour goes by so quickly.

Diane O'Neill: Recently, I took a poetry class, an online poetry class for free. And it was out of the University of Manchester and it was a three week course, but it was a very good course on beginning poetry. And some of you are very advanced and some who are not, and actually, I've had a couple of poems published and I still found it very useful.

Diane O'Neill: And I'll read the address, the email address if you like, the site address, but actually, what we're gonna do is afterwards, probably in a few days is we're gonna post, along with the recording, we're gonna post resources so that you can, you know, which might be easier. Again, it's out of the University of Manchester and the course is called How to Make a Poem and it's on a future learn so it's and it might be a lot easier if you just look online when we post it.

Diane O'Neill: Another interesting site. There's a site called Writers Write. I think it's out of New Zealand. I'm not sure. It's called Writers Write and if you subscribe to them, every day you get a different prompt and inspirational quote and I find that a cool thing. By the way, we did test that this is accessible. The other side is also and again, we'll post it on our site, but it's so I'm wondering if you have any resources to share. I'm looking at the hands right now.

Abbey: Write as in the direction or write as in write-

Diane O'Neill: I apologize. Write as in writers. I apologize. I should have be specific.

Diane O'Neill: Okay, let's see. Somebody who I haven't called on. 906, I don't know if I've called on you, did you have some.

Deborah: Yes, this is Deborah in Michigan. Can you hear me?

Diane O'Neill: Yes.

Deborah: Good. I just wanted to back up because I was trying to get on a few minutes ago when you had a question about sharing new writers ideas. I am a creative writer, I can't write every single day. I can't sit down and say I'm going to write for an hour. When I tried that, all I did was waste an hour each day, but when I don't even think about thinks. When I just take some time away, that's when ideas start flooding in my mind and I write them down. Even if it's just a sentence. I'll write it and I'll put it in a little jar. I also find it helpful to keep a list of names for character reference and also mannerism. And just jotting down random thoughts that come into mind and then later on, what I'll do is I'll take something out of a jar and if I want to sit down and write, then I will take something randomly from that jar and whatever I get, I'll just sit down and I'll just start writing and I'll just let my mind completely go creative.

Deborah: And that can bring out some really surprising things to write, either poetry or a piece of fiction and it's just a form of free writing and even sometimes if you think it doesn't amount to anything, usually in time it actually does. So I just wanted to share that and just open up ... just be totally relaxed about the writing process. If writing an hour a day works for you, go for that. Whatever works for you. Do what makes you write because I can't, I don't do it every single day, but you kind of have to take a lateral turn, if you can't write then do something different that's still in a creative manner.

Deborah: It could be writing a poem. It could be just doing research. Right now, I'm just doing research on a novel that I've been working on for three years, so now I'm researching vintage clothing and maps from the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, so I'm going to be doing that with my writing, but I just want to share that's what works for me and I hope that would be helpful to somebody who is new to writing or anyone.

Deborah: This is my first time participating and it's been nice hearing everything that I have ... all the contributors. I enjoyed this very much. So, that's what I wanted to say. Thank you.

Diane O'Neill: Thank you so much it sounds like you have a great practice and that sounds like a wonderful idea. Very inspiring. Thank you.

Deborah: Your welcome.

Diane O'Neill: Let's see. I see a 458. Have you spoken yet?

Donna: No, I haven't spoken yet. Also, this is Donna from Pennsylvania.

Diane O'Neill: Hi.

Donna: Hi. I was in the queue for talking about tips for new writers. I've been writing for the Blind Post for six years and I've learned a lot in that time. I have a couple tips. First of all, I'm one of those people that cannot write every day. And I don't write every day because I'm busy doing ... because one of the things, you have to be out there. In order to write, you have to have experiences, so I'm out there in the world doing things. I'm not saying other people aren't. I'm just saying that in order to write, you have to have experiences especially in my situation, where I write about my experiences and I write about things that happen to people with low vision and things like that.

Donna: The second thing that I had to learn is not to over think. I have the worst problem. I will take something that I write, and I will keep reading it and rereading it and editing and changing things. And if you do that, you're gonna miss your deadline. So now, I put myself in a position that I'm up against a deadline and my friends laugh at me. They're like, "Oh my gosh, you mean you have two hours to write the article. That's great." But a lot of times, I do that because if I don't I'm gonna keep over thinking it and I'm gonna keep rewriting and reediting. And "No, I want to change that word. No, that doesn't sound good and no, I want to change that sentence now." And that's not such a good thing.

Donna: My two tips would be you don't want to overthink it. You don't want to keep editing and reediting. You know, it's probably okay. It's probably better than you think it is, and sometimes you're your worst critic and so you go "wait, I need to stop." And the other thing as I said, you have to write when you think of things. I do write other things, but I don't always write every day and the one other thing that I just happened to think of because I remember [inaudible 00:46:39].

Donna: Somebody was mentioning. How do you get started? You have all these ideas in your head. Maybe you have whole bunch of idea and you don't know how to string them together or whatever. Sometimes if you record yourself. One night I was so tired and I didn't feel like booting up my computer and I said, okay. I got my phone. I got the recording app up and I just started talking about what I was thinking. This is what I want to write and I began to tell it like a story. And then the next day, I'm going, "okay, I want to take that out and I want to keep this. And I wanna ... " but I was able to go back and listen to it and actually say, "that don't sound ... I'm not exactly sold on that. Maybe something else." So, hopefully those tips help people.

Donna: Well, thank you so much. Those are great tips. We have time for one more person in this. 705, did we get 705?

Speaker 21: Yes, Hi, it's [Patsy Bummer 00:47:42] and I was just wondering if anybody has used the thing on Amazon as far as self publishing as an avenue just to get started. I have not, but I've had people tell me. I've been published and I do publish a lot on Facebook just because I'm a kind of a political type.

Speaker 21: My writer name is [inaudible 00:48:12] so I write kind of like that with things like when the person, there was a lady here that was killed, two people just threw her in ... that she was a homeless person and they just threw her into the [inaudible 00:48:30] River and I wrote a long form about her and they published it in the homeless newspaper here, but I've never gotten paid for anything.

Diane O'Neill: We can talk more about that in our next session because I think next session we're gonna do partially poetry because next month is national poetry month and partly suggestions about querying and getting published, but we're running out of time. I apologize that I didn't get to everybody. I think with the size of our group, that's going to be a challenge every month. We'll do the best we can but I think Debby and Jennifer and I, we appreciate if you'd be patient with us. We only have so much in one hour, but we really do what to hear from everybody.

Diane O'Neill: I thought I'd leave everybody with a couple of prompts just in case you get stuck of the next months, what to write about. I have this book I use sometimes. It's called Fast Fiction: Creating Fiction in Five Minutes and it has a great list of prompts that I use for myself when I'm a little stuck, so I'm gonna leave you with two prompts just in case you want to write about them.

Diane O'Neill: One is write a story, it could be a poem or whatever, about someone you don't know very well. So that's prompt one. Write a story or poem about someone you don't know very well. Second, write a story or poem in which a person is doing a simple action like pouring coffee or riding a bicycle. Just really simple. Write a poem or story doing somebody doing a really simple repetitive action.

Diane O'Neill: Think about that. I would just like to thank everybody for joining the group and um we will have it next, next month too and bring any ideas you want to share about your poetry writing process if you write poetry or any ideas for getting published because we really want to do that even though it's also fine if you just write for yourself.

Diane O'Neill: Anything else? We have three minutes left. Anyone else want to chime in and say anything? We've got three minutes.

Abbey: Hi Abbey Taylor again and somebody mentioned an online poetry class. Well, have you ever heard of the Hadley Institute? They have a really good poetry class called Elements of Poetry and I took that a few years ago and I really thoroughly enjoyed it. I got a whole bunch of poems out of it and I found the coursework and the instructor very helpful and I definitely recommend that to anyone who wants to learn poetry. It's also free. You can get it either in braille. [inaudible 00:51:06] I don't know if it's available online. It might be available online now. It wasn't when I took it, so I got it in braille, but you could get a variety in media and I think it's worth your time.

Unknown: They don't have it anymore.

Diane O'Neill: Yeah. Diane speaking. I don't think they offer it anymore.

Abbey: Oh they don't?

Diane O'Neill: Check with student services and they can let you know what we offer now.

Abbey: Oh okay.

Kayla James: I just wanted to ask if there are any writing courses through Hadley.

Diane O'Neill: Check with student services. They would know more about what we're offering right now. But also, like I said, we will be posting this recording and we'll be posting some resources too, you know.

Jennifer: And Diane, this is Jennifer. Just regarding our Hadley courses. We're currently in the process of writing and developing a lot of new content in lots of different ways and writing styles and so although we may not have what you're looking for available right now, please check in with us. We're gonna be coming out with a lot of really exciting stuff soon related to the topics that you guys are asking about as well.

Jennifer: Keep asking. We'll be letting you know as they get developed.

Diane O'Neill: Definitely.

Unknown: I had heard that the Elements of Poetry writing course was no longer available through Hadley and I had also found that course to be very beneficial, not only for beginners, but also for advanced writers, and my suggestion to Hadley would be until the new course is developed and out there and ready. I certainly would not withdraw such a fine course as that was. Those materials, I still have on my bookshelf at that time, Hadley was allowing us to keep the braille volume of that course and I still refer to it. So, I'm very sorry that Hadley chose to dissolve that course before a new one was ready. I think those powers that be should reconsider that kind of situation. That was a real loss to the writing community of Hadley.

Diane O'Neill: Thanks for-

Unknown: Diane.

Diane O'Neill: I know there will be new courses. I'm not sure when the newest poetry one will be, but we will keep you posted. Keep checking with student services and keep asking at the next one. It is 4:30 now, so we have to close. Feel free to email me at and looking forward to talking to you in April for National Poetry Month. Thank you, everyone.