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Writing and Publishing

What are Your Goals as a Writer?

Writing, as with most worthwhile things in life, benefits from a bit of occasional introspection.

Succinctly queried, what are your goals as a writer?

After all, without goals, how will you prod yourself to write and by what measure will your evaluate progress?

Here are some common motivations of writers:

  • To pen something I can share with family and friends.
  • To compose an “heirloom” piece that can be passed on to future generations.
  • To provide a creative outlet for myself.
  • To organize the plethora of thoughts swirling around in my brain.
  • To pursue an enjoyable and worthwhile hobby.
  • To become a published author.
  • To bask in literary acclaim, become popular, and be respected by society.
  • To make lots of money and live a life of ease.

With the exception of the last two items (which are unrealistic and improbable), the rest are worthy and legitimate pursuits. Most are also reflections of my personal ruminations on the subject. However, my overarching purpose in writing is to publish books that will help and encourage others.

Once an overall vision for writing is established, then specific goals need to be developed towards that end. Here are some of my writing goals:

  • To complete my dissertation.
  • To complete the first draft of a biography I am writing.
  • To redo and update my author website.
  • To begin building my platform as a writer.
  • To find an agent who will help me develop my career as a writer and find a publisher for my books.

What are your goals as a writer?

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

The Threat of Academic Ghostwriting

Last month I shared my perspective on ghostwriting. I urged caution for those who hire ghostwriters (give your ghostwriters credit) and understanding of those who are ghostwriters (because I do ghostwriting).

Then, I read “The Cheating Epidemic” in the May Reader’s Digest, which addressed academic ghostwriting. The article chronicles a prolific writer who earned a decent income cranking out papers, academic proposals, and even dissertations for hire. His dubious work helped both lazy students and unqualified students receive grades and credentials that they didn’t earn or deserve.

I am quick to condemn this type of ghostwriter. Their work goes beyond tricking the public with an incorrect byline. In addition to being immoral, I characterize academic ghostwriting as fraudulent and likely illegal.

After all, would you seek the help of a doctor, lawyer, or member of the clergy who had paid someone else to earn their degree for them? I think not. Yet, with academic ghostwriting, you will never know.

For academic ghostwriting, there is never a situation where it is acceptable.

[Although I am appalled by academic ghostwriting, I am not shocked. When educators tell students there are no moral absolutes, they implicitly grant permission for their charges to pay others to do their schoolwork for them.]

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Six Tips for Proofing Your Work

Proofing your own work is hard for most people. After all, you know what you intended to say, so that is what you tend to see when you proofread your writing. Proofing is a huge challenge for me, as you have likely seen in past posts.

I am much more likely to catch errors when I let my work sit for a day or two. With the distance of time, I am less likely to see what I intended to say and actually see what I really wrote. But this is not a guaranteed solution either. Plus, waiting is a luxury not afforded when blogging.

Another proofing technique is to read your work aloud. Yes, it is a bit strange at first, but reading it aloud does help you catch errors. A side benefit is this also aids in catching awkward sentence structure and poorly crafted wording.

A third method is to read it backwards. Yeah, I don’t get it either, but some people swear by this technique.

Also, I tend to proof better from a printout versus working directly on my computer. (Interestingly, when proofing on my computer, it makes a difference if I adjust the font type or size. I guess the change of perspective helps.)

But the best way is to have someone else proofread my work!

Regardless of how skilled or lacking you are at proofreading, be sure to spell check your final version. I am shocked at how often I receive submissions with errors that spell check would have caught. That is inexcusable.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

What Are You Reading?

In last week’s post, I pointed out the value and importance of reading in order to become a better writer.

The question then becomes, What should I read?

  • First, read in your genre. If you are writing young adult fiction, then you need to be reading young adult fiction. To write for a market that you are not reading is foolish and shortsighted; it will also likely lead to failure.
  • Next, read to inform your writing. Just as research is needed for non-fiction work, so too “research” is warranted for fiction writing. Don’t be that writer that places an object, event, or person in the wrong time, place, or situation. Informed writers avoid these traps.
  • Read outside your genre. My focus has been on non-fiction for a long time. Too long. All of the books I read are of a similar tone to what I write (biblical post-modern spiritualism is the best description I have found thus far). Frankly, I grew bored with my non-fiction reading list and even bestselling, frequently recommended books produced a resigned yawn. I needed a break. Did I stop reading? No, I took a side trip to juvenile fiction. The result has been new insights into writing and an idea for a series of fiction books. (This is in addition to the 20+ non-fiction ideas marinating in my mind.)
  • Lastly, read for fun—or perhaps this should be the place to start!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Are You Reading?

A piece of writing advice that shocked me was to spend as much time reading as writing.

That’s ridiculous. If I do that, the little time I have to write will be cut in half.

Not counting my day job, I can only carve out a couple of hours a day to write, so cutting that in half in order to read more seemed counterproductive. However, after a bit of thought, I figured out a way to read more without cutting into my writing. The answer was quite simply to watch less TV.

I do my writing in the morning. When evening rolls around, I am usually too tired to write well, so I watch TV. However, I am not too tired to read. So, reading has become a regular part of my evening routine.

Although I seldom read for a couple of hours each night — which is the requisite amount if I am to read as much as I write — I am reading almost every evening. This has several benefits:

  • My time is used more productively and constructively.
  • I am exposed to ideas and thoughts that can better form and influence my own work.
  • I experience different styles and techniques, which I can follow (or avoid) in becoming better.
  • As a bonus, I am able to chip away at that stack of books awaiting my attention.

The advice to read as much as you write may be hyperbole, but the point is that just as you need to write every day, you should also read every day.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.