In August 2010 I started my freelance writing business by filing my DBA, purchasing a laptop and office supplies and enrolling in a business startup seminar at my local Small Business Development Center. With the help of my business advisor, I spent months writing my business plan. I researched my market, identified my local and national competition, cited experts who had written articles on the “how tos” of starting a freelance writing career, and detailed my business goals. My focus was threefold: copywriting for businesses to make the bulk of my income, freelance writing for magazines and newspapers to make some additional money and because I love to write articles, and creative writing because it is my passion.
During my startup “honeymoon phase,” I created a website and Facebook page for my business, started this blog, joined Twitter (@wscalfaro) (and Tumblr for more creative pursuits), and bought a few books on how to be successful at freelance writing and copywriting. (Yes, I’ve even read most of these books). I’ve written a few press releases for friends’ businesses, did some ghostwriting, and I regularly write book reviews for School Library Journal and my blog.
Despite all these “baby steps,” I’m ashamed to say I’ve fallen short of where I wanted to be at this point. Thanks to my business plan, I had focus, but somehow I lost it. Lately I’ve been really good at starting things, but lack the…something…to continue. Fear of success? Fear of failure? Fear of the unknown?
I’m hoping that if I win this contest to receive a one year’s membership in The Writers’ Den that Carol, Linda and the Community will help me re-focus my efforts to be the successful writer I know I have the talent to be. I believe being a part of a supportive group is essential to meeting my goals. I thank Carol and Linda for the opportunity to apply for this award.
A few days ago I came across a tweet, announcing an online summer writing workshop. What caught my attention about the post was that the workshop is specifically for teachers and librarians. Well, I happen to fall into that category, so of course I had to join. The other attractive thing about this workshop is that it’s organized by author Kate Messner. So, a (free) writers’ workshop, offered online by a well-known author.
I hope to finish a short story that I started over a year ago, and perhaps start some others. However, lately I’ve been thinking about writing a Young Adult novel. I know, crazy isn’t it?! But I’m a high school librarian and I love to read YA fiction,I love to write, so why not write YA fiction? So maybe I’ll find some inspiration this summer.
Watch here for updates.
I’ve been a user of Google Docs for about a year. I introduced it last year to my 10th grade students when they started their English/Global 10 research project. We used this as a way for them to share their essays with me so I could give them feedback on how to improve them before submitting them to their core subject teachers. Google Docs proved to be an invaluable tool; not only did they get a review of their rough draft, but I got to see in what areas they needed help. I was able to tell their Global Studies teachers that the students actually knew their content, while I had to break the news to the English teachers that the students were struggling with writing. This experience informed both the teachers’ and my practice, but also taught the students a new tool.
Now that I’ve had the experience of using Dropbox, I have a new tool that I am promoting to my students. This is an amazing tool that has forever transformed the way I think about my tasks. I created folders for work, home, my creative writing endeavors, and my small business. I’ve stored my monthly report in Dropbox so I always have access to it. Today I taught a lesson and mentioned Dropbox as a way for students to collaborate on their project. My assistant principal was observing my teaching during the lesson, and afterward he asked me about Dropbox. I love learning new things and sharing them. I especially enjoy when people get as excited about learning something new as I do. I intend to follow upnwith him to see if he’s tried it. I also plan to offer my Lunch Bytes sessions next year to give teachers a chance to try it.
After looking at the capabilities of Google+ Hangouts, my first impression is that it would be a great tool for collaborating with my librarian colleagues, even if we can’t leave our buildings. Meetings could be carried out more efficiently and more frequently in a hangout. I would also encourage my students to set up a hangout any time they need to work on group projects. I would love to meet up with some writers in a hangout as well.
Google+ Hangouts might also be a way for me to convene my Teen Writers’s Workshop, but I think Edmodo would be a better option for this purpose. I plan to set up a page and have it serve as a “virtual workshop” where we can discuss ideas, and post writing-related links and writing prompts.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time lost within Pinterest. I love all the different, beautiful images out there! I’m slowly starting to search for ideas for my library, especially reading and book promotion.
My favorite tool after Pinterest is Evernote. I spent this weekend creating a webquest by typing my plan in the Evernote app on my tablet. I love having the ability to jot things down and not have to drag my laptop around!
As part of the webquest, I’m going to direct my students to some of the tools I’ve learned from the online course I’m taking. I think they could benefit from using Evernote, and probably VoiceThread for their collaborative project. Wish me well as I venture out into unfamiliar territory with students following my lead!
A few weeks ago I started seeing Pinterest pins showing up in my Facebook feed. I soon began hearing that it’s a huge time waster, so I wasn’t really interested in getting involved in it. But for the web 2.0 course I thought I’d give it a try.
I’m hooked. Yes, I knew this would happen. I’m finding all these amazing photos about home decorating, cooking, traveling, and painting my nails. And I won’t even get into the images I pinned of Gerard Butler! Ummm, yeah.
Pinterest is currently blocked in my district, so I’m not sure that it’s use is even a possibility any time soon. However, I could see teachers and students using it as an organizational tool as part of their research. They could create boards for their ancient civilization, or author study, or science project. Perhaps open access is on the horizon.
As a writer, the images are awe-inspiring. I could imagine using the images I pinned to help me describe a scene, the color and textures of an Irish cottage, or even a strong, handsome, male character….named Gerry.
Pinterest will be fund to continue exploring, but it is definitely a huge time-sucker.
Now where was I????
I’ve started an online Web 2.0 workshop because I want to learn more about these features in order to be more up-to-date with my technical knowledge. My immediate focus for these new skills will be for my teaching, with the side benefit of being able to incorporate them into my writing life. So, I’m eager to get started (and need to catch up actually), and am looking forward to learning new things. You’ll see updates on my progress posted here.
I’d love to hear what you think.