Write and Get Paid

Earn a living doing what you love!

Inspire Better Writing: 5 Wise Quotations

They say that writing is one of the loneliest jobs in the world. Certainly, staring at the blank page, surrounded only by the thoughts and feelings of your characters, it can seem that way. Take solace in the fact that this is a trail that has been traveled by some of the greats. Look at that tree over there; it has Charles Dickens’ initials carved into the soft bark. And over there; a cane Stephen King left behind as he floated off to a horrific, otherworldly dimension. Writing may be a task done in solitude, but that doesn’t mean a writer is alone. These 5 inspirational quotes that will motivate you come from some of the best writers of all time and should inspire you to move forward fearlessly.

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. – George Orwell

It’s easy to feel a little lost when you step up to the blank page. You think back to those short stories you wrote in high school and wonder why it is you ever thought writing was fun. Now, consumed as you are with character and plot, you realize that good writing is hard work. There’s nothing wrong with that, though, is there? Listen to that demon within you – it wants to be heard.

The first draft of anything is shit. – Ernest Hemingway

Never one to mince words, Hemingway’s famous quote belongs on every writer’s wall. A first draft is just that. Get the story out and don’t concern yourself about how dreadful it is. You can take as many future drafts as you like to carve it into something worth reading.

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. – Sylvia Plath

One of the biggest mistakes a writer can make is to see publication and success as carrots to inspire their prose. There’s nothing wrong with having those goals, but they should be separate from the creative process. If you’ve ever let a rejection letter (or a hundred) stop you from moving forward, try to re-discover the confidence and imagination that inspired you to write in the first place. Success has as much to do with timing and luck as it does with talent and skill. 

No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. – Robert Frost

Bad fiction is filled with predictability. If your story is simply following the beats of a formula, it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate your work. Some genre fiction must adhere to certain rules, but there is enormous room for experimentation and surprise even within the most limited frameworks. Keep surprising yourself and your readers will thank you.

Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised. – John Steinbeck

Stephen King once called his 1200 page novel The Stand his “own personal Vietnam.” It can be difficult to realize that your story is going to require hundreds of pages when you’re only able to squeeze out a page or two a day. Take your time, treat each page as its own victory, and you’ll get there. Remember, you’re traveling a path that many others have successfully traversed. Take their triumph as inspiration.



Getting Started as a Paid Writer: Step One

write and get paid

Write Now!

It is time for another article for beginners. If there is one question I get asked more than any other, it is “How do I get started as a writer?” The good news is that there is so much work out there it is often overwhelming, and that there does not seem to be any slowing in this area…you just need to be prepared, know where to look and how to approach people. Today I am going to talk about preparing to write professionally.

Step One: Preparation 

Almost every business manager or owner that you might talk to, whether in person, on the phone, or over the Internet– will want to see some samples of your writing work. Your number one priority if you want to “write and get paid” is to put together at least five writing pieces that you can use for marketing. Make them about different topics to appeal to a wider audience and show your versatility.

What to write about?

Business issues, marketing, social media, travel, autos, home, design, making money, starting a business are always popular topics. Look around a little bit on the Internet, do a few searches and see what people are interested in that you know a lot about— and write about it. If you have a blog, you already have lots of articles written; look it over and pull out your best pieces, polishing them up if needed.

Everyone has something to tell others— maybe you can teach somebody how to make graphic design logos, bake a cheesecake, make a bedroom look fabulous  or give them something interesting to think about. Whatever it is, make it interesting and something people want to read; we know from studies that readers decide in about a minute whether or not to finish reading something they started… so give them good reasons to do that!

Is your righting gud?

Make sure your writing is good, and error-free. It should flow from beginning to end, and have a purpose in mind from the outset.  I still remember our basic English classes from middle school– your articles should follow an easy pattern.  Introduction– tell your readers what you are going to tell them.  Body– tell them! Give them the information. Conclusion–Tell them what you told them, reinforce the important points.

Check your Work

writer edits

Edited Page

Have someone with good spelling and grammar knowledge that you trust look it over and suggest improvements if you are not sure of yourself.  Use your software’s spell check tool and take note of any issues that it points out.   You could also check it with a  tool like  Grammarly  that will point out grammar or spelling issues you and the processor  may have missed. Of course, nothing beats having someone read over your work. Have your work proofread by another writer; I do a lot of proofreading and editing and charge a nominal fee per page. ($5 per page, or each 500 words.) If you want my help and more personal feedback, you can email me at denise.gabbard@gmail.com.

Improve your Skills

There are lots of great websites on the Internet that can help with your writing. Grammar Girl  is one of my favorites as they go over a lot of the common problems that we all have.  If you have issues with spelling, try this quick quiz: Spelling Quiz . To enhance your vocabulary, check out a great site called Free Rice. The site tests your vocabulary in a fun way, while also contributing to world hunger the more you use it. Win-win!

If English is not your native language, you might have some additional challenges with your grammar. See this post I wrote for help:  15 Tips for Improvement for ESL Writers.

You can also review some of the articles here on the blog about improving your writing skills and getting started writing.  Try to put together at least one or two full-page articles in the next day or so. Do not agonize over what to write about at this point— just find something interesting and get it down on paper.

Grammar Girl resource

Writer resources

There you have it– the first step to beginning to make money as a writer is to write! Put together some articles, check with software, have someone read them over and critique them, and polish them up. Improve your skills, and polish them some more till they are perfect. This might seem pretty simplistic, but the writing I am discussing here and that you will find most abundant is informational writing for businesses. This type of writing doesn’t need a plot, or character development…just the facts, Ma’am!

Tomorrow, I will post the next step– Marketing, or finding outlets for your writing skills that will pay you:)  We will be using those polished gems that you put together to show people just what you can do!


15 Grammar Goofs that make you look silly




Make Money with Writing Contests

This is a guest post about Writing Contests. Though this is something that I have not addressed here on the blog before, and actually something I have not done much of myself, there are literally thousands of writing contests going on all the time. The prizes are often pretty good, so I need to stop ignoring them… for the same amount of effort, I could walk away with a much bigger reward than writing a blog post or online articles. I guess I have to this point taken the “for sure” money, and not attempted to grasp the bigger bucks….Time to change all that! A great source of income if you are a good writer and follow all the rules; this is actually now on my goal list for the remainder of this year (this last three months) I am going to enter two contests a month….who wants to join me and see what we can do? I will post about my contest entries and my progress here, and I will try to keep adding new contests that I find here and on Facebook. 

Writing contest awardWe all have something to tell the world. We are all unique and each of us has their own purpose. Yet, the purpose many consider theirs is not a true one. In most cases, it is a template of a purpose that gets adopted from the masses. Consider a template that’s very popular today – to become rich and buy everything. It is the virtue of time we live in that restricts many of us from understanding the multidimensionality and the endless capabilities of each and everyone.

Same as we are highly original individuals, we all have our own means of expressing ourselves. Some do it through making music, some – through drawing, some – through philosophy, and some – through writing. In fact, every person’s take on a certain mean is unique, as there is no limit to the number of ways each mean of expression can be approached from. What’s common in all the forms of self-expression? They are all a form of art, which is something that speaks. It is something which message goes far beyond its material texture. This far-reaching essence is what transcends the endlessness of the material world we are so used to living in. It is through art, in whatever form it may be, that one achieves immortality.

Regardless of whether you are finding expression of your creativity in something fundamentally vague like day-to-day behavior (which is also possible) or in some defined form of art, we would like to present you with some of the best writing opportunities there are. These opportunities will hopefully help you earn recognition and further your art of self-expression in a new way, if you are not a professional writer already.

Writers of The Future Competition (quarterly)

ENTRY FEE: Free of charge

PRIZES: $1,000.00 for the first, $750.00 for the second, and $500.00 for the third places; publication in one of the Writers of The Future publications

COMMENT: This is a perfect opportunity for writers with no experience who feel that they are good at writing short fiction stories. Only prose is accepted. The style of the submission should be horror, science-fiction, fantasy or dark fantasy. The submission should not exceed 17,000 words. If you are lucky (or skillful) enough to get published in one of the issues of the Writers of The Future, you can be sure that your piece is going to become no less than 5,000 copies. If you do get published in one of the issues, you will maintain all the rights for the work. The prizes are awarded every three months. There is also an annual prize of $5,000.00.

Open City Magazine Short Story Contest (annual)

ENTRY FEE: Free of charge

DEADLINE: 12-31-2012
PRIZES: $500.00 cash prize and publication on anderbo.com
COMMENT: There is a limit of one submission per author. There are also strict guidelines on the format of the text body and the submission method. If you have been previously published by the Open City Magazine or on Anderbo, you can’t join the competition, as it was designed to find new talents.


ENTRY FEE: Free of charge

DEADLINE: 11-01-2012
PRIZES: $1 000.00 cash prize
COMMENT: We are happy to announce the first writing competition organized by Writerbay.com. We are looking for experienced writers, as well as people who are looking to get started as a writer. If you want to show your talent to the world and start making money with your writing skills, our contest is the one you have been waiting for.

The Consequence Magazine Prize in Poetry (annual)

ENTRY FEE: Free of charge

DEADLINE: 10-01-2012
PRIZES: $200.00 cash prize and publication
COMMENT: The submission must address or in some way touch on the consequences of war. No more than three pieces of work can be submitted at the same time. Any length is acceptable. A cover letter should be included.The winner and the three to make it to the final will have their works published in the Spring issue of the Magazine.

Web of Life Essay Competition (annual)

ENTRY FEE: Free of charge

DEADLINE: 09-30-2012
PRIZES: $1,500.00 for the first and $500.00 for the second places
COMMENT: The Web of Life Foundation is now taking essays for its annual competition. The prize money amounts $2,000.00. The winner receives a cash-prize of $1,500.00. The person to take the second place will receive $500.00, also cash. If you can’t make it this year, make sure you put this opportunity on your list.

Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute Fellowship Program (annual)  Radliffe College Writing Fellowship

ENTRY FEE: Free of charge

DEADLINE: 12-31-2012
PRIZES: $500.00 cash prize and publication on anderbo.com
COMMENT: If you are an established writer, this is for you. The fellowship is given on an annual basis to creative nonfiction writers, poets and fiction writers. If you receive the fellowship, you get a personal office space at Radcliffe Institute, access to Harvard University libraries and, of course, the $70,000.00 fellowship itself. There are strict entry requirements for those applying.

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Here are some others I like: 

Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship
Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship

An award of approximately $52,000 is given annually to a U.S. poet for a year of travel and study abroad. Publication is not required, but recent winners have been published poets. Submit two copies of…

$0 Poetry $52,000 10/15/12

Definitely entering this one! Did somebody say travel?

 February 5
Web site: www.createspace.com/abnaThe Breakthrough Novel Award is offered annually for general fiction and young adult fiction. Each winner receives a publishing deal from Penguin with a $15,000 advance. Amazon Encore will publish close to a dozen other entrants.

Pretty cool–I have a novel bubbling, but not sure if I’ll make the Feb. deadline.

Writer’s Digest Romance Competition

We are now accepting entries in the Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards Romance Category. Winners will be listed in the May/June 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest.

Deadline:  September 14

Extended Deadline:  October 31

Learn more about the Romance competition

Wondering what’s in it for you?

  • A chance to win the Popular Fiction Awards Grand Prize including $2,500 and a trip to the 2013 Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City.
  • A chance to win the $500 Category First Prize
  • Get your romance story promoted in Writer’s Digest and on WritersDigest.com
  • Win $100 off a purchase at www.writersdigestshop.com
  • Receive a copy of the 2013 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market

Hmmm….maybe a mushy short story under my pen name so Mark does not die of embarrassment.