It's my pleasure today to feature writer and communications specialist, Debra Eckerling. Debra is the creator of Write On! Online, a community for writers and she recently expanded her online presence by creating Write On Track LA which is “personal training” for writers.
"Writing is exercise," Debra says. "I train authors, experts, and entrepreneurs, so they can organize, articulate, and complete their writing projects.”
I asked Debra to talk about her sites and explain some of the biggest barriers writers encounter as they strive to reach "The End."
What prompted you to start working with writers?
I have been leading writers support groups for more than ten years. I was the Community Relations Coordinator at Barnes & Noble in Schaumburg, Illinois, and one day someone asked if I would start a writers support group. I thought it sounded like a good idea, and decided to try it out. I led that group until I moved to Los Angeles the end of 1997.
In 2002, I started a writers group in Santa Monica, California. Both groups focused on goal-setting, productivity, and accountability, along with networking and light critique. Write On! welcomes writers in all areas and levels of experience, since most writers create in more than one medium. Plus, all writers need people who understand them to cheer them on.
I launched the dedicated website – http://www.writeononline.com/ – two years ago, and it has grown tremendously, especially in the last year and a half. There is new content Monday through Friday – interviews, videos, reviews, expert columns, a monthly drawing for posting goals, regular contests, and more. The Facebook page allows people to participate in writing discussions, share knowledge, and post links to their latest success.
What is your current Write On! Contest?
Why are goals so important for writers? Goals are important for everyone. If you want to achieve something, you have to know what you are striving. I believe it's also important to set personal goals in addition to professional ones, since resolving a personal goal - like "creating or finding a work space" or "getting out of a stressful job" - helps to accomplish a profession goal, such as "sending out article queries" or "writing a book." You also have to remember to look at your goals. It’s a very important step toward accomplishing them.
How did you come up with the idea for Write On Track LA?
After that, we have 20-minute follow-ups weekly or twice a week, whatever the writer needs. This is when we touch base, figure out what is and isn't working for the writer or the project, and adjust if necessary. I also give insight on the art and craft or writing, whatever it takes to get the writer "back on track." Just like athletes who work out with their trainers once or twice a week, and do the rest of the work on their own.
In addition to ongoing training, I "coach" individuals on an hourly basis - editing, teaching blogging and social-media. I also speak at seminars and lead workshops on subjects such as breaking through writers block, blogging for business, and live and social networking.
There are lots of exciting projects coming soon like "Virtual Writing Workouts," which will start in the fall.
Do you only work with established writers?
No, I also work with experts and entrepreneurs, plus newbie or wannabe writers, who are just dipping their toe into the writing pool.
In this day and age, everyone needs an online presence through blogs, as well as Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. They are told to constantly create content to establish themselves as experts. If someone in business is not already a writer, he or she needs to become one.
What is the biggest problem new writers face?
Getting started. I think people who have not yet established themselves as writers - and even those who have - get overwhelmed by the prospect of a new project. They put off getting started and many never actually get to it.
What's your solution?
For any new writer, I recommend journaling. That will help with developing tone and voice. What differentiates a writer, especially a blogger, is background and personality ... and nothing sharpens those skills like writing what is going on in your life. After "practicing" through writing thoughts, ideas, and activities that are already present in your life, you are better skilled to write material that is more creative, research-driven, or out of your element.
Also, write 15 minutes a day. It can be journaling, brainstorming, or anything to do with a project. Just the practice of writing, along with keeping the idea in the forefront of your mind, will work wonders towards developing your writing practice. Ideally you want to write more than that, especially when you have a big project you want to accomplish. Start in small, reasonable bites of time and then work your way up. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you do not overwhelm yourself from the get-go.
Thank you so much, Deborah, for taking the time to tell readers about your sites. It's been really informative and inspirational!
Check out Write On! Online, the Facebook Page, and follow Debra on Twitter (@WriteOnOnline). For information on Debra's Personal Training for Writers, Cross Training (Blogging, Social Media, and Live Networking), and/or Group Writing Workouts, go to WriteOnTrackLA.com/personal-training/, email Debra@WriteOnOnline.com, or call 310.908.8980.
Throughout the month of September you can find out all kinds of useful information from a group of new and experienced authors as they go on virtual tour. You can find the schedule here. Check out tomorrow's post at Carolyn Howard-Johnson's blog http://thenewbookreview.blogspot.com.