• Skype: lyrical.gypsy
  • diem@dmstephenson.com

Author Archive

Necessity: The Motherfucker of Creativity and Successful Entrepreneurship

Necessity: The Motherfucker of Creativity and Entrepreneurship

Christopher Buckley, founder of Forbes Life, wrote in one of his political satires, “Necessity is the motherfucker of invention.” Buckley’s quote is a crude twist on an old proverb: >Necessity is the mother of our invention.”  but perhaps his interpretation is more fitting for successful entrepreneurs, creatives and inventors of the 21st century.

During Plato’s time, most inventions happened out of necessity, such as the water mill.  But having less sophisticated technology in ancient Greece didn’t mean less competition between creatives and entrepreneurs.  Every creative is an entrepreneur, and most want to build notoriety, make money, and eventually come up with the next million-dollar product or service.

Even Bad Ideas Sell to the Right People

I feel bad saying this, but it’s true.  There are a lot of bad ideas and pointless inventions out on the market today.  I fully support creativity, but some of these ideas make no sense to me.  Yet, they sell.  Why?  Because as consumers, we can’t wait to get our hands on the next volume, the newer version, or the best series of anything.  So, to the right person, even bad ideas look like art.

As a writer, coming up with my million-dollar idea means me figuring out how to combine my useless thoughts with a pile of junk letters to create a cluster of semi-comprehensible sentences.  But the real value of my work comes from someone else appreciating what I have to say.  Is sharing my thoughts a necessity?  No, probably not.  But I do it anyway.  And sometimes, it even pays my bills.

I’ve learned that necessity is subjective, and even bad ideas sell to the right people.  When one person doesn’t appreciate an idea, another might, because everyone sees quality and purpose differently.

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”

Thomas A. Edison

The same goes for anyone wanting to become a successful entrepreneur.  Any creative thought, idea or invention is worth sharing regardless of necessity.  The truth is, if we only created things based on necessity, most 21st century technology wouldn’t exist.

Creative for Pay: How Creatives Become Successful Entrepreneurs

After spending hours, days, weeks or months writing the same content for someone else, it’s really hard to focus on writing more for myself – for my business.  When other people’s necessities become the motherfucker of my entrepreneurship, it drains the life out of me.  I’d rather be creative because I’m creative, not for pay.  But sometimes, that’s what it takes for a creative to become a successful entrepreneur and eventually gain notoriety in their preferred niche.

Looking for your next business idea?

>>READ: Invention Ideas and Business Resources from Popular Shark Tank Hosts<<

Some days, I don’t have the energy to solicit my writing services to other people.  But I do it any way.  I’m not a salesperson, but when it comes time to pitch a book idea to a publisher, I’ve learned to fake it until I make it.  

Unfortunately, being a writer, and an entrepreneur also means that sometimes, I have to be creative for pay, and not just creative.  Sometimes, I have to create articles for other people purely based on their creative needs, and not on my own.  

If you’ve read my post, A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer, you probably have a basic idea about what to expect.  But being an entrepreneur adds a lot more chaos and hard work to the mix.  On any given day, I could be self-employed – a prestigious entrepeneur, or unemployed, and feeling like the scum of the Earth.  And it’s really hard get creative when I feel like that. 

No one claims that starting a business or becoming an entrepreneur is easy work.  It’s still work, which means you’ll probably end up hating after a while.  But keep sharing your ideas, networking, collaborating and inspiring others to do the same.  And if starting a business is one of your dreams, don’t let it die.  Keep making business plans, and keep your eye on the prize. 

D. M. Stephenson

The Art Project: Healing by Finally Writing My Autobiography

The Art Project is a four-part, autobiographical series about my life, experiences and lessons.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  All my victories, struggles, and defeats, which I don’t always like to admit.

>>READ SUMMARY HERE <<

I have a severely flawed and fucked-up personality.  I often obsess about things that don’t really matter, and I habitually avoid things that do.  I’m full of creative ideas, but I’ve learned that I have trouble completing projects.  Evidence of this personality flaw lies within the nearly 3MB of unpublished works I have saved on my twelve-year old, Toshiba laptop.  The Art Project is now over four-years in the making.

Growing Up While Writing my Autobiography

The Art Project: Healing by Finally Writing My AutobiographyI don’t apologize for becoming the person I am today.  Surely, I’m a much better human being than I was as a rebellious teenager and young adult.  But I do apologize for the destructive path I took to get here.

The Art Project is a story about the importance of accountability, forgiveness, and explains what it really means to grow up and become an adult.  It’s an apology for taking people for granted, and for not appreciating all the little things in my life.  It’s a humble acknowledgment that my poor choices and decisions led me to where I am today.  But it’s also a tribute to all the people who helped me survive along the way.

As with any story, even an autobiography, I’m sure some people will find reasons to feel offended.  But offending people is not my intention at all.  I’m just telling my story, not wasting time pointing fingers at others.

“You own everything that has happened to you.  Tell your stories.  If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”  ~ Anne Lamott

The Art Project: Writing my Clean Bill of Health

By sharing my story, The Art Project represents the beginning stages of my healing process.  Healing from all my feelings of anger and hostility.  Letting go of all my abandonment issues and memories of abuse.  Learning from my struggles with addiction.  Understanding my mental health diagnosis.

For over twenty years, I destroyed my social life and relationships by holding onto this victim mentality, but not anymore.  Sometimes, a victim has to become the hero.

Unfortunately, I have no children.  No one who will follow in my creative footsteps. No one who will look after me when I’m older.  But hopefully, someday, I’ll leave a lasting legacy of inspiration and creativity behind through my stories and writing. The Art Project is my way of sharing my story one last time; beginning my healing process.
If you’d like to help me self-publish The Art Project, please click the donate button below.

“I am a constant work in progress; a work of art, but not yet a masterpiece.” ~ D. M. Stephenson

Donate and Help Me Self-Publish My Autobiography

$21 of $2,000 raised

As a freelance writer, I’ve written a lot of content for other people.  But now I’m stepping out of the shadows of ghostwriting and trying to publish my autobiography for me.

>>READ A SUMMARY<<

I recently scouted out several publishing options for my autobiography, “The Art Project”.  But after doing lots of research I’ve finally decided to take a leap of faith and try my luck at self-publishing.  For most of my work, I’ve opted for traditional publishing but my autobiography is very personal, and I want to keep it that way.

The publishing company I’ve chosen to use is very well-known, and often publishes unique content like mine.  Unfortunately, the company doesn’t accept unagented submissions, so self-publishing is my only option, if I still want to work with them.

For simplicity, I’ve chosen the most cost effective self-publishing package available for purchase, which is still around $1600.  But if I meet my donation goal of $2000, the remaining portion will be used to help advertise and promote my book.

If you’d like to know more about The Art Project before donating, please read this post.

Thank you so much for any financial help you can offer!

$
Personal Info

Terms

Donation Total: $1.00

D. M. Stephenson
A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer

I wish I had better news for anyone who’s thinking about becoming a freelance writer, but I don’t.  In this industry, there’s a fine line between being self-employed and unemployed.  There’s really no way to know how business will pan out for you from day to day.  All you can do is keep writing, keep sharing your work, keep building a list of satisfied clients, and keep gaining more experience.  Keep on, keeping on!  Eventually, all your hard work will pay off when you land a great job.  Or, when you end up on the New York Times Bestselling List.

My Biggest Challenge as a Freelance Writer

As a freelance writer, you’ll learn to accept any and every project offer that comes your way.  You don’t have a lot of room to be picky.  You can negotiate your price, but be sure not to talk yourself right out of a job.

The biggest challenge I had to face in the beginning is marketing myself as a brand.  I like to promote other people more than myself.  I don’t like to boast about myself, so I talk about other people.

Check out my creative blog: Lyrical Gypsy

But, needless to say, I had to get over that hurdle quickly.

You have to do whatever is necessary to promote your brand, which is YOU.  You have to pitch your clients and win your writing projects.  Your motivation and drive will determine whether you can make it as a freelance writer.

Why Working for a Content Mill is Great Writing Experience

Even if you prefer just writing poetry, sometimes you might have to market yourself as both a creative AND business writer.  A content mill is a great place to get experience writing in a variety of styles.  Yes – at first, you may have to write articles about stuff you really don’t care about, but know that you’re also gaining valuable experience.

For over 25 years, I’ve written poetry, music lyrics, novellas, niche articles, corporate mission statements, legal correspondence, and everything in between.  But in 2012, I joined a content mill and started writing professionally, while still working a fulltime job.

I applied for every single writing job I could find, and at first, I received a lot of rejection.  But rightfully so.  I knew I didn’t have the experience or credentials I needed to vouch for my writing abilities.

So, I decided to prove myself in another way.  I staA Day in the Life of a Freelance Writerrted by building a writing portfolio and sharing my work with the world.

I started my first creative blog, Lyrical Gypsy, and I used all the rejection I received to keep me motivated and learning.

Eventually, I taught myself HTML, SEO, WordPress and social media marketing.  Then I read countless blogs and articles about grammar and punctuation, even though English is my native language.  I still struggle, but I’m much better at writing than when I first started.

Why I Say No to Ghostwriting!

The only thing I don’t like about being a freelance writer is ghostwriting on contract.  I have dozens of articles and content online, which I can’t claim because most freelance clients require the writer to sign a non-disclosure agreement, or something like it.  The NDA bars the writer from keeping any rights to the material, sharing the content, or collecting any future royalties.

However,  everything I write serves a purpose in my portfolio to either showcase my writing style or help improve my writing abilities.  Writing a full-length book, screenplay, or a long research article takes time.  Not receiving any credit feels like self-sabotage.  And watching someone put their own name on my work – sucks!

Hiring ghostwriters is standard practice for many of the big-name publishing companies.  Ghostwriting allows the company to produce mass amounts of content, which they relabel and sale for profit.  There’s good money is ghostwriting, but I say, “No thanks!” to these offers.

Taking a Leap of Faith as a Writer

While working as a freelance writer through a content mill, I received a job offer from a college professor, which I wrote an opinionated article for an e-magazine.  I can’t explain how intimidating it felt to write for a college professor, but I did it!  And once I received her positive feedback, I felt over the moon.  I haven’t stopped writing since.

My favorite writing job was poetic and spiritual article for an online fashion magazine called, Lone Wolf.  I wrote an article for magazine Vol. 6 called, “The Science Behind Dream Interpretation”.  It took a lot of hard work and research to complete, but I love the finished product, and so did my client.

“Where fashion meets the philosophy of life.” ~ Lone Wolf Magazine

What Am I Working on Now?

Unfortunately, as a freelance writer, there’s no way to guarantee a basic wage, not even while working through a content mill.

>> Read my blog about receiving my first rejection letter here <<

Currently, I’m working on a few romance novellas and short erotic stories for a popular romance publisher.  But, unfortunately, while I’m writing these full-length books, I’m not making any money doing freelance work.  Thankfully, I have a great support system of family members and friends who helped me eat, so I haven’t become a starving artist yet!  Occasionally, I do have to stop working on these books, which is my passion, and go back to doing more freelance work.  Some writing projects pay great, while others are merely stepping stones.  But I don’t mind adding more experience to my writing portfolio.

I don’t like being creative for pay nearly as much as being creative because I’m creative.

Today, I write all day – literally all day.  Even when I’m out on the road driving for rideshare Lyft or working as a spiritual life coach, I’m still writing, studying or jotting down notes.

My best advice for anyone thinking about becoming a freelance writer is NEVER stop writing.  Gather inspiration from everywhere and write down everything.  Even if your idea doesn’t make sense at the time, it might in the future.  Keep writing, even after you make it to the New York Times Bestselling List.  Good luck!

Featured photo:  Pixabay, Stockvault freebie

D. M. Stephenson
Proofreading a Book

Proofreading a Book: The Most Stressful Relationship and Saddest Breakup

I’m not religious.  But I can honestly say there was a higher power with me while proofreading my recent novella.  I worked long hours to write the manuscript for Partners in Crime, but even longer hours to edit it.  And the number of peanut butter snacks I ate while writing should be a crime.  Every sentence, paragraph, and chapter tested my patience to the max.  I had fun writing the story, and I’m proud of the results, but arggh!

 

Quality Proofreading and Publishing Will Test Your Patience

Patience is a virtue.  But apparently, it’s not my virtue.  While proofreading my book, I threw things, chewed most of my fingernails off, learned a new vocabulary of cuss words, and almost gave up on it twice.

So, why did I endure such a stressful relationship for one manuscript?  One reason:  Publishing.  I pushed through the editing phase so my manuscript can sit on a publisher’s desk for the next 12 weeks, awaiting its next editing process.  That’s right.  I proofread my manuscript countless times just so someone else could too.  

Publishers proofread and scrutinize a story down to its deepest parts.  They cut and chop dialogue and scenes I worked on for days in half, or delete them altogether.  Even if my story sounded fine without editing, fine is not great.  And only great stories sell.  It’s that simple.

 

>>Choose a Traditional Publisher over Self-Publishing <<

 

Hurry up and wait.  Isn’t that the beauty of writing?  Write a story, then wait, and hope someone else finds it just as appealing as you did while writing it.  But that’s not always the case, is it?  Sometimes, it takes a little more work to create something worth appreciating and is marketable.

 

Writing the Story is the Easy Part

Even if you’ve never written anything before, it’s easy to start.  Write every day, about anything and everything.  You will get better over time.  Perhaps good enough to find a publisher.

Show don’t tell – is a common piece of advice given by publishers.  Publishers don’t want to know who and what as much as they want to know how.  How does the sky and the trees make the character feel on a stormy day?  How does the hero of the story save the girl?  By proofreading, a writer draws their reader into the scenes.  The reader builds a relationship with the characters and invests their own emotions into the story.

But I think there’s an important step in between writing and publishing, which a lot of writers skimp on and rush through:  proofreading.   As a writer, I know how easy it is to say, “That’s good enough”, but quality proofreading will take time.  If it doesn’t, it’s probably not quality.

 

Proofreading is Just as Important as Writing the Story

Like any relationship, proofreading and I have had our difficulties.  After spending so much time with my story prior to editing, we already had a love/hate relationship with each other.  Once I reached the proofing stage, I didn’t want to see or think about the story ever again. 

But I had to learn patience.  I didn’t want to rush through after I just spent over three months of my life developing a relationship with my characters, the plot, and story.  If I want the next person reading my story to fall in love with it just like I did while writing it, I needed to slow down.  I needed to give it TLC and the attention it deserved. 

Proofreading is the most rewarding relationship you can have with your story.


 

 

Publishing is the Best Ending to a Bad Breakup

Once I finally submitted my manuscript to a publisher, it kind of felt like a break up.  A very violent breakup.  I killed a lot of the words and sentences during proofreading.  But I guess we needed some time apart. 

I’m being honest.  It was a little sad.  My fictional crush vanished, and I had to find a new lover.  On to the next story, and on to building my new obsession – one word at a time.   

But if you want to know loyalty (and obsession), fall in love with a character in a story.  Or, better yet, write a story, and create your next fictional crush yourself. 

It is hard to say goodbye to all the words, sentences and paragraphs you’ve fallen in love with.  But try to nix the words and phrases you don’t need.  Because after publishing, you can rekindle your relationship  by starting your writing adventure all over again.  

 

>Read one of my social blogs here <<

 

D. M. Stephenson

Becoming a Fulltime Writer: Life Works in Mysterious Ways

If you’ve already read my About page, then you probably know part of my backstory into becoming a fulltime writer.  But I’ll admit, my grandpa’s reverse psychosis about becoming a fulltime writer scared me at first.  As a teenager, he warned me about going into journalism, because I might become a starving artist.  But thankfully, fear wasn’t enough to stop me from writing.  

I wrote constantly, even while in church.  In fact, I wrote my very first poem and song while sitting in church pew on Sunday morning.  I thought, perhaps I’d never become a professional writer, but I could still become an accomplished writer. 

Fulltime Writer Plans Moved to the Back Burner

Life happened.  After high school, I followed in my family’s blue-collared footsteps.  I studied automotive repair in college, then began working in a shop for 10 years.  Every day, I came home covered in grease, antifreeze or both.  But, every day, I found time to write a new poem, song or short story in my writing journal.  I wanted to keep my dream of becoming a writer alive.  

Then, before I knew it, I had enough material to obtain my first creative works copyright.  I called it, Writeaholic’s Journal, Vol. 1., because writing is my addiction.   But, I didn’t feel accomplished until I entered a no-name poetry contest.  Surprisingly, both of my poems won, and the company published my poems.  

As a young adult, publication was just enough motivation to keep me writing.  No, the company didn’t pay me to write.  But I finally got to see my work in print and it felt amazing!  In some strange way, I felt like I was finally an accomplished writer.

Life Had Different Plans for Me

Then, I heard about an opportunity to stop getting my fingernails dirty by becoming an insurance damage appraiser.  It was a different kind of writing.  But with my automotive background, I thought the transition would be easy.  Again, I know it’s a stretch, but now, I was finally writing professionally too.

During my 12 years with the company, my passion for creative writing had to move to the back burner.  I still wrote creatively, but not as often.  Because, I had to learn the art of business writing, drafting correspondence, web content and marketing.  Turns out, my new experience would come in handy.

Eventually, I became a paralegal and a corporate compliance officer, which meant that I had plenty of new topics to write about and explore.  I felt bad about not dedicating much time to my creative writing, but frankly, I had to pay bills. 

My First Job as an Official Freelance Writer

In 2002, after finding a little bit of time in my hectic schedule, I joined a freelance writing company online.  I felt determined to make myself find time to write creatively.  Of course, when I first started, I had several clients cash in on my business writing expertise.  But then, I got my first creative writing client. 

I remember the article like it was yesterday, because my project was a niche related article, which I was very passionate.  My first client; a college professor gave me a 5-star feedback.  She said I was “a good writer” and she’d hired me again in her feedback.   I realize that good is not great, but I had my foot in the door, and I had creative writing credentials from a professional source.

Later, I became a five-star, top-rated freelancer on the website.  My work appeared on many of my client’s websites and online magazines.  My job was going well, and I was finally starting to make a name for myself as a “real” writer.

Everything Happens for a Reason in Life – the Good and the Bad

Then, in 2014, tragedy struck, and I lost my corporate job of 12 years.  I won’t go into detail here, but I knew that I was about to find out firsthand what it felt like to become a starving artist. 

Like I mentioned before, my grandpa warned me against becoming a starving artist.  So, I thought I did everything right to avoid it.  I went to school for something other than journalism, just like my grandpa suggested.  I took a job in a hot and greasy automotive shop, just like my family did for years.  And, I followed all the signs and opportunities to better myself career wise.

But, I’ve come to realize that everything in life happens for reason; the good and the bad stuff.  Because, after I lost my job, all I had to fall back on was my passion for writing, and all I could do was hope that I was good enough to pay my bills with it.  My lifelong dream of becoming a fulltime writer was about to come true, but the introduction was bittersweet.

Thanks to many supportive people in my life, writing is now my job, not my past time.   I left my corporate life behind and my life working as a grease monkey to do what I love the most, writing.

I’m still working as fulltime writer.  Mostly freelance contracts and ad hoc jobs.  My creative clients are in the relationship, spirituality and travel niches.  My business clients copyrighting jobs, company profiles/about pages/mission statements.  Luckily, I’m not a starving artist.  But my point is that I’ve never stopped writing.

I’m working hard to publish my own creative works.  I have both fictional and non-fictional manuscripts working.  I know better than to get my hopes up, but I still do.  

But this is the first time I’ve ever showed my work in public.    

If you read something on either one of websites, blogs or social media pages that inspires you, let me know.  Because, your comment could be exactly what I need to stay motivated too. 

In the meantime, keep writing and living your creative dreams.  

Peace & Blessings.

Namaste.

D. M. Stephenson

Benefits to Using a Traditional Publisher versus Self-Publishing

Creative Juices is complete.  But now the real work begins; find a publisher.   Preferably, a traditional publisher.  I have to find a company who appreciates my story enough to publish it.  But I also have to find an editor who’s willing to work with me long term.

 

Traditional Publisher or Self-Publishing

Sure, I know I can self-publish.  But there are a lot benefits to waiting for a traditional publisher.  For one, self-publishing doesn’t provide rejection letters.  If a book doesn’t sell, a writer has to just sit and wonder why not.  I’ve learned a lot about myself as a writer by receiving rejection letters.

>> Read How I Became a Full Time Writer Here  <<

Most traditional publishers will list exactly what they’re looking for on their website or blog.  As a writer, it’s important to use these “open calls” as resources.  The list should tell a writer all the manuscript requirements such as:  genre, word count, deadline dates, etc..  But it also describes the genre in detail.

The first step is to make sure that the story fits the mold.  Is it exactly what publishers are looking for?  Is it what the market is looking for?  A traditional publisher can help because there’s a team of people and abundant resources to help answer those questions.  With self-publishing, a writer must do all the market research alone.  He or she isn’t just a writer.

There are also many benefits to working with an established company.  For one, having an ongoing social presence is vital to selling a book.  Self-publishing is expensive and social media management takes a lot of time away from a writer who could be doing more writing.  Yes, a writer needs to promote and sell, but it shouldn’t be their main job.  Let someone else help with that part too.

Traditional publishers have a team who provide one v. one time with writers.  Individual editors, creative teams and marketing teams who acquire hundreds of hopeful manuscripts each month.   They’ve seen it all, and they know what it takes to make it in the business.  More importantly, they know what to look for and they know what’s selling.  Anyone can write a story but only good stories sell.


 

Finding a Publisher Without an Agent

Some publishers will not work with writers unless they have a literary agent.  But, I can’t afford to hire a literary agent.  I have to take my chances with publishers who offer open calls and accept unagented submissions.   I have to enter every writing contest available, blog, and work as a ghostwriter to get more writing experience.  It’s a slow process, but I can afford time, not money.
A lot of writers resort to self-publishing because it seems faster.  But faster doesn’t necessarily equal better.  Some publishers take 12 to 16 weeks for a decision, but slow and steady often wins the race.

 

Resources to Find a Publisher

I’ve read information on countless websites and blogs about tips on how to find a publisher.  The Writer’s Market provides an updated listing for nearly every publisher looking for contest, magazine and book submissions.  A reference book like this is a great resource for writers to have.

Benefits of working with a Traditional publisher<<  Get your copy on Amazon and have it shipped directly to you!

The best way to publish is to share your work.  Start by entering a writing contest, put it out there, and pray.  Do your best and then hope that every birthday candle and starlight star bright wish comes true for you.

Every publisher is different and every rejection reason is different.  But you won’t know how different unless you start looking for one.

At first, it seemed pointless for me to dedicate so much of my time into writing a story.  Especially, without any real guarantee that it’ll become successful.  But publishing is only half the battle.  Technically, I publish every time I update my WordPress blog.
The real benefit to working with a traditional publisher is that I get to prove that I’m teachable and that my ideas are marketable.
D. M. Stephenson