A couple advancements in my writing career

The word of the year for me so far is “reinvention.” 

I’ve always been a writer. From horrible teenage journals in the 1990s to the journalism courses of my early 20s…there’s always been pen and paper in hand. Over time, my habits and talents have evolved. There was the SEO content writing period. Then there was my needing to be a journalist to legitimize myself as a “writer,” because if you aren’t getting paid it isn’t real, right? It doesn’t count…I think this is covered in the part of The Artist’s Way I’ve already read. Class begins Sunday and I’ve read up to chapter two already.

Let’s do this.

I went through my screenwriting phase — which I’d like to get back into by the way. If only my bills can pay themselves so I can do all this non-stop 24/7 with absolutely no balance, right? haha.

Here’s what’s next! 

I’m excited and feeling like I’m giving birth to more of a stable and exciting writing career than ever before. I’m finding new ways to build my platform and segue into being more of a healing arts writer. More on that to come. I’ve also found an exciting new opportunity I can’t yet talk about. Yes, I’ve written about health before as well as general interest articles for magazines and websites. It’s time to get back into that.

If you’re interested on what’s going on and what’s happening, keep checking back.

My other blogs: 

I’ve also got a couple other blogs I’m writing if you’re interested. One is about my work as a Reiki Master, YouDeserveReiki.com. The other is one I’ve had for years that encompasses all that I do — the writing, Reiki, radio, food, hobbies, music — whatever. Since it’s the grab bag of all I do it’s called Everything Heather.

Check me out on YouTube: 

I’m also starting out on YouTube. What’s great for me about this art form is I’ve made enough videos now since I’ve gotten off the air that I’m telling a story. It’s not a screenplay, poem, short story, or novel. It’s not a blog post. It’s an arc of videos I’ve been putting out since the first week of January. I’ve got (to my surprise) quite a loyal following of those who’ve listened to me on the air in Wichita for the past four years. I decided why not take them with me into my new, post-radio life? As I take risks and make journeys, I’m bringing people along in this story. As I make changes and start new, I’m bringing along an audience. It’s amazing how YouTube can do that for you. This is also helping me broaden my social media skills. It’s my personal opinion all authors can benefit from that.

As soon as something is published, I’ll post about it here!

Some of the old writing I've been sorting through lately. Yes, I wrote for "Veg News" back in the vegan days!

Some of the old writing I’ve been sorting through lately. Yes, I wrote for “Veg News” back in the vegan days! I even framed my article. 

 

Should I get an MFA in creative writing?

I really hope someone will see this post and comment openly and honestly. Because I came across this blog started by some ’08 MFA grads and it’s really got me thinking.

I really just want a master’s degree. I could get it in anything. But getting an MFA in creative writing just sounds so fun to me. I work full-time in radio as a morning personality and my writing has therefore taken a backseat over the last six months. I just now started freelance writing again for HalogenTV.com. I usually write general interest-type features. This marks the second time I’ve written about a vegan lifestyle, which is one of my interests. I wrote a “How I Went Vegan” piece years ago for Veg News magazine. (See it here on my Media Bistro profile).

I like writing for HalogenTV.com because Halogen — the cable channel and website — is all about social good. As someone who wrote “bad news” for so long (local, national, and entertainment gossip) it’s really refreshing to write about topics that affect society in a positive way. I’ve done journalism for broadcast, online, and print. It’s a great skill to have and I’m certain it makes me a better broadcaster.

As a morning personality, I have a responsibility to my city to be responsible on the air. If you’ve heard our show, you know we play a lot of music and have a ton of laughter happening every morning. But every once in a while some major newsy thing happens, like the day Bin Laden was killed. And we can’t go on air our normal joking selves on a day like that. It’s then that Journalist Heather Larson snaps to attention and comes on air with proper presentation of the facts so our listening audience is served properly.

So again, journalism is a good skill to have. I wouldn’t get a degree in it these days just because of the job outlook on that. I think now if you want to do journalism for a living you should get a degree in new media or just learn how to make tablet apps.

But really, why get a master’s degree in creative writing? 

It’s probably worse than the bachelor in liberal studies I obtained from Boston University last year! Every time I tell someone I have a BLS, they ask me if I can say, “would you like fries with that?” in Latin. But how many of us actually use the degree we have in our career? Radio personalities certainly don’t need a degree in anything. I know many in my industry who have no degree at all.

So this decision I am struggling to make isn’t about a career move, although I’m sure a master’s degree of any kind can’t hurt a person no matter what their chosen career path is. Wanting to get an MFA in creative writing is about feeding that part of myself that actually liked to attend creative writing class in summer school. As a kid in Scottsdale, AZ, I used to love the long bus ride in summer school in 100+ degree weather just because it took me to my creative writing class. And sadly, it was the only true creative writing class I ever had. I have taken screenwriting at the community college level (twice!) and every English class I could lump into my schedule. I love language classes too (you mean I can sign up for Arabic next semester? Let me just register for that right now). I’m the type who has a box of old journals — a really big, heavy box — stored in the darkest recess of my home. I swear, I will do something with them someday… You also may have noticed you are reading WriterHeather.wordpress.com. Enough said!

So I think my desire to do an MFA program is really about taking my creative writing side to the next level while getting a degree. Is that a good reason to dedicate a huge chunk of time in my life to getting an MFA in creative writing?

Because let’s face it — school is for people who need to be taught. 

I can write creatively on my own. I can write on my own time and figure out how to publish. Anyone can do that. It’s like people who take classes on how to blog… Really? You paid to take a blogging class? All you have to do is open a Blogger or TypePad or WordPress account and get it done. You do read blogs don’t you? I mean, I don’t want to be that person who has to be taught something that can just as easily be figured out with a little curiosity and independence.

But if I enroll in an MFA program, I’ll be around other writers! I’d be in a community, an environment! I’d feel like I was a part of something. I’d feel like I had peers. I’d have professors who would encourage me. Right now, I’m writing in what little spare time I have (like right now, on a national holiday). No one encourages my writing, save for my Halogen editor who is awesome and just doing her job.

Sorry for the long posting today. Thanks for reading down this far! I’m really not sure if I will enroll in the MFA program that has caught my eye. I’m just a year out of BU and still remember all too well how much time and dedication it takes to balance work, school, and life while doing a degree program. At the moment, I really am enjoying lazy Sundays with coffee, a gluten-free bagel with vegan cream cheese and HBO. Maybe in seven more months, I’ll be adding homework to that Sunday morning ritual…

Follow me on Twitter @heatherlarson or leave me a comment here, please!

The power of blogging

I have this friend who has the ultimate slash career.  He’s a teacher/radio DJ/wrestling ring announcer/wedding DJ/comedian/actor/small business owner/entrepreneur.  He’s doing pretty well with his businesses but he has a new one he wants to spread the word about.  But he says he doesn’t know how.  I told him he needs to go online to market this new business, called Arizona Top Secret Chefs.  I explained to him that a good blog with a few SEO tricks thrown in could help drive traffic to his site.  I told him to get on Twitter and Facebook.

I also told him that blogging opens up a whole world of fun.  You blog and people find you.  You can blog about something obscure like CJD as I do.  My Cure CJD blog has helped quite a few people get in touch with me as they lost someone to the disease or afterwards.  Sometimes people comment on the blog, other times they email me privately.  It makes me feel good that I can help someone else find answers and that I can share my experience.  I shouldn’t have had to suffer through watching my mom die of that horrific disease for no reason; my words can help others.  Emailing with complete strangers about the disease still helps me heal to this day.

Promoting my blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn helps get some page views.  But I find on my blogs that people come across them because they’re looking for a certain topic I have written about.  It always amazes me what gets the most page views over a period of time.  The analytics WordPress provides on each of my blogs are fascinating.

So I encourage anyone to blog about their business, passion in life, or just the life they live.  One of my friends has a blog about expat life in Germany that I love to read because of her stories about adjusting to German life.  She posts tons of travel information and great photos.  You really get the feel for what her new life in the country is like.  The blog also helps her to keep in touch with family and friends back home.  Sure, you could post the same stuff on Facebook.  But at the end of the experience, will Facebook provide you with the same kind of “scrapbook” a blog will?  Probably not.  Your photos and experiences will be buried in everyone’s Farmville and Mafia Wards updates.

I use my blogs to show that I can blog, that I do blog, and though it should be obvious — I know how to blog. Journalism pays the rent, but it’s not all I know how to do.  I began blogging in my SEO content writing days with my first blog about CJD.  I’m not just a journalist or a radio on-air personality.  I’m a journalist and DJ who can blog too! But it doesn’t matter what line of work you’re in.  You’ll probably find yourself blogging at some point.  Maybe you’ll have to be the public, expert face your company puts on a blog.  Maybe you’re like my friend who wants a new way to promote his business.  But give it a try.  It can’t hurt and you don’t need any prior experience to do it.  Do you have ideas to share?  Can you write and use spellcheck?  Go for it!