• The Art of Patronage: Why You Should Give Money to Artists

    People walking down a New Orleans street
    I wrote a blog post a while ago with easy ways to support your favorite writers. Since then, two huge things have happened in my life: I read THE ART OF ASKING by Amanda Palmer, and I took a trip to the beautiful city of New Orleans.

    Since Ksenia Anske raved about THE ART OF ASKING, I knew I had to read it. In the book, Amanda Palmer talks about how her fans have supported her over the years. Because they believe in her art, they have no problem giving her money. Ksenia Anske is the same way – she puts art into the world for people to access for free. All of her novels are available to read on Wattpad or download from her website at no cost to you. If you can afford to fund her art, you should go for it – but she doesn’t demand money from anyone in exchange for her books. She’s happy that her stories go out in the world, and that’s enough to keep her going.

    While in New Orleans, I saw the most amazing street performers I’ve ever seen. Most of them looked like regular people, but they all had an extraordinary gift for producing art and music. I can’t tell you how many times I stopped to listen to a jazz band playing on the corner, or to watch an old woman throwing paint onto a canvas. It was incredible.

    I believe in the power of art to change people’s lives. I believe this because it’s happened to me, and I’ve seen it happen to people from all walks of life and of all shapes and sizes. Art transcends morality and physicality and all other limits on this earth – it simply is, and it gives without asking anything in return.

    Ksenia Anske and Amanda Palmer embody this idea of art, as do the talented performers in the city of New Orleans. There were several times I walked by this one woman playing a violin. Each time, I was so moved that I dropped money in her hat. She never asked for my money. She never asked for anything. She simply gave, and I wanted to give back. I wanted to do my part to help her make more art. That’s what I believe in.

    Here’s what I hope you take away from this post: art is vital to human existence, and in order for artists to continue to move us, they need our support. The next time you’re affected by a piece of writing or music or visual work, drop a dollar in the tip jar. Keep the art flowing – even if nobody asks. Most indie authors even have a donate button or virtual tip jar on their website for this very purpose. Next time you see one, throw in some money. You might change someone’s life. It could even be your own.

    How do you feel about street performers? What about donating money to support your favorite artists?

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    “She simply gave, and I wanted to give back.” @brianawrites shares her thoughts about patrons and artists. (Click to tweet)

  • Do Writers Need Formal Training?

    Photo Credit: Vancouver Film School on Flickr

    I’ve had many people ask me whether they should major in creative writing or not. As someone who graduated from college with a BS in English, concentrated in creative writing, this topic is one near and dear to my heart. Many people think that, in order to be a writer, you need some kind of formal training. Whether you major in writing or take a class or course on the subject, the idea is that you’re more qualified to write after receiving some instruction.

    If you want to major in creative writing, go ahead. It doesn’t matter as much as you might think. If you want to be a writer, read a lot and write a lot. That’s all you need to do.

    I’m not saying writing classes don’t help–my workshops in college helped me produce regularly, learn to take criticism, and so much more–but they’re not essential. You can get on well as a writer without them. If you’re reading and writing every day, you’re going to improve and grow as a writer. That’s all there is to it.

    There are so many writers out there without formal training: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, John Grisham, Harper Lee, Michael Crichton, and J.K. Rowling, to name a few. Clearly, you don’t need an English major or creative writing classes to succeed as a writer. All you need is creativity, dedication, and daily reading and writing. The rest is just background noise.

    The best advice I can give you? Put your butt in the chair and keep in there. Get words down every day. It doesn’t matter how many as long as you keep moving forward. You don’t need training to be a writer. You need courage, imagination, self-discipline, and luck.

    How do you feel about formal training for writers? What do you think it takes to be a writer?

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    “You don’t need training to be a writer,” says blogger @brianawrites. What do you think? (Click to tweet)
    Is a formal education essential to writers? @brianawrites doesn’t think so. (Click to tweet)
  • Easy Ways to Support Your Favorite Writers

    Photo Credit: Christina Alexanderson on Flickr

    With the arrival of the new year, one of your resolutions might have something to do with giving back to the community. If you’re a writer and you enjoy supporting other writers, this year, you should think about doing more to support them.

    Some writers, like J.K. Rowling and Steven King, make more than enough money to support themselves. The vast majority of writers, however, aren’t able to quit their day jobs to pursue their craft.

    • Share their blog posts. This is the easiest and most often overlooked way to support your favorite writers. If they’ve written a post that speaks to you, share it with the world. I love using Buffer to schedule posts by my favorite bloggers. Every morning, I add a few articles to my queue and let Buffer do the rest. There’s even a nifty Buffer Chrome extension! Give it a try and spread the love.
    • Promote their work. I have a lot of book reviews on this blog. Do you know why? Part of the reason is that I like to read. Mainly, it’s so that other readers can get interested in the authors’ work. I want to share their work with as many people as I can and get them more exposure. Whether it’s through a book review, a tweet, or verbal praise, if you love a writer’s work, you should promote it somehow.
    • Send them a message. Even if you don’t have much to say, you never know how much a few kind words might mean to someone. If you don’t feel comfortable writing a lengthy email, mention them on Twitter and let them know you love their stuff.
    • Donate, if you can. Many up-and-coming writers have donate links on their websites that allow you to give them money if you want to help them fund their craft ( I even have one!). If you’ve got a few extra pennies jangling around in your pockets, consider making a contribution. Of course, you can also purchase their books to get the best value for your investment. 🙂
    When it comes to supporting other writers, it’s easier than you think to make a difference. If you love someone’s work, find a way to let them know. You could make their day.
    How do you enjoy supporting other writers?

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    Want to support other writers this year? @brianawrites has some practical suggestions. (Click to tweet)

  • Coffee Shop Etiquette for Writers

    Cup of Coffee

    I love writing in Barnes & Noble.

    There’s a big one in my hometown with a little Starbucks in it and I love to sit down there and get some work done. There’s nothing like being surrounded by books and inhaling the scent of fresh roasted coffee while pounding away on my laptop.

    I spend so much time in coffee shops that I’ve noticed an unspoken code of behavior for working from a coffice (coffee shop office).  If you like working in coffee shops, there are a few rules you should follow.

    Share Your Space

    Stick to the one chair per customer rule. Your butt gets a chair. Put your stuff on the floor. Don’t hog the seats. Also, if you’re sitting at a table and the coffee shop is busy, don’t spread your stuff out all over the place. Share the table. Basic stuff.

    Buy Something!

    If you’re sitting in a coffee shop, you’re a customer. It’s your duty to purchase something. You should be buying a drink or snack every ninety minutes to two hours. If you don’t want to buy anything, try to keep your visit to an hour or less – just know that you’re disrespectful for using the space without giving back,

    Be Kind to Other Customers and Workers

    Most coffee shops have tip jars. I encourage you to use them, especially if you spend a lot of time in that particular location. If someone asks you to watch their stuff, watch their stuff. If you need to listen to something, bring headphones. Take calls outside. Don’t hog power outlets. Here’s a bright idea – bring your own power strip and make some new friends.

    When it comes to writing in coffee shops, these are some simple rules for human behavior to follow. It all boils down to this: don’t be a jerk.

    Do you like writing in coffee shops? What are some other unspoken rules for working there that you can think of?

    Tweet tweet:

    The key to coffee shop etiquette for writers? Writer @thecollegenov says, “Don’t be a jerk.” (Click to tweet)