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Writer’s Block June 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — theridingwriter @ 11:25 pm

Not long ago I needed to get an article written and even though I had my notes sitting in front of me and I had nothing. Nadda. Zip. Zilch. No inspiration at all. After giving it some time, I came up with a few sentences, but couldn’t seem to get any type of flow. What’s a writer to do when she can’t find the words?

Wikipedia describes writer’s block as “a condition, associated with writing as a profession, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity. It can be trivial, a temporary difficulty in dealing with the task in hand. At the other extreme, some ‘blocked’ writers have been unable to work for years on end, and some have even abandoned their careers.” After reading “Goats With Coats” to a group of second graders, one frustrated young writer said to me “Sometimes I just can’t figure what to say. Then what do I do?” It’s a very good question! Here are a few suggestions…

1. If you don’t know how to begin, try jotting down the main ideas of your piece. Then go back and add other thoughts to those ideas. You will then have the beginnings of an outline.

2. Step away from the computer. Stand up, stretch, go for a short walk if you can. I find fresh air can work wonders.

3. If you’re feeling anxious about writing the piece (or anxious that you can’t seem to get it written), make sure to quiet any negative self-talk going on in your head. Replace “I can’t” with “I will”. Trying playing your favorite, upbeat music to liven your mood or soothing, relaxing music to calm your nerves.

4. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the piece, try breaking it into smaller, more manageable pieces.

5. Remember that your first draft doesn’t have to be the finished product. Sometimes when I’m having trouble with a really technical piece, I just try to get the important points in basic sentences. I know that if I can get a draft down, no matter how awful, I can walk away knowing the hardest part is over. Then later I’ll come back to it with a brighter perspective knowing that I “only” have to edit the piece. Granted, there might be a lot of editing that needs to be done, but in my head that is easier than the original writing part. Sometimes it’s all a matter of perspective.



Picture Perfect June 10, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — theridingwriter @ 11:55 am

I’m not a professional photographer, but I have taken enough pictures of horses and have certainly looked at enough pictures of horses, that I know a good picture when I see one – and a bad one. They say no photo is better than a bad photo, and I completely agree. So often, I am dumbfounded by poor quality photos used to sell horses. If you have horses for sale that need marketing photos, my best advice would be to hire a professional. It is money well spent to have quality pictures that speak volumes and can sell your horse. But, if that is simply not in your budget, here are some tips I’ve learned along to the way. Some of them seem obvious, but considering the quality I’ve seen over the years, apparently not all people think about it.

1. Take your time. Don’t expect to pull your horse out of the stall, snap a few photos and be done in 5 minutes. Plan on taking as much time as you need to get the job done right.
2. Make sure your horse is clean. This is one of those obvious ones, but I’ve seen sale pictures of dirty horses. Amazing.
3. Try to pick a day when it is overcast, but still fairly bright. If you must shoot on a sunny day, make sure the sun is at your back and be aware of shadowy areas that could show up on the horse. (For example, if the horse’s head is turned toward you it can throw a shadow on the horse’s neck and body.)
4. For a full body shot, stand opposite the horse’s heartgirth. If you stand too far forward, it makes the head look too big and the body underdeveloped. If you want a ¾ shot that emphasizes the hind end (like what is common in Quarter Horse photos), take two steps in the direction of the rear of the horse.
5. Make sure you have both ears forward, and often it looks better if the head and neck are in a longer, natural position.
6. Typically, the legs are set such that the far (furthest from you) front leg is slightly behind the closer front leg and the far hind is slightly ahead of the closer hind leg.
7. Unless there is a specific background element you want to include, fill the frame with the horse.
8. Speaking of background, pay attention to what’s behind your horse. With photo editing software today, this isn’t as important as it used to be, but it is still best to choose a non-cluttered background. Simple is good.

Time, patience and paying attention to details will really pay off in the end. Good luck!