Author Archive: Stanley

Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Writing

AI software is increasingly being used in many areas of writing as more of these tools are developed and improved upon.

Currently, the most effective AI software tools are for editing. And they are getting better and better. But even with a good editing AI tool, a human editor is still needed.

To me, using AI for editing is like when I went from a typewriter to a computer to write. Editing AI tools make my writing clearer, more in line with standard US English practices (i.e. punctuation), and highlights my weaknesses (I have some bad habits). In the competitive world of grant writing or publishing a story, AI can be a benefit like using a computer rather than a typewriter.

I would encourage grant and creative writers to invest in some type of AI software tool for their editing. Even some professional human editors are using these tools. And the use of AI will continue to grow. One day AI may even write grants or stories with the human used only for the final editing.

As an example, AI is already being used in news media to find and summarize internet articles for publication. The AI searches for patterns and popularity and then produces and distributes this data in a summary. Journalists and editors review the summaries for the final news article.

AI will continue to improve and become more of a needed asset for writing and publishing. Just like one day when we might go from typing to using voice recognition or even reading our thoughts to write with.

What do you think about using AI?

P.S. If anyone wants to know what software tool I use, send me a comment or an email.

Do You Use Templates When Creating Fiction?

I recently listened to a podcast where an author claimed that if a writer did not use the hero’s journey template, they will never be a successful author. This is ridiculous and I totally disagree.

When writing fiction, a writer can either follow an established story template or not. By a template, I mean the basic structure of the story is already outlined by the industry. The writer just needs to fill in the details.

There are other templates, such as for romance stories. With the hero’s journey template, it can be found in genres such as thrillers, suspense, science fiction, and others. In it, the protagonist (hero) is called to adventure and refuses the call until someone tells them to stop whining and go. The hero goes on the adventure, is challenged by people and obstacles, confronts an ordeal, wins the reward, and confronts a final challenge before arriving home.

It is true that in some genres a writer must follow a template like this because the reader expects it. The category defines the story line. And that is okay. Sometimes a reader just wants sameness like a warm blanket on a cold night. I like these stories, too. Sometimes. However, many authors do not follow these templates and have popular, successful books that sell.

My favorite books did not follow a template like the hero’s journey. These novels went free-form without definition. The writer expanded their story to what it should be and not confined by barriers in a template.

Following a template makes for faster and easier writing. Just fill in the blanks and readers will come. But in the end is the writer satisfied with what they wrote or did they wish they had more freedom in their story?

Previous blogs on this:
Writing by Templates
Yes, there are stories to tell

2021 Grant Writing Goals

In my last blog, I explained my creative writing goals for the year. This blog is how I set my grant writing goals. I’m more specific with the grants.

I have created a spreadsheet and listed all the foundations I plan to submit throughout the year. This spreadsheet includes the foundation’s name and contact information, such as the website and a point of contact. It also includes what focus areas the foundation had last year. More importantly, the spreadsheet includes the date when the application opens and closes.

Every grant writer and nonprofit manager should develop a yearly list of grant applications with this information. I have seen some managers’ list on a white board or written in a notebook with only the closing date. The list needs to be more than this.

It should have enough information so a nonprofit manager knows at a glance what the focus areas are, the dates, and where to access the application (e.g. the website). The staff should have access so they know when supporting data is needed.

Some people set a date when to start the application, at a point before the grant opens. I do not do this. I wait until the application goes live.

Foundations may change things and a grant writer could waste time using a previous application. I wait until the application goes live, so I am sure what is required.

One key to successful grant writing is organization and planning and keeping a list helps. I have seen nonprofits miss a deadline and a good chance at money because they forgot to submit the grant request. Don’t forget to make a list of grants for the year. When everything is spread out, the possibility of all that funding builds hope.

2021 Creative Writing Goals

I’m setting writing goals this year. Something I haven’t done before. Usually, I fumble along until I surprise myself with some accomplishment. Now I have my first book published and I formed a limited liability company (LLC) for my writing. So, I thought I should be more organized.

My first goal is to put more time into my writing. This means freeing up time from other projects such as grant writing. I’ll still write grants, but for fewer nonprofits.

I will also not send short stories to magazines. This is time consuming and competition has increased over the past year, although I may try again later. It is a great confidence builder to be published by someone besides myself.

With more time, my second goal is to publish more books. I’m in the final editing stages of my second book and I am editing a third book. I have a fourth book written, but it may need a lot of editing.

I plan to publish these books through my LLC, which needs to be better organized. Right now, my LLC is little more than a legal name. I need to create a more defined business structure. Maybe have meetings with myself.

My fourth goal is to leverage my LLC and put more effort into my so far futile attempt at marketing. This is the biggest unknown to me. For example, I’m supposed to have a marketing plan, but what do I put in the plan?

There is plenty of guidance and suggestions to help self-publishers market their book. However, I found that the details are unique to each book and author. I’ll probably do a blog post on marketing in the near future.

Now that I’ve written my goals, I just need to remember them.