A Note to My Followers

You may have noticed that I have not blogged in a while. I haven’t forgotten about you or the blog. In fact, I miss blogging terribly! I’ve been super busy with work, and haven’t had time to write. I’m on a big project right now, but don’t forget about me! Please rest assured that I’ll be back with new blog posts in early September. Until then, take care!

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How to Find Time to Write

Clock_on_wallThere are so many distractions and excuses writers find not to do their work, it’s a wonder any of it gets done. The internet, family and friends, cooking dinner, making a cup of tea, and the list goes on and on. I know in my case I am pretty good about finding the time to write, and we have dealt the distraction problem in other blog posts. However, even with other jobs or chores that have to get done, it’s possible to find plenty of time to write. Here’s how.

1. Disconnect. Yes, get off the Internet unless you need it for research only. Stop texting your friends when you should be writing. These things are time suckers, and you could probably dig up four or more hours a day to write if you only turned off your Internet connection and cell phone for a while. Your television is the same way. Turn it off; unplug it if you have to.

2. Write alone if possible. Carve out some office space in a separate room of your home if you can. Or go to a coffee shop with your laptop or tablet and don’t start a conversation with the barista or anybody sitting near you. Talking is another waste of your time when you are trying to write so many words, pages,or projects. You’ll be amazed how people stop conversing with you when you stop conversing with them.

3. Choose a time. Remember that if you’re not a full time writer, you don’t have to write for six to eight hours a day. You can write for one or two and still get your book written. Get up before the kids do, or write after your spouse is asleep. Write only on weekend mornings when everyone is sleeping in. Choose a time when you have the house to yourself. Find the best time for you to get in the zone and not be distracted, and you’ll see you have plenty of time to write after all.

4. If you’re still stuck for time, take a writer’s retreat. Go away for a week to a mountain cabin, a secluded beach, or a writer’s colony and hole up. Do nothing but write (and of course stop for meals) while you are there. Don’t forget to sleep.

5. Sleep. Take a nap if you just can’t find the time to write. This will prepare you to write late at night when all is quiet and you have a good chunk of time to write. Or very early in the morning, so you can get up and not be tired.

6. Prioritize. This should not be an afterthought. In fact, maybe I should have put it first on the list! Keep a calendar of all the things you do in 15 minute or half-hour segments, for a whole week. Then look at it carefully to see where your time wasters are and what you can cut out of your day to make writing a priority. It will make a big difference to help you find the time to write.

Even if you are not getting paid to write just yet, writing is your dream and should not be ignored. Don’t wait too long to start writing–find the time now and realize your dreams.

 

What are some of the things that keep you from finding the time to write? How do you find time to write on a regular basis? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Avoiding Distractions and Procrastination so you can Write

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Photo by Rennet Stowe

I know from my own writing that the Nike slogan “Just Do It” doesn’t always apply to writing. Instead of sitting down writing, many of us let our thoughts wander to the view out the window, and zone out. Should we check our email instead? Should we be putting a load of laundry in? Perhaps instead of writing, we should call our moms. I know these are some of the distractions I face on a daily basis when I should be writing instead. And they often seem more important than the act of writing itself, even though writing is how I make my living.

Whether you write novels, essays, ebooks, or articles, you probably face many of the same problems that I do. Here are some ways to combat distractions and put your strong will to work by “just doing it.”

First, create an objective. Remind yourself why you are writing. Realize that by writing, you will only be helping your clients and therefore your business. Getting your project started—and completed—is a means to an end. Write down this objective and keep it where you can see it.

Next, there is the act of getting started. Get off your duff, go into your office, start up your computer, and set up your comfort zone. Do you write to music? Turn it on. Do you like to light a candle while you work? Choose one and light it. Put on your lucky hat or your lucky scarf. Clear your desk of any clutter and get started. One word at a time is all it takes.

Hold yourself accountable. Tell a friend, or tell 50 friends in your writers group, that you are going to be finishing this piece by a certain date and time. Have them hold you to it. A reliable friend will drop by or call to check on your progress. With your writers group, you’ll be embarrassed if you don’t finish what you started. Then, you can even have this person or people read your work to critique or edit it, allowing them to help in the writing process further.

If writing in a special place helps you with procrastination, go there. Go to your favorite coffee shop or bookstore, the best room in your house, or near the beach. Be careful of the people-watching distractions, however; they are quite tempting!

Finally, some tips if you’re writing from home: Stay away from the refrigerator as it will ruin your waistline and your writing. Keep the door closed so the children and spouse (and noise from the television) stay out. Write at a time that puts you in the groove, whether that is first thing in the morning or in the middle of the night.

Combine these ideas into action, and your piece will be written. Then once it’s done, you won’t have to write it again!

Do you have any tips or tricks to add? How do you keep procrastination and distractions at bay so you can sit down and write, and get the job done? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Ways to Stay Creative

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There are all sorts of ways people stay creative, and not just writers either. Artists of all types and everyone from scientists to accountants need to stay fresh. I could probably write about 50 different ways to enhance your creativity, but there isn’t enough room in this article. So, I’m going to list a few of what I think are the most important ways. Understand that as a creative being, it is not always best for you to remain in your chair seated at your computer.

Surround yourself with other creative people. You know you need to get out and socialize as well as network. Nothing helps your creativity like idea sharing with like minded people. Admire the work of a painter friend or a graphic designer acquaintance. Talk shop with your photographer co-worker. Build on their creative ideas and you just might get some hints and tips for your next writing endeavor.

Write Lists. Especially Lists of Ideas. Do you have an idea for a project? Write it down. You may think it’s a bad idea, but at this early stage there are no bad ideas. You can always build or “piggyback” on it into another idea when you get to brainstorming. Keep all kinds of lists, such as to-do lists, a bucket list, lists of affirmations, and lists of accomplishments. Turn to these whenever you need to feel creative again.

Freewrite. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I’m an advocate of journaling. You don’t need to keep a structured journal or even a fancy one–a spiral notebook will do the trick. In it, try your hand at freewriting, or writing in the stream of consciousness. Nothing needs to make sense at this point; you’re just getting your thoughts on paper. Later, you can go back and look for patterns, important words or ideas, or clear breakthroughs in staying creative. Or not. Maybe you just want to begin your day by freewriting the negative thoughts out of your head while waiting for your coffee to kick in. That’s guaranteed to help you stay creative too.

Take Breaks and Get Lots of Rest. Even Dale Carnegie was an advocate of taking naps! When you get away from your keyboard, you reconnect with the world around you. This will give you a fresh perspective on whatever it is that you’re working on. Plus, it gives you a chance to stretch, rest your eyeballs and give your brain a break from thinking. I’m known for taking afternoon naps and working in the middle of the night–as a writer, you have to find what works for you. However, a catnap here and there will also do you some good. You can’t always burn the midnight oil. Sometimes you just have to take a break. Trust me, this will help you stay creative.

Collaborate and Get Feedback on Your Work. Finally, remember that two brains are better than a half of a brain if that’s all you’ve got left! Bouncing ideas off of a friend or fellow writer is a great way to stay creative. Seek feedback from people in your audience as well as those who also do the same type of work you do. You’ll learn that it’s just not good to work in a bubble, and that collaboration and feedback go hand in hand when staying creative.

What are some ways that you stay fresh and creative with your writing or other creative projects? Please share them with us in the comments below.

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The Types of Online Content People Like to Share

There is a strong desire to share many types of content on the web, and a healthy appetite for those same types of content. Some content just lends itself better to sharing, while other types are difficult for audiences to digest. Here is a list of content that people love to share and receive. Use it to your advantage the next time you’re looking for an idea for something to blog, tweet, or use on your Facebook page.

How-to Articles. People love a good how-to article or video. They’re always looking for the answer to a question or the solution to a problem. Post your video on YouTube or write how-to articles in your ezine and watch the crowd go wild.

Lists. Easily digestable, lists are both easy to read and to sink into one’s memory. The format is what makes it easy to read, while giving you information in bite sized pieces you can easily absorb. Many people use numbered or bulleted lists in their articles and blog posts, and you can too.

Evergreen content. It may seem like everyone only wants fresh content, but people love to share and receive basic principles too. It’s how we learn. Create some of your content so that it has longevity, and watch your audience stick around.

News. Here’s where the fresh content comes in. The web is a real time medium, and people want to know what’s going on, up to the minute, 24 hours a day. Share news about your company, its people, yourself, even some personal facts, and you’ll have people clamoring for more news as soon as they finish with one piece of it.

Quotes. I can’t tell you the number of quotes I receive daily on my Twitter feed. People love to quote other people, especially when those quotes contain nuggets of wisdom or meaning. Share your quotes and watch people’s reactions.

Pictures. Take one look at Pinterest and you’ll understand its popularity. People are visual creatures. We like our photos, images, infographics, etc. Visual media help us understand things better, make us laugh, keep smiles on our faces, or solidify stories like news articles in our minds. They help us plan projects and watch our grandkids grow up. Try adding some photos to your tweets or your Facebook page and see how much interest they generate.

Reviews and Recommendations. Some people make their purchasing decisions solely by talking to their friends, colleagues, or even people online who have used a product before. They use reviews and recommendations to do research and help them decide which version or brand is right for them. They also use such content to learn how to use products they’ve already bought–such as the how-to articles mentioned above.

Anecdotes. Tell your story. Have your story told by somebody else, or read someone else’s story and learn from it. The web is filled with anecdotes of people’s life experiences, product experiences, and stories about where the cheapest gasoline in town is this week. Human interest stories interest humans. That’s why they are so loved online.

Do you have a particular type of content that you like to share online, or a type you like to read or view? If so, tell us about it!  Please share it in the comments below.

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How Business Writing is Different from Other Forms of Writing

writingThink about the things you write and read on a daily basis at your job. Emails, memos, letters, proposals, white papers, website content, and articles–all have a lot in common, but are quite different from the writing Shakespeare did, or your favorite novelist does. They aren’t better or worse, just different for the purposes they suit.

When you write for business, you use clear, effective language to get your point across. Imagine using the flowery words of Shakespeare or the elevated language of any other literary figure in your business communications! The results would be downright absurd. Instead, be clear and understood. Get your point across! Think how little time you have to read business documents–it’s the same thing with your audience.

You may tackle important issues in a report or sales letter, with the aim of moving your audience emotionally. Here is where adjectives come in handy, but again, your writing wouldn’t be overly stuffed with them or written in long drawn out sentences. You sell all day long in your oral communications, now’s the time to put those words to good use in writing.

However, you’d never use jargon or unclear terms. If you must use a word unfamiliar to the reader, you would define it for your audience. Headers and bullet points make your documents scannable, again to make it easy for your readers to scan the writing to save time.

The tone you use in your business writing should always be respectful and courteous. Never write phrases with a double meaning or anything with a sexual overtone. While not all business documents are highly formal, they are all respectful to the reader. This includes respecting the audience’s time and showing politeness in your documents. Writing a clear subject line in your emails and addressing the recipient by name, for example, both go a long way.

Finally, business writing is straightforward. It does not waste your reader’s time with paragraphs full of fluff or unclear language. It can be creative and interesting, but not in the same way that a Shakespearean sonnet would be. Business writers write more with the terse style of Ernest Hemingway than with the rhythms of a poet or songwriter. Imagine if your business documents rhymed! Certainly your readers would be confused.

There is nothing wrong with literature, novels, poems or music–they are all just different forms of writing than what you use daily at your workplace. Remember to be factual, straightforward, courteous and respectful, and to get your point across clearly. You will be understood, and your documents will be successful.

Do you write like your favorite rap artist or literary figure at work? Or do you follow the rules of good business writing? Please share your experience in the comments below. 

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Sharing Valuable Content on Twitter: How and Why

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As a Twitter member, I am followed by some great people who offer helpful information in their tweets. Links to blog posts, articles, and basic engagement with me that almost feels like friendship or networking are some of the things I most look forward to on Twitter. Twitter was created for social engagement. I also see a lot of people who only post quotes by famous people and nothing original, and those who use tweets to blatantly advertise their products and services–over and over again each day. Let me tell you, that gets old fast.

Give your followers a reason to follow you by sharing value with them. Not sure how to do this? Start by posting a link to a recent, helpful article in your field. Or, tweet a link to your blog that you feel would add value to their business, or their days. In other words, share content to provide value.

Who do you want to create a relationship with? Of course there are industry leaders, helpful people, and popular tweeters with whom you want to share tweets. Create relationships by retweeting content that was tweeted by some of the people you most want to network with. It will win you brownie points of course, but may also catch their attention! Or, point to other work these people have created. All it takes is a link and “by @TheirName” and you’ve just helped somebody out. In turn, they may help you soon too.

Commiserate with your followers. I don’t mean you should complain or get everyone riled up about your problems, but share a common problem among people in your field that you’re having too. By doing this, you’ll start a dialogue. Other Twitter followers may join in and help you with your difficulties or provide solutions to the struggles your industry is facing today. It’s a great way to find common ground with your followers.

What solution do you offer through your business? Surely you solve a problem with your products and services, and sharing content about these is another way to share value with your followers. You might also tweet content about the positive things people have written about you and your company. It’s not about tooting your own horn, but about helping your followers to learn about what you do. Subtly sharing your solution this way can lead to questions, which can ultimately lead to sales. But don’t use Twitter to blatantly advertise your wares; this will only alienate your followers and was not what Twitter was intended for.

There are lots of reasons to add value to your tweets and many ways to do it. All it takes is a little creativity and originality and some time, and you’ll be on your way to building great relationships through Twitter engagement.

How and why do you share valuable content through Twitter? Share your comments below.

Also, please tell me what you would like to see written in future posts for Wisdom in Writing! I may just take you up on your idea. 🙂

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