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Thoughts on Being Thankful Specifically

Thoughts on Being Thankful Specifically

By on Nov 22, 2016 in Blog Writing, Writing | 2 comments

Why did the Pilgrims celebrate Thanksgiving? Basically, it seems, they were thrilled that they had food. It had been a rough journey across the ocean and a shaky start in their new home. The holiday was celebrated generally over the years but it didn’t really become a big national thing until around the time of the Civil War. According to the History Channel, Sarah Josepha Hale, a writer and editor, advocated for a day of thanks. And, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November to officially be a national holiday for giving thanks as a way to bring together a divided country. This concept of having a collective time of thanks highlights that the act of being thankful heals wounds and provides strength. It’s important for our community and for us as individuals. Of course being thankful shouldn’t be limited to just one day, but having that day serves as a reminder and provides focus. So what are you thankful for? Ask that of people around you and you will generally get a  broad answer – friends, family, work, food. All good things. But if you really want to draw on the power of giving thanks, take a lesson from writing and get specific. I mean really specific. And add in the “why.” I’m not just thankful for my dog. I’m thankful for my sweet, soft, furry faced bundle of joy with her big brown eyes that look at me so intently every morning imploring me to get my shoes on and take her for a run. And, I’m thankful for her because she pulls me out of my head and forces me to think about something other than my issues and reminds me to just enjoy this moment.  I have found that being so specific helps me to appreciate whatever I am thankful for even more. The same goes for adding in the “why.” It establishes the context of this thing and connects it to the rest of my life. To draw on the writing analogy, it’s a way of showing rather than just telling. I think it works because it sets out the story of this thing and stories are appealing. Want to take it...

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Stay Committed to Your Book, Even if it Takes Years, Author Says

Stay Committed to Your Book, Even if it Takes Years, Author Says

By on Oct 1, 2015 in Author's Corner, Writing | 3 comments

Non-profit organizations may have different goals than for-profit companies, but they still have a brand that is either working for or against them. Michele Levy works with these groups to understand their brand and how to define, refine and promote it to support their mission. She also wrote the book on how to do it right. In Building Your Brand, A Practical Guide for Nonprofit Organizations, Levy, a consultant and speaker, guides nonprofit leaders through the process of creating a brand that will help them reach their organizational goals more efficiently and effectively. Why did you decide to write a book? I had a lot of content based on my work with clients and people seemed hungry for it. I found that nonprofit leaders and boards didn’t always understand the concept of a brand or how they could take control and use their brand. There wasn’t anything quite like this guide out there. Personally, it’s an opportunity to introduce myself and build on my reputation. What was your biggest challenge? By far the hardest part was finding the time to write. I had a good sense of the structure and what I wanted to say, but I took a full-time job shortly after I decided to write it, I have an active volunteer life, and I have a family. This book was actually written over several years. How did you overcome that challenge? My solution was binge writing. I’m not someone who can get up at 5 a.m. and bang out a few pages. I needed to seclude myself for hours and write chapters at a time. Even though I wasn’t able to do it as quickly as I had initially expected, I remained committed to getting it done. How did you decide on the structure of the book? Setting up the book was relatively easy. There is a process to how I work with my clients and I followed that. I kept it simple and basically explained things the way I do to the people with whom I work. That way, it answers questions the reader may have and provides a succinct guide for them to use. How has the book been successful? It has been challenging to...

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Do You Need a Deadline?

Do You Need a Deadline?

By on Sep 18, 2015 in Writing | 0 comments

If you are thinking about writing a book or an article, I’d love to hear about it. If you’re serious about the writing, it’s a good idea to share with someone. It makes it more real and forces you to define your project. If you do tell me, be forewarned that I will ask you about it often until you tell me it’s done or that you’ve set it aside indefinitely. I’ll ask because I know it can help to have someone checking in on you. When you’ve been putting it off, having someone ask can remind you how important it is. And if you’ve been working on it, it’s great to be able to report progress. The question you may or may not want to hear is “what’s your timeline?” It’s easy if you have a deadline. You just work your way backwards and figure out how much you need to get done when. But what about when you don’t? Should you make one up? Maybe. Are you one of those people who are driven by a deadline? Will that help you focus and get the work done? If so, then set yourself up. Mark it on a calendar. Find someone to hold you accountable. Get it done. But that may not be the best route for you, especially if you’ve blown past a self-imposed deadline once or twice or several times. It can make you feel inadequate, incapable, and incompetent. That’s discouraging and won’t move you toward a finished product. Just the opposite, it can make you feel that it’s impossible. Don’t beat yourself up about what you haven’t done. Be realistic. You’ve likely got a lot going on and other things have had to take priority. Give yourself the room that you need to keep this dream alive in the midst of all the other projects. Just because you haven’t gotten it or done or haven’t made the progress you want doesn’t mean you won’t. Ask yourself where is this project on the priority list? How much of your time should it be taking? If this is an important part of advancing your business, maybe it should take a lot of time. If it’s something you’re...

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Do You Write for Money or for Art?

Do You Write for Money or for Art?

By on Jul 13, 2015 in Blog Writing, Writing | 1 comment

A young adult cousin of mine who is artistically talented  hasn’t touched a brush in years. Why? She said recently it’s because her dad told her she couldn’t make a living at it. I think that may be somewhat of an excuse, but it raises an important issue. Do we do what we do as artists, musicians and writers to make money or make art? Her father has his own artistic pursuits, but it’s something he does on the side after work and on weekends.  Artistically, he won’t accomplish as much as he would if he did it full-time. But, he makes a decent living with his day job. Amazon recently made changes to how it pays writers that makes this question of pay vs. art even more pertinent for writers. The Write Life explains the change in an article titled, “Into Kindle Publishing? Under New Payment Rules, You Should Write Longer Books”. The change is that they will pay self-published authors per viewed page rather than per downloaded manuscript. This means that writers with longer books will make more. It’s a disadvantage for writers who have been purposefully writing shorter stories so they can have more titles listed. The concern raised is that increasingly authors are writing to work the system to make money rather than doing their best work. This is, of course, not a new issue. Whether we like it or not, we work in a market. If you want to make money, you need to find people who are willing to pay for what you write. And, thinking about writing for your readers rather than only yourself changes what you write. Is that good or bad? In some ways, it could be bad because you inevitably edit and curtail your creativity to meet what you perceive are your reader’s demands. But, it can be good because it pushes you to do your best knowing that you want to impress others enough that they will praise you, possibly pay you and pass your work along. In my career, I opted for a practical approach. I love to write. I would have loved to pursue novel writing, but I was all too aware of the risk that the books I penned wouldn’t become best sellers turned...

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Yikes! The Editor Needs an Editor!

Yikes! The Editor Needs an Editor!

By on Apr 30, 2015 in Blog Writing, Writing | 2 comments

I will admit that I was a little harried last week trying to stay on top of things. That’s my excuse for being what some might call careless in my eagerness to get everything done, including a post on my own blog. I wrote it, gave it a quick read, made it live and clicked that overdue item off my to- do list. And then I got this text from my proofreader/mom. “You have some excellent ideas here but you need to do some proofreading. Read your post and you will see what I mean.” I generally adhere to the concept that getting something done less than perfectly is better than not getting it done at all. “Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without,” as Confucius so eloquently put it. But I am rightfully chagrined on this one. I’m the writer and editor. Can you trust a tailor with holes in his pants? The post was an unintentional demonstration of something I talk about frequently: The editing matters as much and sometimes more than the initial writing, and the editing includes proofreading. Some of us may not find it as much fun as writing, and some of us may not feel we have the time. But, of course, it’s hugely important. For starters, you may not actually have written what you thought you wrote. You could have missing words or too many words. You might have used the wrong word (roll vs. role for instance.) You might have too many commas or you might have them in the wrong places, which can entirely change the meaning of something. You risk confusing readers or worse, losing them altogether. It’s tempting to think that you could be perfect the first time around, but that’s just not realistic or fair to put that burden on yourself. Better to write and be free in your writing and then come back to edit and proofread. And keep in mind that even the best writers need great editors and proofreaders. Doesn’t this take time? Yes. And isn’t that one of the major reasons things like blog posts don’t get posted? Yes. Is it better to get something up rather than nothing? (As...

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Let’s Go Fishing for Some Readers

Let’s Go Fishing for Some Readers

By on Apr 24, 2015 in Writing | 0 comments

(Note – this post has been edited and changes are indicated for purposes of demonstration.) Do you want to get your reader’s attention? Really? Are you sure? Of course you do. What a ridiculous question. Why have I even bothered to ask? It’s simple: I want your attention. It’s called a hook. As in the hook that goes on the end of a fishing line. You want to snag your reader’s interest immediately and then reel them in. If they think for a split second that you’re not offering up a tasty meal, they’ll swim off in search of something better. Unless the reader is your mom, you have to assume that he needs to be convinced that what you have written is worth his time. You may be offering the best, most important advice in the world. You may have content that could vastly improve or even save their lives his life. But it won’t matter if you can’t grab his  attention. Too often, writers back into what they want to say or they start with the background. Maybe the reader will stick around if they like you or if they have to – for instance if you’re the boss or if you’ve written a report with info they need. But why put your reader [through that] even if you are paying him? Use a good hook. It doesn’t have to be clever, although it’s okay if it is. It doesn’t have to be gimmicky, and it may be better if it’s not. Think about the book you pick up and can’t put pick down. Or the newspaper article that you feel compelled to grab from the person sitting in the subway seat next to you. Or the blog post that causes you to pause and keep reading even though you have a long list of other things you should be doing. How do you come up with this hook? A few ideas: Put yourself in your reader’s shoes. What would grab your attention? What is unusual or new or urgent about what you want to say? Ask a question that you then answer in the piece. Tell the reader why then he need[s] to know what you...

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