Why Write? Here Are 11 Reasons to Get Started

on 31 July 0 Comment

“I can’t write…or I’m not a writer.” I hear those declarations all the time when I tell people that I’m a freelance writer and editor.

I’m sorry, but those statements just aren’t true—in fact, they are lies.

You learned to write early on in life—in kindergarten if not earlier.

But a legitimate objection that I’m more sympathetic to is “I’m not sure that writing is a wise investment of my time.”

So, why write if you don’t have aspirations to be a professional writer?

I’ll give my best stab at answering that question in a new blog series that explains the benefits of writing for everyday life. The list below is a bird’s eye view at each reason. Subsequent days will clarify each reason in more detail—and I’ll likely find some more reasons along the way.

 Without further ado, here are 11 reasons to write for everyday life:

Write to process—in my view nothing helps gets the myriad thoughts out of our brains into a sortable pile of ideas to process and act on as well as writing does.

Write to heal—if you are hurt over an offense, nothing starts the healing process better than just writing down why you are mad or heartbroken.

Write to generate ideas—This one seems simple, because most of us have been in a brainstorming session as part of a work or classroom project. And brainstorming is certainly more effective if you can view the ideas.

Write to create momentum—I’m sure that you have noticed that if you just start something, other action follows. This phenomenon definitely happens when you write. You don’t know what might happen. It’s like falling dominoes. Until wind comes or you knock one over, they all stay in the same place.

Write to communicate—This is obvious, but worth stating. How many times have you been at a loss for words, but later when you are not under the stress of a moment, what you wanted to say to comes to you?

Write to alleviate tension—Related to the last point, if you have had a heated verbal moment with someone, writing out your thoughts and later editing them can help you put an emotional situation into perspective.

Write to manage—Writing down everything that I have to do really helps me not only to organize, but as a manager, it helped me organize how everyone’s role fit together.

Write to clarify—Sometimes, as a manager, if you give verbal suggestions or ideas, following up with something in writing can help you clarify what you said. It helps you reiterate what you said in another way to ensure the most effective communication can occur between you and the receiving person.

Write to garner a response—If you threw out an idea verbally, whether it’s a get-together idea, a potential project or something else, people may not be able to answer on the spot because of needing to run the idea by others or checking schedules.  If you write something and you very clearly and consistently say, “Please let me know by X date or time, if you don’t mind,” then many people will honor that request—whatever the answer.

Write to remember—It’s amazing how quickly we forget an idea, a feeling, a special moment, a conversation or an experience. Writing can produce a permanent record of your life. When I look back and read my journals, I’m amazed at how much I have forgotten. It’s so interesting to see how far you have come, or how themes seem to repeat themselves. As a Christian, I believe God is speaking into my life, guiding my steps. And I marvel at what He says. But, that is the topic of another blog series.

Write to help others—Your experiences will inspire or equip others who may walk a similar path to yours at a later time. People who have gone before us have taught you along the way—why not pass on your lessons?

If you love to write, do you have other reasons to add? If you have a story to share or if you feel compelled to write, but don’t know how or where to start, feel free to contact me. I’d love to help!















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Why Write? Write to Go on a Journey

on 24 July 0 Comment

My husband and I spend much of our time on weekends hiking. When we were hiking recently, I was struck at how hiking is like writing. Here are some of my observations.

 You start out with an idea—when you are thinking about hiking, you know you want to have a new experience. So you choose to go on a hike to explore. You pick a hiking location—that’s like picking your writing topic. You may have chosen the hiking location based on features you want to see, like a waterfall, majestic mountain or cave. Similarly, you pick your writing topic to further explore nuances of a situation or to develop your own perspective on an issue. You may do research, pull together ideas from your experience, or create connections from thoughts swirling in your mind.

You have done some planning—like selecting your outfit for a hike, proper shoes, rain gear, a hiking stick, or for me, in summer, a cool cap (a bandana that is especially made to keep you cool). In writing, you may have created a mind map, outline, or just bulleted what you might write about.

Sometimes, however, you don’t plan—spontenaity finds you. When you are driving en route to an adventure, you may see a sign that compels you to stop and take a look at something else. Sometimes the surprises and delights that are unplanned make the most amazing memories.

This spontaneity also happens when you write—and sometimes with great success. One of the most read blog posts I have ever written came out spontaneously in about 20 minutes with no planning. I had just been praying about the turmoil in the world and the words from my heart gushed out in Write Notes to Those You Love. And Send Them.

Or, your planning process forgets a key component. In my case, on our hiking adventures one weekend, I didn’t bring a swimsuit—and I ended up drenched from head to toe in all my gear. Why? Because I couldn’t pass up exploring close to a waterfall and fully experiencing it just because of a challenge or shortcoming. It made it more difficult to hike out, and because I was wet for so long today I am a bit under the weather, but the exhilaration of letting the water drip on me and me looking up at the highest waterfall West of the Rockies was well worth it. (You can read more about this adventure on my husband’s blog, Hiking With Your Honey.) 

In the writing realm, don’t prevent the text from flowing just because it wasn’t planned or you weren’t prepared to go there. Sure, you might end up cutting it. Sometimes, however, what flows will shape an entire piece—and change your title. If you do end up editing out of your current piece, it isn’t wasted. Just save it in another document and finish that piece of writing at another time.

Regardless of how much you plan, you never know what’s going to happen until you start—and continue. You don’t know what you are going to see until you step on the trail. As you wind around a wooded trail, you can sometimes only see a few feet in front of you. Every turn and step yields a new view. Similarly, in writing, you don’t know where your text might take you. Some of the ideas that you think are important may turn out to be less important, and some of the ones that you thought were supporting ideas may turn out to be the focus of your piece.

In hiking, you never know what details you will see, nor do you know what a new trail will look like. Many times, the same trails look completely different as the seasons change. Likewise, your writing interests and styles may change.

All of the twists and turns of writing—as in hiking—are all part of an amazing journey. Embrace it!

Are you looking for help along the writing journey? I have upcoming online writing classes that may help you. I’d love to help you with content planning, cowriting, content evaluation, copyediting, promotional writing or other editorial projects. Feel free to contact me!

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How Editing Can Be Like Car Repairs

on 17 July 0 Comment

As a story teller, I love analogies. I think that everyone can gain additional perspective if an analogy enables them to relate to an unfamiliar situation. For me, many of my new editing are first-time authors who haven’t worked with an editor before. Many people however, have had a vehicle repaired, however.

So, I’m hoping this post might help those who are new to the editing process.

Whenever I am discussing a project with a new client, almost the first question is: How much does editing cost? I completely understand why this question is asked from a practical standpoint.

And here’s some insight about the answer: Asking how much will it cost to edit a book or article is kind of like asking a mechanic how much will it cost to repair a car. A mechanic can’t tell you how much it will cost for you to repair a car, and an editor can’t give you a price without looking at your written work.

A mechanic will first ask questions to learn about your car:

What kind of vehicle do you have? Is it even a car? Is it a motorcycle? A smart car? A BMW SUV? All these vehicles require different parts and the work involved to fix them to optimal levels varies greatly, which varies the cost widely.

An editor will ask you about word count, genre and topic. Most need to see a sample chapter to formulate an estimate.

Some manuscripts are still just car parts that haven’t been properly assembled and checked…in other words, they are various pieces of inspiration in a pile that may have been written at different times.

Other cars are very polished pieces crafted by a budding and meticulous car builder, who is smart enough and vulnerable to being evaluated by an expert of the craft. Sometimes, these works are already solidly constructing and just need some testing and tweaking. But you can always learn and get great reinforcement when you have your work evaluated by someone who is an expert in the field.

The goal of your project also affects how much you may need to have something edited. Do you just want a record of events of your life for loved ones should something happen to you (a bicycle), or do you want to inspire thousands of people with beauty in a product that has value (a BMW)?

The first takes less editing, but the second requires building a bridge with your potential audience, and evaluation about if your content is relevant to them. It requires multiple reads, at different times, for different purposes.

As you begin to seek an editor, figure out how professional you want your book to be. You could have a 13-year-old watch YouTube videos and try to figure out how to fix your car, or put together parts of cars to get you from point A to point B—and you may even have some success.

Similarly, you could have someone without editing experience edit your book. But, I’d recommend asking yourself, who do you trust with the investment you have put into your book? Are you looking for a best seller or an award-winning book? Or are do you just want something out ASAP?

I personally advise people to go the professional route unless you are only circulating your piece to family, because once it is out there, you can’t take it back!

When people rely on self-editing, crucial parts often get left out. You may have not thought to put some of the factual details in your work (the where, when, why and how) because your brain fills in the gaps as you read over your own work. A good editor will identify potential reader questions, just like a mechanic will ask you about sounds your car may make.

It’s ideal to find a balance of quality, speed and budget that works for you. You may not be able to buy or produce a BMW right now. Maybe you are actually in the market for a bicycle. That is fine…and you will get further with it than on foot. If you only have budget for a bicycle right now, decide if you want to buy the bike now, and use it, or if you want to save for the car using the funds.

Having deadlines are great—but be flexible in case you choose to alter the scope of the project. If you take your car in just for an oil change, but you find out you need a new transmission, and you decide to go ahead and get the transmission, understand that the repair will take longer.

If you need help in editing, we are here to help! Keep writing! The world needs your message. Click contact us if we can be of assistance.

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Write to Cultivate Gratitude and Growth

on 10 July 0 Comment

I am all about learning and growing. I think it’s because as I approached mid-life, I realized I had a choice: to become better or bitter, as the saying goes.

People, after they have some life under their belt, either spend time endlessly rehashing what has gone wrong in life, or celebrating life’s blessings.

And, since none of us are really living the picture perfect lives that people think we are on social media, something difficult is usually challenging each of us that we could choose to complain about.

Therefore, choosing to celebrate life’s blessings really is a choice.

Writing down what I am thankful for helps me no matter when I do it. Sometimes I do it in the morning as I journal and talk with God. I also do it with my husband after we get back from one of our hiking adventures.

We talk about what we are thankful for, and we jot it down. Writing down the good that happened helps us appreciate the special moments that could go unnoticed or be soon forgotten.

We write down our gratitude for the small things—like, in the heat of a Tennessee summer, we were thankful for the surprise of extensive forest cover and elevation that dropped the temperature to a comfortable level. We were grateful that we got to explore three state parks without rain when storms were in the forecast the entire weekend.

We also write about gratitude for the important things—like how grateful we were that we got to see family members again before they moved away. We are also grateful that both of our older, high-mileage cars are still kicking.

We also write to grow. Blogging helps us communicate to each other and to anyone who is interested in learning along with us how we can get better. Through writing what our opportunities for growth are, we have continued to get better as a couple.

We have learned ways to deal with physical challenges, like ticks and bugs (using the strong stuff on our boots and all natural stuff on our skin); dehydration, heat exhaustion and depletion of energy (through endurance and rehydration nutritional food); and difficult sleeping conditions, by either choosing a cheap motel or camping for a limited number of nights.

Through writing about how we have felt in relational challenges, we have been able to process our feelings and grow in our knowledge of one another. Something about putting feelings down on paper helps simmer down the emotions of tense moments. Then, after we have read our thoughts to each other, we often think of ways to compromise.

Our compromise that we came to after journaling about the challenges we were facing was that we would backcountry camp at night (my husband’s favorite way) in my favorite place (the beach).

We also would go into town in the heat of the day to see the quaint beach towns and be waited on at a local restaurant. This combination lessened the work of camping and made it still seem like a vacation to me. Sure, we carried our packs twice as much, but we also got a break from the blazing sun, and got to enjoy a bit of civilized beach life—without resort prices! It was a win-win situation.

So, how can you cultivate gratitude and growth?

  1. Write regularly.
  2. Include one event that you are grateful for.
  3. Describe one event that challenges you.
  4. Commit to seeing God’s blessings, even in difficult situations.
  5. Share your feelings with a loved one or friend.

If you haven’t done something like this before, start it soon! If you have done some sort of gratitude challenge, do it again. It never hurts.

If you have a writing project in your future but you don’t know where to start, contact me. I love to share my professional content development, writing and editing experience with others. I want to pass along nearly 20 years in the writing business and the knowledge gained in my master’s degree  to help your project flourish!

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Write to Gage Direction

on 03 July 0 Comment

What comes out when you are writing is like a sign on a trail after you have already left the trailhead. You likely start out examining a map on an adventure, whether it be a GPS, or just a paper map. But eventually, you come to a sign or mile marker that confirms that you are on the right path.

Today I hit such a marker, showing me that I was on track.

I am still recovering from being sick, but had projects to work on. And yet, although I was feeling physically not the best, my writing was fulfilling.

Why? Because I enjoyed writing the materials I was working on. I believe in the integrity of the organizations that requested them, and believe with all my heart that I did what I was called to do today.

So, in addition to knowing if you are on the right path, writing helps you know whether you are even on the right mountain. Taking out the metaphors, writing not only helps me gage whether I’m going the right direction, but it also helps me know if I’m living in my purpose or if I’m just getting by to earn a paycheck.

Not that there’s anything wrong with working to earn a paycheck—for a time. But, I spent far too many years in a place that wasn’t a match for me. I felt mislead in the arrangement and the level of autonomy didn’t match the job title. Because I believed in the organization as a whole, I stayed. And, I know I brought good there while I was there.

But now, I can look back, reading my writing and journaling from those years, being exhausted, discouraged and lacking peace for such a long time, wishing I would have listened to myself and been proactive to change my direction sooner. I think if I would have tried to move and if nothing had come up, I would not have wondered if I did the right thing in staying.

Being flexible with changing direction is one of the reasons I am a freelancer now. No, I don’t always have the best projects, but if they aren’t right for me, I don’t have to accept them again.

I trust my instincts much more now, and listen less to what people think is best for me based on “conventional” wisdom.

Whispers like, “Don’t you want a steady job again?” Maybe, if it were the right one…and I do keep my eyes and ears open…but in the last three years, I haven’t seen the right one, and wonderful freelance projects have come my way.

I trust where God leads me in my journaling, and I trust my personal writing. I observe how words line up and how patterns emerge. I ask for Him to guide my steps, give me direction, to provide confirmation of that direction and to bring the projects for the money we need. I also ask for faith to wait on the answers I don’t get—because I believe that a unclear answer is a no, especially if you have tried to open a door and it is shut.

What about you? Does writing help you gage direction? What questions do you ask yourself as you try to gage your direction? When do you know to stay the course and how do you know to shift your sails?

If you need help with content evaluation, freelance writing or editing, please contact me. I’d love to help.

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Write to Dream

on 13 June 1 Comment

When a new year starts, like it is for me today on this day after my birthday, as well as on New Year’s Day, I always take at least an hour or so and dream about what I want my next year or season to look like. It’s wonderful to have a record of those dreams—especially when you begin to see them coming true!

I believe dreams come true when we follow what God has laid on our hearts to do. Then, we ask Him each day what our part is in making that dream come to fruition, and we ask Him to take care of the rest. It’s not something I can explain in a formula—I’ve just found it to be true.

How can you begin to dream? By asking yourself a few questions, of course! I’ve given you just a few of my questions and answers—just in case they help to get you dreaming!

What would you do if money weren’t a factor?
For me, that’s easy. I would hike and explore all over the place. I would visit cute towns and meet with people. I would spend a significant time writing, as well as publish my own books. My writing would focus on what has happened in my life, with a focus on what I think might help someone to know who isn’t as far along life’s road. If something I say spares people some of the heartaches I have had or helps someone feel the joy that I have expereienced, then I’ve succeeded.

When do you feel the most alive?
Seeing something beautiful makes me feel alive. Being close to my husband as we laugh, share word puns or talk about our future makes me feel alive. Dancing and moving my body to uplifting or sweet music makes me feel amazing. And, dressing up all fancy makes me feel like a princess too! Knowing that God is speaking to me and guiding me when He reveals something to me—answering a prayer, sharing a word of encouragement or showing me that I’m still on the right path—that is an amazing blessing as well.

What steps can you taking toward making your dreams come to fruition?
For me, I can keep blogging, going on small weekend adventures with my husband, do my part to keep myself healthy through nutritional cleansing and exercise, and pray and ask God to show us the steps to make our weekend or recreational habits be more fully integrated into our everyday life! Maybe it’s time to take dance lessons with my husband! Maybe tango, because it looks so elegant—and then I could wear the dresses that are collecting dust in my closet!  

Once you answer these questions, you can assign time goals to them. I really want to have a book written before the end of the year, for example!

OK, it’s your turn! Maybe you know your dreams without asking these questions, but if you haven’t taken the time to dream enough, they can help get you started.

If your dreams include writing, but you don’t know where to start, or if you have a book draft and don’t know what to do next, please contact me! I’ve helped corporations, small businesses and authors get their message out for nearly 20 years—and I’d love to help you too!

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