27 October 2009

10 on Tuesday: ways to procrastinate during NaNoWriMo

You know you're already thinking about it.  I know you're already thinking about it.  So why don't we just cut through all the pretending you're going to write non-stop during your writing time and talk about procrastination techniques.

  1. Edit your outline.
  2. Tweak your character biographies.
  3. Make a snack.
  4. Tweet your word count.
  5. Organize your writing space.
  6. Eat the snack you made.
  7. People-watch and claim it as research.
  8. Meet a fellow procrastinator writer for coffee.
  9. Brainstorm future projects.
  10. Scrap your whole project and start over from scratch.  (I don't recommend this.)

26 October 2009

This Week's Task List

It's the last week before NaNoWriMo begins, so I have just this week to finish getting everything organized both in and out of the office so I can focus on the 2,000 words a day I need to write during November.

I do have a lot going on in my personal life for the next couple of weeks, so some of my writing life will have to be set aside a little.

  • Finish NaNoWriMo prep (add a few more details to my outline, develop new character bios, etc.)
  • Write blog posts ahead a little so I can get a little extra NaNo scribbling time in.  (Readers are in for a treat during November!)
  • Work on the website. (If I can--this could also wait until December)

25 October 2009

Prayer Requests

This week please pray with me that:

  • Hubby has a very happy birthday on Thursday!
  • Hubby's sleep study next week goes well, and that we get good news
  • my sister finds a home that's perfect for her and Ashlie, and she's able to get it
  • Frazzoo and Gazdzoo's house-buying process continues to go smoothly
  • my cousin Joey finds healing
  • my cousin Mollie finds healing
  • I can continue to make positive changes in my life and stick to them

23 October 2009

Fiction Friday: NaNoWriMo research

I haven't been so good about the updating thing lately.  Part of it is due to articles I've been writing on HULIQ, as well as the articles I've been writing for Examiner (which are all writing-related, so if you want some good info, feel free to check them out!).

That said, I'm going to direct you to my latest Examiner article for a couple of tips about research for you NaNo novel.


20 October 2009

10 on Tuesday: things to do to pass the time before November 1st

  1. Write today.
  2. Make sure you have your outline and character biographies ready to go.
  3. Get in the spirit of writing by challenging yourself to write to a certain word count in a certain length of time.
  4. Get acquainted with Dr. Wicked's Write or Die.
  5. Spend all the time with friends and family that you can.
  6. Stock up on caffeinated drinks and power snacks.
  7. Get any household chores done that can be done.
  8. Catch up on your email, phone calls, and other correspondence.  (Be sure to take this opportunity to let people know you'll be busy during November.)
  9. Take a few pictures of yourself so your children and spouse don't forget what you look like.
  10. Sleep!

19 October 2009

This Week's Task List

  • News articles (2 a day) for HULIQ
  • Articles for Examiner (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday)
  • Write up and send out invoices
  • Update CSW's financial ledgers
  • Continue with NaNo prep

18 October 2009

Prayer Requests

This week, please pray with me that:

  • Hubby's blood work comes back this week with good news.
  • tests that were performed on the baby of some friends of ours come back with good results.
  • Mom- and Dad-in-law have a safe and very fun trip (they're leaving on Saturday and will be gone for two weeks).
  • my cousin Joey finds physical health.
  • all continues to go well as Frazzoo and her hubby buy their first house.
  • the changes I'm working on continue to go well.

16 October 2009

14 October 2009

"Rolltop" computer

Professionalism in freelancing

About a year ago, I wrote a post about professionalism in freelancing.  I definitely think the topic is worth revisiting, so I present (most of) the post for you here.  Enjoy!


When many people become freelance writers, they fall into the pajama-dress-code mentality, which leads to being unprofessional in their business dealings.  After all, when you're casual at home while you work, it's easy to feel casual in all aspects of your work.

The Internet has only compounded people's casualness.  E-mails are often much less formal than memos, faxes, and phone calls, and even some of the most professional business people will add smiley faces at the ends of their e-mails.  So for freelance writers, who often work entirely online, there's one more element to combat in trying to maintain professionalism.

Freelance writers especially need to be professional.  Some clients see freelance writers as being less professional from the start because of the nature of freelancing, so it's important to show them that professionalism is still very much a part of your work ethic.

You may work from home, but you're still working, and you're still dealing with men and women who dress in business professional attire and go to an office every day.  That's the level at which you need to meet when you work with clients.

And yet, many writers have incredibly casual websites.  They use their pet's pictures as profile pictures on freelance sites, and their e-mail addresses are things like "turtleluvr316" or "princessgia."

That may be the image you want to portray with your friends and family, which is fine, but when you're seeking clients and networking contacts, it's not the best idea.  Since your online image is what you use to represent yourself, it needs to be as professional in appearance as you would be if you met with a client in person for lunch or for coffee.  (You wouldn't wear your pajamas to meet with a client, would you?)

How do you want potential clients to see you?  You never know who might be reading your blog or looking at your profile, wondering if you would be a good team member for a project.  You can work from home and still be professional.  You can work in your pajamas and still be professional.  The important thing is to think about the image you portray online.  Treat your business as a business.

13 October 2009

10 on Tuesday: pictures of my son

I think I've done a pretty good job of keeping the pictures of my son on my personal blog, but what kind of mother would I be if I didn't brag here a little?  So enjoy!











12 October 2009

Balancing work and family

Most freelance writers work from home.  Sometimes they have a home office, a room or space set aside specifically for work purposes, while other times they use whatever space they can find at home in which to write.  Regardless of the space used, one challenge in working from home is balancing work and family.

It's true that nearly everyone has to find a balance between work and family, but it can be more difficult for those who write from home.  When you work in the same place that you spend time with family, the line between professional and personal can become blurred.

Lots of people have tips about how to keep your work life separate from your personal life if you work at home.  Here are a few that seem to come up often.

Have set work hours.  If you worked outside the home, you would have set hours that would make you generally unavailable.  By setting specific work hours at home, you help reinforce to your family that you are working, so they'll give you time and space to work.  Conversely, setting work hours will give you a stopping time.  That way, you spend time with your family, too.

Have a set work space.  If you sometimes work in an office, other times in the kitchen, and still other times in the living room, family may be confused as to when you're working and when you're not.  By having a space you always use as your work space, even if it's the kitchen table, your family will know that when you're set up there, you're working.

Have flexibility.  Your dream may be to work, for example, from eight in the morning until one in the afternoon, and then again from three in the afternoon until six in the evening.  In reality, though, you may find that you get most of your work done in thirty-minute bursts throughout the day (and night).  As long as you're willing to adapt to your family's needs and still keep up with your work, you'll find a system that works for you.

Happy scribbling!

This Week's Task List

  • News articles for an online news site (one business article and one health article each day) this week for a new/ongoing client
  • Finish editing two articles for a client and send them off
  • Continue NaNoWriMo prep

11 October 2009

Prayer Requests

This week please pray with me that:

  • my cousin Joey finds healing.
  • Baby M--'s test results come back with good news.
  • Baby M--'s parents find comfort as they wait for test results.
  • Frazzoo and her husband get everything worked out so they can move into their new house!
  • an unspoken prayer request gets resolved soon.

09 October 2009

Fiction Friday: writing character biographies

As writers prepare for NaNoWriMo (just a few weeks away!), writing time is spent preparing to write a novel.  Since you can't actually start writing until November 1st, all you can do right now is organization/pre-writing.  Hopefully, you already have a story idea, and maybe even an outline (or a rough idea of your plot, at least).  But there is more to pre-writing than knowing your story.

Just as you need to know where your story is going, you need to know who's in your story.  That's why lots of people take some of their writing prep time to create character biographies.

The idea behind a character biography is to develop your character before you start writing.  That way, you know your character much better, and can write your characters better, making them more believable to read.

So what goes in to a character biography?

Obviously, the basic character information should be included.  The character's name, age, spirituality, ethnicity, etc.  This is the kind of information that would go on a census.  Beyond that, though, think about who your character really is.  What are his/her hobbies?  What is s/he passionate about?  What is his/her biggest pet peeve?

And once you've thought of all of those types of things, go further.  What is his/her favorite book?  If s/he was stuck on a desert island, what five things would go, too?  If your character were a coffee house table, who would s/he want to sit at him/her, and why?

It's strange, but these are the kinds of things you should think about when creating your characters.  After all, if you don't think of them as three-dimensional, how can you expect your readers to do the same?  So when you write your character biographies, don't just write the bare bones of a biography.  Come up with every possible detail you can.  Answer the strangest questions you can think of that would help you (and your readers) get to know your characters.

Something that may be helpful is to get one of those fill-in-the-blank books about yourself.  The types of prompts and questions that are in these books can help create great biographies for your characters.

One of the biggest things to remember is that you shouldn't sell your characters short.  If you don't know them, your readers won't, either.

07 October 2009

Finding your freelance specialty

When you begin to look into pursuing a career in freelance writing, you may feel a little overwhelmed in your research.  Not only is there a lot of information, but "freelance writing" covers a wide array of writing and job opportunities.  So many freelance veterans will recommend that you choose a specialty as a freelance writer.

Finding a specialty or fitting into a niche is good for a freelance career, particularly once you've established a portfolio.  Regardless of what you choose, a specialty simply narrows your focus as a writer.  Instead of writing anything about anything, you've chosen areas that you prefer to write in, which gives your career a direction, and helps establish you as an expert in that area.

There are many ways to define a specialty.  You may choose to specialize in a medium, such as website content writing, brochure content, magazine articles, or newspaper writing.  Often, if you choose a specialty based on medium, your decision will be driven by your experience.  If you have a journalism background, for example, it makes sense that you would want to write for newspapers as a freelance writer.

Another way to determine your niche is by subject area.  You may choose to write about health and fitness or animal rights or technology and gadgets.  These specialties are usually determined by your passions, as well as your background.  If you have a nursing degree, you'll probably be drawn to write about health topics.  The nursing degree gives you credibility as a writer in that area.  However, you may choose to write about technology because you love the latest gadgets, and find yourself reading and researching technology just for fun.

When you're first building your portfolio, you may do projects that cover a wide variety of mediums and topics, and that's fine.  However, as you move forward in your career, you should think about your focus so you can start seeking projects in that area.  Remember: when you specialize, you don't limit yourself as a writer.  You simply focus on an area so you can be the best writer you can be in that area.  And that makes you an asset to clients.

Happy scribbling!

06 October 2009

10 on Tuesday: places I've lived

My father was in the military through much of my life, so we moved every three years or so.  Here's a rundown of different places I've lived:

  1. Rockford, Illinois (I was born at Rockford Memorial Hospital)
  2. Biloxi, Mississippi
  3. South Dakota (I'm not sure of the city; my brother was born in South Dakota.)
  4. Enterprise, Alabama (My sister was born in Alabama.)
  5. Clarksville, Tennessee
  6. Katterbach, Germany (I was in 4th grade when we arrived; I wish I'd been older so I could've appreciated the experience a bitteen more. Also, my mother got pregnant with my other brother while we were in Germany.)
  7. Byron, Illinois (I graduated from high school here.)
  8. Charleston, Illinois (This was for a very brief time.)
  9. Jacksonville, Illinois (I met Hubby here.)
  10. Orlando, Florida
I've moved more times than this, but lived in some cities more than once.

05 October 2009

Keeping a prayer journal

I don't know if you know this or not, but I'm a writer.

That means that, often, I think better on paper.  So I keep a writing journal and a personal journal to help me think things out, but I've also started keeping a prayer journal to help think out that aspect of my life.

My prayer journal is in the same book as my personal journal (since many times what I'm writing about in my personal life leads to prayer), and it's both prayer request lists and actual written prayers, as well as helpful verses, quotes, and clippings.  Whatever I find spiritually helpful goes into my journal.

Starting a prayer journal was not a big leap for me because I do keep a personal journal.  And I do still pray aloud or silently without writing the prayers, but sometimes writing prayers helps me really think about what I'm praying and meditate on the issues at hand.

One of the big benefits I've found in keeping a prayer journal is the lists of prayer requests I have.  The physical act of writing prayer requests helps me remember them, and when I get my prayer journal out to pray, the lists are right there in front of me.  It works well for my prayer life.

I recommend that anyone who prays regularly keep a prayer journal.  You may not want to write out prayers in yours, but even if you just have a place to keep your prayer requests, your prayer journal would be a help to your prayer life.  (You could even get a notebook small enough to fit into your Bible bag.)

Do you have a prayer journal?  If so, how do you use it?

This Week's Task List

Much of this week will be focused on personal tasks I have to do, but I'll still have some writing/office-y stuff to do, too.

Prayer Requests

I wasn't feeling very well this weekend, so I didn't post.  My apologies.  So I'm posting my prayer requests this morning.  If you would like to add your own prayer requests to this post (even anonymous and/or unspoken), simply comment on this post, or email me with your request(s) and I'd be happy to add them.  God bless you!

This week, please pray with me that

  • the baby of friends of mine is healthy and all is well.
  • an unspoken prayer request gets resolved quickly.
  • Bean's doctor's appointment (with his new pediatrician) goes well today.
  • Hubby's doctor's appointment goes well today.
  • my appointment goes well on Tuesday.
  • all those touched by domestic violence in some way may find a safe place, peace, and healing.
  • those with breast cancer can find healing.
  • all life is given equal respect and honor not just during Respect Life Month, but every month.

03 October 2009


It was brought to my attention recently that someone was "borrowing" my post ideas for his/her own blog about writing. After looking at the posts that were linked to me, I realized it was probably true, but the person's posts were different enough that they *could* have been original.

Obviously, I can't control what people post on their own blogs. However, I would ask that anyone who decides to use any of my posts as inspiration for their own, please let your readers know where you got the idea (including a link to my blog). This is what I do if someone else's post inspires me.

Writers share ideas. And that's great. But you wouldn't want someone to steal you idea and pass it off as his/her own, so you certainly shouldn't do it to others. Let's have respect for each other, shall we?

02 October 2009

Fiction Friday: NaNoWriMo outlines

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it's that time again!  Writers everywhere are signing up, ordering shirts, and declaring their participation in NaNoWriMo 2009.  And in their excitement, they're thinking about their novel idea for this year.  (Do you have yours yet?)

I'm a bit of an organization freak, so every year I create an outline for my NaNo novel.  Even if you're not a big fan of outlines, it might be a good idea to create one for NaNo.  It'll help keep you on track as you're writing, since time is such a factor in the event.  I can't speak for you, but many times when I'm writing without an outline (even a very rough one) I tend to ramble and end up in a very different place than I intended when I began.

The good thing, though, is that outlines are very personal things.  Yours can be a very detailed and elaborate outline (as mine usually are) that gives information about what happens in each scene, or a very generalized outline that just gives a sentence or two covering each of the major plot points.  Or it could be something completely different.  You have to figure out what works for your writing style.

Regardless of what kind of outline you make, though, I do recommend that you create some sort of outline, even if it's just some notes jotted to help you remember what your plan is for the month.  It will give you a writing plan, and help you flesh out your story idea a little bit.  Sometimes I've had ideas and, after outlining, I've discovered that the idea is better as a short story rather than a longer project (or vice versa).  Or I've figured out that the idea isn't developed enough.  Outlining now will help keep you from getting to November 20th and realizing you really have a problem with your novel.

It might help get you excited about the month, too!

So take out a piece of paper, make some notes, and see what develops!