Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Doing What You Love

coffee journal

Image by ci.mike on Flickr via Pinterest


Time really does fly when you’re having fun.

While digging around in my Live to Write – Write to Live archives (searching for a post I remember writing, but still can’t find), I realized that this past June marked my four-year anniversary writing for this blog. Four years! How on Earth did that happen?!? I feel like it was only yesterday that Wendy graciously invited me to be part of this team, and now – suddenly – four years have flown by just like that. My daughter was six years old and in kindergarten when I started blogging here. Now she’s ten and about to enter the fifth grade. Again – wow.

It’s Labor Day weekend and I am, ironically, working. Don’t feel too badly for me. I took Wednesday and Thursday off for some back-to-school shopping and “road trip” fun with my daughter. We had a fabulous time both days, my favorite bit being an impromptu stop to watch (and play in!) the impressive surf at a beach up the coast. Watching her dancing on the rocks and laughing into the waves had me grinning so hard my face hurt.

So, now that the holiday is upon us, I have some catching up to do. A lot of it. I was explaining to my daughter about my deadlines and then mentioned that my first order of business was to write this blog post.

“Mom, why are you writing a blog post if you’re so busy,” she asked.

“Well, because writing the blog post is part of my job, too.”

“But, it’s not your real job. I mean, you don’t get paid for it.”

“No, I don’t. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not my real job.”

And after she’d scurried off up the street to meet her friend, I thought about it and realized that while she is right – I don’t get paid for the writing I do here – I consider it just as (if not more) important than the writing that pays the bills. I’m grateful for the paying work I have, but I never feel like that’s my “real” work. Though I am self-employed, I consider that work my day job. I do my real writing work here and in my journals and when I’m working on stories.

Would my day be less stressful if I passed on writing this post and worked instead on my copywriting deadlines? In theory, yes; but in reality, no. I’d miss being here. I would feel cheated. And, I would feel like I’d shirked my real responsibility. I love writing these posts. As grateful as I am for the paying gigs that keep a roof over our heads and food on our table, I’m just as grateful for the way this blog gives me a creative outlet, a platform on which to share my thoughts about writing, and – most importantly – a fun and supportive community.

I may not be getting paid for it (yet), but I still manage to do what I love. And that is what makes life worth living.


What I’m Writing:

Art by Bianca Green

Art by Bianca Green

Talk about time flying – I can’t believe that the two writing workshops I signed up for a couple weeks ago are coming up this week. Now that they are almost here, I have to admit that I’m a little nervous. It’s been a long while since I took any kind of formal writing class. Though I’ve always had wonderful experiences at Grub Street, I am still intimidated by the idea of heading into the city to sit in class with people who I assume are all “real” writers who know what they are doing.

I’m also battling the deadline demons who are trying to convince me that I should skip class in favor of putting in some extra time on my client projects. Oddly enough, I found myself fighting for my writing life in similar circumstances the last time I took a Grub Street class. Though I was a little discouraged to realize that I’m still dealing with the same obstacles, I was encouraged to note that I didn’t give up then, and I’m not going to give up now. I may only be making progress in baby steps, but at least I’m still moving forward.

So … next week, I will be spending two evening in Boston at Grub Street headquarters. On Wednesday evening, I’ll be learning about creative nonfiction in Calvin Hennick’s workshop, Writing and Selling the Money-Making Essay. And on Thursday, I’ll be testing my funny bone with Wendy Wunder’s class, Lighten Up: Cultivating a Sense of Humor in the Writing of Serious Fiction. (I think there are a few seats left in this one. Just saying.)

So – today’s writing (apart from this post) is all about keeping my B2B copywriting clients happy. But next week … next week, two evenings will be about keeping my “real” writer happy. I can’t wait.


What I’m Reading:

book little beeLast weekend, my beau gave me the most wonderful gift – an entire afternoon sitting in a lounge chair on my deck with a book. It may not sound like an extravagance, but we so rarely take the time to just sit that it felt like the most indulgent treat in the world. We spent some time staring out at the boater activity across the street at the town wharf, but then I slipped between the covers of my book and disappeared for a while. It was bliss.

I found my paperback copy of Chris Cleave’s novel, Little Bee, in a box outside a neighbors house. It was tucked in amongst an eclectic collection of kids books, self-help tomes, and some small household accessories. It had been out overnight and the morning dew had caused the pages to ripple slightly, but the bright orange cover with it’s bold silhouette illustration seemed mostly impervious to the ravages of a single night out under the stars.

The facts of Cleave’s story are simple, but your reaction will not be. From the back cover:

We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know enough to buy it, so we’ll just say this:

This is the story of two women. Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice, the kind of choice we hope you never have to dace. Two years later, they meet again – the story starts there …

Once you have read it, you’ll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don’t tell them what happens. The magic is in how the story unfolds.

I agree, so I won’t tell you what happens. I will tell you, however, that the story is riveting, the narrative voices are both endearing and discomforting, and the writing is excellent. This is not a story that will give you a warm and fuzzy feeling, but it will make you think.

And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

pin tell yourself the story

Thanks, as always, for sharing part of your weekend with me. Have a great one, and I’ll see you on the other side! 

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and – occasionally –  trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

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I have to write a fundraiser letter for an organization I work with. As I sit here thinking about what to put in the letter, I thought I’d share some of my personal guidelines when writing such a piece (after all, writing a fund raising letter is simply another writing assignment, right?)

This is from a fundraiser to which I gladly donated.

This is from a fundraiser to which I gladly donated.

Write to your audience

You need to write to your audience, not above or below, but to. Sure, you will more than likely have some readers who will fall outside of the “average reader”, but for the most part, you want to hit the critical mass and so you aim for them. The organization should have statistical information on their current supporters, that information was collected for a reason, use it.

Use “you” and not “I”

When someone reads a letter asking for money and support, they don’t want to hear about you. They want to know how this will impact them. Essentially they want to know why they should even be bothered with the organization. Rule of thumb here? It’s not about you (the writer) it’s about them (the readers.)

Tell a story that involves a real person or situation

Everyone loves a story. Try to include an example of how the organization is working or improving the lives of others. Once you include a story of another person’s journey you have made that very important human-to-human connection with your reader.

Clearly explain the benefits

Everyone needs money these days, so be sure to clearly explain what a donation would help accomplish (and just having extra money is *not* a benefit.) Will it help patients with medical costs? Supply people with clean water? The more specific you can be with the benefits, the more people can visualize how their money will be used and the more willing they are to donate.

Also, mention if people will receive something if they donate – people are often more willing to contribute if they know they will get something in return.

Be clear about what you are asking for and when

Are you asking for money? Then say so. Don’t beat around the bush, say “we are looking for a financial donation from our supporters by this DATE.” Be sure to include a date so that people don’t put your letter down with the intention that they’ll get to it someday. Those are the letters that get lost.

Likewise, if you are looking for volunteers or material donations, go ahead and ask. Don’t waste anyone’s time by being vague and hoping that they’ll understand what you are getting at. Trust me – it’s not rude to ask for what you need in a fundraising letter.

Make it short and simple

People don’t have much time. A fundraising letter that goes on for page after page is one that is likely not going to be read. Keep it short, get in there, introduce yourself, explain the benefits, identify what you are asking for, and then thank them for their continued support. In and out – it’s the way to go.

Additionally make it easy to read

Long, dense paragraphs are tough to read. Keep your paragraphs short, include white space, use headers and include a graphic or two. These days a lot of people skim documents, you can use this to your benefit by grouping your information and using techniques like bulleted lists.

Fundraising letters are just like any other writing assignment. You’ll do fine if you pre-plan, organize, and do your homework.


Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.


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It’s easy to get so involved with writing, that reading can become a luxury to push aside.

But, it’s so important to read about writing for the little nuggets of wisdom and pearls of inspiration we know, but somehow seem to forget.

Finding books that resonate with our writing lives and experiences might be rare, so when you find a great book, hang on to it!

A few years ago, Diane highly recommended I read a book on the craft of writing titled Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. I loved it. And it became the first book I ever re-read.

birdbybird2Since I noticed some leaves changing colors over the past week, fall has been on my mind. And with fall, for me, comes renewed inspiration. So, Bird by Bird is back on my desk for its annual reading.

I know how important it is to get words on a page, and more than likely those first words will be junk and tossed later on, but to get to the good stuff, I have to get a lot of words on the page/screen — Ann Lamott reminds me of that — she reminds me that I need to give myself permission to write junk.

We’ve talked about books about writing a few times here. And you can look back at a few posts if you’re in need of something new.

We had the Friday Fun discussion: Should Writers Read Books About Writing. Diane and I shared our Favorite Writing Books, and Deborah had a post specifically on Bird by Bird.

Don’t read to avoid writing, though! Read to improve writing!

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She’s still amazed to have a book she can re-read that gives her new insight into her writing every time she goes through it. You can connect with her on Twitter, FacebookGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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chickadeeBuild a little birdhouse in your soul.

As a writer, I spend a lot of time staring out the window. My writing desk is positioned to accommodate this activity. Situated in front of a large picture window, it provides an expansive view of the town wharf and the river twisting around the bend and out to sea. There is always a lot of activity going on across the street – boaters coming and going, people walking their dogs, cyclists careening around the corner, children chasing the ice cream truck, and flock after flock of Canada geese making their daily trips up and down the river according to some complex time table that only they know.

Closer at hand, only a few feet from the window, is my bird feeder. Like the Canada geese, the avian visitors who frequent my feeder do so according to an indecipherable schedule of their own devising. My most frequent diners are common house sparrows, a rowdy and somewhat uncouth bunch who travel in packs like winged wolves. One moment, there is not a bird in sight and the next twenty or more have descended in unison and suddenly blanket the entire area as they scavenge for leftovers.

I have been an amateur birder since the age of seven. Other feeders I’ve had at other houses have attracted a wide variety of birds – finches, wrens, titmice, jays, cardinals, gray-eyed juncos, orioles, downy woodpeckers, and – one of my favorites – black-capped chickadees. Sadly, at this house, the local house sparrows aggressively defends the feeder from all other species, even chasing off the larger cardinals who sometimes have the audacity to come in for a quick bite.

Earlier this morning I looked up and saw, to my surprise, not one, but three chickadees at the feeder. This was highly unusual. Most of the time, these tiny but courageous birds will come in singly. They are, I expect, trying to slip in under the sparrow radar. But, this morning, there were three – bold as daylight. Their impertinence made me smile. Despite the sparrows’ dominance, these masked renegades had slipped in to steal the seed from the enemy camp.

Those little chickadees reminded me of my creative writing practice. Each day, the lion’s share of my time is gobbled up by a marauding band of responsibilities and obligations. From doing the laundry and buying the groceries to juggling multiple deadlines for my copywriting clients, these duties pillage my larder of time and energy, leaving only the most meager crumbs for my creative projects.

And yet, like the diminutive chickadee, my creative self does not give up. Unable to overcome the odds by force, my creative writing uses more cunning means to steal a little time here and a little energy there. Persistence and patience deliver enough sustenance to keep my creative practice alive and hopping. Nimble and tenacious, the protectors of my creative time keep coming back despite the challenges. Like Robin Hood, they steal from the rich and give to the poor – feeding my urge to make things, express my ideas, and tell my stories.

Perhaps one day, the chickadees will stage a coup and oust the belligerent sparrows; but until then, it’s good to know that a little charitable thievery goes a long way to keeping dreams alive and well even when the Real World feels a bit overwhelming.

P.S. – In case there are any other children of the 80s out there who get the reference in my headline, here – just for you – is your ear worm for the day: Birdhouse in Your Soul.  You’re welcome. 

 What I’m Writing:

"One Word at a Time" book art by Brian Dettmer. Photo by Lindsey Davis on Flickr

“One Word at a Time” book art by Brian Dettmer. Photo by Lindsey Davis on Flickr

So, here’s a thought. Even when you aren’t “writing-writing,” you can still be practicing your craft.

Wait. What?

Though my life does not currently make it easy for me to set aside large chunks of time to work on big creative writing projects, I still find time each day to hone my writing style and skill. And, guess what? I bet you do, too. You just haven’t realized it. Here’s an off-the-cuff list of a few ways I get writing practice in during my “non-(creative) writing” days:

  •  Scribbling my way through three morning pages. It’s a messy, but effective way to loosen up my writing muscles.
  • Writing emails to friends, family, and even clients. Whether I’m sharing a recent event with a friend I haven’t seen in a while, corresponding with my parents, or making a case to a client, emails give me a chance to practice brevity and clarity in my writing.
  • Posting to social media. Instead of thinking about social media as a time-waster, think about it as a chance to practice a little flash fiction. Social media can actually help you learn how to create a strong hook and tell an engaging story in only a few words.
  • Commenting on social media. From Facebook status updates to blog posts, the Internet gives us so many opportunities to engage via our writing. When I do leave a comment for someone – either socially or professionally – I take care with the words I choose. I do my best to contribute valuable thoughts and make sure that I articulate them well.
  • Captioning photos. I’m an Instagram addict who fell in love with the visual nature of the platform. I also love the chance to craft cool captions for my photos. I don’t do it all the time, but when I’m inspired, I spend a little extra time coming up with something that might be the title to the story told by the image, or sometimes the caption will be more about practicing writing a good description.
  • Thank you cards. I am making a conscious effort to send more thank you cards – real ones, that you have to put a stamp on and bring to the post office. I love getting mail and I love sending mail. Thank you cards are a wonderful way to help you practice expressing your feelings without resorting to tired cliches and ambiguous generalizations. I love making thank you notes as personal and honest as possible.

I am in no way saying that these kinds of in-the-nooks-and-crannies writing exercises can ever replace a more focused and dedicated practice. I do, however, find it comforting to know that even when I’m unable to carve out hours of time to work on a story, I can still be doing my writerly thing – if only in a small way. Every little bit makes a difference. Each word on the page helps you define and refine your voice.


What I’m Reading:

book urban bestiaryDuring busy times like the one I’m in now, trying to read fiction is mostly just frustrating. I never seem to have a long enough time to truly sink into the story and savor it. Consuming a novel a couple pages at a sitting certainly does not do any book justice, and also robs me of the best experience. So, instead of fighting my way doggedly through such a battle, I will sometimes turn instead to a non-fiction read.

This time, I chose a book that I saw at an indie bookstore last holiday season. I thought about picking up a copy for my mom, but another book won out that day, and I left The Urban Bestiary sitting on the shelf. A few weeks ago, however, Lyanda Lynn Haupt’s book again caught my attention, this time from a shelf at my local library. I was walking in circles trying to locate my daughter (who was, doubtless, also walking in circles in an attempt to evade me and extend our stay at the library), when the sky blue cover caught my eye.

In the first chapter, A New Nature, a New Bestiary, Haupt describes what she hopes to accomplish with her book:

It is time for a new bestiary, one that engages our desire to understand the creatures surrounding our urban homes, helps us locate ourselves in nature, and suggests a response to this knowledge that will benefit both ourselves and the more-than-human world.

Each following chapter is an educational yet enchanting exploration of a particular species – coyotes, raccoons, squirrels, crows, cougars, and many others.

Though I am fascinated by the subject matter, I toted this book home as much to sate my curiosity about this kind of writing as to learn about the history, behaviors, and folklore associated with my furred and feathered neighbors. In her bio, Haupt describes herself as “a naturalist, eco-philosopher, and speaker whose writing is at the forefront of the movement to connect people with nature in their everyday lives.” I love that. I’d never heard of an eco-philosopher. I also hadn’t given much thought to the fact that there are many writers who make a living writing non-fiction books about nature and related topics – topics that I care about deeply.

Haupts book is a wonderfully informative and entertaining read that I recommend to anyone – writer or not – who has a love for or curiosity about nature, particularly the way it intersects with our lives at the fringes of the wild world and the urban one. I’m learning a lot and enjoying her writing style. I’m also equally grateful for the way this book has opened my eyes a bit more to all the different kinds of writers and writing that exist in the world. Reading this book has filled my head with all kinds of new ideas.

And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

pin write like breathing

I hope your creative chickadees are winning their battle against the house sparrows of Real Life. Here’s to stealing time back for your creative life and enjoying the journey along the way.

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and – occasionally –  trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

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My friend and mentor, Brooke Castillo, has often spoken about taking “massive action.” Her definition of massive action is taking action until you get the results you want.

Well, as a part-time writer with many projects in the works, I feel like I don’t see results very often—but I realize that depends on what results I’m looking for.

If the result I’m looking for is to finish my novel, I’m definitely not there yet. But if my result is to write for 15 minutes every day, then I’m seeing the result I want.

Even though 15 minutes a day (my minimum) doesn’t seem like much, it keeps the momentum going and I often write for much more than that. I’ve noticed if I start skipping days the days can turn into weeks very quickly.

So writing for at least 15 minutes a day is “massive action” for me right now.

The difference between massive action and passive action is this: massive action requires you to create something while with passive action you create nothing.

In my daily life, passive action might be talking to my husband about cleaning the basement. Massive action is actually going downstairs and cleaning the basement.

Reading a book on the writing craft is passive action, and so is attending a writer’s conference. Writing a story, a blog post, or an essay is massive action because I’m creating something new.

So, even though to many people my 15 minutes a day of writing doesn’t look anything like “massive” action, compared to the years I spent reading novels and books on the craft of writing without writing a word (outside my journal), the last few years have been a huge (massive, even?) shift for me.

Once I started thinking about massive action I asked myself, “What are the results I want to achieve as a writer right now?”

  1. I want to rewrite my most recent short story until it is polished and ready to submit.
  2. I want to rewrite and finish the essay I’ve been working on (for way too long.)

If I am going to take massive action, all I need to do is keep plugging away at my short story and my essay until they are finished.

Reading the two books on craft I recently bought doesn’t count as massive action so I’m going to put them away to be read after I finish my story and my essay.

Talking to my critique group about my short story isn’t massive action, either, even though it feels productive and truly is helpful.

I’m not against passive action; I just need to tip the scales toward massive action if I really want to achieve my goals. We all do both, but passive action is so much less effort, we can easily spend all our time taking passive action and making very little real progress.

In your life as a writer, how much massive action are you taking compared to passive action? Do you need to change that balance?

Dont’ forget to consider attending my One-Day Writer’s Retreat on September 20, 2014, in Nashua, NH. Please click here for more information.

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon, MD, is a life coach, family physician, blogger, and writer. Writing this post has made me more aware of all the places in my life where I take “passive” action rather than “massive” action–and I’m taking steps to change that. My first non-writing goal is to get that basement cleaned out. I took massive action on that one today!

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Here - it's for you!

Here – it’s for you!

Today’s post will be short – just two tasty morsels of writing-related goodness:


A Secret Source of Inspiration

I subscribe to way too many email newsletters. I read hardly any of them. There is one, however, that arrives in my inbox daily and is so brief that I can usually read it right from my email program’s preview pane without even opening the actual email. The Great Work Provocation emails arrive compliments of Michael Bungay Stanier, the author of a neat little book called Do More Great Work, and leader of the team at Box of Crayons.

Although the “provocations” are written for a corporate audience, I find that they are just as applicable to any creative endeavor. By interpreting them in the context of my own work, I squeeze all kinds of inspiration out of them. Here, for instance is today’s email:

box of crayons

Doesn’t that make you think? Doesn’t that put a little more perspective on your day?


A Wee Bit of Advice

trapeze readyThe other tidbit I’d like to share today is this: Every great accomplishment in your life begins with one tiny step.

You will take hundreds of thousands of steps to reach the one which will change everything, but even so, it’s that one step that will make the difference and set you firmly on a new path or take you past a hurdle

Last night, my daughter and I attended our second trapeze class in two weeks. We had “flown” before, but it had been nearly a year since the last time we’d climbed up to platform, gripped the bar, and taken that one, tiny step off and into the air. I am not a daredevil, so – believe me – trapeze flying is not something that comes naturally. In fact, each time I find myself twenty-four feet up and preparing to launch myself out over the nets, I wonder what the hell I’m doing up there. My heart beats like a rabbit’s the entire time, but I jump anyway. I take that step, and then … I’m flying!

Today, I’d love for you to not only think about what baby step you can take to move you closer towards your writing goals, whatever they are, I’d love for you to actually take that step. It’s only a little one … just one foot in front of the other, the easiest thing in the world. What step can you take today?

I took a tiny step this morning. After spending part of yesterday afternoon (and evening) perusing (over and over again) the latest workshop and class offerings from Grub Street, I registered for two evening workshops. I’ll figure out who will hang out with my daughter and other logistical details later. She’s already excited for me, (“Mom, it’s like we’re going back to school at the same time!”) and I didn’t let fear make excuses to keep me from stepping off the edge of the platform.

And that’s a good thing. Because you can’t fly unless you take that one step. My form may not be perfect, but I’m working on it, and that’s the thing that matters.

trapeze catch
Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

Cupcake Photo Credit: Symic via Compfight cc

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robin williamsActing Out Optimism

My daughter and I had just returned from our first trapeze class after a year’s absence from “flying.” It was late (we’d stopped for dinner on the way home), and I was whirling around the kitchen, simultaneously shooing her into the shower, feeding our two cats, and having a quick catch-up call with my beau. In the midst of the chaos, I heard my beau say, “It’s awful about Robin Williams, huh?”

Before I could answer I had to pause to holler up the stairs at my daughter (again), and aggressively tap the remaining bits of canned cat food off the spoon I was wielding. “What?” I asked. He explained. About the death. About the suspicion of suicide. None of it registered. I made some meaningless response, something about it being a terrible tragedy and such a shame; and then I said I’d call back later and hung up.

Early the next morning, still tucked in under the covers, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed in an effort to come fully awake. As I read the dozens of posts honoring Williams and grieving his death, I began to cry. Even now, as I sit here typing this post, tears are welling up.

I’ve come a little unglued.

After all, I did not know Williams personally. I have been a fan since his Mork & Mindy days, but I haven’t even seen all of his movies. I admired him and his work; but I if you’d asked me a week ago to name my top ten performers, he wouldn’t have made the list. And yet, knowing he is gone broke something in me. Like so many other people I’ve talked to, I find myself unexpectedly touched by his sudden absence.

I’m still processing my emotional response to this loss. I’m still trying to figure out why of all the heartbreak in the world, the loss of this one entertainer has left me so bereft. I need some private writing time before I can share my thoughts with more clarity. There is one quote of Robin’s, however, that I would like to share. There are so many making the rounds on the Internet now that he is gone. I think the one that I’ve seen most often is “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lost it.” Though I love that one, there is another that I find more intriguing, “Comedy is acting out optimism.”

Despite all the death and injustice and sorrow in the world, despite being locked in constant battle with his own demons, despite the intense pressure of life that we all feel – whether we are Hollywood icons or simply a member of the PTA – despite all of this, Williams chose laughter. He chose joy and kindness and generosity. In the face of all the darkness, he chose light. And he shared that light with the world. This, to me, is the highest purpose of any art – to express hope and optimism.

I think Zelda William’s said it perfectly in her lovely statement about her father:

“Dad was, is and always will be one of the kindest, most generous, gentlest souls Ive ever known, and while there are few things I know for certain right now, one of them is that not just my world, but the entire world is forever a little darker, less colorful and less full of laughter in his absence. We’ll just have to work twice as hard to fill it back up again.”


What I’m Writing:

tweet conv professionalsI continue to swim upstream against a strong current of crunchy deadlines for fairly intense projects. I’m grateful for the work on my plate, but that gratitude does not dispel the stress that comes along with juggling multiple clients and projects.

Last week, I had a quick little Twitter exchange with fellow copywriter, Donnie Bryant. I had never met Bryant, but a quote he tweeted caught my eye, “Amateurs wait for inspiration; professionals do it with a headache.” It just so happened that on the morning I read that quote (as retweeted by Craig McBreen) that I was sporting a doozy of a headache and was working off of only four hours’ sleep. Though I felt physically awful, Bryant’s quip made me smile.

Though I am now and always will be a work-in-progress as an author and storyteller, I earned the right to call myself a professional writer years ago. It wasn’t the caliber of my clients or the monetary value they placed on my work that gave me the confidence to call myself a pro. It was the fact that I always got the job done. No matter what. A hobbyist has the option to say, “Not today. Maybe tomorrow.” A dabbler can decide to go to bed early instead of staying up to meet the deadline. A poser can happily act the part without actually producing anything. But a professional? A professional must deliver. An MIA muse is not an acceptable excuse. A sick kid is not an acceptable excuse. A headache is most definitely not an acceptable excuse. If you’re a professional – paid or not – you get the work done. Period. End of story.

It’s that simple, and that hard.

What about you? Do you call yourself a professional? Is that even important to you? What’s your take on being a pro vs, being a dabbler?


What I’m Reading:

faerie magWhen I’m not so exhausted that I’m falling asleep on the way upstairs to bed, I am still managing to fill any remaining nooks and crannies in my day with small but still joyful moments of reading. I am not, however, finding making enough of these moments to get through some of the bigger reads I have on my plate at the moment.

So, while I continue to enjoy those in bite-sized morsels (and will share here once I’ve finished off the last, delicious bits), I’ll share with you today a little diversion that arrived at my PO Box this week: Faerie Magazine.

It happened like this: I was scrolling through Facebook (geesh, I seem to spend a lot of time on Facebook), and saw a picture of a beautiful fairytale cottage. (It may have even been fellow Live to Write -Write to Live blogger, Wendy, who posted it. I’m not sure.) Anyway, the image had been shared from the Facebook page of this beautiful print publication. It was rather late at night and I was struggling with the day’s final deadline, so – of course – I decided to take a little side trip via a click to the magazine’s site. A few minutes later, I was a subscriber.

The reason I share this with you is to illustrate the power of the niche audience. This is a beautifully produced and written print magazine (supposedly a dying breed) that is on its 27th quarterly issue, so it’s been in print for nearly seven years now.

If you have a passion for a particular topic or genre, there is a publication out there that is serving other people who share your passion. In fact, there are probably multiple publications (especially if you consider both digital and print) catering to the exact audience who would most appreciate your writing on that beloved topic. Find these publishers. Get to know their work and their readers. You never know when you might find a perfect home for the writing you love to do best.


And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

spark madness williams

Here’s to hope and optimism and finding the courage and joy to let your spark of madness shine. 

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and – occasionally –  trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

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