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Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category

real life social mediaThe Internet is a gift and a curse.

Social media in particular can be a writer’s best friend, or her doom.

I am old enough to remember working in an office where I had to share a clunky desktop PC that only displayed pixilated green type on a black screen and was not connected to anything other than the electrical outlet. I remember a world before ubiquitous email, incessant social media updates, and text messages that follow you everywhere.

Though I sometimes recall those less technologically bound times wistfully, as a self-employed writer of the twenty-first century, I know that I could not do my job without the Internet. No way. No how. I work with almost all of my clients on an almost 100% remote basis – conducting all our business via email, Skype, conference calls, and cloud-based document and project management services. I do my research on the Internet – finding sources, tracking down facts, and checking details. My days are made up of writing blocks punctuated by frequent digital communication.

I think most of my professionally writing colleagues would agree on the value of the Internet.

Where opinions start to differ (sometimes violently) is on the subject of social media.

Facebook, Twitter, goodreads, LinkedIn, blogging, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ not to mention dozens of writing-focused groups, forums, and communities – social media is a vast territory. All those platforms, all those third-party tools, all the people and updates and alerts and notifications. It’s enough to drive you mad or leave you paralyzed in fear, gently rocking under your desk.

Many writers eschew social media as frivolous. They consider it to be little more than a new-fangled procrastination tool, a digital escape hatch that sucks the unwary into a rabbit hole of wasted hours. These people contend that a writer should spend her time working on her craft and building up her body of work, not wasting words on status updates about her cat.

While I understand their position and can vouch for the addictive nature of social media (especially for people like me with slight OCD tendencies), I still believe that social media is a valuable (almost indespensible) tool for today’s writer.

In my “day job,” I am a freelance professional writer and business owner. I write blogs, columns, articles, case studies, branding frameworks, website copy, ebooks, manifestos, and all kinds of other materials. I have been doing this work for six years, and I attribute approximately ninety percent of my business to social media.

That’s right. If I trace each of my client relationships back to its origin, ninety percent of the time the seed for each relationship will be found in some kind of social media interaction.

Think about that.

I have invested (and continue to invest) a lot of time and energy in social media, but I believe it has paid off in spades.  It has helped me make the connections and nurture the relationships that sustain my business. There is a method to my social media “madness” (it’s definitely not all LOL cat photos and snarky quotes), but there is also a very personal and creative element to it.

I’ll share about that in a future post, but for now I’d love to know your thoughts:

How do you feel about social media? Do you engage? How? Where? If you don’t engage, why not? What are your biggest questions about social media for writers?

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.

Image Credit: I wish I knew – this was floating around Facebook and seemed the perfect thing to complement this post.

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Perhaps you’re thinking about working for yourself. If that’s the case, you won’t be surprised to know there are a few things to think about.

Here are some topics to consider:

  • Commute – Only having to walk to your desk/office can be a great money and time saver. (I love not having to deal with ‘rush hour’ any more.)
  • Flexibility – You’re able to set your own schedule to work when you’re most productive (for me it’s late morning, so I do ‘tasks’ when my brain doesn’t need to be fully engaged and I can schedule errands when traffic is light); you get to wear what you want (some days it’s just easier to go from bed to desk without a shower).
  • Distractions – No matter where you work, there are distractions, but working for yourself gives you the power to control them a lot easier than if you’re in an office surrounded by coworkers.
  • Relationships – Working for yourself isn’t conducive to building face-to-face relationships without some effort. Skype and web conference tools can be great for “meeting” in person without leaving your home, but be aware that you may not build as strong connections as working in an office. (Finding a great cafe or meeting space for local clients to meet with you is quite beneficial).
  • Stress – Working for yourself gives you a lot more control over stress. If something gets to be too much, you can talk a walk (or a run) or a break and come back refreshed without having to ask permission or have someone ‘cover’ for you.
  • Finances – Of course you can save money by not commuting, but if you have a home-based business, you can write off the office space on your taxes (at a minimum).
  • Work/life balance – When you’re in control of your own schedule, you’re able to balance work and life commitments a bit easier – or at least that’s the theory – sometimes family and friends will think since you work from home you have a lot of ‘free time’ so you have to set parameters.
  • Accountability — Working for someone else gives you accountability to that person. Working for yourself requires self-discipline, and not everyone can handle all the freedom. (I personally love it, and find deadlines with payments tied to them to be quite motivating.)

This is just a quick list to get you started. More categories and questions come up the further you pursue self-employment.

How about you? Are you self-employed? If you aren’t yet, do you think you can handle it?

Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes from the comfort of her home. She loves writing about NH people, places, and activities. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to network with writing professionals on a weekly basis. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

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Next week I’ll be celebrating 9 years of being matched with a wonderful young woman through Big Brothers Big Sisters. We met 2 days after her 9th birthday, and she turns 18 on Oct 2. It’s amazing how the years have flown.

Although our ‘official’ relationship ends, our personal one certainly won’t. She’s now a senior in high school and has aspirations of college and working with young children – perhaps even opening a day care center someday.

As we talked about our 9-year journey yesterday, she pointed out things she’s doing today because I shared the experiences with her, lent an ear when she needed it, or encouraged her to try something new.

Volunteering can influence any part of life, including building our businesses. Here are four benefits I thought about:

  • Discovering new relationships. When we volunteer, we meet new people by default, and we uncover new friendships and relationships as we stay involved with an organization.
  • Expanding our experiences. We can learn from every new experience, right? Even if we do something we already know how to do, if we’re doing it with different people, the experience might show us a new way to do that thing, and even broaden our knowledge unexpectedly. It’s great to be open-minded.
  • Giving our reputations a positive nudge. For the self-employed, everything we do can impact our business reputation. Volunteering in the community is a great way (I think) to show folks we want to share ourselves and get to know them personally. Perhaps those relationships turn into business or referrals in the future, but we each need to have time outside of our businesses to enjoy life.
  • Sharing our knowledge and paying it forward. I’ve always been a firm believer in sharing what I know. Giving back is one way to position ourselves in a good light. When we spend time and effort to benefit others, people see our empathetic side. Readily sharing what we know is a positive action that tends to stick with people. We can become the ‘go to’ person when a question comes up, and that goes a long way in building relationships.

Donating money to a non-profit organization to get your name out there as a sponsor and supporter is also a way to go, but I think donating your time and knowledge is what will keep you in business for the long term.

What benefits do you see in respect to volunteering in your community?

I didn’t fully appreciate all the benefits to volunteering as a Big when I started — I hadn’t thought about what I would get back in the process — but I know I’m a better person for the experience and this young lady has taught me as much as I have taught her. It’s an incredible gift that keeps on giving.

Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys New England’s crisp fall mornings and warm sunny days. She loves writing about NH people, places, and activities. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to network with writing professionals on a weekly basis. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Biznik.

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Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: If you could attend any writers’ conference, retreat, or workshop, which one would it be and why. OR, if you could design one just for you – the perfect conference/retreat/workshop that doesn’t yet exist except in your head – what would it be like … and why?

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Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson: Such a great question! Hands down my favorite writers’ conference is New England Crime Bake held each November in Boston. Ooh la la, do I love this small con that offers a little bit of everything for readers and writers of any type of mystery. I don’t know another local con where I can mix, mingle, and chat with big name authors and agents – and put faces to the names of the folks I chat with on writers’ loops.

As for creating my own retreat – perfection would be a cozy house on a beach. I think 8 or so fellow writers would be a great number; we’d each have our own sleeping space and plenty of options for where to spend hours writing. Then a large gathering area to eat and talk about our writing. I could be any time of year – definitely have a fireplace in the winter, though! Walking along the beach is the most rejuvenating activity I’ve found, and I enjoy it year-round (although I don’t do it nearly as often as I want to!).

hennrikus-web2Julie Hennrikus: I love the New England Crime Bake too, and have gone to it every year but the first. It is exhausting, but inspiring. And I do like that it is small. I am going to Bouchercon for the first time this weekend, and will report back. It is a HUGE mystery/crime fiction conference, geared more for fans than for writers (from what I understand). Adding the Writers Police Academy to my must do list–hear great things!

I am part of another group blog, the Wicked Cozy Authors blog. This year I was invited to join their retreat (which they did last year as well) at a house in Old Orchard Beach. It was just terrific. (I blogged about it here.) Not only did we write, we had great conversations about careers, about what we brought to our group endeavor, and an impromptu Scrivener class.

headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: So far, the only conference I’ve been to is the fabulous Muse Conference hosted annually by Boston’s Grub Street. I have attended twice and both times walked away exhausted (as Julie said), but also inspired and informed. Although the conference has grown tremendously since it began, it still has a very grass roots feel that makes me feel more at home than I imagine I would be at, say, a big New York conference.

I asked this question because I received an alert about next spring’s Iceland Writer’s Retreat. I have no intentions of running away to Iceland for five days, but the idea of it was so romantic that I couldn’t help daydreaming.

My perfect writing retreat would be a guilt free one. Like most of my fellow writers here at Live to Write – Write to Live, I have many responsibilities beyond my writing. What I would love more than anything is a retreat that didn’t leave me feeling selfish for taking time away from my daughter, my beau, my work, or my cats. (Yes, I feel guilty when I have to leave my cats.) If I could find a way to steal a couple of days all to myself without worrying about anyone or anything, that would be bliss.

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: I, too, think New England Crime Bake is an awesome conference. It’s fun, informative, and everyone there–authors, agents, and publishers–are all very down-to-earth.

I did go, once, to an amazing writing workshop (that felt like a retreat). I plan to go again one day. It’s The Self as the Source of the Story Writer’s Workshop that Christina Baldwin does every year out on Whidbey Island, in Washington. Many years ago, when I first started writing again after many years of just longing to do it, I met Christina at a medical conference and saw her flyer about this workshop. It happened to be on a week when my husband and I were both off and my stepchildren were away on an exciting vacation with their mom. I asked my husband (who is not a writer) if he would consider going with me. He said he would, then sent in a writing sample as all the participants had to do. He participated fully in the retreat, which was so wonderful. But the best part about the retreat was that the pace of life we lived that week was so much slower than our normal daily lives. We met twice a day for two hours to hear lectures about different writing topics, and we had plenty of time to write, run, and relax. There were 16 people in the group and we all ate lunch and dinner together. We also spent 36 hours together in silence, which was a powerful experience. On the last day we read out loud to each other. During the day of silence words just poured out of me. I still am amazed at how wonderful that whole week was. Sigh. One day I’ll go again.

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I’ve written about LinkedIn for Journalists and LinkedIn for Writers here, among others, and today  I’m going to show you a few ways to use LinkedIn to build professional connections that can lead to more work.

LinkedIn Groups are great resources created about specific topics or themes, or based on industries and professions. Groups can help you stay current with news, trends, and what’s up and coming. They are a fantastic way for making connections. You can even develop yourself into an expert through asking and answering questions posed by LinkedIn members.

Here are some ways to find the groups that are right for you:

  1. Determine a goal. It’s tempting to jump into any group that catches your eye, but to build your business, pick a single focus, such as connecting with potential clients, establishing your authority through your credentials, increasing your knowledge in your field of choice, and so on.
  2. Use search. LinkedIn continues to update functionality throughout the site and Search is amazing. There’s no harm in starting out with a broad topic such as “writing” and then becoming more specific as you go.
  3. Use current contacts for leads. Some people have visibility on their profile pages to the groups they’ve joined. If you have a contact with a similar business or interests, joining the same groups can increase your chances of making the connections you’re striving to make.LinkedIn_GroupListing
  4. Look through group listings to see how many members each group has to date and to read a brief description to see if any might be what you’re looking for. (image, click on it to enlarge)
  5. Join some groups. Closed groups require moderator approval. You can join Open Groups with the click of a button. Once in a group, view the members (there is a Members tab). If you see names you recognize, that’s a great start to building your connections that will build your business.
  6. Review the discussions and the activity in the group. Assess the potential of being a member of a group by reading discussion threads.
  7. Participate where you can. If there’s a current discussion that you have genuine feedback for, don’t be shy. If someone asks a question and you can answer it, do so. It’s a way to start positioning yourself as an expert. Once you start commenting, adding your own discussions, helping others out, you’ll start getting noticed.
  8. Stick around so people can keep the conversations going with you. Don’t join a group, pose a question, and never return!
  9. When you’re ready and you feel there’s a niche, you could start your own group.

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for finding others who

  • do similar work
  • have similar interests
  • could become clients
  • could be great to partner with
  • can become part of your staff
  • could lead you to new work
  • would love to meet for coffee or lunch and share experiences

Have you started using LinkedIn Groups to build your writing business? 

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who continues to find new opportunities through LinkedIn. She loves writing about NH people, places, and activities. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to network with writing professionals on a weekly basis. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Biznik.

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I’ve been involved as a chat moderator with a fabulous online place called The Writer’s Chatroom (TWC) for the past 5+ years and I wanted to tell you more about it. It’s usually mentioned in my bio, but we have a fabulous line up of guests through September and it’s a good time to share.

Most Sunday evenings we have a ‘celebrity’ chat from 7-9PM. And I say ‘most’ because once a quarter we take a Sunday for a live critique chat, and occasionally we have a live prompt chat, and every now and then we have an open chat.

Celebrity chats are akin to bookstore events – you know, where you go to a bookstore to see an author and ask him or her questions. TWC Sunday night chats are moderated and chatters get in a queue to ask questions of the author, publisher, editor, freelance writer, short story writer, publicist, whatever-type-of-writing-professional we have in the hot seat —  from the comfort of their own homes.

Last night, I moderated mystery writer Hy Conrad – most known for being one of the original writers for the TV show Monk, and now for writing the novel series based on the same character. But he has other works too, including a fun book he co-wrote with Jeff Johnson called Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know.

We have international chatters who sign in each Sunday to meet new authors as well as chatters covering all the US time zones. It’s always a good time, and there’s usually a giveaway from the guest at half-time.

Every Wednesday evening is an Open Chat from 8-10 PM EST. There is usually a topic of conversation for the first hour and then free conversation for the second hour. What’s more fun for a writer than to talk shop with other writers, right?

The chatroom also has a discussion board forum for connecting with other writers when the chatroom is closed. There are conversations you can participate in and if you’re looking, for example, to find a critique partner, this is the place to go.

generic_101BestSitesThe Writer’s Chatroom has been listed in Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers 5 times. Our reach continually expands, and we get multipublished authors, as well as NYT best sellers, too. Here’s a list of our past guests. I bet you’ll recognize a name or two.

Here’s a look at our July line up. You can see the full schedule here.

The Chatroom is a fun place for writers of all genres and of all levels along their writing journey. On Sunday nights, I’m there under my pseudonym Lisa Haselton, just so you know.

If you stop in, make sure to say ‘hi’ and tell me you read this blog. I’d love to show you around and introduce you to people.

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer, editor, journalist, and chocolate lover. She loves working with words and helps businesses with theirs. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to network with writing professionals on a weekly basis. You can connect with her on LinkedInBiznikFacebook, and Twitter

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steampunk_gun

Don’t let anyone fool you. Writing is not the easiest way to make a living.

Whether you’re chipping away at the next great American novel, hustling features and op eds for the regional mags, or hopping on the content marketing bandwagon, even your best days usually include some amount of grunt work and drudgery. As my witty friend Heidi is fond of saying, “We’re just toiling away in the word mines.”

Indeed, Heidi, indeed.

And there’s only one thing that can brighten your darkest hour, down there in the bowels of the word mines – only one thing that can save you after you’ve spent a day slogging through the fifth round of revisions because your client or editor “just isn’t feeling it” … only one thing that can bring your writer’s heart back to life after it’s been put through the wringer by a hard day at the keyboard with no measure of external gratitude or even acknowledgement … only one thing that can make you smile in spite of the lamentable state of the English language and the fools who seem intent on murdering it each day – over and over again

One thing. The smart writer’s secret weapon: Writer friends.

Yes.

Because misery loves company, and miserable writers are actually a riot.

Because all writers are a little crazy, and crazy likes crazy.

Because the world may not always smile with you, but another writer will always snicker with you.

As I type this, it’s 11:27 PM. I was up until 1AM last night writing a feature article for my local paper. I am tired and punchy and a little cranky. I didn’t get to all my deadlines today, which means when I wake up tomorrow I will have to face the same legion of spiteful, gloating demons who were waiting for me at my desk this morning.  I hate that.

I’ve been a card-carrying, word-wrangling ink slinger for going on six years now. I’ve done all kinds of work for all kinds of people. I’ve cleared many a hurdle (with a modicum of grace), but I have also spent way too many sleepless nights crawling towards the finish line, begging for mercy. As a freelancer, I’ve enjoyed the freedom of being my own boss and the annoyance of having to chase clients for money. I’ve felt the high of a job well done and the low of being triple booked and having nowhere to hide. I’ve been up and down and sideways. I’ve been inside out and upside down.

But, I’ve never been alone.

Nope. I will never end up a sad, writer stereotype – frittering my life away in a windowless garret with my fingerless gloves, fifth of scotch, and a Dickensian oil lamp. You know why not? Because I have writer friends. I have writer friends who lift me up out of the darkness and make me laugh. I have writer friends who can make the hours between 10PM and midnight a joy … even if I’m working. I have writer friends who feel my pain and help me celebrate my joy … who never judge, and who always (always!) have my back.

Writing is often called a “solitary pursuit.” Poppycock. Sure, only you can put fingers to keyboard or pull the pen across the page, but you don’t have to go it alone. Though each of us has a unique and individual journey ahead, there’s no reason we can’t travel the road side-by-side. Don’t you think a little writerly camaraderie would make the trip that much more enjoyable?

It does and it always will.

So, if you don’t have some already, go out and find yourself some writer friends. They can be “real life” friends or Facebook friends or anything in between. Just find them. Reach out and connect. Share stories. Share successes. Share hopes and fears and secrets and jokes. Support each other. Be kind to each other. Teach each other. Enjoy each other

With writer friends, you are invincible. There will never be a darkness deep enough to keep your spirit down.

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 voice and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

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If you write about your community, or if you’re a mystery writer, a great resource (if you have it) to gain insight and make contacts is to take advantage of a local citizen’s police academy.

Last fall I participated in a 10-week program in my current town. I’ve also participated in 2 prior academies in a town and city I lived in before. The experiences and connections are priceless.

I’ve found that academies are generally offered in the fall, but depending on the size of the community(ies) the academy is focused on, there could be multiple offerings during a calendar year. A neighboring city offers them twice a year, for instance.

Start with the Web: visit your local police department’s (PD) website to see if there is an academy. If you don’t find any information, give the department a call on its business line and ask.

Procedures vary, of course, but I’ve always had to go to the PD to fill out an application. Each time it has been a regular job application that wants high school, college, areas of study, job history (complete with start and end dates and hourly wage) – you know the type – 4 pages with lots of boxes to fill in. Applying can be intimidating if you over think it. Filling in the basics is good enough, since you are not applying for a job.

You also have to sign a form allowing the PD to perform a criminal background check.

Academies are generally capped at about 30 people, depending on the size of their conference room I think! But, most academies like to offer hands-on classes and want to keep the classes manageable. The last academy I attended only had 11 participants. The earlier academies had 30-35 participants. It’s great to have a small class because it gives everyone more time for hands-on work (there is usually a lot of show and tell) and also more time to ask questions.

All academies I’ve participated in have been no cost to participants, are offered one night a week for 8-12 weeks, and run for 2.5-3 hours each evening. It’s common for participants to volunteer to bring in goodies each week to go with the PD’s offering of coffee, water, and candy – one academy always had Dunkin’ Munchkins on hand.

During the weeks of the academy, you will meet officers at all levels of experience: newbies as well as those ready to retire. You’ll meet beat cops and detectives, lawyers, child advocates, emergency responders, volunteers, clergy, and more. You’ll learn various behind-the-scenes procedures and processes, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, get to participate in ride-a-longs with an officer on duty.

Gun Jam 6-8-02I particularly enjoy learning forensic processes (small towns don’t have a lot to work with), meeting canine officers and seeing how they work, and I love going to the shooting range for target practice. (That’s me during my 2002 class.)

Citizen police academies give you a different perspective of your community and can add depth to your non-fiction or fiction writing.

Have you ever attended a citizen police academy? 

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson partners with businesses seeking to express themselves with words. She loves New Hampshire and is completing several 5Ks in 2013 as a way to get off the couch and away from the screen. She wasn’t a runner until now, and is thinking that someday she wants to complete the Alcatraz Triathlon. You can connect with her on LinkedInBiznikFacebook, and Twitter

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As a small business owner, it’s easy to get caught up in keeping the business moving forward.

You can always:

  • be looking for the next client
  • want to keep the best clients coming back
  • spend time marketing
  • connect with your market on social media
  • build a support network
  • spend time analyzing results
  • get ‘caught up’ in deadlines

As a small business owner, you wear all the hats, juggle all the balls, keep everything moving forward. When you complete a task, you check it off and move on to the next item.

Similarly, when you hit a deadline, it’s easy to check it off your list and move on to the next project, but I think it’s important to pause and celebrate.

And before you say, “I don’t have time,” I disagree. At a minimum, I hope you’ll note the successful deadline completion in your list of accomplishments for the year. Whether it’s a success/achievement journal or a list taped to your wall, list the date and a brief description of the accomplishment.

For example: 4/20 – met deadline for (brief description of project) for (client      name) ahead of schedule/on time.

That’s the first activity I recommend. The next is to step away from your desk. Yep, don’t just push the chair back, actually get away from the keyboard so you won’t be tempted to work.

Take a moment to think about how the project arrived at your desk.

  • Did you meet the client at an event? Pat yourself on the back for having made the connection that led to work.
  • Did the client contact you through a referral? Congratulate yourself for having someone recommend you so positively.
  • Did the client find you online? Give yourself kudos for your online marketing and social media efforts

Now think about the process of landing the project. Celebrate your successes of:

  • Connecting with the client in a personal and professional way that resonated with the client
  • Having your pitch/proposal accepted
  • Being able to work with their deadline and other project parameters

And now that you’ve submitted the final work to the client, you get to celebrate the accomplishment, which is not something that happened over night. Recognize that. Appreciate it.

A different kind of celebration, but still a celebration

A different kind of celebration, but still a celebration

You’ve put in the effort and time, so take a few minutes, at least, to celebrate that fact! The ‘work’ itself may be easy to you, but that alone doesn’t make your business successful. YOU make your business successful with a lot of effort, so appreciate that and recognize it. (I’m repetitive with important points).

Talk out loud to the empty room: “I just finished X’s 2-week project and it feels GREAT!” (give your best Tony the Tiger imitation) “I look forward to more projects from X, and from similar clients I haven’t met yet.”

–As a note, yes, I do these things. I even do a happy dance – sometimes with music, sometimes without – to celebrate. There’s an exaggerated fist pump and a loud “YES!”, too. And laughter, because it *is* funny to be doing these things in an empty room. But it’s good – it’s fun – it’s celebrating – it makes me smile. I love to smile. :)

I believe that the more you can appreciate what you have, the more you’ll have. Business goals and milestones are worth celebrating.

And there’s another bonus to the celebrating: when you sit back at your desk to get back to work, you’ll feel more energized and have a fresh mind for the next project.

Have you been taking the time to appreciate all that you do for your business?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson partners with businesses seeking to express themselves with words. She loves New Hampshire and is completing several 5Ks in 2013 as a way to get off the couch and away from the screen. She wasn’t a runner until now, and is thinking that someday she wants to complete the Alcatraz Triathlon. You can connect with her on LinkedInBiznikFacebook, and Twitter

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me_signingWriting can be a solitary life, right? Even when working in a noisy cafe, I can encapsulate myself as I focus on my work – be with/around people, yet still alone.

So when I purposely join a group of writers for a couple hours or more, it’s a bit of a emotional overload. I go from my own thoughts to learning about other writers, what they’re passionate about, what they enjoy reading and writing, and what they are currently working on.

And at those times, I wish I was a sponge and able to absorb *everything* and review it later. I do the best I can, of course, and scribble notes when I have the chance.

I attended a full-day writers’ conference on Saturday and am still recovering. I got there early and met several people right away.

  • A neurologist who writes about addiction and recovery; he blogs and speaks to people who need his expertise – turning medical terminology into layman’s speak. And he’s 2/3 of the way through a book on the same topics he speaks about.
  • A career-long technical writer adjusting to writing historical fiction and finding it challenging to shift away from linear writing with rules to the freedom that fiction allows.
  • A newly published author who was attending the conference for the second time. Last year, her book was in process and after last year’s workshops and networking, the book has been published with a second scheduled with a publisher.
  • A local radio personality who enjoys meeting people and coming out from behind the microphone is now transitioning into the writing world.
  • An almost-MFA-graduate who was there to practice pitching a YA fantasy novel and to hopefully find leads into teaching opportunities.

Andres Dubus III was the keynote speaker. I’m not familiar with his work, but after hearing him speak, I want to learn more about his work. He was very down to earth and direct. I found it refreshing and motivating.

The workshops I took gave me new ideas for works in process and works not yet drafted. My workshops focused on characters, YA (young adult) & MG (middle grade) fantasy writing, and using maps as stories.

I also got to network with people in my area. It’s so nice to find local-to-me writers interested in getting together for coffee, or better, a writing group. It’s hard to find each other when we’re at home hiding behind our screens!

Bottom line is that I came away from the conference exhilarated with an abundance of information to evaluate. I recorded the workshops, but not my conversations, and it’s usually the conversations that have the priceless ‘nuggets.’

Back to my sponge analogy: after days like this, if I were a sponge, I could wring my thoughts into a bucket and take time to see what I captured. As it is, I usually need food to re-energize, and then quiet time to let everything settle — keeping a notepad and pen nearby to write down the thoughts that bubble to the surface.

Do you take time the same day to capture your ideas/thoughts after going to a workshop or conference? Or do you give yourself a day or more to let things settle?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson makes a living helping businesses express themselves with words and writing about NH. She has decided to complete several 5Ks in 2013 as a way to get off the couch and away from the screen. She drinks iced coffee year-round, and needs a stash of Peppermint Patties in the fridge at all times. You can connect with her on LinkedInBiznikFacebook, and Twitter

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