When You Feel Like Quitting… Consider This

You work hard toward your writing and business goals.

You spend time on the big picture and getting daily tasks done.

You make strides, you celebrate milestones, and you continue working and building your dream.

But there are hiccups and stumbles along the way.

And sometimes, whether it’s a bad day, a tough client, a technology snafu, or some other “last straw,” you might think about quitting and walking away.

Success isn’t always a breeze — if it was easy, everyone would succeed at whatever they tried. Success takes works.

If (or when) you find yourself thinking about quitting and moving onto something different, think about why you started.

Go back to the spark. What was it that started you on your current path? Take some time to remember how it felt, how inspired and fired up you were. Remembering that first spark might help you refocus and keep moving forward today.

Robin Sharma said, “When you feel most like giving up is when you most need to keep going on.” I think it’s usually at this moment, the moment right before saying “I quit”, when you make the most critical decision.

I experienced this unadulterated moment years ago and I can put myself back in that moment in an instant.  I was climbing Mount Washington in NH, making good time, enjoying the beautiful day, the exercise, the challenge.

Then I got above treeline and fog moved in. I couldn’t see anything. I lost track of the markers on the stone and I only knew I was still climbing because of the incline, but I had no sense of how far I was from the summit or the tree line. Totally lost and blind. After a couple of discouraging and frustrating hours, I reached the point where I was absolutely done. I didn’t want to think, I didn’t want to move, I was just done trying. I’d been pushed beyond my limits and wanted to curl up and hide until life was easy again.

I sat down on a boulder and said, “I quit.”

And it turned out the universe was teaching me a lesson.

No sooner had I uttered those 2 words of defeat, the fog lifted and blue sky appeared. But not only that, I was seated beside the tracks for the Cog railway (which leads directly to the summit). But not only THAT, I was literally sitting a few feet below the summit house.

I had achieved my goal after all. I was at the summit of the mountain. I did it all under my own power, and yet, because I felt lost, because I had lost my focus, because I didn’t push just a little bit further, because I couldn’t see what was right in front of me, I quit.

I had a goal. I prepared and planned. I executed on the goal. I took one step at a time toward my goal.

But then challenges popped up, and I got tired, then frustrated, then angry. Instead of stopping to refocus, remember what started me up the mountain to start with, take a breath, and come up with a new plan of attack, I went with the easiest choice – quit.

Now, whenever I feel the word “quit” moving into my thoughts, I go back to that moment on the mountain and I have to say, I have never regretted taking one more step toward my goal – writing, business, personal, or otherwise – being so close to quitting is when you need to push just a little further, a little harder, and with a little more determination.

Edison_quote

Wishing you the greatest success with your writing and your business dreams!

Have you ever regretted taking one more step, pushing just a little harder toward your business goals?

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with manufacturing, software, and technology businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedI

Being Grateful and Giving Thanks

With the momentum for stress building due to the upcoming (US) holidays, I find it more important than ever to take a few minutes each day to give thanks and be grateful for all that I have – regarding my writing life and my whole life.

Diane wrote about how gratitude is one of the best feelings we human beings can feel. And she opened by talking about how when we’re in a state of appreciation, we can’t also (at the same time) be in a state of fear or lack. She shares some of what she’s thankful for and has great prompts for us.

Julie talked about the gratitude journal after reading Simple Abundance. It suggests writing down 5 things, every day that you are truly grateful for. She gave us a baker’s dozen of writing-related things she’s grateful for.

Being-Thankful

I have a gratitude / thankful journal, but don’t write in it every day.  I do, however, give thanks every day. If I’m not writing the items down, I’m spending a few moments before bed saying my thanks out loud. Sometimes it can be a lot more than 5 things, sometimes the 5 things became the basics: fresh air, clean clothes, food in the fridge that wasn’t moldy, hot water, a new writing project.

I used to find the holiday season stressful: pressure to find the ‘right’ gift, dealing with family dynamics, increased traffic, crowded malls, work deadlines that didn’t account for all the delays due to increased traffic and crowded malls, cards to write and mail, and, oh, decorating! So much to do and not enough time to do it!

It’s this time of year, and during stressful moments, when we need to pause, take a deep breath, and spend a moment connecting with what is good.

Stop. For a moment.

Breathe. Slowly in, hold it, slowly out.

See.

Be still, breathe, and look around.

Look not just at what is around you at the moment in the physical space, but look around inside yourself and discover all the positive feelings, recognize what makes you smile, listen to the sounds around you.

You can be grateful for being able see, feel, and hear. Already 3 things, right there. You may see a mess that needs to be cleaned up. You may feel aches and pains. You may hear a generator instead of silence. But you can be grateful to have those sensations, those abilities — not everyone does.

As Thanksgiving comes rushing toward us this week, I hope you can find a minute each day to pause and either write down or say out loud, at least 5 things you are grateful or thankful for.

This morning I’m grateful for technology (to do my work), the sunrise (to light up the room), fresh coffee (need I say more), writing projects (to pay the bills), and fleece (to keep the chill away).

What are at least 5 things you are grateful for right now?

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with manufacturing, software, and technology businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Grammar-ease: Using ‘Because’ in Place of Wordy Phrases

It’s funny how editing commonalities come in spurts. In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a lot of wordy phrases that can be shortened to “because.”

Do you ever use “due to the fact that”? Or maybe “owing to the fact that”?

How about “the reason is because” or “the reason is that”?

That type of wording is great when you’re working on NaNoWriMo and every word counts as you strive to hit 50,000 words by November 30, but in everyday writing, brevity goes a long way to clear communication.

Because

Which of each pair is cleaner:

  • School is cancelled due to the fact that a blizzard is forecasted.
  • School is cancelled because of the blizzard.
  • I like you because you are kind to animals.
  • The reason I like  you is because of your kindness to animals.
  • She failed the test because she didn’t study.
  • The reason she failed the test is that she didn’t study.
  • He isn’t a first-string player owing to the fact that he seldom practices.
  • He isn’t a first-string player because he seldom practices.
  • The reason several homes burnt down is that a gas line exploded.
  • Several homes burnt down because a gas line exploded.
  • I’m happy due to the fact that I met you.
  • I’m happy because I met you.
  • We came in over budget owing to the fact that we spent more than we had.
  • We came in over budget because we spend more than we had.
  • She was overtired due to the fact that she stayed up all night.
  • She was overtired because she stayed up all night.

The shorter sentences are easier to read, aren’t they?

What other wordy phrases can you think of that can be shortened to 1 or 2 words?

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with manufacturing, software, and technology businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

I Know Mystery Writers Are Regular People, too, but this still happens

Today is the day after my favorite 3-day conference for mystery writers, New England Crime Bake. It’s the day after I reconnected with far-away friends, and made new friends.

Like past years, and attending any writing workshops or conferences, my brain is bursting with new tips, tricks, and inspiration for getting words onto the page.

But my big takeaway is thoughts of the people and conversations.

So many of my friends are now published authors. On Friday night, we got to celebrate the ‘debut’ mystery novelists. It’s such a thrill and honor to be able to congratulate others on their accomplishments. (If they can do it, so can I, right?)

The celebration was called “Death, Desserts, and Debutants.” The only thing that died was our will power to resist chocolate – the desserts buffet was simply decadent.

I ended up at a table with a debut mystery novelist I hadn’t met before. She was a so funny. I recognized her name and thought she was a panelist or presenter. She wasn’t. I knew I’d never met her before, but there was something so familiar that I had to keep staring at her and talking to her. I couldn’t write it off as simply recognizing her name from the attendees roster.

And then it happened. She mentioned the name of her book. Idyll Threats. And I swear I became a teenager barely able to contain a Squee of excitement. Yes! Of course! Stephanie Gayle! I became all “OMG,” and “Stephanie, I loved your book,” and “Stephanie, when’s the next one coming out?” Such a star-struck fan. I laughed at my behavior, but couldn’t help myself.

My fan status started a few months back when Stephanie’s publicist contacted me about Stephanie and her novel. I ended up interviewing Stephanie and reviewing her novel on my blog, and then even interviewed her for a couple of hours at The Writer’s Chatroom one Sunday evening. I loved the book, loved the fresh writing, the protagonist, all of it. It was a treat to get to know more about the author behind the story.

On Friday night, it took a while for all the pieces to click into place. But then, there I was, with the author, and, wow, like everyone else I’ve met at this conference, she was a normal person. She even has a full-time day job and has to find/make time to write. (She’s 3rd from the left in the 2nd row in the pic).

DebutMysteryNovelists

2015 Debut Mystery Novelists at New England Crime Bake

Several ‘big names’ always attend the conference (this year’s guest of honor was Elizabeth George, others include Craig Johnson, Joe Finder, Lee Child, Charlaine Harris) and guess what? They are people too!

I love being part of the community of mystery writers. And I love this particular conference for the wonderful conversations and long-lasting friendships that develop.

Two of my fellow NHWN bloggers, Diane, and Julie (aka Julianne Holmes, debut mystery novelist – 3rd from left in last row in pic) were there, too, celebrating and meeting their fave authors, getting star-struck, and striking up conversations with new friends.

What author(s) turn you into a (giggly) star-struck fan?

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with manufacturing, software, and technology businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Grammar-ease: Using ‘than’ and ‘then’

I’ve done quite a few double-takes in reading the past few months over two words that sound similar, look similar, yet have quite different meanings: than and then.

Than is used for comparisons; then is used for sequences in time.

https://prnbloggers.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/then-vs-than.jpg

Image credit: prnbloggers

For example, which term is correct in each of the following?

  • I have a lot less office space than/then you.
  • She was much skinnier back than/then.
  • You reacted a lot more rationally than/then I would have.
  • Pumpkins tend to be bigger than/then plums.
  • Summer is later than/then spring.

(Answers: than, then, than, than, then)

Than is a comparison word.

  • I would rather get outside than watch TV.
  • Her reports are filled with more errors than mine.
  • He prefers fresh flowers from his garden more than fancy arrangements from a florist.
  • How about jogging rather than walking today?
  • Twenty is much less than a thousand.
  • Dogs need a lot more attention than cats.

Then refers to sequences in time. It tells when something happened.

  • He rinsed the dishes, then dried them, and then put them away.
  • Finish studying for your test, then you can go out to play.
  • I booked my flight, then checked my calendar and found a conflict.
  • Her son ran into the house with muddy shoes, then looked back and saw the mess.
  • Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, and then they live happily ever after.
  • Until then, stay where you are.

A couple of tricks that may help:

  • Remember the phrase “rather than,” as it emphasizes that ‘than’ is used to compare one thing to another. Or the phrase “and then and then and then” (which is a familiar way for kids to tell a story), and it can trigger ‘sequence’.
  • “Then” relates to “time” (both words have an ‘e’). “Than” is a “comparison” (both words have an ‘a’).

Was this helpful? Search for these terms in your work-in-progress and see if you find any issues.

What other grammar topics would you like help with? Let me know in the comments.

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with manufacturing, software, and technology businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Scheduling Time for Yourself While Freelancing

Today is Columbus Day in the U.S.; it’s one of those holidays that some people have off and some people don’t.

Many of my friends have it off. I told them I didn’t. Each of them said, “But you work for yourself, you can take it off if you want to.”

And each of them is correct. I could take it off if I wanted to, but I don’t. I actually find working holidays to be quite productive — since they generally tend to be very quiet (fewer phone calls and e-mails). But that’s me and the personal choice I make as the owner of my own business.

Here’s how I plan my time off. Maybe it will give you some ideas.

2016_calendarFirst, I find a 12-month calendar, such as the one here on the right, that I can print out, make a couple copies of, and mark up.

I start by drawing a line through the dates I will be on vacation. You may prefer to put a big “X” in each box, or highlight the dates in a certain color.

Next, I go through and mark off the holidays (and personal days) I intend to take — those where I will *not* be in the office and *not* doing any work.

Then I decide which conferences, workshops, seminars, and so on I’d like to attend (as far out as I can) and also mark those dates.

I quickly have a visual that shows me the days left that I will be working. Maybe I’ll have to rethink some plans – for instance, it’s crazy how fast my November fills up. I’m never able to do all I want in that month.

This is where a fresh copy of a 12-month calendar comes in; the reassessment phase. It’s where I determine which days off are most important and which activities may fall by the wayside. I mark up the fresh copy with the re-evaluated dates.

Now, you may not know all the dates you want to take off, but holidays, vacations, personal growth, and personal days are great dates to start with. Knowing what dates you don’t want to work helps you schedule your time on the days you do work.

This is a high-level look at the year ahead, but can be a great place to start before figuring out how you will meet your budgeted income and expenses for the year.

Do you schedule your time off in advance, or go week to week and decide based on your workload?

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with manufacturing, software, and technology businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Pay What It’s Worth (PWIW) Pricing for Writing Resources

There are so many writing-related resources available through various avenues (websites, Amazon, brick & mortar stores, giveaways, and so on), and sometimes we can find “the perfect” book, audio, checklist, what-have-you, but realize it’s a bit out of our reach financially.

The Renegade Writer is a resource for freelance writers, and its owners, Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell recently conducted an experiment with their audience that allowed people to name their own price(s) on books and other writing-related resources the authors offer. They considered it a successful experiment and are now keeping the PWIW (pay what it’s worth) pricing for everyone.

They encouraged people to share the news, and so, here I am, as I feel you may find something helpful if you are considering freelancing. I’m not being compensated in any way, simply sharing something that may be of value.

13ways_ebook_cover-188x300-188x300PWIW is pay what it’s worth to you, the minimum being $1, the maximum being whatever you like. Check out the resources at The Renegade Writer Store and decide for yourself if any of the books or other products are of interest and value to you.

Ebooks include:

  • Become-a-Confident-Freelance-Writer-COVER_188x300-188x300Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race…And Step Into a Career You Love, includes exclusive free downloads, too (originally $9.99)
  • The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success, second edition (originally $9.99) –[I have the first edition and found it inspiring]
  • Become a Confident Freelance Writer (originally $4.95)
  • Write for Magazines E-Course book (originally $29)
  • and more!

A new item in the store is a meditation called “Positive Thinking for Writers – Meditation Podcast” (originally $19.99) — with soothing music and sounds from nature, it could be something your muse enjoys.

If you find any of the resources useful, please let us know!

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with manufacturing, software, and technology businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.