Try Something New and Take a New Step Forward

try-something-newIt still amazes me how often I hear people not only say they are afraid to try new things, but they actually avoid trying new things.

If you’re a business owner (or want to be someday), there are so many things you don’t yet know about that you’ll have to learn. If you don’t want to learn anything new, being a writer and/own business owner probably aren’t paths you want to consider.

We’re all born with a blank slate. Every thing has a first time. Why weren’t we afraid from the very start to learn to communicate, eat, move until we knew how to walk? Because we didn’t know any better.

Each writer has different strengths and interests and we come about them in various ways.None of us woke up one day as successful writers. We had to learn how to:

  • print / write
  • spell
  • read
  • craft sentences/paragraphs/stories
  • learn writing rules
  • understand grammar
  • come up with ideas
  • type
  • outline
  • research – through the Internet or, old school at a library
  • use a printer or scanner
  • learn to upload and download
  • use e-mail
  • and so on

Our businesses didn’t create themselves out of thin air – there are numerous tasks we need to figure out how to do when we’re a business owner.

Every little bit and piece of our writing business started with learning something new.  All things are brand new to us — at first.

Deciding to be a writer is scary in itself, isn’t it?

Pursuing writing as a career has its own anxiety, too. 

And there will always be something that makes us sweat – even a little – when it first comes to mind.

Where does the fear come from? Why do we get afraid of a project that’s a bit over our heads?

I’ve been there many times, and expect to be there many more. Being a little afraid is how I know I’m continuing to learn, improve, and build upon my current writing (and business) skills.

If you have the basic skills for a project, you shouldn’t be afraid to use them as a foundation for new work. If there’s a certain type of writing you are passionate about pursuing, go after it however you can – online classes, workshops, webinars, writing groups….

We all start with a clean/blank slate. It’s up to us, individually, to fill the slate with the skills and experiences we want and need.

Being nervous is a good thing – it means we’re aware and open to possibilities. It means we desire to push ourselves further.

If you don’t feel a little scared, you aren’t stretching yourself.

I encourage you to embrace the fear and push out of your comfort zone.

When was the last time you did something for the first time? I bet you learned a lot from the experiences – good, bad, or otherwise.

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with 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: Those Words That Are Spelled the Same, Sound the Same…

It’s been a while since I’ve done a grammar post. As I’ve been writing lately, my fingers have been coming up with their own spellings of words that pass spellcheck but aren’t correct. And, voila, today’s post was born!

What are the words called that are spelled the same but sound different?

How about the words that sound the same but are spelled different? What are they called?

And then, what about those words that are spelled the same and sound the same? What are those called?

Here’s the cheat / check list:

 

homophone_homograph_homonym

Homophones are words that sound the same when pronounced and are spelled differently. (think ‘phone’ = ‘sound’) Examples:

  • adds / ads
  • air / heir
  • ate / eight
  • bare /bear
  • bread / bred
  • days / daze
  • dear / deer
  • dew / do
  • doe / dough
  • feat / feet
  • fore / for / four
  • hire / higher
  • lead / led
  • loan / lone
  • meat / meet
  • pair / pare / pear
  • sail / sale
  • sew / so
  • there / their / they’re
  • wear / where

Homographs are words that are spelled the same and they can sound the same, but don’t have to. (think ‘graph’ = spelling) Examples:

  • bear (animal) / bear (carry something)
  • bow (bend forward) / bow (of a ship)
  • fair (reasonable) / fair (in appearance)
  • lead (bullet) / lead (be in front)
  • lean (thin) / lean (rest against)
  • plain (ordinary) / plain (flat country)
  • porter (beer) / porter (person)
  • punch (drink) / punch (in the face)
  • tear (apart) / (cry a ) tear
  • train (teach) / train (transportation)

Homonyms are words that are spelled the same and/or sound the same – they are a combination of homophones and homographs. (think ‘onym’ = name). Examples:

  • lead / led
  • mean (nasty) / mean (math term)
  • muscle / mussel
  • pen (to write with) / pen (to cage animals)
  • pour / pore

***Tip — all homonyms are homophones because they sound the same

Does this help clarify the terms and differences?

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with 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.

Can We (as writers) Have Too Many Journals or Notepads?

Small sampling of my journals and notebooks

Small sampling of my journals and notebooks

I enjoyed all the responses to my post last week about personal libraries and how many books we have, don’t have, need to get rid of, and so on.

On a similar track… I’ve always enjoyed journaling and my mom and friends know that, so I’m always receiving beautiful journal books for special occasions.

I can use journals for:

  • Personal thoughts
  • Notes about individual novels I plan to write (someday)
  • Short stories that need to spurt onto a page
  • Travelogues
  • Trip planning
  • Story idea collecting
  • 5-year journal for brief snippets of my day
  • Morning pages
  • Poetry
  • Personal growth (some journals come with daily exercises)
  • Wines I’ve tried
  • Books I want, are recommended, have read, have reviewed…

I also have a collection of various types of notebooks and note pads and use those for writing workshops, writing group exercises, conferences, and so on. It’s difficult to pass up back-to-school specials on some spiral bound notebooks or pads of paper – so I have a lot!

Do you find different uses for different types of journal books, notebooks, and note pads? Do you have a favorite type of journal or notebook that you use most often?

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with 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.

How Do You Manage Your Personal Library?

too-many-books-too-little-time-to-readNo matter how many times I downsize my library, it still seems I have an abundance of books to read.

Not that I mind at all, of course, but space is an issue.

I spent a good chunk of Sunday sorting through all my books, yet again, because I really needed to finish unpacking (moved at the end of Aug and still had boxes upon boxes).

There were boxes of books in my new placet and also in a large outdoor storage unit that I’ve downsized to a small indoor one. It’s crazy.

If I still had my home, my library would be at least 2 of the 3 bedrooms, with piles of books in every other room, too. As it is now, I share space with a roommate, so have very limited shelf space.

In sorting, I discovered a few categories of books:

  • To read and review
  • To read for pure pleasure
  • To read for personal development
  • To keep for reference / research
  • To keep because they are signed
  • To keep because I’m mentioned in the acknowledgements as editor
  • To keep because I want to read them again “some day”

I think it’s too many categories and still too many books, but I feel I’ve trimmed my personal library down to the minimum. Many books need to remain boxed and put away – but at least I know what’s in each box now!

I have my car’s trunk full (literally) of books to donate. As long as I know someone might read them, I don’t feel too bad, but, still, it’s difficult to part with books that have been on my shelves and TBR (to be read) pile for years. Do you have this problem too?

I used to keep an inventory of titles I had in an Excel sheet, but that got overwhelming. I’m on Shelfari and Goodreads, and even with those easy ways to track my ‘library’ it’s still overwhelming.

If you have limited space, how do you manage your personal library? Have you moved to an e-reader to reduce paper books? Do you have books packed away? Do you keep an inventory? 

I’m curious to know how you manage your personal library. Please share.

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with 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.

It’s Thanksgiving Week – What Are You Grateful For?

This Thursday is Thanksgiving in the U.S. and many people have the day off (and some even have Friday off for a 4-day weekend).

For the most part I’ll have the 4-day weekend to do what I want, including working on my NaNo novel (National Novel Writing Month). I’m a lot behind on the word count, but I’m determined to hit that 50,000 word goal by midnight on Nov 30th. Very grateful for the quiet time!

I enjoy this time of year, in particular, to take more time to pause, reflect on the year-to-date, and to give thanks.

  • I’m thankful for my family, friends, roommate, and exceptional business associates.
  • I’m grateful for my accountability system that includes tools, of course, but most importantly weekly, monthly, and annual checkins with fellow writers.
  • I’m thankful for new writing opportunities.
  • I’m grateful for variety in many things – music, friends, work, projects, exercise routines, places to work, adventures to try, and places to visit.
  • I’m thankful for my new place – its convenience to everything important to me, its newness, layout, accessories, and size.
  • I’m grateful for technology that enables me to work from anywhere at any time.
  • I’m thankful for this blog – my co-bloggers and you readers – I’m always learning something new!

If you’re traveling this holiday – I wish you the safest and smoothest travels and hope you make great family memories.

If people are coming to your home, I wish you many hands to make meal prep easy and that you can find a few minutes to take a breath and appreciate those gathered around you.

(I’m also thankful for fleece socks, flannel sheets, new journals to write in, and new books to read.)

What are you grateful or thankful for as we approach the end of 2016?

Special note: Over the next few days, we’ll be moving nhwn.wordpress.com to nhwriters.org. If you have trouble reaching us, please be patient as the new domain name resolves. Thanks for your patience! The NHWN Team.

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with 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.

Building Confidence As a… Writer (9)

Sorry for the lean week of posts last week, readers! We’ll be better this week.

beinghappyI’m going to call this series a wrap after today. The past 8 weeks have talked about building confidence as a writer, with posts covering: early morning feel good, daily writing, eating for energy, act-as-if, focus on others, plan to avoid panic, appreciate your differences, and list accomplishments at the end of the day.

Most of these tips can be used for any aspect of your daily life, not just a writing-focused one.

Today’s tip is to soak up the good mojo by hanging around positive, happy people. I refer to it as ‘finding your tribe.’

These people can be:

  • Other writers
  • Small business owners
  • Readers (of your type of writing)
  • Locals (neighbors, people you meet at the local cafe, and so on)
  • Those you connect with through networking
  • Members of any organizations you belong to (writing & non-writing)
  • Social media connections
  • Fellow gym members, walking friends, hiking buddies, and so on
  • Clients
  • Fellow hobbyists (areas other than writing)

In New Hampshire, an organization that I find quite full of happy supportive people is Women Inspiring Women. I’ve made several great connections through networking on LinkedIn, particularly the 603 Networking Group (almost 6,000 people to connect with in the state). I also have friends with great inspirational posts all the time – Charlene and Steve. And they each have *so many* inspiring connections, that it’s easy to find a smile-along-with-a-kick-in-the-pants when I need one.

In my fiction life, I have fellow mystery author friends and connections through Sisters in Crime New England. And this month, there are fellow writers I’m meeting at NH regional “write ins” for National Novel Writing Month.

You can find your ‘tribe’ just about anywhere – they are the people you are attracted to and who are attracted to you for mutual support, inspiration, and camaraderie. They are people who can lift you up when you need a boost, hold you accountable for goals you’ve set, and be a familiar face in a crowd when you need one.

Having coffee, or lunch, or a drink, or an ice cream with someone from your tribe on a regular basis is great for giving you perspective, pulling you out of the isolation that writing can create, and keeping you looking forward to achieving and doing more with your business.

positiveenergyWe can’t all be positive and happy every minute of every day, but like honey is better at attracting bees than vinegar, keeping a positive and happy mindset goes a long way to moving forward toward your dreams than a negative and upset mindset.

Where have you found your tribe? What type of people do you turn to when you need a positive or encouraging boost?

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with 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.

Building Confidence As a… Writer (8)

Moving along in a series on building confidence as a writer, we’re building on prior weeks of: early morning feel good, daily writing, eating for energy, act-as-if, focus on others, plan to avoid panic, and appreciate your differences.

This week we’re tying back into the first week where the tip was to start your day off doing something that makes you feel good. For me, I go out on my deck and greet the morning / new day giving thanks for new opportunities. Others snuggle with their children, spend time journaling, enjoying coffee and quiet… the options are limitless and unique to each of us.

create-an-end-of-day-feel-good-listToday, a way to help build confidence in your writing (or life, or any particular focus you may have) is at the end of the day, make a list of activities, accomplishments, experiences, and so on that made you feel good during the day.

This can be an actual list, a journal page, notes, a few moments meditating on the positives of your day – it can be whatever form you like, but take a few minutes at the end of your day to think back and realize:

  • you crossed off 1, 2, 3, or more items on your ToDo list
  • you wrote for 5 minutes, 24 minutes, or 45 minutes
  • you managed to edit 3 pages of a story you want to submit
  • you tried a new food and liked it
  • you caught a glimpse of the sun through a tree
  • someone said ‘thank you’ for a job well done
  • you turned a project in early
  • the man down the hall who never smiles, actually smiled
  • you have more than one thing on your end-of-day Feel Good list
  • you found the perfect gift for someone special
  • you laughed
  • you received a hug
  • you received a check
  • your cat/dog/child let you sleep until the alarm clock chimed

It can be just about anything that made you feel good. I felt good about having fleece socks on last night – they were so soft and warm. I also felt great getting 2,234 words written for a work in progress. I felt good about getting this blog post done. I enjoyed last night’s sunset. It felt good to help my neighbor with her grocery shopping.

The list can be as long or as short as you like – try to have a minimum of 3 or 5 items a day and at the end of a month read back through (if you keep a written copy) and I bet you’ll be amazed at all the good / happy / things that made you feel good become more and more related to your writing.

It’s like giving yourself a pat on the back when you focus on the good and take a moment to appreciate all that you’ve done.

What form does your list of end-of-day ‘feel good’ items take?

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with 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.