Writers and Their Creative Outlets

Let Your Creativity SoarAs writers, we’re creative. Our muses love words and help us get stories onto a page.

If your muse is like mine, it enjoys exploring other creative outlets. There’s something about doing a different type of creative activity that can enhance creative energy. Being creative in more than one area of our lives can enable us to use creative energy throughout our day.

I feel that my writing improves when I do something that requires the right side of my brain. Some creative ventures lead to new story ideas, others help with a work in progress.

I find it’s all about being in the moment of creating something that enables the muse to jump up and down with excitement and churn the creative pot.

Here are some other-than-writing creative outlets I have tried:

  • Pottery – I have to mention this first because it’s the one thing I can think back on and still laugh about. I was not at all graceful like Demi Moore’s character in “Ghost”. Not even close. No matter how much I focused or how much water I used, or how much I begged the clay to ‘work with me’, I had nothing to show after my 6-week class. The hand print in plaster from kindergarten remains my best work in that area!
  • Soduko puzzles – addicted to these for years and I love the challenge of them. I can be stumped on an Easy puzzle and breeze through a Challenging one at times. It’s all how the creative connections are made at any particular time.
  • Musical instruments – I used to play the piano and guitar. I’m grateful for the lessons, the years of playing, and the challenges that came along with matching notes on a page to activities the hands and fingers were doing with how it sounded. (My fave music to play was jazz and blues.)
  • Photography and drawing – B&W film photography and pencil drawing gave me a lot of time with my muse. As I focused on turning what I saw with my eyes into a picture on photo paper or drawing paper had me doing a lot of introspective thinking about writing — what I think I write isn’t always what ends up on the page.

What creative outlets do you enjoy to keep your creative energy moving and flowing?

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.

What Do You Do with Old Journals?

I’m in serious cleaning mode, as I need to pack up and move to an as yet undetermined location. (Place I’m renting is being sold, and I’m not interested in buying it.)

ANYway, as I decide, yet again, how to downsize, I’m coming across boxes I haven’t opened in more than 5 years.

I bet you aren’t surprised, since you know I’m a writer, that I have, um, a few journals. And these, um, few journals fill, well, a few boxes. I have books all the way back to my teen years (which really is only a few years ago), when I called them diaries.

Anyway, along with my TBR (to-be-read) pile of books that I am giving away because I don’t want to move crates and crates of books, yet again, I’m trying to decide how to treat all these journals.

Used JournalsAm I ever going to read through them? Doubtful.

With no children, nieces, or nephews, I don’t have anyone to pass them down to (if anyone would have been interested anyway).

I doubt I’d keep them if I move into a retirement community or assisted living facility – if either of those milestones comes upon me.

So, I’m seriously asking – if you were me, what would you do with all these journals?

  • (A) Keep ’em a little while longer? (suck it up and move the several boxes)
  • (B) Recycle them? (it’s not like anyone could identify me if they were read)
  • (C) Have a big bonfire and make s’mores over them? (will need referrals to fire pits!)
  • (D) _______________

Thank you in advance for your suggestions!

I wish you a happy Monday and an exceptionally productive week.

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: Passed vs Past and Other Confusing Words

In my editing endeavors recently I’ve encountered a lot of words that spellcheck doesn’t always catch and so it prompted me to share a few of them with you.

Passed (verb) vs Past (preposition or adverb)

  • The time has passed for you to submit the rebuttal.
  • That event happened in the past.
  • I passed by the door on the way to the bathroom.
  • I walked past the door.

Confusing WordsTwo vs Too

  • Two is a number (2) — I have two cycling friends.
  • Too means ‘also’ — I have to invite my cycling friends to the event, too.

Four vs For

  • Four is a number (4) — She has four brothers.
  • For is a preposition (or conjunction) — She needs her brothers for protection.

Peace (noun; uncountable) vs Piece (noun; countable)

  • The peace between the cats and dogs lasted until the treats were devoured.
  • Mom won’t get a moment’s peace until Dad gets home and can watch the baby.
  • Meditation helps reach a peace of mind.
  • She used four pieces of paper.
  • The musicians separated the sheet music into separate pieces.
  • Can you give me a piece of advice, please?

Of course there is their/there, too, and so many others. I’m sure you come across many in your daily reading. Share a few that you see too often or that have stuck with you, in the comments.

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.

What Do Your (Writing) Clients Really Want?

Do you know what your (writing) clients want? What they really really want?

Does your client prefer a high five?

Does your client prefer a high five?

If you know the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe”, sing along with me for a moment:

“Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want
So tell me what you want, what you really, really want
I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want
So tell me what you want, what you really, really want”

Okay, smile break over; back to the business of running your business!

What is it that clients really want?

Or maybe she prefers the fist bump.

Or maybe she prefers the fist bump.

Think about what you want when you seek out a new service provider – auto repair, home repair, hair stylist, etc.

Like your client, you want competence. You want to know your money will be well spent on someone who can provide what you are looking for. In some cases you may even want to pay extra for someone you know will deliver above and beyond what you need, right? It’s no surprise that your client expects the same, then, right?

Also like your client, you want the business service to be convenient. Whether it’s a service done all online, or if you have to drive to a brick and mortar location, the business service needs to be convenient to your needs. Again, if this seems reasonable when you are seeking a service, it’s true for your client.

If you (or your client) finds the above two qualifications, the next most relevant one is confidence from the service provider. I mention this because finding someone convenient to work with and competent in what they can do are important, but when the time comes to deal with the person face to face (or on the phone or through a video chat of some sort), if you’re unable to feel comfortable speaking with them, it probably won’t be a successful partnership.

I’m not talking about someone being shy, it’s more about the person being uncertain that he can deliver what you are asking – if they are unable to answer questions they should know the answers to. If you say, “How about this?” and his reply is, “Hunh?” That isn’t a confidence booster. When seeking a service, you know the basics of what you want, but you aren’t the ‘pro’ – which is why you are seeking someone – you don’t know what you don’t know, right?

When a client comes to you, he may know he needs writing services, but isn’t quite sure exactly what he needs. This is where you confidently explain your writing process and the options available to him. When he asks “What about this?”, you say “Well, it’s X, Y, or Z.”

Be confident in your offerings and always be honest with the client. Think about how you want to be treated when you are shopping for a service provider, and know the person asking you questions is seeking the same.

What other aspects are important to you (or your clients) when you are seeking a business service provider?

(The images are meant to be cute examples to reflect how we all want something different.)

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.

Historical Tidbits for Memorial Day

It is Memorial Day in the U.S. today. A day where we focus on remembering the men and women who have given their lives in military service protecting our freedoms.

Some of the history includes:

On May 1, 1865 in Charleston, SC, to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp (Race Course prison camp which later became Hampton Park), former slaves dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom.

They then held a parade of 10,000 people led by 2,800 black children where they marched, sang, and celebrated.

MemorialDay1865

Link to the photo and some more information

Here’s an interesting article by Brian Hicks in The Post and Courier for more information on the stories behind the first Memorial Day.

And a link to Snopes for good measure.

If you have today off, I hope you take a moment to pause and remember those who fought for our freedoms.

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.

So You Want to Write for Pay, but You Haven’t Been Paid for Writing Yet

When you first start out seeking to get paid for your writing you enter the Catch-22 of needing to prove you can write for pay in order to write for pay.

What do you do when you’re starting out, haven’t written for publication in years, or are switching industries and don’t have any relevant or current clips?

The answer is simple: Use whatever you have.

LaptopWhen I first started out, all I had was book reviews. So I used them to get a gig with a local paper that involved interviewing local business owners and writing about them.

Some advice is to never use clips from content mills. I say if that’s all you have, use ’em. Especially if they are related to the type of article you are pitching or the type of writing job you are applying for. At one point I was writing for a mill (it no longer exists) on  various topics relevant to small business owners. I used those clips when I pitched to editors on similar topics. (This mill had editors and strict guidelines on key words, length of each paragraph, etc. – a lot of mills let anyone write and publish without doing much in the way of gatekeeping, as they are more about producing content than producing quality content.)

If you have a blog, your posts can be considered ‘clips’ – you can use those.

If you have clips from years ago, use those if they are what you have. You may want to explain to the editor (when you submit) why the clips are old, but generally if you used to write to a deadline for publication, you probably still have that skill, so the dates won’t be an issue.

How about writing an article as a sample/example? This may work, as it can demonstrate your writing ability, but editors and publishers want to see your published writing so they can see you know how to write to a deadline, for publication, and/or within a certain word count.

Sending your clips

With the high rate of viruses and malware, I don’t know many people any more who are fond of attachments. So I recommend *not* sending clips as attachments, or hyperlinks. When I send off queries, I mention titles of articles/clips and include the full website link (if applicable and available – and it’s short enough), and offer to send clips in whatever format they prefer (Word or PDF generally).

When you start to publish, keep track of the links to your articles (if they are online). Start a spreadsheet or document so you can easily find what you need. But before sending a link off with an query letter, confirm it still works. Links can disappear or become unusable quickly. Make sure to avoid having the editor find “Page not found”.

If you’re interested in writing for publication, most likely you have some type of writing you can use as a ‘clip’ when you submit a query. I’m confident you’ll be able to land a paid writing gig with the right determination and approach.

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.

Remember to Breathe

Sometimes we get so caught up in things — good and bad — that we forget to enjoy what we’re doing.

Remember to breathe.

If deadlines start to overwhelm or you wonder how you’ll get it all done, remember to breathe.

If you find yourself caught up in a whirlwind of excitement, or despair, remember to pause, and take a breath.

Our minds can keep us so occupied that we forget that we need to take care of ourselves in order to take care of others.

Note to Self-Remember to Breathe

I’ve even found myself getting overwhelmed in my sleep sometimes – by dreams or thoughts or who knows – and I wake up clenching my jaw so tight that my teeth ache. With moments like that, it’s important to breathe.

And breathing can be literally deep breaths, focusing on each inhale and exhale.

Taking a breath could mean physically stepping away from a person, place, or situation.

A breath could mean putting your phone on silent and taking a nap.

This post is just meant as a reminder that self-care is important, and if/when you realize that you’re wound up, caught up, tied up, or buried under it all… stop… and remember to breathe.

Once you gather yourself again, move back into the fray as gently as possible, and smile. You made it. You’re fine.

Of course you may have the personality that enjoys pushing yourself and being “full out” all the time. Even then, I think there are times when you just need to hit the pause button and shake off the strings to enjoy a little “you time”.

Sometimes you may need the reminder for when you walk in a room and forget what you were heading there for!

Remember to breathe.

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.