Showing my Author some Respect.

I am a writer, a Professional Writer. I produce written content for a variety of clients, to be used in a variety of media- blogs, newsletters, websites, articles, social media and so on. I am fortunate to be able to claim a modest income from a skill which I am very good at, doing something I love to do- write. However, during the quiet time in the first week of January, a question formed in my mind- what about me as a writer, as an author? What am I doing about that?

The question then resolved into – how do I show respect to my writer self? More importantly to my creative, Author self. See, I compete in Nanowrimo every year, and have completed, or won, 14 years in a row. A huge accomplishment, and yet I only have one novel published, for sale, and that was back in 2012. What have I done since? Why haven’t I published book ?

I say more importantly, because I see my Professional Writing Self and my Author self as two distinct entities, and I don’t think I have been showing either of them the right amount of respect. But what exactly do I mean by this? Read more »

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2017 – My Year in Review

This time of year we are winding up, finishing work or getting excited for Festivus. It is a chance to look back on the year, see what great things you’ve done, and acknowledge and celebrate them. How do you measure your success for the year? Followers? Dollars? Food in the belly?

My year had differing goals to them. In 2015 I wanted to begin a one-to-many model of delivery, run workshops and educate. This sort of came true for me, as I was appointed as a trainer with Swinburne University of Technology. I was given the chance to teach young people about marketing, communication, social media and the like. What I thought it would be like, and what it actually was like, were not entirely congruent. Read more »

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When you want it bad enough, you will find a way.

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participant-2Isn’t it funny how, if we want something strongly enough, we will make it happen? November is always a fun month for me. No matter what is going on around me in life, this is the month where I participate in the National Novel Writing Month, the crazy event where participants write 50 000 words in 30 days. I am the most productive with my creative writing during this one month, than I am in the rest of the year.

This is my 15th year competing. I have completed this challenge for the past 14 years in a row, and I am a stubborn person, so gosh darn it I am going to do it again. As I write this, I sit close to 30 000 words. The story is going along well. There are conflicts, gun fights, murders to solve, aliens to frame for it. You know, all the usual stuff. Read more »

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Language Warning

photo-1431207446535-a9296cf995b1I love words. They have such power, can impart such meaning upon people. They can illicit hallucinations in your mind, imagining what it is you just read. Words can convince you to buy, to sell, to do things you would not normally do. They can make you happy, and angry, and often it is the same words which will do that to you.

Words are free. It’s how you use them that may cost you.” –Kushand Wizdom

I attended a conference this past week, the 8 Percent Festival, a place for creative entrepreneurs. I may have slightly misunderstood those two words, as I am a creative person, a writer, who is soon to be writing a creative novel. And as a sole trader with many ideas, I figured that got me a guest pass into the entrepreneur spot. However, I think it meant entrepreneurs, who have creative ideas and want to utalise that to make loads of money.

It was a good couple of days, and there was some workshops where we talked about gamification of education, and how I can bring games into the classroom to get my students engaged. But what was one of the best parts of the event, was when I got into a conversation about words.

The person I spoke with was an NLP practitioner, and uses words and voice to influence a person’s thinking and their mindset. I use words in the written form to do the same thing. For example, when you read the title, did you think- I wonder if he is going to use swear words?! How controversial, I must read more! Read more »

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Want to understand SEO and Target Markets? Watch Family Feud

survey-saysTrying to understand keywords, SEO Copywriting and target markets can sometimes be confusing. What words do I use to connect? What do they want to know from me? If someone wants to search for item X, what words do I need to attract them to that item?

A friend of mine, Mischa from Melbourne Fire and Safety  came up with an amazing metaphor for this problem. When it comes to SEO Copywriting, and target words to use for a question, there is no better example than… Family Feud.

Each round they ask one hundred people a question, and the top responses are displayed on the board for the contestant to guess. Top 8 responses from the 100 people asked. Read more »

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Breaking the rules does not mean you suck

This is my 3rd article in my series about how you don’t suck.

shutterstock_120210133_450You will make mistakes. You will have people tell you about your mistakes and tell you how you SHOULD do it better. You can handle that. You know that mistakes happen when you’re starting out, and as long as you haven’t accidentally ended the world, and if you understand that criticism, from the right people, can actually help you grow as a person, then you’ll be fine. Then you might come across omniscient 3rd parties who have set out ground rules, laws, ways things SHOULD BE DONE. And if you can’t do them, you might think- well I’m not good enough.

Wrong.

When I referee junior basketball, I always tell the parents that the only way you really learn the rules of basketball is by breaking them. No, you cannot take three or four steps in a layup. And no, that basket does not count. You learn, so next time down the court, you remember- only two steps. You might stuff the shot up (make a mistake), and some supporters will give you advice (criticism), but you learn the rhythm of the thing, and get better at it. You broke the rule, figured it out, and improved.

Some rules are worth breaking for the sake of learning. Others are worth breaking because, why not. Marketing is a great place to break rules. There is a rule that all tweets need to be 140 characters long. What if, you wrote an epic tweet, greater than 140 characters, but just as you reached 140 characters you had a cliff hanger, which they needed to click a link to finish the sentence and find out stuff? Read more »

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Business and Humanity

photo-1425421669292-0c3da3b8f529_500Being in business means you’re in business. That sounds like both a simple statement to make, and a rather silly statement to make. No kidding, you’re in business to be in business. However, I have discovered recently that doing business with people, especially entrepreneurs, people who own their own business, or are sole traders, has an entirely human aspect to the deal, which does not always mesh well with the idea of ‘business’.

I cannot find the author to whom this quote came from, but it speaks to me right now:

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind. AlwaysRead more »

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Turning up and doing the work

shutterstock_242337691_550Being a writer, a creative, can sometimes be a joyous thing. Inspiration strikes, and words flow from the mind to the page in a dance of poetic wonder. But the other 99% of the time it doesn’t. Just like other professions out there, I have to turn up to work, even if I am not in the mood, having a bad hair day, or don’t really know how to write that day. Yeah, those days happen.

This week, one of my students admitted to me that he was struggling with the first assessment, which was overdue. And with the second looming, he was feeling the pressure. His spoken English is quite good, I have yet to read his written English, so I cannot determine his language skills, of if he is ESL, but that was not the point he was raising with me. He admitted that, because he was struggling, he avoids doing it. And avoiding it means he gets stressed because deadlines are looming, and so it goes. Read more »

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7 reasons you should have a blog for your business

1If you are in business today, wrapped in our hyper-connected world, then you have heard of the term ‘blog’. If you know me, and have read some of my articles, you know that firstly, writing blogs is one of the things I specialise in, and secondly, a blog is not always a blog. It can be a newsletter, an article in a magazine, a chapter in a book. You can read some more here.

One of the most common questions I am asked is- what is my return on investment? If I pay you to write a blog for me, where will I see that money, and then some, returned to me? Sometimes it can be difficult to measure, in black and white, the ROI for having blogs on your website. But let me give you some ideas on how you get a return on your investment for blogging. Read more »

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Taking Criticism

Starting out in business, in a new venture, in a new direction, you’re going to make mistakes. It is inevitable. I talked about mistakes in my last article, and how if you take the lesson from them, and if you can recover from them, and not hold onto them, then mistakes can be very educational to you. But what else happens when you start out? What other ways do you think you suck, when really, you don’t?

shutterstock_98139248_650If you make a mistake, and someone tells you off, and shows you what you did wrong, then you feel awful. Of course you do, someone said mean things and made you feel like crap. Why? Because they’re better than you and want you to know it. This is a crappy thing to think, but it is what goes through you mind. Let it sit there, digest it, and then wisp it away with a wave of the hand. So someone has an ego they want to shove down your throat. Let them. Not all the world is full of these people.

As a writer, I deal with editors a lot. And, as an editor, I have had to be mindful of what I say. However, my writing community is used to cutting commentary, editing which cuts and bleeds. As long as the edits and critique are constructive, as long as if you don’t like something, you say WHY you don’t like something, and as long as it is not personal and is open for rebuttal, harsh criticism is okay.

Unfortunately, outside of my writing community, such harshness is not really done well. People seem clumsy in giving criticism, and some people are unable to accept criticism. And that is okay.

You are not required to do either to be a good person.

Remember that.

However, if you can put aside anything personal from the criticism, and if chocolate or a tub of ice cream helps, then I am all for that, try and dig out the core of what the criticism is all about. If a person full of bluster attacks the logo you designed for them because it is just crap, firstly, that is not real criticism; but secondly, start to think why he might say that or believe that. What is it about that person who might not understand why you did what you did. If you’re working with someone who has loved black and white lettering in 18pt font for 20 years, and you give them something modern, and they hate it, perhaps catering to their needs, with smaller changes, might be more beneficial. Perhaps your vision, what you know to be awesome, is not the same as what THEY seem to think is awesome. And, if they are the client, then you should aim towards what they want.

What is the lesson to learn from all of this? Understand the client, how to work your magic into the boundaries of your client. Understanding who is open to new ideas, and who is not yet ready for the 21st century. It will teach you about PEOPLE, and how some clients work. It will also teach you the signs to recognise these kinds of people, and how to find ways to not work for them. Find the clients you WANT, not the ones you NEED. A business coach once told me that if a client comes along and rings alarm bells, make the price extraordinary. If they still agree, then it is possible the dollar figure may make up for the difficulty. In truth, I don’t think there is enough money in the world to handle 10 edits, of which we had returned to the second draft anyway, and this client just wanted to re-draft and provide feedback and want change, purely because they did not know what they wanted.

And then, if you have someone who has been in business for 20 years, come back to you and tell you why what you provided does not work for them, and they express it in a way which is constructive, you will still feel awful for not making it right the first time, however, you can use this feedback on how to make it right. There are people out there who understand that first draft is just that- a first draft, that you will not hit the mark on the very first go. Work with these people, absorb their feedback, adopt it to your work, and LEARN.

If you never received feedback, if someone never criticised you, then you’ve never ever found boundaries and rules with which to guide you. You need some reality checks, so you don’t begin to believe that you can do anything and people will still love you.

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