Forget about writing that 1,000 word essay, the overdue blog post loaded with SEO, the catchy email, that letter ... or book.
It's too much.
Focus on one sentence at a time. It's how all writing is done: word by word, sentence by sentence.
To help you get started, I've put together a new ebook, One Sentence at a Time, with some of the tips and tricks that have helped me with my writing.
And it's yours. Download the ebook and change the way you approach writing.
You've got something to say, and people are waiting for you to share your stories, your expertise, and insights.
If you have a minute, let me know what you think of the book. And if you do some writing, I'd love to read what you have to say.
Flipping the switch was flipping me out. Last week's storm left us without power.
It was Thursday morning and I was up early. Not because the alarm went off. No, it was the rain lashing against the bedroom window that woke me.
Fifteen minutes later the power went out.
It was a blackout: no power, no lights, no heat, no opening the refrigerator, and no computer.
A day and a half later (37 hours, but really, who's counting) we still didn't have power.
But I was still flipping switches.
It wasn't that I was hoping the power was back, it was utterly clear that it wasn't. It was habit. An especially bad habit in light of things. At least a dozen times I flipped a wall switch.
And each time it was the same thing. Nothing.
It was worse than nothing. I was ready to scream. Well, I did scream. It was so frustrating.
Flipping the switch was flipping me out.
So I put my headlamp on.
The headlamp gave me what I needed: a beam of light.
I stopped flipping switches.
The point is to see it fresh.
Sometimes a fresh approach to a nagging problem can help you move forward. If you've been struggling with your marketing, a book, or your website, maybe I can help:
• blog posts
• email marketing
Call 207-252-9757 or write today for a free consultation and a fresh start.
It was the third round of editing on a piece I was writing about the autumn harvest. It was all about kale, collards, squash, and Brussels sprouts. The problem was, I had it all wrong.
Instead of Brussels sprouts, I was writing brussel sprouts. No capital B at the beginning, no s on the end of Brussels.
I'd cooked and eaten lots of Brussels sprouts, but clearly I'd never written about them.
Lesson #1: Proper names have proper spellings.
When a red line appeared below the misspelled "brussel," I was surprised. So I checked the dictionary.
I found the correct spelling: A capital B? A bit more digging revealed the name comes from the city of Brussels, in Belgium.
Unless you're certain about the correct spelling of a product, a city, a town, someone's name, title, or product, look it up.
That was last year. This year, I have another editing tip courtesy of the Brussels sprout.
Last week I was watching a cooking show when the chef introduced a new segment by saying, "Today we're making Brussels sprouts."
Lesson #2: Ask yourself, "Is that what's really going on?"
Of course the chef wouldn't be "making" Brussels sprouts, as in constructing or creating them. He would be cooking them. Or, maybe he'd be roasting them.
In the context of the show, it didn't matter much. It was a live taping and viewers could watch and listen.
But his word choice caught my ear. I've been writing a lot and that means I'm rewriting and editing a lot.
I wanted to edit the script, to rewind the tape and have the chef say, "Today we're roasting Brussels sprouts."
Roasting is a more descriptive word. Making is vague and in this example, inaccurate.
Every word has a purpose.
Lesson #3: Just because you're familiar with something doesn't mean you know all you need to know.
It turns out eating Brussels sprouts didn't make me an expert. From misspellings to context and relevance, it's important to know what you're writing about. Do some research. Dig around. What you find may not only surprise you, it could add a new dimension to your project.
Get Your Cabbage On
Are you a fan? Brussels sprouts with a capital B offer a boost of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. And they're good for gut health, too.
The only question is, how will you cook them?
Feeling the heat?
If you don't like to write, are feeling overwhelmed, or just need a fresh set of eyes to read through what you written, let me know. I can help with:
Notes on illustrations:
The title illustration with the Brussels sprouts images was created for this post. The letter is hand-drawn using Ledge, a lettering style I developed for my Riddle Me Mail project. If you're interested, here's a how-to lettering guide for Ledge.
The autumn collage was also created for Riddle Me Mail. You can learn more about my collage process here.
Call 207-252-9757 or write today for a free consultation.
Love It or Hate It
Whether or not you like to write, it seems most of us have to do some sort of writing at some point.
Email is ever-present, websites are all about content, content, content, and blogs can challenge the best of us.
When I'm struggling to begin a new writing project, big or small, I remind myself that getting something down on paper is a good first step. It can be an outline, a summary, or a list. Something, anything to get me started.
When Things Get Fuzzy
After two, three, or four rounds of writing, editing, and rewriting, things can get fuzzy. Overwhelm sets in and I'm burdened by the order of things. I worry about what it is I'm trying say, how much to say, and how to say it.
That's when I revisit one of these books:
• Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
• Writing Well, William Zinsser
• Words Fail Me, Patricia T. O'Conner
Revisiting them reminds me what it takes to write well.
• In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott, reminds me that I just need to start. Forget about word choice and form. Just write.
• On Writing Well by William Zinsser reminds me that good writing is all about rewriting and clearing the clutter.
• Words Fail Me is funny. Patricia T. O'Conner reminds me that each sentence has a job to do, that clarity is paramount, and it's OK to lighten up a bit.
I've read each one of these books cover to cover, many times. But it's hard to remember it all. When my writing gets the best of me, I grab one, read a chapter or two, take a deep breath, and get back to writing.
Writing Is Hard
If you don't like to write, are feeling overwhelmed, or just need a fresh set of eyes to read through what you've written, I can help:
• content development
If I can help, call 207-252-9757 or write today for a free consultation.
And stay tuned. I've got a new book in the works. Here's a hint:
Writing a book is no easy feat. It's an ambitious task and it takes time, a lot of time. There's the writing, rewriting, editing, and proofing. And when the writing is done, there's the design and layout. What do you want your book to look like?
The design and layout of your book can be as important as what you've written.
Why's that? If it's hard to read or lacks a professional look and feel, you'll lose your readers before they get to the first chapter.
Let me help.
Together, we'll make your book read well and look good. From creative page designs to illustrations, photos, pullouts, and sidebars, we'll make your book a real page turner.
• illustrated biographies
• reference books
• corporate histories
Get the 5 Compelling Reasons to Write That Book
Call, text (207.252.9757), or write today, for a free consultation to see how I can help make you look good in print.
Letters from Camp
It happens every summer. One publication or another runs an article about camp letters. Missives from home-sick, bug-swatting campers who have been cut-off from smart phones and social media.
Most include funny stories about how good or bad the food is, how infrequently someone may or may not be brushing their teeth, or how often they're changing their underwear. But a lot of them begin or end with some commentary about how kids these days don't know the basics of writing a letter, let alone how to address an envelope.
I write a lot of letters and have been for a long time. I know how to address an envelope, where to put my return address, and where to put the stamp. I thought most everyone else did, too.
Not so much.
I'm sure it's a problem that extends beyond campers stationed in remote woodlands, reduced to pen and paper, so I created an infographic to address the issue. The Elements of a Letter offers a rundown of the basics: gathering supplies, writing a letter, addressing an envelope, and where to put the stamp.
If you're interested in reading more about writing letters, visit, Postmark1206, where all things letter writing can be found. Letter writing, it turns out is good for campers, their parents, and rest of us, too.