"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

All You Need to Know About NANOWRIMO-3R's Series

It's here. That special time of the year. And whether you're a novice at NANOWRIMO or you're a regular participant, I've got the goods to put more GO in your NANOWRIMO!
So grab your favorite brew and check out these resources assembled to shorten your learning curve and help you go the distance.


















To this movie's credit, other than the initial 5-10 minutes of the flick, there's never a dull moment.
The story line involves a group of men who plan a bachelor's party and a fun night out with the guys in Vegas. They end up dealing with some pretty gruesome unexpected things along the way!

Christian Slater plays an impressive role here, as he often does. Cameron Diaz adds a lot to the entertainment value.
The movie is intense, innovative, funny, silly, sick and unpredictable.
I give it 3*** stars out of 5.

Thoughts here, readers?

Please note: Pen & Prosper will be on holiday break until December 3, 2018.

Have a beautiful, bountiful Thanksgiving!  See you soon.


Image credit: Pixabay.com

Friday, November 2, 2018

8 Reasons we Must Keep the Art of Writing Alive!

Douglas Engelbart, the inventor of the computer mouse, once theorized that the digital revolution would be more significant than the invention of writing or even printing. The thought opens the floodgates on a variety of questions, with the most pressing being: Will technology kill the art of writing? The question seems so far-fetched that it’s not even worth considering, but nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, a novel-writing robot has already beaten out humans in the first round of a writing competition, and The Washington Post employs a robotic reporter who has the capacity to pen hundreds of unique articles each year.

Human expression is at stake, but at what cost? The fact of the matter is that, so far, technology has only changed the way we deliver information — the end result, the consumption of knowledge and the pursuit of truth and literary exploration, remains the same regardless of how the information is generated. On the other hand, if humans have no need to create the content themselves, much will be lost. Whether the ballpoint pen soon becomes an item of antiquity is up for debate, but one thing’s for sure: Humanity stands to lose more than just writing instruments in the quest to preserve the written word.


8 Compelling Reasons to Preserve Writing

1. It Preserves Human History
Everything we know, we know because humanity has written it down. It’s hard to imagine, but back in the times of the ancient Egyptians or Greeks, there were no video cameras or tape recorders. Instead, we rely on the works of Sophocles, Plato, Socrates and the ancient Egyptian scribes who wrote in hieroglyphics to help us understand the past. Humans must maintain the written word for the sake of the future in a historical context.

2. It’s Key for Critical Thinking  
Writing is and has arguably been since its inception one of the primary tools in critical thinking and problem solving. Where technology comes up short in the writing department is that it quite literally does the thinking for us. If we allow technology to pen the great works of the future — literary criticism, poetry, screenplays, political commentary and even e-mails to co-workers — where will the human brain make up for the lack of critical thought? Unfortunately, a humanity that doesn’t write is one that doesn’t think.
      3. It’s Good for Humanity 
      We probably don’t have to tell you why putting pen to paper is good for humans, but suffice it to say that poetry, songwriting, playwriting and fiction have long been used as processing devices for the human brain. Sure, we could let a robot do the writing for us — indeed, we inevitably will — but let’s just hope that we have more effective methods of dealing with pain, grief, anxiety and suffering by the time that rolls around!
      4. It’s a Tool for Understanding 
       Few activities are as effective at helping us understand ourselves and others than writing. Psychologists are already theorizing that shorthand communication — namely texting and digital messaging — may be stalling our abilities to communicate face to face, while experts continue to reinforce journaling and writing for working through and identifying complex emotions and resolving conflict. We need writing to help us untangle our feelings and express them effectively.
    5. It Brings Us Endless Pleasure  
    Buried in all the lofty musings about the importance of writing and human history, we often miss one key fact: People like writing. It gives us bursts of joy, excitement, curiosity and pure enjoyment. It’s often used in therapy to help minimize stress, anxiety and worry. Not to mention the delight in consuming the end result. Reading works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and criticism brings the benefit of escapism and pure enjoyment.

    6. It Gives Us an Edge 
    The British philosopher and theorist Bertrand Russell asserted that "speech, fire, agriculture, writing, tools and large-scale cooperation" are the main factors distinguishing humans from animals. The fact that we are able to communicate with one another far beyond physical limitations and basic needs is a distinctly human quality, and one that separates us from the animal kingdom. If we don’t write, and therefore don’t communicate, are we just a pack of wild animals?

    7. It Helps Us Communicate from Afar  
    These days, you can shoot a message to another person just about anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds. To Engelbart’s point, digital advancements in this sense don’t override writing — they instead bolster it. But the simplicity of these new technologies comes at a loss, too, because there’s less pressure for detail, length and description when we have the world quite literally at our fingertips. Writing, not messaging, is the thing that has helped blur borders and create a more centralized world, and we must preserve it.

    8. It’s Good for Self-Improvement
    In addition to being a valuable tool for combatting negative emotions, writing is also vital to bolstering our self-worth, knowledge, language and even our handwriting skills. In fact, some studies show that the act of writing is an effective way to help us learn and absorb complex information while also equipping us with the skills required to better communicate that information later. We need to keep writing alive because we need to continue to strive for a better, healthier society.

Is Writing Dead? No… Not Yet

The good news is that writing isn’t dead, and there aren’t any significant indicators showing that it’s heading towards a slow or painful death anytime soon. What we do know is that the ways in which we’ve written for thousands of years are dying and that communicative tools are a matter of evolution, just like everything else in life. It’s vital that we keep the written word alive well beyond the age of artificial intelligence and technology for one main reason: It’s what sets the human brain apart from the microprocessor.

Guest post provided by:
Chris Napa, Experience Manager
A.T. Cross Company, LLC

Readers and writers, what are your thoughts here? Do you think the art of writing is dead? Has it been "lost" amid social media and modern technology? Curious here.

Image credits: Pixabay.com

Monday, October 29, 2018

Here's to Your Health! Interview With Colleen Story

Are you looking for ways to achieve better work/life balance? A "prescription" to combat writer's block?
If so, today's interview will inform, inspire and enrich you.
Please join me in welcoming Colleen Story to Pen & Prosper.

Thank you for joining us today, Colleen. Can you tell my readers a little about who you are and your creative background?
I’m a full-time freelance writer specializing in health and wellness, a novelist, a non-fiction writer, and a motivational/workshop speaker. I started my writing career as an associate copywriter for a wellness company, and within three years, was promoted to senior editor. At that point, I left the corporate world and went out on my own, and I’ve been freelancing every since.

When I’m not working on my client projects, I’m writing books, blogging, and speaking at writing events, so I stay super busy. I also play the French horn, though, which provides a nice bit of counterbalance to my writing efforts. I was actually a musician long before I was a writer, so it’s my first love, and I’m grateful to be a part of the local symphony and other groups where I can continue to enjoy making music with other talented folks.

Writing and wellness is such an interesting intersection. How did this blog theme come about?
It was after I got my first traditional publishing contract that I got into blogging. I realized (later than I should have) that I needed to boost my online presence to try to attract readers. I had been a freelance writer for years before that, so I did have a website, but it was a static tool that stored my portfolio and other information for potential clients. It rarely changed.

As it came time for the book to come out, I knew I needed to do more, so I created a blog and set up and Twitter and LinkedIn account. I had no idea what I was doing, but I did blog regularly, and that experience taught me how to set up a blog and maintain it.

A couple years later, I signed with an indie publisher I really admired for my second novel, and I knew I needed to step it up. My blog wasn’t getting the readership I hoped for, so I went back to the drawing board to come up with what I hoped would be something better. Since I had worked as a health and fitness writer for over 15 years by then, I decided to combine my knowledge in that realm with my passion for creativity and writing. I started Writing and Wellness in 2014, and it took off.

It turns out that in that one step, I found something unique that really worked for me. Writing and Wellness has opened all sorts of doors in my career. Because of its success, I’ve received requests to speak at a number of writing conferences, and have branched out into non-fiction writing. Soon, I’ll be offering online courses as well. Best of all, I love what I do. I realize now that the key to increasing visibility for yourself as an author is using your own strengths and passions to carve out a niche that reflects who you are and what you have to offer others.

I’ve had such good luck with this that I’m working on a new book that I hope will help other writers do the same. It’s called Writer, Get Noticed! Watch for it in the spring of 2019!

Do you write everyday? Any unusual rituals?
After 20 years as a professional writer, I’ve gained a discipline that keeps me going no matter what. Because I make a living as a freelance writer, I have to write every day or I can’t pay the mortgage. So it’s sort of a matter of just getting busy!

With my non-fiction work, I turn on the computer and start on whatever project is scheduled for that day, no rituals involved. I do have a ritual of sorts that I use with my fiction work, though. I have to get into the dream world for fiction—dive deep into the imagination—so I usually fix a nice cup of hot tea and spend about the first five minutes reading out loud from books by master writers that I admire. It inspires me and gets me into the mood to write fiction. I also think it helps me continually improve my own writing.

What are some of the most common ailments and afflictions that impact today’s writers?
I write about a lot of things that writers struggle with, but if I had to choose just a few common ones, I’d list the following three:

1. Back pain: This is common not only among writers, but among workers in general, as most of us are spending considerable time at the computer. Sitting is one of the worst positions for the back—particularly sitting with poor posture, which most of us do. It puts way too much pressure on the spine. I’ve suffered from back pain myself, and have learned how to establish a work area that keeps my back from acting up. I have some great information on how to avoid back pain on Writing and Wellness, but as a quick tip, the best thing you can do is keep moving. Sit for a while. Stand for a while. Print out your pages and walk around while you edit them. No one position (even standing) for an extended period of time is good for you!
2. Self-doubt: I write about both physical and emotional wellness, and this by far is the most common emotional struggle writers have. I’ve interviewed over 200 writers and nearly every one of them spoke about struggling with self-doubt. It’s amazing how destructive the emotion can be to a writer or any creative individual—it can stop you in your tracks if you let it. I regularly speak on this topic, and love helping writers to feel more confident about what they’re doing. I have several recommendations, but again, to give you a quick tip, start by understanding that self-doubt is not the truth, it’s a habit. All you have to do is break the habit.
3. Eyestrain: Researchers are discovering more every day about how our computers, tablets, and phones are affecting our eyes, and it’s not good news. You may have heard about “computer vision syndrome,” which is a collection of symptoms that come from staring at a screen all day. Mostly it causes dry eyes, eyestrain, and blurry vision, but it can also lead to headaches. Newer research suggests the blue light emanating from these devices could actually harm the cells in the eyes over time, perhaps even causing vision loss later in life. I have more information on this on Writing and Wellness—probably the biggest suggestion I’d make right now is to take regular breaks, and to strongly consider getting an blue-light filter for your screens. They’re available in all sizes (for tablets and phones, too).

Any “prescription” for the cure of Writer’s Block?
In my experience, writer’s block occurs when I’m not taking enough time to “listen.” (Speaking about fiction, here.) When I start trying to orchestrate the plot and characters in my mind, I can get stuck easily, particularly if I’m too caught up in other concerns such as whether the story is any “good” or whether it will do well on the market.

It’s when I forget about everything else and return to the essence of the story—what made me want to tell it in the first place—and take the time to allow it to come forward as it will that I break through. Sometimes it takes longer than I’d like, but it takes the time it takes.

When I’m working in non-fiction, such as when I have a project from a client that just sounds extremely boring and I’m struggling to get going on it, I’ll work to find some angle or something unique that will pique my interest. Once I find it, it’s easy to move forward.

What would you recommend to writers seeking to achieve greater life balance?
It is very easy as a writer to get so involved in all the facets of the business—writing, editing, marketing—that you neglect other important things in your life. I’ve noticed that one of the first things to go is self-care. That’s unfortunate, because if you run yourself into the ground, you can’t accomplish what you want to accomplish no matter how much you want to. If you have a writing business that supports you, the results are even more serious, because if you’re hurt, ill, or too wrung out to work, you can’t pay the bills.

Since I’ve been a professional in the health industry for over 20 years, I know very well the real consequences of not exercising, eating an unhealthy diet, or allowing the stress to build up too much. But as a writer, I know that if I neglect my own self-care, I’m going to pay for it somehow, because I’ve experienced it.

That’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about Writing and Wellness. I want to help other writers realize how important this stuff is. You have to take care of yourself first if you want to keep writing the rest of your life. A health problem can slow you down faster than anything else, so I encourage writers to put self-care first.

Exercise every day no matter what, even if it’s only a 30-minute walk after lunch or dinner. Watch what you eat. Practice daily stress relief—do something every day that helps you relax. Spend quality time with your friends and family. Yes, sometimes you have to let something go in your writing life to fit these things in, but it’s well worth it.

Anything you’d like to add here?
Thanks for having me on your blog, Jennifer!
Read more about self-doubt, perfectionism, writer’s guilt, and more, and discover how you can improve productivity and time management in Colleen’s book, Overwhelmed Writer Rescue. Get your free chapters here!


Thoughts, readers? Questions here?
How has being a writer impacted your health, if at all?



Colleen M. Story
Inspires writers to overcome modern-day challenges and find creative fulfillment. Her latest release,
Overwhelmed Writer Rescue, is full of practical, personalized solutions to help readers escape the tyranny of the to-do list and nurture the genius within. Her literary novel, Loreena’s Gift, was a Foreword Reviews' INDIES Book of the Year Awards winner and a New Apple Solo Medalist winner, among others.

With over 20 years in the creative industry, Colleen frequently serves as a workshop leader and motivational speaker, where she helps attendees remove mental and emotional blocks and tap into their unique creative powers. For more information, please see Writing and Wellness and her author website, or follow her on Twitter.

Image credit: Horns, Pen  Pixabay.com

Monday, October 22, 2018

How to Onboard New Clients (and why you should)

It doesn’t take a “rocket scientist” to realize that the better you treat your clients, the greater the likelihood for retention and repeat business. It’s a “no-brainer.”
And one of the best ways to provide them with a positive experience is an onboarding session. In today’s post we’ll explore what it is, why you need one, and how to properly execute it.

So, if you’re “on board” let’s discuss client onboarding.


According to Practiceignition.com: “Client onboarding is the process of bringing on a new client to your business. It’s your opportunity to build a relationship, address concerns, get the client up to speed and start the project on the right foot.”

  • It helps them to better understand your practices, policies and preferences.
  • It shortens their learning curve.
  • It decreases the likelihood of miscommunication and unmet needs.
  • It outlines expectations and often enhances client relations.

  • It helps to establish a professional image and contributes to client confidence.
  • It allows for a more strategic approach to your projects.
  • It saves time.
  • It can protect you legally (in case of contract breaches.)

Though your needs and objectives may vary, here are a few things it should typically address and include:

  • A client welcome letter
  • A client profile or questionnaire (to identify and record their initial goals, expectations, and related costs for the project)
  • Contract for services
  • Your refund/cancellation policy
  • A disclaimer
  • A "FAQ" page 
  • Outline of duties (who is responsible for what?)

Take it from me. I learned the hard way. Not every client you encounter will be familiar with the publishing industry, know what constitutes a legal and binding agreement, or what is considered a reasonable expectation. The more info you provide them with upfront, the fewer detours on the path to a successful project.

  • Create your own checklist to follow.
  • Have a consultation with the client over the phone.
  • Depending upon your location (and that of your client) set up a coffee date.
  • Meet via Skype.
  • Conduct online through emails.


Business expert Dan Steiner states that: "Getting a client onboard is all about how you present yourself and your product. If you show them you’ve kept their needs in mind through development, and you lay out what your product can do for them, it’s a whole lot easier to score their loyalty."

Client onboarding can set the right tone for a rewarding experience for you and your clients.
And that "tone" will serve as music to your ears.

Have a great week, folks. Thanks for reading.

Thoughts? Questions?
Do you have an onboarding for new clients? Did I miss anything here?

Image credits: Pixabay.com


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Ask the Expert With Editor Brian Whiddon


Thank you for joining us today, Brian. We appreciate your time and expertise here at Pen and Prosper.
Thank you for having me!
Image credit: Writersweekly.com
Can you tell us a little about who you are and your background?

I am the Operations Manager for BookLocker.com as well as the Managing Editor for WritersWeekly.com - both owned and operated by Angela Hoy. I was born and raised in Florida, and still live here on my 36-foot sailboat. I served in the Army as a military policeman, and later went on to civilian law enforcement where I performed duties as a patrolman, a traffic homicide investigator, a field training officer, and a firearms instructor.
In 2008, I left law enforcement and started a small, local business but the 2009 economy caused me to lose too many of my clients. I then transitioned to the insurance industry, and worked my way up the ladder to management. I enjoyed it but the Tampa commute was brutal. During that period, I was doing some writing on the side. 
In 2015, I met Angela through a mutual friend. After a year of knowing me, and observing my work ethic, character, writing, and computer skills, she offered me a position with BookLocker.
As managing editor of Writers Weekly, how many submissions do you review monthly?


I receive, on average, 150 queries each month. We publish 52 freelance success stories and 52 feature articles each year.

Beyond the general guidelines provided at the site, what are you looking for? What increases a writer’s odds of acceptance?

Upon receiving a query, three things will immediately jump out at me:
1. Did the writer read our guidelines? Asking me “How do I write for your website?” tells me that the writer didn’t even bother to look around at the WritersWeekly.com home page. There is a “Write For Us” link right at the very top of every page on the site.
2. Did the writer actually read and follow the guidelines? In our guidelines, we spell out, very specifically, what kinds of articles we are looking for, and what types of articles we are NOT looking for. When someone sends me a pitch (or an entire article on-spec, which we do not accept), I know that they didn’t respect my time and their own reputation enough to take the five minutes to read and follow the guidelines.
3. Finally, can the writer spell, punctuate, and communicate properly in the English language? People would be amazed at how many queries we get that appear to be written by 6th graders. And when you take into account that WritersWeekly is a website about writing…
So, once I get a writer who can pass those three filters, I look to see if they are offering an article that is unique, and that shows writers and authors how to make more money writing and/or selling their books. In other words, is their article or success story something more focused and interesting than “How to become a freelance writer?” Can their experience or advice help someone else make money with the craft? And, would someone else be able to imitate the writer’s experience or advice, and achieve a similar outcome?

Describe a typical day.
I wake up about 5:30 each day, and head to the gym. Afterwards, I come home, make breakfast, and tidy up my boat. By about 8:00, I’m working on scheduling social media posts for BookLocker and WritersWeekly for the day. Afterward, my day basically follows the needs of the business. I try to follow a list of tasks and projects, but I never know when we’ll have an “author emergency,” a special project pop up, or a computer issue arise - just like my old office job!

Additionally, boat issues can spring up at any moment. Some boat issues have to be dealt with immediately, as you can imagine. The nice thing about BookLocker and WritersWeekly is that I can do the work whenever I like, as long as I meet my deadlines. So I can take breaks, or handle life’s little interruptions whenever I need to. I can even catch up on work stuff on nights when I can’t sleep.
Angela's boat is located on the same dock so I do some work in the "floating home office" (as she calls it) during the day as well, especially if we are working on a deadline, or if she's training me on a new task.

What would it surprise others to know about you?
When I was a police officer, I was a "whistleblower" after observing a specific incident. It was an extremely stressful period in my life but I knew I was doing the right thing. One thing led to another and I wouldn't be where I am today if I had not experienced that. I learned a lot during the process, which actually helps me today when writers report illegal activities in the industry to us.

What advice could you offer writers who are trying to transition from unrelated fields to shorten their learning curve and enhance their efforts?
I would advise writers to never consider their past lives/jobs as “unrelated.” The writing world is so vast, so limitless. SOMETHING you’ve done in your past can relate to something you’re writing about today. Sometimes, you have to reach a little bit. But I believe that you can always find a skill that you acquired in your past that can be applied with whatever you are tackling today.

New writers can also contact us with any questions. We are always happy to give advice on specific issues. And, those questions (always posted anonymously) occasionally end up in our "Ask the Expert" column. Our readers can relate to the issues being discussed, and appreciate the input their fellow writers provide.

Along these lines, what qualities or skill sets from your former line of work do you find to be the most helpful to your creative career?
Every job I’ve had gave me something that allowed me to open the next door in life. My military experience gave me a discipline that made me a very good and honest cop. What most cop shows don’t reveal is that about 80% of police work is writing (technical and other). My police career gave me professionalism that later impressed my clients and bosses in other jobs. All of these experiences built my communication skills, which helped me discuss clients’ needs, and make sales. And now, all of these things - the discipline, the writing, the professionalism, the communication skills - come into play as I help Angela run her business.

What about the adjustment of going from a very public career and working with people, to one of working independently, and sitting behind a computer all day? Many freelance writers who come from corporate America (for example) find it challenging or lonely. How about you?
When you work from home, you have to set time aside to get out from behind the computer, join the world, and socialize. I’m lucky in that, living on a boat, I live in a tight-knit neighborhood. It is rare that I step off my boat and don't run into a dock neighbor. Somebody is always out and about. Boat people become very close because we’re all cut from a similar spiritual fabric, and share many of the same challenges and risks. We are always happy to step in and help a neighbor in need. We cannot (and don't want to) ignore each other like people in cities and suburbs tend to do.
Image credit: Writersweekly.com
Last year, I was able to take a one-month cruise in my boat while working at the same time. I would sail to a location, anchor for a few days, work (using a wifi card), and then get back out on the water. All of Angela's employees are on flex-time, and work from home. It's very important to Angela that her employees are able to be with their families as much as possible. She only hires extremely disciplined professionals who LIKE to work. The rule is we can work whenever we want as long as we get our work done, and done well. I wouldn't trade the freedom I have now for those old freeway commuting days for anything.

How do you define success? Did changing careers change the way you view success?
I used to feel that success was directly connected to how much money and how many things a person has. Leaving law enforcement, and starting my own small business, gave me the freedom to find and rebuild the boat that I would later live on. Changing from a corporate job to my 100% online career with BookLocker and WritersWeekly allows me to enjoy my unique living arrangement even more. Now I see success as how much you get out of life, and how much you enjoy the life you’ve built for yourself.   I love that definition, Brian. I would agree here.

Anything exciting going on at Writers Weekly in the upcoming months that we should know about?
The WritersWeekly Winter 24-Hour Short Story Contest is coming up in January (https://24hourshortstorycontest.com/). That's always an exciting time. Right now, we're knee-deep in the busy season at BookLocker so it's hard to catch a breath. Everybody wants their book published by Christmas and, since we're the fastest in the industry (we can get a book to market within two weeks - and that includes formatting and cover design), last-minute authors are flocking to us. Things will slow down considerably the second week of December we'll all have a couple of weeks to rest before the New Year rush begins.

Anything else you’d like to share…?
There are a lot of naysayers in the industry that say making a living writing is not possible. It absolutely is! But, it takes discipline and hard work. I hear from writers who are just scraping but and I hear from writers who are supporting an entire family with their writing. At WritersWeekly, we are honored when our readers share these stories with us, and allow us to share their stories with others. When I hear from a writer who landed a new client through a listing on our website, or sold an article to a new market we've featured, that is absolutely the highlight of my day. And, we receive those awesome emails all the time!

Thanks, Brian. It's been a pleasure.
Thoughts, readers? Comments?

Image credits: Pixabay.com

Thursday, October 11, 2018

5 Reasons You Should Cut Back to Give More!

Is your "plate" full of the wrong things?

It's hard to believe it, but we're in the final quarter of the year, folks. The last inning of the game. And If I were a bettin' woman, I would wager that many of you will thoughtfully compile and compose a list of New Year's resolutions in the upcoming months, to gear up for 2019.

Mired among those future promises to lose weight, live differently, start that blog, write that novel, save money or heal fractured relationships, will likely be a "vow" to carve out more "me" time and take better care of yourself.  Am I right here?

If not, it definitely should be. Here's why: there's great validity to the expression "You can't give from an empty cup."

Here's a cautionary tale to provide greater clarity...

Some years ago, I befriended a sweet lady who initially started out as one of my writing clients. Robin D. Williams was a high school teacher; talented writer; caretaker for her elderly mom; and a volunteer for many school-sponsored activities throughout her more than 20-year tenure in academia.
Though she had her share of health challenges, she refused to slow down. Despite the fact that I often pointed that out to her (out of loving concern).

Robin assured me that retirement was right around the corner for her, and when it arrived, she would definitely do better.  Turns out that she never saw retirement. My friend died unexpectedly, taking many of her talents and dreams with her.
Something similar happened with my brother.

My point here?
Many of us stretch ourselves to the limits trying to be ALL things to ALL people at ALL costs.
When this happens, we deplete ourselves of the time, energy, resources and creativity to move the needle forward on our writing careers and realize our full potential.

Though it may seem contradictory in nature, to BE more, you'll need to cut back.

"You can't give from an empty cup."

Cut back on what...?

  • Providing an array of creative services, year after year, for free or for "exposure"
  • Blogging 2-3X a week with very little R.O.I. (return on investment)
  • Pet sitting for your neighbor's pet rock collection and other senseless acts of charity
  • Toxic relationships that fail to honor you or ones that you've outgrown
  • Volunteer activities that don't reflect your current values, views or interests

Why cutting back is crucial...

  1. It provides time to live a life of purpose, passion and balance; as opposed to operating on "auto-pilot".
  2. It decreases stress levels, resentment and plaguing regrets.
  3. Cutting back allows for more personal reflection and inventory for a better quality of life.
  4. It prevents overload and ultimate burnout.
  5. It contributes to a life of authenticity and inner-peace.
According to the creator of the Writing and Wellness Blog: "Self-care is an approach to life that understands we must captain our own ships. As captain, you have to make sure that your “ship” is in good condition, and that you’re maintaining it as best you can, because you know that it needs to get you through 90 years or more (hopefully). It is a type of stewardship over your body and mind, a responsibility you have to not only keep yourself in optimal operating condition, but to be aware of things that may harm or damage you, and take steps to protect and prepare yourself."

To wrap things up here...

Make yourself a priority. Don't think of it as being "selfish"; think of it as self-preservation.
Trust me. You'll be glad you did.

Your turn.
If this post "spoke to you," I hope you'll "speak" to me by leaving a comment.
Thanks for reading.

Image credits: Pixabay.com

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Making the Most of Your Memoir**Dr. Noelle Sterne


If you’re writing a memoir, or have the desire to, more than the facts are necessary for a meaningful work. For your memoir to have depth for you and your readers, it must have two facets: the facts and the emotional truths about the facts. Emotional facts are, as Vivian Gornick points out in The Situation and the Story, the “deeper truth.” This is the part readers relate to most.

We have history books and court stenography for recitals of facts. The goal of your memoir is to “convey the emotional truth of your experience,” memoirist and teacher Marilyn Bousquin says. “Your story contains a universal truth about what it means to be human”

Why Do It?

As painful as memoirs may be in the creation, we have many purposeful reasons for writing them. Here are a few:
  • To share fascination or inspiration about yourself, a relative, an event, a succession of events.
    • · To memorialize or honor someone or some event.
      · To exorcise your demons—your own propensity to stealing, addiction, infidelity.
      · To tell a moving story, e.g., coming to America, surviving the Holocaust, building
      a business and a life.
      · To show victory, conquest over tragedies and hardships—from poverty to financial stability, from a crippling disability or disease to a normal life. · To show reaching a dream—of becoming a nursing professional, a musician, a
      teacher, an actor, a lawyer, an entrepreneur, a mother.
      · To leave a legacy—for the family, and to record your unique family history.
      · To achieve catharsis: a haunting event, a mistake you think you or someone else
      made, a wrongful or wronged event.
      · To reconcile, often with catharsis.
      · To expand your mind, learn more about yourself, and in the words of a recent workshop participant, “to dive deeper into [your] soul.”
So, identify your own underlying reasons for writing your memoir, and they will guide you to your emotional truths—and the engagement of your readers.

Engaging Your Readers

You want readers to picture and feel what you’re writing about, without pointing out the theme, moral, or lessons. Rather, use fictional techniques—details, scene-setting, movement. And remember that old writing axiom, Show, don’t tell.

For example, in a memoir about your favorite uncle you could write, “Uncle Giorgio was dismayed and looked sad.” But this sentence won’t cut it for long. The reader wants to know why Uncle Giorgio was dismayed, and why did this matter to you?

So, in a more emotionally truthful version:
Uncle Giorgio was dismayed and looked sad because, I later realized, he saw that I was a nine-year-old child and couldn’t really understand his frustration with his life. I watched tears at the corners of his eyes slowly descend as he said, “Ah, little one, how can you know of the potential and power one feels as a young adult? The world is open for your tasting, every meal. But later, when the ridiculous necessities of life take over, before you can eat much you are forced to leave the table.”
His red, round face wrinkled in sorrow, like a sad clown, and I resolved that I would never leave the table hungry.
Too Hard?

No doubt about it—our memoir writing—confronting our emotional truths—can be extremely painful. We must remember, relive, reconstruct, and re-feel what we’re writing about, such as an abusive parent, a partner’s infidelity, a child’s addiction or death. You may not want to relive it all.

Reaching the Reader

But . . . if you tell the truth—your emotional truth—and speak from your true self, you cannot help but have something important, different, and thought-provoking to say. No one else has your perceptions and abilities, and therefore your story and your voice are unique. At the same time, you will evoke similar feelings in readers.


So, gird up your loins, marshal your courage, and plunge in. Your very pain will get transferred to the page and thus to your readers. The words will come, and even the tears. Talk to the page, to yourself, and your readers will be reached.

You will feel proud of facing what you tried to avoid; you will feel cleansed, and less afraid. And you will produce a memoir true to yourself and shining with your emotional truth.


Author, editor, writing coach and soother, dissertation nurturer, and spiritual counselor, Noelle Sterne has published over 400 writing craft, spiritual articles, essays, and stories in print and online publications. With a Ph.D. from Columbia University, Noelle assists doctoral candidates in completing their dissertations (finally). Based on her practice, her current handbook addresses students’ largely overlooked but equally important nonacademic difficulties: Challenges in Writing Your Dissertation: Coping with the Emotional, Interpersonal, and Spiritual Struggles (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2015). In Noelle's Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books, 2011), she helps readers release regrets, relabel their past, and reach lifelong yearnings. Visit Noelle at www.trustyourlifenow.com.
Noelle is glad to (gently) help writers reach their goals of completing their memoirs. Contact her through her website: http://www.trustyourlifenow.com.

Your thoughts, readers? Any memoir writers out there?

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