"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Sunday, November 30, 2014

14 Lessons I Learned in 2014...On Writing, Life, and the Writing Life

Mistake # 14

There's great truth to the adage, "Those who fail to learn from the past are destined to repeat it."

With this in mind, I'd like to share some experiences that have rounded out my year, and made me stronger and wiser--serving to "advance" me in this classroom we call life.

In doing so, I hope to shorten your learning curve, so you'll encounter fewer detours on your writing journey, and the quest for quality living.
Feel free to share your own, "ah-ha" moments, or to elaborate on the ones provided here.
Pencils ready? Class in session...

1. Freedom of speech ain't entirely free.
It comes with a degree of responsibility. In this day and age of the Internet and social media, we can instantly share our thoughts with thousands, at the click of a button. It's empowering. It's enlightening. And sometimes it can be, well... frightening.  Frankly, I'm amazed at some of the things that people place on line simply because they "can." Slander. Racist comments. Mean-spirited attacks. Word wars. Dirty laundry. Don't be one of them.
As writers, we have the ability to heal with our words. Let's hold ourselves to higher standards. It's incumbent upon us to reveal the brighter side of humanity; to show empathy, civility, and accountability.
Use your "powers" for good, not evil. Of course a good "rant" every now and then is cathartic and necessary.

2. All writers are not necessarily "starving artists."
The key? Good clients. Choosing the right field or area of specialization. Good decisions. And good karma in the writing and blogging community.

3. Sometimes blessings are retro-active.
Don't get discouraged if what you hope for in your life, your career, or even your relationships hasn't unfolded. God has his own sense of timing. Stay strong.

4. Keep in mind the definition of insanity.
A wise man once stated, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results." I'll be using this to navigate my writing career in 2015.

5. The best revenge is a good life.
Let go of grudges and regrets. Be better, not bitter. I've discovered that there's nothing more liberating than peace of mind. How about you?

6. Not everyone deserves a front row seat in the arena of your life.
Even if it's a family member. Be prudent with whom you share your confidences and your company.
"Guard your heart." It's in the Bible.

7. Humor heals.
The medical community has long recognized the restorative powers of a good laugh. And it's why I incorporate funny sitcoms in my daily viewing routine, or sometimes a humorous book. In a world with far too much sadness, it can be a sanity saver. Try humor in your blog posts, in a fictional story, or even a poem with a surprise ending. Better yet, babysit. It will definitely inspire your muse. I spent time with one of my nieces recently and her joy was contagious.

8. Want a better quality of life in 2015?
Reduce two things: your level of stress and your level of debt.

9. If having your work published in a book by a "traditional publisher" is your goal, here's a great option I've explored.
Consider submitting to popular anthologies, on various themes. Some will even accept previously published work. To date I've had about a dozen accepted; a few by publishing giants, "Simon and Schuster."
The pay-off? In many instances, these projects provide cash prizes, prestige, and important publishing credits. I'm still working on being published in "Chicken Soup."
But, the good news is that I recently had an essay accepted for an anthology on education, slated to be released next year. Yay!

10. Effective time management is crucial to success and longevity as a writer.
I credit this skill for my ability to juggle with minimal struggle. Rise early. Do things right the first time. Prioritize with a purpose.

11. For a greater financial forecast in the year ahead, and to decrease the likelihood of  deadbeat clients, it's imperative to operate like a true business.
This includes "screening" clients, requesting deposits on major projects, and having terms and conditions outlined in the form of a contract. I learned the hard way; yet it's a lesson that I won't need to repeat any time soon.

12. This holiday season, consider giving gifts that will be appreciated all year long.
Things like benefit of the doubt, forgiveness, empathy, respect, value for others' time and gifts.
Don't be so quick to judge and blame. You get what you give.

13. Keep your word.
 I'm really surprised and saddened that not enough folks do these days. There's no better form of "branding."

14. Mom sometimes knows best.
The picture above reflects my efforts to try my own version of "dressing" instead of following my mom's recipe. "Kids don't try this at home!" Usually I'm a great cook. Go figure. Oh well, if at first you don't succeed, right?

***Bonus lesson
In our efforts to provide quality time with family and friends for the holidays, many of us abstain from writing, the Internet, and related activities. This isn't always prudent. Work is work. Although priorities are important, balance is crucial. Work hard. Play hard. Do a little of both, when the situation allows. For example, during the recent holiday, I took the time to stay in touch with valued clients. I continued to respond to emails in a timely fashion.
Turns out it was a wise choice. This practice landed a pretty sweet contract, that has the potential of paying off for several months next year.

The moral of the story? Be a quick study by following these timely lessons and being faithful to your own personal truths.

Thoughts? What lesson will you be heeding in the year ahead? Do tell.


  1. These are wonderful points! I found myself learning many of these this year too. It's always nice to know we aren't alone in this writing thing. Friends like you make the journey so much sweeter.

    As always, I appreciate your insight and willingness to share your wisdom with us. Thank you for helping us to start the new year with our best foot forward! :)

    1. Thank you, Karen. Wishing you great success and abundant blessings!

  2. Number 12 was the most meaningful, and I love this: "be better not bitter." A little kindness goes a long way in this world. Your points are all well taken. I wish you continued success!

  3. I appreciate your time and thoughtful feedback, Lin. Wishing the same for you!

  4. I could see this as a book Jennifer to help people beyond writers. Think about that as
    a future project. Very useful advice which could transform lives.

    Henry J

  5. Much appreciation; that's certainly a compliment! :-)

  6. Good lessons. Even the ones we've learned before are worth bringing to mind again. Hope 2015 is just as educational.

  7. Thanks so much, Cynthia--for stopping by and adding to the mix here. :-)

  8. Great advice! Less stress and less debt go hand in hand and will help us all to live happier lives. :)

    1. Thanks, Jess. I really appreciate your input on this. :-)