"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

Monday, January 7, 2019

Please Don't do This! Tips to Better Living in 2019


It's a new year, my dears. And I am glad and grateful to greet it with you here.
A new year is symbolic: it represents a clean slate, a blank canvas, unchartered territories, fresh clay.
It's an opportunity to learn from the past and plan for the future.

What do you envision for 2019? Better health?  A more prosperous career?
Whatever you desire requires a good game plan, strategic thinking, discipline and abandoning a few bad habits.

This quote by Maria Robinson sums things up appropriately: "Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." 

Accordingly, today's post will address various practices and principles that could potentially sabotage your success and compromise your overall quality of life, if not corrected. Small things that are often overlooked.

So, if you're on board, let's get busy building better tomorrows...

** The other day, I attended a funeral with absolutely no intentions of "winning friends and influencing people." After all, there's a proper place and time for everything. Right?
However, in introducing me, a friend shared with other visitors that I was a professional writer.
Excited, one guy gave me his business card to get in touch. He seemed nice enough. I didn't want to talk "shop" then. So, I thanked him and accepted his card.
Once I got home and pulled the card out my purse, all bets were off.

He (like so many others) handed me a card that I simply couldn't make out. The text was on a black background, the print was very small and the font type was some sort of fancy calligraphy.
We both missed out on what could have been an important connection.
Perhaps you've done the same or witnessed something similar?


First impressions are important. And believe it or not, business cards are part of your "brand" and the image you convey to others. Don't underestimate their value. Make them count.

Opt for a good stock of paper, a light background, a simple and legible font that's not difficult to read.
Whenever possible, request a proof from your printer and have someone else to weigh in on your decision before having them produced. 
And while we're on the subject... please stop passing out cards with old info scratched out with a pen.
(Unless it's an absolute emergency).
If you're in the market for professional cards that are inexpensive, I recommend VistaPrint.

** 2019 marks my 10 year anniversary in the blogoshpere. Yay!  In the unfolding years, I have published over 752 posts and have learned many things along the way through trial and error.
Here's a crucial lesson to help you become a "quick study" in blogging this year.

Don't guess your way to success! Stop operating in a "blog fog." Trust me, a blog that is not achieving your goals is much harder to maintain and be motivated by.
Year after year I read blogs that have no regular comments or visible growth. Don't let this be you.
(It is estimated that 95% of blogs started are abandoned).  Never let your ego get in the way of your excellence.

Study popular blogs in your niche. Review your analytics. Invest in information products that can help you to "work smarter, not harder." May I recommend my popular Ebook "The Success Checklist?"
For less than the price of a cup of StarBucks coffee, you'll discover insider's tips for a more competitive edge and less stress.
Learn more here:
I also provide professional Blog Audits for serious bloggers and businesses seeking to build their readership and bottom line. Interested? Get in touch @ Gemsjen@yahoo.com.
** We’ve all come across them. Rants that are extremely rude, vindictive, personal, and meaningless to most of us in the reading audience. It’s like watching a train wreck. Don’t get me wrong. I dig a good rant! Especially when it addresses issues that have some common appeal or significance: like coping with a bad boss, a spouse who forgets to put the toilet seat down, politicians and their sometimes ridiculous platforms, rude editors, or poor customer service. But, in my humble opinion, it should have a valid point and be tastefully done.

Don't sound off just to be heard. There's enough "volume" online with no real value.
Besides, it might just come across as a virtual "temper tantrum" to readers.
Resist the urge to devote your blog or social media accounts to settling a score or diminishing others. You're better than that. Whenever possible, use your creative "powers" for good.

Use your "soap box" to garner support for an important social cause or to discuss real issues that matter for your readership, or to provide comic relief. Here’s one I wrote that most writers can relate to.

** In 2018, I witnessed many bloggers bid farewell to their sites. Some were among my favorites. Perhaps you're even on the fence about yours now. I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. Blogs are intended to be an INTERACTIVE MEDIUM. It's important to engage with the bloggers you read; leave thoughtful comments; make suggestions; ask questions or just say "hello".
It matters.
And it's such a small price to pay in exchange for their time, creativity, resources, research and tips to help us "know more and grow more."

Don't feel intimidated by leaving a comment. You don't have to have "perfect English" or contribute anything that is really deep or intellectual to be appreciated.

Here are a few alternatives: ask a question, share a solution, recommend a book or product, or simply say "thank you" for the blogger's effort. "Try it, you might like it.":-)

** A few months ago, I decided to install exterior shutters on my home. But, I didn't approach the project strategically. This caused a little frustration, wasted time and money. All that could have been avoided.  Instead of measuring my windows, writing down the dimensions and then going to shop, I assumed I knew the right size. Big mistake.  I had to return to the store for an exchange. When I did, they didn't have my size shutters in the previous color. My project was delayed. Oy vey!
"Measure twice, cut once." This expression, often used in the construction industry, applies to our creative careers as well.

Publish a post without proofing it first. Don't rush or take unnecessary short cuts. Don't assume.

Consider using checklists for important tasks. Always verify and clarify instructions with clients. Pay attention to deatils   details. Remember, better safe than sorry.


** When my brother died unexpectedly (not very long ago),  it changed my way of thinking in significant ways.
Lessons come in many forms. Perhaps now, more than ever before, I realize how limited our time here is. And how important it is to cherish those we care for, and make time for pursuits that really matter.

Never assume you'll have endless opportunities to complete that novelmend a family quarrel return to college, improve your health, find love.

Take baby steps. Start now. Make more value-based decisions for fewer regrets. Recognize that time is a commodity; use it well.

** By my own admission, I spend more time than I should responding to the dictates of others, as opposed to carving out my days in my own way. Honoring requests, meeting deadlines, making a dent in my “to-do” list. As opposed to getting that much needed pedicure or massage, or championing my own personal causes. Sometimes leaving this "Super Woman" super tired.

Don't over-extend or over-commit.  It’s great to have a giving spirit, but self-love requires that we remember to put ourselves first, so that we can be fulfilled. "You can't give from an empty cup."

Indulge in a little T.L.C.
Attend a writer's conference or retreat.
When we are personally gratified and balanced, we can give to others our “best” self.
If you've already mastered this principle, move to the head of the class.

To wrap things up here

Make this your year of yes!
But first take personal inventory. Prioritize. Pray. Persevere.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”---Socrates

Wishing you a year of great success, peace and abundance!

Thoughts? Observations?

Image credits: Pixabay.com


  1. All these points are good guides for improving ourselves in our calling and in our personal lives. Thank you.

    1. Quietspirit,

      Nice to have you here again. You're welcome.

  2. This blog is so informative.
    Thanks for shearing.

  3. Yes, yes, and yes! Your advice is always spot on, Jen. This resonates with me as I ponder the year ahead. Thank you for your insightful encouragement. :)

  4. Karen,

    Always a pleasure. Glad you liked. :-)