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Month: March 2017

How to Overcome Depression

Many writers struggle with depression, and today’s guest, Harrish Sairaman talks about ways to overcome it.

Depression can be a potentially serious medical illness that negatively affects the way you feel, think, or act. Anybody can be affected by depression irrespective of age and surprisingly in today’s world, even youngsters are a victim of this. When one is depressed, he or she feels low and sad and will have no interest in any activity. Depression leads to emotional and physical problems. In extreme cases, it leads to suicides and hence needs to be understood, prevented and healed well.

Some symptoms of depression

  •  Feeling sad or having a gloomy mood.
  • Loss of interest in daily activities and getting distracted.
  • Loss of appetite and sudden weight loss without dieting.
  • Sleeping disorder and excessive negative thoughts.
  • Feeling exhausted and fatigue on a consistent basis
  • Feeling guilty, insignificant and worthless and sometimes even without specific reasons
  • Increase in distracted activities like speaking to the mirror, listening sad songs.
  • Increase in thoughts of committing suicide for peace.

These are some of the major indications that you are suffering from depression and you need to get back the control over yourself and overcome depression.

How To Over Depression –
Accept Your Depression – The first challenge is to identify the depression. Don’t get labeled that it is all in your head and there is no way to control it like dreams. Most people do not understand or accept that they are suffering from it and with time, it reaches the extreme point leading to permanent physical and mental damages.

Therefore, one should always watch out for the symptoms and if you feel there is something wrong, do not hesitate to check with the doctor to be on the safe side. At the same time, don’t just read about it and self-label that ‘you are depressed or are a victim of depression! It is always good to check with a professional so you don’t ignorantly miss it out or exaggerate just simple basic stress.
Identify The Cause – There are several reasons that lead to depression. Finding the cause/causes is a daunting task after the depression is identified. It can be due to genetics, hormonal changes, stress, sadness, guilt and several other factors. It is very important to identify the root cause of a disease to cure it. Identify the source and the core problem to cure it instantly. Once the cause is identified it can be worked on as all behaviours have ‘reasons’ and when the reasons change, behaviour changes.

Positive Begets Positive – In depression, the mind can be full of negative thoughts. If these thoughts are entertained it can become worse. Instead, talk to positive people, read some inspiring stories and motivational quotes and better yet, watch mood-cheering movies. The control over the thoughts might be difficult, but one can definitely provide the factors that generate positive thoughts automatically.

Spend Quality Time – During a depression, the mind can make an individual feel lonely and force to isolate yourself from the rest of the world. One should definitely avoid that and instead, plan a vacation trip and go with your family and have a blast. Even going out for a lunch or dinner or shopping would be great alternatives. If there are kids at home, one must make time to play with them and experience extreme positivity. Kids are great examples of great energy and can become one of the best teachers to boost the mood and energy.

Avoid Certain Things – In today’s world, social media and internet bullying are also one of the major causes of depression. Avoiding them for a few days, cut off from negative people, avoiding listening to sad songs and stop recalling old memories can definitely help.

If there is a problem with someone, talk it out or accept the outcome and move on just like others. Learn to forgive people and accept life the way it comes.

Exercise and Meditation – Nothing works as good as exercise and meditation during a depression. Joining a gym, indoor and outdoor exercises, jogging in the morning and practicing yoga and pranayama (breathing exercises)can not only be a cure but can build inner strength with can avoid depression even n the future. Learning the different forms of meditation and practicing them can help find blissfulness bursting inside!!! Depression can become an opportunity to rejuvenate and rebuild life.
Find An Interesting and Passionate Hobby –During depression. one cannot let their mind get occupied by negative thoughts in free time. So, investing free time in hobbies can be a great way of working on the state of mind. Photography, dancing, cooking, creating YouTube videos are just to name a few.  Once can also become an example for other and show how to come out of it – helping the masses!
Doing Something Different– During a depression, one has to boost their mood and take it to the positive zone. There are a lot of crazy things one can do to get over it. One can go for a body massage and ease the mind and nerves, do some crazy dance by playing some rock music to shake off the fatigue state, have the best food one always wanted to eat, and even some prank on others, and likewise.
Gratitude for what we already have and the realization that not everyone is so fortunate and we have an opportunity here to heal and transform is always a great way to start!

About the Author

Harrish Sairaman is a well-known motivational teacher in India, helping many to achieve which once seemed unachievable like increase motivation, leadership, Corporate Performance, decrease stress etc. through Motivational Training Program, Leadership training programs, Corporate training programs, Entrepreneur Coaching and Individual Coaching to name a few. His ability to deliver life changing, scientifically sound, relevant and metaphysical messages in a powerful, humorous and insightful manner integrated with high energy has earned him a reputation of bringing about a difference with a difference!

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Business 101 for Writers: Production Part 2: How to Write More

We ended the last post on a cliffhanger, something you should always do to yourself. I mean, it is great advice to write some words. If you are going to have a writing based product to sell, you need to have something written.

However, the first step in production is where writers often get tripped up. They get caught up in the business side, especially when they first become stoked about writing for a living, and they get so busy creating an author platform, getting their website ready, and being sucked into social media (Oy!) that they neglect the writing part of the business.

Before you know it, they wake up realizing their novel is stale, they have not posted an article on their blog or sent out outreach to new freelance clients in weeks. Here is the one line, simplest truth of the matter: You are a writer when you write. When you are not writing, you are no longer a writer.

So how do you make sure that this terrible tragedy does not happen to you? Here are some really obvious tips, but ones writers often neglect.

Write Every Day

I have tons of aspiring writers tell me they do not have to write every day. They are absolutely right. You can go for days without writing until you really start to take yourself seriously. Once you embrace writing as a profession, you can’t help but write every day.

Why? Writing, or engaging in any creatively based activity, changes something in your brain. It releases chemicals that make you happy when you write, and when you don’t, depression and anger take the place of that happiness. There is no one worse to be around than a writer who is not actually writing.

Your brain changes, chemically and in its thinking and habits, when you write every day. Nearly every professional writer I know writes something nearly every day, even if they are on vacation or it is their “day off.”

Try it. If it doesn’t work for you, email me. Honestly. I will talk you through it because I have never found any true writer who after giving daily writing an honest try, did not find that it changed things dramatically for them.

Have a Writing Schedule

I have heard all of your excuses. My kids, school, house, the laundry, you have five cats, four dogs, and your poor neighbor needed help with cleaning their gutters. So how could I possibly write every day? I am going to be frank and potentially offensive.

All of your excuses are bullshit. Nearly every writer I know who does write every day, who does it for a living, did not start out that way. They had full-time jobs, wives, kids, and pets just like you do. They started to write every day anyway.

How? They set a time, usually early in the morning or late at night, and wrote at least for a little while no matter what else was happening in their lives. Read that last sentence again. They set aside a time and wrote at least something, even a single page, no matter what else was happening in their lives.

It can be a page in a short story. A page in a future article. A page in a novel. 365 days of a single page a day means you have a full-length novel completed. Stop telling me how busy you are, and that you do not have time to write. Set a schedule, and keep it.

If your first schedule does not work for you, find one that does. Find your optimal time when everyone else is either gone or asleep, and keep your schedule no matter what.

Allow Yourself the Freedom to Write More

Wait a minute. I just spent a whole bunch of words trying to convince you to write every day, and schedule that time, keeping it sacred. Now I am telling you to give yourself the freedom to write more?

Yes, if you are using the 12 minutes a day method I mentioned in the last post, and you get to the end of the 12 minutes, your timer goes off, and you are on a roll, keep going. That’s right. Keep writing as long as the words keep flowing, even if you are interrupted. Get back to your work and follow the flow.

No matter how long you have been at this, there are days when the words do not flow as easily as they do other times. Don’t mistake this for writer’s block. Once you finish reading this series, you will never be allowed to have that, or blame it, again. But sometimes writing is hard, and so when it is easy, let it flow.

Especially when you first start out, or there are many distractions in your life, you will sometimes struggle in your daily, scheduled writing sessions. Write anyway.

Some days, the words will flow from your fingers quickly and easily, and your fingers will fly over the keyboard. Keep going. Write as much as fast as you can. That will probably be some of your best writing, and stopping can kill your spirit. If your flow is interrupted in those moments, you may even get angry.

Good. That means you are on the right track and your writing habit is taking hold. Control your anger, roll with life in general. But give yourself the freedom to write more when things are going well, and take the time you need to follow your muse when things are good.

Leave Yourself Hanging

Am I contradicting myself again you ask? No, not at all. Even if you get on one of the beautiful rolls above, where your words are flowing like the water over Niagara Falls, when you stop, leave yourself hanging.

Stop writing at the point where you are excited about writing what comes next. Be that the next point you are making in a non-fiction work or the cliff hanging, nail biting end of a chapter in fiction, stop there. I have heard of writers who stop in the middle of a sentence.

If you are excited about what is coming next, you will be anxious about sitting down to write again, excited about it instead of dreading it. Make no mistake, writing is work. It is a job. But you can make it much more enjoyable for yourself, to the point where most days you actually enjoy going to work.

This is just a small technique and not one that always works. Often as a freelancer, you have to finish the article and submit it. Or you are under deadline with a publisher for your next novel, or even your own deadlines (more on this later in the series). Sometimes you have to write “The End” as you finish a writing session or writing for the day.

The more you can do this for yourself, the better. The more excited you are to write, the less likely you are to quit, and the more likely you are to write every day, keep a schedule, and give yourself the freedom to write more when you are on a roll.

Don’t Stop Believing

Sorry for the cheesy song reference, and you can thank me for humming the Journey hit the rest of the day by buying one of my books. Or more that one, if you really love Journey or even just this one song.

But this is important. There will be times in your life when no one around you believes in what you are doing. It will seem like no one understands you, and you will never make it as a writer. Tell them to shut up, and keep writing.

Believing in yourself is an easy thing to say. It is much harder to do, and there have been some dark days, some dark times in my life. I have been where you have been, and if you struggle with believing in yourself or acceptance, reach out to other writers. We really do understand.

We also want you to be successful. That means that no matter what, you believe in yourself. No one else will ever be as big of a fan of your work, and you are your harshest, yet most important, critic and cheerleader.

So don’t stop. Keep writing. Keep working. Keep believing in yourself, and you will finish whatever it is you are writing. Then you can move forward in this process of production to the parts we will cover next.

Because once you have mastered writing some words, gotten yourself into a writing habit, and finished what you are working on, you need to move forward and do something with your writing.

I’m going to teach you exactly how to do that.

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Business 101 for Writers: Step One Part One: Write some Words

This is the first of a post in a series about writing as a business. If you are not sure why I am sharing this with you, you can go back and read the introduction.

So far we have covered that, like any other business, this one has three parts: production, distribution, and marketing. All of these are made up of several different parts, and over the next several weeks we will examine all of them.

Part One: Write some Words

This is the stage at which you plagiarize the alphabet: you are going to rearrange those 26 letters into some thoughts all your own. It does not matter at this point what kind of book you are writing, or if you are writing blog posts, articles, or even brochures. In order to proceed with any of the next steps, you need some words strung together in a manner that your target audience can understand and will want to read.

How do you do this writing thing? Maybe at this stage, you just have a vague idea. Perhaps you have an outline or even an assignment from a website or magazine. No matter what you are writing, there are some keys to finishing the story.

Write Quickly:

Your first draft should be written quickly. The first draft of a novel length work should take you no more than six to nine months. Why that number?

Every writer writes from the heart, and over time your heart changes. So do you. Think about how much you have changed just over the last year. Now imagine how much you have changed over the last five years. If it takes you three to five years to write a novel, you are a different person by the time you finish. Your voice has changed, so to speak.

It is the same with articles, blog posts, and even novellas. You should complete them as quickly as possible, while your mind is fresh in the subject and your thoughts are focused.

Do Not Edit While You Write.

Yes, you can backspace, or quickly correct the spelling that the squiggly red line shows you, but do not go back and rewrite until you have written the end. The temptation is real, and some will tell you editing as you go is perfectly okay, but as someone who has edited over 50 full-length manuscripts and several smaller ones over the last several years, I can tell you that I can tell when editing that a writer went back and rewrote a section. How?

Because doing so interrupts your flow, and so when you start to write again after editing, your voice has changed slightly. Usually, this causes you to make errors–small ones, but it takes you a few moments, or paragraphs, to get back in your flow.

This increases the length of the editing process: we have to edit out those transitions and smooth them over, recreating the flow that is already there. The more an editor has to work on your manuscript, the more they charge (if you are hiring a freelance editor before entering your path to publication, whatever that is. More on that later in the series).

Fiction Outlining and Research:

There is often a debate between outliners and pantsters, those who research ahead of time, and those who research at the end, putting in nonsense (and marking where they did so) when they don’t have certain facts at hand or in their memory.

Outliners: These writers have every twist and turn of the story planned out before they even begin to write, some of them down to the outline of chapters and scenes. However, most will tell you that this outline, however detailed or loose, is done before they ever sit down to write.

Once they start writing, they do not go back to re-outline or do more research. They simply write until the end, and then go back and make corrections. Many outliners will even confess that things do not always turn out how they outlined them. Characters tend to have a mind of their own and take the story their own direction.

Pantsters: These writers sit down with an idea and a general direction, writing by the seat of their pants (thus the name pantsters). They simply start to write and follow the story and the characters wherever they go. With no outline in mind, they truly do simply experience their book or story along with the characters.

Does this make a mess sometimes? Yes. If the writer gets distracted at some point, they can follow an aspect of the story that goes nowhere and have to backtrack and delete it later, in the editing process.

This type of writing can also produce spectacular stories. Each writer must gauge for themselves how much they can free-flow it, and how much structure they need to make their stories work. Either way, it is still just as vital that the writer writes until the very end.

The Mixer: Some writers start as pantsters, but part way through the book, they outline the rest of the story to make sure they get where they are going.

This is perhaps the most common type of writer I have come across. They blend the two techniques of writing by the seat of their pants for a while and then outlining after that.

How long do they write before they outline? That varies as much as the writers themselves. Some start with a loose outline and tighten as they go. Others create the outline when they are done with the story during the re-writing process, to make sure they have included all of the elements they need in the story, and that it follows a good structure.

No matter what your method, writers write until the very end. The best first drafts are still done quickly, and they are re-written and edited when they are done.

Nonfiction Outlining and Research:

Non-fiction is an entirely different type of writing, and research and outlining are a must. If anyone tells you they are writing their memoir, and have no outline it becomes something called “creative nonfiction.” You can almost guarantee there are errors in the story, and that it has gone into the realm of fiction at more than one point.

Usually non-fiction is linear in some way: usually time or the ordered steps in a process. Often if the order is not followed in some way, the results are disastrous. Think of a recipe book or automotive repair manual: do the steps in the wrong order, or add a “flashback” to what you should have done in step three when you are now on step six will not work.

Even memoir must be written with a linear structure of some sort. Yes, there can be flashbacks (only if they are done well), but there must be a structure it is all hung on. To put it quickly (this will be covered in detail later in the production section) you still should outline and research ahead of time for the most part. There are some exceptions with non-fiction, but we will cover those later.

For the most part, you should write your draft of nonfiction quickly as well. But what are the keys to writing quickly?

Here they are, briefly. We will cover each in detail in the next post.

  • Write every day. Even if you only get a page or two, write something every single day.
  • Have a writing schedule. Even if it is as simple as 12 Minutes a Day, have a time that is your writing time, and stick to it.
  • Allow yourself the freedom to write more. If you are into the flow of the story, keep writing. Don’t stop because a certain amount of time has passed. Follow the flow if you can.
  • Leave yourself hanging. Stop on a cliffhanger if you can rather than finishing a chapter. It will be easier for you to get back into the flow the next day, and you will want to.
  • Don’t stop believing. You can write, you can finish a story, and you can make it ready for the world. You are a writer the moment you say you are a writer. To get to be a professional writer and get paid, you must keep believing you are who you say you are.

In our next post, we will talk about how to write quickly, and what quickly really means. We will also talk about writer’s block and what it really is.

Until then, write quickly and write often.

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The First Year: A Marriage of Ideas

When any two people come together in any kind of relationship, you can expect that certain ideas will clash, and others will meld perfectly. As a man I once knew said, “If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.” The adage is just as true today as the first time I heard it.

So I’m not going to tell you a fairy tale here about the first year of marriage. It will not be a tale that will inspire those of you who are single to rush into a relationship and marriage. The truth of the matter is that marriage is hard, and the first year could be argued as the toughest. Abby talked about our first year of marriage over at Unbound Northwest.

But I am not going to tell you a story of woe either. Instead, I am going to tell you about true love, and what that has looked like over the last year (and then some). Because true love is not the fairytale first dance. It is life, lived together as partners every day.

The Honeymoon from Hell

This year for our anniversary we are headed to McCall to redeem our honeymoon and will be staying at the Shore Lodge. And yes, I will call out the horrible experience we had last year at the Hotel McCall. I wrote a review of them here, here, and here. To put it simply:

  • I tore my calf muscle a week before our wedding, so I was using crutches and a cane to get around. Our room was on the second floor. Did we get help with our bags to our room? No.
  • The restaurant they use for room service was closed from Sunday until Wednesday, so we had no room service. Did they tell us this when we booked? No. Contrast: the Shore Lodge is doing some renovations this winter. Immediately after we booked, we got an email telling us exactly what was going on, and apologizing in advance for any inconvenience it would cause during our stay.
  • The Hotel McCall has an indoor salt-water pool. They had an issue with the heater, and so it was cold–unable to be used the only day we could have used it. Did they compensate us, or offer any discount or anything else in return? No.
  • When confronted about our poor experience (before I left the reviews) the manager offered excuses. There was no offer of a discount, refund, future free nights, nothing. Apparently they don’t care if we return (or if you ever go there if you are reading this). They have enough tourist who get suckered in when everything else is full. They don’t need the likes of us, paying customers in the off season, coming in and interrupting their staff’s time on Facebook. (yes, I saw a staff member on her social media, and it took her a couple of minutes to acknowledge me when I dared ask for something)

Needless to say, we were off to a rough start. Put a groom in pain and a tired bride in the same room for a few days without the capacity to be pampered, and although we made the best of it, we need some redemption this year.

The First Few Months

Often, newlyweds live in a place that is less than ideal, but we had a place we were making work. We also had our then 14-year-old son living with us pretty much full time, interrupted with rare visits to his mother. We had an agreement to stay there until December, at which point we would decide where to go next.

The time period was designed to give us space to save money, recover from the wedding, and be able to move.

Not to mention that Abby had a major medical issue in May, just after she also graduated from college, and that set us back even more. Recovery from one thing or another just seemed to be the theme of the moment.

Then our landlord decided to sell the place we were living. With two dogs, we had to scramble to move with no money saved up and only 30 days to find a new place. This meant, more than likely our 14-year-old who was already adjusting to a number of things, would have to switch schools. Again.

We did it, and with the new place came a new peace for everyone. It was astounding the difference it made in our family. The drama, however, would continue.

Career Choices

Abby struggled with what to do after college. From simply getting a different job than the one she was in (she hated it) to going for a Master’s degree in…something…she wasn’t sure what was next. During her senior year, she had a mediation internship at the courthouse and found her calling: mediating conflict was her happy place. However, turning it into a career? There were a ton of questions about how she should best do that.

The answer came in the form of law school. It was something she had thought about, but never really investigated. The investigation turned from casual to serious to filling out applications and attending interest nights at law schools.

She’s retaking the LSAT in June, even after an amazing first score in February, so she can get more scholarships.

In the meantime, I was used to being a freelancer but had taken a job with a local internet marketing company, a job I like and dislike at the same time. The steady income and benefits are good: but it comes at a sacrifice, and does not pay as well as freelancing once did.

It has worked out well, though. I am still able to freelance on the side, not write as much fiction as I would like, but I am headed toward doing more of that. I’m also going to school, but slower. I am taking a freelance writing course, and am enrolled in college online, going back with the eventual goal of getting my Master’s in writing and rhetoric.

All of these career things equaled stress. Every decision was agonized over. There were moments when my job was going well, Abby’s was not. And vice versa.

Conflict

If you have not figured out by now that we are both ambitious people with lofty goals, go back and read what is under the headings. Stop skimming this article. When two driven, strong-willed people come together, they are bound to butt heads. Not to mention we have different styles of dealing with conflict: Abby is a verbal processor, and I process internally. I need space and time, she wants to tackle things right away.

Big honesty moment here: it took us ten months to figure out how to balance this out. Every time we had an argument, even a small one, I would try to retreat, and Abby would verbally chase me. I did not always handle being pursued well, and she did not handle me trying to back away well.

I had trouble expressing my need for space and time, while Abby had no trouble expressing her need to verbally process (no shock there, that is verbal processing). I’d never before dealt with anyone who pursued me with such zeal at those moments of, shall we call them intense marital bonding?

Love and Partnership

Want to know the secret of how we figured it all out? The one thing that will make your relationship perfect like ours, since now we have how to do this conflict thing figured out? HA! There isn’t one, and we don’t. We do better every day. We love each other more. But we are far from perfect. However, here are some tips that might help you:

We love each other, and we are on the same side. This applies to so many areas of life, but especially in marriage. We both want to raise a teenager from a boy into a good man. We both want our family to be well provided for, comfortable and happy. Neither one of us wants conflict, and certainly not with each other.

We are team Bertmore, and both of us want that team to be the best it can be. Neither of us are trying intentionally to tear the other person down and assume some kind of dominant control. This leads me to the next point.

We are partners. It is one thing not to oppose someone. It is another to be partners with them, coming alongside and supporting their goals and ambitions. But it is not just about supporting the other person’s goals and joining with them to help accomplish what they want. There are two other key elements:

  • Your partner comes alongside you and supports you in your goals and ambitions as well. This is not always perfectly balanced. Sometimes one person’s needs or goals come ahead of the other person’s, but this is constantly in flux. It reverses as often as it needs to.
  • You make shared goals and work together to accomplish them. These can be relationship goals, financial goals, and even career goals. They are short and long term and show your commitment to each other’s needs.

When does disaster strike in partnerships? When you have goals that are pulling you in opposite directions. Your shared goals must take precedent over your individual ones, at least if you are determined to stay together, so sometimes those goals have to take a back seat.

We cannot afford for Abby to go to law school and me to go to college full time, and support a teenager in the house at the same time. Abby gets to go to school first, me second. While she is in school, I need to support her in every way possible.

It does not mean that my goals are any less important, or that our partnership is unbalanced. It means that, although it is hard, I need to put my personal goals on hold so we can accomplish our shared goals. The time of a reversal of that will come.

None of these final tips I have shared mean we will have a perfect relationship going forward. It hardly means that I will never retreat, and she will never over-pursue me to get a verbal resolution.

It just means that we know a few simple things. We love each other. We have shared goals. And we have promised each other to partner in achieving those goals, no matter what that looks like. Our first year of marriage was not a picnic filled with rainbows, unicorns, and tooth-achingly sweet love. It’s been filled with real life, real challenges, and real work.

That is true love.

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Doing What you Love for Money

It is said that writing is the world’s second oldest profession, and it is just about as respected. From a young age, I was taught that doing what you love was no way to make a living. In some ways, those who dispensed that wisdom were right: writing for a living is hard, and there are seasons where it is less hard, but it is never easy.

I was told this despite the fact that many who told me I needed to plan for a “real job” were Christian school teachers, pastors, and others who certainly had not pursued wealth, but were doing “ministry” work, something God had called them too. But the arts? Please. That was a dirty word.

Not to mention that I wanted to write the things I read: sci-fi, horror, and thrillers. These books and their topics were clearly sent to my mind from the depths of hell. After all, many of those sci-fi writers were atheists who believed in evolution. The horror!

It never seemed to resonate with me that I was part of the evil poor: that my single mom, a school teacher, might be somehow less because she chose to do something she loved for less money than she could have earned elsewhere because she loved it, and felt like she was making a difference.

Yet lately, we are bombarded with generalizations that say the poor are lazy, handle money poorly, and don’t deserve our respect. In fact, they are evil.

But musicians, artists, authors, even freelance writers are told to live frugally. Often we are told we should stop acting like children and get “real jobs.” Yet without writers, almost any business is dead in the water: you need artists, you need writers, you need musicians. Yet there is a strange aversion to paying for this type of work: when there is free music you can pick up on the internet (the equivalent of a dive bar) why would you purchase an album (i.e. hire an escort).

Art is Not Always a Choice

Here’s the thing. As a creative, making time for your art is not always a choice. Sometimes it is a need, and if you ignore it long enough, bad things happen in your life. A bored creative who is not creating is a monster.

It is good to understand this, even if you are not a creative yourself. If a creative person can get paid to do what they love, they should do so, even if it means sacrificing a huge income or grandiose career prospects.

As I stated above, as a musician, artist, or a writer, you must learn to live frugally. That has always been true. However, someone who gets paid for their craft, especially if they get paid well, is not a shameful thing. It doesn’t mean they have sold out. It simply means they have found a way to make what they are compelled to do into a job.

Art is an Honor

Have you ever read a book or an article that changed your thinking or your life almost instantly? Have you ever looked at a painting or read a poem that took your breath away? Someone created that art or wrote those words, and that person has bills to pay just like you do.

As a creator, it is an honor to inspire others with the things you do. As a writer, the goal is not only to make a living, but to touch others, and to be read and understood. When someone gets what you have to say, or even better is moved to action, the euphoria is amazing.

As one who has been inspired, it should be an honor to support the artist who inspires you, the writer who influences your thinking, or the poet who touches your heart.

Art Should not Equal Poverty

Despite what art does for us, we are often loathe to pay for it. We download books onto our Kindles or other e-readers for free. We listen to free music, complaining when we have to pay a premium to remove ads. We download art and photos through Google images, often without credit to the creator. We torrent movies, justifying to ourselves that they are just too expensive, and those Hollywood types make tons of money anyway.

We steal creative endeavors from the creator and then make snide comments about how no one can make a living as an author, an artist, or a musician. We laugh at them because they have to work a “day job” and pursue their hobbies in the wee hours of the morning or late at night.

It is not the profession that is the problem. It is our unwillingness to pay for things that are truly valuable, that add meaning to our lives.

Making a living doing what you love is hard. Not being able to pay your bills by doing it makes things even tougher. Your profession being treated like something that has no value is discouraging and depressing.

But loving what you do and making money should not be things that are exclusive. Being able to do both should be considered one of life’s highest achievements.

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Business 101 for Writers: An Introduction

Most writers write because they want their words to be read. Even if they say they don’t do it for the money, most if not all dream of making a living from their words. This means that eventually, those words have to be packaged in some kind of format that can be sold to someone, somewhere.

This is true whether you are writing books or freelance articles, blogs or your memoir.  Even if you already have a large audience, eventually you will run out of friends and family who will buy your work (in fact, they are the least likely to buy it) and you will need others to sell your work for you. You will need to adopt a no-nonsense approach to creating an online presence.

All that to say that writing is a business, and a business needs several elements to succeed. Jeff Bezos did not just sell his books out of his garage to friends and family. He built a worldwide empire. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs went through the same process I am about to outline for you in a series of blog posts, and they did not stop at any one of them. In fact, they repeated the process over and over again.

The business of writing and publishing has three unique steps. Each of these is made up of several parts as well. Most writers get stuck in one of these steps, often never even completing the first one. As a result, it is impossible for them to make a living writing.

In fact, every writer who has even sold one book has followed every one of these steps. Some have done it better than others, and successful writers who make a living from their words do all of these well.

courtesy pixabay
Photo courtesy Pixabay.

Production

This is the process of creating a book. It is not just writing, it involves rewriting, editing, proofreading, formatting, and packaging (i.e. a book cover). In the next number of weeks, we will examine all the aspects of production from the beginning. When you type “The End” of your manuscript, your journey has just begun.

Courtesy pixabay
You have to get your books to your readers

Distribution

Where and how will people find your book? You have to put it somewhere for it to sell. Amazon is just the beginning. What about your local bookstore, your library, or other websites? For people to read your work, it has to be available to them in a format they can consume: a book, a magazine, a website, blog post, or other form of communication you can sell.

Image courtesy Pixabay

Marketing

It is good to have your book available. However, you need to make people aware of where it is, or that it even exists, before you can sell any at all. This is called marketing, and depending on what kind of book or writing you are selling will depend on how you market it and make people aware that it exists.

Social media will certainly play a role in that. Along with your own website. But you must build a brand and brand awareness, just as any new brand or business would. Freelance writers use many creative means to market themselves. Many types of advertising are essential to this, but for writers, content marketing is an essential one.

It sounds so basic. Business 101 type stuff. To sell your writing, you must first produce a product, then make it available through distribution, and finally, you must advertise your work using the same marketing techniques any business would.

This series will be designed to get you unstuck and get you into the mindset that writing is a business, and if you are going to get paid, you need to act like any other businessman.

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Is Finding Freelance Gigs Using Job Boards Worthwhile?

The number one issue with being a freelancer is discoverability. Of course, you are already treating your writing career like a business, but how do you market your work and get your name into the hands of the right recruiters? Truth be told businesses are looking for freelancers with your particular skills and areas of knowledge. You just need to find them, and they need to find you.

While there are advantages and disadvantages to the disruptive nature of the freelance gig economy, businesses are hiring more freelancers for more tasks. They look for freelancers in several ways, and just one of them is through the use of job boards.

The one thing we freelancers never have enough of is time: marketing is vital, but not wasting time is essential. Job boards and content mills like Upwork and Demand Studios are a waste of time for the most part since well-paying jobs are so few and far between. So are there any job boards that are worthwhile?

The answer is yes, but very few. Putting in an alert for a freelance writer on job sites like CareerBuilder and other similar sites will fill your inbox with job suggestions from car wash attendant to security guard, but few if any will be for writing positions or have anything to do with your particular skill set.

Here are a few places where the search can be worthwhile. You will still have to vet clients, but they are more likely to be professional and the kind of gigs you are looking for in the first place.

DISCLAIMER: Job boards and these sites do not take the place of good marketing of your freelance business.

Ebyline

When looking at job boards, Ebyline is what is referred to by Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing as a “move-up board.” You are expected to be more professional, and clients who come to the board expect to pay, and for the most part pay well, or at least better than an Upwork or worse, a Fiverr gig.

This is also a good place to find fill-in work when things are slow, or you just need a gig to tide you over to your next client payment. Jobs typically pay quickly, something relatively important to freelancers when they are just starting out.

Skyword

Skyword is another “move-up mill,” and offers reasonable pay. For the most part, you will be creating branded content or other types of writing for the web. This is a place where you can potentially develop long-term relationships, and it is definitely worth being a part of.

As with any job boards, be sure to vet clients. There is nothing wrong with offering a free initial consultation, but don’t give away too much at the outset. Share your ideas in a more general way, and only get as specific as you need to to get hired. This is good advice for any job board, but especially more “content mill” like sites.

LinkedIn ProFinder

One of the better places to look for freelance gigs and to find other freelancers is LinkedIn, but if you have a strong profile, this can be a great tool for you. Since you are already using LinkedIn, it is a simple matter of upgrading to at least a Business Plus membership, and sharing your profile on their job board, ProFinder, designed to help businesses find the best local and regional freelancers.

This will cost you $59.99 a month, but it shows clients you are serious about your career. If you are going to make this move, be sure that your profile is complete, and that it includes all of your accomplishments and a job history. Ask your connections who know you for recommendations, and give them out as well.

LinkedIn can be a great place to showcase your skills and to find new clients, even using their regular job board. Due to the professional nature of the network, though, LinkedIn Profinder may be one of the best job boards currently out there.

There is a balance between working and marketing when you are a freelancer. You need to satisfy the needs of your current clients, but you also need to constantly develop new leads. Job boards, if used properly, can help you do that.

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