It’s Day 6 of Nanowrimo and I’m proud to say I’m still hanging in there. In addition to writing for Nanowrimo, I’m also taking part in a blogging challenge and I still have clients to work for so there is a lot of writing happening. Balancing everything has been a challenge all and of itself but I’m learning a lot about how far I can push myself to see results and I’m loving what I see.
And that’s what I’ve been doing. As of this writing, the amount of words I’ve written is 8,739 which means I reached my first milestone of completing 5k words. Woot! The next milestone will be reaching 10K words, which I’m trying to do tonight, so wish me luck! My treat for 10K is getting one of those Lush bath bombs! It’s the little things.
The goal for next week is to keep writing, simple. My habit back in the day would be to start things and to rarely see them to the end. But with learned lessons and the idea to keep the end in mind, I will get to 50,000. Though word count is important, my focus is on making sure my story’s progression is on point.
I’ve had to stop and reread certain parts to confirm that the timelines make sense or if some of my character’s reactions are warranted. The last thing I want to do is to finish the novel and when editing get all confused by the events and moments then feel discouraged to continue editing. I feel that’s what happened with the first novel I completed last year. This is why it’s taking me so long to finish editing it.
My second goal is to double my word count three days out of the week. Tonight, I plan to double my word count to meet my next milestone. I feel this will keep my story fresh in my mind.
Anyway, I hope you fellow Nanowrimo participants are progressing well through this challenge. You learn a lot about yourself when you dedicate yourself to a challenge. Do you agree?
Earlier this month, I found this photo of my son’s sonogram. It was taken during the summer of 2012 and was one of the most exciting times for me. We were anxious to have our little boy and talked for hours about the things we’d do with him and how much we’d want him to learn. My pregnancy was a fairly pleasant one. And although I had a great experience, every month was like a roller coaster at six flags. The only way to describe them is to put it in writing so here goes.
Phase 1: Pregnancy shock
I was surprised to learn that I was pregnant with my son. He was a very happy surprise, so surprising I took two pregnancy tests and still wasn’t convinced I was with child. I guess the shocking part was coming to the understanding it wouldn’t be just my husband (who was my fiancé at the time) and I anymore. Then there was the doubt I would be ready to be a mother in nine months. Shock wore off the moment I heard his heartbeat at the midwife’s office. That moment can only be described as love overload.
Phase 2: Sick of being sick
For the first three months, I became best friends with my bathroom, saltine crackers and ginger ale. Random hunger and upset stomachs was the name of the game and I had no say in the matter. I drank so much ginger ale it took me over a year after the pregnancy for me to tolerate the taste of it. I had the worse nausea; it was so annoying. And I smelled every single thing both good and terrible. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned falling asleep everywhere. I would rush home just to go to sleep. My bedtime was at 8pm, I was officially the boring friend.
Phase 3: Glowing and eating everything
I was hot stuff once the first trimester was out of there. I had my energy back, my hair was super thick and shiny, I had this gorgeous pregnancy glow, my skin was the clearest it had been in years, and I had an excuse to eat everything in sight. The baby bump I had been waiting forever to see was finally here and everyone wanted to touch it. The latter wasn’t always my favorite especially when people would ask “do you mind” with their hands already on my belly. But it didn’t bother me much because I was on cloud nine and I was probably eating something delicious. This phase was one of my favorites because this was also when I felt him kick for the first time and when I really felt him actively making his presence known. This is usually the time that most expectant moms are in Babies R’ Us buying everything except the store shelves bolted to the walls because to us, our babies can never have too much.
Phase 4: Obsessed over everything
Completing the baby room and buying as many bottles of baby shampoo is what we can’t stop doing. All I could talk about when speaking to people was stuff about the baby. The event of a lifetime (giving birth) was right around the corner and I needed to make sure I knew what I was doing. I attended the baby classes, read the books, asked the questions to the moms who had been there and done that before but I still felt like I had a lot more to do. Then it happens, that moment when you have to come to terms with the fact that your baby is going to come out of you somehow. I stayed up at night just picturing what I believed would resemble one of those gory episodes of Grey’s Anatomy or ER. The idea frightened me. I saw the videos on YouTube and they were scarier than any horror film I’ve ever watched. But it was the next phase that helped me overcome this.
Phase 5: Over It
I liken this phase to phase 2 except instead of being sick I was exhausted and done. At some point I didn’t feel there was any more room for him to grow in there. Sitting for long periods of time was getting hard and standing was even harder. Then there was the kicking I once anticipated that was now keeping me up at night. I was at my wits end. And ironically when that first contraction hit me like a wave, I couldn’t be any happier. The pain I feared in phase 4 was gone. I actually welcomed it because I knew that the baby would be here and soon enough I’d be able to sleep on my stomach! I was so over it, I didn’t mind during labor that I was commando or that my midwife had to repeatedly check how far along I was dilated. Was that TMI? Well speaking of that, my concern for TMI went right out the window along with my pride while laboring. And believe me when I say I was so shy before that. The finale was near, and I was ready, I had the imaginary superwoman S on my chest to prove it.
When it was all over and I finally held my son in my arms for the first time, I felt like the most powerful person in the room. That moment made all those phases worth it. This little person who heard my heartbeat from inside was now laying in my arms. Feeling like a champion comes easily at the end of it all and the memory will stick with you for a lifetime, I know it will for me.
In 2008, I told myself that I wanted to get paid to write online. At the time, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to get paid to write about, but I knew that I wanted to write and get paid for it. It’s been a rocky road filled with disappointments and sometimes getting paid in pennies but I’ve found consistent work that pays.
I’ve yet to receive a check so big it would make Donald Trump blush, but I’ve made enough to cover my rent or to pay a bill. Though there are many writers out there with more experience and are making far more than I am, I’ll give you my take on making money writing online as a new writer.
Be prepared to write for free
Oh yeah, I’ve had to do this once or twice. And sometimes the exchange was somewhat worth it. I wrote for a popular website for free and got access to major events like award shows, private parties, and received transportation reimbursements. I did that for longer than I should have; the perks were SO GOOD. This recommendation I typically give to new writers who don’t have writing samples or have little experience writing online.
My tip for writing for free is to not be like me and do it for too long. Set a deadline for how long you plan to write in exchange for perks instead of cash. After the deadline, make it clear to yourself that you will only write for money. The editors you offered free writing to probably won’t like it (if they’re great, they’ll offer you a paid position), but their promise of exposure to their millions of viewers will not pay your bills. If only exposure was a valid form of payment for bill collectors. Click To Tweet
New Writers Should Start a blog
If writing for websites for free for exposure doesn’t work for you, start your own a blog. You can go all the way and invest in a domain name and hosting plan or you can just sign up for a free blog on the many websites that offer them. When no one would give me a chance, I started a small music blog and moderated it for six years. I got a bunch of opportunities from them and met and interviewed a bunch of celebs.
My advice is to make sure the blog is aimed towards the area of writing you want to specialize in and get paid for. And make sure you know what you’re talking about. Your blog is like a portfolio. It shows the tone you write in, how well you’re able to write, and how much you know. And when you apply to online writing gigs, you can use links to blog posts that show that you can write on the topic they are looking for writers to contribute posts on. Set a publishing schedule you can stick to. And if you’re directing editors to your blog, make sure you’re publishing often. They like that because it shows you’re consistent and reliable.
Actively look for gigs on writer websites
This is one of the most important tips in finding writing gigs. If you’re waiting to be discovered, you’ll be waiting a long time. You need to go look for that next big writing gig. Actively search for gigs on websites like Craigslist, FreelanceWritingGigs.com, FreelanceWriting.com, and Indeed.com. There are tons of other websites I may dedicate a post to during the 30-day blogging challenge, but a quick google search will pull up tons of articles with them listed. Here’s an oldie but goodie tip for everything in life including online writing gigs posted on Craigslist and websites like it– if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Also, don’t feel defeated if all you see are gigs looking for writers to write in exchange for “exposure” a.k.a. for free. There are paying gigs posted on Craigslist often you just have to sift through a lot of crap to find them.
Always have more than one writing gig
This was a lesson I learned the hard way. I made the mistake early in my online writing career to complete one writing gig at a time. Meaning, I would sign a contract with one website and refuse to take on another contract with another website. I thought I would overwhelm myself with more than one writing job. Ha! Guess what happened when the website I had been solely contributing articles to shut down? Or the other website that got banned from Goggle because some of their other writers were stuffing their articles with keywords creating pieces that made no sense when read by humans?
That’s right, I didn’t have another gig to fall back on. So it always felt like I was starting over when the one gig I was working fell through or the traffic resulted in low payment. Today, I make sure I’m working as many gigs as I can handle without burning out. And this is separate from my small business copywriting clients. I don’t play those games anymore and neither should you.
Collect testimonials from editors you’ve written for
Testimonials are awesome and are like reviews that everyone can read. I like to put my testimonials on my resume to give website owners and editors an idea of what my earlier editors had to say about my writing and work ethic. It’s like product reviews. You wouldn’t feel confident in buying a product that customers gave bad reviews for versus the product that’s getting a five out of five star review from satisfied customers. In your budding online writing career, you are the product and the testimonials you collect are your reviews.
If your work is great and you’ve got great testimonials, the editor or website owner may lean more toward giving you a shot. If you’re shy about asking for testimonials, don’t be. Just ask your editor to give you a two line testimonial about what it was like to work with you. They’ll be happy to do it, especially if you’ve exceeded their expectations.
Learn how to sell yourself
Speaking of products and reviews, learning how to sell your skills is important. Excelling in online writing has a lot to do with your writing but it also has a lot to do with how you sell yourself as a writer. That website you want to write for is probably the website that every writer wants to write for too. That means that site’s editor is inundated with responses. Your email cannot sound like the fifty other emails they read before yours. This makes it easy for the editor to skip right over yours or worse send it straight to the trash bin if the first few lines in your email doesn’t peak their interest.
I like to create email templates for my inquiries where I cover the basics and then tailor it to the type of content the website I’m interested in normally publishes. I also make it a priority to read a few articles on their website to understand the voice the editors are looking for and make my emails sound similar, but not like a carbon copy. Then I sprinkle a little personality in them, but not too much because I still need to sound professional and not like I don’t have a single professional bone in my body. But most importantly, I market my skills. You are a brand, so it’s important to know and sell what you offer and sell how your skills will make their brand better.
Never give up
I’ve learned that to write well you have to stick with it. They’ll be days when you can’t wait to get up to write and others when turning on your computer is the last thing you feel like doing. But you have to fight through it and stick it out. Take a break and binge on Netflix for a day or find a different writing environment that will get you in the writing state of mind.
Do whatever you have to do to never give up. I’m all about making plans these days because as my husband puts it, Success is premeditated. Click To Tweet So whenever you feel something isn’t working, take a moment to figure out what about it isn’t working and make a plan to correct it so you don’t get knocked off your path to making money writing online.
Writing is like exercising for your creativity so if you do something for an extended amount of time, you’ll get better at it. The more writing gigs you book, the more experience you get, the larger your portfolio will grow, and the higher you can set your rates. Next thing you know you’re writing for one of the top 500 websites on the internet. We can get there, we just have to stick with it.
I was once a vegan for a year after a bad experience with dissecting a baby pig in college. Let’s just say the experience sent me running for fruits and vegetables and refusing to eat anything with eyes or that moved without the assistance of the elements.
During my year as a vegan I threw myself into the vegan lifestyle and it was amazing. I had so much energy and I hardly was sick. I mean no colds, no upset stomachs, no headaches, nada. It was great. I also learned how to prepare vegan meals that didn’t only consist of vegetables, similar to this mac and cheese recipe I’m about to share with you!
My family loves this stuff and the taste is nom nom, as my son says every time he takes a bite. Even though I’m no longer vegan, I still enjoy this meal every now and again. I find it simple to make and I think you will too.
This particular recipe is a modified version of The Pioneer Woman’s mac and cheese recipe. I love the way she prepares food and loved making her version of creamy mac and cheese. So I veganized it and here it is!
It’s Day 4 of NaNoWriMo and I’ve got a quick update about how my writing is going, my word count and some changes I’ve made. From Day 3 until today, I’ve been waking up at 5am to complete my word count which is 1668. On day 1, I wrote 2000 words and the only other time I wrote close to 2000 was yesterday and that’s because I wrote twice in one day.
My plan was to write at 5am and then go running around 6am. But because I write slow and require frequent reviews to make sure my characters dialogues makes sense, it’s taking more than an hour to reach my word count for the day. Pair that with editing as I write and there goes the hour.
So I’ve switched up the plan and have decided to write in the morning on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. Then on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I write right before bed. I’m doing it like this because writing before running or vice versa isn’t working and I refuse to give up either one. Because my running schedule is Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays it makes better sense for me to write at night the days before my run. Im a true believer in tweaking a plan as many times as possible until it works. No use in giving up on something without really trying.
The amount of words I’ve written so far is 5,566, not including the words I will write tonight. I’m loving the way my story is progressing and I hope to continue to stay in love with it. I did make a mistake that I was able to correct. I wrote without reading the outline I created for one of the scenes and my imagination took the story in a different direction. While this works for pantsers, to make things up as they go, I need a throughly planned out storyline. My mistake gave me the idea to write at night on some days and early in the morning on others, so it worked out for the best.
For these next few days, I’m aiming to double my word count so I get more on the page. I also need to finish the outlines for the remaining scenes in the novel.
I hope you other wrimos are having a great time with your novels! One of the secrets in getting to the end is to fall and stay in love with your work so it feels less like an obligation and more like a treat every time you turn on your computer.
Negative people are all around us. Though we can try to avoid them, they’ll always be there either as a friend or a stranger. It’s not you, well at least that’s what I tell myself. Some don’t even know they’re being a negative Nancy or angry Adam but they are and you’ll have to learn how to deal with them.
In my day-to-day life, I’ll come in contact with a negative person or two but when you live in a city filled with different personalities that are going through different things in their lives, it’s to be expected that you’ll be in the company of negativity energy.
Hence, the inspiration behind today’s blog post. As some of you may know, I’m taking part in a 30-Day Blogging Challenge.
I had another topic I wanted to write about today but after an earlier conversation, I wrote this one instead. It wasn’t on the list but I’m realizing that for writing, not everything needs to go according to plan. I’m already doing that with Nanowrimo and I like finally having a blog to blog my thoughts and feelings.
I’m getting a little off topic so let’s get right into some of the ways I deal with negative people.
Don’t take everything so personally
It’s so easy to get in your feelings when someone makes you feel a certain way. I’m a sensitive person. I can admit this at this point in my journey. So I’ve had to learn to let certain things roll off my back and go in one ear and out the other. With this said, don’t lose precious brain power trying to figure out why the negative cashier at your supermarket doesn’t smile and tell you to have a nice day. And don’t feel bad when you don’t receive a warm welcome at the MAC counter. Either avoid these places or learn to co-exist even if it’s for a few minutes. Now, I’m not perfect at this and you’ll probably find this to be difficult, but the sooner you understand this important rule of not taking things personally, the easier it will be to deal with negative people.
Learn to keep your ego in check
You’ve experienced this before, I’m almost sure of it. You’re having a great day. Your coffee came out the way you wanted it and you’re feeling good. You leave your home and boom, someone pisses you off. You’re wondering what you’ve done to deserve they’re attitude but instead of not paying them any attention and walking away, you let your ego take control. Now you’re arguing with this person, albeit stranger or loved one, and at the end of the argument you’re still pissed. In fact, for the rest of the day you can’t stop kicking yourself for allowing this person to ruin your great day. They’ve transferred their negativity on to you and they’ve done that because you let your ego get in the way. The ego is a powerful thing and if you don’t learn to keep it in check it can get you in the unhappy zone. Have control over your ego and when you notice someone trying to test it walk away. No need to win an argument with a negative person when you can win at being the better person.
Take their criticisms with a grain of salt
Negative people are always primed and ready to criticize whether you’ve asked them for critiques or not. I’m not a fan of criticisms, and few of us are. But there are also many individuals out there who take people’s criticisms to make themselves better. Be more like these people. I like to separate criticisms into two categories: constructive criticisms and reckless criticisms. Reckless criticism can be related to you building your sandcastle on the beach and a negative Nancy coming through and calling your sandcastle ugly, stomping all over it, and then walking away. While constructive criticism is that same person calling your sandcastle ugly then giving you advice on how you can rebuild a bigger and better one without them needing to damage the one you’ve already built. If there is anything you take from this post, take this one. Take negative people’s criticisms lightly because chances are they don’t really want to see you win, they just like seeing you frown.
Spend as little time with them as possible
Saved the best for last. Sometimes we can’t get rid of certain negative Nancys or Nathans because they work in the cubicle next to us, they’re our own friends or worse are members of our own family. We put up with their negativity because we have to and kicking them out of our life is damn near impossible. In cases like this, reduce the amount of your time you spend with them. Listen, your joy should be one of your top priorities, if not your number one priority. People spewing negativity can be toxic and can have a damaging effect on how you see yourself and your own happiness. It’s important that you are selective with the time you spend with them.
But before pulling a disappearing act on them, it’s important that you talk to them first if you haven’t already. Tell them about their negativity and how it’s affecting your relationship with them. As I mentioned before, some negative people don’t even realize they’re being negative. They really believe they are keeping it real. You can’t really fault these negative people. But if the negative person in your life isn’t trying to hear it, you have to do what’s best for you. So if holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and funerals are the only time you’ll see or speak to them, so be it. Your happiness is important, protect it like a baby.
In “Sex and the City,” Carrie Bradshaw makes living in New York City seem so glamorous. She’s often seen attending new restaurant openings with a cosmopolitan in one hand or walking the New York streets questioning why Big won’t love her back. But one thing that’s painfully obvious throughout the series is that the ladies rarely cross that bridge into Brooklyn. Even when Miranda moved to Brooklyn in season 6, Carrie, Samantha and Charlotte were not feeling it too much.
Well, here we are in 2015 where Brooklyn is now considered everyone’s new favorite borough of the metro area. I’ve lived in Brooklyn all my life and have witnessed the transformation. I’ve also noticed that among the new people I meet who are writers, they’ve come from all over the world to follow their dreams of having a successful writing career.
So I’m here as your Brooklyn fairy godmother to give you some tips (besides getting yourself a roommate) on surviving in Brooklyn your first year as a writer. I believe these tips are useful for longtime Brooklynite’s and those who have just moved to the borough.
Tip 1: Invest in a MetroCard
A MetroCard is a little gold card that you load with a certain amount of money that you swipe to pay for your train and bus fare. Back in the day, commuters used tokens to pay for their train and bus rides, today it’s the MetroCard. Now, Carrie may have gotten around the city in a city cab, but that can add up. If you’re a fairly new writer living in Brooklyn you may need a higher income to afford daily rides in a cab or via Uber. And owning your own car and dealing with minimal parking (unless your building offers an underground parking garage), gas prices, or the high costs of parking lots isn’t worth it. The subways and buses run often and they’ve improved since the 80’s and old episodes of Law & Order, A LOT! There’s minimal graffiti (if at all) and they are safer. In some of them, they even offer free Wi-Fi. If you buy an unlimited MetroCard you’re good to go practically anywhere in the city. There are fare hikes but when MTA’s fares go up you can bet the same will happen with the cabs. A MetroCard is like a golden ticket…that you pay for.
Tip 2: Buy your produce from local fruit and vegetable markets or green markets
Eating out is all good and everything, but if you are trying to stay in shape and reduce the amount of times you get sick, especially during our freezing winters, you’ve got to learn how to cook for yourself. Your oven is not an extra drawer for your things. With this said, we don’t have farms in Brooklyn (that I know of) but we have fruit and vegetable markets located all over Brooklyn and they sell their produce for reasonable prices. If you don’t have these markets in your area, do research online for green markets where you can get produce for great prices. At the Grand Army Plaza entrance of Prospect Park there are several green markets offered throughout the year where you can get super fresh produce, most organic.
Tip 3: Do most of your home goods shopping at Brooklyn discount stores
Target is great, believe me I know. But you’d be surprised what you can find at discount stores. To give you an example, I purchased mason jars from my local dollar store for $1 each. And found a collection of Pyrex branded bowls and cookware for under $10. At stores like Bobby’s and Bargain Hunter, I’ve been able to decorate my bathroom, kitchen and living room for a little over $100. I promise, I’m not making this up! I still shop at Target for some home goods, but for the most part I buy my home goods from discount stores because they sell most of the same items Target does, but for less.
Tip 4: Join a writers or ladies/guys night out group
As a writer, landing gigs has a lot to do with what you know and how great you can write, but it also depends on who you know. Your connections are everything in New York and can get you a coffee date with that publisher who will change your writing life. A great way to connect with other writers is through writers groups. I find most of my groups online on MeetUp.com. This website isn’t only good for finding writing groups, you can find groups for just about any interests you have even groups for writers who just moved to New York. Another great place to find writers and to receive critiques on your work (this one is mostly for writers of novels, memoirs, poetry) is the New York Writers Coalition that hosts workshops in the Central Brooklyn Public Library. Free feedback plus an opportunity to meet fellow writers and make solid connections! Win-win if you ask me.
Tip 5: Make Groupon and LivingSocial your go-to place for everything else
Chances are you’ll be living on a budget, so Groupon and LivingSocial needs to be your go-to place for everything else like entertainment, grooming, training, headshot photos for your website, or when you don’t want to cook and need to treat yourself to a meal at a restaurant. Groupon, LivingSocial and other apps like it offer great deals on places around Brooklyn and all of New York. My advice is to do a little research on the deals you find on these sites. Sometimes you can get the offers for cheaper elsewhere. Plus, you want to make sure you’re not purchasing an acupuncture session at a place in the back alley of a Chinese takeout restaurant. Not saying those exist, I’m just saying do your homework.
*This post is Day 2 of the 30-Day Blogging Challenge*
*This post is a part of the 30-Day Blogging Challenge hosted by Sarah Arrow and this is Day One!*
Almond milk is a staple in my home. My son has been drinking almond milk from the time he stopped breastfeeding, which was around 18 months, and my husband has to have it every day. We used to buy it in the carton and found ourselves spending a lot on it per month. Add to that the not always safe “natural” ingredients that gets added to it and you’ve got a reason to find other alternatives to having almond milk.
It was my husband’s idea to start making our own, and I was like, who got the time. But it was after I did the research on how to make it that I realized how many people are doing just that. The simplest way to make almond milk includes just a blender, filtered or spring water, and a cup or two of almonds.
Yes, literally all you need is water and almonds, and if you want a bit more taste like the flavors you find in brands like Silk, we can make that happen too. Check out the recipe below and start making your own almond milk tonight!
Day 1 of Nanowrimois complete! I was a bit anxious during the night and didn’t get much sleep so I was up and writing at 4am. I had an alarm set for 6am. The plan was for me to write a little, go for my run, then write again once I was back in. But I’m not complaining because I exceeded my word count!
Nanowrimo Day 1 word count
I wrote 2,000 words my first day of Nanowrimo. It started out a bit slow with me writing about 300 words and feeling stumped on which route I wanted to take the dialogue. As I explained in Day 0’s post, I’ve mapped out my scenes and how I want everything to go, but I don’t have written what I want my characters to say. I just know what I want them to achieve by the end of each chapter.
Anyway, my word count is set for 1668 but for Day 1 I exceeded it as I expected. Last year during Nanowrimo, a similar thing happened with me writing over the set word count. The reason for this is a mix of excitement and starting something new. I do this with everything new project, regardless of what it’s for lol. The real test will be around the 17th when I start to feel the burn. If I’m still writing 2,000 words then, I’ll celebrate.
Editing as I write. This is the most annoying thing I do but I can’t help it. Every writing expert strongly recommends not editing as you write. It slows your pace and makes you take longer on your work than you should. But I’m a bit of perfectionist and can’t resist getting rid of a red squiggly line. My challenge for this year’s Nanowrimo will be to just write, make the mistakes, and fix it during editing.
Nanowrimo Writing Schedule
I’ve decided to start writing at 5am since this is an ideal time to get my writing out on the page and still have time to take care of other areas of my life. I’m my most creative in the morning. Night writing could only work if I got late starts to my day which I can’t do right now, so morning writing is the answer.
If you’re participating in Nanowrimo this year, please feel free to share what you learned on Day 1 and how much you logged for the first day!