How Compassion Can Not Only Make You a Better Person But a Better Writer

HeartsInitially, I struggled with this powerhouse of a word.

I was apt, for example, to bark at a customer service representative or get teed off if someone cut me off in traffic. But age and children can soften one’s heart.

I developed compassion. This has helped me be a better daughter, friend, mother, partner and a writer.

How does compassion affect your writing?

This has been key in my ability to raise my writing to the next level.

In the nonfiction arena, it’s given me a new perspective. Instead of how best do I write this piece, it’s made me ask, “How do I help this client sell an idea? How do I help this company reach their target audience? What is the best way for me to deliver this organization’s message?”

It’s a simple change that’s had a profound impact on how I write.

In fiction, it’s put me in the shoes of publishers and editors. They want to create unique, meaningful and creative products. They want to show the world the diamond in the rough piece. They want to be as successful as I do.

When I first started writing, I had a huge chip on my shoulder. I didn’t think about the person reading my material. I thought only about myself-how do I not fail? How do I not sound like I’m pretending? How do I hide my insecurities? As you can imagine, this made for weak and self-conscious pieces.

I think about how I’d feel if I receive half-hearted, rude or thoughtless service. I feel ripped off. I feel gipped. I feel like I never want to be a customer here again.

I then think about the hotel that left me a complimentary bottle of water or the restaurant that remembered me and my order from last time. All that extra attention made a difference in my experience.

It’s the same thing about writing.

Can you put yourself in your client’s shoes and then use your words from this perspective? Can you understand their own insecurities and fear? Can you use that information to provide the service and product that you would be grateful to receive?

If you think this way while working on your next project, your fear and insecurity will melt away. All that will be left is your desire to do your best to fill your client’s greatest needs.

5 Stages of the Writing Process

{Etsy wooden steps by A Rustic Garden}
{Etsy wooden steps by A Rustic Garden}

There are developmental stages for ages. Stages for grief and loss. And even stages of sleep, pregnancy and labor. So I thought why not writing? Here are the 5 stages most writers go through from idea to publication.

Stage 1: Eureka!

Stage 1 is probably my favorite part. It’s when ideas form from nothingness. They’re conceived when showering, walking, and time spent zoning off into space. It’s an exciting part of the process when I can’t wait to get to my laptop or a notepad to jot down the crazy thoughts bouncing around in my head. It might be days or weeks until you get to stage 2. I had an idea for this blog post several days before I pondered it long enough to put it into a post.

Stage 2: Outpouring {For Your Eyes Only}

Stage 2 is a time when only you and your computer should be savvy to your work. Don’t try to edit it. Don’t read it aloud to a friend, your partner, to any one. Give yourself the freedom to write without your thinking cap on, without your editor, without limitation. This part is pretty fun. When you can quiet the censor, you’re completely free to explore.

Stage 3: A Little Here, a Little There

Stage 3 is when you invite the editor for a cup of tea. Just long enough to make sure what you wrote the day before on your stage 2 high, makes any sense. Let her weave in and out, cut here and there, delete a few misspelled words. Then leave it and return when you’re ready to do some heavy duty revising.

Stage 4: Down and Dirty

This is where the hard work comes in. It’s not usually my favorite part because it involves left-brain critical thinking. Send your right brain creative side on vacation and get critical. Be harsh, demanding and discriminating. If you don’t, your editor will. Read it objectively. Would you continue reading after the first paragraph? Would your eyes glaze over after that page? Does that word feel uncomfortable like a too tight shirt? Take it out. Read. Reread. Now is the time to share it with those you trust. Get your markers out!

Stage 5: You Can See the Light

You’ve spent days, maybe even weeks on stage 4. You’ll know you’re reading for stage 5 when you’ve read it without wincing. There are a few choice words that can be shifted, removed and replaced. Do it now! Put on a fresh pair of eyes after you’ve set this one aside at least for a day. Read each sentence as a separate entity and then each paragraph, then page. Does everything flow? Yes? Then you might be ready to send it out.

Writer Tip: How to Deal With Rejection

I don’t know if you’re a big Something’s Gotta Give fan like me. But if you are, you know every single line, every heartbreaking sentence and LOL phrase that made Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson sing on-screen together.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways (the writing, the setting, the fact that Diane played a screenwriter). One of my favorites, however is her genuine vulnerability reflected when she’s with Jack’s character Harry. There’s one scene that does it for me every time. Harry and Erica are in New York when she catches having dinner with a younger woman. She runs out of the restaurant and Harry follows her. She tells him how heartbroken she is, looks at him and says, “What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do with all of this?”

The reason why I bring up this particular line is that it perfectly captures the emotion engendered from rejection. It feels as devastating as a heartbreak. No matter how many times we’ve been rejected, it’s still a bitter pill to swallow.

After you’ve been rejected, after you put hundreds of hours in your work, after you allowed yourself to be vulnerable by showing off your work, what do you with all of this?

In Toxic Criticism, Eric Maisel says one way to soothe your wounded ego is to write yourself a “Dear critic” letter. It’s not to be sent or even shown. It’s a way to release the hurt, pain, and anguish that often accompanies rejection. For that reason, feel free to let your emotions go. Tell your editor how disappointed you were. Explain to that potential agent how dumb they were to pass up your book. Let them have it and when you’re through, rip it up and release those demons. And when you’re ready, get back on the writing saddle again. We’ll be waiting for you.

How Yoga Can Heal Your Writing Pains

{flickr photo}

What do you do when fear and procrastination threaten to derail your writing? 

Writer and coach Cynthia Morris has been writing since 1994, coaching writers since 1999 and published several articles and two books: a historical novel called Chasing Sylvia Beach and Create Your Writer’s Life: A Guide to Writing with Joy and Ease. What has helped her persist is a unique combination of yoga and what she calls, “juju.” Read on to find out how they may be able to help you jump start your own writing:

“I think both my writing practice and my yoga practice made me this persistent. But I also tap into my values to help me persist. When the hedonist in me entices me to abandon difficult work and do something fun and easy, I look for ways to love the difficulty. Challenge and curiosity are two important values to me. By persisting with draft after draft with the novel I am honoring those values. This makes the work easier to bear.”

What’s juju and how can it spark your creativity?

“To me, juju is the magical synchronicity, surprise and connections we experience
when we’re in the flow with our creative vitality. For instance, throughout the twelve years it took to write Chasing Sylvia Beach, I had to do a lot of research. Again and again, at just the right time, the necessary resources and connections showed up. The surprises seemed nothing short of miraculous. I began to see them as blessings, gifts and boons that I could never have imagined or planned on my own. I am not sure how juju works, but I love the feeling I get when I experience it: joy, delight, trust and encouragement. This isn’t just me, though. Working with my clients, they experience juju, too. It’s a big part of what helps them ignite their writing passion on an ongoing basis. The trick is to pay attention; some clients even keep a juju or synchronicity journal to help remind them they’re on the right track.”

Maybe all you need to get your writing mojo back is to do some yoga and tune into your own juju. If not, what tips, tricks, techniques help you get your juices flowing and your creativity back?

Cynthia offers a ton of free articles and inexpensive ways to keep your writinglife vibrant with your passion and commitment, including her free video course,Secrets to Empowered Creativity. You can visit Cynthia at http://www.originalimpulse.com for more resources on keeping the passion in your writing life.

Easy Ways to Increase Your Chances of Freelance Success

{found on pinterest via @Calvin Hensley}

While I’m hardly one to call myself a success (unlike this couple), I have picked up a few learn-as-you-go tips that have seriously change my career and my life. To be honest, my freelancing career started without any preparation, focus or long-term planning. I basically decided one day that it was time to stop waiting for my life to happen and start living it. Although it’s been a rocky road, I have never had trouble finding a writing gig (*knock on wood) and have succeeded in getting bigger and better jobs throughout my career. I must have done something right.

And looking back, maybe there were a few things that I did do that helped to sweeten the pot. With patience, time, hard work and a stubborn desire to make it no matter how tough it gets, you might get there too, maybe even faster than I did.

These crazy things I did may help you too:

I hoarded clips. Oh yeah I did! I wrote for free publications, local newspapers, teeny-tiny start-up blogs. I offered my writing services for free (well mostly because a lot of these places stiffed me). But in the end, building a ton of clips was a great way to start my career. When I was ready to start hitting up bigger companies, I had a melange of samples to choose from. I still do.

I acted like an extrovert. And I’m so not! But I sort-of pretended to be by searching for high profile writers that I admired and begged asked if I could interview them. Just a few minutes to “shadow” them and find out what it’s like being in their shoes. Surprisingly, I was able to meet a few newspaper reporters that way and this amazing writer. Not only did I get professional advice on how to start my career, but one of the reporters I met knew a company I was interviewing. To this day, I believe that connection helped me to land my first copywriting gig for a major retailer. I’m forever grateful for those writers who really boosted my self-confidence and encouraged me to give it a go. And I like to remind them how much that initial contact meant to me.

I pretended I knew how to blog. Basically, I knew blogging was important to my career. I was already way behind blogging although I had written in journals my entire life. So I just did it. I did it first as a way to write about my personal life and then I created a few more to take it professionally. And I did it horribly. But it was for myself on a free site and all that practice was good for my career. It was also great for networking with other creatives. I used my first inspiring blog to connect with authors, life coaches, bloggers and even an Olympic medalist. Blogging was an impressive platform and although I feared others were snickering behind my back, I believed it was worth it. I still do. Even if you and my family are the only ones reading it.

I didn’t take “no” for an answer. I’m a pretty sensitive soul. But when I wannabe, I can be pretty persistent. An old co-worker actually described me as a “bulldog.” His words. But when I really want something I’m pretty stubborn about it so I push with grace. Basically, this means that if I’m turned down for a position and I really, really want to work for a company, I keep trying. I let them know that I’d be interested in hearing about other jobs in the future. I stay in touch with new potential ideas for a publication. I’ll keep a great relationship and the lines of communication open because I know if there is a good fit, they’ll feel it too. I wait for another position to come up. And you know what? It usually does.

I knew when it’s time to let go. Sometimes I don’t act on it as quick as I should. But I’ve gotten a lot better at this. If you hold on to a job too long that’s not serving you, you’re only hurting yourself. That’s one of the reasons why I admire this writer. She knew when it was time to leave and she did. There are some writing gigs that I got that was seemingly great for my career. In fact, one led to being published on USNews.com. But after awhile, a few of these gigs didn’t work out. Maybe it was the chemistry, the finances, the work itself, but while they didn’t all end beautifully, I’m so glad I decided to end them. As they say, when you close one door, another one opens.

I learned to be picky. I think desperation makes you apply too all writing jobs just like hunger makes you eat whatever’s in front of you. The key is to keep reminding yourself that applying for the wrong jobs is a big waste of time. Nowadays, I look for red flags before I apply to weed out time wasters. Helps a lot!

These are just a few lessons learned that helped me. Garnered any great wisdom on your own crazy freelance journey? Share them please.

Quick Tip 6: Turn Your Misfortune Into Fortune

Hear me out. Nobody likes bad luck. And I’m sure most of us would rather not be published than have something difficult happen in our lives.

But not only do I believe writing is one way (and a healthy one I might add) to express yourself in the midst of hardship, I also believe that if you are a writer, this is a good opportunity for you to transform your bad luck into good luck by being able to write about your experience.

Think Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love or Laura Munson and her memoir This Is Not The Story You Think It Is.

If you’ve got a story to tell about a difficult experience or how the worst day of your life became the best day, then that could be your next blog, article or memoir.

That’s why all new experiences are so enticing for writers. They can always lead, good or bad, to a new writing opportunity.

Good luck writers!

Quick Tip 5: Be a Student of Life

No matter how much you pray, beg, and visualize, you won’t get better at your craft unless you do something about it.

That’s where quick tip 5 comes in: Learn something new every day.

I received one of the nicest compliments ever from a client recently. He said that I was open to new projects and I never disappoint. I’m still glowing from his kind words actually.

But after I snapped out of it and got back down to earth, I realized that challenging myself and never getting too comfortable with anything I did, helped me to be a better writer.

People Who Say They Already Know Everything They Need to Know

I sometimes hear writers who say they don’t want to join social media or don’t see the benefit of blogging. That’s fine and dandy if they write novels and make enough money doing everything in print.

But if you want to get ahead and build your business, you need to educate yourself with what’s happening right now.

I can honestly say that I was a virgin when it came to social media a year ago. And while I’m still not an expert at it, I’m under 800 followers in and have used this platform to publicize my business, my blogs and network with other writers. I’ve met a great deal of writer friends that way.

When I was asked to do social media for another company, I took the job even more seriously.

Here’s what I did:

  • I joined several online courses on social media.
  • I read books on the subject.
  • I studied what those who were good at it did.
  • I took risks.
  • I made lots of mistakes.
  • But above all I learned from them.

The bottom line?

Don’t ever get too comfortable with the job you have or the clients you have now. Be open to learning new things and you’ll provide value to your clients and your business.

Brandi-Ann Uyemura is a freelance writer who offers free initial consultations to help beginning writers get motivated, the disempowered and confused get empowered and back on course and gives writing tips for entrepreneurs. Sign up for freelance writing tips here and contact her at bauyemura at gmail dot com for more info.

Quick Tip #4 for Writers

Hope you’ve been enjoying my quick tips for Christmas.

Here is another one.

Hide Your Desperation

Clients can smell fear and desperation miles away.

If you feel anxious and doubtful that you will ever be able to make it as a writer, hide it quick. Your worries will only attract other desperate people.

  • It will make you take jobs that are beneath you.
  • It will make you compromise on your values and ethics.
  • And it will get you that much farther from your dreams.

Do you remember the guy you couldn’t stand in high school? The girl who you couldn’t get away from fast enough?

When you feel desperate, you unknowingly act like them. Good clients will stay away and bad clients will be suddenly and mysteriously attracted to you.

Do you know why?

They figure they can take advantage of your desperation.

There are a few things you can combat your fears and worries about not making the bills next month:

  • Get a part-time job.
  • Focus your energies on marketing and networking with potential clients.
  • Write about your fears and send it to a potential publication. (I did this by the way and it not only temporarily cured my fear by giving me confidence, but it put money in my pocket too.)
  • Be honest about your finances. Take a look at what you’re paying for and see if you can reduce unnecessary spending.

These are a few ways to combat desperation. Have your own? Do share!

Brandi-Ann Uyemura is a freelance writer who offers free initial consultations to help beginning writers get motivated, the disempowered and confused get empowered and back on course and gives writing tips for entrepreneurs. Sign up for freelance writing tips here and contact her at bauyemura at gmail dot com for more info.

Day 3: Christmas Gift for Writers

It’s Day 3 of my gift to you writers out there!

A lot of writers believe that they are out of the game because they are lacking in experience.

But here’s my next Christmas gift tip for you: Find a loop hole.

Think about what you have to offer a potential client that your competition can’t. Think about the time you can give, the passion you have for the position, your “I’ll try anything” attitude, and you might just score yourself a job and steal that ball away from those with more experience than you.

Here’s how I did it:

I applied for a job once or twice, or maybe thrice and was inexperienced and unqualified.

But I almost always got the job.

How?

I found a loop hole.

1. Network.

I networked with other writers and eventually met someone who had a friend of a friend who was looking for a copywriter. Bingo! After they gave me a chance with an interview, I passed their test with flying colors.

2. Ask and you shall receive.

If I was turned down for the job of my dreams, but didn’t get it, I rarely stop there. Like Cher in Clueless, I just think of it as the starting point for negotiations. In fact, I talked about it here. When you’re unqualified for the top job, don’t be too big in your britches to ask what else you can do. There’s no shame in working your way up to the job of your dreams. And maybe you’ll end up loving that job more. It’s happened to me more than once and I’m usually grateful that I didn’t get the job I originally applied for.

3. Celebrate what makes you “you.”

You may not have years of experience on your shoulders, but your enthusiasm may win over your next client. Or it could be your crafty niche or your spiritual side. Use what makes you unique as a way in and see if that won’t get you the job of your dreams.

That’s it for todays tips!

Have your own? Won’t you share them with us below?

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