Showing posts with label writing life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing life. Show all posts

Only One Life

By Terry Whalin 

Sometimes during my day, I will take a few minutes and watch some YouTube or Tik Tok videos. Whenever I watch, I make sure to limit it so I don’t fall down a rabbit hole and lose a lot of time. One day I stumbled on this minute and a half video where billionaire Warren Buffett was speaking to a group of students. He encourages them to imagine that he would give each of them whatever car they wanted. These students could select the make and color of the car. His gift would come with one “catch.” His gift  would be the only car the student would receive for their lifetime. Buffett knows each of us use more than one car in a lifetime but then he calls to our attention that we only get one body and one mind for a lifetime.

The British missionary to China, C.T. Studd wrote a stirring poem called Only One Life which begins, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” It’s easy when we are young to not think about self-care for our body and mind. In this article I want to encourage you to take a portion of your writing day and fit in some self-care actions.

Through the years, my wife, Christine, has watched me gain and lose weight six or seven times. As someone who loves eating candy and anything sweet, I mount a daily battle in the food area for every meal. It’s an important element in my personal self-care and I’ve learned balance is more important than a particular weight. As I’ve studied my ancestors, I learn the majority of them were known as “big” men or overweight. My simple goal is not to be big and something I work at daily.

Let’s look at several areas of self-care: physical, emotional and mental. I’ve started with physical. It’s more than eating. As writers we spend a lot of time sitting in front of our computers. Several times a week, I spend time walking around my neighborhood. Often, I’m listening to an audiobook while I take a brisk walk and I do it throughout the year. Consistent exercise is an important value. Also, physical rest or sleep is important to fit into my day.

In the emotional area, I will call a friend or two throughout the day without any agenda other than checking in on them. It is an important element in my daily activities.

For the mental area of my self-care, I regularly listen to audiobooks but also read different types of books such as nonfiction, fiction, general market, Christian, how-to, children’s books and many others. In our negative world, each day I spend time in the Bible and have been reading it cover to cover for years. Also I limit my consumption of news and social media as part of my effort to achieve balance. Yes, I have an active social media presence, but I control my own consumption in this area.

Heres the reality: as much as the next person I fail in achieving these goals. When that happens, I make a point not to beat myself up but to dust myself off and get back on track.

Use the Compound Effect

Recently, I listened and read The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. Many of the examples in the book relate to self-care and show you don’t have to make drastic changes to improve your life. Instead, you can make small adjustments which over time will reap large results. Each of us need to take daily actions to care for ourselves and our only life.


In the rush of daily living, it’s easy to forget we only have one life. This prolific writer and editor encourages us to practice self-care. Learn the details here.  (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in California. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s recent book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Do You Have a Side Hustle?

By Terry Whalin 

Do you have a side hustle? Almost every writer has one but maybe you aren’t calling it a side hustle. I’m talking about something you do on the side apart from your main writing. Last month I encouraged every author to have a safety net. In this article, I want to give some ideas about various paths to diversity your income stream and begin a side hustle. Sometimes the side hustle will take over your main task.

Here’s why you need to read my advice and get ideas for your own life: I have not had a full-time job with a regular salary for decades. Within the publishing community I have fulfilled various roles: acquisitions editor, writer, author, co-author/ collaborator/ ghostwriter, internet marketer, teacher at conferences, and many others. Whichever role I’m taking at a particular time interacting with you, the bottom-line is I am an independent contractor with diverse ways of making income. It is nothing steady and a lot like the up and downs of riding a rollercoaster. Yet I also compare it to a monthly walk of faith. 

Decades ago, for 17 years I was a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators. During this period, I raised my own financial support through monthly donations from individuals and a few churches. Through the years, I saw many times the Lord provided in unusual ways—and this process continues during my life as a writer. Admittedly there are some tests of my faith experiences, but I can tell you God has been faithful to provide through my work and writing.

The Role of Non-paying Writing

You may read my writing here, or on my blog, The Writing Life (subscribe to it via email here), book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, my social media posts and other writing. The bulk of this writing earns zero income. Why do it? For the exposure, the marketing and other reasons. Podcasts, radio interviews, etc. are all about exposure to my free information and lead magnets where readers sign up for my email list. The statistics have proven that someone has to hear about your book at least seven times before they buy it.  These nonpaying markets are about exposure which sometimes leads to other writing opportunities.

Ideas for Multiple Income Streams

In the information below, I’m going to give a number of different possible ideas and resources. Whatever you write, look at these opportunities as side ventures that you can do in addition to your main writing task. At times these side hustles will become your predominate task for a day or several days. From my experience, the more diversity you can add into this mixture, the better. The first chapter of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams (which I originally self-published) includes a detailed list of different types of writing. Here’s the link (a 29-page PDF) for you to look at the variety of writing tasks and try some of these for your writing. 

Here’s nine different ways to get you started (Please copy and paste URLs that are not hyperlinked into your browser.):

1. Write and sell your own books. In this teleseminar, I give about a dozen different ways to make money with your books. 

2. Edit books for others. Some people have made a consistent career editing books for others. 

3. Earn Affiliate Income. I give the details and a free ebook about how to make money with affiliate income ( 

4. Create Online courses. Creating book proposals is one of my areas of expertise and I created an online course:

5. Speak at events online and in person To get these opportunities, you have to pitch directors and other leaders.

6. Write Work-Made-For-Hire Projects (Learn more at Many writers resist such projects but they are great for cash flow and consistent work.

7. Ghostwriting/ Collaboration. Many writers only want to write their own books but there are an infinite number of stories to write for others. 

8. What do you teach? I have an inexpensive program to teach you the details. Also, a free teleseminar on how to get more mileage from your content. 

9. Magazine writing to high paying markets. Some writers have stopped writing articles because the Christian market doesn’t pay much for them. In the general market many publications pay $1 per word or more—and you can write for them.

Find Your Side Hustle

Throughout this article, I’ve included website links to audios and other resources. First, save this article, then follow each link and explore it for your writing. Then take consistent action on the side hustles that make sense to you and get started. If you write fiction, consider writing nonfiction. If you write nonfiction, consider adding fiction to your mixture. The possibilities and opportunities are endless, but you have to open the door and get started. 


Do you have a side hustle? This prolific writer and editor recommends you create diverse income streams. Learn the details here. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in California. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s recent book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

What Drives Your Publishing?

By Terry Whalin (@terrywhalin

Few people talk about this truth of publishing: it is hard. I’ve been doing it for decades and it is still hard. There is a reason it is called work. Yet thousands of new books are published every day. These books join the millions of books which are already in print. Yes the field involves lot of competition yet there are also huge opportunities for writers.

Since I was a small child, I have always loved and appreciated many different types of books. As I wrote about in the first chapter of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, a high school English teacher pushed me toward joining my high school newspaper and beginning to write stories. It is a path I’ve walked for decades. I have spent (and continue to spend hours) learning the craft of storytelling. I study publications, publishers and agents to learn what they need then deliver it. I continue to build reader and audience connections. I care about the details of editing and understand the need to rewrite (especially if the editor needs something else). I’ve only given a few items in a lengthy list related to publishing. The reality is publishing is a complex business with many twists and turns. I’ve been continually studying it for decades.

As I’ve traveled the publishing journey, I’ve met incredible people and had remarkable experiences. For example, twice I’ve received six-figure advances from traditional publishers. I’ve also been fired and had book contracts cancelled.  I’ve experienced the thrill of success and the dismal feelings of rejection.  I’ve stayed at my computer sometimes all night to keep my fingers on the keyboard and meet a deadline.

Why do it? Why invest such effort into this challenging work which is filled with many “no thank yous” and rejection? My motivation is rooted in my personal experience from years ago. Books change lives and I know this fact firsthand because a book changed my life.  

For the first year and a half I attended Indiana University to study journalism, I rebelled from my Christian upbringing. You can read the details in this magazine article, Two Words ThatChanged My Life. During this period, I wandered in a Christian bookstore two blocks off the campus to look at their cards and posters. I found a book called Jesus the Revolutionary by H.S. Vigeveno (Regal Books). The title and cover caught my attention. This book changed my life and I saw a different side of Jesus than I had ever seen in church. I began a personal relationship with Jesus and changed the direction of my life. Instead of journalism, I spent ten years in linguistics and missionary work before eventually I returned to my writing and my first book was published in 1992. The printed page has the power to change lives and I know it from personal experience. These memories motivate me every day to be involved in some aspect of publishing.

Now that you know my motivation, I encourage you to spend some time thinking about your motivation. Can you capture it in sentence or two? Or maybe like my story, you have an experience about a changed life. Publishing is complicated and full of hard days as well as good one. My motivation to change lives is foundational as to why I fight through the hard experiences and keep on going. What motivates you? Let me know in the comments below.


What drives you to publish? According to this prolific writer and editor,books change lives. Learn the details here: #writinglife #pubtip (ClickToTweet)


W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in Colorado. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s recent book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets ToSpeed Your Success. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: Connect with Terry on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Searching for a Magic Bullet

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

With the rapid expansion of self-publishing (1.6 million books last year), you have to be careful in some regards which company you select, but overall, it is easy to make a book. Selling those books to readers is the major issue for every author—whether they verbalize it or not. Everyone is searching for a magic bullet which catapults them to the bestseller list and sells many books.
Are you ready for the hard truth from my decades in publishing? There is no magic bullet or path to become a bestseller. If such a path existed, every book from every publisher would become a bestseller. There are many well-written books, well-designed books which have dismal sales. What will make the difference?
In this article I want to give you a few of these best practices of bestselling authors. I understand there are many others here's a few critical ones:
1. Bestselling authors understand and maintain a relationship with their readers. These authors spend time to cultivate and nurture this relationship. They devote lots of attention to building an active email list.  I've read the articles where people say email is over but this long-term tool is key because each author controls their own email list for things like frequency, tone and building these relatinships through email. There are many tools for building this list like ConvertKit, MailChimp, AWeber and many others. As an author, pick one, learn to use the tool then actively use it repeatedly with your readers.
2. Bestselling authors create multiple paths to their email list. Whether these authors are on a podcast or a radio program or a guest blog post or a teleseminar or ????, they have created a “gift” or a “freebie” which is something attractive to their readers. Their readers can only gain access if they give this author their first name and email address. Some authors collect even more detailed information. These freebies are called lead magnets and take creativity and effort to create, then maintain. Check my link to see some of what I've created and get ideas. Every author needs to be creating these multiple paths of connection which lead to your email list.
3. Bestselling authors understand and use various forms of media like radio and podcasts. They have built relationships with effective publicists who can book these events for them.
4. Bestselling authors build an active presence on various forms of social media. Yes these platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are “rented” and nothing they control. They understand they have to be wise (read careful) about what they post so they don't get cancelled yet they find tools like Hootsuite or Buffer, then use those tools consistently to reach their readers—and guide them back to their email list.
5. Bestselling authors understand the power of advertising and invest in Facebook Ads, Amazon Ads, etc. Yet they hire the right people to help them or learn the inside scoop about it before investing into it. For example, bestselling self-published author Mark Dawson has a course which is only open a few times a year (follow this link to see it or at least get on his notification email list) or watch some of these testimonial videos of his students.
6. Bestselling authors are always learning and growing in their craft and various tools to reach new readers. It's something I've built into each of these various aspects.
Instead of searching for a magic bullet, I encourage you to mirror some of these practices for your writing life. Just pick one or two and begin taking action. My brief list is not exhaustive so let me know some other aspects in the comments below.

Instead of searching for a magic bullet, this prolific editor and author gives a series of practices from studying bestselling authors. Get ideas for your writing life here. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  He has written for over 50 magazines and more than 60 books with traditional publishers.  His latest book for writers is 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed. Get this book for only $10 + free shipping and over $200 in bonuses. He lives in Colorado and has over 190,000 twitter followers

Writing Through 2020, Or Not with Suzanne Lieurance

 In light of the unprecedented and scary year we've had, we thought it'd be a good idea to share our 2020 in regard to how the year affected our writing and our lives.

Today, Suzanne Lieurance shares her experience.


  As 2020 comes to a close, I have to wonder if I’m still a writer.

I haven’t gotten much writing done in months.

You see, both of my parents died this year.

My father died in January, so 2020 did not start off well.

Then, in March, the pandemic quarantined all the residents in the assisted living center where my mother was living. She was having a hard time, so after several weeks, my husband and I packed up everything we owned and moved from Florida to Nashville to take care of her.

We were lucky. We were able to rent a nice, large home down the street from my younger brother and his family, so they could visit with us and Mother often, even if only from the window, or inside at a distance, with a mask.

We hoped my mother would fare much better under our care than she had in near isolation at the assisted living center. But that was not to be. She was home with us for only one week when, overnight, she lost all use of her hands and feet and could no longer do anything for herself. We had to feed her, change her, brush her teeth and hair, prop her up in a wheelchair (after getting her in the chair with a hydraulic lift), wipe her nose, scratch her head, read to her, sing to her, tell her stories. We became her entire world– when she wasn’t hallucinating. Much of the time she communicated with people we could not see or hear.

The pandemic made it difficult to find paid caregivers, but we finally got some part time help. And, after a few weeks, my mother’s doctor referred her for Hospice care, so a nurse and an aid started coming in two to three times a week.

I don’t know what we would have done without Hospice. I knew nothing about helping a loved one die comfortably and peacefully at home. But that’s what Hospice allowed me to do for my mother for the next nine weeks – let her slowly die at home with us, in peace, without fear or pain. The Hospice people guided me every step of the way on that journey with my mother, and that is what I am most grateful for this year.

No, I didn’t get much writing done in 2020.

Mainly, I wrote my parents’ obituaries.

How I wish I could have written other things instead.

My writing tip for 2021:

Be kind to yourself. You don’t need to write every day or when there are other things you must do. Just don’t give up on your writing. Come back to it when you are able to.

For more writing tips,
be sure to visit and get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge. Once you're a subscriber, you'll also have access to a Private Resource Library for Writers.

Suzanne Lieurance is the author of over 35 published books, a freelance writer, and a writing coach. 

Are You Living the Writer's Life?

Yesterday as I was coaching a client, she said she had trouble connecting her writing life to her "regular" life.

She has so many things coming up in her personal life in the next month or so, that she just wasn't sure how she would continue doing things for her writing life, too.

Yet she didn't want to lose the momentum she'd gained in the past few months for her writing career.

This is a common feeling or situation among writers.

Many tend to see their writing or their writing business as a separate part of their lives.

When they do, they tend to either let their writing take over their personal lives almost completely (and they write, write, write all the time) or they NEVER find time for their writing or their writing business because they're always caught up in personal or family matters.

Either way, they constantly feel guilty and stressed.

So what's a writer to do?

Well...I think the answer is to live the writer's life all the time.

That doesn't mean you have to be writing all day, every day.

It just means you need to be making connections between your personal life and your writing life as often as you can, so you don't feel you have to sacrifice one part of your life for the other.

For example, take the things you enjoy in your personal life and write about them.

I do this all the time, often selling my personal essays, stories, articles, or other items to magazines, newspapers, online publications, and other publishers.

The great thing about doing this is that I can write about almost anything.

As you go about your day today – and every day – think of ways to connect your personal life with your writing life.

In other words, live the writer's life!

It's fun and profitable when you do.

Can't Think of Anything in Your Life Worth Writing About?

Try one of these ideas:

1. Your Most Memorable Birthday

2. The Best Car Trip You Ever Took - or the Worst Car Trip You Ever Took

3. Your Biggest Teenage Crush

4. The Scariest Thing That Has Ever Happened to You

5. The Most Difficult Thing You've Ever Done

6. How You Learned to Drive

7. The Worst Date You Ever Had

8. The Most Difficult Person You Ever Met

9. Staying Fit - Easy and Fun or Next to Impossible

10. Your Favorite Place in the World

Suzanne Lieurance is a freelance writer, the author of over 30 published books, and the Working Writer's Coach.

Let her teach you how to turn writing about your personal experiences into a career and your brand.

Learn more at

Keeping Up Appearances

Keeping Up Appearances is the title of a well-loved television sitcom featuring that determined social climber Hyacinth Bucket--"pronounced Bouquet"--and her long-suffering family.

But keeping up appearances is something we must all learn to do as writers, too, no matter how annoying it is to spend time away from our first love--the writing.

When you dedicate yourself to the writing life, how often do you consider how much else is involved?  So much that it may well distract us from writing altogether.

There’s all the social media, the website, the blog, the building of reader goes on and on. So much so that it can erode the joy of your own writing creativity.
Thanks to Geralt at Pixabay

Sara Humphreys on Buzzfeed at the weekend posted a heartfelt article listing her reasons for giving up not writing but the whole writing business.

It’s hard keeping up with everything we need to do. And keeping up with the Joneses is often a step too far.

Is Your Website Ready for 2017?

Sadly with so many developments in software and design techniques, there’s nothing that dates as quickly as a website.

Do you remember when websites were gaudy and packed full of bells and whistles? The pages bounced about with fireworks and animated gifs (and yes, there are still some examples in the Buzzfeed article above--aargh). We loved avatars that spoke to us as soon as the site loaded or the ever-present muzak.

The latest must-haves are sliders showcasing bookcovers or photos--you get the picture. (Pun intended.)

Good news is that modern website appearance is now tending toward the simple.Black type on a white background is so much in favour that most websites seem the same. So how can you make yours stand out?

An effective website is a successful blend of content and design where the one complements the other.

Answer the Right Questions

To get your content right, ask yourself two questions. What is my website for? Who is my website for?

What is my content for? To sell my books? To publicize my books? To attract new readers? To publicize me? Brainstorm ten possible answers then choose the one that resonates with you.

Who is my content for? No, you can’t be all things to all people. Choose an age range (e.g.30-40), a lifestyle (perhaps a stay-at-home mom), an aspiration (could be looking to start her own business). Narrow it down until you can clearly see your reader.

If you have someone in mind when you write your books, he or she may also be the target of your website. But if you are trying to attract new readers, you may aim at a different demographic.

The New Look Website

Now think about taking a new look at your website. Focus. What is going to keep the interest of your readers. What’s in it for them?

Your home page must include a CTA, a call to action, an offer that will appeal to your readers. It’s no longer enough to say “Please sign up for my newsletter.” Invite website visitors to join your street team, to be the first to get news of your new books, to review your books on publication.

Offer writing tips, show how to get published. Free books and giveaways are all popular and will help grow your subscriber list. Remember, it’s all about them.
And of course, show off your books. Make sure that you optimize the size of your cover pix to load quickly on the web. I don’t wait long for a website to load. Too many other things I could be doing, too many other websites to check out. And I’m not alone in that.

Run your website through Google Tools speedchecker. Easy. You just type in your site's URL and hit the blue button marked analyze.

See how well it loads.

I work to simplify and speed up my website. My results when viewed on a desktop were dire. Just over 50% when summarized. And worse --under 50% on a mobile friendly result. Duh!

Seven or eight items needed fixing. Suggestions included enabling compression, reducing server response time, optimizing images. The last was a real blow. I thought I'd mastered that.

But for every failure, there was a link to help me fix the problem and improve my loading time.

I've downloaded the zip file of all the resources Google wants speeded up and thinking of it as an early Christmas present as I doubt if I shall manage to do my makeover much before then.

Website checklists

Many marketers are providing helpful checklists if you're looking to see how your pages and content match up.

A quick do-it-yourself website creation checklist hit my email box from Christina Hills this week. It is simplistic, and you will need to adapt it, but it will help your focus on essentials. Your products page will be your books page. Your services would be any other training you offer.

More Must-Do Tips

To ensure your site continues to appear in search engine results next year, follow Google's new guidelines.

Year on year, more and more readers use a mobile device to access the web. To check that your website is mobile friendly, it’s back to Google and do read the linked blog post.

Another thing to do while you’re using the Webmaster Tools is find and correct broken links. These are anathema to Google and can not only drop your pages down the listings but can cause them to stop showing in the search engine at all.

The need to have a mobile friendly website also means streamlining your design. Three column—even two column websites—look squashed on a hand-held device. Single columns show up well, hence the growing number of simple text sites with the images inserted into the one column.

The new look for now and into 2017 is for doodled images—see the cutting edge designs at and yes, there are three bs.

The Better Novel Project  is fun and a great learning site that deconstructs best-selling novels scene by scene, one doodle at a time. Well worth looking at. Good for ideas and plot development. Tackles everything from Star Wars to JK Rowling. And yes, there is also a free book on offer.

If you want to do further research, another useful and helpful article on the changing face of web design can be found here .

What’s on the way?

Over half the world’s population will supposedly be online by 2017, and the enormous influx of new users will mean an incredible amount of digital newbies, including more and more elderly.,

By 2017, think of building more age-specific help  into the latest websites.
Designers are aiming to create Navigation Menus that will expand and contract depending on the ability of users; those with difficulty will see simple interfaces to make it easier for them.

As in e-readers, font-sizes and spacing will be able to increase to accommodate the eyesight of the elderly. Color schemes will change; more saturated colors for the young, more muted hues for those of us who are older.

 If you like doodling, incorporate your designs into your articles.  White space, my favourite, continues to play a big role in the future.  A simple site with clear and consistent color choices ages much better than a shouty, busy one.

And when it comes to clutter, ditch the pop-ups and all the social media buttons that irritate by hiding your content. Google hates them too. Choose maybe two social media sites for sharing. Too many buttons and readers click off your site instead of sharing anywhere.

To keep yourself up to date, simplify. Less is more. Enjoy your website and have fun.

Bit of a long article this time. But what are you doing to manage all the extras in your writing life? Any plans for updating blogs and websites? Let me know in the comments below. :-)

Anne Duguid
Anne Duguid Knol

A local and national journalist in the U.K., Anne Knol is now a fiction editor for award-winning American and Canadian publishers. As a new author, she shares writing tips and insights at Author Support : .

Her Halloween novella, ShriekWeek is published by The Wild Rose Press as e-book and in print  included in the Hauntings in the Garden anthology. (Volume Two)

Her column on writing a cozy mystery appears monthly in The Working Writer's Club .

Writing Soulfully

Writing Soulfully or writing So Fully is what makes the process of sitting down at the desk or out on the banks of a lake rewarding. How is that done? By connecting to the world around you and really paying attention to each small piece. 

I read a story about a group of Aborigines who were traveling and how every so often they stopped. When asked why, they replied that they were awaiting their souls. How amazing that thought is to me. Awaiting our soul, as if our souls take the breaks to see and discover what the world has to offer us, when we ourselves are too often caught up in the day to day challenges. 

And it is just that need to take breaks to let the soul catch up that harnesses our creativity and turns our words into works of art, manuscripts that make a difference in the lives of our readers. Words mean things, I've often said to my children, colleagues, friends and clients. If a word choice makes a difference in conversations, how much more critical is it to our writing world? I often sit, just sit and let the world go by while attempting to find that one right word, that right turn of phrase, that right emotion that will trigger something in the reader, something indelible, concrete.

For many of us writing is like breath - we cannot live without it, but what else gives us that same feeling of connectedness? And how can we incorporate those feelings of connectedness with our writing, because that's where joy lives.

For me joy and writing live together when I'm doing the following:

1. Being outside. For me, an outdoor landscape is necessary for an inner experience. I find my creativity is sparked by the color green, or the blues of a lake, ocean, or sky. Flowers and mushrooms both touch me in different ways and somehow evoke story ideas, character mannerisms and plot twists.

2. Washing dishes & making beds. Strangely, doing those chores allows me to let my mind go and I can then focus on the places where I'm stuck. Mindless activities that can be filled with enriching thoughts.

3. Sitting amongst strangers. Making my way to a coffee shop or walking the local mall is also a way for my creativity to spark and for inspiration to come my way. 

My soul yearns for these experiences, and when I let it, it wanders in delight, and I now knowingly wait for it to return because it will fill me in on what it saw, heard, felt - and then I am just like the Aborigine who waits for their soul.

Today, take time to let your soul wander. Wait for it to catch up to you and then listen for what wisdom it will share. Take that knowingness and write - write a passage that connects your soul to your writing. 

D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, Solem was released February 2016.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole, and Perception, and the co-author of The Exodus Series: The Water Planet: Book 1 and House of Glass: Book 2. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.                                                                                             

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at                                      

You can also follower her on Facebook.

Easy Tips to Achieve Your Goals

Last January, my husband and I received pedometers as a New Years gift from our son.  He was nudging us towards more exercise.  It worked.  Why?  I think there were two reasons--we had daily visual cues and a goal buddy.  Our fitbit pedometers provided us with a daily visual of the amount of exercise we were getting.  We set a target of 15,000 steps a day.  My husband was my goal buddy and we held each other accountable for reaching the 15,000 steps.  Six months into this experiment, I lost my pedometer.  Within a month, my steps took a significant drop.  I had lost my visual cue and when my husband couldn’t see my steps, he stopped holding me accountable. I just bought a new pedometer, I’m sure I’ll once again reach my exercise goal.  

I’m someone who needs to build support and structure around my resolutions.  This applies to most areas of my life.  I’ve used similar strategies to achieve my writing goals.  Creating visual cues and having a goal buddy has kept my writing on track.

Here are a few strategies to boost your writing life.
1.       Create visual cues that remind you of your writing goals. 
a.       Design a vision board.  Put pictures, words and phrases that represent your story and your publishing goals.  Are you hoping for a book contract?  Draw a contract on this board. You can create a vision board for one manuscript or your whole writing life.   Enjoy the process.  Arts and crafts are good for the soul of a writer.
b.      Stick post-it notes all around your house...on your nightstand…bathroom mirror…computer.   Write the title of the book or project and your goal. (Finish first draft by Feb 1st; identify two ideas for marketing plan by Friday)
c.       Use mind mapping to outline all your projects.  See the post by Shirley Corder on mind mapping and writing.  She hand drew her mind map.  I prefer using software like freeplane or freemind.  Below is a mind map of my children's writing projects.

2.       Find a goal buddy to connect with once a week or every other week. 
a.       Find an online partner.  Instead of exchanging manuscripts, share a weekly goal and then check in once a week to discuss your progress.  A goal buddy should help you establish achievable goals for the week.
b.      Phone a friend.  Select a friend that you’ll call the same time each week to discuss your weeks accomplishments and set your goals for the coming week.

These techniques provide me with the structure I need to stay disciplined in my writing.  What strategies have you used to boost your writing? 

Mary Jo Guglielmo is a writer, teacher and intuitive life coach. She helps clients push through their blocks, envision their path and take the necessary action to live their True North. 

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