Tips for New Parents with Disabilities – Guest Post by Ashley Taylor

Photo courtesy of UnSplash

Becoming a parent for the first time is often filled with feelings of excitement and stress as it is a new and life-changing experience to embark on. If you are living with disabilities, these emotions may be even more amplified as you navigate caring for another person’s needs as well as your own. Here are some tips on finding your footing amidst your disability and preparing for a life of parenthood.

Make room for baby

The first thing you’ll need to do is prepare your home so that everything is in working order when the baby arrives. Before setting up the nursery, think about the location of it and how close you want it to be to your own bedroom considering you’ll probably be making a few late night treks to it. You’ll need to make sure you have the basics such as a crib, dresser, rocker and changing table. Go ahead and stock up on things you’ll need for diaper changes and clothes of various sizes now. If you’re going to use formula, do some research and pick out the best brand as well as easy to use, no-mess bottles. A baby monitor will also come in handy in that it will help you feel at peace and keep tabs on your little one whenever you’re not in the same room.

Give your house a good cleaning so it is ready for you to come home from the hospital, or hire a cleaning service to help out so you can focus on your new responsibilities as a parent. Whip up some dinners now and stick them in the freezer for later, as you won’t have time to cook during the first few weeks. In case a sitter, family member, or friend will be helping out, make sure you compile a note with important emergency contact numbers and stick it on the fridge in plain sight. Chances are your child will be crawling in no time, so it won’t hurt to go ahead and baby proof the home now. Think about sharp corners, wires and outlets as you go through the house.

Get support

There are a vast amount of resources out there for new parents that offer workshops where you can practice the necessary skills of caring for a newborn. The Guardian recommends “meeting an anesthetist before the birth to discuss your options, bearing in mind your disability and any other medications; using a sling that makes it possible to pick up a newborn with one hand; and practicing any new maneuvers you may need, or using any new baby equipment, with a weighted doll.” You should also find support groups and enroll in classes with your baby to help jump-start the bonding process.

Don’t forget about yourself

In the midst of all the planning and chaos, make time for yourself. Don’t let the baby overrun your home or your emotions. Instead, keep your room a sanctuary where you can escape free of clutter and responsibility. In order to be fully present and available for your child, you need to start practicing self-care methods now. Try meditation, yoga, a hot bubble bath with candles, or even indulging in your favorite pastime.

Communicate with your doctor often about your needs and don’t be afraid to ask for help from others. This is a consuming time and you’ll need all hands on deck. Lastly, remember to enjoy the process and be sure to take lots of photos as it will go by fast.

Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. To learn more about Ashley and her organization, visit the site.

Tips, Tricks, and Little Known Halloween Facts…

Hey kids, it’s been quite a while since I did a whole big resource post but Halloween is always a fun  holiday,  so let the tips and tricks begin.

The facts

  • Halloween has its origins in Celtic, Wiccan and even Catholic traditions and celebrations. Most of which were meant to celebrate the end of the growing season, the coming of winters and the thin line between the living and the dead.
  • The celebration was a blend of All Saints Day, the Celtic celebration of Samhain, and the Roman festival Feralia.
  • The custom of putting lights in carved vegetables came from the pre-Christian Druids in northern Celtic lands. Before and during Druidic ceremonies practitioners hung a carved and lighted turnip around their necks as a “spirit guide” to get them safely through the dangerous procedures, which sometimes included human sacrifice.
  • By the 19th century, most of the religious aspects of the Halloween celebration were gone and became mostly a secular holiday that was more about dressing up in costume for fun and entertainment than confusing the dead and warding off spirits.
  • The tradition of ‘trick or treating’ in America is believed to have originated with Irish immigrants who brought with them the Halloween tradition of going door to door looking for sweets and other treats.
  • Many believed (perhaps still do) that Halloween is a pagan celebration of witchcraft. Among the traditions that seemed ‘witch like’ are –
    • Young women could determine her future spouse by staring into a mirror in a darkened room or by peeling an apple in one long strip and then casting the peel over her shoulder.
    • Baking small coins, trinkets, and a single, plain ring into a type of fruit cake that would be shared among the neighbors. If you got a trinket in your piece – that was your fate for the coming year, with the person who got the ring destined to wed.
  • Some Christian faiths still maintain that Halloween encourages witchcraft and hold “Hell Houses” meant to scare children and young adults away from the traditions and to lead them back to the church. Some even go so far as to hand out pamphlets on Halloween night to be found when kids go through their candy.

Halloween Safety Tips


Dressing up in costume is one of the more fun aspects of the holidays but some costumes can be problematic. The following tips might help prevent costume malfunction:

  1. With kids’ costumes you want to avoid choking hazards. Look over the outfit and accessories for anything that can be pried off or favored as a teething toy for a baby. Details such as buttons, beads, sequins, or other baubles meant to be decorations may need to be removed or given a couple extra stitches to ensure they remain intact.
  2. Make sure costumes don’t obstruct your view, including peripheral vision.
  3. Dragging hemlines can cause tripping and be caught in machinery, fences, gates and car doors. Hem costumes so your child won’t trip herself or others.
  4. Also check tags to see what kind of fabric is used. You or your child may have an allergic reaction to synthetic fabrics, or they may cause chafing if fabric is rough and your child does a significant amount of walking in it.
  5. Always ensure that the fabric of your costume is proofed against catching fire.
  1. Make sure youngsters have flashlights and/or some sort of reflective tape adhered to their costume when going door to door.
  2. Make sure they are wearing appropriate footwear for walking and weather conditions.
  3. Organize it so that children travel in groups, and have a buddy system in place. Do not move from one house to the next until all kids are accounted for.
  4. Be extra careful crossing the streets, though drivers may be trying to be careful the streets will have more than usual foot traffic and accidents still happen.
  5. If you are driving on Halloween during trick or treating hours, be extra vigilant and keep your eyes on the road. If you need to break up an argument between your kids over whose candy is whose, pull over and work it out rather than looking away from the road.
  6. Never let the kids consume any of the candy from their bags until an inspection has been done. Check to ensure that wrappers and packaging is still sealed properly, wash and cut fruit such as apples before consumption, and check baked good as well. If you are in doubt about any item it is better to throw it away than take a chance.

 Halloween Recipes

Meringue bones and skulls

Easy roasted pumkin seed recipe

Watch this vid to see how to make “dirt pudding”

Halloween Laughs

If you’re in the mood for something punny – check this site for some groan worthy jokes

Halloween Games

Need some games for your Halloween party?

And if you happen to be staying home tonight with no particular plans, check out this movie trailer. Who knew Helen Mirren could be so scary? LOL!

Have a ghoulish good Halloween and don’t forget to save me some candy. Caramels and Hershey’s Chocolate, please. 😉


10 Tips for Improving Your Amazon Product Listing

Anyone who sells anything on Amazon is familiar with the many rules, guidelines and, peculiarities of writing their product listing page. It can be very confusing and sometimes sellers can have their pages suspended if they do something wrong. Often it takes a while to sort out exactly what the seller did wrong and ends up costing her sales.

Over the last 2-3 years I’ve written hundreds of product listings for clients and have developed a list of best practices when approaching a listing. If your page isn’t doing well or not converting the way you would like perhaps these tips will be helpful.

The Tips

Follow the rules. This means character limits, formatting, verboten words, and promises. Did you know that the only punctuation allowed in bullets and titles are commas and semicolons? Or that you aren’t allowed to put sales and/or discount information in bullets or titles? While you may flaunt the rules and seem to get away with it, eventually the Zon catches up with you and you risk having your listing suspended.

Reduce your keywords to 5-7. The urge to want to use as many keywords as possible is often irrestitible, but you should try to resist anyway. The truth is, if you have narrowed your focus to your ideal customer, you shouldn’t need more than 5-7 keywords. And no matter what anyone tells you, consumers do not read keyword stuffed copy. For good reason, it usually makes no sense.

Search reviews of your own product and competitors with similar or the same product for benefits, phrasing, and language that will resonate with your prospect. You may even find inspiration for an awesome headline. Look for phrases, features and, benefits that come up repeatedly in the reviews – these are the things that are resonating with the consumer or your product. Also, check the headline on the reviews, they may spark a great idea for an awesome headline.

Never, ever, ever, ever pay for reviews. This includes review swapping (I’ll review yours if you review mine), hiring ‘services’ that will do reviews, etc. Amazon has really cracked down on phony reviews in the last couple of years and in fact are suing several parties who were selling Amazon reviews. If you have fake reviews on your account you risk being banned from Amazon. They are that serious about it. This article about paid reviews you may find very illuminating.

Don’t waste bullet points on guarantees or bonuses. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen bullet points that talk about bonuses, sales discounts, and guarantees. It’s a waste of a bullet. There is ample room elsewhere in the listing to mention these items. And if you can’t come up with at least 5 benefits of your product perhaps you are selling the wrong product.

Stop using ALL CAPS. Ditto on stars, check-marks or other fancy symbols that you think will make your copy stand out. In fact, ALL CAPS when used in the Internet means you are yelling at a person. Do you really want to yell at your prospect? Honestly, these marks and symbols don’t do anything to highlight your product and it looks amateurish.

Don’t waste your product description. Many sellers spend all their time on titles and bullets and then just toss a generic paragraph of unimpressive sales copy down in the product description. It’s an absolute waste of space to do that. Your product description gives you the most room to really regale your product and speak directly to your prospect. Use your product description to take your prospect through the sales cycle, all the way to the call to action.

Ideally a product description should have: An attention getting headline that speaks to the prospects problem; A second para with appropriate subhead that regales the features and benefits of your product and how it solves the prospects problem; A short bullet list; Your guarantee and bonus (if you offer one) and; A call to action.

Educate yourself on copy writing. Whether you write your own copy or hire someone to write it for you, you should know the basics and understand the elements that need to be in your copy to be effective. An excellent (albeit huge) reference on copy writing is Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz. It is available for purchase and though the price is prohibitive I highly recommend it. If your funds are limited you can probably find a used copy or even check it out at the library.

Stop making your copy about you. I hate to break it to you but there isn’t a prospect anywhere on Earth who cares about you—they care about themselves. They are considering your product because it will potentially benefit them. Your copy has to be about them, their problem, their pain and a solution to said pain or problem. Your product listing has to clearly show your prospect what’s in it for them.

Slant your copy toward your ideal customer. No matter what your product is, there is NO product on Earth that is for everyone. While everyone may be able to use your product it doesn’t mean they are looking for it or want it. You need to do your research and determine who exactly does need and want your product. Kitchen gadgets are for people who love to cook, entertain and nurture others. Health products are for people who are health conscious or are trying to solve a health issue. The bonus here, is that the more specific you are in narrowing down your ideal customer, the more you will sell and the more your listing will appeal to those people.

How about you? Have you had a hard time figuring out how to write your listing? Did you eventually learn what worked and what didn’t? Feel free to tell us your story or share your successful tips in the comments below.

Nine Work Hacks for Freelancers

freelance hacks

I’m a freelance writer by day and mystery writer by night. Thus far my day job has put food on the table and paid the bills. Good, yes? It’s not easy being a freelancer and sometimes you may feel that sticking your head in the oven is more productive than trying to be your own employer – but there are good days too.

And though there is a lot of advice out there about how to succeed, get ahead and make gobs of money as a freelancer, there are some basics that rarely get mentioned. I’ve tried to put into a lot of sage advice from the so called experts with mixed results. However, I can give you a simple list of what has always worked in my freelance business.

Be Nice. Now, I know you’re probably saying, “Duh, of course.” However, you’d be amazed by how many freelancers aren’t nice. They don’t answer your inquiries; they are impatient, sometimes even rude. Or have a take it or leave it attitude. I get all kinds of inquiries, often ones that have nothing to do with freelance writing services but I try never to treat anyone disrespectfully or make them feel stupid. If someone contacts you and you can’t help them, tell them so nicely. If possible refer them to a person or a website or other source that may help them. You never know when you might encounter that person again – and if so, it may be you needing the help or a favor.

Be Responsive. Again, you’d be surprised by how many freelancers (and businesses in general) simply don’t respond to your inquiry. It’s as though they expect you to chase after them to prove you’re really serious about wanting their service or product. I know there are some marketers out there who advise you to do this, to make yourself or your business appear exclusive, etc. To that I say, hogwash. People who voice an interest in your service or product deserve a response. If you don’t respond promptly and politely to inquiries, soon you may find that no one voices an interest at all in anything you have to offer.

Be Generous. I constantly get emails from clients or past clients asking me about things that strictly speaking have no specific connection to the service I provide. For example, I have clients ask me all the time what I think of product images or names, or slogans or logos. My services don’t cover any of those things – but it doesn’t hurt me at all to take the two minutes to respond to them. And it makes the client happy and feel that you care. So how can a happy client be a bad thing? Clients remember providers who are generous with their time and attention and are more likely to come back to them when they need the services they provide.

Be Honest. Sometimes clients are going to ask you questions or for an opinion you don’t want to go near. It’s uncomfortable when a client sends you a link to their new website, which is a disaster and asks you what you think. Or a logo, or a product, or whatever. However, they are asking you because they respect your opinion. So be honest, (not blunt, or mean) tactful, but honest. They will appreciate it and you won’t have to feel guilty over blowing smoke up their skirt.

Ask Questions. Too many freelancers just say yes, yes, yes in order to get the gig. In fact, I’ve seen experts tell you to do so – explaining that once you get the job, you can figure out how to do whatever you’ve been hired to do. This is just playing with fire. Sure there is a certain amount of winging it that occurs in freelancing but you’re better off asking questions, questions and more questions to determine if you can truly help this person than to just say yes and hope for the best. If you don’t or can’t deliver in the end, not only will it cost you money but your reputation as well.

Listen. We have so many gadgets talking to us at all times – TV, radio, smart phones, texts, social media, blogs, advertisements – talk, talk, talk, talk. And all of us just talk louder so we can be heard above the talkers. Yet listening has become somewhat of a lost art. It can be hard to take a breath, close your mouth and just listen to what is being said but it can also save you an enormous amount of time and work. Listen to what your client is saying, repeat it back to them, so they know they’ve been heard, write it down so you remember what was said. So much easier than sending ten emails asking the same question over and over again. And less irritating to clients too.

Give More Than Expected. In other words, exchange in abundance, go the extra mile, show that you care. For example, a client emailed me saying his product was flying off the shelves and he couldn’t quite figure out why. Clearly, he wanted to know but didn’t know how to get the information. I suggested he send out a survey to customers who recently purchased the product and suggested 3-5 questions he could ask. He didn’t pay me for that, nor did I expect him to pay me. I simply wanted to help him. It was just an idea and I have 100 of them every ten minutes, so no big deal to me. To him, it might have been though. It’s perfectly fine to make a contract with someone and fulfill that contract to the letter without giving less or more but it won’t necessarily win you any fans. You’ll gain a reputation of being fair. That’s fine. But if your client later finds another provider who offers as good a service as you but is just a little more generous with their time or attention, who do you think she will hire for the next project?

Be Sincere. And by that, I mean be yourself. As freelancers, especially if we handle our businesses largely online, we may develop what we think is a professional demeanor. But in fact, makes us seem cold or distant. While you certainly want to be taken seriously, it’s really okay to make a joke or even swap recipes (yes, I’ve actually done that) as long as your work and work ethic is professional and you deliver what you promise – being yourself should really be okay.

Never Accept a Project Just for the Money. Look, freelancing is hard. And usually it’s feast or famine. Either you have no work or more work than you can handle. So during the lean times when a prospect comes to you, of course you want to land the job – baby needs new shoes, right? However, if you look at the project and don’t honestly see how you can help the person, say no. For example, I’ve had prospects come to me and ask me to rewrite content or a product listing. In most cases, I definitely see how I can help improve what they have – but sometimes there’s nothing wrong with what the prospect wants improved. Instead of accepting the project I tell the client that I honestly don’t feel I could improve what they have and that perhaps it is some other element in their business model they need to consider. My goal is to help my clients improve their situation so they can succeed – if I don’t feel that my service will do that, I say so. Believe me; it makes life so much easier.

I know these are very basic and maybe not news to many of you, but like that little black dress you keep in your closet that can be dressed up and dressed down, depending on the occasion – basics are the new black.

What about you? Do you have hacks that help you in your freelance business? Feel free to mention them in the comments below.

Writer Chick

Copyright 2015

Ten Things to Remember About Black Friday

black-friday-madnessAh Black Friday, the kick off to the holiday shopping season. Don’t you love it? Actually, I don’t. Just the crazy videos of brawling over cheap goods in Walmart, that populate Facebook are enough to make you stay home with a good book.

But there are many who thrive on a challenge and live for the deal. So before you head out for your big shopping adventure you might want to keep the following in mind:

1. No TV, smart phone, or appliance is worth being beaten up or arrested over.

2. Tomorrow or next week that item will be on sale again or is on sale somewhere else.

3. Cyber Monday is less risky, you don’t have to camp outside a store and you can shop in your pajamas while sipping your favorite coffee drink.

4. Two things can’t occupy the same space at the same time, so breathing down the neck of the person ahead of you in line won’t put you in front of them (or win you any friends).

5. Is that parking space really worth fighting over (or dying over?).

6. If you’re really determined to stand on-line outside a store all night, leave your children at home. It’s better that your child be disappointed than crushed or trampled by an over-tired, anxious, greedy crowd of bargain hunters.

7. The best deals are on Christmas Eve. Retailers will blow out stock by as much as 75% – and most people are home trimming the tree.

8. If the store has sold out of the item you came for, accept it. Arguing with a store clerk, the manager or the customer who snagged the last one will not magically produce the item for you. (And chances are another store has it anyway.)

9. Dress appropriately, have a full tank of gas and eat before you leave. It’s the biggest shopping day of the year, so traffic will be heavy, parking spaces will be at a premium, you may have to stand in long lines and every local eatery will be jammed. Taking care of the basics will help keep you from becoming anxious.

10. Be safe, be smart and don’t take your frustration out on your fellow shoppers. In your quest to get the deal, remember that everybody else in the store is after the deal too. Tempers can flair, hostility can erupt and you could become an unwitting victim. No physical object is worth endangering yourself or your loved ones. Ever.




If you have any tips, tricks, or sage advice, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Writer Chick
Copyright 2014

Life Hacks for Staying Cool in the Heat

life hacks for staying cool

While the media is talking about first snow storms in the east, we on the west coast are quietly melting. Triple digits and low humidity are hard on you, can cause dehydration, make it difficult to sleep, and difficult to write. Unless you have central air, which I don’t.

As I type this it’s a raging 103 degrees outside and it feels like my fingertips are fusing to the keyboard. However, I’ve developed some little tricks to stay cool during this hell on earth period:

Cucumber water: You need to stay hydrated and plain water is kind of boring if you ask me, so try this: Cut a cucumber into very thin slices and add them to a ½ gallon pitcher of water, (if you want a little extra zest you can also had thinly slice limes or lemons). Add ice. Stir well with a large spoon. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Then drink as much as you want. Very refreshing.

Fruity iced tea: If you’re an iced tea fan but concerned about too much caffeine, do a half and half with fruit juice. I prefer apple or cranberry. Add lots of ice and lemon slices. It’s refreshing, you don’t need to add extra sugar and you reduce your caffeine intake.

Snacks: Eating during extremely hot weather can also be a challenge because even though you should eat, you may not feel hungry. Cold hard-boiled eggs, cheese and apples, gazpacho, peanut butter and celery sticks, and fruit smoothie protein shakes are all light foods that can provide protein, carbs and fats without weighing you down.

Cell salts/Salt tabs: During hot weather you sweat like the dickens (or if you’re a lady you perspire like the dickens) and lose a lot of trace minerals and salt. Salt & potassium tablets and/or cell salts can help you replenish these. You can purchase either in most drug stores or health food stores.

Darkened rooms are cooler: I don’t have air conditioning at my house, we have what’s called a swamp cooler – which is a system that uses water to cool. Helpful but not nearly as effective as air conditioning. However to get the most out of my cooling system I:

  1. Draw the curtains first thing in the morning
  2. Close off any rooms that aren’t being used at that time
  3. Stand fans in doorways of rooms facing out (this creates a draught of pulling out warm air and pulling cooler air).

Outside fixes: One word – shade cloth. Okay that’s two words but it’s amazing how effective this inexpensive item can in helping to keep your house cooler. It comes in big rolls and can be found in most plant nurseries or stores that provide gardening supplies. You can create ‘sails’ suspend them with bungee cords and hooks. Or if you’re not that handy (like me) You can simply cut a square and tack it up to create a barrier between the sun and your house. For example, at my house the exterior wall of my bedroom is exposed to late afternoon sun. We cut sails from the shade cloth and attached one end to house and the other to the wall, creating a kind of veranda. Doesn’t look good, but works pretty well. I also tacked up a spare piece on the porch rafter, which gets heavy morning sun exposure. Hopefully you get the idea.

Tarp your vehicle. Mine sits in the drive in front of the house and the sun beats down on it all day. The tarp won’t make the car cool but it will protect the paint job, and reduce the amount of heat it absorbs and then radiates.

Keeping the body cool: I waited tables for many years and when you’re runnig around feeding people you can get pretty over –heated – especially if you’re in and out of patios or hot kitchens. As easy way to get quick relief from being overheated is the rub an ice-cube on your pulse points (wrists, side of neck, back of knees). I’m not really sure why it works but it does.

If you sit at a desk while you work, as I do, you can also make an icy foot bath that will help keep you cool. Just fill container large enough to comfortably place your feet, with water, add ice cubes and if you have it some mint.

Australian air conditioning: Okay, I don’t know if this is for real but an Aussie friend of mine told me that down under when the weather is brutally hot, they soak their tee shirts in water, wring them out, put them on and point a fan at themselves. Sound weird? You betcha. But it really works. If you’re not up for wearing a wet tee-shirt you can try a modified version by soaking a hand towel in water, wringing it out and draping it around your neck, then point the fan and turn it on.

What are your tips for staying cool when the weather is brutally hot? Let me know. I’d love some new tips.

Writer Chick
Copyright 2014

Life Hacks for Readers

life hacks for readers

I love to read. I came out of the womb wanting books. I can’t even remember a time when I couldn’t read. Anyway, if you’re like me, you’re in constant pursuit of the next book (or twelve) that you want to read. So, I thought I’d share a few little tips on getting more books and other reader-ish things you might enjoy.

Used bookstore at your local library. When I discovered that my local library also has a used bookstore I thought I’d died and gone to reader heaven. Most hardbacks at 50 cents and paperback are four for a dollar. Really not or recent hardbacks can be as expensive as two or three bucks. But I’ve been known to take five bucks to the library used bookstore and walk out with 10 books. Check and see if your local library has a used bookstore.

Friend book swap. If you have other friends who are readers you could set up a book swap. You could each buy a book that all of you want to read and then pass them around. Have your own little lending library.

Online lending library. The Open Library  is an online lending library that allows you to borrow eBooks from a growing collection of mainly 20th Century titles available now. Each title can be borrowed by one patron at once, and you can read it in a web browser or in Adobe Digital Editions as a PDF or ePub. I did check their website and did a search on a favorite author – they had every title of his. So this is a real find.

Project Gutenberg. The Project Gutenberg  site offers mostly classics (public domain) books which you can download for free. They offer over 45,000 free ebooks in pdf, epub and kindle formats. No fee or registration is required.

Free audio books. There are several sites that offer a one-month free trial during which you can get free audio books. However, Books Should Be Free  offers free books – period. Like Project Gutenberg the books are classics and in the public domain.

Kindle apps. A lot of people may think that in order to read a Kindle book they must have a Kindle. However, Amazon offers free apps  for phone, tablet, laptop and pc which you can download and read your Kindle books with.

Keep a running list of the books you’ve read. The reader tracker is an app that you can download for your iPhone, iPod or iPad. Apparently it’s free right now for a limited time. You can also set up lists at Goodreads that will keep track of all the books you’ve read, want to read and do reviews as well.

Other Stuff

Hard time keeping your paperback open to the right page? Use a bullclip to tame those pages. readers life hacks


Want a laptop reading desk? See if you can find an old breakfast tray at the local thrift store. This one is a lot like the one I found for a couple bucks and it even has a drink holder.

life hacks for readers

Offer to become beta reader. If you happen to know any authors, or frequent author websites you can volunteer to become a beta reader. Beta readers agree to read one or more drafts of a novel and then give feedback. The cool thing about this is that you can help an author polish and refine her work, and also be privy to the book before publication. With the exception of the really famous authors out there, most writers would be thrilled to have people volunteer to be a beta.

What about you – have any tricks or tips for readers? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

Writer Chick

copyright 2014

7 Life Hacks for Writers

7 life hacks for writersReports  of my death have been greatly exaggerated – I’ve just been working hard on the second draft on the new novel. We’re close – we’re very close. Anyway, my bad for letting the blogging duty slip. So, here is a little list of writing hacks that I use that may be helpful to you.

For those who don’t know what life hacks are this sums it up nicely:

Life hacking refers to any productivity trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method to increase productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life; in other words, anything that solves an everyday problem of a person in a clever or non-obvious way.

The List

  • Character names:  Stuck for character names – pick up a phone book, a registry, a membership list or anything that lists names. Believe me, real life can offer up names that you couldn’t think up in a million years. Also, pick up a couple of baby name books from the used bookstore.
  • Make notes as you write:  Sometimes when I’m writing, I remember things I have to add or change but I don’t want to stop what I’m doing. In Word, you can use the INSERT feature for making notes on manuscripts. To make a note, click on INSERT and then COMMENT – write your note and keep going.
  • Visit locations from your desk:  If you can’t visit a location, you can use Google Map street view feature to help you describe physical locations. Depending on the location you can find an amazing amount of detail by arrowing around the area. Of course you can’t get the feel, sound or smells – so do visit locations when possible.
  • White noise:  Need background noise in order to write but don’t want to drag your laptop to Starbux? Try this
  • Capture your flashes of brilliance:  Always have the best ideas when you’re walking the dog? Use a digital recorder or your phone to record your sudden bursts of brilliance while you’re walking.
  • Describing physical action:  Great tips on describing body language
  • Use props to get in character:  If your character is French, put on a beret and striped shirt and play Edith Piaf on your iPod. If your characters are in Italy, play opera and eat Italian food. Is your hero a bicyclist? Get into those biking shorts and a helmet. No, I’m not kidding, dress like the character, walk like her, talk like her, listen to her playlist, eat her favorite food – immerse yourself in her world (as much as possible). You’d be amazed at the difference it can make.

Well that’s the short list anyway. I’m sure there are many more and when I have time to think I may do another list.

What are your favorite writer hacks? Share your tricks, tips and advice in the comments. In the meantime, keep writing people – the world needs your work.

Writer Chick

Information Overload—Are You Confused?

done in

Okay, I admit it – I am an information junkie. If somebody is offering a free webinar, audio file or eBook, I’m downloading it before I finish reading the promo. And while I love all this free stuff that people give out, I conveniently overlook the fact that rather than help me, it puts me in a state of information overload.

What’s wrong with free information?

Well in a word, nothing is wrong with free information. However, if you just gallop across the Internet downloading free stuff indiscriminately you can end up getting confused. For example, I’m always looking for new ideas on Internet marketing. God knows there are thousands of folks out there offering those services, products and advice. Unfortunately, not all of them really know what they are talking about. Or the information really is just a thinly disguised come-on to encourage you to sign up and pay for their products or services. The valuable stuff is great but it also requires you do stuff. You have to take action with the information in order to get any real usefulness out of it. But most of all, it seems everybody has a different approach, a different angle and a different attitude on the topic. So you have to decide which one is right. But there isn’t necessarily one right way to go about it. Dilemma.

The cacophony of methods and advice can be absolutely overwhelming and leave you utterly confused. And unfortunately can leave you in worse shape than you started out.

How do you make it work for you?

First things first. If you’re confused, overloaded and overwhelmed, you need to stop. Stop looking, stop downloading, and stop buying products and services. Then you need to take a breath. Several breaths actually. Maybe take a walk to look at some flowers, the sky or even other people (just to ensure you aren’t really the only person on planet Earth). Then go home and write down the answers to the following questions:

  1. What specific problem/issue am I trying to address?
  2. What information am I lacking in this specific problem/issue?
  3. What information do I have available to me that can help me take action right now to address the problem/issue?

Once you have those answers you can then go through all your free stuff and find any information that will specifically address your current needs. The rest of it you can choose to ignore or put away for another time or even delete it. Rest assured there will always be mountains of free stuff to choose from at a future date.

What if the problem is that I don’t know what the problem is?

Sometimes you’ll find that you are so immersed in your problem that you really can’t name it and that your thirst for information is more about just finding a starting place. In that case, choose. It doesn’t matter what you choose it matters more that you choose and then take action. Put everything else out of your mind and just apply the one method or piece of advice you’ve chosen and go for it.

Give yourself a break

Don’t feel bad about being buttered all over the place or reprimand yourself for your confusion. We’re hit with thousands of bits of data per minute, whether it is from the Internet, Social Media, television, movies or advertising. The sheer volume could stop a stampeding rhino. The value in information is in the value it gives to you.


Writer Chick

Copyright 2013