Work space, how I long for you

I’ve been freelancing for three years now, and the lack of an adequate work space is creeping into my bones. In the far corner of the main living area of our house, I have a small desk which is completely covered with post-its, notes, papers and calendars. It’s a flipping nightmare. I think it was Einstein that said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what then is an empty desk a sign?” It makes me feel better when I think of that quote. Despite my chaos that I call a “work space”, I would rather have a cluttered mind than an empty one, I suppose.

Right now I’m working in a coffee shop. There is a cute high school student sitting near me who has been ferociously writing on tiny pieces of notebook paper with a Number 2 pencil. What is she writing?

There is a brilliant graphic designer/anime comic creator that is here every single day. He has the biggest portable charger I have ever seen. He wears headphones and bobs his head as he maneuvers the black and white characters on his screen.

This coffee shop is in an old warehouse and when I look out the window there’s a mural of a girl with her head stuck in the clouds. I’ve been coming to this coffee shop for ten years and just now noticed this mural. Is it a sign? I do feel like I have a terrible case of wanderlust these days.

In saying all of this and in not saying anything at all, it’s clear I need my own work space in my home. I want a huge flat-topped wooden table where I can spread out my thoughts. I want a monstrous cork board where I can tack post-its and notes to my heart’s content. I want an essential oil diffuser and the Lumineers or Brandi Carlisle or the Wailin’ Jennys crooning in the background.

I know. These are first-world problems but when one’s goal is to produce written work every single day, it’s certainly helpful to have a space she can call her own. Alas.

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It’s Been Too Long

It’s been entirely too long since I’ve written on this blog. It’s not that I haven’t been writing. I feel like that’s all I’ve been doing. Over the past six months, the amount of writing I’m doing has increased significantly, and obviously, I’m excited about that.

I’ve worked on five websites with the web design firm Pixels In My Pocket. I’ve continued my work with the two newspapers I work with. I write columns for both. Columns are a joy for me to write. I feel like I can truly be myself and express my opinions. It’s interesting how drastically different writing a column is as compared to a feature article or web content. One is so personal and first-person while the other is so objective. It’s true that journalists must possess a repertoire of voices and perspectives.

My parenting blog is still trucking right along. It has become a part of who I am. I’ve maintained its integrity as a keepsake to hold the memories of my two little boys and our family. I occasionally write reviews and sponsored posts, but the bulk of the posts are anecdotes, family fun adventures and personal stories.

What’s going on in your writing life? Are you still writing? Even though I’ve accomplished many of my writing goals, I have so many more. They seem to accumulate daily. Work on that novel I finished seven years ago, write an eBook, write content for more websites, write for bigger magazines, etc. etc.

As Winston Churchill says, “Continuous effort-not strength or intelligence-is the key to unlocking our potential.”

I believe in those words whole-heartedly.

It’s been a while…

I’ve been writing my tail off, just not here on this blog. I’ve missed my own personal ramblings. I’ve been spitting out posts on Zealous Mom, but most of those posts are about my parenting adventures, wifely woes and wellness journey.

Lately, I’ve written a number of ultra local posts for my community, and I’ve discovered that’s a passion of mine. I really love throwing myself into all that’s going on in my community. I learned the word ‘altruism’ a long time ago, but these days, I’m finally experiencing the true meaning of it.

Over the holidays, I worked on several big campaigns including writing the web content for our hospital foundation and the content for a crowd funding campaign. Along with a lot of work, the holiday shenanigans kept me super busy. And oh yes, my toddler and I were in a terrible wreck, but we walked away unscathed, for the most part.

Several other web content projects are in the works this week. I’ve been working with my talented friend and colleague, Melanie, at Pixels In My Pocket. We’re both a bit overwhelmed with work, but I think we secretly like it. Neither of us would know what to do just sitting around doing nothing. If we’re not working, we’re kid wrangling or running the lake. A body in motion stays in motion, right?

Well, this certainly felt good. A little stream of consciousness writing early in the morning does a body good. Hope you have a wonderful Tuesday. These cold days can truly get me down, but I’m not gonna let them.

Until next time, my friends.

The reason for this blog..

I created this blog as a place to house my writing portfolio and also as a place to pontificate on any literary or writing thoughts or musings. These days, my writing is so structured I feel like I have very little time to free write. I miss it. Free writing provides such a release. And lately, with the amount of stress in my life, I need it more than ever.

I’ve paired up with a local web designer who is also a friend of mine and a super cool smart girl. I love smart girls. She’s a graphic designer who was working with a Google-trained optimizer, and they needed a content creator, a third person. Hence, me.

The three of us couldn’t be a better team. We’re all insanely different but the same in the most important ways. We’re type-a personalities and workaholics; therefore, the job gets done, and it gets done well, even if it means no sleep and way, way too much coffee.

My parenting blog, Zealous Mom, is still integral in my life, but it’s been pushed to the back burner because of more pressing paid gigs.

One thing I truly love about being a writer are the different genres I am able to explore. In one day, I may write a blog post, a content page, a newspaper article and a column. I love it. It keeps me on my toes, and nothing drives me crazy like being bored.

How’s your week going? Have you been writing? I certainly hope so.

To be a true writer, you actually have to sit down and write. Make the time. It’s so worth it.

Tips to Become a Better Writer

Do you want to become a better writer? As with any skill, you can train yourself and improve your ability.

I feel like my writing has improved over the years, but I have a long way to go. To me, writing is a skill that is never mastered but one that evolves and grows over time.

Below are some simple tips to hone your writing craft, especially if you’re just starting out in the field.

1). Read Every Day

Strong writers have a passion for the written word, so along with writing, good writers should read, read, and read some more. I’ve always thought of writing and reading as married skills. When one improves, so does the other. Read a variety of genres and at varying difficulty levels. Through reading, one learns new vocabulary, ways to structure sentences, and thematic ideas. Reading can also inspire a writer’s tone and voice.

2). Write Every Day

As with any skill, your writing will improve if you practice every single day. How can you aim to get better, if you never do it? Runners run every day, musicians practice every day, so writers must do the same. Pick a time each day when you can write free from distraction, even if it’s only for five minutes at first. You can free write or you can find lists of journal entries to kick start your writing sessions.

3). Expand Your Vocabulary

Keep those eyes and ears open for new vocabulary words. Any time you hear a new word, think on it, process it, and try to commit it to long-term memory. When writing, try and use new words so that you don’t bore your readers, or yourself.

4). Vary Sentence Structure

If every sentence sounds the same, your readers will quickly turn away. Vary the length of your sentences as well as the way they begin and end. Keep your readers intrigued.  Entice them along with varied sentence structure. Got it?

5). Learn Grammar Skills

If you can put beautiful sentences on a page but have poor grammar skills, we could have a problem. When starting out, folks can’t typically afford editors. For a long time, you will have to be your own editor. If you recognize that writing conventions are not your strength, self-teach yourself. Study grammar for five minutes every day before you write.

6). Don’t Give Up

Many times, we have a goal but give up because it becomes too troublesome or far-fetched. If you truly want to improve your writing skills, don’t give up. Write through writer’s block. It works! Even if you’re writing nonsense because you can’t think of anything eloquent, you are still writing. The fog will eventually lift, and your creativity will return. I promise.

 

 

 

Oh, the melancholy woes #500WED

Sometimes living in my mind is exhausting. I appreciate this mind when it generates words on a page for hours or when it can recall the name of a student I taught eight years ago. I do not appreciate this mind when it worries, obsesses, and procrastinates.

Though I love being around people and learning their stories, I am rather melancholy and introverted by nature. I try to subdue this side of me because for most people in my life, I am the positive force. I’m the one who turns their glass around so that it’s half full instead of half empty. But this can be so tiring.

Sometimes I just want to lie in bed and listen to Beck’s Sea Change album or pretty much anything by Coldplay or the Lumineers and let the moroseness overtake me. It’s not clinical depression of which I speak, it’s just my general personality type, and I don’t mind it so much. I’m just a person who enjoys being alone and having personal space, though of course, I don’t want that all of the time.

When my boys ask me to find a happy song on the iPod, and the peppiest ones I can find are If I had a Hammer by Peter, Paul, and Mary and Wild World by Cat Stevens, something may be awry. Lately, I’ve downloaded several upbeat pop songs. It’s not only good for their moods but mine as well.

In my opinion, being a deep thinker makes one a better writer and conversationalist, but it also makes a complicated mind, one that’s hard to constantly stimulate and fulfill.

Nevertheless, it is my mind, and I’ve grown accustomed to it. I’ve learned how to cope when it goes to to a melancholy place. Further, it makes the days where I feel giddy and happy all the better.

It’s my own secret yin and yang. The lightness and the darkness. The balance of scales. And I embrace it because sometimes, it takes opposing forces to make the best decisions and to ensure life is lived to its fullest.

Dear Coffee #500WED

Writing Prompt: “I want you to write a love letter. Yes. A sappy, happy, loving letter to something or someone you love. I don’t care if it’s for your partner, your dog, or even cigarettes. I want you to write it as if you are a soldier at war and you are worried that these words of love will be the last the person or thing you love will ever see from you. Put your heart into it.” –Cecily Kellogg

Dear Coffee,

Throughout the years, I’ve humanized you. When nothing can get me out of the bed in the morning, you can. When nothing can make a day of shopping at the mall bearable, you can. When nothing can make a five hour stretch of interstate driving happy, you can.

When I have a million projects to work on, you can make me survive three hours at a coffee shop. You, my laptop, six manilla folders, an iPhone, a pen that may or may not work, and me. Just you, me, and all of those inanimate objects. Yet, somehow we manage.

During both pregnancies, I had to give you up. Twice! It was extraordinarily challenging, though you didn’t give up without a fight. Migraines ensued. Irritability took over. And overwhelming tiredness was commonplace. We were able to hang out for one tiny cup each morning, but come on! For a true coffee drinker, a proud coffee drinker, that’s like mocking me right to my face. If we can’t enjoy at least three cups together, what’s the point?

Once my little Monkeys popped out, I wasn’t looking forward to sushi or wine or mountain climbing. Oh, no, I just wanted a giant mug of strong, locally-roasted, well-brewed coffee. I wanted to sit back with my favorite mug and savor your flavor. And let me know tell you. When we finally reunited, I mean, really reunited, the feeling was indescribable. Remember? You know what I’m talking about.

You are a dear, dear friend, coffee. It’s gone beyond personifying; I do believe I consider you one of my best friends. A conversation seems better when you’re there. My brain is sharper when you are there. I’m more alert when you are there. I know you won’t let me down. Are these not the qualities of a best friend?

What do you need from me? Whatever it is, you know I’m here. I will love you, indulge in you, consume you. Always and forever.

Yours,

Susanna