Staying social when writing is solitary

Ducks in a Row

Writing itself is solitary. Even if we’re working in an office and surrounded by people, we typically tuck ourselves away, apply our headphones and scurry into our documents with the enthusiasm of a meerkat digging a new downstairs.

Let the others collaborate; I have word magic to conjure.

It’s not that we dislike people (generally speaking). It’s that writing happens in our head. But that creates a problem.

Writing is solitary, but humans are social (even introverted ones like me; don’t tell). We fill our creative wells in countless ways, but one of those needs to be socializing despite the inherently solitary nature of our work.

Socializing keeps us:

  • empathetic
  • in touch with other perspectives
  • connected with other ideas
  • up-to-date with trends and techniques

It’s important, but it’s counter to what we do. So, what do we do? Continue reading

5 keys to taking feedback like a badass

Gandalf and Saruman

No one likes to work with someone who refuses to take feedback. We’ve all worked with people like that—someone who’s determined that he/she is right and that others are wrong and that the work produced is without flaw or need of improvement at all, whatsoever. Period.

It’s not easy.

There was a period of two years during which I worked with two graphic designers who are absolute opposites when it comes to handling critique of their work.

Note: When I refer to these creative colleagues, I’m obviously not going to use their real names. So I’ll call them Gandalf and Saruman. Personal preference.

Watching them showed me their distinct approaches—and how to be better at taking feedback myself.

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Why I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo—again

lolcat-spartans

Let me start by making something clear—in no way am I against National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) itself. As with any gargantuan goal, I see  value in it.

Setting goals. Applying butt to chair and getting the job done. Pushing yourself to finish. Building your writing muscles. The feeling of accomplishment at just having the novel written. The bragging rights alone can give you warm fuzzy feelings.

However, NaNoWriMo isn’t for everyone.

  • If doing NaNoWriMo doesn’t work for you, don’t do it.
  • There are reasons to do it and reasons not to do it.
  • Either way is fine.

NaNoWriMo is not for me.

Here’s why. Continue reading

Flex your skills with 5-minute free writing

5_min_writing

Once upon a time, in a faraway land called Houston, I was an art student. Then I became a graphic artist and web designer. I sketched, a lot.

Now I’m a copywriter who works alongside graphic artists and web designers. And they sketch, a lot. During meetings, in brainstorming sessions, at their desks — their pens and pencils skim over whatever’s handy with a steady rhythm. And in just a few minutes, they can sketch some amazing stuff.

Last week, I was five minutes early for a meeting. So I followed their example but instead of sketching pictures, I jotted down random phrases that popped in my head.

The results themselves were terrible, but it was still worth it.

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To edit or not to edit?

star-trek-grammer-lolcat

“Please don’t judge my spelling, I know you’re a writer.”

“I’m sorry for my sloppy email, I know you’re a writer.”

“I apologize in advance for my crappy IM, I know you’re a writer.”

– Lots of people

I hear these fearful phrases (and similar) more often than I’d like, usually from people who are about to put something in writing for me to read.

Colleagues, new friends, old friends, casual acquaintances, passersby on the Internet—you name it, too many people are afraid I’m going to point out their mistakes just because I’m a writer.

But I’m not.

I’m not a member of the grammar police. And I don’t know a writer who is. Yes, we’re sticklers and yes, we do enjoy a good Oxford comma debate. But I’d like to think enough of us know when to turn it off.

But it does make me want to ask—when is it okay to edit and when is it not?

Continue reading