Is your “Inner Novel” waiting for be written?

If you were looking for a “boost” to get that fiction novel written, here is your chance!

Since 1999, every November has been “NaNoWriMo” month around the world. “National Novel Writing Month” is an interactive and fun way to spend 30 days working on getting that novel out of your head and onto your favorite word processing program.

According to the NaNoWriMo website, participants begin writing on November 1 and work towards the goal of writing a 175-page original novel by midnight, November 30. The program is geared towards anyone who has even thought about writing a novel but has been hindered by thinking they didn’t have the time or that it would take too much effort.

Here are some additional FAQs:

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month’s time.

Who: You! We can’t do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let’s write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era’s most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

To find out more and to sign up, visit the How NaNoWriMo Works page!

Once your novel is written, you will of course need professional editing, formatting, and preparation for publishing! At Writing It Right For You, we work with authors who have finished manuscripts and are ready for the next steps. We can help you get your novel into Amazon.com, Apple.com iBooks, or Lulu.com. We also work with a professional book sherpa if your desire a more traditional publishing route. After NaNoWriMo, be sure to contact us and have your new novel ready for publishing in the new year!

Parentheses

These tricky little devils can be the friend or foe of sentence structure.  There are essentially 3 basic rules when dealing with parentheses, so this post will be straight to the point.

Use to show words or figures that clarify or are used as visual aids or asides.

  • My assignment was to write a one thousand (1,000) word paper.

To use numbers or letters when listing items.

  • In my potential mate I’m looking for someone who is (1) thoughtful, (2) funny, (3) stylish and (4) a great listener.

When using parentheses, periods only go inside if a whole sentence is inside the parentheses.

  • It took quite awhile to get used to stairs again (he had broken his leg earlier this year.).

Hopefully now, errors in parentheses use will not escape your proofreading eye any longer.  Happy Writing!

If you need writing or editing assistance with the very confusing English language rules,

contact the professionals at Writing It Right For You.

We’re here to help because “It Matters How You Say It”!

My Inbox Zero Adventure

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In the middle of last week, I looked at my three email applications and realized that I had tens of thousands of emails. Some had been read; most had not. It didn’t matter: there were lots and lots and lots of them.

One of my goals is to rid my office of clutter; it is easier to work in an environment as free of chaos as possible. But how to eliminate all of those emails without deleting something potentially important?

First of all, I reminded myself that I was already in the habit of forwarding the majority of my relevant emails to two of my favorite apps: Evernote and Bantam Live Social CRM. When I looked at the bulk of those tens of thousands of emails, most of them were “informational” from all different sources. I decided that anything important was already in Evernote, Bantam Live, or my GCal and/or iCal.

So, I did it. I clicked a couple of buttons and deleted all of my emails. ALL OF THEM. Gone. In the trash. In their place was a lot of refreshing white space. I don’t even really need the Google “Priority Inbox” feature any more; there’s NOTHING in my inbox now–priority or otherwise.

In the days since my Inbox Zero purge, I have realized that keeping my inbox at “zero” also takes effort. I am working on developing a new habit: checking my emails only 2-3 times during my workday and acting on each email right then and there. Each email is read, labeled and filed, or read and forwarded, or read and answered, or read and deleted. I can keep my inbox clean with only 2 or 3 5-minute sessions per day.

Some of my dear readers may think: isn’t this a lot like the vaulted GTD (“Getting Things Done”) program by David Allen? Yes and no. It is true that one of the GTD tenets is a zero inbox, but personally I find the GTD program much too complicated and time-consuming. But I do like having a Zero Inbox.

One small step towards a more stress-free work environment.

Gerunds and Pronouns

Editing and ProofreadingThis post will be full of technical BUT useful terminology; please bear with me.  Knowing the terms of language is fundamental when producing good written and reading material.  That being said, let’s go back to the classroom for a brief moment.

Gerund: A noun that demonstrates an uncompleted action.  Commonly they end with “-ing” and pronouns placed before them.

Pronoun: Words that are used to substitute nouns or noun phrases.

Golden Rule for identifying gerunds: if it is necessary for you to place a pronoun before an “-ing” word then try a possessive pronoun first.  If the “-ing” word is a noun that could be possessed, it’s likely that the word is a gerund.  As with the ‘Place or Replace’ rule, if it makes sense it’ll work.

“Years ago my registering to vote would be considered illegal.”

‘Registering’ is the gerund and ‘my’ is the possessive pronoun.

If you need writing or editing assistance with the very confusing English language rules, contact the professionals at Writing It Right For You. We’re here to help because “It Matters How You Say It”!

Your vs You’re

Ah, yes those wonderful conjunction confusions.  Don’t you just love getting a little red mark on the paper you spent days working on, just because of a little conjunction misplacement?  *Insert sarcasm here* Now, let’s take a moment to release that anger.  Are we good? Ok, here’s the breakdown:

  • YOUR: Possessive; adjective.  Describes anything relating to you/yourself.
  • YOU’RE: Conjunction; adverb.  Joins “you are”.

This dilemma is a good place to remind you of the ‘place or replace’ rule.  If you are in the process of forming sentences and are unsure of which is the best choice, replace one for the other in the line and un-jumble the conjunction.  If the sentence makes sense, the right choice was made.  Example:

  • I’m you’re best friend and you’re mine. INCORRECT
  • Un-jumbled: I am you are best friend and you are mine.

Note: This sentence doesn’t make sense when the conjunctions are broken down.  One conjunction is in the wrong place, one isn’t.

  • I’m your best friend and you’re mine.  CORRECT

‘Place or replace’ is really one of a writer’s niftiest tricks!  I use it all the time.  Don’t be shy in using it with YOUR own work.

If you need writing or editing assistance with the very confusing English language rules, contact the professionals at Writing It Right For You. We’re here to help because “It Matters How You Say It”!

If vs Whether

This is a case of duality, in that both of these words can have similar meaning.  However, these words are not necessarily interchangeable.  Let’s take a look at why.

IF – Conjunction; Used to assume an event, consequence with a variety of results.

WHETHER – Conjunction; Used to demonstrate a consequence of only alternating results; normally one of two.

Most readers and writers would agree that ‘whether’ sounds better.  ‘If’ is more common and modern, the variety of outcomes prompts ‘if’s’ popularity so to speak.  ‘Whether’ originated in Middle English language, 12th Century.

So, while ‘whether’ sounds (and looks) better depending on the consequences in the perceived action, plain ole ‘if’ may be your best bet.

If you need writing or editing assistance with the very confusing English language rules, contact the professionals at Writing It Right For You. We’re here to help because “It Matters How You Say It”!

Creating Content for your Small Business

Writing It Right For You

If you are a small business owner or solo practitioner, producing relevant content materials about  your products or services with engaging content online and in print is a very important part of your marketing efforts.

Two weeks ago, I participated in a two-day global virtual (online) conference for freelancers called “International Freelancers Day 2010“. It consisted of 24 different presentations from some of the top speakers and mentors for freelancers and very small SOHO (Small Office Home Office) owners.

Ann Handley made a presentation called “Content Rules” about how important it is for to small business owners to create and publish their own content. Lexi Rodrigo, a blogger on Freelance Folder, wrote a great summary of Ann’s presentation.

If you would like assistance creating and publishing content

for your business,

make sure to contact us here. We’d be glad to help!

Lexi’s summary is below:

At the recent International Freelancers Day virtual conference, one theme that struck me was the importance of creating and publishing content. Many of the experts discussed, in various angles, why getting published would be good for freelancers.

Anne Handley’s presentation, Content Rules, was in fact all about content and how to create it well. Day Poynter talked about writing a book and getting published. Other speakers such as Michael Martine and David Garland spoke about other forms of content that can do well for freelancers, such as blogs and web TV. Almost all the other speakers mentioned, in one way or another, the benefits of having your own content.

Why You Need To Create and Publish Content

If you’re a writer, it’s obvious that you should be writing and publishing your own stuff–not only content for your clients. But, what about graphic designers, programmers and other non-writers? Should they become content producers as well?

The short answer: Yes.

The benefits of being publishing content includes:

  • You’re searchable online. When you publish content, it becomes so much easier for prospects to find you online. This makes it easier for you to find leads or, rather, for leads to come and find you. Google and other search engines are particularly fond of WordPress blogs and online videos. Plus, the more you publish, the easier it gets to find you.
  • You’re more shareable. This is particularly true for digital content. With social media, it’s so much easier for your content to get passed around and shared. If you create something particularly good, you can gain instant notoriety.
  • You get instant credibility. Being the author of a blog, special report, white paper or book, or the creator of some other content makes you an instant expert. You’re right up there with your favorite author. It’s like having initials for degrees after your name. It shows you’ve accomplished something the majority haven’t.
  • Build your prospects list. It’s much easier to build your list of prospects when you have valuable content you can give away. At the same time, blogs, podcasts and web TV can attract prospects round the clock.
  • Leverage your expertise and efforts. Having a published piece of content is an excellent way to leverage your unique approach to things. You can literally create something once and have it working for you over and over again.
  • Feeling of accomplishment. It plain feels good to finish a piece of content. Even if you’re a writer you know it isn’t easy to finish a special report or white paper… especially if you’re writing it for yourself and not a client.
  • Passive income. There are ways to monetize your content so it brings you passive income, which is a necessity for everyone. You can create several pieces of content and think of each one as a separate stream of passive income. Who knows? Maybe someday you can actually fire all your clients and simply work for yourself alone.

Ways to Create and Publish Content

The phrase “get published” conjures images of printed books on a shelf. Thanks to the Internet, there are many more ways to get published, and it’s easier than ever to get self-published. Here are some examples:

  • Ebook. This is a book, but in digital format. Aside from the common PDF, you can also publish your ebook as an electronic book downloadable through Kindle or an iPad. Other formats include the Vook. Print-on-demand services are also available online, for readers who prefer to hold something in their hands.
  • Special Report/White Paper. A special report or white paper is often shorter than a book. As with an ebook, a special report or white paper can be published in both digital and non-digital formats.
  • Blog. A blog is an indispensable tool for writers and copywriters. However, even freelancers in the non-writing field can get good results from a blog. It’s great for showcasing your expertise, and it serves as your central hub on the Internet. The many functionalities of a blog make it easy to promote, get search engine traffic, and be shared around in social networks and bookmarking sites.
  • Podcast. Hate writing but love to talk? Consider a podcast. It’s more involved than the earlier types of content, because you may have to buy additional equipment and software. However, it can be done on a shoestring. The content is more important than the equipment! If you’re shy, you could easily build a podcast around interviewing different people and pretend to be a reporter. Even if you do that, your credibility and status will be perceived to be as good as the experts you interview.
  • Video Blog or Web TV. A video blog or web TV is another possible format for non-writers. You will have to write at least a paragraph or two to introduce the video and feed the search engines–they can’t crawl video and audio content yet, only words. Internet users seem to love online video, as evidenced by the popularity of YouTube and other video sharing sites. As with podcasting, creating and publishing video will have more technical requirements than the other formats.

Still Not Convinced?

Imagine meeting a prospect for a meeting and as you shake hands, you give him a print copy of your special report (you could have printed it on your home office printer; it doesn’t matter). His eyes widen as he realizes that you’re some sort of expert who has actually written a book.

Or, imagine one of your clients recommending you to her friend. She tells her friend, “You can check out his blog at his URL. He’s great!”

Or, how about getting invited to guest post in a blog with thousands of readers every single day… and those readers happen to fit your Ideal Client?

If you want it, then create content. You can do it!

“Falling” into Productivity

Well today is October 1st. Autumn temperatures are here and the leaves are turning. It is also the first day of the last quarter of 2010. I love this time of year because it is still relatively warm and being outside is often very comfortable.

I also love the beginning of a new season and a new calendar quarter because it is time to review the previous three months and plan for the next three months. I love to review and plan–it keeps me grounded in my business.

What else do I love? Being re-hired by previous clients! I woke up this morning to three clients requesting new projects. That affirms my previous work for them and starts the month out with a work schedule filling up. I already signed two other new clients earlier this week.

The best thing about what I do is that I get a chance to do so many different kinds of projects and meet and work with so many wonderful people from around the world and right here in my own neighborhood.

If you are looking for writing and editing assistance for academic or business projects, contact us here at Writing It Right For You. We love what we do.