How My Writing Has Evolved with Time

How My Writing Has Evolved with Time

JS, Medium, writing

Writing is so interesting because it is one of those things which is both a skill and a talent.

The difference between those two is that a skill is a buildable, progressive thing you can practice and work on and improve on over time and a talent (at its core) is more inherent. It’s something you have.

Those are my definitions. Let’s check in with Merriam-Webster for the official ones.

Skill: “1a: the ability to use one’s knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance

b: dexterity or coordination especially in the execution of learned physical tasks

2: a learned power of doing something competently: a developed aptitude or ability. Language skills”

Talent: “1a: a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude

b: general intelligence or mental power; ability

2: the natural endowments of a person”

Oh, good! Pretty similar. Feels good — and I love words and knowing and learning precise definitions and synonyms, antonyms. I am a proud word nerd.

Singing is another great example. You can be born with and grow up with a good or great singing voice, and you will still improve and learn to sing even better with practice and lessons.

My Writing Evolution

I was recently asked about how my writing has evolved or changed over the years and I was struck by how fantastic of a question it was.

My writing has evolved over time from being more personal and for me (such as LiveJournal and my first Blogspot blog) to writing FOR and TO an audience and my readers.

I am much more focused on trying to give information or teach something than in just writing to myself. I can write to myself in a journal, and I sometimes do, but I now prefer my online writing to be useful and valuable to others.

I also write for my business. As a freelance writer, I am often writing for specific companies or people. I needed to learn how to write in different tones and styles in order to get their messages across while fitting their brand.

Even when I wrote my books, they are both so different in style, tone, messaging, and audience. The writing for each is different and distinct.

It’s extremely interesting to think of the changing, adapting, and evolving writing.

How has your writing changed over the years?

Are you picking up what I’m putting down? Check out my story and freelancing guide, “Write. Get Paid. Repeat.” with tons of practical info packed into a short book! I also have a brand new writing course called “How to Write a Book in 3 Months.” Go to the site to learn more!

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How To Be Confident in Your Entrepreneurial Journey

How To Be Confident in Your Entrepreneurial Journey

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium

What is the most important part of being an entrepreneur? Confidence. You have to believe with every fiber of your being that you‘re doing the right thing, on the right path, and that the hard work is totally worth it.

Sometimes I joke about working 14 hour days, so I must be a hustler, but it was true. I started my business while I still had a full-time day job, a sales career I’d built for almost 10 years, and have been successful in. I enjoyed my career and the opportunities I had within it.

I’ve met some of the most amazing people, learned from the best bosses, and gotten marketing, conference, travel, and training opportunities I would never have had otherwise. I appreciate what I accomplished, and in some ways, the transition to entrepreneurship has been bittersweet.

I’d been working nights and weekends for a few months building my own writing business. Every free moment was spent communicating with clients, research for articles, writing articles and copy for websites, editing, sending it to the client, posting it online, sharing, etc. And when I wasn’t doing that, my time needed to be spent marketing myself and my services and looking for additional clients, then following up with potential clients, proposals that are out, checking on invoices, and applying to additional writing gigs.

I was so busy, and it was exhausting, but it was also pretty amazing to see what I’m capable of. I may have been tired sometimes, but I was also invigorated and interested in my clients and what I was doing. I was building something from nothing, which is extremely exciting and also terrifying.

Interestingly, many of my clients are entrepreneurs themselves, so I’m also surrounded by incredibly smart, funny, interesting people who completely understand my journey and are excited to be a part of it.

I’ve also had the very interesting discovery of learning to utilize Instagram as best as I can. I’d never really used it at all but decided to give it a shot, and hey — free marketing. It’s been fantastic! I’ve gotten half of my client list from Instagram. I’ve been enjoying posting pictures, engaging with people, and really finding fascinating new people all over the world to follow. It’s a really cool visual platform.

As I got more clients, I took my leap of faith — in myself. I quit my day job to focus on writing and editing full-time.

That was over 18 months ago, now. And every day I am confident in my journey and my abilities and myself.

I’m busy, but I am supported and growing and learning and excited and some days I don’t know exactly what I’m doing, but I keep learning and researching and I will not stop. I will NOT STOP because I know I can do this.

What’s an important quality to being an entrepreneur? CONFIDENCE.

I am good at what I do, I deserve to do it, and I am bringing great value to my clients. I am completely confident in these things.

How can YOU be more confident?

Identify what you’re good at. What do you feel you are good at and like doing? What special skills do you have?

Once you know what you’re good at AND feel good doing, you’ll feel that spark of confidence — you KNOW this is something you’re great at, no matter what it is.

Body language. Act confident, walk with your shoulder back and head up. Project confidence.

Research if there is a way for you to use your skills in a career you’d find fulfilling. I am confident in my writing, and I found a way to be a writer.

I know it sounds a bit simplistic, but confidence boils down to how you FEEL about your skills and yourself. You don’t have to be confident in everything about yourself to be successful. That’s not realistic for most people.

Find something you ARE confident in and build from there.

And remember — you can fake it ’til you make it. When you project confidence and act confident, you will internalize that feeling and the reactions and will continue to act that way, which eventually becomes a real part of you.

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The Truth About Freelancing

The Truth About Freelancing

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium

And how to make money doing it!

The world of freelancing is swirling with myths and straight-up lies in between all of the great people and advice within the writing community.

It can also be confusing and can feel like every freelancer has specific rules they say are the only way to make money.

Sometimes it feels like no one makes money AS a freelancer, they are just selling their books and courses trying to teach others how to be a successful freelancer!

I’ve seen people upset about the lack of strong resources or how much tools can cost, and I’ve seen people put off starting to work simply because they felt overwhelmed with information.

Here are the truths I have discovered on my journey in writing and entrepreneurship:

  • You should not spend ANY money when you’re first starting. You can start a service-based (like writing) business for free.
  • You don’t need to know everything when you start. You can research and figure things out as you go along.
  • Even when you’re first looking for clients and feel so inexperienced, don’t ever work for free. Here’s how not to and why you shouldn’t.
  • Market yourself, especially using social media. Social media is free and, as a small business owner or freelancer, completely necessary. Here’s how I utilize social media.
  • Make sure to always be creating and maintaining your pipeline of future clients to fight the natural ebb and flow of sales and freelancing.
  • Figure out what you need to be making and use that for your pricing. Then stick to it. Pricing and sticking to it is so important as a freelancer. Clients want work for free, so never let them dictate what you’re worth.
  • Focus on your main objective or idea when starting your business. There is such a thing as too many ideas.
  • Network constantly. Whenever I go anywhere, I have my cards in my bag. When I meet new people, I give them my card, explain I’m a writer and let them know I’d be happy to discuss any writing or editing needs they have. Here are some tips on how to network successfully.
  • Even when you’re first starting, you’re allowed to say “no” to work! So many freelancers feel they need to take on anyone who comes to them, to gain experience, build a portfolio, whatever. You do NOT. Saying “no” to some work has made me more successful and profitable.
  • Make sure you deeply understand blogging and article writing. Here are 10 lessons I’ve learned on my journey as a blogger!
  • Learn from others who have come before you – but remember that your journey will be your own, so take things with a grain of salt – even my advice!
  • When working from home (or for yourself), staying organized and not procrastinating is the only way you can succeed.
  • Freelancing can be lonely. Make sure to maintain friendships and hobbies outside the home to keep your sanity!
  • Have a contract in place. This is super important. Your contract should dictate payments, deadlines, deliverables, and anything else having to do with the client/freelancer relationship. Both of you should sign this and a deposit paid before ANY work is done. There are many free contract templates available online and you’re welcome to use mine.
  • Keep an eye on the future. How will your business evolve and change? Think about what you enjoy doing most as you gain clients and learn new skills and see how you can incorporate more of it or move to different pricing models. Evolution is an important part of building and growing a business.

This is real information from a freelancer who has been where you are. You do not need to pay for any expensive courses or anything to get started. Just find one person willing to pay you fairly for your work and BAM! You’re a paid freelancer.

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How to Get Started & Write Your Book

How to Get Started & Write Your Book

Books, JS, Medium

Breaking down the process.

When it comes to writing a book, there are a lot of misconceptions.

Some people think it’s super easy (it’s not!), some think it’s too hard (nope!), others think it’s unnecessary or there are too many books in the world (never!), and still others just don’t know where to start.

And if you have a book in you but don’t know where to start, that is where a book coach comes in.

A book coach is a cross between an author, an accountability coach, a writing partner, an editor, and a therapist.

My book coaching focuses mostly on nonfiction works.

When I work with authors, our first couple of sessions really focus on creating an outline and coming up with a complete idea, a beginning, middle and end, and making sure the outline reflects what they want to say in the order they want to say it, in addition to hitting all the important takeaways they want the reader to get.

I’ve certainly spoken before about the importance of having an outline to when writing your book. And I will reiterate here: outlines are super important! They help you map out your book, keep you on track and focused, help you guard against writer’s block, and will allow you to finish your book much faster.

After putting together a cohesive outline, it’s time to start writing!

When it comes to actually writing a nonfiction book, there are dangers in being the expert!

Experts tend to want to write and discuss every little detail of their industry and experience and knowledge. After all, that’s why they are the expert writing the book!

But when it comes to putting it together into a book, you have to be able to step back and think about it from the reader’s perspective. Is this a beginner-level book? If so, that is entirely different from writing it for more advanced readers who are already very familiar with your topic, the lingo, the industry, and the background of it.

Beginners need all the acronyms explained, the concepts spelled out, and more examples given in different ways. The same way any newbie to an industry would. I have a plan for that.

There is also a tendency to write EVERYTHING YOU KNOW in your book, forgetting the audience and forgetting that you can always write a second book or start a blog or create a more detailed course, etc. You don’t have to get all of your knowledge out in one book! It’s also hard to sell a beginner on a book on a new topic if it’s 400 pages long and looks super complicated.

And no matter what, just start writing! It’s easier to fix bad writing than it is to start from a blank page over and over. Trust yourself and your knowledge and get started!

You have a book coach to help you — take advantage of that. Write and give the coach something to critique!

Next, I’ll be talking about the best way to break down the actual writing process.

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How Saying “No” Has Made Me Successful

How Saying “No” Has Made Me Successful

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium

You are allowed to say no to work you don’t want to do.

When I first started my business, I said yes to everything. You need a press release? Sure! You want help with a sales strategy? Of course! Oh, you need me to design the information architecture for your new website? Why not!

I didn’t know how to do half the things I said yes to. But I kept saying yes.

I learned. I researched and figured it out, and the clients had no idea it was the first time. Confidence comes in handy!

Remember, being an expert doesn’t mean you know everything, being an expert means knowing that you DON’T know something are are not afraid to go find the answer. Being an expert is knowing how to find those answers.

I said yes to everything because I was at the very beginning of building my business. I didn’t have any long-term clients yet, and I was doing what I could to make money but was not completely sure what direction my business would eventually take. I also thought I needed to say yes to everything so that I could make money!

In fact, looking back now, there is no way I could have predicted where I would be now, over a year and a half later. My business has evolved, I have cultivated relationships and have clients I adore, and my focus has shifted significantly from where I started.

And saying yes to everything helped with that! I was able to try new things and discover I was good at them and enjoyed doing them. I was able to come to the realization that some things were not what I wanted to spend my time on and focus on. I recently wrote about what I learned in my first year freelancing, and it has been amazing to see the growth.

I’ve spoken before about how what happens when you’re working on things you don’t want to do, and how to break up with clients. This was something I had to learn.

I was telling my husband about how one of my clients paid well but was really pushing me into working entirely on sales and marketing projects. Things I really was not wanting to spend so much time on. But the money was good and I felt like I couldn’t turn away guaranteed income.

He looked me in the eye and said, “Isn’t the biggest perk of being an entrepreneur getting to do the work you want?”

It was like a light bulb turned on in my head. Of course, it is. That is why I became an entrepreneur in the first place!

The next day, I spoke with that client and broke up with them. It was the best decision for me and opened me up to other new possibilities.

As I continue to re-frame and evolve my business and discover new things I love to do, I am finally saying no to work. I still often say yes to interesting new things that I want to learn, but I have given myself permission to turn down paying work that I don’t want to do.

I am making really good money now, and am in a position where I am able to be aligning everything with what I WANT to be doing. I don’t need to take low-paying projects to make ends meet anymore, and I don’t want to.

When a prospective client says to me, “Well that is too much money for this.” Instead of negotiating like I did at the beginning, I simply say, “Ok, what is your budget?” And if there is no compromise to be made (less work to fit within their budget) then I walk away.

You are allowed to say no to doing things that do not fit your business model.

You are allowed to say no to someone who wants to pay you far less than what you are worth.

You are allowed to say to people you don’t want to work with — for any reason! You allowed to choose who you do and DO NOT want to work with. If someone treats you badly, or yells at you, or does not appreciate you, guess what? You have the power and authority to hop on the Nope Train and not work with them.

As my business continues to evolve, I am able to continuously find new and interesting ways to stretch my talent and grow as a person and as a business owner.

Most importantly, I continue to find things I love to do, say no to things I don’t want to do, and work with amazing people.

This allows me to also be able to work on passion projects like writing and publishing my first book 6 months ago or putting together my second book, where I have been able to put together an anthology based on the #metoo movement.

Allowing myself more space in my business to do the work I want and the projects I love has been perfect for me and allows me to continue to be creative while also continuing to grow my business.

How did you learn to say no to work? Has this been beneficial to you and your business? If you have never said no to working with someone or on something — why not?

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Some Freelancers Pitch to Publications, I Pitch to People

Some Freelancers Pitch to Publications, I Pitch to People

JS

Grinding It Out versus Growing A Business

There were two separate stories about pitches on my main Medium feed this morning. One about pitching to journalists and writers about THEIR clients for publicity purposes and the other one was about pitching your article to online publications.

They both had some excellent points — keep it about the person you’re pitching to. How does it benefit them? Don’t get bogged down in filler words and useless information. Provide a draft/additional information if needed.

But the pitch article I see missing is the one for full-time writers and editors who don’t want to do one-by-one blogs and articles.

I decided at the very beginning of my writing career that I was not going to spend the bulk of my time trying to get individual articles into major publications.

The main reason for me is the time and effort required versus the results or money.

When you look at people who talk about the money they make pitching individual original pieces to Forbes, Business Insider, Inc, etc, they are often making very little money — or even doing it for free for exposure.

Now, the exposure is awesome, and when I happen to have a perfectly well-suited article, I sometimes take 5 minutes to email a pitch to a magazine.

But the grind of putting out separate individual pieces in the HOPES that one of them will take it, and if they do, then waiting 4–8 weeks for publication and even longer for potential payment is not something I want to do.

That is just me, personally.

There are a million lists online of websites who pay for articles. Here is one from Carol Ticeanother from Bamidele Onibalusi, a long one on Freelance Writing Gigs, one from the Penny Hoarder, and this one by David Trounce.

This is not a BAD way to go about making money. Clearly, there are plenty of websites willing to pay for articles.

But let’s break it down:

If each site pays on average $50 per article and you want to make $5000 per month (a $60,000 annual salary), you need to write, pitch, get accepted, and get paid for 100 articles each month.

If you only want to work Monday through Friday, that is 5 articles per day you need to research, write, find publications if you don’t have one in mind, and pitch. This does not include following up on payment or the ones who don’t pay until it has been up for a month, or any other restrictions.

In contrast, I made $8,000 last month with 6 clients.

Instead of pitching myself to individual publications or writing one article per website, I went directly to clients.

I pitched myself to small companies and entrepreneurs. Right now, my 6 clients are:

  • An online publisher (monthly blogging, book editing)
  • An entrepreneur and business coach (email marketing, web copy)
  • A global public speaker (monthly blogging, email marketing)
  • A startup technology company (blogging, managing blog)
  • A medicinal cannabis business (weekly blogging, managing blog)
  • A small digital marketing agency (weekly blogging, press releases)

As they come and if I have time, I also take on editing books, ghostwriting, and book coaching.

I work Monday through Friday and only on the weekends if I have a special project or major deadline coming up.

All of my clients are longer-term. We have contracts, I charge one monthly retainer, and they pay every month. I have built a relationship with these clients, meaning we work together even better over time, they rely on me and trust me, and I know what they need on an ongoing basis.

For me, this is a reliable, more stable income, without having to grind out a bunch of articles every day.

It also means I can really build a rapport with these people. By doing so and focusing on maintaining a real relationship, it has resulted in all of my current clients being referrals from previous ones.

This is how I have built my freelance writing into a business. A real, thriving, stable business built on clients, not pitches to individual publications.

Now, this is simply what worked best FOR ME. I am under no illusion that my way is the only way or even the best way. It’s just what works for me and MY business and my life.

What have you found works best for you? Is it all one or the other, a mix of both, something I didn’t even mention? I’d love to hear and learn from you!

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You Definitely Need An Editor

You Definitely Need An Editor

Editing, JS, Medium

Even great writers need editors. Here’s why.

When it comes to writing a book, it can feel like you’re climbing a mountain, slogging through each step. When you reach the summit and the book is complete, it is easy to feel like you’re done.

DONE!

While your original manuscript is done, you are now ready to begin the editing process.

There are a ton of reasons why you need an editor, but it truly boils down to this: An unedited book is not professional.

It is very difficult to self-edit to the standards of a professionally finished book.

For one thing, your brain will often read what you think you wrote or fill in details which either aren’t there or aren’t fully explained.

For another, you simply may not notice if you’ve switched perspectives or from active to passive voice or use a lot of repetitive words.

I am a professional writer and editor as my career — and I still get my books edited by a professional who is not me.

Editing is absolutely necessary for a finished, professional, polished book.

The Job of an editor:

  • Fix all grammar and punctuation mistakes.
  • Identify inconsistencies, missing information or plot holes.
  • Identify areas where more information or explanations are needed.
  • Readability and flow — making sure it all makes sense in order and is a cohesive full story.
  • Look for repetitiveness, such as using “very” or “big” to describe most things, when a different word would have a bigger impact or flow better.

Working With An Editor

It can be scary or frustrating to hand your baby, your book, a piece of your soul over to an editor.

Some editors take it and then disappear and a month later reappear with your book with all of the edits made and everything fixed.

In some cases with some authors, this is how they prefer to be edited. Have the book taken and made even better and then returned in completed form. Some authors find this frustrating, as they are not in the loop of any changes and may get upset that their book was changed more than they wanted, especially if any major restructuring was done.

I personally am a fan of editing books in a more collaborative way. I put the book in a Google doc and give the author commenting permission. This way, they are able to see the progress being made, see changes, answer any questions I may have (which I put in comments), and make changes they need to.

We share the document and are able to polish the book together. My clients have told me they love this process, as they feel more engaged in it and that they still have a sense of control.

Writer/Editor Relationship

When you are looking for an editor, you want to work with someone you feel comfortable with, who understands your voice and messaging, and who you feel understands you. Someone you vibe with.

Before making a choice of an editor, make sure to get quotes from a couple different ones. Don’t go with the lowest or highest bidder on numbers alone. TALK to each of them. Ask about their editing process, deadlines, timelines, and payment options. Make sure you like the person and feel comfortable giving them your book.

Discuss exactly what type of editing you want and the different costs of each.

Above all, work with someone you WANT to work with. As with all successful relationships, if you like the person and understand each other, the entire process will be easier.

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Relationship Building for Freelancers: How to Get & Keep Clients

Relationship Building for Freelancers: How to Get & Keep Clients

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium, Sales & Marketing

Apparently, most writers aren’t good at marketing and many salespeople aren’t the best at writing. Or at least that is what people keep telling me.

I am lucky enough to be both, which has been extremely successful for me. It has truly been my superpower, which allowed me to be my own boss and get my business up and running very quickly.

Relationship building is an extremely important skill. Many people who consider themselves extroverted or a ‘people person’ may also find that they are strong at job interviews and good at networking in group settings.

However, more introverted people may find themselves at a surprising advantage in the one-on-one relationships and phone calls which freelancing often requires.

95% of my work and communication is done via email, text, slack, Facebook messenger, etc. And while I am an outgoing, talkative person, this mode of communication is fast, easy, and best of all — does not require pants. But there are ways to be great at phone calls and written communication.

Phone Calls & Relationships

When it comes to winning over potential clients, I believe in the power of a great conversation.

When a prospect is asking me about pricing and information, I don’t just shove my website in their face and tra-la-la away to my next task.

I ask them for a time to jump on a phone call. Instead of giving them a straight-up price, I explain that prices depend on needs and scope of projects, and that monthly retainers are often less expensive than paying per project, per word, or per hour. I say:

“The price depends on your exact needs and can also be impacted by how long we plan to work together. Are you available this afternoon or tomorrow to jump on a short call with me? I can do 3pm EST today or 1pm-4pm tomorrow.”

What I have done here is set them up to expect individual, customized attention and pricing for their needs, and after mentioning the call, instead of leaving it open-ended, I have provided specific time frames.

People are psychologically more likely to respond to the specific timeframes than just a general request for a phone call. It also shows my professionalism. I am available right away, but at specific times. I know my schedule and keep it. I am also punctual.

Once I get them on the phone, I’m golden. I love talking to people and it shows. I smile while I talk to them, I ask and answer questions. I show them my value by giving free information. For example, if we are discussing blogging, I’ll throw out a couple of facts and statistics about SEO and content marketing. If they want book coaching, I tell them what the process looks like and give them information on general lengths of books in different genres and discuss pros and cons of traditional versus self-publishing.

Another thing I do is weekly phone calls with each of my clients. It is a chance for us to check in, update them on my work and progress, and sets and manages expectations on both sides for the week ahead. It also serves to continue to build and solidify our working relationship.

Email & Relationships

Because most communication is done over email, I make sure to let them know what I am up to or ask questions when I need. I am professional but personable over email, saying “hey” and using their first name, unless they have specified not to or are much more formal.

My clients never need to ask what I am working on or where I am at with their work because I make sure to let them know.

I offer free email support to my book coaching clients and make sure to respond to people in a timely manner.

Once they are my clients, I stop selling them. They know what my services are and if they want additional ones, they always let me know. I don’t try to promote my other services or upsell them anymore unless they ask. I might say offhandedly, “Hey, you may not have thought about it, but some social media management would work really well with what we are doing now and would promote your company faster and better. Here are a couple of examples ___. Let me know if you want to discuss it further, and I am also happy to recommend a couple of other fantastic people.”

Because that shows it’s not about ME. It is about what is best for THEM and their company. I’m not saying it just to make more money, I even offered to refer them to someone else!

That is because honesty, trustworthiness, and transparency are the pillars on which I have built my business. I am not afraid to say “I don’t know,” and then go find the answer. I am not so self-centered as to think I’m the only person who can do what I do or even the best at it.

I am selling prospects on working with me, specifically, not with a writer in general. They don’t only need to know the benefits of writing, they need to see what working with me will be like. How well do I communicate? Do I remember information from previous conversations (I do, I take notes)? Do I listen to them and understand their pain points and have ways to solve those problems? Do I talk more about them than myself?

Clients & Relationships

You should be approaching a client relationship in a similar way to a new friendship. You want them to like you and you don’t want to scare them off.

Sales is not about just getting that dollar amount. It is about getting someone who WANTS to work with you and KEEP paying you that dollar amount.

But it’s more than sales. As a solo entrepreneur, how I represent myself to anyone is literally the face of my business. I am myself, but professional. I am knowledgeable, able to show strong writing samples, and deeply understand the process and the business of writing.

Being nice, kind, a good listener, asking the right questions, showing your value — that is how you get and KEEP a client.

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Freelancers & No Paid Time Off

Freelancers & No Paid Time Off

JS, Medium

If I don’t work, I don’t get paid.

This has never been something that bothered me, as I have long been the type to work more than necessary and then bring my laptop on vacation and do an hour or two a day while we relaxed.

I have no problem doing a bit of work. After all, I still get the vacation — I sleep in, eat great food, don’t work out, and explore new places. I have fun with my husband and enjoy the trip. I also get a small amount of work done.

But this week.

This has been the toughest week of my life so far.

My grandfather was hospitalized, and he had been sick for a while.

I flew down on the day of Thanksgiving. We canceled the family get-together at my brother’s house and my brother and I booked last-minute flights to go see Grandpa.

We all assumed he’d get better. He spent 2 weeks in the hospital before he went to hospice and died peacefully, in his sleep, while surrounded by all his children and grandchildren. That was the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

He was lucid just 2 days before.

It’s been horrendous.

My grandpa was larger than life. He was a builder, a fixer, and a creator. For as long as I’ve been alive, one of my most vivid memories of him has been seeing him out on the mower or the tractor or any other of the heavy machinery littering his garages and driveway.

He was always under a car, tinkering. Or building something. He would pretend to be reluctant, but he adored helping any of us 3 grandkids fix things. He picked out my first car. He built us a treehouse when we were 8 or 9, then handed us nails and some wood and tried to teach us how to make furniture for it.

He was a self-made man who lived the true American Dream. He started with nothing and created a business of used truck parts and a junkyard, and grew it into an empire. He and my grandma got to live the retirement they wanted, traveled often, and loved us all.

He and Gramma were married for 61 years since they were 18 and 21. I can’t even imagine that type of relationship.

The funeral was Tuesday.

He would have hated the funeral. He didn’t like being the center of attention or religious ceremony. He would have hated seeing people get so emotional and cry over him.

But I guess the funeral isn’t meant for the dead, but for the living. To say goodbye, to pay respects, to have something to see, to hold on to.

I’ve never lost anyone so close to me before.

It has been a blur of family, tears, and yes, even some laughter.

When all the cousins get together, we enjoy it. We love hanging out and haven’t gotten the chance to see each other much as we got older and moved away and started new traditions.

We played Grandpa’s favorite game — poker — with his own poker chips.

We drank his favorite whiskey and we shared our funniest stories of him.

It won’t get easier for a while, but it will someday. He continues to live in my heart and his name will leap off my tongue at the oddest moments. “You know, your great-grandpa used to love this…” to my niece and nephew and to my own hypothetical children.

And while I mourned and grieved and ate bagels with my family, I still had to pull out my computer and do some work here and there. Do the tasks that I do daily to keep my business running and my clients happy. I let them all know what was going on so that they could cut me some slack for this week.

But the stress of this week, the anxiety of the flights, the breaking of my meticulous routine, and the worry over not doing work for my clients has been a bit overwhelming.

I smoked some cigarettes even though I quit over a year ago. I drank even though I’m not a big drinker.

And I didn’t write. This is he first thing I’ve written since it happened.

I will remember Grandpa as the Godfather of our family, I will continue his legacy by living by his teachings and by telling his stories.

Hey, have I told you about the time he took me fishing and we caught a shark…?

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The Hardest Part of Writing a Book

The Hardest Part of Writing a Book

Editing, JS, Medium, writing

I see this question many places — on Quora, in articles about writing, when I’m asked directly.

“What is the hardest part about writing a book?”

I understand why people want to know, but the truth is that just like everything else in life, what is most difficult for me may be easy for you and vice versa.

Here’s what I can tell you from my own experience. I have ghostwritten a few books and recently published my own.

For me, the hardest part of writing a book is knowing when I’m finished.

I started with my trusty outline, I wrote everything, I reread several times, it FELT complete.

The moment I sent it to the editor, I had ideas for things I could have expanded on or written differently.

I managed to keep it together until I got it back from the editor, at which time I ended up adding an entire case study and about half a chapter.

I sent that part BACK to the editor.

And I made myself stop writing.

The moment it hit the virtual shelves for sale, I recounted my mistakes.

I could have added more, made it better, given better examples, used a more formal vocabulary.


For me, it was never anxiety over whether or not I was qualified to write a book, or if people would think it was silly, or if it was poorly written (some of the top fears expressed to me when people talk about writing).

I have confidence in my writing and I was building off of content I’d previously written and gotten solid feedback on as a blogger.

My anxiety came from feeling like it wasn’t complete.

A feeling of “Nooo! I forgot to tell them this amazing advice on how to get the higher-end clients!”

And I don’t mean to say that I think that information could only come from me.

But my goal was to write a really helpful, practical book to help people find clients, market themselves, and build a freelancing business with no initial investment, and I just truly wanted to provide as much a framework as humanly possible.

Even now, I sometimes think about what more information I could have added to it.

But I have mostly moved on. I’m thinking about my next book, focusing on my clients, and continuing to build, grow, and refine my own business.

And all of these experiences will help me on the next book!


What was the hardest part of writing a book, a paper, a blog, anything, for you?

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