Exciting News!


I’m not sure how many of my readers were aware, but I was writing for another website for almost a year now. Unfortunately the site is currently unavailable due to server issues.

In the meantime, I will be expanding this blog to include my past work, and to turn it into my very own media outlet. I will be purchasing a proper domain name and will seek sponsorship shortly thereafter. This will differ from the site I was working for in that it will focus on blogs, not podcasts. I will also be looking for writers in a few months to help contribute to the content and to bring great events and people to Ottawa’s attention.

I will also have a section dedicated to Vine, so stay tuned!

End of Sabbatical


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There’s nothing quite like having your behind handed to you. There I was, building up my freelancing experience when I submitted a big project only to be met with, “We’re going to just do it ourselves.” Ouch. Cue my ego crying in the shower. I turned my back on writing for quite a while. I even abandoned my friends’ website temporarily while I got my act together. Luckily, he’s very understanding and I’ll be happily writing away for them again once the server goes back up.

Now, I feel like I’m ready to take another crack at it. I had to step away for a while and focus on something else. Unfortunately that “something else” turned out to be an ultra addictive app called “Vine”. But I digress. I’ve been scouring the ads for work and my best shot right now seems to be in transcription. I’m very gifted at mindless work! And happy to do it!

Don’t be afraid to take a break if you feel like you’re not putting your best work out. Sometimes life gets in the way and there’s nothing wrong with taking a breath of fresh air every now and again. It’s never good to huddle down, nose in the computer screen for too long, after all…there is a whole real world happening out there.

Exercises to Get the Creative Juices Flowing


Teen Studying

When will I write about something other than the avoidance of writing? Probably never, but I’m really trying to help not only myself, but hopefully other writers as well. I really will do anything to stall when it comes to writing, especially if it’s something that I really need to get done. Recently I had another large batch of dental articles to write and I was so uninspired by the end of the project that I was tempted to stall it for a week while I gave myself a mental break. I ended up meeting my deadlines and earning the pocket money as scheduled, since I’m a professional who takes pride in her work, but believe me, the temptation to bail was always there.

Writing Exercises

stop-writing

More recently, I’ve been tutoring high school English and am dealing with a fellow writing-avoider. Looking for ways to inspire him, I began creating exercises to get him writing. I had him write a half page on “Why I Like Dubstep.” He struggled with it and the end product wasn’t very good, but once we dissected it and figured out why it wasn’t working, he had a better idea of how to write something better. The next assignment was “Why I Hate Doing Homework” and he nearly wrote an entire page! He had two main points and fleshed them both out fairly well. He still needs more work, but if he sticks to the exercises I make for him, I can see an A+ in his future.

Jotting in a Journal

Likewise, I should do something similar. Did you know that Stephen King makes himself write 2500 words a day? I have several journals lying around, I really ought to start writing in them again to at least get some writing done. Hey, writing is writing, after all. Maybe you can assign yourself mini essays as well. Not only will you be practicing at writing, but you might also get some things off your chest or figure out a problem that was bothering you. Writing doesn’t have to be a chore, it can be therapeutic as well!

Outside Motivation

mood-writing

Another fire under my butt is working with others. I have a friend whose website I’m writing for and I find meeting with her helps me focus my attention on writing. Sometimes it helps just to have someone there who’s also getting work done.

If you don’t know what to write about, write anything. Even if it’s about what you had for supper, it’s still an exercise that can help you improve your writing and develop your voice.

The Accidental Expert


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I totally get this chart, though it’d be easier to read if it showed the teeth constructed in their rightful maxillary and mandibular arches.

I love talking shop with dental assistants. One day a few years ago, I needed to have a filling replaced and I said to the assistant, “Tooth 36 on the occusal side needs refilling.” Later, we discussed some of the uglier x-rays we’d seen over the years. I was never a dental assistant, but I did work for many years in a medical/dental insurance company. I have yet to find a more complicated, clause-heavy , brain power-involved job, even when I worked in Policy for the government. The turn-around at that company was intimidating because most people couldn’t handle the complexities involved in reading benefit plans and applying them to claims. Luckily, I was able to stick it out and survive the probationary period and went on to learn a lot about dentistry. We regularly looked at x-rays, learned about dental procedures, and even had a few dental codes imprinted in our brains. (01202 – recall exam. 11112 – two units of scaling. 11107 – a half unit of polishing – those are all Ontario dental codes that I can’t remove from my brain!) Years later, I’ve seen a demand for dental articles, mainly ghostwriting. A lot of dentists seem to be jumping on the blog bandwagon but either they 1) don’t have the time to write or 2) they aren’t good at writing. That’s where *I* come in. 

Put Knowledge to Good Use

When you’re a writer for hire, you might often find yourself accepting specific jobs in specific fields. For example, many writers are doing a lot of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) posts for marketing websites. Through these projects, they become experts in the SEO field. I myself have avoided this niche as I don’t feel that it puts good talent to use. Instead, I’ve been going after some of the more difficult articles out there, specifically in the field of dentistry, putting knowledge I already possess to good use.

Embrace Your New Niche

I would never say to someone, “I’m a dental blogger” (unless of course I was applying for a dental blogger position). But I’m not afraid to actively pursue those types of articles. I enjoy writing about them, explaining periodontal procedures, good brushes to use, and other dental-related things. 

Pursue the Market

I’ve been rolling the idea around in my head of contacting local dental offices around the city, to see if any of them would need an extra little push to assure their patients they’re in the right hands. If they have a website, they might have a blog. Could be worth my time. And you might, as a blogger, have a niche of your own that not a lot of people could just automatically write about. Don’t be afraid to get out there and see if there’s a need for your services. You’d be working together directly, with no intermediary like oDesk or elance.com and you can negotiate your own fees. 

I became an expert by accident and I intend to turn a profit!

When to Call it Quits


I thought I’d found the solution to my monetary problems. I was offered a chance to write 500 word articles for $20. My usual rate for 500 words varies on the amount of research, the style, and who the audience is, but it’s a safe bet that I usually charge between $10 – $15 per. This particular client made it all seem easy peasy, so I rattled off a test article for them. The “CEO” of their company liked it, but it needed some changes to go with their style guide. So I re-wrote it. Then I didn’t hear back. I tried reaching the “CEO” through several channels and after TWO WEEKS, I find out that 1) they’re still interested, but 2) they’ve changed the parameters, so now it’s 250 words for $10. That’s still pretty good, considering it’s just a small write-up, but would it be worth it to work for someone who thinks it’s ok to disappear for 2 weeks (while being “online” on Skype!!!)?

Try to do your own sleuthing

Ok, maybe we can’t really do background checks but people talk. Research the company or person who is commissioning the work. Do they have a lot of feedback? Or are they so difficult to find that it almost seems shady?

Stay in contact

Admittedly, I was becoming a bit of a pain in the posterior for this “CEO”. I messaged him daily on Skype, always reminding him that I still hadn’t heard from him. I then took to pestering his “assistant” but she’d only deflect it and say that he was going to contact me shortly. It never hurts to chase people down, but you might end up burning a bridge if you’re too zealous or if the person truly did have a good reason for being incommunicado.

Is it worth the hassle?
Man, $10 for 250 words could be the easiest money I’ve ever made. I could crank out article after article, no problem. But what if I were to take the job and the contact disappears again? What if the work runs out? I’m not even 40% confident in this employer.

To make a long story short, the “CEO” asked me to redo (AGAIN) a test article, this time for 250 words. But he was VERY vague about what he wanted and didn’t answer my last few questions before signing off. Needless to say, I’m not even going to pursue it anymore.

And the loser never gave me my $20!!

Get Your Priorities Straight!


I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. Make sure you have your priorities straight! I’ve recently hit a slump in my writing endeavors and it’s entirely my own fault. I have 3 or 4 things on the go. The most important is some web content I’m writing for a friend’s business. That needs to get done first. Then, I promised a musician a review of her album but it kept getting pushed back. I feel bad, it’s not a paying job, but it’s something that can help her. Then, there’s a blog that I’ve been talking about writing for the wonderful man who does my hair. Because I’ve had all these projects on the backburner, I’ve not had the presence of mind to actually finish any of it. 

What Are Your Deadlines and What Can Wait?

The no-brainer is usually to start with whatever has the tightest deadline. If you have 3 days to complete something and have other scattered deadlines for other work, make sure you get that first one done well in advance. I’ve had issues with juggling several jobs at once and have had to forego on sleep a few times to catch up. If you stay a day ahead of schedule, not only will you be well prepared for any rewrites, but you will also impress your client.

Does It Pay? If Not, What Do YOU Get From It?

I have realized that there are a lot of things that I don’t have in my portfolio. Music reviews being on that list, I’ve approached some people about their own work so that I can pad up that resumé. Even if nobody ever reads your stuff or sadly, never visits your site, at least you have it. It will come in handy when applying for paying jobs of the same nature. But remember, just because something doesn’t pay, doesn’t mean you can’t get something else out of it. I’m bartering my services for my friends and in return, they will be designing my own personal website (stay tuned!)

What Will Happen If You Don’t Finish?

This should not be an option. As a writer, whenever I have work that seems to be too much of an undertaking, be it too technical or the pay is really not in line with the amount of research/work put into it, it hurts to have to turn the job down. In cases such as these though, if it’s not worth your time, don’t agree to do it. It looks bad on you if you have to cancel a contract. It looks even worse if you can’t meet a deadline. If there is no imposed deadline, MAKE ONE. I get nervous with looming deadlines and I like to keep a clean desk, so I crank the work out as fast as I can, while maintaining a concise, professional piece.

I am forcing myself to finish an outline this week. Once that is off my shoulders, it’s music review time. Then hair time. Then maybe I can go back to getting some more steady work? Time will tell! All I know is, I will be happy when I press the “send” button on all three.

Goodbye, my love


I would like to start this post off with a poem.

You were the light of my life

A shining beacon in the wilderness of the every day

Cutting bonds from which the coil of human misery

always thrives.

Come back to me.

Yeah, I wrote that for my computer. She died a few days ago.Let us observe a moment of silence for my Acer laptop. The next step is to obviously buy something new. The good news is that my hard drive can be recovered, it was a motherboard issue (still sucks though!)

A Writer’s Best Friend

My laptop was a very expensive gift from my partner. I had asked him for one, mostly joking because let’s face it, a laptop is an extravagant gift. He came through for me, and bought me a top of the line gaming computer. (I’m also a big gamer in case you haven’t guessed). It was fast, it had a ton of memory, and an extra large screen so I could enjoy the full effect, I guess. Because of this larger screen, I should be able to sell the pooched computer for parts, it’s just a matter of who wants it.

Portable Machinery

I’ve always liked iPads…they’re snazzy and you can do a lot with them. The only thing is, if you’re a writer, it’s not very practical. You’d have to get a keyboard hooked up to it and the screen isn’t that big. I’ll definitely be getting another laptop, but probably something smaller. Having something that I can take with me to meetings or coworking greatly benefits my business, as a writer.

Get What You Need, Nothing More

If I’m only going to use the computer to write, surf the internet, and play The Sims 3 on occasion, I will want to get a high powered computer, but only reasonably so. I don’t need a souped up, mega RAM, five billion KB per millisecond beast, but having SOME bells and whistles can be fun. The important things are internet and Microsoft Office 2007 (or whatever version you prefer). But if I can still stream Game of Thrones, I’ll be a very happy girl.

Wish me luck on finding the perfect beast of burden for my literary pursuits!