Friday, November 21, 2008

Stop the Background Music

My father used to dislike the word “bored.” So, just to be contrary, I had my boyfriend paint a sign that said in huge, mock-typewriter letters, “I am bored.” Today, as I was going on and on about my latest project — a PowerPoint presentation — my sister remarked, “Well, at least you’ll never be bored.” I guess as long as there are new subjects to write and new ways to write about them, she is right. I won’t be.

I fall into bed at night, or rather escape into it, just to stop working. Not that all those words on my computer screen are necessarily work related. Many of them are just busy-ness that pass for work but are really play. If I billed for every hour I sit there, hunched over my keyboard until my muscles scream, I would be a wealthy woman. The question is what do I actually write?

Well, there are e-mails; blog posts; “tweets” and postings to various other social networking sites; responses to comments on my blogs or website; articles for online article sites; other marketing-related “stuff”; replies to requests for information on coaching, editing, and ghostwriting; plans and handouts for teaching; some volunteer efforts; and notes to go with mailing labels for my books. Of course, none of that includes anything to do with my other life (what other life?). If there is time left over, I do actual work.

There is something amiss here. Once upon a time in another life, my husband walked in the front door of our apartment and was bowled over by a blaring stereo. “Bobbi,” he remarked (at the top of his lungs), “don’t you think the background music is a little too loud?” Well, yes, it was, and it is. All the things I spend prime time on (did I mention addictive reading?), added together, comprise the background music of my life. And they are taking a considerable chunk out of my waking hours.

Of course, they are not all a waste of time. One must market, and many of those activities are part of marketing. But many are not. If I can design something, even if it’s totally unnecessary, I’ll spend hours designing it. I will play on Photoshop. I will illustrate things that could well remain un-illustrated. You get the idea.

This begs the question: Why? I’ve been pondering the answer all evening, and I think I have figured it out. If I don’t keep my fingers and mind occupied every single moment, I’m afraid I’ll be bored.

I wonder if I should send this to my sister, who is unlikely to stumble on it if I don’t. But, first I have to proof it; then, I have to find some clip art to illustrate it; then, I have to post it on my blog; then, I have to send it. Whoops!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Invisible Blog?

I’ve been blogging my little heart out for quite a while now and wonder if the blogging world even knows I’m here. How do I get noticed? How do I get on the blogosphere map? When I was first doing research, if I had a question, I went to the library. But in this brave new world, when I have a question, I Google it. So I Googled “how to get your blog noticed” and struck gold. Here are some of the many suggestions for experts out there:

From 13 Tips to Get Your Blog Noticed
at blogging & online money making tips

JohnTP lives in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) and has a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSc IT) in India. He has been a full-time blogger since November 2005 and currently receives over 9,000 unique visitors daily and 15,000 page views. Also check out DigitGeek, his blog on hardware reviews and tutorials.

  1. Place a link to your blog in your signature, so that any posts to Forums, Outgoing Emails, etc, will promote your blog.
  2. will submit your blog free to the top 20 Search engines.
  3. Submit your good articles to

From Branding 101: How to Promote Your Blog Like the Big Guys Do
by Leo Babauta of Write to Done

Leo Babauta created Write to Done as a way to share some of what he has learned the craft and the art of writing. A life-long writer, he blogs about journalism, blog writing, freelance writing, fiction, non-fiction, getting a book deal, the business of writing, the habit of writing. And so on.

  1. First, figure out who your target audience is. Who are you trying to help with your blog? Who do you want to attract? It’s good to have a clear picture of exactly who these people are …
  2. Next, figure out what desires you’re going to be tapping into. Every reader goes to a blog for a reason — some desire they have that the blog will potentially fulfill.
  3. Then figure out what message you’re going to send to them that will tap into specific desires. This is key: every blog sends an unstated message to the reader.

From How to Get Your Blog Noticed Quickly and Widely
by Gregory White on

Greg White, Internet Marketer, Author, Consultant, and Project Manager has been running successful web projects since 2001. His sites and blogs cover Blog Marketing Tactics, Internet Marketing Tactics, and a variety of 'Niche' topics, in addition to starting and marketing profitable web project.

  1. Sign up for a free account at and register your blog there:
  2. Submit your blog to all of the directories listed at
  3. Sign up for a "My Yahoo" at and attach your blog to your own "My Yahoo" account. This will get your blog included in Yahoo very quickly. This is worth the effort to stop what you're doing right and do it, since Yahoo has a PR 9.

From Amazing Blogging Skills
By Axel g

Axel g was born and raised in Sweden. He is a meditator, who was ordained as a junior Buddhist monk in Thailand in 1993. His meditation practice has also taken him to Japan, Malaysia, the UK, and Sweden; and he has lived in numerous monasteries around the world. Axel now works full time in the field of personal development.

  1. Write about topics that really interest your readers. Focus on providing information that your readers want and do your very best to help them along the way.
  2. Freely share what you know, that's one important key to successful blogging and offer your readers useful information. If you have genuine knowledge about the topic you're writing about, share everything you know about it with your readers and they will love you for it. As a pro, you should also be able to explain things in simple language.
  3. Web surfers love blogs with character. Relax and show your readers who you really are! This way you will also quite naturally establish a personal relation with your readership.
Think about the words, World Wide Web. It truly is, and, if you doubt it, consider the bloggers who contributed these 12 great ideas.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Message to "Anonymous"

I received a comment on my blog post, "Questions Writers Ask,"and feel that it deserves a considered reply. I know I've published this somewhere in the past, but it's worth repeating. Its original title was WRITE!

Everyone is a writer. That includes you, whether you know it or not. If you’ve never pulled out a piece of paper or pulled up a blank screen on your computer and just rambled, you may not know it. If you do write, but your audience is limited to your hard drive or desk drawer, it’s time to reach out and touch a real reader. And, if you know you’re a writer but you feel stuck, this is the time to move to the next level.

W: Wake up! Most of us sleepwalk through life and miss out on what’s happening all around us, on ideas and inspiration, on challenges and opportunities, even on our own experiences. Write! Writers write. If you’re not writing, you’ll never know if you can. You’ll never share your words with others. You’ll never know what you’re capable of achieving.

R: Reach for the next level, whatever it is. If you’ve never tried it, do it now. If you haven’t tested your talent, take your work out of the desk drawer and find an audience. If you’ve never pushed yourself or gone out on a limb, this is the time to take that chance. Risk writing, risk feeling inadequate, risk rejection, risk success.

I: Ignite your passion for something, anything, as long as it moves you. Then involve yourself completely in whatever it is: subject, style, story, or specific area. Identify your niche. Do you want to be a poet, a novelist, a commentator, or a journalist? Are you wild about sports, science, or spirituality? That’s the seed of a career. Plant it, and watch it grow.

T: Try everything — every kind of writing, every possible subject and field,every genre. Take a course, join a writers’ group, go to lectures, read the best writers, keep a journal, enter a contest, write a query letter, submit a short story, a poem, or an article. Test your talent, test your limits, test your courage. Being a writer is all about tests, but then so is being a human being.

E: Explore life, explore your own feelings and thoughts, other people’s feelings and thoughts, things you’ve never done before, things you do without even noticing. Start noticing. Experience life. Get excited. Get involved. Immerse yourself in every activity. Writers feel. Allow yourself to feel; then put your feelings on paper.

Dear Anonymous, Go for it!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Suffering from Burnout? Here's what to do.

The word burnout was not even in my vocabulary when I first started writing. I knew that I would never tire of it, never want to do anything else, never stop. I wrote at every opportunity; and most of those were after work, after the dinner dishes were done, after the dog had been walked, and after the kids were finally in bed. Looking back, I don’t know how I did it, except that I was young and obsessed. I ran on adrenaline and addiction to writing, I suppose. All I wanted in life was to write full time.

Fast forward to 2001. I have now been living my dream for 40 years, either as an employee or as a freelancer, which I have done my whole career. In the beginning, I freelanced while I worked at an unrelated job; in the middle, I did it in addition to being an employed writer; and, for the past 20 years, I have done it full time. And, yes, I must admit that I have been worn out, exhausted, and burned out more than a few times over the years.

Here is what I have learned that may be of help to you when you see BURNOUT in neon on your computer screen:

Never say never. This advice applies to everything in life. It is the one word that is guaranteed to trip you up because we never (whoops) know what life is going to throw at us or how we will feel when we must deal with the unexpected.

Admit it. You’re tired. You’re sick of what you're doing. You hate your editor/client. You’re uninspired. You have writer’s block. You wish you were a carpenter. You want to scream. The point is, don’t deny it, and fight your way through it. Stop, and be aware of what’s going on inside of you. The body never lies, and, if it’s turning into pretzel knots, there is a reason.

Don’t panic. When you feel yourself burning out, getting tired, writing mechanically, or feeling too blocked to write at all — and you will — take a break. (Oh, but I can’t; I have a deadline!) Yes, I know, but whatever you’re doing or not doing isn’t working. So, stop and take a walk, a nap, a movie, a meal, or a vacation. Read a book, veg out in front of the TV, put on your favorite CD, wash the floor, fix your car, do yoga or tai chi or karate. Do anything but write.

Know that it will pass. You are still a writer, a good writer, in fact. You haven’t lost your skill or your love of the craft. It’s probably premature to throw up you hands in defeat and job hunt. Be a Taoist: go with the flow. You don’t beat yourself to death when you have the flu. Why do it when you are suffering from temporary malaise? Chalk it up to a passing phase, and get on with your life.

Think it through. If it’s serious, if it’s continuous, if it’s painful, and it won’t go away, you may have to do more than go to a movie or roller-blading. You may have to examine what is going on and whether it is indeed time to move on to something else. My guess is, that given time, you’ll find some way to refresh your mind and your creativity. But if that doesn't happen, you have a right to switch gears and find another outlet for your talents. You did not sign a life-long contract to be a freelance writer. If it’s time to do something else, go for it.