Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Category: Writing Life (page 2 of 4)

What’s a Digital Nomad? 11 Tips for this Working Lifestyle

I work from home, although I do have a full-time job with an agricultural company. I can’t say I’m exactly a digital nomad, but I can work from my house or my favorite coffee shop or my parents’ house–you get it. Anywhere there’s Wi-Fi or I can use my phone as a hotspot. If you’re a writer, you also might be a digital nomad! Read this contributed article below for some helpful tips on this working lifestyle. 

Everything about the world is changing, and it’s due to one massive invention: the internet. It’s still too early to say exactly how big of an impact this complex system will have on humanity; but until now, the changes have been momentous. Nowhere is this felt more than the working world. Today, it’s possible to roll out of bed, open up your laptop, and earn your living, without having to ever set foot in an office or traditional workplace. This has spawned a generation of “digital nomads,” who can work anywhere in the world, providing they have access to the Internet. If you’re in a creative industry or involved in tech, then it’s possible that you might have this lifestyle. But how do you ensure that it’s all that it’s cracked up to be? Below, we take a look at 11 ways you can nail the digital nomad lifestyle.

Focus on your Profession

Yes, you might be driven by the idea of spending your working days on the beach, but that’s not the target; it’s the reward. If you want to be a successful digital nomad, then forget about all the perks – at least initially – and instead focus on doing your job well. It’s easy to get sidetracked when you’re travelling the world, and you might find that your work begins to suffer. As a rule of thumb, always ensure that your work receives your most attention. You’ll enjoy those beach afternoons and fun excursions more if you know you’ve already performed your job well.

Get Your Finances In Order

If you haven’t already begun your digital nomad journey, but are considering it, then you’ll have a lot to look forward to. However, before you begin thinking about the freedom and other benefits of this lifestyle, you’ll need to get your finances in order. It’s likely that you’ll have to take a reduction in income – at least temporarily – if you’re leaving a salaried position. Before taking the plunge, make sure that you have a few month’s worth of income saved up, to give yourself a cushion. It’s possible to severely reduce your expenditures when you can live anywhere in the world, but don’t forget that the flights to get there aren’t cheap and will need to be factored into the cost, too.

Choose Your Destination Wisely

As we’ve just said, when you can live anywhere in the world (visa permitting), you have the option to have greater control of how much you spend when compared to someone who has to live in a certain place due to their work. While you might dream of living in, say, New York City or London, you’ll need to consider just how expensive these cities are. On the other hand, you might look at Bali, or a Thai island, where it’s possible to live very inexpensively. However, in certain places, the low cost of living may mean that you don’t have the same amenities (think, slow or unpredictable internet) as you would in places that are slightly more expensive.

Make Yourself Comfortable

While it might seem glamorous to always be on the move, to have the freedom to up and move whenever you feel like it, it’s worth considering the reality of a neverending tour. You’ll always feel like a traveller! To be at our best, and even just to enjoy travelling, we need to have periods where we’re sedentary. As such, in each destination, it’s best to have a rental house for a minimum of one month, though three or more months is ideal. In doing so, you’ll be able to settle into a rhythm, discover the local culture, and have the space to think about where you want to visit next.    

Find a Coworking Space

Now, one of the biggest draws of this lifestyle may have been the ability to work in your pjs, but the appeal of that could quickly wear off. Sometimes, it’s too difficult to get into “work mode” if you’re super comfortable and working from a place that you normally associate with relaxing. As such, look at getting a membership to a coworking space at each new city you visit. The prevalence of nomad workers means most hotspots have multiple options. Aside from giving you a place to work with reliable internet, they’ll also form the core of your social hub as you look to make new friends; this is especially important if you’re travelling by yourself.

Making Friends

We’ve just touched on the idea of making friends, which is one of the main worries that people have when they set out on this lifestyle. It’s natural to think: “I won’t find anyone to be friends with,” but this is a misguided thought! Places that draw nomad workers are usually very open and friendly, so you’ll quickly find yourself in the thick of an active social group. If you’re wondering how to find people, take a look at meetup.com and any expat Facebook groups for your destination.

Work/Life Balance

If you’re currently part of “the daily grind,” the process of commuting to work, putting in a long shift, and then driving home, we’ll just say that you’re going to love the nomad lifestyle. You’re your own boss! However, this does bring on some extra responsibilities – it means you’re in charge of creating your work/life balance. Knowing how to switch off is just as important as finding the motivation to switch on!

When to Move On

All good things must come to an end. You could spend six months in a place that most people would call “paradise,” but eventually, you might find that it’s not quite doing it for you anymore; and that to progress personally and professionally, you need to move on. This is the freedom you signed up for when you adopted the digital nomad lifestyle, but that doesn’t make moving on any more straightforward. We say: take the plunge and head somewhere new. If you’ve done it before, you’ll do it again, and it might lead to something much better. In any case, your current destination will always be there!

Keeping Up With Life

You’ll be a creation of your own world, but it’s worth keeping in mind that you still exist in “the real world.” It hasn’t forgotten about you! That means, you’ll have to make sure that you’re paying any taxes that you’re liable for, that you’re still paying off any debts you have back home, and so on. It’s a pretty rock and roll lifestyle…but there are still duties to be taken care of.

Remember: It’s Not All Fun and Games

There’s much to love about the nomad lifestyle, but it’s not perfect. There will be struggles in this life, just as there are struggles in every other type of life. It’s important that you take care of yourself, and that you don’t fall into a lifestyle that you weren’t planning. It’s easy, for example, to stay up all night when you have no obligation to get up in the morning! It’s also worth keeping in mind that you’ll find it beneficial to go home every now and again, just to remind yourself of where you came from.

Go Global

It’s never been easier to manage the logistics of international travel. Look at getting an international bank account, so that you don’t lose money due to exchange rates, and get a photo that’s set up for an international lifestyle.

Finally, remember to be bold: it takes a bit of bravery to make this lifestyle a success, but it’s oh so worth it!

 

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It’s a Writer’s World: How To Keep Yourself Motivated and Writing Well

(contributed article)

Being a writer is a creative, liberating and exciting career, which unleashes you into a whole different world within your mind. Sometimes writers discuss the downfalls of this job and the frustrations that can happen in a writer’s life. You can have a whole day of feeling completely blank and uncreative; you can wake up in the middle of the night with the most bizarre ideas, and you start working at crazy hours of the day, which can prevent you from attending a handful of social events with your friends. You can balance and overcome the obstacles in your writing life. Expand your knowledge, learn to take a break, and inhale new experiences; now is your chance to become the best writer you can be.

Handy Help

Do you have a burst of creativity in your mind but the words don’t quite come out in the right way? You might need to refine some of your language skills to allow your words to catch up to your creative thoughts. Websites, such as EffortlessEnglishClub.com , will provide you with all the handy hints you need to get your writing and English skills up to scratch. Perhaps you need a boost after a long break or your mind is super frazzled from a particularly busy time at work. It is never too late to learn and ask for help if you need it, so make the most of the resources that are available to you.

Clear Cognition

Do you have a method for clearing your mind and forgetting your troubles? You can’t expect yourself to write brilliant content if your brain is muddled up with colliding and puzzling thoughts. Take some time to relax each morning and clear your mind of the previous day’s tasks. Start each day fresh and go into your work with a calm and clear outlook. You will soon be able to produce magical words with a refreshed mindset.

Beautiful Breaks

Everybody needs a break now and then, whether it is half an hour to eat your lunch or a week on holiday after a tough month of work. Make sure you keep planning trips away or regular rests during your working day. Writers are often guilty of working around the clock, with very little time for a break. You need to recharge and reset in order to be productive, and we all need something to look forward to; it is often what keeps us motivated.

Explore and Experience

Never stop enriching your mind with new life experiences. Read books, travel to new places, and talk to interesting people. Our creativity is made up of the things around us that we have experienced, so always strive to keep your knowledge growing and your mind expanding.

It is your knowledge and daily experiences, which have shaped you into the writer you are today, so never stop expanding on them. You can free your mind of creative blocks and set yourself up for a successful career in writing

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5 Different Ways to Make Money Online

I think as writers we assume that everyone realizes they can make money by selling things online from their websites or by finding freelance jobs online. But I don’t think people in other professions think of it as often. When this contributed article came across my inbox, I thought it had some good ways to make money online. So here it is: 

If you’ve seen that there are a range of different ways to make some money online, you may be wondering if it’s really possible. Because if it’s really that easy, why isn’t everyone doing it? Well, that’s a good question. Although nothing is ever really easy, per se, if you’re in a financial slump and you want to be able to change your life, you can definitely do that by doing something online. Because it doesn’t have to be incredibly difficult for you. While a lot of the ways that you can make money will take time and effort, they’re often incredibly worth it. Because making money online can top up your existing income, or even replace it. So let’s take a look at some of the standout options.

Selling Products

One of the most classic ways of making money online is to sell products. You don’t have to have an offline shop, or even have been in the business of sales before; that’s the beauty of doing this online. You can really learn along the way. You might like to setup an Amazon shop selling products or even do something on eBay or Etsy. Whether you sell items you’ve made or source items to sell yourself, this can be a great venture if you’re willing to put the work in to set it up. You could also look to sell on your own site in the future, too.

Affiliate Marketing

Up next, there’s affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is a way that you can earn money by recommending products and brands. To do this, you will need a website or blog on a certain topic or a range of topics. You’ll then share specific links that are given to you by the affiliates. If your site visitors go on to make a purchase through that link, you will earn a set percentage of the sale. It can be a simple way, once set up, to generate a stream of income.

Blogging

From here, there’s blogging itself. And yes, you can make money through affiliate marketing as a blogger, but it’s not your only option. Instead, you can generate income from advertising, sponsorship, advetorials, contributed articles, and even your own product sales. So this could be an idea that takes you a step above affiliate marketing alone.

Investing

Then, there’s always investing. A lot of the time, people think that this is something that only financial experts can do. But that’s not the case. You just need to read up, using things like stash review, on the best ways to do it. Then, with a bit of knowledge, you can start off on your own investing venture.

Freelancing

If you have a particular skill, such as writing or graphic design, you could then look to sell that on a freelance basis. Sometimes, this could be something you do alongside your day job, or something that you move into full time. You could even consider consulting in this kind of format, too.

Have you made money online? Do you have any tips to share?

 

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3 Ways to Make the Writer’s Life Easier and More Fulfilling

(contributed article)

If you are a professional writer, you will probably be aware of the many trials and tribulations, which you can face on a daily basis. It is not necessarily an easy life to pursue, but there is great value in it; and it can be a surprisingly rewarding career path if you approach it in the right way. But it can be helpful to know what you can do to make it a little easier and more fulfilling, and that is what we are going to look into today. Following these pieces of advice will lead to a more fulfilling and satisfying life as a writer, so let’s take a look and see what they are.

Dedicating The Space

As with any kind of home business, you need to make sure that you have a proper dedicated space in order to make the most of it. This is certainly true for the professional writer, and you will probably find that one of your main tasks early on in your career is ensuring that you have a decent amount of space in your home in which you can work. This can be a spare bedroom, or a converted attic, or even–as with J.K. Rowling–a shed in the garden. However you do it, the important thing is that you have some kind of decent space in which you can work. Dedicate the space well, and it will mean that you can feel a lot more like a true professional, even if you are only just starting out.

Getting Rid Of Money Worries

Writers are often known to be particularly prone to worrying about money–especially making enough to cover bills. If this is true for you, then the obvious thing to do is to take a look at your finances in more detail and see what you can do to improve this situation. By focusing on your money, you can either free up your energies for the actual writing and the business of promoting yourself as a writer or find writing jobs that pay you more. One other thing you can do is focus on getting rid of your debt. Go to debtsettlement.co and see if you can find a way to deal with your debts quickly. This will be a great start to handling your money worries; but you might also want to put some effort into building a proper budget you can live by. With your money taken care of, you can put more energy into your writing.

Knowing Your Reader

It is essential to have a strong idea of who your average or ideal reader is before you get started, as this will encourage you to write in the proper manner for them. Having a good sense of your readership is essentially the same process as a business owner having a good idea of their target customer, and it is one way to improve your chances at making money and writing more for that audience. Get to know your reader, and it will really help you in the long run.

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Having a Home You Can Really Write In

If you consider yourself a writer, whether professionally or not, you will probably be keen on having a home, where you can practice your craft. It is especially important if it is your living, of course, and that goes for you bloggers, too. The eternal question of what makes the ideal writing space is something all writers have considered at some point. As it happens, there do seem to be a few key characteristics which most writers would agree are essential. Let’s take a look at how you might be able to find a home that you can actually write in for hours on end or create this environment in your own home.

A Quiet Area

If there is anything that many writers adore, it is peace and quiet. Being able to work in a quiet, uninterrupted space is often golden, and it’s one of the first things you should look into at your home. This will usually mean that you need to try and find a room with a door away from a busy street, as being overly distracted can really detract from your craft. If you are lucky enough to be starting fresh and looking for a home or a condo, then you might benefit from using the help of professionals. Find a real estate agent and tell them what you are looking for. They should be able to inform you of a few key areas, which are likely to have what you are looking for.

Comfort

What do you need to be comfortable when you write? Make a list and see what you can easily fulfill. When you are uncomfortable, it can make it incredibly hard to keep writing, and certainly to produce anything of real value. We have all probably had experiences of writing in cramped little rooms in small homes or even in dorm rooms. While there might sometimes be a certain charm to such places, they are much less likely to be good for your productivity levels. What is usually much more beneficial is somewhere that is able to provide a good level of comfort with a desk, proper lighting, and a comfortable chair. The more comfortable you are as you write, the less distracted you are. This will enable you to not only get more work done on the whole, but also make it more likely to produce good work, too. After all, quality is everything.

Space

It’s possible that you will feel a need for some space as well, or at the very least, a space that you can call your own. This is not just in terms of being able to stretch out or walk around while brainstorming, although that can be useful! It’s also about having room for the many tools that often go hand-in-hand with the writer’s life.. As a writer, you will almost certainly build up a cornucopia of relevant (and not so relevant) paraphernalia. Having the room to store all of your books, papers, brainstorming tools, pens, and so on will mean that you can feel much more at home in the space. That, in turn, can most likely lead to more writing, which is something that everyone can truly appreciate.

It’s a great feeling when you feel you can genuinely write in your home without any worries – and for the professional, it can even be essential. In your home, what is your writing space like? Have you changed it over the years? 

(contributed article)

If you are in need of editing services, I am having a sale. Check out my other site, http://www.editor-911.com here. Prices are good through 1/31/2018. 

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Stay at Home Writer? How Not To Become a Hermit

When you’re asked by a new acquaintance what it is that you do for a living, and you say that you’re a writer, you can almost hear the cogs turning in their brain and you can visualize the images that flicker into their mind. Immediately, they picture you at a desk in a dimly lit room, sitting behind a laptop. There’s something slightly sinister about the scene of the reclusive writer, a la The Shining. While all work and no play doesn’t send you quite as cuckoo as Jack Nicholson, the life of a writer can be solitary; and finding the time to venture outside of your four walls can be tricky. However, you must resist the urge to become a hermit. Take a look at these ideal activities that will see you up and out of the house and enhance your writing.

Book Clubs

It may sound a little cliche, but it’s true that the more you read, the better the writer you become. As you read reams of novels from umpteen different genres, writing styles, vocabulary and literary devices flood into your subconscious. If you’re able to link up with a local book club, you can network with fellow book enthusiasts. This new network of friends can be a great support if you ever suffer a bout of writer’s block or if you just fancy popping for a coffee after a hard slog on your penultimate chapter.

Courses

Just because you’re a writer doesn’t mean you can’t undertake professional qualifications related to your field of work. Research local creative writing courses in your area. You may find that there’s an evening class at a local college; or if you fancy something a little more formal, you could even enroll in a literature degree. If you feel that your English credentials are already top notch, you may want to branch out and take a look at studying something else that is wholly unrelated to writing but will keep your CV looking relevant. The latest top of the range VBA training classes or SEO introductory courses will keep your IT skills up to date, just in case you ever want to enter the world of full-time employment again.

Visit Schools

If you’ve been lucky enough to have had some of your work published, try and make links with some local schools. It doesn’t matter whether you write for children or adults, local education establishments will relish the opportunity of having a published author to engage and enthuse their students. You could take samples of your work, run a workshop, or create a school text in conjunction with the children. Sometimes, you are paid for these school visits. Make a name for yourself in this field, and you could effectively supplement your income from writing.

Becoming a writer is very much a vocation. The hours are long, you need supreme self-motivation, and the rewards aren’t instant. However, if you stay committed and break up some of your long spells at the laptop, you won’t ever run the risk of becoming the stereotypical writing recluse.

contributed article

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Writing and Editing Packages from Editor 911

Besides blogging on here about parenting, writing, and whatever else comes up, I also run my Editor 911 business. I have a site for Editor 911 right here. In honor of Cyber Monday, the holiday season, and designing my new site, I am presenting a few packages and sale items–the prices are good through January 31, 2018. Here they are: 

These sales and packages are good through January 31, 2018. Email Margo at margolynndill (at) gmail.com to request your package and receive an invoice. Payments can be made through Paypal or with a check/money order.

20 percent off any editing/proofreading service

Check out the regular editing prices by clicking here to visit the Services page. Through the end of January, you will receive 20 percent off these prices. Email Margo at margolynndill (at) gmail.com to receive a quote for your project and find out how much you can save.

 NaNoWriMo Package

Did you spend November writing a 50,000-word manuscript, which may be the beginning of a novel? Did you get halfway done and think–this is a mess–what am I going to do with it? Are you lost on how to turn your draft into a novel? Are you too close to it? Margo can help! In this package, she will

  • Read through your draft (up to 55,000 words). (Printed pages snail-mailed are preferred.) (Value $200)
  • Create a bullet point list of what works in the draft and what doesn’t. (Value $25.00)
  • Write a one-page letter on suggestions for revision and what to do next. (Value $25.00)
  • Schedule a 30-min Skype, in-person (depending on your location), or phone call meeting to discuss suggestions and answer questions. (Value $30.00)
  • 25 percent off on future services on this manuscript only (no expiration date). (Value= hundreds of dollars in savings depending on your future needs)
Cost: $199.00

Writing Coach Package

Writing coach sessions can be used to discuss writing career goals, hold yourself to a specific deadline, figure out where (and how) to submit your work, talk about your brand and marketing platform, create a marketing plan, or brainstorm plot ideas. For example, writers have used writing coach sessions to discuss a novel and stay on track with word count, to figure out how to market a book and follow through on these ideas, to discuss where to go next in a writing career, and more. These sessions currently cost $30 for a 30-min phone or Skype conversation and $50 for 60 minutes. If you purchase a writing-coach package, you receive a discount on the regular rate, and you can use the sessions at any time, where Margo’s schedule and yours coordinate. Margo will meet people in person if you live within 25-miles of her and are purchasing at least an hour at a time, and you would prefer in-person sessions. (She lives in St. Louis, MO). Sessions DO NOT have to be used before January 31, 2018, only purchased before that date–packages do not expire.

Package 1: THREE 30-minute (90 min total) sessions  for $75.00  (Value $90.00)
Package 2: THREE 60-minute (180 min total) sessions for $125 (Value $150.00)
Package 3: FIVE 60-min (300 min total) sessions for  $200 (Value $250.00)

Blogging/Website Help Package

If you need help setting up or maintaining a website, Margo can help with this! She uses WordPress and GoDaddy for this site and margoldill.com. She also uses Blogger to blog for WOW! At one time, she was the MO-SCBWI webmaster, and she also updates some pages on the Missouri Writers Guild website, as a member of the board. Websites are a necessity for today’s writer. She can also help you come up with content for your blog/website and write it. She is NOT a website designer, so these would be websites/blogs using the tools provided by WordPress or Blogger.

Regular cost is $50 an hour. Through 1/31/2018, you can save 20 percent–cost is $40 an hour. You can purchase hours ahead of time to save and use later at the sale rate.
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Ditch the Notebook! Get the Writer in Your Life Something Great for Christmas

If you’re a writer, chances are you’ve received dozens of notebooks and journals over the years; if you’re the friend or family member of a writer, chances are you’ve bought dozens of them too. Although there’s nothing wrong with a good notebook (in fact they’re pretty great), they aren’t exactly a surprising gift, which kind of takes the excitement away.

So, maybe it’s time to ditch the notebook and get the writer in your life (even if that’s you) one of these great gifts for writers instead:

A Subscription to Novlr

Novlr is an online writing platform created by writers for writers. It makes planning and writing a novel a whole lot easier with features like split chapters, offline backup, writing stats, and ebook publishing capabilities, which means the aspiring author in your life will love it. It’s very reasonably priced, too.

Aqua Notes

Aqua Notes is sort of like a notepad, so you’ll have to forgive me, but it deserves inclusion because it is so much more awesome than the average Moleskine. Why? Because it’s completely waterproof and you can hang it in the shower. Every writer knows that their best ideas tend to come at the most inconvenient moments, but with Aqua Notes, those shower inspirations don’t have to be lost forever!

Postcards from Penguin

Penguin Classic books are iconic, so you can bet that the writer in your life will appreciate being presented with Postcards from Penguin: One Hundred Book Covers in a Box, which showcases some of the most beautiful and most important book covers in history, and serves as a good place to write important notes and messages. Check it out here to get some idea of how fantastic a gift it really is. Simply beautiful!

A Fountain Pen

Instead of buying them the notebook, why not get them a pretty fountain pen instead. Sure, it might seem just as unoriginal as a notebook; however, writing with a fountain pen makes you feel something a bit special. Also, if you look for the best fountain pen under 50, you’ll quickly see that you can buy some beautiful pens that will impress. They’ll also last a lot longer than the average notebook, too.

A Kindle

Writers love to read, which means that their homes tend to be taken up with lots of hefty tomes, and they have trouble meeting the baggage limits when they travel. That’s why, if they aren’t adverse to technology, buying them a Kindle (or any eBook device really) is sure to be a winner. Buy a pretty cover for it and perhaps add a gift card, so they can start buying some of their ‘To Read” list in digital format for a Christmas package that they’ll be delighted with.

A Literary Tote Bag

If they have a favorite classic book and you know what it is, chances are you’ll be able to find a tote bag printed with the cover, and that will make a pretty special gift. 

If you ditch the notebook for any of these suggestions, I guarantee you’ll have one happy writer come Christmas morn.

(contributed article)

 

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What’s So Hard About Being Nice? A Guest Post by Author Mary Maurice

Today, I welcome a WOW! Women on Writing blog tour author, Mary Maurice, who is celebrating the publication of her book,  Burtrum Lee.

Synopsis of the book:

Coated with a life of lies and deceit, Burtrum Lee Conner is sick to her stomach. Dozens of times throughout her life, the feeling of not being who she is has tormented her. But she kept it to herself, believing that maybe it’s just a chemical imbalance of some kind, considering she is one of the first artificially-inseminated babies of the 1960s. Now, there’s more though, something much deeper, much more maniacal than she could have ever imagined. She’s not the first test tube baby at all, but the first….

Burtrum Lee Conner, born into a world of scientific mystery, discovers that the life she’s been leading for the past forty years, is the wrong one. Her parent’s Jed and Jane Conner, stealing her as an infant, brought Lee up as their own. Even her devoted grandmother, Clair Conner, kept this secret close to her chest until they were found out. And now, Lee Conner’s biological mother, Katie Lee, wants her back, but not before the diabolical Dr. Stone has his say.

Paperback: 219 pages

Genre: Scientific Mystery

Publisher: Silver Leaf Books LLC (August 28, 2017)

Check it out on Amazon here! 

About the Author, Mary Maurice:

When I was a child growing up in the Detroit area, I thought I wanted to be a painter; and then as a teenager, the idea of being a musician intrigued me. Then as a young adult, I realized that I’m a writer.

After attending Western Michigan University for two party-filled years, I decided to leave academia and explore the real world to learn what life is truly about. For fifteen years, I traveled the country working in restaurants, writing and doing readings wherever I was welcome.

While living in Minneapolis during my twenties, I was fortunate enough to be tutored by Dr. Jonis Agee, who was at the time head of the creative writing department at St. Catherine’s College in St. Paul. Her lessons were imprinted in me for all of these years, and have influenced my writing ever since.

My adventures landed me in San Diego, Chicago, San Francisco, and Oregon, finally leading me to the Land of Enchantment, where I’ve resided since 1994. Living in Santa Fe, and the beauty and isolation that surrounds me, has inspired my creative muse in ways that no other place has. While still working in the hospitality industry, my passion for the craft of writing has never been stronger. And I know with each sentence I write, and every paragraph I compose, my ultimate goal is to find the perfect word.

Find Mary Online:

Website: http://www.marymaurice.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marymauriceauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MMauriceAuthor

Now, a few words from Mary: 

What’s So Hard About Being Nice?

The other day I had the TV on and an episode of Leave it to Beaver was airing. I couldn’t see the screen, but I listened to the dialogue and found myself hearing words of politeness and kindness. I thought to myself how long gone those days are. There were no vulgar words or soft porn themes, no selfish acts, no tossing a friend under the bus, no grabbing one’s crotch, or calling a woman a bitch. It was all clean cut and tension-less.

I miss those days when our world was PG, slowly and surely turning into an R rated society, and now swaying on R/X.  Sometimes, I feel like I’m living in Pottersville from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. At what point in our existence did being nice not matter any more? When the cool thing to do is to be rude and insensitive to the troubles of others. Where did compassion go or empathy disappear to? Or just doing the right thing, not because you want to, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Is it too hard to open a door, pick an item up that somebody dropped, tell a random person a silly joke just to make them laugh, buy a donut for someone just because they’re having a hard day? What is so hard about being nice? It’s very contagious, and I believe more people should be stricken with it. To me, there’s nothing better than making somebody feel good.

Don’t forget to check out her book, Burtrum Lee! 

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Making a Commitment to Morning Pages

I’m doing it. I’m making a commitment right here and now, to anyone reading this, that I’m writing Morning Pages every single morning!

What are Morning Pages? If you have read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, then you’re familiar with Morning Pages. OR if you have ever been to just about any writing conference or creativity workshop, you have probably heard about them. If not, Morning Pages are:

 Three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.  (From Julia Cameron’s website/book)

I started today (and actually wound up with FOUR pages). Day one down. I’ve had a creativity block for a while now–although every once in a while I am inspired to write something like this post, “A Letter to a Narcissist” I wrote this week. So, today during Morning Pages, I came up with a first sentence for a short story. No idea where that will lead me, but since then, I’ve been thinking about this line and who could say it and what the conflict for the story could be.

I did a Google search for “morning pages”, and I happened upon Chris Winfield’s site. His tagline is “take back your life.” He has a free ebook (in exchange for your email address) titled How to Save 23.3 Hours Each Week. His site is all about working smarter, not harder. But he also has this amazing page about Morning Pages, which you can check out here. He starts the post by saying he never thought he’d have time in the morning to write three pages by hand, but he made a commitment to do it; and since then, he says that some of these amazing things have happened in his life:

  • I’ve come up with ideas that changed my businesses
  • I’ve worked through issues that were bothering me and seemed overwhelming
  • I’ve been better in tune with my intuition and listening to my heart
  • They have shown me what’s most important in my life and helped me to focus on that
  • and more….(check out the link above to see what else he says)

Pretty amazing, right?

So I’m making the commitment. I also recently made the commitment to read something for enjoyment EVERY SINGLE DAY. Now I read a lot. I read a lot of online articles, blog posts, unfinished manuscripts, emails, kids’ books (to my daughter), and articles about agriculture. But I haven’t been reading for myself. My creativity and writing have suffered because of this. So, since last Sunday, 11/12/2017, I said: “Enough is enough.” Katie and I went to the library. I found a novel written by an author my friend suggested. And I’m happy to say that I have read at least one chapter every day.

Surely, all these positive steps–reading and Morning Pages–will continue to feed my creativity and renew my spirit, and soon that first line I wrote during my Morning Pages will turn into something more.

By the way, for some people, journaling (which is what Morning Pages is) can give you results in your life. If you have never checked out Mari L. McCarthy’s Create Write Now site, then you should. Start with this post I did on her book–all the links you will need to find out her amazing story are in that post here

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