Start-up Guide for Online Writers – course review

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Kate Motaung sent an email out to students who have taken this course, Start-up Guide for Online Writers.  Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 20, 2017, the price of this course goes up to $29.99.  However, it’s still on sale today for $19.99.  If you are considering investing in your writing self, this is a good day to take the plunge and make a commitment to YOU. Nothing good happens without commitment. Right?

Here’s the link from Kate’s email. https://learning.fistbumpmedia.com/course/startup-guide-online-writers/?ref=3 

If you miss the deadline, it’s OK. The resources you will find in this course are valuable even at the higher price.

 

Giant strides learning comes from small pervasive steps …

A few weeks ago, I was invited into a learning experience shared with fellow writers whose audience is virtual. In today’s environment it’s common to refer to the virtual meeting via satellite or virtual classroom via an online learning management system. When I think of writing articles or books for a virtual audience it seems so mysterious and unconventional. So I was eager to join this group and immerse myself in learning from Kate Motaung, seasoned, professional author and founder of 5-minute Friday, an online community that supports writers improving their craft.

This course is an excellent value. Based on the education provided for writers in general and because there were so many resources, I found this course to be remarkable for seasoned writers as well as those who are just getting started. First, I thought it helpful that Kate Motaung understood that some enrollees in the course might be new to online courses. The very first lesson was all about becoming acclimated to taking an online course. The remaining Units of the course continued to provide a broad spectrum of information every writer of online content needs to know.

I appreciated the practical advice about having a website and the impact your email list has on your blog or business. I remember that even in the decades before email, it was the mail list that was scrupulously maintained because it ranked high in getting noticed. Let me tell you, having done both, maintaining an email list is easier.

One of the greatest benefits to me in taking this course was becoming familiar with different writing tools and supporting Apps. Here are just a few of the ones I have checked out and am now using or plan to purchase because of what I learned in this Start-up Guide for Online Writers. Evernote was a given, as I have used it for the last few years. I use Buffer to schedule social media posts and Canva to create the images. I am looking forward to using Scrivner which I have heard is like Word on steroids. I found out about so many other apps that helped either with creative thinking or actual writing, I must decide when I can work them into my schedule to try them. I expect them to be a great asset.  

The pitch to join the social media crowd was sound. If you are going to write for online audiences, you have to go where your audiences are. Kate advised us to get accounts at least on the major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Even if you don’t spend much time there, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ also open the playing field to readers of your articles and posts.

I found the writer’s tools in the Module, Get the Resources You Need, to be priceless. I learned about Link-ups for bloggers, which surprised me. I sometimes participate in Kate Motaung’s 5-Minute Friday Link-up and had no clue that it was this type of venue. Here’s what blew me away though. From her knowledge and experience, Kate Motaung listed many names, blogs, websites, and programs of professionals who have been doing this online writing for years. They have perfected their crafts and Kate included links to their blogs and publications. That Unit of the course is a goldmine for students of this course who want to seek mentors and coaches in the future. 

What I found in this course that added to its value were the lessons on things like podcasting, reading books to strengthen my craft as a writer, searching out other courses, and learning from experts. There was also a lesson all about affiliate marketing, what it is, how it works, and what to do if you want to try it out.

I realize this course was designed primarily for writers whose audiences are online, but so much of what I read was universal and could apply to writers of any venue. Writing articles and books for real-life paper and ink publication has so many parallels with writing for online audiences, I recommend this course for anyone who wants to write and create a platform to be noticed. The value of content-to-cost makes this a viable purchase with benefits for both the online writer and traditional writer. I wandered around on Amazon while taking this course and bought Kate Motaung’s e-book, Start-up Guide for Online Christian Writers, so I would have a Kindle version of this course available quickly when I wanted a reference to what I learned.

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What support looks like

I’ve been thinking …

Have you ever signed up for an event and had no expectations?

Have you ever attended an event and had no expectations?

On Friday, I did both.

JOT Writer’s Conference is a low-key meet-up that meets-up a couple times every year at Baker Books in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In that sentence is wrapped the whole bundle of what I knew before I arrived.

As I entered, my thoughts turned to journals – but first coffee. In that sentence is wrapped the whole bundle of what I do as a writer. Isn’t that what writers do? Write in journals, coffee by their side? You see, I’m not really a writer – but I love to write … and therein lies the dilemma. If I have no aspirations to write a book or monetize my blog, can I be a writer?

At the JOT Conference I was impressed by the authors I met, who are serious about their craft. I met a poet, an editor, a few published authors, a project manager and felt the overwhelming support they had for each other and for men and women within writing communities. As I chose a seat near the front of the venue, I looked around and discovered friends from my past and friends from my present beside me, behind me, and before me.

As the speakers took the stage to talk about their parts of authoring, editing, and publishing, the bond was obvious. They talked about how they supported each other through the writer’s drought and blank page panic. They shared their experiences with supporting budding and seasoned authors through the jungle of edits, rewrites, and design.

I’m not a writer – but if I were a writer, I would search out fellow writers to support me and talk me off the ledge when I wanted to quit.

Anyway … that’s what I was thinking.

This is a 5-minute Friday article. The word for this week is SUPPORT and I wrote for 5 minutes, no edits, not over thinking – just shoot from the hip prose.
Are you a writer? Join the 5-Minute Friday group and get support even before you need it. http://fiveminutefriday.com/

 

The Unspoken Code by Marja Norris – book review

Secret handshake. Good Ole Boys Club. Neither has anything over the network of women you will identify with in this book, The Unspoken Code. What I appreciated most about reading Marja Norris’ book was her way of making her points with no hint of poor attitude. Early in the book Norris describes what she calls the unspoken code. “The code is about understanding the behaviors that differentiate power players from the rest of the pack. It’s about exuding confidence from the inside out. It’s about building assertiveness and flexing communication skills and conveying a professional image.” If that sounds on par with jumping hurdles, that’s why this book was written. Marja Norris will be your coach while you learn your way through the process of aiming high and achieving higher. You won’t read a chapter and move on. This author understands the power of commitment and sums up every chapter with a list of Things to Remember and a Plan of Action. As a result of what you learned, what will you stop doing? What will you start doing? And we all know some of what we do is already beneficial so – what will you continue doing?

The Unspoken Code flows. By that I mean the author feeds her readers what they need to know and what they need to practice before moving on to the next thing. For example, she doesn’t bait you with becoming a power player until she directs your thoughts and actions to first laying the foundation.

Setting Yourself Up For Success

Let’s start with the ABCs. Attitude, Behavior, Confidence

We could easily succumb to pressures around us and give up on choosing a positive attitude. Granted some folks are more naturally positive while others lean heavily to the negative. Still we choose our attitudes and we choose our reactions. Norris offers an excellent visualization exercise for creating a winning attitude. The truth is, “No matter what your circumstances, your attitude is a choice you make that affects everything you do.” Dovetailing with attitude is behavior which is a full cycle version of action, interaction, reaction. What does success look like? It looks a lot like good behavior: discipline, integrity, kindness, conquering fear. This leads directly in to confidence. “Confidence is being conscious of your power.” The author shares advice for overcoming Imposter Syndrome and an exercise in Creating an Aura of Confidence.  

Her chapter titled The Hole in Your Glass is Leaking intrigued me. You will instantly relate to the analogy when you read the chapter. We hold a glass in our hand with 6 holes, each representing an area of our life. Water fills the glass and no matter how hard we try, we cannot hold the glass in a way that keeps all holes covered. One is always leaking. The meaning threaded through this chapter is about living our life around our values even though we must choose to tend to one area rather than another as we scramble to multi-task. Learn about yourself as you also create a Master List based on techniques that work best for you. Remember the focus of this book is on helping you become who you want to be and have the life you want to have. It is not selfish to take care of you first. To be the best version of you, make self-care a priority.

Becoming an Office Power Player

You will learn in this section of the book, what the author experienced herself and learned from her business coach and from others. Immediately, we discover that men and women are wired differently. This means we think differently and see things from different perspectives. But here’s an absolute truth. “Despite our differences, men and women must work together effectively in the corporate world to get things done.” By the word ‘different’ we know that what starts out as differences can escalate into conflict, hard feelings, maybe a few grudges, a little gossip. Nothing good can come of that, certainly not the productive, power player that will grow your leadership and earn you a C-Suite position. Norris levels with women, “As women, to know this [differences] and understand that it’s about us shifting to fit the environment, in a healthy way is imperative.”

Dress the Part

I’m not a fashionista. Maybe you aren’t either. Whether you’ve got fashion nailed or not, the final chapters of the book are a powerhouse of tips, hints, and rules for how to dress up or dress down for the occasion. There really is a power look and even if there is no dress code, there are proper ways to dress. The author reminds women that they need to be conscious of what they are trying to achieve, what image they are portraying, and what motivates them to choose the outfits they wear. If you think the business suit has to be straight, navy blue, and unadorned, think again. Marja Norris says you can mix your personal style, fashion, and flare into your wardrobe, and this chapter on how to dress the part has strategies to help you attain the power suit look that looks like it was made for you.

“The code has gone unspoken long enough. You now have tools to handle situations you come across with strength and perseverance.”

–Marja Norris

This article first appeared on BizCatalyst360 in BizBooks.

A Path, A Guide, A Life

I’ve been thinking …

Life is complicated. We learn from each other how to navigate this thing called life. We first learned from parents, then from teachers, coaches and for those fortunate enough to partner up with one, a mentor who articulates important life-enhancing behaviors. We glean knowledge from listening and from watching others. The common thread in how we learn is guidance woven through every aspect.

We need guides to teach us things we may never understand without the wisdom of people willing to share from their experiences. We need guides to pour into us from their wisdom.     

To look forward and not back;
to look inward before stepping outward;
to grieve a little for what is lost but be thankful more for what is still here;
to plant seeds of encouragement in the dirt that is sometimes dark and heavy;
to be grateful for what is before presuming the best of life is yet to be experienced;
to be careful how you live your moments because they become your memories.

Do you wonder how to get from where you are to where you want to be? Seek a guide who has already forged the path and found success.

Anyway … That’s what I was thinking.

This vignette is written for Five Minute Friday. The prompt is GUIDE. The rules are to write for five minutes without overthinking, without editing, and let the words come from your soul.

The true source of peace

“The will of God will not take you where the peace of God will not keep you.” A few years ago I quoted that from a television program. In that statement is the desire of all of us, isn’t it? To live in God’s favor; to have peace and contentment; to know that our choices are inside His will. God’s choices are broader than our own. The whole universe belongs to him. “The will of God will not take you where the peace of God will not keep you.” Until recently I had a misconception about that statement. I narrowly thought that the will of God was something I prayed about and acted on. You know – plan your work, work your plan and pray God’s direction and ultimate approval on the plan. I was taking to heart what it says in Ephesians 6:6 “Don’t work only while being watched, in order to please men, but as slaves of Christ, do God’s will from your heart.”The will of God

How many times did I pray and ask God to show me what to do, make His will unmistakable, then wait through the act to see if the plan fell into place. Can anyone relate? Here’s where my original concept derailed. The will of God is not dependent on my prayers, no matter how sincere or fervent. God’s will is exactly that – God’s will. His will does not depend on how elaborate my plan or how detailed my prayers are. God’s ways are not our ways and despite our best efforts things don’t always work out the way we want them to. Look at Proverbs 14:12 “Even in laughter a heart may be sad, and joy may end in grief.” We never want bad things to happen – never. But what happens when they do?

The way to acceptance is claim Psalm 33:4 “For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.” If I believe that and live within that belief, I can be at peace with whatever circumstances come my way and there will be a test. The test – will this make me better or will I be bitter? Bitter creates regret, anxiety, turmoil, instability, exhaustion and depression. There is no peace in bitter. There is no comfort in bitter. I hope I never allow seeds of bitterness to germinate because God’s will didn’t follow my idea of His will. If it’s God’s will, peace will come. I need to remember the nature of God is love and faithfulness Psalm 86:15 “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” We might not understand the why, but we need to acknowledge that when God acts, it is His will. God has a purpose, in fact God is the ultimate multi-tasker and there will be more than one purpose.

“The will of God will not take you where the peace of God will not keep you.” Proverbs 3:3 “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Sometimes God allows bad things to happen to good people. These are times to become spiritually stronger and shine the light of Jesus from the inside out – that’s better. What can I do with the circumstances now? What can I learn from this? And the ultimate question, how can this make me better?

My heart’s desire is that I will always seek to do what is right and within God’s will. I will never again limit God with the illusion that His will depends on my plans and specific prayers. I hope at the end of my life I will be able to say as David wrote in Psalm 18:21-24 “I have kept the ways of the Lord; I am not guilty of turning from my God. All his laws are before me; I have not turned away from his decrees. I have been blameless before him and have kept myself from sin. The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.”

Work-Life Balance Brilliance by Denise R. Green: book summary

Have you ever thought of hiring a life coach? Have you ever wondered what you could achieve if you had an accountability partner? Maybe you’ve tried the novel approach to creating different results than the trajectory you are on right now. If you are self-motivated at all, this book could be the recipe for positive momentum in finding what works for you. One glance at the book cover should clue you in to what the author thinks of work-life balance. In fact, the title of the book is, Work-Life Balance Brilliance and isn’t that really what we want from our lives and from our work?

I usually don’t copy chapter titles into a book summary, but in this case, the chapter titles are like opening the doors and giving you a full spectrum view of why this book functions like a personal coach. Burnout versus Brilliance, Tame Your Thoughts, Reinvent Your Outer Self, Nurture Brilliant Relationships, Manage Your Relationship with “Stuff”, Brilliant Sleep., How Not to Change, How to Choose the Right Goal, How to Change for Good, How to Say No with Grace, Not Guilt. Now you can see why I wanted to reveal the chapter titles before mentioning what is so fascinating and magnetic about this book.  From the outset, I had a feeling there was a meaningful purpose behind the writing of this book that I could identify with and Denise Green described it. “I’m on a mission to help people light the spark within them that may feel like it’s been nearly snuffed out due to the demands of life.” Does that sound anything like your dilemma? Here’s your next book.    Work-Life Balance Brilliance  

This book, with the chapters listed above, can best be described as a tool for knowing yourself and understanding inspirations and aspirations within and how your relationships and interactions are key in creating brilliance. The author identifies the four realms of Whole Life Integrations which she calls Brillance. Then through stories and instructive dialog, she coaches you through the steps to create that work-like brilliance.

I am a huge advocate of being careful with thoughts because thoughts drive actions. I was impressed with the content of the chapter, Tame Your Thoughts. Green doesn’t just rely on dialog to teach the methods of controlling thought. She offers a 6-step upgrade tool that I would call guided self-reflection. Then she offers advice on how to make your release from negative thoughts really stick.

Some strong points of this book are in the toolkits integrated with each chapter. Story is interesting, and case studies are evidence that somewhere along the line the principles taught in the book worked for someone. All you have to do is read through some of the action items to know that, if put into practice, many of your niggling aspirations could become your reality. By implementing some of the basic ideas suggested could bolster your confidence and give you an edge toward balance which you will redefine as brilliance. You don’t have to change everything. The changes will be dictated by what you discover about yourself and about relationships as you work through the pages of the book and guidance received by using the focus-inciting questions.

When I read a book like this one, I have a tendency to choose a favorite chapter. Manage Your Relationship With “Stuff” was a surprise. It is a powerful game-changer. Rarely have I read a book like this one that so aptly presents the tethers that hold us back like our ‘stuff’. Denise Green points out that we have two limitations that are huge. Time – we get 24 hours every day. Period. Physical – we operate with imperfect bodies that need to be taken care of – sleep is one thing most of us need more of. Note: we get 24 hours every day. Period. The author remarks that “This Brilliance realm (relationship with stuff) includes our relationship to our spaces, possessions, technology, and time.”  Certainly, every reader can identify with the components we all deal with every day and how we allow them to affect our world makes this book invaluable to creating a brilliant life. Do you need ideas for managing your time, designing a winning pattern for your day, working productively in your environment, managing technology? How about reducing your exposure to toxic energy? The toolkit consists of worksheets to help you replace those components that are not serving you.

Remember sleep? Some of us are more familiar with the lack of it. The chapter titled Brilliant Sleep is – well – brilliant. Whether you suffer from legitimate insomnia or sleep deprivation brought on by environmental or physical or activity conditions, the best practices for sleep hygiene in this chapter are priceless. Yes, we all know the trick of going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every day. We know to restrict caffeine in the afternoon. We might, on the advice of a physician, take melatonin. We might invest in a book that sends us to sleep because it provides absolutely no spark of interest. If you want to sleep and have forgotten what it feels like to get adequate sleep, you aren’t alone. The tips in this book are plentiful.

The final chapters of the book are based on putting legs on what you learned in the first part of the book. What do you want to change? What goals do you have? Are they the right goals for how you envision your work-life brilliance future? I remember hearing someone say that we invest ten months planning a two-week vacation and about ten minutes planning our future existence. That’s probably not truly accurate, but isn’t it true that we have goals, but may not know if they are the right goals until we get there and realize they aren’t?

This book, like a life coach, walks through the realms of life and helps you create a vision for your best life, set the right goals, determine how you will get there, and make wise choices of what you will do and what you will not. The author concludes with what I think of as the magic three. I mean if there was a bit of magic in all this.  Green says in her final address to readers, “If I were forced to describe achieving work-life brilliance in a few steps, those steps would include Assess, Choose, Change.”

There is no magic, but if you’re looking for help in reinventing your life, this book can bring magical results.

This book summary was first published at BizCatalyst360.com.  https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/work-life-brilliance/ 

When the pieces fit you are at peace in your place

I’ve talked to few people lately who have made life-directing decisions. What college to attend? What academic path to follow? Dorm life or apartment dweller? Others have no aspirations of higher education, but are choosing jobs that could lead to a promising career or frustrating future. The common denominator in each of these options is place.  Where will I feel like I belong? How long will it be before all the pieces of my life are inside the pattern and not struggling to fit the mold? When will I fit in? I would like to say to each of these who are so inquisitive of expectations, your place is where you are in this moment. Your place doesn’t depend on how others view you. Your place doesn’t depend on if others accept you. Your place is defined by the choices you make that align with your values and create a comfortable sense of being authentic. You decide your place in the world. If you feel in conflict with where you are, it’s time to let go so you can find the place where you feel alive, feel at peace, and feel like you are in your happy place.

This post is a response to this week’s Five Minute Friday prompt: PLACE

This is also my first attempt at writing without overthinking, analyzing, or editing for 5 minutes.