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A Freelance Writer’s Guide to Meditation

meditationEvery now and again I mention meditation as a useful tool for writers.

My history with meditation is simple enough. For 25 or 30 years I attempted to meditate from time to time. I failed over and over again. I kept making the effort because I sensed the ever growing number of people suggesting one way or another that meditation could be a huge positive benefit were right. About 10 years ago I found out what I was doing wrong and began to develop a meditation practice.

What is meditation?

Meditation is one of those words that has innumerable meanings. It’s often associated with various religions which confuses things. That’s why, although I’m a practicing zen Buddhist, I like Wikipedia’s definition of best:

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reflectionGoogle reflection and you’ll get this definition:

serious thought or consideration.
“he doesn’t get much time for reflection”
synonyms: thought, thinking, consideration, contemplation, deliberation, pondering, meditation, musing, rumination; formal cogitation “after some reflection, he turned it down”

Your mom and/or some of your teachers may have called it daydreaming, or wasting time.

Productive reflection happens in many ways

Maybe you set aside time to reflect (aka meditate). Or maybe you spend some time skipping stones at the shore, relaxing your mind and allowing it to ponder the secrets of the universe or your corner of it. Sorting buttons, or chopping potatoes can open you up to reflection. There’s something magical about repetitive action. Singing in the shower can also work.

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helpful ritualHow do you start your writing day, with a boring routine or a helpful ritual?

If you’re like me, it probably varies.

Oh, unless I have an early morning meeting or some other unusual event, I tend to do roughly the same things every morning. Get up, feed the cat, unlock the buildings where I live, make coffee, spend a bit of time reading, mediate for 30 minutes, etc. etc. etc.

It’s my attitude that mostly determines my mood which governs my approach to the moment. I want to be in an optimistic, happy frame of mine because it’s way more fun and it makes the writing and coaching go so much better then they do when I’m gloomy or discouraged. I find a helpful ritual or two can make all the difference. Here are some of the helpful rituals I’ve developed over time:

  • Years ago I bought this wonderful rug at a garage sale in the most expensive area of town. I bought it because I liked the look. When I got home, it really perked up my living room. Not only that it feels marvelous when I walk on it barefoot. It’s thick and dense. I’m usually without shoes and I’ve made a habit of noticing how good that run feels at least a couple of times a day. Sometimes I’ll just stand there and wiggle my toes in it.

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reducing negative self-talkReducing negative self-talk improves everything, including your writing and your writing business!

For example, how much have you written this week? Do you know? If you don’t, my hunch is you spend at least some time toward the end of the week mentally telling yourself you should have written more. Sound familiar?

It’s a perfect example of the kind of negative self-talk that gets in your way.

Reducing negative self-talk solutions

Here are the most effective solutions to reducing negative self-talk about writing and anything else I’ve found:

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device not chargingHave you discovered a device not charging? I almost panicked three days ago when I realized my iPad wasn’t charging. I fiddled with the connector a bit, turned the thing off and ignored it.
I checked used iPad prices. I searched out other tablets. I turned it back on and low and behold it had charged clear up to 15 percent! I turned it on and it went back to 8 percent in a hurry. That brief improvement made me wonder what I could find out by googling. So I did. I googled something like “ipad not charging.’ First I found something from Apple that seemed to be a technical explanation of various error messages – not what I wanted nor could I understand it enough to use.

Then I found c|net’s Use a toothpick to clean out your iPhone. There’s a video, but in truth I only realized that this morning when looking up the link for this post.

I did as instructed – got a wooden toothpick, although I suspect a plastic one would work, and made sure the device was off. I didn’t perform a backup because I didn’t have enough power. Besides, it’s supposed to back up to the cloud.

Yes, I was amazed at the junk. In my case it was mostly black stuff that I could wipe right off the tooth pick. I did dislodge and remove a fair sized piece of what looked like lint.

Who knew that our devices and our belly buttons have so much in common!

What about device not charging on phones and Kindles and…

I suspect this will work on most any device with a charging port. I’m looking forward to unpacking an old iPad and Kindle and seeing if I can resurrect them. I’ll let you know.

What has this got to do with writing? Everything and nothing. I love easy, no-cost solutions and discovering a device not charging happens to all of us. Hmmm, wonder if I can do something similar with my land line battery connection?

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman, freelance writer


Cultural appropriationMost of you know I’m about as white as I can be. Over time I’ve become aware of and owned as best as I can my white privilege. I’ve asked for help understanding how race effects writers of color. However, I keep stumbling into how much I don’t know and how easy it is to offend with that lack of knowledge.

I’ve become gradually aware of the concepts around cultural appropriation. It wasn’t, however,  until I read, even studied a bit, Stop calling it “Cultural Appropriation” and call it what it is: Colonialism. Written by Dr. Suzanne Forbes-Vierling, contributor at AfroPunk.com, it is a no-holds barred statement about what cultural appropriation is really all about.

I am not going to try and sum up or interpret her article. I am going to urge you to read it, and to take some time to chase the links.

What does this have to do with freelance writing?

What has this got to do with freelance writing? We writers are worried often about ideas around copyright, and intellectual property rights. This article has expanded how I see those ‘rights.’  It also is making me question some of the American Indian jewelry that my folks passed on to me. It was paid for, but from I suspect, a ‘colonizer’ point of view. I’m also Buddhist in the Soto Tradition – which is based in Japan! In other words, I’m far from free of cultural appropriation.

Enough said, for the moment, except for a nod of thanks to my friend Jay for posting this where I could find it.

Have a read, and let’s talk about it in comments.

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman, freelance writer



Image by NinoCare


Ways to Enroll Your Internal Editor

enroll your internal editorYes, there are times you’ll want to enroll your internal editor (IE).

I know, mostly I’ve talked here about how to get your internal editor to be quiet. It’s true, that voice in our head that tells us we can’t write or can’t write well enough, or that we should be writing something different or differently is a total pain.

Which simply means it has a bunch of power. You can use that power to support your writing rather than disturb it.

Talk to yourself

The theory I’m suggesting is based in Neuro Linguistic Programming. A very short form is that those voices in our head (I call mine the committee) are trying to keep us out of trouble. The negative voices started out offering protection. So that infernal internal editor is working hard to keep us from embarrassing ourselves or saying too much, or something like that – mileage will vary. Problems start when for whatever reason a voice doesn’t get updated and is trying to protect you with old information – which is a pretty good description of the internal editor.

You can update that voice by dialoging with it. I began more or less like this:

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never pay for freelance writing gigsYou and I should never pay for freelance writing gigs! Never? Well, hardly ever.

I was wandering around the ‘net this morning and stumbled into yet another company that promises to find you an unlimited supply of freelance writing jobs. First, you have to watch about 15 minutes of a video to determine that yes, you will pay and that you will pay a discounted fee of about half their normal cost.

Note, you’re not paid to watch the video, and a brief search for reviews will reveal they’ve been offering the same “bargain” for at least several years. This one at least claims to be charging a one-time fee. Many others will bill you monthly, and some will take a percentage of your pay.

Sources are often unclear

What usually isn’t made clear is exactly how they get their job listings. Most scoop up at least some, if not the majority, of their listings from places that charge the employer but charge the prospective employee or freelance writer nothing – like Indeed, ProBlogger, Craigslist, Morning Coffee, etc. etc. etc. In other words, you can find probably 90 percent or more of the jobs on your own.

In some cases the jobs are stale – that is they went up a day or even a week ago which makes them darn close to useless. Employers often receive 100s if not 1,000s of applications. Most aren’t equipped to evaluate that many so start throwing them out or ignoring them after the first day or so.

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9 Dangerous Freelance Writing Myths

Dangerous Freelance Writing MythsThere are all sorts of dangerous freelance writing myths out there. You know what I mean. All sorts of writers, good, bad, indifference and worse will post about the freelance writing game as if they know what they’re talking about. While many do, the one’s who don’t often make freelance writing sound either way better than it is or way worse.

Misinformation about our industry is  likely to lead the newcomer astray, and even occasionally blindside the more experienced writer, which is why I consider these dangerous freelance writing myths.

It’s easy – probably the worst of the dangerous freelance writing myths

Yes, some will tell you freelance writing is easy. It isn’t. It may be easier than digging ditches or spending hours on a factory floor, but maybe not. Writing takes serious mental energy and that’s hard work. It takes time to learn do write well, requires additional skills like reading and keyboarding plus discipline. You’re muscles aren’t likely to hurt after a writing session, but your brain may feel worn out.

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Quit Worrying About Writing Deathless Prose!

deathless proseIs writing deathless prose your goal?  You know, writing that will out live you and your progeny? Words of wisdom, wit, and feeling that will be quoted down through if not the ages, at least for a century or two? Is that what you’re aiming for, even secretly?

If it is, stop it!

It’s my hunch that it takes at least 100 years for any writing to be judged ‘deathless’ or ‘timeless’ or ‘classic.’ If it’s going to happen to your writing, or mine, it’s unlikely either of us will ever know about it, or care.

I’ve also known more than a few folks who longed to make a career out of writing, who even wrote with some frequency, but would never submit their writing for publication or to contests, or anywhere for fear it wasn’t ‘good enough.’

Deathless prose pursuit is about more than books

Although the idea of deathless prose is most often applied to novels, I’ve seen that same impulse for fame and maybe fortune interfere with all sorts of writing from poetry to tech writing. It gets in the way of folks who want to write good non-fiction as well as those who long to be creative with fiction.

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