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InterruptionsInterruptions like robo-calls (is there anything more annoying and useless on the planet? Probably, but I can’t think what at the moment) are exactly the kind of thing that, if I don’t turn my phone off, can drive me clear off course. Someone dropping by to talk about business is fine if they keep to that, otherwise it’s like other interruptions, annoying and non-productive. And if you’ve got young children at home where you’re working, interruptions are guaranteed.

Interruptions break your concentration, making a train wreck out of your thinking and even your writing if your not careful. They make me want to tear my hair out. Bet you often feel the same.

Of course, a real truth about life in these times is interruptions are a fact of life. The trick, then, is to figure out how to deal with them so you’re not taken so far off course.

Reduce interruptions

Start by protecting yourself. Turn off the your cell and your landline if you have one. Put a sign on your door asking not to be disturbed. Think about the last few times you were thrown off course by something you weren’t expecting. Spend a few minutes imagining what you might have done to avoid those altogether. The chances are you’ll find at least a couple of things you can do proactively to make it easier for you to stay focused.


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Changes in the Scope of Work

scope of work‘Scope of work’ is one term used to refer to the details of, among other things, a writing gig.

Sometimes defining the work you’ll do is pretty simple – a 500 word blog on how to get up in the morning, or a one page sales letter introducing the newest widget.

At other times, usually when you’re dealing with a brand new client or a more complex project, the scope of work can be quite detailed. In either case the goal is to make sure you and your client are on the same page.

What to include

It’s often up to you, the writer, to figure out exactly what the scope of work really is. In addition to your name and contact information, the client’s name, title, billing address and contact information you want at least the following:

  • Date the contract or scope of work is agreed upon and/or signed
  • Definition of the project
  • Statement of projects purpose
  • How changes to the agreement can be made
  • Who signs off on it and arranges payment
  • Due date
  • Payment and how it will be made





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conference or conventionAttending a conference or convention, if you do it right, is both highly fruitful and a ton of hard work. When you put in the effort you’re likely to have at least one or two of the following benefits and maybe more.

I just returned from the four-day Netroots Nation Conference in Philadelphia. Although I went as COO of Democracy Counts, I’m way too much of a writer not to be aware of how a conference or convention can benefit those of us who are freelance writers. Netroots is a progressive political organization but it doesn’t really matter what kind of conference or convention you’re attending. Here’s what I mean.

A conference or convention can lead to one or more assigned articles

Once you know you’re scheduled for some sort of meeting – regional, national, international or even city-wide – ask yourself who would benefit from an article about that meeting. That answer can range all over the place, from small-town local newspaper to big international magazines. Don’t overlook industry trade magazines.


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write on any topicYou’re a writer so of course you can write on any topic!

Okay, maybe like me, you can’t do credible academic writing on rocket science, but on the whole you truly can if not write on any topic, write on most.

Why?

Because you know how to do research and how to translate difficult topics into understandable English for the average reader. And you read a lot about a whole bunch of things. You’re curious and you enjoy learning. You were either taught to think clearly or figured it out for yourself.

Clients may doubt you can write about any topic – particularly theirs

This morning we had a discussion in our forum about how often clients insist you have experience writing about their particular product or process. Many who hire writers don’t understand that a good writer can learn about what the clients wants you to write about quickly and that in fact you actually can write about any topic, including theirs.


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law of attractionIt seems there’s more going on in life than is readily apparent and the so-called Law of Attraction is apparently one way to access some of it. Of course, the idea that we humans can tap into something beyond our ordinary selves is ancient, and so is the idea that we can ‘manifest’ or create what we want.

I’m far from an expert. What I want to talk about is how some of the thinking there has made life more fun and productive.

Abraham-Hicks, who have roughly a gillion videos on YouTube is where I started. Esther Hicks talks about moving toward what feels good. The idea is the better we feel about ourselves and our lives the more effective we’ll be. I’ve turned that into moving into gratitude. When I’m down, or angry or whatever unhappy, when I remember what I’m grateful for I start feeling better pretty quickly. In general when I feel better I write better and market better, etc. etc. etc.

There’s some real science behind Law of Attraction

Dr. Joe Dispenza, who also has a big presence on YouTube, has done a lot of solid research into this particular brain/mind/body connection. He’s also with his team conducted an amazing number of brain scans of people in his seminars which indicated we have much more influence on our body than we are traditionally taught.


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How This Writer Stays Healthy As She Ages

healthyThere are a whole lot of people my age who aren’t very healthy. This was driven home to me when I ended up in an urgent care facility with a badly cut finger last week. (It’s healing nicely, thank you.) I kept seeing people roughly my age who were just sick and seemed to have given up.

Thinking about it today I realize that I am more healthy many around me who are in their 70s or so. Sure part of it is the good fortune of good genes, but there is I’m convinced more to it than that. As I look at how healthy I am, I see that some of it, maybe even most of it, is because of habits I’ve developed in the last decade or so.

I stopped smoking

Probably the biggest thing I did to get and stay healthy was quit smoking. It’s been more than a decade and although it was the hardest thing I ever did, I’m also very pleased with the results.


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Take a Break if You’re Injured!

injuredLast week I injured myself. I was fixing lunch and when I was cutting an avocado open with a newly sharpened knife I sliced the forefinger on my left hand. (I thought sharp knives were safer than dull ones!)

Since my finger was curled the cut was a deep U shape along the outside of the first knuckle.

I was supposed to have coffee with a friend. After I stopped the bleeding, got the rather ugly cut taped up, I sent a text telling my friend I was injured and asking if he would take me to urgent care. I then ate my lunch – and the avocado was perfect, because I was hungry and I figured it would take awhile to get this handled.

Four hours and five stitches later he brought me back home. Even though the whole experience went easily enough, and I was treated well and felt well cared for I was trashed when I got home.

The next morning I had no energy. I wasn’t in pain, but I felt like I should do very little but sleep. Another friend who has had several deep hand cuts over time assured me the injury was a real shock to the body and I should just take it easy. Turns out he was right and I appreciated his advice.

Self-care can mean a lot of things

We talk a lot about self-care. Often we mean things like eating well and getting enough rest and exercise. We may give a nod to sleeping more when we have a cold or taking time to deal with something like a migraine. If you’re at all like me I hadn’t given much thought to being injured. Nor had I known a cut that required five stitches could be such a shock. But it was.

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Tempted to Quit Freelance Writing?

quit freelance writingI don’t know a single writer who isn’t tempted to quit freelance writing at least once in a while.

While there are all sorts of reasons people quit freelance writing my hunch is the two biggest are:

(1) consistently not making enough money and

(2) boredom with the business and the writing they are doing now.

Not consistently making enough money

The big problem is writers tend to be creative types and (including myself here) we don’t really like marketing much. The other part of this is we’re not particularly good at consistency in business – writing is our strength and what we love to do. The other stuff not so much.


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client responds“A potential client responds after I sent out Letters of Introduction two years ago!” a member of our forum lamented. “Can you believe it?”

She wanted to know how to reply or if she should even take such a tardy response seriously.

Although several advised caution, I encouraged her to take it seriously, respond in a general and interested way and move on, until she was offered a contract. This is of course, my usual reaction when a client expresses interest. Treat them well and keep on marketing.

The only thing that might have made this case different was it took the person who had received the Letter of Introduction or LOI.

I learned the attitude of treating every contact with respect and as if they might buy back in the days when I was selling real estate – actually acreage with homes in San Diego County. We used to advertise in both the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal. We often wrote what today might be called info ads – stories about a property or two that waxed lyrical about living in the country, etc. It seemed like once or twice a year someone would appear and gently fish out of his wallet a yellowed strip of newspaper. They’d not only seen our ad some years ago, but had taken time to clip it out and carry it around for all that time. Many of those folks eventually became customers of ours.


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Benefits of Getting into Technical Writing

technical writingTo break into technical writing and be a successful technical writer, it is important to mentally transition into being prepared for the journey.

Are you an introvert? Do you prefer to be the only writer in a company? Do you enjoy interviewing people? If you said ‘yes’ to all of these questions, continue to read more about the benefits of a technical writing career.

Technical Writing Jobs are Abundant

In the United States, most technology start-ups and reputable organizations need tech writers. A few examples include Microsoft, Google, Twitter, IBM, the United States Government of municipalities. Technical writing is a necessity in health care, real estate, engineering, construction, manufacturing, technology, oil, and gas, etc. If you have a skill for marketing writing services, finding a recruitment agency can help you find long term opportunities.

Daily Responsibilities are Always Changing

A day in the life of a technical writer is never the same. On one day, we spend a full day in stakeholder meetings to gather important information. The next day can be spent writing multiple documents at the same time. On the third day, we can travel on site to see the technical aspects of the subject matter to have a thorough understanding of the project. Furthermore, the job requires minimal supervision because, at times, organizations expect these writers to manage a project with the help of a busy project manager.

Contract Work or Full-time Work

Technical writers can start a life-changing journey by contracting, which offers an opportunity to work for some of the top organizations most people will not work. On the contrary, an individual that is seeking security such as benefits, and paid vacation can benefit from being a fulltime technical writer. As with any other line of work, contractors receive higher pay and can ask for rates that typically do not exist for fulltime employees.

Transition into a New Role

Technical writers can transition to becoming a Business Analyst, Project Manager, or IT professional. These positions require a skill for comprehending and writing complex technical topics. If you are an engineer, Systems analyst or enterprise architect, transitioning into technical writing can be done with minimal effort or additional education.

Technical Writers are Respected

A technical writer that can manage multiple projects, produce error-free content, and work effectively with difficult colleagues with a positive attitude is an organization dream come true. A part of the reason technical writers are treated with respect is it requires patience and the ability to receive constructive criticism from multiple people in a company other than a project manager. This job requires an individual with thick skin and an open mind to continue learning.

How to find technical writing jobs

Technical writer jobs are available on websites that include Indeed, FreelanceMyWay, Glassdoor, and Media Bistro. If you decide to freelance, design a website and business cards to self represent your services locally.

Final Thoughts

The next time you are thinking about starting a new writing career, consider the idea of becoming a technical writer. You can work remotely from home, land a gig with an internationally known company, or interact with executives to complete projects. A career in this role is abundant in North America, and in most cases, you will be the only tech writer at a company. It is a perfect job for introverts or technical professionals with a desire to transition into a less intense career.

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