The Struggle is Real: Living with Anxiety and Depression

So, when I was first getting treatment for my anxiety and depression, I was pretty vocal on Facebook about it. The symptoms. The treatment. My abusive ex Mandie. All the things that lead up to me being where I was at that point. And then I started taking the meds. I had intended on giving an update every few weeks; map out my progress. Give myself a way to look back at how far I’d come, while giving others an insight into what it’s like; whether they suffer from similar experiences or just want a better understanding.

That didn’t happen. For the longest time, nothing really changed. I went from regular euphoria (which was really hard coming down from) from the new meds kicking in, to leveling off to just finally feeling “normal”. Like, not every little thing being life or death. Not having my chest start pounding when I’m just lying in bed watching TV. Not having tremors shake my hand when I try to eat or scoop out coffee in the morning.

Nothing. Just…living like anyone else.

So I said, great. I got lucky. I found a pill that works. I’m cured, and yeah, eventually we’ll ween me off, but things are great. I had succeeded at losing 80 pounds. I finished school. Things were going alright.

Here we are. I don’t know where I’m at time-wise; I’ve honestly lost track, but I feel like it’s been about a year. The pills aren’t working as well. I’ve gone from 152.5 pounds to 170. I’m doing ok freelancing, but I’m still not where I’m trying to hit. My book still isn’t finished.

The feeling of failure in so many aspects can be crippling. And what’s even crazier is it’s not even “failure”; I haven’t lost anything in this process. But I’m perceiving it that way. And that’s where I feel even more nuts, and that’s how I know the meds aren’t doing their thang anymore.

I’m finding my symptoms getting triggered easier. The feeling of breaking down and crying when I get too stressed is starting to creep back. Getting swamped with work can send my chest pounding. Too much loud, exciting noise sets me off.

We had company, and there was loud talking. And then a phone call being made. And it was put on speaker. And the dishwasher running. And the TV on loud over all of it. And I just had to go. I shut myself away. And I hated myself for it. I knew I was coming off antisocial. I knew it was going to be met with mutterings of “what’s his deal?” But I couldn’t help it.

I’ve read and heard that over time, your initial set of medicine stops working. I’m seeing my doc again on the 12th, and hopefully he either bumps up my dosage (I’m only taking 50 mg, which is nothing) or get me on something else.

It’s just hard to not beat yourself up. It’s hard to think you were on the road to recovery, and then find yourself still just as broken. It’s tough the feel scared that you’re going to let yourself get out of control and balloon back up to 230 pounds. It’s tough feeling like you can’t get out of your own head or out of your own way.

My friends will tell me what a great time they just had with their significant other, and rather than me being happy for them and grateful that they have a good relationship, it makes me tailspin. It makes me feel lonely; unloved; hopeless. It keeps me from being the friend I should be, and then again, the feeling of failure. The feeling of I should be better. I should be a better friend. A better son, a better brother. And that wears on you.

So if you don’t know what it’s like, if you are lucky enough to not have these demons, it’s a daily struggle for us. We hate coming forward because mental health is still only mentioned in hushes and whispers and by quirky, insane characters on TV and movies. You don’t know what it’s like to doubt every thought and action, or to hear the words coming out of your mouth and desperately trying to make yourself shut up because of how stupid you sound.

Anxiety is more than just being nervous. It’s more than just being the meek kid in class. It’s literally your Fight or Flight being left on. It’s having that mechanism having a brick being placed on the gas pedal. It’s melting down over every little thing, and feeling the weight of the world. It’s literally crying over spilt milk.

People with anxiety don’t have it for the attention. No one wants to live this way. And we put ourselves through enough punishment and scrutiny and self-deprecation that we don’t need it from anyone else. What we need is patience. What we need is understanding. What we need is to not be treated like a freak, because we already feel that way.

I know a few people struggling with this themselves. They’re scared to get help, because they hate the stigma. Or they hate the feeling of being weak. These are your friends, your family, your coworkers. We need your support. We need to know it’s going to be ok, and that getting help isn’t a sign of weakness. We need to understand things change. Meds change. Symptoms might even change. But that doesn’t mean we’ve failed. So even if you see us, and we’ve managed to put on a smile that day, genuine or otherwise, give us a hug. We need it.

 

 

 

 

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What am I even doing with my life?

Alright, I know I’ve been sort of quiet. I’ve been hard working on two things: doing freelance work, which chews up most of my time, and also, doing a complete rewrite of the Autumn Mage.

Alright, I know I’ve been sort of quiet. I’ve been hard working on two things: doing freelance work, which chews up most of my time, and also, doing a complete rewrite of the Autumn Mage.

I received it back from my editor, and, as a first-time writer, it needs extensive work. Which I am doing slowly but surely. Today I just finished rewriting chapter 8.

By “rewriting”, do I mean just going Track Changes -> Accept All? No. I mean a full and complete rewrite. Top to bottom. It’s tedious, but it’s already way better than the draft I posted on here.

I’m making tweaks to characters, dialogue, and even some of the story. One of the biggest criticisms was I have a hard time conveying my thoughts to the reader, and I couldn’t agree more. I’m also giving too much detail on frivolous areas, and not enough where it counts.

I know this is taking a long time, and I appreciate the kind words and support I’ve already received, and I’m aiming to make this as great as I possibly can. Thanks for everyone’s continued patience!

If you haven’t checked out my fantasy WIP yet, the (very) rough draft can be found here. That is the inexperienced, pre-edited copy. The one I’m putting through a wood chipper and completely reworking.

And in the meantime, if you’d like to schedule me for all of your business, academic, and creative writing and editing needs, you can visit my website and shoot me an email at chris@writenowfl.com.

 

Be Phenomenal: 5 Things Pokemon GO Taught Me About Freelance Writing

It’s okay if something you write is bare bones. People think that all writing has to mimic Jane Austen or Charles Dickens. In fact, I’ve read numerous articles stating that reader’s attention spans are so bad, traditional publishing doesn’t love taking anything over 80,000 words anymore. So less is more, BUT you have to be captivating. In Soviet Russia, Pokemon captures YOU!

So, unless you have absolutely no access to the Internet and no contact with any other living being, you’ve no doubt seen Pokemon GO blow up. Nintendo’s adorable pocket monsters have once again captivated the world, and I, for one, welcome our new cute overlords.

For the handful of people who don’t know, Pokemon GO is a new smartphone AR game that superimposes Pokemon onto real life Google Maps. Using the game’s classic Pokeballs with non-traditional game play has lured millions of rabid trainers outside, socialization, and actually making people healthier. Is Pokemon GO going to be a fad? Abso-freaking-lutely. Don’t get me wrong; the game is a lot of fun. But something that comes in this fast often leaves just as quickly.

That said, inspiration can strike anywhere and from anything, and this week throwing imaginary balls at cartoon rodents actually taught me something about being a freelance writer and editor. In fact, it taught me 5 somethings:

 

Lack of Story Doesn’t Mean Lack of Quality

The Pokemon franchise has historically had very little story or plot. It’s always been “Hey, kid? Wanna Pikachu?” The game quickly gives you a rundown of the basics and then sends you on your merry way. Whether you finish the game or not is up to you. Whether you complete your Pokedex is up to you. The game really doesn’t care. They already have your money.

The app has even less of a story. You have one single human character who tells you what is happening (sort of) and then the rest of the time is spent frantically spending your monthly cell data chasing after Pokemon. But just because there isn’t a story doesn’t mean it doesn’t enthrall people.

It’s okay if something you write is bare bones. People think that all writing has to mimic Jane Austen or Charles Dickens. In fact, I’ve read numerous articles stating that reader’s attention spans are so bad, traditional publishing doesn’t love taking anything over 80,000 words anymore. So less is more, BUT you have to be captivating. In Soviet Russia, Pokemon captures YOU!

People Will Freelance Anything

I love what I do. I get to work from home, and I use God-given skills to help people, and in exchange I earn a little money. But some days I look at myself in the mirror and go “Is this my life? Proofreading final exam essays for college kids? Is this a thing?”

I know other freelancers have similar thoughts. And you know what? This week I was officially able to stop being hard on myself for my career choice. You know why? Because out of the Google and Facebook machines came numerous articles of Uber drivers and Craigslist ads of people offering to drive you around town and/or use your device or login credentials to assist you in catching Pokemon.

That is people use really real money to pay people to help them play a smartphone game that has no ending. It became abundantly clear that people will hire a freelancer to do absolutely anything.

Play to People’s Nostalgia

Every time I see a “only 90’s kids will remember!” post I want to punch someone. And yet, there’s a reason these stupid posts keep blowing up my newsfeeds: people love nostalgia. This is not a new concept. Hollywood has been forcing unnecessary reboots for years hoping people will be nostalgic enough to spend $10-$20 on a crappy movie because it involves the name of a beloved childhood franchise. And no matter how bad these movies are, they just keep making more because people can’t refuse nostalgia.

Pokemon GO does this. Every kid who had a Gameboy has dreamed of catching Pokemon in real life, and until scientists decide to find a way to electrify mice, this is as good as it gets. Grown adults are gleefully running around capturing Pokemon because it makes them feel like a kid again.

Am I telling you to rip off an existing franchise? Absolutely not. I can guarantee Michael Bay will not be happy about you doing a better job than he ever could with a fraction of the budget. What I am saying is take a moment to reflect on why you keep going back to certain childhood franchises. What makes you love them eternally, and what can you apply from that to your own work?

Find the Right Business Partner

Augmented Realty has been around for years, and it just never seemed to quite take off. Which is ironic, considering how AR-heavy futuristic movies and video games are. Unlike Virtual Realty where the user takes on a peripheral to enter a virtual world, Augmented Realty does the opposite, bringing the virtual to life in our world. The developer of Pokemon Go, Niantic, was originally a startup owned by Google. Google released them into the wild, and Niantic developed the popular AR game Ingress. Chances are you haven’t heard of Ingress, but it’s their predecessor multiplayer AR game sending people running around real towns to collect and interact with other players.

So why is Pokemon GO so much more popular? Besides nostalgia, Niantic teamed back up with Google and video game powerhouse Nintendo. Together the three companies have created an immersive AR experience, and chances are we’re going to see a lot more AR apps pop back up. Sometimes when you can’t pull something off yourself, you just need to find the right partners in crime.

Make Sure Your Product is Market-Ready Before Launch

Dear sweet Lord is Pokemon GO riddled with technical problems. Server crashes. Hours upon hours in which you cannot play. App crashes. GPS not working right. Pokemon not showing up anywhere.

I have never heard of another game on any system that has been so flawed that still has such a positive fan base. Any other game would have been ripped to shreds. They’re lucky people are so crazy for Pokemon because otherwise this would be their Titanic.

You have to make sure, whatever you are selling, is ready to be purchased. If reviews start rolling in that your product is only halfway finished, you’re going to be labeled a scam artist and laughed off from Amazon.

Your story might be good, but I can guarantee it isn’t Pokemon-level good. If your story has typos or plot holes or other mistakes, people are not going to be happy that they spent money on your product.

That’s why I offer a full range of freelance writing services including editing, rewriting, ghostwriting, and content writing. From professional needs to creative writing solutions, you can hire me for any need. Visit Write Now today to schedule me!

Happy hunting, all you Pokemon Masters!

The Magnificent Seven: Seven Punctuations New Writers Get Wrong

So I know I haven’t been editing all that long, but I have already begun to notice some baffling trends among those who throw their hat into the writing ring. Now, I am in no way an expert at writing; my first story THE AUTUMN MAGE is just now with Ashley R. Carlson getting worked by her magic. I do not have a degree in English degree to my credit, nor do I claim to be an expert linguist. That said, you have to have a basic understanding of how punctuation works otherwise you will very quickly lose any sort of credibility in your writing.

So I know I haven’t been editing all that long, but I have already begun to notice some baffling trends among those who throw their hat into the writing ring. Now, I am in no way an expert at writing; my first story THE AUTUMN MAGE is just now with Ashley R. Carlson getting worked by her magic. I do not have a degree in English degree to my credit, nor do I claim to be an expert linguist. That said, you have to have a basic understanding of how punctuation works otherwise you will very quickly lose any sort of credibility in your writing. 

New paragraphs

When is the perfect time to start a new paragraph? That is contested. If you think back to elementary or middle school, they taught 3-5 sentences. This isn’t a hard law to me, BUT it is rather easy to let a paragraph go for days. You may think that the reader needs a microscopic level of detail regarding an object. Or you’re afraid that adding a new paragraph is going to somehow break the tension. However, you need to break up walls of text, no more than generally eight sentences. If your page is one giant paragraph I can guarantee most readers are going to either A) wind up just skimming it, B) skip the section entirely or C) stop reading altogether.

Also, dialogue. When a new piece of dialogue occurs you need a new paragraph. When a new speaker speaks you need a new paragraph. Not before and not after, but with the new dialogue. This helps the audience know who is saying what, as well as helps the flow of the words. Plus, y’know, it’s the correct way to do it.

Ellipses

It seems to me people use ellipsis (the three dots, …) without really understanding what they are. They are traditionally intended for an omission of text, although they are frequently used to show a loss of thought. I get them in emails all the time and I’m left wondering “why are you trailing off?” Which is what they generally signify in what I’ve proofread thus far; someone trailing off in thought to end a sentence of dialogue. Not because you don’t want to use a comma or a period. Not because artistically you think it makes the sentence look pretty. But to omit a word or show a character not knowing how to finish his sentence.

Also, not every piece of dialogue needs it. Like anything, less is more. Using it for everything your characters say. If they’re being cut off from finishing their sentence, try a dash. Try physically saying that they’re interrupted. I edited a piece where in one paragraph (again, one that was far too long) the character was ending literally every single line with an ellipses. I wanted to throw my laptop out of the window. Use ellipses sparingly and only when it is correct to do so.

Commas

Commas signify a brief pause, usually in dialogue. Commas are also used to break up certain mechanics of grammar. However, there seems to be some confusion as to when a writer uses a period and when they should use a comma. 

To signify a pause the comma would be used like:

“He was going to put some bread down in the toaster, but first he had to leave the bathtub.” 

To use with dialogue:

“Where should we dump the body?” Salvatore asked his partner.

“The big hole in the ground,” Teddy said. “Since, y’know, this is her funeral.”

The comma allows the audience to keep straight who is saying what part. This way you don’t have to physically tell us:

“I just wanted to make sure,” Salvatore defended.

“Yeah, well how ’bout you use your head first next time?”

We know Teddy spoke the second line because in the scene we know there’s only two characters and the order of speakers has not changed. 

Dashes

Dashes are kind of a fun one, and this is one I actually mess up myself quite a bit. There’s two main types of dashes and you probably know them as “the short one” and “the long one”. The “short one” is actually called an en dash, and it’s used to show a span or range. It is not used when you say that the span/range occurred frombetween, or similar word. 

I know. That sounds confusing, but it actually isn’t:

The assigned reading is chapters 4-7.

My dog usually sleeps from 3 pm to 8 pm and then stays awake all night barking.

BUT you would not say:

The Backstreet Boys were popular between  19962003 and still in my friend Veronica’s car.

En dashes also connect (the road that runs north-south), conflicts (the Toilet Paper Up-Down Argument), and compound adjectives (blue ribbon-winning pie).

Em Dashes, on the other hand, are used to essentially replace other punctuation marks, as well as omissions of parts of words or whole words that are for one reason or another unknown.

I saw an R-Rated movie on TV and the dialogue of my favorite scene was cut to, “I said I’ll —— the —— and then when I’m done I’ll —— your —— mother!” 

I brought an extra pair of pants and socks — just in case the room flooded with mayonnaise again — and a hat.

Quotation marks

The snarky answer for when to use quotation marks is for quotes. But I can understand why there are some issues understanding when else. The obvious choice is dialogue (“Get off of me!” Doug said as Steve jostled against him). However, when you’re quoting something within a set of quotations, you use a single quote:

“Hey, what did Rick say he did with that watermelon?”
“Oh, the watermelon? Rick said ‘hey don’t throw it away, I’ll use it later as a helmet’.”

If you have to Inception it and go one set of quotations deeper within the section of quotations, switch back to double.

Quotations are also used to signify doubt or to focus on a word or set of word.

I know he said he would “take care” of my wife, but I’m beginning to think he is using the wrong definition of “take care”.

Exclamation marks

So I think we’re all on the same page with this one. Exclamation marks exclaim; they show excitement. They are not, however, supposed to have a hundred of them back to back, nor are they to be used for every single sentence just because the character happens to be mad. Nor should it, generally speaking, be used directly after a question mark, even though your character is just so darn flustered.

“Are you kidding me right now?!?!” she demanded. “I have been waiting for 45 minutes just so you can come out here and tell me you don’t have any chicken?!?! This is outrageous!!!!!!111”

Nope.

“And as I’ve told you before,” he angrily defended, “this is a pet store and not a butcher shop!”

Scene changes

So this one is kind of strange. You’ve probably seen it before in a book and said “What the heck is that? Why is that there?” Scene changes are usually in short stories, although they can appear in full novels when the scene has to rapidly switch from one to the other. It’s kind of like a new chapter, but within the same part of the book. After the last portion of the first scene you would end it with a series of three stars: ***

That’s it. That’s all there is to it. You don’t double down and fill the entire line. You don’t use a different sign instead because you think it’ll look cool. And also, you may never even need it. Please don’t use it just because you read a book and saw it and now you think your book has to have it, too. Like with everything else, please make sure you need it before you use it.

 

Obviously things like these tips is what makes writing confusing. If you need a proofreader, writer, or editor I am happy to take on your manuscript or project. Visit Write Now today to schedule me for your editing and writing needs!

 

 

Make Your Readers Give a Damn: 7 Steps to Winning Over Your Readers

I’ve recently found myself in talks to do so affiliate editing, which means I don’t get any money upfront, but I do get 8% on the back end when the book sells. Kind of sucks in the short term because bills don’t wait for book sales, but I actually love the idea. And as you know I’m frothing at the mouth to do more editing lately.

It’s not a sure thing, but they seem pretty pleased with my style. They sent me the first two chapters of a story just to see if I was interested and I was so thrilled I just tore into it. I was excited at the premise of a story; a gritty female ex-cop-turned-bounty hunter taking on the corrupt police force she used to work for. However, it was less Gerard Butler blockbuster and more Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

I’ve recently found myself in talks to do some affiliate editing, which means I don’t get any money upfront, but I do get 8% on the back end when the book sells. Kind of sucks in the short term because bills don’t wait for book sales, but I actually love the idea. And as you know I’m frothing at the mouth to do more editing lately.

It’s not a sure thing, but they seem pretty pleased with my style. They sent me the first two chapters of a story just to see if I was interested and I was so thrilled I just tore into it. I was excited at the premise of a story; a gritty female ex-cop-turned-bounty hunter taking on the corrupt police force she used to work for. However, it was less Gerard Butler blockbuster and more Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

Do I mean that 1) it revolved around the officer’s bodily fluids? or 2) that Judy Blume’s classic coming-of-age book is way more action packed than you originally thought? No to both. Here’s what I mean.

All new authors are going to struggle with the basics. Lord knows I still do. New authors also flounder around on the page trying to find their footing. Fine. Yes, this is part of the process. But what shattered my very soul was the way in which the story was presented. There was no conflict, and the whole thing read like a journal entry.

The main protagonist was revealed to be female, but like ten pages later. Note: I have zero problems with female protagonists. In fact, I’m currently working on a story with two female protagonists. My issue here is it took forever to know who I was reading about. My second problem was the sheer amount of details given about everyone’s past. And finally third, after diving through the first two chapters NOTHING HAPPENED.

I tore it to shreds. Absolutely took a metaphorical machete to it and then sent it through a metaphorical wood chipper. I wanted a literal one but I want to keep my laptop. After finishing up I sat back and thought how many more of these are out there? Is my stuff like this? I thought hard about what was the one core problem with the story and it finally hit me: I just didn’t care about any aspect of it.

Maybe that’s the problem with your writing. You may have completely finished the story and it’s done to what you believe to be the best of your ability, but the reader just shrugs off all 80,000 words. Your audience needs to care. You have to light a fire under your reader. They need to stay glued to the page and that isn’t going to happen if you fill them with apathy. Here’s seven tips to make them care about your story.

 

The Narrator’s Burden

Whether your narrator is an omniscient third party or the main character themselves, the narrator has the misfortune of knowing more or less everything. Because of this the temptation becomes the narrator sharing this god-like wisdom with everyone. Don’t. I don’t need to know what the character did ten years ago. I need to know what is happening now. I don’t need names for the gas station clerk who is never going to make another appearance. I don’t need to know what brand of the shirt a background character that was only barely mentioned is wearing. Flesh out the world, but make sure to do it the same way you see the real world. Do you try to remember the names of cashiers when you know you’ll be back at that store? Do you ask strangers about their past? Do you try to figure out who the old woman feeding ducks is wearing? No. You don’t, and neither should your readers.

The Devil’s in the Details

I didn’t even know who I was reading about until much later in the first chapter. This was disorienting to me. It was like being shoved into a dark room where a lit flashlight was lying on the ground at the back wall. I knew I would eventually be able to see what was going on, but I felt lost for a while. And then when I did finally find out who my protagonist was I was hit with ALL the details. Reveal them slowly. I don’t need a full list of a character’s stats when I meet them. Peel the onion layers back one at a time, don’t just cram it all into my face. Otherwise it comes off like a trading card.

Encyclopedias Aren’t Chapters

This was not the first time I’ve seen a piece of writing where I had paragraphs upon paragraphs and pages upon pages of information that I neither wanted nor needed nor cared about. Yes, information is necessary. You are painting a picture without paints. You have to get inside the reader’s head and show them an entire universe with only text. I get it. But there is such a thing as too much.

One thing I’ve recommended to someone struggling with not cutting enough detail was this: create a set of notes about background information for you characters. Make those notes just for you. The reader never sees them; they never know that the main character’s best friend’s cat died in 3rd grade. But as long as they see how protective she is over her current pet they’ll know something’s up. Hint at the details. Show why the characters are what they are. But don’t cram 10,000 words into a backstory about a character we aren’t even going to see again.

Build the Tension

I have a feeling that later on in the story there was some tension/conflict. But there was none in what I was handed. Books can pretty much be split up into two different types of chapters: dialogue/exposition heavy chapters and action heavy chapters. Both are necessary. If you have a book of all dialogue or all exposition it’s going to read like a Jane Austen novel. Which was entertaining like 300 years ago but not to our smartphone-addicted audiences of today. Likewise, if you have only action you have a book adaptation of a Michael Bay film. You need to find the right balance, or else your book is going to be boring. And boring books don’t have readers.

Where’s the Action?

This story I read was about a bounty hunter fighting corrupted police. In two entire chapters not a single bounty was hunted. If you hand me a book as a friend and say “Oh hey this is a real cool book about a bounty hunter” I’m expecting COPS-level action. I’m expecting Boba Fett-level antics. I want scumbags busted. And I was left pleading for action. Which is the story of my life, but that’s a whole other ordeal.

Barbie is a Toy, Not a Character

Yes, I am aware that after all these years she does have her own films, cartoons, games, etc. What I mean here is that Barbie has represented the “perfect”/”ideal” woman, for better or for worse. Do I necessarily agree with them? No. But that’s what she is. And this is what I mean but not having a Barbie character: your character cannot be perfect. None of your characters can be perfect. If you insist on making one perfect then they need to be imperfectly perfect.

In order for characters to be realistic they have to be like real people. They need to have flaws, even your protagonist. They need to have flawed morals or philosophies. They need to royally screw up. They can’t be anywhere near close to perfect. When characters are perfect no one cares because nothing bad can happen, thus all conflict and tension gets sucked out the window.

Split Personalities are a No Go

Unless your character is supposed to have multiple personalities, this needs to be avoided. In this particular story the protagonist was this gritty hardened female who had tired of corruption and who felt a strong sense of justice. And other times, usually with dialogue, she was a preteen. Not literally, of course, but the way she spoke and carried herself. You can’t have a character not commit to one character. It doesn’t work having them try to straddle the line like this. Can you have an immature character? Sure. But they have to be believable. A woman in her mid-to-late 20s, especially a law enforcement officer, is not going to speak like a 6th grader.

Writing is difficult; it’s an art that you have to perfect. And this is tough, especially when you’re just starting out. That’s why I offer my writing and editing services. I can assist in the creation process, edit your finished story, and more. For more information or to book your project with me visit Write Now today!

What is an Editor?

As I’m trying to build up my client list for my freelance business Write Now I’m coming across a lot of confusion in regards to what editing is. At first it catches me off guard; what do you mean you don’t know what an editor is? But the more I think about it, the more I understand. So today I want to clear up some confusion.

The snarky answer is an editor edits. But the term “editor” is thrown around a lot and encompasses several different areas of editing. There’s audio editing. Sound editing (which is different from “audio editing”). Film editing. Journalistic editors. But with story/book/manuscript editing, that’s a whole different animal.

As I’m trying to build up my client list for my freelance business Write Now I’m coming across a lot of confusion in regards to what editing is. At first it catches me off guard; what do you mean you don’t know what an editor is? But the more I think about it, the more I understand. So today I want to clear up some confusion.

The snarky answer is an editor edits. But the term “editor” is thrown around a lot and encompasses several different areas of editing. There’s audio editing. Sound editing (which is different from “audio editing”). Film editing. Journalistic editors.  But with story/book/manuscript editing, that’s a whole different animal.

In short, all of these types of editing have similarities. They all take an original work, fiction or non, and help make it better. They remove the parts the audience doesn’t need. They improve the flow of the story, or reword it (scene or text or track list), and they make the project as a whole stronger. And just like with film or music or sound or even news articles an editor take an author’s story and makes it better.

This always puts the first-time writers into a weird situation. They either think that an editor isn’t necessary because, hey, I’m such a good writer and this book is going to be amazing! I don’t need anyone to edit for me! Or they think that they don’t need to do any editing at all, and that it’s 100% the editor’s job to do so.

First off, you do need to put your work through at least two rounds of your own editing. This does two things: finds the “dumb” mistakes (missing words, missing periods, misspellings, etc.) and allows you to see what mistakes you as a writer consistently make which helps you be more aware of them in the future.

A lot of new writers feel that writers write and editors edit. Shipping off an unedited copy of your work to an editor is going to do two things: enrage them and have them charge you more for the additional amount of work they need to do. The expectation of a good editor is that you’ve already, at minimum, proofread your piece. If they are handed a project that is nigh unreadable they are going to drop you.

So what specifically does an editor do? That’s really up to what you need and their skills. There’s three sort of “main” types of editing, although different kinds exist as well. There’s developmental editing, where the editor advises on how the story/book should be changed, often with rewrites. Line editing, which is what most people think of with editing, which is proofreading and fixing grammar, mechanical, and spelling errors. And finally copyediting reviews the project for incorrect information, consistency with word choice and hyphens, etc., and also makes sure that your characters and story are consistent chapter to chapter (did the main character have red hair in chapter 4 but now in chapter 10 has blonde hair that we never saw her dye?).

Editing is a huge undertaking and is often intimidating for the writer. You’ve poured your blood, sweat, and tears (so many tears) into your story and now you’re shipping it off to an editor like it’s summer camp. That’s why when choosing an editor you need to make sure that they respect you as a writer and that they will treat your project as if it were their own.

As a writer myself I understand how important your story is to you. And when I edit, I edit as if it were my own writing. I take your story seriously and make sure it becomes as strong as possible. I am currently accepting submissions for editing stories and manuscripts. For more information please visit my site Write Now. I offer prompt quality service you can trust!

The Honor and Privilege: Proofreading for Lori Lesko

So this week I was contacted by a very near and dear friend, as well as a fellow writer (one who has way more experience, panache, talent, and is arguably better looking) miss Lori Lesko.

So this week I was contacted by a very near and dear friend, as well as a fellow writer (one who has way more experience, panache, talent, and is arguably better looking) miss Lori Lesko. Not only is she a wonderful author and a U2  (the band, but she may also enjoy the airplane; I’m not real sure) enthusiast, she is a wonderful person and if you aren’t already reading her books or following her on Twitter, that needs to change right now.  You gon learn today.

Ms. Lesko (you know, I never bothered asking if it’s ‘Mrs.’, which just goes to show the kind of friend I am) sent me a short piece to proof to assist her in scoring a scholarship for a dream opportunity of going to a Paris writing retreat. This is huge for me because 1) more practice proofing and editing stories which I’ve been craving and 2) it gives me a chance to help a friend cross something off of a bucket list.

I could not be more excited for her and I’m incredibly proud and I can’t wait to dive in. Which I’m doing as soon as I hit “post” on this.

Once again, I cannot say enough about her stories. I’m still catching up myself on her catalog but so far my favorite has been the psychological thriller The Therapist. It’s a lot of fun to read with some great rising action that keeps you glued. Also, if you love it as much as I do you’ll be happy to know she’s working on a new thriller and it sounds like she’s having a lot of fun with it.

Best of luck Lori! Hopefully I’m able to help you out and fingers crossed I do you proud.

If you want to send me a Tweet you can talk my ear off up to 140 characters @CWojcek.

The Highs and Lows of Writing for Others: 7 Steps to Getting Over Losing Clients

Two weeks ago I was on top of the world. I was getting a lot of interest for my freelancing services and I scored two clients who wanted me to work with them long-term. This is it, I thought. This is the first steps to me making it. Things were great; they loved the first few projects I did for them. They were excited.

And then all of sudden they did a complete 180.

Two weeks ago I was on top of the world. I was getting a lot of interest for my freelancing services and I scored two clients who wanted me to work with them long-term. This is it, I thought. This is the first steps to me making it. Things were great; they loved the first few projects I did for them. They were excited.

And then all of sudden they did a complete 180. Without warning they now hated that week’s submissions. As their hired writer a lot of this does fall on me and I accept that. However, a lot of it had to do with them not expressing their needs explicitly enough. And that’s fine; every client has the potential for not working out. But it did send me into a tailspin.

I’m not a good writer after all. I can’t do this. I’m going to have to go get a job at Wal-Mart.

Some people are able to shrug off rejection and immediately move on with their life. As I’ve discussed before, I have anxiety and depression. If you’ve never lived with it, the long and short of it is you already assume everyone hates you and so when you experience rejection of any kind it cuts deep.

So I’ve been floundering ever since. I’ve done a few small jobs here and there but nearly what I’ve needed to in order to earn what I need to be. That said, I have not given up hope. In fact, it’s given me a little perspective and made me realize that I went into this a little Spongebob-esque and I needed to be more realistic about it to begin with. That’s where I had the following realizations:

 

Don’t Get Down About It

This is easier said than done, especially with the whole mental illness thing. Was I down about it? Very much so. I saw my dream job slipping through my fingers. I panicked. I thought this is the end. But then I finally dusted myself off and got right back to it. I also spent time working on my own personal projects that I had been neglecting, as well as some house keeping for my online profiles. When something damages your house, you have to pick up the mess.

Learn Tips on How to Change

The biggest problem with the current generation is that we’ve taught everyone that nothing is ever their fault. This is a huge issue; it’s only breeding narcissists and it makes people feel that they can do no wrong. Do yourself a favor; reflect and accept the mistakes that you personally made. It will help you grow as a writer and as a person.

Don’t be Afraid – Change Big

I realized the direction I was trying to go in may not have been the best for me anyways. I am a good writer, and I don’t mean that in a boastful way. I have natural writing skills and I enjoy doing it. But I’m leaning towards trying to move away from trying to join the billions of other freelancers in trying to crank out articles and posts for others and move towards more editing. It’s not that I dislike doing articles, but everyone seems to have an opinion on how they should and should not read. That, and the market is fairly saturated.

When things go south take it as an opportunity to reevaluate what you are doing and why.

Stay Open Minded

Your knee jerk reaction is that they are wrong and you are blameless and they’re just being dumb/petty/etc. Keep an open mind: do they have a point? Could you have done things better? Read some articles and try to learn one or two new things. It doesn’t have to apply 100% to you but as long as you pick up something new along the way it wasn’t a wasted trip.

Practice the New Thing

Write a few practice pieces using the new techniques. If nothing else you get some additional writing time and potential new samples to show to new clients. It’s a win-win and it gives you some practice time under your belt. As writers it’s easy to get into a rut of only writing or editing or whatever a certain way day in and day out. Try something new. Me personally, I would love to learn how to write poetry. That is something I’m going to research and practice for myself if and when I get some downtime. It will only help you grow as a writer.

Clients Aren’t Honest the First Time

Clients are in the same boat as you, just in a different seat. You’re desperate for work, and they need someone to complete their project. At first everything is going to be honeymoon phase with them: all of your samples look wonderful, they think you’re going to be a great fit, you’re so good. And then after the first piece everything changes. You are now no longer viewed as a partner or as someone whose services are being used; you are now being used as something more akin to an employee. Don’t let them see you that way. You are your own boss. You do work for them, but in the same way a plumber works for you when your sink breaks. Keep that line drawn firmly in the sand.

No Two Clients are the Same

The two clients in question had complete opposite complaints. I had one who said I wasn’t writing boldly or aggressively enough (too academically was the final point) and the other said I was writing too aggressively and talking down to the audience (“that didactic tone that rubs people the wrong way” is what they had said). No two clients are going to be the same. This was fully on me; I was fighting off a sinus infection and was simply trying to get through my work as quickly as possible that week. And it royally bit me in the butt. Your clients don’t care who your other clients are, and they shouldn’t. Each one should be treated as if they are your only one. However, if they don’t meet you halfway and ensure that you know what they want, you’re both being set up for failure.

Clearly I’m looking to take on new clients.  For a full list of my services and pricing please visit Write Now to schedule me for your projects!