The Power of our Words and Defining Them (1).png

I’ve been contemplating the importance of vocabulary and word usage for some time now.  It seems that many of the difficulties so many of us struggle with when learning something new or in understanding what others do is that we aren’t clear on the meaning of the words being used. 

Attend a writer’s conference for the first time, you’ll hear abbreviations and words bandied about like platform. If you haven’t been trying to publish yet, you probably have no idea what a platform is.

Speak to a designer about setting up a website and you’ll hear about SEO, pixels and widgets – oh MY!

If you launch into a discussion on social media growth, you’ll likely hear about pods, loops and groups. Add in marketing and advertising and you’ll just want to shut down and hide.

The reality is that unless you think like a teacher and consistently be intentional to explain your terminology, something will be lost in translation.  As creatives, we can forget sometimes that people don’t think like we do and don’t know what we are thinking.  Taking the time to explain the words we use are vital and being clear with others is the only way we can play our part to encourage those who aren’t as far on the journey as we are is to be sure we are explaining the process along the way.

Let’s be sure to use our words carefully not just because we should be cautious about our choices but also because we can’t help others learn and grow if we are not aware of the impact of a lack of explanation. I don’t know about you but it’s tempting to give up and feel like you’ll never understand when you are overwhelmed with information.

Editing is the Key to Success

Many times in the creative process we can stifle our inner muse if we try to edit too soon.  If in addition to enjoying creating new things, you are also a perfectionist, the NEED to fix things as you write or compose or create can become overwhelming.  The need to correct and fix seems to inhibit the forward motion of completion because we can ALWAYS improve what was just created.

The best writers recommend not making any edits prior to finishing a first draft. Get the words on the paper and finish before you begin thinking about all the things you've done wrong - spelling, grammar, and plot included.

This is easier said than done! The desire to fix as we write stymies our creative process. Waiting to edit until the creation is complete is valuable advice for not only the writer, but the composer, the scupltor, etc. Once the work is complete, you can then begin the editing process. Really the editing process is extensive and requires numerous pass throughs.

As a writer there are a variety of things meant by "editing."  Are you wanting proofreading? or are you going for a little more comprehensive edit for spelling and grammar errors and need a Copy Edit. Do you need a more thorough viewpoint with a line edit? The folks at New York Book Editors wrote a great article on the differences between a copy edit and a line edit.  You can read more here:

There's also developmental editing which digs into characters, pacing and more.  You can read more on that here :

As you can see there are multiple edits, and many editors would likely include more types of editing with greater nuances of what they entail. Finding a good editor is key to landing not only an agent to represent your work but also that elusive book deal!

I like to start with grammar and spelling reviews with MS Word. I then run my writing through the paces with other software programs like Grammarly and ProWriting Aid.  I have really enjoyed the ProWriting Aid over the last month. They offer a free two week trial, but my favorite feature is not only receiving the punctuation and spelling help, they also grade sentences on ease of reading, style, and length of sentences. Another important feature is the ability to change my audience.  Am I writing to business professionals or is it perhaps a more casual "conversation tone?"

Because the edits have proven so helpful I have converted to a paying customer.  If you would like to know more - just click below to start a free trial.

Writing Improvement Software

If you do decide you like the software that's fantastic. This link actually allows me to receive a small commission on a sale at no additional cost to you. 

That being said. A real live person can always do a final edit much more accurately than a program can. You can clean up a lot of errors this way, but a real life reader and an experienced editor can then take that clean copy and polish it further. Always take it to the next step so that you can produce the best work you possibly can each time!

Operational Brain tasks vs. Creative Brain tasks

No, this is not the correct vocabulary I’m sure. So you’ve already guessed this won’t be a scientific type discussion.  You’ve probably heard it described more as a Left Brain vs. Right Brain activity right?  Let me see if I can explain myself!  I’ve had two conversations this week regarding the reality though, so I’m going to hope you know what I mean.

By operational brain, I am referring to the task oriented work we do by checking items off of a list, making and using tech options as reminders of our “to-do’s” and working systems in such a way that projects, assignments or businesses make progress ultimately being completed. 

By creative brain, I am referring to the very opposite process of creation.  Allowing time to be an open ended continuum to be able to create art, music, books etc. requires continual immersion in ideas and creative space. 

For a long portion of my life, I engaged my creative side but used it very operationally.  I didn’t allow a lot of time to create, and out of necessity worked very operationally.  First working operationally is quite easy.  Tasks need to be done and you do them.  Generally, you get paid for work you do especially when you accomplish it.  A few years ago, I realized my creative spark was being hindered by the very operational life I had constructed. 

Thankfully, I had a reached a time in my life and we as a family were in a position financially where I could find some wiggle room.  This wiggle room allowed me create again.  Where it was musically oriented before, I know allowed the stories in my brain to come out and began going down a road of writing.

It has been a delightful journey, but a tough one frankly.  I have always believed that if you work hard and produce good work, you will find success.  This is not necessarily the case in the publishing world.  But I am learning, and I am training myself to improve. What’s funny to me though is that the deeper I immerse in what I believed to be a fully creative opportunity – I come full circle back around to the necessity of digging into the operational side again.  Building a platform, connecting with people and networking, creating the sales pitches and proposals all require a certain level of operational brain.  If I’m not careful I can find myself swing so easily back into operational mode again.  Again, tasks get completed, checklists get checked and “to-do’s” get crossed off.  Short term satisfaction though because ultimately I LOVE and CRAVE creative brain.  It’s what I enjoy even if currently I’m still trying to figure out how to earn from it.  I’m working through it and I’m learning I MUST protect my creative time, by compartmentalizing my operational duties into certain time frames, even though my tendency is to deal with things as they occur.  Creative time has to be precious and protected and utilized everyday even if the creative lightning bolt doesn’t strike.  Showing up and working the creative muscle is half the battle, the other is not providing an excuse for avoiding the creative work.

How about you – do you get what I’m saying about operational brain vs. creative brain?  If so, let me know how you work through it!

Podcasts, audio books, traditional print, oh my!

Recently I conducted a highly scientific poll regarding audio books, podcasts, and traditional reading. 

Okay okay. 

It wasn’t highly scientific. 

Nor was it a poll. 

All right!? 

It was a Facebook post asking my limited group of friends what their habits were concerning those three formats

My questions were this: 
1. Are you a podcast listener?
2. Are you an audio book listener?
3. Do you prefer a book or ebook over audio?

Since I am fairly new the podcast scene…I’m a voracious reader of books/ebooks.  I never dreamed people considered themselves readers if they listened to books. I get it now, but I think our definitions have definitely evolved on what “reading” is.  Anyhoo…Since I’m still getting into podcasts I wondered how others view them.  I knew they were gaining popularity especially the last few years because I was hearing more and more people talk about them whether online or in actual real life conversations.  Yes, people still actual have those.

I fully expected that across the board if people agreed that yes they were podcast listeners, they would also be avid audio book listeners.  The answer was yes and no.  What I really didn't understand is the relationship factor of podcasts. I have learned over the last few weeks that a podcast is really more relationship based.  As I listen and understand conversations, interviews, opinions etc., the overwhelming reason a listener tunes into a podcast is to get to know the people doing the podcast and receiving information that is important to them.  The podcast appears to be a unique marketing tool to drive purchasers of audio and ebooks – BECAUSE they got to know the author first.

Through my friends posts, I discovered a variety of new podcasts to listen to myself.  My podcast listening has increased just from being intentional about listening especially when I’m driving.  As a drove two children to a variety of places on Monday, I cleared 5 podcasts.  Also I’m learning to adjust speed and get used to the faster delivery.  It doesn’t take long and hey I don’t get mad while I drive because I’m listening to politics and talk radio.  Probably for the best..

I have enjoyed searching the trends and the data backs up my perceptions – more and more people are tuning in to podcasts and audio books to fill downtime instead of turning on music to chill out.  Think cooking time, working out and doing laundry - more people are listening to podcasts instead of music. Since I’m a music person as well, I’m now going to dig in and see if the music industry is trending down because of the increased consumption of podcasts/audio books.  I’m fascinated as well with the idea of serial broadcasts of books.  I think it’s super fun and will be working that in to my schedule also.

As a visual learner, I am definitely behind the trends here, but I find it fascinating that the advent of technology and evolution of our habits has created new trends that affect all of my favorite things. Of course this week I learned of Book TV with youtube... oh my...I may be lost for a long time now!!  I'll do another post on Book TV soon! 

Did you miss out on the original conversation - answer those questions and leave them as a comment now :)

Here are some more links with more on podcasts and audio books if you are interested as well!