A stutterer finding a voice

Mind you, writing has its challenges. They’re just refreshingly different.

I’m a writer, but not a notepad writer. It probably seems like a strange quirk, but I took most comfortably to the keyboard. What helped me take strongly to an artificial communication method? Since about age four, or farther back than I can remember, I haven’t been able to talk without a stutter, so that’s how deep it goes. I have a better time sharing my feelings using an electronic product than using my voice, unless you can get me to be really calm in quiet company. Also, my handwriting never got that smooth.

I came into writing for the uninterrupted expression of what’s going on in my oft-dissociating mind. If I try to speak it to you, it’s rarely a matter of not knowing what I want to say, and almost always a matter of being physically blocked from saying it. There’s a certain sanctuary here, a relief. That relief is found in the process of writing, but not often the written product.

Mind you, writing has its challenges. They’re just refreshingly different. I can honestly feel like with self-awareness, reflection, and effort, those challenges might be mitigated or overcome. When you know what it’s like to have a disruption in your life that’s always there, and might be made worse by self-awareness, reflection, and misdirected effort, you might learn to better appreciate those pursuits where effort pays off.

Free Your Mind, and the Rest Will Follow

This is not a post about the magic of the singing group En Vogue.

When I was a kid, about third grade, I used to have to ride the bus home from Church School every Wednesday night. I hated it. It was an old style bus ride that literally stopped at everyone’s house rather than in a central location from which we could all walk home. For some reason, my house, which was pretty much in the middle of town, was one of the last stops. The students on the bus were kindergartners through 8th graders. Everyone knows jr. high kids are the worst. They shouldn’t even have allowed them in Church School because they pretty much are the devil incarnate.

Every time the bus pulled up to the church, I tried to guess the safest place to sit. That place was, of course, the farthest from the jr. high kids. Usually I did okay, but every once in a while, my young impressionable mind was horrified by the talking points of these older individuals and their need to push all of the limits of decency post church-ing for an hour and fifteen minutes.

Ironically, it was these semi-human beast people that made me want to write.

One fateful evening, I was stuck in the seat directly behind one of the male and female creatures. They were deeply caught up in an early teen awkward discussion about school and good vs. bad teachers. Eventually they got to their writing teacher. They hated her because she was already like 30 years old and “totally didn’t get it.” She had the nerve of asking her students to write a story about their dream Christmas gift. It could be one they wanted to give or receive.

Without actually planning on writing anything of the sort, these two big kids started talking about what they wished they could write.

“I want a giant flying bed pan so I can drop all my waste on her house!”

“I want a giant plunger so when I poop I can plunge it so hard it will shoot out of her toilet!”

“I want to give her the gift of being beaten by the ugly stick so her boyfriend leaves her for the math teacher!”

They went on and on, mostly to dirty for me to rewrite to mixed readership. For some reason, that conversation clicked in my young mind. I could and can write whatever I want. I don’t have to write about a specific GI Joe guy I want for Christmas. I can write that I want to be GI Joe for Christmas and finally just take Cobra’s hood off and find out what the heck is actually under there.

From that point on, I loved to write. I would literally close my eyes and try to come up with the most crazy mixed up idea I could. It was easy to reign it in if needed, but a blast to start out in a whole different dimension. I still didn’t get great grades, because I never really bothered to edit, but my teachers loved reading my stories.

That’s how I came up with the characters for my book series Sugarbeet Falls. In the story, a young boy named Xander learns that through an ancient family gift, he has the power to conjure up superheroes to help him through his days. He learns of this power when he finds himself in the restroom with no toilet paper. He wishes for a blinded hero who can deftly change a toilet paper roll while offering the victim their favorite magazine. Poof! The Bathroom Manager (BM) is born.

Xander fights evil in his town with a whole bunch of wonderful characters and heroes that can only really be found if he clears his mind and thinks for the stars!

Check it out if you have the chance. Its on Amazon, or www.sugarbeetfalls.com.

This post is contributed as Guest post by Ryan Acra.

The best 10 tools that simplify the life of a freelance writer

There are many tools that can help you achieve your goals. They simplify the working process of any writer and allow him to be more productive.

The best 10 tools that simplify the life of a freelance writer

If you want to be a good freelance writer and produce only qualitative texts, you should know that this task is quite difficult. Nevertheless, there are many tools that can help you achieve your goals. They simplify the working process of any writer and allow him to be more productive. In this review, we are going to discuss 10 tools that help writers do their work.

  1.     Applications for Typing

Each writer understands that the salary fully depends on the way how fast he types. Sometimes, deadlines are short and one should cope with the task in several hours. That is why you have to learn to type rapidly. There are many tools that can help you boost up the typing speed, like Keybr or TypingWeb. These are free typing tutorials.

  1.     Dictionaries

Even if you are not going to write content in other languages, it doesn’t mean that you will not need the dictionary. Professionally written content must correspond to several requirements. First, you should use synonyms to the words that are repeated in your text for several times. In this case, you will need Thesaurus – the best dictionary of synonyms. In some instances, you will be made to use specific terminology. So, dictionaries are always needed.

  1.     Writing Software

These days, there are plenty of programs for typing texts. The choice fully depends on the preferences of a writer. However, Microsoft Office Word is the most widely used program. There are some apps that are offered for free. Some of them you need to buy and install onto your computer. Before downloading the software, you need to find out whether this app complies with your demands and has a set of required features.

  1.     A Quote Highlighter

This tool is useful for those writers, who work for essay writing companies. They are obliged to write dissertation papers or essays on a regular basis. Quote Highlighters save your time greatly. When you write a paper, you just need to indicate the source. The program will do the rest on its own. The most popular one is Liner. However, you need to choose the one, which corresponds to your requirements.

  1.     A Plagiarism Checker.

These days this criterion is of prime importance and each freelance author knows this. Plagiarism detecting software is a must-have tool. You cannot send an article, review or essay to the client before you check it via these programs. Besides, it is impossible to send a plagiarized article. Nowadays, there are many plagiarism checkers. Some of them require installation on your computer; some of them check texts online. For example, you may use Noplag.com. This is a reliable online plagiarism checker with an extensive database and many useful features to make the writing process easier.

  1.     A Time Management Tool.

This tool helps writers to manage their time properly. Sometimes, you are too busy and do not know whether you can cope with the task on time or not. A time management tool will help you spare your working time properly. There are many apps for time management. Just choose the one you like most of all. The most popular one is Evernote or Focus booster. You can also use free Book promotion services of Shout my book to save some more time.

  1.     A Readability Checker.

If your goal is to create an interesting and easy-to-read article, a readability checker will help you do this. Such apps check your content and will offer you the suggestions concerning the way how it should look like. Surfing around the web, you will stumble upon many tools measuring text readability. For instance, you may defer to the services of Online-Utility.org – the tool which will calculate readability for free.

  1.     A Grammar Checker.

This is the most important tool for each writer. You may be a very experienced writer, but everyone can make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. Misprints frequently happen (especially when you are in a hurry). A grammar checker will help you find mistakes and correct them. Some apps are offered for free, but some of them oblige you to buy a subscription.

  1.     A Word Counter.

This tool allows writers to orient in the size of their paper. If you write your article using Microsoft Word, you will find there a word counter. If you use the other program for writing, you should find out whether there is this feature.

  1. Calculation tool.

When it comes to getting a salary, each writer will calculate the payment for several times. Everyone likes to calculate money. The simplest tool to calculate your salary is Excel or calculator on your laptop or mobile device.

Authors as Autodidacts: The More You Know

The more you know, the more you have to write about.

What is an autodidact? Is it just someone who is well read, or who knows a lot about a number of things? No. An autodidact is a someone not only who is self-taught, but who is also still learning.

Benefits

There is nothing wrong with structured education. In fact, many self-learners got their love of learning from a formal education background. But there are a number of benefits of being a self-learner.

Career: With few career exceptions, no one has to do more research than an author, especially if you are like most authors and also do freelance writing or something else to make a living. Write what you know does not mean what you think it does: writer’s are constantly researching and expanding their base of knowledge.

Writers who are also proven researchers often work in the field of business intelligence, where they gather information, analyze it, and summarize it in written or presentation form for decision makers. Smaller companies who cannot afford full time staff often hire freelancers for such positions. Being an autodidact makes an author or freelancer an ideal candidate for this type of work.

Cognitive Issues: Many authors struggle with some kind of mental illness, and there is even some debate about whether or not they should try to heal, but they often come across as really sharp people.

The reason is simply that cognitive issues are mitigated by lifelong learning, and self-learning may be even better than continuing formal education. Remaining connected to intellectual pursuits of any kind has been cited by the World Health Organization as “active aging” and a deterrent to ailments like Alzheimer’s and other mental diseases.

Natural vs. Acquired Curiosity

There are some people who seem to be just drawn naturally to learning. They love libraries, museums, and it seems like they are always taking a college course, community class, or engaging in learning in some other way.

However, even if you are not a natural learner, you can train yourself to be an autodidact, and reap not only the benefits listed above, but also the value that additional knowledge will bring to your writing work, no matter what genre you write in.

Make Time To Learn: Make learning a part of your everyday routine. Take classes often or just engage actively in research on a topic that interests you, even if it is not directly related to what you are doing at the moment.

Find Your Best Times to Learn: Everyone has their own rhythm, and times when they function best mentally. For me, writing early in the morning works best, while other learning and activities can take place later in the afternoon. I save other tasks that require less mental skill for later in the afternoon, when I tend to hit a lull. Find the time that works best for you, and include learning in your schedule.

Keep Track of What You Learn: This might sound silly, but sometimes as authors we get caught up in the day to day of writing, research, and all of the other tasks we need to do, and don’t keep track of our progress, especially in these secondary areas. Making a record of your learning lets you see progress, and look back on significant accomplishments. Not to mention it looks good on your LinkedIn profile.

Learn Your Way: Use your learning style. There are tons of ways people deliver content about different subjects, from podcasts to webinars, blog posts to video presentations. Find information that caters to the way you learn, and use that method whenever possible. Although it does not hurt to stretch the ways you can learn: sometimes a different learning style is just the method you need to grasp and elusive subject.

Competitive Advantage

As fiction writers, we are not really in competition. There are enough readers out there for all of us, and we don’t have to fight over them. When it comes to freelance clients, the same thing is true, to an extent.

However, if you are going after a regular paying freelance gig that is pretty lucrative, the likelihood is that another freelancer might be going for that same job. It’s helpful to not only know your competition, but know how to stand out from them.

One of the simplest ways is to have a lot of education on your resume in a variety of areas, and even let your prospective employer know you are an autodidact: self taught in a number of areas and able to learn a new one quickly and thoroughly.

The more you know, as an author and freelancer, the more valuable you are. The more value you bring to your writing, the more compelling it will be for your readers. The knowledge you have as a freelancer makes you more valuable to the companies who will hire you.

This post is contributed as Guest post by Troy Lambert.

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