My blog has changed its theme. I really liked the old Dynablue theme, but I felt it was time for a change for three reasons:
I was looking for something more clean and up to date. I felt that the old blue theme was looking a bit dated. I needed a change
Websites have moved on quite a bit since I set up Creative Writer and I Needed to move on too
I was bored!
Changing the theme is reasonably easy in WordPress; you just find a theme you would like to use, check it out as a sample, then click and use. Some of themes can be customised to suit your tastes as needed.
Working from home sounds like the ultimate dream – no motorway car park to negotiate, no need to wear tight uncomfortable clothes – you can even work in your PJs if you want and you have 24 access to a fridge! However in order to stay focused and get your work done, you may have to be a little more organised.
Here are some top tips for getting on with work when you’re working from home.
1. Have somewhere to work. You need a clear space of desk, kitchen table or laptop stand to work. You need to be able to keep the things you will need close to hand, and you need to be able to use your printer or scanner when necessary. This means that you will also need access to plug points. It can be somewhere like the kitchen table where things get cleared away each day, or you might like to create a work station that can stay as it is for whenever you have some work to do.
2. Find a comfortable chair. Try to set up your workspace as ergonomically as possible to suit you and your needs. Make sure that you are not straining joints like wrists, that you are sitting with as good a posture as possible and that you take time to walk around at regular intervals.
3. Take time to exercise. There are a number of studies that point out that sitting still all day is not what the human body was designed to do. Do some stretches, go for a walk (or walk the dog) or take some other form of exercise.
4. Remember to shower and change into clothes. Tempting as it sounds to stay in your onesie all day, it does not help to put you in a work mood. In order to get work done, sometimes you have to take care of yourself and then get on with the day.
5. Check emails only once or twice a day. Three times if you’re addicted. Remember to turn email notifications off so that you can work undisturbed.
6. Turn social media off too. Social media managers get some leeway on this – it’s part of the job! However remember to keep on the client’s social media and away from your own unless you have scheduled it in.
7. Organise your paperwork. One of the most important things about working from home is to keep track of your income and expenditure, keeping paperwork filed and organised for those all-important tax returns.
8. Keep on top of your invoices. Set aside time to make sure that you generate and send invoices out. Don’t forget to chase any late payments.
9. Try and set aside definite times for work and times for housework. It can be hard to work with a pile of washing up behind you, so either get it done before you start work or agree with yourself a time to get it done. Sometimes I enjoy the fresh air and hang up the washing at the same time. House work can be done in small chunks as a way of getting away from the keyboard for a bit.
10. Connect with like-minded people through social media and find your own ‘watercooler’. It can seem lonely at home on your own if you are used to being in a busy office. However the internet is a great place to find other people who are doing the same thing that you are doing. Find your people and swap ideas.
Finally, the best thing about working from home is the flexibility. If the day is clear and you want to go out for a couple of hours and take your camera, you can do it! You choose your hours and as long as you get your work done, you set the pace and the schedule.
I have had a guest blog post accepted at the Oxford English Dictionary website on the language in Jane Austen adaptions. I really enjoyed writing the blog post although it did require checking out some adaptions of some of Jane Austen’s books – a real hardship!
It’s one of the first times that I’ve got my own byline – usually I write for someone else. It never normally bothers me, but it’s hard to point your mum at something and say, ‘I wrote that’ when it has someone else’s name at the bottom of it.
I enjoyed writing the blog post and I hope it leads to more. In this instance, I was approached with an idea and it was one that I was happy to write about. What questions should you ask if you are approached with a request to write a guest blog post?
1. Can I have the website address please?
It’s a good idea to check out the blog that you are being asked to write for. Look at the style – does it fit in well with your writing? Is it a blog that you would like to write for? Do the blog subjects fit in well with the kind of thing you like to write? Make sure that it is something that you would be comfortable writing about.
2. How many words are you looking for?
It’s good to know how much you are expected to write.
3. When is the deadline?
You also need to know how long you have to write it.
4. What is your budget?
The subject of money needs to come up at some point. They may ask your rates. At this point, you can ask their budget and see if they match. You also need to ask whom copyright will reside with and make sure that you are comfortable with the answer. Finally do they pay on acceptance of the blog post or do they pay when it is published? There can be a big difference.
5. Can I promote my blog post on social media?
The answer most likely is ‘yes’ but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Once you are happy with the answers to these (and any other questions you may have) then you can go ahead, research and write your blog post.
DO turn it in on time – or slightly ahead of time if you can.
DO accept any suggestions or revisions gracefully. I found that the revisions suggested improved my piece, but they were not so many that they completely changed it. The editor may suggest a new title or the piece may look different on publication, but at the end of the day, it is their blog and they know their style best. If you really disagree with something, then you can perhaps say something, politely but it is usually the Editor’s final decision.
DO let friends and family know when it is up and encourage them to go and read it and comment!
So on that note, please do go and check out my guest blog post on Jane Austen and feel free to start a conversation! Thank you.
There’s something about a really good bromance that stirs the heart. Bromances have been a fiction winner ever since Jonathan & David way back in the time of Saul!
These days we ship all kinds of bromances from TV series, books and films, but here are some of my favourite bromances from literature.
Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson. These two are not strictly a book but started life as a syndicated cartoon. I remember the very first one coming out and I was hooked! Calvin is a six year old American boy and Hobbes is his stuffed tiger. Hobbes comes alive whenever the two are playing together, but all Calvin’s parents ever see is Hobbes as a toy. The cartoons are funny, touching and true-to-life. Everyone needs a friend like Hobbes.
Pooh & Piglet. Actually all the characters from Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne are wonderful friends. The stories are lovely and we can all relate to the characters. Winnie the Pooh is wonderfully self-deprecating (“a bear of very little brain”) but he loves nothing better than to play pooh sticks with his friends.
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham. I seem to be getting away from bromances at the moment, but hear me out. The joy of Toad’s friends trying to save him from his own foolishness never fails to delight me. The friends all have very different personalities, but they also have lots of fun together.
Harry & Ron, Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. Harry meets Ron on the train to Hogwarts and it is the start of a beautiful friendship. I love that Ron is one of the youngest of a huge family and that he has everything passed down to him from his brothers. Harry may be able to afford everything new, but he would give it all up to have his parents back. They always watch out for one another and their friendship only grows stronger throughout their years at Hogwarts. Other bromances of note in the Harry Potter series include Fred and George Weasley and Sirius Black and Remus Lupin.
Darcy & Bingley, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. These two friends are opposites – Bingley wears his heart on his sleeve, is handsome and affable, sociable and enjoys being in company. Darcy appears dark and brooding and is not willing to open up to anyone. He is however, very loyal to his friend, and although he made the wrong choice, being willing to upset the girl he loves in favour of his friend is a courageous thing to do.
Sherlock & Watson, Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. I’m not sure that anyone would ship these two from the original books, although their friendship is very clear in the stories. Interest has risen in these two characters through the recent TV adaption involving Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Their characters are modern friends, with Dr Watson being the steadying hand on Holmes’ more manic personality. The original stories are well worth going back to even if it’s just to see which bits they ‘borrowed’ for the TV series.
Percy & Grover, Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. I love Rick Riordan’s series and have thoroughly enjoyed all the books. Percy and Grover have a great supportive friendship which lasts through all the different Greek monsters they meet.
Frodo & Sam, Lord of the Rings by JR Tolkien. Although they are hobbits rather than people, I love the friendship between Frodo and Sam. Sam is just so loyal and Frodo would not have made it through the quest without Sam. Their loyalty and friendship is timeless.
Hiccup & Toothless, How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell. If you have not yet introduced your junior age children to Cressida Cowell’s series, then do so immediately! Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is the son of the chief Viking. The books are not the same stories as the films – they are better! The names of the characters are outrageous and hilarious in equal measure and the illustrations are wonderful. The friendship between Hiccup and Toothless is as loyal and true as any bromance should be.
The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas is the ultimate bromance book – sword fighting, dastardly deeds, brave heroes and an anti-heroine – what more could you want? If your knowledge stops with the BBC TV series, then check out the books – yes he wrote more than one and they are a really good read. He also wrote The Man in the Iron Mask. I read them in my teens and now I come to think of it, I am definitely due a re-read. Enjoy!
So there, you have it – my top 10 bromances! There are loads I have missed out, so feel free to post your favourite literature bromances below.
One of the many freelance copywriter jobs available is to write product descriptions for a website.
This is a description for each product on an e-commerce site which describes the product, gives a potential customer information on the product, often including dimensions and colour choices as well as materials that it is manufactured from. There can be some scope for creative writing as you describe the product to enable the customer to make a buying choice. A product description will be required for each product on the website, so this job could potentially last a long time, especially if more products are added to the website.
The first product description writing job I got was in the early days of my freelancing career. I was required to write descriptions for a sports and workwear clothing company. The descriptions were written in an Excel spreadsheet which was useful to enable me to know if I had used the exact same description before. There were about 800 products to describe, so it was time-consuming and I had a deadline to keep. I managed to make the deadline, but only by getting up early in order to finish the writing. The vendor was pleased and I was glad that I had managed to finish, but it was hard work.
More commonly these days, product descriptions are written straight into a content management system or CMS. The person who hired you will tell you what they want in each field, so you should be given instructions as to what to write. The information can include a product number or SKU, a product name, manufacturer, and a description.
The description is usually what takes the time. Each description should be unique. It’s not enough just to copy and paste the same description over again. This product information is seen as updating information by Google – new content which encourages the search engine to search the website, so rewriting website product descriptions can be helpful to your search results. The descriptions should not match other similar websites so the more unique the content the better.
However customers need to be able to match the information to what they are looking for. As much information about the product as possible needs to be included such as dimensions and colour choices.
You might be asked to collect and upload photos. You need to make sure that the website owner has the right to use the photos as they may be copyrighted. You may need to own a copy of an image manipulation programme as many websites have been optimised to suit a particular size of photo. This may also mean always using a landscape-orientated photo as opposed to a portrait photo.
It takes time to get into writing and uploading product descriptions, but once it becomes second nature, it can be a great job. You will quickly find yourself becoming knowledgeable about the products that you are writing about. You will probably be asked to upload a few descriptions and have them checked out before continuing with the work. This is a good idea as you can check that you are doing things correctly before getting too far into the work.
It can take a little time for your boss to check over your work and let you know that you are good to go. They may have some suggestions for you to improve your work. Try and follow them as much as possible and if necessary, have them check over your work again. It is better to get it right from the start than find that you have been doing it wrong halfway through the work.
Some companies are looking for a fixed price while others want to pay by the hour. Certainly by the hour will give you a more true idea of how long it will take. Some bosses will want you to achieve a certain target number of product descriptions an hour while others will want to negotiate a price for the whole project. Don’t undersell yourself. Writing product descriptions is hard work and slow going in the beginning while you are getting used to what is expected of you. Your hours will almost certainly be more than you expect.
negotiate price before you begin
make sure that what you are doing is what the vendor wants
include the time it takes to resize photos and upload them
make every description different
act professional in your dealings with your boss
be late delivering your work. If a problem comes up then talk to your boss and let them know.
just plough ahead without checking that your work is ok
get upset if you don’t get things right straight away. Everyone needs to know whether what they are doing is right and this is particularly important in copywriting
Sometimes it’s not just all about the romance in anovel. For me, there is nothing like a brilliantly defined girl friendship. Our friends can offer us a shoulder to cry on, good advice, sometimes bad advice, a cup of coffee and a much needed listening ear when we need it.
Here are some of my favourite girl BFFs in fiction – feel free to add your own at the end in the comments.
1.Beatrice & Hero – Much Ado about Nothing (play) by William Shakespeare
Beatrice is such a strongly written character – many of Shakespeare’s women were feisty and strong and Beatrice is her own person who believes in herself and is confident. Beatrice is a little older and wiser than her friend Hero. Hero is younger and inexperienced. She is not jaded in love, but in love for the first time, so she has an extreme reaction to being accused of infidelity. Beatrice is a true friend to Hero: in troubled times, she stands by her friend, comes up with a plan to redeem her good name and will do anything to help her – even charging her one-time enemy (and would-be lover) Benedick to kill the man who has accused her friend. We could all do with a friend like Beatrice.
2. Elizabeth & Jane Bennett – Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
These two sisters are very different people, but they get on so well. They are each other’s confidant and are able to talk about their feelings and their crushes very eloquently. They support each other completely. One of reasons that Elizabeth is so prejudiced against Darcy is that she believes that he separated her sister from her love, Mr. Bingley. The sisters are united in their embarrassment of their loud, match-making mother and rambunctious younger sister, Lydia. They commiserate with each other when it seems as though all is lost when Lydia elopes and they can rejoice with each other when it all comes right in the end. Thankfully, their men are BFFs too!
3. Glinda & Elphaba – The Life & Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Baum (based on the Wizard of Oz
The musical has taken the world by storm, and the unlikely friendship between Glinda, the good witch and Elphaba, the wicked witch of the west is at the heart of the story and the musical. Elphaba is green-skinned, an animal rights activist and not that interested in her appearance. Glinda is beautiful, aristocratic and very much concerned with how she looks, but these two girls find common ground and become good friends. Although they are only really together during their school days and are then separated for 20 years, they stay loyal to one another despite having different beliefs and their lives taking different paths.
4. Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy March – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The March sisters are a close-knit family whose story takes place during the American civil war. Their father is away, fighting and the family does not have much money. The girls make their own amusement by performing the plays that Jo writes. The girls all have their own personalities: Meg is grown-up and sensible, Jo is the creative one, Beth is musical and Amy is a very girlie girl. Although the girls bicker, their friendships endure and when things go wrong, they all pull together. This story and the three that follow (Good Wives, Little Men & Jo’s Boys) all follow the March sisters as they grow up.
5. Elinor & Marianne Dashwood – Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
These sisters are very different people. Elinor is the elder sister, sensible to the point of almost losing her own happiness, a support to her family and always thinking of others. She wants to do what’s right according to the conventions of her time. Marianne is the opposite – giving in to her emotions and living in the now. These sisters do not really confide in each other – well, no one is left in any doubt as to how Marianne feels, but Elinor does not really share her feelings until she has no choice, but they love and support each other and rejoice when each finds her heart’s desire.
6. Anne Shirley & Diana Barry – Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
These two girls meet and are immediate friends. Mrs Barry, Diana’s mother, is not too taken with Anne, who is an orphan mistakenly sent to help Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert on their farm but Diana refuses to listen to her mother and the two girls have such a lovely friendship. They love and support each other right the way through the books and this is one of my favourite fiction friendships.
These are just a few of the girl BFFs that are found in fiction. Most of these are friendships from long-standing novels (and a play) that many people will have heard of and enjoyed.
There are many more, and if I have missed out your favourite girl BFF in fiction, then please do share in the comments below.
If you liked this post, then please share it on your favourite social media.
It’s here – my final blog post of my 30 day blogging challenge! It’s been quite a journey involving late nights, frantic Google searches and lots of cups of tea. Along the way, I’ve made some friends and my blog is definitely better for it.
I began my challenge, hoping that I would be able to find 30 different blogs to post, and I have ended it with so many more ideas on where I want to take my blog and the kinds of subjects I want to post on. I had posted sporadically for a couple of years, struggling to find topics to talk about, now hopefully I will be able to continue blogging once or twice a week. My blogging muscle has grown, just as Sarah predicted it would.
Day 3 – Five qualities of a freelance writer came a close second with 48. It’s telling that the keywords ‘freelance writer’ are in the second post and I might have got some random traffic because that is a popular keyword.
Most recommended blog post for other Challengers to do:
Day 27 – Five Retro Blog Posts. It was great fun to go through my old blog posts and pick five of the best. I tidied them up, and added new pictures in some cases, but it’s a great way to showcase yourself to people who are just discovering you.
I have had such fun with this challenge. Thanks go to Kevin and Sarah for all their encouragement, emails & stickers! I would hope to come back to this challenge again in about a year for another 30 blog posts because it has been a challenge well worth taking.
If you are reading this in the middle of your own challenge then I would encourage you to keep going, you will gain so much from it.
If you have enjoyed this post, then please share it to social media.
When I began this challenge, my biggest excuse for not keeping up my blog was that I didn’t know what to write about.
On beginning this 30 day blogging challenge, I wrote a quick list of ideas for blog posts so that I would have something to give me ideas when I needed something quickly. I have not often needed it, but it gave me confidence that it was there. As I come to the end of my challenge, I have decided to share this list as a reminder that ideas for blog posts are all around us and that we just have to look for them. Please add your blog post ideas in the comments at the bottom of the page.
News headlines – in the papers or on digital news websites
Headlines specific to your topic – Googling your topic and ‘news’ will give you websites that offer news in your subject area
A conversation, overheard or between you & your friends – just don’t get caught listening in!
Questions from blog readers
Solve a problem – either one of your own or one that you have heard about from someone else
Share an experience
Blog review – I love to share some of my favourite websites
Five best posts of the week/month/year
Discuss a blog post that really struck you – but do say where the post came from and let the author know that you have continued the conversation
Have a bath/shower – really good thinking space, also taking the kids to school
Follow some forums – there are always some really good questions on there on real-life problems
Answer a question on Linked In
Listen to music. What pictures does it conjure up? Or can you just write an album review?
See what other blogs are discussing – do you have your own take on it?
Write a long list post
Decide to do a really long list post and think outside the box for your ideas
I would like to put my name forward for the title of ‘Writer Procrastinator Extraordinaire’ as I think that my talents for procrastination far exceed my talents for writing!
Today I have had little bits of time here and there, but no, it’s at 9.47 pm that I decide to start writing my blog post for today! I could have made a start earlier, except that I decided that I needed to ignore my Editorial Calendar and write something new and it would take a bit of time to decide what that theme should be. Now I have, and here we are.
I know that procrastination is not just my problem – as writers, who rely on the workings of our brain to tell us what to write – so often it can be really difficult to focus on what we have to do. There can be 100 other things that we need to get done – the washing up, the washing, the vacuuming – the beauty of working from home can also be its pitfall. We walk past these piles of dirty things and think that we’ll just do this or just do that – and before you know it, it’s time to pick the kids up from school and the time is gone.
Time is neither our friend nor our enemy – it’s just time. We all have the same amount of time and how we choose to use it is up to us. I am mostly finding time in the evenings to get some blogging done, but I am pleased with the way this has turned out. From finding about an hour to an hour and a half each night, I have gained 30 blog posts (well, nearly, but definitely hoping to achieve this) for my blog, I have found some different topics to write on and I have enjoyed checking out other people’s blogs and reading their comments on my own. This challenge has not been undertaken just under my own steam – I have had other people following, commenting and liking my Facebook announcements of my blog posts which has an effect of encouraging me to get my blog posts done and let others know that they are up.
When you start a blog, it is easy to feel that you are posting into a void, sending a message in a tiny bottle into a massive sea and that it is going to be a matter of luck whether anyone sees your message or not. Finding a group of people to join and share – that makes all the difference and it helps to put an end to procrastination. Knowing that there are people out there, willing you on, and that you can urge them on, helps to beat that little voice encouraging you to put things off, that no one will notice because no one is reading it anyway.
So, here I am, late on a Tuesday night, typing up my blog. The motivation has been strong to complete this challenge because I don’t want to fail. More importantly, knowing that the blog will be read and shared has been the motivation that has chased away the procrastination, so although sometimes I have not been able to get around to blogging until late, I have still managed (mostly) to get around to blogging.
If you have stuck with me thus far in my ramblings, here is what I have learned about the writer and procrastination during this blogging challenge:
Find a reason to blog. Have a great book review, story to tell, interview or piece of advice to share. If it’s good enough then you will find the time to write it down even if it’s late at night.
Promote your blog post. Read other relevant blogs and comment on them, tweet about them and share them on Facebook, Google + and anywhere else you want to share. I knew this, but I had learned to put it off until tomorrow – and tomorrow never came. How can anyone read your posts if they don’t know that you have written them? There is no worse thing than crafting a beautiful blog post that no one will read.
Only allow so much procrastination. Find your motivation, the reason to write and do it.
By the end of this blogging challenge, I will have written 30 blog posts in a little over a month. It ’s not been easy but it’s been worth it. For today’s blog post, I want to highlight some of the posts that have gone before. One thing I have noticed in checking over my previous posts: I am fond of the number 5!
I hope you enjoy some of these retro posts. Some of them were written in answer to questions while others were just topics that were on my mind at the time. I have to say that I enjoyed going back through my website and finding them again.
Share this blog post if you enjoyed it.
Share your favourite own retro blog post in the comments.
Freelance copywriter, proofreader, editor, web articles, writer. Your words are my business