Category Archives: Writing

2015

kids playing in the snow

One of my grandparents took this picture. I found it when I was sorting through some of their old slides.

I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions in 2014 because God was teaching me about grace, and that meant not getting caught up in my own brand of legalism. But that grace got twisted and turned into laziness.

I’ve been convicted over and over again about how undisciplined my lifestyle has become. So 2015 is going to be a year of goals rather than rules:

  1. Run an entire 5k. I’m considering a race that takes place Memorial Day weekend.
  2. Write and publish 52 blog posts. One a week feels pretty doable. (One post down!)
  3. Read through the Bible in a year. I’m going to try this plan from YouVersion.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions or set goals each year?

5 Podcasts to Get Your Creativity Flowing

Creativitypodcasts

There are a TON of podcasts out there and the topics range from everything to history to church communications to cats (what would the Internet be without cats?). Podcasts are a great way to get creativity flowing—listening to a good story or learning something new can spark your imagination and get you thinking in new ways.

Here are five great podcasts I can’t stop listening to:

  1. The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goins
    This one is more about writing itself, but Jeff interviews all sorts of interesting people, mostly authors, on a variety of topics. Some of my favorites have been his chat with Seth Godin about sharing your art with the world, his conversation with Andy Andrews about the power of story, and his own thoughts on a life-improving habit
  2. The Lede from Copyblogger
    I didn’t realize there have been new episodes since June, so I haven’t listened to the newest ones, but their series on curating content was full of great ideas for bloggers.
  3. Serial
    This is a new NPR podcast that tells one story over a season’s worth of episodes rather than multiple stories in one episode. This season they’re following the story of a teenage girl who was murdered in 1999. They’re covering the case from multiple angles, interviewing everyone who will talk to them, and even tracking down people who weren’t there for the court case. There are only three episodes up right now, but they post a new one every Thursday morning.
  4. Snap Judgment
    This one is my favorite. It’s another NPR show. Each episode features several stories that fit with that week’s theme, like “Reunion,” “Chain of Command,” or “Rage Against the Machine.” The stories are interesting, well-told, and often informative. And there are over 500 episodes so, unlike Serial, I may never catch up.
  5. Radio Lab and This American Life
    Okay, bonus. These are two different podcasts, but as far as I’m concerned, they’re pretty similar. Also from NPR, each episode is at least one fascinating story that will teach you something. They’re also similar to Snap Judgment, but the difference seems to be that these are more informative and Snap Judgment is more entertaining. Check out Radiolab’s “Juicervose” for a story about Autism and Disney movies and This American Life’s “Secret Identity” for a story about a teenage girl who found her calling in a tiger costume.
I haven’t done any research to see what my other options are, but I’ve been listening on Stitcher and I love it. It’s easy to add podcasts and organize them into categories of my choice. (I know you can also listen to iTunes, but I’m not a Mac girl.)
Happy listening!

27 Lessons in 27 Years

globe babyToday I turn 27. Actually, in three minutes from the time I’m writing this. Honestly, I’m feeling old. My sister turns 21 in November, my baby brother is graduating high school next year, and I’ve been married for (almost) five years. This is the first year I’ve actually been grateful when people say, “You’re 27? No way!” And I finally understand why turning 30 is a big deal. I’m not there yet, but I totally get it.

When I was trying to figure out what my “birthday post” should be, I decided it would be fun to share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Some are happy, some are sad, and some are a little funny, but they’ve all been a part of “becoming me” in a significant way.

  1. If someone is trying to annoy you, ignore them. They’ll eventually get bored and go away. (I can thank my little sister for teaching me this one.)
  2. Churches don’t have to be full of hypocrites.
  3. Leadership doesn’t have to be loud. Sometimes quiet leadership is more effective.
  4. God is trustworthy. Always.
  5. It’s okay to ask for help.
  6. Relationships don’t work when each person only gives 50%. Each person must give 100%, so when one person can’t give their all, the other person can pick up the slack.
  7. God cares about the little things, too.
  8. Stories (real or imagined) change lives.
  9. Babies aren’t so scary after all.
  10. Adults don’t have it all figured out. Life is an experiment.
  11. We’re all different, and that’s a good thing.
  12. When you have a favorite thrift store, second-hand shopping is awesome.
  13. Budgets don’t prohibit you from spending money, they give you permission to spend it wisely.
  14. You can learn a lot from other generations. Everyone has something different to offer.
  15. Teaching four-year-olds about Jesus is SO FUN.
  16. Humility often means not seeking credit and taking blame.
  17. Regular dental appointments are important. You do NOT want to get a root canal.
  18. No matter how much you hate exercise, it will make you feel better. (If my husband asks, I did not admit this.)
  19. Divorce sucks. And it will affect your kids—no matter how old or young they are.
  20. Food doesn’t make you happy, it just makes you fat.
  21. You don’t have to have all the answers to be a good friend. Just be there.
  22. (Usually) good writing should go unnoticed. It should flow in such a way that the reader doesn’t even think about the act of reading, they just do it.
  23. What you want to do is not necessarily what you’re called to do.
  24. Working at a church is hard.
  25. There’s no such thing as a normal family.
  26. Minnesota isn’t so bad.
  27. Having a husband who’s your best friend makes life a lot more fun.

So there you have it. Obviously I’ve learned more than 27 things in my lifetime. At least, I hope it’s obvious…

Toothpaste, Ira Glass, and the Picture in My Head

wildflowers in a field

 

“All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you . . . We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work . . . It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions . . . It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” —Ira Glass

 

When I was five, I decided I needed glass slippers like Cinderella. So I made some. I snuck into the bathroom and, using and Q-tips, I covered my new patent dress shoes with a sticky paint made of  toothpaste, baby powder, and baking soda. Then I did what any five-year-old would do—I put them in a donut box and hid them under my parent’s bed. Because, well, where else would I hide them? Mom was not happy when she discovered them two weeks later, rock-hard and still under her bed. She later told me that’s when she knew I had an imagination.

I was a frustrated artist. I didn’t have the supplies or the talent to create the images I had in my head—landscape watercolors, sketched portraits, painted houses. Some did make it to paper, but they always resulted in tears. (Of course, I cried about everything—not being able to buckle my seat belt was enough to provoke frustrated tears.)

And really, not a whole lot has changed.

A few months ago I tried to turn a four-hour car repair ordeal into a Father’s Day blog post. It was awful. I’m sure I could go back and do something with that draft now, but my first version was so far from where I thought it would be that I didn’t even go back for a second read through, let alone any edits.

I’ve become afraid of writing, which is sad because it’s something I love to do. I always have. In high school I had the luxury of journaling everywhere I went, and if I wasn’t doing that, I was writing long notes to friends. It was exciting to spend my entire hour of chemistry writing while pretending to pay attention. (I really hated science.)

I have all these great ideas—ideas that pull in quotes from literature, personal stories, Scripture, and my own thoughts—but I don’t write them. I jot the ideas in a notebook that follows me around every day, mocking me because yes, I had the great idea, but it will never turn out the way I want it to.

I know that I’m supposed to write constantly, even if it’s crap, because that’s how I’ll get better. That’s how I’ll find the gold, but that is SO hard for this perfectionist to do. I want to do it right and do it right the first time. I want to send it out into the blogosphere and wow everyone with my words. I want to make Annie Dillard and LM Montgomery and Philip Yancey proud. (But mostly Annie Dillard.)

How comforting to know that my struggle is normal, that my writing will improve as I work on it, that my skills will catch up with my taste in beautiful words. At least I hope they will. But hope is important. It’s way better than not writing just because I’m afraid.

So I’m actually going to post this even though I’m not completely happy with it, even though it falls short of the picture I had in my head. Because I have hope that just the act of writing it will get my next post that much closer to where I want it to be.

Lately I’m . . .

JournalIt’s been a long, long three months. And since I’ve been (mostly) absent from Editionally, here’s an update on what I’ve been up to.

Getting better. Finally. I caught some kind of bug in the middle of January that set off a chain reaction of health issues. It triggered my anxiety, which resulted in so much muscle tension I lost strength in my hands and arms. I just finished physical therapy last week. That led me to start taking an anxiety medication, which had some really “fun” side effects that led to some kind of infection which led to antibiotics which led to more side effects. But all the side effects have worn off, the infection is gone, and I finally  feel like myself again. Oy vey. I am so ready to have a healthy spring.

Researching becoming a Microsoft Office Specialist (expert level). When I mentioned to Jonathan that I wasn’t feeling challenged, he suggested I look into Office certification. Since I spend 85% of my work hours in front of a computer and I love to learn, I got excited. I’m still not sure what training and testing will look like for me, but I’m doing my research. Let me know if you know anything about it!

Writing again. With the return of my anxiety and the little bit of depression caused by all my health nonsense, I wasn’t writing. I couldn’t. When I get to a place like where I was, I avoid any independent thought. I cope by cutting out quiet spaces and freedom to think. I’m not saying it’s healthy, but it’s how I stave off some of the anxious thoughts. As a result, my creative stores dried up and I had nothing to say, even though I tried. But here I am writing again. I’ve kinda gotten back to journaling, too. And I currently have a six-page list of ideas for devotionals. I’m so ashamed to admit I haven’t been published in a really long time (so long that I’m not even going to tell you how long it’s been). I feel like I’ve been wasting the education I’m still paying for. But I’ve got tons of ideas, so I just need to start submitting. Feel free to give me a pep talk—I tend to put things off so long I don’t care about them anymore. But I really want to make this happen. For the experience, the joy of seeing my name in print (honesty is best—I love that feeling), and the extra money won’t hurt. And I like to think what I write could make a difference. I’d love to write the devotion that someone reads in the morning and it just changes their whole day. You know when you read something and you know it was meant for you? I want God to use my words like that.

Painting my nails obsessively. (If you’re a guy reading this, you can probably skip this part. Unless you want to know something about women, or at least this woman.) Okay, so they’re not painted now because I figure they need a break, but I’ve become addicted to nail polish. I love the colors. And as silly as it is, my job (which consists of lots of writing and typing) gets infinitely more fun when I can watch the pretty colors fly across the keyboard. Julep has amazing (but spendy) polishes that last over a week if you use a top coat and keep your cuticles hydrated. I also love Essie—their polishes last quite awhile, too.

Planning a vacation. Sometime this summer we’re going to get away for a week. With our limited budget, I’m still trying to figure out where the heck we’re going (I’m thinking north shore, but maybe not). Suggestions welcome, but keep in mind that we’re not going to fly anywhere.

Learning about Jewish culture. Our Life Group is listening to some talks by Ray Vanderlaan, and we’re all learning a ton. It’s amazing how differently you read and interpret the Bible when you know the historical context. For example, I learned that typically students would find a rabbi they wanted to follow and then ask if they could. If the rabbi thought the student could be like him, he would accept his request. But Jesus chose his disciples—and they were all kids who likely flunked out of rabbi training, hence the fishing. And Jesus still thought they could be like Him, even after they screwed up, like Peter.

Praying for Grandma. Jonathan’s grandma, Carol, had a heart attack and a stroke last week and we’re not sure what’s going to happen. If you’re someone who prays, please pray for her.

Writing Tip Wednesday #17: My Favorite Editing Trick

So I figure it’s about time I share my favorite editing trick. I picked it up in college, but I can’t remember where—perhaps in the sidebar of a text book I haven’t looked at in a few years, or maybe my professor shared it during a lecture in my editing seminar. But it doesn’t really matter, does it? What matters is that I promised you an editing trick and I should probably get to the point . .

When you get stuck with a piece’s structure or organization, you can’t quite figure out what information you need and what you don’t, or you need to find the holes in your writing, try deconstructing your document. Put a line break after each sentence (or paragraph, depending on what you’re struggling with), print it, and cut it into strips.

Editing Structure Duo

This frees you up to reorganize, cut text, and reorganize again until the cows come home. Or until you figure out what to do with your piece. I usually tape all the strips together and reorganize my document file accordingly.

It’s like magic. It always works for me. Maybe because it goes back to the basics and gets me away from the computer screen . . . Next time you’re stuck, try it!

Writing Tip Wednesday #16: everyday vs. every day

Clothes EditIt’s not the last Wednesday of the month, but I decided it was time for a new tip.

(Want to know what laundry has to do with writing? Nothing. BUT it is mentioned in one of my examples.)

It seems there’s a lot of confusion with everyday and every day. It’s one of those things people don’t think much about, and it’s easy to use the wrong one. After all, the only difference in the way they look is a space.

Every Day
Every day is a phrase that means “each day.” “Every” is an adjective that describes “day,” which is a noun. The phrase is usually used like an adverb, which means it modifies a verb, adjective, or other adverb.

Some examples:I wish I had the money to go to Starbucks every day.
Every day, I think about going to the gym. (I don’t always follow through.)

Everyday
Everyday is an adjective that can mean daily or ordinary.

Some examples:
She hadn’t done laundry in a few weeks, so she wore her everyday clothes to church on Sunday.
For Tina, losing her keys is an everyday occurrence.

A Trick to Make It Easy
Replace the word or phrase with “each day.” If it makes sense, you should be using “every day.” If it doesn’t make sense, use “everyday.”

Ten Resolutions for 2013

I’ve been making New Year’s Resolutions for the last three years. And after last year’s didn’t go so well, I’ve decided I need to make this year’s public. And I need to put them where I’ll see them often. So I’m sharing them with you and posting them on the fridge.

Without further ado, here are my goals and resolutions for 2013:

1.That’s only two books a month—what a sad number. With working full time, freelance editing jobs, blogging, and having a life, it’s tough to fit reading in, but I still want to make sure I’m doing it. Two books I want to get to this year are Don Quixote and Les Miserables. And maybe Mere Christianity, since that was on my list of resolutions last year and I bought it but never read it. Oops. But right now, I’m going back to an old favorite: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Click here to see what I’ve read so far.

2.With all the dental work I’ve had in the last two months to make up for a childhood of poor dental hygiene, this is a big one for me.

3.Ideally, this will be running on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday or Sunday, and two days of yoga.

4.Not gonna lie—this one scares me. But I really want to get there just because I think I can’t.

5.Jonathan and I read together most nights, but I want to make more of a concentrated effort to spend time in the Word on my own. I haven’t really gotten started yet, but I’m planning to use a reading plan from Canvas Church’s website. If you’re interested in joining me, you can find the reading plan here.

6.Last year, I wanted to journal every day. It didn’t happen. Not even close. So this year, I’m shooting a little lower and broadening the possibilities—it can be journaling, a blog post, or something else. And unless I’m having a bad week, stuff I write for work won’t count.

7.We eat out way too much. Especially when we don’t have leftovers for lunches and we eat out then, too.

8.I made this a goal for myself two years ago, and it was a great challenge. I love finding and trying new recipes. Especially when they turn out great. I think I’ll start with one (or both!) of these . . .
Sun-dried Tomato Spread
Man-Pleasing Chicken

9.I’ve written about this before, but I fell out of the habit. It made life much easier when I didn’t procrastinate in the small things.

10.Earlier would be even better, but as it’s been, I’ve been getting up at 7:45ish, only about 20 minutes before I have to leave for work. No bueno. Things have got to change. And if they do, I might even have time to get my run in or do my quiet time before I go to work. That sounds like a recipe for a much better day.

What are you goals/resolutions for 2013?

Proofreading Tips


This picture doesn’t have anything to do with proofreading. But it’s of a small “detail” lots of people wouldn’t notice. Plus I’m missing Yellowstone, and that’s where we found this pretty bird.

Because I finished a big proofreading project over the weekend, I thought I’d offer a few proofreading tips for this month’s Writing Tip Wednesday.

  1. Don’t put all your trust in the spell check. There are too many words that have multiple spellings. And sometimes autocorrect will insert the wrong word unnoticed.
  2. Don’t put any trust in the grammar check. It’s almost never right. If you get that squiggly green line, check out the suggestion for sure, but do your research before you accept it.
  3. Don’t just look for misspelled words and missing or misplaced punctuation. Pay attention to formatting, too—font, page numbers, orphans and widows . . . And if the document includes dates, times, names, or titles, double-check the spelling.
  4. Create a style sheet. Don’t know what that is? It’s a document that keeps track of the rules you’re using—word spellings, serial comma, how to format numbered lists, etc. In some cases, you’ll want to have a style sheet for every document. In other cases—like a business setting—you’ll want to create a style sheet to use for everything you print. It’ll keep everyone who does any writing or editing of your documents on the same page (no pun intended!). You certainly don’t want the editor taking out all the serial commas only to have the author put them all back in.
  5. Back up every time you find an error. This suggestion comes from The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style. Apparently studies have shown that most missed errors are near other errors that were caught. CWMS recommends backing up a few lines whenever you find an error.
  6. If you’re editing your own copy, don’t edit right after you wrote it. Take some time away from your work and do something else. The more time you can let it sit, the better, I think. Then when you come back, you’re seeing it with fresh eyes. You’re more likely to catch things.
  7. If it’s your own copy, have someone else look at it, too. When you’re close to a project, it’s hard to catch things. I can prove that—at work, I send out a weekly newsletter, and two weeks in a row I was under a time crunch and edited my own copy without having someone else look at it. Guess what happened? Two glaring mistakes two weeks in a row. Oops.
  8. If you’re able, read through the document more than once. Bonus points if you look at it once, walk away for awhile, and then look at it again. When I can, I scan for formatting, do a thorough proofread, and then do another quick proofread.

If you have tips of your own, feel free to leave them in a comment.

I’m Thankful for . . .

I chose not to do the 30 days of thankfulness posts everyone else is doing this month because, let’s be honest, it wouldn’t happen. But I decided I can manage four daily posts, so consider this the first post in an almost-week of thankfulness.

I also decided to take a more serious look at things I’m thankful for. I’m going to skip over the easy ones, the blessings anyone could guess (my husband, my family, my friends, blah blah blah) and take time to thank God for the blessings He’s brought into my life that have been harder for me to recognize, the things He knew were for the best, even if I didn’t (and maybe still don’t) think so.

Today I’m thankful God asked me to give up my career dreams. It certainly hasn’t been an easy road (and I still have days when I hope maybe things will still work out the way I wanted), but when He asked me to let go of the plans I had for my own life, put down roots where He had me, and trust Him to use my skills for His glory, He knew what He was doing. And since then, some really cool things have happened—I took over leadership of a ministry at church, got my first paid freelance editing project, and realized how much I love the job I already have.

And to top it all off, the writing- and editing-related projects I’ve gotten to work on since letting go are more in line with the direction the publishing industry is heading. (So who knows what will happen next?) Not to mention God has used the whole thing to challenge  the pride and condecension I didn’t realize had a hold on my heart.

God really does have a plan for my life. Go figure.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. —Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)