Writing Advice

7 Sure-Fire Ways to Find Time to Write

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So you want to be a writer but can’t find time to write? First, look at your motivation. Are you sure you really want to be a writer? Writers find the time to write. Then, once you’ve determined that writing is your passion and you are willing to do what it takes to write, consider these ways to carve out time to do so:

  1. Get up earlier. If you are already a morning person, getting up an hour earlier gives you prime time for writing. If you’re not a morning person, getting up earlier will allow you to wake up sooner and to start writing sooner in your day.

  1. Go to bed later. If you are a night person, the result is obvious. If not, write during the day and use the extra time at night to take care of those chores around the house you normally do during the day.

  1. Schedule it. You schedule everything else to make sure it gets done—doctors’ appointments, lunches with friends, get-togethers with family, shopping, oil changes, tire rotations—so schedule blocks of time during each day/week to write. Scheduling time to write makes it a higher priority than just putting it on a to-do list. And, when someone wants you to do something else during that time, you can legitimately say you already have an appointment that you can’t break.

  1. Just say no! Is your time being eaten by agreeing to participate in too many other activities? Keep writing your focus and decline invitations to be on committees, chair organizations, bake goodies for the soccer team, chaperone the junior high dance, or whatever other worthy cause is being touted. Ask yourself, does this event align with the steps towards my future personal goals?

  1. Keep regular office hours. Treat wherever you normally write as your office and go to work each day at a set time. Don’t leave the office until you have achieved your goal for that day or have worked diligently for the entire length of your “normal work” day.

  1. Forego one hour of television a day. Consider recording it to skip through commercials, which can save up to 20 minutes an hour. Use services like Netflix so you can watch whenever you wish without commercial interruptions, and really try to stick to just a couple of episodes. You may enjoy relaxing in the evening, but often watching one program leads to sitting there watching several hours’ worth without even realizing it.

  1. Write wherever you are. Keep a notebook with you (paper or electronic) to record thoughts, ideas, character sketches, solutions to plot dilemmas that suddenly pop into your head. The jottings you make at these odd moments may lead to a better in-depth writing session later. Snippets of time add up unexpectedly, so these daily insights can help keep you on pace.

Four Keys to Writing the Best Elevator Speech

Every entrepreneur, sales person, policy-maker, and project manager knows the importance of having a well-written elevator speech. This elevator speech has two major components. First, this speech, also known as an elevator pitch, is a short summary used to describe a person, profession, product, service, organization, or event. Often, the second component is the most important part of the elevator speech since it discusses the monetary value or need relating to the topic. Over time, the elevator speech was refined to require no more than thirty seconds to two minutes for delivery.

Some people confuse the elevator speech with a sales pitch. A sales pitch has props (the product or item being sold) and can take up to 30 minutes to deliver. The elevator speech is all about using a brief amount of conversation time to deliver an interesting idea that will add value to the business of the person with whom you are speaking. It is in those few seconds that you want to get the person hooked on your idea so that you can continue the conversation, exchange business cards, or schedule a meeting.

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Here are four keys for writing success related to your Elevator Speech:

  1. Keep it Simple.

Select each word carefully. Time with your thesaurus is critical for success in writing your elevator speech. Choose words that are well known. The elevator speech is not the time to try to wow the listener with big words. You want to write a speech that everyone with an eighth grade education or higher can understand. Realistically you are pitching to people who have a higher level of education but in this quick delivery, you may not have their full attention so you want something that they can listen to, understand, and get excited about without deep thought.

  1. Keep it Flexible.

Have three to five elevator speeches prepared. You may need one that speaks to the technical level of the project, idea, or product. This version is best delivered to people with a higher appreciation of technology. In my experience, you need the following types of speeches ready: 1) technical, 2) earnings/income potential related, 3) amount of time it will take to deliver on the concept or product, 4) who you need on the team to help make this idea a success, and finally, 5) what resources you need. Once you have delivered the speech and captured your targets attention, you need to be ready to speak with others who will be brought into the conversation and you need to seize their attention quickly.

  1. Have it written out so you can practice the delivery.

Use a 3 x 5 index card and have your speech typed out and ready for you to review and practice for delivery. You may be standing in line at a coffee shop and see a person that you want to walk up to and deliver your elevator speech. Having a 3 x 5 card with your speech written out lets you have a quick review and gets you prepared for your delivery. In addition, it is critical that you practice the delivery aloud.

  1. Grammar matters, but Flow is critical.

Grammar is important but our speech patterns can sometimes be different from what we write on paper. Do not focus on the comma or semicolon in writing out your elevator speech. Most importantly you need to make sure it is easy to say/recite and that you are completely comfortable sharing your idea. One additional idea is to have a friend or family member deliver your elevator speech. If they have trouble with the delivery, your flow is not yet right.

Follow these four keys and you will be able to have success in delivering your elevator speech. When in doubt, seek professional help from speechwriters, editors, others because a great elevator speech might help you get your idea across and lead to your next promotion.

5 Tips for Managing Unruly References

As authors research information to help support the work in their paper, they spend a great deal of time reading references. All too often we wind up with a stack of papers or computer files full of references. These references are important so that authors can cite the information from other sources that they wish to use to either support, acknowledge, or contradict their research. How do we organize and choose the correct references? In this blog we share five easy steps for managing references.

 

1. Sort your references into categories.

 


Most papers have an introduction, materials and methods, results, and conclusion/discussion section. It is best if you sort your references into those categories. The introduction should use references that provide historical information relevant to the paper topic. References used in the materials and methods should help the reader know why the author decided to use particular methods and how those methods are best utilized. When we select references for the results, they can be sub-categorized into those that support or contradict the data. The conclusion/discussion section draws once again on references that support the historical context necessary to understand the work and these references must also aid in the discussion of the relevant data.

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2. Use quality references.

It is important to use the most original reference possible. Additionally, authors need to use up-to-date and reliable references. The authors want to use references that have been peer-reviewed by leaders in the topic field. Peer-reviewed references have been checked for errors by knowledgeable reviewers well-versed in the field being studied.

3. Select references that are easy for people to access.

As our ever-expanding world of technology makes more information available, this is an easier step to manage. Still, we most often should select references that are in the same language as the paper being presented and easy to access by everyone with either access to the internet or a library.

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4. Keep the references to a manageable number.

Unless you are writing a review article and need to tie in the information you are sharing with an extensive number of other papers, select only the most pertinent sources. If a point needs to be validated by external references, this is most often accomplished by referring to three or four sources from unique author sets. Using a few select but widely accepted references that trace back to experts in the field will help readers of the paper being presented better understand the importance of this new work to the field of study.

5. Have all your references printed or in electronic format and easy to access.

In this new day and age there are multiple electronic programs that can be used to sort, catalog, and manage references. All too often people focus on getting the references into these bibliography programs and forget that it is the content of the reference that is critical. Authors need to have the abstract and a few notes about the paper easily accessible and a copy (printed or electronic) of the complete paper should be available. By having the information readily available, it alleviates improper citations and the possibility of plagiarism.

Follow these five suggestions and you will find that managing your references becomes less of a chore!