Do You Need an Editor? Here’s How to Find Support For Your Writing Project

meditation for writersRecently, a member of a Facebook group for bloggers posted this question: Who do you use to edit your blog posts? The answers ranged from some type of software to “my mother” to a seasoned pro. Why the disparity? I think because when people use the term “editor,” they tend to use it loosely. So, do you need an editor?

What is an editor?

An editor is not a proofreader. Sure, all editors will proofread, but that’s not the focus of their art. An editor is also not a ghostwriter, though many editors do ghostwrite as well.

Most editorial projects float among all three services: ghostwriting, editing, and proofreading. But even if your needs fall squarely within the realm of editing, you need to know what kind of editing you need. There is more than one type.

Most professional editors break services into three categories: light editing (which lives at the border of proofreading), moderate editing (also called line editing or copy editing), and substantive editing (which lives at the border of ghostwriting).

Do you need an editor?

Many people ask for proofreading or light editing when they really need something more. Being specific about what you need is not the same thing as being specific about what you want to pay for. If you ask for proofreading but your copy is still in the “rough draft” stage, you’ll need to rethink your strategy.  You wouldn’t hire a painter before you’ve had drywall installed, would you?

Think of an editor as more than someone who will check your grammar and spelling. Yes, you can probably use software for that, though even the best software will miss nuances that make your writing unique. Unless you’re writing academic or technical material, there’s little need to be so “correct” that your writing is boring. Trying to get all the red and green lines in your Word doc to disappear is usually a waste of time (though I’ll admit it is fun to try)!

For most writers, especially bloggers and authors who craft pieces to communicate something they’re passionate about, an editor should offer the following three things.

1. She should know more about grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. than your friend who was good in English. Ask which style guide she uses, and check out the resource she mentions. Ask what kind of training she has. (I have an eye for detail is not an adequate answer.) This is especially important if you’re writing a book that you would like to market professionally at some point. To give you an idea of the minutiae editors work with, note that the Chicago Manual of Style (the guide I use most often) is a full 1000 pages! (Yes, I do have to look things up!)

2. She should have an editorial process. Unless you simply want a proofreader, your editing project should involve several steps. You should understand how you will participate in the process, and you should be clear on what your editor will and will not do. (Hint: She will not change your voice or rewrite your content unless you ask her to, and she will not act like your high school English teacher!)

3. She should be familiar with your niche or subject. Search for an editor, and you’ll probably find hundreds in no time at all! The icing on the cake if you want the best fit for your project is knowledge of your subject matter. It won’t necessarily cost you more to hire someone familiar with your topic (unless it’s very technical), but you will get more for your money. An editor who knows your audience will serve not only as a grammar and style geek who can ensure that your copy flows well, but she will also stand in for your readers. She’ll understand what you’re trying to communicate, and she’ll be able to suggest when your message isn’t clear.

4. She should work for you on behalf of your readers. A good editor with experience in your niche is an ally for both you and your readers. She’ll help you when you’re stuck on a way to find the words for something you’re passionate about because she is passionate about the same thing! For example, my clients who are nutritionists, health coaches, life coaches, personal trainers, therapists, and yoga teachers are comfortable working with me because they know I’ve read hundreds of pages of content on these topics. I know what’s out there, how to make their project unique, and how to make sure it’s on par with content that works for other well-being professionals.

What does a good editor cost?

Again, there’s no simple answer to this question. A good place to start is the Editorial Freelancers Association’s rate sheet. You can find it here.

High quality editing doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but don’t expect it to be cheap either. You truly will get what you pay for. Look for someone reasonably priced, but understand that editing is not as simple as many people think. If you’re in doubt about what you’ll get for your money, ask for a free sample edit. Most editors will provide one.

If you’re lucky enough to find someone who values her own abilities as well as yours—in other words, if your editor is passionate enough about what you do to see beyond dollar signs, but also a consummate professional—you’ve found the right person. Respect for each other is the key to a professional relationship that goes beyond spell-checking and “correcting” your work.

So, do you need an editor, or is your project safe in your roommate’s hands? Only you can decide!

Not ready to hire an editor? Join my email list and receive access to my free guide that will help you start editing your own work today!

What Are Your Values? And Why Does It Matter?

values

A friend of mine is writing a graduate school admissions essay. You know the kind. You look at your life and explain why you want to get the degree or certification or credential in question. When he told me about the essay, we started talking about our values and how they align with what we do every day.

I thought I knew my values, but I was surprised once I started listing them that I have more values than I realized. If someone had asked me how many values underlie the things I pursue or the way I behave, I might have said four or five.

Of course, I saw an opportunity to write, so I started listing and describing my values. I came up with sixteen before I decided to stop (for now). After all, how much can I expect you to read!

Aligning Values with Actions

The things I do that align with my values include my work (writing or helping others write, mostly about the things I value as well as working with others to create more technical things), my yoga practice, my spiritual life, and being a sounding board for friends and family. (For the most part, I’m a good listener I’m told.)

I also enjoy things that align with my values: nature, animals, music, the arts in general, and baseball. I’m not exactly sure where baseball fits in, so I’ll put it with family. It’s been a way to connect with my dad since I was eight (though by no means the most important way), and in the beginning of our relationship, my husband and I bonded over our love for the sport.

I share my list with you not because I think you necessarily care what my values are, but because you may recognize something that resonates with you. If you want to share your list with me, I’d be honored!

My values are…

Spirituality – I value seeking and staying on the path to God or enlightenment (same thing in my mind). I’m not sure if spirituality is a value. Maybe faith in something greater than me is what I should call it. Or knowing who I truly am. I’m not sure how to explain this, even though it has been my primary value for as long as I can remember!

Silence – I believe that except when we have something useful to say, it’s best to be silent. It’s in silence that we learn to recognize truth.

Kindness – No one likes meanness. If you’re with people and you’re not helping them feel better about themselves, you’re better off being silent. That said, I recognize it’s not always meanness that prevents others from feeling good. Some people cannot accept kindness. They are the same people not likely to be kind. So, again, if your kindness is not received, be silent. The value of kindness is probably obvious. If you’re not sure what’s valuable about it, be still and notice what you feel next time someone is kind to you.

Simplicity – I think the more we have and do, the more crowded our minds become and the lower our vibration becomes. If you’re a spiritual seeker, you know that vibrating at a higher frequency is the key to transcendence and enlightenment. So, I don’t want a lot of stuff or too many places to be or too many superficial relationships. I don’t want a house full of things or a closet full of clothes. I want the energy to flow, and that requires simplicity.

Being organized – Clutter and chaos slow the flow of energy as well. I was born with the ability to organize, so maybe this is more of a trait than a value. It’s also another reason I value simplicity. It’s easier to keep things in order when you don’t have a lot of them!

Discipline Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today tends to be my motto. In my case, it might even be don’t put off until noon what you can do at 8 am. I know this makes me unusual, but it’s who I am. I’ve never been one to procrastinate.

Listening – You will learn much more by listening than speaking. You will grow much more by listening than speaking. And interestingly, you will help more by listening than speaking. If you have ears to hear (as Jesus said), do so. Listen. Hear. Reflect. And then you will know what to do.

Gratitude If you want to be happy, be thankful. I learned about the power of gratitude gradually, mostly from my yoga teachers, who speak about it often. They do this for a good reason. Gratitude has the power to fill your life. The less you think you have, the more you’ll gain from being grateful. I’m serious.

Following through – If I say I’ll do something, I do it. And I do it by the time I say I’ll do it. In my work, I never miss a deadline. Of course, because I value being reliable in that way, I’m also careful not to commit (or appear to commit) to things I’m not sure I can do.

Learning – In the past, I would have said education. I come from a family of educators. I earned a master’s degree but didn’t think that was enough. I wanted a PhD. I now realize I wasted a lot of time in school meeting requirements when I could have been out there actually learning something. I don’t think I’ll ever stop wanting to learn.

Integrity – Integrity is a kind of honesty that isn’t so much about conveying facts versus fiction but honesty in intention and staying true to my values when I make choices about what to do or what to say.

Care of Creation – I try to value all of creation. It all deserves to be treated with awe and respect. This includes inanimate objects in my care, such as books, my home, and my yard.

Helping others – This is certainly a value, but I mention it with a caveat. We often think helping others means bending over backwards to do everything for anyone who asks, even things that don’t align with our natural gifts. Our natural gifts are ours for a reason. We have them to serve. When we align with them, helping others comes naturally too.

Animal rights – One of my favorite quotes is Gandhi’s quote about animals. The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. The more I explore this idea, the more I see the truth in it. We can learn a lot about life from animals and a lot about compassion and kindness from people who treat them well. Unfortunately, we also learn a lot (mostly about greed and selfishness) from people who mistreat them.

Family –  Here, I expand the definition of family to anyone—whether related by blood or not—who you love and who loves you as close to unconditionally as humans are capable of and who is as committed to your well-being as you are to theirs. And by that definition, of course, biology is no guarantee that you are a family.

Health of body, mind, and spirit Here is another way my work aligns with my values. I should also say that my interest in health is mostly holistic. Mind, body, and spirit are intimately connected, and I’ve explored that from every angle for decades.

Humor – Without a sense of humor, life would be much more boring and difficult than it needs to be. I sometimes think talented comedians do the most good in this world.

Creativity – I don’t have a great way to explain why I value creativity, but if I value creation, then I guess it makes sense that I value creativity.

I encourage you to think about your own values, and maybe make a list (be prepared for it to keep growing). If you do this, you may be surprised by how much bigger your life feels and how much more sense it makes.

If you don’t feel that, it may be because you’re not living in alignment with what you value.

Will You Have Great Content to Share on Social Media This Year?

 

 

One of the services I provide is social media assistance for clients in the well-being niche. Specifically, I find and share blog posts, quotes, and other content to that inspires yogis and other well-being enthusiasts. You’d think this would be easy. After all, there are so many yoga and wellness blogs out there, right?

Well, yes. There are a lot of yoga blogs and websites, but I have a surprisingly difficult time finding “go-to” sites that are sources of shareable content.

Do you have one? Send me a link! I’d love to read it!

Not sure if you have one? Keep reading, and maybe I can help you decide.

Obviously, you want to be sure you have well-written posts, but it doesn’t stop there. If you want your content to be shared, there are a few other things you need to do.

Let me give you an example. I did some ghostwriting for a client’s yoga blog a while back. So, I know I like the content, but I rarely share it. Why not, you ask?

Well, when my client designed his website and posted the pieces I wrote, he didn’t make the content easy to share.And that’s unfortunate, because it’s not too difficult to make content shareable!

 

Five Simple Ways to Be Sure Your Content is Shareable

1. Write well. I know I said this already, but it’s important. I’m not suggesting you need to be an award-winning writer. Just be sure you organize your thoughts concisely and minimize typos and grammatical errors. One or two mistakes won’t hurt (you’re human after all), but I promise your readers will get a subconscious message if your writing is riddled with errors or difficult to read.

2. Use short paragraphs, headings, and numbered or bulleted lists. I still come across blog posts that are just a few long paragraphs with no headings or other way to break up the text. That may work if you’re writing a print book, but your online readers will get tired quickly if you don’t give their eyes a break.

3. Use social share buttons, and be sure they work! Be sure, too, that it’s obvious which icons are for sharing your content and which are for connecting with you on social media! It shouldn’t be a surprise that content is easier to share with a simple click of a social share icon. The alternative is to copy the link, go to Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest and share from there. I don’t do that often, and my guess is other potential ambassadors for your work won’t either.

4. Include an eye-catching image. You’ve heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, right? I’d take it a step further and point out that a thousand words are also worth a thousand words. The picture and words together are worth much more than the sum of their parts. There’s no replacement for prose—for dialogue with your reader that encourages, inspires, or informs. But images enrich prose by appealing to more of our senses. They also call attention to content in an undeniable way.

5. Make sure your image can be shared easily. That means that someone clicks the social share icons I mentioned earlier, they will be able to share the post and the image. People are much more likely to notice, click on, and read a post if they are attracted to it by a colorful image that helps tell the story.

So, now that you know what makes your content shareable, you may have a bit of tweaking to do. I hope you’ll do it, because the easier you make it for like-minded folks to share the love, the more likely they’ll do so and help get your message out there!

Need help with content creation or social media? Contact me anytime for a free brainstorming session!

Bucket Lists, Careers, and The Meaning of Life: Why Do You Do What You Do?

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????What’s on Your Bucket List?

Recently, a friend asked me what’s on my bucket list. He began to name some things on his—mostly travel to various places. I couldn’t think of a place I need to see in my lifetime, though there are a few places I’d like to go. Go or not, I’ll be happy.

Or not.

I no longer have a specific career goal on my bucket list either. Over the last few decades, I wanted to be a noted psychologist, a bestselling novelist, and a nutritionist. I imagined changing people’s lives with my insights and ability to motivate my clients to live a healthy lifestyle.

A more recent career goal (before I became a freelancer writer), was to be an awesome teacher to a special population of kids I really understood. Let’s just say politics got in the way of that goal.

But like I said, I no longer dream of accomplishing a specific career-related goal. I now see how all of these pursuits fit together.

There are a lot of things I’d like to learn—or relearn—before I leave this planet. I’d like to sing again, play tennis again, and I’ve always wanted to learn to draw. I have to learn about technology and digital publishing (but none of that is on my bucket list).

In fact, I’ll be fine if I accomplish any of these things or none of them, as long as I stay engaged in something.

A simple goal: Finding the meaning of life

So what is on my bucket list? What do I need in order to feel that my life has been worthwhile?

Well, it’s simple. I need to know—or believe, because we never really know anything, do we?—that I’ve somehow made a positive difference. Isn’t that what most of us want?

Can I ever know for sure if my life means something? Maybe not. It may have to be enough to just believe. In many ways, I have yoga thank for knowing what’s enough. Yoga has taught me to be myself and to use my gifts without attachment to the outcome of my efforts.

It’s hard though. I won’t lie.

Making a difference

I suppose it’s to some people that they’ve made a difference in the world, and it must feel good to know this. Respected doctors, best-selling authors, Noble Peace Prize winners and the like get some kind of tangible feedback and proof that their lives have meant something.

Do I need to be famous or remembered in history books? Of course not. Does it matter much that I may not be personally remembered by many once I’m gone? Not really, though it would be nice. But I do want to believe I made a small difference somehow, because a small difference can have a huge impact. It can be part of a whole movement toward the development of good. I know in my heart that this is true, though I can’t find any scientific evidence to support my hunch.

Your Career is Not What You Do, But Why and How You Do It

The other day in yoga class, my teacher, who always seems to know exactly what I need to hear, read a passage from Marianne Williamson’s bestseller, A Return to Love.  The book is a classic for good reason. It’s simple and brilliantly poetic. It’s about love.

The passage my yoga teacher read was about, of all things, careers. How did she know I’d been wondering about the direction of mine?

My friend who asked me the bucket list question is struggling with a similar problem, at a career crossroad himself. The career thing is very different for him than it is for me in some ways. But in others it’s not. We both want to make a difference.

How to Make a Difference

How can we make a difference in such a complicated society? We have so many choices. On the other hand, as we explore each possibility, we often find our choices are, in reality, remarkably limited. They may lead us down dead end roads until we hit a wall.

And then what?

There is fierce competition for jobs, whether one is a corporate executive or a freelancer looking for her next gig. There is so much that seems irrelevant and pointless when it comes to using our gifts. Are we “qualified,” are we “certified,” do we have experience in a very specific field we know we can succeed in?

Simply using our gifts is not always enough—because of the competition, the bills, the tax laws, the stock market, and information overload. Every day my inbox is bombarded with the latest “secret” for finding clients and well-paying writing gigs. Most of them are regurgitations of the ones I received the week before. At this point in my career, few of them are useful.

But I shift through them all to find that needle in the haystack. Because there are still needles to find.

My point (I do have one)

When I forget why I do what I do, I am tempted to give up. I need to remember to serve, and my way of serving is helping people communicate what they do (or know).

We all have gifts. If we use them well, we can craft a meaningful career, though it may not resemble what the textbooks say a career is supposed to look like. In other words, we don’t all choose a profession, get an entry level position in that field, and then slowly but steadily climb to the top until we are making a comfortable living, then retire and look back with satisfaction on how seamlessly our working years progressed. For many of us, this career thing is a mish-mash mess.

Enter the simply brilliant perspective of Marianne Williamson. As a writer, I’m in awe of her brilliant ability to cut through to the point and say it with beautiful simplicity. “Success,” says Williamson, “means going to sleep at night knowing our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others.”

Williamson goes on to say that what we do is not as important as how (or why) we do it. We should do whatever we do kindly. The key to success is to realize how we are connected—that the purpose of our work lives is not different from the purpose of the rest of our lives. It’s all to spread love.

Does Your Work Spread Love?

For some, it’s a stretch to see one’s job as work that spreads love. And some work does not (in which case the doer may want to consider a change). But every job worth doing has the potential to be done with love. Even if your job is to sell used cars—or carpets—you can do it with love. I mention carpets because I once knew a salesman who was joyfully helping people pick out carpets well into his eighties. That kind of thing can be inspiring.

Whatever you do, you can be kind, honest, and friendly while you do it, and your goal can be both making a profit and helping someone else, whether that person is a customer, client, or coworker. If you are doing your work solely for the profit, you may miss a lot of opportunities spread love. That is, you may miss your purpose.

My goal as an editor and writer is to help people communicate. I enjoy writing about others and helping them polish their work as much as I enjoy crafting my own stories. For the most part, I work in a niche that is easily about love—well-being—but it’s not the only way I use my talents. I’m also a technical editor, and I spend a good amount of time pouring over copy about digital imaging products. How is that about love? Well, the team I work with is a great group of people; for most of us, the work is about supporting each other’s efforts. Our collective goal is to communicate an accurate message.

Before I launched myself as a freelance writer and editor, I was a teacher, an administrative assistant, a nutritionist at an upscale gym, a financial aid counselor, and a research editor. Yes, I’ve had many jobs. In A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson says the same of her life.

Marianne also says she’s had many jobs but only one career. I say the same.

The reason I’ve had many jobs (and clients) is I’m continually tweaking my work life to align with purpose. I’m looking for the best way to use my gifts to do what I came here to do—what we all came her to do—spread love and make a difference, no matter how small that difference seems.

If I can do that, I don’t need a bucket list.

 

Would You Like to Join a Circle of Yoga Friends?

yoga friends

As many of my yogi friends know, I’m working on a project called Yoga Circles, a guide for small groups of yogis who want to meet, talk about yoga philosophy, share the joys and frustrations of the practice, try new things, socialize, and have some fun!

To give you a better idea of what the project is all about, you can download an excerpt of the book here!

If you’re interested in receiving a free preview of the entire manuscript, please contact me. I’m looking for beta readers. All I ask is that you read it and let me know your thoughts. All suggestions are welcome!

Has yoga changed your life? Would you like to write about it? I’m also looking for people who would like to contribute stories of transformation through yoga to be included in the book. If you’re interested, you can download more information below, contact me via Facebook, or email me: maria@wellbeingwriter.net.

CONTRIBUTE A STORY

Thank you! Om shanti.

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