New Words for 2009

Last year, the Word of the Year was W00T. A favorite of gamers, it had 15 minutes of fame and vanished.  This year, there seem to be more words for a tanking economy and social networking.

Frolleagues are the people who are both colleagues and friends. I’m not sure we need a new word for that relationship, but I’m not the approver of new words.

Frugalista is the penny-pinching sister of the fashionista.

Mousepotato is the reinvention of the computer-savvy couch potato. Hmm, I think that’s sooo 2006.

Bromance is the deep friendship, platonic, between two men who are not gay.

Hypermiling is how you save gas when it costs north of $4.00 a gallon. Take the foot off the gas and coast to a light, pull in a parking space so you don’t need to backup, go the speed limit on the freeways. There are more extreme measures, but doing a few simple things boosted my gas mileage from 24 mpg in the city to 28 mpg.

Spendy is a new word for expensive.

Helppooling or Cowpooling is sharing large shopping items among a group of non-family members.

Brickberry is an old version of a cellphone. One that doesn’t have the cool features.

Twitterrhea is waaaaay too much Twitter.

Quinn McDonald is a writer who teaches business communications and journal writing. She loves words, old and new, as long as they are clever.

CD Review: Snakeskin Violin

If you are a World Music fan or a blues fan, or better yet, both, you are in for a treat. Markus James has reached into the roots of Blues, into the instruments and vocal of West Africa and created a CD worth listening to.

Read the review (and see a n’goni)  here.

–Quinn McDonald, a writer and certified creativity coach, reviews music and books on her website, QuinnCreative.com

Snakeskin Violin, Markus James

Snakeskin Violin, Markus James

Choosing the Life of a Feelancer

If you just got laid off, don’t think of yourself as a freelancer by force. In fact, if you don’t want to be a freelancer, immediately begin a job search.Call all your friends, contacts and acquaintances, use social networking, post your resume, and do something every day to look for a job. Just don’t call yourself a freelancer.

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

(c) Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Calling yourself a freelancer or consultant because you got laid off helps no one. You will not do good work, you won’t have your heart in it, and you will damage the reputation of those of us who freelance or consult full time.

Freelancing is not the place to be for 3 months till you find something better. Printing business cards identifying yourself as a consultant when you don’t know exactly what you are consulting on is not fair to your career or your potential client’s business.

Freelancing is a full-time job of searching for, and working for, a number of clients. Freelancing springs you from the job of commuting, the pressure of pleasing a boss, the worry of promotions or office politics. Freelancing also lets you worry about steady work, increases your stress as you take on multiple clients, all with different priorities, and lets you figure out how to find and keep health insurance. Freelance writing is not for the confused, the weak or the unsure.

For those of us who own our business, who write every day, who make meaning when we write, even if it is for someone else, can’t imagine doing anything else for a living. The risks are not as important as the amazing rewards of tackling new work, completing it and growing with each writing assignment.

There are organizations every freelancer should know about. They can help you find jobs, untangle contracts and provide some help getting the right kind of jobs, jobs that pay well in an age of “everything on the Web should be free.”

The  National Writer’s Union is available for freelancers who make money writing. The fee is a sliding scale, from $120 to $420, depending on your income. Benefits include a job hotline, members’ discussion groups, a press pass, and access to their resources.

The Author’s Guild offers its members free book contract reviews from experienced legal staff, discounted health insurance rates in some states, low-cost website services including website-building, e-mail, and domain name registration, plus some other benefits. First year dues are $90. If you live in New York, Florida or Massachusettes, you can subscribe to health insurance.

You might also want to check out other resources for freelancers.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer, life- and certified creativity coach. She runs workshops and seminars training others in business communications.

Freelancing in 2009: Resources for Writers

The sky is not falling. This may come as a shock: stop chewing yourself up about the economy. If you are a freelancer, stop even sooner.

Daily writing

Daily writing

Why am I being so seemingly callous? First, because you are not in charge of the economy, and simply worrying about it helps no one, least of all your bank balance

Freelancing is still lucrative. Second, because freelancers may have a break in this economy. There have been business layoffs, and the few are left to do the work of many. That makes freelancers more attractive than full-time employees.

  • Freelancers save companies money by not getting benefits
  • Freelancers don’t take up space
  • If we are smart, we don’t get involved in company drama
  • If we are smarter, we hand in work on time and within budget
  • That makes hiring freelancers attractive and smart. In turn, that makes being a freelancer lucrative. For those who are willing to work at it. (How do you know if you are freelancer material?)

    Having gotten that out of the way, if you want to be a freelance writer, you have to construct a list of resources.

    Below are some decent places to look for freelance work. Before you start opening links, please understand that these are not magic writer-ATMs, and that you won’t make money instantly by clicking on the link.

    Every resource has the potential to be a scam, not what you wanted, too much work. Being a freelancer means that you have to do your own heavy lifting to find work. Here, then are the resources.

    Suite 101 seems to be looking for writers all the time. Make sure you know how (or if) they pay. Many of these sites pay only after you have a certain number of readers.

    Craigslist.org is a old favorite, and offers range from outrageous scams to, well, real work. The trick is not to limit yourself to the city in which you live. Many writing jobs don’t demand your presence in an office. Check out larger cities in your state, or check various-size cities for your niche.

    Ed2010.com lists all sorts of editing/writing-related jobs, so you will have to dig, possibly hard. They also have how-to articles, which are a resource all by themselves. Yes, there are full-time, location-specific, must-be-here jobs, but that may also be an opportunity to explore. I have found good freelancing gigs by offering to work part- or short-time, giving the hiring manager more time to find the right person.

    Freelance Writing Gigs has a huge following. It has tips, hints, how-tos and lists that are, thanks goodness, updated regularly, which probably accounts for it’s huge following among freelancers.

    Freelance Success is a subscription-based site. It costs $99 a year, so it’s for serious freelancers. Before you shrug it off because you think everything on the Web should be free, you should know that the jobs are the better ones, at least $.50/word.

    Media Bistro offers classes, job listings, and articles. While this site is largely for media jobs (producers, music mixers) looking for full-time jobs, it’s useful for it’s breadth of work available, classes and the ability to set parameters for exactly the job you are looking for among the listing.

    Wooden Horse provides freelancers with a free newsletter and a fee-based database of new/existing magazines that provide writing, photography, poetry opportunities. You can access the database —one year for $119 (while it’s on special) or six months for $69.00 (also on current special).

    Writers Market is a listing of publications, their requirements and contact information. You may be familiar with the book, this is the online version. You can access their Website for free, but the database is fee-based.

    –Quinn McDonald is a freelance writer, life- and creativity coach. She runs workshops in business communications and personal journal writing.

    Planning Your Resolutions

    If you read my blog regularly, you know I am not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. This year, I’m amending that.  There are resolutions that are worthwhile and can work. I’m a big fan of planning, and the reason I didn’t like New Year’s Resolutions is that many of them are spur-of-the-moment. If you don’t mind a bit of planning and breaking down tasks into steps, resolutions work well.

    2009 Brings Promise

    2009 Brings Promise

    For this article, I am using weight loss to represent any of your resolutions. Substitute your resolution, from getting more work for your freelance (more on that tomorrow) to creating better relationships.

    Three success steps:
    1. Make it specific. “I want to lose 3 pounds in a month” is specific. “I want to lose a lot of weight by summer” is not.
    2. Make it achievable. “I want to lose 40 pounds in 4 months” is not achievable for most of us. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Make it easily achievable, and you will be more likely to continue on the path of success.
    3. Break it into steps. Even if you really want to lose 50 pounds, start with a way to lose 5 pounds. Write a list of things YOU can do to lose weight. Look for non-traditional ways that you enjoy. If you hate doing something, it takes a lot more willpower to achieve it.

    Joining a gym might be great for your best friend, but you might want to take up line dancing, hiking, or another form of fun exercise. Make a list of interesting steps and decide the starting point of each.

    You will need willpower. Your friends and family love you, but they don’t want you to change, because it forces them to change, too. They either have to change their image of you, or they have to change how they react to you. Both of those sound like work. So your friends and family will often not support or help you, while swearing they are trying to do just that.

    They will load up your plate, give you excuses not to exercise, tell you you aren’t fat, tell you they like you the way you are. If you begin to fight with them and tell them they aren’t supporting you, the argument will shift to some non-topic, such as that you are getting cranky from dieting. There are lots of people who tell you to surround yourself with supportive friends, my idea is that you have to bring your own resolve and support, becuase you will fiind people with the best intentions trying to sabotage you. Tougher, I know.

    Because this is not an article on dieting, but on planning resolutions, there are three more tips that help you get to your resolution:

    1. Take stock once a week. Evaluate your progress, then re-set your goal. If you are ahead of your goal, go ahead and stay ambitious. If you didn’t make the goal, get real with the progress. Was it too much for the time span? Did you find you had to do more work to get to the goal than you thought? Giving yourself a reality check once a week helps you keep your goal and assess your own progress in real time.

    2. Set a reward that suits the job. Making cold calls when you hate them? Give yourself a reward after you make a certain number. I once told myself I had to get five rejections to a proposal before I could quit calling that day. On the fourth try I struck success, and my first flash of thought was, “Damn! I have one more rejection to go before I can stop.”

    3. Hire a coach. Full disclosure: I am a coach. I also have a coach, which is why I know that they work. A coach helps keep your eye on the goal, keeps you motivated and accountable.  They help you when you stumble, don’t judge you, and are curious about your work. Pick a coach who works with your personality.

    Resources:

    What the heck is coaching?
    What does coaching do for me?

    Ten questions you should ask your coach.
    How to get the most our of your coaching session.

    I do give free sample coaching sessions. They last 30 to 40 minutes and are not a demo, but a real coaching session. It’s a great way to see if coaching is for you and there is no pressure to continue. For more information contact me at QuinnCreative[at]Yahoo[dot]com

    Tomorrow: Why the economy may be on your side as a freelancer.

    –QuinnMcDonald is a writer and life- and certified creativity coach. She coaches people in many countries, because her coaching is done over the phone.

    Giving Thanks

    Christmas is over, Hanukkah is running down to the end, Kwanzaa is about to start. For many people, tomorrow is a rush to exchange gifts or shop sales to find what they did not get. In this week between this year and the next, when we start to worry about the rest of our lives, it’s a good idea to think about things we have to be thankful for. Particularly if we think our lives don’t have that many things to be happy about.

    Thanks
    with the night falling we are saying thank you
    we are stopping on the bridge to bow from the railings
    we are running out of the glass rooms
    with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
    and say thank you
    we are standing by the water looking out
    in different directions

    back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
    after funerals we are saying thank you
    after the news of the dead
    whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
    in a culture up to its chin in shame
    living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you

    over telephones we are saying thank you
    in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
    remembering wars and the police at the back door
    and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
    in the banks that use us we are saying thank you
    with the crooks in office with the rich and fashionable
    unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you

    with the animals dying around us
    our lost feelings we are saying thank you
    with the forests falling faster than the minutes
    of our lives we are saying thank you
    with the words going out like cells of a brain
    with the cities growing over us like the earth
    we are saying thank you faster and faster
    with nobody listening we are saying thank you
    we are saying thank you and waving
    dark though it is”

    –William Stanley Merwin, (1927- ), American poet, winner of both Pulitzer and Tanner prizes.
    The author of anti-war poetry in the 1960s, he now focuses on Buddhist and
    ecological themes from his home in Hawaii.
    This poem was published in Anne Lamott’s book, Traveling Mercies.

    Quinn McDonald has a website, QuinnCreative.

    Christmas for All

    Merry Christmas to everyone who is happy, who is holding a baby for the first time, who is in mourning, who has said goodbye for the last time. Merry Christmas whether you are in the midst of a big family and love it, or whether you are counting the minutes for it to be over. Merry Christmas if you are alone, lonely, or happy to be alone. Merry Christmas if this is not your holiday, but it is the holiday of someone you love.

    May every day be precious to you, and may you see golden ornaments sparkling before your eyes.

    golden ornament

    golden ornament

    –Quinn McDonald is a life- and creativity coach. She is a writer who pays attention to the details and carries an iPhone with a camera to make sure she catches them all. (c) 2008 All rights reserved.

    Ornaments in Every Tree

    Here in the Sonoran desert, we don’t have a lot of pines covered in snow for the holidays. But we do have trees–even some pines. People hang ornaments in the trees outside, and they are lovely. In the early morning, they are covered in dew, waiting for the sun to dry them.

    Dew on ornament

    Dew on ornament

    –Quinn McDonald is a life- and creativity coach who always has her iPhone with her. She turns it off when she is on morning meditation, but she does use the phone.  (c) 2008 All rights reserved.

    Morning Walk at Skunk Creek

    It was time to find a new walking path. Sometimes you just have to do that. Nothing wrong with the old one, but it suddenly seems longer and you’ve seen everything.

    So I headed off toward Skunk Creek. We’ve had a lot of rain lately, and so the creek was running, and ducks were paddling happily in the distance. But that wasn’t what caught my eye. The creek is located on a flood plain, and there were deep tracks from an off-road vehicle close to the creek. It was foggy and cloudy and very not-Sonoran desert. In fact, it could have been New England in the Spring.

    Looking East on the Skunk Creek flood plain, Glendale, Arizona

    Looking East close to Skunk Creek

    Looking East close to Skunk Creek

    Looking West

    Looking West on the tracks

    Looking West on the tracks

    –Quinn McDonald is a life- and creativity coach who walks for morning meditation. She takes pictures with her iPhone, because her tiny digital camera is too tiny for morning fingers.

    Marketing Christmas

    You can tell it’s a tough economy—the marketing folks are trying extra hard to make sure you feel like you need to buy stuff, keep the retail flow going.

    My favorite is the idea that wrist watches are a necessity. There is a clock on every computer,  cell phone,  clock- and car radios,  iPod,  microwave, stove, cable box and DVD player. We are surrounded by time. In a few years, no one will wear a watch anymore.

    Watch ad in the New York Times

    Watch ad in the New York Times

    Maybe a few people like me, who need an analog watch to know what time it isn’t, which is more important than what time it is. One glance at the hands of a watch, and I know it’s not time to leave for the client, not time to sit down and wait for the call.

    This holiday season, the retailer are pushing watches as if they are the solution to bring back your 401(k) and will simultaneoulsy squeeze the money back out of Bernie Madoff.

    Huge, full pages of watches are advertised in the “A” section of the New York Times, Washington Post and other major papers. None of them are cheap. In the black-and-white ad, the cheapest watch is just under $1,000. The ad in red is a double-truck–covers two full pages in the New York Times. That size ad costs close to $50,000– a lot of  cash for making you want a watch.

    So the $1,000 for the watch is a “necessity” — will help you keep your job–and it’s a

    Expensive watches

    Expensive watches

    bargain, so reach for that wallet.

    The other ad that puzzles me is the 3-wick candle. I have never known a man to purchase a chande that wasn’t meant to use on a camping trip. But here is this one, expensive and elegant, being sold in the men’s department. Why do you suppose they did that? My answer is that a woman, wandering in the

    3-wick candle, just for men

    3-wick candle, just for men

    men’s department, will snatch up that candle in great confidence, knowing that it’s perfect in her mind, and she found it in the men’s department, so it must be for men.

    And just to reassure women that it really is a manly candle, you can buy it in one of several types–each one representing one of the seven deadly sins. I don’t know what envy smells like, and I’m pretty sure that if you give “gluttony” there are going to be hurt feelings. And I have no interest in what “lust” smells like.

    Sigh. I love the holidays, I just hate being treated as if I don’t know what I need or want.

    —Quinn McDonald is a writer and life- and creativity coach who helps people discover what they really want. (c) 2008 All rights reserved.