Build your foundation, but keep breaking the mold.

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Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

As writers, while it’s important to develop our personal brands, in the process, we may run the risk of stifling our creativity, missing opportunities, and imposing others’ expectations on ourselves.

As creatives, we owe it to ourselves to try our hand at new things, and thus, continually evolve.

For over two decades, I’ve satisfied my creative wanderlust through freelancing and fiction, but when I’m feeling lost or uninspired, nothing bolsters my courage more than other artists I admire, and one of my favorites is singer-songwriter Norah Jones — someone who, in my opinion, keeps breaking the mold.

Finding Your Voice

My beginnings

As a writer, I cut my teeth on freelancing. I’ve written for magazines, interviewed executives for corporate profiles, developed instruction manuals — you name it. I’m passionate about freelancing to this day because of its vagabond nature, if you will. I never know who I might meet, what idea might strike my fancy, what I’ll learn, or where I’ll end up. …


What your other passions can teach you.

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Photo by Rana Sawalha on Unsplash

As writers, it’s probable that along the path of our creative journeys we’ll encounter any number of issues, including writer’s block, overwhelm, frustration, disillusionment, burnout, discouragement, and loss of direction.

As creatives, drawing on our other passions and the parallels between them, and our writing can serve to revitalize our journey by inspiring, teaching, motivating, and enlightening us.

As a writer for nearly twenty years, the outdoors has and continues to be my go-to for putting me right when I’ve lost my writing way — in both practical, and more philosophical, terms.

The Practical

On a recent hike in the woods with my boyfriend, I reflected that my gear, from my backpack to my footwear, contributes greatly to my comfort and enjoyment on our excursions. …


The creative version of updating your résumé.

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Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

As writers, finding, growing, and connecting with the people who will enjoy, appreciate and recommend our work the most can sometimes prove elusive, confusing, and time consuming.

Taking stock of your creative journey by assessing those, in most cases, less than 200 character snippets we share about ourselves in our social media bios is one way to help identify your talents, accomplishments, interests, and more — all things that can help you find new audiences and strengthen existing ones.

Refreshing my Instagram bio recently was, for me, the creative version of updating my résumé, and helped me discover and rediscover who I am as a writer and connect with my ideal audience. …


Be that person — share your knowledge with your fellow writer.

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Photo by Romain V on Unsplash

Writers everywhere, especially newer ones, may be shy, anxious, and/or insecure about sharing their work, or simply be unsure, or unaware of who to ask for input so as to improve their skills and increase their knowledge.

Be that person — the one who reaches out to help his fellow writer, whether you’re a new writer, an old hand, or somewhere in between. Yes, you, a mentor.

As a freelancer for nearly twenty years, as well as an author for the last five, I’ve had numerous opportunities to mentor peers and high school students. Every experience has given me the opportunity to not only teach and pay it forward, but I’ve also learned a lot, and been inspired. …


Or: Why you’re not listening to your readers and how to fix it

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Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

As authors — though many of us have worked hard to find, build, and connect with our audience with the intent of making lasting connections, creating super fans, and selling lots of books — we’ve met with less-than-smashing success, even after educating ourselves on this vast topic. One of the problems? We’re probably not listening to our readers as often, or as well as we can.

Applying the “cocktail party effect”, which is just a fancy name for selective listening, is a key component of our marketing success, and works both ways — once you tune in to your readers, they’ll return the favor. …


It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers

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Photo by Diogo Sousa on Unsplash

As the word “pandemic’ becomes a word that rolls off the tongue, parenting a teenager — which can be difficult on our best day — has taken on a whole new dimension.

Conversation and communication have never been more vital or critical — and now that we’re hanging together on a daily basis, they’ve never been more accessible. And I’m taking full advantage.

As a single parent of a teen, here’s how I’m making sense of things, day by day for both of us.

Let them process

When your child hurts, you hurt. And there’s nothing I can do as her mother to make it better, or lessen the blow. She, like everyone else on the planet, has had her life upended, events and travel cancelled. …


Reading, writing & storytelling revisited.

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Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash

As readers, we long for stories that make us feel deeply. As writers, we strive to create that experience, but sometimes fall short.

The answer lies in fostering an intimate connection with our reader. We can achieve this by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable as we write, by reading stories that move us, and by expanding our view of storytelling.

Here’s how a recent read enlightened me.

It’s more of a conversation

Recently, I listened to American country music legend Willie Nelson’s autobiography on audiobook, It’s a Long Story: My Life. …


The power of reading the right book at the right time

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Photo by João Silas on Unsplash

We’ve all experienced the euphoria of devouring that book — the one that intrigues, enlightens, and ultimately changes us. Our work. Our mindset. Our process. Without a doubt, reading the right book at the right time can prove life-altering, but how do you find it? Or rather, how does it find you?

The answer, I believe, is twofold, in that it lies at the intersection of your level of experience and the law of attraction, or the ability to attract into our lives whatever we’re focusing on.

When I started working on my fifth novel, I sought a better way to outline and plot my story. The result? My more efficient, strategic, and “forest for the trees” approach is increasing my productivity, enabling me to tell a better story, and giving me a stronger understanding of how to market the book from the very beginning. …


Lessons from the show’s themes of camaraderie and creativity.

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Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Writers of all stripes experience discouragement and disappointment as part and parcel of the creative journey.

After writing professionally for twenty years, I find there’s nothing like another artist to help you weather those storms — and the show The Voice fits the bill.

I’ve been a fan since the beginning, and the artists, as well as the judges, never fail to inspire me. Here’s how the show gives me a shot in the arm on those dark days.

Why writing gets you down

As a writer, you know that some days, it’s all too easy to feel uninspired. Unmotivated. Down. On creativity, or the lack thereof. On yourself. The business. …


My daughter and I bond over coffee dates — the caffeine is just a bonus.

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Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

As parents of teens, we can sometimes struggle to connect with them, speak their language, be heard.

One simple way I’ve found to bridge that gap with my daughter is coffee. As in, sharing one with her at any number of the many cafés nearby.

Here’s how I stir up some common ground-s (pun intended).

The beginning of a beautiful friendship

Coffee has become much more than a beverage, thanks to a popular Seattle chain. It’s a thing. A pastime. A lifestyle. And as a society, we love to indulge in that pop culture ‘cuppa’ phenomenon. Good for Starbucks. Even better for me and my daughter.

It all started when she was about twelve. We’ve always loved to go to the bookstore together, where I’d grab a coffee. Back then, she wasn’t old enough to have one, so I inadvertently created a bit of a monster by treating her to a strawberry Frappuccino. Thus marked the beginning of a beautiful friendship. And, I got the distinct impression it made her feel special, kind of like a quasi adult. …

About

Rebecca E. Neely

Author, gritty 2nd chance romance ~ PNR & Suspense @Medium Parenting, Writing, Life Lessons. Reader of all the 📚 Here’s what I got for ‘ya www.rebeccaneely.com

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