Never Underestimate the Power of White Space

Remember what your teacher said about writing paragraphs?

That paragraphs are sentences on the same topic, put together in one block. We only start a new paragraph if we are transitioning to a new topic. Remember that?

Well, when it comes to blog writing you can take that advice and throw it out the window!

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In order to create an effective blog you need to create white space and not have your sentences all jumbled together.

If you’ve never heard of white space (aka blank/negative space), it’s all this empty space around these words and in between these paragraphs.

You might be thinking, “Who cares about space?! What’s the big deal?”

Well, it’s a huge deal.

Why White Space is Important

When you are blogging, your readers likely are not reading everything that you are writing. Sorry to say! Most of us online readers are skimming the page. It’s just what we all do.

Usually we are looking for pieces of information and just want to be able to find the answers and then move on. So in order to help our readers out, we create a lot of white space.

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Easier to Scan With Our Eyes

With white space your eyes have a clear layout which allows the page to be easily and quickly scanned. Not to mention doing this also makes it easier to understand as well, providing a better experience for the reader.

Shows Organization

White space allows to visually show how your blog post is organized. It also helps you keeps your place, in case you look up from the page for a second. You’re able to turn right back to the page and quickly find where you left off.

Think if you had the page all jumbled up. It would be too cluttered to scan and to visually map out.

I like to use headers on each topic so that it’s easier to scan as well. I feel like this leads your eye to the important information that you are seeking.

Appealing to Readers

White space also makes your post more attractive and keeps your readers intrigued and engaged. Too much clutter is a post is no good! It doesn’t lead the eyes to important information and instead of figuring it out, your readers will just hit the back button and find a new website to get the answers.

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If you’re unsure of how to use blank space, then look at the blogs that you enjoy reading and see how organize it. While it sounds easy, there are many different ways you can create this blank space and use headers.

And if you’re still reading this then I guess I did something right in my use of whites pace! Remember that it’s an important tool to use and never underestimate the power of white space!

Accepting Feedback as a Freelance Writer

While I was getting my undergrad degree in English, in all my writing courses we would have numerous peer review days. This was when you would give a draft of your story to another classmate and have them review and edit it.

I dreaded these days.

Not another peer review day!

At first, it’s a really scary feeling to give your piece of writing to someone else to critique. I mean, it’s your baby. It’s something that you’ve created and put your heart into. But feeling scared happens when you actually care and are passionate about your writing. So relate the feeling of being scared into a positive factor.

In my imagination I would think that someone would completely mark up my page and tell me I sucked at writing. But, you know what. That never happened. And it won’t happen to you either.

Instead it would just be a few markups, some grammar errors and some suggestions. In fact, most of the time…the suggestions helped me out and made the paper flow and sound better. As I looked around the room, in the sweet relief that I wasn’t told I was a sucky writer I saw that everyone received some type of mark up in red ink on their draft. I wasn’t the only one.

As I continued with my classes my anxiety about peer review day began to decrease week by week.

Overtime, I began to look forward to the peer reviews. I also learned to take suggestions….as just that. A suggestion. Most of the time I felt the suggestions helped the piece and I used it. Other times, if I didn’t like it, I didn’t use it. I mean, ultimately it’s your creation. So you can do what you want with it.

You do you and make your piece how you want

I feel that all people have the ability to offer you great feedback. But, sometimes you have to look at the source of that feedback before taking it too personally.

For example, I had a business owner tell me not to use so much white space in my blogs.  Which, I hesitantly had to accept and follow. I mean, it was his website and if he didn’t like the white space I could limit it. But, what this business guy didn’t care to understand was how important white space in a blog. So, while he wasn’t a fan of white space, I personally am. For his company’s blogs, I didn’t use white space. But going forward with my other blogs, I used white space.

Again, his suggestion wasn’t the say all end all for all blogs out there. It was just his opinion. And just like all opinion you can decide to take it or leave it.

I also look and think about who is giving the suggestion. I have some people in my life that are amazing writers and have grown into being very successful writers. Due to their experience and success I respect and follow their feedback with a higher regard than someone who doesn’t make a living from writing.

In any industry you should always be learning, growing and listening. Feedback is one of the greatest sources to improve your writing and should always be welcomed with an open mind. Again, while it may feel scary at first, the more you do it the more you will feel comfortable and even enjoy the feedback process.

Tips for Creating New Workout Habits

Forming any new habit can be hard to stick to. The first week you may be revved up and hitting all your goals but shortly after this you may find yourself hitting a wall.  The motivation wears out its welcome and find yourself going back to your old ways.

This seems especially true when it comes to working out.

Working out can be one of the top activities where you can find an excuse to get out of it. The excuses of not having enough time, not feeling like it, having an injury or headache, and so on. The only real reason why these excuses are coming up is because you allow it. If you really want to form a new habit you have to ignore the excuses in your head and just do it. (Just like the tennis shoe!)

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In order to create a new habit of working out, here are some suggestions that hopefully will help you out.

Tips for Creating a Lasting Habit

The first thing is to get real with yourself and set realistic goals that you know you can do. You don’t want to set your goal so high that it’s impossible to reach. It’s not fun and motivating to not reach a goal. Instead, make it a goal you know you will be able to easily handle.

In other words, if you haven’t been to the gym in over a year, what makes you think you can realistically show up there 5 days a week? Take it down a notch! Try to do about 3 times a week and if you show up on more days, then considered it a bonus and reward yourself for the bonus days! Shit, set your goal for 2 days but go 3 days and really reward yourself for doing that 3rd day!

Don’t do this on your first day back at the gym!

Which, this is a great transition to get to the fun part of setting up new habits. The rewards!

Our brains are wired to repeat actions that bring us pleasure and to avoid actions that we don’t necessary like to do.  That’s how every single human on this planet behaves. There’s no denying it, there’s no changing it. This is just how we are. So for that reason you need to find out what you can do to trick your brain into thinking that working out is a pleasurable experience.

In order to do this….you need to reward yourself. And don’t be stingy about it! In the beginning plan a reward for yourself  for every week you accomplish your work out goals.

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Some people like to create a calendar and mark off the days they did their workouts, with fun stickers. This allows you to visually track you getting closer to your goals and it makes them happy to see it. Once the week is over, now give yourself the reward.

Types of Rewards

This is the most important factor make your reward a non-food related item. And as the weeks keep growing, make the reward better.

So for example, for the first week reward yourself with a manicure or pedicure. Or hell, even just buy a new nail polish color that you love. The second week, reward yourself with a new water bottle or cup. Third week, get a new workout shirt. And the fourth week, treat yourself to a massage! I mean, if you did a month straight, that’s amazing!!! Reward yourself and keep it coming!

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After this first month, start it all over again for the next month. Over time, going to the gym and working out will become easier to do and at some point it will just become a habit. You’ll no longer think of excuses but instead find yourself easily heading to the gym, without much thought about it.

Make Your New Habit Fun

It’s also a good idea to do exercises that you love to do. Make it as pleasurable as you can. So, join a Zumba class if that makes you happy. Or a boxing class. Or walk on the treadmill if that’s your thing! In the beginning as your growing the habit, don’t worry about following a routine or doing a work out you “think” you should be doing. Instead do workouts that bring you the most joy and then reward yourself for it!

Bloggers: Write Like You Talk

No one enjoys reading a research paper. Even if it’s the most interesting topic you can imagine, putting it in a research theme type of paper, can quickly become snoozefest. If your blog is too formal it can feel like a monotone robot spewing out information. Which, people in academics seem to love but the rest of us searching online need a little bit more fun and engagement.

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For this reason, when writing a blog it is highly necessary to write as if you are talking.

By keeping this friendly and human tone it shows personality and therefore is engaging. I mean, if you’re still reading this…then I’ve kept you engaged. See? It works!

It also makes you more approachable to your readers. If you’re approachable then people will actually enjoy and look forward to your blog posts. I mean, that’s the goal of writing a blog, right? To connect with other people with similar interest and learn from each other.

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Plus, isn’t it more fun to write like you talk? To show your personality while still giving out vital pieces of information? I think so! Comment your thoughts! I would love to hear them!

Leave No Trace

Hike Phoenix

Besides me, who else on the trail has hiked past litter? Ugh. It can completely ruin the hike.

Right when you feel as if you are in the middle of nowhere and one with nature, you look down to find a bright white used Kleenex laying on the dirt ground. Or a plastic water bottle. Or a Circle-K cup. Or candy wrappers. Or a variety of these items all scattered around. Nothing can take you out of the feeling of being in nature than seeing litter along the trail.

green trash bin on green grass field

I can’t understand why people would litter in the first place, but then especially while on a hike.

Along the Phoenix hiking websites and trail signs you may have noticed signs informing hikers of the “Leave No Trace” policy.  This policy is exactly how it sounds. Leave No Trace that you were ever there.

Keep nature wild, right?! Right.

So, when…

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Before Pitching, Do Your Homework

I don’t know about you but for me the thought of actually being a freelance writer fills me up with so much excitement that I feel like I’m going to explode!!! My immediate reaction is to jump in and take action. Although before the real action can take place, you need to organize and do your research of who it is that you want to write for.

The best tips are to write what you know and what you are interested in. So, if you don’t know, then you need to sit down and really think and imagine about topics that you are passionate about writing about.

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What topics peak your real passion?

Once you have narrowed down your niches then you want to start researching publications that you would want to write for. Before you begin pitching away, you need to make yourself familiar with the company. Spend time learning the tone and topics that they are covering. This way you can send a more personalized pitch and that demonstrate you understand their company.

As a writer you need to know who your audience is, right? Getting to know the publications readers is also a high priority.

The best method to research who the readers are, is to pay attention to the publication ads. If there’s a car ad, is it a Mercedes ad or a Ford Focus ad? If it’s a clothing ad, is it selling young people clothes or older peoples clothes? By looking at the ads you can tell which demographic the company is projecting to.

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So, while at first you’re excitement level may might want to begin the pitch process, the first real step is to get organized. You need to figure out your niches, the publications and the readers.

Then you can get started with the pitching process!

Meal Planning & Meal Prepping

If it wasn’t for meal planning and prepping, I would be a complete unhealthy mess and probably be slamming down an entire package of pita bread right about now.

By planning out your weekly meals, it cuts out the excuse to eat out and answers the question of, “what’s for dinner?”.  By planning out your meals and then prepping them for the week, it will be easier to stay on the healthier and ultimately happier side of life.

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So ask yourself the question, do you want a much smoother transition to healthy eating while also practicing responsible portion control?

While the act of meal planning and prepping can take up some hours on your actual prep day, it does allow more free time during the week. Plus, the more you make planning and prepping a habitual habit, the quicker and easier you will get at preparing it.

So before you hit up the grocery store, really think about what it is you want to make for the week. Write it down or look up healthy recipes online on the foods your craving. Then write down the ingredients you don’t have, and voila! You have your grocery list!

grocery cart with item

Also before prepping you are going to want to find or buy food storage containers. Some with dividers and are microwavable would be ideal. Make sure you have enough for all your lunches or for anything else you want to store separately for convenience.

Once you have everything ready, it’s time to prep! Depending on what you are making, you may or may not be able to make the entire meal and then store it in the fridge (to be heated up later). If this is a meal that needs to be cooked or assembled on the day you are eating it, then prep everything for that meal. Try to do as much as you possibly can to have the meal close to being complete. This means cutting up your veggies, cooking noodles or anything else similar to that.

tray of vegetables

It becomes less complicated the less meals you are making. So if you find this to be overwhelming, maybe decide to eat the same thing three or two times a week. That way you can just make a bigger portion of the meal, instead of all separate meals.

For myself, I’m able to eat the same thing every week for breakfast and lunch, so that makes my prepping easier. For my dinners, I rotate between two different dinners on every other day, so it’s very manageable to prep. I also choose two snacks for the day, and try to keep it at 100 calories each.

Hopefully this process helps you out. You can put in hours at the gym and burn calories but you also have to watch what you eat. By meal planning and meal prepping it allows you to consciously think about your food and to make the smarter choices.

I would love to hear what you guys think of this? Have you tried meal prepping before? It did work for you, or not? What are some of your favorite things to prep, or what do you think would be convenient to prep?

Done is Better Than Perfect.

Done is better than perfect.

I wrote down this saying on a sticky note and placed it on my keycard for work, which I pull out and see at least 4 times a day. This is a nice reminder that sneaks into my subconscious mind to remind me that sometimes, it’s better to be done and turn in a piece of writing versus constantly revising it.

Sometimes I feel that I can go a little nuts about my writing piece. I’m never 100% satisfied or confident with what I wrote. Even my published pieces, I feel like I could do better. So, when I’m writing I want to constantly re-edit, re-write and re-edit my pieces over and over and over again. In a world of deadlines and time management, feeling this way is not productive.

man in brown long sleeved button up shirt standing while using gray laptop computer on brown wooden table beside woman in gray long sleeved shirt sitting
Done is better than perfect

Therefore, being done with the piece, is better than it being perfect. Because the truth is…is that it will never be perfect. I think that’s a hard but important lesson for creative writers to learn. It will not be perfect. But you got it to be pretty darn close to it though, right? Right.

While it is important to turn in your best work, you can’t wait keep revising. If you do, than while your busy trying to make it perfect another person is coming up behind you and going to get the spot before you did.

At some point you have just to realize it’s done, submit it and walk away.

Let me know, does this make sense? Is this also how you feel writing or are you able to feel satisfied early on and turn it in?

Can You Tell Whether a Person is Healthy or Not?

When you hear the word, “healthy person” what do you picture?

A bodybuilder?

A perfectly fit person exercising at the gym barely breaking a sweat?

Anyone who you consider to be “skinny”?

fitness power man person
Is this bodybuilder really healthy? Or is he hopped up on the roids?! We don’t know…

A lot of people assume that thinner and muscular people are on the top level of absolute health. But that’s not always accurate. People with what you may consider to have perfect bodies are not always the healthiest. In fact, skinny people can be just as unhealthy as overweight people.

Therefore, your size and weight doesn’t matter. I’ll say it again. Your size and weight doesn’t matter.

woman holding white laptop between women
Your size and weight do not matter

If you survive on an unhealthy diet and don’t move around much….you’re going to become unhealthy, if you’re not already.

Those who exercise and eat healthy on a regular basis are likely going to be physically healthier than the rest.

So the first step to become healthy is to eat healthy foods and to get up and move around.

I know, it sounds easier said than done.  I completely understand.

But the hard core truth is that if you want to become healthier than that’s what needs to be done.

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Be the healthiest version of yourself that you can be

So next time you feel like playing the game of who’s healthy and who’s not…take a look at how often that person moves and what it is that they are eating. Those are the real qualities to look for whether a person is healthy or not.

Tips for Writer’s Block

At some point in all writers’ careers, it’s going to happen. The inevitable writers block. It could last for a few minutes, a few days or even longer.

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I know that sometimes, it can take me a few days to find the right words or the right way to deliver the message I’m trying to convey. I think that’s is sometimes just the creative process. But once I find it, I love it! That’s how I know that while writing can be a struggle, I still get giddy and love the process of finding the right words. So maybe instead of seeing writer’s block as a struggle, just think of it as the process.

One thing that I find helps me overcome writer’s block is my journal writing. This is my own private journal and I allow myself to be completely free when writing it in. Sometimes, I just repeat the same words over and over again. Sometimes, I just describe some object in the room that I’m looking at. Most of the time, I let out all my frustrations or emotions upon my keyboard.

Although, I save the work, I don’t re-read it or edit it. I leave it completely raw. Because that makes me feel like I have more freedom.

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By completing the journal entry it makes me feel like I accomplished a piece of writing and frees up space in my creative process to move forward and tackle more writing challenges.

So, if you ever find yourself in this situation, you may want to give journal writing a try! I know it’s my trick to overcoming the block.

What about you other writers? What do you do to overcome writers block?