Ten Resolutions for 2013

I’ve been making New Year’s Resolutions for the last three years. And after last year’s didn’t go so well, I’ve decided I need to make this year’s public. And I need to put them where I’ll see them often. So I’m sharing them with you and posting them on the fridge.

Without further ado, here are my goals and resolutions for 2013:

1.That’s only two books a month—what a sad number. With working full time, freelance editing jobs, blogging, and having a life, it’s tough to fit reading in, but I still want to make sure I’m doing it. Two books I want to get to this year are Don Quixote and Les Miserables. And maybe Mere Christianity, since that was on my list of resolutions last year and I bought it but never read it. Oops. But right now, I’m going back to an old favorite: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

2.With all the dental work I’ve had in the last two months to make up for a childhood of poor dental hygiene, this is a big one for me.

3.Ideally, this will be running on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday or Sunday, and two days of yoga.

4.Not gonna lie—this one scares me. But I really want to get there just because I think I can’t.

5.Jonathan and I read together most nights, but I want to make more of a concentrated effort to spend time in the Word on my own. I haven’t really gotten started yet, but I’m planning to use a reading plan from Canvas Church’s website. If you’re interested in joining me, you can find the reading plan here.

6.Last year, I wanted to journal every day. It didn’t happen. Not even close. So this year, I’m shooting a little lower and broadening the possibilities—it can be journaling, a blog post, or something else. And unless I’m having a bad week, stuff I write for work won’t count.

7.We eat out way too much. Especially when we don’t have leftovers for lunches and we eat out then, too.

8.I made this a goal for myself two years ago, and it was a great challenge. I love finding and trying new recipes. Especially when they turn out great. I think I’ll start with one (or both!) of these . . .
Sun-dried Tomato Spread
Man-Pleasing Chicken

9.I’ve written about this before, but I fell out of the habit. It made life much easier when I didn’t procrastinate in the small things.

10.Earlier would be even better, but as it’s been, I’ve been getting up at 7:45ish, only about 20 minutes before I have to leave for work. No bueno. Things have got to change. And if they do, I might even have time to get my run in or do my quiet time before I go to work. That sounds like a recipe for a much better day.

What are you goals/resolutions for 2013?


Proofreading Tips

This picture doesn’t have anything to do with proofreading. But it’s of a small “detail” lots of people wouldn’t notice. Plus I’m missing Yellowstone, and that’s where we found this pretty bird.

Because I finished a big proofreading project over the weekend, I thought I’d offer a few proofreading tips for this month’s Writing Tip Wednesday.

  1. Don’t put all your trust in the spell check. There are too many words that have multiple spellings. And sometimes autocorrect will insert the wrong word unnoticed.
  2. Don’t put any trust in the grammar check. It’s almost never right. If you get that squiggly green line, check out the suggestion for sure, but do your research before you accept it.
  3. Don’t just look for misspelled words and missing or misplaced punctuation. Pay attention to formatting, too—font, page numbers, orphans and widows . . . And if the document includes dates, times, names, or titles, double-check the spelling.
  4. Create a style sheet. Don’t know what that is? It’s a document that keeps track of the rules you’re using—word spellings, serial comma, how to format numbered lists, etc. In some cases, you’ll want to have a style sheet for every document. In other cases—like a business setting—you’ll want to create a style sheet to use for everything you print. It’ll keep everyone who does any writing or editing of your documents on the same page (no pun intended!). You certainly don’t want the editor taking out all the serial commas only to have the author put them all back in.
  5. Back up every time you find an error. This suggestion comes from The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style. Apparently studies have shown that most missed errors are near other errors that were caught. CWMS recommends backing up a few lines whenever you find an error.
  6. If you’re editing your own copy, don’t edit right after you wrote it. Take some time away from your work and do something else. The more time you can let it sit, the better, I think. Then when you come back, you’re seeing it with fresh eyes. You’re more likely to catch things.
  7. If it’s your own copy, have someone else look at it, too. When you’re close to a project, it’s hard to catch things. I can prove that—at work, I send out a weekly newsletter, and two weeks in a row I was under a time crunch and edited my own copy without having someone else look at it. Guess what happened? Two glaring mistakes two weeks in a row. Oops.
  8. If you’re able, read through the document more than once. Bonus points if you look at it once, walk away for awhile, and then look at it again. When I can, I scan for formatting, do a thorough proofread, and then do another quick proofread.

If you have tips of your own, feel free to leave them in a comment.

I’m Thankful for . . .

I chose not to do the 30 days of thankfulness posts everyone else is doing this month because, let’s be honest, it wouldn’t happen. But I decided I can manage four daily posts, so consider this the first post in an almost-week of thankfulness.

I also decided to take a more serious look at things I’m thankful for. I’m going to skip over the easy ones, the blessings anyone could guess (my husband, my family, my friends, blah blah blah) and take time to thank God for the blessings He’s brought into my life that have been harder for me to recognize, the things He knew were for the best, even if I didn’t (and maybe still don’t) think so.

Today I’m thankful God asked me to give up my career dreams. It certainly hasn’t been an easy road (and I still have days when I hope maybe things will still work out the way I wanted), but when He asked me to let go of the plans I had for my own life, put down roots where He had me, and trust Him to use my skills for His glory, He knew what He was doing. And since then, some really cool things have happened—I took over leadership of a ministry at church, got my first paid freelance editing project, and realized how much I love the job I already have.

And to top it all off, the writing- and editing-related projects I’ve gotten to work on since letting go are more in line with the direction the publishing industry is heading. (So who knows what will happen next?) Not to mention God has used the whole thing to challenge  the pride and condecension I didn’t realize had a hold on my heart.

God really does have a plan for my life. Go figure.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. —Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

Writing Tip Wednesday: Comma Rules

I’ve gotten questions about commas and hesitated to post a writing tip about it because, quite frankly, I can’t explain the rules. For two years, I’ve been telling coworkers to add and subtract commas from their documents, and when they ask why, I usually say, “Um, well, I can’t explain why, but that’s how it is. Trust me.”

I’ll be the first to admit that is not a good answer.

But then I came across an article that made it all seem so much easier. Rather than re-write it here, I thought I’d just send you over to prdaily.com so you can read it for yourself. So go read this article on comma rules. Yes, right now. I’ll wait.

Helpful, wasn’t it?

If you take nothing else away from this post about commas, remember that commas should make it easier for your reader understand what you’ve written, not harder. (Oh, and you can’t just throw in a comma wherever you would stop to take a breath. I don’t know why so many English teachers taught that rule, but I wish they hadn’t.)

If you’re still reading and can appreciate comma humor, here ya go:

Bonus Writing Tip Wednesday: Affect vs. Effect

You get a bonus writing tip this month because I’ve been seeing this one A LOT lately and I’d like to set the record straight.

Affect vs. Effect

Affect is a verb.

Effect is a noun.

In case you’re struggling to remember your parts of speech, here are a few definitions to help you out:

Verb: a word that shows action or state of being

Noun: a person, place, thing, or idea

Here are a few examples:

The weather always affects the farmers’ crops.

A parent’s own upbringing often affects the way she raises her children.

The special effects in that movie were impressive.

The painting technique produced the desired effect in the living room.

And It’s Wednesday

So I lied. It’s another iced grande chai day. I’m just not ready to give up summer yet. And in celebration of Wednesday (and that I’m trying real hard to believe it’s going to be a good day, unlike yesterday), I got myself a ham/parmesan sandwich. Believe me, I’m going to need it.
Sorry. I couldn’t resist adding my Starbucks picture to the millions posted by other bloggers on any given day. Maybe later it will remind me of my nice morning and that will be enough. I hope.

It’s kind of a big week around here. It’s our fall kickoff day for the youth group and new classes and such at church, which means we’re all running around like headless chickens. And on top of that, every other area of my life seems to be on overload—things I have to do, decisions I have to make—you get the idea.

And my brain won’t shut off. I’ve been thinking a lot about commitments (I’ve been making and thinking about making quite a few of these lately) and discipline. Both subjects have come up in several places over the last month, and I just can’t get away. Don’t get me wrong—discipline and commitment are good things, but it’s a bit overwhelming to make several new commitments in the space of a month when you haven’t really cut out other commitments. And they’re all good things, but it’s been a little much. New commitments include daily Bible reading time, daily prayer for a move of God, running three times a week, and then a few more that I’m taking a little more time and prayer to decide about.

Anyone else having this type of week?

If you’ve made it this far, let me share something writing-related I’ve been thinking about lately . . .

I’ve discovered there are two types of writers: those who write because they love to write (regardless of what they write about) and those who write because they have something to say. These are by no means mutually exclusive. Have you noticed this? Do you think it makes a difference why someone writes?

Writing Tip Wednesday: An Announcement

I’ve been doing Writing Tip Wednesdays for several months now, with the intention of helping you, my readers, by posting little bits of writing advice that can help anyone, no matter what you’re working on.

But I also started it with the hope of taking the time to learn some new things myself.  Unfortunately that hasn’t been happening because I don’t have enough time in my week to work full time, spend time researching and learning, create three thoughtful blog posts, review books, and have a life. And I’m pretty sure I’ve blown through all the tips I can come up with off the top of my head without that extra time. Maybe it’s just because it’s summer and things are extra crazy. I don’t know. But I’ve made a decision . . .

I’m going to make Writing Tip Wednesday a monthly feature rather than a weekly feature.

I’ll plan to post a new writing tip on the last Wednesday of each month. Hopefully this change will help me learn new things so I can give you better writing advice. And maybe in the future it’ll become a weekly feature again, you never know. But for my own sanity and your benefit, this is how it needs to be for now.

I currently have a running list of writing tip post topics, but it’s pretty short. If you have anything you’d like me to post about, please leave a comment and let me know.

Since you probably came here expecting a Writing Tip, here’s some advice from Grammarly.com’s Facebook page: