Substance

substance


Finding a nonfiction book that presents truly original content is not as easy as one would think.

I have edited many a self-help or business-related book that turned out to be mainly regurgitations of other people’s ideas.

Access to a world of knowledge on the internet makes it easy to find definitions, explanations, and opinions others may have about any subject under the sun. Things we read and hear stick in our minds and influence what we believe. Often they can become the foundation for a particular focus in our lives. 

When an individual has the desire to write a book about something that is important to them or important to others, at some point he or she will need to write down what they know on the subject. Of course, during the process, they will almost always discover that research into certain aspects is necessary before their book is complete.

However, what I take issue with is individuals who have nothing new to add to the subject or conversation they plan on writing a book about. I also take issue with book ‘authors’ who haven’t actually written any content of their own. Instead, they’ve collected material from previously published books, combined it together in a ‘new’ book, then proceeded to call it their own creation. Or, they’ve collected famous sayings that most everyone has already heard or read and that are readily available online to anyone who conducts a basic search then re-published them as ‘their’ book.

I’m sure most people are aware that students frequently plagiarize papers or simply copy and paste information they’ve found online and call it a paper. In the world of academia, this is widely discouraged, and students who are discovered will usually experience severe consequences.

But what about in the world of self-help, inspirational, and how-to books? Call me crazy, but I believe that authors should follow a few, basic, common-sense guidelines before self-publishing these types of books.

Questions I feel any nonfiction writer should ask themselves:

  1. How much of your content did you write from your own memory and experience?
  2. How much of your content has already been published, either in a book, video or movie?
  3. Are your ideas YOUR ideas, or someone else’s ideas that you just think are fantastic?
  4. If you’ve engaged in legitimate research (online or offline), have you gained the necessary permission(s) to publish content that already holds a copyright and isn’t in the public domain? This includes images as well.

Anyone who claims to be an expert or professional at something should be able to explain the topic or activity on their own, without having to scour the internet. Of course, people are all at different skill levels when it comes to communication, grammar or vocabulary, but the basic principles or processes involved in the topic at hand should already be present in their minds, ready to share.

I personally put this theory to the test when I wrote my series about preparation for self-publishing a book. I wanted to ensure that my content was original and based on my own knowledge and experience, because there are hundreds if not thousands of sites and books that talk about this subject to some degree.

First, I brainstormed a list of elements I thought were the most important for authors who were ready to publish their book to consider. Then, over a period of time, I wrote what I knew about each element, refining and rewriting many times. Everything I wrote came from my own mind, and I did not go online for ‘help’. When I couldn’t immediately come up with the exact words I was looking for, I would let it simmer for a few days; then I would simply write what I DID know, and only that.

The final two elements in my list of nine involved things that I don’t handle as part of my editing service. But I still thought they were important for authors to consider, so I included brief, accurate, related information that I’d found through research. I made it clear that my expertise only applied to the first seven elements. I have no desire to pretend to know something I don’t, especially in the professional arena.

It was super exciting for me to discover the amount of knowledge and experience related to book editing I’ve accumulated over the years. It really is true that the best way to find out if you know what you’re talking about is to try to explain it in depth to someone else. Many times in the past, I’ve outed myself by trying to explain something that I really didn’t understand and failed miserably. I’m sure everyone can relate to that feeling — problem is, some people aren’t willing to admit it.

Reading a book full of new ideas, insights or inspirations that help me in a way I’m unable to on my own is so rewarding! I must thank each and every author who has put in the time and effort to share them with the world. 

Mobility

mobility

Project quote: 

“Studies show that people who exercise before and during work are happier, experience less stress, and are more productive.” (http://ergonomyx.com/)

My thoughts: 

I would have loved to have an under-the-desk bike or one of those adjustable desks that would allow me to stand at any of the administrative jobs I’ve worked at in the past. They would have reduced the boredom I’m sure, and likely my coffee intake as well.

The bike I currently use under my desk when I’m working at home is great for increasing circulation and prevents some of the daily stiffness in my hips and knees from arthritis. Another recommendation I need to follow more consistently is getting up from the chair every hour or so to do stretches or walk outside.

Companies in Japan have a great system for daily exercise at the workplace. Employees and companies alike here in the U.S. could really learn a lot by following their example. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/exercise-workplace-what-japanese-companies-can-teach-us-scott-lister/

Using some kind of exercise equipment while working can improve how we deal with stress, whether it’s related to deadlines, clients, personal conflicts, whatever.

I also play a couple word game apps daily for mental exercise that directly relates to the work I do. This week I made it to the library again to check out a pile of books to read while housesitting. Reading at night before bed not only helps me fall asleep and sleep better, it’s so much better for slowing down the mind and racing thoughts. Watching a show or scrolling through my feed on my phone definitely does NOT slow down the mind in preparation for sleep.

Next, I’d like to find methods for improving my ability to focus on a task for longer periods of time. I’m fairly certain that frequent use of social media and the internet has shortened my attention span and contributed to my reduced ability to focus. I have no interest in using medication to addres this issue.

As I sit here typing, looking out the window at the beautiful view by the lake where I’m housesitting, I realize that I keep staring off in the distance for quite a while. Nature allows me to focus and experience the moment in a way that media and city life never can. Zoom in — can you spot the hummingbird in the photo above? I tried for several minutes, unsuccessfully, to get a clear photo of the little guy flitting around but settled for a beautiful shot of the flowers and scenery. I thought this was a fitting image to display the balance between movement and stillness.

Our minds and bodies require both movement and stillness at the appropriate times to be healthy.


Editing projects for weeks ending August 19, 2018:
Academic research article, Nonfiction book Author Bio, Workspace Fitness Devices website, Nonfiction book, Promotional sales email 

Client countries:  China, US, Canada, UK 


 

Creativity

creativity

Project quote:

“The creativity of the human mind is endless.” (Robert H. Fetner, Memories of Miami Vice: Real Stories, 2018)

My thoughts:

Creativity. The quality of being creative.

Who do you associate with these words? An artistic person. Someone who is colorful, imaginative, full of ideas.

I believe it’s even more than that.

The root of the word is create. Create means to build, invent, conceive, originate.

The human mind has the potential for doing so much more than simply following directions, or practicing things already learned, or repeating the same actions over and over.

Creativity, as I see it, involves looking for new solutions for old problems. Ignoring assumed limitations and forming new thoughts, new ideas. Forming concrete plans for events or systems or projects or concepts that you’ve never experienced and possibly don’t already exist. Improving on things that do.

Other words I associate with creativity are imagination and ingenuity. Creativity can apply to any field, any station in life, work, play, art.

Everyone has their place and will hopefully figure out what that is. But where would we be without the creative people? The inventors, the dreamers, ones who can build something out of little, who can see what others can’t. We would simply be creatures of habit, no sparks of brilliance; and we wouldn’t even realize what was missing.

I, for one, marvel at the creativity of the human mind and the capacity for achieving the impossible, for making something beautiful for a specific purpose or simply for the joy it can bring. I’m thankful for this God-given gift that lies within all of us, regardless of our age, stature, and status.

As an exercise, I made a list of types of individuals commonly thought to be creative along with a list of a few other types of creativity I came up with.

Let me know in the comments what else you think could be considered an example of creativity. I’d love to hear your ideas, especially any that I might never have thought of myself.

Creative folks:

Poet
Painter
Chef
Architect
Fashion designer
Composer

More:

  • Do-it-yourself handyman who finds ways to repair and adjust household fixtures, furnishings, etc. without instructions, using whatever is available.
  • Babysitter who comes up with fun and engaging activities or crafts to teach and occupy the kids in their care.
  • Stand-up comics who improvise their content based on their audience and surroundings
  • Youtubers who develop their own entertaining and useful content instead of simply reposting other people’s ideas
  • Personal trainer who develops stretches, exercises and customized activities for clients with limitations and specific goals.
  • Entrepreneur who makes their own opportunities by finding numerous ways of harnessing his or her skills to serve others and make a successful living.

**Comment below with your additions!


Editing projects for weeks ending July 29, 2018:
Nonfiction Memoir, (several) academic research articles
Client countries: US, China


 

Community

community

I’m rather a solitary, independent person, and not often lonely. My living situation puts me in close proximity with my son and his girlfriend by necessity. While I love being able to talk to him as much I do, I prefer my own space and am working to get back to that. Yet, I desire to belong to a community of people who have had similar experiences or who have the same problems to deal with.

Some of my favorite Youtubers include a lady who is a mom, blogger, and recovering addict who’s been clean for five years; a hilarious comedian with a stutter and a sweet dog; a fashionable and savvy blind girl; and several athletes who have worked really hard to get fit so they could compete in American Ninja Warrior competitions.

Years ago, I was in regular contact with a couple groups for ex-JWs, but I’ve moved beyond the need for that. I also led a crochet and knitting group for a couple years. I think some of them still meet up, but I don’t know where and I haven’t had much time for yarn work lately. I’m an editor and a writer and book lover so naturally, I’m in a couple writing groups on Facebook. While I was traveling with an ex-partner around the country, I felt some comradery with other trucker-wives. More recently, I’ve felt drawn to Christians who understand the Bible’s true message, and Jesus’s free gift of grace.

There are so many people I admire and others who just make me laugh. I can usually relate to some of their challenges or triumphs, but I don’t feel like I’m really a solid member of any particular group per se, or that anyone considers me one of their ‘people’. Why do I feel the desire to? That’s the hundred-bitcoin question.

I think I would like to identify and connect with a circle of friends occasionally, then retreat to solitude. Maybe a travel group, or community of small business owners.

Do any of you feel the same way? Why do you think people develop this need to belong?

I think some of the motivations are fairly clear: friendship, validation of certain ideas or beliefs, exchange of experiences and ideas.

Other less obvious motivations may include: boredom, loneliness, a need for direction, acceptance, reputation or status.

Comment below with your thoughts!

 

Imagine

fear

Project quote:

“Many of our fears exist only in our mind. We may instantly imagine bad things happening without any evidence.”  (Tom Henricksen, Relationship Management for Technical Professionals, 2018)

My thoughts:

Fear can be a protection. But it can also hold us back from many rewarding experiences in life. Courage is born from fear. Some of my proudest moments, some of my most rewarding moments were made possible because I fought against a specific fear and took a risk. One person might consider certain actions or words as reckless, while another might see it as an opportunity. When asked what my greatest fear was, I’ve never share this with anyone, maybe as a self-preservation mechanism. But I’ve learned the value of admitting my fears to myself. Only then can I challenge them.

Maybe instead of imagining the bad things that could happen, imagine the good that can happen. Even if the attempt fails fantastically—imagine the relief from knowing you finally tried. Imagine the boost of confidence you’ll feel, knowing you have the strength to challenge yourself, and your fears.


Editing projects for weeks ending June 3, 2018:
Reword privacy policy, Fitness website video transcript, Nonfiction book

Client countries:  UK, Israel, US


 

-ships

ships

Project quote:

“She thought she needed a relationship. What she actually needed was companionship — friendship not predicated on how she looks or on being pleasant or perfect.” (S. Chapman, Searching for Something More, 2018)

My thoughts:

Realizing this seems to be easy for certain women. But for the majority, I don’t think this is ever truly understood and accepted. Maybe I’m allowing my own experience to determine my judgement on that.

I’ve worked this out and know it to be true but applying this principle in my life is another story.

What is the difference between a relationship and companionship? Here’s my interpretation.

Relationship: A connection between two people. There are different kinds of relationships, of course. We have various kinds with the many people in our lives. The kind I’m talking about today is the romantic/intimate/physical kind. This kind of relationship may mean different things to different people, but most would agree that if the connection has graduated to the term “relationship”, as opposed to a fling, hookup, or flirtation, then there is some kind of commitment involved. But notice that these kinds of relationships often have different boundaries or expectations from one couple to the next. Personally, I picture romantic dates, making a home together and traveling together.

Companionship: Friendship. The state of being another person’s companion, or one that accompanies another. When I think of someone who is a companion, I picture someone who I am comfortable to be around. Someone who I could hang out with, be myself and do nothing. Or, hang out with and share deep, innermost thoughts. Or, someone to laugh and have fun with. I don’t picture a situation where I’m constantly worried about how I look or what I’m wearing. I picture acceptance and appreciation.

If a committed, intimate relationship can be combined with true companionship, then that to me defines the ultimate connection. 😊 

What do you think?


Editing projects for weeks ending April 29, 2018:
Nonfiction book, Business policies

Client countries:  US, UK