Cracking Grammar: How to Properly Use ‘You and I’ and ‘You and me’

Cracking Grammar is for those of us who properly suck at grammar at times. And it isn’t so much that we’re bad at it, but the way grammar was explained to us wasn’t at all very child friendly. I actually don’t recall having much of an impression while learning English grammar and usage. It was all very monotonus; these are the rules and that’s that. For those of us who need tips and tricks to remembering all these Dos and Dont’s this ones for you.

‘You and I’ or ‘You and me’

Many of us are oblivious to the correct usage of ‘ You and I’ and ‘You and me’. I had actually come across this common problem on Facebook. A friend of mine was retelling a conversation she was having with her 4 year old. She had asked her what she had done that day and she responded ‘You and I went to the grocery store’. She had corrected her and said ‘No hunny, its ‘You and me went  to the grocery store” and felt proud enough to post the experience to the internet. There were people that ‘awwed’ and congratulated her on the moment but I was having a migraine, something felt off. I ran to google to confirm, lo and behold the child was right!

I’m not going to give you the basic English teacher lecture on Grammar. I attempt always to find a way to crack the code and make the seemingly exhausting, simpler.

Look at the two sentences below:

You and I should see the Kiss concert next week.

You and me should see the Kiss concert next week.

Now, how do we tell which one is correct? The trick is to simply exclude the other participant or the ‘You’. The sentences would then read:

I should see the Kiss concert next week.

Me should see the Kiss concert next week.

Clearly ‘I’ in this case is the correct word.

Now these:

Joan mentioned you and I at her party.

Joan mentioned you and me at her party.

Break it down:

Joan mentioned I at her party.

Joan mentioned me at her party.

‘Me’ is correct.

Always simply exclude the other person and see if the sentence makes sense without them.

I hope with my help you’ve cracked the code. Good luck and Happy Writing!

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How to Not Stop

After quite a long dry spell I am back. With a words of wisdom and a confession.

Freelance writing was once something I did daily. And when I first began I was doing work for chum change. I pay my own bills and I do this full-time so at some points I would be doing maybe 20 articles a day in order to make a substantial amount of money to live. This, as you can imagine, became more of a chore than ‘something I love to do’. And sooner rather than later I became annoyed with freelance writing and tried my hands at other things. Nevertheless, as a full-time freelance writer, as many of you can attest to, sometimes you slow down until you rather do nothing than write a 500 word article on massage therapy… or even worse, ingrown hair.

Once you stop it is hard to start again. Let me reiterate: once you stop working you don’t want to start again. And this is what happened to me. There were days when I would stare at the job board on content mills and pretend I didn’t see the plethora of articles waiting to be taken. Why? I was tired. Not physically, but mentally tired of writing. And worse, tired of writing where it seems I do not get a substantial amount of money in return.

Once you stop it is hard to start again.

I am now one of those persons who hates content mills. So I took the next step. I faced something I was always fearful of. I applied to a news publication. And as of now I am shortlisted to become a permanent provider for them (more info coming if I get the job).  I cannot really tell you why I was afraid of writing for publications? Maybe it is because I have no actual formal training when it comes to writing. Writing for me in inate and I have always done it and enjoyed it and, if I might add, I am very good at it.

Try applying for a job at a publication.

What happens when you tire of writing for content mills, where you sign over your work and you can’t put it on your resume as something you have done? Try applying for a job at a publication (you can also say ‘ try applying directly to the client’). There are many. In fact just simply googling ‘Write for Us’ will bring up a plethora of options. And they pay handsomely as well. Some articles, if approved, can earn you up to US$100. If you are good at graphic design or health writing, find a website or publication that caters to that and send them a fresh article to show your skill. This is the next best thing and will surely help you pay those bills without having you fall asleep on your couch after staring at the text on your screen all day (yes, this happens to me a lot).

Since I have said that I will be trying to provide you all with Write for Us information from varying sites and I will create a new category just for these posts. I know it may be difficult to pull yourself from the writing you are doing now to search for more jobs. Trust me, I know. So I will help.

I hope you found this post helpful and feel free to comment.

-FWJ

How to Create A Freelance Writing Resume

I have come across many job opportunities which asked for a resume. Some of which I passed on because I did not have a resume at the time. Creating a freelance writing resume is, well, quite easy. Following a few steps one shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to create.

Remember that as a freelance writer you should be able to exhibit a number of key skills. Ensure to touch on these skills throughout your resume:

  • Knowledge of a variety of topics
  • The ability to research on any given topic
  • The skill to organize your research into a well-written article
  • Ability to work efficiently and professionally

THE USUAL

Every resume, regardless of job or position has several must-haves.

  • Your full name (goes without saying)
  • Your website name and address if available (this site should be about writing and showcase your skills)
  • Your contact information (this should include your telephone number, email address etc. Some writers may have a professional skype or other IM account. Including this information is optional)

Example:

Abigail Smith

http://www.freelancewritingjournal.wordpress.com

Tel: 555.555.1234

Address: No. 9 Abbey Road, Yonder Hills, Jamaica

Skype: professionalaccount

THE OBJECTIVE

The objective can either be job specific or generic.

Example:

A job specific objective may read, “To obtain employment as a columnist at the Example Resume Company.”

A generic objective may read, “To provide web content, articles and product reviews to small business websites that will help to improve their visibility within their niche.”

QUALIFICATIONS/AREAS OF EXPERTISE

A freelance writing resume will include qualifications or areas of expertise versus the traditional job history we are all accustomed to. While some writers may add their job history some do not. My take on this issue is that writing resumes will normally have links to writing samples. Whether you wrote an article for a publication or your article was uploaded to a clients site. If you plan on adding writing samples I personally don’t find it necessary to add a job history section as well. The writing samples will give the client the best idea of your skill and competency moreso than a list of places you have worked.

Your qualifications can be in list form or a short paragraph. However, a list form is easier on the eyes.

Example:

Summary of Qualifications

  • Years of writing experience in a wide variety of topics
  • Great skill with meeting deadlines,keeping content concise and to the point and working on multiple topics at once
  • Perfect hand at MS tools such as WORD, EXCEL and tremendous search traits at the web platform
  • Very high speed typing and reading capabilities

AND/OR

Areas of Expertise

  • SEO Articles
  • Blogging
  • How-To Articles
  • Product Reviews
  • Technology Guides, etc.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

This is like listing your job experience but as a freelance writer many of us have had quite a lot of clients and writing jobs. Listing them in their entirety, which includes position, responsibilities, achievement etc, will maybe take up a few pages. Instead, keep this area compact. If possible, include links of your published work. A great way to make this section concise and informative is to create sections:

Example:

(the numbers below should be links and when clicked should lead to a sample of your work. You may include links in any format/way that you see fit)

Professional Experience

Freelance Writer

  • Acme Newspaper, Columnist, 2006-2008 [1][2][3]
  • Bedroom Publishing Company, Editor, 2007-2010 [1][2]

Freelance Website Content Writer

EDUCATION AND TRAINING/ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS

This speaks for itself. List any and all academic/schooling you have had that pertains to your writing. This includes, courses, degrees, diplomas, certificates etc.

Example:

  • University of Mississippi, Jackson, MS: Bachelor of Arts and English Literature 2007
  • Carolina University, MS: post graduate of the Arts and Modern English Literature 2004

REMEMBER

  1. Ensure you are allowed to provide potential clients with links to published work. As a website content writers oftentimes you will sign over all rights of the article to the client.
  2. The best way to link to articles that you have written is to register at EzineArticles, Ehow, and Hubpages where you can upload fresh articles under your name.
  3. You may need to produce more than one type of resume. One for becoming a columnist and another for becoming a content writer, for example. Having multiple types of resumes will save you time in the long run.
  4. If you are mailing your resumes (not emailing) obviously links will not work. Send along a few short articles attached to your resume along with a web address to where it is published online.
  5. Update your resume with each job you acquire. This saves much time and confusion lest you forget the names of clients or publications in the future.

Where You Write/Work Matters

Since my office is now floor to ceiling storage I’ve been without my writing room/home office for months and consequently, my writing has suffered. This helped me realize that where you write matters immensely. Here are a few tips for creating a comfortable home office or writing nook.

THE HOME OFFICE

Whether you are a part-time or full-time write a novelist, or work at home mom you will need a professional and comfortable room to work in.

  • Choose a room with a computer or writing desk and a proper chair to support your back. Sitting in a couch will promote a slouch and this does take a toll on your back and attitude. You will be more prone to falling asleep when you are reclined.
  • A couch and foot stool is okay for taking breaks or getting inspired. However, never use it as your primary writing area.
  • Keep away from distracting things. Televisions are the root to procrastination. Instead, a small radio should be your substitute. Play tunes at a low and background noise level.
  • Have everything you need close by. Items like pen and paper, a dictionary etc. Instead of interrupting your work by looking for the items you may need they should be at arms length.
  • Adequate lighting and cooling. It makes absolutely no sense to have yourself locked in a dark room that is hot and uncomfortable. You will not enjoy being in your writing room for long periods of time.

Tip: Custom made shelving and desks can be very helpful in order to utilize as much space as possible. Make your home office comfortable. There is no need for it to be too posh and serious.

THE WRITING NOOK

Not everyone will have a home office or room to convert into an office. I find the idea of a writing nook very fascinating. You do not require much space. Just enough to include a desk and chair and possibly integrate shelving for books.

  • Transform a nook or empty space of your home into a writing nook.
  • You will need a desk and chair and possibly shelving or drawers to store your supplies.
  • Keep your writing nook away from distractions like televisions and children. For work at home moms find an area of your home with the least kid traffic. If you have young children install a baby gate to prevent them from running amok near your work space.
  • Accessorise your work nook with flowers, sculptures, a wall calendar, clock etc

Tip: a writing nook can be a closet (see picture above), an empty space near a window, a patio or balcony or even unused space on your kitchen counter.

Self Publishing: A How-To Guide (w/ links)

There are thousands of aspiring poets and writers in the world that operate on a low budget and may not have the funds required to publish their writing all on their own. Self publishing is the perfect way for authors who have never published any piece of writing before. It enables them to publish on a restricted budget, helps them to learn how to promote themselves and their work and also aids their credibility quite a bit. Below are a few tips which will help authors to find ways to self publish and see that it is successful.

PRINT ON DEMAND

There are various print on demand sites on the Internet today. Print on demand sites only print books when they are sold so writers will not have stacks of books sitting in a corner of a room aggregating debt. When a person orders a book, only one book is printed and shipped. They also take the responsibility of creating the book, storing the book and shipping the book off the writer. Some websites also offer various tools which help first time publishers such as cover design and editing. Others require a pdf upload.

Here are a few sites which may be of help to you: Blurb.com, Lulu.com & UniBook.com

MARKET RESEARCH

It is important to research heavily before publishing a book. Regardless of genre this is an important first step. For instance, if writing a horror novel, take some time to research other books in this genre. Does your book stand out when compared with others? Are you bringing something new to the market? Market research enables writers to bring new life to their books. You may even find a novel that has very close similarities to yours and as such you may need to rework your writing to stand out in this dense market.

Check out the NY Times Bestseller List & the Amazon Book Marketplace

ISBN

Some sites will offer a free ISBN while some do not. It is important to obtain an ISBN as this enables your work to be listed on Amazon.com. Amazon is one of the largest marketplaces on the world wide web. Passing up the opportunity to be listed on this site can be a very bad decision.

Check out the U.S. ISBN Agency, International ISBN Agency & the ISBN Directory.

DESIGN

Design is important especially when it comes to the cover. First impressions are everything. For instance, a less than professional design will have people assuming its contents are not worth their time or money. Neither does a cover design need to be overly complicated. This is where further market research comes in handy. Take a look at top selling books and their designs to get an idea of what people love and hate. A consultation with a graphic artist will also be very helpful.

For great cover designs visit The Book Cover Archive

EDITING

Not everyone can afford an editor. In situations like these distributing your finished work to friends and family will be better than editing it yourself. The best criticism comes from others.

Search for Book Editing Professionals

CONCLUSION

In closing, self publishing is not a complicated matter. There are many innovative and helpful sites on the Internet that make self publishing easier than we thought it would be. Check out the links mentioned above and happy writing.


5 Steps to Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer


Freelance writing is not often about just having the skills to write a great article or string a few sentences together with some complicated and smart sounding words. There are much skills involved in order to become successful and make good money doing what you love to do.

1. ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS

This is the most important skill freelance writers will need. All professionals in any field know how important organization is to becoming successful. In the world of freelancing its all about keeping track of clients, work hours and schedules. For those who work per hour, organization comes in very handy as this will outline for them what they need to charge to make a decent living. Those who track their expenses will never overspend or over-pay their taxes. When freelancers are disorganized this often leads to waste of time and money.

2. YOUR IMAGE

Your image is important. In order to get more work and more clients you will need to work on how you are percieved by others.It is important to establish yourself as a professional and take your brand very seriously. This gives clients confidence in you and that you will be able to produce high quality work on time. Networking is a great way to establish a professional image.

3. MONEY MANAGEMENT

Money is the gold at the end of the rainbow when it comes to freelancing. While we are not leaving home to go to an office everyday, we do work, we just do it in the comfort of our own home. Our money isn’t guaranteed. We don’t have a set income and basically, our income is based on how much we work. While there are many writing opportunities out there that pay decent rates, in order to be successful freelance writers need to become more aggresive when dealing with their rates. When its time to collect money, it is time to be a collection agent. In short, you will need to stop writing for pennies and know your worth. Keep good records and acquire higher paying jobs.

4. BE CONSISTENT

I have many a times disregarded this simple rule and I’m sure many other freelancers have done so as well. The jist is to be consistent with work. Many freelancers dig in and work hard when the bills need to be paid then slow down or stop altogether when thier responsibilities won’t be coming again for another couple of weeks. Being consistent will allow you to work and not kill yourself in the process. Instead of slaving for a week to meet bills, working at a consistent pace for the month will allow you to pay your bills and have extra left over. While its okay to take a break for a day or two don’t let it run over so much so that you have to double time it to get back on track.

5. MINGLE AND RUB ELBOWS

Being aware of whats happening in the freelance writing community is key to being successful in the business. There are many freelance writing communities which post job opportunities, workshops, training sessions and conferences which are beneficial for all writers out there. It is important to know where the best work is coming from, which companies to avoid, who’s making money where and where they aren’t and what rates are being charged in the industry. This can be easily done by staying in contact with other writers, commnities and blogs. Keep your ears and ears open at all times.

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If you have more tips you would like to share with my readers, feel free to post them in the comment box.