Nov 1st 2018

5 Ways Freelance Writers Benefit from Journaling

Guest post written by Jennifer Lockman.

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Journaling is for everyone. Some, use it is as a safe place to express themselves, while other, like writers ,keep journals to keep track of their projects. I keep it for a mixture of both. It’s nice to get off the computer and to physically write something. This alone brings me a lot of benefits.
Whether you’re just launching a freelance writing career or you have already been working for a few years, starting a journal is the right choice. If you use this powerful tool regularly, you will reap the following advantages.

Stress relief and improved health
Writers have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing. Now, this issue is a focus of research for scientists. Several studies have shown that patients who engaged in expressive writing felt appreciably better, both mentally and physically, as compared with patients who didn’t. I’m not a medical expert. But from personal experience, journal keeping reduced my stress level by half. While the effects may differ, the positive impact of writing on overall health is beyond doubt.

Your own Idea Bank
Pitching ideas to editors of print and online media is part of a freelance writing career. A journal is a starting point. It’s the soil where you plant those seeds. An idea that you dropped a few months ago, because you weren’t ready to develop it then, maybe perfect for you to work on tomorrow. You’ll never suffer from writer’s block. I often use my journal for an article or academic paper. If your creativity is temporarily gone, you can look through the entries and discover an idea you’d love to employ.

Extra motivation
A freelance career requires hard work and patience. Journaling gives you an opportunity to keep track of your progress. That will push you to keep going. My journal keeps me motivated. I write down things that inspire me. I also maintain records of the happy moments in life. Create a log of inspirational sources tailored to you. The more motivation you get, the more you grow personally, mentally and professionally.

Organization
Organizing your work schedule (especially if you are working on multiple orders at once) is a challenging task. A journal helps to prioritize time more efficiently. You can see patterns and notice things that keep popping up and need your attention. Journaling helps me to plan what I’m actually going to write. This way, I complete the non-writing activity sooner and carve out more time for my actual writing. Every time I take a writing course, submit a magazine article or work on a long-term project, I jot everything down in my journal. The act of recording these things makes me feel great. I know that I can manage my workload.

Higher qualification
The freelance job involves more than one may think. What can be more appealing than working in the comfort of your home? Qualification matters when it comes to success in freelance writing. However, it doesn’t mean that this job is only for someone with a degree in a related field. As a freelancer, I must take into consideration the expectations and satisfaction of my clients. This forms the driving force to produce the best quality of work possible. And meeting the deadlines is always an achievement. If you’re not qualified, but you have the necessary knowledge, training can be enough to get you going. A journal is a place for exercising your writing skills, developing your own approach to work, and defining your career goals. You already know what journaling can do for you and why you might need to take it up. The question that remains unanswered is how to start practicing it on a regular basis.

Choose a journal that feels right for you
While it’s tempting to opt for the journal with the cutest cover or the fanciest embossing on it, select the one that will be easy to use in different settings. Will you always have a surface to put your notebook on while you write? Will you be able to document your observations while standing in line and your creative juices are flowing uncontrollably? Some writers jot their ideas down on index cards and keep them in a file box. Others have a large notebook stashed in handy locations at home and take a small spiral notebook when they go out. The latter can be tucked inside a purse or in the pocket. While a pen and paper give your brain a break from computer screens, why not use an app that you can open when you have a few spare minutes during the day? Various software packages designed for journal keeping are readily available. Their advantage is that you can tag entries, and then quickly find the necessary abstract. And if you want to include some sentences in your article, it is a matter of a few clicks.

 

How to make journaling a habit
Want to write in your journal every day? Connect it to something you already perform daily. If you take medication, supplement, or vitamin tie your writing practice to when you do it. This is why many daily journal-keepers write in the morning while having a cup of coffee or right before bedtime to declutter the brain and avoid insomnia.
Want to write in your journal once a week? Choose a day, book that chunk of time (I suggest from ten minutes to an hour) in your calendar as a recurring event and set a reminder.

Good luck becoming a journal keeper!

About author: Jennifer Lockman, I am graduated from UCLA majoring in Journalism and blogger. My expertise includes general education, e-learning, business, writing and lifestyle.

 

 

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Oct 25th 2018

Computer Languages: A Guide For Students to Choose

Guest post written by Jennifer Sanders.

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We all know that in-demand talents in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, collectively known as STEM, are becoming more and more popular over time. Listings online, of vacant positions in software, have been growing almost exponentially.

With that information, it is understandable that anyone would like to learn to code in order to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. The problem is that there are so many languages available out there, that the sheer number can be overwhelming. Like so many others you’ve probably faced the dilemma of where to start, and are wondering how to go about it. Hopefully, you’ll get some important pointers in this article to help you on your journey.

Programming Languages

To be sure, there are hundreds of programming languages out there. However, they mainly fall into two categories. Once you understand these categories, it will be much easier to pick what works for you.

Dynamic Programming Languages

These are the easiest languages to learn for beginners as they’re highly flexible and the learning process is lots of fun. You can build with less code and you can build things from scratch without having to go through too much hustle. There also aren’t too many rules about how to write this code. You have the flexibility to put it all together however you want as long as the end result works. Dynamic languages are typically higher level languages where more of your time is spent mastering basic programming concepts than focusing on the little details. Below are some examples of dynamic programming languages:

  • JavaScript – It’s fairly common for beginners to confuse JavaScript with Java. However, the two aren’t related. JavaScript is a scripting language used to build the front end of websites. It works with all browsers and, through libraries like jQuery and frameworks like React.js and Angular.js, is used to build interactive web apps. With recent developments, it has also become possible to use JavaScript to build things on the server-side through Node.js, a special runtime environment. While the Node.js community is still young, it is growing rapidly and is full of resources. New developments like Facebook’s React Native also allow you to build native apps for smartphones using JavaScript. The greatest disadvantage with JavaScript is the difficulty in debugging it due to its untyped nature. Due to this, typed versions of JavaScript have been developed, such as TypeScript and JSX.
  • Python – This is a very popular language and is highly recommended for beginners. In fact, it is the most popular introductory programming language that is learned at universities in the US. It has a wide variety of applications, including web apps, desktop apps, cryptocurrency mining, data analysis, bioinformatics, ethical hacking, and scientific computing, among others. Some popular apps and services have been built using python, including Google, Dropbox, Pinterest, Reddit, Instagram, Civilization IV, and YouTube, among others.
  • Ruby – The main aim of Ruby is for developers to be productive and have fun at the same time. The Ruby on Rails framework is by far the most popular implementation of the Ruby language. The language reads just like English and is highly recommended as a first programming language. It’s a popular language for backend development and has been used to build some popular sites like Slideshare, Hulu, Bloomberg, Shopify, and Airbnb.
  • PHP – PHP is a scripting language commonly used on the server-side. It is commonly considered friendly for beginners because it is so easy to conceptualize how the code gets executed and so it’s easy to build stuff with it. This language is heavily specialized for building websites and so a lot of popular websites have been built using PHP, including Facebook, WordPress, Yahoo!, Wikipedia and Tumblr.

Statically Typed Programming Languages

Statically typed programming languages are known for having the capability to build the most scalable applications. They also tend to be very robust and make the applications easy to maintain. These languages have very strict rules about the writing and are strict with errors, thus making it easier to catch them quickly and early on in the process. One of the downsides of statically typed programming languages is that, because of all their rules, it typically takes a lot more lines of code to build something. Consequently, they are not the best languages for prototyping. They are commonly used to build enterprise back-ends, robust mobile applications, and game engines. Below are some examples of these languages:

  • Java – Java is one of the most ubiquitous statically typed languages and is used as a general purpose language. It works with the Java Virtual Machine and is used to build just about anything, from games to desktop apps, to embedded apps for devices. Billions of devices around the world actually run on Java and 90% of Fortune 500 companies use Java for their enterprise level back-end development. It’s also used for big data storage and processing through the framework Hadoop, which is implemented by companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Yahoo!.
  • C – This programming language is one of the older ones and is primarily used today to develop operating systems and program system software. It has influenced the development of just about every modern programming language, especially C++ and Objective-C. If you master C and its principles, it will be much easier for you to learn any other programming language. It takes a lot of lines of code to do anything in C, and the code is typically more complex, even for the simplest of tasks. As a result, beginners may find it difficult to learn. However, learning it and mastering it will undoubtedly make you a first-rate programmer.
  • C++ – C++ is based on C and is a very powerful language. It was originally designed to add higher level programming capabilities to C while maintaining its lower level capabilities. It can be used for just about anything, including web apps, mobile apps, desktop apps, games and game engines, and also general programming system software. It is very powerful and very fast, and has been used to build many softwares, including Amazon, Chrome, PayPal, and a lot more.
  • C# – This language was developed for use with Microsoft’s .NET framework and mainly runs on the Windows operating system. It is used to develop websites, games, and applications in the Microsoft ecosystem.

 

SQL
SQL stands for Structured Query Language and is colloquially referred to as “Sequel”. This isn’t a traditional programming language but is instead used for communicating with databases. You can’t use it to build applications but you can use it to manage app data for apps that use relational database management systems.

HTML
HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. This isn’t a programming language but is instead a markup language used to build webpages. It basically helps you tell the browser where to place website elements like headers, paragraphs, and so on.

CSS
Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS, is the language used to change and enhance the appearance of a webpage. It is very powerful and can be used to do a lot of things, ranging from changing the colors in a website to creating animations.

Where to begin
There are plenty of resources online where you can begin to learn programming. Programming languages themselves are free and can be downloaded from the respective websites. As for online courses, they are a mix of free courses on sites like EssayGeeks.co.uk, and paid courses elsewhere. The best way to start is with a Google search of “programming beginner courses”. You will be overwhelmed by the number of resources available. Before you get there, however, make sure you have a genuine interest in learning programming, research the languages that you like and find out if they are good for what you want to do, and then look for online courses where you can learn them. Keep your head down, trust the learning process, and you’ll get out the other side a fully-fledged programmer.

About author: Jennifer Sanders is a writer and an editor from London. She loves sport,  listening to music, and to communicate with different people.
Find Jennifer on Twitter.

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Oct 18th 2018

How to Learn a Foreign Language to Fluency

 

Guest post written by Juan Koss.
How to Learn a Foreign Language to Fluency

If you’re anything like me, you have a fierce, constantly expanding desire to learn multiple languages, yet consistently fail to deliver on the promise you’ve made yourself. Perhaps this is due to lack of motivation, or simply because each time you undertake the task you’re reminded why you gave it up in the first place: It’s extremely difficult. However, I wholeheartedly believe that the average person can commit themselves to learning a language to fluency and deliver on this commitment, so here are my tips for completing a challenging task of which you can not only remain proud, but hopefully reap the employment and travel benefits from also.

  • Practise consistently: This seems outrageously obvious and I’m a little ashamed for reiterating it so blatantly, but anyone who has struggled to learn a language before knows how easy it is to forget this fundamental step. For those of us who can write my essay or learn a language in our spare time, guided only by books, the Internet, and occasional classes, consistent revision needs to be slotted in between work and other studies, and often seems unnecessary and burdensome. Anyone who has fallen prey to this idea, however, knows how quickly language skills are lost, and how much effort and revision is required in order to solidify them. If you want to learn a language to fluency, you have to accept that you’re in for an uphill battle, and put in the hours. Even watching a film or reading a short book or magazine in your chosen language, or revising over grammar notes once a week, will be immensely useful in your quest towards fluency.
  • Take classes: Whether you want to learn quickly and seriously via school or university, or opt for the more relaxed environment of a language school, community house, or private tutor, classes are, in my mind, a necessity. There is only so much that books and the Internet can teach you, and enrolling in a class forces you to practice and revise, whilst also allowing you to engage with others who are struggling to find the motivation and time to study. If possible, find a tutor who is a native speaker and immerse yourself in their classes and conversation. The more you surround yourself by the foreign language you’re attempting to learn, the quicker you will learn it.
  • Avoid word lists: This is a point that, in my mission to learn French, I still struggle with. Word lists continue to feel like a good idea. You learn a new word, you write it down, you memorize its spelling and meaning … it’s what I’d do if I came across an unfamiliar word in English, so what could possibly go wrong? The answer to this is simply that, in an unfamiliar language, there are too many words to learn by this process. Whilst I recognize the differences, I must use English as an example. Growing up, you didn’t learn English by making word lists, you learned it through immersion and constant exposure. This is the same way in which a foreign language, difficult though it is, ought to be learned. Whilst word lists can be helpful before tests, in familiarization with verbs, or in order to learn a certain category of words, such as those pertaining to body parts or colors, ultimately it’s going to confuse you more, as you spend your time memorizing the wrong things. The semantics and mechanics of a language must be learned before it can be understood. After this, the meaning of individual words will begin to come easily. This leads me to another key idea: Don’t directly translate between languages, as each language is unique and must be treated as such.
  • Read as much as possible: Again, this seems obvious, but due to the challenge it poses, I feel that many who are endeavoring to learn a language often overlook it. When I reflect on how I learned English (an almost impossible task given that I am a native speaker of the language) I realize that the process of learning it was greatly simplified by my constant exposure to it in both written and spoken form. Children learn words by reading and then asking for the meaning or by contextualizing. When we read books or magazines in another language, we build up these same skills, contextualizing words, learning how they’re used, and familiarizing ourselves with foreign grammar and sentence structure. An extremely arduous task at first, the more we read in the language of our choice, the sooner we will become familiar with the meaning, spelling, and grammar rules of individual words and sentences.
  • Visit the place(s) where your language is spoken: Immersion is the best, and really the only way, to learn a language to fluency, as, whilst the classroom is essential for written skills, the nuances of the spoken word and the pace in which it is colloquially spoken and amalgamated with street slang and innumerable dialects, can only truly be learned through conversation with native speakers. Don’t be afraid to engage in conversation with native speakers, who, contrary to judging you, will likely be only too happy to correct your pronunciation and to help you out. You’ll make a good impression by trying to speak their language, and likely have fun whilst doing so. If possible, travel extensively or take a job and work for a year or so in an area where your language is spoken as, though perhaps daunting at first, you’ll be amazed how quickly you pick up the language when you’re surrounded by it everyday.

As difficult as learning a language is, the employment and travel benefits – not to mention one’s own sense of personal pride – that are received by doing so, are unparalleled. Learning foreign languages enables us to familiarize ourselves with similarities and differences across dialects, revealing the depth of our own mother tongue through loanwords, and broadening our overall sense of culture and the infinite evolution of linguistics. Although I remain a speaker only of English, still battling with the threads of incomprehension currently restraining me from the world of French fluency, I am yet to lose the motivation and focus required for completing the challenge. A difficult task and one that must be crammed into an exceptionally busy schedule, I shall continue to learn French, and would encourage all those out there currently learning or considering learning a language to take the necessary steps towards fluency.

About author: Juan Koss – I am a school teacher with 23 years’ experience, PhD writer at DoMyWriting.com and writing articles has become my hobby.  Most of my articles are related to education and parenting ideas.

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Sep 27th 2018

The fuzzy line between professional and amateur writers

Guest post written by Warren Fowler.
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You always dreamed of becoming a writer?
But what was your dream, exactly?
Did you intend to become a professional in another niche and write in the meantime? That would make you an amateur writer. If you commit your entire time to writing and you turn it into a profession, only then would you be a professional writer.
But, is commitment the only difference between being a professional and an amateur writer?

Tim Urban, the author behind “Wait But Why”, used to publish posts every Tuesday… or Wednesday. Now, we rarely see a post from him, but his followers are still excited with each new piece of content that comes their way. Is Tim Urban still a professional blogger, even though he is not as engaged as he used to be? While, he might not consider blogging to be his profession, he is still considered one of the best bloggers out there.

So it’s mostly about commitment. However, it’s also about having that particular factor that makes you a pro. It’s about the thing that makes you cross the line between being an amateur and becoming a professional.
You may think you’re a professional writer if you commit your entire time to your projects, but you still might be making the mistakes of an amateur.

There’s a fuzzy line between professional and amateur writers. It’s time to learn how to cross it.

  1. Amateurs Will Wait for Inspiration. Pros Will Just Write!

Did you hit writer’s block?
That’s an opportunity to find out if you’re really professional about writing.
If you get frustrated and start blaming everyone and everything for your inability to write, you’re acting like an amateur. If you just relax, and wait for inspiration to hit you because you know the moment of enlightenment will come sooner or later, you’re still acting like an amateur.

What would a professional writer do in this situation?
I reached out to Matthew Cesen, a writer at BestEssays. “A professional writer doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for clarification. I get tasks to cover on a daily basis. When I’m not writing academic papers, I’m working on my first novel, and I still have deadlines. So waiting for the bad moment to pass is not an option. I just sit and write,” – he says. “I have several methods to find inspiration. I’ll do more research. I’ll brainstorm. I’ll take a piece of paper, and I’ll write without interruptions for at least half an hour. When you try hard enough, you’ll dig down to the ideas in the hidden layers of your subconsciousness.”

  1. The Amateur Will Only Do the Fun Parts. The Professional Takes Full Responsibility.

An amateur writer loves to write. This is the kind of person who can wake up inspired and spend the entire day writing without interruption. Is that enough to make them a professional writer? Not if they don’t maintain that energy throughout all stages of the process.
You’ll quickly see an amateur leaving the piece in the drawer for days, weeks, months, or even years. They might revisit it, but they might as well leave it there when it stops being fun for them.
The professional will also go through that stage of an inspirational high. However, they will also conduct diligent research. They will think about the formatting of their content, and they will also edit their writing as close to perfection as it could possibly get.

  1. An Amateur Won’t Take Writing Seriously; A Professional Writer Will Have Daily Rituals!

Did you know that Maya Angelou woke up every single day around 5:30 AM? She had her coffee and started her writing routine by 7:00. She kept a tiny, simple hotel room where she did her writing. She worked there until 2 in the afternoon.
It didn’t matter whether she felt like writing or not. It didn’t matter what day it was. It didn’t matter whether her work for the day was brilliant or not that good. She had her routine and she stuck to it.
Anyone who doesn’t have a specific routine and doesn’t show up to their writing for most days of the week is not a true professional.

  1. Amateurs Are Focused on the Goal. Pros Work Towards Progress

Every single writer wants to be recognized for their talent. They want to achieve brilliance with every essay, novel, short story, blog post, or whatever another piece of content they publish.
But there’s a difference.
The amateur will strive to get recognized for their genius. This is the kind of person who’s after praise. All writers go through such a stage. The professional, however, will realize that it’s better to tame their ego at one point or another. Everyone gets criticism. The professional writer will consider it and grow from it. The amateur will just assume that people don’t understand him and that they are not worthy of the brilliance in front of them.

  1. The Pro Aims for Long-Term Success; The Amateur Is after a Moment of Glory

A professional writer will not aim to make their book a bestseller. They don’t aim to write a viral blog post. They will just write the best they can. Of course, they want to achieve success with the piece they are currently working on. However, their focus is on being remembered instead of being noticed. That’s why they write evergreen content instead of something that could get popular at the moment.

If you recognized some of the symptoms of being an amateur, don’t despair! Every writer is an amateur before becoming professional. Noticing your flaws is a good thing! Now you know what to work on!

About author: Warren’s lifestyle is full of hiking adventures. When he’s not busy with his guitar or enjoying the sunny day outside, he excels at blogging skills and scrolls through social media. You can meet him on Twitter and Facebook.

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Sep 13th 2018

8 biggest misconceptions about the English language

Guest post written by Audrey Lamp.

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Despite the fact that this is the world’s most studied language, there are plenty of misconceptions and myths surrounding English. Even if you’re a native speaker, you’re not immune to these misconceptions. So let’s list the biggest ones, shall we?

  1. If English Is Your Native Language, Then You’re Proficient in It

When English or any other language is your native tongue, you assume that you use it pretty well. People can understand when you speak and you understand everything on TV and in newspapers pretty easily.
But what if you tried writing a research paper? When facing such a challenge, most students decide to hire professional writers to write an essay for them. Some would argue that graduates can’t write advanced prose because the educational system fails to train them properly. The fact is, no matter how hard you try to master the English language, there are always new layers to discover.

  1. British English Is the “Real” English

Most people, including Brits themselves, consider British English to be the purest form of English. The truth is, , that American English preserved a lot of the characteristics to the language that the British migration brought to the New World. Over the years, the British lost some of these nuances to the languages including non-rhotic speech , which became popular after the Industrial Revolution.
Believe it or not, the Americans never had a British accent that they lost.

  1. You Shouldn’t Start a Sentence with a Conjunction

“Don’t start a sentence with but!”
“Don’t start a sentence with and!”

How many times have you received such remarks on your essay assignments? Elementary and high-school teachers were usually pretty harsh with this “rule.” Still, there is no grammatical rule that says you mustn’t use a conjunction in the beginning of a sentence. This is a stylistic preference. No one can explicitly tell you what your style is. So if you feel like starting a sentence with so, you might as well just do that. But maybe you’d like to avoid it when writing academic papers. Teachers are still pretty strict with their stylistic expectations.

  1. You Can’t End a Sentence with a Preposition

This is another rule that teachers used to enforce: “Don’t end a sentence with by, on, with, about, or any other preposition.”
This “rule” has its roots in the 17th century, when Latin-obsessed writers wanted to impose their influence on the English language.

Compare these two sentences:
-You have much to dream about!
-You have much about which to dream.

The first one seems much more natural, doesn’t it? And it ends with a preposition.  

  1. Passive Voice Is Not Good

You’ll see this recommendation in many online writing guides: avoid passive as much as possible!
Surprise, surprise: passive is still an integral part of the English language. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t use it excessively unless it’s necessary.

  1. You Can Only Use Whose When Referring to People

If you check the Oxford Dictionaries, you’ll find an explanation that “whose is a possessive determiner and pronoun which means belonging to whom.” This brings us to the misconception that whose is intended to be used solely when talking about people.
The fact is; whose is a possessive form of both who and what. So you don’t have to feel unconfident when writing or saying “Apple is a company whose products changed the world.”

  1. You Can’t Use an Extra S after an Apostrophe in a Possessive Singular Noun Ending in S

Whoa, that was a mouthful. If that “rule” confused you, allow us to explain: do you like Jules’ sister or Jules’s sister?
Some people will be definite about it: the extra s is a mistake. The truth is: this is a pretty complex issue in English grammar. In some cases, you’ll go with the apostrophe. In others, you’ll use an apostrophe-s even when the word’s singular form ends with an s. Such is the case with duchess’s. But if the next word starts with an s, then you’ll use duchess’. It’s complicated, so you better investigate the rule before you claim something you’re not sure of.

  1. There Should Be a Specific Number of Sentences in a Paragraph

Some teachers will tell you to maintain a fixed number of sentences, such as three or five, in a paragraph. They are delusional!
The paragraph serves as a section that covers one main idea. You may use as many or as few sentences as you need to expose that idea.

So did I manage to bust some myths today? If you were aware of all these misconceptions, congratulations! Maybe you can add a few others to our list? I’d love to see some comments!

About author: Audrey Lamp is a proactive journalist who likes to get knowledge, analyze and present fresh ideas. Her background and various interests determine her genuine passion for writing. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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