Beat Writer’s Block

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The most intimidating sight in the world is a blank page.

That empty space is begging to be filled with your great ideas, pretentious thoughts, or even just an email to Mom, yet you come up empty every time.

Writer’s block is no joke. While some claim that writer’s block does not exist, for many people this hurdle can be nearly impossible to climb over. In fact, countless potentially great works are lost every day due to this epidemic that is not knowing what to say.

Luckily, there are fixes that can get you back in the writing game.

The next time that white Word document’s stare feels like too much to handle, try beating your writer’s block with these simple tricks.

Write Something Else
Instead of wasting your time trying to figure out how to solve the current issue you are facing, try writing something completely different. Writing a B2B piece on marketing? Attempt crafting a short story about the family pet. Trying to figure out the perfect bridge to your new song? Write a blog about your favorite recipes. Writing something completely different from what you are currently struggling with can help you to find inspiration in unexpected places.

Take a Break
Chances are, you have been staring at a blank page for quite a while, and a break is more than justified. Go take a walk around your neighborhood or just binge watch a show on Netflix. Often, the best ideas occur when you aren’t actively seeking out inspiration.

Edit Your Work
If you are trying to figure out where to go next with you writing, it can help to go back and work on what you already have. By editing what you have written, even if just a line or two, you have the opportunity to rework the piece, and the freedom to completely change it to give yourself new options moving forward.

Read
It has been said time and time again – if you want to be a writer, read. Put down your pen, step away from the keyboard and pick up a book. Reading is research to writers. When you read, you are able to absorb new styles, tricks, and even vocabulary from other authors that you can then turn around and use in your own writing. Not to mention, reading has the ability to spark your imagination and give you inspiration like no other writing trick under the sun.

 

Why LinkedIn Matters

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In this world of too many social media networks to count, you may be thinking “Why do I need another one – especially one that makes me act on my best behavior 100% of the time?”.

As much as it may pain you to not post cat gifs, LinkedIn is a valuable resource for all professionals – no matter your age or current occupation.

LinkedIn is, quite simply, the corporate version of Facebook. Instead of posting pictures of the concert you went to last week, you post your resume. Instead of friending your semi-acquaintance that you met in the grocery store, you connect with professionals in your industry that you hope to one day work with.

With a profile set up that allows for you to humbly brag about all of your accomplishments without feeling over the top, LinkedIn is the first place employers look before they think about calling you in for an initial interview. It is often your introduction to the business world, before you even step a physical foot inside of any corporate door.

While LinkedIn is helpful in obtaining a 9-5, it is also a great way for freelancers and entrepreneurs to connect with other creatives or future clients. LinkedIn allows for writers to share their work and get published easily on the site, and even gives inventors/new start ups the chance to market and work with a whole new set of people who could help get their dream off of the ground.

By connecting millions of professionals in a way that allows for them to make the most of their individual business goals, LinkedIn revolutionizes networking. Sure, it is good practice to only add people you have had actual contact with before, but sometimes a strategic message to someone you look up to can help open doors to you professionally.

LinkedIn may be different than other social networks – but those differences are what make it valuable. Think of it as your personal calling card. It is the one stop shop for potential employers, collaborators, and clients to get to know you, and the kind of work you are capable of.

LinkedIn can mean the difference between landing a job at your dream company, or picking up shifts at your high school summer gig well after you graduate college. A free resource and easy to use, LinkedIn is invaluable to professionals looking to get ahead.

5 Things To Do Before Summer Officially Ends

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Before you aggressively light up your pumpkin spice candles and throw your flannel scarves in my direction, hear me out. I love fall and cannot wait for it to come bursting into my life with the vibrant colors and crisp air that it promises us every year.

But let’s face the facts – here in Nashville, it still feels like 100 degrees outside, and with the official autumnal equinox weeks away, summer is here to stay – at least for the immediate future.

With that in mind, here are 5 things to do to pass the time before summer officially bids us farewell.

Get Caught Up On Your Reading
That pile of books that you promised you would read this summer hasn’t gotten any smaller as the months have passed, so take a little time each day to dive in. Whether you just read a chapter, or polish off an entire novel in one day, you will instantly feel more productive and accomplished.

Visit the Zoo
The Zoo is one of the best places to go in the summer. Take a trip to see your favorite animal, and enjoy the warm weather while it lasts – before you know it, the Zoo will be closed for the season and you will have to wait until spring to see that awesome Red Panda again.

Binge Watch Gilmore Girls
New episodes become available the day after Thanksgiving (or if you’re like me – midnight the night of), so now is the perfect time to restart the series and fall back in love with Stars Hollow.

Attend an Outdoor Concert
Summer is the season for outdoor concerts, and nothing quite beats seeing your favorite band play under the stars on a warm night. If you’re looking for a great show – NEEDTOBREATHE’s newly revamped Tour de Compadres is sure to be hitting a city near you in the coming weeks.

Go for a Walk
Whether it be on your favorite trail or just to the mailbox – go for a walk and take in the beauty of not having to wear mittens just to leave home. You’ll miss the simple beauty of a short walk outdoors when the streets are covered in ice, and your fingers become numb before you can even lock the front door.

 

5 Songs We All Love (But Are Embarrassed Of)

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You know it well – that hidden Spotify Playlist that is home to all of your guilty pleasures. Surely, it’s titled some mysterious name to help keep any friends from browsing it (ex: Dave Matthews Band or Indie), and only listened to through the most secure pair of headphones.

We all have that list of songs that we love, but are too embarrassed to play out loud. In fact, here are 5 songs that are sure to top all of our secret charts:

Perfect
Of all the songs by all the boybands in the world, this One Direction hit was an instant classic. Beautifully written and harmonized, it has the power to stick in your head and make you fall in love with Harry all over again. But, of course, not enough power to ever entice you to admit you listen to it.

Potential Breakup Song
Aly & AJ rocked the worlds of millions of girls in the early 2000’s, and with over 10 million plays on Spotify to date, they still are. This catchy tune has everything we could ever hope for – angst, techno, and a dash of that classic “angry Disney starlet” vibe we have all come to know and love. Plus, it never fails to accompany even the slightest of heartbreak.

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Don’t lie – you still jam to Nickleback on the daily.

Shake It Off
Love her or hate her, Taylor Swift knows how to write a song that will get stuck in your head for a good year and a half. Just as we were getting over the chorus of “22”, Swift let loose “Shake It Off”, and we are all still suckers for it – even if just from the quiet “sick beat” of our own headphones.

Wagon Wheel
Living in Nashville, you can’t get away from this song. So obviously you have to act like you hate it because locals are cooler than everyone else – but in reality, sometimes you just have to walk down to Lower Broadway and join in with a crowd of tourists rockin’ away. And then quickly walk out like nothing happened because locals never hang out on Broadway – duh.

My Digital Dilemma: Owning a Kindle

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Yes, my Kindle is titled “Melanie The Great”.

I am a traitor.

I promised myself a long time ago that I would never, under any circumstances buy an e-reader. I was convinced that e-readers, such as the Kindle, took away from the magic of the written word, and quite frankly, were going to be the downfall of literature.

Well, I was wrong.

I first started to ease into the idea of purchasing one of these horrible devices a couple of years ago, right before I was to leave for three months of summer stock theatre, in a town with no access to a library or Barnes and Noble. Yes, I could pack an extra suitcase full of novels, but all of a sudden a small little tablet that could hold thousands of books and even let me check out titles for free online from the library didn’t seem like such a bad idea after all.

So I gave in.

As I paid for my Kindle on that fateful May day, I thought I felt a little part of me dying on the inside. I had crossed a line from which I could never return. I owned, and had every intention of using, an e-reader.

However, I am here to tell you that, here I stand two full years later with a Kindle proudly sitting on my nightstand, and I am all the better for it. Here’s why:

Easy Access: Life gets chaotic, and most days I don’t have the time to make a library run. With my Kindle, I am able to download a new book in a matter of seconds.

Healthy Competition: One of the best features of my Kindle is the “x minutes left in book” that flashes across the bottom of the screen – which I, in turn, always try to beat.

Travel Friendly: As someone who always carries a book wherever I go, the slim style of an e-reader allows my backpack (and shoulders) some much needed relief.

Secret Reads: Embarrassed that you are reading the latest trashy Hollywood memoir? Unless you start blabbing about it on your Goodreads account, your secret is safe between you and your Kindle.

Safety: No paper means no paper-cuts. Speaks for itself.

While my Kindle will never replace the love I have for physical books (I mean – that smell!), I am happy to report that owning and using an e-reader is not as terrible as I once imagined it to be. Yes, I will always prefer tangible books over their digital counterparts, but there’s no denying it – I love my Kindle.

Your Check Engine Light Is Not A Suggestion

It’s a typical August morning – traffic is awful, every radio station is only playing commercials, and by 7am, the temperature outside has already reached 83 degrees. The day seems to be trudging along just like any other, until suddenly, you notice your check engine light click on right as you merge onto the highway.

In this situation, you really only have two options:

  1. Carefully find an exit and get your car to the nearest mechanic.
  2. Be an idiot.

When this happened to me a matter of days ago, the choice was easy – I did not want to have my only way of getting to and from work to go up in flames, so I quickly rushed (and probably broke a few traffic laws) to turn myself around and got my car to a mechanic that I knew could save that good ol’ Camry.

Luckily, because I wasn’t an idiot and got my car some help fast, I narrowly avoided an engine fire, and the heartache of having to replace those wheels that have gotten me just about everywhere – from driving to high school, college, and now around Music City.

I thought this was common knowledge – when your check engine light appears, you take care of it ASAP. Apparently, not many people feel that way.

After sharing my story with coworkers and peers, turns out, many of them have driven around with their check engine lights blaring for weeks, some even for months. They see the check engine light as more of a suggestion, and less of a warning that your car is about to kick the metaphorical bucket.

However, when I asked how their cars still ran this long with the light on, they were quick to tell me that the cars had in fact died, and were ruined beyond repair.

My point exactly.

The next time your check engine light clicks on, weigh your options. Yes, you may have to drop a few hundred unexpected dollars that day to fix your car, but if you simply ignore that helpful hint, you could be knee deep in trouble when your car decides rush hour traffic would be a great time to start a bonfire.