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Dr. Bette Frick
Bette Frick 
The Text Doctor LLC

The agony of the long-distance writer

Next month, my daughter will run a marathon to celebrate a milestone birthday. I marvel at her training routine: 10-mile runs, half-marathons, intervals, cross-training. I can't wait to cheer her on in Aspen.


Although my running days are over, I've recently completed a marathon of sorts. I've just spent six months revising 26 chapters for my forthcoming book, Business Matters: An Independent Freelancer's Guide to Business Survival. Today I sent the final section to the publisher.


When I began the project, I was exhilarated by the route ahead. I had wanted to publish a book for years. At the starting line, I had a few jitters, but I soon hit my stride and even experienced the nirvana of "flow," becoming so fully absorbed in my writing that I was oblivious to my surroundings. At one point while I slaved away in my office, the dog barked and I wondered, "I have a dog???"


However, after a few miles (er, chapters), I began to doubt whether I could ever finish this book. I longed for the whole thing to be over. I just couldn't seem to catch my breath; as soon as I finished one chapter, the rest of them loomed ahead, up a long, long hill. I thought about quitting.


And then stubbornness kicked in. Even if I ended up crawling on my hands and knees, I would finish this book. No longer worried about making every line perfect, I did the best I could and struggled on to the finish line. Persistence overcame perfectionism.


Tips for completing your ambitious writing projects


Click here to see survival tips for writing long projects.

The Text Doctor's Diagnosis June 2013
Links for writers and editors
Quote of the month

"No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft."


H.G. Wells


Is Marcia Riefer Johnston stalking you, too?
Word Up! Cover

Last September, I had an eerie experience after posting a comment on an STC (Society for Technical Communication) blog: My comment appeared with Marcia Riefer Johnston's name on it (Who is SHE?
,I wondered). We finally straightened it out, which started a random, lovely, productive relationship with a fellow STC member and now, a fellow author.


In the flurry of e-mails about that technological glitch, I learned that Marcia was finishing her book Word Up! How to Write Powerful Sentences and Paragraphs (And Everything You Build from Them) 
and was readying it for publication. She told me that all of her chapters had been born (my term, not hers) as blog posts (more on that shortly). What a great way to prewrite, I thought. I have always taught my students to prewrite and draft shorter chunks of text rather than put off their writing until they "have time" to write the whole, huge report or article. Marcia, I think, is a good model. 


Anyway, after learning about Marcia's project, I decided to take my 26 Intercom "Business Matters" columns from the last 9 years and compile them into a book of survival advice for freelance technical communicators. I'm not sure I would have conceived of this idea had I not had those conversations with Marcia. We started e-mailing regularly, and Marcia shared with me her original plans for converting her blog posts into a book: 


"Two years ago--TWO YEARS AGO--I set out to bundle up my blog posts and call the compilation good. I planned to put out a little book that I could sell online and stuff into Christmas stockings. Fortunately, my husband had the courage to say:"Honey, why don't you rethink your goals? You have more in you than that. What you have right now won't hit anything out of the park." It took me a few days to let his words in. Boy, am I glad I did. Whether the resulting effort blasts anything over any walls remains to be seen, but I'm content in knowing that I've given it my best swing."


Not me, I thought. My columns are already in PDFs; I'll just throw on a front and back cover.    


Click here to see how I actually dealt with this project.  


Results of my completely unscientific poll on extroversion/introversion

I was quite surprised by your responses to my completely unscientific poll that asked how you would describe yourself. So many of you self-identified as introverts. I guess we're in good company!  


Extrovert 10.3%

Introvert 75.8%

Other 13.7% ("mostly extroverted, but getting more introverted"; "both"; "half and half"; "hermit")


View individual comments offered on the poll. 


Do you know of any good online ESL courses?

I have many very bright bilingual students who need specific, focused training on ESL issues (articles, verbs, and prepositions). Do you know of any effective online courses that could help these writers? Please e-mail me at efrick@textdoctor.com. I'll publish responses in my next issue. 


Thank you!




Elizabeth (Bette) Frick, PhD, ELS
The Text Doctor LLC

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