Tag Archives: laptop

When Writing Is Rough…

by Catherine L. Tully

Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully
Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully

Everyone who is in this field experiences some rough patches. Times where they are blocked, discouraged, burnt out or just plain tired. This is normal, expected and healthy–so long as you don’t get stuck there.

Every career field has its ebb and flow, so down times are nothing to worry about. But if you are stuck in a rut, fried beyond repair (or seemingly so) or feeling really funky, it may be time to shift gears. Here are a few tips for getting through those dark times and coming out on the other side, refreshed and ready to go….

  • Give up. By give up, I don’t mean quit. I mean give up on trying to power through for a while and focus on something else. Can’t write that article? Put it aside and work on marketing yourself. Don’t have another query in you? Go through your old work and try and sell some re-prints. Sometimes going forward no matter what–just doesn’t make good sense.
  • Go away. Perhaps the cure is nothing but a simple change of scenery. Do you always write at home? Go to a coffee shop for a week and see if it replenishes your drive. Take your laptop to the park and set up shop for the afternoon–and write something fun. Getting out of a rut can sometimes be as easy as changing the background.
  • Get moving. If you’ve been sitting at a desk day after day, churning out copy, perhaps you need a little physical activity. Nothing beats depression like a brisk walk or bike ride to get those endorphins churning. Try it. You’ll see.
  • Get feedback. If you’re feeling down, sometimes talking with another writer can help snap you out of your funk. We’ve all been through hard times here and there and there’s nothing like someone in the “biz” to help you get some perspective on things.

What do you do to get out of a downward spiral? Help another writer and share a tip or two!

Strange Advice For The Writer

Catherineby Catherine L. Tully

Today I’m going to give advice in a different way. Over time, I’ve found out some things about being a writer that are…well…a little odd. Some of these you may already know about, while others may come as a surprise. Once you’ve read through them, feel free to add your own in the comments section…

Here goes:

1. Writing outside.

While this seems very romantic and “writer-ish”, it can be a real challenge. If you sit in the sun with your computer, it’s awfully hard to see the screen clearly. (I lose my mouse pointer and can’t navigate for anything.) If you set up camp at a park or in a cafe, chances are good you will have to use the bathroom in about 15 minutes or so. It always seems like a great idea, but the truth of the matter is, I get more writing done at home unless I really plan well ahead of time.

Advice: Drink sparingly before going out to write and use the facilities prior to leaving the house. Wear a baseball cap in case you find a sunny spot, and bring sunglasses. (Oh–and sunscreen too. My upper chest is currently fried from spending a whole 20 minutes outdoors in the yard with my laptop. I know I’m Irish and all, but…)

2. The Almighty Calorie.

If you’ve been writing for any length of time, this one is not a shocker. Calories seem to take on a whole new meaning when you sit for most of the day. My addiction to Mike & Ike candy must be balanced by frequent walks, trips to the gym and bursts of lifting weights at home–otherwise I will truly begin to look like the middle-aged woman that I want to keep at bay as long as possible.

Advice: Find a non-caloric beverage you like and stick to it. (Suggestions include LaCroix, coffee, iced tea and plain old water.) Break every hour and do something–anything physical. And keep celery sticks in the fridge to take the edge off. Seriously.

3. Wardrobe Issues.

Just because you can stay in your pajamas all day doesn’t mean you should do it. Writers typically have some wardrobe issues. As in, they don’t dress nice much. If you find yourself showering past noon or wearing ratty old sweats on a regular basis, you may be suffering from this problem.

Advice: Run at least one errand a day that forces you to leave the house. Shower, and get dressed for it. I’ve resolved to break out the heels here and there and dress up for lunch once a week or so, just to insure I don’t start slipping into the danger zone. You can have a day where you lounge around in your skivvies, but don’t make it a habit.

I know I haven’t covered all the odd things that pop up as you live the freelance lifestyle, so if you can add to this list, by all means, do so.

Then go for a brisk walk outside in some nice clothes. And leave the laptop at home. : )

Livescribe Pulse Smartpen

livescribeby Catherine L. Tully

I was forced by CNN to watch a commercial about this pen, and instead of being mad–I was astounded! The Livescribe Pulse Smartpen shows some true innovation. Not only does it write and record, but it links your writing to the recording. This is seriously too cool. Use the smartpad and the pen and download everything to your laptop when you get home. Looks like it will be great for those live interviews!

There are different models available and they run between $169.95 and $229.95. An expensive toy? To be sure. But it really is an amazing idea!

Case Logic 15.4-Inch Fullsize Messenger Style Laptop Bag

case logic 15 inch laptop messenger bagThere’s nothing we like better than sale-priced freelancer accessories like this Case Logic messenger style laptop bag. It holds a 15.4 inch laptop and features two different closures–one is a simple velcro strip you use when you don’t feel like bothering with the buckle fastener.

The exterior sleeve is perfect for your phone or media player; the adjustable shoulder strap and padded compartments are sweet, and for some reason they’ve included a bottle opener on the strap.

Did we mention the ten year warranty that comes with this? Not bad for a sale-priced bag. At press time this was selling for about $32, down from $50.

Travel Savvy


Let’s face it–there isn’t a lot of information out there for intermediate writers, is there? Well…this one is for you! If you have been having some success at writing, you may need to travel more often. Whether you have an interview in another state or are starting to dabble in travel writing, plane trips are often a part of the game. Unfortunately, hopping on a plane is no longer an easy thing. Do you know the list of items you can and cannot bring?

Bookmark this resource from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) – it has this type of information right there for you–and you can even ask to be updated when there are changes made to the page. Find out about things such as “checkpoint-friendly laptop bag procedures”  and how to travel safe with batteries. I would also recommend double-checking with the airline you will be taking–after all, better to be prepared!

Belkin Laptop Cooling Stand

burned-mattress-boringtrash1.jpgThis photo is **allegedly** the aftermath of a mattress having caught fire due to a very hot laptop. It’s been making the rounds in blogs and e-mail forwards, and while I find NOTHING more annoying than any email with the letter F and W placed side-by-side in the subject line, this did make me wonder if my laptop actually could get hot enough to ignite cloth.

If you’re on the slightly paranoid side when it comes to safety (like me), you’re probably giving the eye to gadgets like the Belkin laptop cooling stand pictured below. The center-mounted high-capacity cooling fan dissipates heat and if nothing else provides you with a much more comfortable experience during the hot months of summer. No more of that too-warm feeling when using the laptop as it was designed to be used (in your lap) on a park bench, in the airport or relaxing in your lawn chair with your favorite beverage and a full half inch of sunscreen. Best of all, there is no power cord or battery to buy as this cooling stand is USB-powered.

The price is certainly right–at $23.48, I can afford to indulge my safety paranoia just a little bit. Care to join me in cooler laptop Nirvana? Buy the Belkin laptop cooling stand at Amazon.com. And yes, every one of these which gets sold via clicking here is a bit of financial help for Freelance-Zone.com. Thanks much for your support!