Writing about the Community

It’s possible to build a full-time freelance writing career serving people in your own community. In my work as a local writer, I’ve been able to network within a professional community of public relations practitioners and other communicators who need regular marketing content. As a result, the work-for-hire projects I’ve gotten as a writer have largely come from people I know or people who know people I know. For example, among the projects I juggle for various marketing clients, I recently talked with local leaders to write these pieces for the Montgomery Business Journal:

Montgomery Public Schools – Facing Learning Loss Head-On – PublicLayout-blog – Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce – AL, AL (montgomerychamber.com)

#MyMGM: MGM’s Citizen Airmen – PublicLayout-blog – Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce – AL, AL (montgomerychamber.com)

GiveBack: The Y’s Impact Is Deep & Wide – PublicLayout-blog – Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce – AL, AL (montgomerychamber.com)

Being Creative in Your Response to Change

This is a tale of two different responses. One entrepreneur looked at the changes that had taken place in the world and said, “This is a bad situation. Let’s keep our heads down, get through it and wait until the situation is better.” He did basic tasks while sending email that said, “We are waiting until things get back to normal. Hopefully they will get back to normal soon.”

That is a very understandable response. It takes imagination to reinvent your program while in the same job, with the same mission, with the same customers or target market. The events of 2020 were likely missing from most crisis management plans. Yet this is the moment we’re in.

Another entrepreneur looked at the changes that had taken place in the world and said, “This is a bad situation. Let’s help other people get through it too.” He met with his team and asked, “How can we be creative in how we respond?” Ideas began to flow. They tried different things – some worked, some didn’t. Even so, their creativity built their courage to try more things, which built their resilience, which built their motivation to keep going.

The qualities that are needed to survive and/or thrive – skill sets, creativity and resilience – are still available, even if they’re hidden within exhaustion and frustration.

If you’re feeling stuck, start with some simple questions: How can I see this situation differently? How can I deliver value? What’s a small step I can take? What I can I do for the next five minutes to help myself – or someone else?

For a while, I looked around and said, “I can’t believe all of this happened.” Now I say, “I can’t believe how resilient I’ve been since all of this happened!” Frankly, I wouldn’t have known I had it in me.

How about you? If you’re taking new steps, trying new skills, and overcoming unforeseen difficulties, that’s awesome. If you’re bringing your best to this test, take a moment to be grateful for how you’ve picked yourself up during a pandemic for the history books. Even if you can’t change the world today, it is possible to change your perspective.

Writer Minnie Lamberth helps clients craft marketing messages, develop writing projects, or create content. She is the author of Miss Bertie Explains the Beginning of the World and the podcast Your Creative Purpose.  

Making a Pandemic Pivot on a Shoestring Budget

As businesses shuttered while many of us were sheltering in place, I erased the plans for 2020 that I had enthusiastically written on my whiteboard earlier in the year. I didn’t want these words staring at me when the environment I had written them in was so different.

It was kind of like keeping operating instructions for equipment I’d discarded. Just not helpful. Turns out, plans for Earth 1 do not work on Earth 2.

My workload for copywriting and content marketing flipped as one client pulled back, another pushed ahead. The work I was doing changed. However, the whole world of contact-free, Amazon-delivery living opened up another opportunity to pursue in the meantime. I published a novella and launched a podcast, and I did both on a shoestring budget.

I used Amazon KDP for the novella, uploading files and making them available for my market. Amazon runs the business part of sales and shipping.

As I told a friend, “I don’t want to be in fulfillment. Do you know what fulfillment is?”

“No,” she said, “but it sounds awful.”

“It’s where you have to buy envelopes, put the books in the envelopes and go to the post office and stand in line to get them mailed. I don’t want to do that.”

Amazon was happy to take care of that detail via “print on demand” while I earn royalties at a level that is comfortable for my investment and effort.

My costs on the novella were editing and bar code. My writing was fairly clean, but I did pay someone to look over my shoulder and catch my blind spots. If I wanted to release a novella to generate visibility and credibility – and share a message of creative purpose – I did not want to embarrass myself with errors and/or unintended offense.

Fortunately, another friend offered to design the cover and interior pages. That was a big savings and also part of making a respectable presentation. I wanted the book to be physically pleasing when someone pulled it out of the Amazon box and held it in his/her hands.

Then I moved on to the podcast to promote the novella and the concepts of creative purpose that are within the story. I had a microphone. I used the free software Audacity to record and edit on my laptop. Pixabay.com has free music files I could plug into the intro and outro. I signed up for a $5 month plan at Libsyn for distribution, and I used Canva to create my podcast image for free.

If I can help you through your pivot, let me know. I’d be happy to discuss your ideas.

Minnie Lamberth is a copywriter, content writer, author, and now a podcaster of creative inspiration. 

Getting Real

I came home from my morning walk and found that my feline assistant Trixie had grabbed her favorite toy and gone back to bed. I get it. It’s January. The weather is dreary. And toys are nice.

I bought this scurrying creature for her at The Dollar Tree on her first birthday, and she has loved it now for more than two years.

I’ll find it in my closet, on my desk chair, on a table, in the middle of the floor, and, quite often in the mornings, I’ll realize she brought it to the top of my bed in the middle of the night.

For a time, this toy had a little mechanical device within it. When you pulled the tail, it supposedly scurried like a mouse. That device is long gone – loved away through lots of jumps and carries from here to there.

To Trixie, I think this toy has become real.

I didn’t know about The Velveteen Rabbit, a classic children’s story by Margery Williams, until I reached college. Somehow I missed the tale of the boy whose love made a stuffed rabbit real. But I heard friends talk about it.

People long remember stories they hear in childhood.

I think often about Stone Soup, where this man was in a village long ago making soup out of a stone that he’d put in a pot of water. I’m not sure if this was supposed to be a picture of a scam or a display of genuine leadership, but people kept saying things like, “Oh, I’ve got some carrots. Let me add that.” Or “Here’s a little meat. Would that help?” And the whole community comes together to make soup that everyone enjoys.

It’s a nice tale. So much can happen when we work together to serve others. Hope you’ll remember some nice stories today about love, or community, or some other good quality.

Cat at Rest

I’d read that cats make eye contact when entering a room because they want to know if you’re going to protect them as they get a little shut-eye. They’ve got to grab forty winks, or maybe eighty. Will you take care of the place, they want to know. Will you make sure they’re safe.

I always tell Trixie yes, go ahead. I’ve got it.

She came into my office just then, with sudden jump on table, but crouched position, ears back. Concerned. Could mean that something, perhaps a windblown leaf or a squirrel outdoors, had caused her concern.

“You okay?” I asked. She didn’t speak, which is her usual style when she’s unsure. She won’t meow if the thinks she’s going to tip off an intruder to her position. Smart girl.

I checked the windows. Probably a leaf. But could have been a squirrel.

She’s resting now. Getting that shut-eye she needed.

Hope you feel safe today, as if someone’s watching the place while you rest.

Who’s Telling Your Story?

I was talking to a colleague earlier who was asking very generally about my help with articles for his website. Trying to figure out the most efficient process, I asked, “Do you want to write over what I begin? Or do you want me to write over what you begin?”

This is about creating a stem of a story. For some people, resistance comes when you face a blank screen. But if the words have already begun to be formed, you’ll get prodded into a reaction: “Wait, that’s not who I am. That’s not what I want to say. I want to go in a new direction.” So you start making edits that bring your own thoughts to fruition.

The other way is when you know what you want to say. You just don’t have time to finesse your point. So you jot down your stem – the heart of the matter – and a copywriter finishes your thought and smooths out your creative process.

Shifting the business point to the personal, some of us need help telling our story. We get overwhelmed by the minutia of daily demands that we don’t take time to dig into the details and draw out the meaning. Yet the beauty, joy, worthiness and belonging that have been with us from the beginning are there to be found. Watch and see.