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Writers Are Readers Too: Three Awesome Reasons to Read Every Day

Liam J Cross


Writing and reading are like peanut butter and jelly. No, I don’t mean they make a delicious combination when spread between two slices of bread… I mean they go hand in hand. I mean that one without the other just isn’t the same for us as writers, and that a life with neither is no life at all.

 

Let me spin it like this. If I asked you which one you would give up between writing and reading if you were forced to do so, which would you choose? Precisely. It’s a hard choice isn’t it? In fact, it’s so hard that it’s probably a choice you never want to have to make in your life, and so that is why you shall not make it.

You shouldn’t give up either of them for the simple fact that they both compliment each other. Writing makes for better reading and reading makes for better writing – it’s a simple equation.

So based on this equation, you should never ever feel guilty about reading, because not only does it transport you out of this hellhole and into a land filled with mischief and wonder, but it also makes you a better writer all-round, and that, my friends, is the aim here.

How exactly does reading benefit you as a writer? I can hear you asking. Well don’t worry, I’m about to outline a few ways it can be of great assistance.


Your Imagination Will Skyrocket

Of course, one of the main strengths of a writer is their imagination, because without it how would there be any interesting plots at all? Without imagination, the world of fiction would be reduced to a reoccurring nightmare, in the form of the exact same book regurgitated and reformatted over and over again, only with a slightly different written style. It would be boring. It would be torture.

Luckily for us though, us writers, along with the rest of the world’s creatives, are becoming more and more imaginative by the day, and it makes for a seriously interesting world of literature to explore.

Through exploring the big wide bookish world around us, we’ll grow our imaginations even more by borrowing a slice or two from our fellow writers. The imagination is like a muscle – it only grows through stimulus. So stop boring yourself all day every day and set aside an hour or two to read.

Your imagination will thank you for it, and so will future writer you.


Reading Expands Your vocabulary

And as a result, vastly improves your writing in terms of uniqueness and voice.

You may not realise it at the time, but whilst you’re reading, you’re expanding your understanding of the written word with every page you turn. The effects of this are not immediately recognisable, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t taken place.

An example of how this pays off would be when you’re sat during a writing session and are in the middle of a sentence, when a random word appears in your head. A word that you aren’t quite sure of; sometimes you won’t even know what it means. At least not consciously. Upon Googling the word (because what else are you supposed to do?) you find out that it means something really cool and fits your sentence perfectly. Look at you being all sophisticated.

This happens because your mind subconsciously latches onto words and understands their use in a sentence even if it doesn’t fully understand the meaning behind them. It’s crazy how it works, but it’s always a pleasant moment when you realise that you managed to learn a new big and fancy word without even trying.

Give it a try for yourself. Read for at least an hour every day and three months down the line, compare your current work to that of three months ago – I bet you’ll notice a huge difference.


It Frees the Soul

Above all else, it comes down to the simplicity behind your reasoning for doing anything in life: because it is something you love; something that puts a smile on not only your face, but in your heart too – and that’s rare.

If reading is something that you do because you enjoy it, then keep reading for that reason and that reason alone. The rest of the positives that come from reading are just added bonuses and should be appreciated all the same. But if you read simply because you love it, then there should be no shame in that.

There should be no shame in doing anything in life that you love to do. So long as it isn’t something that brings harm or pain to others, then do whatever you please.

Do the things you love. Life is too damn short to do anything other.

 

(Featured image credit: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/books/reviews-what-are-you-reading-23-march-2017)


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Online Content for Businesses: Three Great Reasons to Post Online

Liam J Cross


Whether it be a website or a blog; an Instagram page or a Twitter account – posting online in some way, shape or form is certainly moulding into the most efficient way to build a business.

Think about it logically.

Think of any big company, any in the entire world, and check whether or not they have some form of online presence. In fact, don’t do that, I’ll give you the answer right now: they all do.

And there’s a reason they all do.

With the internet taking the world by storm, and with more and more people gaining access to it every single day, there is no doubt that the perfect customers/clients for any business are out there somewhere on the web. So what does that mean for the businesses that are trying to reach those customers? It means that it’s time to get online.

I would personally recommend digging in on every form of social media and online presence that you possibly can, but if I had to choose four that I’d advise you to focus on most, I’d say that they would have to be: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and a blog/website.

How you make use of those platforms is vastly up to you, but one thing’s for sure: taking your business online is a great idea all around, and here are three great reasons why.


Engagement, Engagement; Engagement

And I’ll say it again: engagement.

One of the main factors of any business, irrespective of what it entails and what it is selling, is the company’s engagement with its customers. You’re going to have absolutely no chance in the wide world of business if your customers/clients don’t know who you are and what you’re about, and posting online content is a great way to change that.

Not only will the people who see your posts find out about your product/services, they’ll also get to learn about your business on a more personal scale, and thus, will feel more compelled to purchase goods/services from said business.

Engagement – that’s the direction you want to head in for the best possible sales.


It Instills Your Customers/Clients With Confidence

By posting useful, and more importantly, informative content online, you’re not only helping your possible clients out and inspiring them to purchase your product/service, but you’re also giving them the direct confidence to do so.

Let’s say you’re looking to move home and you come across a moving company’s website, and let’s say this website has a blog. So you click on the blog, and as you’re scrolling through you come across article after article that teaches you something new about moving home – you’ll instantly know that this company knows what they’re talking about and want the best for their customers.

It shows they care, and showing a client that you care is near enough half of the battle won.


Free Advertising

Above all, posting online content is the most effective sort of free advertising out there. Where else can you have your advertisements seen by hundreds and hundreds of people without paying a penny? Of course, on social media sites you can pay to have your posts seen more, but that’s totally optional.

If you grow your account organically, and post regularly enough to gain a decent following, who knows just how far online content could take you. Having a combined social medial following of around one hundred thousand would no doubt be enough to gain regular business without having to pay for advertising at all, so you should really stick at it.

Build your empire and make your fortunes, you deserve it.


What Other Reasons Could You Possibly Need?

There are a lot more that I could name, but I’m afraid no one would have enough time to read this list if I did – not when we all have businesses to run. If you aren’t currently online, posting regular content (one or twice a day at least,) then I’d definitely recommend starting immediately – you never know just how far it may take you.

 

(Featured image credit: http://www.adweek.com/digital/digital-advertising-grew-32-billion-industry-first-half-2016-174359/)


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Creating the Perfect Protagonist: Three Things to Consider

Liam J Cross


When beginning your journey to craft a full-scale novel, you almost fail to realise just how mammoth the task ahead of you is. If it’s something you’ve never done before, you’ll likely not have a clue where to start and you’ll end up over-complicating things by thinking about too much at once. It’s all expected though. Writing a novel is a difficult task and it is taxing on the minds of those with even the most formidable willpower, so a few (which translates to a lot) bumps on the way is nothing unexpected.

One of the most important things to consider when starting your book – and this goes for both old and new writers – is your protagonist; your main character. You’re going to have to come up with a personality that is a perfect fit for the story you want to tell, which means you’re going to have to spend a considerable amount of time crafting them. From their appearance and interests, all the way down to what their grades were in elementary school – all of these things can impact your main character, and ultimately, your novel on a whole.

With that said, there are a few things that are more important than others, and I’m going to underline three of them in the following list.


#1: Their Name

Now please just hold on a second, hear me out before you start shouting at me for stating the obvious…

Whilst yes, this may in fact be painstakingly obvious, but it goes a little deeper than it may seem. You’re going to want to think about the name of your main character in direct relation to your novel, both on a whole, and on a more intricate level of detail. If you can somehow tie your protagonist’s name to one of the themes in your book, or if you can make it something that will all tie together at the end, then you’re in for some serious brownie points. Readers lover reading books that all tie together nicely, and this is one way to factor some of that in.

For example, let’s say one of the themes in your book is the power of love. Not the famous song, but its abilities to ease pain from the inside out; to extinguish the flames of solitude and replace them with a smile – that sort of power. You could have a female protagonist named Rose Salvator – Rose having connotations of love, and salvator being the Latin word for saviour.

It doesn’t have to be that cliche or corny, but you get the idea. Including some sort of Easter-egg style theme in your novel will be sure to score you some big points and will add a sense of intelligence to your work. You can’t go wrong with it really.


#2: Give Them a Realistic Issue With a More Unrealistic Solution

Of course, this won’t really be applicable to genres that stretch beyond the world of realism, but for the purposes of this post (and more importantly, this particular point,) we’ll keep to those genres that are more real-world based.

You know how it gets. It’s easy to get bored reading about alcoholism and therapy. In fact, I’d be willing to bet my bottom dollar that as a combination of problem/solution, that the aforementioned combo is the worst you could possibly choose. It’s a real-world issue with a real-world solution, nobody wants to read a book like that. We read to escape reality, not see it through the eyes of another. If your reader wanted to see that they’d just sit in at the nearest psychiatrist’s office and observe.

Instead, change the solution.

Your protagonist can be an alcoholic – that’s all good and well. Well, it isn’t really, but you get the point… It’s a good idea to give your characters an issue that readers can potentially relate to. It’s not the problem that shapes the classiness and sheer brilliance of the literature, but rather, the solution to the problem.

Rather than having your character undergo therapy, why not have her discover that her neighbour is a kidnapping psychopath who is holding a bunch of young girls captive? Upon rescuing the poor girls, she sees that others have shared her pain, as this also happened to her when she was younger – she knows what it is like to spend her childhood in a sex ring. Seeing that others share her pain helps her to overcome the issue, and she is able to combat her alcohol problem through the sheer grit and determination that has been instilled from this experience.

You see, that’s much more appealing isn’t it? Please consider the whole problem/solution theory when giving your protagonist an issue to overcome. The flow of your book will thank you for it, and your readers sure will too.


#3: Become Best Friends With Your Protagonist

As writers, we must know out protagonist inside out, and must fully believe in their existence – anything less is unacceptable. Think of them as someone you’d hang out with, someone you’d be around and have a good time alongside. I mean, if you think about it, that’s the way we feel about every other great character in fiction, so why not feel that way about our own? That’s a sure-fire way to create a character with the same effect.

Believing in your main character will not only empower them more and give them a greater sense of completeness, but it will also help your reader to believe in them too. And trust me, engaging your reader and making them believe in the world you’ve created, that’s half the battle.


Name Them, Give Them a Struggle, and Then Make Them Your Best Friend

I think it’s pretty straight forward when you put it like that – if only it was that easy in actuality, huh? It may be difficult, but I know you have it in you to create the story you’re dying to tell; the story that the world needs to hear. And even if the world never does hear it, the great sense of inner achievement that you’ll feel when your book is finally finished – that’s one of the greatest feelings in the world.

 

(Featured image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/perfect-hands-silhouette-sunset-926268/)


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The Only Way to Truly Overcome Fear

Liam J Cross


Fear is a lot of different things for a lot of different people. For some it’s that spell of eternal darkness when they turn off their bedroom light, for others it’s taking off in a plane – there are so many fears out there – some understandable, others downright crazy – that it’s impossible to know of them all.

Based on all of that, fear is such a complex issue.

Let’s get this straight though: there is a definitive difference between a true fear and slight nervousness. Fear is much more complex. If you were fearful of receiving an injection, you’d likely kick and scream, faint or run for the hills – maybe even all three, though I’m not quite sure you’d manage in that exact order.

On the other side of the spectrum, if you were simply nervous about receiving an injection, you’d likely just shake a little and proceed to get one anyway. If you were actually fearful, you’d likely never get one.

Something to Consider

Now that we’ve established the difference between true fear and a slight nervousness of something, it’s time to analyse why succumbing to either is a waste of the already-restricted time we have on this planet.

Where does fear stem from?

It’s quite a strange thing to think about really. Whilst things like phobias tend to be more deeply rooted and complex issues, a simple fear can be caused by much simpler things. Maybe you watched a scary movie to do with the ocean when you were a kid and now you’re afraid of water. Or maybe you are a pessimist and cannot overcome the notion of something terrible happening, irrespective of how unlikely that may be.

Here’s where the mindset element of all this comes into it.

Consider this, if you’re afraid of needles, think about why you’re afraid of them. Now like I said, phobias are an entirely different breed of beast, and this strategy and mindset will be rendered futile when facing them, but still consider it.

Chances are, you don’t actually know why you’re afraid. You don’t know what exactly it is that you’re afraid of. And that’s the catch: fear can only reach as much greatness as our minds allow, and therefore, the only thing we should fear in life is the notion of being afraid in the first place.

If you’re afraid of something, not phobic but simply afraid, there’s so much of life that you’re going to miss out on, and you can easily prevent that from happening. It’s literally as simple as making a mindset switch. In switching to the mindset of fearing nothing but being afraid, you’re automatically qualifying yourself to try more and experience more throughout your life. If you fear nothing but fear, you’ll always give things ago even if you are a little nervous, because the outcome will always be better than backing out because you were too scared.

That’s the secret here, that’s the meaning of all this. To overcome fear, we must recgonise that fear is the only thing worth being fearful of, because fear can lead to failure, and failure is not an option.

 

(Featured image credit: http://weknowyourdreams.com/fear.html)


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Three Incredibly Useful Tips For Better Self-Editing

Liam J Cross


Ah the rewriting phase – that glorious time period that makes you want to have a nice soothing walk through the outdoors with just you and the crisply fresh air, so that you can locate the highest possible bridge from which to fling yourself.

 

It’s no secret that writers much prefer writing their story as opposed to editing it. When creating something from scratch it’s all fun and games. You’re all set to go, ready to embark on a brand new adventure, and your excitement has run into overdrive because you aren’t quite sure where you’re going to end up. It’s all fresh and exciting, and it’s this excitement that gets us through it at a considerable pace – the time just seems to fly by.

But the rewriting stage, that’s the bane of a lot of writers’ lives. When refining your story it isn’t half as fun. All the joy sapped away because you already know what’s coming, you already know that the adventure is over; the destination unraveled. In these stages everything becomes way more technical, and you have to start thinking a lot more about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

It’s sort of like the difference between slapping the paint onto the canvass and then crafting it into something beautiful. The latter stage is the editing process, and what a process it is…

It’s a rough time for many writers, you aren’t alone in that one. But where you may be a little lonely in your quest is more on the side of guidance; a helping hand to guide your pen along the paper, your fingertips along the keys, so that you can craft the best book you possibly can.

Well that would be me, I’m that helping hand.


Go Big or Go Elsewhere

Now this tip usually goes against the usual advice, but I have my reasons for recommending it as a strategy – the main one being that as a person, I don’t tend to stick to the typical trends and themes that society sets.

I always advise starting off big. What I mean by this is that I think it’s wise to fix any huge errors in your manuscript before you even consider looking into the more intricate details. If you discover a major plot-hole or a cluster of chapters that look as though they were written by a pre-schooler, then fix those first. You can worry about the smaller things later, but bigger issues have to be handled as soon as they’re spotted.

It’s easier to fix these issues as soon as you spot them, that way you won’t be left scratching your head in wonder when it comes to remembering where the heck you saw them. Plus, if you’re anything like me, spotting a mistake and then proceeding to leave it as a mistake will drive you crazy – I have to fix them right away.

But then again, I am an editor, it’s what I do.


Don’t Settle for Less

It’s so easy to fall into that trap of just throwing in the towel, of getting to a certain stage and telling yourself you’ve done enough and that your draft is pretty much ready for submission.

Well, in this case, I’m afraid that ‘pretty much ready’ isn’t ready enough.

Never settle for anything less than perfection, or as close to it as you can get. Don’t just throw in the towel on a scene or chapter because it is taking you a while to edit. We all come across those chapters that are nothing but a huge mess at some point during our draft, and yes they are a massive ache to fix, but ignoring them isn’t going to achieve anything. They need to be fixed if you want your book to be good. They need to be fixed if you’re seeking publication. They just need to be fixed in general.

So fix them you shall!


Call in the Cavalry

There are a lot of things in life that we can do on our own; writing a book is not one of them. Or maybe I should say: writing a book worthy of publishing is not one of them.

 

Every traditionally published book goes through a rigorous regime. They’re passed through team after team of editors, each of them specialising in a specific subject, and then they’re edited again. Authors are provided with many guiding eyes when their book is published, so why should you be left all on your lonesome?

Don’t leave it all to yourself where writing a book is concerned.

It’s always a good idea to get yourself a nice little team of beta readers – people to read your draft and provide you with honest feedback. This is especially helpful if you cannot afford to hire a professional, because you’ll still get some feedback without the cost. Sacrificing on the quality of that feedback shouldn’t hinder you too much, so it’s a win for everyone involved. Unless of course your book totally sucks, in that case I’m pretty certain your readers will have lost a little, but I’m sure they’ll live.

Alternatively, if you do require the services of a professional, you can take a trip to my services page, where you’ll learn everything you need to know about what I offer.


That’s All For Now

I hope these tips have been useful to you in some way. Incorporate them into your editing process and see if you notice any differences in how you find the process as a whole. Stay tuned for even more writing and editing tips, and give my blog a follow if you want to stay on top of those posts.

That’s a wrap on my end, now all there’s left for you to do is to hop to it – that book of yours isn’t going to edit its damn self!

 

(Featured Image Credit: http://lawyernomics.avvo.com/legal-marketing/helpful-future-marketing-story.html)


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That Important Decision in Relation to Your Goals

Liam J Cross


Have you ever found yourself sat in absolute self-torment trying to figure out what you should do; which road you should walk down. You see, our minds are tricky beasts, and if allowed to, can turn even the simplest of decisions against us. Our mind makes easy things difficult – that’s how it works most of the time. And where would the fun be if it didn’t?

This particular decision isn’t one that I’m faced with much, but when it strikes, it’s a tough one to decide – even though it shouldn’t be. I’ll find myself sat on a Saturday afternoon after my day job (as I am right now,) and I’ll be torn between two options. Option one is to push through the exhaustion and finish my entire list today/tonight (which results in my sixth consecutive day working 13-15 hours) and option two is split the list into two and finish it off after work tomorrow, which is usually my time off for the whole week.

I often get myself quite worked up over this and I have no idea why. It’s not as if I’m slacking or even considering it, I’m simply splitting up my time off over two days. I’m still getting the exact same amount of time off and I’m still getting the exact same work done – just over two days instead of one. But of course, my mind being the son-of-a-bitch it is, it makes this stage of my day rather unpleasant.

This is what I mean by our minds being unforgiving. This decision shouldn’t take me any longer than a minute to think through, but because my brain starts to tell me that I’m slacking if I choose to split my list, it takes me way longer to think about. But when I narrow it down and really think it through, it’s literally a no-brainer.

One of the main reasons I want to be fully self-employed is because in those circumstances I’ll have the ability to work the hours I want to work on the days I want to work them. And that’s literally what I want to do. I feel exhausted by this point in the week, so if my body and mind want a little downtime, why not give them some? It’s never a good idea to work yourself all the way into the ground, and it’s smart to have some planned time off – that’s why I plan my Sunday afternoon of.

But, if I wish to interrupt that time off with a little of Saturday’s work because I want to have a nap on a Saturday evening, does that really make me a bad person? No. It means I’m working smart. And more often than not, that’s just as important as working hard.

 

A Writing Prompt for the Horror Fans

Liam J Cross


Writing prompts are there to aid writers; they’re there to get them over that initial hurdle of developing an idea from nothing but a blank screen. They’re perfect for those times when you can’t quite make a start, when the words won’t flow; when your fingers essentially refuse to type.

So, because these prompts, and all of the other prompts around the world, are there to help, I hope they have been helpful to at least one person who reads these short articles. If you do use one of these prompts, and write something based on it/because of it, please link me to it or leave a comment to let me know – I’d love to read some of your work!


The Prompt

It’s dark, you’re home alone, it’s getting late. You see your mother sitting on her bed as you walk by. It seems you aren’t home alone. No biggie. She must’ve just returned home and you didn’t hear her. So you walk on, ignoring the strangeness.

You get halfway down the stairs when you hear her calling on you, only not from upstairs, but from the basement.


Now Go Create

This is essentially a writing prompt that was prompted by a short story I saw on Facebook, so it’s sort of like a double writing prompt. It just goes to show how helpful they are though, because without seeing that short story I wouldn’t have come up with that prompt and this post wouldn’t have happened.

Writing prompts can be anywhere. They can exist at any time and in any format – that’s what makes them such a beautiful thing. Anything that gives power to artists and creators, anything that feeds the buzz of the creative mind, is something worth sharing with the world.

I share these posts in the hopes of inspiring others, that way they can share their words with the world too. That’s the meaning of all this: be inspired and then go inspire others. I’m beginning to think that the world would be such a mechanically beautiful place if everyone on it was a writer…

(Featured image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/llowrain/5523800294)

 

 

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Three Great Ways to Stay Motivated Enough to Blog

Liam J Cross


So you started your blog and you were ridiculously excited to get to work on it. You were looking forward to posting fresh new content every couple of days and had hundreds of ideas for possible posts and collaborations. You felt as though this was it, this was your big breakthrough; the final step on your journey towards success. Blogs are always successful, they lead to sales and leads and money and fame. This was your time to shine.

Only now it’s been a few months, you’ve ran out of ideas, your fingers hurt from typing and if you have to copy and paste one more stupid damn link for photo credit you might just go up in flames. And to top it all off, you’ve realised that no one really cares what your’re talking about or what you have to say – after a grand total of thirty posts and lots of hours spent working at this, you’ve amassed a grand total of seven followers. This alone is enough to make you want to quit, then you see another damn link and it’s the final straw.

You close the page, close your laptop, and never look at your blog again.

There you have it folks, that is the lifespan of the majority of blogs out there. They’re started, worked on for a little, and then left to go stale because no one wants anything to do with it – sort of like each end of a loaf of bread.

That and that alone is the biggest reason as to why most blogs fail pretty darn miserably. But if it does happen like that, how on earth do you stay motivated enough to grind out those hard times to achieve the growth you’re looking for?

Well buckle up those seat belts and let me take you on a little journey.


Feed Your Passion

If you’re someone who is passionate about great food and cooking, yet started a blog that is centred around mixed martial arts, then we have just discovered your problem. You should never elect to write about a topic just because it fits in with the motion of society. Writing for views and followers will only result in one thing: an abruptly deleted blog once you get sick and tired of writing about things you aren’t passionate about.

If you do run a blog based on food and cooking, try to come up with new and original post ideas – surf the web with different post titles and try to find something that hasn’t been done before. Keep things fresh and think outside of the usual box. There are lots of articles you could post on a blog to do with food. Rather than posting recipe ideas and other obvious things alike, why not entertain your audience with a post that covers the most disastrous kitchen nightmares you’ve ever came across – that’s a topic that is sure to include some humour.

Keep it fresh, keep it simple; keep it to do with what you love.


Don’t Compare Your Stats to Already-Established Blogs

And if you simply cannot prevent yourself from doing so, acknowledge the fact that they were also once in the same boat as you.

There isn’t a single blog on this planet that saw great success overnight. Granted, some do see it sooner than others do, but the science behind their success is always very similar. Blogs are successful because a lot of hard work and effort goes into them, which means that you can’t just create one and expect it to get a million views in its first month. Much like a lot of things in life, it takes time.

So based on this, never compare your blogs to those that are already established – if you do, you’re only asking for trouble. It’s sure to get you down, and you’ll start to question the whole process before it has even properly begun. You’ll wonder if it’s all worth it and you’ll tell yourself it’s not. You’ll tell yourself that you’re a talentless nobody and that you should just quit.

And then that’s what you’ll do. You’ll quit. And if you do that, you’re never going to know if your blog could be the next in line to take the title of the most viewed blog in the world. So don’t give up prematurely, you never know how close you might just be!


Celebrate the Small Victories

There’s a great way to stay motivated that anyone can put into practice starting right now: celebrate the little things.

You see, this is a journey; all of life is a journey, and it’s learning to love the smaller things that really makes a difference. You’ve got to learn to love the hard work and the process, the nights of little sleep and early morning rises. And then, when the time comes, you have to celebrate those small victories.

When you hit your first 100 subscribers, celebrate as if it’s 1,000,000 you’ve just hit. Get excited by every single like, comment and new subscriber you gain and don’t become obsessed with the higher totals. If you can master this, you’ll always be motivated, because you’ll be excited for every single tiny piece of engagement that you get with each post.

That’s the secret here, learning to get excited by every tiny step you take. And that doesn’t just apply to blogging, that applies to life in general. The happiest moments in our lives are the ones we look forward to most, so imagine just how blessed we’d truly be if we lived our lives in excitement for every day that is set to dawn.

 

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