Journal your way sane – or at least less insane. A recommendation from experience.

Coping, Journal Writing, Tips

Getting those buzzing bees in your brain down on paper might just get them out your head. At least for a while.

That, in turn, will give your body time to breathe.

My previously published “Coping in Self-Quarantine: 13 Things to Do Hunkered Down” included #5: Start Journaling! Though I only gave it a few sentences there, I’m seeing vast waterfalls of worry out there – almost every drop deserved – so I’m giving this proven self-help idea a more detailed gung-ho.  

I’m a lifelong journaler and a believer in its remarkable healing effects. It alone will not get you through stress and trauma – all tools of mind and spirit you’ve built up ‘til now should be at hand. But it’s a darn good tool, and, if you want to raise concerns while lowering blood pressure, among the best.

Julia Cameron, author of creator inspiration guide The Artist’s Way (highly recommended) says: “When we write by hand, we connect to ourselves. We may get speed and distance when we type, but we get a truer connection – to ourselves and our deepest thoughts – when we actually put pen to page.”

She’s right. It’s liberating to step away from the screen and scritch.

You do not have to be a “writer” to be a good journaller or get something out of it. You do not have to have good handwriting. (Hello, doctors!) You don’t have to know “your” from “you’re,” but while “you’re” at it, please DO. (I’ll be here all week.)

Write like you talk, scribble like you think, one sentence after another, one worry after another, one win after win, one paragraph at a time. Or maybe there are no graphs. Maybe it’s a rambling run-on. Buzz on, bees! Take this, paper! And this! Curse. Yell. Negotiate. Document. Write.

How many pages a day? Julia says “3.” Agree. Some days, it’s a plod to 3, some days you will leave 3 in your rear view mirror.

You do not need fancy, really nice journals to be a journaller, so of course, I have this affiliate link for fancy, really nice ones (Cha-ching!)

 I love humble school notebooks, or, for even more unfiltered, let-it-loose thinking: legal pads. Randy gifted me used ones from her corporate days. These slimmed-down beauties take ideas like, well, a pro.

As for new, mint-condition legal pads, Earthwise is affordable – check current price – and is 100% recycled. The stock has a good “hand feel,” but not so nice you’ll have that “oh, this paper is so nice, I can’t mark it up” feeling.  

How to begin? Grab the closest pad and a favorite pen. Write this sentence: “Wow, I cannot believe this day.” (Expand on that.) Or here’s a better one: “I have a lot to be grateful for, I guess.” (Like what?) Or be not that high-minded. “You know what makes me mad? Drivers who don’t use turn signals!” (This one is personal for me.)

A historian on Twitter last week also recommended journaling, but he had a loftier lens and more academic focus. “In these extraordinary times, write down what you are seeing, hearing, feeling,” he said. “Future generations will want to read every word.” Hmmm. I dunno. I believe in the future – yay, go, future – but in my journals I am not writing for prosperity. Egads, no. I would have to start using words like “egads.”

I throw my journals in a closet, and then often, scandalously, into recycling. I don’t care. Those are my first-first-first drafts. If an idea is worth preserving, I do know how to type. Watch: sjie5 sjo38745 hkjj!

“Hey, Walt! What’s this journaling ‘mental health benefit’ of which you speak?” Bottom line: I find that journaling makes me feel 17.5% better every day. 17.5%was also the commission advertising agencies used to charge in the 1980s. Coincidence?

Don’t tear anything out until tomorrow!

I do feel compelled to put a non-jokey warning here. In your writing, you might reach a catharsis. You might hit a point where you put down the pen and cry. Good. Tears are good. They are a release. That’s called grieving. It’s human, it’s real and it’s necessary. It’s the “keeping it in” that is driving you crazy.

Overall, of course, your mileage may vary. But if you could do something that might make you feel 17.5% better (at least eventually) and, if so desired, preserve your thoughts, would you do it?

My late Mom thought so. She was profusive journaller of every family visit, every lunch, every trip to River Roads Shopping Center. I have boxes of her journals in my basement. Heck, I think we all do.

Wait a minute! This has been an idea from my Mom all along!

Well then, there you have it. Take it from her, take it from me:

Mark your marks on the world.

Write stuff down.

There you go.

Coping in Self-Quarantine: 13 Things To Do While Hunkering Down

Coping, home office, Productivity, Tips
Walt Jaschek says, “This Essential and Showcase comic book collection won’t read itself.”

Home, sweet home. It’s that sweet (and smart) spot many of us find ourselves lately, either because we’re now working remotely; because we always worked at home (like me, a freelancer;) because we’re blissfully retired, like Randy; and/or because we’re, well, quarantined. Staying occupied is quandary for some, I’m hearing, including sports fans who no longer have games to watch. To those seeking suggestions, here are 13 Things To Do When Hunkered Down.

1. Walk!

Let’s take this situation one step at a time. And six feet apart. My wife and I trek a couple of miles through suburbia every day; only recently have we seen other humans (keeping a nice social distance.) Not a walker? Don’t know where to go? Put on good shoes. Walk in one direction for 10 minutes. Stop. Walk back home. Congrats, you walked for 20! Allergic to the outdoors? Walk the steps to the basement and back. Hey! Carry some laundry with you!

2. Assemble a household emergency kit.

Not trying to be alarmist; quite the opposite. Last week I calmly assembled items for a household emergency kit, as outlined by DHS on this page: https://www.ready.gov/kit . This task is not necessarily virus-related, but it helped me to direct energy and find self-comfort. Plus, it’s crazy we didn’t have this stuff before. How did I get by without a hand-cranked weather-radio/phone-charger? I luuuuuuurve it.

3. Read those books.

Those histories / biographies / how to’s / YAs / mysteries / bodice-rippers won’t read themselves. You know how we normally say, “Oh, books, I would read you, but I have someplace to be.” Now we don’t. Me? I’ll be sticking with the classics, as pictured above.

4. Write those books.

More generally: create. Make art. Share stories. Hit the loom. Record that song. Blog about beer. There’s a creative tribe in my life whose engines churn when they can stay in place and make. I can’t wait to see the stuff they’ll have to show for it.

5. Journal.

I read advice on Twitter from a historian to start journaling, if you aren’t already. Write down what’s happening. It will be of interest to future generations (the historian said,) and it’ll crystalize your thoughts and make you feel better (I say.)

6. Create a group text.

Open up those pipes of communication with the ones you love. Keep the conversation flowing. Share good information. Make jokes. Private group-texts spur more engagement, in my experience; not everyone is on the same social platforms. Also, it’s interesting to see what family members are drinking.

7. Clean up your contact lists.

Had to do this to create those group texts. I’d clean up my contacts further if I had another 8,000 hours.

8. Garden.

If you already garden, let this early Spring urge you on. Prep those beds. Plant those bulbs. Throw wildflower seeds to the wind. If you’ve THOUGHT about gardening, but doubt you can do it, start. If I can, you can. All you need is sunlight, good drainage and water. Why buy basil, spinach and cilantro when you can get ‘em from your yard? (Or patio.) And really, what illustrates “hope” better than a sprout magically emerging from a seed?

9. Send a letter.

My Dad’s senior living center is on lockdown, which is smart, and he is in good spirits. In a recent a brief phone call, he reminded me, “The mail still works.” True! So I dashed off a page of news and updates, dropped into the mail. I wonder, will recent events bring back letter-writing?  And the post office? And Elvis stamps?

10. Organize that sock drawer.

Or garage. Or medicine cabinet. Is putting energy into organizing something a way to distract yourself from worries? Yes, but it works, and when you’re done: organized sock drawer! Last week I did some strategic purging in our basement storage room, and now this room says to me, “possibilities.” Or maybe, “Peleton.”

11. Scrabble.

An eight-letter word for “fun.” The Amazon exclusive edition SPINS and has grooves to hold tiles. Check current price on Amazon.. I get 4% if you buy one at this link:  Or you could just go get yours off the shelf.

12. Do your taxes.

I’ll admit, “do your taxes” is more a note to myself.

13. Make a list.

Okay, now we’re getting meta.

That’s my 13 Things to Do Hunkered Down. More to add? Leave a comment! Thanks,

Walt

Copywriting Freelance: Profit and Prosper Without Pants | Intro

Concepting and Copywriting, Freelancing

This is the intro to an eBook I am writing about freelance copywriting. It’s a career I love. And it’s a career I want to help other writers consider and enjoy.

“Can I thrive, even survive, as a freelancer copywriter?,” you ask. Yes, you can.

You can make a difference with your writing powers.

You can move minds, heal hearts, invoke smiles, and sometimes unleash an unexpected laugh.

And you can make a real living at it. Not buy-a-small-country living, but buy a cool house living, and gosh darn it, aren’t all our homes our small countries?

Best of all, day and night, you can concentrate on the work, not the illusions and kabuki theatre of work, like, say, status meetings.

You know. “Huddles.”

You can stay home. And jam in your jammies.

It’s a little thing I like to call…

Copywriting freelance.

And I’m here to walk you through it.

Hello.

I’m Walt Jaschek, AKA Walt Now.

And I’ve had a long career as a freelance copywriter, profiting and prospering without pants.

But let’s talk about you.

Perhaps you are sitting in ad agency, working already as a copywriter. Sure, you love exposed brick as much as anybody. And that glow-in-the-dark pool table is a fun distraction. But you’d actually like to write.

You know Steve in traffic? You know how he shows up at 4 p.m. and asks for the status of your copy? And then asks your to list your favorite Zombie movies in alpha order? Steve is the obstacle to Deep Work.

Steves are always the obstacles of Deep Work.

Perhaps you are already a freelance copywriter by choice.

Or perhaps you are already a freelance copywriter by circumstance.

Congratulations to the former for seeing the light and making that jump. Leap and the net will appear, I say. Or somebody said, and I agree.

And if you’re a “circumstance” freelancer, relax. You’ve got this. I promise that, with the right mindset, you will get more done at home then you could ever accomplished in a cube.

And with that higher productivity comes the ability to (1) charge more for your hours, and (2) bill for more of them.

But we’ll get to that.

Perhaps you are a student in the realms of marketing, advertising, communications, creative writing or languages, starting to define yourself as a copywriter. You wonder if freelancing might extend the life of a student into the world of work.

Ha! It so will. My home office is half dorm. Step around that rebounder.

But to you, grads and undergrads, I say do not go directly into freelance writing as a career. You must first taste the Corp Rut. I mean, corporate. You must experience the office, as in, The Office, to make the kind of human connections you will need when you go rouge.

You will also develop a sense of agency-as-absurdity that will help you when writing like a caffeinated commander at your kitchen table.

So this book, students, is for you to read when you’re already in That First Job. Or Second. Scroll it on your phone as you savor Sauce on the Side.

To existing copywriters then, this book is dedicated. Congratulations on being a keyboard wizard, for using your powers to turn letters into words, words into sentences, heads into the stratosphere, and hearts into mush. (I see you, Ms. Senior Writer at Hallmark.)

If you are curious about the perspective of a copywriter who has managed to freelance almost exclusively for more than 30 years…

Who has put a couple of kids through college, funded multiple mortgages, bought tons of comic books yet managed to save for semi-retirement…

And who now wants to find the right mix of encouragement and practical advice for you on your freelance copywriting journey…

Here we go.

Can I really do this?, you ask. To repeat my central theme:

Yes, you can.

Next: All it takes is talent. And sandals.

Walt Jaschek is a champion of great copywriting. As creative collaborator, mentor, and freelance copywriter, he pushes to craft memorable stories with humor, pizazz and verve. For his award-winning, national ad campaigns for global brands, he was inducted by the St. Louis Media History Foundation into the city’s advertising and PR Hall of Fame. A life-long freelancer, he is declaring “I’m not history yet,” and is still open to juicy writing and consulting assignments, especially for friends and family.

Paperless post about paper: original, proven copywriting tool

Content Creation Tools, Content Writing, Reviews

The original content creation medium (if you don’t count paint on rock,) paper is the must-have form of pulp.

Julia Cameron , author of the creative journaling guide The Artist’s Way says: “When we write by hand, we connect to ourselves. We may get speed and distance when we type, but we get a truer connection–to ourselves and our deepest thoughts– when we actually put pen to page.” 

What she’s talking about isntt pulp fiction. But it is pulp. Paper is still the very best place to start ideas for copy and content writing. It’s liberating – even productive – to step away from the screen and “scritch.”

Earthwise is affordable – check current price; – and is 100% recycled. The stock as a good “hand feel,” but not so much it seems precious. I’ve weened myself away from those high-end notebooks. I feel compelled to decorate them with greatness. The pressure!

With a deliberately un-fancy sensibility to your paper, you’ll flow with the go. You’ll feel no hesitation in grabbing a pad from the stack and making your mark(s) on the world.

Earthwise Ampad 100% Recycled Perforated Ruled 50-Sheet 8 1/2 x 11 ¾-Inch White Pads 12-Pack

And for that you also need:

Pens.

I love Sharpees. (Check current price.)

Call me a Sharpie collector. Or perhaps a Sharpie loser: I tend to lose more than I gain – I think I must leave a Sharpie everywhere I go (you’re welcome)  – and thus I replenish my supplies frequently. The black fine-points are my every day, all-day tools: I love the precision of the line, the depth of that black color, and even the sound of the “scritch-scritch” on the paper.

Oh, the sad feeling when I am out of Sharpies and must use a mundane ballpoint to ideate. Somehow, the logo designs, the name ideas, the lists, the character sketches, the flow charts just aren’t as… sharpie.

And then there is the highly saturated color set: so great for accents, adornments, fheading titles, and more robust sketches and doodles. Day or night, home or away, Sharpies are never dull. They are the Walt Now Creative Ideation pens of choice.

And choice they are.

Sharpie Permanent Markers, Fine Point, Black, 24-Count

Sharpie Color Burst Permanent Markers, Fine Point, Assorted Colors, 24 Count

13-inch MacBook Air Review: best laptop for copywriters

Content Creation Tools, Content Writing, Reviews
Here’s Walt talking about his 13-inch MacBook Airs – on a MacBook Air

The lightweight heavyweight of laptops, the MacBook Air is beloved – except by battery fans.

By Walt Jaschek

Bulletin: your creative content is only as good as your content creation tools. And your brain, but that’s another story. In this post, I highly recommend Apple’s MacBook Air laptop. Five stars for content creation, unless you need battery life, then, for serious, buy something else. Here’s my review, supported by affiliate links.

Apple’s MacBook Air is so colossally cool for content creation, I use two at once. Really. I was such a heavy user of my first one, an 11.6-inch model purchased in 2014 and still killing it, the “a” key now looks like a font from an alien dimension. When I was offered a used 13-inch, as inheritance from an elderly family member, I thought I was walking on MacBook Air.

Why do I love my twin MacBook Air laptops?

Check current price of MacBook Air on Amazon.

1.    They’re shiny. Like robots in a mirror wearing bling. I just like to look at them.

2.    They’re powerful. Mine have mega-memory (newer ones even more) and 1.4 GHz Intel Core i5 processors. Gigantic iMovie files into convert into mp4s in a blink; your YouTube channel need not wait. Every task in Photoshop happens at the speed of thought: yes, you should have a tighter crop on your headshot. De-saturate it while you’re at it.

3.    They’re thin. “Have-you-been-working-out?” thin. Look how thin.

4.    They’re light. At about 3 pounds each, I can put both into my backpack and zip out the door without straining any upper body muscles.

5.    The beautiful retina display. It seers, well, the retina.

6.    They’re trouble free (but then, trouble is always free.) I’ve had both since 2014, and have had 0 virus or performance incidents. I think the Apple store misses me.

7.    They make your fingers feel good. Great keyboard response and large trackpad action to… to… excuse me, I have to kiss my fingers now.

8.    Flawless, no-dropout videos conferences while executing all of the above. It’s the laptop for multi-taskers. Or those who aspire to be.

Why do I have two of them?

“Check out” my two Macbook Airs at my local library, AKA content creation heaven.

Hey, why not?

I can have two screens open at once, which reduces the amount of tabs I have open on either one of them. It also suits my creative ADHD: when I look away from one screen to avoid thinking too hard (“brain hurts”,) my eyes and hands fall on the other keyboard, and keep working away on something else.

And, yes, I assign different types of projects to each MacBook Air, by category. The slightly bigger screen 13-inch is better for using InDesign, Photoshop and Comiclife. The slightly smaller 11-inch where I pound out copy in Word: scripts, screenplays, stories, posts and exasperated tweets. Correspondingly, it’s also the one with the most social tabs open.

Is there a “con” to the MacBook Air?

Yes, and it’s a big one:

Battery life.

It’s plain terrible. Awful. Neither of my MacBook Airs can hold a charge.. If I dare try to use without power cord, I’ve got about 15 minutes to live, sometimes less. In my particular creative venues, from home office to library to coffee shop to Whole Foods, I am never far from a wall outlet, so concern over battery life has, like Elvis, left the building. BUT BUT BUT…

If you are, say, a frequent flier, and need a laptop that works reliably on airplanes, forget the MacBook Air. Wipe it from your memory, like Men in Black. In fact, in my experience, battery fans, forget Apple laptops altogether. Go another route. Laptop Mag says the best three laptops for battery life are the Dell Latitude 7400, the HP Spectre x360, and the Dell Latitude 7400. I believe them. On the charged issue of charge, I’m envious.

On the whole, though, if battery life isn’t in your top 5 content creation criteria – as it is not in mine – you will love the Macbook Air. Business Insider agrees: this article is headlined, “After one year with Apple’s latest MacBook Air, I remain convinced it’s worth the high price tag.”

Price tag? Though I’m a freelancer on a budget, and live frugally, I can’t imagine life without these babies. Sometimes day-in, day-out value is worth that first investment.

Your creative content deserves it.

As do your fingers.

Read more reviews of the 13-inch MacBook Air on Amazon.

Walt Jaschek is a content creator and a fan of cool content. He creates a lot of it. This is his “a” key..

Walt wore out the “a” key on his first MacBook Air

P.S. What did I use to take the photos you see in this post? A phone with an incredible camera: The iPhone 7.

But that’s a review for another day.

Radio Copywriting: “Albert Einsten” in “Marketing Genius”

Humor Writing, Radio Commercials

Dr. Albert Einstein has a new theory. He’s just not sure how to “market” it. In fact, he’s “pulling his hair” over it. And if this genius can’t figure it out, who can? In this dialogue-driven radio commercial, the good doctor is pointed to CreativeWorks, a “one-stop shop for all his marketing materials.” Listen to great Hollywood voice talent having fun in this spot, written and produced by Walt Jaschek for client CreativeWorks of St. Louis, and recorded at World Wide Wadio in Hollywood. The script is below.

SCRIPT
“Marketing Genius”
60-second radio commercial for CreativeWorks

MUSIC INTRO

SOUND FX: LABORATORY SOUNDS, UNDER

HOST: Welcome back to “Creative Thinkers.” Today we’re talking with Dr. Albert Einstein.

EINSTEIN (in German accent): Hello there.

HOST: Hey, Doc, how are you?

EINSTEIN: Oh, fine, fine. (Makes a deliberate joke) At least… relatively.

HOST:  “Rela…”?

(BOTH LAUGH)

HOST: You’re a genius.

EINSTEIN: Danke.

HOST: Hair’s kind of wild, though.

EINSTEIN: Yeah, I’ve been pulling it.

HOST: Pulling it?

EINSTEIN: See, I’ve developed a brand-new theory…

HOST: Really?

EINSTEIN: Und I’ve been putting together a big marketing push for it. But I can’t find one place to handle all my creative materials.

HOST: Have you considered CreativeWorks?

EINSTEIN: CreativeWorks?

HOST: CreativeWorks is the one-stop expert at creating complete advertising and marketing solutions.

EINSTEIN: Even for a genius?

HOST: Especially for a genius.

EINSTEIN: I’m there!

HOST: Good! By the way, Doc, what is your brand new theory?

EINSTEIN: Well, get this. As it turns out, “e” only equals “mc squared” some of the time.

(Beat as they take this news in)

HOST: Uh-oh.

EINSTEIN: Crazy, huh?

HOST: That’ll have an impact.

EINSTEIN: No kidding.

ANNOUNCER: CreativeWorks. Bright ideas…

SOUND FX: LIGHT BULB CHAIN PULLED, HARP GLISTEN, UNDER

ANNOUNCER: …one stop.

SOUND FX: LAST “Tink” OF HARP GLISTEN

FADE OUT

We have an entire playlist of funny radio commercials: 15 and counting!

Want content like this? Brainstorm with Walt.

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