How You Should Prepare for Your Internship


  1. First Impressions Trump Reputation. Whether this is your first time in the office setting, or you are a pro, nothing gives people a better look at your true self than in the first ten minutes of meeting you. Studies have shown that a person’s first impression can be more influential than the individual’s reputation in the work force. So while, you may believe that you have great experience under your belt, that does not mean you shouldn’t bring your smiling face, sincere attitude and drive.writing girl
  2. Research The Company. Take time to dedicate a good portion of your time to learning the history of the company. Your supervisor will be very impressed by your vast knowledge of the company’s clients and partners. It is best to figure out the office culture before orientation day.
  3. Understand the Dress Code. Depending on the office culture, your company’s dress code can vary. Understand that interning at a law firm can call for a different office wardrobe than what you would wear if you interned at a recreation center. When building your internship wardrobe, it is best to invest in items that fit. Let me be clear, the fit is everything. Yes, you can buy a $100 oxford shirt, but if it poorly fits than it looks messy. You can stock up on great shirts at your local thrift store, as long as the fit works for you.
  4. Develop Your Daily Routine. Nothing is more of a struggle than going from sleeping until noon in the summer to waking up at 6 a.m. every morning and rushing to work because you forgot to make your lunch the night before. Generally, you will be notified of your schedule about a month in advance. Once you know what your schedule will be like, you will want to train your body to get into a routine. If you have to be at the office at 8 a.m., figure how much time it takes for you to get to work. Adjust an extra ten minutes for traffic or other common obstacles. Remember to add allotted time to get ready in the morning. Once you figure out what time you need to be up, it is best to start getting into the routine at least two weeks before your start date. If you take anything from this article, please take in this advice.
  5. Bring an Extra Outfit to Work. This may seem silly and a bit over the top, but if you have the ample space to store an emergency pair of dress clothes than take the precaution. Imagine you are at the end of your internship and you are set to present your presentation to the board after lunch. Only to be struck with despair when you realize that half of your tuna sandwich took a detour to the front of your shirt instead of your mouth. You can thank me later for saving the day.


The Seven Mistakes to Avoid Freshmen Year of College, As Told By a Senior


As August quickly approaches and the memories of the backyard barbecues begin to fade, you may find yourself thinking about the exciting adventure that lies ahead, college. While Hollywood creates this beautiful montage of clips and scenes of bright shining pupils on their way to class, this is not always the case. Life is not like the movies, your freshmen year can be tough, but it can also be manageable. Take it from me, I made some of the most common mistakes that any Freshmen, can and will make.laptop and paper

  1. You forgot to Check yourself, before you wreck yourself. Yes, it is cliché, but it is true. Let’s get something straight, right off the bat, you are not that special. Yes, you may have been the homecoming king, captain of the debate team, or maybe you have a beauty vlog with over 3,000 followers. The truth is, your Introduction to Psychology class will more than likely have a fellow Homecoming royalty member, or another president of the Spanish Club. Sorry for being a bummer, but think about it this way, these people share similar interests as you. Take the time to get to know the people in your new environment, you might just be sitting next to a fellow numismatist (coin collector).
  2. You forget to call home. I know, it does not seem cool to call your parents or friends and family back home, but it is essential. The first few weeks can be overwhelming and it is nice to utilize your support system. Also, your parents do miss you. They want to know what is going on in your life. So take the time to figure out when it is best to call. Schedule a time to meet, and possibly sneak in dinner…maybe a quick trip to the grocery store.
  3. The Early Worm cannot be the Social Butterfly. Trust me, this is harder than it sounds. There is nothing more dangerous than thinking that you can hang out with your friends and still make it to your 8 a.m. class. Even if you manage to make it to Finite Math, your brain is not functioning at its fullest potential. Do not get me wrong, spending too much time in the library can lead to serious FOMO (fear of missing out). Take the time to schedule and organize your time for the following weeks ahead. Your professors will give you a syllabus that will lay out the course for the semester. Mark the days when you have exams scheduled. Know what it coming up, so you can still go bowling with the kids from your floor while still finding time to study for the Introduction to Anthropology test on Thursday.
  4. You think you can pull an all-nighter. Do not fall victim to thinking that because you do not have class until noon means you can stay up until 4 a.m. and wake up at 11 a.m. and still have a productive day. The truth is that you are doing more harm than good. A consistent and healthy schedule will make all of the difference. Plus, more than likely your friends were not as lucky to score that late afternoon Art History class. Your brain can only function at its best when you have the proper amount of sleep. How you do academically your freshmen year paves the way you do throughout the rest of your college career.
  5. You are being too Stubborn and Ask for Help. At times, things will be thrown at you that can make you feel like you are barely getting by. You talk to your friends, and you wonder why they do not seem as stressed as you. There is no shame in asking for help. Many colleges have tutoring centers. Take the time to research your professor’s office hours. Utilize your university’s resources. Find out if there are any organizations that can help you access more resources. For many first generation college students are able to find an organization that helps them with studying, printing and professional development. Ask a friend if they would like to go to the tutoring center with you.
  6. You spent all your money and you don’t remember what you bought. Believe me, nothing can give you more of a sense of euphoria than receiving the Financial Aid check in the mail. Your mind is flooded with dollar signs and all the new things you want to buy. The biggest mistake that students make is that they think that Financial Aid is free money. IT IS NOT. Depending on your situation, a grant means you do not have to pay back the bank. A loan means that you most certainly have to pay them back, and usually with interest, depending on your agreement. I have witnessed many of my friends throwing their new found fortune to the wind and going through their funds like water. The aftermath is not pretty. So, as my biggest tip, sit down with your parents and discuss your budget. You may find that you have to use that money to pay rent, school supplies etc. I am here to say the most important thing you can do it save or start paying back your loan.
  7. You decline the Orientation class. Most schools will offer you a course on the university itself. While, it does seem somewhat silly to take a course that focuses on the campus that you attend. It is crucial to take the course. Generally, the course if free and not for credit but it will help boost your confidence immensely about your new environment.

5 Tips to Combat Procrastination

By: Yvonne Bertovich

I’ve been there, you’ve been there, we’ve all been there. The clock ticking, your palms sweaty, knees weak, heart palpitations ensuing after too much caffeine (see, I’m no Eminem) — all the while a looming deadline hanging over you like a Floridian storm cluster.

Procrastination might as well be the most common affliction, causing us to put off essays, projects, studying for tests, or trips to the DMV (it’ll only get worse as you get older, kids).

There’s something about the thrill of a deadline, or maybe it’s our own egos that often put us in situations of extreme time crunches.

If you’re one of the lucky ones on a traditional summer break without online classes or responsibilities, consider this your wake-up call: you have less than a month left.

If you’re also one of the lucky ones that has a summer book project or reading assignment due when school starts again, you may be thinking you have all the time in the world — so you might as well watch the thirty-ninth episode of Netflix or stare at the ceiling, ’cause gosh darn it, you can.

However, whatever your situation, I’m here to tell you that productivity isn’t a scary thing. It can be done, and your grades (and blood pressure) will thank you for it. Here are five tips to combat procrastination.

1. Break yourself off a piece of that…

No, I’m sorry, I wasn’t going to say Kit Kat bar. Maybe later (see tip #5). Breaking up large tasks into smaller sections is a great way to get things done without feeling overwhelmed.

Let’s say you have a 10-page research paper due on the history of the fork.

First of all, my condolenc862_4047396es.

If you attack the paper one page at a time, it will seem much more manageable. One page a day is much more friendly than 10 pages at 2 a.m. before the deadline. If you’ve gotten yourself into more of a time constraint, try to do two pages a day or even a page an hour with breaks in between (see tip #2).

If you have a project with multiple parts or tasks, break them up into mini projects for yourself and check them off as you go. Just take it one thing at a time.

2. Take a mental “staycation”

What on earth do I mean by this? Well, one of the best methods of planning for myself is mental planning, especially if I’ve reached a stopping point in a project and don’t know where to go next.

Going for a long walk outs767_4827930ide (yes, Vitamin D is important) or doing a few sets at the gym while sorting through ideas or main points in your head is a lot less stressful than sitting there staring blankly at the computer screen.

Even going for a drive can help fuel some inspiration that sitting in your room may be stifling.

Jotting down key points in a note app on your phone while you’re away from your desk (because let’s be real, it’s definitely in your hand or chilling in your pocket like a kangaroo offspring) can help you stay organized when you return.

3. Use the Rocky method

He may not have been a champion in the classroom or at stand-up comedy, but he got the job done. Please don’t eat any raw eggs, though.


Making sure you’re completely prepared before you buckle down to work on an assignment can greatly benefit you in the long run.

Eat balanced meals to stay sharp throughout the day, and take a snack break or two. The more wholesome the foods you’re eating are, the better you’ll feel and the better you’ll be able to work. Groundbreaking, I know. Try to mix in a sensible combo of protein, fruit and veggies, healthy fats, and whole grains whenever possible.

Practice breathing. Keep a cup of your favorite beverage by your side, and please (not to go all Mom on you), drink some water, too. Your brain will thank you.

Rocky is also known for his great soundtrack. Creating a playlist of motivating songs such as some hardcore rap, classical, country, EDM or whatever YOU like and having it play in the background can help keep your momentum going. Chair dancing is all the rage, too.

4. Think about the bigger picture

Usually, the hardest part of any project or assignment is simply starting it. Whenever you find yourself thinking “I’m soo bored,” maybe open up that rubric or that novel and knock out some work.

403_2918083.JPGWorking on a project for 20 minutes a day may not seem like a lot, but in the long run, it’ll quickly build up. Especially if you start, like, right now.

The sooner you start that project or assignment looming over your head, the more peace of mind you can have later. Plus, the quality will undoubtedly be better, because you’ll leave more time to review your work and avoid sloppy mistakes.

You’re right, it may be one dumb project. You may never need the information you’re mindlessly regurgitating ever again. It may temporarily occupy brain space and energy you’d rather be devoting to catching Kardashians or keeping up with the Pokemon — or something like that.

But the sooner you commit yourself to exerting effort and focusing on quality, the breezier the rest of your school years will be; trust me.

5. “Treat Yo Self”

I’m all about the reward system, because it works. It worked training my puppy 10 years ago (where does the time go?) and it works for training myself, too.

Rewarding yourself with breaks as you progress on your project keeps you from getting burnt out, and it helps with maintaining energy levels. Let your brain relax with one episode on Netflix (emphasis on one) every few hours, grab a smoothie, or whatever you choose.

You can also make a promise to yourself to cash in on something once your project or assignment is complete. There’s honestly no better feeling — to me at least — than hitting that submit button or sending in an assignment. Maybe your reward is something as small as your favorite meal out, or, if it’s a bigger project, a weekend away at the beach with your friends to unwind. Or, even better, go for that Kit Kat bar. You’ve earned it.



7 Revision Tips You’ll Find Useful For Big Projects

1267_4944364By: Grace Hudgins

I’m currently revising a book about team building exercises in the workplace, which is a lot let me tell you. But it’s only overwhelming because of all the tasks that go along with revising a second edition book — or any edition for that matter.

I’ve learned a few things this past month that have helped me organize my thoughts and ideas when it comes to editing in general, so I’ve decided to share them with you all.

1. Read through your script

Whether it’s a book, paper, or article you’re editing, read through it first before making any changes. It’s easier to see which sections need to be edited or taken out this way.

Reading your copy will make it easier for you to know the type of content you need to add to it, too. Sometimes it’s hard to follow the tone of other authors, but once you get a feel for their writing style, you can adapt to it quickly.

It’s important to actually know what you’re editing or writing — I mean actually know it and understand it. If you’re looking for sources to contribute to your assignment, you need to be able to give them a summary easily. Nothing is more embarrassing than having a professional ask for details about a story you’re reporting on or a book you’re writing, and you end up providing them with inaccurate information or no detail.

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2. Make a to-do list

Once you’ve read your material, you’ll have a greater sense of how much work needs to be done. Even if the workload is small, make a to-do list for yourself. This way, you can keep track of what you have and have not done. Setting deadlines for yourself is also helpful; that way, you can avoid procrastination (don’t lie to yourself, we all do it).

3. Make an outline

My editor suggested this to me, and it’s been really helpful. Instead of getting to certain sections of the book as I go, I made an outline of the entire book instead. Now, the content is organized in the way I want it to be before I try to write multiple chapters in one sitting.

This helped me gather my thoughts, and it made me feel more organized. I had 365 team building activities to sift through, so categorizing them and then placing them in an outline made it easier to decide what to write about and where to put it. It also makes the book flow better. It’ll be easier for my readers to pick activities that relate to their teams.

4. Check all facts and update all research

It’s common to have facts in nonfiction books. It’s one of the reasons books are revised. But, just because a fact was published before doesn’t mean it’s still accurate. Always double-check. It’s embarrassing to publish inaccurate information, and it looks bad, too.

If there are facts in your paper, book, or article that are more than five years old, then I would update them. There is an abundance of research on just about every person, place, or thing on the internet, and chances are new studies have been published on the topic you’re writing about.

5. Pace Yourself

Deadlines are hard, but don’t lose sleep over a project — unless it’s due the next day. Start early, and be productive; that way, you can give yourself time to take breaks in between editing long sections.

It’s easy to overlook small errors because you’re tired or not focused, which leads to more mistakes that you’re suppose to be catching. So, take as much time as you need on parts that you think need it, and don’t try to rush your work.

6. Remember the basics

Of course, don’t forget your basic writing and editing skills — grammar, spelling, grammerpunctuation, sentence structure, and if you’re a reporter, AP Style. If you aren’t sure about a hyphen or the spelling of a word, look it up online on Merriam-Webster’s website. It’s the most accurate for spelling. English websites are also great guides for the rest, and AP Style has it’s own guidebook for journalists, but you can see a brief overview of the main points here. Utilize your resources, in print or online, and trust your gut feeling. If you think a sentence sounds wrong, then rewrite it.

7. Breathe

Editing and writing big projects can be a little overwhelming at the beginning, but remember to breathe and take your time. Not rushing through your work gives you more time to think creatively and come up with more ideas. I thought of some of my best ideas when I wasn’t staring at my MacBook or rough draft.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, too. You can ask professors, editors, or your peers who have experience for guidance on big projects. It’s nice to get ideas from other people. They might give you the perfect idea you’ve been looking for or catch a small error that you overlooked.

Revising any project takes a lot of time from what I’ve learned so far. I’m used to banging projects out in two days or less, which is why I felt so behind and overwhelmed at first. But I realized I needed to take my time and ask my editor for advice when I felt stuck.

Now, I’m almost finished with my team-building book. Next week, I’ll fine-tune it before I send it back to my editor, which I wouldn’t have completed so smoothly if I hadn’t organized my time and taken advantage of all the things I just talked about above.

Oh, one more MAJOR tip: don’t ever send your work back to an editor (or someone higher than you) without proofreading the whole thing first — it’s unprofessional. It’s OK to have a few minor mistakes in your copy, but you were editing the project for a reason, not making it worse.

Have fun, and happy revising!


Five Things I Learned from My Internship at Atlantic Publishing

By Taylor Gaines

It’s hot outside. You probably feel like you need to shower two to seven times a day to deal with the humidity (that’s not just Florida, right?). The days are actually longer during summer than any other time of the year. But for some reason, whether you are in school, working at a job, or just hanging out at home, summer always seems to be gone before you know it.

This summer was certainly no different for me, one that I spent here at Atlantic Publishing blogging and writing and editing and phone calling and twittering and sitting and standing and driving and much, much more. I did and learned more than I could have ever hoped for during my internship here at Atlantic. But for my last blog post as an intern, I want to take the time to talk about some of the things I’ve learned from my time here.

So, without further ado, here are five things I learned from being an intern at Atlantic Publishing.

1) Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect, but It Sure helps

The old adage about bringing your lunch pail to work every day is certainly tired and more than a little cliché. You’re probably pretty close to journeying far away from this part of the internet just because I brought it up. But listen. There really is something to it!

As a writer, there is something I find incredibly soothing, nourishing, and beneficial to coming in every day and working on my skills. Whether I was writing blog posts, editing upcoming books, or making phone calls to sales reps, I felt like I was improving my skills in one way or another on a daily basis.

In my first blog post, I wrote about the importance of reading and writing a lot if you want to become a good writer. I have to say — and I’m far from perfect — I feel more strongly about that than ever. Writing is not about being struck by creative inspiration and writing the Next Great American Novel. Writing is about sitting down at your desk every day and spitting out words. You can’t get better if you don’t put anything down on the paper (or the screen).

2) Hard Work is Contagious

Maybe you’ve been vaccinated and can’t be infected by it, but in my experience here at Atlantic Publishing, I’ve found that hard work is incredibly contagious. Whether it was our editor, Rebekah, working in the cubicle across the way or the warehouse guys working their butts off next door, I always felt like I had to work harder just to keep up with everyone else here at IMG_2008Atlantic. Looking around and seeing that everyone else wants to do a great job definitely makes you work a little harder so that you feel you deserve to be working alongside them.

It’s like when you watch the Super Bowl-winning team rant and rave about how great their locker room environment was and how they really pushed each other to success. Listen, I’m not 100 percent sure if we could put together a Super Bowl-winning team here at Atlantic. But I like our chances.

3) We Are Not Atlantic Publishers

I’m sure that when I was telling family and friends about my internship this summer, I may have accidentally called the company Atlantic Publishers once or twice at the beginning. Heck, I’m Criminalssure we’ve all done it. Publishing, publishers; they’re pretty similar words, I don’t blame you. But let me tell you something.

WE ARE NOT ATLANTIC PUBLISHERS. We are Atlantic Publishing. Atlantic Publishers is a scam magazine subscription company based out of Colorado who tries to steal money out of the pockets of the elderly. They send fake bills to people and ask them to send money in. Do not send them money. Do not pay $200 a year to subscribe to People Magazine. If you do either of those things, don’t expect the magazine to actually come in the mail. If you get a bill from Atlantic Publishers, throw it out. It’s not real. And it’s not us. It’s a completely different — and far less legitimate — company. We don’t like them either.

Trust me, we get a lot of calls about it.

4) Commuting Isn’T Really that Bad (But it Kind of is)

I don’t think I ever really understood why my dad was always complaining about his hour-plus commute to work. I wasn’t necessarily running around going Get over it already, Dad, but I definitely didn’t get why it wasn’t something you didn’t just get used to. But you know what, I get it. I drove 45-50 minutes three days a week to work at Atlantic, and I got annoyed by it sometimes. It can be long, and draining, and really mess with your sleep schedule when you have to factor a couple hours of driving into your schedule every day.

But it’s also kind of comforting and soothing to hop in the car and go into the office like a grown-up. I took a route without much traffic, and I have a pretty healthy podcast diet. So I usually had something to look forward to. I’ve always been one to be catching up on podcasts a week or two after they come out because there are just too gosh-darn many that I really like listening to and not enough time to listen to them. But you want to know something about commuting? I am always caught up on podcasts. Not only that, I find myself looking forward to new episodes coming out rather than dreading having to catch up on all of them. It’s an entirely new cultural experience for me.

(Okay, maybe I care about the podcast thing a little more than I should…but still! It’s pretty great!)

5) Publishers Do a Lot of Stuff

I never would have considered how many different things go down at a book publishing company.

There’s writing and editing; those things I expected. There’s emailing, answering phones, and having meetings; those things I should have expected. Then there’s inputting book data into something called ONIX, calling sales reps for libraries and schools around the country, and finding reputable professionals to write forewords and case studies for our books. Those things actually make books and book-selling happen, and I never even considered them.

There are a million more things, too. We check books for plagiarism, we look up BISAC codes, and we make glossaries and indexes for our books. We even have a distribution center right next door to our editorial office. Really, it all happens here. I may have thought I would come to Atlantic, do some writing, do some editing, and be on my way. Instead, I did that and much, much more, getting a ground-level look at the publishing world and seeing the ways it is changing and evolving every day.

I’m not sure I’ve earned the right to pull of some kind of poetic ending to this post or to make some kind of memorable goodbye (and hey, it’s not like I’m dying, my internship is just ending), so I’ll just say this. Thank you for reading. I hope you learned something at some point, or at least enjoyed something. Keep reading, and keep writing. We’ll see you real soon.



Follow Your Passions: Through the Eyes of an Entrepreneur

By: Melissa Carter, author, mentor, and entrepreneur

I’m an author, an entrepreneur, and I’m also just a girl who had a dream that became a plan with hard work, perseverance, and determination. When I was 14, I had a dream of growing up and moving to NYC, working in advertising, and creating a Super Bowl commercial. Although that experience did not take place, I always dreamed big. 

When I went to my college orientation, we sat in a circle, and they asked one word that describes ourselves and I said “determined.” When I look back now, I realize how determination played an essential role in getting me where I am today. It has nothing to do with financial success, but everything to do with following my heart and the things I’m passionate about in life. 

My marketing business

I work full time in marketing, and  I own The Wholistic Package. The Wholistic Package offers positive and empowering services to promote physical, emotional, and spiritual wholistic packagewholeness as well as personal and professional wellness and growth. Services include Reiki (pronounced ray-key), writing, mentoring/motivational speaking and inspirational apparel. I work with youth, as well as entrepreneurs, to mentor and inspire them. I’ve also recently been featured in several podcasts and publications.

I am a certified Reiki level one and two practitioner. Reiki is a Japanese healing art,focusing on balancing energy flow to reduce negative energy and toxins and promote positive energy flow. Reiki promotes healing, reduces stress and anxiety, and has a multitude of benefits. I believe through energy work and healing, that balance can be restored for the overall well-being of the mind, body, and spirit.

My writing career

I recently wrote a children’s book called Little Lucky Ladybug.” The book also includes activity pages, because I wanted the book to be interactive for kids, to not only encourage literacy, but to offer additional learning tools as well.Melissa kids book

The message of the book is to emphasize that we are all unique and individual in our own way. I believe that teaching kids this positive message is valuable in many ways, including building self-esteem. 

The book was recently listed on Pacer’s website as well. They are a national anti-bullying organization. This is not just a life lesson for ages 3-7, but throughout life. It’s important to realize that we are all unique in our own way. We all have special and amazing characteristics. Our flaws are what make us who we are. We are perfectly imperfect. However, the book definitely highlights the strengths of each character.

I have always had a passion for writing and helping others, and with this book, it provides the opportunity for me to do both. I thought about this blog and talking about the book writing process, but I decided to talk about following your passions, believing in yourself, and making your own dreams come true.

What I would tell my younger self

I always thought I had a path, but my life didn’t go the way I planned, and that was OK because it brought me to where I am today. I’ve learned multiple things about life through various personal and professional experiences and avenues. 

No matter what stage you are in in your life, accept and LOVE yourself. All of our happiness begins within ourselves. Accept others for who they are. When things are difficult and negativity surrounds you, focus inward and focus on what makes you happy, but project it outwards. If you have a talent, share that with others because that’s your purpose. Be your # 1 fan, and believe in yourself. Surround yourself with positive people that support you, and help others where you can.  

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Believe and achieve in life, enjoy the moments of success, and learn from the challenges. 

Remember that things don’t always go as planned and that’s OK, because it’s not rejection — it’s re-direction, guiding you towards the road paved for you. Always have gratitude and appreciate the little things. Remember why you started, and do things with great intention. 

Success does not have a universal definition. Your success is defined by YOU! In life and in business, remember to possess passion, preparation, persistence and patience.

I often think of looking in a mirror as my 15-year-old self, and the reflection would be my current self at 35 years old. The advice, I would say to my younger self would be:

“You’re an amazing person with a heart of gold, and you have so much to offer the world. Where you think you are going and where you will end up differ, but keep an open mind, and more importantly, an open heart. You have no idea what kind of impact and imprint that you are going to leave on the world.”

As youth, keep telling yourself a positive message. In your own life; ENLIGHTEN yourself, ENCOURAGE yourself and EMPOWER yourself. 

As a recap:

  • Recognize your passion
  • Follow your dreams 
  • Work hard
  • Possess determination
  • Be authentically you
  • Share your strengths and talents
  • Define your own happiness and success 
  • Believe in yourself

melissa carter headshot square


Melissa Carter is an author, mentor and entrepreneur. Melissa works full-time in marketing and has a wellness business. Melissa also has experience in event planning and fundraising. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys writing, fitness and enjoying life! 



Writing Help + Life Tips: How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

By: Lauren Capps

As writers, we all have struggles to overcome when we start out and are knee-deep in an 80,000-word book. The constant questions and doubts running through your mind can start to overwhelm you, and if it does, maybe you think it just isn’t worth it to keep going. Or that you need to delete the whole project and forget about it.

Well, I am here to tell you, do not do anything of that sort. You are a writer. You live, sleep, and dream about characters, plots, and even movie adaptations that you hope will become a reality someday. Don’t give that up just because it’s hard or you don’t think you are good enough.

Some of the main struggles that I and other writers have gone through or even worried about are:

“Am I a good writer?”

“Does this sound right?”

“Good Lord, this is awful. I’m deleting that and starting over.”

“What is my writing voice?”

“How would this compare to (insert author here)?”


And many more.  But the main topic of this post is to help you stop comparing yourself to other writers. If you clear that doubt from your judgment, you will be one step closer to success. Here are some ways to show how comparing impacts your life, and some tips to help you overcome it.

“Comparing yourself to others is an act of violence against your authentic self.” -Iyanla Vanzant

1. Comparing Stops the Learning Process

By focusing on others’ work and always envying what they do, it can stop the process of learning how that person is successful or how they write so well. If you focus on finding their secrets to success, then you will be able to apply it to your own work.

2. Don’t Compare Yourself to the Likes of, Say, Stephen King

If you are comparing your unpublished, never-before-seen-by-the-public work to the likes of the best books by the best authors, you are only putting yourself down, and it will negatively impact your work. As a first time author or a newly published one trying to get your work noticed, you can’t expect to be as good as them. I know it’s hard to hear, and sometimes the truth hurts. Focus on yourself only. Think of ways you can be successful in your own right. Sit down and write the best way you know you can, so you don’t even need to think about those high-end authors.

3. Comparing Takes Away Control

By constantly comparing yourself to others, you are letting it not only impede your judgment but also take control of your life. It will negatively impact your emotions and values. It’s a destructive habit that only you can get out of. By taking back the control over your life, you can choose to be positive and focus on what really matters — your own work.

“Personality begins where comparison leaves off. Be unique. Be memorable. Be confident. Be proud.” -Shannon L. Alder

4. If You Need to Compare, Compare Yourself


Sometimes comparing and competing can be beneficial instead of negatively impacting. Don’t compare yourself to James Patterson; instead, compare yourself to yourself. Think about what you have achieved in life and see how successful you have become already.

Look at the progress you have made in your book — have you written 50,000 words? That’s awesome! Use this shift of thought to help you overcome negative habits, and it will only show in your work to come.

5.  Break the Habit

If none of those tips helped you, and you are still having a hard time with comparing yourself to others, try to break the habit. The first step is to be aware of when you are judging yourself or your work to others. When you do, stop yourself and think: “I am better than this. I am a good person and a good writer.” Think about positive things like how you won that writing contest, or any positive aspect of your life. Don’t focus on your weaknesses but rely on your strengths to help you overcome negative thoughts. And finally, be yourself.


If you are OK with who you are and how you do you, you won’t need to compare yourself to others. Stay focused, stay positive, and kick that nasty habit to the curb. By doing this one simple thing, the only direction your life is going is up!

“Whatever your passion is, keep doing it. Don’t waste time chasing after success or comparing yourself to others. Every flower blooms at a different pace. Excel at doing what your passion is and only focus on perfecting it. Eventually, people will see what you are great at doing, and if you are truly great, success will come chasing after you.”-Suzy Kassem




so you want to be a..

When I grow up I want to be a…


By Grace Hudgins

So a little bit about myself: I’m about to be a college senior at the University of Florida. I’m a journalism major, and I currently have one job as a student affairs coordinator, and two internships — one is at a TV station and the other is, well, here.

Yeah, I know it sounds like a lot but it’s not over the summer. I organized my schedule to fit them all in. Anyway, I’m not telling you all this to brag; in fact, it’s the complete opposite. I want to tell you all — whether you’re in college, about to be, or have already graduated — that it’s OK to change your mind. It’s OK to start over and try something different.

I wanted to tell you how I’ve changed my mind, even though I’m still in college, and the experience that led me there.

In college, you’ll probably be overwhelmed with all of the different things you can do. Kind of like what my co-worker Taylor mentioned yesterday in his blog post about choosing a major. I definitely was. It’s good to narrow down your choices and gain experiences in a field you’re potentially interested in.

That’s how I landed two different internships this past year. I was interested in two fields, one more than the other, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try both. I thought I was going to be in news, and that publishing was something I’d just give a shot at. But that didn’t turn out to be the case for me this summer.

If I’ve learned anything this summer, it’s to not be disappointed if you don’t like the field you thought you could make a career out of. And don’t be afraid to try something different. I thought news was an industry I always wanted to be a part of, but after this past year, I learned it wasn’t for me. news

At first, I felt like news had to be what I did after graduation. I felt like if I didn’t pursue a career in reporting and breaking news, I would’ve wasted my time in college. I’ve had a lot of experience with reporting, writing, editing and telling stories that would fit the news industry, but it’s different once you go out in the “real world.”

I gained most of my news experience at an independent newspaper in my college town and through hands-on classes. I loved what I did at my school newspaper. I liked the different content we would write and the different sources we would come in contact with. It made me fall in love with telling stories and talking to people, hence my internship at a TV station.

But my internship at the station was completely different from what I was used to. It’s breaking news, like the Pulse Nightclub Shooting breaking news (yes, I was there for that). And it’s a great experience to be a part of. Watching the newsroom that week was an experience I’ll never forget. (Oh, and my TV internship is in Orlando.) I love watching professional reporters and producers tell these stories all in their own, unique way. But breaking news is fast, and sometimes, it’s not always happy.

Now, I know news isn’t known for being happy content. But I didn’t like being the one delivering the bad news to the community, even though I love being that bridge for people. I was so upset when I figured out I dreaded it that I didn’t know what I was going to do. But that’s when I remembered I had another internship that I actually really, really enjoy.

Even though publishing and editing isn’t exactly the journalism I learned in school, it’s still pretty similar. All of the basic rules still apply — grammar, spelling, punctuation, and editing; storytelling and creative-thinking skills are all still required for this profession just like journalism and news.

Books on tableI feel better now that I figured that out. But, I also figured out that I still don’t know what I want to do, exactly. But I do have a better sense of direction of where I want to go. The best thing is to be open to new things and new possibilities. Be able to step out of your comfort zone. For example, right now I’m revising an entire book for Atlantic Publishing. That means I get to rewrite the book on my own. I never would’ve thought my journalism degree would lead me to this opportunity, but it has.

My point: Don’t feel stuck in a career that you don’t like. And seriously, I’ve said it about 100 times, but try new things. Try something you’re interested in. Don’t pursue a career just for the financial benefits unless you really like it. In the end, you’ll be much happier with your choice. And if you’re in college or about to start, then you’ll have a clear mind like I do now. I know I want to pursue a career in books or editing after I graduate, I’m just not sure where or what position. But I wouldn’t have figured out the first bit if I didn’t have the TV internship this summer.

The experience I’ve gotten at the station is phenomenal, and the people I have met are some of the best in the business in my opinion, which made my decision even harder. But I did, and I’m more than content with the path I’m on at the moment.

But, hey, you never know. I could change my mind — again. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Student 02

Picking Your Major and Your Career and the Rest of Your Life

By Taylor Gaines

So you’ve gotta pick a major. Yeesh. Even typing the phrase “pick a major” freaks me out a little bit. I just graduated college, and I’m still pretty intimidated by the prospect of having to pick a major. It’s a scary feeling, like you’re setting yourself on an eternal path to one very specific thing that you might not want to do in three days, let alone three years. It’s odd being asked to make a major life decision (pun intended) at such a young age.

Even now, I feel like I’m in a similar situation. (Replace the word “major” with “career” and you’ve got it.) I just got done with school, and I’m looking around for my first job. What if I take the wrong position? What if I wind up going down the wrong path and never being able to turn back? Will I be trapped in an industry with no upward mobility doing something I don’t like?

I know this probably sounds over-reactionary and extreme to think this way, but I think if you’re struggling with any kind of similar decision, you understand the feeling. Whether you’re trying to pick a career or a major, it’s hard not to think this way. With every possibility in front of you, you’re more afraid of regretting the ones you leave behind.

Career Race

I always think about something my mom said to me when I was in high school. I was thinking about what my college major would be so that I could decide which university would be best for me so that I could decide what career I wanted to do so that I could decide what my legacy in the world would wind up being. Stuff like that. Choosing one seemed impossible. I remember asking my mom how I was possibly supposed to know the answers to any of these questions already.

“Look,” she said, “I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.”

Wait a second, I thought. You’re a real-life, full-grown adult. Isn’t it literally impossible for you to still not know? It didn’t make any sense to me.

But now, I think, I’m starting to get it. These decisions are overrated. The importance of choosing a major is blown way out of proportion. If you’re going to college, you probably have a lot of really marketable skills. Your mind is flexible; it can be applied to do all kinds of important and fulfilling work.

Take me, for instance. I am still not 100 percent sure what I want to do. I know I love stories. I know I love talking to people. I know how to read. I know how to write. I’m a good communicator. I’ll figure it out.

All that being said, you still have to declare a major at some point in your college career. So let me say this.

Pick something you enjoy. You’ll have a bit of time to look around, take some different classes, and figure out what you’ll be best at and what you might be able to make a career doing. In some cases, you don’t even need to completely settle on your major until two years into college. Sure, there are some exceptions — namely medical school, engineering, physical therapy, and nursing — that might require you to make your decision a bit sooner. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pick something you enjoy doing.

Don’t let other people decide for you what you’re going to do with your life. If you have good reason for doing something, and you think you have a real shot at doing it, then you should go for it. If you’re thinking about what other people will think, the job market, or how much money you will make when you graduate, you’re thinking about your decision in the wrong way. Imagine getting stuck doing something you hate just so you can make money. Does that sound appealing to you? I don’t know, maybe it does. That’s fine. But as much as I may sound like an immature, naïve millennial in saying this, I think you should find something you enjoy doing and worry about how much money it’s going to make you later.

Student 01

And hey, if you’re really struggling to decide on anything, try making yourself a classic pros and cons list or talking to friends, family, or professionals about it. Laying out your thinking on paper or verbalizing your thoughts and asking questions can really help you figure out where you stand.

Or, if you’re struggling to decide and you’re really worried about picking a major, stop it. You know why? Because it doesn’t matter as much as you might think. To quote The Princeton Review, “the major you choose will neither predict nor guarantee your future.” Many people wind up working in career fields that have nothing to do with what they studied in college. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average twenty-something switches jobs once every three years. On top of that, the average person will change their career field completely two to three times in their lifetime.

So don’t fear. It’s a tough decision, and it’s not unimportant, but it’s not the last one you’ll ever make, either. Life is a long journey, and you’re just getting started.

TLDR: don’t worry; be happy.

starting a book

Writing Hacks: 5 Tips to Help You Start Your First Nonfiction Book

By: Rebekah Sack, Editor

Starting a book can be a pretty daunting task — especially if your goal is to write a fiction book that carefully reflects the life you’ve lived in some profound, poetic, literary way. However, if you really need to get your name in print, starting with a nonfiction book can be the perfect way to jumpstart your career.

Nonfiction is much easier to write and edit than fiction. There is less “creative justice” that must be served — though being creative certainly shouldn’t be dismissed — but that means that the editor won’t get caught up in ambiguous territory. Most nonfiction prose is pretty straightforward: that sentence isn’t parallel? Fix it. This chapter seems out of order? Move it around. This date is wrong? Change it.

The writing process also closely imitates that of a research paper. You do the research on the topic at hand, take close notes while doing so, and then you begin.

But, for many people, that’s where the “ummm, what?” faces start to form. How exactly do you begin? Here are 5 easy tips to get your first nonfiction book in print.

1. Figure out who you’re writing for

So, you want to write a book. You’re a natural-born writer, but the writing world seems like a catch-22, right? If you don’t have something published with your name on it, the big publishers won’t take you seriously.

That’s where considering a work-for-hire job can be useful. These kinds of jobs mean that you take the topic that the publisher assigns you, and you churn out the book for a set amount of pay. You don’t earn royalties on the book, but you do earn the invaluable experience of working for a professional publisher as well as an editor. Many fiction writers spend years working on their drafts, and they never see their work come to fruition (meaning they never earn a dime).

To find work-for-hire writing jobs or freelance writing gigs in general, check out the following places: Journalism Jobs, Elance, and LinkedIn. I get messages on LinkedIn often about freelance opportunities, and you’d be surprised how successful this kind of networking can be. There are others, but as an editor for a publishing company that frequently hires work-for-hire freelancers, these are the ones I would recommend.

researching on laptop

2. Research similar books on Amazon

Whether you land the work-for-hire job or you plan to start your book on your own, it’s important to be clear about what’s already on the market. For example, let’s say you want to write a book for young adults about bullying. The logical first step would be to type “bullying book for teens” or something of that nature into the Amazon search engine and to look closely at the first page of results. Take note of the titles (unless your publisher has already finalized the title in a work-for-hire circumstance) and use the “Look Inside” feature to browse the table of contents. What appeals to you? What kinds of topics are being covered? What appears to be missing? You may find areas that you wouldn’t have thought to include in your book, but your key is finding the missing stuff — what are people in need of that isn’t being given to them?

That’s the sweet spot, and that’s exactly what you need to capitalize on to make a name for yourself in the industry.

It can also be useful to test out questions on social media or to your target audience. You might come up with a list of questions like these:

  1. How prevalent is bullying in your life?
  2. What do you want to know about bullying?
  3. Do you have any personal stories regarding bullying?
  4. What do you think other people should know about bullying?

3. Draft up an outline

Once you’re comfortably familiar with what is already on the market, it’s time to draft up your outline. Again, some publishers might actually already have an outline for you to work from, but many won’t — they’ll expect you to come up with one yourself that the editor will approve.

writing girl.JPG

I have seen many outline submissions myself, and I have a few do’s and don’ts:


  • Format your document carefully.
  • Include brief statements explaining what your headings mean.
  • Be thorough — a half-page or even a one-page outline is lazy.
  • Try to group things in threes — If Chapter 1 has 2 subheadings, do your best to come up with a third. In general, when things are grouped in threes, it feels more right.
  • Make note of sources you have that might help with a certain section — this will help you in the long run.
  • Do NOT send in an unpolished outline for an editor to review. You will drive me her crazy.


  • Be sloppy.
  • Include too many details — while a 6-page outline with paragraphs under each chapter heading might seem like a good idea, at the end of the day, the editor expects an outline review to take a short amount of time. If she has to sift through a 6-page paper, you’re making her life a bit more difficult than it needs to be. Keep your detailed notes in a separate document and only include short descriptors.
  • Have underwhelming titles. Your goal is to impress and to have an outline that is as close to the finished product as possible. You will have leeway as you write, but do your best to brainstorm the best titles and headings.
  • Leave out key information. This is why researching what is already out there is so important. Take careful notes of what everyone else is doing so that you know you aren’t missing something. If you’re writing a book about managing a restaurant and you forget to mention scheduling issues, you’ve missed the mark.

4. Stick to a schedule

I’ve seen it happen, and it’s not pretty. The deadline is at the end of the month, and you’re only one-third of the way there. While setting a writing schedule can be intimidating, do your best to plan a certain amount of time to work every single day. I would advise against a specific word count (I’m going to write 1,500 words every day), messy deskand I would steer you more towards a time-related goal (I’m going to sit down for 1.5 hours every day). The reason for this is that not all of the work you’re going to be doing is writing.

With nonfiction work, there’s a lot of research and documentation that needs to be done. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself sitting down and spending 30-45 minutes just reading the latest research. That doesn’t directly translate into a word count goal, but it does count toward the progress of your project.

The important thing is that you’re sitting down every day, and you’re progressively working toward the finish line. If you don’t keep up with it, you might find yourself being kicked off of the project, or worse, never finishing the book you set out to complete.

5. When you’re done editing, edit some more

This is particularly important if you’re not doing a work-for-hire job, but no matter how you slice it and dice it, it’s still key to producing quality writing. When you submit a manuscript to anyone, whether it be an agent, a publisher, or your editor, it should be, for all intents and purposes, an edited draft. There should not be any grammar or punctuation mistakes, the sentences should be coherent and well-formed, and there should be little to no thoughtless mistakes, such as the word “or” being “of” on accident.

An editor expects to fix things, but not careless mistakes. She expects to fine-tune — move this sentence here, add a paragraph here, create a hook there — not to be doing spell-check for you on what was supposed to be your final draft. Take pride in your work. Sure, you might be working for a miniscule paycheck, but your reputation is on the line. This is your stepping stone, and you’re making a name for yourself. Only submit work that you’re proud of, and you’re on your way to becoming a successful author.

Happy writing!