HOW DOES ONE MANAGE A SUCCESSFUL CAREER AND FAMILY?

The sun is out. Everyone in the house is asleep and the silence is peaceful. I made myself a fresh cup of coffee and sat down to write. I stared at my blank screen for a while trying to decide what to post until the idea hit me. I remembered something my dad said to me once. He said, “If you had it all, the money and success, but no family, would the success really matter?” It got me thinking.


My dad read an article and shared his findings with my mom and me. He read about how a well-known actress, name not remembered at this time, who made it to the big-time. She had loads of money, houses, cars, people working for her, etc. I mean that’s what we all want right? To be successful and make it to the top? She had all the money she could ever want. But what she did not have was a family, a loved one to hold in her arms, or children to call her mom. She felt successful in her career, but empty in her personal life. It makes you think doesn’t it? I am in my 20’s right now and I like to think I am selfish with my time. This is the age where I go after my goals before life and responsibilities get in the way. That has always been a fear of mine. That I would grow older and not have chased my dreams and be bitter about it all. But that is not the point of this post. It’s a tough situation. Should we chase our dreams and put relationships on the back-burner, or follow a loved one, but sacrifice our dreams in the making? Is it simple to have both? Maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of One Tree Hill, but for all my fellow fans out there, let’s evaluate the relationship of Nathan & Haley Scott. Nathan wanted to pursue a professional career in basketball and Haley wanted to make it as a singer. They got married in high school and soon realized making the relationship work while chasing their dreams was not what they had originally planned. Now I’m not saying love is like a CW TV series, but isn’t there some truth in that?

Here’s another thought. Does it make one selfish if they still want to chase their dreams even with a family? Life flashes by in the blink of an eye. Before you know it “later” is here, you are older, and time is running out. It sounds depressing, but it is true. Should you seek a career first, not making love a priority, and end up like the actress I mentioned in the beginning of the post?

When you find love, no matter when it enters your life, you should cherish it if it’s worth fighting for. And the right person will help you chase your dreams. Marriage and kids is a beautiful thing. Does it make me a bad person to say that I want to tackle my goals before I settle down? I feel like when you start a life it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of your responsibilities. But doesn’t this lead to resentment? You grow bitter and cold towards the ones you love because you did not accomplish what you wanted. My apologies for this post being all over the place without a clear topic, I am just writing as the thoughts roam around my mind. Relating it back to One Tree Hill, let’s evaluate Dan Scott, father of Nathan, who ruined his family for the sole purpose of him not making it as a pro basketball player. His own hatred of himself flooded into his marriage and his relationship with his son.

I guess my main concern for this post is this: how can one do it, manage a career, chasing one’s dream(s), and being able to start a family? Now I know this post probably sounds irrelevant because lots of people have done this. Here’s an example from my own experience. It took my mom 6 years to finish a 2 year degree because she had to work 3 jobs to raise my brother. My mom left his dad and met mine. At the time, she hoped to pursue nursing or join the NAVY. But then she had me and all her hopes had gotten flushed down the drain. She never went back to school because she now had 2 kids at home. She has mentioned to me several times before that she does not regret having children. She is a strong believer that her life panned out the way it was supposed to. We may plan for certain things to happen, but life is in control.

What is more important? Career or family? Now I know this seems like an easy question to answer. You can chase your dreams until you accomplish every single one. And you feel successful for a moment. But moments are fleeting. How long will that moment of accomplishment last? We chase our dreams for years, sometimes we make it, and other times we do not. But when we do, we realize in the mean-time, we sacrificed having a relationship and starting a life.

It’s a tricky situation. Some people find solace in their work. Others find it in their families.

I hope I am able to find the balance between both.

Until next time friends,

Ms. Dakota

Reminder to Self: Perfection is Unobtainable

Hey friends! I know it’s been a short time since I’ve last written a post. Life has gotten the best of me as of late. I have been sick, first with a cold, and then with a stomach bug which seems to be going around. School has also been stressful lately as I am currently enrolled in a course where I am overwhelmed with assignments, and just trying to juggle my time between coursework and other life responsibilities.

I am a perfectionist. I try to do and be the best at everything. I am very competitive and I do not like to lose. I try to juggle everything at once and I overload myself with too much. I make a list of goals and instead of doing one by one, I try to do them all at once. I would like to refer to one of my favorite books, The Great Gatsby. Often times I feel like Gatsby searching for something I will never obtain. In my case, I am not searching for love like Gatsby, I am trying to obtain perfection. With my competitive nature and my constant need to be or do the best, I make myself sick. I do not handle stress well either.

So for this blog post, I figured I would discuss the importance of self-care and handling one goal at a time. It is quite simple for us to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our daily routines. We run through the list of things we need to do as soon as we wake up. Or at least I find myself doing this. Sometimes I’m not even out of bed yet and I am already worried about the long list of tasks I need to complete.

Sometimes life can really get the best of us. It is hard to remain motivated especially when we face failures or adversities. This is why it is imperative for us to always remind ourselves of how far we’ve come and how much we have accomplished. It is easy to look at the things we have not done as opposed to recognizing what we have done so far. We have to give ourselves a much needed break once in a while. We have to make sure we are practicing self-care.

During this pandemic, I have been struggling with maintaining a positive mindset as others have as well. I think it is important to take time for ourselves. On top of trying to to tackle everything on my to-do list, I have been wearing myself thin with trying to do a lot for everyone else. I rarely make time for myself. I have made the mistake of putting my health on the back-burner for quite some time now. I have not listened to my body or what my mind or soul needed.


I recently got back into a consistent gym routine and I look forward to going everyday now. I have given myself a break with school-work and by that I mean that I try not to do all my homework all in one shot. I space it out and pace myself. I try to fill my days with what I like to do. I also have been trying to engage in more self-care by caring for myself more. I have started a new skin-care routine, I try to treat myself to mani/pedis, and I take time to do things I enjoy like reading, writing, or watching a favorite show on Netflix. I also like to shop so sometimes I treat myself to a shopping spree. I have noticed changes in my mood and overall well-being when I have chosen to focus on myself. I have been more positive and feel more like myself.

I am focused on my health & well-being. I want to make sure I am making myself a priority. It’s like the saying goes, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” I still try to remain kind and help others when I can, but I’ve listened to what my body needs right now. That is to take better care of myself and to stop trying to obtain perfection in everything I do.

It is okay to make mistakes. How else would we learn? This will not be a long blog post, but I want to end on this note. Sometimes we have to stop and remind ourselves that we need to cater to our needs. Sometimes it’s okay to be selfish. We have to be selfish with our time, energy, and focus. If we invest our time on something and we are not profiting in any way, shape, or form we should re-evaluate where we are focusing our time.

It is okay to have goals and want to tackle them. But we should remember that things take time and as much as we may want certain things to happen, life happens the way it is supposed to. So I guess what I’m saying is focus on you, your health, well-being, and what makes your soul happy. You only get one life. Set realistic goals and expectations and take things day by day. You are doing the absolute best you can. Believe in yourself.

Until next time friends! 🙂

Blessings,

Ms. Dakota

Be Your OWN Biggest Fan

“I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.” ~Auggie, Wonder


I strongly believe in this statement. Some of us just want to hear, “I’m proud of you and everything you have accomplished.” We want to feel acknowledged and appreciated. We work hard and it would make us feel good if someone noticed that. I find myself often searching for this sense of approval from those around me.

I’m still learning everyday how to work on this, how to be secure with myself. Although it would make me feel good to hear someone acknowledge my efforts or how much I’ve done, one should be secure enough with themselves to know that they do not need the approval. Others can sometimes give us the approval we are searching for. Or they may not. They may disregard all of our efforts which causes us to continue searching for approval we may never receive. Almost like Gatsby in The Great Gatsby. He consistently searched for the approval, validation, and acceptance from Daisy, which he never received.

We should not place our self-worth in the hands of others. One should be secure with themselves that approval should not determine their level of self-acceptance. It is common for one to ask friends and families for their opinions on certain matters. However, you only get one life, so you need to live for you. Sometimes those people may have your best interests at heart, and maybe they do not.

I should take my own advice more often, but I also care too much about what others think. I want to be accepted by most. However, I’ve come to learn that the only important thing that matters is how you view yourself. No matter what you do, people will always have opinions about your actions. Therefore, we should only surround ourselves with people who do have our best interests at heart. They acknowledge our improvements and offer healthy criticisms when needed.

Especially during the pandemic, it is CRUCIAL to surround yourself with positivity and remain consistent with improving yourself whether it be reading or writing more, exercising more often, meditating, etc. It is easy to get lost down the rabbit hole and become overwhelmed with everything. But if we continue to work on ourselves and surround ourselves with likeminded and positive people, we will prosper.

Even if we are applauded or acknowledged as Auggie mentions in the movie Wonder, we should still not lose sight of ourselves, our goals, or the direction we are headed. Moments are fleeting. We are acknowledged for a brief moment and yes, it makes us feel wonderful. But in reality, people will forget that great thing you did a couple days thereafter. The point here is, without getting too depressing, embrace the acknowledgment, but never lose yourself while searching for that approval.

Life is too short. That has been evident throughout this entire pandemic. We can be here one day and gone the next. Don’t mean to be depressing here, but it’s the truth. We should work towards our goals, make memories with those closest to us, and cherish our loved ones.

But bringing it back to the main point of my post here, never let the approval or non-approval influence how you view yourself. Yes, it would make us feel worthy to be acknowledged for our hard work. But we should work hard regardless to reach our goals not because we want that approval.

And with that, I end this post on the following note, you are worthy. You are doing amazing things and you are noticed. Even when you aren’t, be your own biggest fan. Celebrate those victories, whether big or small. Keep crushing those goals. Do something today that future you will be proud of! Make yourself happy!

Until next time friends,

Dakota 🙂

The Future Is Unpredictable, Live For Right Now

Hey guys. I’m back again with a post. I’m sitting here at work, bored and hungry, and figured why not put up a blog post to use my time productively? It seems like I’ve been getting the bulk of my writing done at work. But whatever, I’m not complaining. Writing gets done when it gets done.

I opened my Instagram up for the first time after not having it for like 6 months. I needed a break. I’ve grown apart from social media and only use it now to keep in contact with loved ones or to share my work with the writing community. I really feel like social media is too heavily relied on and many people take it too seriously. I get it. We live in a time where social media is how people communicate, it’s how people grow their business, cool. I can understand that. But, what I do not understand is why people are so caught up in their phones. There are so many other ways we can spend our time like moving our bodies or feeding our brains.


We can be here today and gone tomorrow. Life is flying right on by. I came across an Instagram story recently and found out someone I knew from my high school years had passed. It’s devastating to think about because she was my age. We often take time for granted because we think we will have more of it. We are wrong. We should spend more time with our loved ones and use our time wisely. Imagine what you could do with the time you waste scrolling through social media? I’ll admit that I’ve done this and I’m not trying to come off as a hypocrite for doing so. However, I wanted to put up this post and explain why I’ve changed and how I’ve matured. I used to spend lots of time on Snapchat or Instagram or Facebook. I thought putting your every move on social media was the new cool, whether it was posting your meal, or the day you had at the gym, etc.

The last 2 years or so have been a whirlwind and over the course of them, I’ve done lots of self-reflecting on my past mistakes, who and what I want to become, and the goals I still wish to achieve. I’ve lost many people over the years. People I loved and deeply cared for. I’ve lost family members, friends, and people I thought would be around for much longer. I believe in the value of a moment and creating memories with those closest to you. I don’t care for materialistic items or how much money one has. I care about creating life long memories. I’m not trying to get too depressing here, as this is meant to be an uplifting post, but when we all go to the afterlife, wherever that is for you based on your beliefs, what do we take with us? The memories or all the cars, purses, jewelry, etc. that we bought?


I’ve put my faith in people and have been let down. I’ve been vulnerable and loved people as best I could. I’ve been beaten, bruised, and defeated. I’ve faced countless adversities and have had people turn their backs on me. But I managed to rise through it all. I overcame my adversities. I am a fighter. This is how I was raised. To go in for that last round even when you don’t think you can.

I’ve held grudges. I have let years go by without talking to people over something they did during our childhoods. I’ve spent months even years not speaking to friends over minor arguments we had. We are human. We feel things. I feel things very deeply and that could be a good and bad thing.

But if there is anything we can learn from 2020, it’s this. The future is unpredictable. We can be here today and gone tomorrow. So I leave you with this.

Cherish your loved ones. Hug them. Let them know you love them. Be kinder. Don’t hold grudges. Forgive people so you can allow yourself to find peace. Work towards your goals. Use your time wisely. Call your parents often (I moved out at 22 and still call my parents everyday). Check in on your loved ones, especially during the pandemic. Do lots of self-reflection. Meditate. Focus on your health & well-being physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. Life is too short to be unhappy. I know this sounds like a total cliche, but it’s the best I’ve got right now. Tomorrow is unknown. Do your best today. Live in the now. Plan for the future yes, but live for right now.

I am still learning. I am improving. I am evolving. No one is perfect. I still struggle with doing some of the things I’ve mentioned above. But if you try to do and be better, this is what counts.

Well friends, that is it for this post. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your week!

Until next time,

Dakota 🙂

My Writing Journey: The How And Why I Started Writing With Advice For Aspiring Writers Included

When Did You Begin Writing?

Many children begin a hobby when they are young. For example, they get involved in sports, swimming, gymnastics, dance, martial arts, etc. As soon as I was able, I held a pencil in my hand and started writing. I received many diaries and journals as gifts when I was younger. I excelled in writing assignments in school whether it was writing a report, essay, or something of the sort. My writing journey began by writing my day-to-day thoughts in a journal.

In the 3rd grade, I wrote my first poem for a poetry contest. It was about elephants, which is my favorite animal by the way. Unfortunately, I did not win the contest, but that is when I really grew to love writing even more.

Why Do You Write?

Writing began as a hobby and soon turned into a passion. I write because I want to. It has always been for me. I initially would hide my journals away somewhere in my room, but one day I started reading my thoughts to those closest to me. They would tell me that my words were powerful. I had no idea my words carried that amount of weight. I was just free writing most days.

Writing has always been and always will be my form of expression. What was once a hobby then became my form of healing. There have been certain traumas in my life and I turned to writing to express my inner thoughts. Writing has always offered me comfort that people simply could not.

What Or Who Inspires You?

When I was not writing in a journal, I was reading as often as I could. I know this is probably not common, but I was one of those students in school who actually enjoyed summer reading. One of my favorite books, (I have a tattoo from the book actually) that I read over the course of one summer, The Kite Runner, is my favorite to this day.

As a teenager, I was obsessed with the Twilight Series, the Hunger Games, the Divergent Series, Fifty Shades, and a few others. My tastes in genres have evolved over time.

In my early twenties, I began to gravitate towards poetry mostly. I promised myself I would read the entire poetry section of Barnes & Noble once and I think I did pretty well. I’ve read all of Lang Leav’s books, I’m obsessed with Rupi Kaur, Atticus, and a few others.

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What Is Your Writing Process Like?

My writing process varies. Sometimes I need absolute silence and other times I need music playing in order to focus. I need a cup of coffee of course or several. I do most of my writing on my laptop. When I do not have access to my laptop or I’m on the go, I usually put thoughts that come to me randomly in the notes on my phone. Once I begin writing and really zone in on my work, I can lock myself away in the room for hours.

Do You Plan To Make A Career Out Of Writing?

For the time being, I manage my blog for the sole purpose of putting my writing out into the world. I did not know where this blog would lead me, nor did I think I would grow a following on twitter, but I am forever grateful. I have interacted with some wonderful creatives in the writing community who have helped me in certain areas.

If the opportunity presents itself, I am certainly interested in making writing a side hustle. I would be open to freelance work or other opportunities if they come my way. I majored in creative writing in college and one of my goals is to publish at least one book in my lifetime.

What Kind Of Books Do You Want To Publish?

The thing with me is I do not want to be defined by one genre or a certain type of writing. I want to become a well-rounded writer, therefore, this means exploring every possibly avenue. Currently, I hope to publish a book of fiction, maybe a memoir, a short story anthology, books of poetry, and a children’s book which is being worked on soon.

What Advice Would You Give To Aspiring Writers?

The best advice I can give anyone who is thinking of writing is this: never lose sight of why you started writing in the first place. If it becomes a chore to write or you are too focused on making money or becoming published, you will quickly fizzle out. For instance, my sole focus is writing for my own benefit. The money and the publications can come later. However, I write because it is something I enjoy.

I would also advise that confidence is of the utmost importance. A wise person once told me, “Not everyone will understand your craft and this is okay.” That is such a powerful statement. Writing is a difficult profession. Rejection will happen often. You have to push through that. Never lose sight of why you started, how you started, and where you are going. Trust your process, always.

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As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to comment below or tweet me on twitter: @msdakotawrites if you have any feedback. It is always greatly appreciated! 🙂

Until next time,

Dakota 🙂

How To Write A Powerful Resume & Cover Letter To Stand Out From The Crowd

2020 has been an eventful year so far. We are living through a pandemic and considering the unprecedented times, many people are either unemployed or have lost their jobs which is heartbreaking. Hopefully, things return to normal soon and when they do–people can return to work.

Aside from running my blog and writing stories, I also enjoy resume writing. I have written numerous resumes with cover letters for several family members and friends. I wanted to write a post about what I think many people should know: how to write a resume and make yourself stand out from the big pile of other applications an employer will be sorting through. This post was requested by followers on Twitter. I also believe it can be considered a necessary read when people are able to return to work and are searching for new jobs.

I will provide you with the necessary steps you need to write an outstanding resume.

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How To Structure Your Resume: Beginning To End

  • OUTLINE. List your employment and education from the last 10 years. Write down the jobs you held with 2-3 sentences about what your job entailed and what your duties/responsibilities were.
  • STYLE. The standard format should be size 12 font and Times New Roman. However, if you want to be creative, you can choose a font that is similar to Times New Roman, still professional, and easy to read. The style of your resume is entirely your preference.
  • HEADLINE. At the top of your resume should be your headline. Your headline should include your full name, address, current phone number, if providing more than one number, identify if it is a cell/business phone, etc., current email, LinkedIn, or other important social links you want to provide.
  • EMAIL. Your email should also be professional. Refrain from emails that are too long. I would always recommend first initial, middle initial, last name, or however you see fit. However, if your email has a nickname with numbers after for instance, this is not necessarily appropriate.
  • LENGTH. A resume should be 1-2 pages max, However, I would recommend trying to contain everything in one page. If you have 2 pages consider having the resume printed double-sided.
  • PAST TENSE. Your resume should be written in past tense. When detailing a current position, you can use present tense.
  • USE ACTION VERBS. For example, supervised, managed, etc.
  • SHORT AND SWEET. You always have to remember that your resume should be read in 30 seconds or less. You have 30 seconds to sell yourself.
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What To Do If You Lack Job Experience:

Begin With Highlighting Your Education

If you have held few jobs, 5 or less for instance, you should consider beginning your resume by highlighting your education.

  • EDUCATION. When highlighting your education these are the areas you should cover: name of university or program, license or certificate acquired, your GPA, classes you took, clubs you participated in, or other essential information you believe will help you land the job.
  • NO WHITE SPACE. You do not want white space anywhere in your resume. Fill that space in with content.
  • Include a SKILLS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS section. This is where you can highlight any awards or certificates you have acquired as it pertains to the job. It provides more detail on who you are, what you enjoy, and your work ethic.
  • VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE. This section of your resume allows the employer/company to see that aside from your daily activities you have also participated in other groups/organizations, etc. Therefore, you are depicting yourself as a well-rounded individual who is community oriented.
  • REFERENCES. If you want to go the extra mile, I recommend including your references already listed. It shows you are prepared and planning ahead.

How To Write A Cover Letter In 7 Simple Steps

Your cover letter is your chance to be personal, really highlight why you want the job, why you are the right candidate, and really leave a lasting impression on the employer reading your application, which could possibly lead to a phone call for an interview.

  • When you have the name of the person you will be interviewing with or the name of the company, you want to address the letter to them. It makes it more personal. Go this extra mile.
  • Format the letter properly with name/address of company, your address and information, along with the date.
  • You should highlight who you are and why you want the job in 2 paragraphs or less.
  • QUALITY OVER QUANTITY.
  • You should cover the following: note any background information you know abut the company or position being applied for, why you are qualified, how your past experience is relevant, and why you are the right candidate for the job.
  • Always ensure your information is up-to-date especially your email and phone number.
  • Ensure you SIGN the letter.
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I hope this post can help my followers with building a powerful resume and cover letter to land the job they want.

Last but not least, CONFIDENCE. You can always sell yourself on paper, but if you are called in for an interview, confidence is of the utmost importance. If you would like to see a follow-up post describing what you should do the day of the interview, feel free to connect with me on twitter to let me know!

As always, please feel free to comment below, email me: msdakotawrites@gmail.com, or tweet me: @msdakotawrites on twitter. I would be delighted to hear about your experiences with creating a resume!

Until next time,

Dakota 🙂

Overcoming Writer’s Block 10 Different Ways

I was once told by a professor in college that, “It is easy for us as writers to try and edit while we write instead of just writing. Sometimes we doubt ourselves with what we write, but some of your best content could come from just free writing. Write until you hit that wall.”

‘Write until you hit that wall,’ is what I remember most from the entirety of that semester. But, this blog post is about how to get past that ‘wall.’

The following 10 strategies are what I usually use when I am experiencing writer’s block.

  • Step away from your laptop. Take a walk. Get some air. Clear your head.
  • COFFEE. Need I say more?
  • READ. Whenever I am not writing, I read. I am always reading about 3 books at once.
  • Listen to music. Sometimes a playlist inspires me.
  • Talking to family and friends. Sometimes my greatest ideas come from random conversations I have with those closest to me.
  • Take a shower or a bubble bath. Sometimes a hot shower helps me.
  • Exercise.
  • Watching TV/Netflix. Being a writer means I observe many things. I can get ideas from watching certain gestures, someone’s body language, or the way a group of people interact with one another.
  • Self-care days. When I take time for myself to rejuvenate and get re-inspired, I take a long shower, wash my face and then moisturize, paint my nails, get a massage, etc. I do not write when I’m stressed. I do my best work when I’m relaxed and can focus 100%.
  • This may sound silly, but sleep works. Taking a nap to give myself a break. Trust me, take a nap especially if you’ve done too much writing in one day. Allow yourself to rest and then get back to work.

As writers, we want to meet deadlines and do as much as we can with the time we have. If you are like me, it is extremely difficult to manage our work along with the other responsibilities life throws our way. I am a full-time graduate student, who is engaged, has 3 dogs, trying to study for my licensure exams to become a teacher, among so many other responsibilities. Stress seems to come easy, but I am trying to work on my time management a bit more.

This was a relatively short post, but these are the ways I usually overcome that hump when I feel like I have run out of ideas and can no longer write. You would be surprised with what you could come up with when you give yourself a break. Step away from that computer. Do not pressure yourself so much to get the writing done all in one shot.

I would love to know how you all overcome writer’s block!

As always, if you use any of these tips, feel free to share with me by commenting below, email me: msdakotawrites@gmail.com, or tweet me @msdakotawrites on twitter.

Until next time,

Dakota 🙂

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Public Speaking Skills You Need When Presenting Your Work to An Audience

Hey everyone! I am super excited to publish this type of post. I wanted to highlight something different for this Monday afternoon–public speaking skills in relation to presenting your work to an audience. I have never queried before, but perhaps some of these tips could help you when trying to “sell” your work to someone, convincing them why they should represent you and give your work a chance.

My freshman year of college I took a speech communications course and I do not regret that decision. As most college students, I did not know what I wanted to major in. Therefore, my first year consisted of taking a bunch of liberal arts classes until I figured out what I wanted to do.

My speech professor highlighted essential skills one would need not only for public speaking, but for life in general. I know public speaking is feared by many people, but this skill is extremely crucial in the work field. Whether you are an employee or a boss chances are you are going to speak in front of an audience at one point or another. Now for me I can honestly say I do not fear speaking in public. I may have pre-speech jitters and butterflies in my stomach, but as soon as I begin speaking, I am locked in.

In this blog post, I highlight some tips that I think are necessary when speaking to an audience. I have been present for so many speeches before. Some were astounding, others not so much.

Let us begin with the first step which is—engaging your audience with what you are about to present, that moment where you either make or break it, will determine if the audience chooses to listen. Not only is it frightening as is with speaking in front of hundreds if not more people, but when you can see people speaking over you and not listening, this can be hurtful as well. Even if people are being rude, the speech still needs to get done. So, in this post I provide helpful pointers to get you over the hump of being fearful of public speaking.

The first recommendation I will make is: CAPTIVATE YOUR AUDIENCE. Keep in mind people will lose interest or become bored after a long period of time has passed. Keep your speech short and sweet.

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What To Do Prior To Giving A Speech

  • OUTLINE your work. Ensure you cover all the talking points. I would recommend using bullet points with the main idea and include 2-3 sentences to describe those main points.
  • My professor would tell us stories about some disasters she witnessed when people used flashcards when giving their speech. She spoke to us one class about a work conference she had gone to. The CEO of the company had to give a speech. Unfortunately, during the speech the flashcards had fallen on the floor and because he relied too heavily on the flashcards, they fell out of order, and he did not know where he left off or how to continue. Therefore, I say when you are about to give a speech, type out your words. Also—be prepared to improvise. You could prepare your speech word for word, but you must anticipate distractions or other things that may put a dent in your plan.
  • When typing out your speech, I would recommend making it double spaced and using a simple and easy to read font.

What To Do During Your Speech

  • ESTABLISH YOUR PRESENCE in front of all those people. Body language also plays a key role while speaking in public. Stand tall, shoulders back, and do not slouch.
  • EYE CONTACT is so incredibly important I cannot stress this enough. Make sure you are engaging with your audience by keeping them involved. Your speech should be like having a normal conversation with your friend.
  • DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT read directly, word for word from your paper. This is such a turn-off for many people. It is boring, uninteresting, and mundane to say the very least.
  • SPEAK LOUDLY. Do not use a hushed tone or speak down into the paper. Speak OUT, as my professor would say. When you raise your head instead of looking down, your voice then projects out into the audience.
  • PACE YOURSELF. Do not rush. But also, do not speak too slowly. This is something people must establish on their own—is finding their pace.
  • When I am giving a speech or speaking to a large crowd of people, I like to ask questions in the beginning to engage my audience almost immediately. Ask them a question or two which is related to the content you are going to be speaking about. If you are not going to begin with questions, I would then recommend using a catchy opening line.
  • SHORT AND SWEET. This is also crucial to consider. It is quite simple to make a speech longer than it needs to be. But, quality over quantity is what people should consider. As long as you can get your point across in one page or less, you can have more of an impact, rather than reading a 10-page speech others will not engage completely with.
  • Do not ramble. Cover the main points. People will become uninterested if they cannot relate to or engage with the content being covered.
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What To Do As Your Speech Nears The End

  • SUMMARIZE the main points you covered to refresh the memory of the audience. Depending on the length of your speech, they could have easily forgotten point #1 as you just finished covering point #10.
  • You need to go out with a bang. Make your audience remember you. The closing line can really influence how your audience views your content. You want a powerful ending to your speech which either leaves your audience wanting more, asking questions, or just thinking about the content in general.
  • Take the time to ASK QUESTIONS at the end. Allow your audience to really engage with you by allowing them to either provide comments/feedback, etc. This allows your audience to believe you care about what they have to say as well.

Public speaking should not be something to fear. We learn as we go. Each time you give a speech, you will take away with you something you could improve on. If you think about it, we are all ‘public speakers.’ We speak to our family in the living room, we talk to our significant others about how much writing we did in one day, or we converse with our parents about life. If you think about giving a speech as just speaking normally to a family member or friend, you will do just fine.

As always, I hope this post can help at least one person. If you use any of these tips, feel free to tell me about your experience. You can comment on this post, email me: msdakotawrites@gmail.com, or tweet me @msdakotawrites on twitter. I would love to hear about your experiences.

Warmly,

Dakota 😊

The 7 Tools You Need To Overcome The Fear Of Writing Non-Fiction

Hey there! Glad you guys are here. This post is one I thoroughly enjoyed writing. Hope you guys enjoy!

Whenever I ask other writers what genre they prefer when given the choice between fiction and non-fiction, they always seem to choose fiction, without hesitation. I wonder why this is. The realm of fiction allows one to explore their imagination and create a world much different than reality. Writers who write fiction look forward to forming these creations which could be described as ‘escaping the mundane realities of the world we live in,’ at least how I like to describe it.

I love both fiction & non-fiction, but I always preferred non-fiction. My love for non-fiction really began when I took a non-fiction workshop during undergrad. The entire semester we studied how to write in this genre and we edited a piece we would present on the final day of class. When I read my piece to the class, I could see the power my words had. I do not recall what exactly I wrote about, but I received applause by both my professor and the other students. That is when I really began writing more pieces about my life and experiences.

Now you must be thinking why someone would want to read about the life or experiences of another if they are not a well-known author or celebrity and even then, the material may be uninteresting or boring. If you look at my blog, you will quickly realize that most of the pieces I have submitted are creative non-fiction. Here is why. I have dealt with certain traumas in my life and writing about them allows me to heal, to forgive, and to find peace. When I write non-fiction, I enjoy bringing light to issues people may not necessarily think of.

I wanted to give you all the inside scoop on how to tackle this genre without fear. Buckle up because you are in for an interesting ride.

Writers tend to think unless they have dealt with a severe trauma or have an experience others would want to read about, you have no reason to write in this genre. You are wrong. It is like that saying, if you write, you are a writer. You do not need that stamp of approval from being published to claim you are a writer. Same applies for non-fiction. You can literally take any topic or experience from your life and create something worth reading. The thing that requires the most time for me is determining the topic and how I want to approach it. But once I have the topic, it is quite easy for me to begin writing. Below I will highlight some helpful tips to get you started.

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  • #1: Choose a topic to write about. When writing non-fiction, you have to write your story in such a way that even if the reader has the slightest doubt in their mind they would not relate to your work, you have to give them a reason to. Not to be cliché here but think of writing a piece about a horrible break-up you endured. This probably would not be something I would write, but I am merely using it as an example. This is a general topic an audience would gravitate to because 9 times out of 10, other people have endured this as well. You must evoke some sort of emotion and allow the reader to relate to you in some way, shape, or form.

  • #2: Next step I usually do is make list. I list everything associated with that topic. The main idea, how I felt, what I saw, what I heard, what I smelled, what I touched, who was involved, the outcome, so on and so forth.

  • #3: Next step once you have your topic picked out and your list made is to decide which perspective you want to tackle. Most of my pieces are told in 1st person which most people assume is what writing non-fiction entails. However, I like to experiment with other POV’s. For instance, I wrote a piece about an illness my cousin was diagnosed with. To properly tell the story, I interviewed several people to get all the information I needed. I interviewed my cousin, her mother, her father, her grandmother, and I included my POV. Each person told their part of the story. However, other pieces I have written have been stories about my life but told in 3rd person. ‘She felt this, she did that.,’ etc. Writing non-fiction should not mean rejecting certain aspects of writing. If anything, non-fiction can offer you the same amount of flexibility if you have the right tools.

  • #4: Writing a piece of non-fiction can also allow you the opportunity to fill in some blanks with a made-up scenario. So, going back to that break-up example. Let us say you wanted to write about your brother’s break-up with his girlfriend and how it led him down a rabbit hole. If he did not provide you with the information, you can do with this as you will. You knew the topic would be about the break-up and your brother’s depression. However, you could be creative by forming your own reasoning for their separation by filling in the blanks of what you think happened. I read an article once in my ‘how to write non-fiction,’ course textbook from college. A professor had written about the same things I am currently writing about. He said, you are not always going to have the facts or information you need for each aspect of your work. This is when you take the information you do have and put your own spin on it.

  • #5: Non-fiction requires lots of ‘show don’t tell.’ It is quite simple for writers to get wrapped up in a description of how the character felt. However, these are the opportunities when writers must really allow readers to put themselves in the main character’s shoes. ‘Show’ them what happened on that day your dad finally left the house and your mom struggled to make ends meet. ‘Show’ them the look on your grandmother’s face as she laid in the hospital bed clinging to her last breath. You get the idea. I do not want to get too depressing here.

  • #6: As I mentioned previously, evoking emotion is the most important thing you can do. Whether you are aiming to make your readers understand your pain, or your happiness, or the overwhelming feeling you encountered when you took a full course load of college classes, emotion is the driving force for this genre, in my opinion.  

  • #7: I believe writing non-fiction is like layering a sandwich. Now hold on. You probably think I sound crazy but hear me out. The first slice of bread is your opening, your one shot at drawing in the readers. I have asked several writers and most of the responses were the same. “I don’t like reading non-fiction because I don’t enjoy reading about someone else’s experiences.” My first response to that would be, if you are a true writer, you read when you are not writing, and you read anything and everything to learn as much as you can. I think to improve in writing fiction, one should also read non-fiction. The middle of the piece is the most important, layering on the ham and cheese, etc. This is the core of the piece when readers want to know what the MC endured and why, etc. That last slice of bread seals the deal. You want to close out the piece leaving the readers either wanting more or scratching their heads asking questions. I am that type of writer who will draw you in with a great opening and leave you unstable with the last line I write. I want to make sure my readers know what I am feeling. This is my strategy.

Writers tend to think non-fiction is daunting and they do not enjoy it. But I believe if writers took the chance to understand what it takes to write in this genre, if you’re just willing to put in the time and give it a chance, you can learn to enjoy writing it.

There is not much to it. This is my process and I hope this post really sheds some light on how overlooked this genre is. If I can inspire more writers to consider writing in this genre, I will feel extremely accomplished.

As always, feel free to comment on this post, email me: msdakotawrites@gmail.com, or tweet me @msdakotawrites on twitter. I always love to hear how this post has helped you or any other feedback you wish to provide.

Until next time,

Dakota 😊

The “How To” On Choosing Titles For Your Work In 5 Simple Steps

Hey everyone! We are back with a post which was voted for in a poll I ran on twitter. This time I will tackle the question of how to choose titles for your work. Now before I begin, I just want to mention I am no expert in this arena. I have my own strategies which work for me. However, I wanted to write a brief post on my strategies and how I come to a final decision on how to choose a title.

There are two different types of writers. You have those who have their titles already picked out & ready to go even before writing. On the other hand, you have writers like me, who write and then decide on a title at the end. This will be a relatively short post with certain tips I recommend for you, the reader.

  1. First and foremost, in my opinion, I like those short, to the point, ‘punch you right in the gut’ type of headlines. I tend to gravitate towards these. I prefer them to be completely honest. When a book or story title is too long or is an entire sentence, this tends to turn me off completely. Not saying you should judge a book by the cover. There are really amazing pieces of work out there. This is just my opinion.
  2. You want an attention grabbing title. Something that does not give too much away, leaving readers wanting to know more, but you provide just enough for readers to know what they are getting themselves into.
  3. Expanding off of #2, I like to use action words in my titles or words which will immediately spark the emotion of the reader. Depending on what type of post I’m writing, some titles could be longer than others. Overall I try to maintain 5 words maximum. No more than that.
  4. Other times I like to have one worded titles. For instance, if I’m writing a poem, I normally use one word which highlights the topic.
  5. If you are like me and you choose titles after you finish writing a piece of work, I like to choose main points from the piece. I make a list of them. I usually list key words, highlights, concepts related to the plot/climax, or something related to the resolution of the story. Making this list really helps me to choose a jaw dropping title.

There’s not much to my process. These are the steps I use and they really work, at least for me. Everyone has a different process, but I really hope these tips can assist you when you’re choosing titles for your work.

As always feel free to comment, email with with feedback: msdakotawrites@gmail.com, or feel free to tweet me @msdakotawrites on twitter. I am always looking to connect with other creatives, and I always welcome feedback which allows us to exchange ideas.

Until next time,

Dakota 🙂

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