Brainstorming Sessions with the Bestest

One thing I’ve been trying to do with this site is stress that life is not all about your freelance path. It is also about relationships, and keeping them healthy. It is about the happiness factor.

Today I want to discuss how you can keep in touch regularly with your bestest, in such a way that your business and hers will benefit from your time spent together.

Whether you each have business or not, brainstorming with someone else is a good way to get new ideas. If your bestest works for an employer, perhaps she would like a chance to brainstorm ways to further her existing career, start her own business, fix up her home, or plan a sustainable garden. Or maybe she is planning to write a book. The possibilities are endless, really.

Why brainstorming sessions with the bestest work

  1. You can be honest with other. If something sounds good, great. If something sounds lame, you can let the other know.
  2. You are comfortable talking with each other.
  3. Your bestest may have some great ideas for your business.
  4. You might have great ideas for whatever your bestest is working on.
  5. You can celebrate successes together!

Setting up regular brainstorming sessions

Make this a regular thing, scheduling a meeting as often as you need it. Weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly. Whatever works for both of you. Talk with your bestest and write these dates on your calendar.

Be sure to schedule enough time to brainstorm for both of you. Maybe lunch, with no afternoon responsibilities, so you can talk for hours if the need be.

Decide in advance of each meeting where you’ll meet up. Perhaps you’ll have a picnic in the park, or meet for tea outside your favorite cafe. Maybe a lunch at your favorite restaurant will be better, or a dinner at your place or hers. If you want to stay active, you could even go for a long walk, each of you bringing a hand-held recorder for keeping track of ideas.

No need for a rain-check if weather is not cooperating, just change where you meet up.

How brainstorming sessions with the bestest work

First, you get the day-to-day chit-chat out-of-the-way. Talk about the weather, how the kids or significant others are doing, what’s coming up for important dates within your families, and what community things are going on. Discuss feelings about situations, and how stressful last Thursday was. Get it all out of the way, so you can get to work.

Next you’ll each want to each talk about previous ideas you’ve implemented since the last meeting, and give updates on other things you’ve discussed as far as business goes. What has worked? What hasn’t? What haven’t you gotten to and why? Are you still planning on trying those leftover ideas out? Or will you be scrapping?

Then move on to new ideas. Talk about what you each have come up with for ideas for your businesses or projects, giving the other a chance to offer up more ideas. Talk about each new idea, at least briefly, to be sure it sounds plausible for your situation.

During this time, talk about things such as marketing, new project ideas or manuscript topics, promotional ideas, and whatever else you can think of. Perhaps you know you’re going to need a new laptop, and want to brainstorm the features you’ll need, or maybe you want to talk about your plan to turn and extra room into an office.

Going the extra mile for brainstorming sessions

Why not buy gifts for you and the bestest for that first meeting. You can put hers in a gift bag if you’d like. A hardcover journal or notebook for each of you to write ideas in, a nice pen, a set of highlighters, colorful post-its, and a selection of your favorite teas and fancy chocolate bars.

When your bestest finishes a particularly big project, put together a gift basket for her. Themes could be:

  • Fancy office supplies, or things to match her office decor.
  • Her favorite coffees and a mug with a saying that fits her perfectly.
  • Items to add to a collection she has going on.
  • Kitchen items and gourmet foods for the foodie friend.
  • A DVD of a movie she wants, popcorn, drinks, and a box or two of her favorite movie theater candy.
  • Things from her favorite cafe: The coffee or tea she likes – for her to make at home, a reusable cup with their logo, and a gift card.

If your bestest is feeling blocked or stuck, give her a basket of items for pampering herself, such as a facial treatment, her favorite shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, a wash cloth and hand towel, and a few new colors of nail polish. Maybe she needs to relax and take care of herself, to feel rejuvinated.

Have you had a brainstorming session with your bestest? How did it go? Can you schedule another?

Shannon L. Buck

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright April 4, 2017.

10 Examples of What to do Next

So, you finally finished that big project, set up your first website, or wrote that book you’d been putting off, or finished that huge project for a client – that took you months. Good for you! Be proud. Be confident. Take a moment to just bask in what you have accomplished. It. Was. Huge. You know it was.

But now that you’re done, what should you do next?

I’d like to offer up 10 ideas for what to do when you’re done with a big project. Some of them you might not have even thought about. They aren’t all about work, as there really is more to life.

  1. Celebrate. It can be something simple, such as that Chai Tea from your favorite cafe, or maybe a movie you’ve been wanting to see. Perhaps tea with your daughters, or lunch with the bestest. Do something.
  2. Buy yourself something at least somewhat related to your business, such as a nice hardcover journal with a decorative pen for note-taking, or some new jewelry to wear during your next meeting. The bracelets and hair accessories in the picture cost me next to nothing, but they are nice to have when I want to add a little flair.
  3. Take a day off. Start with a slow morning of waking up when your body is ready, meditating, doing a little yoga, journaling, and having a light breakfast. Then take a walk near the river, and stop into the cafe for an iced tea on your way home. Watch a movie, read a book, or take some time to pamper yourself. Enjoy the day!
  4. Decide on your next project.
  5. Put your files from the previous project away, and set up new ones and other necessities for the next project.
  6. If you wrote a book, set the manuscript aside for a while to step back from it. Plan to do a first edit in two weeks, or a month.
  7. Take an afternoon to sit on the back porch with a pen and paper, and brainstorm ideas for things you want to do for your business.
  8. Update your portfolio and/or resume.
  9. Clear off your desk, give it a good washing, and then set things on it in a different way than before. Put a plant on the desk, or something decorative in nature.
  10. Send out queries for future projects.

What’s your top 10 list?

Shannon L. Buck

How Downtime can Help You to Succeed

Downtime. That illusive thing we all say we are going to have in our life, but many of us forget about because we are so busy with life and work that we do not know how to slow down until we fall into bed at night, exhausted. Many of us never take downtime. We just let it linger in front of us, knowing we need it but not able to get there; to experience it.

But we need downtime.

We need to take time for ourselves. We need to spend time with family and friends. It can’t always be about work, sometimes it has to be about us. We need to sleep in on occasion, spend a morning in bed, do some therapeutic journaling, meditate and do yoga, or go for a leisurely walk. We have to spend time with family, having barbecues and spending days at the beach. And we need to hang out with our friends; fishing, hiking, or just sitting around talking.

Relaxation is important, as is doing fun things and being around others.

How can we free up space in our schedules for downtime?

First, we must make downtime a priority. Starting right now, get out the calendar and decide what day(s) you will have your downtime. I suggest two days a week, in a row. At least to start.

Why two day’s in a row? Because if we only have one day, or a part of one day, we will work on cleaning the house or running errands. This is not downtime, and shouldn’t be treated as such. So we take two days off in a row, stopping work around four in the afternoon the day before to do the chores and run those errands.

Make these regular days off, and schedule them for each week.

Then go back through the calendar and give yourself a personal day every two or three months. This could be a mid-week day you take for yourself, or you could add it on to one of your weekends for a three-day stretch.

Going through the calendar again, mark off any holidays you feel you need to take. And then decide on two one-week vacations or one two-week vacations, if you can afford to. Or at least a one-week vacation.

How do we take downtime?

As an example, mark on your calendar that work will stop on Friday afternoon at four o’clock. At that time, go about running the errands that you’ll need to do before Monday, then bring home some take out from a favorite restaurant or something to put on the grill. After dinner, have everyone in your house help with the chores so those will be out-of-the-way for the weekend. Remember to empty the dishwasher so you can refill it throughout the weekend.

On Saturday morning you might want to sleep late, relaxing with a tea on the back deck after waking. Maybe you’ll have breakfast as a family, then go out for a walk. Or maybe yoga is more your style. The point is to take it slow. You want some time to yourself, but also time with your family.

After lunch, maybe you and your family would like to take in a movie or go fishing. Something fun, but somewhat relaxing. On the other-hand, you might be itching to go sailing or maybe you want to throw a barbecue for your entire family.

You might do something else together the second day, or maybe go shopping with friends instead.

Want to spend a day alone? Wake up, enjoy your tea while writing in your journal. Take a smoothie out the back deck and enjoy the weather, then pack a lunch and go for a hike. When you return, watch a favorite movie or read a book. Relax for a while. Enjoy the peace.

The point is that you are taking time away from work and spending it with people you love, even if that person is you!

How can downtime help you to succeed?

First, taking regular downtime helps to clear your mind. I don’t know about you, but my brain sometimes feels so full of differing thoughts and ideas that I can have a hard time concentrating on what I need to get done. A walk through the neighborhood or on the bike paths can help me to clear the clutter, allowing my mind to take a break so I can be more productive later on.

Second, this downtime helps with creativity. When I’m feeling stuck, I go for a walk to clear my mind and all of a sudden I have all these new ideas popping into my head. It is great! (I’m wondering if there is an app for my phone that will allow me to speak into it so I don’t have to stop to type things into the notes. If you know of anything, please let me know!)

Third, my walks aid me in organizing my thoughts, so I can more clearly move on with a project.

Fourth, active downtime helps to get or keep you in shape. This means you’ll have more energy.

No time for downtime?

I hear ya! I go through these periods myself where I’m so busy with my day job at the inn and a writing project that I’m at things all day and half the night, sometimes for weeks. I try not to make a habit of this, but sometimes an important project will necessitate the extra time.

What I try to do is take a morning or an evening off every two or three days. If I don’t, then I know I’ll ware myself out. This happened just recently, and it forced me to take two whole days off just to rest. I did minimal cleaning those two days, made sure I fed myself and stayed hydrated, and started re-watching Revolution. I had made myself sick, and needed to take care of myself.

What project am I working on that I wasn’t allowing for real days off? The first drafts of three novelettes. I’m about half way through the third, and have been working on them since before the new year. The last few weeks I’d been on a real writing streak, finishing book two and starting book three. My body reminded me I needed some time off, and I took it.

What benefits do you notice with downtime? Or what struggles do you find you’re going through trying to plan for some downtime?

Enjoy your day!

All Work and No Play

I tend to be outside a lot less during the winter. I don’t work outside right now because its too cold, and I start to feel a little stir crazy at this point each year. Do you feel this way? Like you can’t wait for nice weather so that you don’t have to be stuck inside all the time?

I know that, before long, I’ll be outside much more. Hiking, writing at the park or in The Gardens, taking pictures. Spending a weekend on the coast, shopping with the bestest. So many fun things to do when the warmer weather hits. But for now?

Now I’m just waiting. I have a nonfiction writing project I’m working on, and a series of short stories I’m writing. The nonfiction happens when I’m at work, believe it or not. I work at an inn, and this is our slow season. Our boss let’s us do many things, from knitting to studying, during our downtime. For me, it’s writing. I’ve done first edits on two manuscripts already, and written a few things on another.

Then, on my days off, I sit at Aroma Joe’s, sipping tea and working on the fiction series. I’ve already finished the first drafts of two novella’s, and am working on a third. And I have three previous short stories I’m editing.

I’ve been organizing things, planning projects, and more.

I’ve been busy, busy, busy. But I haven’t been having a whole lot of fun out in the community. The only walking I get in is on the days I work, when I have to meet the bus on campus, and my yoga routine takes place in my room.

I’m really feeling the need for a hike, with the camera. I hope the next nice day happens on a day off from work, so I can walk the bike path and take some picturesm before settling in to write.

I took my sister and nephew out to dinner a couple of weeks back, and the bestest and I are going to have lunch together at her place next week. I’m trying to find little ways to break up the work and writing stuff, and enjoy some time away from it all. Even if it’s only for an hour or two here and there.

And I’m going to spend an evening a week pampering myself and watching a movie. The happiness factor is important, and taking the time to do things for myself is how I accomplish it.

It’s so important to take time away from the desk. Do it.


5 Steps to Help You Relax this Holiday Season

Photograph copyright Shannon L. Buck 2016.Many of us work more than we should, and some of us are holding down another job while building a freelance career. On top of that we have family, friends, and home responsibilities, and we’re getting ready for the holiday season.

Often we end up wearing ourselves out, possibly getting sick in the process. I’ve been working on a series of quick posts on my blog Frugal is Fabulous! that will be just what we ladies need this holiday season. The series is called Mini At-Home Spa Moments, and these are the posts:

  • A Good Start to Your Morning: Be sure you are ready for your day with this quick tip.
  • Quick Afternoon Pick-Me-Up: Having a long, exhaustive day? This little ritual will pick you up in just a couple of minutes.
  • A Relaxing End to Your Day: How do you unwind at the end of the day? Is it in a way that helps you wind down from all the stresses you encounter?
  • Monthly Treat: Make sure you take some time to really care for yourself this holiday season, when you don’t have to worry about anything going on around you.
  • Quick Weekend Habit: This one wont take long but will make you feel extra good!
  • Weekend Relaxation: Make sure you are taking an evening each weekend to care for you.

Frugal is Fabulous! is one of my favorite blogs I write. It has helped so many people of the years who just don’t have enough money to live with, and those who are looking to live a frugal lifestyle for their own purposes. If you know anyone who might find it useful, please pass it along.

I hope you enjoy your holiday season no matter which holiday or sabbat you celebrate.

Love, Peace & Joy,


Why Taking A Break Never Fails

I might go all day, forgetting to eat and exercise. Forgetting to relax. Other times, I work so many days in a row, that, even though I’m breaking for meals and walks, I never feel rested. On these days, I’m generally working from the time I get up until late at night.

Why Taking a Break Never Fails by Shannon L. Buck  http://livethefreelancelife.comOur brains need a break from mental work, just as our bodies need a break from physical work. When we are exhausted from mental or physical work, our bodies let us know. We start making silly mistakes, getting cranky, and feeling overwhelmed.

No one wants those types of things to happen, so It’s best to give ourselves a break.

Go to your calendar. See what is open. Take the time now to schedule some downtime. And don’t let yourself feel guilty about it. Here are some ideas on how to begin scheduling much needed breaks:

  1. Set up easy mornings: Sleep in a little, wake up slowly. Do a few yoga moves, meditate, then shower and sip tea while eating a healthy breakfast.
  2. Spend at least 15 minutes after lunch journaling.
  3. Take a little time during your walk to sit by the river and think about something other than work.
  4. Schedule an entire afternoon off to hang with your bestest. Get your hair cut, go out to lunch. Enjoy some girl time.
  5. Schedule at least two days off each week. Three when you can swing it.
  6. Schedule holiday time off. If you have a career where taking the entire month of December off is a possibility, do it. Why not?
  7. Schedule three long weekends. One for yourself, one for a family vacation, and one for you and hubby.

Taking a break never fails because it rejuvenates you, helping with the flow of ideas and preventing silly mess-ups. Breaks will also give your mind and body a chance to relax, and are also keys to living a healthier lifestyle.

Only you know what will work best for you, and what you need. Take the time now to figure out what that is, and things will go more smoothly from here on out.

Shannon L. Buck

What do I Enjoy Most About Writing?

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015When I’m in the process of writing, I’m not thinking about anything else. No matter where I am, inside or out, I’m in a zone. Anything could happen around me, and I’d most likely be oblivious.

Because of this, I actually get quite relaxed. I’m not always one to relax, so this is actually good for me. My body is idle, rather than me going from here to there, back and forth, doing many tasks. Even though my brain is engaged, the rest of me is at rest.

Once I get started with writing, the ideas flow more rapidly. I sometimes have a hard time keeping up with them all. I rush, and then major editing may be necessary for things to make sense for others. But starting to write can certainly get the ball rolling.

Writing relieves stress, at least for me. Have you noticed this? If I’m extremely stressed, and I write for about 30 minutes, the stress seems to just melt away. For which, I’m thankful.

The process of writing also gets my creative juices flowing in other areas. I guess, during the process, my mind does other things than just write that story or article. It must also work through other things because I notice, when I’m done writing, I have amazing brainstorming sessions with the flow of ideas having to do with not only other writing projects, but also crafting and otherwise creative projects I’d like to work on.

And, it lifts my mood. If I’m angry or depressed, writing helps me to loosen up and feel better about things in general.

Writing does a lot for me. How about you?

Comment below, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.col. I love to hear from readers, and I answer all comments and emails.

Shannon L. Buck

Genre Writing

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck via Canva.comSome of you may not know I write fiction as well as nonfiction. If you look at the sidebar, you’ll see a list of stories I have published online. Even though I love adding to this blog and writing other articles and blog posts, I also enjoy writing stories.

Sometimes I enjoy writing thrillers, at times with a paranormal slant. Though other genres find their way into my writing as well.

Recently I published Rascal, and decided to experiment with things a little. I’m using KDP Select on Amazon, as well as my fiction blog, to tell the story of a family on a mountain. Told from a child’s perspective, the dark tales of the mountain are not really for young children.

If you’d like to follow along, the story starts with a diary entry from the main character, Jessica. This entry is called The Bear.

Then the first short story should be read. It is the first in a four-part series, and the other three will be published shortly. This story is called Rascal, and is the story that really gets us to begin thinking about things that might haunt the night. It also teaches Jessica and her cousins that the adults in their lives do bad things sometimes.

The third thing you’ll want to read is another diary entry from Jessica. In I Told, she tries to warn her little sister and brother about something important but scary.

Soon the second part of this short story series will be published. I hope you enjoy these until then.

What are you doing besides your typical freelance work? I think we all have passions. Things we want to do more than anything, and I am trying to meld my things with the freelance life. How about you? Let us know how things are working out for you, and how you are bringing things together, in the comments, or email me at I reply to all emails.

Shannon L. Buck