Watch Out for “Word Weirdness” in Your Writing


I was reading a book the other day (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) and came across the word nonplussed. But it didn’t make sense in the context it was used.

At least, I didn’t think it made sense. It’s not a word I normally use in everyday life or in writing, and I’m certainly no word purist, but I always thought I understood its definition.

I was wrong.

The English language after all, is a crazy, messed up thing. Sometimes I wonder how we’re able to use it for communication purposes at all.

Especially words and their meanings. Many words have evolved into a usage that means nearly the opposite of their true or original definition.

Nonplussed for example.

word weirdness writing blogging obi-wan
Obi-Wan is visibly nonplussed.

According to Merriam-Webster, the word nonplussed has been around since the 16th century, and has always been synonymous with “perplexed.”

Until relatively recently, that is. In the early 20th century, people — especially those in the U.S. — inexplicably began using it as almost an opposite of its true definition, that is, unimpressed or unconcerned.

While the definition of nonplussed as a state of being unconcerned remains incorrect, that hasn’t prevented some well-respected publications from using it that way.

word weirdness writing blogging alls write with the world


With language being as fluid as it is, perhaps this context will eventually become “correct.” Who knows?

Disinterested vs. Uninterested 

Another bewildering set of words is Disinterested and Uninterested. It appears the history of these two words is as baffling as the words themselves, with their respective definitions swapping back and forth.
word weirdness writing blogging ron swanson
Is Ron Swanson disinterested or uninterested?

Traditionally, uninterested has meant “not interested,” while disinterested has been synonymous with “impartial.” The confusion appears to have materialized due to the two meanings of the word interested: “having the attention engaged,” and the less common “having a stake in a given matter.”

Uninterested refers to the former, while disinterested refers to the latter, as in an impartial (disinterested) mediator, who has no bias in the outcome of an arbitration.

As with many other words, disinterested’s original definition is slowly changing to another one that is commonly used and accepted.

Flammable or Inflammable?

If those examples don’t make you nauseated (as opposed to nauseous, which, unless you enjoy making others ill, you probably want to refrain from), check out flammable and inflammable.

Flammable means easily ignited.

Here’s the messed up part: Inflammable also means easily ignited. This word was invented first, and is a derivative of the verb “inflame” (to catch fire). The confusion, of course, comes from the misinterpretation of “in” as the well-known negative or opposite prefix.

Word weirdness writing blogging

So inflammable literally means the opposite of what common grammar rules would dictate.

Speaking of literally

This word is so often used incorrectly that its meaning is also evolving into “figuratively” or as an emphasis. (“It is literally a thousand degrees in here.”)

The internet is packed with lists of commonly misused words. Adding the most difficult ones — along with their proper, or evolving definitions — to your Word Hoard may be helpful.

If all this incorrect word manipulation leaves you feeling a bit bemused (which is synonymous with confusion or bewilderment, and NOT with amusement), check out contronyms.

Contronyms, also called auto-antonyms (among others), are words that have two opposite (and correct) meanings. Obviously, the context in which the word is used provides the meaning the author intends.

Examples include: dust (removing dust from furniture, or applying powdered sugar to a cake); screen (to show a movie, or hide from view); and fast (moving rapidly, or fixed and unmoving).

My favorite is left, which can mean “departed” or “remaining.” (Before my dad left, he ate all of the pretzels in snack mix. The peanuts are the only thing left.) Then you have its other definitions, like the opposite of “right.”

I am so nonplussed by English vocabulary.

What words have tripped you up? Please share in the comments!

This Fun Activity Will Improve Your Writing

Post may contain affiliate links. Please see Affiliate Policy here.

As a new writer, you’re bombarded by a surfeit (n. an overabundant supply) of advice to improve your craft. Most of it is helpful and useful such as practicing your writing every day and reading as much as you can get your eyeballs on.

You’ve researched methods for procuring (v. obtaining something, especially with care or effort) ideas for your writing. Ideas can be found in your everyday life, someone else’s life, or your imagination.

But what about words? Of course, the vocabulary we employ provides the foundation of our writing. Our words must engage our readers and form images in their minds. But what specific words should we use?

fun activity improve writing word hoard

Creating a Word Hoard is a fun and worthwhile pursuit (n. an activity that one engages in as a vocation or profession) to refine your writing vocabulary. This type of compulsive collecting won’t find you on A&E’s Hoarders though. Accumulating words will enhance your vocabulary and can sharpen your writing and make it more interesting.

What is a Word Hoard?

I first saw the term in Barbara Baig’s book Spellbinding Sentences (this a fantastic guide for any writer wanting to improve their craft). A Word Hoard is an aggregation (a collection of units or parts into a mass or whole) of interesting, new-to-you, or otherwise useful words that a writer can use in her writing.

Where should I keep my Word Hoard?

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Your Word Hoard can be kept in anything that is easily accessible; that is, a place where you can have it available while you’re writing or collecting. A Writer’s Notebook is a great place to start. Every writer should keep a notebook where he can organize his word hoard, writing ideas, and other useful information that is used to help him write.

Your Writer’s Notebook can be a physical notebook or a binder if you prefer to hand-write your work. It can be a file or folder on your computer. For word hoarding, I prefer using pen and paper because it helps my brain to retain (v. keep in one’s memory) the information better. Of course, you can use both methods or incorporate others.

I recommend keeping a 3-ring binder for your Writer’s Notebook, so you can add and subtract items as needed. Download your free Word Hoard printable here.  Print off as many as you need as you continue to collect words.

Where Can I Collect Words?


One of the best sources for your Hoard is your reading materials. Whether you read books, blogs, or the instructions for your IKEA furniture, when you come across a word that you like the sound of, add it to your collection. If you read a term or phrase that you like the definition of, write it down in your notebook. If you happen upon a new-to-you word that you’ve never seen before (or haveseen before but never really knew what it meant), be sure to ascertain (v. find something out for certain; make sure of) its definition and pronunciation, and jot (v. to write briefly or hurriedly) it down.

Photo by Nick Hillier on Unsplash

Another great source for collecting words is everyday life while you’re out and about. I’m not advocating eavesdropping, but overhearing a conversation while sitting in your favorite coffee shop can be a great source of new words (and perhaps story ideas). If you can’t carry your Writer’s Notebook with you everywhere, at least be sure to keep a small notebook or use your phone to keep track of ideas you hear or see.

An effortless way to acquire words is to sign up for one of the online dictionary’s daily “Word of the Day” emails. Every morning, I receive an email from the online version of Merriam-Webster containing its word of the day. Some of the words I’m already acquainted with while others are unfamiliar. Even if they are already part of my vocabulary, the email provides examples of ways to use the word, synonyms, and other useful information.

Pinterest, if you’re into it, is a great source for unusual and interesting words that may or may not be located in a standard dictionary. Words like “pluviophile” (a lover of rain), “oneiric” (of or relating to dreams), and “sempiternal” (eternal and unchanging; everlasting) reside in my Pinterest Word Hoard.

Keep an eye and ear out everywhere for any words you may want to collect: billboards, the media, and your kid’s Tae Kwon Do class can all be great sources.

How to Use Your Word Hoard

What the heck are you supposed to do with all these new words that you collect?

Photo by Raphael Schaller on Unsplash

Try to incorporate your new words into your daily speaking. Make a game out of it, and have fun with it.

When writing, if you’re struggling for just the right word, check out your Word Hoard. It may be there. But don’t force it. Sometimes a thesaurus can be helpful.

Some words are so beautiful and amazing, you can create an entire plot from them. Or try to create a story or essay using as many of your hoarded words as you can. There are countless ways to incorporate your Hoard into your writing.

Let’s Get Started

First, create a section in your Writer’s Notebook for your Word Hoard. Label it whatever you wish. (I’m kind of partial to “Word Herd,” but I’m weird like that).

Sign up for daily emails from Merriam Webster or another online dictionary. Or several of them. Check the word every day. It may be interesting to keep track of how many words you already know compared to the new-to-you ones.

Now, keep your eyes and ears open.

Start collecting and Happy Writing!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Christmas Bells” Is More Relevant Today than Ever

During the winter of 1863, America was embroiled in its most violent and bloodiest conflict, the Civil War. Divided over the ethics and economy of slavery and states’ rights, communities turned against each other, families were torn apart, brother fought against brother.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s life mirrored the turmoil of the country. During the summer of 1861, Longfellow’s wife, Frances, died tragically from injuries sustained when her dress accidentally caught fire. Then in March of 1863, without informing his father, Longfellow’s eldest son Charles left home for Washington D.C. to enlist in the Union army. That November, Charles was gravely injured from a bullet wound to his shoulder and back. He survived, but the near-fatal wound would end his career as a soldier.

Longfellow composed his “Christmas Bells” poem on Christmas day in 1863. As he listened to the peal of bells, he penned his first stanzas that speak of the true spirit of Christmas, of “peace on earth” and “good will to men.”

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Longfellow doubted the message of the bells though. How could they sing of good will to men when thousands were violently dying within his beloved country? How could they sing of peace on earth while his own son was a casualty of a tragic war?

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

However, Longfellow recognized the hope that exists even during times of desperation and hopelessness. He concluded with the truth that the right will always triumph over the wrong:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

“Christmas Bells” was first set to music as “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” in 1872 by English organist and composer John Baptiste Calkin. Since then, there have been several renditions, most of them omitting the 4th and 5th stanzas of Longfellow’s original poem that reference the war.

In the century and a half since the Civil War, America has continued to justify division among her citizens. The country may not currently be mired in a war with itself, but politics and differences of opinion have succeeded in creating contempt and conflict among communities and within families. This Christmas, I urge all to listen to the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and embrace his message of “Peace on earth, good will to men.”

My Writing Process is Better than Yours

I wake up early and refreshed, while the family remains blissfully asleep. With my hot mug of black coffee and freshly toasted, cream cheese-slathered blueberry bagel, I settle with my laptop at the desk in my office, which has a gorgeous view of the autumn forest in the backyard. The morning sunlight filters through the trees and falling leaves creating a visual wonderland, while the deer family saunters across the yard munching the grass. Inside, my houseplants, oil diffuser, and salt lamp surround me to create a calm and serene atmosphere. The radio softly plays my favorite music in the background. Inspiration – images, phrases, poetry – flows through me with the ease of the changing seasons. I stretch my fingers out over the keyboard as Zen overtakes my spirit, and beautiful words and ideas flow from my soul through my hands onto the screen, creating stunning, captivating and visually enticing prose in a perfect, harmonious flow.


Writing Process

Are you one of those mythical unicorn writers that are able to pull this off? Perhaps you’re able to profusely bleed your soul and creativity all over the screen or notebook, but in a non-messy sort of way. Maybe you come up with the most appropriate content at exactly the right moments. (#jealous) Do you have a secret? (It’s the salt lamp, isn’t it?)

Believe me, I’d give my analytical left brain to be able to function like this.


So maybe that process doesn’t work for you either. If you’re unable to create like this, agonize no more. I’ve created an alternative. The following is my actual writing process in a convenient, easy-to-follow, step-by-step process. Feel free to imitate it if it works for you.

  1. Set yourself down in front of a television sitcom or drama and allow some vague idea to pop into your head when a character says or does something stupid or funny. This also works with superhero movies or your in-laws.
  2. Go to bed and wake up at 2:00am with your head full of unique, subconsciously-created sentences and phrases so breathtaking that Thoreau himself could have crafted them. Don’t write them down; they’re so amazing, there’s no way you’re going to forget them.
  3. Wake up late and bleary-eyed the next morning, promptly forgetting the inspiration that materialized during the middle of the night.
  4. Go about your day, executing all your life stuff, job stuff, parenting stuff, house stuff, etc.
  5. Sit down in the evening and word retch all over your laptop monitor. Make sure you do this while one kid is crying over her math homework and another is arguing with you about unlocking the computer for more screen time. Bonus points if the parakeets are angrily chattering with each other and the dog is staring at you while performing his trademark “Chihuahua Shake.”
  6. Edit the hell out of what you just wrote: chop 25% to 40% of your writing, spend a ridiculous amount of time with the thesaurus searching for the perfect word, and rearrange sentences until you’re cross-eyed.
  7. Change the ending of your story or essay or blog post because the right side of your brain just now decided that it has a better idea. Then rewrite the rest of it too because now nothing makes sense with the new ending.
  8. Repeat steps 5-7 ad nauseam.

I hope this is helpful. Now, please excuse me while I go and revise this entire post.

Why I Finally Started Sharing My Writing

As a kid, I read a lot and wrote a little – I knocked out a few acceptable essays and poems, some for my own pleasure, others for school assignments. But then adulthood, kids, jobs and life happened.  Then life threw me a damn curveball, and suddenly, my entire universe was turned upside down. While I’m grateful for my devoted family and circle of friends, and otherwise content and happy life, I felt a pull to do something more. I just wasn’t sure what that something was at first. Then I decided that – without possessing any real experience – I was going to write and share it.

But I didn’t know how to start.

Pen on Paper

Fear, The Almighty Barrier to Creativity (and everything else)

What propels you to take action or begin a project? Why do you get to work on time? What motivated you to start your blog? How did you decide it was time to take that karate class? What is it that provides that kick in the backside?

I’m capable of inventing plenty of reasons why I avoid sharing my writing, but procrastination is my go-to excuse. But procrastination is only a pretext for other, deeper pitfalls. Those may include perfectionism or poor time management.

But I believe in most situations, the underlying force behind our procrastination is fear. It’s possibly the most fundamental cause of failure to grow or progress. Fear that we’ll be criticized or laughed at. Fear that we’ll get it wrong and appear the town joke. It’s scary out there, and it’s intimidating to put yourself out there where everyone can see you at your most vulnerable.

So how did I get over this fear? Well, to be perfectly honest, I haven’t completely. But I did get one of those proverbial kicks-in-the-butt one day while listening to the radio.

The song “The Motions” by Matthew West was playing and it spoke to my immobilizing fear of sharing.

This might hurt, it’s not safe
But I know that I’ve gotta make a change
I don’t care if I break,
At least I’ll be feeling something
‘Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

It will hurt and it’s definitely not safe. You will be judged; and not everyone will appreciate your content or creativity. Some folks will even let you know about it.

For introverts, this can be downright terrifying. I’m the most introverted introvert ever. Not that being an introvert is the problem; it’s not. The problem is when you let it impede you from moving forward, connecting with other humans and sharing your gifts.

I composed enough prose and ideas to fill journal after journal before sharing anything. Hell, I’m still petrified of the Publish button. Fear is a powerful obstacle. It takes a miraculous amount of strength to ditch it.

But what’s the alternative to remaining fearful? Stagnation. No forward motion. And no growth.

So yeah, you might break, you will be judged, and you will most certainly screw up sometimes. But that’s OK. We move on, and the world even keeps turning on its axis.

A Word on Perfectionism

You don’t have to be perfect.

Which is great news, because guess what? None of us will ever reach that level.

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” –Margaret Atwood

Not that we shouldn’t strive for constant improvement. Striving for better is what keeps us growing. It’s what generates progress, innovation and development.

As you practice and spend time with your craft, progress will occur naturally. But don’t wait for perfection. Go ahead and hit that Publish button. Once you do, you’ll immediately realize that something could have been better. Oh well, you’ll know better next time. And that’s ok.

No regrets, not this time
I’m gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love make me whole
I think I’m finally feeling something
‘Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life

It’s time to command those voices in your head to beat it; you know, the ones that tell you no one will want to read what you have to say, or appreciate your art, or that it’s all been done before. It’s time to let your heart have a turn for once. The trick is to muster up all your strength, kick fear to the curb and forget the regrets. The voices in your heart are the ones that tell you that the world requires, even demands your unique point of view. And I guarantee there is someone out there who needs to hear your message or identify with your creativity, and his or her life will be changed for the better because of it. And that makes it all worth it.

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,
What if I had given everything,
Instead of going through the motions?

Don’t spend the rest of your life just “going through the motions.” Find the source of your passion; perhaps it’s God, your family, or somewhere deep inside your soul.

Or perhaps it’s a song you heard on the radio today.

Some Musings on Gratitude

It’s that time of year. My favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, is quickly approaching. It’s got it all: food, family, rainy weather, football. And we make a conscious effort to be grateful. I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude lately. It should be a habit, not something we think about only once a year.

Many of us take our gifts for granted, myself included. I have an exceptional family and small circle of friends, a comfortable and beautiful home, plenty of food, and I am fortunate to live in my favorite place on Earth. The list goes on and on.

Make gratitude a daily habit

But sometimes I forget to be thankful. Because gratitude is more than just a feeling of thanks. Gratitude is an action. A verb. It’s the activity of professing our thanks to God for our gifts. Refraining from complaining about what we don’t have. It’s teaching our children and others to be grateful. And it’s service to others in a pay-it-forward kind of way.

Teaching Gratitude

It’s been said that the best way to learn something is to teach it.

It can be challenging to teach gratitude to our children – a crucial lesson as ungrateful kids grow into ungrateful adults – when we live in such a culture of abundance. Every need and want seem to be so available, and society tells us that we deserve it all. We’re sheltered in our cushy little bubbles of plenitude and can be blind to the scarcity and lacking that exists.

But it’s important that kids learn and practice gratitude. For younger ones, this can be as simple as saying grace at mealtimes. Older kids, mine included, are usually happy to donate their time at the local church to help out with programs that benefit the homeless. Frequent conversations about what we’re grateful for is another valuable exercise. Tonight, my teens were thankful for sharp steak knives and air. Hey, it’s a start.

Practicing Gratitude

Gratitude can feel painful on occasion. During one of those times, a friend suggested that I keep a gratitude journal. I was dubious, but it forced me to realize – even in the midst of the greatest pain – that I have plenty to be grateful for.

We don’t need to look far to see that many folks in the world (including our own communities) lack enough food. Or shelter. They are cold or lonely.

On the other hand, most of us have plenty of food and shelter and heat. We have networks of friends and family that support and love us. An abundance of gifts that we shouldn’t take for granted.

How do you express gratitude? I thank God every morning for the new day. I thank Him each night for my family and providing for me that day. I tell those that I love that I am grateful for them.

More importantly, being grateful moves one towards an attitude of service. When we have the awareness of being abundantly blessed, we want to use those blessings to help others.

Are you blessed with an affluence of financial of wealth? An abundance of time? A valuable talent? Sharing your gifts with others who are not so fortunate is a way to manifest your gratitude.

For me, an important aspect of gratitude involves focusing on today. Of course, planning for the future can be a good idea, but when it turns into worry, it can sap the gratitude right out of your life. Did I have enough to eat today? Is my family happy today? Is it raining today (hey, I love rain)? Thank you.

Sometimes it’s not so easy…

Sometimes life just flat out sucks and you want to throw this whole gratitude thing down the deep abyss of The-Universe-Can-Kiss-My-Ass. All of us have choppy waters that we’re wading through at any given time. Perhaps a job loss or family estrangement. Maybe it’s the loss of a loved one or dealing with a chronic autoimmune disease. Am there; doing that. Everyone is going through something.

Society doesn’t really provide many opportunities for gratitude either. Turn on the television, open a magazine or newspaper, or click on any news site, and we are exposed to a surfeit of reasons to be ungrateful. It seems the media is out to convince us to be as grateful as we would be for a thorn in our big toe.

That’s why practicing an “attitude of gratitude” is so important to exercise during the good times. Making a habit out of gratitude makes it easier to continue during the turbulent times. Because we are called to be grateful even during the tsunamis of life.

And being grateful even during the rough times has changed my outlook on life. Because I truly do have so many things to be thankful for. Focusing on the gratitude and the things I am grateful for have a healing effect during the crappy times.

Eventually, it turns into a cycle. Gratitude allows happiness, abundance and service for others to follow. In turn, gratitude then follows happiness, abundance, and service.

So for now, I leave you with this song of thankfulness from Jason Gray. Be grateful. It’s good to be alive.



Creating A Blog the Marathon Way Part 3: Installing WordPress

This post may contain affiliate links; please see here for our affiliate policy.

Folks, it’s time for the exciting stuff. It’s time to install WordPress and begin building your blog and making it look all sorts of awesome.

Marathon blogging, installing wordpress

This is Part 3 of a series showing you how to set up your blog using my marathon method. If you haven’t yet set up a hosting account account, check out this post.

Creating a Blog the Marathon Way Part 1: Hosting and Domain Name

Creating a Blog the Marathon Way Part 2: Some Siteground Features

Installing WordPress

WordPress is the software that is used to manage your website or blog. Once you have a hosting site set up, you can download the software and customize your blog.

First, sign into your Siteground account that you set up last time. On your homepage, click on the “My Accounts” tab towards the top of the page.

Under “Manage Account,” click on the red button “Go to cPanel.”


Scroll down to the Autoinstallers Section and click on the WordPress icon.

Click on one of the “Install” buttons on the WordPress page:

Wordpress install


Clicking the Install button will bring up the Software Setup and Site settings.

Make your selections in each of the sections and be sure to make note of your Admin username, password, and email. Click on the Install button when finished.

Your blog will be installed on your Siteground hosting account and you will receive a confirmation that installation was successful.

You can now sign into WordPress using your admin username and password. Your Administrative URL is your domain name plus “/wp-admin”. For example, mine is “”.

Try It Out…

WordPress can be overwhelming, so I suggest playing and looking around to get the lay of the land. The main menu is on the left side of the page and contains most of the features you will use.

To get you stared, you may want to select your theme. That is the layout of your blog and WordPress comes installed with a few free ones. Click on “Appearance –>Themes” in the menu. Browse the free ones and select the layout you prefer.

Wordpress themes

Now, just take some time to familiarize with the rest of the software. Try customizing your theme. Look through the menu and familiarize yourself with the selections.

Next time, we’ll look at fun stuff like Widgets and Plugins. (What?!) Let me know if I can answer any questions. Till next time, have fun!



Become a Better Writer (For Beginners)

You can improve your writing skills even if you have little or no experience. Writing, just like any activity, can be improved by lots of practice.

Become a better writer - for beginners


Learning to write better is not easy, but it is simple. 99% of it is self-motivation. Not procrastinating. Setting up a routine that you follow every single day. So what are you waiting for? Do the following. Yes, right now.


Read anything and everything. Trashy romance novels. The instruction manual that came with your slow cooker. Re-read the Harry Potter series for the tenth time. (Is that just me?)

Most folks read only for entertainment purposes or to learn. But while you’re improving your writing, focus more on reading like a writer. Notice what works and what doesn’t work. You’ll begin to notice the differences in writing styles of different authors. Look out for grammar, spelling, punctuation. There is fantastic writing out there and some horrid writing. The more you read, the greater your awareness will become on what good and great writing looks like.

Read as often as possible. In bed at night, or on your morning commute, or while sitting in a relaxing bubble bath. (Don’t forget the scented candles and calming music.) Strive for a few hours of reading each day.


Write a lot. About anything and everything. Writing can only be improved by a tremendous amount of practice.

Practice. Every. Single. Day. The experts recommend an activity called “free-writing.” This involves setting aside a specific time every day, setting a timer, and writing without stopping as long as your timer is going. Your writing doesn’t have to be good or make sense, because no one is going to read it (unless you want them to). This is not for publication. Write whatever comes into mind, or repeat nonsense if nothing does come to mind. Just the simple act of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) will improve your writing over time.

Keep a Writer’s Notebook

Keeping a writer’s notebook will ensure that you don’t forget those ideas that pop into your head while you’re struggling to stay awake during that meeting or waiting for your kid at his parkour class. I keep mine next to my bed because I invariably wake in the middle of the night with the brain on overdrive.

Whether you’re writing fiction, nonfiction, fanfiction, or a blog post about air fryer recipes, a writer’s notebook can help keep your ideas organized in one spot where you won’t forget them. Of course, this can be accomplished with a computer as well, but I find it’s easier to carry around a notebook. Its contents can be transferred to a file on your computer later of course.

A writer’s notebook is also a great place to build your Word Hoard. I first discovered this term in Barbara Baig’s book, “Spellbinding Sentences.” She suggests building a collection of words that you come across in your reading or conversations that you like or find interesting or don’t know know the meaning of. This is a great way to build up your vocabulary.

You can improve your writing even if you are a beginner. It’s not easy, but it is simple. What other methods do you use for writing improvement?


Creating a Blog the Marathon Way Part 2: Some Siteground Features

This post may contain affiliate links; please see here for our affiliate policy.

Before installing WordPress and starting your blog, I want to share a couple of important advantages of Siteground that should be taken care of first. This will be a short post, so we can get to the good stuff next time.

Marathon Blogging Siteground Features

Creating a Blog the Marathon Way Part 1: Hosting and Domain Name

SSL Certificate

One of the advantages of Siteground is that it provides a free SSL certificate with your account. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and  it ensures that data transmitted between the server and browser remain encrypted, making your site more secure. The certificate is provided by Let’s Encrypt.

To install your SSL certificate, first log into your Siteground account. Once you’re in, click on the “My Accounts” tab towards the top.

Siteground My Accounts


Next, select the red “Go to cPanel” button.

Siteground cPanel


Scroll down to the Security Section and select the “Let’s Encrypt” icon.

Siteground cPanel Let's Encrypt


At the bottom of screen, select your domain and click the Install button. (The Wildcard SSL is for sub-domains, which, if you’re just starting out, you probably don’t need.)

Once your SSL certificate is installed, you can navigate back to the same area any time and manage your certificate and see that it is active.

Email Accounts

Your Siteground  account allows you to create as many free email accounts as you need. Navigate to your cPanel again, scroll down to the Mail section and click on the Email Accounts icon.

You can now set up email accounts that are associated with your domain, for example, Once your accounts are created, you can use the Webmail icon next to the Email Accounts icon to access and manage your accounts.

Creating a Blog the Marathon Way Part 1: Hosting and Domain Name

I hope this was helpful. cPanel contains many ways to run your account, and I will continue to share as I learn. Please contact me if I can be of any help. Next time, we’ll install WordPress and learn about some of its features.

Creating a Blog the Marathon Way Part 1: Hosting and Domain Name

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Have you seen all those blog posts titled “Start a blog in minutes!”

There are tons of them out there. Run a search on Pinterest, and they make it seem like it can  be done during a commercial break of the Sunday Night Football game.

Marathon blog

Guess what, folks? It takes longer than a few minutes. Even if you’re not a procrastinator, creating a blog is more of a marathon-like process rather than a sprint.

I’m going to show you my marathon method. I’m still in the process of setting up this blog. I’ll explain the steps I have taken (and am currently taking) to get it functional, in (mostly) simple jargon.

If you’re the sprint-type person who can get everything done in a day, then by all means, go for it. I prefer baby steps. Specific baby steps. Because I’m easily distracted.

Follow these steps, and in a few weeks, you will have a fully-functioning blog.

A quick word about free blogging platforms…

There are plenty of free blogging platforms out there like,  Tumblr, and  With these platforms, you can set up a free blog without any cost to you. That’s where the benefits of a free blog end though.

The disadvantages are numerous. They include limited bandwidth and storage, little to no customer service and lack of customization. You also do not own your blog according to the terms of the free services. As such, your blog can be shut down with no warning. Most free services also do not allow monetization of your blog.

On the other hand, with a paid blogging service, you create an account with a hosting service that downloads the software used to run the blog. You own the blog and can customize it however you wish. You can monetize it and grow it without fear of running out of space or it being shut down by the service.

I recommend starting out with a paid service right from the beginning. Even if your goals are not growing your blog or monetization or customization, the investment is so small that it’s worth it in case you change your mind. After a year or so, if you decide it’s not for you, you can always cancel your account with the paid service.

Let’s Do This…

The first step is finding hosting and registering a domain name. A hosting service is the service that allows a website or webpage to be view-able on the internet. The domain name is the internet address where users can access your site. For example,

The hosting service I use is Siteground (affiliate link).

There are plenty of hosting services out there, but after doing my research, I’ve found that Siteground (affiliate link) is the best. They have excellent customer service and are affordable. If you’ve already got a site or a domain name, they can do a transfer to their service.

When you click over to Siteground‘s page and scroll down a bit, you’ll see a few different options for hosting platforms. You’ll want Web Hosting; click on Learn More.

Siteground Hosting Platforms

You will then be taken to a page where you can choose your plan. The Startup Plan for $3.95/month is sufficient to begin with. Click “Get Started.”

Siteground Hosting Plans

The next step is coming up with and entering your domain name.

Siteground Domain Name

Your domain can be your name or something else. Search around if the one you want is already taken. Don’t make it too complicated or too clever. It should be something that is easy to remember.

After entering your domain name, you’ll enter your account information and payment method, and that’s it! You now have a domain and a place for hosting it. Be sure to keep track of your username and password for your account.

Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any help.

Next time, we’ll talk about a couple of features of Siteground. But for now, take five and enjoy the feeling of productivity for getting the first step done.