What’s on the board?

When one is running a small editing business, a bulletin board can be an ideal thing to have. Mine hangs directly above my work desk (and below my nemesis—the heat/AC vent that makes loud white noise when it is blowing air—but that’s another post for another time). I wrote a post a long time ago about my bulletin board, but it has changed some over time, so I thought it was time for an update.

My bulletin board helps keep me organized and makes sure that I do not lose important information. One thing I that I always keep pinned to it is my collection of time records for the month—that is, the records of the time I spent working on each task that was on my plate during the month. When the last day of the month comes, I look at the time records and invoice accordingly, after which time they are filed. Can you imagine what would happen if I lost one of these time records? Perish the thought.

A bulletin board item which has made its home on my board since last summer is my list of macros. This lists each macro that I have installed on Word and the keyboard shortcut that I assigned to it. Most of them I have memorized (which is the goal when using macros), but it’s always good to have a “cheat sheet” in this case.

There’s also the email printout showing that I registered for the EFA Conference, which is taking place in Alexandria, Virginia in August. Yes, I registered for it and I am officially going! Yay!

My favorite residents of my bulletin board are the things I pinned there that bring me encouragement. There are two small printouts of compliments I received from my first “long distance” clients, as well as a certificate of completion from an advanced copyediting course that I took some years ago. My most cherished items, however, are the Bible verses I wrote on sticky notes and the postcard sent to me by a good friend showing a picture of a rainbow with the words “BETTER DAYS AHEAD.”


If you have a bulletin board, what kinds of things do you like to keep on it?


Since MS Word pretty much dominates the writing world, all editors must know and be skilled in it. Everybody knows this. Of course, there are other software programs designed for writing—Google Docs, for example—that every editor would do well to learn.

In this post, I’m going to discuss one of the many programs not directly related to writing that editors should learn. I’m going to talk about MS Excel.

“Yawn!” you might say. “What does a spreadsheet program have to do with words? Just let me do my editing and leave the numbers to the accountants.”

Well…if you have an editing business and do your own books, Excel is highly useful, especially if you are not skilled in software designed specifically for accounting (such as QuickBooks).

For example, I use Excel to keep track of my earnings and expenses by month, by quarter, and by year. I have to admit that I am not good at arithmetic, so it is easier and more accurate to let Excel add up the monetary figures than to try to make sure I am entering the correct digits into a calculator. Besides, with Excel I can organize figures neatly into rows and columns and use color to make a sheet easier to decipher (not to mention make it look pretty).

Another task that I like to have Excel do is organize my client list. I keep a list of all of my editing clients, their affiliations, who introduced me to each one, and the date on which I last completed a job for them. Can you imagine what a mess such a record would be on paper? I make the list easier to read by adding subtle shading to every other row. I also highlight in color entries regarding clients for whom I am no longer editing.

Excel can do a ton more than I am currently using it for, so I really should snap up an Excel for Dummies book and learn more. Hmmm. Mastering Excel can be added to my list of goals for 2023.

If you are an editor, do you use Excel and for what do you use it?

Books vs. distractions

“Remember books? Remember reading?”

A book would say that to some people.

What would cause someone to stop reading in their leisure time? I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count.

Their phone, of course.

You see it all the time in, for example, a doctor’s waiting room. People used to read magazines in waiting rooms (although I have to question the quality of some of those periodicals). Nowadays, waiting rooms don’t even have magazines anymore. People entertain themselves on their phones.

You can even see it while waiting in a long line for the restroom at a service area on the New Jersey Turnpike. People are scrolling on their phones, texting, checking email, or watching a video as they wait.

Such entertainment, while fun, has sadly taken the place of leisure reading for a lot of people.

Sometimes, when I sit on my couch scrolling on my phone, I imagine a novel jumping up to me and grabbing the electronic device, yelling, “Give me that! You two have been spending way too much time together! Remember me? Remember reading? Remember what joy it used to give you?”

It’s very humbling.

Here’s an embarrassing but true story: On a trip to Myrtle Beach one Memorial Day weekend, my husband decided to take a nap in the hotel room before dinner. I went out on our picturesque balcony with my phone and a novel that I had only just started to read. I intended to enjoy the novel, but then I decided to take pictures with my phone and text on my phone and check email on my phone and watch some cool videos on my phone and…sigh.

Yes, I know…the phone should have stayed inside the room. “But what if someone calls?” The classic excuse.

No more excuses. The late afternoon was when I used to immerse myself in novels. Lent is starting on February 22 and I have resolved that during Lent, the late afternoon and early evenings will be spent with a book. And my phone will stay on the table behind the couch. (I am no longer Catholic and I don’t observe Lent every year, but I think it’s still a good time to discipline oneself.)

How about you? What times of the day do you like to read? What do you do about distractions such as your phone?

Transporting conference attendees

As I have said before, I have yet to attend an editing conference (although I am planning on attending EFACON in August, by hook or by crook). There have been times, however, when I heard about a conference I could not attend and fantasized about attending—and even researched the host city and hotel to find out what they were like.

There was one thing I always looked for in my research, though—how easily I could get around. How would I get from the airport to the hotel? How would I get from the hotel to various points in the city during free time?

The most ideal mode of transportation in a large city is a subway or similar train (such as Baltimore’s Light Rail or Chicago’s El). The conference venue should be within a reasonable walking distance from a stop or station, and ideally, the airport should also have a stop or station right next to it. This certainly is less expensive than renting a car—and less stressful, too. Cars have to be parked at or near the venue, usually at a pricey daily rate.

Buses going from the airport to reasonably near the venue are also good, although the trip will tend to take quite a bit longer. Again, however, it’s less expensive than renting a car.

As for taxis and rideshare services such as Uber or Lyft, I have only taken a taxi a few times in my life, and I have never used Uber or Lyft, so I don’t know much about the cost. I suppose that accuracy is a huge plus in that one goes directly from Point A to Point B without having to walk part of the way.

Conference attendees spend a lot of money in the form of attendance fees, hotel accommodations, and meals, so organizations would do well to select host cities that make travel at least a bit easier.

By the way…the Westin Old Town Alexandria, where EFACON is slated to be, is near a Metro station. Woohoo!

If you have been to a conference in a large city, what has the transportation been like there?