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If you haven’t jumped on the mindfulness bandwagon yet, it might be time to hop aboard. Mindfulness has many proven benefits, from reducing stress to eliminating body aches and pains to improving sleep. But your health isn’t the only thing that will profit from this popular meditation technique. Practicing mindfulness can boost your writing life too by increasing mental clarity, creativity, and concentration—which can be especially helpful when it comes to producing your best work. Before you get started with this life- and career-changing habit, though, consider these important tips:

Take Time to Learn Mindfulness

The best way to learn mindfulness is to get proper instruction. You can do this by joining a mindfulness class, meeting one-on-one with a trainer, listening to a mindfulness podcast, or downloading an app. Taking time to learn and understand mindfulness will give you a better chance of reaping the full benefits from your practice, plus you’ll gain extra tips and ideas for bringing calm into your daily life. Be thorough when researching learning options. Go online and do some browsing, read reviews, ask questions, and get recommendations. Then choose a method that fits your learning style and works well with your writing and personal schedule.

Practice Mindfulness Regularly

Once you learn mindfulness, practicing it routinely will help you become proficient at it and make it effective for you. Keep in mind that you don’t have to make this a time-consuming endeavor. Thirty-minute sessions of mindfulness can reap big rewards, but so can meditating for five minutes. Taking a mindfulness break during the day is a great way to de-stress, recharge, clear your head, and reboot your creativity. Figure out what time of day makes the most sense for you to get mindful and plug it into your calendar. Before you know it, you’ll look forward to that block of time you’ve set aside to give your brain rest and refreshment.

Consider Alternatives

What if, after trying mindfulness, you decide you don’t like it? Chances are slim that’ll happen, but if this form of meditation doesn’t appeal to you, there are many other meditation techniques to consider, from Zen to Transcendental Meditation to progressive muscle relaxation. You might also try a meditative variety of yoga or deep abdominal breathing. Even spending a few minutes enjoying nature can help you gain calm, unwind, and recharge. Alternatives aside, mindfulness for writers and everyone else has a proven track record of positive results. Give it a go and see for yourself.

The benefits of practicing mindfulness make it a worthwhile habit for anyone to adopt. Writers will get the added perk of improving creativity, focus, and clarity. What more reason do you need to get started?

 

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One of the greatest things about writing a cookbook is you don’t have to be a writer to do it. But writers know something that cookbook creators might not: editing is key. And when it comes to writing cookbooks, editing a cookbook can make all the difference to the book’s success. After all, an error in quantity or a confusing instruction can affect the outcome of the recipe—and the usefulness of the cookbook.

As time-consuming as it may be, reviewing a cookbook for accuracy, clarity, and consistency is well worth the effort. Here are four steps you don’t want to skip when editing a cookbook:

1. Look for Writing Errors

Some of the most common writing errors in cookbooks involve abbreviations of cooking terms and measurements. For example, tablespoon is often abbreviated with a capital T, whereas a teaspoon is a lowercase t. The best way to avoid confusing the two is to write out the words or abbreviate them as “Tbs.” and “tsp.”

When editing a cookbook, if you come across something that looks wrong, it probably is. That’s why it’s important to check the original recipe for accuracy. Sometimes, quantities, ingredients, oven temperature, and descriptions (such as “heaping” or “scant”) are left out or copied wrong, which can change the recipe drastically.

Finally, spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, while they may not alter a recipe, look unprofessional and can affect the book’s readability. Proofread carefully and fix any errors in mechanics.

2. Check for Clarity of Wording

As you’re reading through the recipes for writing errors, ask yourself if the instructions are clear. Do the words explain how to make the recipe without confusing the reader? For example, if a recipe calls for cooking an ingredient, this may mean sautéing, frying, baking, boiling, or broiling. Edit to specify the proper method.

Also, be specific about certain ingredients. Is dill supposed to be dill seed or dill weed? Does the beef need to be a particular cut? Should the oats be rolled or quick? For many recipes, this won’t matter. But check to make sure.

Instructions that are out of order can also be confusing—and disastrous. If part of a recipe should be completed and set aside before the next phase begins, make sure that’s noted. Or, if an oven needs to be preheated, the recipe should say so at the beginning, not halfway through. Instructions should be easy to follow, organized, and reader-friendly.

3. Be Consistent When  Editing a Cookbook

Is “cup” spelled out sometimes and abbreviated others? Are all numbers written as numerals? (Note: Numerals are more reader-friendly than written numbers, especially in ingredient lists and instructions.) Be consistent, whichever style you choose.

Pay attention to the ingredients listed and those used in the directions as well. Are they the same? For example, if a recipe lists egg whites under ingredients, make sure the directions don’t say egg yolks. Ingredients should also be listed in the order they are used.

Consistency also applies to recipe book formats, which can take a number of shapes. The most common is a standard recipe format, where a list of ingredients is followed by step-by-step directions. Another popular format is where the ingredients are embedded in bold within the context of the directions. Whichever format is used, keep it the same throughout the recipe book.

4. Edit and Organize Cookbook Sections

Cookbooks aren’t just a compilation of recipes. They usually contain some front and back matter, too. This might include a preface, acknowledgments, table of contents, index, and glossary. All of these sections must be reviewed for errors, clarity, and consistency.

Sidebars, or separate bits of information related to the recipe (such as helpful hints, baking tips, brief histories, etc.), are also not to be overlooked in the editing process. A cookbook reader will pay close attention to sidebars, so getting them looking and sounding perfect is worth the work.

Finally, make sure all cookbook sections are in order. For example, start with the preface and table of contents, follow this with recipes that are organized in a sensible manner (appetizers, salads, main courses, and so forth), and end with an index. Pay close attention to the recipe section of the book to verify that each recipe falls in its proper category.

Editing a cookbook for errors, consistency, clarity, and organization will help make the recipe book as useful and valuable as it can be. And for the book’s cooks and writers, there’s no better recipe for success than that!

See also Nine Reasons to Take Self-Editing Seriously.