Filling in time productively, a.k.a. all quiet on the West Cumbrian front.

So I’ve finally realised that being quietly confident in my abilities is not enough – I’m going to have to start shouting from the rooftops about how amazing and capable I am (or swinging through the trees like Tarzan, perhaps?), and how nobody can proofread or copy-edit as well as me (that might be taking things a little too far, but I am good – trust me).

I’m sure other freelancers find they have peaks and troughs of work, and it’s pretty quiet on the work front this week (although it’s half term, so ‘quiet’ is a relative term). However, I know I’m going to be working pretty much non-stop for the first couple of weeks in November.

I could fritter away the time by catching up on all the shows I’ve downloaded on iPlayer, or by cracking level 65 of Candy Crush – and until recently I would probably have  done that – but I also want to be successful. While these things are fun, they’re not going to give me an edge or help me progress in a career I really love.

With that in mind, I’m working hard to fill in the time productively. These are a few of the things I’ve either been doing or intend to do soon:

  • Put together a proper business plan. I’ve made an appointment next month with an adviser at Ways Into Successful Enterprise (, who have provided me with a useful business plan template and will advise me on good ways to promote my business. They’re based in West Cumbria, but I imagine other organisations are doing similar things out there.
  • Identify (and then fill) gaps in my work-related knowledge. As mentioned above, I’ve been rather poor at self-promotion up until now. I recently had the opportunity to attend two introductory social media courses run by Keith McMean (, and they have given me a lot of food for thought. The Society for Editors and Proofreaders ( run a number of courses which I’m told are very good, and when my cash flow improves, I intend to book on a couple of these.
  • Network. I’ve been invited to a networking event next month, and getting ‘out there’ and meeting local business representatives can only be a good thing. And there’s also online networking – #cumbriahour on Twitter is something I really need to start getting involved with, and tweeting more in general about things that are useful and relevant to my business. I also try and join in with various group discussions on LinkedIn if I feel I can contribute something useful.
  • Get some business cards made. If I’m going to attend any kind of physical networking event, I really need to get round to this sooner rather than later.
  • Work regularly, even if it’s not always paid work. Wikipedia is a great place to do this – it’s a great resource, but some pages are let down by poor spelling or grammar. I’m a regular user of the site and feel I can usefully contribute by ‘polishing’ some of the entries. An added bonus is that if I choose pages on topics that I know a fair bit about, I get to discover all kinds of useful nuggets of information!
  • Put together a website. This is on my immediate ‘to-do’ list. I’ve requested a placeholder for a domain name from Google, and all I can say is…watch this space.
  • Read good fiction and non-fiction. I strongly believe that the more good writing you read, the more able you will be as a proofreader or editor. The negative side to this is that spotting an error in an otherwise good book can really spoil my reading enjoyment. I’m told by a friend in publishing that poor typesetting can also have this effect.

So that’s just a flavour of what I’ll be doing in the coming weeks. I’ll sign off now with a ‘Happy Hallowe’en’ for those of you who celebrate, and a ‘Happy Friday’ for those of you who don’t. Until next time…


P.S. Just for Jules, here is another brief extract from my 1993 diary: I’m very happy. I saw Shaun twice. Going away for the weekend. How exciting – NOT!

Blogging…a bit of a change from the days of paper diaries.

My name’s Sarah and I’ve now been working from home as a proofreader and copy-editor for over two years, after taking redundancy from a communications and administrative role in local government in 2011. As you might guess from my tagline, I’m passionate about the English language and its capabilities, and love that my work helps others express themselves in writing more eloquently and effectively. (My 3-year-old would probably summarise this in different terms: Can she fix it? Yes, she can!)

After a couple of years of occasionally dipping into Twitter (@spellegance), I’ve decided I need to properly get my business out there – so here I am. Hopefully this blog will be a bit more edifying than my 1993 diary (highlights include the fascinating John stumbled on a stone! and Went to Central Cafe. Bought Coke). If you want to read more extracts from these diaries before they’re published in my memoirs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch…

So…I guess this blog’s overall aims will be to:

  • share my passion for language and communication;
  • share things I’ve found interesting and/or useful in my work; and
  • help you get to know me a little better (and hopefully let me get to know you a little better as well).

On that note, I’ll say Auf Wiedersehen, and get back to my day-to-day work!