Forging friendships and learning: help me pitch?

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/prompt-money-for-nothing/ – Thinking about my “dream job”…

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on what it is I want to achieve in my life – where I see it going. The main visions I have revolve around having a creative input by developing content people connect with, such as scripts or novels. I also want to be involved in the community through providing free workshops and learning experiences, especially for adults who are otherwise unable to access opportunities to develop new skills, in person. I know there is so much information available on the internet, to which I’m very grateful, but I feel our society would benefit from workshops in person where groups can share their  knowledge, experience and form networks within their own community. Workshops that are essentially dictated by the needs of the community but could be anything from learning how to use Microsoft packages, to dress making, drama, art, basic car maintenance, idea development, project management… and so on.

I believe this as I’m repeatedly looking for groups where I can meet people, learn and share but rarely find them within my price range.

What I’ve been trying to do is create a sustainable business model or plan, both for my brand ‘Callie Weylin’ (the writer) and for the bigger project of bringing individuals together to forge a community of learners. I’m actually reaching out to you guys as I’m currently trying to develop a 90-second pitch for a scholarship to B-school. I don’t have any fancy technology and I’ll be filming it on my mobile phone. I’m not even entirely sure how to even edit and upload a video to youtube since I haven’t had experience doing so (something else to add to the list of free workshops?).

What I’d like to know is, do you have any tips on developing this video pitch as I only have a few days to do it? Any advice is welcome on how to edit a video which will be shot on a Samsung Galaxy S3 and my laptop which is Windows 8 (which I’m no good with – it hates me).

I’ll be keeping the visual fairly simple since I’m not at the point of being able to experiment too much.

In the event of not being fortunate enough to obtain a B-school scholarship (I can’t afford to pay the subscription this year), do you have any advice or links to resources for business/charity development including website design, marketing and creating an income that ensures the business/charity continues to grow?

Thank you for your time in reading this!

Regards,

Callie.

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Is that a vortex I see, or is the universe just pleased to see me?

There is definitely some vacuum-like action going on in the world around me. The kill-me-now workplace has sucked me in and is refusing to spit me back out, much to my disapproval. Will I stand for it? Hell, no! I will endeavour to spit, scratch and kick my way out (if it comes to that). However, I would much rather a more civil approach like bowing out and moving on to better pastures in a non-confrontational/low-drama kind of fashion. At present, I’ve been spending a lot of my free time job searching but I contacted a temping agency to see about my options for switching sectors and gaining experience through temping. They seemed really positive and requested my CV, so we shall see how it goes.  Watch this space…

In terms of self-improvement, still watching those Marie Forleo videos. Only wish I had a spare £1,500 for B-school! The good thing is that a lot of the advice for getting started thinking like a modern, creative entrepreneur is totally free. I guess it’s worth looking at for next year’s intake if I’m any closer to honing in on what I want to develop, business-wise. For anyone wanting to learn more about Marie Forleo and her advice on marketing with a heart, her videos are here. I know I talk about her a lot in these blogs at the moment but I’m only just beginning to focus on an interest in business development and I really love her life-coach approach to money, business and personal development as well as the sources she draws upon. “Yay” for strong, female role models!

I’ve also been mulling over this whole website shenanigans. What benefits are there to having your own domain name? Is it possible to add things like tracking codes and coloured text if you don’t have your own domain (like a free wordpress package, for example)?

ROW80LogocopyI’ve been spending quite a bit of time reaching out and trying to build a network of fellow creatives for me to draw upon, which I think is working quite well. I love reading the posts I’ve been coming across, as well as finding lots of invaluable advice on how to approach creative projects (and even life!). I particularly love shanjeniah‘s idea of a ‘Play Jar‘! I can’t wait to start making one of my own – though it may be a Play Box or a Play Tub – but still with the same intention of enjoying life through creativity and exploration of the world around me. In fact, I’ve found lots of thought-provoking insights peppered throughout her posts, but that’s for you to discover.

Guess what I watched yesterday? ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild‘! Oh my. What a beautiful film! Yes, I did indeed cry. I also made notes – it ran to about 89 minutes (89 pages) as well as my own guess on what I feel matches up to the beat sheet according to the story arc I observed. I quite enjoy this ‘excuse’ to watch a movie. I’ve not watched a film at home in about 6 months prior to starting this exercise of analysing films! The last film I watched for fun was at the cinema and it was called ‘Nebraska‘ but that was about a month ago, I think. What I loved most about ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ was actually the closing statement: That we’re “little pieces of a big universe”. It doesn’t really matter where you’re from, what your culture is, what experiences you’ve had… I think anyone can identify with that.

In terms of writing, I’ve been making notes on ideas but there’s been no ‘serious’ writing yet, though I know I’ll get to it. Just trying to get caught up on my studies so I don’t fall behind. I have started sketching out the bare bones of a new project though, entirely different to my normal stuff and something I’m aware will probably take a couple of years to flesh out (mostly because I’m the guinea pig). It essentially falls within the genre of a self-improvement though I’m not so sure if that’s where it’ll stay. It’s a long way from now though, and it may end up essentially a guidebook to the workshops I’d like to develop but, for the purposes of these blog updates, I shall refer to it as a novel. I know it’s going to flit between friendships, life and business (work-life balance?) but no idea what the end result will be yet. I may just refer to it as Down To Business (DTB) so I can separate it from other projects.

So, whilst I haven’t yet achieved what I hoped to this week, I still have a few days yet to pull it back. I’ve managed to rid myself of one post-it’s worth of tasks and activities on sustainability (FutureLearn), with just two post-it’s remaining for that. Once I’m caught up there, I can then move onto outlining my next assignment for my English degree, bang out some pages on the LITD script (currently at 16/100) then there’s time to play on research/exploration of the new project and/or other interests. Such as reading or learning something new.

I hope everyone’s having a great week filled with adventure!

BLOGHOP.

Regards,

Callie.

So excited! Workshops and curry.

I have officially parted with some hard-earned cash to pay for the script writing workshop on 8 March 2014 with Script Writing North/Primary Creations in Manchester. Good thing I don’t mind living frugally – slow cookers are such a wonderful invention, particularly when partnered with some fantastic, low budget recipes!

I’ve been a big fan of a curry recipe I found (with a few tweaks) so that all I ever need to buy are 2 carrots, 1 large potato, 550ml light coconut milk and meat (if it’s a meat curry I’m going for). The other ingredients are:

1 clove of garlic (or powder), 2 tbs medium curry powder, 2 tsps cumin, 1 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1tsp pepper, 1 tbsp ginger (or ground), 250 ml water, cayenne pepper to taste (or 1 chilli, if you prefer).

Leave in the slow cooker for a minimum of 4 hours on high (adjust if on a low setting). I tend to add more water to ensure all ingredients are covered, but then you have to reduce fluid so it’s the right consistency. Enjoy!

Let me know if you try it. The original recipe was from allrecipes by ‘Frida’ (‘Slow Cooker Chicken Curry’).

Seinfield, chains and the ether.

I was on a little journey venturing through articles on business development and productivity before I stumbled across one titled How the ‘Seinfield Strategy’ can help you stop procrastinating. This definitely caught my eye since I’d already become sucked into reading by 10am rather than cracking on with the to-do list I wrote around 9am.

Phrases leapt off the page and successively jabbed me in the eye:

You need to pick a task that is meaningful…

Writing can actually produce a meaningful result, even when it’s done in small doses…

…you’re never going to write… by merely researching…

Thank you James Clear for reminding me of what’s important – not to break the chain. I need to find me a wall calender!

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2

I was reading a blog post by Tia Bach in which she discussed her marketing concerns and that totally hit home for me. This week I seem to be conquering the demon (Ha! Take that, demon!) that prevents me from creating; only to be tackle-glomped by the reality that the next step is going to be harder!

I’m trying not to let that throw up the road blocks though. I want to embrace each challenge as being something new and exciting. I don’t have a hoard of people to rally around me. I actually currently have no set network (does my mum count?). I’m definitely at the beginning of this ‘create an author platform’ journey. I love the idea of that growing, but what if it doesn’t? What if I continue to send out blog posts, thoughts, advice from what I’ve learned, and then my work out into the ether only to receive no input. It’s no longer about receiving negative critiques of my work, or not being able to sell anything that worries me – it’s receiving nothing. No comments, no support, no insights, not even the sound of crickets (maybe I should download a track full of crickets?)

So, in summary, I feel great that I’m clambering over the creative hump and getting back into the pattern I love but the future looms ahead in that rather menacing fashion… how do you tackle that fear? Have you created a platform you’re happy with?

Visit other IWSG members!

And… we’re in!

After a good night’s rest and an early rise, I plucked out my notepad and jotted a few ideas on what I’d like to achieve before my shift this evening. Nothing particularly earth shattering but I certainly would like to make this time productive, so I’ve got things like time for research, to finish up on the bookshelf de-clutter and put what needs to be kept in the loft to give myself some space. I also have plans to get some exercise in there as well as developing some order to my desk space (in, out and pending files/folders, for example, which is advice from Matthew Stibbe about developing an attitude for getting things done). And to work on narrowing down the options for gaining structured writing experience of a public nature (excluding blog posting).

It seems the many hours I’ve spent trawling through sites, blogs and whatever else I could find has finally come to something useful. Has anyone heard of ‘aboutmyarea‘? I know I’ve stumbled across it a few times but my local area is actually fairly quiet. Articles don’t go up very often, especially not in the areas I want to write for, which is actually perfect for me! It’ll give me the experience I need to practice developing original content, as well as the actual process of article writing, without worrying about stepping on another person’s toes. It’s obviously not paid work as it’s community generated content but I don’t mind that so much at the moment.

How would you go about saving articles for a portfolio? Do I just link to the pages of my article if I sent proposals later on down the line, or do I print and save? Or do I do both? Are there any other suggestions?

Right, so that’s one thing checked off my to-do list, now to work on what I want to cover and when I want to cover it…

Habit 1: “Be proactive” is well under way! We’re now working with habit 2: “Begin with the end in mind” and habit 3: “Put first things first” simultaneously (‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People‘ by Stephen R. Covey).

Warm regards,

Callie.

Donning my explorer’s hat.

I spent much of Saturday dressed like a jungle explorer for a jungle themed, team building exercise. I was the only person who felt that you didn’t have to be an animal to be in the jungle (it was either ‘explorer’ or ‘tree’, for me). Whilst wearing my hat, I felt like I belonged on an adventure, not stuck in work. I can see now why some artists have little rituals they do to make them feel creative, such as those writers who don special hats when sat at their desk and don’t take them off until they’ve finished what they set out to do.

I feel like I should put that hat on right now as I become entangled in a mass of virtual content, trying desperately to navigate the many sources, pieces of advice, agencies promising they’re the next best thing, and so on… it’s like trying to navigate my way down rapids in a kayak I’ve not learned to steer yet. I’m not a particularly strong swimmer so, if I capsize, I’m kind of screwed. There’s every likelihood I’ll dash my brain against the rocks and the beautifully terrible river will claim me for its own.

That pretty image aside, I’ll get back to my point. I’m currently in search of various ways to develop content now in order to hone my skills. I’m particularly intrigued by article writing but struggling to find avenues of which I should traverse, which then leads me onto online articles with tips and guidance, which then leads to freelance journalist sites, which then leads to workshops and classes I may be interested… only to find a lot of what I may be interested in is for a different level to what I’m at, is in another country/city, is super expensive, or not really working with what I want to do. Hence my concern that I’ll become lost and die (metaphorically speaking).

I have no aspirations of becoming some high-profile current news journalist, but my passion and fascination is with community events, learning and development, business, social issues and anything creative (such as writing, art and theatre). I have no ‘niche’ yet as I don’t belong in a specific sector, I’m not an authority on any of those areas, and I have no specialist training or work experience which then leads me onto the next dilemma – not only is there so much out there in the world of the internet, the majority of it doesn’t seem to work for the ‘bottom of the ladder’ types. I would love to be in a position to provide content I’m paid for, but I know it’s the experience and process of developing respectable work I can use for a portfolio is better in the long run.

So, whilst bound by vines and surrounded by the bright eyes of unknown threats winking at me in the dark beneath the boughs of trees, I forge ahead without any clear idea of where I’m heading. I’ve heard some place that it is the journey that is the destination, and maybe it is. Without this experience, how do I ever expect to advise others in my position in the years to come? I love being at that point where I have the information that can make another person’s journey easier. I’m not interested in keeping that to myself, I want others to succeed. Yes, struggle in some cases makes for more interesting work but not if a person’s spirit suffers for fear of never receiving the right advice or the break they so desperately need.

Regards to all those struggling artists,

Callie.

WANTED: planner addict support group.

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What? Sunday already? Where does the time go when I’m not watching it? It’s great that I’m not forced to deal with incredibly long shifts that make me want to blow my brains out with an oversized spud gun, but that means it’s time for a ROW80 check in!

Goals are to work on my C:C ratio

Create – before I even open the laptop, I need to write in a journal (creative ideas, finances, life, dreams, ‘to do’ lists… whatever)

Create – Make physical notes from textbooks relevant to current assignment or EMA

Consume – Check emails/social media

Create – Jot down notes and ideas on what to research or expand on for blog post/article and plan for when content is published (the aim: one per week)

Create – Type up hand written notes on creative ideas/pieces and backup

Consume – Use a set chunk of time to do research for a piece through reading or searching for relevant material

Well, I did say that my plans are to work on these goals… it’s most definitely hit and miss. Last minute shift changes means that I actually forgot a lot of the things I meant to do… that’s a really crappy reason, isn’t it?

I have, however, been creating the blog schedule and content posts, so I have a rough idea of where I’m going on this little adventure and how I want to get there. I’m still waiting to hear back from the job I went for though, so not sure how well things are going to work out yet in terms of the plans I want to follow, such as the one-day intensive script writing workshop in March (or the evening class over 6 weeks) which would count as both consuming inspiration and creating my own little projects.

I created space with more de-cluttering, though I’m far from complete yet.

I have created a couple of learning schedules; such as the ones for fitness, education and guitar practice. I think it has to be official by now that I am a planning whore! The first step is to admit you have a problem, right? It’s the execution of said plans that I have an issue with. I’m definitely hedging my bets here by admitting it now, in the hopes of kicking my own arse before I get to a point where it really hinders my progress.

Despite my plan to create more than I consume, I have been reading a lot of script stuff and allowing my mind to wander. I’m starting to think I’ve sat too long in the seat of an amateur, a little bit like clinging to a security blanket. Despite writing on and off for years, the last time I actually submitted anything was a children’s story about 3 years ago. I did the waiting around for months and months, only to get a very polite rejection and, whilst I didn’t hold it against the company I submitted to, I did hold it against myself. I decided I needed to learn more, to practice more, to remain securely attached to the tag of an “amateur writer” or an “aspiring writer” as noone will expect much of me then. I even got to the point where I dodged questions about writing if it’s specifically about what I write… and yet I love encouraging others to create! How can I do that? How can I expect others to feel confident creating, if I’m not?

My friend (Chris.R.) sent me a link to a comic strip about running by The Oatmeal. I wasn’t quite sure why at first, until I read it. I’m being pursued rather persistently by The Blerch! I consume, I laze, I avoid doing what needs to be done… I believe in The Blerch!

Which has led me to make a decision. I know I’m not a pro, and I know I have a lot of work to do, but I am now on the hunt for a place to target – to pick some place to write a script for (and submit) within a specific time frame. I’m currently thinking BBC’s Writers Room as I know there are occasionally contests that provide feedback. My plan is to pick something to work with and do the best with it now, so I have something to then come back to after the workshop in March. It’s not really like I’m going in blind as I do have some ideas I’ve been outlining, I’m just not sure whether they’d fit the submission criteria (which is what I need to look into). I’m also considering article writing as a way of regularly working on content I can submit, though this is in the formative stages so I’m not entirely sure what direction I want to take with this yet. I tried the short story route, but what I enjoyed writing wasn’t really all fluffy and light like many of the places seemed to want. They were pretty dark and somewhat unsettling, in some respects. Often around mental health and abuse (I worked in mental health, so I was using it as a form of catharsis). Any other suggestions or advice?

I hope everyone else’s goals are going really well!

Blog hop to other ROWers here!

Regards,

Callie.

Extending the hand of friendship

Have you ever developed one of those friendships that come from the most unexpected places? I couple of years ago I was working my way through all the guidance books, websites, etc available to an aspiring writer and stumbled across Holly Lisle‘s website. I can’t remember the particulars of how that happened, I expect someone promoted it as being free advice and regular updates, and I jumped at it! Whatever the case, I did and really loved it! I never really invested as much time in the workshops as I should have, and I know that’s one of the many reasons I haven’t moved forward (this is something I’m addressing this year) but I remember them being super informative!

This post isn’t about promoting Holly (though I’d do so willingly), it’s actually about an email I received from her since I’m on her mailing list that put my brain in a spin. Holly is technically unknown to me, since I’ve never actually had a conversation with her. I was reminded earlier of an update (could have been facebook, not email) which included a brief promotion of her daughter’s jewellery shop however many years ago. It was unrelated to writing, but I was still happy to receive it as I just loved it! I loved the mission statement, I loved the style and Rebecca was incredibly helpful. So, despite having to wait for shipping from the US to the UK, I ordered anyway. I was never disappointed! Each time I did order, I received great customer service, fantastic items and often free gifts or samples because I ordered a bunch of items. Or just because she felt like it.

We started up a conversation about this when I made a comment about her not being able to make as much profit if she gave away so much, but she laughed it off. She’s such an awesome woman! You can’t help but love her for it, and our friendship grew from there. We became casual pen friends and I’d sometimes send her gifts like British chocolate. Though, after a while (I suspect because I moved house), we stopped writing to each other. The emails that used to be quite regular stopped since both of us became really busy, and I haven’t heard from her in over a year.

And then I received a mail out from Holly – Rebecca’s volunteer fire-fighting husband (Tony) is in hospital with multiple injuries to his face, skull, arm and foot! It’s truly a miracle he survived the motorcycle accident because of a woman who ignored ‘right of way’, resulting in Tony and his bike smashing into the side of her vehicle, she then proceeded to drive her SUV and trailer over Tony’s body and his bike until a pedestrian forced her to stop.

As I understand it, Tony is currently healing well but with the help of the treatment he’s receiving. The purpose of the mail out was not to ask for handouts, but to make an appeal to all those who love beautiful, handmade jewellery (or even e-books, since Rebecca is also a writer) to aid her husband’s recovery and ease the financial strain on them by placing an order or sharing her shop. If you are a fan of Holly Lisle, check your inbox as there’s also a 10% voucher code and the opportunity to receive a free book package of Holly’s work if you purchase with the voucher code.

Rebecca’s shop can be found here: http://freehippie.etsy.com

A quote from Rebecca from the mail out:

Furthermore if anyone would like to purchase an Intention Coin from my shop, I am offering a free simple wish bracelet with the Intention Coin (this is in addition to the 10% discount).  

 

They are my favorite things to make for people.  The Intention Coin is a tool or talisman that helps you focus on your goals.  

 

I made one for my mom, who has been carrying hers since 2011.  Hers says “Persist,” which is her motto. 

 

Mine vary from year to year, as I tend to have a theme associated with my years, but I’ve noticed how much of a difference they make in my life.  I have made hundreds of these and have heard back from so many customers about the difference the coins make in their ability to work towards their goals during busy lives.

 

Thank you so much for reading this.  Whether you purchase something, share the shop or send good vibes, it is all genuinely appreciated.

 

Rebecca Galardo