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!

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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?

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Hollywood and Haagen-Dazs: A ROW80 check-in.

I think I’m at that point now where I’ve gone through that many self-help books, inspirational quotes, life coach blogs and youtube videos that all those bits of advice are starting to meld together. The main piece of advice that seems to run through all that is:

Think about the kind of person you want to be in the future and be that person now.

This covers so many areas for me. It covers fitness, diet, lifestyle, friendships, work ethic, creativity… and so on.

I see myself being a healthy and active person in my future, so I have to ensure my attitude now changes to meet the expectations of my future self. It’s certainly not easy and it won’t change over night, but making small adjustments that become ‘good’ habits for the long haul is in my best interests. That means I need to tackle that little voice that seems to think eating tubs of ice cream when I feel a bit crap is a good plan. Damn Hollywood!

The biggest one for me is a combination of ‘work ethic’ and ‘creativity’. How can I aspire to be a writer if I don’t write? My work ethic is great when I’m working for someone else or submitting work to someone else’s deadlines (such as my assignments), but making excuses to avoid creating, or making writing a lower priority than lots of other things, ultimately only hurts me and my future self.

I set up a basic beat sheet earlier for a new project I’ve been mulling over but hadn’t put it in writing until then, then I went for a walk to reflect on it. I realised that, it’s all well and good having all these ideas and noting them down, but if I don’t actually create something with it, it’s pointless. I’m just wasting trees! Whilst I was out I was thinking about where the idea for this piece came from and how I’d go about writing it, what deadline I wanted to set, why I was writing it… and so on. It resulted in an imagined interview from a local journalist wanting to ask me about the script that was in production since she was super excited to find out the piece was written by someone in the same town:

Extract from imagined interview:

Interviewer: It’s a really interesting plot, Callie. Can I ask why you wrote it? Some people say you wrote it about yourself…

Callie: (laughs) Yes, I’ve heard that too. It isn’t about me at all, but I did write it for me. I know that sounds a little strange… I wanted to write something that resonated with me – – I think we are subjected to so many stories where everything is perfect: the people are perfect, the settings are perfect, the lifestyles are perfect… all that’s needed is to get those perfect things to all work in sync and you get yourself a Hollywood romance. At least, that’s how it looked for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve watched and enjoyed the occasional chick-flick, but once the film’s over and I return to reality, I feel crap. My life isn’t like that and it’s unlikely it ever will be. I wanted to write a film that gave someone like me hope. That I didn’t have to fall into bed with someone I barely new and just hope it all came together, I didn’t have to revamp myself and pretend to be someone I’m not to be noticed, or to resort to whatever other desperate measures to ‘get the guy’.

I don’t believe in fate or soul mates, but I do believe in love, lust, passion… I believe that love isn’t about compromising on who you are and what you value, it’s about making a meaningful connection. And that’s really what I wanted to explore with ‘Lost in the Dark’.

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My goals were basically to go easy on myself and not give myself a hard time if I didn’t create anything, but the plan was to start moving forwards and develop better habits that would ensure I did create more. There definitely seems to be a mindset shift as a result.

Generally, I’m feeling really positive and upbeat, aside from today when I finally accepted I wasn’t getting a callback from the job I had an interview for. I may not be ticking off all the items on the to-do list either, but I’m getting better at getting my arse in gear for chunks of time.

*I submitted my English assignment on 03 February, so that gives me a little breather before I have to get back to it.

*I’ve finally chucked the crap out of my room and it’s looking clutter free (though I haven’t dismantled the bookcase yet).

*I ordered books I’ve wanted for a while (which are related to writing, money and business) with loyalty points I’d accumulated on a website (woo – ‘free’ books!).

And, as discussed further up in the blog, the script I’ll be developing is ‘Lost in the Dark’ and I’ll be starting the write-up this evening. I have done 6 pages tonight (took me about an hour, and part of that was getting used to the formatting). 19 more to do this week to stay on target. My aim is to have approximately 100 pages written by 10 March (at the latest) which works out at roughly 25 pages per week to have completed before that date. I’ll have to review this on the Sunday ROW80 check-in as to whether I’m feeling it’s achievable around work and study.

I was watching some clips from the ‘Be your own boss’ TV series featuring Richard Reeds and he basically said that if you want something badly enough, you have to be prepared to put the extra work in. I know it’s not new advice, but it was a very effective reminder of what mindset I need to adopt to be the person I want to be. I can’t wait around for a job change as there’ll just be another ‘something’ that gets in the way.

I’m going to finish with a question for you: why did you/are you writing your current piece?

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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!

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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

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We write because…

We write because we want to reach out to others. We write with the hope that our words will mean something to someone else other than ourselves.

This is a quote from Christian Mihai’s blog and the full post can be found at http://cristianmihai.net/2014/01/29/alone/#more-4519. So very true! It is a lonely world but if words can bring people closer simply by sharing feelings, experiences or something that has an impact – I’m jumping in too!

My aims and objectives

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This is actually a goal revision post as previously I was posting on Tumblr but decided it would be far easier to migrate to this community instead – it’s definitely a lot easier to interact with members on here!

Previous goals:

*Daily > After my first cup of tea/coffee of the day, commence 10 minute free-write. [Note to self: This is non-negotiable.]

*Daily > Review study plan and check list each morning to ensure I remain up to date and my daily ‘to-do’ list can be adjusted to suit that day’s schedule.

*Daily > Spend 5 minutes making notes at the end of the day for prompt ideas for the morning free-write session.

*Daily > To spend a minimum of 10 minutes before bedtime reading for pleasure.

*Weekly > Read one chapter of my degree textbook and work through supplementary material.

*Weekly > Complete activities and reading as part of the study schedule for FutureLearn courses (currently ‘Sustainability’ but will also be one on Shakespeare’s Hamlet this month).

*Weekly > Create a basic storyboard/outline of an idea developed through the course of the week.

*Weekly > Write a minimum of 700 words in total.

In some ways, I’m disappointed that I haven’t ‘achieved’ much from this list consistently, but a combination of job hunting, work and assignment issues have taken precedence. The internet has certainly been devouring a lot of that free time like the insatiable beast that it is, even if what I have been exploring has been creative pep talks and business ideas, such as the invaluable advice from Marie Forleo and the brutal pep talks from Elliot Hulse. I have also been educating myself through TedTalks – I so love them!

That aside, I have been reading more. I finished the copy of ‘Hamlet’ I was reading, I started ‘I, Zombie’ by Jo Michaels on lunch breaks or travelling (http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00HQHF7PI/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_ask_PRwnG.0Z7CRWH), I’ve been dipping into ‘A Doll’s House and other plays’ by Ibsen some bedtimes, and I read the sample chapter of ‘Money: A love story’ by Kate Northrup (http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00E8NIMP0/ref=rdr_ext_sb_ti_hist_5) today on my way to a job interview.

I would technically be behind on my plans to do freewrite sessions and storyboards but I’ve decided not to beat myself up about it. They’ll happen when they’ll happen as the more I give myself grief, the less likely it is to be re-started. I have, however, come up with more structured ideas for blogging/article writing based on my current set of interests. It really does depend on if I get the job I’m going for as to whether I have the time to fully explore what I want to do, but I have back up plans if it doesn’t work out. Either way, plans to create regular content is currently in the pipeline.

I am also going to push myself to take on board what Marie Forleo has said in her latest video about inspiration: that we should create before we consume (http://www.marieforleo.com/2014/01/when-inspiration-backfires/)!

New Goals

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

Someone on Marie’s site made a comment that new habits have to be placed before something we do already, which is why I think better habits are established when addressing the C:C ratio.

I’m currently trying to go easy on myself now as there is so little time to work on what I want to, so I’m addressing the pattern I currently have and how to improve it to ensure I allow the better habits to grow. These goals are to be done on a daily basis but the amount of time per day will vary depending on what’s happening. The important thing for me is that I work on instilling a sense of discipline in my daily practices (good habits!), rather than the length of time in the beginning.

I have already used this approach with my skincare routine (twice a day I have hot cloth cleansed and toned, without fail!). I have made home-cooked food regularly enough that there is always a supply to eat well and plenty of fruit and vegetables have been consumed. It is now physical activity that is being tackled – pilates daily!

Until next time, folks!

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Safari as a Way of Life

“To explore the unknown and the familiar, distant and near and to record in detail with the eyes of a child, any beauty, (of the flesh or otherwise) horror, irony, traces of utopia or Hell. Select your team with care, but when in doubt, take on some new crew and give them a chance. But avoid at all costs fluctuations of sincerity with your best people.” – See more at: http://www.daneldon.org/about/#sthash.VPspGHIu.dpuf

This is ‘Safari as a Way of Life’ by Dan Eldon. Not only was he an incredible young man, but he was so wise beyond his years!