Category Archives: Motivation

New Directions


For the last few days, I’ve been contemplating my career and where I want it to go. As a writer, there are many avenues available to you — provided you are willing to do the work and learn that particular part of the craft. In my almost 20 years in this biz, I’ve tried my hand at fiction, journalism, article writing, column writing, copywriting, general writing (business plans, marketing plans, grants, white papers, etc.), content mills and web writing.  In other words, I’ve pretty much been there, done that.

Except for plays, movies and television scripts. But it’s on my list.

I’ve published a book, I’ve written an award-winning column and I’ve written things that brought me praise and criticism galore. I’ve written some things that make me cringe, and I’ve written things of which I am extremely proud. I have enjoyed almost every minute of my writing career.

But now I feel as if I’m at a crossroads. I love writing for a living, I really do…

But I don’t want to do it anymore. At least not how I’ve been doing it recently.

A friend gave me The Renegade Writer as a gift this past Christmas. I’m not a huge fan of how-to or self-help books — I’m a firm believer that the only way to learn to do something is by doing it. No book can replace the knowledge you gain from the “Nike” approach. The book has been sitting on the corner of my desk since the day I unwrapped it — but for some reason I picked it up and starting thumbing through it yesterday.

In each chapter, there are sections called “Break this rule.” I started reading those because, well, I am a rule-breaker.

It turns out that a lot of what they advise I’ve been doing instinctively for years.

Now, you’d think this would make me feel better. Make me feel like I’ve been on the right path.

Nope. It really made me sick to my stomach.

Cuz, the last few years, I’ve been ignoring my instincts in exchange for making a decent living. And now I wonder — if I had stuck to my path all those years ago, where would I be now? Would my byline be in Forbes, or Women’s Day or Inc.? It’s not even about the bragging rights — it just made me realize that as a writer, I could be so much further along than I am, and it’s hurts like hell that I’m the reason I’m not where I could be.

But that all changes tomorrow. I’ve still got a couple of steady clients that keep food on the table and a roof over my head, but I’m done chasing after more of their ilk. If I’m going to do this, I either need to go big or get the hell out of the game.  The publication studying and query writing starts tomorrow. My goal is to make it into a National magazine before the end of the year, if not sooner.

I’m going for the big time, folks. Wish me luck.

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Running Away From Home


Working from home definitely has its advantages. First of all, you can’t beat the commute. It takes me all of five minutes to get to work, and that includes a stop at the bathroom and the coffee maker. 10 if one of my dogs is tap dancing at the back door.

Then there’s the dress code. I do typically get up and get dressed (I usually take a shower before bed), but instead of dress slacks and a blouse, it’s sweats or shorts and a t-shirt, usually with a cartoon character emblazoned on the front. And no dress shoes — flip flops or cow slippers. I know the Fly Lady is frowning about that, but hey, slippers ARE shoes, and yes, sometimes I actually do wear them outside the house.

And let’s not forget about the hours. Wait, I actually work more hours now than I did at my last brick and mortar, but I LIKE what I do now, so it counts, yet it doesn’t. But then again, I can work pretty much when I want, so it’s still one more item in the “plus” column.

So, overall, working for myself from home is pretty awesome.

But sometimes…you just need to run away.

The last few weeks, my productivity has slowed, and not because of a lack of work. With each passing day, I’ve spent more and more time staring at a blank screen. Or I’ve been playing Hidden Chronicles. Or playing on Facebook. Anything but writing. I had deadlines looming, but I couldn’t get any real work done to save my life. I was facing having to do something I usually don’t have to do — ask for extensions.

So, yesterday, I decided that I was going to run away. I packed up my laptop, and headed for a new location. I was hoping a change of scenery would help.

And it did. I got more done yesterday than I have in weeks. And it carried over. When I finally came home last night, my productivity continued. I’m now pretty much caught up, and with tonight’s work, I’ll actually be ahead of my deadlines. Feels good. So good, I just might do it again tomorrow!

So, the next time you’re just staring at a blank screen, try moving that screen to another location. Try a coffee shop or McDonalds. Or the patio, weather permitting. Even moving to a different room in the house might be enough to get you going.

So, lesson learned: Exercise some flexibility. Remember that you can work anywhere. Staying chained to your desk flies in the face of working for yourself. Enjoy the opportunity.

 

 

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Wow…


You have all rendered me speechless. Almost. 🙂

As a writer, sometimes you like things you write, and sometimes you merely peck out what you can and hope it’s not the drivel you are sure it is. It’s the nature of the beast. There are three truths you quickly learn as a writer: #1 — Not everything you write is going to be brilliant. #2 — A writer is often his own worse critic.

But then, every once in a blue moon, you write something and you know it’s the best thing you’ve ever written. Something you are totally proud of.

Yesterday’s post was one of those moments.

However, even though as the writer, you love it; even though you want to print it out, put it in a frame and hang it on your wall, you still pause before you hit the submit button. Why?

#3 — Just because YOU love it, that doesn’t mean your readers will. And if they don’t love it…

Well, there really isn’t a worse feeling for a writer.

So you can imagine my elation and excitement when the comments and emails started rolling in about my post. I smiled with every comment, email, retweet and share.

I’ve been doing a lot of smiling.

So, thanks to all of you for showing my post so much love. To my new subscribers, welcome and I’m glad you’re here.  To my old fans, thanks for the support you’ve always given me. I will do my best not to disappoint.

When I started this blog almost a year ago, I really didn’t know what I was going to write about, or if anyone even wanted to read what I had to say. I just felt compelled to share. My outrage. My joy. My amusement.

Okay – mainly my outrage, but with a tinge of amusement thrown in, because quite frankly, if I couldn’t some sliver of humor in this world’s craziness, I’d be a quivering mass under a desk somewhere.

So, you can count on me to continue to shine light on the absurd, the ludicrous and the deplorable. I will continue to rail against stupidity and the wrongdoings of others. And I hope you stick around for the ride.

The trip’s a helluva lot more fun with someone riding shotgun. 😉

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An Open Letter to Liz Trotta


By now, I’m sure you’ve seen this, but just in case, check out the link and watch the video:

Raped Too Much

Go catch up if you need to. I’ll wait…

<insert Jeopardy theme here>

Caught up? Good. Below is my open letter to Ms. Trotta.

Dear Ms. Trotta:

A friend brought your statements on Fox News to my attention. I have to say, your statements triggered a strong response, and I’d just like to share some of my thoughts with you.

Shame on you, you condescending, self-absorbed, ignorant and overall poor excuse for a human being.

I have been trying trying to figure out what you were really saying. I didn’t want to allow myself to believe that you actually, actually believe that women in the military should expect to be raped. I was trying, (trying!) to rationalize your statement of “raped too much”. I mean, surely you meant that it shouldn’t be happening at all, not that there is an acceptable level that must be allowed because, and forgive me for putting words in your mouth, “boys will be boys” or “men just can control themselves when they are in close contact.”

Oh wait, that last part, “in close contact”, you actually did say.

I’ve spent the better part of my day trying to believe you were not placing the blame of rape on the victims instead of where is actually belongs — on the individuals who are so lacking in respect and love for their fellow human beings, they choose to bolster their self-respect and exercise their power by inflicting pain on someone else in the most disgusting and heinous way imaginable.

But I’m not that naive, and as much as I wish I could be, I’m forced to face this fact: you are a sub-par human being. How dare you state that women who choose to serve their country should do so with the acknowledgement that their male counterparts might rape them. How dare you make rape a “work hazard.” And how dare you cast such a disgusting pallor on the decent and good and kind members of our military.

I’m sick and tired of people treating rape as if it’s just a plot point in a bad romance novel. I’m sick of people assuming she “asked for it” because, obviously, she was someplace she shouldn’t have been, wearing something she shouldn’t have been wearing or trusted the wrong people. Because all of the excuses, rationalization and explanations does not negate this: a rapist rapes because he wants to and the action falls on his shoulders.

I am going to assume that you or a loved one has never been through the experience. You are fortunate. Many of us, however are not, and your words are a slap in the face to the victims and their loved ones who have had to endure the act and live with the aftermath.

So, again, Ms. Trotta, shame on you. Shame for taking the blame from where it should be. Shame on you for selling out your fellow women. And shame on you for using your position to share your obviously skewered, twisted and pathetic understanding of what rape actually is with the world. I can only hope that others are as outraged as I am and take action to make sure you are yanked from your bully pulpit and never have an opportunity to spew forth your nonsense ever again.

They say that women are the “weaker” sex. Personally, I think anyone who has to rape to feel powerful is weaker than any woman could try to be.

However, Ms. Trotta, you are the exception. You are as weak as they come.

Signed

One Fed Up Woman

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I Struck Down the Soup Nazi!


Well, I helped, anyway.

I’m going to keep this short — I’ll probably post more about it tomorrow.

Every Sunday for the last year and a half, a friend of mine and his wife have been making soup for the local freeze shelter (that’s a shelter that takes in homeless people when the weather is cold). Well, this past week, my friend was told by the Health Department that he could no longer provide soup to the shelter because he didn’t have a commercial kitchen or a permit.

This upset my friend, and as people often do, he posted about it on Facebook. And we were rather annoyed for him.

After doing some research, my friend discovered that although he couldn’t take a whole pot of soup down to the shelter, there was nothing illegal about an individual taking a single serving of soup to another individual.

See where I’m going with this?

So, tonight, I participated in some civil disobedience. Yes, it was technically still not legal for him to serve the soup, but since individuals delivered it, it was okay.

Sorta.

Well to me, and the rest of us who pitched in, it was perfectly okay. Matter of fact, a good time was had by all.

Anyway, that was my first act of rebellion since college. Felt good. Might have to see what else I can get myself into…

🙂

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Revisions and Deadlines and Edits…Oh Crap!


Sorry I’ve been away for a few days, but I’ve been slammed with, well, the title to this post. It’s the by-product of having almost too much work. And it’s an even bigger factor when you’re dealing with clients with whom you have never worked. One new client relationship is a challenge.

I’ve got five.

Yep. Five new clients, which means five new relationships to tweak, guidelines to learn, deadlines to get used to, yadda yadda…

January was a rewarding and challenging month. But I muddled through and here we are in February, and although I’m past the muddle stage, I’m still trying to adjust. Part of that adjustment means figuring out where this blog fits into it all.

I really enjoy writing this blog. I like talking about my life, writing, and anything else that falls from my gray matter to my laptop keys. But there’s only one of me and 24 hours in a day, so sometimes things have to get pushed aside, and since this blog is a labor of love and not an actual income stream, sadly, it gets bumped.

But unlike previous blogging attempts, (and there have been several), I missed blogging this time. They say it takes 21 days to create or break a habit. Well, I blogged 31 consecutive days last month, so it’s a habit, plus 10 at this point, and I don’t see myself ever going 21 days without blogging again, so it’s safe to say, even if I don’t blog every day, I will blog often.

But for now, I need to get my clients are straight and comfy and in love with me, and I need to do the same for them. Because I’ve decided that if I don’t love the gig, I’m not going to keep it. Life is too short and there is way too much work out there for me to suffer through work I don’t enjoy. But I will save that conversation for another post.

OK — just wanted to check in before you decided I had fallen out of the blogosphere. I’m still here and I’ll be back.

Oh, and if there is something in particular you’d like me to talk about, explain, or offer my opinion about, hit me up in comments or Email me.

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Average?


Interesting Opinion column in the New York Times today. In his column, Average Is Over, Thomas L. Friedman states:

In the past, workers with average skills, doing an average job, could earn an average lifestyle. But, today, average is officially over. Being average just won’t earn you what it used to. It can’t when so many more employers have so much more access to so much more above average cheap foreign labor, cheap robotics, cheap software, cheap automation and cheap genius. Therefore, everyone needs to find their extra — their unique value contribution that makes them stand out in whatever is their field of employment. Average is over.

Well, for some  it’s over. But for some of us, average never got started. Average never even existed.

When I was a child, my parents drilled it into my head: You won’t get anywhere in life doing just the minimum. If you want to succeed in life, you have to give at least 110%.

(You see, to my parents, 100% WAS the minimum.)

They never explained why, and I never asked. It was just an accepted fact in my house.

Of course, it didn’t take me long to find out why this was a requirement.

I learned two lessons in life very early: You can’t be black and average and you can’t be female and average and expect to get anywhere in life.

And if you were both, well, you’d best get used to having to be awesome.

Yes, I had to be awesome to be seen as average. I had to be spectacular to be good and I had to be damn near perfect to be awesome.

Every. Damn. Day.

The pressure isn’t as great now as it was, because now I’m somewhat established, but that’s not a work ethic that just evaporates. It’s as much a part of me as breathing and writing. I don’t think I could half-ass something if I wanted to. Average isn’t in me, because I could never allow it.

So, it rankles me a bit that some people who have gone through life being average are crying foul that just won’t cut it anymore.

To them, a question: What was it like?

What was it like to just do the bare minimum in college and still get a decent job?

What was it like to just do just slightly above the minimum required, and still get promoted?

What was it like to write mediocre content, but still land private clients or plum assignments?

I’d really like to know, because I’ve never had a chance to experience it. Cuz, you see..

While you were busy skipping class, getting Cs on tests and partying, I was studying. Cuz I needed at least a B to match your C if I was going to get recommendations from teachers and advisors.

While you were working an extra 15 minutes a week, and going home to your family, I was working 10 extra hours a week, and going home too tired to deal with mine. And we got promoted on the same day.

While you were writing crap, our supervisor was giving me your work to correct, but you still got the credit. And the accolades. And the bonus.

So, now that you have to do what I did, you want to whine about it? Seriously?

Boo frickin’ hoo.

It will take some adjustment, but I’m sure you’ll find a way to adapt. Just like, now that you can’t be average anymore, I’ll have to adjust my game as well.

The difference is, I’m used to it. Catch me if you can.

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It’s Not Supposed To Be Easy


Today has been an interesting day. It seems like every other conversation, every other tweet, every other Facebook status has been someone complaining about a situation — they don’t like their jobs. They don’t have enough money. They can’t get x,y, or z. The gist of it all is: Life is hard.

Well, no s&*^, Sherlock. Yeah, life IS hard. If it wasn’t would you appreciate those brief fleeting moments when it isn’t?

If you had a truly easy life: all the money you ever needed, all the friends in the world, a job you loved…would you appreciate it?

No, you wouldn’t. You would grow to expect it. If you can’t be honest about it, then I’ll have to be honest for both of us, because I know I’d take it for granted.

That’s why, even though it bugs the hell out of me at times, I’m glad I have to work for what I have. Every new skill I gain, every new client I land, every check I cash — I know I worked for it, and I worked damn hard to get it. Nothing has been handed to me…ever.

And if I had to choose between working for it and having it handed to me, I’ll take the work. I don’t want to live on Easy St. Easy makes you complacent; it takes away your motivation and your drive. And when you are no longer motivated or driven, that’s when the rug can get pulled out from under you. Don’t believe me? Reread this.

So, to those who are complaining that life is hard — yep, it is. Accept it and keep pushin’. If it gets easier, find out what else you can do. Cuz, as soon as it gets easy, it can all slip away.

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Good vs. Bad Clients


One of my goals for 2012 was to have a better class of clients. I don’t just mean better paying clients, I mean clients who have a passion for their business like I do for mine. My other business has that built in — people request a piece of jewelry, I create it, they’re happy, they pay me and then I’m happy because I made something beautiful, and I got paid to do it.

I wanted that same feeling to carry over to my writing business as well, so that’s why I set out to get new clients. So far, so good. I’ve got 4 good clients, and I’m working on adding more daily. But there are still some bad clients in the bunch, and that annoys me.

So, what’s a bad client? Well, that’s really a personal assessment, but for me, a bad client:

* is a client who cannot tell you what it is they want. Some can’t tell you what it is they do. Seriously.

*is a client who promises to have info. to you on Tuesday, but doesn’t get around to sending it to you until Friday. Gives no explanation, but still wants the completed project the following Monday.

*is a client who balks at your rate.

*is a client who never pays on time. Once or twice is one thing, but consistently late payments is never a good thing.

*is a client that accuses you of stealing or outsourcing your work.

Now, granted, I have a lot less of these clients now than I did, say a year ago, but I still have a couple and I am taking steps to divorce myself from them. I have finally learned that I don’t need bad clients to be successful. I can hold out for the good clients. The clients that remind me why I’m in this business. The clients who make me want to stay in this business.

So, if you’ve got bad clients, keep looking for the good ones. Trust me, you’ll know ’em when you find ’em.

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It Could Be Worse


So, today has been a struggle writing-wise for me today. I’ve just not been “into it”, and have only accomplished a fraction of what I needed to get done today.

But that’s okay, cuz ya know, sometimes it happens. Sometimes the words just won’t flow. The ideas are stuck…just out of the reach of your fingertips. It’s frustrating, but sometimes it’s part of this life. Not every word you write will be brilliant. Sometimes the things you write will be utter rubbish.

But no matter how bad a writing day you’re having, someone else is having a worse day. And for the really unfortunate, some of the greatest writing guffaws actually make it to print. So, in honor of a lousy writing day, and in the hopes of a better one tomorrow, I offer you “When Headlines Go Wrong” aka “Hey, things could be worse, this could have been YOUR headline.

And because I want to retain my “Snarky” attitude, I’ve included comments. Cuz, that’s how I roll.

Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter (Wait…how does THAT work? Was a seance involved?)

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says  (Other than the plane crashing, I can’t imagine what else could have gone wrong…)

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers  (Wow…I guess a ticket just doesn’t cut it any more…)

Miners Refuse to Work after Death (So much for RIP…)
Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant (And what happens if they fail…or succeed?)
War Dims Hope for Peace (Yeah, that’s usually how it works…)
If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile  (Nothing like a good dose of stating the obvious!)
Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures (Uh huh…)
Enfield ( London ) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide (Nah, it was the Masque of the Red Death)
Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges (Next time, try cement!)
Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge (I got nothing for this other than *groan*)
New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group (Big Macs for everyone!)
Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft (Well, they shouldn’t have pulled his finger!)
Kids Make Nutritious Snacks (Yeah, but they’re quick, crafty and hard to kill…)
Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half  (Well, that’s one way to decrease the dropout rate…)
Chainsaw Massacre all over again! (Wait — it happened before?)
Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors (Next – legislation requiring all hospital ceilings be at least 7’1″.)
Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead (So, did that increase or decrease the occupancy?)

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