Following Your Passions? Not Always so Easy

•September 5, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Over a week into the “work on your passion project for 90 minutes a day for 90 days” challenge, and I’m hitting a wall. It’s not that I don’t have a passion project (I have several, really, but they all center around writing so I kind of lump them together). It’s not that I’m not desperately working (still) at trying to get a new job. It’s that, I think, my focus is divided between multiple projects all in a state of disarray.

Not sure what the answer is here: whether it’s calendar-ing the projects, breaking them down into pieces, outlining what’s still needed for each, a time-limit on working on each project, or a combination of all the above. Probably all of the above. The greatest challenge, really, is setting aside time to organize thoughts, ideas, plotting, deadlines, etc. outside of the time set aside to just work on projects. This is one of those times I want to cry, “I need an assistant!” I’m great at being someone else’s life/project organizer, but not so great with my own.

Cue deep sighs and staring listlessly at projects, then getting frustrated and pouting, instead of actually working on them.

This weekend my goal is to take the time to organize each project, prioritize, and schedule if need be. That way, hopefully, the 90-minute work time will feel more productive for each project and less like a jumble of trying to get ten things I desperately want/need to finish done without really making progress on anything.

TL;DR – Dedicating time to your passion projects shouldn’t be this stressful. It’s time to take some of the stress out and put more of the creative energy back in, and soon. Otherwise it’s all going to end up looking like this:

Changing the View Over Time

•August 29, 2014 • Leave a Comment

A short while ago, I was directed to this short post regarding committing the first 90 minutes of your ‘work day’ to your passion project, for 90 days (allowing time for it to become habit, rather than a challenge to be met).

I started earlier this week doing what I need to get more ‘real job’ ducks in their proverbial row. I made it two days before I wanted to give up and cry. Because as necessary as this process is, it’s incredibly tiresome to repeat day in and day out. However, the alternative (having my soul die bit by bit every day I’m in this dead-end job) is worse. So while it may not be my passion project, I’m not going to have passion for anything if I don’t change the manner in which I spend a ‘work day.’ And yet…

After three days of reassessing and editing resumes and cover letters, submitting to new sites, applying for 30+ positions, I need a day off to actually live up to the challenge and work on my passion project: writing. As disorganized as my job search efforts had become, my writing is in an even worse state. The chaos of life and other distractions has left me with more unfinished projects and rough idea outlines of projects-to-be than ever before. The act of just writing escapes me. Planning and scheduling have become a joke, not for lack of desire or commitment, but due to the overwhelming fear that to finish something may only tick off that work as ‘done’ on a checklist and never go any farther.

I’ve become afraid of the force of my own imagination. I’ve had my inner puppy kicked so many times it hides in the corner now any time I call its name. The true point of the ‘challenge’ is to work on your passions first, and the rest of the work later, and the truth is I’ve been afraid to do so. There has to be a balance for me, in making job searches a passion project of sorts to improve every aspect of my life, not just the creative ones. However, spending too much time focusing on everything that isn’t writing is what put me in this depressed slump in the first place. Thus, writing needs to be given priority in this scenario. Now that my resumes are more in order and I’ve joined more job sites, I’m relegating the job searches to two days/week. The other days are for writing. Period.

It’s been a tough week, but a productive one. If it’s done anything, it’s exposed how easily I can focus on projects if given the freedom and allowance to do it — and how sometimes you have to give permission for that freedom to yourself because you’re the one holding you back.

Preparedness is key…

•June 26, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Organization is one of those things I excel at — so long as it’s with someone else’s life, or business, or show, or whatever. If it’s my project, or show, or portfolio… well, let’s just say it’s a miracle I can craft a schedule for myself, let alone ever actually finish things. (Though if I do make it to the scheduling, I do fare much better with the actual finishing.) Life, however, is currently slapping me in the face with a few of my weaknesses as a reminder that being ready for changes in life, career, projects, etc. requires a certain amount of organization and having things at the ready. Otherwise you end up scrambling to put together resumes, portfolios, samples, schedules, progress trackers, and the like, all while working on innumerable projects in progress, searching for opportunities, and having people throw other potential gigs at you.

You may be better organized with your own life than I am, but if you’re more like me, take a minute or ten next time you’re bored, waiting for a YouTube video to load, or waiting for your hair dye to set, or whatever you do puttering around on the internet in your down time — and just take a glance at your resume and portfolio and writing samples. See that you have all the most recent information presented in a concise, clear manner. Check that you have examples of writing from varied projects. Go copy and paste that most recent article you wrote, and the link, into your own documents. Most of all, ensure that you have samples from as many sources as possible because you never know where the next opportunity will come from and what they’ll want to see.

Oh yeah, and make sure you have copies of everything stored in multiple places.

Just… be prepared.

 

The Blog Has Risen

•June 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

We’re still here, still working on bits and pieces of things with the scraps of time available — and that’s been a massive issue, really. To be frank, focusing on projects without deadlines is like trying to wrangle a playroom full of kittens and toddlers to sit, segregated, in one specific area for three hours. If you actually accomplish it, without resorting to bribes (including food and/or drink, and toys) it will be certified a true miracle. Yet scheduling deadlines and tasks is… not particularly easy for many creative people.

Personally, I can schedule someone else’s life, projects, and priorities like a pro. Literally. I’ve done it professionally and am damn good at it. Try turning that around on my own life, however, and…

However, without a timeline to accomplish projects, you tend to get a build up of many things being ‘in progress’ and nothing ever really finished. This is the predicament which arose a few months ago. In between a hellacious job (which I still have), fighting depression (which I’m just now taming a bit), and constantly looking for a new job (the never-ending string of rejections and no responses feeding said depression), I was also attempting to work on multiple projects, consistently. That kind of stamina, both physically and emotionally, just doesn’t work over time — particularly when there’s no deadlines set for anything. Burnout occurred, and I found myself going from trying to do a snippet of work here and there to pouring energy into redoing my living space, spending a month on my couch drinking, watching telly, and trying to remember what it was to have goals.

Finally, right around my birthday, the fog started to clear and it’s been an uphill, constant, but steadily productive, struggle to regain a semblance of balance — with work, projects, and life in general.

This past weekend, I sat myself down, gave myself a stern but polite talking to, and drafted a schedule for all most of the projects I currently have ‘in progress.’ If I stick to this schedule, by mid-January I will have four projects drafted through at least once, and one project queried to at least fifty agents. Not only that, I’ll have a maintained a consistent blog schedule, and fully converted my home office in my room. Now if only persistence in job hunting felt this progressive…

Monday Ramblings

•March 31, 2014 • Leave a Comment

It’s been awhile. Mostly due to previously mentioned dedication to obtaining a new form of employment that does not destroy my soul on a daily basis.

That search is still, unfortunately, in progress. Job hunting feels rather Odyssey-en in nature these days, though I don’t expect to come home to my family battling a slew of suitors waiting to take my place… actually, that sounds like the interview process.

Regardless, I wanted to share a few things which are helping to maintain my sanity during this hectic, epic job hunt:

Headphones/earbuds. Blessed be the inventor of these magical creations which allow one to plug into their computer or phone, play some music, and disappear into a world free of ringing phones, angry/depressed co-workers, and anything else that serves as a reminder of your captivity.

Reading. Exhausted by job hunt websites and submitting applications, my social media interaction has dwindled significantly. What remains of my time has primarily been spent reading and writing projects that I am passionate about — while the need and desire to connect with people out there in internet land exists, it sometimes clouds the focus necessary to be active in pursuing hiring managers and assistants with your latest cover letter creation. If only cover letters were limited to 140 characters…

Sleeping. Mental exertion is exhausting, and few things are more mentally and emotionally draining on a writer than submitting applications. Compound all this with CFIDS, and you have a recipe for extreme burnout. So rather than force myself to stay awake for that one more hour push to write a few more pages (of what undoubtedly will be crap), or find three more jobs to apply for, when I’m tired and it’s dark, I go to bed. I try to recharge, because I’ll never be much use to myself, much less potential employers, if I can’t string coherent thoughts together in a submission. Even if I can’t sleep, or don’t sleep well (as is often the case), or dream of my horrible job while sleeping (which is also, horrifically, sometimes the case), it’s still me alone in a dark room, comfortable, and at least attempting to rest.

Going for a walk. Which is a thing I do not do nearly enough. However, almost every time I do, I feel a bit refreshed. And even if I don’t, at least I got up, went outside, and got away from a computer screen for a bit.

What type of tricks do you use to get yourself through long, rough journeys that you must take to get to a better place?

Viable Life Option?

•February 25, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Now that the Olympics have concluded, my life resumes the seemingly never-ending search for a new job and living better.
While my dream career involves being paid to create words and worlds, sometimes I just want to run off to Australia and become a professional ballroom dancer — but only with a journey a la Fran in Strictly Ballroom.
Is there a LinkedIn page for that? A career coach who can direct me down that path? A fellowship for the eternal dreamers?

Battling the Stress Beast

•February 6, 2014 • 5 Comments

Stress is a common ailment among writers, generally when nearing deadlines, starting a daunting new project, and/or beating our heads against the wall trying to overcome a block.

There’s another variety of stress which affects many writers (and creative types), however, that isn’t discussed as much. I’m referring to the stress induced not from projects, but everything else — life, family, friends, and for those of us struggling to become ‘working’ writers (as in, we get paid to write as a way of supporting our writing addiction lifestyle), being stuck as a cog in a corporate machine to avoid homelessness and maintain some form of transport.

This post is quite timely as I’ve just returned from an urgent care facility where the official diagnosis for my sudden and extreme ailment was basically: stop stress-consuming things you are sensitive to, and get a new job. I mean, clinically, I experienced a very unpleasant allergic reaction to too much dairy and red wine coupled with an allergy/stress rash, but after several assessments and conversations with some harsh but fair practitioners, their recommendation was pretty clear. Four years as a corporate drone has built up enough stress inside my body that it’s ceasing to function properly, and I need to get out.

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In an attempt to alleviate some stress, I am obviously going to need to curb my stress eating/drinking impulses to consuming things I’m not digestively sensitive to, and should really do more yoga and go for more walks. These are common sense remedies that should really be a way of life. Problem is, there’s a giant stress beast that cannot be sated by enacting these good measures alone. The only way to defeat the stress monster I’m now engaged in a full on war with is to engage in another type of battle: searching for new employment. More specifically, searching for new employment in a crap job market, trying to find something I actually want to be doing, working for a company that both pays a living wage and treats its employees like people, rather than machines or cattle.

Needless to say, while I knew this approached, I had hoped for a bit more time to prepare. Unfortunately, it’s battle it out or succumb at this point, and surrender is not in my nature. Therefore, posts about job hunting, discipline, and issues with the current corporate structures of this country may occur for a bit. I promise I’ll try to keep it useful and, when I can, somewhat amusing — because if you can’t laugh at your personal struggles, the alternative is spending an afternoon in an urgent care facility having medical professionals tell you truths you’ve known for a while and just haven’t admitted to yourself.

Short version…

Less this:

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More this:

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