The Telegraph today:
” ‘Cause this youthful advantage fades while the sand is
Dripping from the hour glass”
“Fashionably sensitive, but too cool to care”
“Mistaken you for someone else –
Someone who gave a dam… somebody more like myself”
“Wanna slay ’em, wanna lay ’em, wanna play ’em
My favourite toys
“A simple life’s my cup of tea
I don’t need nobody but me
What I wouldn’t give just to be left alone
I want to be a millionaire someday”
When you hate, what you read, from the day before
When you’re never finished
When the feeling never comes
And it’s hard to remember…
Why do you write?
When you’re not sure even you believe
In the words
When you’re not sure it does good
When you question this odd hobby
That sits you in a crumpled heap on your chair, again
And there’s an answer lurking inside of you
But you’re not sure it’s a good one…
Why do you write?
When the people you care about, tell you to get real
When people you want to care about you, don’t
When you receive no recognition
When there seems to be no beauty in your words
And it’s everything you dread…
Why do you write?
This could be like Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’ – then, you’ll be a writer, my son:
When you can do all the above and keep going.
And not give up the dream, even if it’s necessary and good to take a break from it, for life,
But you grow in that break, and you return to that dream with different perspective.
When you can doubt yourself but work through those doubts, and learn about yourself
And you can still, confidently in a crowd, or alone at night, you can still call yourself a writer.
Then, you’ll be a writer, my son.
I’m finding the hardest thing about freelancing is pitching. Regularly.
I have all the ideas in the world – they’re not all good, obviously. But when I think of the infinite number of publications out there that could possibly take any of those ideas, and how I could adapt it for several different publications if I was organised enough, it’s often overwhelming – and crafting a good pitch is an art, and takes time, and research. And yet all that – all that is part of the dream. It’s fun, it’s creative, the endless possibilities are inspiring, and you love that response.
But what I’m finding hard about it; it’s uncertain, it’s work-intensive, I risk rejection (without any constructive criticism) and even if they do accept it, it might be changed and revised beyond recognition or the pressure starts when they give the commission and then it could be pulled, or not published (and therefore not paid) or the rejection could come at the end of all the work, rather than at the beginning (and without any constructive criticism).
In short, it’s unpaid work. And potentially pointless; if there’s no results, it means I have no work, and I am left with doubts and tumbleweed.
Sure, risk it, for the biscuit. If I don’t try, I don’t get. But I am talking about the very real possibility that I put all that work in, and nothing comes of it – if I’m endlessly pitching and nothing is good enough (for those companies, for whatever reason) then, am I still working? Am I still a freelancer? Do I still exist?
The equivalent in a normal job.
So, the way I have reconciled this in my brain.
The work of pitching (which includes coming up with ideas, researching publications, reading news and anything else) would be, if I was working in a role for a company, the equivalent of the commute.
So, say in London (where I happen to be based) I don’t get paid for commuting on the London Underground for an hour each way. The office doesn’t value that time; there is no reward for hacking it or doing a ‘good commute’ (whatever that means). Essentially, a boss doesn’t care how you get there, they just care that you do get there.
As for the risk of rejection? If you’re late, you could lose your job. (Equivalent: if I don’t pitch, or don’t pitch in time, I could lose my work).
But it gets you (to) work.
In fact, that gives me an idea to frame it. I could aim to pitch (think of ideas, research companies and read news, etc) for an hour each way. One hour before work, one hour at the end. It could help to see which time of the day I’m better at it – and it becomes a habit. And it is the most important part of freelancing – which is why it’s the hardest. Without pitching, without setting your own ideas and agenda, you are nothing. You don’t exist as a freelancer.
(Which, by the way, is fine – freelancing what works for me right now, and I’m committed to it because it improves my skills. I also apply for roles where I can apply those skills. Here’s my CV on LinkedIn if you’re interested in a journalist/marketing/research type.)
Wild woo woo: “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.”
Realistic rebuke: “is it though? You can’t fly.”
My thoughts on this:
Well, anything IS possible… when you want to dream. And find what motivates you. And be prepared and aware that it might not (in fact, 99% of the time, it won’t) go AS expected, and you might have to adapt, or check in with yourself and how you feel about it and listen to yourself if you might have to change the goal completely. If you start flapping your arms, you’re not going to fly. So? If you still want it to be possible?
So THEN, you specifically break it down into what’s possible and go for it as a goal, with checklists and stuff for practicalities, then you achieve what IS realistic. But you might as well dream big and worry about whether it’s possible later when you’ve figure out if it’s even a priority for you in the first place. Do you really want to fly with just your arms? Instead of berating the fact YOU JUST CAN’T think a) why not? because it’s unsafe and do you want to be unsafe? so then the question is b) how can you fly in another way, with SAFETY which is the thing that makes it not possible initially. Do you want to fly in a glider across the hills or fly to New Zealand in a jet plane? What part of flying do want here? Or do you just want that feeling that you CAN fly – freedom (money in the bank, ability to set off at any moment, no ties), or wind through your hair (buy or rent an open top car for a day, or race a Ferrari day, learn to ride a galloping horse with your arms outstretched) and then work on getting THAT.
HERE is an awesome video I love, on how to learn ANY skill:
Organising my freelance journalism work flow
I needed to store and find/search easily: recordings, notes, saved web pages, sources and other research.
I needed to store my written notes, ideas and questions, and tags across topics and publications are especially useful.
I already use Wunderlist so something easy to integrate and share to sync my research and notes, with my to do’s and progress, would be ideal.
Evernote – I used to use it 2-3 years ago and stopped. (I got into the bad habit of saving web pages to bookmarks and ideas all over the place – and not doing journalism). I am a hoarder of web pages, videos and anything and everything that gives me a light bulb moment of insight or an idea that I must do at some point in the future (and might not – my ideas list is pretty cluttered at most times, and when I see them, then I get overwhelmed and procrastinate and want to consume shiny new things for new ideas instead – it’s why I like Pinterest, and why I write and draw lots but don’t manage massive projects…!)
Now I’m embarking on bigger pieces I REALLY need a better system. And Evernote seems perfect for journalists.
So today as I was happily rocking to music and uploading ALL articles and scribbles (the typed ones) and crap from disparate – and insightful – sources, I suddenly had a panic.
The whole purpose is to access and ensure these parts are accountable and safe – and I had no idea how secure it was.
Not just from the outside. But for me.
And not just because I might get hacked – that’s a matter of online security and if there’s a hole there, I only have myself to blame, and I am pretty solid on that – but…. what happens if Evernote disappears? Goes bust? Moves everything from one cloud to another cloud and it all falls to Earth? I mean, anything is possible, right?
This forum thread only exacerbated my fears of these realistic worst case scenarios that people are convinced about. https://discussion.evernote.com/topic/65776-what-happens-to-my-notes-if-evernote-goes-bust/?page=2
All businesses die. Everything dies! And it’s somewhat mirrored my own tendency to give up on systems – why wouldn’t they give up on me?! If I’m about to put my entire freelancing system onto Evernote I don’t want to wake up one day to find a repeat of Megaupload.
I am concerned about where to safely and confidently store all interviews, information and confidential sources – and new ideas – that I would rely on at any point in the future and it could be hugely important for legal reasons and for my own integrity. My own integrity would be down to this choice of software – so, kind of a biggie.
But I remembered that quiet and solid app I use without even noticing. Dropbox. Aren’t they the same? Just one is a bit more hip and millennial than the other?
So I delved into what the internet had to say about this. I found some clarity for myself and I hope it’s useful to you. (Plus I’m a bit of a productivity systems geek, and here’s my outlet.)
Initial picture in my head: Wunderlist = to do’s, checklists and project priorities and progress. Evernote = the actual files, notes, research and creation. And collaboration. Dropbox = shared access and standard for Word and PDF files (whereas a written Evernote file requires a copy and paste).
So, maybe Dropbox is better for writing in progress in a Word doc, while Evernote collates the research from the internet? I’d rather have everything in one place.
And in one place, capacity matters.
Evernote Basic (free) limits your note size to 25 MB and each month gives you 60 MB.
Dropbox Basic (free) doesn’t limit file size and gives you 2 GB free and you can earn up to 16 GB performing various tasks and syncs, but that’s the limit.
I wanted a nice way to think about it clearly (read: I never want to worry about this again, and just want to get on with pitching and creating loads of great stories and other projects with a seamless work flow system that I know is 100% accountable and I know where I can find anything if there’s a query)
Udemy split it quite nicely for me, and for those who like physical, stationery equivalents for their software:
Evernote = “the sticky notes of the modern age” / Dropbox = “the filing cabinet”
Best of all was Michael Hyatt’s consolidation of all the major pros and cons:
Evernote = storing the written word with easy search and editing. Word, Excel and Powerpoint files can be stored but not transformed/edited inside Evernote.
Dropbox = store software, big files, photos, code etc… everything else
So then, I would use Wunderlist for the checklist, to do’s and project management and schedule, clip research, sort it and write my stuff in Evernote, and put the finished product (or the next stages e.g. video) into Dropbox – for attachments.
I use Wunderlist for specifically actionable tasks; to do’s, priorities, deadlines, schedules and reminders. While Wunderlist does easily clip and save and order anything, I want that app to be as specific and decluttered as possible (not very, most of the time – and that’s the point).
I think – there will be a world where profits are the same as protecting and preserving the environment. It’s a win-win.
But when you need to provide profits in the short-term, how do you aim for long-term good and why should you bother to negotiate this balance?
Because consumers demand it – and your reputation is on the line.
Your consumers will demand transparency, ethical practices and a positive impact – or, at least, a neutral impact – on the environment. Consumers will ask questions about how your products and services impact the environment, or they will do their own digging on your business practices, and they will share and discuss this on social media. Whatever your answers, you need to be honest, or you could lose the trust of customers – and that’s impossible to get back.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett
Because it increases the bottom line – and brings more customers.
Being responsible with limited resources will improve your bottom line and avoid waste. You can recycle products and offer incentives to customers e.g. discounts for re-using bags or returning packaging and this reduces waste in production too. Businesses can lead by promoting green practices and encouraging customers to do the same.
Plus, the environment has a price, whether you’re aware of it or not. If it’s gone, your business is gone too!
…And you avoid subsequent costs of legal troubles if you don’t comply with increasing environmental regulations.
You want to hire people who make good choices. You want people passionate about using their talents for the good of society. You want to attract people to your business to make a difference and be engaged. Millennials, in particular, are heavily influenced by a company’s commitment to the community or the environment as a factor in decisions to work for them. There’s job boards dedicated to this.
You can also combine recruitment based on green policies with a great event supporting the environment or the community. Its win-win: people will have fun, become your customers, and want to work for you, because you care.
Also, when you empower poorer sectors of populations – domestically and internationally – you balance out the scales. You can create opportunities and this creates a prospective set of new customers down the line. If you raise people up, these people will have conversations about the positive impact of your business. And every business needs those conversations.
I would argue (today) that all writing is copy writing. Including journalism, reviews and other forms, because it is essentially promoting the worthiness of its own subject e.g. promoting the experience of listening to music, in the case of an album review.
In that sense, it’s like philosophy. It argues for its own existence.
.. Except philosophical arguments can undermine their own existence. It’s the only academic subject that can, and does.
Okay, so I would say philosophical writing isn’t copy writing.
As for art – novels, plays, poetry. That’s the most self-promotional writing of all, isn’t it? Because all writers are egotistical and are arguing for a legacy. Art promotes a feeling in you, copy writing promotes a feeling for you to put money to. Copy writing, therefore, is an extension of art. So all writing would therefore be copy writing.
The case for innovation – A.K.A: Hire me! (- I’m new!)
I’m a unique blend of jobs, industries and career choices, all with the central passion for writing well-researched, creative and intelligent pieces. I think that’s just the kind of innovation you’re looking for!
Sectors worked in (I’ll steal ideas from):
Roles taken on (I’ll bring skills from):
How I will benefit you (you will get):
This was prepared for a job interview – the company dealt with innovations across the world. (I’m open to new job interviews, right now!)
My email is email@example.com