Creator-critic dog-fight. With added unemployment!

SCENE: ABOUT TO WRITE A POST

Tug of war. By pippalou

Tug of war. By pippalou.

VOICES PIPE UP IN MY HEAD.

Critic:                     Oh, hey dawg. What you up to?

Creator:               Writing.

Critic:                     You’re what? Writing what, exactly?

Creator:               Some things for my blog. Not sure yet, my thoughts and that.

Critic:                     So, let me get this straight. You’re unemployed – well, okay, ‘freelance’, but who knows what that means – and you’re choosing to sit in your room and write instead of get out there and get a job? Have I forgotten to remind you of your unemployment today – when blogging seems particularly ludicrous!

Creator:               Career wisdom says otherwise. Blogging during unemployment helped Brian John Spencer and blogging helped Krishnan Nair stand out and land a writing role. Also, blogging on a niche topic protects against unemployment, and this blog, featured in magazines, is about how to be jobless, as a journalist.

Critic:                     Oh, yes, and that’s worked out wonderfully for you. Anyway, have you actually tried anything to get a job?

Creator:               I’ve applied to a couple of hundred jobs online so far…

Critic:                     Online! You’re only applying online?

Creator:               That is actually how I secured several first, and second, job interviews, and tests, and as a result I was almost offered perfect match, professional, graduate jobs as a journalist, online community manager, bid writer, copywriter, researcher, marketing assistant…

Critic:                     But you didn’t get the job offers, did you?

Creator:               Meanwhile, I network in the arts and journalism at events, and I’m also starting to do things in the London poetry scene…

Critic:                     Unpaid work, blogging, and now you want to do poetry? So, I expect it would be stupid to ask you when you plan on getting a mortgage, plan for a wedding, or even think about a car?

Creator:               I have proofreading and transcription work to keep me afloat and I’ve applied for temping, retail and cafe work. I’ve been unlucky, but I’m trying.

Critic:                    And you’re still wasting time on that blog of yours.

Creator:               I like writing about the area I’d ideally, eventually, like to work in, or know about, or freelance for. I’m building an expertise, exploring what I like, and learning about people and art. I’m really interested in creative and artistic industries and the online world, and if I have a bit of time, I could really write good quality content and improve my writing and, while that takes a lot of time, I think businesses might like to employ me because I would be able to do it quicker or better than they can without me. Aside from that, I like doing it and seeing the results. If we don’t spend time on the things we love, what’s the point of life?

Critic:                     But look at you! You’re all serious – you call that doing something you love? When are you going to be happy? There’s no guarantee any of this is worth it, is there? I don’t think it’s worth it.

Creator:               I think it is. But does the burden of proof lie with me? Is it my job to ponder the worth of what I do, or just do it?

I’ve just finished a post.

Action wins.

How to Reclaim Your Attention

Post written by Leo Babauta.

Awhile back I (a bit ironically perhaps) tweeted this message:

Consider what you give your attention to each day. It’s a precious resource, & determines the shape of your life.

This seemed to strike a chord with many people, who I think are feeling overwhelmed these days. Our attention is being pulled in too many directions, leaving us feeling overloaded, distracted, chaotic, spread thinly, without focus.

There are a million blogs, people, services, media, competing for our attention. Our attention is limited, and valuable, making it one of the most precious resources we have.

The world wants that attention. Only you can decide where it goes.

And it does determine the shape of your life: what you pay attention to becomes your reality. If you watch and read the news all the time, you will become obsessed with the latest crises. If you watch and read about celebrities, your life will revolve around them. If you socialize on social networks all day long, this will become your world.

If instead, you choose to give your attention to work you’re passionate about, that you feel is important, that will change your life and the world in some small way … this will become your life.

If you choose to give your attention to your friends, family and other loved ones — really give your attention to them instead of only half-heartedly while also checking text messages and emails and other updates — your life will be rich in many ways.

And so I urge you to reclaim your attention.

Here’s how:

1. Limit your friends. Not real-life friends, but social network and blogging and forum friends. Not that these can’t be good relationships, but having too many makes them meaningless. And each friend will take up a little bit of your attention — when you read their updates, click on their links, reply to their messages, look at their photos, and so on. The more you have, the more attention they’ll require. Limit them to just the essential. Read more.
2. Limit your feeds. Blog subscriptions, newsletters, other updates and news subscriptions and so on. Limit them to a handful of essentials, and let the rest go. The more you have, the more attention they require.
3. Limit your communication time. Going into your email inbox? Just give yourself 10 minutes to read, reply, delete, and get out. Going to do Twitter? Give yourself 5 minutes. Seriously, set up a timer. Don’t let these things take up all your attention.
4. Give up on news. It’s a never-ending cycle. And if you’ve paid attention to the news as long as I have (I’m a former journalist), you know it’s all the same, year after year. Unless your job depends on it, the news is usually a waste of your attention. Let go of the need to stay updated. Even if your job does depend on it, keep it limited.
5. Be brief. Write brief emails, tweets, updates, blog posts. With some exceptions, of course. But make brief your de facto. Read more.
6. Give your attention to the important. This is the crucial part: choose what you give your attention to, and do this choosing carefully. What is important to you? Writing? Photography? Design? Coding? Creating a new business that helps others? Your kids? Figure this out, and give this the majority of your attention.
7. Become conscious of your distractions. Once you’ve decided to focus your attention on the important, become more aware of distractions as they come up. Make note of them, and as you get the urge to be distracted, learn to pause, breathe, and return to the important.
8. Surround yourself with the positive. If you want your life to be positive, let the positive have your attention. This applies to blogs, people, projects, and more.

For more, read Leo’s new book, focus: a simplicity manifesto in the age of distraction.

 

Keep it together, writer

How does a writer keep it together?

Writers have egos (at least, I do), a brand, a face, and a myriad of options to write and experiment, particularly online. Bits and pieces here and there submitted to competitions, freelance work, your own blog, writing to perform, and all this just to write that one truest sentence. An online portfolio is totally different to your CV and your brand should convey that all – but how can this all be coherent? I am asking you, I am not sure myself. Because it’s like every time I write my ‘bio’ and think about my direction and image, it changes when I am commissioned or I do another piece of work, or when I see a job ad that I realise I want but I never thought of that before. Just like choosing your GCSEs with your future career in mind, it’s impossible to portray a coherent brand that encompasses everything you are… and everything you will be. At the very least, you’ll be bored with the same brand your entire life, and philosophically, what is your identity anyway?

It’s easy to see the literary greats on Brain Pickings giving advice and see them as their consistent whole, as if they were always destined to be that. But they must have grown and changed and doubted. And as an artist, you do what you like, but you never know the value and popularity of any given piece of work. And these literary greats are known for their great works but who are they, really? I’m not even sure who I am, more than half the time!

How do you coin phrases when you don’t know what phrases will be used after you coin them?

 #confused

There’s my ephemeral question for you artistic readers to answer.

Quotation Curation

“What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
And a sentimentalist, my dear Darlington, is a man who sees an absurd value in everything, and doesn’t know the market place of any single thing.”

– Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan

“The first step – especially for young people with energy and drive and talent, but not money – the first step to controlling your world is to control your culture. To model and demonstrate the kind of world you demand to live in. To write the books. Make the music. Shoot the films. Paint the art.”

– Chuck Palahniuk

“When your self-worth goes up, your net worth goes up with it.”

– Mark Victor Hansen