The luxury of being specific.

(glamorously working from home)

I’ve attempted this post several times, but have found myself pulled away by one deadline or another. Please accept this as a positive sign, because it means that I’m a writer who is busy… and a busy writer is a working writer…and a working writer… isn’t banging her head against the wall wondering why she writes at all. Although, I’d have to say, I don’t question writing as much as I question making it my job sometimes.

I’ve become increasingly protective – no, more like specific – about the kind of writing I will sell. I can’t say this option is available to everyone though. Sometimes being specific or “choosey”, as they say, is considered a luxury.

Sometimes you have to sell your work in order to pay your bills, which means having to work on projects that make you want to stay in bed when the alarm goes off at 6:30 a.m. I know those projects. I’ve lived them. But it’s part of life as a working writer…

or that’s what I used to think.

Some time last year, my focus shifted and I started getting very specific about what I will or won’t (or can’t) do as a writer. If there’s one thing I know for sure right now, it’s that writing about things I like and connect with is a must, paid or not. I’ve also learned that being a writer simply means being a storyteller – how I tell those stories can change, as long as there is passion at the foundation of the project.

I hope this post doesn’t sound unrealistic. Trust me, I’ve made my compromises and have worked on projects that made me miserable. But that’s exactly why I wanted to share this small lesson, which has served me well in recent weeks: when you turn your passion into your work, be protective of that relationship – don’t set yourself up to hate what you do by doing what you hate.  Whether that’s writing, painting, woodworking, yoga, dancing or building cars, try never to convince yourself that you can’t afford the so-called “luxury” of being specific.

-sandy.

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Quit being serious for a few minutes.

I’m switching magazines. It’s time. I’ve been buying a few that just aren’t doing it for me anymore – I’m bored with the content or have squashed the idea of writing for them, for now. I only read magazines I either a) want to write for; or b) write for. Wait, that’s not completely true. I get this magazine because I love the city and most of the writing. I haven’t written for this one, but I used to want to… until I heard what they pay writers. Now I’ve just lost interest. But I still read it because it comes to my door every month. So.

One of the magazines I’m going to be switching to is Inc. I don’t read it, but this morning this article hooked me: “7 Things Highly Productive People Do”. And you know what? Doing one thing at a time, and doing it well, ranks pretty high on the list of things productive people do. Oh, and it turns out that smoking pot doesn’t make you as dim as multitasking, so figure that one out.

If you have any good magazine subscriptions suggestions, I’m all ears.

I know I’ve mentioned this blog a lot, but Letters of Note is worth reading. Worth reading because you can take something away from everything on that blog, no matter what page you land on, which isn’t something we can say for a lot of blogs out there. Today’s letter especially couldn’t have come at a better time. (it sort of fits with the theme of my life lately, in certain areas of it, anyway). It’s a great read for anyone who has ever been judged based on something they can’t change, like race, eye color or gender. Oh, and if you’re still not convinced, the writer of this particular letter is Winston Churchill’s wife, Clementine. Her argument: Why women should be abolished.

Several bloggers have posted a link to a heartbreaking essay in the NYTimes last week called, “Knowing it’s the last Mother’s Day”. It’s absolutely beautiful. This is the type of story that leaves you changed when you read it. To be the writer must have been a wrenching and difficult experience, the kind of stuff writers live for… Only this writer’s story is about her friend, whom she lost to cancer and helped die gracefully, all while trying to find ways to talk to her dying friend’s children about what they were about to lose. Wow. Heavy topic, I know. But this writer’s experience ultimately drove her to create MomAlways.org, which is a resource for mother’s who, tragically, have to have those difficult conversations with their own children, about planning for Life After Mom. The article will take you less than five minutes to read, but the affects, I think, could last forever.

 

sandy.

 

(for all image info, click on the image itself – they can also be found on my Pinterest board)

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What your habits are saying about you.

Ok, so I once read that it takes 21 days to form a habit. I tried to write a story about that a few years ago for a magazine, but couldn’t find why that number of days – 21 – worked so well. Luckily, New York Times business reporter, Charles Duhigg, didn’t give up so easily.

He’s written a book about how to use habits to your advantage titled, The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business (Random House 2012).

Here’s a quick video about Duhigg’s research on habits, which he’s clearly become an expert on, through his years as a journalist for one of the biggest and most wildly-read papers on Earth.

Hm. If I wrote a book based on my expertise as a fitness reporter, it would probably be something like, “391 ways to work your gluteus maximus and still walk up the stairs” or 484 ways to prepare chicken before AND after your workout” or maybe a memoir called, “How working out and writing about working out can come ‘this close’ to making you cry”….

What would your “expert” book be about?

video via freshbooks.

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365Grateful.com

There is so much garbage on the Internet. But sometimes there are nuggets worth investing a few minutes in. This video – about the 365Grateful project – is one of those times.

I’m not a fan of “self help” and wasn’t one of the people who started a “Gratitude Journal” when Oprah did, but I am someone who, like the woman in the video, has felt that empty feeling, even when my life has been full.

Sometimes these feelings just have to pass through you, run their course. And in those times, it helps to focus on the small and good things that can slowly help fill you back up again….

 

via design mom.

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