(This is a kickass guest post by Tanja Korobka.)
Ever met a successful slasher doing it all — social media marketing, sales, tourist guiding and lifestyle blogging and getting paid for all of this? Do you love variety and get bored easily?
I have a friend who makes a living from public speaking, writing books and hypnotherapy. How cool is that? She wakes up with great enthusiasm every morning; she meets awesome people, has interesting stories to share and generally embraces the joys of what the true work life can give.
Having multiple careers is a growing trend. It’s no longer for young creative types like actors, artists and musicians; people from all kinds of fields are now drawing income from several streams.
Some of these workers are patching together jobs out of choice. They may find full-time office work unfulfilling and are testing to see whether they can be their own boss.
Throughout my life, I’ve been forced to make black-and-white choices, which would place me in a very defined category.
In my teens, I attended dancing classes, did track and field and wrote for my school newspaper. Singularity has never worked for me. I’ve always liked the idea of mashing up interests to keep me excited.
Kids’ passions are naturally plural — they play, draw and cycle, so why did a teacher later in my schooling ask me to choose between the humanities and “realities” when it came to making subject choices? And why is being fascinated by both physics and literature considered so wrong? It really frustrated me as a kid. Still does.
When I entered university, it turned out that if I really wanted to make something out of myself, I needed to concentrate on one subject. The misconception about plurality is that if you’re adept at doing more than one thing, it must dilute your abilities to be good at any of them. The stupid voice at the back of my head kept telling me: I must choose one, because these roles are separated on the damn employment paper.
Why do we choose to live by the worn-out rules made up by somebody 50 years ago, when work used to be so single-track — pick a trade and climb the ladder? Don’t stop and, whatever you do, don’t even think about changing your trade; that would surely show that you’re weak.
Plurality Is a Sign of Creativity
Being defined by a single job title alone is so 20th century. No one knows what’s around the corner, but there is one known truth: there is no such thing as a job for life any more. Success is about delivering value by staying adaptable. To stay in employment, grow your business or secure the next contract, you need to be open to change, to learning a new skill and, most importantly, you must remain alert to see when those new skills resonate together to create another, even better possibility.
Many skills are transferable between industries. For example, a copywriter can easily create himself a second income stream from teaching. Teaching is, in fact, the most popular by-product of many disciplines. Can you dance? Start giving classes! Understand social media? Offer consulting services!
My friend, the one who works in hypnotherapy, needs to think on her feet as she guides her clients towards a solution in real-time. That approach stretches her creative abilities and is very useful when you’re challenged to generate new ideas. Having your foot in many doors makes it easier to cross-pollinate ideas and contacts.
Innovation is largely the art of combination. Truly revolutionary creative acts come from synthesizing across industries, as Picasso did with African and European art or Darwin did by combining insights from economics, geology and biology to come up with his theory of natural selection.
The 9-5 is Dying
I believe that plurality is a sign of creativity, and the eight-hour workday is a creativity killer.
Eight-hour people seem to be living for the weekend. I always cringe when I hear radio stations say things like, “It’s hump day,” “Three hours till the weekend” or “You’re almost there!” Almost where? Why are we constantly trying to get to a destination other than where we’re at? (Tweet!) Are our everyday lives really that miserable?
I think the idea of a 9-5 rule is meaningless. You could work more hours, or less, but the bottom line is that you only get paid if you deliver what the client wants. If your client or employer is seeking results, and that’s what you are going to be measured by, then they shouldn’t really care where you do it from or how you do it.
I like to think that soon, we will have projects rather than jobs. To work at a project is to become part of the project for X months, like joining three friends creating a startup business, for example.
Slashers are the winners – they’re able to cut through the nonsense and figure out what’s required next. They’re the ones exploring and discovering the next big opportunity.
Have a side project! I believe what you do on the side will create your next job or promotion. I think the future is about multiplying your skills and streams of income, not focusing on just one.
If you’re reasonably intelligent, being employed at one role is one of the worst things you can do to support yourself. There are far better ways to make a living than selling yourself into indentured servitude.
You may be thinking that you have no real value to offer others, and being an employee and getting paid by the hour is the best you can do. Maybe you just aren’t worth that much. That is absolute nonsense. It’s part of your conditioning. As you begin to dump such brainwashing, you’ll soon recognize that you have the ability to provide enormous value to others and that people will gladly pay you for it.
Do you have multiple interests? Have you focused in on one, or found a way to pursue them simultaneously?
Tanja Korobka is a blogger at luckyattitude.co.uk . She writes about future of work, different perspective and Generation Y. Lucky Attitude is the start of a difference, out to break boundaries, stereotypes and states of mind.
Image: Wang on Flickr
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One of the first things I tell bloggers looking for advice – whether they’ve booked my blogging services or I’m mentoring them through the awesome Bloggers Helping Bloggers program – is that you absolutely must have a publishing schedule.
It helps you stick to posting regularly, which is so important when you’re trying to build and maintain an audience. It helps you get past writer’s block because you’ve got topics already lined up and aren’t facing the page blank. It helps you treat your blog more seriously, because hobbies are fun but you need discipline if you want to grow something awesome.
It’s Blogging 101, in my opinion.
And I am officially ignoring it.
Because I’ve stopped loving this blog, and that defeats the entire purpose.
A Side Rant on the “Business” of Blogging
When it comes to giving advice to other bloggers, I’m sort of a “do as I say, not as I do” kinda gal. For the most part, the tips I give bloggers are things I myself practice. But, every now and then, what I do here at CCIQ flies in the face of what I tell every other blogger they should do, and there’s no other reason for that than the fact that this blog is my baby, and I am very protective of what I do with my baby.
Take popups, for instance. I would never in a million years add them to my own blog, but when it comes to my clients’ blogs, I have no problem going along with them, because my clients’ blogs are businesses, and popups are proven to “work” in the business sense.
But this blog is not a business. It never has been.
When I created it back in November of 2010, it was with an eye towards eventually making a living in the blogosphere, but it was, much more importantly, about why I wanted to do that and what I learned along the way. It was about learning to live life intentionally. About designing a life you love and not being held captive by a life that was prescribed for you. About encouraging my readers to take control of their shit, and showing them I meant it by doing it myself.
It’s a platform.
It’s a passion.
It’s a personal crusade.
And the instant I add a popup to this blog, it would degrade all of that. It would instantly tell my readers that I’ve become one of those bloggers — the ones who weigh SEO keywords against each other for headlines that convert 27% of traffic rather than 26.5%. The ones who write inspiring calls to action carefully calculated to generate email list signups and affiliate program purchases. The ones who view their readers as a commodity and not an audience of likeminded traveling companions.
Maybe most readers would never spin off conclusions like this. Maybe they wouldn’t even notice. But I would, and I can’t abide by that. Because this blog has never been about doing anything other than inspiring people to live awesomely, and I intend to keep it that way.
Otherwise, really, what’s the point?
Why I Am Killing My Editorial Calendar
In the almost 3½ years since I started CCIQ, I’ve made maybe $200 through random experiments in sponsored posts and in-text links, which I swiftly stopped doing because they made me feel icky. Any money I get from blogging is an indirect result, meaning someone’s found me through my blog and booked my services for other things.
On a monthly basis, this blog actually costs me to run it. I pay $9.95/month to DreamHost for hosting services and $120-something/year for backup and tech support, so that’s about $19.95/month to keep the lights on. I realize I’ve put enough time into CCIQ, and grown it into a respectable-enough entity, that not monetizing it is probably a bit dumb. I’ll likely do some experiments in affiliate marketing to get a little of that whole “passive income” thing everyone’s talking about, because I can understand the merit to that, and let’s be honest: money is nice to have.
But it’s not my priority.
On the day-to-day, the only reason this blog exists and I devote so much of myself to it is because it keeps me real, and I hope it keeps you real, too. I write a metric shit-ton of words every week for my clients, some of them deliberately motivational, but this blog is the only place where the red pen gets set aside and the little glowing light at the heart of all I do gets to rekindle itself.
Recently, I’ve lost sight of that (along with so many other things). I’ve been treating this blog like just another to-do in my endless stream of obligations. I know I should write weekly (really, more than weekly), but every time I’ve sat down to tackle the topic I set for myself that week, I balk like a kid getting a forkful of brussel spouts shoved towards his mouth.
It feels like a chore, and any time writing feels like a chore, you are absolutely guaranteed to lose the magic. You can get words out, sure, and they may even be some pretty darn good words. But the heart will be gone. And when CCIQ loses its heart, I might as well close up shop, because the point will be done for.
Because of this, I am throwing all sensible blogging best practices to the wind and going with my gut: I am going to write only when I have something to say. Something I think you should hear, that’s burningly urgent and makes my soul hurt not to write it.
Given the mile-a-minute hamster wheel that is my mind, and my inability to go through life without analyzing everything, this will likely still be a once a week, if not more. But I’m not going to hold myself to an artificial schedule. I’m not going to scramble on Sunday because I don’t have a post ready for Monday. I’m not going to worry about losing relevance or audience members if I’m a whole (gasp!) two weeks since my last post went up. I’m not going to care if a post isn’t ready to publish till Thursday, because technically Mondays and Wednesdays are my better conversion days.
I’m not going to worry about any of that.
I’m going to write what I feel compelled to write, and I’m going to take as much time as each post needs to be exhumed properly.
I’m going to respect my message, your time, and this blog.
I’m going to run a blog, not a business.
Because I’ve already got enough business, thank you. This is about something more important.
Image: Elisa Dudnikova on Flickr
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It’s rare that I promote any products or services here, ’cause this just isn’t that kind of blog. But I’ve got something this week that I can’t not share with you — a) because I know many of you have been following my freelance journey and want to know how to get started yourselves, and b) because this particular course is being taught by yours truly and a posse of my fave friends and colleagues.
Here’s the Deets:
When: next week, March 24th – 28th from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. EST (live broadcast times — you’ll also get access to watch the videos whenever’s convenient for you)
Where: hosted by Quistic, an awesome online community created by Penelope Trunk
Who: your illustrious instructors, who I personally respect and admire the hell out of (well, except maybe for this “Kelly Gurnett” chick):
- Lauren Tharp of LittleZotZ Writing discusses how to start a freelance writing biz and what to expect, from finding (good) clients to avoiding common traps.
- Dana Sitar of DIY Writing and A Writer’s Bucket List covers Marketing 101 for freelance writers, including how to leverage your blog, build a newsletter and create an ebook.
- Publishing pro Stephanie Auteri explains how to find your niche, pitch publications and network your way to new opportunities.
- PR and social media expert Jessica Lawlor explores the ins and outs of personal branding — how to create one, manage it on social media and use it to build an empire.
- Kelly Gurnett of this blog you’re currently reading talks about making the big leap to full-time freelancing. I did it myself, and I’ll tell you how you can create a side hustle, step down strategically and cover all your bases so the final jump doesn’t feel so scary or impossible.
How Much: All this goodness (and it’s seriously good; I can vouch for these ladies) for only $47. If you’ve ever done any exploration into the courses, webinars and other materials that are out there for aspiring freelance writers, you know how great a bargain this is.
Join Me… Won’t You?
If you have any interest in becoming a freelancer writer, or taking your career to the next level, this is a must-enroll course. Sign up here, and I hope to see you next week!
Image: Matthew on Flickr
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It’s odd just how much we put stock in ideas of ourselves that, unique and weird though they may be, we don’t really own. We worry so much about what we think we ought to be that we don’t even notice when we find out what we really are.
You’d think that “novelist” would be right up my alley, eh? I’m a creative type. I have an active imagination. I’ve been a reader since who-knows-when. I have no real interest in current affairs, whether locally, nationally or internationally, preferring to visit worlds I’ve read about, seen on TV and in movies, played within in games and even made up on my own.
So how come writing a novel is what I’m quitting?
I couldn’t tell you when I first had the idea of writing a novel. I think it was one of those answers I gave to that horrible, horrible question that grownups always ask kids: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” (Seriously, how the hell are we supposed to know?!)
The answer made sense. I’ve daydreamt since as long as I can remember; I love the fiddliness of words and the English language. Those make me a good writer of fiction, right? So, naturally, if I want to make a living doing what I love, I should be writing novels, right?
Yet what have I done all this time of nurturing the idea of being a novelist? Subscribed to podcasts like I Should Be Writing and Writing Excuses. Interviewed authors, from indies to capital-P published writers, for my podcast. Fiddled with Scrivener, the go-to application for novelists. Read Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method for making working novel plots and whacked my head against my inability to finish it.
The one thing I do least often is write fiction. Sure, I’ve tried NaNoWriMo. I finished it once, and failed it twice. I’ve got up early to write. I’ve written in the library, in cafes. I’ve carried notebooks around and scribbled all sorts of ideas in them.
But for roughly two decades of Wanting to Be An Author, I have very little to show for all that work. Definitely nothing I’d be proud to slap my name on. Of all those ideas, there are only a bare handful I’m interested in exploring further.
The one thing I’ve done over those years, more than writing, is guilt myself.
I’ve felt horrible whenever I’ve thought of being a writer, listened to another podcast interview, read another article about the artist’s struggle, about how it’s meant to be bloody hard work. There are times when I’ve guilted myself for sitting on the couch with my wife and watching TV when I know I should be upstairs in front of the computer, trying to wring more scenes and chapters out of my uncooperative imagination. I even kick my arse for not starting with something smaller, like a short story.
Yet for all that guilt, there’s been this voice in the back of my mind that’s whispered: “Why do these people insist on spending so much time being miserable if they profess to love what they’re doing so much? Why do you?”
There’s this part of me that, when I sat down to work on writing fiction, dug its heels in and pulled the other way. Hard.
The saddest thing is, I didn’t recognize it for what it was. I thought it was that “resistance” thing that all those authors kept name-dropping Steven Pressfield about. It was an example of my lack of work ethic, of all the virtues I kept hearing all these authors talking about. It wasn’t that I wasn’t an author; it was just that I was lazy.
So I kept on not-writing, feeling guilty, destroying my self-esteem, going with what my intellect told me I should be doing.
It began to change early this year, when I started two things.
The first was a new habit, a new reason for getting up a little earlier: Meditation. Okay, I’d started it a few months before, but this year marked the first time I did consistent 10-minute stretches of it.
Then there was the second thing, a returning to a creative outlet I’d not used for around 12 years: Drawing.
I used to read web comics all the time, and back in 2001, I entertained the idea of creating my own web comic. I didn’t have the confidence then to do more than a single strip — I think we showed it off to Mum and Dad, which usually killed my enthusiasm for anything back then. But in January, I picked up paper and pencil and in short order was quartering A4 sheets of paper for four-panel comics.
That was when it very nearly came off the rails again. Why? Because I started trying to write a novel again.
My first strips were based on the characters for my dormant novel, Slamdance, and as I regained confidence, momentum and skill, I started trying to do mini-plots. Up came Scrivener, and I was creating four-panel scripts as scenes, and bringing the rest of my characters in, and trying to work out how it was all going to go…
…and, suddenly, drawing was something I was guilting myself over again. When I got a new computer and was finally able to download and install XCOM: Enemy Unknown, I abandoned drawing almost entirely (I’m thankful for workday lunch breaks, or else I’d have done nada) for over a week.
Again, two things happened around the same time. For starters, I started coming toward the end of Enemy Unknown’s single-player campaign, and for seconds, I actually realized that I was trying to write a novel again — and that it was the true roadblock to my creativity.
I ought to mention my wife Vickie here. See, she always knows me better than I know myself. A while back, I was fleshing out the universe that my lead character, the titular Slamdance, inherited. I kept working on the novel’s plot. I needed a villain, right? A doer, trying to reshape the world to his or her benefit and damaging the things Slamdance held dear. I needed to explain where Slamdance came from, and whether and how it tied into the villain’s plot. I wanted to explain how a 300-kilogram, seven-foot, red cyborg clone, could convert himself into a six-foot, 80-kilo human being, and came up with a crazy, music-based magic. I tied that into Slamdance’s love interest, who became a magical demon hunter who wanted to kill Slamdance but was falling for his human alter-ego. I had the sister of Slamdance’s best friend and landlord (Slamdance lives in a junkyard, you see) become a blogger who wanted to uncover the truth behind Slamdance, and a race of cyborg clone slaves who were going crazy, and…
…and Vickie asked me, “Why not just tell the story of Slamdance and his friends pal-ing around in the junkyard?”
Funnily enough, the Slamdance strips I created that really work? That’s all they’re about. As soon as I tried working all the rest of that crap back in there, it stopped working.
Then, when I started drawing comic strips again, Vickie asked why I was doing Slamdance instead of Fraser Road, the original, from-life web comic I started back in 2001. The answer was that I was having Slamdance comic ideas and none for Fraser Road — but the idea that the comic had to be Slamdance and only Slamdance was another one that was between me and creating something I truly enjoyed.
So I set all the plotting aside and just went with the ideas for single (or double) comics that were falling out of my brain, whether they were Slamdance or something else (I’ve actually turned an idea that’s been knocking around in my head for a little while into two strip scripts based on XCOM: Enemy Unknown), and lo and behold: I started drawing again. (I even had what could well be a Fraser Road idea earlier today.)
The really good bit is that on the way into work last week, the penny dropped:
I’m actually happy in my own skin now. So much more so than when I was trying to be a novelist.
I’d like to tell you that telling the difference between the things that are truly yours and the things that you ought to be doing is easy, but if it were, I would have stuck with exploring my creativity with pencil and paper after trying it years ago. But I think I can pass on some other things I’ve learned:
More than anything else, any lessons in technique or stick-to-itiveness, I reckon you need to be comfortable in your own skin first. Invest your time in those things that will help you be at peace with the weirdo that only you are. (Tweet!)
Jog, meditate, whatever it may be. I feel the urge to advocate meditation over all else, as it’s inherently peaceful and that, to me, seems to be the whole point, but I fully (o.k., mostly) accept that for all I know, I know very little, and certainly next to nothing about you . But before you put your nose to the grindstone on whatever endeavour — mainstream, alternative or out-and-out weird — that your brain tells you that you ought to be doing, take as much time as you need (and then a little bit extra) to find out whether it really comes from you.
Like me, you could be trying to fulfil some need for fame, or financial security, or approval. Is there a little of that in what I’m doing right now? Sure. But juggling the keyboard and the pen with the pencil and the mouse to create illustrated moments feels more right than trying to build worlds and construct extended narratives.
I wonder what will feel right for you?
Since Cordelia posted his last Quit, Rob Farquhar has made good progress toward living a happy life. After adopting the philosophy that it’s better to try something than put it off and wonder, he changed his blog’s name (again) to The Society for Doing Things. On it, he writes about how the things we all do — from little to big, frivolous to serious — all contribute toward building the skill and courage we need to do the things we really want to do in life.
Though he’s currently on a web comic kick, Rob has also recorded a podcast where he interviews folks who have turned passions into incomes, whether sideline or self-supporting. It’s called The Paid to Play Podcast, and you can like it on Facebook or subscribe to on iTunes (You’ll be sure to love his interview with Cordelia for Episode 15!) He fully intends to get back to recording more episodes. You know. Soon. Ish.
Rob does the 9-to-5 helping a newspaper ad sales team beat targets (sketching more comics on his lunch break), then returns to his wife and their home outside Cairns, Queensland, Australia, where he juggles meditating, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on TV, exercise and XCOM: Enemy Unknown (naturally, he’s better with the TV and the game). Check him out on Facebook or Google+ or follow him on Twitter!
Interested in submitting a Reader Quit of your own? Check out how here.
Image: Drew Coffman on Flickr