Are We Destined for Concurrent Careers?

Today on Facebook, my friend Jeanne posed this question to her friends:

If you could do anything you wanted, and money was no object, what would you do?

After posting my response, I started to read those posted by others and recognized a common thread: people wanted to hold multiple dream jobs – myself included. I then started thinking about those who influence my life. Many of them fall under the same umbrella. Continue reading

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Blogging Without Limits

I’ve struggled for more than a year now with redefining Person of Letters into something new that reflected more than just writing, because I am so much more than just a writer now. I’m not sure what exactly inspired me to log onto WordPress today, but I’m sure glad that I did. Continue reading

Writing About Yourself is Hard

Writing about yourself stinks. And I don’t mean writing an autobiography. I’m talking about cover letters.

There’s a point in all of our lives, whether you are a writer or not, where you get bored with what you are doing and decide to throw yourself back out into the water with the sharks.

I’m at that point right now. I am not unhappy with all of the opportunities that have been afforded to me over the last year. I think they just pointed me down the right road after I was stuck at the fork. I want more of what I’m doing and I want it to be challenging.

It has been a while since I looked for a new position in the traditional manner. I’ve been lucky enough to have been referred for much of my work. Now I remember why I love referrals. You don’t need a cover letter.

I hate cover letters. I spend entirely too much time crafting these documents. Why is it so hard to talk about yourself? I think it’s the pressure that comes with this brag letter.

  1. Grammar and Spelling: In my full-time position, I see terrible misspellings, uses of the wrong word and just plain bad sentence structure. I think this has made me overly obsessed with perfection on cover letters.
  2. First Impressions: This cover letter is supposed to be a first impression snapshot of who you are as a person and what you and your skills can bring to an organization. Obviously you want to look good on paper. But if you look too good are you disqualifying yourself? If you don’t look good enough will they just delete your email?
  3. Length: The jury is still out on how long cover letters should be and where you should be attaching them electronically. The options vary based upon the method in which you are applying for a job. I find that I just have to use my best judgment, take a stab at it and hope for the best.
  4. Accomplishments: Sure you think something is a great accomplishment to brag about, but really, is it an accomplishment to the hiring executive?

I think we should do away with cover letters all together. Just look at my resume and bring me in to talk to you face-to-face. I’m much better talking about myself when I’m in front of someone else who is asking me what they really care about, not about what I think they care about.

Do you hate writing cover letters? What challenges have they brought you and have you found ways to overcome them?

Why are you Writing Today?

Today’s thought-provoking guest post is from the lovely Rachael Judd. To learn more about her, read my Seven Questions with her.

Have you ever looked at the project in front of you and it just stares back blankly? Eventually the staring ends as you decide to browse Twitter or jump on Tumblr for just a few minutes.  Hours, days or weeks later the project is still lingering, incomplete.

It’s easy to slack off and “forget” to write or “not have time” to write if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve.
~WOW! Women On Writing Blog: Goal Setting for Writers

 

As I was surfing my Twitter this week I ran across this quote above. It came from a blog talking about setting goals for your blogging, but I think this last line takes it much further than goal setting.

 
Asked simply:  Why are you writing today?

In some professions the answer to WHY is quite simple. For a freelance writer, this question is much harder to answer.

Over the past several months I have been asking myself this very question. I started freelancing “on the side”, as many of us do, for some extra cash.  During that time I started my own blog as a chance to write about something I was really passionate about.  Then, freelancing became my “career”, blogging happens when I have energy and something about writing has changed.

I truly enjoy the flexibility of working for myself and I find the challenges of self employment to be minimal.  However, recently I have noticed something missing. As writing has emerged into a career I have seen it go from fun and exciting to difficult and overwhelming, the spark is gone.

Previously, the question “Why are you writing today?” was answered with “This is something I’m passionate about.”  Recently I’ve been answering that question with “I have the capability, time, energy and connections to make an income at it.” And that is where I am now.

Asking a new question. Can passion and income really intersect?

YES! Freelancing is a choice and a risk.  One of the reasons to make the choice and take the risk is to watch your passion and your income intersect.

However, to make this work the scales have to be balanced.

Too much passion usually means a lot of fun but very little income.  Taking on too many income opportunities may mean a full bank roll but very little enjoyment in the process.

Challenge: Make a change.

If you want to be a freelance writer for a career, stop and take a look at your scale. Do you have too much weight on one side? Are you loving each project but eating Ramen every day?  Are you enjoying Starbucks multiple times a day but dreading sitting at your computer?

At different points in the freelancing process sacrifices have to be made in favor of one side or the other for practical reasons, but before freelancing changes from passion to prison make sure you take full assessment of each step along the way.

To tip my scale back into balance I need to say no to a few paying projects that aren’t a “must” to my pocket book and say yes to some passion projects.  For me, a passion project includes some magazine submissions where I just haven’t pulled the trigger. It’s a risk since there is no guaranteed acceptance which also means no guaranteed pay. BUT, the payoff is the satisfaction of sitting at my laptop and feeling joy with every word that is labored over.

For now, that is enough to keep my career afloat and hopefully get me back on the write path!

Why are you writing today?

Writing + Personal Life = Overstimulation

Since I’ve started my new contract position, I’ve started to feel exhausted, but not tired. Let me explain.

I was talking with my dear friend Abbe and was explaining how exhaustion was a good thing. I’ve started to dive back into my creative self since taking on this contract position and have found that my mind wanders in 80 different directions because the content flows so freely from my head. Sometimes I type so fast that I what I wrote would make no sense to anyone if published without a good reread. I feel alive again.I feel motivated. I want to succeed. I’m overstimulated.

The only issue with this overload of words and ideas, is my mind continues to go on and on and on. The to-do list is my head is longer than the one I put on paper and I’m starting to feel like I’m juggling to much. Then I think about cutting back on something. And then I remember that almost everything I do now I love, and the one thing that I could cut is a necessity right now.

So I ask you, my readers, how do you deal with the juggling process? Do you write a super long to-do list and not complete it? How do you balance all of your balls in the air? Leave me your strategies in the comments below! I’ll share the best ones in an upcoming blog post!

Day One

This post is brought to you by confusion. My confusion.

Today is the first Sunday off I have had without a personal commitment in many, many years. My first instinct is to lounge around all day and do nothing. Then I remember why I have the day off.  WORK. My own personal work that will hopefully bring my career to it’s next stage. Work that I enjoy doing.  Work that exhausts my brain because it forces me to use the creativity that had been mostly tabled for so long.

I love this.

Today is day one of a new routine, which I am sure will be tweaked as the weeks go on. Having an extra day gives me more flexibility. I hope this will end the late night writing sprints. I hope it will give me the affordability to take on more of this work I love. Hopefully this will lead to bigger and better things.

But hey, I’m not one to put all my eggs in one basket, even when the chicken produces a lot of them.

It’s All About a Schedule

Since I’ve taken on this new project, I’ve realized that now more than ever I need to make myself a schedule. I talked a bit about the balance  in my Balancing Multiple Hats post. This contact position is more content and social media heavy than I have taken on prior, but I’m ready for the challenge and I think that the key to success is how I schedule my time.

While the time I have to write varies daily, I’ve sat down and made myself tangible goals to ensure I complete my tasks and that I’ve made the progress I need to stay on track.

  • Writing Sprints: The best thing about Twitter is having a strong community of writers on my side. I completed my first of what will probably many more with the help of Jeanne (@jeannevb). Tuning out of social networks for a while and keeping the TV turned off resulted in a quite productive hour.
  • Google Calendar: I am a huge fan of my tiny little pocket purse planner. I’ve decided to move into the technical age and input all of my meetings into the Google calendar that syncs with my Android. The automatic reminders of meetings are helpful.
  • A Blank Journal: I love having one of these with me to write down my notes about a project, keep track of information and have with me at all times to write outlines and ideas on for pieces. It’s a great compact item to have with me during my commute because it fits in my bag. It enables me to utilize available time during a commute.

What are your favorite tools and tips that you use when you are working on a project? Give me some ideas in the comments!