Hi ho

crossroadsI’ve been away on secondment and truthfully quite sh*t at multi-tasking. Sorry for being absent awhile. New posts to come.

Doing another job for a few months has me wondering about purpose and contribution. How do you decide where best to direct your efforts?

I’m at a crossroads… anyone care to join me there for a picnic? 😉

More soon and thanks for keeping me entertained with your posts while I’ve been travelling!

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On procrastination

“Writing is 90% procrastination. It is a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write.” ~ Paul Rudnick

“Writing is 90% procrastination. It is a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write.” ~ Paul Rudnick

Awhile back I stumbled onto a quick fix that works quite well. You’ve likely heard of it, but have you applied it?

The secret?

Lower your standards and keep going.

If writing is about ego gratification you may be squirming at the prospect. Who wants to write sh*t for the sake of pen to paper?

I do, because I’ve learned that writing as practice and process is the foundation of quality writing.

So start scribbling shite on your pages, dear friends. Eventually you’ll polish some of those turds and find yourself with something pretty great.

Or you could do laundry, listen to music, reorganize the cupboards, read news, and all the while imagine what a great writer you’ll be… someday… when you finally start writing.

A writer writes. An egotist fantasises about the life of writing.

Which will you be?

Related post on procrastination

You know you’re old when staying up all night makes you feel old

fun at every ageBrilliant all nighter with friends, wine, and laughs. Today I’m bloody knackered. I managed to make it through the radio show, with the added challenge of tackling a new studio system. And now, despite looming deadlines, I feel dead to the world. How did I do this for several consecutive nights in my twenties?! While I rest my haggard old bones and nurse my ego, I remind myself of all the wisdom gained from those years of idiocy and experimentation. Sure, partying two nights in a row is now beyond me, but I know how to party well when I do make it out. 😉

The stealthy writer

The man sitting across from me on the train this morning was obviously a writer. He pulled out his notebook and scribbled in fits and starts, breaking only to stare intently at the people squeezed in around us. After an hour of watching him watching others, and surreptitiously admiring his collection of observations and sketchy drawings, I asked him, “what are you writing this morning?”
traintracks

You know what he said? Eyes wide in terror or arrogance, I couldn’t tell, he said, “Oh, I’m just a PA [personal assistant] and… uh… forgot my laptop and so I’m writing lists.” Bollocks!

 
What inspired him to lie? The jig was up but he clung to his stealth.

He wasn’t the shy sort, so perhaps he wanted to avoid liability because his scathing observations will appear in a blog post or book. Maybe he was cooking something to rival the women who eat on tubes fiasco? Ha!

His behavior begs the question, would you admit to being a writer? Is it something you positively identify with or try to bury beneath your other assets?

Whatever his reasons, he was no writing ninja. And I’m a bastard for reading his work. 😉

The art of the email

I met someone the other week who writes f*cking brilliant emails. Consistently. I’m awed by such people. The delicate balance between coercive and charming often eludes me, and I come across as either too pushy or too passive (my attempt at softening). How do you approach the art of the email? As I try to finesse my style, I’m absorbing a diversity of approaches.

My typical email experience includes emotionally charged bashing at the keyboard for a bramble of a first draft, followed by a vigorous slashing of emotionally charged terms, and a generous splashing of positivity (without seeming insanely optimistic). Then there’s the beastly issue of the emoticon. To 🙂 or 😉 is the question. And f*ck me if I ever know the answer. In some contexts they seem damn near necessary to point out playful tone or to emphasize that I am indeed smiling despite forceful prose. But then there’s the voice telling me that they’re bloody cringeworthy and better left to adolescent sexting on kik.

emailDon’t even get me started on subject lines. I’ve probably lost days of my life writing and rewriting subject lines to compel the reader to open my message without coming across as alarmist, curt, or excessively wordy — apparently more than 50 characters and you’ve written yourself off!

Searching the interwebs for advice on crafting effective emails is variably useful. “Thanks, I do own a dictionary and have one at hand, and yes, I’ve spelled the person’s name correctly.” I’ve mastered the basics and am looking for the deeper secrets to ensure my readers feel valued whilst I come across as breezy (if you knew it had taken me 10 minutes to write and obsess over these three sentences, I would lose my cool factor).

Until I’ve mastered the art of the email…

when something’s really important, I just pick up the damn phone.

Change

This new project is stretching me in ways I’d never imagined. It’s terrifying and wonderful and overwhelming.

change treeI can feel my brain adjusting neural pathways as its pushed to produce strange connections at faster speeds. There’s a soreness in my soul as its pulled in different directions, increasing my flexibility and resilience.

This is what growth feels like.

It’s not the warm and fuzzy expansion that self-help sites praise, as though we’re cocooned in soft silk before metamorphosis and gentle fluttery emergence.

No, this is the systematic breaking down of the very fabric of my being, as life hurriedly reforms me with the finesse of a toddler reshaping a cracking lump of Play-Doh. The older I get, the more cracks accrue and the more pieces fall away, but I’m still changing. And therein lies the beauty of this messy business.

My change is eternal. My atoms will reassemble after death and continue their shapeshifting until the end of time. Perhaps our experience of change is the closest we get to immortality.