11 Excuses That Stop You From Becoming a Writer

 

Today, I take a break from career advice to talk about excuses like ‘I want to become a writer but don’t have anything to say’ and other excuses preventing you from becoming a writer. 

I wrote this article for myself to remind myself of all the excuses and lies I tell myself, preventing me from actually trying to write something meaningful.

#1 You need to have something to say

I work in advertising. One thing I’ve learned is that the ideas and stories come once you start creating and pushing through the cliche garbage at the top of your mind. You will never create a story until you take that first stab.

I read an interesting interview with George R. R. Martin, the original author of the Game of Thrones series. He said that his novels began with a single scene in his mind. It’s not like he invented the entire world and plot-lines before he ever started.

Ideas come to those who start. Start creating. The big ideas will follow.

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Budgeting tips for broke English majors, freelancers, & grad students

Heidi is a reader of this blog and personal finance enthusiast. As I’ve really come to love personal finance over the last few years, I asked Heidi to offer some advice for broke English majors and grad students who want to create a budget. This post offers some practical advice about how to create a budget when your income is irregular. You can get more finance tips from Heidi at the excellent blog www.thriftytricks.com.

I used to imagine freelancing as the perfect lifestyle; working anytime and anywhere you want, having no boss, and receiving as much money as you want, or rather, can.

As I started freelancing, all these expectations turned out to be very close to the truth, except for the money part. I found out that managing clients and projects takes a lot of time – time that would otherwise be spent on productive things like, well, making money. I believed that I can’t make a budget because of my irregular income and so I easily burned away all my monthly income.

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Want to get ahead in your career? Four principles you’ll find in 90% of personal development books.

 

Last month, there was a very inspiring career thread on Quora. The topic was “I am in my late 20s and feel I have wasted a lot of time. Is it too late?”

Image: 'runners (cc)' http://www.flickr.com/photos/45409431@N00/10014117363

Image: ‘runners (cc)’
http://www.flickr.com/photos/45409431@N00/10014117363

James Altucher, a popular blogger and all-around fascinating guy, gave some good advice as usual. After going through a long-list of famous people who reached success later in life, he ended with the advice that it really doesn’t matter. You don’t need success to be happy.

You might never have your “great” thing that you do. I’m not even saying “it’s the journey that one should love”. Because some journeys are very painful. And nobody says you get special marks in death if you wrote a great novel at the age of 50. Or came up with a great chicken, or a way to stuff lots of people into factories.I’ve stumbled and fallen and got up and survived enough that I’m sick of goals and purposes and journeys. I want to cut out the middleman. The journey. The desperation and despair that thinking of a “purpose” entails. Fuck purpose. It’s ok to be happy without one. You don’t need to pay with lots of unhappiness to buy happiness.

I think that is true. That said, I’m not ready to abandon my life goals yet.

When I first left grad school, I thought personal development was bullshit and snake oil. After reading a few of the better authors, though, I realized that most personal development offers very sensible advice. They don’t hide the work that goes into achieving great things.

Yet personal development is like personal finance or personal fitness tips. There are only so many things you can say. The basics are the basics.  People desire to be told a secret but the reality is that most success in life comes from action and a disciplined approach to improvement rather than searching the internet for another top 25 tips for ‘starting your novel’ post.

I’ve read dozens of these books now and hundreds of personal development blog posts.

Here are the four principles that I’ve found are common to most personal development. Follow them and you’ll see results in your career search.

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For sale: Master’s degree in English. Never used.

My Dear Friend,

I’m writing this to let you know that I’m selling my Master’s Degree in English Literature. It has never been used and remains in exceptional, out-of-the-box condition.

So what will this piece of paper do for you?

I say this with absolute sincerity, purchase my MA from me and your life will change in unimaginable ways.

Here’s how.

Imagine you — a literary scholar!

One day, you are scrubbing toilets and earning minimum wage. Life is a meaningless hellscape. Then BOOM.

Suddenly, you are attending fancy intellectual parties, drinking wine under the plump stars with your new professor friends, and strolling down a campus pathway, your pockets lined with a lucrative teaching gig at a two-year college.

If this sounds like a fairy tale, then read on.

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The Four Categories of Skills – Which Career Direction Will You Take?

 

Last month, I launched a 14-day course about skill developing and choosing the right career path. Below is a sample of a lesson. If you find value in it, you can join my email list (below and at the bottom of the page) and you’ll be notified when the free course is available again.



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How to Pick a Career You Love: 5 Quick Techniques

 

I recently ran a free email course about picking careers and skill development. I’m about to collect feedback from the first participants and then will make the course available for free on my website. If you want to get the course when it is ready, just sign-up for my email list (on the left).

pick a career

Here’s a few techniques I shared in the course as well as a few other helpful sites for job searchers.

This is just a quick post. I will post more on the topic when I have time.

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How to Stand Out in a Group Interview

 

“The problem with first impressions,” Oscar Wilde said, “is that they are almost always right.”

Like it or not, job interviews are about perception.This guest post below is by Victoria from www.randstad.com.au, an Australian job search and recruitment firm, and offers some techniques for improving your interview skills. I posted this because the advice really resonated with an experience I had last summer.

Last June, I sat on the other side of the hiring table. As I helped select a winning candidate from about 10 people, I realized how small perceptual details mattered in my decision. You try to be objective, but the small details do influence you.

Your resume gets you an interview, but the job interview is about social and personal chemistry.

 

job interview  2

 

I can remember one job candidate that barely looked us in the eye. It was uncomfortable interviewing her.

But it wasn’t just the introverts that didn’t make a good first impression. Another extroverted candidate at first presented himself very well. He was confident and barely nervous. But as the interview progressed, he didn’t practice “balancing” (a technique discussed in the article below).

This led the hiring committee to believe he was arrogant and difficult to work with, a perception that his references later confirmed.

If you have an job interview, I can say from personal experience that the techniques below do matter. While perception matters, it can also be adjusted and corrected.

For example, an old professor of mine once said to me, “You have an annoying habit of disappearing deep into thought when you present to the class . . . I know you are trying to be a casual presenter and think of things on the fly, but like it or not public speaking is a performance.” That insight stuck with me and I’ve tried to correct that habit.

Your interview is also a performance and the best way to improve is with live practice.

Here’s the post . . .

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“I’m Glad I Quit My PhD”– 4 Permissions I’ve Learned to Give Myself

 

Jessica recently wrote to me and shared her story of quitting her PhD and finding career happiness outside of academia. This is a guest post by her. I found her story very interesting and realized that I need to allow myself her 4th permission at least a few times per week. 

It’s hard to say exactly when I stopped wanting the PhD. I’d been ambivalent about grad school throughout my master’s program, feeling depleted by academia’s insistence on fueling its members by a relentless sense of inadequacy. I thought that might go away in a PhD program. It didn’t.

By the end of 2012, I was on-track to becoming a scholar of Russian History. I passed my Qualifying Exam last fall and defended my dissertation proposal to my committee shortly after. I had a fellowship lined up for next fall, which would allow me to spend the next year in Russia completing archival research.

And I didn’t want any of it.

Still, I waited for someone to tell me it was ok that I didn’t want to become a professor anymore. My advisor was incredibly supportive, selflessly encouraging me to leave if I wanted. But it was harder than I expected to just walk away from the career I had already invested five years in.

It took me far too long to understand that ultimately I was the only person who could give myself the following four permissions I needed to change my life:

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Use these advanced tips to find hidden job postings online

 

 

This article has 5+ helpful tools and techniques to help you quickly find job postings online.  

I’ll show how to find hidden posts by companies, scan social media sites for new openings, and how to expand your job search beyond Craigslist or industry job boards. 

I once read that half of job postings are never officially advertised. I’ve also met a lot of people who work at big companies and governmental agencies. Usually, they tend to hire from within their own ranks.

But they are required to advertise the job posting, meaning that for a lot of the advertised positions out there, the employer already has an internal candidate in mind for the role.

I’ve collected a few less known places that you can find postings for jobs. All of the companies I’ve worked at have used these methods to find new employees.

You’ll learn:

  • A tool to help you quickly scan Facebook, Twitter, and company blogs for new job openings.
  • How to find hidden job opportunities using easy Google operators.
  • Advanced tips for spotting new jobs on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you have your own special trick for finding job postings, I’d love to hear it in the comments.  Special prize for the first comment.  (more…)

How to stop wasting time and focus on building a profitable skill

 
 

Over the last few months, I’ve been unhappy with my skill development. I have lots of interests and passions. And while I work around 50 hours a week and have a satisfying career, I always have that nagging feeling of things I’m not accomplishing.

For example, there is a course I really want to take. This course is advanced and I know will help my career. But it requires me to invest a few nights per week, so I put it off. Yet, every month I delay I still think about that course, wonder what I would have learned, and feel like I need to sign-up.

Here is what I believe essential to happiness at work and the things I think I can do to feel more satisfied and fulfilled. (more…)