3 Things to Do When Your Motivation Is Low

Photo of reporter's notebook by grafixtek on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.
Photo of reporter’s notebook by grafixtek on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.

I’m struggling with motivation today. Its a case of so much to do and too little time to do it. I decided in order to get at least one of the things done (this blog post), I would make a short list of three things to do when your motivation is low.

Here they are:

  1. Make a list of things to do. These can be things you need to do or things you want to do. Make a list. Get that forward momentum going again to help you build your motivation. (If you’re a bullet journal-er like I am, you do this anyway.)
  2. Already make to-do lists but leave things off? It’s not wasted if you do something that’s not on your list. Add them to it and mark them as done. It’s not cheating. it can honestly help you see that you are getting things done and building your motivation back up.
  3. Take a break. You’re not Superman or Supergirl. Nor do you want to be. (Trust me. The world would expect way too much of you.) Tell yourself it’s OK to rest, to take a break. If you don’t get everything done, the world won’t end. You can start again tomorrow.

So here’s one more thing I can mark done on my to-do list. Now if someone would write a query letter for me, I’d be set.

Kevin Welch at the Goddard Center

jenmomkevinwelchI just had an amazing weekend and I wanted to tell you about it.

My mom (that’s her on the right) went to a Kevin Welch concert at the Goddard Center in Ardmore, Oklahoma, on Friday. The concert was Kevin Welch, a country music singer and songwriter (that part will become important in a minute) and his son Dustin.

Kevin played his guitar. Dustin played two kinds of guitar and a banjo. They sang together and separately. Each sang backup for the other. They have a beautiful harmony. We had front row seats and didn’t miss a ting.

Remember the part about songwriting?

On Saturday, they had a songwriting workshop. Kevin said these workshops are normally 2-3 days. This one was fro 10:00 to 3:00 on Saturday. He said it was difficult to figure out what to include and what to leave out in such a short workshop.

It was pretty intense.

We talked about shapes, patterns, rhymes (or not rhymes) as they pertain to songs. We also talked about such things as a prechorus, chorus, and bridge. The use of metaphor and cinematic writing and so much more!

Several people brought their guitars. One man brought his mandola. He said it’s like a Chinese mandolin but with one extra string. We went around he table where participants played and sang what they were working on. Except me. I had two lines of a chorus that I didn’t know what to do with and I (currently) don’t play guitar. The woman beside me didn’t play either.

As the workshop was winding down, Kevin said we didn’t even touch on allegory or parables in songwriting. Honestly, I don’t know if my head could have handled much more. I was already on information overload and couldn’t even start processing everything until today. Thank goodness for taking notes!

It was a great workshop!

If you’re ever in Ardmore during business hours, be sure and go to the Goddard Center and check it out! I didn’t get to see near enough of it and can’t wait to go back!

5 Ways to Market Yourself as a Freelancer

Note: The other day, I was going through some files and found a few articles that had been assigned to me by a website but were never published. This is one of those.

business cardsSuccess as a freelancer, whether writing, graphic design, etc., depends on self-promotion. Many of us were taught as children that it is considered impolite to brag about ourselves. However, that is exactly what we need to do as freelancers.

Here are five ways to promote yourself as a freelancer:

  1. Develop (and maintain) a web site. An outdated website does you no favors. Take the time to keep your site updated. Include a list of projects you completed in the past, with links when possible. You might think no one looks at your site, but it is a valuable tool you can use to let prospective clients know what you can do and see examples of your work.
  2. A web site is basically static. A blog is regularly updated. Ideally, keep your blog relevant to the work you do. Prospective clients use search engines, such as Google, to search for people who work in the field. Their search could lead to your blog. Keeping it updated regularly, at least twice a week, and talking about your freelance work can push your blog higher up in the search engine rankings. The higher your ranking is, the more likely it is someone will find, and ultimately hire, you. There is a caveat here: Never complain about clients on your blog. They will find out and word will get around. Keep it friendly yet professional.
  3. Create an e-mail signature. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you have a computer and an e-mail address. Even free e-mail addresses allow you to have a signature file. Include your name, preferably both first and last, a title, and a link to somewhere people can see samples of your work, whether a web site or a blog. Put it at the bottom of every e-mail you send.
  4. Network online and in person. If you work primarily with local businesses, join local civic organizations and consider joining the Chamber of Commerce. Go to meetings and Chamber events to network. Take business cards with you and hand them out. Remind people of what you do. Even if you work with local businesses, network online as well. Web sites such as Twitter provide opportunities to network with other professionals in your field, learning opportunities (there are numerous chats on Twitter, for example), and interaction with potential clients.
  5. Invest in business cards and brochures. Even in the Internet age, every freelancer needs business cards for self-promotion. Brochures might be able to be replaced by web sites, but only if they’re current. Sites such as VistaPrint offer free business cards if you pay shipping. Business cards are necessary to have on hand for civic organization meetings, Chamber of Commerce events, and professional conferences. Include your name, title, web site address, and best way to contact you on the cards.

There are more ways to promote yourself as a freelancer. Word-of-mouth also works well. The above are five of the most effective methods of self-promotion and can bring you success if you use them and follow up on any leads and assignments you receive.

New Endeavor

I’m trying something a little new.

I have signed up on Medium.com. I spent a day looking around after I signed up. As of right now, I have two stories on there.

The first is “Your Creativity Toolbox: The Idea Pocket” and “25 Ways to Find Time to Create.”

I am not abandoning the blog. Goodness, no! Especially not after I’m just restarting it.  I am doing this in conjunction with the blog.

I’ve received several recommendations for Medium. When the universe talks, I listen. I’ve been hit with clue sticks in the past and ignored them. Then I got hit by the whole clue tree. Yes, I’ve learned from that. So I’m on Medium. Feel free to check me out over there.

Tips for Effective Interviews

Photo of reporter's notebook by grafixtek on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.
Photo of reporter’s notebook by grafixtek on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that I’m working with the local newspaper on some articles. I’ve been doing several interviews because of that. In the process, I’ve learned — or rediscovered — some things.

  • Have at least 10 questions ready.
    I have discovered that if I go in with fewer than 10 questions, I don’t get enough usable material. I struggled to pull articles together. Once I figured out that I needed to ask more to get more, it became easier. One thing, though: If you ask a closed question, one that can be answered with a simple yes or no answer, ask another open question where they have to elaborate. Or ask why.
  • Treat the interview more like a conversation.
    If you go in acting like this is a formal interview, your source will be stiff and uncomfortable. They won’t open up the way you need them to. If they don;t open up, you get short answers. Getting them to open up is key to getting them to talk more about the subject at hand. Don’t be afraid to let them go on a tangent. You might be surprised at how relevant it turns out to be later on.
  • Take notes.
    Taking notes is important. It shows your source that you take them seriously and believe they will have something good to say that you will want to remember. I advocate taking notes even if you are recording your interview because batteries die and — particularly with digital recorders — recordings can be deleted or become corrupted.
  • When possible, record the interview.
    When you take notes, you use abbreviations. Sometimes you don’t remember what those abbreviations mean when you go to transcribe your notes. It is also possible that there will be too much information to take adequate notes and you risk losing a good quote if you’re not recording. There will be times when your source won’t want to be recorded, though, and you have to respect that.
  • Be gracious.
    People are busy. Be sure and thank them for taking the time to meet with you. If possible, follow up with a thank-you note, especially if it was a “big” interview.

There you have it. These are just a few of the things I’ve learned/rediscovered while doing interviews over the past month. Hopefully you get some benefit from it.

Weekend Schedule

Creative Commons via catchingcourage.com
Creative Commons via catchingcourage.com

Earlier, someone on Facebook asked what people’s plans are for the weekend. After I posted, I realized this weekend is fuller than most. It looks to be a good one, though.

As of today, I’m behind on my NaNoWriMo project since I haven’t done any work on it today. I’ll use tomorrow to catch up on today’s words and also add tomorrow’s. I have a writers’ group meeting I’m going to and then an interview with a doctor in the emergency department at the hospital for an article I’m working on for the paper.

What about Sunday?

I’ll do more NaNo writing, go to a baby shower, and go take pictures at a Lego Town building party. It should be fun. Monday will be back to work on more paper stuff, so I’m not going to have any down-time from the weekend. Sometimes that’s not necessary though. Here’s hoping this will be one of those times.