Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Decision Made - Furthering My Education

No, I am not giving up on novel writing or copywriting. I'm just setting myself up to make a stable paycheck whilst the other two options continue to percolate. 

As I mentioned previously, finances are dwindling and if I want to continue to keep up with the bills I've taken on as my responsibility, I gotta do something. I do regret not considering this current option sooner. I'll be entering the world of Medical Coding just as soon as I complete the training process and take the certification tests.

This is something I can do from home and possibly on a part-time basis. Whatever I do to make a living, a flexible schedule is a must. As you know, I live at home with my aging parents and the need for my services as a chauffeur is becoming more and more a thing around here. Doctor's appointments, other appointment-type things and such. 

From what I'm told, going into Medical Coding is a viable option for me. This will be the other side of the insurance biz from whence I've already come. My previous knowledge should help and, just maybe, I might even find some other sort of clients this way where my writing can be used.

We'll see. But it'll be a busy rest of the year for me. If I want to be working by the end of February 2016, I need to do the full-time study/learning route so I can do the cert tests in early February. One site had two demo test questions, which I answered confidently thinking my previous experience would prove valuable. 

Yeah, not so much. I failed both questions. So it's a-studying I will go for the next four months - well, once I'm enrolled and have the things from which I'll be learning. Might even get a free laptop in the bargain. Either that or money off the tuition. I'll have to decide that when enrollment time gets here. 

I'm excited to embark upon this new journey and it will be good to have some structure to my day again. I have found that, left to my own devices, I will procrastinate and just plain goof off. I must confess that I've been doing that pretty much ever since I left work last year. 

I still find it hard to believe it's soon going to be a full year since I last held a job. I do think, however, that the time has been beneficial. I am more or less rested now and with the exception of seasonal allergies, I'm feeling pretty good. I've even lost a bit of weight recently. The migraines have been whittled down to once in a great while when I used to get them weekly. I'm definitely hoping this new career path doesn't bring them back. If I can work from home, on a flexible schedule without having to be exposed to office politics, I think I'll be okay.

The writing part will continue, have no fear of that. In fact, much to the consternation of my writing group, I am currently revisiting some old friends and writing their story from a completely different focus. I'm incorporating some old and new ideas that I think will help this story write itself all the way to the conclusion. At least, that's how it is currently working. As long as this continues, the story will continue. 

The other story, while still in need of some serious revision, is currently simmering on the back burner. I do have the synopsis completed for that one but I think what I'm working on now will go much faster so I'm just going to go with it. If necessary, I'll work on both at the same time - while studying full-time. 

Yep. Gonna need a firm schedule for all this but then that's what I'm looking forward to.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Don't Panic!

Don't know if anyone else reading this can relate but when the finances are in limbo, panic might just set in. As it did for me this week. Savings only lasts so long and living costs money. When no money is coming in...you get the idea. This is when the rubber meets the road and a decision must be made - to try and stick it out and hope something good happens or go out and make something good happen.

To alleviate one burden on my shoulders, I have shelved the novel in favor of working toward becoming an actively working copywriter. I'm putting myself through a refresher of the courses I've taken and actually doing  more of the work this time than I did last time. They said it was really important and I have become a hardcore believer.

In an effort to become that actively working copywriter, I prepared to apply to one of those writing sites where a writer can get paid to complete writing assignments. It's not going to be the same kind of money I've been told can be made as a successful copywriter. Not even close. But it will give me experience as well as build up some confidence - which I'm seriously lacking at this point. I'll also end up with some good writing samples to pad my portfolio.

Part of the application process required a sample of my writing. I could choose up to 3 categories and write 500 words for each. Thankfully, one of those categories is beauty and since I do write a beauty blog, one would think that one would be a no-brainer. Wrong. My brain went completely blank. As it did with the other two categories I chose, about which I should be able to speak prolifically - games and food. Yeah. Not so much. Total blank there as well.

As you can probably guess, this did not help the panic setting in at facing a financial crisis.

However, I do have resources to help me get back on track. I'm sad that the novel has to take a backseat but it is nowhere near ready for publication and even if it was, there's no guarantee it will make anything much less the kind of money I need to meet my monthly obligations.

I spent so much time working on the novel and not practicing my copywriting, that I lost some of the ability. The skill of copywriting is like any other skill. It must be practiced. Sports players have to practice their skills in order to compete. Musicians have to practice in order to play their chosen instrument. Singers must practice their talent as well in order to keep their voice in top condition. Shouldn't writers also need the same practice to hone their skill to the highest quality? Darn right.

So, practice, relearn what was once known, do the work to attraction the attention of potential clients - this all needs to be done and done quickly. Like my savings, this year is almost gone. Do I really want the year to end without having done what I set out to do in January?

Of course, there is one option and it makes me shudder to even put it to voice. I could look for another cube job. I was pretty good at the last one but do I really want to go there - even for a short period of time? I feel anxiety come on even thinking of it.

But (and I'm going to get a little religious on you right here so stop reading right now if that kind of thing offends you) God is good and He is in control so I need to not panic and just do what I know I can do of what needs to be done and trust the He'll take care of the rest.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Your Passport Into The Recesses Of My Mind Is About To Be Stamped - Brace Yourself

Just getting over a weird Summer cold, which is one reason I haven't posted here in a while. As I said to a friend recently, I feel like I've been in a dark hole for the last 2 or 3 weeks and am finally becoming aware of the world around me again.

I did finish the manuscript and passed it on to my writer's group. They passed it back and I'm now about to begin what I hope is the final, major revision. To say there was plenty wrong with the last draft is putting it mildly. As a writer, you hardly ever see the flaws in your own work until they are pointed out by someone else.

Apparently, I use certain phrases a lot in my writing. It kind of makes sense because when you're just trying to get the story down, you don't want to spend time pondering how to say the same thing 30 million ways. You just want to get the words out of your brain and into the light. Well, that's my defense, anyway.

I've been collecting FaceBook posts from several writing-related pages on how to say the same thing in different ways. Perhaps it's time to collect those into something readable and start studying, eh?

I am also in the process of reading two works from one of my writer friends to give her a review on the published piece and feedback on the yet-to-be-published piece. In addition to that, it's time to get this copywriting thing rolling. Either that or go job hunting. I would prefer the former rather than the latter. To that end, I will be continuing my education in the B2B world with AWAI courses on writing white papers and case studies.  I also plan to look into websites that offer paid writing opportunities.

But first, I need to get into the habit of writing daily.

I confess. Writing daily is not something I'm doing on any kind of consistent basis, but I know it's something that, as a writer, I really should be doing. Doesn't have to be fiction but it does have to be writing. Actually, practicing copywriting should probably be a priority right now. Funny thing is, even though I'm not going out to a job every day, I still have limited time in which to do everything I feel I need to do.

Yeah. I know. I've got very little to complain about in that respect. Unfortunately, I've got so much I want/need to do that I get overwhelmed and get none of it done.

Part of the problem, I feel, is the chaos in which I reside. Chaos meaning clutter. Clutter meaning all kinds of crap stuffed into the room in which I'm supposed to be creative. In case you don't know, clutter and creativity don't work well together.

I have begun to clear the clutter and have actually made a good dent, but there's still a lot to do. What I really need to do is to make a priority list and then just work through it. And stop panicking every time I look at my dwindling savings.

All this means that I need to set some goals for what I want to accomplish.

Keep in mind, I'm preaching to myself right here but if anyone else needs this, you're more than welcome to listen in.

Set those goals. Just do it. And then work toward those goals like it's your job. Because it is. Granted there's no pay at the moment but meet the goals, do the work and the pay should meet you somewhere along the way.

Goal #1: Lose the clutter. A chaotic mind simply cannot focus within a chaotic environment. Well, it can if well trained but yours isn't, so get rid of the crap, Lady.

Goal #2: Finish reading the novel and give it a review. This one should be easy and you might even accomplish this one while working on goal #1.

Goal #3: Complete manuscript feedback. This one will take longer and should be worked on after goal #1 for the same reasons goal #1 even exists. Just do it.

Oh, yeah. Probably should set time limits for these goals. Hmm. The first two should actually be doable in a day or two. The third one will take a little longer because I'm not just reading as a reader, I'm reading as an amateur editor. So a week, maybe?

Ok. That's 7-10 days booked. What else? Right. Income.

Goal #4: Dig into your AWAI courses with a focus on B2B as well as a refresher on the copywriting course. And do the exercises, for heaven's sake. Which reminds me...

Daily Goal #1: Write. Every. Day. No exceptions. Even if it's just for 15 minutes. Surely you can spare 15 minutes a day to write something.

Where was I?

Goal #5: Check out paying websites where you can further practice what you're learning. Not going to make a fortune at this but you will get experience and hopefully overcome this lack of confidence you have in your ability to do the job.

And while I'm thinking of it, I do need to update my LinkedIn profile with some writing samples. Perhaps what I practice writing every day?

Oh, and I need to get my website done. Probably should do two - one for the copywriter and one for the author.  And separate FaceBook and Twitter accounts? Hmmm. I'll have to think about that one. Probably some kind of guidance in some of the resources on AWAI. So, I need to spend at least one day just browsing the site and taking notes. Check.

Um, is that chaos I see lurking over there in the corner?

I know. I'll put this all on my calendar and set reminders to remind me of what I'm supposed to be doing for that day. And I probably should be getting up a lot earlier than I am now. Which also means I need to go to bed a lot earlier than I am now.

And somewhere along the way I need to work on the revision of my own manuscript. Then there's NANOWRIMO coming up and I want to participate in that again this year.

Blog posts. Need to keep up with this blog as well as the beauty blog.

Windows 10. Two computers in this house are ready but neither one is mine but I need to work with it myself before I can show the parental units how it works. They also have issues that I need to help them resolve.

I have my own computer issues to resolve as well as organizational issues that need solving and...

Oh, look. Chaos has just taken over. Isn't that nice?

But seriously. I guess I just need to set the goals, set the time limits and just do the work. I mean, this is really no different than when I had so many priorities at my former job. I prioritized my priorities and went from there.

One more goal, or perhaps I should call it a deadline, is when I'll need to go job hunting if the income doesn't become a reality before the end of the year. Probably by the end of October, which isn't that far away. I have enough savings to get through November and that's about it.

It just hit me. Next month will be an entire year since I left my former job. I guess I could say that I took the year off to see where my writing could take me. Of course, temp employers probably don't care why there's so much time between jobs but it will help to have that explanation handy in case the question comes up.

I know I've rambled on a bit here. Ok. A lot, but this has helped me to think through what needs to be done now in order for me to continue my quest to be a paid writer. Even if I have to take a temporary job to bridge the gap between this year and next year.

I do think this time off has been beneficial for me. I was in a bad head place when I left my former job. Pretty sure it would only have gotten worse if I had stayed. That place was slowly killing me. I'm sure of it. I am a much nicer person to be around now - at least, that's what my Mom tells me. I'm more relaxed now. Maybe too relaxed.

I still have dreams. Big dreams, in fact. I just need to push past the chaos and self-doubt and take the steps necessary to see those dreams come true.

I can do this. One step at a time.