Over the last few months I have been tasked with writing health and fitness articles. This is a new frontier for me. I found the work to be difficult and, at times, agonizing. (I’m not dramatic or anything.)
Last week I was at my breaking point. I wanted to throw in the towel. I thought this work is not worth my happiness. But as I was complaining to my ever-patient husband, he offered me a neat little idea. He told me to pretend I was someone else while I was writing the health articles.
And so it is my pleasure to introduce you to Daphne Dilbert, Diet Diva. Daphne is married to Darren Dilbert, Drama Director. She loves puns and alliterations. She is a total yoga-nut, and she eats her probiotics every day. Yogurt is her favorite snack. She loves reading scientific journals to learn new things about the human body.
She is really quite annoying.
But you know what else she is? A great health writer.
Channeling Daphne has renewed my excitement and energy for my writing. I actually enjoy reading the health journals and writing about HIIT workouts and the benefits of cannabis oil. I am already using my alter-ego less and less. She renewed my positive attitude.
So, if you’ve ever found yourself hating your work and still needing to pay your bills, create a new character. You can be whoever you want to be while you write about motorcycles, or cats, or nostalgic music trends.
I am so tired of seeing self-described helpful websites and blog posts that put me inside a box. It makes me sad to see people trying to conform to the ideals of others because they think that is the only path to success. I see it all the time.
Don’t use the word sincerely.
Never say sorry.
Be bold or stay invisible.
Don’t send a thank you note until the third Monday of a waning moon.
Fuck ALL of that.
My authenticity is more important than anyone’s rules. (So is yours.)
I use the word sincerely because I am SINCERE. (And maybe you like ending every email with “Cheers.” Live your life.)
I say sorry when I am apologetic. (Just be a damn human.)
Being me is being bold. Being yourself is being bold.
I’ll send a thank you note anytime I damn well please, and I’ll send other notes just because. (I. LOVE. STATIONERY. And I love saying thank you. And please. I like using my manners!)
Be yourself, and you will attract the people you are supposed to attract.
Let’s be real. Do you WANT to work with someone who places the importance of rules over genuine human interactions? I don’t.
Don’t fall into a rabbit hole of how-to guides and start second-guessing everything you’ve done, and worrying about all the things you have to change.
Don’t change. Hone your talent, improve your skills, but don’t change the wonderful, incredible, awesome things that make you who you are.
You’ll never have to remember tips or tricks if you rely on the truest version of you.
(Lori Myers writes engaging content and customized resumes with the goal of perfecting keyword saturation. Her mission is to save princesses and play Super Nintendo like it is still 1994. Connect with her at www.resumescoach.net or on Facebook.)
You have been writing for hours every single day, but today is different somehow. No matter how many times you stare at your blank screen, the words never come. If you are a writer, you have certainly been here before.
Your to-do list is a mile long, and the dishes are piled up. You try to focus, try to think exclusively about your topic, but all you can think about is the bills that are due tomorrow and if you remembered to order more printer ink.
You are experiencing the bane of every writer’s existence, the thorn in each of our sides.
What you are experiencing is stupid writer’s block.
If you are not the holistic type, you will be thrilled to know that the road to inspiration and motivation is not always filled with meditation, tea, yoga, unicorns, or even rainbows.
For me, the road to inspiration and motivation is found only in video games.
Whenever lackluster writing and anxiety-induced procrastination strike me, this magical, miraculous cure spurs me into action. In fact, even without being caffeinated, video games are usually enough to spark an idea or ten far quicker than something significantly more awe-inspiring. Here are five ways in which video games assist in blocking my writer’s block.
Being a video game hero means you can also be your own. I like to think that princesses do not actually need a hero to save them. I use my anger and will to destroy the patriarchy and get to work on saving video game princesses from whatever evil villain is holding her captive. I imagine every video game kidnapping victim as simply needing help in breaking the glass ceiling. Once the end credits start, I urge myself to rock whatever needs to be written like the badass that I am.
Gaming gives me focus. Whenever life’s distractions get the best of me, I give myself the gift of playing a game. While games are considered immature at best, the focus it gives me helps me to hone in on whatever task needs to get done. A role-playing game is best for regaining my focus, as the many puzzles, mini-games, and castle bosses help me to tackle many smaller tasks just like in real life. This works for me to get things done instead of letting my anxiety pull me in a million different directions.
Video games calm my anxiety. If you have ever received a rejection, you know what imposter syndrome and anxiety can do to your professional confidence. Video games, although obviously not real, give me a sense of accomplishment that I then transfer to an assignment.
Video game plots replicate the monotony of writing. Writing content can be tedious and may become monotonous, particularly if you are writing content or copy about the same exact thing over and over in one day. With video games, you are performing the same moves, the same jumps, and the same tasks repetitively throughout, just with a slightly different goal or path along the way. Playing a game somehow gives me the creativity to write about the same exact topic for the umpteenth time but with a different spin.
Losing lives can make me angry enough to complete my work. Sure, there are times where I have been tempted to chuck my vintage SNES controller across the room. After seeing that the game is over because my character ran out of lives, I take my frustration and churn out tons of anger-fueled content instead. No word yet on if this is emotionally healthy, but it works.
My writing is better after a game session. Writer’s block is not always the problem. I recall several instances when I have written something, but my brain wasn’t functioning at its full capacity and what I wrote was far too horrible to turn in. Whenever I finish gaming, my words flow well together and are nearly Shakespearean in comparison to my pre-gaming content.
Writer’s block may cause your mind to wander towards the overflowing hamper of dirty laundry, or even to scheduling the dentist appointment you have been putting off for weeks. Sinister anxiety may creep up with its best friend, imposter syndrome, just in time to tell you that your words and ideas are not good enough, further causing the creative juices to drain right out of you.
You are good enough. Your ideas are brilliant, even if so-and-so said they do not have the budget for a freelancer right now after agreeing to pass along your pitch. Laundry, dishes, and that article can wait. Right now, it is time for you to play a video game.
My neighbor has a huge truck. You know the kind. One of those trucks that make you uncomfortable when you stand beside it because you are only five feet tall and the truck is at least twenty. (Oh, just me?)
This truck is loud and obnoxious, and all “look at me and how much money I spent on a truck that could have bought me a house.” This truck never surprises you when it passes you on the highway, and you notice big metal balls hanging from the back. That’s what kind of truck my neighbor has.
(in all seriousness, if you want to buy a big truck and it makes you happy, you do you.)
I wouldn’t pay as much attention to this truck if my neighbor didn’t pay as much attention to it. If all the men in the world spent as much time with their loved ones as he does with this truck, reality shows would look like episodes of Rainbow Brite and Fraggle Rock.
This guy is out there at least twice a day, every day. Rain, snow, heat, day, night, he is with this huge black monstrous truck. He is lovingly wiping away every speck of dirt while wearing gloves (is there such a thing as special car washing gloves?), waxing thumbprints from the doors, diligently checking his oil and filters and wiper fluid.
If he started making out with this truck, I would not be shocked in the least. It’s the next logical step. This guy loves his truck. Like, reeeeally loves his truck.
As I wrote my morning papers on my back deck this morning, he was out there with his green microfiber cloth, lovingly rubbing the hood and listening to AC/DC. I paused and watched him for a moment and thought about how often I see him out there taking care of that truck and I had a revelation.
If this guy can take care of his truck as well as he does, every day, why am I not taking care to write something every day?
I don’t need to write a whole book, or even one chapter every day.
I don’t need to write an entire blog post every day.
I don’t even need to write emails every day.
But I do need to write something, anything, every day.
He loves his truck and wants it to last a long time. I love my job. I love my career and my freedom. I love writing. It’s my passion. Duh, right? So why don’t I show it the level of care and respect that this truck is getting every day? It felt utterly senseless. So, I came directly into my office and thought of this blog post.
I’ve had major writing blockage for a few months now. Nothing is happening, and nothing is getting me there. Every writer feels like that at some point. I’m not going to say things like figure out what’s blocking your creativity, or try meditating and remembering all the things you love about writing.
If it were that easy, none of us would have trouble getting up in the morning and writing our hearts out.
Today, my neighbor and the love of his truck propelled me into my office to write about him. So, I challenge you to find someone who loves something as much as that guy and his truck. And when you do, tell yourself that you’re better than that shithead, and go bang out a few paragraphs. You’ll feel better before you get to 550 words. I promise!
(And if none of this is helpful, take comfort that you are not alone in your troubles.)
Constructive criticism. Developmental feedback. Progressive advice. Whatever you call it, it’s necessary and sometimes shitty. It’s also a brick-by-brick construction of your writing foundation.
I’ve read a lot of blogs on writing tips. Inevitably the article will tell me that I need to have thick skin or learn to grow some. You know what I say to that?
No. No way. Not happening. I am a hyper-sensitive, thin-skinned, impassioned writer that needs a lot of emotional soothing when feedback is less than stellar. I like who I am, and I am not going to harden myself against critics or the world.
I am thin-skinned. I don’t know how to be thick-skinned because that’s not in my nature but I do have tools that soothe my bruised ego and help me move forward without fear.
Are you thin-skinned too? I hope these tips help.
Find your cheerleader.
Make sure you have a support system. Introverts tend to have a small social circle. Ensure that you have someone that can be a sounding board for your frustrations, fears, and hurt feelings.
My husband is my biggest cheerleader. I tell him when I get feedback that hurts my feelings. He has an uncanny ability to twist the criticism into positivity.
Is your art, your work, bigger than temporary hurt feelings? It is.
Change your perspective.
I like to visualize every piece of poor feedback as a big rock. I get the criticism, I step on that rock and it elevates me. You won’t be a great writer until you’re standing on a mountain of these big rocks.
Every criticism is a stepping stone towards being a better writer. These are opportunities, not setbacks. Use feedback as your fuel to get better, do better, be better.
Let it out. Give yourself permission to sulk a little and cry it out. If you’re angry, scream and punch the couch (unless it’s a futon because that doesn’t seem safe). Allow yourself to feel whatever it is your feeling and remind yourself that the sting will pass. Poor feedback doesn’t turn you into a bad writer. It turns you into a stronger writer with more knowledge and experience than you had before.
“Ow, that hurt. That hurt a lot. But I’m still a writer.” Critics don’t even get to take that away from you.
There will always be a road to redemption for a writer because our only job is to write better.
Find better clients.
Sometimes constructive criticism is anything but helpful. Sometimes it’s just mean. If your client tells you that your stuff sucks but offers zero notes on how to make it better for them, THEY SUCK.
If that is a reoccurring issue with a client, maybe you aren’t suited to work together. There is no shame in realizing that a working relationship is no longer beneficial and then taking steps to rectify the situation. And by rectify, I mean walk away. I’d like to suggest playing Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” while you write the peace-out email.
It’s okay to be a thin-skinned writer. There are so many people out there shouting that it’s not, but it really is! Our sympathetic nature is our strength.
Thick skin is not necessary to be a writer. There are a lot of articles and blogs that perpetuate and normalize this idea that if you have thin skin, you’re not going to be as successful in your writing career. Fuuuuck that.
You can be sensitive, but you can also be brave. Being tender-hearted doesn’t mean your voice is weak.
For my first Simple Snips, Templates & Tips, I’m going to give you a ghostwriting questionnaire template to use however you’d like. I don’t own this content, and most of it is stuff I have collected at different times, through other websites and other bloggers. I have cobbled together a questionnaire that I send my ghostwriting clients. I change this up whenever I find something I want to add or remove. Feel free to do the same.
There is no science behind this. You have to ask yourself “How am I going to get to know this client?”
You can use this as a guide, a starting point, or a template that you use forever.
How do you get to know your clients? Do you prefer email, telephone, or something else? I want to know!
Do you need some help with the written word? Do you want to hire a freelance writer for your business? Do you want to talk about how gross sushi is? Email me at Chandi@ChandiGilbert.com or subscribe to my bi-monthly newsletter for quick and simple tips on how to improve your writing.