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- Ep 61 In this week’s podcast, we discuss how to balance the loneliness of writing, the late William Zinsser’s writing advice, 5 websites to visit instead of writing, and where you can get free pictures. Also meet Writer in Residence Pip Lincolne, author of Craft for the Soul
- How to makeover your email and skyrocket your productivity
- Ep 60 What you need to know about getting an agent, how Twitter can work for you, have you mourned the death of a character and how to organise a book tour yourself. Should you write a blog series, get more corporate writing work and we chat to Writer in Residence Nicole Hayes, author of One True Thing
- Ep 59 The couple who is suing because their engagement photo ended up on an erotica novel without their permission, how to crowdfund a novel, famous book titles rewritten as click bait, the wonders of Textexpander and we chat to Writer in Residence and movie star Matt Nable.
- Ep 58 The vocative comma, the Bundanon Trust residency, how to pitch non-fiction books, writing routines and Writer in Residence Pamela Hart.
We all have our rituals. Some people swear by yoga. Others can’t get through the day without meditation. Yet others consult the tarot while sacrificing a chicken under a full moon before they make any major decisions. I, too, have a ritual that I swear by. And I do it (almost) every weekend.
My ritual does not involve any chickens or full moons. But I know that if I don’t do it, I’ll have hell to pay. It keeps me sane.
If you feel overwhelmed, like there’s just too much “stuff” in your life – and your brain – then I highly recommend it. So what is it?
It’s simple. It’s all about “Returning to Zen”. I’ll be honest here: I don’t always achieve Zen-like Nirvana. But I don’t beat myself up about it if that’s the case. Remember, near enough is better than not at all!
“Returning to Zen” is all about purging. That is, getting rid of physical, digital and mental clutter so that you can make space in your life to be productive, give yourself room to be creative – and the headspace to make the best decisions.… Read more ...
I know I bang on about this a lot but that’s because I’m so passionate about it. I’ve never subscribed to the idea that you have to suffer for your art and live a frugal life. Creativity and wealth are NOT mutually exclusive. But you do have to take responsibility for your finances; don’t put your head in the sand.
I guess the people at Money Circle heard me because they asked me to write about the topic. You can view that story “You don’t have to starve to be an artist” here.
I’m on a bit of the productivity roll at the moment. Admittedly, I’m always looking for ways to streamline my workflow and become more efficient in the way work.
So I really resonated with this productivity chart from Funders and Founders.
You can print out a bigger version here.
It features the 80/20 Rule, of which I’m a big fan. The other strategies I’m particularly fond of include:
* No meetings unless they are decisive
There is nothing more frustrating than talking for hours without achieving a definite outcome. To avoid suffering from “death by meeting”, start each meeting by determining how long it’s going to take and what decisions you want to make by the end of it.
* Start an “Idea Dump” book for genius ideas you can’t work on right now
I love this – and it’s a must. I used to write down all of my ideas, but they were never collated in one spot. So I would have ideas on post-it notes, notebooks, Evernote, on the notes function in my phone – all over the place!… Read more ...
You want to be productive. You want to get more done. But you seem to be falling into a never-ending spiral of tasks, emails, projects and so on. You don’t feel like you’re ever going to get on top of everything you need to do. Obviously, this causes stress. And one of the main drivers of stress is the feeling of overwhelm, that you’re drowning in a sea of tasks that never seem to stop flowing.
So you work like crazy but feel like a hamster running on a treadmill that just seems to get faster and faster. And your only option is to keep going because, if you take a break, you’re only going to have an even longer “to do” list when you get back.
I get it. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to feel like you’re never going to get on top of things.
You end up compromising. After all, you’ve actually been told NOT to strive for perfection, otherwise you’ll never complete any tasks. You’ve learnt that you just need to get your projects to “good enough” because that’s better than not getting them done it all.… Read more ...
It’s been a while since the last recap. So this is more like “the last two months in a minute”!
Lunch with Candace Bushnell
It was great to see so many familiar faces at the Business Chicks lunch featuring S#x and the City author Candace Bushnell. I had the opportunity to interview Candace earlier this year and I loved how down to earth she is. We compared notes about living between a house in the country and an apartment in the city (although I’m sure her New York pad is probably more than a bit fancier than my apartment in Sydney!)
Awesome group of students
I loved teaching the Australian Writers’ Centre weekend Melbourne course in Magazine and Newspaper Writing. It’s inspiring being with so many enthusiastic students and watching their talent unfold over the weekend as they learn how to put their new skills into practice.… Read more ...
Earlier this week, I was awoken at about 2am by an almighty noise. It was definitely from an animal … or monster … and it emanated from somewhere near the bedroom window. It sounded like Satan trying to escape from hell. And he decided that our side fence was the right place to make his entry into the world.
Turns out that it wasn’t Satan. It was the cow from next door.
Yes, even as I type that, I find myself wondering: “How did I end up sleeping barely metres away from … a cow?”
This is particularly perplexing as I’m quite a fan of the Sparkling Concrete Jungle, otherwise known as the city of Sydney. But here on the outskirts of Melbourne, there isn’t too much concrete. Instead, there are a lot of undulating grassy pastures, a phenomenally bad internet connection and … yes … cows.
If you wander across the road there are even little lambs. And horses.
So you’ve been inspired by someone you admire. Maybe you want to achieve what they’ve done in their life or business. Perhaps you simply think they’re awesome.
You would love to connect with them. You dream of them endorsing your book, blog or business. Or you would give your right arm for the opportunity to pick their brains for 15 minutes. But you have no idea how to make this happen.
Linda Coles is the author of Start With Hello. She says her book reveals how you can master the skills of talking to strangers. I don’t mean about chatting to the cute guy on the bus in the hope you exchange phone numbers. Linda means engaging with strangers to turn them into valuable professional clients or contacts.
I specifically wanted to get Linda’s advice on how to approach your heroes. Maybe you’ve always want to reach out to Seth Godin, Sheryl Sandberg, or Richard Branson. How do you make this happen? Here’s Linda’s advice.
Hello. You are my hero, let’s connect!
Have you ever thought about reaching out to someone who is high profile but have never taken it any further because you don’t know the best way to approach them?… Read more ...
My friend David insisted that I read Playboy. Apparently, it has good articles. Specifically, he was referring to the recent Playboy interview with Tony Robbins. It’s definitely worth a read so if you have a chance, head on over to the site and check it out. Just be prepared for a few pictures of pneumatic blondes to flank the text.
One thing Tony mentions struck a chord with me. Tony is often pegged as a motivational speaker, but in the interview he says: “I’m a strategist, not a motivator. I’m obsessed with finding strategies that create real results in the shortest period of time.”
That’s something we all need to remember.
It lies at the heart of why we don’t take action.
You might have a great idea for a business. You talk to your mates about it over Friday night drinks. They love it too. But one year later you’re still talking about it. You haven’t taken any action.
Or perhaps you know you need to go to the next level in your business. But it’s such an overwhelming concept that you just don’t know where to start.… Read more ...
I love this video of a university student Michael Pollack having the guts to ask Billy Joel if he could accompany the legendary singer on the piano. Joel was speaking at Vanderbilt University when Pollack used the Q&A session to ask what many would never dare.
It takes chutzpah and confidence to do this. But it achieved a great result. Not only did Pollack get to accompany his idol, he did it brilliantly. And the Youtube video has been viewed over 2.5 million times so far (the incident occurred in March 2013).
However, I also think it’s important to have a good balance of boldness backed up with the goods. Imagine if Pollack asked the big question, got on stage and did a terrible job. It would have been humiliating.
Sure, someone people might argue that the act of asking is kudos enough. But any idiot can put their hand up for a job.
If you’re going to do that, make sure you can deliver.
I know this seems to fly in the face of many articles and comments about the fact that men often ask even when they don’t necessarily have the goods to deliver.… Read more ...
Earlier this week, I couldn’t get to sleep. At all.
I had a productive day in the office brainstorming a tonne of ideas and, by the time I left, we had bedded down some pretty exciting plans, timelines and new projects.
That night, as I lay in bed, even more ideas swirled around my brain. It was as if someone has turned on an idea hose and I had no idea how to turn it off.
On one hand, I was so excited by this that I just wanted the calendar to fast forward so I could work on them all! On the other, I was annoyed they didn’t wait till a more reasonable hour to invade my mind.
Needless to say, I couldn’t sleep. This is an anathema to me because I’m the sort of person who can usually go to sleep the minute my head hits the pillow. I can sleep on planes, trains, automobiles, even at the opera while the soprano is hitting a high C. I am what you would call a Very Good Sleeper.
So being unable to doze off is a very frustrating experience.… Read more ...