I went out this afternoon to get a cup of coffee, and ended up driving to Canmore. I’d been feeling the pull of the mountains lately, so the turn of events wasn’t all that surprising.

I’ve been asking how a great deal. I recognize this as a sign that something is wrong. I think, specifically, it highlights a lack of direction. On and off, I think about moving to Canmore. Being there got my how questions all fired up. Driving around you see some pretty remarkable houses. With my focus being to secure housing, I’m heightened to the disparity between my situation and my end. How How How.

Making the turns on the highway I was overcome with worry. I could see in my minds eye the car careening off the highway. It was an intense vision. At some point I asked myself, why would I let that happen? There wasn’t a response. In the past, I’ve allowed myself to slip off the path; I saw little reason to hold fast in a direction. The habit of allowing myself to deviate has lead to a lack of trust in my own abilities. One more trigger for the how monster. The drive, however, helped bring to light larger issues through smaller scale everyday life situations. If I can avoid allowing the car to drive off the highway, I can also prevent myself from going off the path.

Canmore is styled much like any other mountain town: stone and wood as far as the eye can see. I parked the car outside of downtown and went for a walk. I lost track of where I had parked the car, but remembered I parked near a float studio. As long as I could remember the float studio everything would be okay. Along my walk I saw a neat building. I took a look at it, and I deviated off the main drag. I kept walking. I saw even more neat houses. Then, I got seriously lost. At this point, I began to need to use the facilities. Wandering around suburbia in a mountain town, I saw that things are pretty much the same everywhere: the major changes being cosmetic to fit the surrounding environment. Continuing my wander, I ended up back where I had fell off, and eventually got myself to a cafe. Order having been restored, I headed back to the car and took off.

The drive home was nice. My head was clearer. While on the road, I the chance to order my thoughts around the problem at hand.

I recognized that all of the accomplishments I am proud of never started with asking how. I wanted to be an actor: I took some courses, made some attempts, and kept going. I wanted to work in wine: I took some courses, asked around for some work, and kept going. I wanted to go to university: I enrolled, took some courses, and just kept going. I wanted to be a bartender: I got a job as a bartender’s assistant, applied for a job, etc. I wanted to learn to take photos: I drafted a plan, executed it, and took some photos.

Never once did I ask: How do I become an actor, how do I work in wine, how do I go to university, how do I become a bartender, how do I take photos. I wanted it, and I went for it.

I recognized that most of the things that I am proud of are small potatoes. As a result, I wanted small things. Now, I want big things. Big things are more difficult to achieve. I am guessing, though, that they take the same level of want.

I understand that moving forward success wont be a function of incremental hours. Working 3 jobs, 90 hours a week, won’t bring the scale I require. I also understand that I am moving into knowledge based work. This is a new environment for me, and it will take some time to navigate around. Success will neither be quick nor the way I know it.

I believe most of my previous experiences will come in handy, but the application of those lessons will need to be altered. An example:

I read that if you want to get good at copywriting, you should hand write previously successful sales letters. That seems like a big waste of time. Translating that suggestion through my experiences though, I understand it similar to learning your pitch. The time spent in practice on the pitch, honing it, translates directly to success in field. If I spent the time hand writing previously successful sales letters, I would better understand their nature. In the same way that I can apply my pitch to various products, with enough practice I should be able to do the same with sales letters.

A key difference between my pitch and sales letters? A pitch requires me to execute it each and every time, a sales letter I only need to execute once and duplicate. This is an example of success not being a function of incremental hours.

I’m going to hand write some previously successful sales letters.

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I got accepted into a writers network.

First, It’s small copy. This is perfect. I need to understand how to execute before I can scale. I’ve got all my payment and tax information set up. Now, I just need to figure out how to win.

Wish me luck.

EDIT:

I should explain why this is a big deal.

During the writing project, I applied to this network; I got rejected. Shortly after, I got a job working full-time which then became part-time and then ended prematurely. At this point, I decided to investigate web marketing. I watched some lynda.com courses on web marketing and did my GAIQ. Following this, I started the website.

After starting the website, I got my current job. During the course of my current job, I investigated a number of ways to earn extra money.

I became fixated on flipping. It was something I did when I was in my mid-twenties. I knew I didn’t want to move forward with it, but it seemed like the only option. I had this thought over and over in my mind. Last night, I got out the notebook and went to work breaking down my thoughts. It was at this point that I realized, I needed to take a pause.

The idea of sending myself into oblivion chasing crazy dreams would likely ruin the slow build I was on. More relevant though, was the notion of if what to do isn’t crystal clear keep doing what you are doing. I didn’t like that answer, but the logic made sense: don’t chase something you can’t see forwards and backwards.

Right after this, everything became crystal clear. I liked working with words, and I still had opportunities that weren’t fully realized from earlier this year. The blog post last night highlighted PGDP and CopyPress. After doing all of that, I remembered this other network that I had applied to.

Because I had done the web marketing course work and read the copywriting book, I had more knowledge at my disposal than I did when I was doing the writing project. While doing the test for this network, many of the points from both the web marketing and copywriting book jumped out at me. I guess it was enough, as I was welcomed into the network.

Now, I just need to do a good job. I’m still way to excited about it. I need to let some of this energy die out, so I can think clearly.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Backwards.

Sometime during the writing project I got involved in Distributed Proofreaders. I let it go by the wayside; I recall wanting more action. I could see that I was good at it, and wanted to go further. Without developing the critical eye for changes, or the habit of working, I probably wasn’t ready for the next step.

Around this time, or just after, I had also started the on-boarding process with a website called copypress. I got through their preliminary examinations for both writer and editor, but when it came time for the practical test I froze in both instances. I didn’t feel ready. Thankfully, I’ve experienced this a few times at work recently, and all I do is just get cracking. It seems to work. Sure, there might be hiccups, but it seems to be okay.

I’ve logged into PGDP and reset my password, and I sent an e-mail to copypress to request activation of my account.

I have a few more resources at my disposal:

IMG_0472

In preparation for the website, I worked through the copywriting book. That was documented. During the build up, I picked up a few more books to help me out. On Writing Well has been a nice read, and its always nice to have a reference book the Penguin Writer’s Manual fills that niche. Sure, the CMS would be better, but baby steps.

I think taking the time to bring things back down to basics will pay off in the long run. I hope it will also keep me occupied while I try to save money for that down payment.

I think the website was a good idea; it captured my imagination. There are too many moving parts though, and I’ve demonstrated no skill on any single part to justify the website as viable. Taking a step back, back to basics–what I know: grinding it out, should help me grow as I hope to.

I’m going to experience challenges. Things wont go smoothly. The main thing to remember is process. I should probably do a 10-MT script to help me out. I’ll just plug away at it. The thought of being useless is creeping into my mind quite a bit. My reaction is to go hog wild on some crazy scheme. This, however, doesn’t seem like it will serve me in the long run. Writing is what I am into, and I have to ride that out: highs and lows are part of the game.

I started to write this a few days ago

I accomplish something by letting myself go. I abandon all reason and dive in. This unrestrained mode of operation hinders rather than helps. On the one hand I get results, but on the other I act in an inappropriate manner.

To better understand myself, I’ve dabbled with extreme restraint and extreme release; both modes are hazardous. With extreme restraint I bring across a muted expression of myself, and with extreme release I put myself in dangerous situations. The muted expression of myself leaves me feeling worthless, and putting myself in dangerous situations can cost me my life or my freedom. Neither side is a clear win.

My interest in writing is an attempt to find the middle.

I’m working to cut away the useless parts of my speech. The very’s, and the much’s, and the like’s all need to go. Clear communication is the answer, but a clear message in a monotone voice is boring. Letting go gave me colour, but it was garbage out. I need to work on crafting clear messages while infusing them with life.

I hope these efforts with writing translate into other areas of my life. I know that life is a series of basic principles abstracted to different problems. If you can master the basic principles in one area, you can master them in another. Its all a matter of time.

This is the second time a writing project has stalled. The first time was with the novel. Admittedly, that was an ambitious project. The second time, now, is the copy writing. In and of itself, writing some copy for a chair isn’t that ambitious. My aims with the project were ambitious. There seems to be a theme of ambition getting in the way of action.

My quick google search on ambition would suggest it is negative. Thus, its probably a good thing that I haven’t progressed with either project.

I have been watching YouTube videos. It has allowed me to think. The first thought I get is that I yearn to participate despite having no skill in any arena, and second I desire to belong. Further, I want to be seen as special just because I like something.

Process versus product

I come back to this all the time. Process goals get product goals. You can’t focus on the product goal because it isn’t actionable. You can’t get a million dollars, You can’t get your sales targets, etc. What you are able to do is execute a process where the outcome is the product goal. If you focus on what needs to be done to execute the process, the results you are looking for should follow.

Its much easier to understand this at work where I know the terrain better. Writing is a different beast. Chunked up or chunked down though, the process is the process. All that means is I need to give up my conception of the end goal and focus on what needs to be done moment to moment. That’s wonderful. Sometimes it doesn’t feel great. It certainly doesn’t feel great at work, but it does feel great when everything is working. I guess then, I have to do the same thing with writing. Get through the tedium and focus on what it takes to make it happen.

How do I know that what I am doing will be right?

This is untested, for me, material. With work, the first time I did it, if I had failed I would have been happy to just fold everything up and call it a day. I didn’t fail though. It just happened. Someone guided me through the process, do I need the same thing with writing? All the books say the same things, and they all sound right. Just do it, suck at it, and keep going. Cool. Why does it feel bad? Well I haven’t crested yet, so I guess I just haven’t bought in yet. Cool.

Ambition getting in the way of action is not altogether different than the pressure of hitting a target at work getting in the way of doing what needs to be done to hit the target. I am both the boss and the worker when it comes to writing. I’m pretty bad at switching modes.

Sum it all up:

Just do the work.

Keep doing the work.

The more you do the work, the better you’ll get at the work.

relax and trust the process.

 

 

Not moving at lightning speed

I’ve managed to get my amazon link sorted; I’ve got my ascii image, a headline, and sub headline done.

I felt I would have done more. Maybe it doesn’t have to move at a quick pace. Just plodding along can work. It’s not what I imagined, but how much of what I imagine really comes about?

c’est la vie.

I’m happy that I keep going.

Well…

I was going to write about how I didn’t execute today. I started to write out my feelings. I took a step away, had a cigarette, and decided that I might as well have some fun with it. I’m going to work on my project.

  1. finish reading copywriting book
  2. create structures for posts on textchair
  3. read Deloitte article on luxury goods
  4. create tone-of-voice/word bank/style guide
  5. read design book
  6. draft insta strategy
  7. execute october 15.

The Deloitte article wasn’t as useful as I was hoping. I had to do more digging. I have some sense of the direction I want to head. The research is my weakest point right now.

The research did help me figure out an Instagram strategy. Prior to the research I was having a hard time figuring out what I would put on Instagram. I have the what, and now I just need to figure out the how: Tactics. That’s for another post.

The Instagram design work is what I am most looking forward to once October 15 comes around. I’ll have a practical reason to learn how to use design software.

The last couple of days haven’t been super positive. This is a common thread with the job that I do. I lose all my steam by the end of the week, and when my days off come I am dead to the world. Thanksgiving I spent mostly in bed. Today, I just did a bunch of random stuff. I bought a book. I watched a movie. I made lunches for the week. It was an unproductive weekend, but rest keeps me going at work during the week.

I probably need to re-evaluate my diet. If I am this demoralised each and every week, its likely my diet. I admit my diet hasn’t been that great. The September getting to zero plan required me to budget hard. I kept it going. I need to eat better. Life without food isn’t that great. The difference $20 or $30 dollars a week makes could see a dramatic improvement in my productivity. Its worth considering.

Outside of my control is the weather. I am affected by the snow. I get tense, terrified even. It feels like being over stimulated. Once January roles around I’m going to have to watch my coffee intake. I have a cup of tea in the morning. It’s gentle. It’s hard to make a good cup of tea on the go, and I would feel like a sap spending $2 or more on a cup of builders tea. This seems like a diet thing again. Ever since the snow came, I’ve felt off.

General self-talk is also in my control. I’ve struggled with this since I was a child. I’m getting better at it. I’m not sure if I’ve talked about this on the blog yet, but self care is so important. I realised a few weeks ago that I had to start to take better care of myself. I actually had to care for myself though. Like genuinely care about my own well-being. The only way I know how to do it is the way that it was done to me as a child. So, I reenact caring for myself as if I were a child. Sometimes it makes my throat tighten up. I don’t know any other way to address it though. This similar role playing continues on with positive self-talk. I make an effort to talk to myself as if a good friend would talk to me. I’m lucky enough to have had good friends, so its not that hard to do. It feels silly, but what’s the alternative? Building a good relationship with myself is the first step to building better relationships with others.

That’s it for now.

 

 

I really liked the design book

  1. finish reading copywriting book
  2. create structures for posts on textchair
  3. read Deloitte article on luxury goods
  4. create tone-of-voice/word bank/style guide
  5. read design book
  6. draft insta strategy
  7. execute october 15.

In January or February of 2017 I read a book on graphic design. It wasn’t as useful as the design book I just read. The overarching theme of the design book is that design follows a process. How much of that process am I going to be able to master? Well, I think the fun is trying to make it happen.

Its time to read the Deloitte article, and then do the best I can to patch all of this together.

I really like how much I’ve read over the last few weeks. I want to keep this up, but I want it to be connected to something. I want to take real actions based on what I am reading. I want to test things, and see the result.

Much of my early life was being fascinated by learning how things worked. I still think its fascinating, but I want to do the work. I would like to experience making it work. Peeking behind the curtain is less interesting than doing. When you do, you know for real. What value does that knowledge have? People always want something done.

This web project feels like the right project to test the waters of doing. There is a tangible success or failure metric: I either make money, or I don’t make money.  It also challenges me to execute across multiple disciplines while being aligned to a single goal. This way I am not able to run off a cliff with a passion project. The website either makes money or it doesn’t. If I fail, I can try again. Rinse and repeat enough, and I will make it.