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Old August 14 2010, 06:36 PM   #16
Robert Maxwell
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Re: What do you do...

Sarek of Vulcan wrote: View Post
Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
Sarek of Vulcan wrote: View Post

Which means I'll have to focus and concentrate just on that effort. Actually, writing comes naturally to me. I can write all day about anything, but it's getting one topic down without straying off on a hundred other topics.

My mind wanders so much, I'm starting to think I have ADD.
As someone who actually does have ADD, I'd like to clarify a few things.

ADD doesn't mean you can't pay attention or that you can only pay attention for a very short period of time. In my experience, it means you have wider attention "bandwidth" and it can be easily polluted or distracted away from whatever it is you want to focus on. Normally, I help myself focus by filling that bandwidth with background noise--music, TV shows, whatever. I'm not really paying attention to them, but having them fill out the edges of my attention span lets me focus on what's right in front of me. This doesn't necessarily work for everyone, but it works for me. I am a born multi-tasker as a result.

As for writing--putting words down is easy. Making something good out of it is hard. It's a discipline as much as an art. Too many people think that good writing is something you just crank out and it's there. While it may be true for a small number of very gifted writers, the vast majority have to write, revise, rewrite, revise again, and rewrite some more. It's like sculpting in that sense--very gradually do you produce the final vision of your work, it doesn't come right off the bat.

It's fine to write without any kind of established direction, just don't expect to get anything coherent or good out of it. It's better to start with some idea of where you want to go and see where it takes you. Having a plan is good--just be flexible about it. If you have a better idea along the way, toss the plan and go with the new direction. Just give yourself some structure to start with, or it will be very hard to produce anything that makes any sense or that other people will be interested in.
Well, the ADD comment was tongue in cheek (), but I understand what you're saying. Structure is difficult, and I'm going to have to train myself to follow it. I'm sure you've noticed, but I don't really move in a set pattern, I tend to move more like a...well, like a cloud. Although I do get very focused when I'm under pressure to get something done. I'm just not good with putting myself under deadlines. I'm that guy who says "No later than 3 PM! I MUST have this done by 3 PM today!" and then 2:30 comes around and I say "You know, that's a little unfair, let's make it 4:30".
I don't know if you're thinking of this writing stuff and something you'll do for a living, but if so I would highly recommend against it. Keep it as a "just for fun" thing that you might do something serious with eventually.

I just don't want you to get your hopes up that you'll make a living at it. It's extremely rare to make a living as a writer. And even the business-oriented writing professions such as technical documentation are in a really rough spot right now.

Speaking more broadly, it sounds like you may be having trouble finding work precisely because you are a generalist with no specific skills or expertise. It would help to find something you can get good at and get paid for, but you'll probably have to be good at it before anyone will hire you to do it.

I don't know what you might want to do. If you're willing to learn some kind of programming, you can try RentACoder.com. As for the writing, there are numerous freelance writing sites out there that you could try. I'll warn you that none of this short contract work tends to pay well, but it's money and experience you can put on your resume.
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Old August 14 2010, 06:37 PM   #17
J. Allen
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Re: What do you do...

macloudt wrote: View Post
Whatever you choose to do, make sure you enjoy it. I know this sounds like an obvious statement, but I've known several people who never followed their original dream career path because it didn't seem feasible at the time. The result was their being stuck in jobs they hated, which drained all happiness and energy from all other aspects of their lives.

If you wish to focus on your writing, would you consider working, for example, a retail job to pay the bills until you can make a living off your writing? You know, a suffer-for-your-art kind of thing. If you don't pursue your writing you may regret not doing so for the rest of your life, so I reckon it's certainly worth a shot.
Absolutely. Right now, any job would be worthwhile. I don't have very large needs. I help a family that does, but for myself, I could live in an efficiency apartment, and as long as I had electricity, running water, my writing utensils and my internet connection, I would be content. I take comfort and solace in the singular pleasure of writing.

Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post

I don't know if you're thinking of this writing stuff and something you'll do for a living, but if so I would highly recommend against it. Keep it as a "just for fun" thing that you might do something serious with eventually.

I just don't want you to get your hopes up that you'll make a living at it. It's extremely rare to make a living as a writer. And even the business-oriented writing professions such as technical documentation are in a really rough spot right now.

Speaking more broadly, it sounds like you may be having trouble finding work precisely because you are a generalist with no specific skills or expertise. It would help to find something you can get good at and get paid for, but you'll probably have to be good at it before anyone will hire you to do it.

I don't know what you might want to do. If you're willing to learn some kind of programming, you can try RentACoder.com. As for the writing, there are numerous freelance writing sites out there that you could try. I'll warn you that none of this short contract work tends to pay well, but it's money and experience you can put on your resume.
Duly noted. I agree on my being a generalist. I am the quintessential Jack of all Trades. I can learn very rapidly, and do well at it, but I am not a master of any particular skill. The writing thing I see as a possible foothold to something better. If I did start writing, it would be just as you say, for articles, short stories, things that don't pay well but look good on a resume for something better down the road. I think what I'm looking for is a solid foothold, something that I can use to climb. I'm not averse to the climbing, I know it has to be done, I just want something solid underneath when I reach up to take the next step.
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Old August 14 2010, 06:46 PM   #18
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Re: What do you do...

Sarek of Vulcan wrote: View Post
When you have too many interests?
Stop all of them that don't involve baseball, of course.
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Old August 14 2010, 08:03 PM   #19
Holdfast
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Re: What do you do...

Sarek of Vulcan wrote: View Post
Holdfast wrote: View Post
On a serious note, there's probably an underlying common theme to many of them. Feed the theme & the interests will take care of themselves.
I guess the theme would be that I want to be an expert at something, I want to really excel at it, no matter what it is. With writing, I want to do something that gets read by millions of people, not for the money, but so that I can share my ideas, my viewpoint. It might be that I just want to have a voice and be able to speak out loudly and clearly with it.
OK, so take it to the next level: what is it about being an expert that appeals to you? Is it being respected by others? Being listened to? Being thought of as perfect? Being able to persuade yourself that you're perfect?

I'm not suggesting you necessarily answer these and similar related questions in the thread, just that you might want to try to figure out what it is you're looking for. Once you figure that out, it'll be much clearer as to which interests best fulfil that aim and you'll probably find your motivation to first commit to one of them rising too.

Good luck!
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