Getting It All Done: Your Master To-Do List

things to do

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For the entire month of August, I worked 14-hour days: I blogged, did essay rewrites, researched and interviewed up a storm for several story assignments, and proofread direct mail copy.

The only thing missing was the self-marketing, which is why — as I finish up a ton of projects — I have nothing new on the horizon (nothing concrete, anyway).

No matter how much talent you have, you won’t succeed without a business-side sensibility. So. How can I get it all done? After the jump, the way my days should run: [Read more…]

My Support System


I did not make life easy for my parents.

During my toddler years, they worried over my introversion. During my junior high/high school years, they worried over my fiery temper. During my college years, they worried throughout the course of an abusive relationship I couldn’t bring myself to leave, and then worried some more when I fell into a deep depression and dropped out of college. (I eventually went back to [a different] school and earned my degree.) Post-college, they passed me onto a possibly masochistic husband with a sigh of relief, but still couldn’t help but worry over all my ups, downs, and interminable plateaus.

Throughout the duration, they’ve (for some wild reason) continued to support me in everything I do.

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Motivational Trick: Fear (of Letting Others Down)


The other month, I joined Freelance Success, at the urging of just about every freelance writer I know. An amazing resource for professional, nonfiction writers, the forums alone made me glad I’d finally sucked it up and paid the subscription fee.

Then Susan of The Urban Muse suggested I hop in on FLX’s Summer Query Challenge, wherein FLXers form teams and earn points for every query they send out (1 point) and every assignment they receive (3 points).

Since joining the challenge, my output has increased exponentially, merely because I so desperately want to pull my weight.

You guys: Fear is an excellent motivator.

So who can you be held accountable to?

[Read more…]

Poem In Your Pocket Day

So my mom called me this morning just to tell me that it was Poem In Your Pocket Day. Basically, in honor of National Poetry Month, you’re supposed to carry a poem around in your pocket (obvs), sharing it with those you encounter throughout the day.

As one of those word nerd sorts — who used to write absolutely hideous poetry as a child…and…um…a college student — my favorite poem is unsurprisingly related to writing…or at least to the power of words:

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Finding Someone To Drag You to the Finish Line


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This past weekend, I traveled to Boston to see my father-in-law run in the marathon. It was my first marathon ever, and I wasn’t quite sure what it would be like watching a group of people run by.

My husband, my mother-in-law, and I set up shop about 100 yards from the finish line, right outside the Prudential Center and a block or two away from the library. We were lucky enough to get a spot right at the barrier, where I stood poised with my camera, waiting for our runner.

Next to us was a woman with…um…a loud mouth. I wasn’t sure if she was there to see anyone in particular, but she cheered on just about every runner who went past us, referring to the names on the fronts of their shirts.

“Yeah Jan! Whooo! Almost there! Yeah Pam and Steve! Whooo! Doing great!” Nonstop. It was a wonder she still had a voice.

Some of the people around us gave her dirty looks, but I just loved the way she broke through to those runners on the last leg of their journey, giving them the strength to make it those last 100 yards.  I was alost overcome by emotion every time one of them broke out of their running reverie and smiled, or gave her a thumbs up. It seemed to me that she was doing those marathoners a great service.

Sometimes, my work day feels like a marathon — one filled with endless blog posts, pitches, interviews, rewrites, edits, and the like — and I wish I had someone to drag me those last few yards to the end. This is where my own personal freelance support group comes in handy.

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Nothing To Do With Luck

I’ve been blogging about booze and four-leaf clovers over at Modern Materialist today, in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. And all those clover images have got me thinking about luck. And how freelance success has nothing to do with it.

Hear me out.

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How to Remain Productive When the Shit Hits the Fan


My husband told me I should write this post, despite the fact that all I really want to do is hide under five blankets while watching a foreign film I can cry along with. Perhaps while eating Nutella with a spoon.

About a year ago, I stopped using credit cards, transferring all my debt onto two 0%-interest cards that I planned on paying off within a year. Then I lost my most major client, and this plan was seriously derailed. I’ve never fully recovered from that huge loss of regular income.

Then, this morning, I realized that my year’s worth of 0% interest was up, and the APRs had jumped up to 22% and 29%. It made me feel so helpless. I hated the fact that I had gotten my act in gear, but was still paying for my previous idiocy. It made me wonder if I had been stupid to turn down two full-time job interviews in the past month. I became sure that I would never catch up. Never be debt-free. Never be able to afford a career coaching certification. Never be able to save for a house, or a family.

Understandably, I don’t feel much like blogging (or doing any sort of writing) this morning. Unfortunately, if I don’t write, I don’t get paid. So, after the jumps, the steps I’m taking to make it through today:

Build Your Own: Writing Group


I’ve been missing my old writing group.

We met several years ago, in Cris Beam’s From Pitch to Publish Class at New School. For at least a year, the four of us workshopped each others’ pieces, shared contacts, suggested paying markets, and basically gave each other the kicks in the ass we needed.

Eventually, life got busy. One of us moved to Brooklyn. One of us moved abroad. One of us had a baby. And I kept getting promoted at work, a development that forced me to travel more often on business.

I’d love to start a new group. But how? And who?

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Following Multiple Paths


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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth.

– Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”

Earlier today, I posted on my personal blog about the fear of missing out on alternate lives due to the decisions I make.

I waxed eloquent (I hope) on how worried I am that, because of ways in which I’ve settled in and settled down, there are no more surprises around the bend.

Funny that the same neuroticism doesn’t plague the way I approach my career.

At least not anymore.

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Don’t Let This Blue Monday Get You Down

[$15, Etsy]

According to British experts, today is supposed to be the most depressing day in history, due to factors such as weather, debt, the passing of Christmas, the failures of our New Year’s resolutions, low motivation levels, etc.

Thing is, I’m still feeling pretty good about things. After the jump, just a few reasons that I shouldn’t succumb to this Blue Monday: