Plug for AONC

October 28, 2008

Chris Guillebeau at the Art of Non-Conformity blog wrote a great  (and for me, timely) post yesterday. Check it out here: http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/the-first-day-of-your-life/.

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The Secret is Out

October 24, 2008

The meeting went well. My boss didn’t seem happy to be losing me, but we discussed the details of my departure amiably. For now, I can take long lunches to meet with clients or mentors as needed. After Thanksgiving, he’s willing to shorten my workday. He wants six weeks notice, which I will give no later than February 16th. I estimate that I can tie up my loose ends about two months, but I haven’t committed myself to that.

I have official sanction for writing the training manual for my position, and another department has requested two employee handbooks and a brochure. Yes! Portfolio pieces! Other coworkers have given me the business cards of people who might be helpful, and one guy was excited to learn that I would be available as a writing coach for his teenager.

This has been way cooler than I feared.

Big Step Tomorrow

October 22, 2008

Tomorrow is the day I tell my boss that I won’t be around this time next year. This has brought on some anxiety. I intend to walk into my boss’s office and say, “I’m leaving to start a new career, but not just yet. I want to make this as painless as possible for both of us. Here’s what I’d like to do…” and then ask for Mondays off and talk with him about the training manual.

How do I say this? I’m the writer; coming up with something good shouldn’t be too hard… and it isn’t, but anticipating his reaction is not good for my concentration.

The best I can do is to keep the few points I want to discuss in mind, and aggressively highlight the ways in which this (admittedly difficult) situation can be good for him and the organization.

And remember to breathe.

Ahhh, overconfidence…

So I had this assignment, which I mentioned in my last post. It started okay, but once I had the basic structure laid out, my brain froze. I couldn’t think of a way to expand the material, I couldn’t revise it… after a couple days of this, I could barely bring myself to look at it for more than a minute or two. As I mentioned, this project came from a friend of mine, with whom I usually work very well. It’s never been difficult for me to pick up his vibe. He sends an email or talks for a few minutes; I see where he wants the piece to go, and I get it there. Fast. As in, I’ve knocked stuff out on my lunch hour for this guy with zero problems.

Not so for the web content job. In fact, I hit a wall in every kind of writing I do–for two weeks! I’m finally out of it, as you can see. Here’s how I made it happen:

1. I ignored the problem. Sometimes, they really do go away. After a couple days, it was clear that R & R was not what the doctor ordered.
2. I wrote in a journal. There were two reasons for this. First, I wrote just to get back into writing, and journaling is the easiest form I know. Second, something had been on my mind, and writing in a journal helps to clear mental real estate for profitable redevelopment.
3. I set a timer for five minutes, and forced myself to write web content for those five minutes. It was awful, folks. Then I set the timer for ten minutes. Worse. I kept writing, after the timer went off, until I ran out of ideas. This was a key moment in block destruction: I had begun to write without feeling forced. The ideas were bad, but they were flowing again.
4. I decided I was done with the block and would write brilliantly, starting tomorrow. I believed I was telling myself the truth. I may have been lying, but you couldn’t have told me that.
5. I sat down with my drivel the next day, and rewrote it into something I was happy with. I submitted it this morning.

This process took two weeks, but it can be compressed. I should be able to push it to two or three days. Do something fun, journal, sleep; write on a timer, adjust attitude, sleep, and write. This was a two-reboot cycle block; others may require less. That’s what I hope… or should that be believe? Overconfidence didn’t help me here, but ordinary confidence is still a necessary attribute of a successful writing career.