I’m on the American Whiskey Trail* and I’m writing. Some of the pubs of my bucket list have accepted my writing on the topic. It’s intoxicating. Literally.
But I’ve spent a lot of time not doing a damn thing to further my writing. Sometimes I spend the day as the middle of a blanket burrito wondering what I did to someone in a past life to suck so much. The experiences leading up to the crappy days have taught me how I can avoid living my dreams, and I thought I’d share:
1. Distrust your intuition. In business, it’s good to make well-reasoned decisions, but if you have a squicky feeling about a setup, follow your gut. It’s easier to walk away amicably before crap gets real than afterwards.
2. Don’t write anything down. I’m probably not going to remember what I have to get done today if it’s not logged in a to-do list. Last month, I had an idea for a novel…and didn’t bother to write it down. It was something about a woman and a dog or a unicorn, but it was bestseller-quality.
3. Let rejection dictate your day. Just stahp. What can you learn from this and do better next time? Can you reshape it to mesh with another publication’s needs? If yes, do it, then eat ice cream and binge watch Arrow. Not the other way around.
4. Procrastinate. Believe me, I’m a BOSS at putting off assignments I dread. But it also makes me a hostage to my whims rather than indulging them off the clock. Just do it, man.
5. Go at it alone. If it wasn’t for my friends, I’d be in an asylum. They’re my support group and cheering squad and wine — I mean book — club wrapped into one, and I’d be a mess without them. They’re also quite literally the only reason I started writing journalistically and have the resources to keep doing badass work.
*More on that later.
Photo credit to Jessica Jack Wyrick
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Last weekend, I came across the Mary Oliver poem that included that line, and it’s stuck with me. Since then, I’ve been hustling my freelance game harder than ever before. As a result, I’m calling September The Month of Just Doing It. So far, I’ve pitched two national publications and one regional one. I’ve requested an update from a private client, and scheduled an interview.
Even though I haven’t been blogging, I’ve been writing more than ever before on many of the same topics. Here’s a handy list of life updates:
- I still love cocktails. My dream of writing for mental_floss has been a reality for almost a year, and my editor’s help in finding my voice in science writing has been invaluable. Read those posts here.
- I’m exercising regularly. Not all of the written entries have been posted yet, but having Chris Conn as my personal trainer at Omega Life Fitness has pushed me to a new level of fitness. On to the next goal.
- Rejection is OK. I’ve already had a pitch rejected from one national publication, but immediately pitched another. If my motivation to keep moving, working, failing and learning ever stops, I’m finished as a freelancer. For The Month of Just Doing It, I will continue to research and pitch new stories, even if they fail. I also entered a cocktail competition earlier this year and made it to the finals. I didn’t win, but did learn a lot from the process itself.
- I’m engaged. Even before I was engaged, I was writing for Love Inc., a wedding publication dedicated to all love — equally. I’ve written about buying a wedding dress, getting engaged (in that order), and various industry trends.
- I don’t like new things. As a writer, being change-averse is both silly and counter-productive. Without experiencing new things, you can’t develop new material for any medium. This weekend, Adam and I went to a marksmanship clinic. It was a new and thoroughly frustrating experience, but I can now hit a target with a damn fine grouping at 100 yds, and am a passable shot up to 400 yds. This winter, I’ll go hunting with Adam for the first time.
- Bartending is still awesome. Writing and bartending are two of my passions, and getting to pursue them both concurrently is amazing. But both take hustle, hard work and energy. Over the next few months, I’ll be ramping up my networking on both fronts to see how I can move them forward.
It’s normal to flame oranges while watching TV, right? Right?!
Last week, I hobbled out of an (unexpectedly) hot yoga session with the instructor’s question ringing in my ears. Since then, it has stuck with me, and on closer inspection, I’ve uncovered several things.
Mindfulness is absolutely necessary for maintaining a full and happy life. Last night’s run sent me into a sneaky (self-)hate spiral, and left me wallowing in my car about my lack of athletic prowess for a few minutes. Afterwards, I started my car and drove home to write and cook. Despite the mild dehydration and soreness, my run fulfilled its purpose and burned off the excess energy that was keeping me distracted and unproductive.
Maintaining consistency is hard. Whether in scheduling, writing, bartending or exercising, perfect practice is the key to building skill and talent. Even if the drafts don’t make it online or a shaker is full of ice water or a run is less than two miles, it’s still improving my techniques if its done right.
Professionally and personally, rejection is not something to fear. Expanding into new markets as a freelance writer will inevitably involve rejection. Some relationships don’t work out, and others end in bloody disagreement. However, this risk is offset by the deep and lasting connections that can be forged by taking chances.
Work diligently to combine passion and talent. Up to this point, my professional life has largely been an exercise in earning money. Now, a portion of my income is entirely dependent on my pursuing my freelancing goals. Once the school year starts back, tutoring will help offset my living expenses, but that still leaves my daytimes free to write and explore my interests. Venturing into bossland (even if I am my only employee) will be an adventure, and I promise to share it with the Internets on here.