Posts Tagged: advice

A Little Bit of Cheesy Inspiration

dont let someone who gave up on thier dreams

A little cliched? Sure. But still totally true.

Most of the people who put down your dreams, ideas, and ambitions are doing it because, somewhere along the line, they didn’t do the things they wanted to do. They gave up. Don’t listen to them.

Image via Miva Merchant

Lady Tip: Stop Hanging Out With People Who Aren’t Nice

These sheep know what I'm talking about.

These sheep know what I’m talking about.

Maybe this sounds like “no duh” advice to you. Why would you hang out with people who aren’t even nice to you? I don’t know! And yet I’ve done exactly that, multiple times in my life, and I see other people do it all the time. Yes, there are definitely times when you have to hang out with people who aren’t nice to you, like if that person is your classmate or coworker and you truly cannot avoid them. But if you can get away from them? Cut them out of your life ASAP.

I was really lucky to grow up with a super close group of girlfriends who always have each others’ backs. I’ve known some of them since elementary school, and although we have different opinions on things and we’ve certainly had disagreements in the past, they are the people who I know I can 100% count on in any situation. But as I’ve learned in the years since I graduated from high school, not everyone grew up with friendships like that. There are people who think that friends are supposed to make you cry, or make you feel bad about yourself, or pick fights with you. If you read a lot of advice columns (as I do, because I LOVE them), people are always writing in with questions about their “friends” who are actually not friends at all. Friends are supposed to make you feel good about yourself, not terrible.

Unfortunately, it took me awhile to learn that. When I was younger, I didn’t get that there are people who will treat you the way you demand to be treated. And if you don’t have any self-esteem and you’re weak, they’ll take advantage of it. I used to have friends who would sigh when I walked into a room, roll their eyes when I said something stupid (which was often!), and purposefully try to exclude me from things. It was extraordinarily painful. Instead of thinking, “This is not acceptable treatment. I don’t deserve this and I should say something about it,” I just felt worse and worse every day. I didn’t even tell people about it because I was so ashamed, and I thought it was surely a reflection on me. I mean, listen, I know I’m an annoying person sometimes–that’s very evident on this blog–but no one’s annoying enough to warrant that sort of treatment. So I just took it, for a really long time. I don’t think I’ve ever felt worse about myself in my life.

Eventually, I was able to cut people like this out of my life completely. Now I can see that this really, really wasn’t normal. People always have their own reasons for treating you poorly, and they’re usually not about you. Maybe they’re feeling bad about something in their own lives. But that’s still no reason for you to take it. If someone who calls him/herself your friend is making fun of you, purposefully excluding you or others to make him/herself feel better, cutting you down, talking shit about you, or in general just being mean…stop hanging out with that person. There’s no way around it. If you really value this person’s friendship, talk to him/her about it first. But if the crappy treatment keeps up, forget it. This person is not your friend.

Now that I’m older and (sort of) wiser, I absolutely do not tolerate that sort of behavior. If I even get a hint of someone doing “mean girl” shit, excluding others, or trying to put me down, I am over it. Which is not to say that I don’t accept apologies or change my mind about people! I totally do. I get that everyone has bad days (or years), and I’ve certainly made my own mistakes. But in general, remember that people treat you how you tell them to treat you. If you accept any sort of abuse, they will keep delivering it. You should only be friends with people who truly want to be nice to you and lift you up, not be mean to you and tear you down.

In closing, enjoy this quote from Kate Nash, who puts everything I said much more succinctly:
kate nash gif 1

kate nash gif 2

Image via Unsplash

How Do You Find a Writing “Day Job”?

get-a-job-dog

The lovely Erin from Take Comfort Project recently emailed me wondering something: how do you find an actual job in writing?

I talk a lot about writing here on WTLV…because, uh, that’s all I ever do. But I tend to talk about my freelance work or my creative work, the things that bring in supplemental income or no income at all. Although I do freelance work, I’m not living a freelance lifestyle…I have a day job that I go to every weekday! And it’s a writing day job, which is honestly something I wasn’t sure I’d ever get. While I can’t give broad advice about how you can get a writing job, I can tell you guys my job story. I’ve definitely learned some things since I graduated from college, and maybe my experience can help someone else.

I majored in creative writing in college, which I loved. I wouldn’t recommend the major for everyone, but it was great for me. However, if you guessed that majoring in creative writing meant I wasn’t exactly practically-minded, you would be right. Although I loved my writing workshops and loved doing the “work” for those classes, I wasn’t at all motivated then like I am now. And I had no idea what you were supposed to do to get a job. I graduated with no internships, no contacts, and no idea what I should do. Lesson #1: You should get an internship!

When I graduated, I moved back in with my parents. They live in an area of Ohio that already doesn’t have a lot of employment prospects, and things were especially bad in 2008. I had absolutely no clue what I should be doing or even what I wanted to do. I thought about applying for grad school for a hot minute (lesson #2: you don’t have to go to grad school if you don’t want to!), but thankfully I decided against that.

I was jobless and completely miserable. My parents did not let up on me about finding a job, which they sort of had a right to do, because they paid for my college (something I’m grateful for every single day of my life). They made an investment in me, and I was turning out to be kind of a shitty investment, since all I was doing was skulking around the house and crocheting a lot (I got really into crocheting when I was unemployed…don’t worry about it).

Eventually, I called my old friend the temp agency and got a two-week job filling in for a receptionist who was out of the office getting foot surgery. I was so much better at being a receptionist than the other woman that they gave me her job, moved her into a corner desk when she got back from surgery, and fired her a few months later. I would’ve felt bad, but she was very mean and she fell asleep sitting up every day (not an exaggeration–sometimes she would snore).

So clearly I was taking the employment world by storm. But getting a narcoleptic woman fired wasn’t enough for me…I wanted more. “Was this job even tangentially related to writing?” you’re asking. Well, no! It was not. Which is probably why I felt so depressed.

I stayed at that job for years, you guys (well, I got promoted a couple times, but I was at the same company). I felt stuck because I didn’t know what to do with my career and I didn’t think I could just quit a job. Lesson #3: If something is pushing you in the wrong direction, QUIT DOING THAT THING. You are never really stuck.

Eventually, I wised up and realized I needed a job in writing. Duh. So here’s where my actual advice starts (hope you enjoyed that rambly beginning about how miserable I was!). I knew I wanted a writing job, but I didn’t know how I could do that or what I should be looking for. I hadn’t been in college for a few years and I had no connections and no one around to give me any advice.

So I just started writing. I decided I would get writing credits in any way possible. I would say yes to EVERY writing opportunity, even the ones that sounded dumb. I wrote for websites, I wrote for newspapers, and I applied for weird, sketchy freelancing gigs that I eventually didn’t do because they involved, like, writing about limousines using SEO tactics. I trusted that if I worked constantly at writing, something would work out.

I wrote for free a lot because I knew I needed to get credits, make connections, and prove that I knew how to write. I know some people are very against writing for free, but I think it’s a good idea and sometimes necessary, especially if you don’t have an internship. I mean, don’t write for free forever, but if you really want to prove yourself, it can help.

Eventually I had plenty of writing credits but I wasn’t making any money, so I was still at my day job that made me miserable. I had to use phrases like “butt hinge” and “nipple” every day, and it was rough. People constantly referred to me as “young lady.” Some guy named “Mike Hunter” kept calling and every time I transferred his call I insisted on referring to him as Michael. Oh, and by this point I’d moved to Columbus and I was driving an hour each way. I needed a change. So I started looking for a new, writing-related day job.

You know how people say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know? While I think that’s true, it wasn’t for me. I didn’t have a single connection at anyone at my day job. Do you know how I found it? On Craigslist. Yes, Craigslist, the site used by murderers and people selling coffee tables. And one of the reasons why they hired me (besides the fact that I did well on the writing sample they asked for) was because of my HelloGiggles column, that thing I do for free.

I now work for a nonprofit curriculum developer, where I write about business and marketing for high school students. It involves my two favorite things (research and writing) and I get to flex my writing muscles without cannibalizing all my creative energy. It’s fun, interesting, and it doesn’t burn me out. But there was no way for me to look for this job because I never even knew it existed! I think that writing jobs are all over the place, but they’re in weird and unexpected locations. Sometimes you have to look past all the fake ads on Craigslist to find the real jobs.

This is a bit of hippie advice, but I suggest writing down what you want out of a job. Before I found my job, I made a very specific list of what my “dream job” would have. I mean, I wrote down everything…close to my apartment, a mostly-female environment, a casual dress code, etc. I’m not saying writing stuff down is magic, but I found a job that fit every single one of my requirements. Honestly, it worked so well that it was sort of weird. Writing stuff down helps you narrow your focus and realize what you really want, even if you’re not sure where you’d like to work.

If you’re all “TL;DR,” here’s my advice, boiled down into a few points.

1. Look EVERYWHERE for writing jobs. Tell everyone you’re a writer looking for work. You really never know where you’ll find a job. It could be on Craigslist! It could be on Twitter! You never know!

2. Go with your gut. The people in your life might want what’s best for you, but they don’t necessarily know what’s best for you. You do. I wasted a lot of time doing what I thought I “should” or taking advice from people who knew nothing about the type of career I wanted.

3. Just keep writing! Seriously, write EVERYWHERE, because you never know what will lead to a full-time job. I never would have thought my HelloGiggles column could’ve helped me get a job, but now I get paid to write for high schoolers!

So that’s my long, convoluted story. Finding my job definitely wasn’t a short or straight path, but I learned a lot along the way (and perfected the art of waking up a sleeping woman by coughing loudly). I truly believe that, if you have the talent and you’re willing to work really hard, you can absolutely find a writing job that pays your bills. Writers don’t have to starve and they don’t have to be miserable!

I hope this was at least semi-helpful to someone! I’m always here if you have any questions about writing, working, or whatever (seriously, I just want to be Dear Abby…give me your etiquette problems!). You can email me at welcometoladyville@gmail.com.

Image via Natalie Dee

My Super Basic Blogging Tips

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Every once in awhile, a cool lady emails me to ask for some advice about blogging. This is sort of funny to me, because I do not think of myself as an expert. I don’t have an insane amount of readers, I don’t do advertisements, and I don’t make any money from blogging. But I have had this blog for almost 3 years (whoa) and I’ve posted almost every weekday ever since my first post, so I guess I do know some things. And since I’ve already posted my advice on writing and submitting to websites (take all my advice at your own risk, guys), I figured I could share my advice on blogging. Some of this advice is general, and some of it directly contradicts advice I’ve heard before. These are just my personal thoughts, so feel free to disregard them or disagree with them or print them out and set them on fire. I can’t control you.

1. WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr…it doesn’t matter.
People ask me a lot if they should use Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress, or whatever. I honestly don’t really think it matters. I like WordPress because it seems cleaner and more professional, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Just as long as you’re not, like, trying to promote a Xanga page (does that even exist anymore?) I think you’ll be fine. The actual content or your blog is way, way more important than the URL. I like being a .com, but I used to be a .wordpress.com and it was fine! People still read the site!

2. Brands are for products. You are a person.
Obviously, this one depends on what you’re using your blog for. Are you actually trying to promote a product or a business? Then yes, you need to consider “branding.” But nothing makes me cringe more than personal bloggers talking about their “personal brand.” Does your blog go along with your photography business or your Etsy company? Brand away! Is your blog a place to put your pictures or write about your life? THAT IS NOT A BRAND. I don’t think about this blog in terms of a brand, and that may be to my detriment! But I’m not selling anything here. The point of Welcome to Ladyville is twofold: to connect with you wonderful ladies, and to practice my own writing. Neither of those things require a slogan. You aren’t a product.

3. Be consistent.
It’s important to blog regularly. If you update your blog once every few weeks, you might as well not have one. What’s the point? I update every Monday through Thursday and some Fridays. Wednesday is always links. Thursday is always Creative Ladies. That consistency is important, not just for your readers, but for you! If you don’t take it seriously, no one else will.

4. But it’s okay to take a break.
I’ve taken breaks from the blog when I got married, over the holidays, and various other times when I’ve just had a lot of work to do. That’s okay. As long as you make a post saying that you won’t be around as much as usual, there is no problem at all with taking a short break! After all, I’m not getting paid for this. The blog is a big priority for me, but mama needs to make some coin, you know? Of course, if you are making money from your blog, you probably shouldn’t really take a break. But if you’re making money from your blog, you’re probably not reading my advice.

5. Just keep going.
This is basic advice for anyone trying to do anything new. You’re going to feel like no one cares at first, and that’s because no one does. No one read Welcome to Ladyville when I first started it. Like, no one. But my annoying, bullheaded stubbornness made me keep going, and now a few people read it! SUCCESS! The internet is just a graveyard full of sites that people started and abandoned. You’ll never get anywhere if you give up immediately. People might not respond for months…or even years. You should still keep going.

6. Remember that likes and pageviews are ultimately not that important.
Does it make me really happy when a “real” website links to Welcome to Ladyville, or when someone shares a post on Facebook or Twitter? Totally! And I check my stats and get excited when they go up. But that stuff, while fun, is ultimately not the point. I feel good about the blog when I know I wrote something funny or created a post that expresses what’s going on in my head. I feel good if I made a connection with a reader. And when I get an email from a lady who says that something on the blog really spoke to her? That’s the best. There’s no better feeling than when my writing connects with someone. That’s the point of blogging for me.

So that’s my advice. It’s based on my experience and my blogging philosophy, but maybe it will help you, too! If you ever have any questions about blogging, writing, or anything else (seriously, I love pretending to be a therapist) that you’d like me to answer on the blog, send me an email at welcometoladyville@gmail.com.

Image via Unsplash

How to Find Motivation When You’re Stuck in a Rut

MOTIVATION!

It happens to all of us. Even if you’re a cool Creative Lady, you’re bound to get stuck in a rut every once in awhile. Maybe the thought of sitting down at your computer for even one more second makes you want to scream. Maybe the project you’ve been working on just fills you with dread and despair. Or maybe you can’t even come up with any ideas for something else to work on! Either way, it’s a crappy feeling. I’ve been there many a time, and I’ve lived to tell the tale (as far as you know, anyway…I could totally be writing this as a motivation-obsessed ghost).

When you work a lot, as many of us do, it’s hard to stay motivated. This is especially true with creative work. It can be hard enough as it is to create something, but to do it when you’re not in the right mindset is brutal. So how are you supposed to get out of that rut and get back your creative inspiration? Well, I can’t guarantee you anything, but I can share a few tips with you. This is what I do when I get stuck in a creative/work rut.

1. Take a walk. I know, I know. This is O Magazine 101 level advice. But listen, a walk can cure just about anything that ails you (except for actual diseases). There’s something about the combination of movement and new sights that can spark some inspiration. Also sometimes you’ll see people with puppies and then you’ll get to pet the puppies and then the people will think you’re weird because you shouted “Your puppy is SO TINY!” at them (I may be speaking from personal experience).

2. Make something else. Let’s say you’re stuck on your writing. It can be incredibly helpful to do something else creative that is in no way related to writing. Maybe you should try making pizza dough. While you’re wondering why your dough didn’t rise and cursing yeast, you just might get an idea for your project. Or maybe you should try sewing something. Switching to another form of creativity helps you make new connections in your brain (probably…I don’t know, I totally made that up. I’m not a scientist, you guys!).

3. Experience something new. For me, the best cure for a general feeling of malaise is experiencing something new. Go see a movie you don’t know anything about. Listen to a new album. Check out a store you haven’t visited yet. If a friend calls and asks you to go do something you’d normally say no to, say yes! All of these new experiences will get you out of the house, fill your head with new stimuli, and maybe even give you a new story or detail you can use in something later. I like staying in and working as much as/probably more than the next girl, and there’s definitely a time for that. But there’s only so much motivation to be found inside your house.

4. Hang out with people who are passionate. I don’t just mean creative people. It’s good to hang out with people who are passionate about anything in their lives. All of my friends are driven and excited by their career or educational paths, and I always feel invigorated after I hang out with them. My best friend Cat is passionate about animals, my friend Carrie is passionate about librarianship, and my friend is Jessie is passionate about life in general. And that’s just the tip of the metaphorical friend iceberg! It’s good to hang out with people who aren’t just going through the motions.This isn’t to suggest you should drop someone just because they aren’t motivated or positive, of course. Everyone has down days. But if you’re constantly surrounding yourself with bummed out people, don’t be surprised if you wind up feeling bummed out, too.

5. Write it down. I’m a BIG proponent of writing things down. It’s a great way to center yourself and focus on your priorities. Also, sometimes writing can help you figure out a solution to a problem you didn’t even know you had.

6. Read a book. I don’t mean you should pick up a novel, although that’s a great idea too! I’m talking about self-help books or books specific to your work. I like to read things about writing or freelancing when I feel stuck. Something totally hippie, like Writing Down the Bones or The Artist’s Way, is super-effective for me when I’m feeling unmotivated. You can also go for straight up self-help. You can laugh at the concept of manifestation all you want, but honestly, I got a LOT done when I was listening to Wayne Dyer’s The Secrets to Manifesting Your Destiny. I think self-help books are so effective because reading them requires you to admit that you’re open to change, which can only be a good thing.

7. Give into the feeling. Listen, let’s get real. Sometimes you’re just going to feel unmotivated. That’s life. We can’t realistically work every hour of every day. I’m not talking about day jobs here. Don’t call up your boss and be like, “Ugh, I read on this blog that I should take some time off, smell ya later.” I just meant that if you’re facing a huge block in your creative work, sometimes that means you need a break. Time to recharge is good! It’s fine to take some time to just live your life without stressing about it.

What about you guys? What do you do when you’ve lost your motivation and you’re stuck in a rut?