Thursday, August 31, 2023

The Satisfaction of a Job Well Done

I wrote a while back about how I've had the itch to write ever since I stopped freelancing.  I haven't gone this long without regularly writing something in more than 20 years.  Blogging helps but isn't enough.

I realized last night that one thing I've been missing is the feeling of a job well done.  I don't think I've gotten that feeling in a while.  My freelance work was mostly pretty hum-drum: I was proud of it, but I wasn't popping with pride, if you know what I mean.  It was also fast turnover, so I rarely felt much time to feel proud of it.  I got it done and got it out the door.

For the last week and change, I've been working on a flyer and copy for the museum's upcoming Halloween doll event.  I just finished a round of quick revisions after reviewing comments from the museum's director, and made a second version that will work better for sharing on Instagram.  I'm proud of the work, not just the copy but also the visual concept and presentation of the materials.  It feels good.

Obviously I need more of this in my life.  Right now, I'm working on an epic plan to clean up and reorganize my house so that it reflects my goals, hobbies, and business plans.  But once that's done, I need to think heavily on where I want to go with my writing business.  Am I done freelancing and writing marketing copy, aside from what I do for the museum?  Am I going to focus primarily on my fiction and doll-related writing projects from now on?  Or do I want to build a more focused writing business where I do more professional marketing copy with a little design thrown in?

I'm not ready to make that call quite yet, but as I enjoy my work for the museum, it's something I'm thinking about.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 14

This past week has reminded me of how energizing productivity can be.  When you get things done, even if it's not everything you'd planned, you feel motivated to do more.

I'm feeling especially motivated by everything I've gotten done because we've been doing big things with the house organization, and as a result I can really see everything we've accomplished.  It's a good feeling!

That being said, last week was a trying week.  On Friday I spent my day dealing with two plugged drains and a leaking disposal.  I really thought I'd be spending the weekend replacing the disposal.  Fortunately that didn't turn out to be the case, as once the kitchen drain was cleared, the disposal stopped leaking.  I'm sure it's only a matter of time before those leaks get bad enough to be a problem even without a sink full of water, especially since that disposal has been jamming on us periodically over the last year or two.  But I'll take the reprieve and be glad of it for now!

As you can imagine, the home maintenance work threw a wrench in my plans later on in the week, but truth be told my week had already gone astray.  Here's the rundown.

Doll stringing ebook: Still putting this off, although I need to put it back on my to-do list soon, since it's becoming evident that I won't accomplish all the content I was hoping to do.

Ruby Ransome: I'm still putting off working on the novel as well, but I did spend time last week on a training NaNoWriMo headquarters asked Municipal Liaisons to do.  I can't believe NaNoWriMo is coming up so fast!  Only two months before the madness begins!

Blogging and website maintenance: I am pleased to have gotten some other blogging than just this weekly post done last week, even though I didn't get around to doing the massive content push I've been intending to do for my doll business.  I do still want to do a little of that, so I hope to get started on it this week, but I no longer have the Herculean expectations I originally had for myself.  I'm also planning to continue the other blog posts, both here and on my other blogs.

Other projects: I've been working a lot on organizing this past week, and I'm happy to say that it's paying off.  The living room is beginning to look how I want it and I'm getting doll displays put up where I want them too.  As things get organized and put away, I can start producing content as well as getting organized to start selling again.  We got some more of it done this evening, and I have more projects planned for the rest of the week and especially the weekend, as my husband will have a four-day weekend due to the holiday on Monday.

On the horizon: The museum's Fall Show is looming closer!  I did get business cards ordered, and just in the nick of time: I should be getting them early next week, and then the show is that weekend.  I still need to plan that exhibit and possibly get some dolls ready for it too.  I am on the fence about this "collab" opportunity, as I suspect they were just trying to recruit new users for their site, and not actually looking for a real collab opportunity with me.  I'm wondering if it's worth my time to investigate further, or if I should just drop it now.

Due to my husband's short week, my week will probably be a little short as well, as I don't try to do a lot of work when he's off.  I'm okay with that, though, as I seem to get more done with the cleaning and organization projects when he's helping!

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Unpaid Work Has Value Too

A couple days ago I posted about how much volunteer work I do.  In fact, most of what I do right now is volunteering, in both official and unofficial capacities.

It makes it a little hard sometimes to feel like I'm accomplishing much.  Productivity is a major value in our culture, but for the most part productivity also tends to be viewed in terms of money.  So the same assumption that housewives "don't work" tends to make those of us who freelance or volunteer (or both) feel like we don't accomplish enough.

When I really think about it, though, I am most proud of the things I do that I don't get paid for.  

As a volunteer Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo, I encourage people to pursue their goals, contribute to a strong local writer community, and spread literacy like some kind of fiction-loving Tinkerbell.  ("Trust me, what this stuff does is way better than flying.")

As a volunteer board member with the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Toys, I am helping to preserve past generations' playthings for future generations.  Volunteering my time to write their event copy and design flyers means exploring and honing new skills for me as a writer.  And as a volunteer doll event planner, I get to share the love and knowledge of these things with others, and often help to build a foundation for future collectors, too.

And that's just the official stuff.  One of the things I feel best about, and on a daily basis, is the time I spend on Facebook helping people.  The insulin pump support group is, of course, a tremendous help for people, but I like to think I'm doing good by helping people with their dolls, too.  (Not to mention all the social media exposure helps me too by making a name for myself online.)

Despite how proud I am of these things, I still struggle sometimes with feeling like I don't get enough done.  Thankfully I have a supportive husband to remind me of the value of what I do whenever I start feeling inadequate.

What are you proud of that doesn't earn money?  Do you struggle to feel productive when you do things that don't actively earn (or save) you money?

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Volunteer Work

Last Saturday night, I was babysitting.  While the kids were watching a movie, I started working on the marketing materials for a doll event I am helping to organize at the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys.  One of the kids came over to check on me and asked what I was doing.

"I'm designing a flyer to promote a doll event for the museum," I explained.

"Wait, where do you work?" he wanted to know.

I tried to explain volunteering versus working, but I don't think he understood.  Of course, as a kid he probably doesn't yet have a full understanding of doing work for money, and that different jobs pay different amounts... while others pay nothing.

I've been thinking a lot about this lately, and not only since that conversation with the kiddo on Saturday.  I actually do a lot of volunteer work, if I stop and think about it.  I serve on the board for the museum as well as organizing, helping with, and sometimes running doll events.  Writing copy for the museum is often part of that.

I am also active in the doll communities online, helping people in Facebook groups and on Instagram, and creating content that I don't get paid for... yet, I suppose, if I want to be optimistic.  I also run a support group for users of the specific type of insulin pump I'm on, and I do a lot of moderation and answering questions every day for that as well.

And of course, I've been a longtime volunteer with National Novel Writing Month.  I've been volunteering my time as a Municipal Liaison (basically regional coordinator) for NaNoWriMo since 2015, which means planning and running events, moderating our regional forum, helping participants when needed, and occasionally volunteering my time outside of regular NaNoWriMo season, such as when we score a community table or hold panels at Fan Expo in the summer.

I'm busy, very busy, and most of it is (or at least feels) meaningful for me, even though very little of what I've mentioned above pays.  I am trying to build a doll business, which will hopefully generate some income, and of course I could go back to freelancing at any time.  Certainly I could use my volunteer work writing copy for the museum as recent professional experience, and my longtime volunteer commitment to NaNoWriMo makes for a nice resume item as well.

In fact, that's a tip that's often given to newbie writers: Rather than working for bargain basement rates at content factories, volunteer your time writing copy for a nonprofit you'd like to support.  You'll have quality clips that you can use when seeking paying work, and you'll be able to feel good about having volunteered your time for a cause you believe in.

I'm not doing this for clips at this point in my career, of course; I'm not even sure if I'm going to continue freelancing, or if instead I'll change the focus of my career.  But I do feel good about following my passions, whether I'm being paid for my work or not.  I'm fortunate to be able to do so, of course, that my husband's income is enough to support both of us, with a little help from me here and there.  Hopefully in time my businesses will be profitable again, but in the meantime I'm glad to be able to pursue what I love.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 13

Last week did not go as planned.

First of all, the content push has not happened.  At all.  I'm okay with it, since I am relatively happy with what did get done, but it's still worth noting.

I did get a good amount of work done on the household cleanup and reorganization project, though a lot of that was on the weekend, when I had my husband's help.  I also had a surprise planning meeting for the next doll event at the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys, where I volunteer my time on the board and planning events.  After the meeting I spent some time writing marketing copy for the event and designing a flyer for social media.

I'm hoping to get some work done this week on the content push, but I'm no longer feeling like it's as necessary to do a huge push and get everything I'd planned out in a span of just a few weeks.  Looking back, that was probably a pretty ludicrous way to approach it.  Plus, I still have more to do in my reorganization project, which needs to come first if I'm to make space for working on dolls, taking pictures, and filming content.

This next week I'm making a more relaxed effort to get to the content, but it won't be until a little later in the week.  There are some organizational things I want to finish up first.  And of course, it's already late in the day on Tuesday, so you can tell my week has already not gotten off to a very quick start.

Doll stringing ebook: I'm still putting this off for a few weeks while I finish up the organization and work (a little less hard) on the content push.

Ruby Ransome: I'm still putting this off for a few weeks as well.  As an aside, though, NaNoWriMo prompted its MLs to pre-order stickers for our regions already.  It was a shocking reminder of how quickly November is coming!

Blogging and website maintenance: I do hope to be producing some content over the next week, so that'll mean at least a couple blog posts.  I also realized this blog is getting kinda boring with nothing but weekly rundowns, so I'm planning on adding at least one other post each week.

Other projects: I worked on organizing over the weekend and I'm quite pleased with the progress.  I have plenty more to do in the coming week, but I'm happy to see more work spaces emerging.  Eventually I'd like to move my office space back upstairs to my desk, but that is a while out, so for now I want to make the kitchen a little more usable as a temporary work space for writing, as well as my main work space for working on dolls and producing content. 

On the horizon: I still need to plan out my exhibit for the museum's Fall Show, plus I have this new doll event to help plan.  Hopefully the bulk of the content writing for it is done.  I was also asked to work with a collectibles sales site where I could sell dolls and other things, so I need to look into the feasibility of that.  They may have just been looking to market their site to new sellers, but it appears to be a more content-driven sales platform, so I'm intrigued enough to at least look into it and find out more about any collab they might have had in mind.

It's funny how on paper this doesn't sound like very much, but in practice my days are pretty full and I'm often frustrated by not having as much time as I would need to do everything I want to do.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Imposter Syndrome

Lately my blog has become nothing but accountability and progress posts, and while I like the fact that those posts are helping me to see what I accomplish (or don't) every week, I have other things to say, too.

Right now I want to talk about imposter syndrome, a term I only learned in the last few years, but I (and I suspect many other writers) have struggled on and off with for years.

Monday, I was with my dad at a chemo appointment when another elderly gentleman asked us what we did on our computers during my dad's treatments.  I answered that I was a writer, but quickly followed it up with "but what I'm doing right now is..." and then provided a lengthy explanation of a diabetic support group I moderate.

Wow.  I wasn't comfortable saying I was a writer.  That was a revelation.

I've been mulling it over ever since, and one of the conclusions I've come to is that I have been accustomed to "hiding" behind my freelancing.  A lot of writers hesitate to call themselves such until they've actually published something.  Sometimes they have a hard time calling themselves a writer even once they've published, if (say) they self-publish or publish with a small publishing house, or if their book doesn't do very well.

This is an inner struggle I haven't had to deal with in over 18 years, because I have been a writer.  I was a technical writer, and then a freelance writer.  I was selling my work to pay my bills, ergo, I was a writer.

And now I'm not... not selling my work, that is.

So clearly, my current status, whether it turns out to be a temporary hiatus from freelancing or a more permanent career change, has affected how I view myself.  I'm no longer freelancing, so I hesitated to call myself a writer.

A lot of writers struggle with imposter syndrome.  I didn't even know what that meant until a few years ago, but I would have told you I never had any issues with calling myself a writer.  However, looking back, I was always quick to explain I was "just a freelancer" if someone then asked me what I've published.

I feel like now I'm having to learn what other writers already knew: that it's hard to call yourself a writer when you feel like you haven't earned the right to call yourself.  That it's hard to consider simply writing as earning the right, when so much of that identity in our culture revolves around actually publishing.  And not just publishing, but being successful.

I don't want to be one of those writers who struggles with self-doubt.  I don't want to hold myself to such high standards that I always fall short.

And just like that, it seems we've come full circle.  Suddenly we're talking about the same thing that has me writing progress posts every week: A desire not to be so hard on myself all the time.  Rather than always seeing what I don't do, I want to learn to focus on what I do, whether that is acknowledging the work I do, or calling myself a writer.

Tonight, I am a writer.  Tomorrow, I hope I will find the courage to say the same.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 12

This week I'm actually posting on Monday, so already, a win!  (At least, I choose to see it as such.)

Last week didn't finish too badly.  We got a lot of cleaning and organization done, and got the new couch into the living room and set up.  All of the cleaning and organization that I didn't do last year when my horse was sick is coming back to bite me now that I'm finally trying to get caught up on it, as there is a LOT that still needs to be done.  But we did get a lot done, so I'm happy with our progress.

I also mentioned in last week's post that I was filming with a local doll shop.  That went well and the video should be going live soon.

This week I am planning on catching up on some content I've been planning for my doll business: how to videos, blog posts, and Instagram posts.  Originally I was planning on getting started today, but I still have more to organization to do so I'll probably get started on the content tomorrow instead.

This week's rundown should be pretty quick:

Doll stringing ebook: I've put this off for a few weeks so that I can work on this content push.

Ruby Ransome: I'm putting this off for a few weeks as well.

Blogging and website maintenance: As I mentioned, I'm planning on doing a major content push over the next couple of weeks.  As part of that, I'll be doing a bunch of blog posts on my doll blog.

Other projects: I do have more to work on this week for my organization project, primarily finishing organizing the living room, but also hanging some shelves in a few other rooms.  Once the living room is done I still have more to do in the rest of the house, too.

On the horizon: Last week I mentioned that I'll be doing a display for the local doll museum's show next month.  I do need to get to work planning that, and I'll also be working on another doll event for the museum in October.

The content push is going to be a substantial amount of work.  I'm hoping I have it in me to buckle down and work hard on this, but I'm also reminding myself that I don't have to if it's too much, or I can dial it back and take my time.  I have a lot of videos I've been meaning to do, but that doesn't mean they all have to be done in the next few weeks.  So this coming week will be a little bit of finishing up my organization project in the living room, and then feeling out my schedule as far as the content goes.

We'll see how this goes!

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 11.666

Well.  Last week did not go as planned, and this week has not gone as planned either (hence why I'm writing this on Thursday night).  But I will try to catch up.

Last week I had big plans to get lots of stuff done.  I was going to clean and organize, take pictures for my ebook, work on my novel, and work on my blogs and social media content.  But then early in the week we saw a couch that would work perfectly to replace our old couch and allow us to have guests over.  The priority of the weekly quickly turned into getting the living room ready for a new couch.

That project consumed me last week, and while it meant shuffling off everything else, I'm not sorry because the end result is going to be getting our living room cleaned and organized so much sooner than we had planned.  We moved the old couch out on Tuesday and have been working on getting the living room ready for the new couch.

But this reminds me that I wanted to tell you the story of my week to better explain how quickly things go awry in my life.  Sunday night I made plans for the week.  Monday my mom called to say she was going to visit on Wednesday so we could finally see Barbie.  Tuesday a local doll store I regularly collaborate with asked if I could film on Thursday.  Wednesday a family I babysit for asked if I could dog sit Thursday through Sunday.  Today (Thursday) while I was filming they said they didn't need it after all (a relief, but still, a significant change of plans).  And through all of this there has been a sick horse at the barn that we've been helping with.

Needless to say, not much has gotten done on the living room thus far, but I'm hoping to salvage some of my time this weekend.  Next week I'm planning on launching a big content push on my websites, YouTube channel, and Instagram accounts, so I need to get the organization stuff squared away as much as possible in the next three days.

I'll do a quick rundown of last week (before it gets totally out of my head) and what I want to accomplish with the scant remainder of this week, just to keep myself on track.

Doll stringing ebook: I didn't get to this last week and I know at this point that I won't be getting to it this week either.  It's not a big part of my content push next week so I will probably put this off for a couple weeks.

Ruby Ransome: Same thing: hasn't happened yet.  I will be deferring this a couple of weeks as well, as I expect my content push next week to take up most of my time.

Blogging and website maintenance: I worked a little on planning out my content push last week, but then all those plans went south when this week's plans went awry, as described above.  I haven't had much time to work on said content this week, but I'm planning on devoting most of next week to it.

Other projects: The scope of this project has changed a little, since I'm now focusing on the living room instead of the kitchen and other more frequented doll spaces, but it all eventually leads to the same goal so that's okay.  With the remainder of this week (and weekend), I'm planning to finish organizing the living room, get the new couch set up, and finish organizing in the kitchen too.  Once both of these rooms are done, the bulk of my doll spaces will be finished, particularly the spaces I need to use the most for photography, content creation, and repairs.

On the horizon: This week, this category seems to be pertinent as well.  I've been asked to create a display at the doll museum's show in early September, so I need to plan my display and get several things (such as ordering my new business cards) in order before then.

While the surprise living room shake-up totally derailed several weeks' worth of plans, I'm not sorry.  It's been a powerful incentive to get certain things done.  I just hope that I can stay on track now!


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