Creatives for Creatives: my favourite podcasts about the art & business of creative work

I’ve written before about how much I love listening to podcasts during pretty much every waking moment. Walking to work? Podcasts. Freelancing? Podcasts. Out for a run? Podcasts. On a long drive? Yep, podcasts. Most of the time I listen to podcasts for entertainment, whether they’re fiction or true crime or, my favourite genre, folklore and paranormal. However, there are also plenty of great podcasts out there that can educate, inform, and best of all, help you with your creative work.

Obviously, podcasting is a creative medium in itself, but it’s also increasingly becoming a way for creative business owners to share their secrets, talk to other creatives, and discuss the process of creative work. Whether you’re a blogger, a wedding photographer, an artist, or just keen on learning about how you can enhance your creative process or maybe even turn it into a side-gig or a career, here are some of my favourite listens for getting the creative juices flowing.

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Reality is dead; long live Reality

I always knew I wanted to be a writer, and I guess I was smart enough as a kid to realise that most fiction writers don’t immediately publish a bestselling novel and turn that into their day job, so I decided I wanted to be a journalist. Linda Ellerbee was my main inspiration for this, between her incredible educational news show Nick News and her Girl Reporter young adult book series.

I stopped wanting to be a journalist sometime in college. Although I loved my classes and my peers, and certain aspects of journalism like copyediting and researching are definitely right up my alley, and I do love the deadline-oriented nature of the job, I just couldn’t see myself doing it as a career. Sometimes I question that, especially when I look at the amazing work some fellow alums are doing, but for the most part I have no desire to step into a newsroom.

Still, I consider both Ellerbee’s work and my time at Ithaca College to have had a huge influence on shaping my life, but between them was something that was even more important: Reality.

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Ten Minutes of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a lifelong practice, and for most of us, it requires conscious effort. We wake up in the mornings bleary-eyed and in need of caffeine rather than serene and at peace with ourselves and the world. It’s easy for us to go about our days telling ourselves that we don’t have time to meditate or do yoga, no spare minutes to practice gratitude in between commuting and working and hitting the gym and cooking dinner and taking care of kids and doing homework and buying groceries and doing every other one of those essential things that seem to eat up every moment of the day.

The truth is, we do have time, and we choose to fill that time with reading and Netflix and sports and bar-hopping and every other one of those non-essential things, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. This isn’t a “social media is the devil” post, because that subject is beyond played out and anyway that’s not how I feel (perhaps a topic for another post). What this is, is proof that even with the few spare moments you have in your life, you can practice mindfulness. Even if you only have 10 minutes, here are 10 ways to bring more awareness into your everyday.

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Being a Writer When You’re a Writer

“Being a writer” has a low bar to entry. It’s not like “being an engineer”—you don’t have to work as a writer or be trained as a writer or ever publish a word of your writing. You just have to write. Being a writer as a career obviously takes a little more effort. I am a writer by nature and by trade—for the last two years I’ve spent somewhere between two and ten hours a day, five days a week, writing. It’s not what people would consider “glamorous” writing, creating product copy for ecommerce websites; it’s not being a novelist or a features writer or any of my “dream” writing jobs, but it’s nice to be able to say that I pay my bills as a writer.

Plenty of writers have no interest or ability to write as a profession, and simply write in their free time as a hobby. Sometimes I envy that. Too often, after a full day of writing for work the last thing I want to do in my free time is open up Scrivener and start on my own projects. Even on weekends when I haven’t been writing all day, I feel as though I want a day off from this thing that I supposedly love and feel endlessly passionate about. This is where I admit that I haven’t finished so much as a short story in nearly a year. Heck, I’ve barely even started so much as a short story in that time. And you, dear readers, have seen how infrequently I manage to even update this blog.

Sometimes the self-doubt creeps in and I think that perhaps I’m not a writer. Maybe I’m a non-writer who just happens to write for a living. I know this is the kind of self-doubt that nearly every writer struggles with; twitter is full of jokes from amateur and professional writers about the trials and tribulations of putting words on the page.

The recipe is simple: to be a writer, you must write. You must write when you’re tired, or sad, or after you’ve written all day for work. You must especially write when you feel like every word that spews out is pure shit. Thriller writer Harlan Coben said, “You can alway fix bad pages. You can’t fix no pages.”

Stephen King said that he writes 2000 words each and every day. I know from several years’ experience participating in NaNoWriMo, where the daily average goal is 1667, words that writing 2000 words can take an hour or twelve, depending on the day. Obviously, that’s not feasible for everyone, whether they write for their job or not. But what I must learn to better remind myself is that ending a day having written a single word on a personal project leaves me with one more word than I started with, and sometimes that’s enough.

I won’t be participating in NaNo* this year—for most of November I’ll be visiting Ireland and toward the end Steve and I will be moving across the world to New Zealand where I’ll almost certainly be too preoccupied searching for housing and a job. I can’t commit to writing 2000 words a day, or maybe even 200. But I’m a writer, and so I must write.

* For the uninitiated: November is National Novel Writing Month, where thousands around the world attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Published novels that began as NaNo projects include The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. 

Stories You Should Read This Week (4/2/16)

It’s time for the latest edition of Stories You Should Read This Week. I’ve got six links to awesome things I’ve read around the internet recently. Read them at work, read them on the bus, read them in bed. Tell me what you think, tell the authors what you think, tell everyone what you think.

 

Burgers, Bitches, and Bullshit by Bethany Cosentino (via Lenny Letter)

I generally like to avoid most-things-Lena-Dunham, but this essay by Best Coast’s front woman Bethany Cosentino on Dunham’s Lenny Letter site is a must-read. Not because her experiences–being told to smile, being lauded for her looks over her achievements–will be unfamiliar to many (most) women, nor because should come as a surprise that success may only increase these sexist instances, but because Cosentino rightly joins artists like Cvrches’ Lauren Mayberry in loudly and boldly calling these assholes out.

 

A Chat About Diversity in Publishing by Nicole Chung and Linda Z (via The Toast)

Like the interviewee, who works in my dream career of publishing, I fit the majority demographic of the publishing industry: female, white, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, and from an educated, middle-class background. Yet books about people in this demographic are still so often pigenholed as “Women’s lit” rather than just “lit,” and books by women who are minorities in other ways (non-white, LGBT, and so on) are even further marginalized on the shelves. The current cultural conversation is about another media format (see #OscarsSoWhite) but it’s just as relevant in books.

 

Marcia Clark On What Episode One of The People v. O.J. Simpson Got Right and Wrong by Maria Elena Fernandez (via Vulture)

I’m a little too young to really remember the O.J. Simpson trial, but I still remember and know that it was a major event if not the major event of the mid-90s, so of course I was excited for the start of this miniseries, even if it’s helmed by Ryan Murphy. In this interview, Marcia Clark talks about her reaction to the premiere episode.

 

An Invitation Into the Shadowy World of Match Fixing by Ben Rothenberg (via NY Times)

Match fixing conspiracies seem to abound whenever there’s an upset, or a lot of betting on a match, or pretty much any time a sport is played. But it does happen, sometimes obviously and sometimes not. Tennis is the sport currently embroiled in the scandal, but this fascinating read could surely occur in any sport.

 

Alternatives to Resting Bitch Face by Susan Harlan (via McSweeney’s)

I’ll just post an excerpt from this perfect list:

I Would Prefer Not To Face

A Smidge of Self-Awareness Would Not Go Amiss Face

The Situations Are Really Not Analogous Face

Please Tip a Bottle of Bourbon Down My Throat Immediately Face

 

Stop Trying To Out-Feminist Each Other by Maya Kachroo-Levine (via The Financial Diet)

I’ve been reading The Financial Diet recently since my fellow Ithaca journalism alumna Maya is a writer there, and I enjoyed this piece she wrote about your earning versus your partner’s earning and whether it matters as a feminist. She says, and I agree, that it doesn’t. If you earn less than—or more than! or the same as!—your SO, your partnership and everything else in your life can empower you as a woman and a feminist, and just because you don’t shout about it doesn’t mean people can tell you otherwise.

Stories you should read this week (7/1/16)

 

How Our February Cover Star Amandla Stenberg Learned to Love Her Blackness by Solange Knowles (via Teen Vogue)

Warning: this profile of the very cool Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg by the equally cool Solange will definitely make you wonder why you couldn’t be this awesome at 17.

How Islamophobia Hurts Muslim Women the Most by Sirin Kale (via Broadly)

This article from Vice explains how the intersection of Islamophobia and misogyny makes Muslim women particularly vulnerable to violence and harassment.

Two Sisters’ Escape from Syria by Sarah A. Topol (via The Cut)

This article focuses on two young female refugees (a minority, as most women who leave are traveling with their families) as they journey from Syria to seek asylum in Europe.

This Couple Wants to Show How Traveling With A Partner Isn’t Always A Fairy Tale by Annie Daly (via Buzzfeed)

As someone who also hopes to do extensive traveling with her partner in the future, I enjoyed reading this honest piece about the relationship struggles created by full-time travel.

The Wall Dancer by Nick Paumgarten (via The New Yorker)

This New Yorker piece profiles Ashima Shiraishi, the incredible girl who is, at the age of 14, already one of the most (if not the most) talented rock climbers in the world.