Employability Skills

I’m going to a three hour long workshop called ‘Identify Your Employability Skills.’ this afternoon. I’ve been on the diet plan of not eating until later in the day for the last month. But, I am going to treat myself to a breakfast at McDonalds in between catching buses out to the workshop. I don’t think I could function very much if I went there on empty. Plus I really am hungry this morning. So it will be kind of a nice day out. I might even find out I am employable after all.

Have you ever assessed your employable skills? What would you list? I will post whatever I come up with when I get home this evening. Might have to reach a bit and add things like decent speller, does not need to wipe drool from keyboard very often.

Using Disposable Supplies for Art

Stop writing or typing. There is a lot of pressure to create something lasting, meaningful and worth reading when you sit in front of a keyboard. Like an artist faced with paint and brushes and the blank canvas then trying to be brilliant on call, it doesn’t always work on command.

On Divine Caroline, Zografis, has written Muses Just Want to Have Fun. It’s an article about using crayons, pencils, lunch bags, match boxes, whatever you have around that is disposable or might already have been thrown out (recycled) to create art, without the pressure of using the “good” paper which gives the pressure of not wasting it with something less than great.

The projects don’t have to be amateurish, but they should be ultimately disposable … it is the possibility to throw it away without guilt that frees your creative risk-taking self. It’s a lot easier to toss the flubs if it is only your time, and not expensive materials that you are tossing out.

I’m not suggesting using materials so inferior that they frustrate the creative process, but I am in favor of simplicity. Get out the crayons, the colored pencil, or some decent tempera paints. Use the backs of gift boxes, the reverse side of watercolors or drawings that didn’t succeed, butcher paper, grocery bags, scraps of matte board. I’ve had a lot of fun with shopping bags from expensive boutiques, which are often made out of really NICE paper and usually only have a small, discreet, classy logo on them—cut them up and play! Go crazy, experiment—you were going to throw it out anyway.

Write a Letter about Yourself

Look back on your year, from the end of last October to the nearing of the end of this October. In some spiritual beliefs this time of the year is about looking back, reflecting on the past and finding fresh inspiration for the future.

Write yourself a short letter. You could even try writing it in long hand if your penmanship hasn’t become too rusty from using the computer keyboard. Write about the past year and what you can look forward to. Put your letter somewhere you will find it next year, for October 2009. Tell yourself about yourself.

Best wishes for the year ahead. 🙂

Speed on the Keyboard is Just the Beginning

All the countries on the planet Earth got together and decided they need one person in charge, someone who could look at the big picture without bias. After a lengthy process YOU won the lottery and now the world ruler, the actual, real world dominator is you.

First on your agenda before you begin making changes to issues, quality control and all that other stuff, you need to find yourself an assistant. Write up the job requirements for the person you are looking for to fill the job as your assistant. Speed on the keyboard is just the beginning.

Dank Cave or Dragon Breath?

You’ve been sucked into a fantasy role playing game, online. It’s a lot different when you’re not at the keyboard. Inside the game you can’t log out. Luckily the character you had created was already experienced, had pretty decent armour and a sack full of healing potions. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to keep running for your life, as you are right now. There is an ogre troll chasing you. He is huge, wears chains on the end of his wrists. Likely he had been chained up somewhere but escaped.

Up ahead you see two doorways. One seems to lead into a dank cave which doesn’t look too cheerful to say the least. The other door leads into a tunnel full of pink mist. Pink mist has long been known to signify dragon’s breath. Which doorway do you take? Pick one quick that tall, dark and less than handsome ogre troll is catching up to you.

Better Procrastination

What would you rather be doing? Here you sit at this machine, your face plugged into a monitor your fingers slaving away over a keyboard, chances are you aren’t really all that comfortable sitting there… what would you rather be doing?

Think about it. Take your time…. well, ok take all of a minute. I can wait that long.

So? What would you rather be doing than writing? How about sailing, dancing, traveling, swimming, spending money at the mall, enjoying a really good coffee, kissing your sweetheart… it can become quite a list.

So, when you procrastinate instead of writing, why do you tend to do things not even on your list of things you’d rather be doing?

Don’t give me that innocent look.

Next time you start to procrastinate by playing some computer game, watching the soaps, checking for email and so on and on, stop and think. What would you really rather be doing?

Then take some time and do it. At least a modified version of whatever you would rather be doing.

Writing is a job but it’s not a torture. If you don’t give yourself a break you will suffer and so will your writing. But, make sure you take a real break. Don’t just aimlessly procrastinate then feel guilty for it later. Accomplish something and feel good. Come back to your computer ready and happy to write. Refresh yourself by doing something you really would rather be doing.

Besides, everyone knows writing isn’t a real job. Our cover is blown, might as well make the most of it.

Musing with Words

Words are great. They come in a variety of styles, sizes and shapes. They don’t need to be fed and clothed or taken for walks. They won’t beg for food at your table and they never pee on the carpet. They have other ways of nagging at you, digging into your soul and making you lose sleep and even your sanity along with it. Words really are mightier than the sword. Just ask any writer staring at a blank sheet of paper or word processor screen.

Do you have a muse? I don’t. What I do seem to have is a being that takes over my body and my mind and lets me watch while she/ he creates wonderful things with words. I’m not suffering a split personality or psychic interbody takeover, or whatever. It just seems at times that I am not the one doing the writing at all. I don’t know where it comes from but I can see my fingers busily tapping away at the keyboard. I don’t think that is what a muse is.

To me a muse is an inspiration that you hope you can continue to rely on for as long as you pull words out of the air and put them neatly (or messily) in some form of print.

If I have a muse it is the words themselves. I have long had a love affair with words. I could sleep with them, roll in them and live my life learning all of them by name. My favourite words are the kind that sound like their meaning or those old English type words like bewitching, beguile and serendipity. On a college exam I used the word persnickity as a word that sounded like what it meant. It was not accepted, not that I failed but she insisted persnickity was not a word. I still don’t know. Some dictionaries have it and some don’t.

But, to me any word that more than half a dozen people know about, is a word. Its up to us to figure it out.

Free Content

I’ve used contributed and/ or free content before. But, it brings it’s own set of difficulties. Before you jump into this, thinking how much easier your life will be consider the following:

1) Unless you want content geared to website promotion, you may be out of luck. The main topic of free content is about site promotion, one way or another. This is changing, slowly. As you find articles to use the well will run dry. Eventually you may find you are spending more time looking for fresh content than it would have taken to write it yourself. If you do find a good writer this way, keep in contact and ask if they have other articles you could use.

2) People who post to free content sites don’t always read the rules. I’ve had authors demand I stop using their content. Some claimed it had expiry dates, some claimed the full article was never meant to be used, just a teaser with a link back to their own site. One expected me to change the format of my pages to suit her article. Before you use a free content site, read the rules, be aware of them. Before using any free content send an email to the writer. Give them an outline of how the content will be used, keep it short and simple.

3) Formatting is hell. Do I need to elaborate? If you have ever cut and pasted a large body of text to a site you are familiar with the backspace and up and down keys on your keyboard. The most aggravating part of using content which you cut and paste from another site is making it fit into your own site’s layout. Yes, this is a small thing but over time it is seriously aggravating. Ask if all contributed content can be sent to you in plain text files. You can at least hope.

4) Grammar, punctuation and spelling. I’m not a dictionary myself but I try to learn from my mistakes, I proofread and I run spellcheck. I don’t understand why everyone who writes can’t do the same. But, you may find yourself editing a lot of contributed content.

I’m not against using free or contributed content but it’s not the perfect answer to filling up your zine with greatness. On the plus side, you won’t be the only one talking. It is good to have more than your own voice, ideas and experiences. It’s great to have something you can rely on when you’re pressed for time, out of ideas or just don’t want to write. Making contacts and networking is another plus. But, it’s not all free and easy. Be aware of the pitfalls.