What’s Your ’10’ Career?

Just a couple of days ago I sat down to make a business plan while waiting¬†in a Chinese restaurant for my takeout order to cook (tip: if you can’t figure out a surefire plan for your business in ten minutes, then why bother? ūüėČ ¬†The only thing I had time to do was make a list of 11 money-making ideas related to writing, and then rate each idea on a interest/excitement level of 1-10 (ten being screaming-at-the-ceiling-excited [so what, I scared a few¬†patrons]). ¬†I put down the numbers as fast as I could, with a minimum of thought. ¬†The idea here was to get an almost subconscious feeling for how much I wanted to pursue these options. ¬†That¬†idea may sound touchy-feely, but I believe¬†that what draws you in is also¬†where you have your greatest potential.

from AhteesDesigns on Etsy

from AhteesDesigns on Etsy

As I wrote down the numbers, I was surprised — there were strong feelings, and no hesitancy, in my actions. ¬†When I looked back at the list, the path — usually¬†so muddied by my indifference as to HOW I earned a living writing — was suddenly crystal clear.

My List:

  • Novels: Self Published ¬† ¬† ¬†— 3
  • Novels:¬†Traditional ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†— 10
  • Screenplays ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† — 9
  • Self Improvement Books ¬† — 7
  • Articles ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† — 1
  • Teaching ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†— 2
  • Teleplays ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† — 1o
  • Greeting Cards ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† — 1
  • Editing ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† — -1
  • Web Site Design ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† — 3-5

The truth, however scary, was right before my eyes. ¬†I might enjoy writing articles (like this one!) and teaching for free, but my soul blanched at the idea of doing that as a job. ¬†The problem with this ‘revelation’ was that I already was making plans to¬†push it this fall and write for¬†Huffingtonpost, set up paid classes, etc. etc. ¬†But my list said (since I already have a ‘day job’ that pays the bills) that I should only really be working on four things — novels, screenplays, teleplays, and self improvement books.

Woah.  That IS what I want to be doing, but is it also what I SHOULD be doing?  To answer that, I need to go back and introduce you to a book that absolutely changed my life.

from mariongundersonart.com

from mariongundersonart.com

What are your strengths?

The online Strengthfinder test (which you get a code to take when you buy a NEW copy of the book ‘Now, Discover Your Strengths), has 34 themes or ‘talents’ that a person can have, like Includer, Intellection, Input, Positivity, ¬†or Responsibility (those are actually my themes). ¬†You get your top five revealed and for me, it was a life changer.

Like never before, I was able to see my positive qualities¬†laid out before me. ¬†These talents are so integral to who I am¬†and come¬†so easily to me that I took them for granted. They are the traits that, when praised,¬†make us¬†say with a dismissive wave of the hand, ‘Oh, everyone thinks like that’, but other people are drawn in and in awe of your abilities. ¬†And we ALL have talents, but often we can’t see them without help — we’re just too close to their source.

Talents like ‘Intellection’ (the ability to think deeply about things), when combined with knowledge (like how to build a story) and skills (hours upon hours spent writing) equals a strength (fiction writer). ¬†It’s soul-level compulsion meeting a thing you love to learn about and do on a regular basis.

from Huffington Post

Huffington Post

How does this fit into your life (and mine)? ¬†Well, I highly (HIGHLY) recommend buying the book, just in case it gives you a fraction of the joy it’s given me. ¬†But for now, look at the list of talents and see if any jump out at you —

Now, any talent can help any job — ‘Self-Assurance’, say, is helpful everywhere. ¬†But, when combined with your personality and passion — your talents can push you in certain directions. ¬†If you look back at my list of money-making writing ideas, you’ll notice that teaching rated quite low. ¬†I’ve done it¬†from time to time, and even enjoyed parts of the experience, but it’s also nerve-wracking, exhausting, draining. ¬†I love the results — happy students and a chance to think more about a topic (that ‘Intellection’ again) — but the idea of doing it all the time for money sounds tiring. ¬†Also, none of my talents involve people except ‘Includer’, so a ‘Maximizer’ or ‘Developer’ might be more at home in a teaching setting.

On the other hand, take novel writing. ¬†I’m as happy as a pig in slop. ¬†Oh, the work is still hard, but I want to be doing it all the time. ¬†And it makes sense when you look at my talents:

  • Includer — I love to look at the misunderstood, broken, forgotten characters and try to understand them and pull them into the story
  • Intellection — Thinkin’ about stuff 24/7/365
  • Input — Learning about Victorian England, old-fashion carriages, the experences of orphans, the periodic table –everything’s interesting!
  • Positivity — Novels take a long time, but faith that I can finish and finish well keeps me going
  • Responsibility — Doesn’t tie in exactly, but it helps me manage myself and get the work done (sometimes)



Now, doing what you love and enjoy can sound like an overly simple answer. ¬†But if you think about it, even now, at whatever job you’re doing, there are facets of your job that draw you in and others that repel you. ¬†Try doing what you love a little more and the things you dislike less. ¬†Seriously. ¬†Stop doing the junk you hate and see if anyone notices. ¬†I did this at my ‘day job’ and now our department has risen to be ranked in the top ten out of over 1,000 stores. ¬†I didn’t do it alone, but I’m sure spending time on the things I was more passionate about helped.

The risk in not following your talents and passions is that you can work very hard and not¬†really get ahead or have anything to show for it. ¬†You can give your life away to the ‘supposed-to’s and¬†only end up with the ‘oughta-haves’.

But if instead you make your own list, and write down — real quick — your own 1-10s, you may discover what you should be doing with your life. ¬†And if you find a way to use your universe-given talents in service of your passion? ¬†Well then, we should all get out of your way, because you might just be about to take off like a rocket.

from Etsy

from Etsy

And now, I’ve got to get back to that screenplay. ¬†And that novel. ¬†ūüėČ


Follow Your Excitement

from Oprah.com

When you decide to change your life, improve your world, or reclaim your dreams you will come to a time when you get really excited about something you consider ‘silly’ or ‘trivial’ — and in that moment, you have discovered magic.

Think about it — how often do you get excited in the day-to-day? ¬†Not pleased, not happy — little kid excited. ¬†Won a trip excited. ¬†Finished the race excited. ¬†And more importantly, what do you do with that information?

Found on rachelgadiel.com

Hopefully, you are already feeling happy pretty often, and doing fulfilling things sometimes. ¬†But excitement — telling strangers, breathless squealing excitement — true, rousing joy, how often does that happen?

But don’t tell me it¬†doesn’t happen. ¬†You may just have ignored your passions for so long that they can only whisper to you. ¬†More likely, you think the things you love are silly, pointless, or a waste of time.

For myself, television writing is like that right now. ¬†I love, love LOVE watching great shows, and the¬†bit of teleplay writing I’ve done has been very scary and exciting. ¬†But I love novel writing too (and blogging!) and maybe do see prose writing as more serious or legit. ¬†And teleplay writing scares me, it scares me to death. ¬†I wrote half of a pilot, reread it, and it terrified me — because it was good.

Fear doesn’t necessarily accompany this excitement, but the voice of ‘reason’ often does. ¬†What moves you is probably something there’s not enough of in the world, at least in your mind, but if you start telling a friend how you spent eight solid hours decorating one cupcake, you may get a lot of push back. ¬†Or a look of incredulity.

That’s okay. ¬†What you love isn’t for everyone, but if you¬†love it passionately enough, you will transcend ridicule and find admiration. ¬†Maybe not from everyone, but if you’re madly into something, there has never been been a better time to find and connect to all the people worldwide that share your passion.

from Examiner.com

Because, while you don’t have to transmute your excitement to anyone else, many passions (and most of our great art, writing, invention, etc) plus lots of great careers, begin with a desire to share, to inspire (the root word of enthusiasm). ¬†So when something excites you more than other people, know that means that you would be willing to work longer, keep perfecting, and dream about this thing¬†more than the average person. ¬†And as you know, there’s no traffic jams on the extra mile — there’s only people doing what excites them every day and living out their dreams.

So don’t worry about if your passion could be your paycheck — if it contains any kind of true magic and genius at all, it will probably look like the opposite for quite a long time.

That’s all right, because when you follow the things you love, you’ll be grinning like an idiot and having the time of your life.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a teleplay to write.

Found on sendcere.com

The Things That Make You Scared Are the Things That Make You Dream

‚Äē Ellen Johnson

Quote by Ellen Johnson

Since Black Friday, I have been working hard every day to launch myself forward toward the life of my dreams. ¬†Exercising, yoga, and especially doing a lot of writing (it is my passion and life’s purpose after all!).

What I didn’t plan on, was how freaking scary it was going to be.

Found on loveandlaceblog.com

Found on loveandlaceblog.com

It’s scary. ¬†It’s scary not to know how you’ll look in a year or where you‚Äôll end up living or what job you’ll be doing. ¬†Or who you’ll be with.

As soon as I realized I was creating all this forward momentum, I realized I needed a destination.  Boy, then did it hit the fan.

First a little background. ¬†Ever since our parents broke up and then my Mother died (about ten years ago) by sister and I have sought stability. ¬†Just making things calm, and safe, and comfortable for ourselves and each other. ¬†And we’ve been spectacularly successful. ¬†Now though, it’s a time of change. ¬†And when I started thinking about my future, I realized I wasn’t sure what I really wanted.

Was I still a novelist foremost?  What about my inspirational and self help writing?  What about my unceasing love of TV and intrigue with the idea of writing teleplays?

Did I want to travel most?  Settle down in an amazing new place?  Or stay in Athens, GA?

Was I ready for a big new step if I fall in love?  Or did I just want to run around the world for a while and have adventures?

Clearly, for all I’d dreamed about my life after retail and working as a full time writer, when faced with the idea of it actually coming to pass, I simply had no idea.

Found on glogster.com

Fear is a natural response to the unknown. ¬†But, we are not living in the wild. ¬†There are no bears and wolves around (for most of us). ¬†Fear should not be a red stop light, a firm ‘No! ¬†Go back, you fool!’ ¬†Instead, it just tells you that you are stepping onto unknown ground. ¬†For me, in the weeks since this started, there have been five main types of fear (see if you too recognize these as you step off the well-worn path toward the life you were destined for) —

Five Fears That Prove You’re Doing Something Right

  1. Fear of Failure. ¬†Right off the bat, I thought “What if I set this big goal, tell people about it, and can’t do it? ¬†What if I belly flop? ¬†And most importantly, how will I stay positive if I’m a failure? ¬†This is probably the fear that stops 90% of cool, amazing, incredible things from being made and stops more discoveries of best friends, soul mates, and mentors than any other. ¬†But the truth is, even big failures don’t really get much traction — my Athens Writers Association had a reading once where almost no one showed up. ¬†It wasn’t fun at the time, but we learned something about how to do it better, and it doesn’t mean much when held up against all our successes. ¬†The best advice for this kind of fear is ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway.’ ¬†The only way to do anything worthwhile is to realize the price of failure is small, no one’s getting eaten, and the rest of the world isn’t really going to pay your one act that much mind. ¬†What they’re responding to is that you’re living a life of action. ¬†I fail in tons of ways all the time (eating habits, not being as perfectly kind as I could be, trying to cheat by counting reading ‘The Hobbit’ as ‘writing time’) and yet many people tell me I inspire them. ¬†People will forget the minute and remember that you did something they were afraid to even try.

    Found on onelifewords.tumblr.com

  2. Fear of¬†Success. ¬†Now this one may seem silly on the surface, but it’s actually quite reasonable: our whole lives are constructed around things we know how to do, and to handle. ¬†Think about it — you do what works. ¬†You know how to drive but not a stick-shift, so your car’s automatic. ¬†You don’t have to like your job, but you probably could do it with your eyes closed. ¬†Even bad situations, like being in debt, you’re probably¬†comfortable¬†with. ¬†You only change things that fall outside your comfort zone. ¬†House’s drafty? ¬†That’s fine. ¬†Roof fallen in? ¬†You’re gonna call someone (my roof is fine BTW ūüėČ ). ¬†So when the idea of wild, mad success comes around (and that’s the kind that falls into your lap when you start living the life of your dreams), of course it’s scary. ¬†You don’t know how to do that. ¬†How would having a great husband or wife fit into your routine, your relationships with other friends, your alone time? ¬†Would you like working at your dream company? ¬†Would you be good enough? ¬†If it all was going great, would something horrible happen? ¬† I recently was reading part of my new novel¬†Society &¬†Civility¬†to finish up my writing time late one night. ¬†But then I still had a bit of time left and so opened up my teleplay from the summer, called¬†Family Lines¬†and about a family of demon hunters. ¬†I’d only written 20 pages (for an hour long pilot) and had quit, thinking it wasn’t going well and I sucked. ¬†But I reread those 20 pages that night and —¬†they scared the crap out of me. ¬†They were good, very good (in my approximation). ¬†So what does that mean for my future? ¬†The best way to dispel this fear is with feelings of gratitude and excitement: you are in this wonderful, unique spot to change your life and make the world a better place (following your dreams always makes the world a better place). ¬†And the truth is, you can be comfortable in loving relationships, working your dream job, and having a life of adventures, or you can be comfortable with just what you’re doing, right now, for the rest of your life. ¬†Your choice.

    Found on whisper.sh

  3. Fear of Looking a Fool /Upsetting People /¬†Inconveniencing¬†People. ¬†I’m not cheating by rolling all of these fears into one, I recently felt them all from a single act. ¬†I wrote to someone who’s an inspiration to me, someone I’d actually like to be friends with — and then I felt really uncomfortable. ¬†I wanted to let them know their work inspired me, but did I go too far, sound over the top? ¬†Did I scare them by being weird (I’m on a journey to be more open and honest and that seems to be a little unfiltered and frightening — at least to me)? ¬†And worst of all did I seem unhingled? ¬†A hanger-on? ¬†A stalker? (I’ve been a stocker for years in big box stores, but that’s spelled a little differently). ¬†In truth though, I am none of those fears, simply someone inspired, and whether or not they respond, they probably don’t think anything bad about me. ¬†This fear is about staying small, nondescript, and not making waves. ¬†Your friends, your family, strangers you accost on the internet — they all have a way they’re most more comfortable with you being¬†and that is just how you are now. ¬†If you get fit, what does that say about their lives? ¬†You move across the country for that dream job, where does that leave Movie Night? ¬†You express your feelings (for any one in any way) and suddenly they have a new issue: how to respond to you (and their day was already full up). ¬†The only thing I can say here is, treat others how you would want to be treated. ¬†Having my friend get fit would be great; having them say ‘You’d look so much better 20 pounds lighter’ would not. ¬†Having someone write that I inspired them would be a boon to me; having a ‘fan’ say we must write a novel together, share a house (and more) would get a quick trip to my banned email list. ¬†So don’t worry, just be daring and send some good into the world.
  4. Fear of Hard Work. ¬†Now, I’ll expound all day and all night on the importance of working hard, but even I have my limits. ¬†And that is what I’m trying to change. ¬†I’ve been hitting this exercise/yoga/writing goal for weeks and that’s going okay, but the thought of digging back into editing my two new novels scares me (and writing for TV, well, we don’t even talk about that…). ¬†This is related to fear #1 but a little different. ¬†It’s knowing you¬†can do something, but being unsure if you want to put into it the Herculean effort required. ¬†I’ll never forget how when I started editing my first novel, I was convinced I was doing something wrong; the editing was making the book much better but¬†it was too hard. ¬†Surely I’d missed a step, or didn’t know a trick? ¬†Truth is,¬†everything you love was created with an inordinate amount of elbow grease. ¬†You want to create something people love and will cherish? ¬†That’s reason enough to work past this fear.


  5. Fear of Leaving People Behind. ¬†As I mentioned in fear #2, this could be moving across the country, but I’m thinking more in an emotional sense. ¬†I like the people I work with at my ‘regular’ job. ¬†I love my friends. ¬†I worship my sister. ¬†And if I change, what happens to them? ¬†Will they like who I become? ¬†Will our paths diverge? ¬†I feel that this period of growth will unsettle a few relationships (just as a child can feel ‘growing pains’ as their legs lengthen), but I also feel strongly that the best thing I can ever do for them, the kindest act I can bestow, is to become as wonderful and amazing and perfect a me as I can be. ¬†I didn’t start this. ¬†My friends and mentors inspired me to greatness, and I hope to inspire others. ¬†Think of yourself as leading the charge into a wonderful new adventure. ¬†I’m reluctant when plans suddenly change and my day is altered by a friend’s suggestion, but I’m always happy (after a bit of grumbling) to leap on board and then I have an amazing day, usually one of the best of the year . ¬†Give your friends the same time to adjust and a chance to join in the fun.

In the end, it all means that, when you get serious about living your dreams, the world gets big and exciting fast. ¬†I’ve only been at this for a few weeks and already it’s getting crazy. ¬†What will a few more months bring?

The most exciting thing, the thing I wish I could transmute to you, is how fast you can start to change your life and that each challenge and fear can be met and mastered.

I don’t have all the answers yet. ¬†Heck, I don’t even know most of the questions. ¬†But I am so scared and so excited.

Because I’m living a life that matters. ¬†And I’m getting braver every day.

How to Reevaluate Your Life

from lifeinblush.com/blog

When you decide to reevaluate your life, remember: you are not looking for easy answers.  At this stage you are only trying to ask the right questions.


  1. What’s my dream life? ¬†If you could have anything, no holds bared, what would you be doing, day in and day out? ¬†It’s fine to have a big goal (climb Everest) but try to drill it down to a 24 hour picture. ¬†Dream lives still involve many of the things you are already doing — so what’s different? ¬†Imagine being excited to get to work — where do you work? ¬†What does your house look like? ¬†Who are you married to, if anyone?
  2. What do you want (do you really, really want)? ¬†Dreams and fantasies are often funded by the unbelievable. ¬†“I’d fly off to Paris in my private jet.” ¬†“I’d be married to Tom Hiddleson.” ¬†We think getting a great life is so impossible that we literally make it so; you might as well say you want to live on Jupiter and marry Errol Flynn — it’s as likely to happen. ¬†So instead, take time to get to the heart of your dream — past the money and movie stars — and figure out what you really desire. ¬†Maybe you’ve never been to Paris — but if you saved up all your ‘fast food’ money for two years you could do it (and be much healthier). ¬†And maybe you long to meet intelligent, joyful people and have become discouraged by the potential romantic partners in your job or social circle. ¬†Ask what makes your dream great. ¬†Most times it’s not just having more money in your hand.
  3. What’s making you unhappy now? ¬†Think about the last week or month — what were your most unhappy moments? ¬† Who/where/what did they involve? ¬†It’s hard to admit, but if you don’t come away happy from seeing someone, then that’s someone you need less of in your world. ¬†Life is short, and unless you birthed them or adopted them, you don’t owe anyone your happiness upon this Earth. ¬†We’ve all had friendships and relationships we’ve tried to ‘make’ work. ¬†Well, today you found your get-out-of-jail-free card; I’m officially telling you it’s okay to let things that don’t work GO. ¬†Believe me, you’ll be making room in your life for much better things. ¬†If debt or your weight are making you unhappy then even a tiny step toward a better life will improve your mood. ¬†And if your job is the problem, hang on . . .
  4. Do I hate my job? ¬†I just saw a Pin that said something like ‘When asked what they would reevaluate after winning the lottery, 51% of people said ‘their job’. ¬†Now, I don’t know if that’s true, but it feels right. ¬†To me that also says that, in addition to not liking their job, most people are afraid to leave because of finances. ¬†This is a tough one — we need money. ¬†But how much of it? ¬†Could you get by (and be happier) with less? ¬†Instead of imaging winning the lottery — imagine you already have. ¬†According to one estimate, the worldwide median household¬†income is less than $10,000. ¬†So if you’re household makes more than that, you are already living the high life. ¬†So maybe a different job (even if it paid less) would be something to think about. ¬†And know there are people out there who are paid well to do your dream job; the first step to joining them is acknowledging you’re unhappy where you are.
  5. Am I filling my life with ‘time-wasters’?¬† Everyone deserves ‘down time’, ‘fun time’, or a break but everything in moderation. ¬†Playing video games can be amazing but 6 hours a day for five years may not lead to a fulfilling life — unless you’re a game designer. ¬†The same way, the amount of human time spent on Facebook is astounding (and I can be as guilty as anyone, though more often it’s Pinerest for me). ¬†Just try to imagine the world, the power, and the individual lives we could build with that excess time.
  6. Why am I sad? ¬†You may not be sad, but if you are know that a few small changes can make life great again. ¬†You don’t need to throw out everything, you just need to realign your life with your heart’s desire. ¬†And if you have a problem that seems very hopeless — know that there’s probably a group, meeting, hotline, or program for people battling the same troubles as you. ¬†Reach out and get help.
  7. What am I¬†impatient¬†about?¬† For me, it’s becoming a full-time writer and then traveling the world. ¬†And I know I’ll get there. ¬†But when progress feels slow, I wonder if I need to go get a college degree, move jobs, move cities, SOMETHING to prove I’m not stagnant and not going to be standing here in one place forever. ¬†If this is you, and you are doing something that¬†should have the payoff you’re looking for (a breakthrough in job, becoming your perfect weight through a diet) then I suggest you give yourself a place in the future to¬†re-reevaluate that one goal and decide if these small steps aren’t adding up to something big. ¬†For example, I’ve decided to write three new amazing things¬†then look at whether I need a different day job, education, what-have-you. ¬†Until I have those three novels or plays in front of me, I won’t worry about how long I’ve been at my day job while ‘planning’ to become a full time writer.
  8. What’s on my ‘bucket list’? ¬†One of the things about this year is I’ve talked to some older people I know who never have done the items on their bucket list and now wonder if they’re too old. ¬†While I’m a total believer in doing as much as you can as long as you can, it is easier to climb a mountain in your 30s or 40s than your 70s. ¬†Whatever your age, part of the un-fulfillment you might be feeling is because the big things just sit on a distant horizon and never get any closer. ¬†You need to pick a before-I-die goal, pick a date (even if it’s a year or two out) and start planning, saving, and/or training for it NOW. ¬†Our lives are short and precious, leave nothing important undone.
  9. Why am I asking this question now? ¬†You Google-searched for this question (or are just a fan or friend of mine) — why? ¬†Are you fed up with the way things are going? ¬†Have you been trying to make changes but still feel far from your goals? ¬†The important thing is to feel empowered — this is a great moment. ¬†As soon as you start really looking at your life, you may get depressed, scared, and feel hopelessness. ¬†But the important thing to know is that this is an important first step that some people never take. ¬†You are now officially on the road to your dreams.
  10. Am I ready to be bold? ¬†There’s a saying, “Are you really happy or just really comfortable?” ¬†You have come to this place by your choices; some parts of your life work great and some need to be switched or fixed. ¬†But if you are at the point of knowing you need a change, then realize you really have nothing to lose. ¬†Start by cleaning your house and giving some things away, then make that bucket list plan, then start seeing what parts of your life make you happy and what things need to go. ¬†Envision your dream and walk toward it.

from periwinkleporte.files.wordpress.com


June 2015 update: Please visit my new site ‘How To Come Alive‘ if you’d like to learn the 25¬†things that have helped me most in achieving my dreams.