Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Question: A Handy How-To

I was reading Tina's blog the other day and, unbidden, offered advice. She indicated that she wants to try to make her living as a writer and, since that decision, has a hard time writing. I want her to write because she's really smokin' good at it and I've been more or less making my living writing for a while now (and speaking, yes, but you have to decide what it is you will say). So here's what I said:

My advice on becoming a professional writer:

1. Start calling yourself a writer. Slip it into conversation wherever you can. "Hi, I'm Tina, I'm a writer." "Well, as a writer, I think..." "I was writing something the other day as writers do."

2. Commit to other people that you will write specific things by a specific time and then keep your word. THESE PEOPLE MUST NOT BE FRIENDS, THEY MUST BE STRANGERS. OR MOSTLY STRANGERS. Ideally, this would be something intended for publication, at least weblication.

3. Repeat steps 1-2.
It's simple. It's not EASY, understand, but it is simple.

I got to thinking that there's probably lots of difficult stuff out there that actually has simple instructions. How to run a marathon, how to run a business, how to cook, how to train a dog.

Here's the challenge/question:

What are three simple steps to doing something difficult that you know how to do?

Use your expertise, make the world stronger, help us all out here.



Christopher said...

Doing Your Taxes:

1. Purchase tax software - ANY tax software. Well, any EXCEPT "Tax Wise" (the one promoted by the IRS, natch!), it will save you HUGE amounts of time and frustration - and probably some $$ to boot, so it's totally worth the $40.

2. Organize and categorize ALL your documents: W-2's, 1099's, receipts, mortgage & property tax statements, stock/mutual fund sales, etc., etc., BEFORE you start filling out the tax forms. If anything is missing, check with the pertinent employer/provider and get copies.

3. Actually DO your return! (too many people, in my experience unfortunately, forget this essential step.)

Elan Morgan said...

Anonymous said...

I give this advice to people all the time who claim to want to do what I'm doing (which is usually knitting in public):

1. Want to do it enough that the desire outweighs any obstacles you may have found/made up to keep you from doing it.

2. Learn how to do it, then do it.

Tina Rowley said...

Oh me god! I just saw this!

Man, thank you. That is so lovely of you to put that here for all the world to see, those kind words.

That sounds like good advice. All I have to do now is figure out how to follow it. I'm on it. As a writer, I, Tina, am on it.

Anonymous said...

How to Prevent the Second Hiccup:
1. After the first hiccup, pay attention to where the contraction occurred.
2. Concentrate as you await the feeling that the next hiccup is about to occur.
3. When you get that feeling, don't let the hic happen.
(4. Repeat as necessary.)

Amy said...

How to make Soul Beans

1) Open large can of pork and beans (Van De Kamp or Bush brands are fine) and pour contents into a saucepan. Heat on medium.
2) Brown and/or cook the following in a skillet: chopped bacon, ground beef and Jimmy Dean sausage. Use the plain Jimmy Dean’s, not the kind with sage. Combine the meats with the beans, but be careful not to use too much meat: You want the dish to retain its beaniness and not acquire a stewlike consistency.
3) Add mustard and brown sugar to taste. Reduce heat and simmer for a while on the stovetop. Shortly before serving, throw in some chopped green onions and let these cook a few minutes.

umgrego2 said...

I'm really just going to build on what paige said, because her comments are indeed fairly universal. But I'm generating it based on commuting to work by bike.

1. Commit to it.
2. Do it safely.
3. Make adjustments as necessary based on negative experiences arriving out of 2.
4. Repeat all steps.

When I say do it, I mean do it regardless of the possible negative outcomes that serve as excuses. For instance, you may say "i won't bike today because I've had a slow start to my morning and I'll be late for work." Bike anyways; be late. The effects of being late will force you to get ready faster the next morning.

Another example: you don't want to bike because it's raining and you don't have the proper gear; bike anyways. Suffer the wetness and you will get yourself the right gear.

The order of the steps are important because if you don't do it, you won't make the adjustments. Also, doing it makes sure that you're making the right adjustments.

Remember to assume that motorists are out to get you. Getting hit is not fun.

Pickles & Ginger said...

Making your own duck confit is actually quite simple! (Although, you will need duck fat to start with—which can be found at most of the haute-bourgeois groceries around—but, you’ll end up with more fat at the end of the process than you started with so you’ll be good to go the next time you want to make it.)

1) Take your duck legs—you can use other parts but, I think the legs work the best—and salt them liberally with coarse kosher salt, and then cover and let it sit in the ‘fridge overnight. (That’s all for today, so head off to the left bank and rendezvous with your lover.)

2) Place the legs in a single layer in a high-sided baking dish and nestle in some garlic cloves and fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs. Sprinkle the legs with fresh-ground pepper and then add enough melted fat (the extra you had to buy) so that it just covers the meat: figure on about 1 cup of fat per leg.

3) Pop it into a 225 degree oven for about 3 hours or until the sin is golden brown and the meat is fork-tender (there’s a lot of varrients on the time & temp for this but, slow and low is the key here). And voila, you’re done!

The duck will keep in the fridge for weeks packed in the fat—when you want to use it, just warn it up in the oven and then take the leg(s) out and let the excess fat drain away. (Be sure to save the left-over fat in the freezer for future use in confit or other cooking; potatoes fried in duck fat, for example, are fantastic.) Now you have the perfect snack to bring along the next time your friends are out striking or barricading themselves in the old quarter.

Matthew said...

Step 0 for anything: Never, never say "weblication."

Glenn Fleishman said...

I have to chime in on the missing step in your simple advice: blog, and blog regularly. I started writing for money in 1994, but it was always painful, even after I'd co-written a 1,000-page book, written hundreds of articles, etc.

Then in 2001, I started blogging nearly every day, both on a professional site (about Wi-Fi) and a personal site. Writing is a muscle, and with exercise, I am now much more fit. I can shoot out thousands of words as needed, and even when the muse (which muse covers non-fiction and technical material? technoritides?) doesn't come, I can still produce.

Michelle de Seattle said...

How to entertain children for 4 hours straight:

1. Give one child a saltshaker and inform them that if they put salt on a bird's tail the bird will be unable to fly. Give the other child a spice shaker filled with birdseed, grass seed, or cornmeal, and tell them to run around feeding the birds. If there's a third child give them a disposable camera to record all the birds. When they run out of energy go to the park and tell them it works with squirrels, too.

2. Repeat until children fall over from exhaustion.