Blog to support the book "Creatively Self-Employed: How Writers and Artists Deal with Career Ups and Downs" by Kristen Fischer

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Location: Point Pleasant, New Jersey, United States

30-something Jersey gal working as a freelance writer. Starbucks addict, beach-lover, kitty mother.

Creatively Self-Employed Website

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

10 Tips for Mindful Work

Not long ago, I authored a post with 10 Tips for a Mindful Home, stirring up quite a bit of unrest over the suggestion that we begin each day by making the bed, a task that doesn't consume more than five minutes of a morning routine. Assuming we can maneuver out of those psychological bedclothes and into the workplace, we have eight or more hours to practice mindfulness doing things we might like even less. Mindfulness, or the practice of non-judgmental attention, is a wisdom practice, and wisdom always leads us in the direction we'd least like to go.

I admit it's been awhile since I've spent 40 or more hours each week in an office, and at no time during the long stretch of my career was I anything but profoundly inattentive. Still, those long and unfulfilling days brought the dawn of a penetrating realization that my work was not the problem. Work, you see, is never the problem. The problem is the way we work.

In that spirit, I offer these 10 Tips for Mindful Work, or What I Would Do Differently if I Had It All to Do Over Again:

  1. Be on time
    Self-discipline is the foundation of all success and the essence of self-respect. The habit of tardiness (and face it, it's a habit) is like deficit spending. It bankrupts your future and turns inconvenienced co-workers into your creditors. Set an alarm and become the master of your destiny.
  2. Care
    Work is not a distraction from your life; it is not a detour, hindrance or necessary evil. If you think this way it is the wrong view. When you are working, work is your life. Care for it as you care for yourself. Long ago, a Zen master taught, "If you find one thing wearisome, you will find everything wearisome."
  3. Make a list
    Start each day with a list of things to do. Lists ease anxiety because they de-clutter your mind and allay the fundamental fear of a multitasker: forgetting. Control is an illusion, however, so wise up and keep the list short.
  4. Forget the list
    Do not mistake a list for the thing. Adapt to the flow of real events as they occur. Adaptation is innovation and innovation is genius. Prove yourself when and where it matters most. The unforeseen problem that walks in the door is your opportunity knocking.
  5. Attend to what appears
    What appears in front of you is the only thing there is. Respond appropriately as things arise, and crises will not overtake you. Big problems result from small oversights.
  6. Avoid gossip
    Viruses spread. Keep your hands clean and cover your mouth. Silence is a prescription for longevity.
  7. Smile
    The workplace is a theater, and the drama is make-believe. Everyone appreciates a good laugh. When you can do anything as though you work at nothing, you have the best days of your life.
  8. Give credit
    No amount of money is enough. Be generous with your praise, courtesy and thanks. They will always be repaid.
  9. Take the rest of the day off
    Do your work, and then set it down. When you are at work, work without guilt or distraction. When you are at home, remember why you call it home.
  10. Do it all over again
    Rise and shine. An ancient teacher said, "A day without work is a day without eating." Take every chance to do it differently. Your illustrious future unfolds in the work you have before you right now.

Learn more about Karen Maezen Miller here. It's worth the visit!

link | posted by Kristen at 6:58 AM | 2 comments

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nine Authentic Career Paths for Writers and Artists

Today's post comes from guest author Ingrid Stabb, co-author of The Career Within You.

Creative people come in all career types--not one personality type has a corner on creativity. In The Career Within You, Elizabeth Wagele and I describe nine different sets of career strengths. To be successful and fulfilled, your work life must reflect your true self, including calling upon the strengths you already possess.

Check out the quizzes and our individualized approach for determining your career type and forging the career path that best suits you: www.careerwithinyou.com. A wide variety of paths lead to successful, creative self-employment.

  1. If you’re the Perfectionist like Meryl Streep, you are motivated to do the right thing and achieve excellence in your work. While almost all artists and writers have a touch of perfectionism, here we’re talking about the person who excels in courteousness, logical thinking, making improvements, meticulousness or responsibility. If you have good attention to detail you excel in roles ranging from actor to photographer to technical writer. You’ll do especially well in self-employment when you score high in responsibility.
  2. If you’re the Helper like Danielle Steele you attend to others’ needs and relationships are everything. You typically find yourself in roles that require interacting with people, and if not, like Steele, you write bestselling novels about love relationships. Your strengths may include expressiveness, people skills, perceptiveness, problem solving or reliability. You’ll do especially well in self-employment when you score high in reliability.
  3. If you’re an Achiever like F. Scott Fitzgerald, you work to achieve a successful image. You’re competitive and as a writer or artist you want to be the best. You stand out by your ability to inspire, your drive to win, your efficiency, your problem solving or your public relations skills. You’ll do especially well in self-employment when you score high in your drive to win.
  4. If you’re a Romantic like Johnny Depp you live to express your individuality. You are the classic “creative type” and it is absolutely necessary to find your voice or medium to find fulfillment. The strengths that make you unique might be your ability to discern, your aesthetic sense, your compassion, your imagination or your sense of meaning. You’ll do especially well in self-employment when you score high in your ability to discern.
  5. If you’re an Observer like Emily Dickinson your aim is to acquire knowledge. Observers abound in all writing fields including journalism, technical writing, lyrics, nonfiction, novels, poems and scripts. Your strengths may include the ability to focus, complex thinking, objectivity, sensitivity or working independently. You’ll do especially well in self-employment when you score high in working independently.
  6. If you’re a Questioner like Dustin Hoffman you work to reduce risk and many of you have incredible wit. Most top comedians are Questioners. You have honed your craft through your carefulness or it comes naturally to you through your intuition. Your strengths may include critical thinking, exactness, identifying with others, skepticism or taking precautions. You’ll do especially well in self-employment when you score high in taking precautions.
  7. If you’re an Adventurer like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, you are always exploring possibilities. You’re likely to combine multiple creative pursuits into one career such as performance art, publicity, painting, journalism and being a talk show host. You shine with enthusiasm, idealism, seeking challenges, social networking, or multi-disciplinary thinking. You’ll do especially well in self-employment when you score high in seeking challenges.
  8. If you’re an Asserter like Pablo Picasso, your goal is to set clear boundaries. You especially enjoy being your own boss. In addition to being the writer or artist, you also make a great agent with your natural negotiation skills. Your strengths may include competitiveness, leadership, logical thinking, protectiveness and self-reliance. You’ll do especially well in self-employment when you score high in self-reliance.
  9. If you’re a Peace Seeker like Garrison Keillor you seek to create harmony and inner calm. For some of you editing or architecture are great fits. Repetition helps you perfect your craft. Your shine with a capacity to repeat, empathy, mediating, ability to synthesize information or teamwork. You’ll do especially well in self-employment when you score high in synthesizing information.

To win a copy of the book, leave a comment with your name and email address. Three winners will be selected by July 15, 2010, and will be contacted before books are shipped by the publisher.

link | posted by Kristen at 12:08 PM | 3 comments

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Photo: Ali Edwards

I'm here. I haven't forgotten you.
I'm just writing something else. Somewhere else. Not online.

link | posted by Kristen at 4:43 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, June 05, 2010

can't wait to read:

link | posted by Kristen at 2:14 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, June 03, 2010

I found this super-interesting so I'm copy/pasting it.

Creative minds 'mimic schizophrenia'

Salvador Dali Artist Salvador Dali is known for his surreal paintings and eccentric personality

Creativity is akin to insanity, say scientists who have been studying how the mind works.

Brain scans reveal striking similarities in the thought pathways of highly creative people and those with schizophrenia.

Both groups lack important receptors used to filter and direct thought.

It could be this uninhibited processing that allows creative people to "think outside the box", say experts from Sweden's Karolinska Institute.

In some people, it leads to mental illness.

But rather than a clear division, experts suspect a continuum, with some people having psychotic traits but few negative symptoms.

Art and suffering

Some of the world's leading artists, writers and theorists have also had mental illnesses - the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh and American mathematician John Nash (portrayed by Russell Crowe in the film A Beautiful Mind) to name just two.

Creativity is known to be associated with an increased risk of depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Thalamus The thalamus channels thoughts

Similarly, people who have mental illness in their family have a higher chance of being creative.

Associate Professor Fredrik Ullen believes his findings could help explain why.

He looked at the brain's dopamine (D2) receptor genes which experts believe govern divergent thought.

He found highly creative people who did well on tests of divergent thought had a lower than expected density of D2 receptors in the thalamus - as do people with schizophrenia.

The thalamus serves as a relay centre, filtering information before it reaches areas of the cortex, which is responsible, amongst other things, for cognition and reasoning.

"Fewer D2 receptors in the thalamus probably means a lower degree of signal filtering, and thus a higher flow of information from the thalamus," said Professor Ullen.

Creative people, like those with psychotic illnesses, tend to see the world differently to most. It's like looking at a shattered mirror

Mark Millard UK psychologist

He believes it is this barrage of uncensored information that ignites the creative spark.

This would explain how highly creative people manage to see unusual connections in problem-solving situations that other people miss.

Schizophrenics share this same ability to make novel associations. But in schizophrenia, it results in bizarre and disturbing thoughts.

UK psychologist and member of the British Psychological Society Mark Millard said the overlap with mental illness might explain the motivation and determination creative people share.

"Creativity is uncomfortable. It is their dissatisfaction with the present that drives them on to make changes.

"Creative people, like those with psychotic illnesses, tend to see the world differently to most. It's like looking at a shattered mirror. They see the world in a fractured way.

"There is no sense of conventional limitations and you can see this in their work. Take Salvador Dali, for example. He certainly saw the world differently and behaved in a way that some people perceived as very odd."


He said businesses have already recognised and capitalised on this knowledge.

Some companies have "skunk works" - secure, secret laboratories for their highly creative staff where they can freely experiment without disrupting the daily business.

Chartered psychologist Gary Fitzgibbon says an ability to "suspend disbelief" is one way of looking at creativity.

"When you suspend disbelief you are prepared to believe anything and this opens up the scope for seeing more possibilities.

"Creativity is certainly about not being constrained by rules or accepting the restrictions that society places on us. Of course the more people break the rules, the more likely they are to be perceived as 'mentally ill'."

He works as an executive coach helping people to be more creative in their problem solving behaviour and thinking styles.

"The result is typically a significant rise in their well being, so as opposed to creativity being associated with mental illness it becomes associated with good mental health."

link | posted by Kristen at 5:07 PM | 0 comments

Have you ever felt like you really just needed to get away? I don't think I need to get far away but I feel a strong calling to recharge. To get away to some extent. To be solo--to travel solo--which I haven't wanted to do in years.

The thing that sucks is that every time I see a cool retreat, it's never near New Jersey. I know we have like, tons of smog and ickiness here, but there are normal people who want to get away and breathe fresh air and stuff. Which we have, you just have to go to the northwest part of the state.

I guess it's frustrating because I'm always on the lookout for a cool opportunity. Just can't seem to find one. I'm wondering if I'll have to get creative and go away for a weekend and make my own retreat.

Or maybe I just need to hit the beach. It can be very therapeutic that way and I do only live 10 minutes away, something I never want to take for granted.

Just a ramble.

link | posted by Kristen at 5:38 AM | 0 comments