Invest in Yourself

Are you a writer? A graphic designer? Or perhaps someone who is creative in other ways? 

No matter what your creative outlet, it’s important to never stop learning about what you do. That might mean taking classes (online or in a classroom), trying different methods, or even stepping out of your comfort zone. 

No matter how much you think you know, there’s always more to learn. And if you think you know it all, teach a class. Chances are your students will have questions you hadn’t considered. And it may be them teaching you something new. 

As a writer I have spent the last six months learning more about writing fiction, nonfiction, and copywriting. A whole new world has opened up for me now that I have allowed myself to learn more from the experts. I know I have a long way to go, but I will say this: Each day is one of learning. 

I must admit, there are days when it’s information overload. I feel overwhelmed and wonder why I’m even doing this at this stage of life. Then the sensible me steps in and I am reminded life is to be enjoyed. That’s why I am taking the time to learn more; so I can basically work from anywhere.  

Writing is satisfying to me just as it may be to you. I want to spend my time doing what I enjoy and still be able to pay my bills and take vacations. Writing gives me a lot of options, just as your chosen path does for you.  

If you can, spend some time learning more about the things you enjoy. Take a class. Read about it. Join an online group so you can learn from others; and they can learn from you. Don’t consider them the competition but rather an alliance. Chances are you won’t be working toward the same goals anyway.  

Something else you should do is refrain from comparing yourself to others. When we do that, we stifle our creativity and our chances of reaching our full potential. It took me a long time to stop doing just that. When I compared myself to the successes of others it was disheartening. How could I ever achieve those milestones? 

Set goals for yourself. Make them achievable. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to earn a million dollars your first year as a writer (or whatever your chosen vocation). Sure, that might be your dream and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, break that dream into smaller goals. It may take you longer to get there than a year, and that’s okay. 

By breaking your dream into smaller chunks it’s easier to keep the momentum going. Invest the time to figure out what you want from your chosen path, then write it down. Break it into smaller segments which are achievable, whether you go daily, weekly, or monthly.  

I have learned to not focus so much on the dollars earned, but rather the upward growth of my followers, readership and number of views my website gets. I found by focusing on the dollars I was becoming frustrated when they didn’t increase like I felt they should.  

Something else I learned along the way is by focusing on the dollars, my creativity was stifled. Writing fiction wasn’t fun any longer because the sales weren’t there. A person’s mindset plays a big role in how quickly goals are achieved. 

I started investing in myself in September 2019 when I took a course on writing romance. One of the things the instructor stressed was to not compare ourselves to others. Our story is “our story”. It’s a reflection of what we know, how we perceive life and how willing we are to take risks. 

For anyone who knows me, a risk-taker I am not. I don’t live on the edge. I don’t generally go out of my comfort zone and do things on my own. Although, I did take a step forward in October when I made a trip to Calgary’s Imaginairium. I was terrified but I did it anyway. I am very much an introvert so didn’t make as many connections as I could have. That I do regret. However, the experience didn’t kill me and it made me realize I am capable of things I’m afraid to do. 

Since then I have been working toward bettering myself. I’m taking courses, learning how to budget my time better and not concentrating as much on the monetary rewards. When I stopped focusing on the latter, I realized I produced better content.  

I’ll end this post with this: take classes, attend webinars and don’t be afraid to learn from others. And most of all, take time for you. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of achieving your goals, but if you don’t take time to relax and do something fun you’re going to burn yourself out. Get your nails done, go for a hike with your family or get that massage you’ve been putting off.  

Invest in yourself by doing what makes you happy and your creativity will bloom. I know mine has. 

My latest investment in myself: joining The Professional Writers’ Alliance. I have the support of others without feeling as though I’m in constant competition for the same things. We all have different reasons for doing what we do, and accepting that is half the battle.

Growing as a Person Never Ends

Working part-time and freelancing has its advantages. Today I am helping out with the harvest.

It is my job today to watch the grain drier. We’ve had a wet summer and fall, so putting wet wheat into the bins is not a good idea. The grain drier does just that; dries the grain so it can be safely stored until it is trucked to the grain elevators.

I’m fortunate I am able to take my work with me. We only live a quarter-mile away from my father-in-law’s, but I prefer to stay at his house so I can keep a better eye on the equipment. I do a walk-around every fifteen minutes, just to make sure all is running smoothly.

Living in a farming community is exactly where I like to be. Having grown up on a farm, I still enjoy the quiet and wide open spaces. I’ve done my share of living in cities and towns, and am so fortunate to be able to have a rural home again.

Before my dad passed away five years ago, I spent a good portion of the fall hauling bales, swathing and combining. I miss him every day, but even more so this time of year. It was when him and I spent the most time together.

Setting the farm talk aside for awhile I’d like to talk a bit about growing as people. It doesn’t matter how old we are, there’s always an opportunity to learn and grow. Sometimes life itself teaches us the biggest lessons.

One of the biggest things I have learned is that as a writer, I have to go out and get what I want. Sitting around waiting for someone to notice me and my work is not time well spent. Being an introvert doesn’t make putting myself out there easy, but it is something I must do if I want to succeed as an author.

And to get a better feel for what it takes to make it in the writing world, I have purchased an event pass for Wordfest’s Imaginairium in Calgary Alberta. The event runs from October 14 – 23, and will host a number of speakers each day. I will be attending from the 17th to the 20th, as I am unable to go for longer than that. As a relatively new member of the Writer’s Guild of Alberta, I am excited to learn of the writer events available. (I’m going to allow myself one day to drive there, and another to drive home. And I’ll be back in plenty of time to cast my ballot at the polls on the 21st.) My goal for attending the Imaginairium is to connect with other writers and speakers, with the intention of building some friendships beyond the event.

To attend such a large event on my own is both scary and exciting for me. This is where growing as a person comes into play. Without stepping outside of my comfort zone I may never realize my full potential as a writer, or as a contributing member of the literary world.

No matter how old we are, there’s always room to learn and grow. Farmers can learn to utilize technology to be more efficient, and writers can learn to go after what they want in their careers. And no matter who you are, there’s always a learning and growing opportunity just around the corner.

To wrap up this post (I know, it has been a long one) I would like to briefly step back to the beginning of it. If you live in a farming community, enjoy it and never take it for granted. If you’re an urban dweller, I encourage you to pay a visit to a nearby farm. I’m sure you’ll gain some new insight on what farmers do and how they contribute to your food supply. And if you’re also a writer, your experience can be used as story fodder.

Have a great week,

Diane

Photo credit: Diane Ziomek Copyright 2019. My part in helping with the harvest.

My Week in Review

I hope everyone has had a good week and weekend. Mine has been busy with my writing course, a couple extra shifts at work and getting my site updated. The latter was fun for me, and it really made me think about where I want to go in my writing career.

I write almost every single day. My journal is my thinking space, and it provides me with a place to voice my concerns, share my worries and come up with story ideas. Some days are vent days, while others are more productive.

My writing courses have been an eye opener for me in terms of what readers expect from different types of writing. I’ve been utilizing what I’ve learned so far, and can’t wait to see the results.

Even without formal training, I’ve had plenty of positive feedback from clients. Updating my website helped me realize that my work has been valuable to others, and has provided great content for their sites. What more could a person ask for?

Having short stories published has also been good for easing the self-doubt most (if not all) writers harbor occasionally. Polar Expressions Publishing holds annual contests for short stories, and my work has appeared in Shoreline (2016 Summer Collection) and Wherever We Roam (2015 Summer Collection). Seeing them in print among others gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Submitting articles on behalf of our library to a local newspaper helps me exercise my skills as well. There is never a lot of space for an article, so saying all that’s needed in less than 150 words can sometimes be a challenge. I envy those who can write flash fiction, because in some cases a newspaper article is much like that. Short, sweet and to the point.

As you may be aware, I do not spend my entire time writing. I also enjoy crocheting, spinning yarn and needle-felting. Yesterday I invested in a drum carder to make the process of carding my alpaca fiber easier and faster. I have several big bags of it, as well as no less than a dozen smaller bags. Plus I also have four bags of raw sheep wool. Do you think that will keep me busy for awhile?

Crocheting and spinning are my way to relax, and I often find my stories taking shape while I work with my hands. I’m the first to say I’m not much of a plotter, but when a story takes hold I will run with it. If any of you have read The Hidden Estate, you’ll see my hobbies have worked their way into the novel. It was the first novel I ever wrote, and those who have read it have given it a good rating which makes any new author do a little happy dance.

As I wrap up this post, I have to remind myself to take the time to just be. My mind is often going in several directions at once (are all writers like this?), and I have to center myself. And as a writer, I like a challenge. I have my usual topics to write about, but have found satisfaction in writing about something out of my element as well. Should you ever find yourself needing a blog post or article for your website, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Have a great week everyone,

Diane

Getting ready for another couple ounces of alpaca fiber.

Photo credit Copyright Diane Ziomek 2019. The photo is of my new drum carder, taken after I carded some dyed alpaca fiber.