All Posts in Category: Freelance Psychology
What do you tell yourself is impossible?
I don’t mean the quite difficult things, like base jumping, becoming a competition-level ballroom dancer, or learning a new language in one week.
I’m wondering more about the things that you just don’t allow yourself to imagine as possibilities.
Sometimes they hide in the places we haven’t travel, the activities we haven’t done, or the way we describe ourselves.
Since I started pursuing professional coaching certification in March, I’ve had many conversations with other business coaches and aspiring coaches, and they often ask me the same question:
Why did you decide to get certified as a coach?
They’re asking me, though, because they don’t think that I needed to do the program.
Most of the business coaches that I’ve met started their coaching certification before they left their previous positions to pursue coaching. Before they even had their first coaching client or conversation.
Typically before they have any idea who they will coach, how, or why.
In their eyes, they needed to have the certification under their belt to begin the process of building a business around their coaching.
So, when these other coaches or coaches-in-training see me with this little fledgling business that I’ve spent the last two years busting my butt working 16 hours every day to build, it looks like I have what they think that coaching certification will bring them.
One refrain that I’ve heard repeated over and over again in different industries (book publishing, magazine writing, business management) is the importance of “keeping your cup full” through reading.
The idea is that, if you feel like you are out of ideas or inspiration, or suffering from imposter syndrome or an actual knowledge gap between you and what you want to do, the answer is always reading.
Not the web, but actual books.
Warren Buffet famously keeps his entire schedule clear to read and think. Book editors and agents spend tons of their time outside of the office reading to keep their finger on the pulse of the industry. My friend Chris Guillebeau, a multiple New-York-Times-bestselling author himself, told me he usually reads about 50 books a year, primarily novels.
Why Is It So Hard to Make the Changes We Need to Make to Achieve Our Dreams? (And What We Want to Do About It)
I always planned to be a professor.
Throughout college and for many years after. I laid the groundwork to go back to school for a PhD in Italian literature.
Travel writing was meant to be a way to pay the bills legally while I was in Italian working on research for a dissertation.
There’s all sorts of odd things you have to also learn about to get a PhD, at least in Italian literature.
It wasn’t enough to speak fluent, academic-level Italian. I actually was going to need to pass proficiency tests in up to three other languages, from other romance languages to unrelated ones like German. Theoretically this was so we could read literary criticism on a global scale.
I also would have needed to read and be able to speak at length in an oral exam on every single significant work of Italian literature over a roughly 1,000 year period.
I have had a reminder to myself for weeks to do the smallest, simplest thing: email one person I’ve met several times over several years to reconnect and ask for advice.
The reasons I kept thinking of it and not doing it immediately are myriad, even removing busy-ness from the equation.
A very small number of you that I’ve met in person may have heard me mention in passing a narrative travel book I have in the works, My 15 Big Fat Indian Weddings.
(I’ll share the story of how it immediately got 22 very well-respected agents hungering after it my first time out pitching it–and how you too can have the same experience in our next webinars series on How to Publish Non-Fiction Books Easily, available live starting mid-October to members of our Dream Buffet and coaching programs.)
I just returned a few days ago from the Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference and was delighted to see the seats full of writers who are already making freelance travel writing their full-time occupation or are on their way there.
But even more than hearing their stories of taking the leap, quitting their previous professions, and making travel writing work for them, I loved seeing them interact with editors.
It is so easy to have an “us vs. them” mentality about editors as a freelance writer.
There’s a Sherlock Holmes line that gets repeated in nearly every adaptation verbatim. It’s a note from Sherlock to Watson:
Come at once if convenient. If inconvenient, come all the same.
They always find comical ways to make the letter are at the most inconvenient times. And Watson does always come right away, out of loyalty and curiosity (though often tempered with a fair amount of annoyance ;)).
This spring, I attended, back-to-back-to-back in a period of about five weeks, a number of writing conferences either as a speaker, a sponsor, or a normal attendee.
With that kind of pace, it can be hard to reflect, to pull out the big picture that emerges when the puzzle pieces of many sessions, conversations, and observations are assembled into a view of what is going on with the industry.
One thing has been exceeding clear to me throughout this whole calendar year, even before getting out there and doing all of this mingling.
The redux version: in terms of opportunities, it’s an incredibly exciting time to be a travel writer.
But there was something deeper that I noticed, a thread underpinning so many conversations I’ve seen and conference sessions I’ve attended.
It is so easy to be held back by the ceiling you are told exists on the number of types of opportunities for travel writers.
When I first started coaching, running events, corralling writers for a website, and interviewing a lot of people for positions in a short period of time, I felt like a high school teacher.
I was receiving excuses right and left, insignificant and grave, for all sorts of things.
Event space managers delay getting me contracts because they’re sick (and apparently have no one else in the office of the major hotel they work at?), sponsorship chairs for conferences aren’t available to get me a sponsorship contract for months, and writers get me overdue in two weeks rather than two days because… well, I don’t think they actually even bother to explain themselves (and correspondingly aren’t due to be receiving any new assignments).
Summer is such a tricky time for travel writers.
If you have a family or friends that you travel with, it’s a time with much travel, but a frequent struggle between balancing the leisure side of travel (not just for you, but those you’re with!) with the demands of traveling as a travel writer, and all of the note-taking, picture-posing, and interview-grabbing that entails.
If you primarily get your work travel done in the off-season, summer can be a great time to relax and take a staycation to reset…but only if you have enough paid work on your plate.