4 ways to change your work environment for the better

Since finding my first real job out of college, I’ve started working with some of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met. It truly is a privilege. Even so, we all are very strong in our beliefs, opinions, and ideas, and that, of course, bleeds into our work. As I’m sure you can imagine, this causes a bit of tension. However, like I said, I work with some brilliant people, and they have taught me a lot about how I can alter my work environment for the better. Here are a few of those:

Respond, don’t react
When you get a seemingly passive aggressive email, post-it, letter, etc. it’s very easy to take that shocked, hurt, angry feeling and throw it right back at the person. It will probably feel good for a second, but did that really help rectify the situation? When you coworker gets your response, how do you think they will react? Don’t be the one who reacts. Stop, reread it, think through the message, think through the voice you might have used to read it initially, then craft a response. Try to assume the best so you can, hopefully, avoid the worst.

People aren’t mind readers. Over explain.
We have a bunch of processes at work to help ensure everything gets done as close to perfect as possible. Of course, people want to take shortcuts and may not do everything 100%. This will probably make your job harder. It’s very easy to get angry, complain, gossip, etc. again, though, try to assume the best to avoid the worst. If you must request new paperwork, if you must ask for more information, whatever you need to request, or request be fixed, try to explain why this information is pertinent to the process. They may not understand the importance of something and assume it isn’t important at all. Really, if they have never done your job, how would they know what is/isn’t important? Over explain, open your world to them, and maybe they will be able to see it from your side and do better.

Remember, everyone’s a middle man
This line was so eye-opening for me because it is so true. Unless you are working right under the CEO, the founder, the sponsors, etc. chances are, they are doing something because they told to do it by a higher up. They more than likely aren’t trying to make your life harder, purposefully. Try to assume that whatever odd, inconvenient request that comes your way is only coming through this person because it was forced on them. Makes the whole situation much more palatable, I feel.

It’s all about perception, so change yours
Pretty much everything I suggested prior to this point has been all about changing your own perception on things. The reason for this? Let’s face it, you can’t make people change. You can’t control the people around you, but you can control yourself. Change starts with you. If you assume and perceive everything as negative, then everything is going to be negative. If you can alter your own perception, then your work environment will begin to change. Of course, this is easier said than done. It takes a lot of behavior changes and mental exercises, but you’d be surprised how much changes based on your attitude. Change can happen. Go for it.

What do you think? Do these seem a bit too obvious? Have you done anything like this before? Are you going to try any of these tips? Let me know, and comment below! Thank you so much for your time.

Lissy

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The Benefit of Joining a Book Club, for Writers

Stack of Books for Book ClubOne of the first pieces of advice you will ever receive as a writer is to read. Subconsciously, reading helps you learn to write in a variety of ways: you pick up grammar skills, you learn a variety of writing styles, you learn about story structure, character development, etc. All these are wonderful skills that every writer needs to develop. However, reading is a solo activity in most cases, and completely internal. Two writers could read the same novel, and each come away with totally different opinions, skills, thoughts, etc.

One piece of advice I wish I received when I began to pursue writing is to read… and join a book club. Join a book club, start one, whatever… then suggest a book you have enjoyed, or maybe a book from a genre you are interested in writing, etc. Then go into the meetings and take notes. Take note of what people enjoyed, but especially what the majority disliked. Did it line up with what you thought? If it did, great. If not, even better. Regardless, here’s a list of things to learn from book clubs and why:

If they like a book, listen and learn why

Did they like a character? How was he/she developed? Did they like the end? Was it satisfying? What led up to it to, to make it so satisfying? Take notes on what they liked, then figure out why they liked it. Then you can take those elements and apply them to your own writing.

If they dislike a book, listen and learn *harder*

Did they hate the character they were supposed to root for? Was it because he/she was underdeveloped? Did they even finish the book? Why not? Pacing? Were they a fan of the genre to begin with? That last question is probably one of the most important to consider. I am not a big fan of crime novels, so, of course, I am not going to look favorably on it. However, I am a huge fan of fantasy novels. It’s rare for me to dislike a fantasy novel. There must be a pretty good reason for me not to enjoy a fantasy novel, even on a superficial level. Keep that in mind.

Try some new genres

I think every writer kind of falls into a niche. I love writing in the fantasy genre. I love reading fantasy, but I am kind of stuck in a fantastical loop. Of course, there is nothing wrong with having a favorite genre, but I do think there can be a lot to learn from other genres. Use the book club as a chance to explore. Try on a new genre. What makes it different from your favorite genre? Can you use some of the new elements in your own writing? Heck, maybe you’ll end up loving the new genre! Explore and have fun.

Listen to how your book club peers describe a book

This is how the average reader will review your work. Every writer should be a reader, but not every reader will be a writer. I have found there is a distinct difference in how readers talk about books, versus how writers talk about books. Take in that language. Remember how the negative and the positive sounds. If you are serious about writing, you are going to hear those voices a lot. Enjoy it, and learn from it. Heck, use it! Enjoy being a reader. It’s easy to forget that’s how most of us started.

Learn to make friends, lots of them!

Reading is a lonely activity and writing even more so. Use this time to enjoy literature with others. Laugh, talk, read, and write. Enjoy the moment of being in a group. It isn’t often we get to do that.

In closing:

Of course, book clubs will help you grow as a writer, but they can really help you grow as a person, too. I encourage anyone to try one at least once. If nothing else, you may just make new friends and find new books to enjoy!

Thanks so much for reading! What do you think? Have you been in a book club? Did you enjoy it? Comment below and let me know.

Lissy

3 things you need to do when your hobby begins to feel like a job.

It’s been a long, long, long time since I’ve actually stopped and enjoyed the process of writing. I went through a short phase where I just kept telling myself, “It’s okay, it won’t be long until I can write again,” and that was enough for me. Then it got to the point where I would put things ahead of writing time. I had to prepare for my promotion, then I had to train once I received the promotion, then I had school, then I had tests… Those things do take priority, but even during down time, when none of those things had any hold on me, I still found myself saying, “It’s okay, it won’t be long until I can write again.”

I had become the one person I always blogged about, trying to avoid. I became the writer who talks about writing, but never actually does.

Sure, yes, I do have a lot going on right now. Senior year is right in front of me, and a new job with more responsibilities on top of that eats up a lot of time… Not to mention squeezing in cuddle time with the boyfriend, which I must say I do desperately need during the week. I never considered writing a burden or a chore. It never felt that way to me, and even though I have made it out to seem that way, it still doesn’t.

I just miss the time when it was just all for fun, back when I could sit there and write for hours upon hours, much like how I used to read – another hobby which has met the same terrible fate as writing. Now, life takes so much precedence, I find everything to be tiring. Everything is work, now, even when what I’m doing is supposed to relax me after work.

Writing used to be my life, then reality seeped in and tainted my brain with all of this adult garbage (okay, maybe not garbage, but at least recycling).

But, as always, one thing has helped to remedy my terrible predicament: a list. I’ve put together a few tips and tricks to help combat the adult recycling, and while I still haven’t mastered it, this is a great place to start:

  • You have to become double-brained.
    Unfortunately, this is the hardest thing to accomplish, and it certainly sounds that way. You have to separate the work brain from the writing brain. Or, in my case, I have to separate the Work Brain, the School Brain, the Writer Brain, and the Intern Brain. In most cases, I’m sure it’ll be more like triple-brained, or quadruple-brained, but, for the sake of brevity, double-brained is what I am calling it. The best way I have found to achieve this is to utilize every second of downtime to decompress. Leave a pause between each brain so you can start fresh. This is easier said than done, especially with all of the wonderful social media to sink hours and hours in. You need time to just turn off for a little while. Have a few moments to yourself with no distraction in any shape or form. This way, you won’t lose your precious down time doing something unproductive, both mentally and physically.
  • If you can’t find down time, don’t stop moving.
    As I disclaimed earlier, I still have yet to master this list, especially with the first point. I have a terrible social media addiction. 99% of the time I’m glued to YouTube or FaceBook, just scrolling or passively watching something, not being actively engaged with anything that is happening on my screen. So, until I get my media addiction under control, the only real way I’ve found to stay motivated is to ride the high, so to speak. If I just got done with a paper, I immediately move on to one of my personal projects. I “ride the high.” Granted, I do occasionally burn out because I forget I need to stop, but keeping the productive fire alive is one of the best ways to find a renewed spark with your own work. Do what you have to at work or school in the best way you can, then carry that motivation home with you. Do your homework, then move right into your own project.
  • You have to accept that being good at something requires hard work.
    It’s just the way the world works. If I ever want to be a serious author (make money doing what I love), I have to work for it. I need to treat it like a job, like it’s something that just has to be done because it has to be done. Sometimes we have to think of things like they are work if we ever want to get better. Otherwise, my writing will always be “just a hobby.” Even if you don’t necessarily want your hobby to become your means of financial stability, you want to be good, right? Then you have to work for it. Some people have that natural, raw ability, but those are the exceptions. Not the rule.

It’s okay to slack off sometimes, but when you’re making excuses just to avoid doing what you love because it feels too hard… then you’re avoiding progress. There’s a reason it feels like too much work. If it’s not worth fighting for, then is it really worth doing at all?

Let me know, and comment below! Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

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Writing Goals

With the start of summer break, my new internship, and my job, I’ve had a lot of trouble keeping up with my writing.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been majorly slacking on a lot of things. Sure, I have excuses:

Tornadoes ripped through my state and my town, the great snowpocalypse, general anxiety… but writing is something that has always made me feel good. It comforts me, and to have avoided just because of sheer laziness is unacceptable. So, in order to keep myself on task, I have set up writing goals for myself so as to start the next school semester fresh and productive.

ONWARD TO THE LIST!

  1. Have my three short horror pieces beta read…
    I have already somewhat started on this, and a lot of these will pretty much be continuations of what I’ve started, but it needs to be out in the world. If I post it publicly, I will definitely feel more obligated to do it. If you’d like to help out, please fill out the contact sheet and let me know how much you’re willing to read and when.
  2. Send my short stories out to as many publications as possible…
    I am extremely lazy. BEYOND lazy. I desperately need to sit down, go through some journals and magazines, and filter through the horror market. I need to see where I can fit in, where I can’t, etc. I don’t want to burn bridges by just spamming my work, but I do need to make a more conscious effort to get out there. I’ve already sent one out. We’ll see what is done with it, then edit, edit, edit, if necessary. Then, send again.
  3. Write for some themed journals…
    I’ve never been in to those journals that only publish for a theme. I understand a genre, but themes have just never appealed to me. If I want to get out there, I need to be able to expand my horizons, so to speak. I need to be more willing to write for something else. It’ll increase my productivity immensely, and I will be able to test myself. I need to at least try.
  4. Finish Ice Over, then go back to writing short stories…
    I love writing long pieces. I love it more than anything else in the world. Apocalyptia and An Austrian March were fun. But I need to become a better writer before I can continue to be a novelist. Short stories are just that, short. They don’t require too much time, though time is necessary. I can write a large amount, send them out, get critiques from a lot more people, and better my writing so I can eventually get back to novels. Ice Over will probably be the last long work I write for a long, long time.
  5. Test the waters with my poetry…
    This year, I thought, would be the year for my prose. It has actually been much more fruitful with my poetry. I’d like to explore my poetry a bit more and expand my skills in that field, too.

I, in general, just want to be more well-rounded as a writer. I thought I had found my place in the writing world, but I’m finding that there is so much more still to explore. Writing is a journey, and I’m taking it one step at a time.

Now, if you’ve made it this far, I want to ask you, what are your writing goals this summer? Anything special you’ll be working on? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

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