My Favorite Color

It’s the color of the magnificent. Wrapping up in it’s blanket makes you feel protected yet still visible, in a warm, reassuring way.

It’s luxury, but not the kind of luxury people wage wars over. It’s better than that.

It’s the time between sunset and the night, when everything is peaceful and the stars begin to glimmer on the horizon.

For me, it’s a way to express myself. Associating myself with this color tends to let others in on some of my secrets; the way I view the world.

It’s a way to stand out without causing a scene. Without unwanted attention. Yet those that see you in this color know you are special; that you are royalty of some kind.

It’s neither masculine nor feminine. It draws no lines. It’s the color of true love. None of that fake pink associated with infatuation.

It’s the color of reassurance. Of strength. Of nobility.

It’s safe yet expressive. I wear it with pride and it tells everybody everything they need to know about me.

Cult of Personality

Whenever I take the Myers-Briggs personality test, I often wonder if I’m answering the questions correctly or not. I know that statement is absurd, given that it is a purely subjective test, but I still feel as though I’m doing something wrong. Interestingly enough, the material concerning my personality type actually addresses this kind of problem in individuals like me.

I’ve always considered myself an INFP, but most tests score me as either an INFP or INFJ.

The “official” Myers-Briggs site explains the Myers-Briggs test more succinctly than I ever could:  “The purpose of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality inventory is to make the theory of psychological types described by C. G. Jung understandable and useful in people’s lives. The essence of the theory is that much seemingly random variation in the behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent, being due to basic differences in the ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment.”

In other words, the point of the test is to identify your basic preferences of each of the four dichotomies specified by Carl Jung, on whose theory of personality this inventory is based. The result is sixteen distinct personality types that come about from interactions among the choices.

Naturally, here is where I’d explain the four scales, but it’s better to take the tests before knowing what each of the scales are and what they mean. I’m going to be taking each of these tests as I list them and will give my result for each. At the end of this project, we can see which tests are alike, which (if any) are anomalies, and what my overall “average” type is.

Test #1
The first test is from the site My-Personality-Test. It’s a 10-minute test where you either agree or disagree in part or in whole with the statements listed. That is, it’s a sliding scale of disagreeing to agreeing.  You’re given five choices on each side of the sliding scale. There are 64 questions.
I scored as a WELL SCREW THIS TEST.
I took this damn thing twice and then is what I get at the end both times: screwthistestMoving on to another test that will hopefully work out better than the last one and not waste my time *sneers…*

THE REAL TEST #1
The ACTUAL first test is from the HumanMetrics website and is titled the “Jung Typology Test,” which claims it is based on Carl Jung’s and Isabelle Briggs Myers’ “personality type theory.” There are 64 questions. You can answer either YES (very yes), yes (sorta yes), uncertain, no (sorta no), or NO (very no).
Here we go…
And the results are in! I am an INFJ, which breaks down into Introvert, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging:
infj.jpg

I didn’t score strongly in any of the categories, hence the “moderate preference” talk. This is a theme for me.

Test #2
The 16 Personalities test kept popping up any time I searched for Myers-Briggs tests, although it is a NERIS Type explorer test, as opposed to a strict MBIT. For the difference, read the lengthy explanation here. Or you can just know that, in addition to scoring your personality based on the Myers-Brigg’s types, it also adds a fifth personality aspect, Identity, which can be either Assertive or Turbulent, where Assertive means you are self-assured and stress-resistant, while Turbulent means you are self-conscious and sensitive to stress. I don’t have to take the test to know that I fall into the latter category!

My result is an INFP-T or “the Mediator:” Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving, and Turbulent.

infptApparently, the mediator means I’m sort of hippie, free spirit who likes butterflies, flowers, and going barefoot. Not me at all. Well, I don’t have anything against flowers except they make horrible gifts because they die and then you are left with dead flowers and awful smelling water that you have to throw out, which you may feel bad about (I would). No, but here is really what it says about Mediators, which I think is kind of neat.

I can’t say I’m proud of these results. Seeing that Turbulent identity kind of stings. However, it is congruent with what my past experiences have been: I score somewhere in the middle between Judging and Perceiving, so I’m always either an INFJ or an INFP.

Test #3
The third test is courtesy of Truity.com. It is free (as are all these tests) and claims to take 15 minutes. It asks you to score which of two words or phrases describe you best.
The results… well, they are pretty spot on. I am an Introverted Intuitive Feeler (INF)… who may be a Judger or Perceiver – which is something I vary on in almost all of my tests, so that wasn’t much of a surprise (well, what WAS surprising was that the test pointed it out).
JorP
Test #4
This test is thanks to the folks at psychcentral.com. Am I getting tired of taking these tests yet? Yes… some of the questions are seeming repetitive. Actually, I’m catching how the tests ask you the same questions, just reversed. Anyway, the gist of the test is to agree or disagree with the statements they present. 63 questions.

Well the results of this test are different, but not really surprising if you look at how it boils down. According to this, I’m an ISTJ (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging), but I scored right down the middle in everything but Introversion.
istjTest #5
The next test I came across was offered on metarasa’s personality site, a UK-based website. I have a feeling this is one of those tests you take and they give you introductory results and you have to pay for the full results, but let’s reserve judgment.
Ugh, I just started taking this test and I hate it already… it’s like the two statements aren’t contradictory in any way and so I am having to arbitrarily choose between them! *marches on*
*stops*
I refuse to continue subjugating myself to material that is indecipherable, let alone expect you to take that test. That was awful. Which is sad, because, upon first glance, the rest of the website looks like it could be kind of neat.

Here is an example of what they were asking:
Do you “enjoy getting things done” or “enjoy anticipating the future?”
Umm… both? How is that even a choice?

Test #6
This test at Owlcation is different. It comes in four sections, one for each of the four dichotomies that Jung outlines. So, you take the test for each of the four traits separately. I quite like the setup.

For the Extroverted/Introverted category… I got Introverted.
For the Intuitive/Sensing category… iNtuition
For the Thinking/Feeling category… Feeling
For the Perceiving/Judging category… Perceiving.

So, INFP. It seems like that’s the general theme of my results. Based on that, I’d say some of these tests are fairly accurate, or at least, in agreement with one another.

I can’t take any more tests… I’m exhausted. How many was that, just six? Dear lord, it felt like twenty.

Okay, okay… enough tests. Time to take the tried and true test, the one on the actual Myers-Briggs site.

OH, haha, just kidding. You think with all the research I did on that site I would have seen that the test costs $49.95 (plus tax) to take and get scored. So, no, I won’t be taking that.

Well, what was the good in any of this, you ask? I CAN tell you what test I think is the best, which is the test offered by 16 Personalities. I like that test the best because of how in-depth the results are. Also, the test itself is basic and taking it doesn’t feel like pulling teeth like some of these tests have.

If you aren’t into long-winded explanations and just want to find out your personality type, take the test at Owlcation.com. It is the most straightforward test of them all, as it tests you on each of the four categories separately.

Here’s that little bit of background info, in case you’re interested.

There are four scales on the Myers-Briggs test:

  • Your Favorite World: Extroverted (E) vs. Introverted (I) – “Where do you put your attention and direct your energy?”
  • The Information category: Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N) – “Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning?”
  • When making Decisions: Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F) – “Do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency, or first look at people and special circumstances?”
  • How do you Structure things: “Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P) – “In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options?”

SO…what does all of this really mean?

I couldn’t take the official MBTI, so I can’t say for sure. But I would bet that I’m an INFP according to that test.

Can I stop answering questions now? *passes out*

And for those of you who have had this song stuck in your mind since you read the blog title…

Taphophobia: Saved By the Bell?

Whether it’s a full-blown phobia or something that just scares the crap out of you, we each have that one thing that makes us weak in the knees. Maybe it’s ghosts, clowns, or even spiders (really?). For me, my biggest fear is that of being buried alive. No, of course this is not rational. But in my defense, most people’s deepest, darkest fears are irrational. That’s part of why they scare us so much. My fear falls somewhere between a phobia and something that keeps me up on those dark, lonely nights. My fear even has a fancy name: Taphophobia.

Before the days of modern medicine, this wasn’t just an irrational fear; it was a real occurrence. The hysteria was especially rampant during the 18th and 19th centuries, when cholera was at its worst and people were dying everywhere. The number of cases of people being buried alive is shocking. Can you imagine what it would be like if you were buried alive? Complete darkness, with no room to move. You had limited air and no food. You would starve to death, but quite possibly go crazy first.

The fear was only made worse by Edgar Allan Poe and his horrific works of literature. He thrived off

of the hysteria, writing short stories such as his 1894 horror tale, “The Premature Burial.” His work perpetuated the public’s panic. Being buried alive was a common theme in Poe’s stories, as it’s highlighted in his books “Berenice, “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” and the short tale, “The Black Cat.”

Because of the public paranoia, measures were taken to ensure that those buried alive would survive. This was a luxury of the rich, such as the casket Duke Ferdinand Brunswick-Luneberg commissioned in 1792 and it was the first in a long line of Safety Coffins. The casket came complete with a window, a tube through which he could breathe, a lock on the door, and the keys in his pocket.

Variations of these coffins were made over the years. Most notably was Dr. Johann Gottfried Tarberger’s 1829 Safety Coffin, which came with a pulley system which allowed for an above ground bell to ring, alerting the cemetery night watchman. Should the bell ring, the watchman was to insert a tube into the coffin and fill it with air using bellows, until which time the coffin could be exhumed.

Interesting so far, right? Well, “folk etymology” (development of words and phrases) claimed there were three well-known phrases still used in today’s vernacular that originated due to the use of Safety Coffins. The first is associated with a popular 90’s television show. The phrase, “Saved by the Bell,” along with the phrases, “Dead Ringer,” and “Graveyard Shift,” are all said to have originated in the 1800’s.

Unfortunately, as neat and gruesome as it would be, the phrase, “Saved by the Bell,” actually originated as a boxing term. It’s when a fighter who is nearly knocked-out perseveres until the bell rings, avoiding a loss in that round. Still, the etymology, or source, of the sayings, “Dead Ringer,” and “Graveyard Shift,” are still thought of as originating from the usage of Safety Coffins in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Now, what does any of this have to do with my fear of being buried alive? When I was little and found out about Safety Coffins and their bells, I couldn’t imagine being buried in any other coffin. What if I came back to life? Or if I wasn’t dead? How would anybody know? Thankfully, there have been tremendous medical advances since the 1800’s so most of us no longer have to worry about having Taphophobia.

Why shouldn’t we be worried about being buried alive? Just ask the mortician. To put it bluntly, our corpses are pumped full of three gallons of embalming fluid which seeps into the body cavity and arteries in order to preserve the body temporarily for wakes, funerals, and other religious traditions.

The ingredient in embalming fluid which we’re most familiar with is formaldehyde, which makes up 50 percent of the fluid’s contents. Little do most people know that we are exposed to formaldehyde every day. Scientists must use it to preserve tissues, but it has other uses, such as in pesticides and fertilizer. It can also be released into the air from common sources such as cigarettes and exhaust pipes. Trace amounts can also be found in our drinking water! So, exactly how dangerous is our exposure to formaldehyde?

Don’t worry; chances are, you’re okay. The real harm comes from drinking the stuff. One ounce of formalin, a concoction that contains 37 percent formaldehyde, can cause a number of ailments, such as convulsions, respiratory failure, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea, if it doesn’t put you in a coma or kill you first. Needless to say, if you’re body is pumped full of three gallons of embalming fluid, you’re not going to be waking up. Now, let’s just hope you’re dead when you arrive at the morgue.

Grief Therapy

This topic strikes a chord with me as my mother passed away December of 2016.

Here’s an article on how to cope with losing a loved one.

According to the counseling website Better Help, grief is considered a normal reaction to a loss. The loss can be either someone or something you loved and cared about deeply. For example, pet owners often suffer the same amount of grief over losing their pet as they would losing a loved one. Grief can impact a person in a variety of ways. Along with emotional problems, the patient can experience physical, social and behavioral complications.

Grief therapy recognizes that each person experiences a loss differently and therefore, there is no exact guideline for treatment. Therapists use their training and own judgment of the situation to decide what kind of treatment would be the most effective. Proper therapy occurs when the patient and the counselor come together to identify, reinforce and utilize the patient’s strengths to effectively learn to cope with the loss. The goal of grief therapy isn’t to help the person move on from a loss, but instead aims to get patients to the point where they can replace their negative emotions with positive memories.

Psychologist, Mark Tyrrell, states that, while it is widely accepted that there are five stages of grief (i.e., denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance), different people deal with the grief in various ways and may not experience all five of the stages. In other words, there is nothing that says that a person has to feel a certain set of emotions, nor do they have to feel them in a certain order.

Moreover, he claims that there are several crucial techniques that comprise proper grief therapy, with each being equally important.. The first is allowing the patient to talk about the deceased. They may feel as though they can’t properly express themselves, lest they upset or burden those close to them. Therapists should encourage their patients to talk about their lost loved one and ask them to consider how the deceased would have wanted them to be living now.

Tyrrell considers the second step to be the most challenging in proper grief therapy, which is to help the patient distinguish grief from trauma. If the patient continues to experience flashbacks and horrific memories, such as finding their deceased loved one, the counselor should seek to help them by finding a method to detraumatize these memories and intrusive thoughts so that the patient can begin a healthy grieving process.

In addition to the first two techniques, the last deals with the guilt patients in grief therapy struggle with. They might feel like they aren’t grieving enough or may interpret the fact that their grief is abating means that they no longer care about their deceased loved one as much as they once did. The best remedy for this is to encourage the patient to rest, allowing them to take breaks from grieving. This will ultimately help the person function despite their loss, allowing him or her to move forward and focus on the happy memories.

It is important to remember that the grieving process is different for each person and that what works for one patient might not work for another. Should the severity of grief not lessen within a few months or if the person denies the possibility that he or she can lead a happy and fulfilling life without their loved one, grief therapy should definitely be sought out. If you are experiencing grief after the loss of a loved one, contact us so that we can help you deal with these difficult emotions.

The Morality of Ignoring the News

I really didn’t want to write about the election. I’m not going to say who I wanted to become president, especially since I wasn’t a fan of any of the candidates. But, I feel there’s something that needs to be discussed regarding the rash of protests and incidents following Trumps election. As someone with severe anxiety, I know my triggers. The news is one of them. I rarely watch the news; I didn’t even watch the results on election night. Since then, my stomach has been in knots because I’m afraid for this country. If it weren’t for Facebook, I wouldn’t have known about the protests that have been taking place. And my ignorance makes me feel guilty. But, should it?

Is there a moral imperative that says we must stay up to date on all news developments? I don’t think most would take it that far; however, is there an imperative to stay informed when injustices are taking place? From my standpoint, I’d rather ignore all of the negativity. As such a small person, with a limited impact on society, what am I to do to combat these atrocities? Is it my moral duty to subject myself to the news, despite the horrible feelings it stirs deep within? Still, I can’t escape feeling that I’m doing something wrong by not staying informed and ignoring anything that upsets me too much. Maybe it’s my empathy, screaming from inside because I can’t reach out and help these people.

I don’t think it is a moral necessity to stay up-to-date on all news matters, as that would just be impractical. Staying informed on issues that relate specifically to you may not be a moral imperative, but it’s your job as a citizen. However, for me, there is very little that impacts me, at least at this point in my life. You can call me a coward, and that’s fine, because it is in part true. But, I’m staying away from Facebook (which is worse than the news these days) for awhile until things calm down.

I’m sorry this wasn’t a very interesting post. It’s my first time writing in a very long time, and even though I’ve missed it terribly, it’s going to take some time for me to get back into the mindset of a writer. You know, when you’re constantly brainstorming ideas and the best ones come to you while your in the shower or during the middle of the night 🙂

I’ll post more, even if it’s just personal stuff. There will also be SEO rich articles that I need on my website in the hopes of scoring some writing jobs again.

Please feel free to leave comments, whether it be here or on facebook. I’d love to know what you think.

Thanks for reading. Until next time…

Hyper-Creativity: This is Your Brain on ADHD

As I was doing my morning Internet news reading, I came across an article on LifeHack entitled, “Too Many Ideas in Your Mind? How to Focus Your Hyper Creative Mind to Achieve Success” (or at least I think that is what it was supposed to be called, as the article title itself is all messed up.)

The Hyper-Creative Mind: What Makes it Unique?

In this article, a hyper-creative mind is described as one that is constantly engaged, always thinking about new ideas and is usually in a creative state. While this sounds awesome to people who want to brainstorm ideas or come up with new inventions, that’s not what a hyper-creative mind does. Think of your mind as a pond, with a lily pad for each new idea that forms in your head, invited or not. Now, imagine that you are a frog, and your ultimate goal is to jump from lily pad to lily pad to catch flies — in other words, to accomplish goals. However, if you stay on one lily pad for too long, you begin to sink and you must jump to another lily pad to regain your footing.

Lily Pads

Because of this constant jumping around, you are never able to stay on a lily pad for long enough to catch a fly, or to complete a task. To translate this analogy into reality, your active mind — or your consciousness — constantly jumps around from idea to idea, never pausing long enough to flush out an idea or compete a task (“catching your fly)” because it does not want to “sit” still. It’s almost impossible to sit down and work on a single task through to it’s completion because your mind wants to jump to something else after five minutes. It’s not that you get bored, it’s that you want to do everything. The active mind is restless and must be continuously moving across millions of neural pathways; a PET scan of your brain in these moments would light up like wildfire. Your mind and focus is constantly on-the-go, whether you want it to be or not.

Whether I want to be thinking or not, my brain will always be actively moving from one idea to another, without refrain except when sleep overtakes me.

Finding an article on hyper-creative minds was one of those eureka moments for me. I’ve been diagnosed with having ADHD, but I always got really good grades in school; the doctors figured that my mind that was more hyperactive than my body, but that it wasn’t anything that interfered with my daily functioning. The first half of that sentence is true, while the latter half is completely false. I had no idea how severe my ADHD was until I started taking medication for it. I had a new viewpoint on work. Reading and writing were so much easier now! How did I manage to graduate with Honors WITHOUT having been treated? It’s a miracle. Anyway, after my diagnosis, my doctor put me on a drug called Vyvanse – It was like the clouds parted and little rays of sunshine slowly began to peak through, beaming down on my now calm body, mind and soul.

According to the DSM-IV (aka the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the bible for Psychologists and the insurance companies they bill), there are two subcategories of ADHD, inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity, and patients may belong to one or to both.

To be diagnosed with ADHD, an individual must meet the criteria for either (1) or (2):
(1) The individual exhibits at least six of the following symptoms of inattention, for a period of more than six months, to the point where these behaviors interfere with normal functioning.
(I’m not going to list the symptoms of inattention here, since it’s not relative to my hyperactive mind discussion, but it you want to read more about them, you can go to this website.)

– or –

(2) The individual exhibits at least six of the following symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity, for a period of more than six months, to the point where these behaviors interfere with normal functioning. The subject…

Hyperactivity:
a) often squirms or fidgets with hands or feet;
b) often leaves seat in situations where remaining seated is expected (such as in the classroom);
c) may experience periods of restlessness (in adolescents and adults);
d) often has difficulty engaging in leisure activities quietly;
e) is often “on the go” or acts as if “driven by motor;”
f) often talks excessively.

Impulsivity
g) often blurts out answers before questions are completed;
h) often has difficulty awaiting turn, such as in a game or conversation;
i) often interrupts or intrudes on others.
__

There are some other criteria, but what I listed above is main content relevant to my post.

Instead of the body engaging some of those sensations, such as the squirming or feelings of restlessness, imagine if it was your mind experiencing these states. And imagine this happening all of the time. Sounds pretty tiring, doesn’t it? It’s exhausting. This is how mentally exhausting my daily mental life can be: Even days where I lay on the couch all day, watching television, leave me going to bed burnt out from all of the thinking I did while I was on the couch. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m a physically lazy and lethargic person by nature; however, mentally, I’m a freakin’ Olympian. It’s so oxymoronic that the body can be perfectly still while the mind’s aflutter, but individuals who are hyper-creative know exactly what I mean.

While it seems like hyper-creativity and ADHD are the same things, I made a point earlier that explains the difference succinctly: People with ADHD tend to become bored very easily, while individuals who experience hyper-creativity tend to want to do everything. It’s almost akin to the manic state someone with bipolar disorder experiences. Someone might be writing an article on Depression, and have a brief thought that completely side tracks their writing so that they start a whole new task altogether that is devoted to this one new idea. They leave the original article open, but in their mind they are thinking, “It would be more fun to work on this new idea right now; I’ll come back to my other article later.” This process can happen several times in one day, leading the person down a path that is far from where he or she started.

Here’s another scenario that readers might be able to relate to and thus better understand how the mind of a hyper-creative person works. Have you ever been cleaning your room and come across a drawer or box of old photos? You haven’t seen these pictures in awhile, so you take some time out from cleaning to look at them. That seems perfectly healthy, right? What if every time you started on a new area in your room, you had to go through everything and reminisce before putting stuff away? You go through your closet — oh, look, a shirt you haven’t worn in awhile; better try it on to make sure it fits. You’re DVD shelf is fine but… they aren’t alphabetically organized. You found your stash of receipts, but they are just stuffed in a box — wouldn’t it be easier when tax season came around if you organized them now? Many people can relate to the scenarios I’ve just described, as it is the curse of procrastination one faces while cleaning: Everything else looks more interesting than the cleaning you have to do. This kind of behavior is what people with hyperactive minds have to battle each day; in order to get a task done, the mind has to be quieted in some way, but how?

Brain's Want to Stay Up and Party When it's Time for Bed!

Has There Been Any Research Done on Hyper-Creativity?

Not so far as I can tell. I didn’t find any solid research after conducting a thorough web search, nor did my search of the online library at my local university turn up any scholarly articles on the topic. It’s most likely the case that this is a pop-culture term, but I have a feeling that it may soon be absorbed into humanistic psychological perspectives. It makes plenty of sense, for starters. Also, the research is really already there, just in the form of information on ADHD and hyperactivity-impulsivity.

What’s the Treatment for Hyper-Creative Minds? Can You Learn to Calm Them Down?

Perhaps adults who exhibit these tendencies should look into treating their mind as a creative object, instead of as something that has a “disease” that requires medicine to correct. True, it may be the case that your brain is hard-wired to think in this hyperactive manner, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t retrain your brain. Studies have found that an eight weeks course of meditation as therapy, specifically mindful attention training (MAT), resulted in lasting changes to the amygdala, which plays a key role in the “emotional processing of both positive and negative-valence stimuli” (Desbordes, et al). When shown emotionally positive or negative images, the subjects who underwent MAT were recorded as having less activity in their amygdala when compared to the measurements that were taken before the therapy began. This strongly suggests that some forms of meditation therapy can have a lasting effect on a person’s emotional regulation and response to stress. This is evidence that there is a correlation between the changing of mental habits with the lasting changes in recorded brain functioning.

If this is the case, how can people with hyper-creative minds rope in their thoughts? The first and most crucial step is to pay close attention to and analyze your behavior when you catch yourself becoming side-tracked. If you can identify the thought patterns going through your mind while you’re being tempted to veer off-course, then you can use mental exercises such as thought-stopping — where you literally stop your thoughts before they can fully emerge into your brain space — and redirection. If you’re able to consistently practice these methods for a few months, you should see lasting changes in the way your brain functions.

You can also do other things to keep yourself on task, such as starting your day with a to-do list, or using a timer and making yourself work for a certain set period of time before taking a break. If you are able to work in 25-30 minute spurts, with five minute breaks in between, you’re likely to stay refreshed and focused on the task at hand.

You should also create a contingency plan for those days when, no matter how hard you try, you can’t stay on task. It’s bound to happen sooner or later, so don’t get upset when you find that you’re unable to stay focused on a single task. Instead, turn to your contingency plan. This might include something like, “Take your cell phone outside and record voice notes to yourself regarding your work,” or “take a walk while using the environment as inspiration.” Maybe you’ll throw a blanket and a bunch of pillows on the floor and make an impromptu fort over which you will reign and under which you will work. The point of these ideas is to do something drastically different; you’ve already proven to yourself that doing the same thing is resulting in the same behavior, so change what you’re doing! Make it fun and refreshing while you’re at it. Just change your thinking, stay positive, use your surroundings to your benefit and don’t give up — if you can follow this formula, you’re well on your way to mastering your hyper-creative mind. One you learn to corral your thoughts and train your mind to race as if it were a thorough-bred horse, then there would be a significant improvement in your ability to quickly and effectively complete tasks. Two cheers for productivity.

Stretching myself too thin~

I know that I’ve been blogging way more than I have in the past two months, but I’d rather over-blog then under-blog (oh, how I love poetic license!)

I’ve got too many writing and work commitments right now and I’m not sure what to do. This is what happens when I get a majority of my work for a site where you submit proposals and bids for jobs. I place more bids than I’ll expect to get accepted, and when one gets accepted, I feel obliged to accept. If anyone was wondering, I use the site Elance. I find that the jobs on there pay much better than the competing sites, like Odesk and Freelancer.

On top of my writing work for the week (A LOT), I’m also working on two tutoring projects and two data entry projects. How am I supposed to find time to think, let alone time to write for myself? I guess I shouldn’t complain, because I could be on the opposite end of the spectrum, without ANY work, but it’s still a lot. I get I could start sourcing some of it out, but I hate to do that.

I also want to redesign my blog this week. I may go to Fiverr.com and commission someone to draw some anime for me. If you’ve never been to that site, it’s great; you can hire people to do an assortment of jobs for you for only $5! Since my only talent other than writing is making up songs about cats, I’m going to see if I can catch any fish with that one.

On a happy note, I’ve been accepted as a contributor for the websites SlumpedOver (which pays!) and The Union Times, so that’s exciting. Hopefully I’ll have time to write some articles to be published this week.

Oh well, tonight I’m going to relax and play my new game that my awesome friend Andrew bought me, called “Cherry High School Comedy Club.”

Cherry High School Comedy Club

My 10 tips for new freelance writers

1. Start a website or blog. A lot of potential clients that you find on Craigslist will ask to see links to your personal website. You don’t have to think of it as a personal journal; instead, write on current events and topics that interest you. If you read an interesting news article, write a blog post about it. Something going on in the news that bothers you? Write an opinion piece about it. You can get away with only updating your blog on a weekly basis, so you don’t have to contribute too much time to it.

2. Get your feet wet with content mills. Freelance writers can learn a lot by writing for content mills and it’s the way that most of us got our start. Taking on assignments through these sites lets you try your hand at various types of articles. Clients and editors can provide you with valuable feedback. Freelance writers will also be able to get a feel for what you should charge clients (x cents/word) once you decide to branch out. While the earnings won’t be stellar, the experience gained is worth it. These sites can also help you figure out what your niche is, which leads me to…

3. Find your niche. Have a way with words? Try writing sales copy. Are you able to use descriptive and colorful language? Try your hand at product reviews. Good at explaining things in precise detail? See how you fare with writing technical documents. All of these “genres” of writing have their place in the world of Internet freelance writing. Once you find the areas you enjoy and in which you are talented, you can start looking for sites who employ this type of freelance writer. You can also start tailoring your blog to match your nice, as this will help you to gain a following more easily.

4. Having a solid portfolio goes a long way in securing work. Potential employers will also ask for writing samples. Every freelance writer should try to have one of the following categories: Health, Technology, Product Reviews, Press Releases, Sales Copy, General Blog… and that’s all I can think of for now. Those are the big ones. Freelance writers should also have a few SEO-centric articles in your repertoire, since most clients will want SEO articles

5. If you can find a site that will let you be a contributing author, this is great for a freelance writer’s resume. You can actually point to your work on the web, and that goes a long way. Plus, it’s very rewarding to see your name next to a published article!

6. Join a discussion group or forum. There is a lot of value in becoming a member of such a community. You can find a lot of great advice from people who went through the same struggles starting out as a freelance writer. And they got through it, so they can offer you advice that’s priceless.

7. Become familiar with several writing styles. Make sure that you’re familiar with AP style. This is the most popular style on the Internet, and is found on most of the web’s news sites. However, clients will not only be looking for freelance writers well-versed in AP style, but will want writers knowledgeable in Chicago style and APA formatting.

8. Keep a good record of your articles and earnings. This is more of a practical tip then anything else (and vital for tax purposes). When it comes to tracking your freelance writing earnings, you can buy a ledger or create an excel spreadsheet. Also, try looking at your earnings on a weekly basis as opposed to a day-to-day basis; some days you won’t make that much, while you’ll rake in a fortune on other days. This prevents you from becoming discouraged when you have a bad day. Regarding your articles, you should save everything on your computer. One advantage of keeping your work is that you can go back to older writings to see how much you’ve improved over a period. You can also rewrite your previous articles for writing samples; this way you’ve already researched the topic, and you can concentrate on the writing aspect of the article.

9. Practice your writing skills. Just because you write well now doesn’t mean that you can’t improve. There is always room to learn, whether it’s stylistically or creatively. “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White should be in every freelance writer’s library. If you can, ask fellow writers to critique your work, as they may find ways to reword things that you didn’t see. You can also practice writing different type of articles, such as learning how to effectively write press releases and product reviews, thus expanding your freelance writing portfolio.

10. Always make time to write for pleasure. Internet freelance writers didn’t start their careers writing web copy. If you started as a creative writer, then devote some time each week to writing creative pieces. It’s important to go back to your roots. Taking time out to write for yourself also guarantees that you are enjoying your job, which always lends itself to good work. If you don’t make time to joy-write, you’ll find yourself becoming burnt out much more quickly. I try to take a few minutes at the start of each day to warm up with some writing for myself; as soon as I started skipping this practice to jump into the work day, I quickly found myself struggling. Writing should be fun and pleasurable!