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!

It’s been a long time, friends

Somewhere along the way, I found myself lost. The writer within me became lost amid papers, pens, whiteout, books and pencil shavings. Prioritizing work, I’ve been neglecting my pleasure writing and this blog. No wonder my writing for work seems so taxing; no wonder I cringe when someone asks me how my writing is coming along.

I’ve taken a break from being a writer and am now instead someone who merely writes. There is a difference, and writers who do so for a living will know what I mean.

I must find time to blog again, to write for myself again. I’m even lost on blog topics. I’ll find sources for inspiration surely, now that I’m looking, but I’m not opposed to suggestions.

Just a few sentences. That’s a start.

I’ll be back.

Finding a Balance

Update – My Review of Dr. Who Season 7 premiere: “The Aslyum of the Daleks.”

Some of you may know that I recently starting writing for the awesome website Geeksmash.com. It’s been a great experience so far, but I noticed that it’s led me to neglect some of my other writing, namely my blog. It’s not an issue of time but of content; I write about the same sort of things in my blog that I write about for Geeksmash. So, what is a blogger to do?

The answer is to find a balance. Write geeky articles for the site and write nerdy articles for myself. Sounds simple… right? Maybe… Well, regardless of whether or not it’s simple, my solution is to write a blog post each time I write an article for the site! That will be my balance.

I just got done writing my review of the Season 7 Dr. Who premiere, “Asylum of the Daleks,” which was AWESOME. Not only did my heart drop into the pit of my stomach during the episode’s second scene, but it stayed there until a very touching and tear-jerking scene toward the end. There have only been two other Dr. Who episodes that have made me cry, and this was the third. I know, I’m a sap, but I can’t help but fall for the love story between Amy and Rory. I’ll be sure to include a link to review once it’s posted.

To be honest, I struggled writing my review. It seems silly, since I’m a huge Whovian and a writer, so it should have been a breeze for me, right? Sometimes I let the pressure of writing something for a wide audience get the better of me. Every negative thought in existence probably passed through  my brain during my first attempt to write my review. Finally, I said hell with it, I’ll write whatever I write and if it’s not good enough, then so be it. Was it good enough? I think so.

I think all writers are infused with chronic doubt with regards to their work. There’s always the fear of rejection, though this fear usually manifests itself as the writer rejecting his or her own work before it can be rejected by the public. The motto of all writers should be “who cares,” but things aren’t that easy. For a writer, the words that go on the page don’t just arise as her fingers hit the keys; instead, they’ve been lurking, hiding within the writer’s subconscious for quite awhile. Putting them on the page means taking these well-hidden thoughts with which we’ve become familiar and exposing them for the entire world to see. Think of it this way: A painter has been working on a masterpiece and has grown to love the solitary relationship that exists between herself and her painting; once she’s finished, however, the solitary relationship will be no more. Soon, everything will be exposed, for the world to see… and to judge. Can you imagine how it must feel, not only to lose that working relationship but to put it on display for everyone to take part in?

Writing is like that, except these relationship exists within our minds. We grow accustom to our thoughts, ideas, stories and characters. Once we release them into the world, our relationship with them is gone. It’s like losing a trusty friend. And that is the reason why many writers suffer from anxiety when it comes to committing words to a page. It doesn’t matter if the thoughts are years or days old; they are still personal to the writer and revealing them makes one feel vulnerable.

The greatest writers have learned to overcome such exposure or have at least figured out a way to cope with it. My guess is that it’s the latter, fortunately for us readers. And such is the journey I find myself on now; learning to cope with the vulnerability that comes with bearing my innermost thoughts and feelings to the world via words. 🙂

If you’d like to read the articles that I’ve written for Geeksmash.com thus far, here are some links. If you like them, please show your support and click “like” on the page. Validation always makes writers feel better, no matter who they might be. Hell, it makes everyone feel better, am I right?

Comment and let me know what you think! If you have any ideas or news that you’d like to see written about in future posts, please comment and let me know!

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