It may sound unintuitive, but you can find your niche by avoiding specialising

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Photo by Romain Vignes on Unsplash

One of the most common pieces of advice for creatives is they need to find their niche. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about writing, photography, music, etc. The recurring theme is you should focus on a smaller area if you want to thrive. Maybe it’s the subject matter or genre. In other cases, it might be you should determine your style. All of this boils down to the same theme though, narrowing your focus, and finding your niche.

Refuse to be defined

I’ve defied this conventional wisdom, and I think you should too, at least at the start. I’ve been fighting defining my niche in my writing. I like writing on a variety of topics and have defied hemming myself into a subset of areas. …


My journey in learning to perfect the original cocktail

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Photo by the author

When I first got into drinking whisky, I focused on drinking it neat, or with only a little water added. After some time, I started to be interested in whisky cocktails as well. There’s one classic that I had to master, the old fashioned.

The old fashioned is arguably the original cocktail. The earliest definitions for the word cocktail define it as a mixture of spirits, bitters, and sugar. In other words, the recipe for an old fashioned. The cocktail gets its name from this idea. When other cocktails became available, you’d ask for an old fashioned cocktail, the original.

Choosing a whisky

My first challenge was to find the right whisky. One of the things to understand is this is an old cocktail. The entire point was to make the spirit more palatable. You don’t want to use a “smooth” easy-drinking whisky here. You’re looking for something a little rougher, that has some “bite” to it. Whiskies have evolved to suit our tastes. It’s become far more common to drink whisky neat. …


First you need to identify the cause of the block, then you can address it

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Photo by Pereanu Sebastian on Unsplash

I woke up this morning to discover T.S. Johnson had included me in her weekly roundup of writing advice. I was thrilled to get the additional boost on an article I thought was quite good. She did, however, point out one specific gap with my story.

“While not specifically written as a way to beat writer’s block, this is the way to beat writer’s block. If you’re struggling to find ideas to write about, this is the article for you.”
- T.S. Johnson, “Med Daily | Writer’s Workshop | 004

This comment got me thinking the perfect follow-up was to talk more specifically about writer’s block. …


My tone has changed since my twenties, does that mean I’ve lost my edge?

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Photo by Armin Lotfi on Unsplash

My friend Traverse Davies commented he’d noticed a change in me since I’d move to the UK. He said I’m not as edgy or controversial anymore. Okay, specifically he said I’d become more “politically correct”.

Was he right?

I think he’s both right and wrong. I remember how I was in my twenties and early thirties. I was highly opinionated. I wouldn’t necessarily go so far as to say I was arrogant, the best phrase I’d use to sum myself up from that time would be, “strong opinions, weakly held”.

I was, and still am, someone who can form opinions very quickly. I’ll also defend those opinions to the best of my ability. However, when faced with contradictory evidence, I like to think that I’m willing to accept that and reassess my ideas. …


Stop stealing other people’s images for your articles

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Photo by Andres Umana on Unsplash

Medium has a pretty clear set of terms of service saying you need to have the rights to use any images. What’s a little more disappointing is they don’t enforce that. I get it, that’s going to be difficult with the sheer volume of articles going up every day.

They’ll at least require you attribute the source of the images, and that can impact curation. I’ve not seen this applied 100% of the time, but it’s a good start.

Here’s the thing, I still see tons of people posting images with no source information. …


The basic functionality that nearly nobody gets right

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Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

I get that new features are sexy. But there’s one thing I wish nearly every app team would drop everything to fix. That one thing is app notifications. Seriously, it’s 2020 now, why do app notifications still have to suck so much?

Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, the list goes on and on. Guys, please fix your notifications. You have talented developers working for you; how is this still a problem?

What is the problem?

I suppose I should take a step back and define what the issue is. Let’s use Facebook as an example. How many times has this happened to you? You see a notification count on the app, or in the browser. For Facebook, it doesn’t matter which, both have the same issue. …


Keeping them in your head is a recipe for disaster

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Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Yesterday morning, as I was getting ready to head back to work after the holiday, I started mulling over an idea for a new story to write. I started working through the concept and organising my thoughts into how I would structure the story.

I find when inspiration hits me like this, a few other ideas will bubble to the surface as well. That’s what happened to me this morning. I came up with another idea for a completely different article.

Then I made a critical mistake. I bent over to tie my shoes. I was still a little tired from getting up for work, and tying my shoes took just that little bit of extra focus than usual. …


Learning the cuisine during your trip enriches your experience

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Inside the pizza oven. Photo by the author

One of the best ways to experience a different culture is through their food. For me, it’s one of the great joys of travelling. If you’re like me and like to cook as well as eat, then taking a cooking class on your next trip can be a fantastic experience.

When I lived in Southeast Asia, I’d wanted to take the time to learn some of the local cooking, either in Thailand or Vietnam. …


I’m comfortable with my gender, but not with what it means to be a man

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Photo by Will Pantaleo on Unsplash

I’m a cis male. I don’t have any issues with my gender identity or suffer any gender dysphoria. I’m confident in the fact that my birth gender matches my gender identity. That said, I struggle with what it means to be a man and with masculinity.

This disconnect struck home while listening to a podcast interview with the RPG designer Brie Beau Sheldon. They were working on a Kickstarter project for a zine highlighting trans masc experiences. Beau talked about the lack of positive trans masc stories and how they wanted to change that.

While I applaud Beau’s efforts to increase the exposure of an underrepresented community, my reaction was quite different. I was left struggling to come up with any positive masculine traits. It’s not my intent to take away from any trans male’s experiences or identity. But hearing that interview made me start questioning what it means to be male, and the more I thought about it, the less I liked what I saw as typically masculine. …


I’m good at periods of intense focus, but not balancing my interests

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Photo by Colton Sturgeon on Unsplash

I’ve been on a big writing kick lately. It’s been fantastic. Every time I get back into writing, I wonder why I ever let myself slip. Some of my earliest childhood memories revolve around telling stories. I can vividly remember how much I loved creative writing assignments in school.

At the same time, I’m terrified I’m not going to be able to keep up the habit. The reason for this is I’m terrible at maintaining balance in my life.

Obsessive flurries of activity

I have multiple interests. I struggle with keeping more than one of them going at a time. Right now, it’s writing. Because I’m getting a creative outlet there, I’m not knitting, taking photos, or working on my digital artwork. …

About

Andrew Dacey

London-based writer and storyteller. Striving to use my personal experiences to make connections. Geek and avid tabletop gamer. With the odd political post.

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