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Post-it Scheduling

At least once a week, I’m asked how I get work done, and my reply is always, I stick to the rules.

I write, and I make digital content for a living. I have multiple projects on the go at any one time. But then the world caught the virus, and my workload shifted to personal work and helping friends with their quarantine projects.

As far as workload goes then, it’s business as usual, and if I’m to avoid the time-suck that is Netflix, the rules still apply. There are two. The first is to schedule the work, no more than five items per day. The second is to complete them in order of priority. …


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Yesterday I participated in my first #PitMad twitter party, where un-agented writers pitch their completed manuscripts in a 280-character pitch to agents and editors. I’m looking for representation for my thriller, a novella, True Daughter, but my pitch — too brief, too plain I now realise — went unliked.

There may be other reasons too; my twitter follower numbers (double figures) may be one, my age, another.

The truth is, it wasn’t my day, but that didn’t mean I didn’t pay attention to what was going on in the thread.

I noticed agents, or their representatives, fell into one of two…


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The Briar Rose Series — Study for ‘The Garden Court’ by Sir Edward Burne-Jones courtesy of @BirminghamMuseumsTrust/Unsplash.

Ride any roller coaster, then add a shit-ton more climbs and drops, sharp turns and loops that jolt the senses, and you’ll feel it, that sensation of being three quarters gone. Freelancing is like that.

There are problems, lots of them. Some problems only you will care about, others will have a wider reach. Not getting paid has a wide reach, ask your landlord.

Experience can show us the way. Reflecting on what happened and making changes can help reduce the chances of it happening again. What did you learn from your first few gigs that you’d do differently next time?


Tiny adjustments in becoming a van-life cook

Why does cooking on the two ringed hob in our converted camper van make healthy eating, difficult? Our meals to date have failed to reflect the years I’ve spent preparing wholesome, flavourful food. Bean dishes once rich in the flavours of Provence seem thin and tasteless, and who knew it was possible to make toast, damp, and brown rice simultaneously mushy and hard as grit? Since moving to van living, we’ve had six weeks of driving rain and incomprehensible eating. The gritty realism of the Instagram hashtag has been a revelation in all areas of daily living, but cooking has been the most difficult adjustment. …


Every year I write a short story for the holidays and this year is no exception, please enjoy my shortest short story for the holidays, yet, a true recounting of Ten Minutes at a New Year’s Eve Party. Happy holidays!

Details are sketchy. A new year’s eve party a few years ago. I’m standing in a brightly lit kitchen, my back against the wall. Two guys are drunk-flirting demanding answers to unasked questions. They lean in until their faces are five inches away from mine.

I’m down to my last nerve, my plus-one, our first date, notices. The party has moved from buzzing to pong and smeared make-up, ahead of schedule. He suggests we leave. The guys from the wall follow us out of the kitchen calling out vulgar things. Plus-one tells them to get back in their cage, one of wall guys wants to know if Plus-one will be the man to do it. Plus-one considers his options long enough for Wall-guy’s vomit-splash to hit his shoes,” shit, I just bought these,” he says. …


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Running route along the Nidd Gorge, North Yorkshire

I wanted to be a famous athlete. Not for the recognition but because of what it represents, winning.

Today is Saturday, long run day. Typically, I run two or three shorter runs in the week, early morning runs on the trails around my home. It’s a training schedule I’ve stuck with more or less consistently for thirty years.

Back then, runners on the roads of North Wales were a rare sight. Cars would slow down, sometimes a moron would shout lewd suggestions out of a window wound all the way down. Sometimes they’d turn the car around for a second pass. Sometimes they’d pull off the road up ahead and wait for me to run by. …


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Photo by Ian Schneider, Unsplash

It’s tough out there for people trying to earn a living as a writer. I know. There have been days I wanted to give up, say fuck it all, sell a kidney, live in a van in the wilds of Scotland.

But consider this kidney-preserving alternative; asking your family and friends for help.

The benefits of asking are enormous. Even the lukewarm response to my first ‘ask’ revealed useful intel, although, at the time, I felt dejected.

My opening salvo had been, “please subscribe to my newsletter”, and “read it when you have time”, and then, “let me know what you think. No hurry”. In wanting to make sure I didn’t overburden my friends and family, I had failed to share anything real they could connect with, added to which, I was much too vague about what I wanted from them. …


But it doesn’t have to be this way

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Photo by Tyler Nix, Unsplash

It took me a year after finishing it to publish Morrina, and a few months more to tell anyone. So what’s changed?

The first thing that’s happened is I’ve become a better writer, and this has given me more confidence. How did I improve my writing? I upped my reading from a book a fortnight to two books a week. I even included a few On Writing. Daily journaling has also helped me to work through ideas and learn to communicate them more effectively.

Next, I spent time thinking about what would happen if I showed my work and why whenever I thought about it, I would break into a sweat. …


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Yorkshire Marathon, 2016, finisher.

I used to be a decent sub-seven-minute mile runner, and then I passed forty.

Running is one of those exercise activities that sounds as though it should be easy. I mean, if you can walk, you can walk faster, and if you can walk quickly you can run, right? Right-ish.

I made every mistake in the runner’s handbook when I first started running at eighteen. I had been a runner at school but found the track dull, and the tiny all-season shorts, cold. As a post-school runner, I ran too quickly. I tried to get faster with every run and was disappointed when I wasn’t. I also ran for too long. I developed a habit of running home from places, and sometimes, those places were a long way away. One of the hardest parts of running is motivation. Another is fighting your body when it tells you to stop. These were not my problems. I liked to run. I loved the high after a particularly long, hard run, and when my body screamed at me to stop, I ignored it. Incidentally, the latter was a habit that came back to bite me big time when I hit thirty-five, but that’s another story. …

About

J Ran Hill

Writer, maker, runner. Digital gofer @SoseasUK. https://jranhill.com

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