Clear-Minded Chronicles Week 4 – Tough Decision Time

nopeWow. That’s May over then. And with it, my successful attempt to record a podcast 5 days a week. At least, I think the numbers work out pretty much ok, as I’ve recorded 22 podcasts over 31 days.

I don’t care anyway as I’m happy with what I’ve managed to do, especially given that I am still working my way out from under a large rock of underwhelmitis.

So here you go – the fourth week of micro-podcasts – thanks to everyone who’s listened, commented or shared – it is very much appreciated.

The Uncertain Creative

Photo: Nicu Buculei (Creative Commons)

Photo: Nicu Buculei (Creative Commons)

Society expects us to decide definitively what we want to do with our lives by the time we leave school, or university.

But being a ‘Clear-Minded Creative’ doesn’t mean you know exactly what you’re doing. That wouldn’t be very interesting!

It means you accept that you may never know – but that you keep trying and experimenting anyway.

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4 Good Reasons to Leave the House This Week if You Live in Edinburgh

I’ve not been getting out of the house much since I’ve been self-employed and stopped drinking  – and yet every week there is an interesting gathering of some sort which I’m missing out on.

So I thought maybe if I start listing some of the events that are on in Edinburgh for the creative and tech community I might feel more inclined to get out and about.

Plus hopefully it will be helpful to others (I know how easy it is to lose track of what’s going on).  Even people who don’t live in Auld Reekie seem to be interested in what’s happening here judging by some of the emails I get.

Previously, On the Ditch the Day Job Diaries…

When I first left my job in February to become a full-time freelancer, I starting doing a regular video diary about my experiences to share with subscribers to the Clear-Minded Creative newsletter.

Although I initially intended it to be weekly, that wasn’t entirely realistic, and I only ended up filming 14 episodes. The final episode ended on a bit of a cliffhanger too, so I apologise to those of you who were watching it regularly for leaving you in the lurch!

It struck me that those 14 episodes would work quite well as ‘Season One’ of the web TV show, and that Season Two could start from the time I headed off to the US to the World Domination Summit, and all the changes I’ve made since then.

Here then, is a handy recap of the first season of the Ditch the Day Job Diaries – look out for Season Two, coming soon!

If you want to catch up on the first season, and be notified when Season Two starts, remember to subscribe to the newsletter!

p.s. if you can’t wait until then, there are two interviews with me which will give you an insight into what I’ve been up to.

I was interviewed recently about being a freelance writer for the excellent Media Muppet site:

Media Muppet Interview: Milo McLaughlin – Copywriter & Web Editor

And I was also interviewed by my good pal Fabian of the Friendly Anarchist for his new ‘At Work’ series. He asked me some interesting questions about my work habits and even my morning routine:

 Friendly Anarchist At Work Interview – Milo McLaughlin

Thanks for watching/reading, and do let me know in the comments if you have any questions you’d like me to address in Season Two of the Ditch the Day Job Diaries.

Recently, on the Internet – AMAZING VIDEOS AND KICK-ASS WOMEN

inhale the good shit
I can’t remember the last time I did one of these round-up posts, but there’s been a lot of good stuff on the internet recently which I wouldn’t like you to miss out on.

See, the internet and I are pretty good pals (Some might say it’s my only friend). It tells me interesting things, and it doesn’t mind if I share them with other people. In fact if I don’t share them it goes in a bit of a cream puff.

So I share them on Twitter, and Facebook, and Tumblr, and Pinterest, and Google MotherfriggingPlus, but still the internet’s insatiable desire to be liked (or is that my own insatiable desire to accrue internet likes?) is not satisfied, and so I bring you a massive blog post full of the best things I’ve seen on the internet.

Plus I couldn’t think of anything else to write about.

Amazing & Hilarious Art Documentary on John Balderassi with voice over by Tom Waits

And it’s less than 6 minutes long, what’s not to like?

Game On with Gaiman

Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech has been posted on a lot of the blogs I read, and rightly so. His thoughts on creativity, writing and freelancing are incredibly inspiring. I’ve embedded it below, but if you can’t watch video at the moment you can read the full transcript here.

I can’t implore you to watch this enough. It’s possibly my favourite ever commencement speech. Not that I’ve compiled a list of commencement speeches or anything (I never really heard of them before the internet told me), but that one by Steve Jobs was also pretty good…

Live and KickStartering

Meanwhile, Gaiman’s lovely wife Amanda Palmer has just raised ONE MILLION dollars on Kickstarter to fund her new album. Hypebot reported (with gratuitous tits included gratis).

As they point out, Palmer is already an established artist with a huge fanbase and a bunch of celebrity pals. But still, just think of the possibilities for your own creative project. Hell, even tech companies are using Kickstarter to raise backing for their products before they even manufacture a single item, e.g. the Pebble watch which connects with smartphones raised $10m. That’s a lot of money right there. Unfortunately there is an issue with using it in the UK which is a bit annoying.

Happiness

GOOD report that ‘Nature-Deficit Disorder’ Is Making Us Fat, Sick, and Depressed. Thankfully, ‘Nature-Deficit Disorder’ is a completely made up term, as they admit in the article. So I’ll not bother going outside then.

Ze Frank’s A Show is rather brilliant. he says “Chase that Happy”:

 Blogging, Freelancing & Entrepreneuring 

We all have an idea of our ideal workspace. A clean, mahogony desk, a 27# iMac, a huge stack of hundred dollar bills, and a bottle of whisky, plus a rifle. That’s mine. But in reality, I sit at the kitchen table surrounded by random bits of junk.

Here are some gorgeous photos of actual real, kind of messy workspaces, via Boing Boing.

The truth is, working from home has its ups and downs. I tweeted about the good side.

But our flat is tiny, and if both myself and Mel both had to work home it would soon veer into Shining territory (although it would more likely be Mel hunting me down with an axe).

This article describes the horrors of  a “dual remote worker marriage”.

Ideasmench made a good list of 50 people every entrepreneur should follow on Twitter.

Entrepreneur Emi Gal asks, do you have the drive to succeed?

Women who are kicking ass and taking names online

Nikita kicks ass and takes names

Think Traffic is a blog which tells you how to get traffic for your blog. A good way to get traffic for your blog is to mention lots of bloggers. Another good way is to feature lots of hot sexy women. This post does both. Seriously though, these women are kicking ass and taking names online. Are me and other men doomed because we’re just too lazy and don’t look good in a tight dress?

Natalie Sisson is one of those women who are kicking ass and taking names online. She describes herself as ‘the suitcase entrepreneur’. Not because she sells suitcases, but because she travels like, a lot. Anyway, after 2 years she’s learnt some shit. Here’s the lowdown, in 24 Incredible Lessons Learnt From Being in Business. This is seriously worth a read if you’re interested in starting an online business.

Hey Shenee isn’t in Think Traffic’s list but she too, is kicking ass and taking names online. She even took my name, but it didn’t really suit her so she gave it back.

Recently she argued that as creative professionals we should only be doing the work we truly enjoy, not the kind of horrible jobs that make us do a little puke in our mouths. As a freelancer, this is very difficult to stick to, but it’s definitely a good ‘rule of thumb’ for finding work that inspires you rather than makes you want to hide under the bed!

Writing

Literary agent Shawn Coyne shares the “origin stories” of two new books over at Stephen Pressfield’s blog.

Justine Musk reckons we can find our best creative work by “learning our shadow”.

The highly prolific writer of advice for writers Jeff Goins is running a short, free course on writing over the next few weeks. You may or may not want to sign up. Only do so if you can commit to actually following his advice each day.

Meanwhile, have you had a bad experience with Mel Gibson? If so, why not write a book about it? That’s what Joe Eszterhas, creator of Basic Instinct did, penning a Kindle Singles book called ‘Heaven and Mel’.

Music

Detour TV is here! A 30 minute monthly web TV show all about new Scottish music by those clever Detour Scotland chappies, which is really well made. Good job chaps! The Pop Cop also has a bit about the making of it.

Right, I’ve run out of steam, ice cream and bad 80’s music so that’s all for now. But if you’ve seen something good on the internet, feel free to share a link in the comments. No spam mind!

The Ditch the Day Job Diaries – Episode 1

Below is the trailer for the first episode of the Ditch the Day Job Diaries.

The full first episode will only be available to email subscribers and will go into more detail of how I am building a freelance business and adjusting to a whole new lifestyle!

Sign up below and receive the first episode tomorrow (Thursday 9th Feb 2012).

Sign up for weekly updates and access to the full first episode!

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Alex Mathers from Red Lemon Club

I’ve been a fan of Alex Mathers and his Red Lemon Club blog for quite some time. The site provides really solid advice for freelance creatives of all kinds. Alex’s own speciality is illustration, a topic covered by his other site, Ape on the Moon – so he talks from experience – and of course this means all of his sites and products are extremely well designed.

Alex is releasing a new ebook today designed to demystify the latest social network from Google that hardly anyone seems to know how to use properly, Google+. The guide is designed specifically to help creative freelancers to attract new clients and simplify their online presence. As you can see from the below interview, he knows his stuff.

Please can you describe who you are and what you are up to at the moment?

I’m a London, UK-based self-taught illustrator and writer working on various illustration projects, including something for Wired magazine right now. I run a website called Red Lemon Club that aims to help other freelancers, entrepreneurs and creatives with going it alone, finding clients, doing business, and so on.

I’m about to make a move to Tokyo to experience things from a different perspective and can’t wait!

Did you always know what you wanted to do (creatively) or has it been a process of trial and error to get to the point you’re at now? If it’s the latter, how did you decide what to focus on?

Practically everything that I’ve ever done up until this point has been a result of trial and error, and gradual change. I like to try out new things but also make a point of sticking with something once I’ve started it, and allowing it to evolve over time, fine-tuning as I go.

I’ve stayed focused on particular things, like my illustrations, by always having a vision in mind of where I would like things to go. The thing is, that vision always changes slightly (but not dramatically), and that’s how things progress. When I first started illustrating, things looked a lot different to how they do now.

I’ve Just Run Out of Excuses

Yesterday I left the civil service after almost exactly 10 years to the day I started. You can read some background to this in one of the previous newsletters. Somewhat spookily, given this was my last day of repeating the same routine over and over again, this happened on Groundhog Day.

Another coincidence – on the way to work, I was listening to a playlist of 120 cheesy songs and ‘The Final Countdown’ by Europe came on just as I was approaching the building – at which point I started singing along at the top of my voice, obviously!

Man with a Plan or Unemployed Bum?

Because I voluntarily accepted redundancy, I will receive a decent lump sum. If I’m careful, I can survive on this for a year, even if I didn’t have any other money coming in.

My plan though, is to continue to work as a freelance copywriter, which is something I’ve been doing since I cut down my working week to four days at the beginning of 2011 – but now it will need to be on a much bigger scale because this time next year it will probably be my main source of income.

I also want to ramp up my blogging efforts again. The point of this blog was always to help other creative people find focus and achieve their potential – and I’ve only just scratched the surface so far.

Developing a new business as well as blogging is going to take a lot of focus and discipline, even though I’ll no longer be working a day job at the same time. Key to this is establishing productive habits and spending my days wisely.

I also want to ensure I have time for exercise and my own creative projects/experiments, whilst I have the luxury of being able to structure my own time.

Every Moment Counts

Every moment counts for me this year. It’s hugely important. But what’s new? I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t have done some legwork. I couldn’t have done this if I was heavily overdrawn or in credit card debt for example (I do have student loans but it was under the old system which means I can continue to defer them for the time being).

If I hadn’t already been paid for my writing and other work I might not have had the confidence to take the leap (even then it was a tough decision). My previous job, whilst it had it’s frustrations, did mean I got a lot of experience with digital media and marketing, and the fact I’ve been writing, blogging, using social media and producing audio and video content for many years is also a bonus.

Also worth pointing out is that over a year ago, on the advice of  Jonathan Mead, I set a very specific goal: to ditch my day job by 31st March 2012. This was before I knew the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy would arise. In fact, I forgot that I had done this until I looked at my calendar for 2012 a few weeks ago, but the intention was always at the back of my mind – never underestimate the power of committing to clear and highly specific goals.

One of my leaving gifts

Everything you do is a step in either the right, or wrong direction to achieving what you really want out of life. That’s what this blog is really about. Whatever situation you’re in right now, it’s a good thing to remember. Of course we can also put too much pressure on ourselves – rest and relaxation, enjoying life and HAVING FUN has to be part of the plan too.

This is an important post for me, and I’d  be really grateful if you would share it on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus or wherever you see fit using the handy buttons below.

Oh, and why not join over 100 people who already subscribe to the newsletter and like CMC on Facebook, and over 1000 people who follow me on Twitter: @milomclaughlin

p.s. I know I dropped the ball with this blog last year but I’m back now, and I’ve got no more excuses – so expect big things :)