Outside the Comfort Zone

rocky trail @ Acadia National Park

It’s a little after 10:00 a.m. and I have been awake for six hours. That is unusual, to say the least, for this not-a-morning-person. Why am I up so early? The brain just won’t shut off. I have been looking into new opportunities and to say I am overwhelmed is an understatement.

Now that I have a mostly empty, largely quiet house, I am seeking new freelance work. I am still working on my novel, but am craving the immediacy of working with daily, weekly or monthly sources of information and entertainment. I am getting excited at the prospect of deadlines and researching stories. I want to meet new people, hear their stories, share new information. I am discovering new avenues to explore and finding that there is even more out there than I had previously suspected existed.

On the big job boards, current writing jobs have more acronyms than the New Deal. After looking them up, I find that they are really not as scary as they seem. These self-important, intimidating, all-caps letters really just add up to writing well so that people will want to read what you have written. (The concept is similar to getting key words in your resume so it will stand out.) There are classes available to improve the possibility that your work will be found in a web search and jobs dedicated to analyzing what is read and why. However, that doesn’t change the fact that good writing is essential. You can learn tricks to get people to a website, but if the content isn’t well-written, people won’t come back a second time.

The dilemma of course is the age-old problem that people have to see your work in order to appreciate it. Getting it seen can be a challenge, especially in today’s world of instant everything and information overload. With so much being put online, stuff always moves to the bottom. Wading through the trash to get to the gems can be a lengthy process. So, I am learning that to be noticed, you have to make noise, sometimes a lot of noise. You need multiple platforms. You need to communicate in every way possible, to reach the largest audience. Apparently, I now need a Twitter account. Although I see the value in Twitter (having a newspaper background, brevity is something I truly appreciate), I naively thought having one social media account was enough (though that has changed in recent months as I have also joined Instagram, Snapchat and LinkedIn).

Now my problem is coming up with a good Twitter Handle. All the cool kids have fun names. Personally, unlike most of my family, I have never even had a real nickname (unless you count the time my uncle dubbed me Ineeda, as in I-need-a-name). Finding a balance between clever and corny, trendy, but not dated, personal, but not too so, is a challenge.

While I ponder that, I realize it’s time to take another step – out of the comfort zone.

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