You Really Can Write Every Day: My 4 Tips

The BloggerIf you’ve ever tried to be a writer, at some point you will no doubt have come across the sagely advice that to become a good writer, you must write every single day. There is certainly truth to this: writing is a skill, and like any skill, the more you do it, the better you will become. However, unless you live in total isolation and are completely self-sufficient, how can you possibly write every day? Surely, this is an unachievable ideal; a brass ring to reach for that forever remains beyond you grasp. Who but an already well-established professional author has the freedom to be able to write every day?

I have to admit, that’s how I used to think. I thought being able to write every day was a fantasy, a dream, a form of motivation, at best, but not something that could actually be achieved. Not with the demands of my life. For me, finding time to write was a luxury, and one that I seldom had opportunity to indulge in. I wrote when I could, and those times could be few and far between. Writing every day was an impossibility at best, and I dismissed those who claimed to write every day as either being in unique positions in their life where they had minimal other commitments, or engaged in spreading falsehoods.

Then, through my muse, I found reason to try it for myself. Without even realising the significance of what I was doing, I wrote every day. Just a little bit, more often than not, but consistently, every day, for about three weeks. By the end of it I had about 14,000 words on-screen. The most I’ve ever written for a single piece.

It was, in many ways, a revelation. There was no denying it. No way to rationalise my past ‘inability’ to be able to do it. I’d just written every day and produced my largest piece of work to date. Not only that; I’d done it with relative ease. How? Well, when I thought about I found four key things that made this possible for me:

1. Give Yourself a Big Purpose

You would think that wanting to write a novel, or even a short story, would be purpose enough. My motivation to write, apart from the enjoyment I get from the process itself, is to be read. I want people to read and enjoy my writing. That is a great purpose, however, until now it obviously hasn’t been enough to spur me into writing on a daily basis. Perhaps because the desire to write competed with my belief I could not do it every day? Who knows?

When I undertook the task of writing every day, the ‘every day’ part was not my main motivation, at least not directly. My main motivation was to try to help someone, to try to give them something to look forward at a time when they really needed it. My purpose was bigger than story writing – it was about creating something positive in someone’s life, and that was big enough to drive me beyond my self-imposed limitations.

Your purpose does not need to be as profound as mine. However, it needs to be big enough that it will not just motivate, but drive you towards your goals. It needs to be important enough to become a high priority for you. Writing a short story or novel might be all the purpose you need. If not, you might need a bigger purpose. Perhaps you want to make a loved one proud, or be an example to your children, or maybe what you’ve got to share is time critical – it needs to be out there right now.You don’t need to become obsessive about it – it just needs to be desirable enough that you find yourself not just wanting, but needing, to pursue it.

2. Set Realistic Goals

On reflection, I think one of the things that has subconsciously demotivated my desire to write every day is seeing other writers boast about being able to write two-, three-, even four-thousand or more words a day. On my best day it still takes me a considerable amount of time to be able to get to those sorts of levels. And at this stage of my life, there’s no way that can be achieved on a daily basis.

What I realised, though, is that there’s no rule that says to write every day you must meet a minimum word count. You could write a hundred words a day – say, a medium to large paragraph – and in three to six weeks you’ll have a decent length short story. When you are writing regularly, how much you write in a sitting becomes irrelevant. What matters is that you are writing regularly – that is what will get you from start to finish.

Having said that, having some sort of goal is a great motivator, and ensures you will make a minimum amount of progress with each sitting. The key is to make your goal realistic, and achievable – you should be able to hit your goal every time. For example, for my last piece of writing, I set myself a goal of a minimum of 421 words every time I sat down to write. I chose this number for two reasons: first, because on a personal level it has significance to me, and second, because I knew that I could hit this number every time I sat down to write. In practice, I often wrote more than that, sometimes significantly more, which was great. But as long as I wrote at least 421 words, I was satisfied that I’d achieved my goal for that sitting.

And therein lies the reason for setting a realistic and achievable goal: success. Success can be its own motivation. The more you succeed at achieving your goal, the more you will be motivated to achieve them again and again. Had I set my goal at, say, a thousand words, I would have struggled to achieve this, and the times I didn’t would have been demoralising, which is highly counter-productive. Having a realistic goal ensured positive feedback and continuous motivation to keep achieving.

3, Don’t Commit to Writing Every Day

Sounds like I just contradicted myself, doesn’t it? How can you possibly write every day if you don’t commit to writing every day? Believe me, it does work, and it follows the above tip on setting realistic goals.

When I set out to write regularly, I knew it was pointless trying to commit to writing every day. I knew that because, inevitably, something would likely come up that would prevent me from writing every single day. So instead of committing to writing every day, I committed to planning to write every day, with the caveat that if for whatever reason I could not, that was okay. It was not the end of the world – I could just pick it up again when the next opportunity presented itself.

In committing to a plan to write every day, but allowing for the possibility that I may not be able to, and the flexibility to work around that, I removed the pressure that trying to meet a commitment to write every day would have imposed. I removed the guilt and the sense of defeat associated with not being able to meet a commitment of writing every day. I removed the sense of urgency and frustration that goes with trying to find the time to write everyday. As a result, a strange thing happened: I wrote every day.

This is where the irony comes in. By having the desire, but not the commitment, to write every day, I actually found more opportunities – or perhaps, created more opportunities would be more accurate – to write on a daily basis. In this plan, I could only succeed. If I managed to write every day, that was fantastic. If not, that was just fine as well. There was no down side, and I believe because of that, because the whole process was positive, it motivated me at a higher level, consistently, than I have previously achieved. Writing became something I wanted to do, rather than something I had to do, and for me, that is a critical distinction.

4. Share Your Progress

In my experience, success is much more rewarding when you can share it with others. The support and inspiration that comes with shared success can boost your motivation and drive significantly, particularly when it comes from those whose opinions or approval mean something to you. I was fortunate enough to have almost daily feedback on my successes, and every time I did it fired me up and made me want to achieve even more. It has since inspired me to seek out feedback for larger projects. For example, I have introduced a meter to indicate my progress towards writing my first novel on my writing website, as a means of showing fans and followers my progress, and seeking their support and encouragement. If you’re achieving your goals, you have every reason to celebrate that, and sharing that experience with others will help give your motivation a huge boost.

This is what worked for me. What’s worked for you? What ways have you found to help you work towards your writing goals? Still looking for some? Try my tips and let all of us know how the helped you. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Best Australian Blogs 2014 People’s Choice Award NOW OPEN – VOTE NOW!

BB2014-PCA-voteThe People’s Choice Award for the Australian Writers’ Centre’s Best Australian Blogs 2014 is now open!

My blog is one of 1,125 vying for top position as the Best Australian Blog for 2014, and around 80% of those entries have also entered the People’s Choice Award, so every vote counts!

Voting is open now and closes at 5:00pm Monday 5 May 2014 (AEST).

To cast your vote, simply click on the ‘Vote for Me Now’ button in this post or in the sidebar on the right and you will be redirected to the voting form. All entries are listed in alphabetical order, so you will need to pass through a few pages in order to find my blog (if only I had called it AAA Aardvark, right?).

Once you’ve found me, tick the box, page through to the end, and follow the instructions. Be sure to go through to the end or your vote won’t count!

Vote Screen

If you regularly enjoy my blog, or a specific article caught your attention, or even if you just like me or don’t have anything better to do right now, please show your support and vote now.

Please note that voting is anonymous – entrants receive the total number of votes they received but not who voted for them. However, if you would like to show that you voted, why not click the ‘Like’ button below? And leave a comment showing your support.

Thanks to all of you for continuing to support and enjoy my blog.

Is Colourism the ‘New Racism’ facing Aboriginal Peoples?

skin-color-empathy-200x150One of the hottest social justice topics in Australia at the moment is the Government’s proposed repeal of four sections of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, which will redefine the instances where it is permissible to engage in acts of racial vilification, discrimination, or intimidation. This has once again livened up the debate not just about racism within Australia, but social justice, political correctness and freedom of speech.

Yet if you examine the event that was the catalyst for this action – the case of Eatock vs Bolt [2011] FCA – it becomes apparent that the underlying issue was not so much an attack against Aboriginal peoples, as it was an attack against fair-skinned Aboriginal peoples. Specifically, that fair-skinned Aboriginal peoples are not genuinely Aboriginal, and any fair-skinned person who identifies as Aboriginal is making a false claim for their own selfish motivations. This is not a case of vilification against an entire race of people, but a subset of those people who have been identified by the colour of their skin. You have just seen colourism in action.

Colourism (colorism) is a term coined by Alice Walker – distinguished author and activist who amongst her other achievements wrote The Color Purple – and describes prejudice or discrimination of people based on their skin colour. Walker used it to describe conflict between dark-skinned and light-skinned African-American women, however today it’s applied more generally to discrimination and prejudice which is solely based on the colour of a person’s skin, regardless of their race or ethnicity, and is recognised by sociologists to be a determinant of social status and privilege. While it might be reasonable to assume that colourism and racism go hand-in-hand, they are not interchangeable terms.

And therein lies part of the problem when recognising colourism as it affects Aboriginal peoples. When we think of prejudice and discrimination against Aboriginal peoples, we tend to think of it in a one-dimensional ‘white versus black’ context. In this instance the line between racism and colourism tends to be blurred, as the attacks may be based on skin colour alone (colourism), however they may also be based on characteristics of race, such as heredity, cultural practices, and stereotypes (racism). When this happens it’s easy to label the action as ‘racist’, but this may not be entirely accurate, and could be contributing to our misunderstanding of what the real issue – the causes and motivations behind the prejudicial or discriminatory act – actually is.

However another dimension which – in my personal experience – is not as well understood, and consequently not being effectively addressed, is the prejudice held against people based on their shade of colour. This is not limited to non-Aboriginal peoples attacking Aboriginal peoples – it is also a problem within Aboriginal communities where people are discriminating against each other based on the ‘lightness’ of their skin.

To understand the scope of the issue, imagine for a moment that you are an Aboriginal person of mixed descent with fair skin, and you decide to openly identify as an Aboriginal person. Non-Aboriginal people ask, “what makes you Aboriginal?”, or “what do you get out of it?”, or say, “yeah, but you’re not like the real Aborigines.” Aboriginal peoples ask, “where’s your proof?”, or, “what do you know about being Aboriginal?”, or say, “yeah, but you can be a white person when you want to be.” On both sides, some accept you, others disassociate from you. Neither side fully embraces you. Why? Because your genetic blueprint limits the amount of melanin your body produces, and your society has not yet evolved to the level of cultural understanding required to recognise that skin colour is not a determinant of Aboriginality.

The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 – in its current form – recognises as unlawful an act by a person which offends, insults, intimates or humiliates another person on the basis of their skin colour, so in effect, there is provision within the (current) Act for colourism to be considered unlawful. We have seen this upheld in the Eatock versus Bolt case. Yet, would we ever see the day when one Aboriginal person accuses another Aboriginal person of discrimination or prejudice against them based on the colour of their skin? And if so, what implications might that have for Aboriginal identity?

Colourism is a very real issue for Aboriginal peoples, and unless we recognise it and develop strategies to counter it, has the potential to become just as large a problem, if not more so, than racism. Assuming it hasn’t already.

What are your thoughts on colourism? Have you experienced it in your life? What ways do you think it could be addressed? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

5 Tips to Help Get Through Physical Therapy Credentialing

Uni DegreeWouldn’t it be great if we lived in a world where the qualifications you gain in one country are equally recognised and accepted around the world? Oh, you thought that was the case? Think again.

Part of the changes that are happening in my life have led me to pursue licensing as a physical therapist in the United States of America, and one of the major issues I’ve had to deal with is credentialing. Credentialing is the process by which the qualifications a person gains in one country are verified as being the equivalent of the qualifications that would be held by someone in the same profession in another country – in my case, whether my Australian physiotherapy qualifications are the equivalent of those held by physical therapists in the USA.

Given that the World Confederation for Physical Therapy has formal policy on the education of physical therapists globally, and that its 107 member organisations around the world support this policy, it could be reasonable to expect that credentialing the qualifications of a foreign trained physical therapist would be relatively straightforward. In fact, you could be forgiven for believing that once the professional education standards for physical therapy of the country – or for that matter, the tertiary institution – of origin have been historically established, credentialing would effectively be a process of verifying that a given applicant has in fact gained the appropriate qualification.

In reality, credentialing is an arduous and detailed examination of every aspect of the course of study that led to the qualification being granted, and comparing it to the standards that are currently expected within the country – and in some instances the state or area – the person is wanting to work in. The assessment is based on the information provided to the credentialing authority. Nothing is assumed or taken for granted; it is feasible that for two given applicants with the same qualifications from the same tertiary institution in the same country, one would be endorsed as having equivalent qualifications, and one not, based solely on the information each applicant provided to the credentialing authority.

My own pursuit of credentialing has taken me twelve months, three universities, two appeals, double what I expected it to cost, and an unquantifiable amount of stress, anguish, and hardship. It is one of the most challenging experiences I’ve ever had to go through. However, I have learned a lot from going through this process, and I would like to offer others planning to go through this process five pieces of advice, in the hope it might spare them from a similar experience.

1. Choose your credentialing authority with care.

A quick web search will show that there are numerous credentialing authorities out there to choose from. However, they are not all held in the same regard, nor do they all offer the same quality or level of service. Picking the least expensive one may not be in your best interest in the long run.

Things you should consider in choosing an credentialing authority include:

  1. are they recognised or approved by the authority through which you are hoping to gain licensure/registration as a physical therapist? For example, the Department of Safety and Professional Services in Wisconsin, USA, lists four credentialing authorities they will accept credentialing reports from;
  2. what is their timeframe for producing a credentialing report? Some authorities will not commit to a timeframe, others will only commit if additional fees are paid;
  3. what are the costs involved? The application fee may not be the only cost, and you might be charged additional fees for services such as having the report couriered to the licensing authority;
  4. what services are the actually providing? Some authorities will do as little as possible to process your application, while others may be prepared to work with you and your tertiary institution to ensure your application has the best chance of being successful. You should feel comfortable in asking as many questions about the service you will be getting as you need in order to make a good decision about who will credential your qualifications;
  5. what is their reputation? This can be difficult to determine, however when searching for information on credentialing you may notice the same authorities tend to be mentioned by professional bodies or other services. Look for peer comments in social media forums or professional association discussion groups as well.

2. Know exactly what information you need.

Most credentialing authorities will provide details of the documents they require in order to assess your application. What can be less clear is the detail or specifics they require in order to make a determination about the equivalency of your qualifications. An application can be rejected, or an applicant deemed ‘unqualified’ not because information wasn’t provided, but because it did not contain specific details the authority required. Your credentialing authority should be able to offer clear guidance on what they require, and you should know this before you approach your tertiary institutions.

3.Make sure you have ALL the information you need.

When going through the credentialing process, there is no such thing as too much information. In line with the second tip above, you are far better off providing as much detail about the course of study that led to your qualifications as you can. Some credentialing authorities will only process whatever information they are given, and not actively seek out clarification or additional information that may support your application. Remember: the onus for providing evidence to support your application rests on you. If in doubt, include it. At the very least it may save you processing time; at best, it may save your application from being rejected.

4. Be prepared to wait.

Even under the best of circumstances, the credentialing process can take a significant amount of time to complete. There can be a number of reasons for this, from the volume of information in your application, to the need to request additional information from you or your tertiary institution, to the workload of the staff of the credentialing authority. In addition, some authorities will ‘reset the clock’ if they need to seek additional information for you. For example, the authority I used asked applicants to allow 60 business days (about 3 months) for applications to be processed. After five months, I had a request for more information, and once I provided this, was informed to wait another 60 business days before inquiring about the status of my application.

If you are going through the credentialing process to work and live in another country, it is best to wait until you have successfully gone through the process before making other arrangements, such as exams (for example, in the USA all applicants are required to sit and pass the National Physical Therapy Exam in order to be licensed), visas, employment and housing. As frustrating as this might become, it is far less problematic than making other arrangements, only to have to cancel them because your credentialing authority was not able to approve your application within your timeframe.

5. Understand your post-assessment options.

Receiving your completed assessment and discovering that your qualifications have been deemed to not be the equivalent required to work in your country of choice does not have to be the end of the process. In many cases this determination may simply be the result of the authority not having enough information to make an affirmative decision. Knowing what your post-assessment options are early in the assessment process can help save time and reduce anxiety should your application have an unfavourable outcome. Things to be aware of include:

  1. is there an appeals process, and if so what is the process?
  2. what information will the credentialing authority supply you with in order to assist you understand their decision, and/or prepare an appeal?
  3. will your tertiary institution provide you with additional assistance should you require it?
  4. what is the impact of a negative report on your application to become licensed/registered where you want to work?

The more you know about the credentialing process and what is required of you, the more likely your application will be successful.

Have you been through the credentialing process? What was your experience? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.

Announcing Indigihealth International

Partnerships-Header-Trans-ModifiedI’m pleased to announce the details of my latest project: Indigihealth International.

I’ve been blogging for quite sometime now, and recently I’ve been fortunate to have had some good feedback on several of my posts (a big thank you to those who provided it). Indigihealth International takes my experience as a blogger and combines it with my passion for progressing Indigenous health. The result is a blog in magazine format – a ‘blogazine’ – specifically focussed on Indigenous health.

My aim is to create a public forum where professionals, policy makers, educators, community leaders, and anyone else involved in Indigenous health in one form or another can share information about what they’re doing, express ideas or opinions, or raise issues, related to Indigenous health. My desire is to bring all peoples involved in Indigenous health together in a global forum which encourages the sharing of knowledge and public discussion, with the aim of advancing the health status of Indigenous peoples worldwide. It’s also my hope that putting this information out there will increase awareness of Indigenous health issues, and inform and educate all peoples – Indigenous and non-Indigenous – of the plight of our peoples and the need for positive change.

Indigihealth International will officially launch on Monday 17 March 2014 at 9:00am (AEST), and I would like to invite you all to come and browse through what I hope to be a global journal of Indigenous health.

Are you involved in Indigenous health? Would you like to share your knowledge, ideas, and opinions? I’m looking for people to contribute articles, both for the launch and over time, and would welcome your contribution. There is no minimum length, and no particular topic or style. You could talk about your organisation, a project you’re involved with, a disease or condition affecting Indigenous peoples, public policy, a review of a book or resource – anything that you feel is relevant, as long as it is related to Indigenous health. Please contact me for more details.

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