Archive for April, 2011

Fight for it!!!

April 25, 2011

Let me ask you something.  Are you tired of being passed up for promotions; or are you part time, and just want to go full time?  The harsh reality is life isn’t always fair, and you always get what you deserve, but you have to look at what is within your power to change, and what isn’t.  In the case of those two questions, there are ways you can make them happen, but you are going to have to fight for it.

One of the things you can do is become versatile.  Be the first to volunteer if another department needs help.  You may not know what you are doing, but more than likely they will train you.  If you apply yourself, listen to what they say, and do the job well, you will be the first person they ask when they need help in the future.  This will have two very positive results.  First, you will learn something new, and that will add to your list of credentials that you might need for a promotion.  Second, it will show your supervisors that you are more than just reliable; but that you are also willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Another thing you can do is adhere to all attendance rules, and when possible, take advantage of opportunities.  What do I mean by attendance rules?    Punch in right at your scheduled time.  If you punch in too early, you may be wandering around looking for something to do, and that just doesn’t look good to any supervisor.  I usually stick to a five minute rule; never more than five minutes early, or late.  As far as breaks are concerned, never punch in early, EVER.  Try to keep your time exact, or if you can’t, try for within three minutes.  This really looks good.  If you can, don’t ever call out sick, unless you really.  Calling out too often will be looked at as indifference to your job, and any sign of indifference can cause your boss to say, “You are the weakest link; bye, bye.”

What I mean by “take advantage of opportunities”, is seize opportunities to show that you want the job, and are willing to do what they need.  If they offer overtime, take it. This will give them the help they need, and give you extra money on the paycheck.  It’s a win/win situation, and you always want to look for those.  If there is any opportunity you don’t want to take, it is the option of leaving early.  When a supervisor says, “Once all the work is done you can cut out early.”  Sometimes they are waiting to see who will stick it out.  Remember, just because you have finished your assigned tasks doesn’t mean there isn’t work that can still be done.  There is always work to do, and if not, you can be trained on something else.

The point is, be reliable, versatile, and seize opportunities when they arise.  This will let your supervisors know you are serious about the job, and are worthy of every chance they give you.

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Give your character zits!!!

April 13, 2011

The thing I’ve always hated about society is that all the rules are superficial, and it’s obvious in the media.  Models, in every magazine, look like they were cut from the same anorexic cookie cutter.  On television, and movies, the performers all look athletic; even the overweight performers. With all this exposure to “perfect” cosmetic appearance, is it any wonder novice, as well as professional writers, have a hard time giving their main characters even a blemish.

In most of the books I’ve read lately, (mostly romance) the writers gave the main characters problems to overcome; and that’s how it should be.  Good stories are about the main character’s reaction, and solution to the problems that come up before reaching their final objective; this is what they call conflict.  The problem in almost all cases is that the protagonist’s physical appearance is either described as “voluptuous beauty”, or “hunk with rippling biceps”, (just examples)   but the point is, they are never given so much as a pimple.

I agree, the way you describe a character should have something to contribute to the story; but to make all your main characters perfect takes away from the “reality” of the story.  In reality, even models have blemishes; they’re just really good at covering them up.

When you are creating your characters, don’t be afraid to throw in an occasional wart, or give her acne rosacea.  By giving your characters some physical imperfections, you not only add more internal conflict; you also make your characters more believable and sympathetic.  Believe it, or not, readers like to identify with characters who are more like themselves. 

At this point you may be thinking, “but people read to escape reality.”  That is a valid point, but that goal should be achieved by helping the character overcome insurmountable odds in amazing ways; not by making your character physically perfect.  Giving them imperfections can have a truly positive impact on the human side of the story.  If a man saves seven people from a burning building, which do you think would add more emotion to the story?  If the man was a marathon runner, in perfect shape; or if he had only one arm and was blind in one eye.

Not only does it make the character more identifiable, emotionally; it can also make the way they overcome the odds much more amazing.  If you are working on a story that seems emotionally flat, and you haven’t given your characters any physical flaws, try writing it with an imperfect main character, and see where the story goes from there.

Rock the boat!!!

April 6, 2011

Are you in a rut?  Does your family always tell you to show up two hours early to holiday dinners, because you are always 2 hours late? (Your only excuse was you forgot to clean the kitchen for the third time that day.)  Having a routine is a good thing.  It gives us structure, and discipline, and there is nothing wrong with either one of those.  The thing to remember about routine is it is to be mastered; it should not master you. 

I’ve watched people who are stuck to their routine, to the exclusion of everything else; or everyone else.  The problem is, when you live by a routine, that you are also leaving very little room for creativity.  Routines are predictable, and I suppose that makes them safe; but creativity is highly unpredictable, and sporadic.  This is very evident in the creative arts.  Sometimes inspiration hits in the middle of the night, and other times, in the middle of the day.

Creativity requires flexibility in your schedule.  Steven Covey touched on this in his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”   Basically, he talked about having a list of tasks you need to accomplish, and prioritizing the tasks; you do the most urgent first, then the second, and so on.  Don’t procrastinate, but don’t bind them to a specific time either.  Just remind yourself they have to be done, and the sooner the better.  In time, you will begin to see time opening up, to allow for more creative pursuits. 

I realize humans are creatures of habit, and we all have our little obsessions, but sometimes you have to retrain your mind to loosen up, and remind yourself that your time, and creativity are two things you can have total control over.  No one can take that from you; even though it seems they try.

Here’s something you can do.  If you are having trouble coming up with a solution to a problem, try to throw a monkey wrench in your routine. Take a look at those things you do the same each time, and reverse it. (if you are able to)  At times this solves the problem, and other times it doesn’t; but if it may work, isn’t it worth the attempt?