career

21 questions to help you find your life work

It can be very difficult to find your best career/job – here are 21 questions I’ve put together as a warm up.  They’re positive and imaginative to do.  Why not take some time, get comfy and answer them, see what emerges?

Disclaimer: Right up front, let me say I don’t have professional training in careers, these are just some simple queries to get you started thinking broadly.  There are excellent professional books and advisors out there, do invest in them.  

All you need for these questions is space to think and answer, and some way of writing down your answers as you go.  Please don’t read all the questions before starting them – just start with number one and complete each one before reading the next.  I’ve deliberately left spacing between each question, so everything isn’t crammed together.  Don’t rush it, they involve imagining and this can be fun to do.  At the end of the questions, there isn’t a magical sentence of exactly what career you should follow, but the process should give you clues to check out.

eau de parfum

Know thyself” is very wise advice, but sometimes not easy to do.  Fortunately, our lives have traces in them of our passions and interests, and that’s where we can start.  Here beginneth the questions:

 

1.  Think through the friends you’ve known in your life – who were most interesting to you?  why? (remember to take your time and write answers down before moving on to next question)

 

2.   If you were to appear on a TV quiz show, what subjects would you hope for questions on?

 

3.   Go to your internet device and look up the browser and what you’ve bookmarked – which subjects have you bookmarked heavily?

 

 

4.   Of all the ways you’ve helped people, which ways have people repeatedly said were most helpful?  How are you repeatedly asked to contribute, by other people?

 

 

5.   Go to your bookshelves/media stores – if you could only take 10 influential books or movies with you on your next house move, which would they be? (this list can include other books/movies which have influenced you, but which you don’t currently have)

 

 

september 9, 2019 - 2-00 pm - findlay residence

 

7.   When you walk into a bookshop or look at a collection of videos, which subject area do you go to, first?  fiction?  non-fiction?  biography?  science?  art?  general knowledge?  maps?…..

 

 

8.   Apart from sight, which sense is most important/enjoyable to you?  touch?  taste?  hearing?

 

 

9.   Which magazines do you tend to buy?  (even if you only buy them occasionally)

 

 

10.   If you were given unlimited funds and couldn’t fail, what 4 projects would you want to do.

blah blah blah blah blah

 

 

11.   You have been asked to represent your country in a speak-as-long-as-you-can contest, starting now.  What is your chosen topic?

 (apart from family members and friends)

 

 

 

12.   Looking back over your life, what do you regard as your biggest achievements, so far?

 

 

13.  In your biggest achievements, what did you overcome?  (Could you help others do the same?)

 

 

14.   You have a free day off work, all expenses paid, unlimited budget, what would you do?

 

 

15.   You have a free day off work, with just the money in your purse, what would you do?

 

 

16.   Who are your heroes?  (people you’ve read about and watch TV programmes on, when you get the chance)

 

 

17.   Do any of your friends have a job you’d like?  could you do it?

 

 

18.  Imagine yourself at your own, happy retirement.  Who are your colleagues in the room and what are they saying about you?

 

 

19.   Do you feel a calling to do something – no matter how nonsensical it may seem to your current life – what is it?

 

Feedback/Answers

Look back over what you have written, are there answers you felt most passionately about?  You should spot themes recurring.  Note which is strongest and which repeats most often.  Some of the themes will have to do with convictions and values, such as environmental, social, faith, political – but these may well have a bearing on what areas you have the vision to work in.  You now turn detective to look at the clues in your answers – what life work can you find them combined in?  Or are there several separate career calls indicated?

 

20.   Try on the hat.   Looking at what your answers highlight is your strongest theme/area of interest, Imagine yourself working in that area.  What are you doing?

 

Because life isn’t simple, you may feel  “I can’t pick between two or three areas”.  You could try on the hat for each of them, separately – which fits best?  or can they be combined in one job?

 

Checkup – because life work is more than a quick project, you need a longer perspective than a snapshot.  Ask a trusted friend who has known you more than 10 years – “What am I best at doing?”  Listen carefully for clues, bearing in mind that they may skew their answer to what they value themselves – they have their own natural bias.

 

21.  Finally – and I heard of this exercise from someone else but can’t remember who, so can’t credit them – imagine you are in a very large airport waiting room.  You have a lot of extra time.  Everyone is congregated in groups, talking about different areas they work in.  Imagine going to several groups – what are they talking about?  Then choose the group you want to be with.  What is it about?

Advertisements

Poet as job

So – you like writing poetry – but how can you make it into more like a paying job?

Here’s a short article by Anthony Anaxagorou.  It describes how he gradually moved from a shy 27 year old writer who printed his poems and made Youtube clips of himself reading his poems….. gradual interest led to poetry teaching work in 3 London schools….

(more…)

14 tips for new TV comedy/drama writers

IMG_2885.JPG

The tone of this seminar at Xponorth2017 was very positive – some advice specifically for Scotland but generally useful for UK writers.

IMG_2887.JPG

Advice….

Main advice for new writers:

  1. Look at the website BBC Writersroom for writing opportunities in BBC but also theatres
  2. When there’s an open call for submissions, send in your scripts.
  3. Keep sending them your work so they get a sense of your writing style and you are on their database for future reference
  4. Easier to be a writer/performer (you already have your own audience)
  5. If you get your writing onto podcasts or youtube videos or theatre or radio – it will be spotted by these TV producers
  6. “The Break” is a great opportunity for new writers with no writing record
  7. If you want to write for River City get to know the show and its twenty-odd characters so you can write quickly and appropriately for them
  8. Write a sample script of an hour’s length – but make the first 10 pages fantastic – as these are definitely read
  9. make and send videos to the BBC Social programme
  10. find out the names of producers of TV programmes you like and try to contact them (they’re always looking for new content)
  11. an upcoming script editor is a great person to show work to, as they will champion you as a writer if they like your work (there was an example given where this got a writer noticed)
  12. be prepared to begin work in children or continuing drama (e.g. River city) as starting points, learning to write drama – many wellknown writers started out that way
  13. even tiny bits of experience on your c.v. (e.g sold a comedy sketch) will count towards getting you noticed
  14. the BBC Writersroom website has tons of resources – video interviews with writers, blogs, a script library with examples of layout – do use itIMG_2890.JPG(Lto R: Audrey, Keiran, Rab, Angela)

What are the BBC looking for in a new writer?

  • characters seem full and engaging
  • characters are fresh
  • you can write domestic (ie the ordinary) scenes well and make them exciting
  • a unique voice in the writer
  • you can write a full-length script for 30 mins drama
  • clear story
  • not derivative, something original
  • the reader instantly feels s/he cares about the characters

3 new major opportunities for Scotland-based writers:

  1. from October, the Writersroom based in England changed to have separate writersroom in the regions – so more local knowledge and chance to become known
  2. there is an upcoming new TV channel, BBC Scotland, which will need more content (begins broadcasting Autumn 2018) more on this at http://bbc.in/2m70MPf
  3. there is a new scheme coming up in August for 4 writers to become Shadow Writers for River City (ie be given the same brief as the professional writers, and given a chance to do the same work, in a separate stream).

 

(notes from a panel discussion at #Xponorth2017 in June 2017)

 

Become a Designer right NOW

 

“You don’t need equipment, you don’t need a salary, you don’t need a lot of money, you don’t need a fancy assignment you don’t need anything – all you need is your curiosity and your optimism and you can start being a designer this minute.

Michael Beirut, Pentagram Design Partner

This 6 minute video will give more of an idea of the satisfaction of seeing your design at work, being useful in an urban environment (New York).

Get past the fear block to freedom (20 mins)

“Fear and envy will keep you on the sidelines”

 

This is an extraordinary video: 20 minutes of a woman talking about her paralysing fear of public speaking – while doing it.  Honest.  Encouraging.  She’s speaking to a roomful of creative people, at the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) conference, 2015.  Then there’s 10 minutes of questions with the conference moderator, Roman Mars, who is also very engaging.

“If we don’t risk, we don’t get anywhere.  Fear of risk is terrible.”

“Vulnerability is where creativity lives – and I think it’s where we practice our best bravery.”

Her fear of public speaking was such that, given a leadership development course which involved a 2 minute speaking presentation to 46 senior executives, she seriously considered giving up the job which she loved and had practiced for 16 years.  (She works at Capitol Radio, on visuals and direct print campaigns for new singers and has collaborated with Gwen Stefani, 50 cent, Annie Lennox, Beck, Katy Perry.)
However, she realized that her paralysing fear was truly holding her back, and that she (more…)

Comedy writing – ways in (UK)

When you aspire to be a writer, the person you really want to hear from, is someone who has been in your shoes, but managed to strong-arm open the door of opportunity and is now paid to do what you’d love to do.  (Although I suppose it would also be fun to hear from a producer who loves your work and wants to commission a series)

Gemma Arrowsmith sends this (hardwon) report back from the land of opportunity.  This recent sketch by her got onto the Tracey Ullmann show, went viral and has been spotted by your truly on Farcebook.

“The opportunity to write for Tracey Ullman didn’t happen overnight, however. I’ve been writing sketches since I was at drama school.

(more…)