Tag Archives: career

Find A New Dream

by Diane Holmes, (a) Chief Alchemist of Pitch University, (b) lover of learning, and (c) writer of fiction, non-fiction, and the occasional manifesto.

dream bigYour dream is about writing.  I already know that.  But what I want to know is if you’re living your big writing dream today? 

Because I’m not.

And, in a way, I’m farther away than ever.

(How in the world 20 years of hard work can lead you farther away, I have no idea!  But reality is like that.  It’s illogical and ill-behaved and apt to squash your hopes and dreams.)

Now, some of you are getting close to your dreams, so this article won’t help much.  But if you have worked hard every waking moment and still aren’t “there,” then this article might help you ask The Big Questions.

Should I let go of my dream?

Should I stop giving it CPR?

Should I find a new dream to dream?

The more you fear these questions, the more important it is to ask them.

And yes, your new dream can be a new writing dream. Or not.  I’m not imposing rules on your dreaming.  Not my job.  But basically you have all of reality to play with, so don’t panic.

The Importance of Today

In all my years of hard work and dreaming, what have I been doing?  I’ve been clawing my way toward a future goal.  The Dream.

I thought that was how it was done.  Everyone said so.  You set your sights on a big dream and then you don’t give up.  You use your fingernails if you have to, as you dig in and keep going. 

But now, I’m not so sure.

  • What about all the todays on the way to your dream? 
  • What if you don’t reach your big dream, ever? 
  • What if your fingernails break before you get there? 
  • Does that mean you have no dream to live, because you never made it to your dream location?

What if the future is today?  How would that change things?

The folks over at The One Question put it this way:

“…to find your life purpose you have to live your life purpose. You can start living your life purpose immediately.”

If you don’t live your purpose (or your dream), then you’ll never find it.  And if not today, then when?

Just For Today

Instead of a big dream, I wonder if the key isn’t found in what you dream just for today?

What you live for today

Maybe all you have to do is find your dream for today.  Or as John December says:

Find a way to gain some aspects of your dream today.

The pieces of the dream ARE the dream, just smaller.  To ignore these small pieces is to miss the whole point of having a dream.

Gain your dream, piece by piece.

Own your dream, today by today.

By owning a piece of your dream today, you are eliminating the space between you and your dream.  In fact, you and your dream are one.

Dreamer and dream.

Now Back To The Big Questions

Is it time for a new dream?

It really comes down to today, doesn’t it?

Do the small pieces of your dream create a wonderful today?

That’s the one question this whole article comes down to.

Until you can answer this question, you can’t ask any of the others. 

How can you know if you should let go of your dream–if you should stop giving it CPR–unless you ask yourself about the reality of how you live your dream.  Or how you don’t.

After all, if your dream doesn’t even exist until some dim future, then what are you planning on letting go of?  Something that never existed?

And what about if you decide to let go?

There are so many, many changes you can make to your dream and how you experience it.  And beyond that there are a multitude of dreams you can call your own.

You’re the dreamer.  It’s your call.

It’s okay to make a change.  It really, really is.  And it’s okay to keep your dream exactly the same.

I just wish we talked about the small pieces more.  The day-to-day tasks.  the way we tried to move forward.  About how we see these small pieces as “living the writing dream.” 

I think we might be a lot happier with a dream we live just for today.  A dream we can touch.  A dream that makes us… US.

clip_image004Diane writes two alternating columns for Freelance-Zone:Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery and Marketing-Zone:Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Book.

Top 10 Ways To Tell If You’re Creative

by Diane Holmes, (a) Chief Alchemist of Pitch University, (b) lover of learning, and (c) writer of fiction, non-fiction, and the occasional manifesto.

Creative Child Hands

10. See a problem, brainstorm solutions.

You can’t help yourself.  It give you happy feet.

9. See the box, play outside of it.

Color the box.  Take an object from inside the box on a little trip outside the box.  Remove the box altogether. Cut box up into little pieces to see if they make something better.

They do.

8. Every word has a certain feeling to it.

You want to explain how valuable this is.  Sometimes you even try.  But ultimately it takes a Jedi to feel the Force.

7.  Mental leaps.  Take them you will.

Yet each looks totally logical, practical, and the speed of all worthwhile thought.  Everything else is slow and painful.

6. Stories are essential to mankind.

Good news:  everything is a story.  (Or would be if you ran the world.)

5. Real life can always be made more meaningful.

Especially when seen through the lens of fiction.  Also non-fiction and limericks.

4. Creative people can be fearless and full of fear at the very same time.

Certainty and uncertainty.  High gear and the emergency brake.  When people say you should create a balanced life, you think this is exactly what they mean.

3. The moments when we’re brilliant make everything else worthwhile.

You don’t even need very many of them. You can go for months on the fumes of one moment of creative genius.  Imagine what you could do with two?

2. Compliments are currency.

A fan letter is like an Oscar.  They like us!  They really like us!


1. Epic idea = writing crack.

It’s your biggest superpower.  The thing from which everything else flows.  And this feels normal to you.  Totally, 100% normal.

Ordinary, really.  Like a wheat bran muffin, ordinary.  Except it’s made of sparkles and travels mach10 around 25 billion brain cells, in a world made of only your favorite colors. (Except the bran muffin is really chocolate.  But you knew that.)

After all, in an ordinary day, there’s always enough time for your mind to be blown.

And THAT’S how you can tell if you’re creative.

clip_image004Diane writes two alternating columns for Freelance-Zone:Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery and Marketing-Zone:Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Book.

WRITERS: 8 Amazing University Classes You Can Take For Free

by Diane Holmes, (a) Chief Alchemist of Pitch University, (b) lover of learning, and (c) writer of fiction, non-fiction, and the occasional manifesto.

As our very own Joe Wallace begins his Recording Arts For Film program at Tribeca Flashpoint Media Academy in Chicago,

  • I celebrate his multi-tasking insanity and
  • I seize the opportunity to take Free, WORLD-CLASS, (online) University classes, through the innovative site Coursera.

Take a look at these 8 classes to power-up your BUSINESS and WRITING.

Set Your Words On Fire

#1 Modern & Contemporary American Poetry

Al Filreis, University of Pennsylvania

This course is a fast-paced introduction to modern and contemporary U.S. poetry, from Dickinson and Whitman to the present. Participants (who need no prior experience with poetry) will learn how to read poems that are supposedly “difficult.”

Next session: 10 September 2012 (10 weeks long)
Workload: 5-8 hours/ week

About the Instructor:

Al Filreis is Kelly Professor; founder, and faculty director of the Kelly Writers House; director of the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing; co-director (with Charles Bernstein) of PennSound; and publisher of Jacket2 — all at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has been teaching since 1985.

Among his books: Counter-Revolution of the Word: The Conservative Attack on Modern Poetry, 1945-60; Wallace Stevens and the Actual World; and Modernism from Right to Left.

He has also (with Beverly Coyle) edited the letters of José Rodríguez-Feo and Wallace Stevens (Secretaries of the Moon), and has edited and introduced a new edition of Ira Wolfert’s Tucker’s People. He hosts an ongoing podcast series,PoemTalk, a collaboration of the Kelly Writers House, PennSound, and the Poetry Foundation. He is currently working on a book about poetry and poetics in 1960.

He has won every major teaching award given to faculty at Penn, and in 1999-2000 he was chosen as the Pennsylvania Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation.

Write With the Power of Myth

#2 Greek and Roman Mythology

Peter Struck, University of Pennsylvania Continue reading WRITERS: 8 Amazing University Classes You Can Take For Free

Freelance Burnout, I Gots It.

by Diane Holmes, Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Book, founder of Pitch University.

paycheckThe Reality of The Dream.

DISCLAIMER:  If you’re still “super excited” about your writing, and know you’ll be “one of the best-known writers in the world,” skip this post.

You’re still living the dream.

Everyone else, follow me.

When you decided to become a writer…

… exactly how many YEARS did you expect to WORK 80-HOUR WEEKS (or on your 12-day vacation, like Jake Poinier )?

… how regularly did you expect to get REJECTED?

… did you think you’d BE MAKING LESS than your first corporate job out of college?

… did you picture yourself, years later, STILL being offered a LOWER RATE than you’re worth (see Joe Wallace’s article on negotiating your rates) , or having to explain, yet again, why your writing HAS VALUE?

…did you think of your DREAM as “that lovely source of UNRELIABLE INCOME?” (as Catherine Tully says in “Don’t quit your day job.”

But the heart wants what the heart wants.

And it wants to write.

dead cupid

Years later, when you’re a better writer than you’ve ever been, how do you deal with the realities of your writing career?

Seriously, shoot me now.

Is it that you’re still having so much fun that the rest pales in comparison?

What do you do when the fun has flatlined?  What do you do with reality when you’re burned out by it?

Burnout Resources

1) This HELPGUIDE is one of the better articles on the nature of burnout.

2) The Four Stages of Burnout.

3) Interesting definition of Workaholism vs. Work  Engagement.

4) Megan Hills’ excellent blog explores Burnout. As Megan says, “Burnout is the new black.”

Diane Holmes Crop 1Diane writes two columns for Freelance-Zone: Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery and Marketing-Zone:Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Book.

She’s the Founder and Chief Alchemist of Pitch University

Part 3: The 8 Things Writers Should Do to Influence Readers (and Make a Sale)

Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery by Diane Holmes, Chief Alchemist of Pitch University


You have 2 clever tools to Svengali readers and potential clients. “Come to me… come read my writing…”

Your Writing + You = Career

Turns out both you and your writing are alluring.  Oh, baby, oh, baby.

But in order for you to be seen as alluring, you need to be able to let your passion for your writing show, and that, it turns out, is quite a difficult skill for many of us.

Do you know the art of communicating Passion…

…and inviting your potential customer to share it with you?

yes no head

(And why are we all bald in this little quiz?  Just go with it.)

This is PART THREE in a series where we look at the 8 ways you share your passion with your  potential clients/readers.

And now, the last 3 languages of influence (aka passion).

#6 Connection.

Learn to speak about your connection to the people around you, to causes, and to the world… not just to your writing.  Nothing is more alluring than someone who actually likes people.

People do make the best readers.

#7 Shared Vision.

Be your own cause, your own revolution by sharing the vision you have for “how things work” or, at least, how they could work.

See the hope that doesn’t exist yet.  See problems and solutions in a new way.  Writers have a unique way of building a universe in their head.  Sometimes the only thing that people lack is the ability to see things in a new way.

Share your mind, your vision, your practical knowledge with others.

And yes, something that relates to your writing is good.

But even if it’s not related to your writing, be interesting.  Have an interesting mind.  Look for the points of “new thought” that overlap between you and others.

Those points of overlap are sparks.

#8  The Hold-Your-Breath Moment of Magic.

Much of our best life experiences are being in the right place at the right time.  If you’ve ever been brilliant in the wrong time or place, you know what I mean.  It goes nowhere.  You’re passed over, roughshod, and left like roadkill on the side of life’s highway.

And as much as this is true, the best of life is also how you see all those wrong places and times, how you see the highway and the tread marks that cover your body.

Look for these magic moments.  Seize them.  Relate them to others.  Invite your readers along.

This is the stuff readers want to hear about in author interviews:  the magic of the world and of how you see it.

We live a lot of normal in our everyday life.  But we celebrate the WOW that wakes us up, inspires us, shows us who we can be, or just lets us know that that being alive is wow in itself.

Here’s a teacher, speaker, and ultimately an author who gave us all a WOW moment. May you find your own wow moments and share them with the world, or just a single reader.

Let’s get out of so much normal and have more wow.

clip_image004Diane writes two alternating columns for Freelance-Zone:Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery and Marketing-Zone:Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Book.

Part 2: The 8 Things Writers Should Do to Influence Readers (and Make a Sale)

Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery by Diane Holmes, Chief Alchemist of Pitch University

WARNING: I’m in the middle of shaking you up, baby.   Okay, now read on.

A purchase is a one-time exchange. But demand is what creates a career.


So your job is to create that demand, that interest, that desire for what you offer.

Certainly the quality of your work can create a demand.

We writers love to rely on that, because it’s what we care about: our writing.  Plus it’s passive which is so much less effort.  Write, send it into the world, let the writing speak for itself.  Wait to be recognized.

What we hope:

Readers (clients) will be so inspired by our quality, they’ll make it their mission to demand more.  Well know about this mission because they’ll spontaneously call us just to rave.  Thank goodness they’re not distracted by their own lives.

Might be good to ask how can WE, also, create a demand.  What is our power in influencing readers? ( Us, not our marketing materials, not our business cards and tag lines.  You and me.)

But why????

Because not everyone will have read your past writing.    These people–who could easily be your future audience, buy your products, champion your skills–won’t know your sentences are pure glory.

But if they meet you, speak with you, they could become the people who demand your work, even though they HAVEN’T read it.

Now that’s the power of demand.

As I said in Part 1, when you speak, nothing influences demand better than the 8 languages of passion.

Read Part 1 HERE.

We’ve already covered the language of Mastery, Excitement, Heart, and Confidence.  Onward now to the final 4 ways you represent your passion.

5) Extraordinariness.

We all want to think we and our writing are special, are unique.  But we’re usually talking about being special and unique in the same way as everyone else is. 😉

(That’s especially true if the specialness is a product of a marketing exercise where you have to write down something that everyone will agree is a mighty-fine quality.  It’s always too generic.  Too fake.  Too  filled with hype.

So what we think of as special and unique is Not. Good. Enough.

What I’m talking about instead is the crossroads where “blow your mind” and greatness meet up.

You’ve heard of a delight factor, right?  Well, I’m  talking about a delight factor that is authentic to you and inspires that wow feeling in others.

And yeah, you might not be aware of your own delight factor unless someone else points it out..

So go figure it out.  Then learn to include what delights you and others, what makes you extraordinary, in conversations.

No, not with an agenda.  That ruins everything, doesn’t it?  In an authentic way, because how can you NOT talk about the thing that captivates you the most?  How can you look forward to having a conversation about something that delights the folks you talk with?

Imagine writing for Groupon and not sharing how much you enjoy writing crazy things like : “The hamburger is an edible American icon, much like coleslaw made with shredded Norman Rockwell paintings.”

The Groupon voice is the writer’s and the reader’s delight factor!  It’s what makes a job writing coupon ads extraordinary.

Here’s an interview with Markus Zusak, the author of The Book Thief,  He talks about his choice to make Death the narrator, and about his breakthrough thought, “What if Death was afraid of us? What if Death was haunted by humans?”

It’s an extraordinarily special approach to an award-winning novel, and he talks about it in the most ordinary way.  Such a good example about how you do this.

Imagine if he hadn’t mentioned it at all?

What a missed opportunity that would’ve been to create a demand for his novel in the very people most likely to appreciate what he, himself found extraordinarily captivating.


clip_image004Diane writes two alternating columns for Freelance-Zone:Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery and Marketing-Zone:Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Book.