What I learned in 2010: Everything is Generative

I know no one is probably reading this blog anymore, but I want to get this down, even if it’s only for myself. The most important lesson I learned about successful, productive freelancing in 2010 was this: everything is generative.

In plain English, that means this: Doing trumps planning. There’s no such thing as wasted work or projects. And whatever you do almost always snowballs into more of the same…whether you like it or not.

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My mind-hack app/reading list

My talk focused mostly on mental habits for productive freelancing, rather than tools, but I do use some great tools — and took inspiration from some great books and blogs. My slide deck mentions some of them, but here are clickable links all in one place.

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SciWri’10 final wrapup

Well, SciWri’10 is done, and I’m heading home. But before I go, I wanted to give those of you who couldn’t attend, or who just wanted to revisit the magic, a complete roundup of links to our session.

First off, PDF versions of our slide decks:

* Amber’s amazing real-world tips for makin’ $$$ [here]

* Jeffrey’s tremendous tools [here]

* John’s mind hacks [here]

* Christopher’s results of our first ever Freelance Science Writers Survey [here]

A slidecast of our session (ie, a podcast synchronized to our slide presentation, ~65 minutes long) can be viewed here.

The NASW travel fellows’ roundup of our session is available here.

And of course, the complete meeting twitter feed (#sciwri10) is available here.

A final thanks to my copanelists, Amber Dance, Christopher Mims, and John Pavlus, for their tremendous effort over the past 10 months or so, as well as to the NASW program committee for giving us the opportunity to share our ideas with our peers. I’m looking forward to seeing you all next year!

In the meantime, let’s not lose the momentum we established in New Haven, and keep the conversation going on Freelancer Hacks.

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Full Video of FreelancerHacks ’10 is Up!

If you missed it, you can watch the whole presentation here.


* Amber’s amazing real-world tips for makin’ $$$

* Jeffrey’s tremendous tools

* John’s mind hacks

* Results of our first ever Freelance Science Writers Survey. PDF of all the slides presented during this segment here.

(More on that once our volunteer statisticians have crunched the data.)

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Thanks for a great session!

I’d just like to thank my fellow hackers for putting together such a great session at ScienceWriters 2010.

When Jeffrey first approached me, I thought, OK, show up and give a talk, no big deal. Had I been thinking about my “productivity,” perhaps I should have thought more about what the project entailed! We worked together throughout the process, putting together this blog, discussing each others’ talks, and of course Christopher put together the great survey. I think this fabulous group dynamic helped us have four talks that complemented each other perfectly while inspiring lots of discussion among the group.

It was a pleasure working with you guys! And thanks to all the attendees who contributed their own questions and tips. I wrote down a few resources I definitely want to check out.

If you missed the session, check out the slidecast: http://www.sciencewriters2010.org/content/podcasts-sciencewriters2010

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Fill out our freelancer survey!

If you’re a freelance science writer, we want to hear from you.

The following survey will only take a few minutes.

Click here to take the freelance science writers survey.

The results, which we’ll reveal on this website and in our ScienceWriters 2010 presentation on Profitable Freelancing, will hopefully afford all of us new insight into how others work and how we might improve.

By the way, we take your privacy very seriously, so this survey is completely anonymous, and the software we’re using – an instance of the open source LimeSurvey – strips all responses of any form of potentially identifying information. In addition, because we’re hosting the survey ourselves, on a machine secured by our sysadmin that is remotely and physically accessible only to him, there’s no chance anyone else will have access to your responses, either. (We don’t even ask for your email address.)

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The power of Freedom

Greetings, Freelancers,

Just a quick post to pass along a new productivity hack, courtesy of friend-of-the-blog and newly crowned co-chair of the NASW Freelance Committee, Siri Carpenter:

I’ve been reading and enjoying your productivity hacks blog. I thought I’d let you know about a productivity hack that I learned about recently and like: the software Freedom, which costs $10. You set it for however many minutes of “freedom” (i.e., from the internet) you want — anything from 15 min to 8 hours. During that time, you can’t go online unless you reboot your computer. I like it a lot, because I find that anytime I’m doing some hard writing, or supposed to be, I have to dedicate a lot of cognitive resources to keeping myself from reading the news or checking email instead. This software removes that cognitive load and allows me to concentrate on what I’ve decided to concentrate on. The other reason I like it is that (unlike with some internet-blocking software) it’s not absolutely impossible to restore your internet access before your time if you really need to. You just need to reboot your computer to do so. For me, that’s a big enough extra step to keep me from being tempted to use it as a cheat.

I haven’t tried Freedom yet, but it is available for both Mac and Windows, and as Siri says, it costs just $10.

Thanks for the tip, Siri, and freelancers, keep ’em coming! It will all make for a more — ahem — productive session on productivity next month in New Haven!

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