No More Half-Measures

If you’re going to invest your time into something that you really want to do, do it with full force. No more half measures.

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Break out the tools and get started

Many people are guilty of this. Heck, I’m guilty of it. You want to pursue something but you’re so worried in the process of doing it that you don’t give it your all. You’re so caught up in hanging out with friends, looking busy, and focusing on menial things that you never get around to actually doing the thing you want to do.

Let’s say you want to keep a blog. You write a few posts but you never really promote it or comment on other blogs to build an audience. Writing a book may be on your bucket list. Although you never get around to doing it. The common excuse for putting it off is “Oh, I don’t have any time.”

Is there a reason for this? Why do people give an okay performance to something they’re passionate about doing? Why do people put off something they’re passionate about doing?

Example time. During NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November, a lot of people talk about writing a novel. They start, get 5,000 or 15,000 words, then stop. They don’t intentionally stop. It just sort of happens. They’re self critic is so loud, it drowns out the voice that got them starting in the first place.

I was guilty of this for so long as I wrote my novel. I would be writing, get a lot done, then think “Oh, this is crap, why am I doing this?” or “People have already written a book similar to this, so why am I even trying?”.

Last year I discovered a year-long project a recent college graduate was doing called A Year of Productivity. I loved the site because of how much he put into it. Productivity experiments have been doing countless times by people, yet the content he provided on his site was so refreshing. You know why? Because he was putting his perspective on it, looking at the subject from a new light, and most importantly, putting his own voice into the website.

This year I read a book called The Quarter Life Breakthough. It discusses the topic of millennials who might be having a quarter-life crisis and are on the search for meaningful work. The content of the book was thought-provoking and made me question the priorities I have in life. I loved the discussion points the author made and the exercises he gave.

In the book the author points out how he doubted writing the book because others told him “it’s already been written about a million times”. He didn’t give in to their opinions and continued writing. Since it’s release, the book has been pre-ordered in 38 countries and been featured on Fast Company, Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Under 30 CEO, and The Washington Post. He’s been speaking on various college campuses and bookstores across the country.

If he had given into what people said about how the type of book had “already been written a million times” then none of the press and coverage would have happened. If you have something you’re really passionate about starting and doing, do it, and don’t give in to the noise of others. Don’t stop because of the outcome people might predict you will have.

Also, if you’re keen on doing something, then try to do it whenever you have free time. If you want to play guitar, learn how to do photography, knitting, riding a unicycle, or whatever, then invest as much time as you can into doing it. You see, many people that are crazy passionate about doing something don’t read a ton of productivity articles, or schedule exactly 30 minutes to their passion project. They work on it as much as they can.

Ksenia Anske, a self-published author, finished a draft of her new book Corners in 20 days (20 days!!). That’s dedication. Now you don’t need to do exactly what she did, but understand her work ethic.

breaking-branding-22-638If you’re going to start on something, do it with full force. If you only put a fraction of your dedication into it, people will notice. No more half-measures. Mike Ehrmantraut (from TV show Breaking Bad) would agree. Now go forth and invest large in what you want to do. A few things to get you going:

—Next time you procrastinate and put off what you’re thinking about doing, write a journal to yourself. In the journal, write about why you decided not to get started, what you can do better, and what you plan to do to improve.

—I’ve seen this is in a post by The Muse, ask yourself these six questions everyday:

  1. Did I work towards my goals today?
  2. What bad habits do I need to stop?
  3. What motivated me today?
  4. Have I been the kind of person I want to be?
  5. What mistakes did I make today, and what can I learn from them?
  6. What am I grateful for today? (three things)

Your answers to the questions doing have to be super long, they can just be two or three sentences. The point is to do it so you become more aware of yourself and the time you use. Now get started on the the think you want to do!



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15 Stages of Writing a Novel {DONE}

1. Getting a genius idea for a novel

anigif_enhanced-21780-1412910809-13You’re so happy about it and you want to tell everyone.

2. The first few thousand words are a breeze.

anigif_enhanced-buzz-3360-1387916722-9This is so great! I’m writing a novel. My idea, characters are so perfect. No one has ever thought of this! Since I have an idea I’m so passionate about, writing this novel is not going to be so hard…

3. You hit a stump and decide to just think about the novel for a while


I’ll just wait for some inspiration to write. It will come to me.

4. You don’t have any inspiration and can’t figure out what to write

anigif_enhanced-29877-1413046081-45. You finally get back into the writing groove

anigif_enhanced-32428-1413045238-11You got this. The idea is still there. Things are coming along. Getting the novel finished will be easy.

6. When friends and family ask “So what’s your novel about?”

anigif_enhanced-buzz-14584-1412898231-237. You’re trying, really trying, to finish the thing but new book ideas keep popping into your head

anigif_enhanced-buzz-23249-1412914210-16This idea is genius…and this idea…and this one too. The only problem?

8. Getting so frustrated, you wish you could just be Kendall and Kylie Jenner and have someone else write “your” book and you put your name on it

Kendall-and-Kylie-Jenner-How-Much-of-Their-Book-Did-They-Write-650x471I mean it counts as your book even though a “co-writer” did all the work, right?

9. You find other quirky writer friends along the way

anigif_enhanced-buzz-1946-1412920766-24They read entire novels in five hours like you. They are struggling to finish a novel just like you. They’re perfect.

10. Although youre still struggling to finish writing

anigif_enhanced-2377-1410976180-911. Various people and obligations start to creep into your writing time

anigif_enhanced-buzz-15997-1387916979-5 Friends want to hang out, and hang out some more. You’re boyfriend/girlfriend wants to spend more time with you. You need to pick something up for someone, have work obligations, etc. etc. etc. RIP writing time.

12. After a while though, you finally get to finishing the first draft


13. You celebrate

anigif_enhanced-29745-1413050393-2All of those people that said you couldn’t write a novel? Yeah, they can keep quiet now.

14. Coming back and reading over the first draft is cringe-inducing


It reads like something from the horror genre with the amount of cliché sentences, descriptions, and plot holes.

15. And you realize you now have to revise…and get it proofread…and formatted…and write a book blurb…and get a cover designed…and get ISBN’s and copyrights…and have people read and review the ARC’s…


Book promotion: Stop trying so hard


Writing a book…is hard. You go through the happy, yet incredibly draining, experience of churning out the work. Then you manage to round up an editor, go through edits, get a cover designed, formatted, and (ah ha!) finally published.

Then it sort of goes nowhere.

Okay, maybe not nowhere. A good pile of reviews come in, book bloggers review the book, you do a blog tour, family and friends buy the book. After a few weeks or months of the promotion, where do you go?

You didn’t write the book for the money, although you would very much appreciate if people bought the book because then you could cover all the costs you went through to get editing, design, and formatting done.

Marketing your novel doesn’t have to be a draining experience. Sometimes, just maybe, the thing you need to do most of all is…very little at all.

I take it you have never heard of the web series High MaitenanceThe show revolves around the people a weed dealer interacts with as he delivers weed to customers around New York City (interesting, right?).

Well, there is insight to be learned from the makers behind High Maintenance. They did hardly any promotion at all for the series.

They sent out the first few episodes of the series to friends, family, and acquaintances…and that was it. They didn’t constantly pester bloggers to review their series, pitch to places, and so forth. The end result of their minimalist promotion? High Maintenance developed a cult following.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Not all people that do little to zero promotion for their products end up hitting it big. In fact, doing little promotion can be super risky.

Investing tons of your time to marketing your novel (when you should be writing) is another risk you take.

Well, there are some things you can do to help cut down on the time-consuming task of marketing your book and spend it on writing your next book.

Get people to sign up for your author newsletter

People who are subscribed to your author newsletter are around 25X more likely to buy your book than some random blogger you encountered or a Twitter follower you got.

If you don’t have an author newsletter, get one. Services like MailChimp help deliver the newsletter to potential subscribers.

Reach out to other people

Ksenia Anske, author of Siren Suicides, posts her word count for the day on Twitter. She responds to things people ask her. Best yet, she compliments other people on their work.

Talk about your writing process (no, really)

Okay seriously, don’t be another one of those people that posts pictures of your perfectly placed laptop along with a Starbucks cup. Show the actual process of your writing (and include visuals!).

Ksenia Anske posts on her blog about her writing process, how she is coming along, and so forth. She shows her writing process even when it is not so glamourous. People like a raw human element to things. 

When people see you at your rawest self, they have the ability to empathize and connect with you more. These are the types of people that buy your books.

Think of cool, subtle promotional techniques you can do for your book

You know that author newsletter you send out to people? What if had first few chapters of your work in progress in one of the newsletters. Send the first few chapters of your novel out, one by one, for free. Hugh Howey, author of the Wool series, did this at first. His books took off in popularity, partly due to it.

Ksenia Anske gives her books away for free, letting readers download files from the drafts of her novels. This in turn, gets her readers pumped up for the final version of the book.


Marketing a novel is hard work. Don’t let it consume your time and keep you from writing more. The purpose of your marketing should be on building a community around your books rather than just getting people to buy it.



  • This can be risky considering most self-published authors make less than $500 per year.


Never Settle, Keep Moving Forward

nQZcA7PRTyuduZPSZQ88_wanderlustWith New Year’s resolutions crossing people’s minds, and the everyday grind of work, it can be easy to feel stifled, unmotivated and wanting to be lazy. Don’t fret. Below you’ll find some awesome things to read and to use. Keep churning on!

Praytell Strategy: Never Settle 

Earlier this year, I got in contact with a startup “new school” public relations agency, Praytell Strategy. Aside from them having a freaking amazing site (I thought it was Squarespace, I thought wrong) they also have a great company blog.

One of the blog posts from earlier in the year could be super relatable to writers everywhere (even though it wasn’t even about writers). The agency’s founder, Andy Pray, goes through a rough time while drafting content for a social contest.

The post reminds me of when I was working on the first draft of my novel. Filled with doubt and an extreme critical eye, I would always not last more than thirty minutes or so of continuous writing time before getting frustrated and going on the internet, getting food, and so forth.

So what should you do as you’re trudging through writing and your self-critic won’t shut up as you try to reach your word count?

Keep going

Many times you have to go through the clutter to get the prize. If your writing isn’t working and you feel like throwing in the towel, don’t. Habits take time to build.Sometimes the grand idea is right around the corner.

Go on and read Praytell’s blog post on never settling. It’s short, to the point, and will get you thinking and ready to move.

Weekend Reading List: Jan. 16


Another weekend reading list edition for you. This week’s stories vary from Jessica Alba starting and eventually having a billion dollar company, Mark Duplass’ filmmaking process, character development in film, and the battle of fighting from being underpaid.


Image by Edan Cohen of Unsplash

Stop acting polished

UJO0jYLtRte4qpyA37Xu_9X6A7388 (1) Your workspace isn’t that clean,

You don’t dress like that all the time.

You can’t possibly drink Starbucks everyday.

Sound familiar? Well anyone who takes the daily scroll through social media might know what I’m talking about. People who act like their lives are put together and stunning. Instagram is a prime example. Nearly all of a person’s photos are clean and polished with good contrast, lighting, posture, and overall picture quality.

Really? Is that how your life is?

I thought I was crazy for being the only one thinking this until one of my friends brought it up as well. She was scrolling through Instagram and made a scrunchy face as she saw some particular users post the same type of photos over and over. It may involve the same background, object, selfie, and so forth.

Is it wrong or bad they’re doing this? No. The problem is that it doesn’t let them be as authentic to their users as they could be. The point of this post is not to bully and point a finger at people, the point is to be authentic, be yourself.

Just because other bloggers, entrepreneurs, working professionals, etc. post coffee pictures doesn’t mean you have to. Just because they post about pictures of their boots and how ready for the fall season doesn’t mean you have to.

Be yourself, share what’s going on in your life, not what you think you should be posting.

If you have a hobby, share it. If there is some quirky anecdote you want to share, share it.

Post and share on social media that showcases you, not content and/or an image you think you should have because of others.

 Polished image away

 your authentic self shines now

show you, show true, always


Me (2nd from left) coding this past year on my first site!
Me (2nd from left) coding this past year on my first site!

Photo by: Joshua Earle

Weekend Reading List: Dec. 18

photo-1416862291207-4ca732144d83 (1)

There is a lot that goes on in the week. Christmas shopping is reaching the final countdown and the new Annie movie is coming out on Friday (anyone seeing it?).

In the weekend immediately following my college graduation, I read several articles online. I’ve rounded them up and provide some commentary on why they’re great. Behold the weekend reading list:

  1. 5 ways to motivate yourself to do anything (The Daily Muse): I really like reading The Muse’s career advice articles. Many people have a grand idea or goal they want to accomplish but have trouble actually completing it. The article’s first way to get more motivated (get clear on the end goal) is my favorite. When you get stuck and/or feeling down on your pursuit, you can always look towards the end goal you have set for yourself.
  2. 4 habits of people who follow their dreams (Fast Company): This article mentions the crucial soft skill of being able to not take rejection/criticism personally and having the ability to judge your work. It has a handful of anecdotal examples of people who faked it till they made it, created their own opportunities in response to rejection, and used naysayers as mindset rocket fuel.
  3. Six secrets to effective job hunting (Primer Magazine): Go directly to company websites, something so obvious but often so overlooked.
  4. How to choose a direction when you have a million ideas (XO Sarah):  This is for all the bloggers/creative consultants/designers/self-published authors/entrepreneurs/insert job title here’s everywhere.
  5.  Resume Speak (Resume Speak): This is a humorous one. Funny read considering the countless times I’ve been told as a soon (and now recent) college graduate being advised on “fitting my resume with buzzwords”.

Photo by: Bec Brown (Unsplash)

College Graduation Day: Part 1

43e39040 (1)Well, it’s here: the day I graduate college. A mixture of emotions are running through me right now. The most obvious one is happiness…or is it nervousness? I’m not too sure. The thing I know is that I’ve done a lot to get here. Story Time I grew up in an oh so small town of 8,100 people. As you can probably imagine, there wasn’t much to do there. I made it my mission to get out of the town and pursue great things in a (much) bigger city. So I set out to do just that. My high school had a partnership with a nearby community college that allowed high school juniors and seniors the ability to take college classes for FREE (all you had to pay for was the class textbooks). I thought, “This is my chance! I can start on college early, finish early, and get out into the real world sooner!”. At age 15, I signed up for my first set of college classes. The early college start agreement allowed students to take up to two classes per semester for free. I made sure to take advantage of this opportunity. I signed up for two college classes almost every semester of high school in addition to my AP high school classes. I had a goal of finishing college early and starting my career in the real world (who wouldn’t want to live their own live and have their own place, amiright?). Although I was happy to be pursuing my goal, there were challenges. You would expect the challenge to be a high schooler struggling with college level work. This was one of my challenges but not the biggest one. My biggest challenge at the time was that I was at a disconnect with people my age.  Several of my friends and other people I interacted with wanted to play video games, watch Netflix, go to Starbucks, and the ever popular “hanging out”. Hanging out was the big one. People would see me doing work and go: “Colin, you need to chill out and relax! Just hang out!” Ugh. I hated it when people said that. Don’t get me wrong, I hung out with people and had fun but that seemed to be all that they wanted to do. Every so often I would check myself to see what goals I was working towards and what I had accomplished so far. Several of the people around me in high school weren’t the same way. “Man, I’m just trying to graduate, lol” “I’m relaxing and living in the moment!” Some people even got frustrated with me because they said I was “too motivated”. Long story short (even though you read already, haha) is that I had goals and was looked at as some weird person who (because I didn’t “hang out and relax” most of the time) didn’t know how to have fun. To people reading this, I want you to know something: If you have a goal, protect it. Work towards it and don’t let people bring you down. Whether you’re starting a business, starting freelancing, doing a blog, learning a new skill, or just trying to plan the type of life you want to live, it’s going to take time and investment. Your gut and intuition will tell you if you’re doing the right thing. I don’t advocate for being a workaholic but also don’t give in to never ending requests to have a night out, hang out, chill, and so forth. Just as importantly, when life happens, figure out a way to move forward.

Last day of college!
With Paige Vaughn on my last day of college!

There were tons of obstacles that stood in the way of me graduating college early (money, remedial classes, family obligations, personal health, mode of transportation, scheduling, etc. etc. etc.). Regardless of the obstacles, I did it. I’m graduating college today with my 4 year Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Mass Communications-Public Relations in only 2.5 years…at the age of 20. I’m freaking proud to say that I did that. Good luck to everyone, whether you’re graduating college and planning your life or if your deciding on a new direction in your life. I wish the best. Part 2 will be filled with graduation images (right now I’m just sitting in the campus library…waiting two hours before check-in starts). I leave you with this J.K Rowling quote. Although she is talking about writing, it can apply to a lot of things. If you have a passion project, are learning new skills, or whatever, keep this in mind. To excelsior and silver linings! 4a8b505cd84f1d0bcd7db17f17b2a584

Film Review: Short Term 12 (2013)

Short Term 12 is a film that could have easily been done in a cliche way. I’m sure everyone has seen their fair share of gritty but cheesy films that so helplessly aim to inspire and strike a cord in the viewer. Short Term 12, digging into the understated issues facing its characters, successfully hits all the themes and is able to inspire without being the least bit cliche.


The story starts out with a group of people who work at a group home for troubled teenagers. Grace (Brie Larson) is the young supervisor of the facility. Despite seeming like the calm and collected supervisor to the troubled bunch of kids, Grace deals with issues of her own. She has dark emotions, from previously living with her abusive father, that she doesn’t know how to deal with. She lives with her long-term boyfriend, Mason, who also works at the group home.

A host of things are introduced at the start of the film:

  • Marcus, a troubled and grudge ridden teen, is about to leave the shelter since he is turning 18
  • Grace, along with the other workers at the shelter, deal with Marcus’ anger towards going back to his abusive mom
  • A new girl comes to the shelter. She’s anti-social, hates everyone and doesn’t think anything can help
  • Dealing with Jayden, a troubled self-harming girl, Grace conjures up dark memories of her own childhood

When Jayden comes to the group home, she says she won’t stay long. She intends to move back with her abusive father in the near future. She doesn’t seem to like being in group homes or being labeled with the term “troubled/at-risk teen.”


Even Marcus doesn’t like being seem as “troubled.” When the new worker at the facility introduces himself, he ignorantly says about how much he wants to work with “underprivileged” teens. Marcus gets furious at the utterance of the word and starts cursing at Nate, the new worker.

This single scene provides the basis for this review: Short Term 12, showcasing the deep natures of its characters, provides an intimate look into the nature of a not very discussed environment. Sure, PBS specials, documentaries and so forth are made over foster kids, troubled teens, and the underpriviledged. Short Term 12 is different. It digs deep instead of scratching the surface. It really shows why these people are the way they are. Through their challenging upbringing tales, the film’s characters form a bond that not many would understand. They’re able to give each other a companionship and sense of belonging that an (expensive) therapist never could.

Director Destin Daniel Cretton made a film about a really crappy and screwed up environment without making the viewer feel crappy at the end. Brie Larson gives a knockout performance as Grace. Larson does so well in conveying emotions with just her facial expressions. She doesn’t have to give any hysterical cries or throw a fit, she shines with her performance in the way her face reacts in the scenes.



Movies for the Recent College Graduate

Do you ever just sit around on a certain day and think “Wow, the real world really sucks sometimes.” You followed all of the steps: went to college, got good grades, put up with less than ideal situations (crappy roomate, anyone?) and graduated college with your bachelor’s degree. It’s a time of celebration yet everyone (including your parents and the waiter that serves you food) is asking what you’re going to do now. A quick dialogue always runs through whenever a college graduation happens.

Society: “Do what you want.”

Society: “No, not that.”

A bit unnerving. Fortunately, there are things like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Redbox that can help you dive into a life of sweet media consumption (and procrastination). A lot of movies have fluff and give a stereotypical or unrealistic nature to them. No fear though, there are films out there that provide a good laugh and are insightful too. Look to the list below to see a list of films with characters practicing questionable antics, themes of growing up and the ever concerning question of “What now?”

Young Adult

This film is a fun take on the typical coming-of-age genre. It’s written by Diablo Cody (screenwriter for Juno). The film revolves around Mavis (Charlize Theron) who is a bitter, divorced 37-year-old ghost writer for a series of young adult novels. She’s had success all these years: being the popular girl in high school, moving to a great big city, being a successful writer. Things come crashing down when her book series is about to be cancelled due to low sales. She has one book left to finish but can’t find any inspiration to do it.

Considering she was the popular girl in high school, you know how this story might go. She gets a picture sent to her of from her old high school boyfriend who is married and now has a baby. To her, it’s a sign that they were meant to be together. She’s a little on edge and has nothing to lose so she drives out to her home town to relive some tender memories.

Young Adult is suprising in that it’s not the typical soapy, cliche inspirational film (if you want that, go look up The Breakfast Club or She’s All That). It displays a woman who had early success and is now crumbling. She had a successful book series and living in a great city but it still wasn’t enough for her. Her small-town former friends seem a lot happier with their simple lives.

Case in point? Success can be defined in a number of ways. Moving to a big city (like New York City) isn’t always the best thing. People change and move apart. The glam life of others isn’t always the answer. Appreciate the ordinary and find inspiration in the little things. Mavis is a combination of the over the top person you hate along with the bitter person inside yourself. Entertaining film with some interesting takeaways.

Ira and Abby

ira Ira is procrastinator extraordinaire. He’s been working on his PhD in Psychology for forever. Wait? A PhD in Psychology? He can’t even figure is own life out. He types away on his computer with mindless details. With a bitter view of people and the world, he doesn’t have much hope in the societal norms of getting a well paying job and starting a family.

Abby is a free spirit who loves everyone. She’s the type of girl who reminds you of that person you meet at orientation or camp who is overly happy and takes a bunch of pictures. Anyways…

Ira joins a gym that Abby works at. They hit it off, go through the typical relationship woes and start to question the society norms when it comes to relationships and life in general.


The films above can provide some much needed cinematic take on the topic of the real world and transitioning into a new stage of life. If not, Office Space is always available to watch…