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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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.

Writers & Social Media


Social media is kind of like this mysterious black hole. Besides seeing the constant #pretty or #blessed photos and posts, you aren’t exactly sure what you’re getting out of it. You can put things into it but you’re not exactly sure what you’re going to get out of it. Plus there is the bad habit of social media eating into your writing time.

We all know how important writing time is (especially with NaNoWriMo upon us). Never fear, there are measurable ways and tactics manage your social media.

Moving to the beat of those metrics

Gone are the days of just blindly posting updates/posts and never really knowing how much they were seen. There are ways to see how much exposure your Facebook update, tweet, or Instagram picture got. Facebook Insights, Inconosquare for Instagram, and Analytics for Twitter are great (and free) ways to measure the impact of your social media updates.

With these tools, you can see which weeks were better than some, days that had higher exposure than others, and so forth. No longer do you have to post a super excited tweet with your novel details on a blind eye!

Don’t stop till you hit the post

Posting only at certain times isn’t something you have to religiously follow but it is helpful to know. Whenever you have exciting details about your novel, revealing your cover, or just want to post an update, post during peak hours so as many people can see it as possible.

This helpful infographic from Hub Spot shows the best times to post and even what to include. Isn’t that nifty?

Hootsuite is your kinda sorta awesome best friend that tells you everything

I’m suprised at how many people still don’t know about Hootsuite. I use it all the time for my PRSSA organization and plan to use it even more once I start hardcore promotion for my novel next year.

With Hootsuite, you can schedule messages for future publish. You can also schedule things to post at the same time across all of your social media channels.

This feature is a hugely beneficial way of taking the constant thought of needing to update, logging into all of your channels and posting to each individually.

Once I start using this to post updates, I can set aside a designated time to craft posts. Then for the rest of my time, I can work on what really matters: finishing my novel!


Self-publishing is a lot of work…and a lot of money. You’re having to do nearly all of the marketing and engagement yourself. It takes a lot away from you. It takes a lot away from writing time. Using the right tools can make using social media a little bit more insightful so you know what you’re getting out of it.

I don’t want to promote my novel and engage with other authors without having a little insight into how much exposure I’m getting and how to maximize it. Or maybe I can just post saying I’m Colin Ashby, buy my novel!!! (note: probably wouldn’t work).

Go ahead and check the sources out and see what works for you. Happy writing!

Blowing Smoke

de9uL9L7RSmzV4SAoAO5_Lauren and Winona Under a pass-1I’m glad most people that read and liked the various articles about me living in my car won’t see this post. This entry is a bit of a turn from the vibe that those car-dwelling articles were about.

Blowing smoke

Ever heard that phrase? Apparently it’s a common phrase yet I had never heard it until recently. There is this version of the phrase that I just put up and there is also a slightly extended version. Both mean similar things. The expression of people giving you compliments and saying they will do something…and then never do.

When the article came out, a handful of people talked about how my story was inspiring, humble, and so forth. I didn’t really understand it considering I just lived in my car to get through college, but nonetheless I went along with it. I knew things were going to die down soon enough. Many people I talked with mentioned that they would try to help me get set up with jobs and careers. They said I could reach out if I ever needed help.

Well, I’ve experienced my fair share of people blowing smoke lately. I was told about a likely job offer only for it to never happen. Then a handful of people got in contact with me and talked about introducing me to potential job leads…only for it to never happen.

I didn’t realize what I was doing wrong at first. I had told the people I was talking with about the types of careers I wanted, the skills I had, and that I was open to moving anywhere in the country for a career I wanted. Things seemed good at first. I was talking with a few people, they were sending information and so forth. The fan fare died down, however, and things have hit a (sort of) brick wall.

I’m no closer to knowing what my future career entails than before the article was released. It wasn’t my intention when writing the article to have it boost my career in any way. It’s just that when I started getting in contact with working professionals saying they wanted to help me, I thought “Hey, maybe a potential lead could come out of this.”

This was far from the reality.

I thought working hard, living in my car freshman year, and taking a full load of classes would get me prepared for the job hunt.

I thought having good grades, a handful of internships, and student involvement would help me secure a job for after graduation.

I thought, I thought, I thought…

I graduate college in 6.5 weeks and I have no idea what comes afterward. This is a weird feeling since my schedule is packed right now. I’m taking 15 credit hours, working a part-time job at a public relations firm, running an organization, and writing my first novel. However, once December hits, most of these things (except for the novel) will go away and I will have an open schedule.

Slightly (okay, very) frightening to say the least.

I always laughed at Lena Dunham’s character in Tiny Furniture. Now I feel like I might become the character.

I’ve always dreamed of moving somewhere else after college (either Chicago, NYC, or Seattle). Lately, I’ve been toying with the idea of going to Chicago for the improv scene. Pretty foolish, right?

On top of all of the lost leads, I haven’t had much time to devote to my novel. It’s my first novel and I’m writing it right now, something I’m proud to be doing, yet I don’t have near the amount of the desired time to do it. It sucks having to put a passion project on the back burner for things like writing papers and studying for tests. Whenever I’m not doing that I’m working my job, whenever I’m not doing that, I’m running an organization. I clock in only a few hours a week toward my novel.

It is the one thing that I can look forward to after graduation…yet I don’t even have the desired amount of time to devote to it. I hate it.

Not exactly how I planned my last semester of college going. Originally I wasn’t going to have the internship at the public relations firm this fall. Not having it would have freed up a lot of time to job search. I socked away money in my savings account and had a good enough financial aid package to get through the semester without working too much. Well, my place of work extended an offer for me to continue the internship through the fall. I wanted to say no but my bank account told me to say yes.

Anyways, what I’ve learned the past few weeks as my college graduation nears is that nothing is guaranteed. People will tell you things then won’t do it. Opportunities will arise, then they will disappear. The only way to get through is to keep moving forward (thanks Walt Disney).

I monitor my time more closely now and put any free time I have toward finishing my novel. I don’t exactly know the type of job I will have but I know the person I want to become.

Last fall I promised one of my teachers, Mr. Zmikly, that I was going to be a speaker at our college’s Mass Communication Week. I even set a date for it, October 19, 2015. This date is starting to make me nervous considering the thought I have of me working in a crappy low pay job and not really seeming all that qualified to be a speaker.

There is something keeping me from believing this. It’s like there are two people in my head: one thinking I’m going to be an unemployed bum and the other thinking “hey, even though this will be freaking tough, I can get through it and come out on top.”

A big thing I learned at my college’s Mass Communication Week last week was simple:

Make things. Get stuff done.

Trei Brundrett of Vox Media said this during a panel. I freaking loved it. Constantly I’m being instructed to have a perfect resume, thoughtful cover letter, 3-5 internships, good GPA, and have a know-how of many different skills. Several of my teachers and the career advisors have jammed this into my (as well as other students) heads.

Thinking of all of this can get overwhelming and leave a person forgetting to do an activity that matters: make things. 

So, even with the lost leads, disappointments, and rejections, I’m going to keep moving forward and keep making things. The “thing” right now include finishing my novel. There is a mass communication job fair tomorrow. Things will move forward, I just have to take the first step.

As Kenan & Kel (mainly Kel) would say, “Aw, here it goes!”

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Young Adult Novels Adhere to the Unconventional

Young adult novels…they’ve seem to have gotten repetitive. Fascinating worlds and wonderful tales fill them but many of the main characters across the book have a common shared theme:  they’re socially awkward hipsters who take off beaten paths.


I’m not saying that all young adult books are like this. There are several books to choose from that do not take this well-worn path: The Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent. It is worth pointing out why many young adult books are diving in this theme of embracing the unconventional individual. Several young adult books with nerdy/awkward protagonists have become bestsellers. Young adult author John Green’s books including Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska all include having a main protagonist who isn’t very outgoing and believes in staying quiet.

Two young adult genre breakout hits of 2013 were Eleanor & Park and Fangirl. Both books (written by the same author: Rainbow Rowell) deal with introverted characters who surround themselves in their own world. This Song Will Save Your Life, a novel by Leila Sales, deals with a quiet teen girl who has trouble making friends. Notice a similar theme/trend with the other books mentioned?

Perhaps this is just a trend that in the coming years will start to slow down. It’s good that many young adult authors are helping teens embrace their quirky traits and awkwardness in a world of weight pressure, body image critics, and bullying. There is room for change however. Sometimes it needs to be known when to move on and describe other types of characters. Embrace the person who likes to speak up, make things, and/or is overly vain. It would be a welcomed change.

SXSW: Running the Show: TV’s New Queen of Comedy

Emmy-nominated writer Mindy Kaling made a trip to SXSW to give a panel about the changing nature of television and its new dynamics.


A challenge to send a tweet in less than 45 seconds started off the event. No pressure right? Mindy Kaling is awesome. She managed it in a mere 17 seconds with saying “Where am I?” (and was sadly later deleted).

Kaling talked about her presence on social media. For her, Twitter is just for fun and something to be used to tease her writing staff.

The moderator asked the question of the writing process/writers room and creating an episode. Kaling responded with how writers all have creative (and out there) conversations about what’s going on in their lives. What they have been noticing.

“Our writer’s room is very gentle and loving. All the guys would identify as feminists. It isn’t sexist like other writer’s rooms,” Kaling said.

Kaling provided some humorous lines that made the nearly all of the hundreds in attendance laugh.

“I think recycling makes american look poor-Mindy Lahari”-Mindy Kaling

“I always wasn’t one of those sunny, cheerful kids. I was plotting.” Mindy Kaling on wanting to have her own TV show since 8 years old.

Kaling’s The Mindy Project castmates Ike Barinholtz and Adam Pally were alongside in the panel to give commentary.

“My cast doesn’t drug women,” Kaling

“We take drugs with women,” Barinholtz

Moderator: Pet Peeve?

“Moodiness,” Kaling.

“Mindy’s moodiness,” Pally

The panel went into the discussion on the format of the show and how it differs from cable and online streaming counterparts. Kaling acknowledged that the structure for network shows and cable shows is different. Having HBO shows like Nurse Jackie and Shameless in the same categories as network shows doesn’t seem to fit, Kaling said. The shows are different and have vastly different structures, she said.

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Adam Pally added on with how cable and network shows are different because of the episode counts. Cable shows usually have 13 episodes or less while network shows have the usual 22 episodes.

“When you’re only making 12 or six episodes you can say ‘okay let’s follow this character for the season’, you can’t do that with 22 episodes,” Pally said.

The panel did get a tad awkward at the end times when audience members repeatedly asked questions about the racial and gender concerns of the show. The issues were something that Kaling subtly dropped hints that she didn’t want to focus on those concerns.

Despite the audience repetitive questions, the panel went great. Kaling has proved herself as a book writer, television writer, actress and leading a strong work ethic. Kaling is a jack of many trades and has many great years ahead.

Your Career Starts Now

The time spent in college is the training wheels towards building a career. I say this because mass communication week ended last week at Texas State. The five day-long event brought media professionals to Texas State to talk about the changing world of digital media and how to prepare for a career in it. One encompassing theme was clear from all of the speakers: start doing our career now, don’t wait till you graduate.

During my fundamentals of digital and online media class (the class that required me to make this blog) my professor mentioned a reason behind why he requires the class to keep a blog:

There are different ways to provide content, to get you out there doing what you want to do. Start doing now what you want to do for your career, don’t wait” –J.Z. (The FDOM professor that gave this blog assignment)

Want a career in advertising? Start making advertising campaigns. Want to work for a creative media agency? Start creating your own content. Create. That is the point. Do the things that your dream career requires, right now, don’t wait until after college.

Editing my Austin Film Society Internship Application Video
Editing my Austin Film Society Internship Application Video

“I don’t need to tell you what I know. At this stage, it’s important for you to tell me what you know.” –Newling (My Statistics Professor)

The way the theme of this blog (Why a College Degree is Worth It) ties into this is that college provides an experimental group for a person to build a career. There is a plethora of resources around a student in college that can help them build the career they want. Resources that will probably never be within arm’s reach ever again once they are in the real world. So go out now and start doing the career you want to do. Start experimenting to see how digital tools like Pinterest, Storify, WordPress, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and so forth can help develop your personal brand.

Become your own creator, make your own content, and become who you want to be.

“The great thing about education is that everything you have experienced in life will feel different once you have an education. Whether you get a job or you are on the street, you perceive things differently” -Roger Priebe (My Computer Science Professor)

This blog post was inspired by the speakers I learned about at mass comm week at Texas State.