TECHNOLOGY

I never worried about internet until I moved to a rural community. Now it’s a constant aggravation.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

When I moved out of Boston in March 2020, with the pandemic at my heels, getting enough broadband bandwidth to work reliably from home wasn’t the biggest worry on my mind.

It wasn’t even too big of a concern a half-year earlier, when I’d started looking for a house to buy. In the hazy summer of 2019, I’d simply been enchanted with Vermont’s natural wonders and its laid-back vibe, a stark contrast with Boston’s buttoned-up mentality.

I realized that I didn’t have to keep struggling with Boston’s traffic — at the time, on track to become the worst in the…


Freelancing

You’re working at a trade. Pay for the things you need to do the best job.

Photo by Thom Milkovic on Unsplash

The whole world is changing, culturally and technologically, faster than we ever thought it would. And that means the tools a writer uses to do their job are changing, too.

My mother-in-law recently called me cheap, to which I replied, “I’m frugal.” But there’s some truth in her accusation: I’m currently wrapped in a blanket as I write this, reluctant to turn up the thermostat during this chilly spell and use up heating oil.

Still, my fingers are curled around an ergonomic Bluetooth keyboard and my laptop is safely ensconced in a docking station. Both sit on an adjustable-height desktop…


Exercise

March up to the weight rack and get started

Photo by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash

I am not a confident athlete. I love playing different sports, but walking up and trying a new exercise or joining a new sport takes a monumental emotional effort on my part.

Weight training was something I wanted to get into for years. But I held myself back from it, for a ton of reasons mostly inside my own head.

It took two kickers to finally get me into weight training:

  1. Breaking my ankle in 2018.

2. Getting myself to a gym.

And once I did that, I learned, again, a simple truth: Doing something is a hundred times better…


ENTREPRENEUR

Coming to terms with your own negative vibes

Photo by sebastiaan stam on Unsplash

This guy is going in one of my novels someday, I thought, as I sat across the table from him in the upstairs section of an otherwise empty, dark-paneled Chinese restaurant, watching him berate the waitress.

“This isn’t the dish I ordered. I wanted a lobster sauce, not a lobster. And not a clear sauce, a brown sauce. Take this one back and give me what I ordered!”

He turned to me before the waitress had even gotten out of earshot. “See, that’s how you have to handle people. You have to show them you mean business, and never take…


How harnessing your body’s energy can improve productivity and change your life

Photo by Candice Picard on Unsplash

I’ve become a devotee of the coffee nap.

I used to nap daily for 60 to 90 minutes, stretching out on the sofa in my apartment with the TV turned off and the curtains drawn shut. It was something I’d picked up on my own during my days working in an office: I was a zombie from about 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. every day, but if I could put my head down for a few minutes, I was far more productive through the afternoon.

Switching to coffee naps has been a game-changer. I am able to nap for a much…


Accomplishing a small goal took me farther than I imagined

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

I was less than two blocks out from my apartment, and the Couch to 5K app was pissing me off.

It was my third session using the ubiquitous program that was getting millions of new runners onto the road and chalking up miles. The first session had me run for only 30 seconds at a time, with a 90-second walk in between. Ditto with the second session. And now, the app was still telling me to run for just 30 seconds and then break into another long walk.

I didn’t want to walk anymore; I wanted to run. The app…


Avoid the shiny baubles that undermine your business’s bottom line

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Just over three years ago, I bought my newest professional work machine: a sweet, shiny stainless steel HP Spectre laptop. I dreamed it would make me the most productive damn freelance writer in the business. It was a convertible laptop, which meant I could easily flip the screen around and turn it into a tablet. I envisioned doing all sorts of kick-ass presentations to potential clients, standing before them in their shiny polished wood board rooms and knocking their socks off with this amazing crystal-clear display.

The reality was that I sat alone in a makeshift office in the corner…


Build your writing warrior spirit daily

Photo by Mesh on Unsplash

When I was in my mid-20s, I decided to become a Shaolin warrior.

My reasons were many, and my resources were few, so rather than flying to China and meditating at the gates of the Shaolin Temple until I was admitted to their ranks (which turned out to be not what you do at all), I signed up for classes at a local kung fu school and started learning the martial way.

But this isn’t a story about my transformation into a gravity-defying Buddhist warrior. It’s about finding inspiration to keep building your business…


Foolproof ways that writers can cultivate connections that last

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Gig writing can only go so far: In a short time, most writers who take on one-off assignments get tired of the race to grab small paychecks from uncommitted customers.

Your long-term strategy as a freelancer should be to find and keep clients who pay steadily and well.

And the best way to accomplish that is to stop looking at potential customers as paychecks. Look at them as friends you haven’t met yet.

Make the time to foster strong ties

That doesn’t always mean best buddies forever — it might, and those are often the most rewarding business relationships — rather, it means developing a rapport with…


An interplanetary cruise ship with passengers trapped on board is the sci-fi version of everything happening to us right now.

Photo by Federico Rizzarelli on Unsplash

The most resonant science fiction works are the ones that are commentaries on real life. I’m not sure if the writers for Avenue 5 were prescient — if they foresaw what 2020 had in store for the human race — but damn if they didn’t reflect the utter banality and willful stupidity of humanity and its leaders in a crisis.

Avenue 5 is better than the critics make out. It’s not brilliant, and the humor seems forced at times, but it has potential to become a cult classic along the lines of Blake’s 7, with better special effects. …

Samantha Bookman

Writer, editor, would-be novelist. Stunningly mediocre martial artist. Friend of technology. Avid traveler.

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