How To Use Twitter As A Motivational Tool

Twitter: Motivator, Not Time Waster
John Birmingham (JohnBirmingham) on Twitter - Mozilla Firefox 7262009 85712 PM
I’ve been motivated, inspired, and just given a good old kick up the bum, by an established writer I follow on Twitter, John Birmingham.

If You Haven’t Already Heard of John Birmingham

The book that turbo-charged John Birmingham’s writing career, He Died With a Falafel In His Hand, is a bizarre collection of true stories about his house-sharing experiences. The tales are so bizarre, disgusting and ludicrous that they make compulsive reading. After the book became a cult hit, Hollywood recognised its potential as movie material, and it went on to become a hit on the big screen too. Inspiring stuff. It makes me want to write a similar book about my personal travel experiences, tentatively called Out Of It In Africa.

But anyway, I can relate to John Birmingham because it took him four years to get established as a writer, he lives near me in Brisbane, and he’s fabulously successful, with a string of books, features and blogs to his name. Well, I confess, I haven’t quite reached his level of success yet, but we both seem to regularly spend up to ten hours a day writing and live in Queensland.

>> Follow me on Twitter
>> Follow John Birmingham on Twitter.

Writer, Motivate Yourself

It was John Birmingham’s regular updates on Twitter, in 140 characters or less, that got me motivated to write more, and to write faster. Now and then JB tweeted that he’d written 3000 words and, being a competitive soul, that made me want to see if I could match him word for word. It really worked to motivate me, and once I even challenged him to a word count race which he very kindly took part in and let me win, even though I cheated by starting before him. The man’s a hero: confident of his own writing prowess and happy to encourage aspiring writers.

How To Motivate Yourself Using Twitter

Now, I was thinking what a loser, stalker, weirdo, or sad combination of all three of them I was for doing this, but then I accidentally came across a post on the Procrastinating Writers website where they named this method of motivation. It’s called ‘bookmarking’. Basically, you tell someone your goal and then update them regularly on your progress. It may be a friend, but it can be anyone, and it can also be done on the phone, with a text message, face to face, or on Twitter where you don’t even need anyone specific to report too.

For example, early in the morning, I might tweet:
“Three things to do: edit chap four of fiction manuscript, polish up my short story for a competition, write post for blog, In the Hot Spot”
Then I make updates on my progress, via Twitter, as the day goes on, like,
“Chapter four edited and looking good. About to update my blog now.”

I know this sounds ridiculously simple and unnecessary too, but if it works as a motivational tool, then that has to be a good thing.

Writer, Motivate Other Writers

One more brilliant side-effect of this is that as well as John Birmingham motivating himself and me, my progress reports have motivated other people too. One man told me that my tweets about writing and my word count have inspired him to start writing again. Another well-known travel writer, with over seven published books, kindly emailed me and said about my word count tweets:
“I’m impressed that you’re knocking out those kind of numbers in a family environment.”

Wow! So I rest my case on the motivational power of Twitter, and pour scorn on those who dismiss it as a waste of time.  As in real life, with Twitter, if you spend time with positive, inspiring people, you’ll be motivated to improve yourself and work harder.

Using Twitter To Motivate Isn’t Just For Writers

I think this type of motivation could easily be used for other goals too, such as:
Giving up smoking – “Haven’t had a cigarette for three days. Going to reward myself with a walk in the park.”
Making sales calls – “Going to do twenty more calls before stopping for lunch.”
Fitness goals – “Just did fifty sit ups during my tea break.”

Well, you get the idea! It could probably be used for any type of goal.

Another Hot Tip on Motivation and Staying Focused

I’ve noticed that the simple act of writing every day for eight hours has made my writing faster. Now I’m going to fit even more writing in, and avoid distractions, thanks to another idea I got from John Birmingham. He recommends putting a timer on your desk and setting it for two hours. Now, write until it rings, have a ten minute break and repeat daily until your task is finished.

Bring Bring! Got to go now, time’s up. Have a super duper and highly productive day everyone:)

Good luck with your plans!

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment below, follow me on Twitter and don’t forget to subscribe to In the Hot Spot by email now, if you haven’t already, so you don’t miss out.

Related articles

>> Self-Motivation and Co-Motivation
>> Maintain Motivation: Celebrate Your Successes

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If I Were A Geek, Just For a Day

Geek glasses: my fancy dress favourite for 23 years

Geek glasses: everyone should have some

Frustration and Computers

During the 13 years I’ve been working on computers, designing websites, and studying online marketing, there have been times of frustration. Moments when I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve, but couldn’t quite work out how to do it.

Fortunately, the frustrations of computers and the Internet are balanced out when you finally manage to do something you’ve been struggling with. That success makes it all worth while and keeps you going, and it’s the same with many other challenges in life. But ultimately, it’s constant learning, and the feelings of achievement that come from persevering, then finally succeeding in your goal, that make those challenges interesting.

Working with technology doesn’t come naturally to me, but it’s got to be done, because the Internet is for all of us, not just for the technologically gifted. I’m determined to persevere and play my part on the Internet as well as I can, and I hope you will too.

This article was inspired by:

  • 13 years spent overcoming computer-based challenges to design user-friendly websites;
  • “If I Was A Boy”, as sung by the beautiful, and highly tuneful, Beyoncé.

So, with many thanks to all the geeks who made this possible, here’s a tongue in cheek look at what I’d do if I was a geek for a day:

  • I would add all the cool buttons to my website so that readers could Tweet this, Digg it, email it to their Facebook page, and have it digitally tattooed on their foreheads too if they so desired.
  • I would employ a brilliant writer to come up with inspiring ideas for my website and turn all my geek speak into intelligent sentences which the general public can understand and relate to.
  • I would have an English English spell check on WordPress and Twitter, not US English.
  • I would fiddle with my coding all day long and half the night, giving my site every useful bell and whistle known to mankind and, most importantly, I’d love doing it.
  • I would make sure my site ranked number 1 with Google for the search engine terms: “Hottest Aussie blogger”.
  • I would get one of my brilliant graphic designer friends to make my site look über-cool, so no one ever suspected a geek was behind it.
  • I would write a program that generated short, witty strings of words and automatically added them to my Twitter account every hour or so.
  • I would be best friends with Leo Babauta, John Chow, Darren Rowse, Seth GodinSeth Simonds and Guy Kawasaki plus all the great girl geeks I’d connect with and I’d happily share my brilliant tips with them all.
  • I would set up my computer with perfect voice recognition so that I never have to type again.
  • I would seem shy, but I’d be totally self-confident in the knowledge that, thanks to me and my skills, the future will be a better place.

Now, just imagine what I’d do if I was a geek for a week!

Good luck with your computer and your Internet dreams!

Thanks for reading, please let me know what you’d do if you were a geek for the day by adding a comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe to In the Hot Spot by email now, if you haven’t already, so you don’t miss out.

Related articles

>> In Praise of Geeks
>> The Trouble With Typing

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Blogging Away With Growing Success

Visitor stats for June 2009: a definite upward trend

Visitor Stats for April, May, June 2009: Definite Upward Trend

Writing a blog’s an up and down thing. One day I love it, then the next day I wonder why I bother at all. Especially when my dear husband sends me cruel little jokes about bloggers like that one, where bloggers are compared unfavorably to monks. I hardly found it funny at all, so I think I’ve been spending too much time writing and not doing enough living.

The Difference Between a Blog and a Website

Since bloggers are the butt of jokes these days I’m not calling In the Hot Spot a blog anymore. From now on, if you ask me, it’s officially a website. Well, what’s the difference anyway? I won’t get started on that now, but what I’m aiming for here is a dynamic website, with easy to find and useful information that’s topical and updated often. Hopefully the archiving will improve when I relocate it to my own domain name and revamp the site. Soon soon!

Hare and Tortoise Fable Rings True

Hare and Tortoise Fable Rings True

Good News For Hard Working Bloggers

The good news is that my blog statistics show a definite upward trend, and the number of people who’ve subscribed to my email updates is growing slowly, but surely, too. But it’s going to be a long journey to achieve my goal. I suppose it’s now that I need to remember that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. All I can really do is keep writing away, enjoying it and finding more funny, inspirational and/or weird stories that keep us all on track in hot pursuit of out dreams.

Shortcut To Success

That was a naughty trick because there are no shortcuts to success. I think we all know this in our hearts although it’s fun to imagine that there may be a quick route to achieve our dreams. In the end, it all comes down to this. If you want to succeed at something you need to:

    • work hard
    • stay motivated
    • keep focused
    • persevere.

You’ll get there in the end.

My Goal for This Blog

If you haven’t read my article, how to break the blogging rules, you can find out about my goals for this blog and what I write about there. To sum my goals up I’m ambitiously trying to get a monthly visitor count of about 30,000 people.

Wish me luck!

Thanks for reading and for sticking around, please add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now (if you haven’t already) so you don’t miss out.

Good luck with all your plans!

Writer’s Rite of Passage: Rejection Slips

Racing at the Bellingham Maze

Racing at the Bellingham Maze

In March I sent a story idea, and an example of my writing, to the editor of a local newspaper, and received my first rejection as a writer. The full story on my first attempt to kick start my writing career is here. Come June, I was overdue for a second attempt.

Becoming a Travel Writer

I can’t believe it’s taken me three months to send my writing to someone else, and not because I’ve been too scared, but because I’ve been too busy writing my novel. Last week in a misguided attempt to boost my ego and my cash flow I thought I’d try again. This time I sent an insightful, witty and tightly written travel article to the editor of the travel section of a national newspaper. I swear, this article is excellent, so good in fact that I may pop it on my website some time. It’s about the annual Hipica, or horse parade in Granada, Nicaragua, a fabulous fiesta we went to in 2007.

In the back of my mind I knew the Granada Hipica wasn’t the kind of thing they cover in this type of publication, but I really felt it was a great story, and I want people to know about this unspoiled and little visited part of the world and the ‘horsey party’ as I saw it described. Now I’m thinking that if I want to be a travel writer in the popular press I’ll have to write about Disneyland and mainstream stuff like that. I can only hope that there is a market for travel writers who get off the beaten track and that I’ll tap into it one day.

For the record, here’s my second rejection email

“Thanks for the offer Annabel,

This story is too specific to an event that even you admit in the copy is pretty much unheard of.

For Granada I’d be more likely to accept a piece along the lines of 72 hours in Granada, where to stay, what to eat, what to see, must dos etc. That kind of thing.”
(Name and address withheld)

Keep on Moving

What a great rejection slip. Notice once again that the editor didn’t say anything like “get lost loser and stop bothering me.”

By the way, I’m still corresponding with the ed in question who’s a lovely man and has been very helpful. I’ve promised to rewrite my travel article on Granada as per his suggestions and hope that I can make it to his liking this time. In my mind I’m thinking of it as my first commissioned piece even though as my dear hubby pointed out the editor doesn’t know that.

Am I deluded?

Maybe but I haven’t got enough rejection emails yet: it’ll take a lot more than two to deflect me from my dream!

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out.

Good luck with all your plans!

Maintain Motivation: Celebrate Your Successes

Recognise Your Achievements

Birthday Boy With Much Longed For Gift

Birthday Boy: with surprise present

Last week was my oldest child’s 11th birthday, a true milestone for both of us. Taking a rare moment out of mothering and work, I had time to realise that it’s a real privilege to watch someone evolve from birth to puberty. Previously a helpless baby, he’s now reached the the cusp of independence and is becoming an adult.

What a journey my son’s been on for those 11 years and how much he’s learned ~ from the basics like how to breathe, eat, walk and talk, to more complex skills like reading, riding a bike, speaking Spanish and making friends all over the world. He’s also achieved excellent academic results in public schools in New Zealand, Costa Rica and now Australia.

Stop, Take Stock and Congratulate Yourself

Becoming a mother has been an amazing journey for me too, but sadly I’ve often been too busy cooking, cleaning, laundering, organising, disciplining and helping my child to really appreciate how much we’ve both grown and changed over the years. Time has truly flown by. It’s incredible to think that  11 years have passed since I first held that newborn in my arms, and sad to think that so much of my time as a mother is taken up with the mundane chores of daily life.

So today I’ve realised the need to stop, take stock and congratulate myself on our progress and achievements to date. When it comes to parenting, I may not be Dr. Phil but I’m doing the best I can and that in itself is a huge achievement.

Basketball Cake: pinnacle of my culinary creativity

Basketball Cake: the Pinnacle of My Culinary Creativity

Celebrate Everything You’ve Succeeded At

It’s amazing to think back on everything you’ve been up to for the last 11 years, to consider have you changed and what you’ve learnt. Take a moment to recall your proudest moments and enjoy thinking about them. Now’s the time to eat cake, look at some old photos, remember where we came from and celebrate who we are now. To paraphrase Scarlett O’ Hara, tomorrow is just another day.

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your plans!

Search Engine Terms for Blogging

The Fine Art of Search Engine Optimisation

Wide-eyed Tree Frog in Costa Rica

Wide-eyed Tree Frog in Costa Rica

Some people have found this site by typing totally ludicrous and, in some cases, inappropriate phrases into the search engines. It all goes to show how hard it is to find the information you’re really looking for on the Internet because I’m pretty sure that the people who typed these things didn’t find what they were after here.

Fellow bloggers, take a moment to consider what search engine phrases you’d like people to use to find your site and try to include them as often as possible in your posts without repeating yourself gratuitously if  possible. I know I need to work on this more myself because this is what people have Googled to find this site so far:

  • how tasty are kangaroos
  • hot costa rican women
  • kangaroo candies
  • running lizard
  • roo testicles (my favourite)
  • my six year old boy is nervous about tun (this is an interesting one)
  • small cute shaggy dogs (I did have some of these in one article)
  • the best reading list for writers today (at last, a hit, a palpable hit)
  • daylight robbery take my wish
  • lizard saying hey kid
  • stand up paddle bikini (this is a surprisingly popular search phrase, definitely not serviced here)
  • hippy girl
  • andy kangeroos (don’t tell me there’s another odd bod looking for candy kangeroos)
  • male face paint ideas (why?)

Thanks for reading, I hope you find what you’re looking for on the Internet and in life.

Good luck with all your plans!

How To Break the Blogging Rules

Inspiration, Information and Idiosyncrasies for Living Your Dream

It's good to look at things a different way

It's good to look at things a different way

Despite 12 years of online marketing experience and a good understanding of the rules of blogging and social networking, I’m breaking all the rules and doing my own thing here. I know I’m supposed to be targeting a specific audience and focusing all my articles on one topic but I’m choosing not to. Sorry, if I appear to have attention deficit disorder, but I cannot focus this blog on one thing and nor do I want to. That’s why I recently described In the Hot Spot as inspiration, information and idiosyncrasies for living your dream, and let me tell you, it feels great.

Inspiration, Information and What?

According to the Oxford School Dictionary, happily the only one I have to hand at the moment, an idiosyncrasy is ‘one person’s way of behaving or doing something’ and that’s a big part of what In the Hot Spot is. I’m relishing the fact that I don’t have to tow a corporate line and I have nothing to sell you. In short, I can be myself. I certainly hope to inspire people to live their dream and inform them on how to achieve it, but there’s always going to be an unique and individual element to this and that’s what makes it interesting and fun for both of us. As an added bonus, idiosyncrasies are dangerously close to idiocies, and that’s part of the appeal.

All kudos to all the Probloggers out there. 120,000 followers? Brilliant, but 1000 is enough for me. I’m aiming at quite a niche market and if you fit three or more of these categories you may want to stick around, revisit regularly and even, drum roll, subscribe to email updates or the RSS feed if you know what that is. Oh, and if you pick four or more, it’s a match made in heaven. Hang on, five or more? Are you my long lost twin?

Try it now. How many of these topics interest you?

1. Living your dream

2. Traveling

3. Writing

4. Australia

5. People

6. Life

7. Moving overseas (especially to New Zealand, Australia or Central America)

I’d love to know what interests you most so please take the time to leave a comment below.

But What’s an RSS Feed?

If you’re not sure what an RSS Feed is, next time I’m going to explain it in plain language that you’ll actually be able to understand. But the best way to subscribe is by email. It’s safe, spam-free and you’ll only be emailed when I update the site. Try it now. If you change your  mind in the future you can easily unsubscribe and I’ll be none the wiser. So there’s nothing to lose is there? OK, I want to subscribe by email now.

Thanks for reading, I look forward to sharing and exchanging idiosyncrasies with you.

Good luck with all your plans!