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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Self-Motivation and Co-Motivation

Hang out with people who motivate and inspire you. Australian Surf Life Savers Club, Nippers.

Hang out with people who motivate and inspire you. Nippers train together at an Australian Surf Life Saving Club.

Motivation and Other People

I’ve been interested in the power of other people to motivate you for a while. I’ve discovered that things like stopping smoking are much easier when you have a friend to give up with. When you’re finding it hard, you can call on your friend and they’ll help you pull through. When you’re about to relapse, you don’t, because you promised your buddy you’d stay strong, and you know that they’re doing their best to stay strong too. Of course it’s a mutually beneficial system and you keep them motivated and on track too.

I used this method quite successfully with my writing during my time in Costa Rica. I started a writing group with my friend Teresa, and each week we’d get together and share what we’d written, along with as much white wine as we could handle. Which turned out to be quite a bit. Despite the general debauched nature of our writing group, or maybe because of it, the idea worked and got me writing regularly. I had to show up with something to read to Teresa each week, and I had to make sure that it would be reasonably entertaining too.

Co-Motivation

I know, ideally the inner motivation would be there, but sometimes you just need someone to answer to to get you writing or achieve whatever your goal is. Since I’ve been in Australia I’ve discovered that a fellow Noosa resident has actually set up a website, Co-Motivate, with the same idea in mind. You post your goal, such as lose weight, give up smoking, write a book or whatever, find like minded people on the site, and then get on with it together.

Whether you want to do it online with a a new group of people, or with a friend you know and trust, try out the power of co-motivation. It might just help you get settled into some good habits and move closer to achieving your goals. Thanks Teresa, and cheers!

Thanks for reading, 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.

Related articles: Maintain Motivation: Celebrate Your Successes

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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!

What Can You Give Up To Live Your Dream?

What We Can Happily Live Without

Our Wheels in Costa Rica

Our Wheels in Costa Rica: not flash but they went round

Flash Cars
We have an old no-name type car. Who gives a flying fart anyway? However, don’t let your kids use your car as a climbing frame like we did in Costa Rica or the roof rack will fall off one day while you’re driving along. Ooops.

Fancy Clothes
This year I’m attempting to spend 12 months without buying any clothes for myself. I’ve had to get slippers and a dressing gown to cope with the winter here and a wetsuit for surfing in the cooler climes, but apart from that, nothing for myself, just a few odds and ends for the kids. I swear I’m not dressing in rags either and most of the time I even look quite presentable, at least by my standards. Come November I’ll be splashing out on a couple of new dresses and t-shirts for the summer. Roll on summer.

Fine Food
In order to maximise my writing time we rotate our meals more or less according to a fortnightly menu of family favorites which are quick to make and enjoyed by all. I think this is the biggest sacrifice actually as I love food and would enjoy having more time to cook it. But something has to give and when it comes down to it, I’d prefer to be writing, walking, surfing or spending time with the hubby or kids than cooking.

A Home of Our Own
We’re renting a house and will do so for a year of more. It’s comfy but it doesn’t have all the finishing touches and personality we had in our own home. My dream home’s on hold.

Beauty Treats
Expensive face creams, facials, pedicures, massages, spa treatments are now just the subject of the odd fantasy. Cheaper products and diy pedicures seem to be just as good anyway.

I’d love to hear what you could or couldn’t live without.

Thanks for reading, 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!

More Travel Inspiration

How we used our savings to fund a dream trip to Central America: Live your dream in material world.

>> Follow your dream: you only live once.

How To Work Out What Your Dream Is

So you don’t know what your dream is?

Me and my daughter stand up paddle surfing in Noosa

Me and my girl stand up paddle surfing in Noosa

First don’t beat yourself up about it. Probably, the sad truth is that you did know but well-meaning people (teachers, parents, friends, lovers) have beaten it out of you. Don’t worry, they probably did it to protect you from failure. But personally, I’d rather fail at my dream vocation than never try it because my well-meaning entourage mentioned that it would be too hard. I might be sensitive but I’m also determined. I believe that if I want something I’ll get it and so far, in 41 years, nothing has happened to disprove this theory. I’m sure you can get what you want too.

I’d love this to be read by an 18 year old so that they could nail their dream and get on with it without wasting any time. But in all likelihood it will be read by more mature individuals who are still hoping to achieve their dreams and looking for permission to do so. Well, I here by grant you permission to follow your dream and live the life that you most desire, now you just need to allow yourself permission to do it too.

By the way, I read somewhere that most people will have three distinct careers in their lifetime and I think there’s a reason for this. Maybe the first two are just practice and vital experience for your ultimate vocation. I certainly enjoyed my previous careers as a teacher and an Internet designer and one of the things I liked most in those jobs was the planning and writing element, so it’s not much of a suprise that writing is my ultimate dream career.

Trust Your Instincts

Don’t expect to be able to work out what your dream is overnight but you’ll get there. In fact, you probably know what your dream is already, you just need to get back in touch with your natural instincts on this one. That’s right, now’s the time to trust your instincts, an old and vital skill that some of us have lost touch with. I know it sounds like hippy shit or corny new age wisdom but our instincts are usually right. So why don’t they work anymore? Because other people have confused us and told us not to trust them. As a child, did your parents, teachers or friends ever ask you if you were sure about a decision and cause you to doubt it? If that happened a lot your instinctive knowledge may have got scrambled.

By the way, if you’re a parent beware of doing this with your own children. Do you ever find yourself saying:
“Are you sure you don’t want a sandwich/to ride your bike/to go swimming?”
If the kid’s made a decision don’t confuse them, let them stick to it. Most of the time they’ll have made the right one.

So What Is Your Dream?

In order to work this out you’ll have to do a bit of inner soul-searching and ask yourself a lot of questions. Don’t forget to write all the answers down so that you can reread them later. At this point I need to give a big plug to a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It really helped me work out what my dream was and make me determined to live it. The Artist’s Way is a 12 week course to help people ‘discover and recover their creative selves’ and I’m sure that some of the ideas I’m recommending come from the book.

I said it wouldn’t happen overnight but I’m sure that if you put a weekend aside and made a conscious decision to devote 48 hours to working out what your dream is you’d be closing in on it. Here’s what you need to do.

Seven Steps To Find Out What Your Dream Is

All you need is a pen, a notebook and some time to yourself. Try to spend a lot of time thinking and brainstorming as many ideas as possible. The more time you spend thinking and writing, the more you’ll get out of it.

1. Cast your mind back to your childhood.
What did you enjoy doing? Think about your favourite toy, game, book and place.
What made you totally happy?
What were you best at at school and at home?
Jot the answers to these questions down.

2. Now look at your present life.
Really spend time noticing how things made you feel. For example, recently I realised the smell of oranges makes me feel happy so next time I’m feeling down all I need to do is peel an orange and I’ll feel much happier.
What makes you happy now? Think of as many things, places and activities as you can.
Write it all down.

3. Now imagine you’ve got a death sentence on your head. Only one year to live.
Sorry, but what would you do in that final year? Where do your priorities lie?

4. Now think back to your childhood again and think about any negative comments or reactions to you doing the thing or things that you enjoyed. Write them down and ask yourself if they’re still holding you back from achieving your dream.

5. Is there an excuse you use for not following your dream? Then think about what you’d do if you weren’t so old/hard up/fearful etc. Just insert your excuses here. Write down the answers.

6. Now think about the things that you loved doing or that make you happy and seek them out. Treat yourself to a walk in the countryside, a visit to an art gallery, a day at home reading, wear your best clothes and enjoy your own company. Write a list of all the things that make you happy and all the things that you’d like to do more often and do them. Spend time by yourself and do some of these fun activities. Have fun.

7. Now take some time to reread your answers and think about what you’ve learnt. Is there any common thread or idea coming out of these?

Take Time To Work Out What Your Dream Is

Whether you do these over a weekend or spend an hour on it each night for three or four weeks, at the end of it you’ll be much closer to knowing what your dream is. Maybe you’ve worked it out already, but if not I hope this helps. I spend a lot of time thinking about my dreams and planning how to realise them and you should too, because we all need a dream that we can make come true.

Thanks for reading, I hope this helps. Feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your plans!