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Succeeding at Work with a Disability

Sometimes I have to be reminded how truly fortunate I am to have a job with a flexible schedule and managers who seem to get me despite any quirks I may display. I have worked nine years at a major local department store and have thrived there even though I have a diagnosed invisible disability called nonverbal learning disability or NLD. NLD affects me in many ways in the workplace including:

  • Having difficulty with interpreting tone of voice
  • Finding it hard to interpret facial expressions, body language, and gestures
  • Understanding inferences and sarcasm
  • Displaying executive functioning issues such as planning and time management
  • Becoming stuck in routines

 

These issues have impacted me in my current job but with support from my family I have managed to compensate for these difficulties by demonstrating that I can work well independently with minimal supervision and knowing that I can always ask for help if it is necessary. Sometimes people wonder why I still work in the same place I have worked at since I graduated high school and my answer should really be that it is close to home and a place where I am understood and appreciated. You don’t always find that in a job.

I have succeeded at the store I work at mainly because my immediate supervisors and managers know that I am a very hard worker who puts 110% into everything I do and follow orders when given. I do not fool around or break any rules while working. I am punctual and efficient and credit this to being taught these principles at home. I am an example of someone who has demonstrated that a disability only holds you back if you want it to and that having a strong support system is key to overcoming any obstacles that come your way whether it is at work or in your personal life.

I am a reminder that you can flourish at work even when you have a documented disability and that by understanding your limitations you can accomplish anything you want to while working. Never give up on your dreams and work beyond your potential. You truly can be a superstar no matter where you are employed if you prove to your bosses that you are reliable and won’t do something stupid that will jeopardize your position within the company.

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How to Deal with Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is a problem that has plagued writers for years. I am almost positive that even the most successful and prolific authors have had bouts of writer’s block over the years. The issue though is how to handle this when it arises. I’m still figuring out my strategies of coping with this but here are a few tips when you’re lost for words:
• Put the difficult piece you’re writing aside for a bit and focus on something else. You may come up with ideas for the harder piece when you’re writing or doing something else.
• Do some writing exercises or writing prompts. These may trigger a burst of creativity and lead to some unexpected writing from you.
• Write when you’re most alert and awake. This will allow you to have more creative energy and be able to really focus on the project at hand.
You have to realize that every writer at some point will struggle with a piece that they’re trying to put on paper. Words don’t always come easily and when they finally do come the words may not be the ones you envisioned in your head. Sometimes the words you do end up writing though may be even better than you imagined they could be.
There is nothing wrong with admitting that you’re stuck in a rut when it comes to your writing. No one will think any less of you because you can’t expect to churn out words all the time. I know I certainly don’t. When the time is right the words will come to you and you could end up writing something quite beautiful and powerful.
Believe in yourself and your ability as a writer and come to terms with the fact that writing is a craft. It takes practice and creative and mental energy to compose great works. Try not to become overwhelmed when confronted with a writing project as this will only hinder your productivity and ability to write.
Other writers have provided advice over the years for coping with obstacles writers face including writer’s block and here are some of their strategies for confronting this issue:
• Maya Angelou wrote: “What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks “the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.” And it might just be the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, “Okay. Okay. I’ll come.”
• Neil Gaiman agreed with some of the strategies I wrote earlier and added: “Start at the beginning. Scribble on the manuscript as you go if you see something you want to change. And often, when you get to the end you’ll be both enthusiastic about it and know what the next few words are. And you do it all one word at a time.”
• Anne Lamott, author of writing books such as Bird by Bird, stated: “I encourage my students at times like these to get one page of something written, three hundred words of memories or dreams or stream of consciousness on how much they hate writing—just for the hell of it, just to keep their fingers from becoming too arthritic, just because they have made a commitment to try to write three hundred words every day.”
• The legendary Mark Twain had good advice for struggling writers when he said: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.”
• Orson Scott Card had some great advice for those coping with writer’s block and stated: “Writer’s block is my unconscious mind telling me that something I’ve just written is either unbelievable or unimportant to me, and I solve it by going back and reinventing some part of what I’ve already written so that when I write it again, it is believable and interesting to me. Then I can go on. Writer’s block is never solved by forcing oneself to “write through it”, because you haven’t solved the problem that caused your unconscious mind to rebel against the story, so it still won’t work—for you or for the reader.”
These writers are some of the successful writers around and their advice is incredibly helpful for those who wish to pursue writing as a profession. Writing is a communal exercise and with the insights these authors have provided, you may find the will to keep on writing and get your creative juices flowing. You may not become the next Hemingway or Twain but you may surprise yourself with what you’re able to produce when you’re in the right frame of mind.
I hope that the advice I’ve provided has enabled you to continue working on the more difficult writing tasks in your life and allow you to forge ahead. You will be grateful that you did because the world needs to read your work and wants to learn from your life experiences. Whether you are writing for fun or for profit you will want to be able to keep on writing the best things possible for your audience. Writing can truly be one of the most cathartic activities around which it has been for me and I definitely struggle with it but I believe that eventually I will power through and write something poignant and meaningful.
Writer’s block will never completely go away but it will improve the more you write. You will be able to dream up new ways to express yourself creatively and be eager and enthusiastic about the writing you’re about to do. Most of all you will be creating a sense of pride at what you are able to accomplish with your writing. It can be one of the most rewarding things that you can ever plan to do in your lifetime. Never give up and remain determined to write things that will mean something in the long run.

How to Become a Freelance Writer

Freelance writing is a career path that is ideal for those who wish to potentially earn a good income and those who truly consider writing their passion. It is perfectly suited for someone who may not have a college degree but finds pleasure in writing about diverse topics. There is an abundance of online and print outlets that freelance writers can pursue writing for and although some outlets can be selective in their choice of writers, you should never give up on trying to break into the media outlets that you desire to write for. Moira Allen wrote about writing for publication in her book, Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer, when she said:
“Writing for publication is one of the most rewarding careers I can think of. It offers the opportunity for independence, creativity, and the occasional moment of fame. It allows you to speak to others—to entertain, to educate, to inspire, to motivate. It gives you a chance to earn an income by doing something you love. It may even give you a chance to change the world, or at least to improve one small corner of it, by giving your readers the tools they need to make their lives better. And there’s nothing like the thrill of seeing your name in print—not just the first time but every time!”
How would you define freelance writing though? It can be defined as a type of writing where the writer is self-employed and works independently writing what you choose to and then offering your work to markets that will publish your work. There are a variety of ways you can freelance including:
• Writing for magazines
• Writing for online periodicals such as webzines, e-mail newsletters, and websites affiliated with offline entities such as stores, catalogs, and media outlets
• Writing for newspapers
• Writing nonfiction books
• Writing and editing for businesses
• Editing and copy-editing
• Speechwriting
• Teaching
• Public speaking
• Writing educational and curricular materials
• Humor writing
• Writing essays
• Writing poetry
Freelance writing can really be adapted to your interests and passions so that you can write on whatever topic seems best suited for you. For example, as someone with disabilities, I have written pieces about disabilities for online media outlets and for a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting individuals with a specific disability. There is a market out there for any type of writer and doing some online research or consulting the Writer’s Market published annually by Writer’s Digest will help you find the right market for you to enter.
In addition to writing for specific markets, you may also consider registering for one of the many websites available to find freelance work like Upwork.com, freelancewritinggigs.com, or freelancewriting.com. Upwork allows you to place bids for posted projects and if your bid and proposal is accepted you will be hired for the job you applied for. It is very similar to another website, Elance.com that will be shuttered by next year. You may not always be paid the highest rates but Upwork allows you to build a portfolio of work that can demonstrate your writing ability.
One thing to remember is that you will not necessarily earn a good living as a freelance writer in the beginning of your career. It takes time to build a reputation for the work that you have produced. If you’re a very talented writer you may be able to strike gold and earn high rates writing for major media outlets.
It is important to note that writing is something you must spend time on and practice regularly. I recommend that you take some online or in-person writing classes. Writing classes can be offered for a fee online, for free, or through your local college or community college. These classes can enable you to perfect your writing and work through any issues you may have encountered in the writing process. I have taken a few writing classes and I can’t say enough about what it has done for me as a writer.
Freelance writing is truly a fascinating career to pursue and one of the best perks of it is that you are able to work wherever you are most comfortable. There is no work dress code and you can even work in your pajamas! I have found that the opportunities I have found in my search for freelance jobs have enabled me to meet some interesting people and write things that I would have never considered writing about before.