Are You Addicted to Training?

Do you always have a course on the go?

Do you regularly have more than one on the go at the same time?

Are you always searching FutureLearn or Coursera for your next fix?

You may be addicted to training.

 

oooh a new course!

 

Now, this is slightly tongue-in-cheek, but it’s something I’ve wondered for a while. Can you be addicted to training?

Since I left Uni waaaaaay back when, I think that for only about three of those years, when my daughter was little, I haven’t been undertaking some form of training. I’ve taken courses for work and courses for fun, but they’ve all helped my work because I actually find it fun. I work on projects and subjects that interest me, and even those courses that weren’t for work have ended up having some use.

I took genealogy, palaeography and archaeology courses through distance learning and classroom-based learning when I worked in the University, and they helped me forge a freelance career when I left, even though I originally took them because they interested me.

 

table of books

 

I’ve taken feltmaking, book making, basket weaving, glassmaking, digital fractal artwork and drystone walling classes, to name a few. All hands-on, fun and informative.

My sign language classes were great, and one of the reasons I took them was to be able to talk to a student at the Uni … I passed, but she left, I had no one to talk to so that was a bit of a loss. I really need to re-do that one as I’ve forgotten everything.

But it’s not just fun. I’ve taken numerous work-based courses, all with the intention of helping me either learn new stuff or enhance my knowledge. I’ve been known to have three on the go at once, fit in alongside my work (when I haven’t had a theatre production to work on). In fact I have three on the go right now, or I will have once I start on the new one I’ve just signed up to.

Does this sound like you, or am I alone in my addiction to learning?

thoughtful cartoon

I think this learning addiction has been helped along massively by the growth of MOOCs and online distance learning.

When I first moved to the far north of Scotland, distance learning was of the kind you signed up to and had papers sent through the post. You would read the bumf, do the coursework, then send it back in the mail. It was wieldy, slow and expensive. But now, your learning addiction can be satisfied quickly, for instant gratification. You just hit the subscribe button, pay your price and access a world of learning through the interwebs.

It’s interesting, informative, useful and a total drain on your time, despite being wonderful.

How do you spend your time?

I signed up to FutureLearn when it started and so far have completed these courses: Start Writing Fiction, Forensic Psychology, Shakespeare and his World, Digital Marketing, How to Read a Mind, Introduction to Forensic Science, Physical Theatre, Exploring Filmmaking, Much Ado About Nothing, Forensic Science and Criminal Justice, How To Write your First Song, Identifying the Dead, The Business of Film, Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales, Introduction to Screenwriting, Explore Animation, Japanese Culture Through Rare Books, Stereoscopy, Forensic Facial Reconstruction, Competitive Advantage, Becoming Career Smart, Exploring Copyright, Creative Coding, How to Read a Novel, First Aid for Adults, Understanding GDPR, Bookkeeping for Personal and Business Accounting, and Early Modern Scottish Palaeography.

There are only two I didn’t like, and didn’t finish: The Power of Colour, and England in the Time of King Richard III.

Now if you read through that whole list, well done. It’s a whopper. Thirty courses in about three years, on FutureLearn alone.

The first one led to my OU Creative Writing courses, and my new-found love for the OU.

Addicted? Moi?

addiction2 (4)

Search online and you probably won’t find much about being addicted to learning. It’s a compulsion and is probably brought about, in part, by feelings of inadequacy – those thoughts that you really don’t know enough, that you need to learn more, THAT YOU WILL NEVER KNOW ENOUGH!

Say hello to the good old monster called Imposter Syndrome.

Now, I’m not saying that compulsive learning IS caused by Imposter Syndrome – personally, I just love to learn new things and enhance my knowledge in areas in which I have an interest – but when you learn for business, and can’t seem to stop, that’s when you have to take a long hard look at why you’re training all the time.

If you are constantly training for work, rather than just getting on with your work, it may be detrimental to your feelings of self-worth. Rather than enhancing your knowledge, you may actually be convincing yourself that you are no good. Training should be a force for good.

click here to sign up

So, if this sounds like you, ask yourself these questions:

Who are you doing the training for?

What am I getting out of the training?

Why am I training?

When is the best time for me to train? Do I need to do it right now?

How can I get the most from my training schedule?

Answer these honestly, and you may realise that you’re training just to convince yourself that you know what you are doing. I’ve been there and done that. Now I have a valid reason for all the training I do – it could be valid CPD (we all need to keep up-to-date) or it could be (and quite often is) because I love the subject. If you look at my list of courses above you’ll see a love for forensics, literature, film and theatre.

forensic filming in theatre

So, what do you think? Is there a valid reason for all that learning you are doing, or would you be better off spending your time doing something you love away from the screen? People, there’s a whole world of fun out there. Go and enjoy it.

Perfectionism

perfect bullseye

So, last week I wrote a post that prompted quite a reaction.

In it I said that it’s ok to be perfectish.

‘It doesn’t mean that it won’t be perfect,

just accept that it might not be.

And that’s totally fine.’

Most of the comments were positive, but some of you thought I meant to strive for perfectish, rather than perfect.

Hmmm.

Language sometimes gets in the way doesn’t it? So that post itself was perfectish. In most people’s eyes it said what it was supposed to say – seek excellence (perfectish) rather than perfection – while some people got the wrong end of the stick.

I still stand by my words:

People, setting yourself up for perfection is just setting yourself up for disappointment and broken dreams.

corgi with a stickNow, I always strive for excellence, but I never, ever promise perfection. I may deliver it, but I never promise it.

Why?

  • Clients may not have the budget to attain perfection.
  • Clients may not have the time to attain perfection.
  • Clients may not want to attain perfection (sometimes good enough is actually good enough).
  • Perfection is in the eye of the beholder.

A+ testimonial

As service providers we have to look after our clients and ourselves, and that means working within the constraints of what is set before us. So this week we’ll look at how to achieve excellence as both a service provider and a client.

If you are a service provider:

Train. Do lots of training – that could be in-house training if you’re an employee, or it could be self-funded freelance training. The more training you have, and the more experience you have, the better you will get. No one ever achieved excellence if they didn’t know what they were doing (and if anyone has I’m sure someone will tell me). Target your training to suit your needs and your sector. There’s no point training in editing fiction if you only ever, and will ever, edit academic journals. Don’t train just for the sake of it – your education should enhance your knowledge, give you new targeted knowledge or help you move in a new direction. Spend your training budget, and your time, wisely.

Talk to your clients. Simple really, but different clients have different needs and expectations. I’ve had clients who only wanted a very quick turnaround and a basic edit, and I’ve had some who needed the full bells and whistles. Respect your clients, talk to them and deliver what they want.

Utilise your computer. Learn macros and programs that will help you. The more you can do mechanically, the more time you have to take care of the human aspect and do the actual editing. Editors are not computers, and I’ve still to find a computer that can complete the human aspects of editing and proofreading.

perfect sign

If you are a client:

Utilise your computer. When you have completed your document, use the tools available to you. Use spellcheck, and use Hemmingway or Grammarly wisely. Set the language in your document to the correct one before you start.

Get it as perfect, in your eyes, as you can get it. The better it reads to you, the better it will read to your editor and the easier it will be to truly attain excellence. If the document is in a bad state to begin with, your editor may be able to get it as near damn perfect as possible but it will take longer and cost you more. Dispense with the fancy fonts, fancy formatting and layout – it’s much easier to read, and work on, 12pt Times New Roman, double-spaced with margins of 2cm on each side of an A4 page, or something similar (personally I hate TNR and always work in Calibri). The first thing your editor will do if you submit your document in Comic Sans, single-spaced with 0.5cm margins is spend time reformatting it. They may not even accept your commission if the document seems to be too badly set out (we’ve all had documents sent for an estimate/quote where a fancy layout has hidden text that just wasn’t ready for an edit). Make it as easy as possible for your editor to start work on the document.

Revisit the terminology. Are you looking for an editor or a proofreader? There is a difference, and asking for an edit, rather than a proofread, may not give you the results you are after. Proofreading comes at the very end, while editing is the middle bit (I tend to concentrate on the editing side of things).

Talk to your editor at the very start. You’re in this together, so set out your needs, wants and expectations. Give them your manuscript to appraise before work starts – let them see what they will be working on. How many editing passes do you want? An editor will usually include one or two in their estimate, anything more will cost you more. You’re on this journey together, it’s best to both start off on the right footing.

wisdom over perfectionism

Think editors should promise perfection? Don’t believe me when I say perfection is a silly thing to promise?

Some colleagues I respect have also written some wonderful articles on the issue:

Lisa Poisso on ‘Why did the editor miss errors in your book?’

Arlene Prunkl on When editors make mistakes

Kia Thomas on Editing and the rise of the machines

copywriter

Perfectionism is paralysing and can cause you to stall, constantly re-check your work, make you feel inadequate and can lead to serious health problems. As a freelance, the negative sides of perfectionism can become debilitating – when you work on your own there’s no one to tell you that you’re fine, that your work is damn perfect and that everyone feels the same (that’s why I highly recommend joining a professional society such as the SfEP). Mind you, there’s always someone out there to tell you that you’re rubbish.

As editors and proofreaders we have a tendency towards seeking perfection. But it’s dangerous and toxic, and society is riddled with an unhealthy attitude towards perfection. You can read an article on the BBC website that talks about the toxicity of perfectionism.

Even the Harvard Business Review and the World Health Organisation have noted the current trend for perfectionism that is destroying a generation

Yet perfection is an impossible goal. Those who become preoccupied with it inevitably set themselves up for failure and psychological turmoil. They become obsessed with winning the validation of others and demonstrating their worth through flawless performance after flawless performance.’

More information can also be found in an excellent pdf resource on how to overcome perfectionism by the Anxiety Disorders Association of British Columbia (AnxietyBC) website.

thumbs up

Perfectionism is something I’ve struggled with for years (and I’m not completely over it), so I’ve learned the hard way to understand when perfectish is ok.

Strive for excellence in your work, look after you clients (or your freelances if you are a client) and look after yourself. Surround yourself with like-minded people and accept that ‘perfect’ is subjective.

Be honest, authentic and human.

Don’t let perfectionism paralyse you, it will affect you and your business if you let it.

 

Perfectish – A User’s Guide

 

cute kitten in a pot

Right, guys.

Let’s get one thing straight.

Perfect doesn’t exist.

There is no such thing as perfect.

What is perfect to one person’s eyes, may not be to another’s.

peering through a magnifying glass

With writing, perfect is even more of a personal point of view.

Your spelling, grammar, syntax and story may be perfect to you, but Penny Pickall from Pickering will still find something to knock it off the perfect pedestal.

Word choice, spelling variations and formatting will all come into play to make perfect a pipe dream.

cups, trophies and winners

So let’s ditch perfect, and all the negative connotations for anything less than perfect.

If we don’t, we’ll all end up frustrated and feeling rubbish.

Instead, why don’t we concentrate on ‘as good as we can get it within the constraints of society’?

What word should we use? Adequate won’t cut it – who wants ‘adequate’?

How about perfectish? Let’s all strive for perfectish. It’s not as perfect as ‘perfect’ but it’s better than adequate, or good enough, or just about right.

Perfectish, getting it just about perfect

Per-fect-tish ­ – the art of getting it just about right. As good as it can be.

 

When we strive for perfectish, we know that some things may slip through, but hey, that’s ok, no-one’s perfect. It can be applied to all aspects of life and it won’t leave us frustrated with ourselves.

Last weekend I handed in some coursework. I’d strived for perfection, but knew in my heart it was a bit rubbish. Hey, I had a gig to go to (and bloody marvellous it was too – thank you All Time Low, you rock) so I decided that I’d try my very best and live with it. I ditched perfect and decided perfectish was about as good as I could manage. I handed in my coursework, (which I’d actually taken time off work to fit in, because, hey, gig time) and accepting the lower edge of perfectish I was happy that I’d done my best. No guilt, no second-guessing. Just acceptance and I moved on (or rather down, to Glasgow, for the gig).

apple on a stack of books

The other day I ate an apple. It was beautiful, like a Wicked Queen had plucked it from a perfect tree, nourished by the perfect food and shaped just … perfectly. And it tasted of nothing.

Today I had a pear, it was knobbly, ugly-looking and slightly bashed. It tasted wonderful, just like a pear should taste. Sure it wouldn’t win any orchard fruit beauty contests, but it tasted like a pear, and that’s what matters.

People, setting yourself up for perfection is just setting yourself up for disappointment and broken dreams.

 

So, when it comes to trying to get everything perfect, just give yourself and others some slack, and settle for perfectish instead.

It doesn’t mean that it won’t be perfect, just accept that it might not be. And that’s totally fine.

target, dartboard bullseye

So if you are a writer looking for perfection, a business wanting to attract customers or a student wanting to get your best grade, here’s how you can get things as near to damn perfect as possible:

  • Do your homework – what does perfectish mean to you? What leeway are you willing to accept?
  • Make sure your base is looking great (this doesn’t just apply to make-up – with anything, if you build on solid foundations you’re going to get a better result).
  • Get it as right as possible the first time. The more revisions there are, the more you pick, the more chance there is of introducing errors.
  • When you bring in the professionals, trust that they are professionals and let them do their job.
  • Remember you are seeking perfectish, not perfect. You won’t get perfect, so put it out of your mind. If you get damn near perfect, that’s still perfectish, and that’s amazing.
  • Know when things are perfectish enough to call it a day. The more you push, the more you seek perfection and the less likely you are to get it.

 

don't panic

Remember, ‘perfect’ doesn’t always mean flawless and free from errors. Even the Oxford Dictionary has the definition:

‘Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics;

as good as it is possible to be’

 

So let’s ditch ‘perfect’ and strive for ‘perfectish’.

Get things just about right. As good as they can be.

Then move on.

Get your life back and be proud of your achievements rather than worry about what you can’t see.