Category: Life

Beating Writers’ Block

Beating Writers’ Block

I found this one tip hugely useful when I was writing novels:

Assume that your first draft will be crap.

It helps to know that even professional writers produce crap on their first attempt. It’s allowed to be crap. You can even sort of aim for it to be crap. It’s really really important to suspend your inner critic at the first draft stage. Your inner critic is your worst enemy at that point: your inner critic is a cruel malicious bully who you would never allow anywhere near anybody you loved.

But without that first draft, you have nothing. So: allow yourself to write utter nonsense, because no matter how crap it is, it is content. It is raw material. And you really badly need that raw material in order to proceed.

Once you have the raw material, invite your inner critic back to the party. Now you can edit and craft and hone.

Oh yes, and here’s a sub-item which I guess I learnt so long ago, I’d forgotten about it: Editing your own work is not as bad as you think.

When I was at school writing essays, I only ever wrote one draft and handed it straight in. This was because I couldn’t bear to read my own work back to myself – I always hated it. But then I realised that it was really satisfying to edit my own work, and it meant I could make it a lot better.

So, use the “rubbish first draft” to get you past that first I-don’t-want-to-do-it hurdle, because you are giving yourself permission to produce utter dross. And it doesn’t matter, because you’re going to go back and improve it – which is a really satisfying process.

Four episodes of sexism at tech community events, and how Sal came out of them (eventually) positive

This is a fantastic post by Sal Freudenberg, describing various experiences of sexism that women may have at tech events, and how they can react / what they can do about it.

Agile in the Wild

It is a sad but undeniable fact that our industry remains rife with gender issues. Coming through any form of sexist encounter is incredibly difficult and I can only be grateful that mine were minor enough, and my general situation and support framework strong enough, for me to come through them largely positive about remaining in tech. I tell my stories here as just some examples of situations that happened to me and that I am sure happen to women in technology each and every day. To show how inadvertently harmful they can be, how absolutely normal it is to be upset by them, how they add up day by day, year by year to make us feel marginalized and unwelcome, and to suggest some ways of dealing with them. I also want to show the importance of having a Code of Conduct at events, both to indicate what is…

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Advice for women (or anyone!) starting a career in tech

(a series of tweets originally sent to @ArrieLay and stored here for posterity…)

Fake it til you make it. Always act like you know what you’re doing, cos You DO – You’re being imperfect, just like everyone else.

Pay attention to people. Focus on empathy. Learn to pair. Learn to collaborate. Celebrate and enable your fellow team members.

Always come to work as yourself. Don’t be afraid to show vulnerabilities, and give others space to show theirs too.

Take risks. Relish your uncomfort zone.

Remember that EVERYBODY feels insecure about their knowledge levels. It’s impossible to know everything, and everybody thinks they are disadvantaged because others know more than them.

Learn to embrace your knowledge gaps. See them as exciting opportunities to learn more. Never be ashamed of them.

Have a questioning attitude, be open about your excitement about learning more. People respond well to it and will help you learn.

Question everything.

Love people. Even the annoying ones. People are great. People are useful. People will help you, whether they mean to or not. 🙂

And for the older amongst us… Age is an advantage, not a curse. Find the wisdom you forgot you had. Age is money in the bank.

Here are some links to some helpful resources for women arriving at or returning to careers in tech: https://insimpleterms.blog/2017/10/13/resources-for-women-arriving-at-or-returning-to-it/

How to spot a heart attack

How to spot a heart attack

I keep these notes sellotaped to a packet of aspirin.

I did a three-day St John’s Ambulance First Aider training course, and there I learnt that there is only one type of medicine I was allowed to give someone in need: If I suspected someone was having a heart attack, I could give them 300mg aspirin (checking first for allergies), to chew slowly or dissolve under their tongue.

Here is the crucial info to know about heart attacks. Worth printing out and keeping somewhere handy. It’s also worth keeping aspirin handy.

More info here.

  • Signs of heart attack:
    • Not always chest – can be radiating jaw pain
    • …or high abdomen, or arms / shoulders
    • Sense of impending doom
    • Gasping for air
    • Going grey
  • What to do:
    • Don’t move them
    • Put in Lazy W position (see below)
      • Put support under knees
      • Give something to lean against
      • This might have to be you! Sit on your knees and let them lean against you.
    • Give 300mg of aspirin
      • Chew slowly
      • Or dissolve under tongue
      • Check for allergies first
      • Get defibrillator ready (if poss)

LazyW

The “Lazy W” Position