Applying the 70:20:10 Ratio Outside the Office

This August, I was promoted to the Digital Content Manager position, hence the deafening silence on my blog. And last week, I facilitated a training program about the importance of the 70:20:10 ratio in the workplace. Basically, this learning and development framework captures three types of learning: 70% experience (experiential), 20% exposure (social), and 10% education (formal).

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The 70:20:10 Ratio

The discussion was supposed to be quick and short but we enjoyed it to the point that a 4-slide PowerPoint presentation, which was supposed to introduce the actual training program, lasted for more than 40 minutes.

The bottom line is, although the formal learning accounts for only 10% of the total learning of an employee, it plays a crucial role to improve the performance of a person in the workplace.

After the training, I had one question in my mind: how can we apply the 70:20:10 ratio outside the office?

70% Experience (Experiential)

Let’s take a writer as an example. While other people claim that writing is a talent, I believe it’s a skill that can be learned and honed through the years.

Anyone can be a writer.

Experience is the best teacher, so for starters, you can start a journal, create a blog, write in your spare time, write whenever you can. Simply stated, if you want to be a writer, write.

But if you ever have a tough time in making your creative juices flow, remember what Charles Bukowski said: unless it comes unasked out of your heart and your mind and your mouth and your gut, don’t do it.

20% Exposure (Social)

According to this framework, learning is 20% exposure. This one is about our social interaction with others. If we follow this to improve our writing, you must choose your circle carefully. Follow your favorite writers online, find and join groups of writers, and go out with people who share your passion.

The 20% also includes collaborative learning, which happens when you discuss ideas with people in your chosen circle. It also covers coaching and mentoring, which happens when you receive and provide feedback.

However, we must not forget that alongside feedback, we must also receive and provide encouragement to and from others. Feedback and encouragement go hand in hand. Without the other, the 70:20:10 ratio won’t work its wonders on your learning and development outside of work.

10% Education (Formal)

As I said earlier, this part might comprise only 10% of our learning but it is as equally important as the two other factors. Without this, you can practice writing until doomsday but you won’t achieve that much-needed boost in your passion.

I understand you probably wouldn’t do as much as a double-take in the matter of signing up for paid structured courses and programs since we’re talking about your passion outside of work, but the internet, although not purely reliable, offers tons of opportunities for all of us.

If you don’t want to spend a fortune on training programs related to your craft, find free online courses through your social network. You can try searching on Facebook and LinkedIn as there are so many entrepreneurs and influencers who are offering free courses in exchange for, say, a blog review, a newsletter subscription, or anything but money.

Sure, shopping around for free courses may be difficult, but that is your only ticket to success. At the end of the day, these structured courses and programs are what separate your normal learning experience from one which gears toward development. 

If you can’t sign up for these programs, the best you can do to help yourself is read the works of your inspiration authors and writers. They may not be able to provide theoretical learnings but they can at least teach practical lessons, which you can apply in your own system.

Got questions about the 70:20:10 ratio? Shoot me an email and I’ll help you if I can. 

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My Anxiety Helps Keep My Creative Juices Flowing

I won’t sugarcoat it: anxiety is ugly. Not only does it make me feel a thousand emotions at a time, but it also triggers my depression big time. As a creative who writes for a living, I discovered there’s an upside to all this.

Well, I can’t really call it an upside, for that matter, because that sounds like romanticizing the illness. But one of the things I’ve learned from years of battling anxiety is when you can’t fight the current, you gotta go with the flow.

I have long embraced this condition and learned to live with the pain, so whenever the monsters come knocking on my door, I greet them with a deep sigh while mentally preparing my weapons. Simply stated,  I have learned to anticipate what’s ahead by not wallowing too much on those horrible thoughts, which used to lead to suicidal thoughts. While it’s not guaranteed to work 100% of the time, the process makes the struggle much more bearable.

So, how does it help keep the creative juices flowing?

Like I said, when you have anxiety, you imagine a thousand possibilities, which, no matter how terrible some ideas appear to be, is a creative pursuit in itself. But that’s just one piece of the puzzle.

Recently, I stumbled upon two articles about how boredom is equal to creativity and how being busy kills our ability to think creatively. The articles have basically one message: to put your smartphone down and start paying attention to the world.

Apparently, articles like these make me stop and contemplate: how am I doing?

As much as possible, I try to have a work-life balance by going out with my boyfriend, friends, and family when I’m not doing my nine-to-five job or side gigs or squeezing in my interests that are essential for my alone time, like reading books and seeing movies.

With so much on one’s plate, you can only imagine how I can still make time for my blog. As I explained in my previous post, I don’t find the time to blog; I wait for the ideas to come out of me naturally.

But when you have anxiety, your brain has no switch. I take advantage of this condition by writing the ideas and thoughts that pop into my head on my smartphone. This happens when I’m taking a cigarette break, killing time during traffic jams, waiting for sleep to come, or basically during all my idle moments. As of writing, I have 79 unfinished drafts here on WordPress.

Unless you are an author who writes books to earn a living, I guess you can still live a full life and keep the creative juices flowing. In this case, my anxiety is doing me a huge favor by keeping me in a constant state of overthinking, which then allows me to gather ideas and turn them into blog posts.

Writing Is Easier When I’m Wearing My Heart on My Sleeve

I remember one of my ex-colleagues asking me how I find the time to blog. Here’s what I did and didn’t tell her:

I don’t find the time to blog. I believe if an idea does not come out of me naturally, there’s no point hitting that “Write” button and trying to come up with a made-up vision just for the sake of publishing something.

I used to do that during the early stages of Nowheregirl. I was in the process of establishing my blog, so I wanted to stay consistent and publish not less than five posts every month. What I would do was force my brain cells to cooperate so the juices would continue flowing. Unfortunately, this process does not work wonders for me.

Tell me what to do and I won’t do it; leave me alone and I’ll give it my 200%. This holds true for me in all aspects–work, passion, chores… I appreciate being told what to do, but I do my best work when I’m left alone. #IntrovertAlert

When blogging, I am more comfortable to put my thoughts into words when talking about three topics: musings, accomplishments, and self-confessions. When I write about my musings, I just let out what’s going through my head, like comparing intelligent people to land and idiots to water. I’ll start with the story of how I came up with that idea and then the words will flow naturally.

When I write about my accomplishments, say my career or love life, it’s no brainer. Accomplishments put me in good spirits and writing when I am in a good mood is as easy as writing when I am blue, which brings me to my next point:

If you’ve been following my blog, you’d know that I write mostly about depression and mental health. Most of my entries to Thought Catalog, Mogul, and Candy Magazine are self-confessions of how I go to war every day.

Last week, I talked to my best friend about not being able to post anything in the past weeks. I’ve been busy with adulting that I failed to notice it had been almost a month since I last wrote anything here. I even joked about how I wish I were depressed so I could at least publish something.

I know that was a mean thing to say, but it’s true for me. Writing my pain as I go through it makes each battle a little bearable. I simply turn my struggles into sentences, insert some metaphors into the paragraphs, and rearrange the sequences to create a piece that reflects my personal battles.

Simply stated, writing is easier when I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve. When an idea pops in my head, my first reaction is to either grab my phone or find a piece of paper to save them. I don’t force myself to write something for the purpose of publishing it. I have to either be on cloud nine or feel blue to be able to write my best piece. I need to feel an extreme emotion–either positive or negative–to write effectively. Anything in between doesn’t work.

What Did Mark Twain Mean By “Good Books?”

As a bookworm, I am always bombarded with book-related stuff that I see daily on my Facebook newsfeed. Over the years, I have repeatedly stumbled upon this quote by the great Samuel Clemens a.k.a. Mark Twain, which reads:

the-man-who-does-not-read-good-books-has-no-advantage-over-the-man-who-cannot-read-them-quote-1
Source: Picture Quotes

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them. – Mark Twain

This quote always makes me stop and question myself, what did Twain mean by “good books?” I bet many bibliophiles would agree with him on this one, but even then, I wonder what others think about this.

“Good,” in this context, is such a vague adjective that does not imply anything unless Mark Twain explicitly defined this in one of his writings. “Good” is one of those adjectives (like beauty) which meaning entirely depends on the reader. That said, this single word makes the entire quote irrelevant.

Think about it. If some self-aggrandizing bookworm who prefers non-fiction books were to use that quote to justify that her taste is better than those who prefer Wattpad stories, her statement wouldn’t make sense at all.

Wattpad Reader: Wattpad is life!

Self-Aggrandizing Bookworm: Really? You should read the good stuff! Did you know that Mark Twain said that the man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them?

Likewise, if a World Literature professor were to use the quote to back her claims that classic novels are better than young adult novels, she’d be making a fallacy.

World Literature Professor: So, what did you read over the weekend?

Student: Young adult books! Harry Potter is life!

World Literature Professor: Young one, you should be reading books with substance. Why not try classics? Mark Twain said that the man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them. Mark Twain is a legend. Believe him.

Student:

Young Adult Books:

Floor:

Simply stated, quoting Twain to justify our opinion about which books are “good” is total BS. In fact, the quote itself is a generalization and somehow demeans those who can’t read books. You see, even the phrase “can’t read books” in this context is too indefinite. Was Twain referring to the blind, illiterate, or impoverished?

I know some people who do not read books who are as smart as some bookworms I know. My point is, just because you are a bookworm doesn’t mean you’re smarter than those who don’t read. Although I believe well-read people have advantages over those who aren’t, being a bibliophile does not give us a free pass to insult the intellectual capacity of non-readers.

I hope people would stop using this quote from Mark Twain if their only intention is to humiliate others. Perhaps the better quotation would be from J.K. Rowling:

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Source: Pinterest

If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book. – J.K. Rowling

On Editing: Making Money From My Hobby

Back in college, my favorite pastime was to point out the linguistic shortcomings of people. I used to cringe whenever I spotted or heard spelling or grammar errors. I may not have confronted anyone but I always secretly corrected them in my head. Sometimes, my best friend and I would discreetly talk about them and make a big deal out of those issues, as if those trivial blunders were a reflection of their intellectual capacity.

Being a Grammar Nazi was both a pleasure and a burden. When I was younger, I simply couldn’t help but butt in whenever my friends spoke or posted something in broken English. I always believed it was an act of kindness. I thought that by doing so, I was doing them a favor–I did not want others to make fun of them, that’s all. What are friends for?

Although it was never my intention to hurt their pride, some of them did not like my giving out unsolicited advice. For some of them, I was a self-aggrandizing bitch so they deleted me from their social media for fear of being criticized for their mistakes. I couldn’t blame them.

Now, I realized being a grammar police pays off. Even though I still miss annoying little details when I comb through my own works, I am now happily making money from my hobby.

Autocorrecting a grammar mistake when I see one has been imprinted in my personality, so having a nine-to-five job that involves editing and proofreading is a no-brainer job for me. It’s like doing what I do best but being paid to do it. The best part? I have more time to spare for the people and things I love.

At first, I was hesitant to pursue this career because I wanted a challenging job that would allow me to develop my full potential. Later, I found out it was a wise decision, especially because I wanted to pursue blogging and do side gigs at the same time. A boring nine-to-five job allows me to be more creative, apparently. With more downtimes on my plate, I constantly want to challenge myself and have the urge to do other things outside my full-time job. Really, it sounds like a dream come true for me.

If you are a Grammar Nazi at heart and you want to pursue your creative endeavors, I encourage you to get a full-time editing or proofreading job. I hope that would work wonders for you as it had for me.

Confessions of a Former Grammar Nazi

Back in college, my favorite pastime was to point out the linguistic shortcomings of people. Whenever I spotted grammar or spelling errors, I’d unintentionally make the person feel bad for committing such mistakes. What a bitch. If I’m being honest, I love to make a big deal out of trivial things. Naturally, I’d receive sarcastic replies or get removed from their friends’ list. I couldn’t resist the urge to point out those flaws, even in informal settings. I mean, what did these folks do in their English class?

At school, my best friend and I always sat next to each other to judge our classmates and professors. Our fetish: to make fun of people who incorrectly used the words you’re, your, they’re, there, their, its, it’s, stuff, paperwork, training, advice, and more. In our eyes, we were better than most of our classmates. In our classmates’ eyes, we were two arrogant bitches who loved to give out unsolicited grammar advice just to humiliate others.

Back then, my idea of an intellectual was someone who can write and speak fluently in English. I was so vocal about my dislike for people who commit grammar errors to the point that some of my classmates and friends, especially the English majors, removed me from their social media for fear of being publicly shamed for a stupid grammatical mistake.

Recently, I found out that even my relatives have become self-conscious of their grammar, too, because of me. Ha! They told me they’d rather shut up than receive harsh comments from their Grammar Nazi relative.

My philosophy back then was it’s pathetic to try so hard writing or speaking in English when it’s easier to do it using our native language. If it’s not an academic or work-related endeavor, or if you’re not talking to a foreigner, using English isn’t necessary at all, unless you’re simply trying to show off or look and sound cool in social media (which is totally uncool).

Now, whenever I look back in my previous posts, I see errors every once in a while. Obviously, those errors are not the usual grammar or spelling mistakes that non-writers make. Half the time, I spot poorly constructed sentences, dangling modifiers, and parallelism issues.

To be honest, it is easy to miss those things when you’re a writer. Writing and editing are two different skills, after all. Although some multi-talented or gifted word wizards can do both, not all writers are good editors in the same degree that not all editors are great writers. Editors and proofreaders don’t exist for no reason.

Let’s take this as an example. In my previous job, I qualified as a one-pass writer. This means my works did not go through the editing phase–I sent them directly to the web designers. We had editors, but the purpose of the one-pass writing program was to expedite the entire production.

When I first learned that I was among the chosen ones, I cringed because I knew I’ll never be good at editing (not true), especially if it’s my own work (still true). In a BPO setting, everyone needs to hustle because websites are being ordered in bulk and a company cannot afford a disruption in operations. Long story short, I had limited time for editing the pieces I wrote.

Normally, I have a tough time seeing my works from a different perspective. The trick is to change the font type, preferably to Comic Sans, so it’s like seeing the copy using a fresh pair of eyes. It works for me, but it’s not guaranteed to work 100% of the time.

Comic Sans and the Grammarly bot aren’t humans and humans aren’t perfect either. No matter how many times I comb through my content, my brain always beats my eyes. I found out that most writers experience the same. According to Wired, “the reason we don’t see our own typos is because what we see on the screen is competing with the version that exists in our heads.” This allows me to commit errors that, no matter how minor,  are enough to make me feel ashamed of myself and hide in my room 5ever.

But that was then and this is now.

I’ve long accepted that people commit mistakes–both in the linguistics and moral sense–and there’s nothing wrong with it (pun intended). I mean, it’s obvious when some idiot is simply trying to show off–I’d say they’re pathetic, but I won’t judge their intellectual capacity (even though I just called them “idiot”). I am both introspective and perceptive, thank you very much, and I am learning to consider things from different vantage points.

Whenever I see a writer (as in a self-proclaimed writer or someone who writes for a living) commit this mortal sin, I let them pass because I know the feeling. Writing, especially for personal blogs, is liberating when done without fears and limits. I do my best writing when I let out the exact words and thoughts going through my mind as I write. Although I usually hate my darlings by the time they become visible to the public, I am more comfortable publishing pieces that the grammar police in me didn’t inspect.

Now, if a Grammar Nazi were to visit my blog and judge me for all my grammar mistakes, I wouldn’t feel bad at all. Actually, I have a message for y’all:

Been there, done that, and I’d say it’s normal, that’s all.

xoxo,

a former Grammar Nazi

A Writer’s Dilemma: To Read, to Watch, or to Write?

My blog has been dormant for years (kidding, just three weeks) and I’m starting to feel like my life is a complete mess. The thing is lately, I have been torn between three lovers: reading, watching, and writing.

My best friend gave me this Kobo e-book reader and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since I first laid my hands on it. At the same time, I’ve been binge-watching 13 Reasons Why and Riverdale and seeing some movies in between. As I also write for a living, I find it hard to make time for my blog or my project.

In this post, I’ll try to solve a dilemma that’s been boggling me. Believe me, I write as I think, so in a way, we’re in this together. I have no idea what I’d write when I logged into my WordPress account. You see, as a writer of some sorts, I’ve been struggling for years: should I prioritize writing, reading, or watching?

Writing

I can’t emphasize enough how writing has saved me for years. When I ran out of courage to keep fighting, I wrote my way through depression. There were also times when my obsession with fictional characters made me temporarily forget my problems.

Writing is my therapy. However, writing for my nine-to-five job and doing some freelance gigs make it nearly impossible for me to write for my blog (a.k.a. submit articles to various platforms and then repost them here).

Reading

No matter what you say, I will always believe that to be a writer, you need to be a bookworm. When my boss at work asked tips on how to write quality articles in a lightning speed manner, I told them reading is my foundation. If you already have an idea in mind, writing the words will come out naturally. There’s no other way to do it good and fast than to read in advance.

That’s the reason why I never let my busy schedule get in the way of my passion for reading. Whether it’s a book, a journal, an online article, or what have you, you don’t stop reading because that’s how great writers came to be. Athletes work out to muster the strength they need for competitions. Writers read to gather information, exercise their imagination, and widen their horizons.

Watching

Writing for foreign clients requires knowing how to speak their native language. In my experience as a writer and an editor, I discovered that the biggest struggle of most of my officemates was Filipinism. Meaning, Filipino copywriters tend to literally translate Filipino idioms into English, which makes their copy sound sloppy and awkward.

I also found out that to be a good copywriter, you need to explain your message in layman’s terms. If you like to use hifalutin words to sound profound, you’re a pretentious little word witch and you need to learn spells to write in simple terms.

Watching American or British movies and shows helps me get a glimpse of their culture, traditions, and native language. When I write for a British audience, I’d recall how the Harry Potter characters or The Beatles phrased their words or lyrics. For an American audience, it’s easier. Our country is dominated by American pop culture. By watching and observing them, I learn to write how they speak.

Juggling three hobbies at a time may be tough, but I realize there’s no harm in doing it. After all, these activities keep me engaged. There’s lesser room for the negatives and to be honest, that’s enough for me. I’d rather struggle to choose what to prioritize than lay in bed and wallow in depressing thoughts. It still visits me every day, though, those depressing thoughts. Can’t speak for my future right now, but I have to admit, it’s getting better each day.