Finding the forest among the trees: August’s freelance update

August was a busy, but at the same time slow month. Even when I was full time, I remember not a lot ever got done in August; vacations made it difficult to arrange interviews and pre-publication reviews, so often the month was best spent on drafting blogs, white papers, or articles; or plotting how to direct my creative energy for the remainder of the year.

This year, my August focused on events: recapping both the SANS DFIR Summit from the end of July, and then a few weeks later, the 31st annual Crimes Against Children Conference (CACC) in Dallas, Texas. At both shows, I attended sessions on behalf of my client, Forensic Focus.

How bottom-up thinking helps me deliver deeper stories

The thing about recapping events like this is the way it reflects my neurodivergence. After I attended Techno Security Myrtle Beach in June, I looked at the 20+ pages of notes I’d written and wondered: is there a better, more efficient, less time-consuming way?

There probably is — taking fewer notes, for one — but the thing I struggle with in the moment is whether I will or won’t need whatever’s being said. I can’t process the broader meaning of a talk in the moment as I’m hearing the words — I have to go back and read what I’ve written, or how I processed what was being said. 

Doing this, I’m looking for the patterns in what they’re saying, so that I can relate them to a broader context — putting them together with other things I’ve heard or general trends in the industry. Although this feels like I think slower than the speed of tech, it also lets me form deeper connections and associations between pieces of assorted information.

That’s one benefit of the lack of filters neurodivergence gives me: the ability to assess things equally. While I obviously end up having to prioritize things in order to complete them, giving myself the chance to let my brain work the way it works allows me to deliver a deeper level of value.

How do I know? Well, the feedback I’ve received on my recaps is that they’ve made the readers feel like they were able to attend after all. In an industry where people have to pick and choose how much time they take off from work or how much money they spend (or request), offering something that helps even in small ways is very meaningful.

You can find my recap of the SANS DFIR Summit here. Look for the CACC recap coming soon!

Journalism goal-setting

I’ll be honest: a significant source of anxiety for me this month was failure to hit client goals. I started the summer with some pretty promising leads, only to watch them fizzle out one by one. This is nothing new, either for me or for small business in general. It did, however, make me take a hard look at the way I was doing things, and why.

I had to come to grips with the fact that, well, I wasn’t trying very hard. I’m not a fan of “hustle culture” to begin with, and what I realized was that the right opportunities — the ones that brought lightness and even joy to my work life — were the ones I didn’t have to try quite so hard to get. In other words, like people, if I have to chase them, they probably aren’t the right fit. 

In fact, my pitch-to-story ratio (yes, okay, I have to include short fiction in that figure) is pretty good. With that in mind, over a period of about two weeks I brain-dumped every conceivable experience onto paper, looking for the things that might provide foundations for good stories — not just at Forensic Focus, but elsewhere, too.

The other factor is my children’s book series, Living Wild Side by Side. As I come closer to publishing Book 2, I’m looking back at lessons learned from Book 1. Yes, sales were pretty good, but they mostly came from people I already knew, or friends of friends in the wildlife rehab community. I’m looking to find a broader audience, and I’d like to see if I can take all I’ve learned and put it towards writing articles in addition to books.

I’ll always be open to conversations about how I can help support content marketing strategy, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need a solid writer. Meanwhile, look for the CACC recap and other techie content at Forensic Focus, and stay tuned for forthcoming updates!

Image by lefteye81 from Pixabay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.