Today’s post focuses on Ann Kroeker.
Megan: You’ve been thinking about doing a podcast for awhile. How did you decide on a the format?
Ann: That was a spontaneous decision. I didn’t tell anyone I was going to do it. I’d been thinking about it for years. I’d been intimidated by the equipment, afraid it was going to take a lot of investment. I wanted to conquer something that was a low risk. I’m so glad that I did.
[I decided] to focus on one little thing that might encourage a writer.
It became a creative outlet. Once I figured out the basics of how I wanted to try it, it became another creative mode of expression, another media. I like learning a new thing, and it didn’t take too long. I figured some things out. I needed to have something not related to this caregiving episode, something that was all my own.
Megan: Is that why you limited your podcasts to 3 minutes?
Ann: I think it reflects my own time restraints. I figured if I break it into one idea, I could express it in 3-4 minutes. I try to keep it no more than 5 [minutes]. So, reflecting on my amount of time, that’s how I’m approaching [these podcasts], something that encourages me in my writing life. It’s my gift to the listener. Twenty minutes, 45 minutes seems impossibly long.
I’m having fun. I’m getting enough feedback to know that people are enjoying it. I can stay creative and compose ideas without having to develop it to a full blog post or article, so I feel like I’m still growing in my writing life.
Megan: You also edit, and you’re a writing coach. Talk about switching between those three — especially in the same day.
Ann: I have to do it all the time: from writing to editing to writing coach, which can involve both [writing and editing]. When I’m interacting with a client and then switching to editing, it’s very similar. In either situation, I’m working with a writer’s words. Then [in writing], it’s me. It’s my words to my audience. If it’s a longer project, it helps me if I have a longer chunk of time to focus and get a good solid draft down.
That’s why a lot of things have been a little bit on hold because I haven’t had those larger chunks of time until the last month or so. I’m starting to see glimmers of hope that I can dip back into my writing life with more sustained focus. I’m starting to see some potential there for a new rhythm that allows for longer time periods. I’m trying to discover a balance for what works.
I love my work with my clients — I can’t tell you! It’s such a joy, even in the caregiving era that I’m in now. The clients give me such delight that I can invest in them during this time of caring for someone who’s aging. It’s awesome. (I hate that word, but it’s true.) Together we can solve a problem, come up with a plan. I can look at their work and give them valuable help and feedback that helps them go on with confidence or overcome a hurdle. That has been a great way to feel like I’m continuing to sustain my overall writing life. It’s still going strong!
Megan: So, how do you decide how to use a given chunk of time?
Ann: I’ve had to figure out ways to look at the chunk of time that looks like I’ve got available to me and decide which kind of project to undertake based on urgency (deadline, scheduled appointment), importance, personal project. It requires a lot of planning in an unpredictable life. I need to be flexible. My pink backpack has helped because I might have a chunk of time and suddenly be able to work for half an hour.
Megan: What is your favorite kind of writing to do?
Ann: Right now, I think emails! I love email because I can practice writing techniques. I can experiment. I can do it one-on-one. I know your [Megan’s] sense of humor, so I can aim for that and see how that goes with my audience of one. I love to do that as a practice round and extrapolate into some other project that’s going to affect a larger audience. I think that’s the personal side of me. When I was writing a magazine article for a broad audience, say, mid-30s to retirement age, I didn’t relax as much.
The next level up from that would be a blog post. I really like blogging. It still feels personal and personable, and I can still be playful. That’s why I miss it right now. It’s my own person magazine, and I can try things.
I have enjoyed writing books. I don’t write amazing books, but I like exploring a topic a little more deeply. I like gathering research and processing that and expressing that in a way that’s helpful. I like helping people.