Issue No. 652
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Oh, hi friends!

Who gives you advice? 

And whose advice do you actually take?

(Those answers might — and probably will — be different.)

I wonder this because we’re often told to find mentors — maybe someone in your field, someone who’s already done what you want to do — and take our cues from them. Ask questions. Help you weigh two options on the balancing scale. Reflect back what you’re saying so you can hear it from someone else’s mouth.

Sounds nice, right? I wish everyone could find this kind of support!

But what if, for whatever reason, you can’t find a mentor? Maybe you don’t know anyone in the field you want to break into; maybe you find it hard to advice from people; maybe you’re shy or don’t like asking for help or everyone seems busy or any number of other reasons. 

What can you do instead? Let's try to find some ways...

One thing to do is to figure out what you want help with first. It’s funny, I always feel like reaching out to screenwriters or playwrights to say, “Hey, I love your work,” and to follow that up with something real casual like: Howdyoudoit whatsyoursecret tellmeyourroutine wannareadmyscript and on and on. But are those questions? Do I need advice? What I really want, what a lot of people want, I think, is for this person to say, “Keep going.” Maybe those words coming out of the mouth of someone I respect would carry a different weight. Maybe I’d listen. You know? 

Figure out who came before you. Depending on what you want to do, there are likely a bunch of people who came before you, doing exactly the same thing that you want to do. Unless, of course, you want to be completely original — but there’s a great book for that, too. What kind of information can you soak up in books, podcasts, speeches, TED talks, YouTube videos, interviews, even, yes, Twitter? There are unlimited tactics, hacks, tricks, “secrets,” and mile-deep biographies out there. These can make you feel more comfortable to dig deeper. Seek them out.

Think about who you listen to right now. Maybe you have one friend you go to for relationship advice, another for moving-to-a-new-city advice, another for what kind of winter boots you should buy. There’s a friend for all seasons. Could you mix it up and ask one of your trusted friends another kind of question? I know, I know — crazy, right? Blurring the boundaries. But maybe your kickboxing friend offers great career advice and maybe the coworker you banter with can help you with your short story. You never know. If you trust them for one topic, maybe you could trust them for another.

Maybe these will work! Maybe not! But there’s always some kind of way forward. 

“Everyone’s kinda looking for rules to follow. As soon as you realize there aren’t any, the better art can be….You can do whatever you want. People don’t know how free they are.”

My brother Eric and I were talking about the comedian Jerrod Carmichael last week and I mentioned a podcast interview I heard with him ages ago — I’ve thought about it probably a dozen times since; it’s just that good. He’s had even more success in the two years since talking to Tim Ferriss. Listen here.

Been trying out this new thing where I don’t work incessantly on plane rides and instead use them as a way to slowly ease into (or out of) vacation. Going well!! On the way to London last week, I turned on the film Long Shot featuring Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen. She’s the Secretary of State mounting a run for president; he knew her in their childhood, gets fired from his job as a journalist, and becomes her speechwriter. Can you guess what the long shot is? I bet you can! The film had a lot of laughs and levity. Maybe check it out if you need some of those this week. It’s available to rent on Amazon Prime.

And, actually, what pushed me over the edge to choose this movie among the hundreds on offer is that I follow one of its screenwriters, Liz Hannah, on Twitter and find her writing advice invaluable. Twitter pseudo mentor?! And that is what they call full circle. 

Do you like these daily emails? Please share with a friend!

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Love, Kara

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