The Avalanche Killer

Many folks who have been to Faffcon have heard my Dad speak on the topic of Inviting the Avalanche. For those who haven’t, the basic idea is to invite as much work as you can handle, then a little bit (or a lot!) more, and then figure out how you’re going to get it all done. Dad does this by outsourcing to myself and others.

What I want to talk about today however, is the single most deadly thing to finishing your avalanche, and indeed getting further ones. In order to explain, I’m going to use an illustration from my own work–and the reason I didn’t post last week. Recently, I invited the avalanche and took on 3 audiobooks and some other minor work at the same time. The narrators I was working with were new to me, but I’ve done a ton of audiobooks! I would be okay! Right?

Wrong. Every narrator is different, and it was a huge mistake for me to assume that I would be able to go through things at the same pace and in the same way as I have on other projects. Every book is different, and I made another mistake in not reviewing the book before I really got into the project. I discovered to my horror that the book was actually 45 chapters long!

I got the work done on that project and the two subsequent ones. However, this meant that I got something like 21 hours of sleep over the course of five days, and suffered some minor health problems at the same time. (Too many hours spent hunched over the computer!)

So what is the avalanche killer? Lack of planning! When you are sitting there in front of your mic as the snow begins to rumble down the work-mountain, look up a moment and assess what’s coming at you! Don’t get caught up in outside concerns and end up buried and miserable like I did. It’s vital to be sure that you are using your time in the most efficient and effective way possible when you are digging your way out of the snow pile. Too many mistakes in this arena can damage the quality of the work you turn out, and can of course hurt your chances of getting another one!

To finish this post I want to give a shout out to my new client Mark Nelson. He was very understanding of my crazy circumstances and was very willing to work with me in that I was trying to finish editing his book and proof another at the same time, with the same due date.

I was truly lucky in my circumstances to be working with understanding clients and to be able to push myself as hard as I needed to to get the work done, but I am very aware of how much worse the situation could have been, and how much damage I could have done to my own name and client relationships. Don’t make the mistake I did, and avoid the avalanche killer!

Next week I will be coming back to my Faffcon Session, Online Presence Part 2.

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4 comments

  1. Well said, Karen! Everything in moderation.

    And I know what you must’ve felt like, with regard to “too many hours spent hunched over the computer.” Proper workstation ergonomics is extremely important, as are taking frequent breaks to get up and walk around and stretch, and staying properly hydrated. Yes: even if you’re not a voice actor, proper hydration helps keep our muscles at their best and less prone to spasms. Here’s a great place to learn more about proper ergonomics: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/computerworkstation/index.html

    Mike

  2. Brava Karen! You at least in self-reflection have taught us all a good lesson. I like the analogy of the avalanche. Will we ride it or get buried in it!? Kind of like surfing too I guess!
    I want to ride an avalanche!!!!

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