At Freedom, we love our users – not just because they use our product, but because they’re cool – cool people working on cool stuff. Academy Award-nominated screenwriters, bestselling authors, editors, journalists, developers, illustrators, designers, coaches, bloggers, explorers, and entrepreneurs – the Freedom community is packed with curious, creative, and passionate go-getters. We love to share their stories and advice, because how better to learn about productivity than from the productive?
Meet Cher Martinettti.
Cher is a writer, editor, and podcaster. She is founder and managing editor of SYFY Wire’s FANGRRLS, a female-centric vertical for the SYFY Wire’s hub of all things science fiction. She also produces its flagship podcast, Strong Female Characters. In addition to her work at SYFY, She also the creator and cohost of the The Churn and Cult Faves, the former, an official post-show wrap-up podcast of the critically acclaimed space opera The Expanse, and the latter, a biweekly podcast where she and Gwenda Bond break down various cults.
Cher’s work has been featured in Cracked, Playboy, Death & Taxes, and IFC.com and she has hosted a variety of panels at ATX Festival, NY Comic Con, San Diego Comic Con, ECCC, NYCC, and C2E2.
When she’s not writing, hosting, or editing, you can find her on Twitter – where she claims that her sarcastic musings garner a little more attention than they should.
With such varied experience in writing and media, we decided to sit down with her this week to learn a little more about how she finds the time and focus to do it all.
How did you know that you wanted to be a writer, editor, and podcaster – what were your first steps in making this your career?
Oof! Well, I knew I wanted to be a writer before I even knew how to write, or really even read. My grandfather used to buy me these Disney Read Along books with the tapes that would beep when it was time to turn the page. When the tape was done, I would go back to the beginning of the book and start making up my own stories and dialogue for each page. So I guess, technically, that was when I knew I wanted to be a writer, even though I had no idea what that was.
As for podcasting, it just sort of happened naturally. To be in this industry, which is so competitive, you kind of need to be able to be a bit of a hyphenate. You can’t really just be a writer anymore. Being able to podcast, to have on-camera experience, know how to host, to produce other mediums, those skills only benefit you. I try to take every opportunity that presents itself if I feel like it can ultimately help further my career.
At what point did you realize that tech was taking a toll on your productivity, time, and relationships? When did you know that you had to do something about it?
Truthfully probably as soon as cell phones were a big thing, my cell phone was a distraction. I have ADHD so it’s extra challenging for me to stay focused as it is. I’m always looking for ways to stay super organized or to minimize distractions and stay focused and productive because I know that without some type of system in place, everything in my life, even the smallest and most mundane tasks, becomes unmanageable. I don’t think we’re meant to have all this constant stimulus from social media and technology 24-7, so I try to make myself take hiatuses from social media every now and then to hit the reset button. Otherwise if I don’t, I notice that not only is my productivity level suffering, but my mood does, too.
I don’t think we’re meant to have all this constant stimulus from social media and technology 24-7, so I try to make myself take hiatuses from social media every now and then to hit the reset button. Otherwise if I don’t, I notice that not only is my productivity level suffering, but my mood does, too.Cher Martinetti
How do you prioritize what gets your time and attention each day?
It’s something I struggle with daily. I depend a lot on making lists and try to prioritize things by what needs my immediate attention and organize things by what requires the most bandwidth. One thing I’ve learned is sometimes you have to be honest about how much energy and attention certain tasks need, not just with yourself but with others, and be realistic about what you can and can’t do. Sometimes that requires saying no or putting something on the back-burner.
How do you stay focused and motivated on a daily basis? Do you have a routine, ritual, or process that helps to get into a productive flow?
I’m a pretty ambitious person and I’ve always set lofty goals for myself. I can’t really pinpoint what motivates me, exactly. I think some of it has to do with experiences I had when I was younger and not wanting to find myself in certain situations. Also, I’m a HS dropout and never went to college, so I think there’s a part of me that has always subconsciously wanted to prove to myself and others that that wasn’t going to hold me back or prevent me from doing something with my life.
One thing that’s really important and helpful to me is meditation. I notice that my life and everything else is a lot more manageable when I’m meditating every morning and going to yoga frequently. I also make it a priority to not be online and go experience things in the world as often as possible, like museums, concerts, etc. I get super inspired by seeing and experiencing art that other people have created, being in new environments and people watching. Plus I think it’s just important to interact with things in person as opposed to online all the time. Otherwise we start forgetting how to be the social beings we naturally are.
One thing I’ve learned is sometimes you have to be honest about how much energy and attention certain tasks need, not just with yourself but with others, and be realistic about what you can and can’t do. Sometimes that requires saying no or putting something on the back-burner.Cher Martinetti
How do you optimize your environment for productivity and focus? How do you incorporate Freedom into your schedule?
I’ve learned through a lot of trial and error that I absolutely need to schedule things in a calendar. Ironically, as distracting as a smartphone can be, they’re also incredibly helpful for someone like myself that has ADHD. I don’t do well with a bunch of pieces of paper all over the place, and I need the ability to have everything filed somewhere and organized and to set alerts for stuff. I have Freedom on pretty much every device, including my work computer. If catch myself procrastinating a lot or know I have a deadline, I’ll use it. Sometimes if I catch myself getting too distracted by the constant noise of social media, I’ll set Freedom for 24 hours at a time. I’m actually trying to do a social media detox right now, so Freedom’s a big part of that. I try to keep everything – my desk, my homescreen on my phone, my desktop – clutter-free. I’ll also delete certain apps from my phone, putting it on “do not disturb”, or even go as far as shutting my phone off for bit if I need to really focus and not be interrupted. Music helps me a lot when I’m writing or really doing anything, so I’m often making different playlists for different things and using them.
What is the most difficult or challenging aspect about your work or working process? Do you have any strategies that you use to help overcome these challenges?
Having ADHD is definitely the biggest obstacle for me. I have a lot of ideas and sometimes I wish I kid hit the pause button on my brain or shut a faucet off so it was less busy. Again, meditation helps with that. But impostor syndrome is probably a close second. I think a lot of creatives struggle with feeling like they’re not good enough, but I think women, whether they work in a creative field or not, probably more so.
I experience this weird thing where I literally don’t know where to start on the laundry list of things I want to or need to do sometimes because of the former, or worrying that what I’m doing isn’t good enough because of the latter. I try to take a step back and really recognize what I have done, that I have accomplished certain things I set out to do, and to remind myself that I’m capable. Sometimes we can spend so much time beating ourselves up or have tunnel vision on hitting a certain goal or whatever the “next thing” is that we don’t spend nearly enough time showing ourselves any gratitude or kindness for what we’ve already been able to do.
What resources or tools do you use daily and have found most beneficial to your working process?
I depend a lot on Trello for my job as an editor. It’s how I keep our FANGRRLS editorial calendar organized and any other projects, like one we just completed for our Strong Female Characters podcast. Also Freedom (obviously) the Calm app, Spotify, and weirdly enough my Furbo. I have two dogs and being able to check in on them and say hi and throw them some treats is super helpful when I’m feeling stressed out or anxious and away from home. Managing stress and anxiety is just as instrumental to accomplishing whatever goals you have as the actual work itself.
What projects are you currently most excited about?
We just did a limited series for Women’s History month as part of our Strong Female Characters podcast called “Forgotten Women of Genre”. We told the stories of 31 different women that worked in science fiction, fantasy, and horror and the impact their work has had on some of the most famous franchises. I’m so proud of how it turned out and how hard we all worked on it, especially since amplifying the voices and work of women is incredibly important to me. I’m also starting a fundraising organization called Fandom to the Rescue to help raise money for rescue groups and other nonprofits that work to rescue, advocate, and work with dogs. There are some other things in the pipeline, but I can’t talk about them just yet.
What do you do outside of your work routine that helps you stay healthy and productive?
I meditate, work out, and spend as much time with my dogs as possible. I also go to therapy because I firmly believe everyone should.
Where are you currently based?
To learn more about Cher Martinetti or her work, visit her site at CherMartinetti.com