Be Impeccable with Your Words

For the past month, the Sunday morning talks at the Unity service I attend have centered around
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and it has continuously struck me that applying the simplicity of the Four Agreements to one’s writing is a natural extension of living them in one’s daily life.

Specifically the Four Agreements are:

Be Impeccable With Your Word.
Don’t Take Anything Personally.
Don’t Make Assumptions.
Always Do Your Best.

And there is also a Fifth to consider:

Challenge Your Assumptions.

Over the course of the next five or so entries, be prepared to (hopefully) be inspired to apply these sublimely simple suggestions to your writing, AND see how challenging it might also be.

And, if you take on the experiment of writing with these in mind, I suggest your writing will be alive and prompt more reader interaction, comments and you’ll experience deeper satisfaction as you write from your truest voice of the moment.

Are you game?

One Word: I am in love

One Word.

Word Up. One word at a time.

http://oneword.com/

If ever you, dear reader are stuck and need to shake yourself out of the funk, try out this site and its offering in the moment.

It is simple. It is effective. It is magical when we give ourselves permission to write freely to free our creativity. And this applies for our business writing as well.

It’s been a day of collecting lists/tips/best practices for my Writer’s Support Group for the Reticent Blogger (aka writers…).

There are so many ways to cultivate authentic writing that the writer enjoys creating. And I still to this day, I feel I learned the most important one for myself back in high school and I got really good at it, really fast and to this day I love best of all to write as quickly as I can to loosen up and let the flow have its way.

What a brilliant concept. To just respond to one word.

I could write a whole book springboarding off one word at a time.

In fact, I am.

Love your story, it is so beautifully written. Thank you for putting it to paper, the internet, twitter and your blog.

Is this a GREAT quote or what?

It is a comment from a reader of this “World Famous” blog…perhaps you know her story?

http://glutenfreegirl.com/about/

Shauna James Ahern is a resident of Vashon, WA; making her a local for those of us in the Greater Puget Sound.

Among her media accolades are the following:

1 of 50 best food blogs in the world (The London Times, UK)

1 of Gourmet.com’s favorite food sites in the world

1 of 20 best blogs by and for women in the world (Sunday Telegraph, UK)

1 of the best food blogs in the world, as named by BonAppetit.com, December 2008 (This list was linked to by The New York Times, as well)

Best Food Blog with a Theme in the World, 2005 Food Blog Awards

Notice a theme here?

Local Girl gets Globally Known for Writing about her real life experience and lives to tell about it. Sharing shows caring I say. And she started a wave that continues to resound in the world of food blogging and wellness where gluten intolerance is concerned. The point is she shared herself through the magical and immediate medium of “blogging.”

She wrote her story from a place of passion and conviction and quiet enthusiasm and then it became her livelihood.

Have faith that if you write from that place in you, what you want to support you as your livelihood CAN and WILL.

Our great moments of crises be they about identity or health or relationship or professional life ARE opportunities.

Current communication technologies allow for us to reach more than we may ever know and some who will let us know we touched their lives.

My invitation to all who would hesitate to blog or write of their life and work and learnings is this:

Reconsider.

Stretch yourself to be forthcoming.

Try transparency.

Keep it real.

It may attract you any number of things. Customers, peers, friends, ambassadors, and unknown opportunities to contribute to someone’s well-being.

What would you say in response if you received a comment like this from a reader?

Writing Community Style: Finding One's Writing Voice

Recently, this “journal writer” spent four glorious weeks in a class I would take over and over again.

Monday mornings my ritual for the last four weeks was an 11am pot of tea with three other students of the craft of writing and one FINE facilitator.

We can’t return enough to explore the basics and the most simple and exquisite writing exercises. One could warm up morning after morning and the written product will never be the same.

A simple launching point could reveal a great idea for a new blog post, a story, an article, or the focus required for some business writing that we might be procrastinating about. The warm up is the starting point and then comes the clarity we so desire and the creativity is again free to flow.

I feel…

I am..

I hear..

I see…

I think…

I wish…

When we just begin and keep that pen moving and dig a little deeper minute by minute we have no idea what we might capture.

And then there is the sharing…

We are all so critical of ourselves BUT boy is it easy to give honest kudos to another writer.

The next time Kim Pearson of Primary Sources offers to teach this four week series, I’ll be singing her praises as the teacher/facilitator she is and invite those I know who crave to write juicy and free and on point and discover how good a writer they actually are. Or let your peers tell you how they here your writing.

I loved the writing exercises that were part of all the years of my elementary and middle and high school years and quite frankly I can’t remember why I stopped.

So, I created yet again a way to support myself and others that I am most excited about.

Stay tuned and tune in when you have the joy of writing with others.

On Editing: Please Take the Kathleen Show's Advice…

As we approach February 26th and the next offering of the All Day Salon on Publishing Yourself and the Art of  Self-Promotion, I find myself again chuckling at the ardent advice of one radio show host turned internet TV host… Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau

http://www.thekathleenshow.com/2010/09/08/self-publishing-a-word-of-advice-to-authors%E2%80%94episode-1/

She is passionate about what she does and it’s clear. She shared that she gets as many as 100 books a month and many from self-published authors who want to be interviewed by her and she has this to say to many of them.

“Please, please, hire yourself a kickass editor. So as not to be insulting to the art of writing.” (her words not mine…)

February 26th marks the fourth time I and other presenters rise bright and early on a Saturday morning to paint a complete picture of what it takes to write, design, publish and promote that book that lives inside you.

Among our subject matter experts, is professional friend, author, editor, ghost writer, blogger and writing peer of mine, Kim Pearson,  founder of Primary Sources.  I suspect “Kathleen” would agree Kim is that “kickass editor” she advises writers, hire at the right time and place.

We may have a great idea for a book or a blog we wish to write and maintain. (And, we’ll need an objective reader!)

We may actually be a good writer with enthusiasm for our subject matter. (And, we’ll miss our own small errors and awkwardnesses)

Simply put, we will not catch all our inconsistencies ALL the time or have the required objectivity we REALLY need to fully edit all our own writing.

We may be a great first pass editor but are we the best to be doing every round of editing and proofreading?

At some point it is appropriate to engage an editorial expert, AND it is the best thing we can do for the health and well-being of the book and our own sanity.

A few additional thoughts on hiring an editor to assure the best writing we can muster up:

While it may be more economical,  using a friend or family member might not count as hiring an editor.

Granted, in some cases it works out fine and all the hiccups and awkward phrasing and misspelled words are caught by YOU or your “trusted” editor,  BUT more often than not,  it does not fully benefit the manuscript we are so intimately connected to.

Editorial Objectivity is a good thing for a manuscript that it might be well-appreciated and often-read by many others far beyond our immediate circles. Engaging an objective professional for editing be it developmental, or copyediting or proofreading can only be a good and necessary thing. A step wise to invest in.

I am on the bandwagon with Kathleen of the Kathleen Show because she tells it like it is. Talk about a fierce conversation in under two minutes.

To all the writer’s reading this entry who might be working on a book or even a blog, please consider the value of budgeting for working with a professional and dedicated editor–for the benefit of your manuscript, your blog posts, your commercial writing and your readers!

I’m a voracious reader who is turned away when I encounter truly challenging writing. I am happy to overlook the occasional typo for I will substitute the correction.  I am that flexible.  That being said, I hope you who have a book in you write it.

Self-publishing and blogging it (as a serial piece) makes it that accessible to you and me and others.

Stories are Gifts. Share. And…Begin with the End in Mind.

May we write both for ourselves and the readers who are glad to share us with those they know.

Authentic Writing Could…

Inspire a Recommendation from a friend…

Act like a Muse on another Dreamer…

Clarify for New People who you are  and what you do and why…

Make a reader smile, ponder, engage, respond, and express gratitude…

Support your Credibility Gracefully (or Provocatively)…

Further tap into your unknown wisdom and creativity…

 

…Be exactly what is needed to move a Lost Soul forward.

 

So how Transparent are you willing to be?

25 Things You Now Know About Deborah Drake, by Deborah Drake

I invite anyone reading this spontaneously written post to first enjoy reading it and then take on penning their own version of it, as an exercise in creativity, memoir and authenticity.

Kudos to a respected peer and friend, Margit Roshal Crane for her courageous list posted on January 3rd, that was for all its simplicity and directness, just that compelling.

To take inventory of ourselves and be transparent with others in writing, for me is a fine way to share ourselves courageously and perhaps inspire some courage in self-expression elsewhere.

So for that list that I can type as fast as my fingers will allow.

1. I am among the adopted children who were blessed with happy reunions, 12 years and counting. And loving that my mother is in my life and grandmother to my only daughter.

2. I behave like an only child for in some ways I am one: Being separated from my adopted sister at a young age.

3. When I was 11 years old I was so clear I wanted Scotland to be the first place I would travel to. (It was not, but I got there at 33 and traveled solo and loved it.)

4. I have honestly been keeping a journal since I was nine years old. And have all of my collection from age 11 forward.

5. At one point to maintain privacy (for I had a sneaky and disrespectful step-mother) I wrote my journal for a year in French.

6. I attended an all girls school and hated the summer uniform, that made even the slenderest person look like a mushroom.

7. I scored on four of five AP tests and entered college as a sophomore.

8. I was determined to be a translator and diplomat at 16 and let the nay saying college counselor rain on my parade. What I really wanted was to leave the US and live abroad.

9. I have a bucket list of places to travel with over 181 places on it that was penned a decade ago.

10. This Monterey, California transplant, misses the true sea fiercely, but can’t see moving from the lush PNW despite wishing I wasn’t so landlocked.

11. I have been squeeging my shower walls ever since a friend suggested it in 2004, saying it saved on cleaning time and reduced the mold factor. So true!

12. I must make my bed each day or at least before getting into it at night.

13. I walk six plus days a week at least 45 minutes and as much as two hours.

14. Since 2000 all I have drawn is trees that are very stylized.

15. I have been married three times and have vowed never again, but hey, who knows?

16. I once watched 11 episodes of Monarch of the Glen back to back when I had a weekend to myself.

17. Boiled red potatoes with a bit of salt is about as perfect as it gets for a snack.

18. I can’t stand pickles, dill, tarragon, sauerkraut, shredded coconut and raw onions.

19. I can think in haiku.

20. I write daily still and know it keeps me sane.

21. I’ve not gone on a shopping spree of any kind for myself since 1998, just that picky about clothes.

22. When my daughter was in kindergarten I promised her a trip to Paris that has yet to happen.

23. Once upon a time I could finger pick a guitar well.

24. I was a radio DJ in college and loved live and original Radio Theater as well.

25. I dreamed of going to McGill University in Montreal in Highschool and finally saw the campus briefly in 2008.

So, now do I go back and edit or re-order my list or let it be?

I think I will let it be and wish for myself the power to make happen this year all that I speak. For who I am is based in part on my past and depends now on my present intentions.

May 2011 begin with taking stock of what is past, briefly, before calling in what is to come next.

Clarity in Action is the theme of the year.  I imagine it is Simple and so IT is.

What’s on your list?

There is Value in Writing Your Story

Once upon a time I wanted to be an author. Fact is: this is still true. Fact is: I am.

My love of writing has been deep within me since childhood and has very humble beginnings. It all began with a Hallmark Diary.

Age nine, Christmas included the gift of a Hallmark Diary that “locked.” A pretty pink and green plaid cover, a brass lock and key and fresh blank pages to record the highlights of my days and my secrets. Naive me thought that lock made it secure (smile.)

My 10 year old daughter loves the same compact diaries with the locks (that could be torn asunder in two seconds, but that doesn’t occur to her as it didn’t occur to me at the same tender age.)

In high school, I had the memorable honor of interviewing the Editor of the Poetry Shell, AND had a poem published in the publication. The young journalist I was, was so nervous as we met at a Pacific Grove Coffee Shop for the interview.  I had no reason to be. It was fabulous and cemented my love of journalism for  I see it as all about telling a story; be it your own or that of another.

Fast forwarding to the college years, I can recall how I dreamed of being a professional writer, a published author, an important editor someday. So, as one who had to work to put myself through college, I signed up to work for the college paper–in any capacity I could.

Typesetter, Copy Camera Operator, Layout Artist, and occasional Feature Writer. It was heaven. I would do anything to keep myself in the writing game.

After college, I jumped into working for a publishing company and it was my work on the college newspaper that got me that first job of reprint coordinator, of all things. I learned how make a book by taking it apart enough to get typos corrected for future printings.

My work for a neighborhood newspaper in San Francisco also kept me sharp at interviewing people and telling their stories. Deb Drake, girl reporter, one friend lovingly nicknamed me years later. The people I interviewed fascinated me not so much because their stories were over the top, but because they were so willing to share themselves with me. I’ll always remember the sandcastle artist, the ceramic artist whose oversized coffee mugs I cherish, and the family whose son needed a bone marrow transplant and got it. Real stories of creativity and courage. We’ve all got ours as well, don’t we?

Publishing and Journalism has changed so much since the earlier days of my involvement, and now a sense of urgency we might have is easy to accommodate. And we can tell our own stories if we are inclined, willing and able.

The stories of the people and places I wrote about inspired me then and remembering them does so again. Each person has a story to share that will inspire another, I believe.

Writing one’s own story is many things.

Clarifying.

Therapeutic.

A contribution to others.

A chance to impart learned wisdom be it business acumen or personal experiences that lead to growth and awareness.

If there is a story in you that wants to told, please share it.

And if you have trouble extracting it from yourself, by yourself, there are other ways to get that story out in the world. And it begins with asking for someone to witness your telling of it.  Then watch and listen how your story touches a nerve in that listener, that friend, that peer.

I bet if you asked for their feedback on the wisdom of your experience, you’d learn they are not the only one who’d benefit from the creation of a story–that others could then help them selves to reading.

Perhaps it’s an article or an ebook or a self-published work via the many user friendly self-publishing platforms. And if you need help in producing a quality piece, I hope you have the impetus to ask for it.

For it’s never been easier to share your inner wisdom and experiences that could impact one or many.

Here is hoping that story in you wanting to be told, is.


Authentic Writing: May the Buddha in You Shine

Please stop trying to be clever. How about being real?

I’ve got a question I’m really hoping a reader or two answers:

Where did you learn how to writing business and marketing copy?

I invite you to pause and think about the origins of your beliefs about what makes for good messaging and ask yourself a follow up question:

Does it reflect who you are OR did you borrow someone else’s specific set of writing instructions to attract so many customers you’d be making a five figure income by way of internet marketing strategies PROVEN to work by many others before you…or so they say on that website with the neverending cascading style sheet that allows for an unending page with multiple opportunities to CLICK HERE NOW to register for this SPECIAL PRICING and BONUSES…(gasp!)

Here endeth the run-on sentence and begins my attempt to make a point that I regard as extremely important.

Being a 20+ year student of marketing, and a 35+ year student of writing for both pleasure and my profession, I appreciate, cherish, study, analyse, scrutinize and celebrate language for all that it makes possible among us humans. In short, the written and spoken word and communication is dear to me.

Now,  I know that there is always going to be an attempt to crystallize and systematize writing as the creative and technical skill it is.

The point is there are two sides to the coin.  The raw, fun, juicy, heartfelt, honest, vulnerable, tactile, passionate and meaningful content deserves to be expressed AND at the same time it needs to be somehow organized into a coherent and logical format that can be read, understood, digested, integrated and acted upon–once the reader determines that the solution needed is before them–in the form of you or your service or product offering.

And the truth is, I’m not a huge fan of cookie cutter systems. I also though see the value of having a plan and sticking to it long enough to discern what is working.

I see value in systems and best practices (within reason). Yes, within reason do I myself follow the plan, with permission to go with  “plan b” in the wings  (typically based on spontaneous inspiration from a current event).

Blogging for business for example: there is a question that comes up pretty much weekly when new participants attend a group I host weekly. Can I blend personal and business? Put another way,  how much of me do I let shine in my writing?

I first heard this “true story” many years back.  And I even found “the story” and its picture today. And I hope it illustrates well what I am attempting to communicate.

World's Largest Golden Buddha

At one end of Bangkok Chinatown, in the temple of Wat Traimit, is hidden the world’s largest solid gold Buddha image. Weighing in at five and a half tons, the 15-foot tall seated image is uncountable worth.

The Golden Buddha was cast with solid gold sometime in the 13th century and is an excellent example of the gracious Sukhothai style that is still very much in favor to this day. At some point, it was covered in plaster, most likely in an attempt to hide the valuable icon from thieves or looters.

The disguise was so good that everyone apparently forgot about what was hidden beneath for more than five centuries. King Rama III had the statue moved to Bangkok and installed in a temple that later fell into disuse and was completely abandoned around 1931.

The true nature of the Golden Buddha wasn’t discovered until it was moved to its present location at Wat Traimit in 1955. When the image was being prepared for its move, some of the plaster was chipped off, revealing the gold underneath.

The statue sits in a plain building just barely big enough to hold it within the temple compound. On the terrace outside of the room housing the Golden Buddha are some interesting fortune-telling machines.

By the end of this year the Buddha image will be relocated to a newly built grand hall nearby which all people will never get too close to it.

Please don’t encase yourself in a protective coating…so that your writing is dulled by convention established by those who design one size fits all best practices.

Best practices and ideas that work deserve to be observed AND I see the value in bending the “rules” and being yourself.  For in tossing out the rules and really showing the world who lives through your writing, I have to wonder who you might catch “in your net” you might not have?