When Blogging Becomes a Chore

What comes to mind for you when you see the words?

Chores. The very word conjures up memories of Saturday mornings spent dusting, vacuuming, doing laundry, weeding and many other unpleasant tasks BEFORE I could play with friends and have fun.

Blogging. The other name for writing short pieces or longer articles that are timely, relevant, contribute to marketing efforts, and has the POTENTIAL to attract more ideal business inquiries.

SEO. Search Engine Optimization or as a gifted translator of a person I know put it to a newbie in the Weekly Writers Support Circle on Tuesday, “How your site and its content get found by people.”

Are you among the many who jumped on the WordPress/Blogging Bandwagon? Did you start excited, promise yourself you’d blog weekly or more and lose steam over time? Are you growing self-conscious that your last post was from February of 2012 or worse, in 2011? (Please read on and be gentle with yourself.)

Are you of the belief you must write according to a proven “form” or “system” or “with such intense regularity”?

How long was it before you lost your zest for writing a pithy bi- or tri-weekly post because you:

  • Ran out of “great ideas”?
  • Tired of how long it took to write a post worth publishing?
  • Got discouraged when no one commented (presuming commenting was turned on)?
  • Simply were forcing yourself to write in the first place?

Writing a blog is a wise activity when you naturally enjoy writing or can learn to love writing about your business, your process, your experiences, as yourself in a voice and tone that reflects you. It serves to let your site visitors (and potential clients) meet you even before they call or reach out via email. And who doesn’t want a warm inquiry as a business be you solo, small, medium or large in scope?

The new and exciting opportunity that blogging platforms offered was a “boon” (a gift) to those who were already prolific writers. And where once upon a time it was more difficult to get regular writing out in the world, if you weren’t also technically proficient with Website Software Programs that were Content Management Systems as well, the current era offers many CMS options.  Options that are very plug and play too.

It is Do It Yourself heaven. My first blog (that still exists) was a Blogger blog I started for myself alone in 2005. I chose a design of the 23 offered and started posting personal pieces. I actually still love that blog and its design and always mean to post to it more than I do these days. (Note to self: start next week!)

Then I met “WordPress.” It was love at first site.

Oh, WordPress! How much more I can do for myself than before and from anywhere and anytime and with relative ease. I am part of the choir that will forever love writing. I appreciate technology that lets me help myself and helps me get found that much easier. WordPress does that easily and while the Dashboard may be intimidating at first, once understood, it is LIBERATING to compose on the fly and in the cloud.

What do I say to clients who feel like they are running out of gas where writing “intelligently” and “consistently” gets in the way of writing “with creativity and enthusiasm?”

Stop trying so hard and give yourself permission to take a break.

Try crafting an editorial outline that reflects your new business goals (a professional bucket list)

Write some stories about your life and business lessons and then decide do you want to publish them or no?

Take some time to determine your ideal client and profile that person in rich detail and imagine that you are blogging to them.

If all else fails, take yourself or your dog for a walk! Get outside and get some fresh air at the very least.

Once when I was really stuck and in an unhealthy thought loop while I was on a writing deadline, I called a friend who was a professional coach for support. What did she advise me to do?

“Go outside for a walk for a minimum of 15 minutes and look for all the white and purple flowers.”

“Why?” I asked in complete confusion.

“Just do as I say please. Will you? And call me when you get back.”

So I did. And guess what happened!!! I took the walk. I saw some white and purple flowers and noticed other garden beauties too. I got home and called my friend. She asked me if I was ready to get back to it. And in truth, I was.

My Creative Block was GONE! And writing came with more ease and I liked the results.

If you aren’t a naturally obsessive writer like some of us, but see the value of blogging for business (or pure self-expression) know that becoming committed to it and enthusiastic about writing can be learned–provided you are willing. And use some tools to support you such as:

A community of like-minded people (I can recommend a great writing support group and facilitator!)

A calendar with dates you keep with yourself to write for writing sake (and take the best ideas farther!)

Practice. Practice. Practice. (You needn’t publish what you don’t want)

Read. Read. Read. (At least an hour a week the blogs of others you admire and consider…)

Commenting in a constructive and pay it forward style. (This has been known to inspire people to reciprocate!)

Use “the canvas” that inspires ease: maybe you compose emails well or write differently directly in the WordPress Post Window? Who said you have to write in a Word Doc first? (Do though save your piece to your hard drive and not just on the cloud)

Set the scene. Establish the environment. Dress the part. One client of mind laughed they might start wearing dress clothes to write for their business blog, even though they worked at home.

Try anything once to see if it frees your writing voice and stick with what works for you.

Writing and Reading and Interacting with other Writers is bound to affect your opinion of writing for business and pleasure, as well as develop a skill and an artistry in you and your own writing. Over time your skill and confidence will shift so notice and celebrate the breakthroughs.

Think of it as the equivalent of teaching yourself how to walk (fall down and get up again) or tie your shoes (bunny ears worked eventually) or learning how to print then write “cursive.”

Many talents aren’t second nature but that doesn’t mean we can’t make them so. WordPress makes blogging possible on your schedule be it planned out or in the moment.

So let’s reframe what we started with:

Chores. Serve to keep our creative energy and productivity flowing well and mastered can save us time and set us free to play that much sooner.

Blogging. It is at its most basic an opportunity to express yourself: casually, candidly, professionally, playfully, and virtually from wherever you may be wanting to capture a relevant moment.

SEO. Think of it like being on a scavenger hunt or geo-caching with a GPS device that makes it easier to find the prize. The prize being a happy client and a happy service provider or product “sold.” What are the magic words that used well get you found faster?

So knowing you have the platform, the best of motives, and the means, how about saying yes to the writer within?

 


 

 

 


Write Drunk & Edit Sober

So advised Hemingway.

So shared Linda Zeppa with me as we parted ways after her Sunday workshop on Developing the Intuitive You.

It was an apropos comment for in some way I did feel quite intoxicated.

On Tuesdays our rag tag collection of enterpreneurs and writers gathers to talk about what we would like to write about or what we are writing or what we would love to see feedback (aka comments) on.

And while I have considered making “writing” part of what we do, I have never done much about it because talking about writing and writing itself are two different animals for me.

Much like writing and editing are related–but not the same.

Today I was simply a willing participant following the guidance of a gifted facilitator. Simple prompts turned into writing that sparked thoughts of revisiting and going deeper down the writing rabbit hole.

I surrendered. I surrendered to being fully present and wrote from the heart space as the beginner I am always. If ever I get so uppity that I act like I know what I am doing, please somebody smack me with a velvet covered two by four (smile).

I shared writing time and space with a small group and Linda. There was perfection in the group that showed up on a Sunday afternoon for two hours of conversation, guided visualization and writing prompts.

My writing compatriots all questioned their ability to write like a writer, seeing themselves not as artists or writers but as less than, BUT they were not. They were wonderful and I hope my encouragement after Linda’s was received and stays with them.

I gently harass the regulars aka “the usual suspects” who come on Tuesdays to just start and write what is wanting to be written…You know who you are…You who doubt your natural abilities to self-express and question if what you say matters.

It matters. Your perception of your experience shared may help another make sense of something in their life. You understand things I don’t. You understand them better than I when it is your business and not mine.

If you dared to share, you could open a door of understanding for me.

If you dared to share your story, your perception, your “aha” moments and visceral experiences.

It matters and I get that it starts with getting over the fears and doubts you may have.

The gremlins that threaten creative self-expression must be dealt with I say.

And lest you think this “rant” applies only to personal writing, let me say this: your business writing acumen is grounded in how comfortably and agile you write. Period.

And that is where a writing cheerleader be it an individual or community comes in.

Developing the ability to “write drunk” and “edit sober” isn’t as easy as it reads. Mastering the ability to do so though could open up rich creative veins good for your soul and your business communications.

Support awaits those who seek it out. Write on!

May 2012 be the year you FINALLY learn to WRITE as Yourself.

When I was nine, I was given a Hallmark Diary. Pink Plaid. Locked with a small brass key. I was sure it was secure BUT then no one was actually interested in my nine year old ramblings (right?)

Fast forward to 14. I am a freshman in Honors English: My new teacher, a new teacher himself, walked in looking fresh from the film set of Dead Poet’s Society and scripted his name with theatrical flourish in yellow chalk on a “green” blackboard….”John Calvin Dotson.”

We were then directed to put away all books, take out a piece of paper, pick up a pen and write…

“What?” said a fellow classmate in a shocked tone.

“Write everything you can, as quickly as you can, that passes through you. No editing. Go. Five minutes.” (No further instructions were given; no one asked a w follow up question.)

And so we tucked in over paper and with pen and wrote as though our lives depended upon it. Time became timeless and five minutes passed quickly. What had we accomplished? We had emptied our heads onto paper, foregoing editing as we wrote, and could focus better for the next forty minutes of class; but something even more important was initiated that day.

Five days a week, all year long, we started class with this writing ritual referred to as a  “braindump.” We learned (or at least I did) how to align what we were “thinking” with our writing; and that has for me made all the difference.

My natural voice/tone/style has been a part of how I write what I write– for the last 33 years. So writing is “easy” for me. Editing on the other hand can take MANY HOURS.

At age 14, I was introduced to the concept: Writing and Editing are two distinct processes.

It is important to remember this when starting new writing projects. I propose the following as a best process to get to good content as quickly as one can that one can Write first. Write fast. Write when inspired. Let it marinate a “bit.” THEN move into editing and consider using an Editor other than yourself as well. Choose someone who will be diplomatically candid and help make your writing “better” without imposing their voice on you.

I like to think that as a group facilitator and teacher of writing/communication/self-expression, I teach first how to acknowledge the voice within seeking to express itself and then how to refine and edit the final message to be Authentic and Impactful and Effective. And this approach applies to business and marketing writing as well as personal writing.

When Writing is Hollow it is experienced that way. When Writing is Passionate and Enthusiastic it is experienced as such. As much as there is a barrier between you reading this blog post and me writing, I HOPE you feel the conviction I feel for this topic and theme.

***********

It was Spring of 2010. I was sitting in a Sunday service at Unity of Bellevue and the minister then, John MacLean was in his WONDERFUL theatrical style (for he had a TV Entertainment Past!) discussing  the difference between Religion and Spirituality. I can’t recall what he said about Religion at all. I do though remember very distinctly what he offered about Spirituality: “Spirituality Provokes”

Suddenly, I silently gasped and had the thought, “Yes, and Authentic Writing Provokes. That is it!” This is always the mantra that drives the way I mentor and coach and guide writers and business clients to write and market themselves was born.

Yes, I sound like a broken record BUT I sing a song I love to sing over and over.

***********

Two years of Tuesdays with the Writers Support Group for the Reticent Blogger has given birth to other events that keep me engaged creatively, professionally and are the highlights of my week.

The Writers Support Group for the Reticent Blogger (aka Writer)

The Writers Supporting Writers Group

And introducing the newest weekly offering:

Developing an Authentic Voice for Self-Expression: An Ongoing Series

Whether you desire to write and speak well for your business or yourself, I invite you to write and speak with a sense of Authenticity and Enthusiasm. Discovering your growing edges is where the work begins. The Critic would have you delay publishing something that isn’t quite finished or critique what you have published. The Editor would help you refine the message and encourage you to publish your thoughts. These “voices” in us have their roles but prior to getting their feedback, we must let our “Free Expression” loose.

If you aren’t comfortable with full self-expression, avoid writing for yourself or secretly wish you enjoyed writing, I “gently” challenge you to take on learning how to be collaborative with Your True Voice, Your Editor and Your Critic. Great Writing comes of this “dream team” when on the “same page.”

Helping people give their creativity and self-expression “roots and wings” is happily what I also call my work and dharma.

May the Confident Writer and Speaker in You be Released in 2012, Year of the Water Dragon!

Deborah Drake – Authentic Writing Provokes, Writing Mentor/Marketing Coach and Self-Publishing Enthusiast

It’s about finding TRUE enthusiasm. First yours. Then theirs.

Featured

Are you FABULOUS at what you DO and CARE about but hesitant to boldly express and market yourself?

I look forward to supporting you with…

Writing Coaching (Interested in enjoying writing for yourself?)…
Writing Services (Developmental Editing, Ghost Writing, Copyediting)…
Practical Marketing Coaching (Let’s determine what works for you!)…
Extremely Productive Brainstorming (will surprise you)…
Market Research (My favorite hobby!)…
Social Media Marketing Strategy…(It’s always about being relational)

It all starts with saying yes to an exploratory conversation.

Your Authentic Voice for Self-Expression will thank you for it.

To your thriving and success as defined by you.

SONY DSC

 

Deborah Drake ~ Catalyst, Writer, Editor
deb@deborahdrake.com
206.250.1855

Because Authentic Work represented by Authentic Writing and Self-Expression is Magnetic…

A Reflection on Walking Dogs & My Writing Life

I am a temporary “dog owner”: At least for the next ten days. I offered to help dear friends out and “volunteered” my daughter (who LOVES dogs) to watch a small, well-behaved and rambunctious Daschund named “Lily.” (My daughter is happy happy, for she loves “dogs and cats” that much.)

Lily, isn’t trouble or very high maintenance, but then again, it is like having a toddler in the house. When she has a need she makes it known and stays on point until it is met BECAUSE she is single-minded of purpose. She has lots of little needs to be met that are keeping Bronte from staying on point with homework which impacts me, and I find it “amusing.”

DachshundClick here to get Images & Dachshund PicturesPictures

Lily wants to play or be played with or take a short walk or nap on her terms. She snaps to attention from a sleeping state when someone walks by outside, growls or barks, causing a ripple through the room that was previously quiet or filled with the sound of a clacking keyboard.

Morning routine is quickly established by day two. Daughter up “on time” with the help of “alarm dog” Lily to lick her awake. Lily is fed first, Bronte feeds herself second, lunch is made and we head out the door to get Bronte to school and hopefully we are all walking. Cold, cold mornings we were running later than desired so I broke down and dove B to school then drove onto the park to walk “me and Lily” at Crossroads Community Park, a staple in my life.

I’ve been making laps at that park for nearly six years now and I never tire of the seasons being played out in the trees that leaf and bloom and molt and recycle their leaves and berries.

I call this community place the Park of Little White Dogs for so many of the dogs are little and white. Not all of them are but many are some shade of white. Apartment living means downsizing on the dog one can and may have, if they must have a dog.

The second morning I am walking Lily and I and this morning in a fog as thick as white smoke (not pea soup…far too cliche…and this fog isn’t green!) I am greeted more warmly than normal  by other fellow dog walkers. It is as if they see me as one of them.

I am talking aloud more when I am with Lily, because even though she doesn’t exactly talk back, she is taking in all I say with her eyes and ears. So as we take laps and greet dogs and their walkers, we are chatting up about little stuff. And I experience a mixed feeling.

As sweet as it is to have a dog to walk, a companion to talk to, I am also feeling frustrated that I can’t speed-walk like I am more accustomed. We MUST take moments to take in the smells in the grass, by the tree trunks and of course the other dogs. Do I really need to be so driven on my morning walk? Is it really a race? I’m overcome by the urge to slow down.

Once back from our morning outing, she initially bounces about the warm front room wanting to play some before curling up in her nest of blankets on the couch. She “powers down” for a few hours, not a care in the world, but always waking to gently bark when an outsider’s footsteps are picked up outside. Then it is back to sleep. What a life!

And what about me, after my morning walk (with or without a dog to keep me aware of the value of slowing down to take in the scenery)? I now have a calm in my entire body caused by walking away all the excess energy and want to do one thing only.

I’ll hunker down and get some writing done in an order pre-determined yesterday. I’ll do my best not to be distracted or procrastinate or give in to playing too much (smile). I’ll address one writing assignment at a time in the pursuit of less for greater impact.

My guru/teacher this week is an observant and engaged wee small black and tan daschund who requires of me the right kind of attention at the right time who always has a willingness to engage in play. Play and self-care is good for this writer’s soul and creativity.

If I can give to my writing its own daily walk and loving and playful attention, I just may get all the writing items on my bucket list done eventually and at the perfect moments.

 

Publish or Perish? Really? (part 1 of 3)

Beloved author, Paulo Coelho has many fine quotes, as the prolific writer he is and I dedicate this series to the themes within this statement:

“Don’t expect to get anything back, don’t expect recognition for your efforts, don’t expect your genius to be discovered or your love to be understood. Act because you need to act.” ~Paulo Coelho

In an age when it is easier to self-publish, why not help yourself to it?

The name of the game this week for me is stay on task. Not only is there a manuscript to edit there is another to format and much to read and comment on. In this day of self-publishing, yes anyone COULD write a book but who actually does?

It is NEVER too late to start. There are many late blooming writers. Sometimes we first need the right dose and variety of life experience that helps us define our purpose clearly. And sometimes it takes big events and changes to catalyze the writing urge in us.

Self-publishing is not for the faint of heart. And while there may be a variety of do-it-yourself means to publish yourself, the fact remains you still must generate the idea, then the manuscript, thereafter the book, the play, the blog post before you can “publish” the beauty. There is a tremendous sense of self-satisfaction when writing is completed. It could be a singular blog post or a larger project and I say celebrate your writing with others.

I am a cheerleader and champion for writing for yourself. And while I also ghost write and act as “the journalistic medium” for those who are challenged to do for themselves with any consistency, I love, love, love being the editor to an excited author.

If I had my way all the time (smile), I’d turn every ghost writing client ultimately into a writer for themselves–for it empowers you deeply to write and speak as yourself, for yourself and with enthusiasm and self-confidence. A ghost or journalist can do a great job too but the closer to the source a message is born, the more potent it may be.

What stops you from communicating with EASE for yourself about your business, your passions, your hobbies, your causes, your personal writing projects?

I know what can stop me and what I work to keep out of my way. And it is my mission to help as many as possible get out of their own way too.

Call me Catalyst.

For the past 18 months I have been hosting a writing group that meets each Tuesday to TALK about writing and blogging and creativity and overcoming fear and resistance to writing for one’s self and one’s ventures, professional and personal.

Each week I am given the opportunity to “creatively unlock” not only myself but as many as two dozen attendees. Many come weekly and some since the beginning. One regular, calls the time her group therapy. We all laughed the first time. Now when someone new comes claiming they don’t “blog”  basically another term for writing) for who would care what they had to say and whatever would they write about, we regulars glance at each other and declare it time for a “creative intervention.”  And in shortly thereafter (most of the time) our reticent or would be writer is clear they have a perspective worth sharing with others. After which some jump right in and return reporting they are now officially blogging or getting set to start.

Gratitude is abundant in our weekly time together and the most striking feature these days of “Circle” as some call it or “Tuesdays with Deborah,” is the community blog of the same name spawned out of Tuesday conversations. What is striking about it is the variety of posts and the enthusiasm of the contributing writers. That enthusiasm is what it is all about cultivating for me.

The secret ingredient to the success in this instance is “community support.”  We are better individually for how we interact as a group. We are a growing and extended family. We come weekly wanting to write authentically, boldly and consistently. Or we come to find the motivation to try to begin. We are all at different places and stages. And all are welcome wherever they are in their Writing Pilgramage.

The act of writing is not always easy even for the natural writer (like Me!). And support makes all the difference. Let me say again, “Support Makes All the Difference.”

Again I ask, in an age when it is easier to self-publish, why not help yourself to it?

More to come. Stay tuned for Part 2 and 3. And if you are thinking you want to write but don’t have a clear sense of your voice and vision and purpose for your writing, may you seek out support from someone and soon. I am actively listening for one!

A Collection of Recent Thoughts on Writing

A songwriter and musician was captured on a radio interview, saying, “A lot of people are visited by the muse and forget it.”

I agree with this. I wonder why we as “writers/artists” don’t seize the moment and at least get a note or three down that we might recall our great insight to fill in the rest at a later time.

Creativity can be mighty spontaneous with me. It shows up at the oddest moments sometimes for me at least. Therefore I can always be found with pen and pad or digital recorder nearby. I know I can also plan writing time but it is the writing I do when the spirit moves through me that I am most happy with and most eager to share.

And, saying that, I also have planned writing that I am intentional about. My intentions for my writing time are to be a clearing for Creativity to flow through. I may have themes I write on and it could even be time to spend time doing research to write a better article. The point is I set a schedule but also allow for movement and shift in my focus, so long as it is helpful. What qualifies as helpful? If it moves me closer to my desired end writing goal, it is helpful.

I’ve taken to writing my observations when I am out and about again. I’ve been inspired first by the two writers I write with Thursdays AND by reading again the advice of Julia Cameron, Brenda Euland, and Ray Bradbury on Creativity. Some I know love the prose and ramblings of Annie LaMott, Bird by Bird, in particular. She is a keen observer as many a good writer is. Pick your mentor and invite in the Muse is all I am saying.

I realized that had actually lost my edge on observing the inner dramatics of life in a coffee house or cafe or an arboretum. My attention to background detail felt downright sloppy and I vowed to work on it. I got back into the habit of heading out and parking myself for several hours and I fell in love again with writing about what I was literally seeing and feeling and experiencing.

Coffee houses and cafes offer “the garbage collector” as British author Doris Lessing referred once to writers (collectors of details that they are) a chance to practice observing for detail and mystery and many an overheard dialogue has worked its essence into her stories. I heard her say this at a Stanford Lecture I attended back in 1990. She remarked that being a non-descript looking person, she could get away with being herself and taking in what was going on, undisturbed. That remark has stayed with me for over twenty years.

We all could watch what is going on about us.
We all could listen for the things not said by people.
We all could seek to understand more by observing without an agenda.

Have you ever tried this as a writing exercise? You can take in five minutes but you might be tempted to keep watching and waiting and listening to all that is going on around you.

Saturdays I spend at least an hour at the Taste Bar at Macy’s waiting for Bronte while she takes a class currently on improv. The prior class schedule had me there for four hours and a lot of life passes through a cafe in four hours. At first I tried creating a bubble and getting some work or writing done. But, inevitably I would take an interest in the other patrons around me or the interaction of the core staff that works the cafe. Myrna and Jay particularly are enjoyable to simply watch. When I realized I was missing a grand opportunity to practice observing and sharpen my wits, I started making a point to sit back, sip my coffee and take first mental notes and then notes for posterity.

All around me is dialogue, spoken or not, and sometimes it is down right outrageous.

Take Saturday morning for example. I thought I was witnessing a bit of a crazy person with a lot of personality issues but I now believe I was wrong. Those involved (a man and two women) were all quite unaware of the impact their loud conversation was having on others around them. They were literally unconcerned and doing their own thing. So I eavesdropped for the sake of stretching myself as a writer…

Macy’s Café, November 19, 2011 11am

Everything is not as it seems: Episode #1 — The Loud Talkers

Robert: You are so bossy. (He shouts into the echoey café at the woman in line with another, ordering coffee drinks and food.)

Okay bossy, where do you want to sit? One table or two?

I’m too sexy for my cane, I’m too sexy for my cane,” says the man in a tightly wound tenor of a voice that cuts through even the “white noise” from the woodfire oven and the seasonal music piping into the Macy’s Tastebar..

Melanie: Just sit down…Just sit down! (she barked still standing at the counter paying.)

Robert: Hi, how are you? (Said to a passing person he doesn’t know who gave him a quick and odd glance)

Melanie and the large young woman she is with join Robert in the corner window table and as the triangle continue a conversation. I cock an ear to hear what is the subject matter.Ah, boys, relationships…it always comes back to relating with us humans. I ponder sometimes if rocks and trees have conversations that are about processing feelings. The 20something appears to have a boyfriend issue. Robert and Melanie have their opinions and advice to give. They are determined to make her aware of something important. So I am privy to their dialogue and a small debate between Melanie, gruff and tell it like it is, and Robert who seems not to care who hears him play barking at Melanie?

The simple fact they are seated in the triangular corner near the entrance from the corner of 3rd and Pike means anyone who focuses can hear their conversation word for word.

Reflecting on this tonight, I am amused that upon seeing a surly and weather worn 50+ year old man in a plaid winter parka and black skull cap on his head, shouting unself-consciously at his companions in line ordering, I presumed he was angry or mentally unstable or both. 

I appear to be wrong again. Things again are not as they seem. He is simply a loud talker with his loud talking friends?

They are friendly while being surly to each other and I am about to stereotype them–if I am not mindful.

Outspoken need not be judged as obnoxious. There is a lack of gentile finesse to their language and the tone and delivery of the questions such as “Who does she live with? Where does she live?” Someone is being deeply scrutinized.

Melanie: You cannot tell me…when a woman is heavy, it is hard for them…that is why she is…(darn that the clarity fades in and out like cell phone reception being affected by simply traveling through a neighborhood.)

In the background a tune catches my attention: the sound of a trio of women with Dean Martin, singing  “I’ll be home for Christmas, you can count on that…” fills in the background entirely but briefly.

Melanie: I want her to understand…(outside a Transit busses roars loudly, drowning out the clarity a moment.)

Robert: I have never cheated on her and now she thinks everything I say is a lie.

I did my best to make sense of the crumbs of conversation I overheard for the sake of my exercise, but it is futile with the bus engines combusting the conversation. I will have to “make something up” should I use this trio in a future piece.

Their dialogue continues bouncing all over thematically but orbiting about a woman they all know whose problems are greater than there collective comments allude to. I find myself wondering how would they feel knowing someone was talking about any one of them? How would they feel if they knew I was recording some of the things I was overhearing that are causing me to smile and cock my head to hear a little better?

They never catch on that sitting in the windowed corner as they are, with the acoustics being what they are in this café, that everyone who chooses to tune in can hear it all, as though they are sitting really close –at the next table and not ten + feet away tucked in a corner. (I’m grateful for the chance to test my listening…smile.)

THEN a memory flashes through me of being at the San Francisco Exploratorium, sitting inside a big round concave white plaster sculpture with a seat in the center to sit upon. Vertically situated, it placed you up enough and set back into the concave “bowl.” Two bowl like sculptures face each other 20+ feet apart, and if you have a friend sit in the seat opposite you, you can literally whisper and the sound carries over as if they are whispering into your ear directly. I thought that particular exhibit was so darn cool when we took a High School fieldtrip to the Exploratorium. (Why has this memory flooded back now?

Acoustics is an art and science that I am glad to be aware of. People sometimes forget that sound carries and say some pretty darn personal things in public. You never know when a writer might be listening in and inspired by you, so by all means, keep on talking and I’ll develop my craft.

To the Loud Talkers, thank you for creating a moment for the Muse to visit me!

 

Writing Practice: What’s the point anyway?

What is the point of developing a Writing Practice?

Lately, I have been using The Right to Write by Julia Cameron as my source for writing prompts to flex my own writing muscles. Surrounded by a pair of equally devoted writers every Thursday night we gather to take on short and long writing prompts that stretch our creative selves and let us play too.

There is a lot of writing I have done that may never be published outside of the journal I write it in. It is that body of work  that keeps me excited about writing for business and pleasure. From time to time I revisit my writing much like re-reading a favorite book and sometimes I am surprised at how I respond to my own writing later.

When to begin a Writing Practice?

My writing life and practice began in a pink plaid Hallmark Diary that locked with a “golden” key. I was 8 years old. Boxes of journals, beautiful, basic, black, brown, leather and fabric later, still I am writing the story of my days and nights and dreams and poems and secrets.

Words have been my friends for as long as I can remember. Journals have been my confidantes when there was no one to tell. Words have kept me vital and brought me peace and made me cry and laugh and kept me going through the meanest, toughest, darkest and also the loveliest moments of my life.

How now do I write after all the years of pursuing a writing practice that was my best friend so often? The ability to write in a fluid manner made it easier for me to write for school, write for college (except that one BIG paper…story later), write for my future career, and write for my legacy.

Each time I hear someone say they were never a good writer or didn’t like writing and as the adult they avoid writing for they find it that hard, I wonder, “Who told them they weren’t capable and creative, how young were they when that occurred and what can I do to restore the enthusiasm I KNOW they once had about creating.”

Maybe it was mudpies or maybe it was stories but there was something; there was something.

Restoring that childlike enthusiasm for creativity is fundamentally what a Writing Practice does for me. It maintains my momentum and it feeds my love of exploring language.

Care to begin but need a champion to help you stay accountable? THAT can be arranged. You need only ask for it.  Ready. Set. Write On.

Deborah
Authentic Writing Provokes every time!

Do I Want to Get An Extra Hour Out Of Every Day?

There is a list below offering a myriad of ways to gain back an hour of time. Hey. You could use part of that hour to write for pleasure or business development!!!

And I agree with most of the list..but do I work at all of them all of the time?  Not always and this blog post is about a particular suggestion made that I am going to springboard from…for the sake of making a point!

I LOVE #13. “Eliminate activities which make little contribution to the best results for your life.”

Where you and writing are concerned what activities make the least contribution to the best writing you can do?

In other words, what actitivies and beliefs do you need to shed?

Let’s start here: Thinking you can’t write isn’t helpful. If you send email, you are a writer. You may not be as imaginative or spontaneous or graceful a writer as you’d like to be but if you can convey information, write poetry, an occasional short story, an informational article, or leave a great comment on someone else’s piece–you can write.

If your beef with yourself is about writing “better” or more freely or with more ease, there is always help to found. One need simply ask for it. Sometimes getting to the point of asking for constructive help is where the creative journey begins. Are you willing to ask and then do the work?

“Creative Writing” is put on a mighty high pedestal by many. Often far above Business Writing and Technical Writing. Truth is all of these forms of writing are important. Where would we be without strong technical writers for manuals and directions for putting together IKEA bookshelves (okay, that was a jab at those directions). What would we do if business copy lacked personality? Yawn?

Learning the art of storytelling for the page is what I am talking about! It can be hard work if we doubt our abilities. It could be fun if we committed to practicing every opportunity we had. And that is where I come in.

I’ve met people who tell me with conviction they are not creative. And then I tell them, that can’t possibly be true. Yet they believe they are not creative or skillful at writing. I take on being a stand for their creativity and the belief we all have access to creativity anytime. Writing rules can be learned. Being creative can be cultivated. It gets easier with practice. Writing practice is no different than a gym work out in principle.

My mission professionally and spiritually is simple to me: to educate, inform and inspire writers to love writing and write with heartfelt confidence from an authentic voice.

Getting people to like their own writing is sometimes difficult work and if I could I’d call your elementary school teacher (or the first one) who told you that you weren’t a good writer and give them a piece of my mind…I just might.

Why do we take that misplaced and possibly well intended comment to heart? We all are impacted by early statements made “unconsciously” in ways we don’t imagine at the tender age of seven or nine or fourteen. Another Truth for me: Unwinding and reprogramming ourselves as adults is quite simply more work than cultivating a state of creative openness from childhood. Granted we need patient parents and teachers to keep us on track as we learn the basics as young writers and readers, but can you imagine growing up with the conscious and sub-conscious message that YOU are a creative developing person and your ideas are welcome?

How would that make you feel? And how might that manifest as the future working adult you become, be you self-employed or working in a larger company?

And as for getting an extra hour out of each day, do I want to?

I’ll start tomorrow. Or maybe I will choose to stay up a little late when it gets quieter in my head and outside as well and I find creativity flows through me with more ease.

And in the case you are interested in recapturing an hour for the activity of your choice….

Get An Extra Hour Out Of Every Day

DECEMBER 15, 2008

How can you get an extra hour from each day? This is a basic challenge for all of us. We’ve come up with many practical ways to secure one more precious hour from each day. (Remember that each of these tips is probably adaptable to your particular situation.)

  1. Make up and follow a detailed, daily schedule.
  2. Get up earlier.
  3. Do less passive reading, TV watching and the like.
  4. Avoid allowing others to waste your time.
  5. If you commute to work, use the time to study or plan.
  6. Organize your work; do it systematically.
  7. Make creative use of lunchtime.
  8. Delegate authority if possible.
  9. Spend less time on unimportant phone calls.
  10. Think first; then do the job.
  11. Do instead of dream.
  12. Work hardest when you’re mentally most alert.
  13. Eliminate activities which make little contribution to the best results for your life.
  14. Always do the toughest jobs first.
  15. Before each major act, ask: Is this REALLY necessary?
  16. Choose interesting and constructive literature for spare-moment reading.
  17. Learn how to sleep. Sleep soundly, then work refreshed.
  18. Skip desserts.
  19. Stop smoking.
  20. Write notes or letters while waiting for others.
  21. Always carry an envelope with paper in it, stamps and a few postcards.
  22. Combine tasks which are done in the same area.
  23. Be prompt for all appointments.
  24. Lay out your clothes the night before.
  25. Relax. Ready yourself for the important jobs in life.
  26. Concentrate on the specific task you’re doing.
  27. Make constructive use of those five or ten-minute waiting periods. Carry with you magazine article clippings on helpful subjects.
  28. Always carry a pencil and paper to capture important-to-you ideas.
  29. Learn to do other “unnecessary things” while watching TV or listening to the radio.
  30. Call on specialists to accomplish work you cannot do efficiently.
  31. Learn to read more rapidly.
  32. Nap an hour after dinner. Then take a shower. Begin the evening hours relaxed and refreshed.
  33. Avoid making a “production” out of small tasks.
  34. Avoid interruptions.
  35. Tackle only one job at a time.
  36. Search out job shortcuts.
  37. Know your limitations.
  38. Work to your top capacity.