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.

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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.

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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

Memories of a Memorable Thanksgiving Day

It was 1991.I was living in San Francisco in the Richmond District to be exact. So close to the Palace of Legion of Honor Museum, the Rodin sculpture garden was my neighbor. I shared a flat with two women; one I barely communicated with and one who became a dear friend. Marilyn, she who only left communications via whiteboard and post it note was gone for the long weekend. Melissa and I had the entire flat to ourselves. We would spend the greatest amount of time in the front room with its tall trio of picture windows facing a partial view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

We had determined what we wanted to do for Thanksgiving and it did not involve turkey and traditional side dishes and overeating of anyone thing.

We devised a long weekend of retreating. We would collage. We would walk walk gently as often as we wanted and needed to day or night, fog or wind or rain. We wanted to fast. We began with a pre-mixed Lemonfast product that was made of lemon, honey, cayenne, turmeric and tasted as awful as could be. We gave up on the Lemonfast after a day and agreed to support each other on tea and water and a little fruit juice when absolutely necessary. We figured for four days we could hold each other up and take turns being the one in a crazy moment of hunger that might drive us to make toast or something else.

We had collected over four dozen magazines and I added stock photo books to the resources, being the advertising person I was in those days. We had scissors, paper, glue, pens and markers. We set up an alter to put items intentionally in place to support our creative retreating as we created four themed wish collages for love, career, relationships, travel, home, and partners. We were going to Vision for the coming season and the year to come.

We lost track of time. We clipped and snipped and arranged and affixed images that invoked our hearts’ desires for Love, Work, Relationship and Big Dreams.  We cared not what hour it was. Sometimes we watched a movie for background noise and inspiration or to distract us from our growing hunger. Sometimes we recognized we needed a gentle walk to refresh our mind, quell our hunger and release the energy that collected in body points after sitting for hours hunched over a collage in the making. We detoxed our bodies and revived our sense of sacred self and connection to a source always more knowing than we.

Walking the neighborhood — sometimes well after midnight, we walked about as if in a gentle trance feeling completely connected to the earth and the air we passed over and through. It was as if we could see the buildings breathing like the people who inhabited them. The inanimate objects seemed as alive as we felt alive. The buildings and the streetlights seemed to watch us with eyes unseen as we walked by in silent communion.

We felt light and expansive and giddy and crystal clear all at the same time. Day one we were stronger and more energetic and willing to walk longer. We circled the outer limits of the Richmond District with intentions step by step. Day one we were shakier so we slowed our pace and made it more about the time we were out. Forty-five minutes a time was more than enough to move the kinks and aches from sitting for hours and warm our hungry muscles and tissues. Day three we hit the wall and nearly broke down and ate solid foods but our pact held steady and the bagels and brown rice we each craved was untouched. We passed the test and then came the most peaceful and dreamlike period of those days.

Imagine feeling so light and light headed that you can feel the hearts of others.
Imagine feeling also full of belly and bright of mind and strong in conviction to simply be.
Imagine sensing the company of spirit guides who had but one role: to support us for the next 24 hours on our quest.
Imagine thinking, we might extend this fast by a day, the way we are feeling now.

The Wish Collages reflected solid tangible representations of what we wished to manifest in due course. Melissa wanted a partner. Deborah wanted to travel to Scotland. Melissa wanted a body she loved to take care of. Deborah wanted to run a marathon. Melissa wanted a fulfilling career beyond the work as a housecleaner she did; in the film and movie industry. Deborah wanted a family to call her own. I could go on. Each image was potent and important as it was symbolic of our personal description of a joy-filled, purposeful, and happy life.

We were in Bliss:  Naive and inspired and Present for those days.

Some Thanksgivings have been about family and a feast and dishes that took hours to do. Pearled onions, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes and three kinds of pie and coffee for the adults and hot cider for the children each smelling “heavenly” and each seasoned with cinnamon for an extra special touch.

Some Thanksgivings have been about reflecting all that I had to be grateful for with a quiet and intimate immediate family about me. Myself, my daughter, her father and her half sister. Forever a family in one way or another.

That Thanksgiving with Melissa was long before the birth of my daughter. It foretold of the Thanksgivings I dreamed of surrounded by family and friends.

It remains one of my most memorable on this day of semi-solitude. Shortly I will be again with my daughter who has pie on her mind and is single-minded of purpose to have pumpkin pie and apple pie with ice cream.

With her and her father this holiday will I break my daylong fast and enjoy fully the sweetness of pie and ice cream and youth.

She is Blissed: Naive, Pure of Heart and That is Inspiring.