When Blogging Becomes a Chore

Have you ever outsourced or considered outsourcing a design or website development project to save money or time or both? Any number of portals offer us Design and WordPress Development services  that are supposed to make it easy and affordable for us less tech-savvy DIYers–but do they really when we take all into accounts?

Even Premium WordPress Themes “appear easy enough to work”  with  (or so the marketing says). BUT for some non-tech types the learning curve is steeper. Our initial investment (thinking we can do it all for ourselves) is a penny saved but pound foolish.

Trouble is we figure that out after the fact and we may opt to keep trying and throw a little more money at it.

After investing a mere $87 in a  Premium  Wordpress Theme, for the sake of launching an online business, one person I know of found it was not as easy as suggested to set up their initial site and there was no support! So a freelancer was engaged for a song and $300 was paid up front with the expectation that the website desired would now be built for them using the Theme. But no, the freelance programmer tried through email to train the client on how to do it for themselves. Even this might have been acceptable, if the site could have been created and populated with content.

Last I am aware it still doesn’t exist. So what is this person into for at this point?

$387 in cash and countless hours in email exchanges that got her no closer to what was wanted.

Efforts to communicate strictly via email with the outsourced programmer in a different time zone 12 hours away were never successful. Weeks passing and still not having the desired end product: a WordPress site that could be monetized and improved upon functionally.

Ask yourself as the business owner you are or are planning to become when is it wise to hire a professional you can work with closely and whose on the same page as you?

What is your time worth and billed at? Why are you spending money  trying to do something for yourself that is not where you earn the most bang for your buck?

We call that working in your business when we should be working on our business.  Too many a budding business owner tries to be chief cook and bottle washer, virtual assistant and bookkeeper, depleting their creative juices and energy for business development and stellar client services. Why? To have a sense of control? To save money in start up costs?

Again, what is your “sweet spot” for earning and why would you overwhelm yourself with a task that is not your strength? I know I am a strong writer and editor and creator of bog content. I am in my element doing this for others. I love doing this for my clients. I do it effortlessly and could do it for long hours and find creating blog content for a site energizing.

I have come to realize VERY quickly, that while I could be a WordPress officionado, I am not efficient beyond basic operations. And, quite frankly, if I wanted a more complex site with widgets and sliders and custom elements, I am hiring a local and reliable professional. I’ll do so for the sake of working with someone who can understand my language of my vision and my ideas. Clarity of communication saves time and money. It also assures we get what we wanted.

More power to the tech-savvy and creative sorts who can take a pre-packaged theme and make the most of it on their own but for the rest of us who will spin our wheels and grow frustrated with every plugin we attempt to discern and activate (as we hope we don’t break our site–which I have done!) I saY:

Go local. Stay local. Exhaust your local resources before you try what may be a too good to be true scenario.

Ever heard the adage, you get what you pay for?

(Reprinted after being originally published June 20121 on http://t2websites.com)

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

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!

 

Authentic Writing Starts with…Listening: Our Most Used Communication Skill

Most of us are poor listeners.
It’s a challenge to be a good listener.
Good listeners though get big rewards.

And some wonder why they can’t write with ease? The writer that I am LOVES THIS ARTICLE originally authored 1993 that remains as pertinent as ever. Read on and listen for your response and above all enjoy.

Ever notice how much babies and toddlers who aren’t talking are watching and taking in the environment all around them?

Some of my best writing emerges after periods of listening and seeking to understand what I am seeing, hearing, feeling, and observing in myself and outside me.

In practicing listening to others we can also learn how to better listen to ourselves.

Remember: Beyond practicing listening to others, listening to yourself allows you to capture your writing voice in glorious, graphic technicolor. When you find you have more than one voice wanting to express itself LISTEN for the distinctions and recognize what is at the CORE of both your “dialects.”

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Listening is the communication skill most of us use the most frequently.

Various studies stress the importance of listening as a communication skill. A typical study points out that many of us spend 70 to 80 percent of our waking hours in some form of communication. Of that time, we spend about 9 percent writing, 16 percent reading, 30 percent speaking, and 45 percent listening. Studies also confirm that most of us are poor and inefficient listeners.

Why? Several reasons are likely.

Listening training unavailable: Even though listening is the communication skill we use most frequently, it is also the skill in which we’ve had the least training. From personal experience, we know we’ve had much more formal training in other major communication skills — writing, reading, speaking. In fact, very few persons have had any extended formal training in listening.

The same is true of informal training. It’s not difficult to find workshops and conferences that provide opportunities to improve our writing and speaking skills. But it is difficult to find similar training programs to sharpen listening skills.

Thought speed greater than speaking speed: Another reason for poor listening skills is that you and I can think faster than someone else can speak. Most of us speak at the rate of about 125 words per minute. However, we have the mental capacity to understand someone speaking at 400 words per minute (if that were possible).

This difference between speaking speed and thought speed means that when we listen to the average speaker, we’re using only 25 percent of our mental capacity. We still have 75 percent to do something else with. So, our minds will wander.

This means we need to make a real effort to listen carefully and concentrate more of our mental capacity on the listening act. If we don’t concentrate, we soon find that our minds have turned to other ideas.

We are inefficient listeners: Numerous tests confirm that we are inefficient listeners. Studies have shown that immediately after listening to a 10-minute oral presentation, the average listener has heard, understood and retained 50 percent of what was said.

Within 48 hours, that drops off another 50 percent to a final level of 25 percent efficiency.

In other words, we often comprehend and retain only one fourth of what we hear. We all want to be more than 25 percent efficient. It’s not difficult to see the many problems inefficient listeners can create for themselves and others. Poor listening causes us many personal and professional problems.

Listening skill suffers with age: Other studies indicate that our listening skill suffers as we get older. Ralph G. Nichols, long-time professor of rhetoric at the University of Minnesota (now retired), says in his bookAre You Listening? that “if we define the good listener as one giving full attention to the speaker, first-grade children are the best listeners of all.”

Nichols describes an experiment conducted with the cooperation of Minneapolis teachers from first grade through high school. Each teacher involved was asked to interrupt classes and suddenly ask pupils “what were you thinking about?” or “what was I talking about?”

Results were discouraging but informative. The answers of first and second graders showed that more than 90 percent were listening. Percentages dropped in higher grades. In junior high school classes, only 44 percent of the students were listening. In high school classes, the average dropped to 28 percent.

Listening is hard work: Another likely reason for inefficient listening is that it’s hard work to listen intently. Have you been forced to listen intently for an extended period of time? Try to remember your feelings. You were probably physically and mentally tired after such a period of concentration.

Ten worst listening habits: Nichols has described in speeches and articles the “10 worst listening habits of American people.” He says that listening training is primarily eliminating bad habits and replacing them with good listening habits and skills.

Here are the 10 bad listening habits. You’ll recognize some that you have and that you can make an effort to correct.

1. Call the subject matter uninteresting

You go to a meeting, the chairman announces the topic or you see it on a program, and say to yourself, “Gee, how dull can it get anyhow? You’d think they could get a decent speaker on a decent subject.”

So you’ve convinced yourself the topic is uninteresting and you turn to the many other thoughts and concerns you’ve stored up in your mind for just such an occasion — you start using that unoccupied 75 percent of your mental capacity.

A good listener, on the other hand, might start at the same point but arrives at a different conclusion. The good listener says, “Gee, that sounds like a dull subject and I don’t see how it could help me in my work. But I’m here, so I guess I’ll pay attention and see what the speaker has to say. Maybe there will be something I can use.”

2. Criticize the delivery or appearance of the speaker

Many of us do this on a regular basis. We tend to mentally criticize the speaker for not speaking distinctly, for talking too softly, for reading, for not looking the audience in the eye. We often do the same thing with the speaker’s appearance. If speakers aren’t dressed as we think they should be, we probably tend not to listen closely or we may immediately classify the speaker as a liberal or conservative, a hippie or a square.

But if we concentrate on what the speaker is saying, we may begin to get the message and we may even get interested. Remember, the message is more important than the form in which it is delivered.

3. Become too stimulated

We may hear a speaker say something with which we disagree. Then we can get so concerned that our train of thought causes us to spend more time developing counter arguments so that we no longer listen to the speaker’s additional comments. We are busy formulating questions in our mind to ask the speaker, or we may be thinking of arguments that can be used to rebut the speaker. In cases like this, our listening efficiency drops to nearly zero because of over-stimulation. So, hear the speaker out before you judge him or her.

4. Listen only for facts

Too many of us listen for facts and, while we may recall some isolated facts, we miss the primary thrust or idea the speaker is trying to make. Be sure that your concern for facts doesn’t prevent you from hearing the speaker’s primary points.

5. Try to outline everything that is being said

Many speakers are so unorganized that their comments really can’t be outlined in any logical manner. It’s better to listen, in such a case, for the main point. A good listener has many systems of taking notes and selects the best one to fit a speaker.

6. Fake attention

This is probably one of the more common bad listening habits. If you’re speaking to a group and suddenly you become aware that most of your audience is sitting with chin in hand staring at you, that is a good signal that attention is being faked. Their eyes are on you but their minds are miles away. We probably have developed our own faking skills to a high point. Let’s recognize what we’re doing and eliminate faking as a poor listening habit.

7. Tolerate or create distractions

People who whisper in an audience of listeners fall into this category. Some distractions can be corrected (closing a door, turning a radio off) to improve the listening atmosphere.

8. Evade the difficult

We tend to listen to things that are easy to comprehend and avoid things that are more difficult. The principle of least effort will operate in listening if we allow it to do so.

9. Submit to emotional words

We’re all aware of the emotional impact of some words. Democrat and Republican are emotional words for some people. So are northern and southern for others. There are hundreds of examples. Don’t let emotional words get in the way of hearing what a speaker is really saying.

10. Waste thought power

Nichol’s 10th bad listening habit is the one he feels is most important. It is wasting the differential between thought speed and the speed at which most people speak.

Three ways to improve listening skill

Nichols says there are three things that you can do to help yourself stop wasting thought power and become a better listener.

One is to anticipate the speaker’s next point

If you anticipate correctly, learning has been reinforced. If you anticipate incorrectly, you wonder why and this too helps to increase attention.

Another is to identify the supporting elements a speaker uses in building points. By and large, we use only three ways to build points: We explain the point, we get emotional and harangue the point, or we illustrate the point with a factual illustration. A sophisticated listener knows this. He or she spends a little of the differential between thought speed and speaking speed to identify what is being used as point-supporting material. This becomes highly profitable in terms of listening efficiency.

A third way to improve yourself as a listener is to periodically make mental summaries as you listen. A good listener takes advantage of short pauses to summarize mentally what has been said. These periodic summaries reinforce learning tremendously.

In summary, most of us are poor listeners for a variety of reasons. We have had little training and few training opportunities exist. We think faster than others speak. Listening is hard work.

We’ve listed some ways to improve skills to concentrate, to summarize, to avoid faking, and others. Just as important are your attitudes — be positive, concerned, sincere.

It’s a challenge to be a good listener. But good listeners get big rewards.

CM150, reviewed October 1993

University of Missouri Extension

CM150, Reviewed October 1993

Listening: Our Most Used Communication Skill

Dick Lee and Delmar Hatesohl

Extension and Agricultural Information


Thumbtack marks the spot for Trusted Local Resources

Recently I joined an online resource and website that exists to help those in need find local and trustworthy sources.

Who wouldn’t want to be found for being a service provider that can be trusted and referred.

I strive to attract the “write” business opportunities and have fun doing what I love. Do you? And presuming you love what you do, DOES your site tell that story? Let’s Talk.

Master Your Voice – Write and Speak Authentically

The Daily Affirmation for the Writer Within You

Today I am a relaxed and agile and effective communicator in all interactions. I cultivate a relaxation that steadies me as I channel both brilliant and clear speaking and writing simple and complex.

And for this I am appreciated.

Who benefits from this state of mind that you can cultivate on demand?

You and Others.

May your day of communication be a day of creative graceful exchanges.

Is Your Mission Clear to Those Who Want to Help You?

Is it?

I’ll start the dialogue I hope this post creates with my own attempt to be CLEAR and have a little fun in the process:

“Deborah Drake is on a Creative Writing Mission (be you writing for business or otherwise) : To get you to love doing your own writing and express yourself confidently and with authenticity and whole heart. Writing in this age of “the world being your oyster,” what will it take for you to chase out “for good” the disbelief that you can’t write as yourself and for yourself and attract GREAT readers and clients? Consider this writing coach like an assignment a la Peace Corps…she will teach you how to not only plant that garden and harvest the yield, but craft your own recipes in a cookbook you can then self-publish and market boldly with enthusiasm that lights up a room. Writing is good for the soul, good for business and therapeutic and to be able to authentically self-express who we are, what we do and what we care about in this age is PARAMOUNT. Can you?”

Now here is the challenge for you reader: Add yours in the comments so that we all who read here can see that you want us to understand who you are, what you do, what you seek to cause and what you care about. What will this do for you and us? Make it easier for us to identify opportunities that fit you. Those who know you want to understand how to help and recommend YOU! Trust me on this.

We MUST, MUST, MUST be able to both succinctly, colorfully and effectively express our mission, vision and purpose…okay, so we don’t “need to” to get work done and earn that living, but it makes doing business a whole lot more fun when we attract the clients that choose us because they “get us” even before they might meet us face to face.

Here is one example of some I love…and it’s not quite a brief bio or mission statement but it is in my opinion a home-run….Randal Hart I want my profile to be like yours when mine grows up!

http://biznik.com/members/randal-dehart-pmp-qpa/about

DO try this writing prompt at home and let yourself go. You’ll surprise yourself I bet.

Set a timer for five minutes (yes, all of five minutes and no more initially). Kitchen timer or your mobile phone or what ever timing device is easiest and at hand. Ready, Set, Write…and don’t over think it. That is why we get stuck people! We obstruct the flow of channelled brilliance when we stop and think, “Oh, does that sound good or make sense?”
Write what wants to be written for a change. Trust that it has pearls of wisdom to exploit! Write what comes naturally and then edit it to a piece that is finessed. Or ask a trusted advisor to assist.

The intention is to generate a statement that is bursting with truth and freshness…and I believe you can do just that!  (And help is always at hand when we ask for it.)

Authentic Writing Provokes…Every Time.

A Writing Coach's Credo

As a Writing Coach and Catalyst, I use each interaction I have with you to leave you feeling supported, to instill confidence and ultimately help you accomplish your writing goals. With gentle candor and honesty and compassion, in tandem with my self-confidence and writing experience I will earn your trust and establish rapport, so that critique and suggestions are given in a positive and insightful way that will be “heartfelt”, “heard/read” and understood.

I believe, what is “understood” can be integrated more rapidly than what is “resisted” or confusing. I first and always check in to find out how YOU (all of YOU) is feeling and what pressures or deadlines you may be operating under. Acknowledgement of what is going on is key; it naturally reduces tension and creates an environment where work can be done productively and confidence can be cultivated.

I believe effective communication to be a learned skill that can be cultivated at every age.

And some people seem naturally better at certain skills, but REMEMBER, initially we all were taught spelling, basic grammar and the guidelines for effective communication (and hopefully by a kind teacher or two).

It is the years of enthusiastic practice and commitment that have made me a better writer and a more intuitive writing coach.

It is my intention to convey in a gentle and direct way to you, I see you as capable, resourceful and creative. My hope would be that this as the foundation for our dialogue alleviates some of the stress or frustration of “writer’s block” or a deadline you are up against. And if you do not consider yourself a strong writer, I would suggest with heartfelt sincerity that a strong writer resides within you and to welcome that in or welcome it back in.

And if, for example, you asserted that spelling was not your strength, I would ask what resources did you rely upon when writing and editing: A dictionary, thesaurus, an easy guide to grammar? Love Spellcheck and Celebrate its existence in Word! Bookmark your favorite online resources! And let’s agree to one last proofread or one by a trusted editor in a friend or spouse? I will always offer resources and share best practices of my own also.

The idea of a constructive critique in my mind begins with asking what does one think they have already done well and what is good? And then we add to that list what I as the writing coach see is strong and effective. And next ask what needs improving and what concerns you? With awareness, you can only become a better writer.

I believe focusing on the positives present will allow for learning to occur more easily in areas that need refinement. A confident writer, who trusts they have the basics in place, and has an editing practice to catch the last typos and grammar issues may take more risks and stretch themselves creatively—and have more fun writing in the process. There will be more natural energy to do so.

The coaching model as a means to improve writing skills will inspire more natural enthusiasm for assignments and everyday writing, I believe.

Here is the theory that I agree with entirely:

What is my idea and my choice, on my timeline, is a set of actions I will be far more committed to and follow through on consistently and with more passion and enthusiasm. I will push myself and hold myself accountable. THIS HOLDS TRUE FOR YOU AS WELL.

I am here for you to instill confidence and inspire commitment to best practices for improving writing for business or pleasure.

As the avid writer that I am, I truly look forward to supporting you and the writing you wish to do. Thank you for the opportunity to partner with you as you create great writing designed by you.

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.