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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19. I can think in haiku.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s on your list?