Everybody writes. Yes, you too.

Chances are, unless you avoid it altogether–which would take a lot of effort–YOU are a writer. Be it email or notecards or the occasional report or marketing copy–writing is done when writing is needed.

If you post on Facebook or LinkedIn, or even if you Tweet more than links, you are a writer.

As a species (except for those of us who were born mute and/or deaf) you are a wordsmith, willingly or out of necessity.

Some seem born with a storytelling gene (lol).
Some develop the skill to make their mark in the world.
Some hire others to be their instrument for capturing the story they can tell but will not write themselves.

I’ve had the pleasure, honor, and adventure of working with all three major types of writing clients:

  • the willing and eager,
  • the willing and resistant,
  • and the unwilling but wise enough to delegate and collaborate.

Why do I write? Since I was nine years young, I have been writing “something.”

I understand that I write to self-express, self-soothe, self-evaluate, stay self-aware, and to integrate what I experience daily. I write to learn from what I observe, share it with others, be of service, and, ultimately, to understand better my personal history–that it might support my evolution as a human being in all my relationship roles.

I write that I may first honor what happens in my life, then learn from it, then support others who learn from what they read–and if it inspires others to take up writing for self-discovery ALL the better.

I write for both sacred and mundane and practical purposes.

Back in 2010, I facilitated a weekly Writer’s Support Group for the Reticent Blogger at a most magical venue,–Friends, Philosophy and Tea House in Bellevue, WA.

One Tuesday in early August, Warren showed up for the weekly event. That week he was the new guy.

Our group of 14 met in the Yoga Room. We were bursting at the seams to fit one more chair in that room–but we liked being cocooned in that space (until we outgrew it and 16+ were coming each week.)

Warren was a career executive with an impressive resume of Business Development, Marketing, and Organizational Development–with an equally impressive academic background in Applied Mathematics. He was also Australian, candid, funny, sharp-witted, outspoken, and he had been recently “released.” He was broadening his activities beyond playing tennis while looking for his next professional assignment.

He had discovered Biznik, where our weekly group was promoted. He had also recently self-published a book on his British-Australian lineage that went back to the 1600s! That impressed me and every person in our circle that day. We implored him to bring the book with him the next time he might come. He committed to nothing.

Warren was curious about one big thing that day–that remains a peak experience in my memories of him and the Writer’s Support Group:

“Why does someone write for anything other than business (or profit)? What’s the point?. I can’t see it.”

Writing for business, finance, sales, marketing, that he could do well, and he saw the value. Writing for personal reasons made no sense to him. He couldn’t see the point of it.

I remember telling a friend later that night how a bright, charming, curmudgeon of person had attended my writer’s support circle that day. Warren wit and his accent had impressed me. Everybody weighed in on the benefits they got from writing (with motivations being all over the map!) and the weekly support of the circle. That lively meeting warmed my facilitator’s heart. I was hoping that Warren didn’t feel singled out for dissenting.

I also presumed he’d not be returning based on the last thing he said before leaving:

“Thank you for an interesting afternoon experience.”

To my surprise, he emailed me late that night still perplexed by his experience earlier that day. I  thoughtfully replied as is my MO and did my best to remain detached. (For I can’t make anyone change their tune about writing now can I?)

To my great surprise, the next week he showed up again.

That fine summer day of August 2nd, on his inaugural visit to the weekly meet-up was the last day he clung to that “reality.”

He started a blog.
He wrote personal stories each with a lesson that could be applied to life (and business).
He took the idea I suggested to him to fictionalize his families’ “most interesting” history.
He started with short stories.
He laced them together into a novel.
He got curious about writing from a female perspective.
He took on a female pen name, tried it out, and succeeded.
He started coming to the Thursday night working group that gathered at the Tea House to do timed writing with prompts of all kinds.

Those were the days of Steve, Karin, Fai, Pat, Deborah, and Warren. And, there were others who came and went, but we had our core group. We wrote. We shared. We laughed. We’d repeat for 90 minutes weekly. It was a beautiful weekly ritual.

Then Warren got an offer to return to work.
And, he kept writing, for now, he was hooked.
He made time for it–changed man that he was.

Last time I had lunch with him and Fai at Molbak’s in Woodinville, he handed me a brown paper bag with a copy of each of the volumes of stories he had written and self-published.

Four volumes of stories to date.
A historical novel.
With another novel in development.

He berated me that my memoir was still undone.
He pointed out that he made time for writing EVERY DAY.
I sidestepped the critique by reminding him we had Fai’s novel Le Maurais to celebrate.

********************************

Warren is one of many who came to the Writer’s Support Group on Tuesdays at the Tea House from 1-2:30 pm. It became part of his new set of rituals. He was one of many engaged in the vast weekly dialogue about writing and why one writes.

On a weekly basis, for two and a half years, a couple dozen people gathered, held space, and gave great advice to each other–and we forged friendships too!

A lot of writing got discussed.
A lot of reasons people didn’t write got eliminated.
A lot of writing got done after each weekly pow wow.

In the month of November 2011, our blogger version of NaNoWriMo produced over 100,000 words with 25+ active contributors.

The commitment was a simple one.
Five times a week.
100+ words a post.
Contributors far exceeded the minimums. :)
And, the group insisted the community blog be called Tuesdays with Deborah (which I was never quite comfortable with, but we were a democracy–sort of.)

http://www.authenticwritingprovokes.com/inspiredwriting/

We were a community of people who loved and/or feared writing. Those of us who loved it supported those who feared it–as they overcame the resistance they felt. People grew as writers by helping each other. Ours was a respectful circle that made a newcomer feel welcome immediately.

In August of 2012, my favorite venue closed its doors. That was a sad day, but we all accepted the reality. And, while efforts were made to find a new home for our circle, none could hold a candle to the Tea House.

Writing kept showing up on the community blog. Karin Q started the Salon at her place. Others carried on independently. Books got written. Blogs got posted, micro-blogging on Facebook happened, and I began working on an all-encompassing project…even though I had said yes, to a half-time commitment. 

Things always take more time than we imagine.

There were always other writing projects and clients too, but the big focal point of my work for nearly five years (until this May) was to support the larger vision of someone who had engaged my services as a writing coach, editor, marketing specialist, and content development strategist. We (aka the team) collaborated on books, a lot of blogs, and an online course derived from the main title.

WHAT a journey it was and remains.

I tend to immerse myself in supporting clients as they developed their writing and communication skills, as they develop their stories, their brand, and their online presence. The way I see it, it’s all interconnected.

It’s satisfying work to see someone grow and evolve as a writer, speaker, presenter, and first and foremost a person.

It’s gratifying to see a client, a colleague, or a friend say YES to “bolder, shameless, self-promotion” that remains aligned with who they are.

In a word: Authentic.
In three words: Authentic Always Provokes.

Now, whether you enjoy writing is an entirely different conversation.

When people tell me they don’t like writing and avoid it because they don’t think they are good writers, I ask with pure child-like curiosity, “Who was the first person to suggest that you weren’t good at writing? What exactly happened!?”

For some it takes a pregnant pause to recall that early peak experience of feeling critiqued, shamed, or discouraged.

For most, there is a story buried in memory that rises from the depths of the subconscious mind. Some said, they simply knew that they didn’t like writing.

And, at that point of recognition, we have something we can work with and transform–if that is what is wanted.

the same old thinking and disappointing results, closed loop or negative feedback mindset concept  - a napkin doodle with a cup of coffee

The Critic is strong in all of us–AND it can be tamed, put in its place, and accessed in ways that are helpful.

The Perfectionist can become an ally; active when needed and quiet when appropriate.

The Creator exists in all of us–AND it needs support and encouragement (from both inside and outside).

The Writer can be cultivated and could become an integral part of your inner leadership committee. (Who is running the show in your life?)

Knowing you want to enjoy writing for business or personal might involve adopting practices that are not second nature to you.

Knowing you want to embrace marketing and promoting your work might also require adopting practices that are not second nature to you.

Mastery of what is not second nature will always involve hard work, persistence, and knowing how to be gentle with yourself.

I see myself as a multi-faceted communications specialist who understands the intersections of content development, production, marketing, promotion, and most importantly–staying aligned with your essence.

And at the end of each day what gives me the greatest joy as a wordsmith, storyteller, and guide?

Seeing you embrace the idea of getting over your concerns about writing for yourself and as yourself while doing it for your intended reader (or client)—THAT is what I champion.

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?