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.

Passions and Possibilities: What's Love Got to do with IT? Everything!

Dear Sue Zeal Oliver of Passions and Possibilities:

Thank you for having me on the show today to talk of Passions, Possibilities and Love.

I had a most delicious time dialoguing with you over what felt like a virtual cup of tea.

You have a way of showcasing people that is completely honoring.

Now I realize I am doubly blessed to be co-authoring a book with you that showcases the stories of over a dozen of the 100s of Passioneers you have interviewed in the past two years. Your dedication to interviewing your passioneers week after week is inspiring. Showing up like you do alone is motivating thought.

And we all benefit from the wonderful library of dialogues you are creating and maintaining. Conversations filled with hope, inspiratiion and vibrancy (one of your favorite words for good reason!)

Oddly I felt most nervous at the end of the call??? I wonder why…No matter.

My days of radio dj’ing came flowing back to me and to imagine the message that we c-created as we dialogued might be just what someone needs to here…

Now that is what I am all about.

I’m looking forward to tuning into the podcast and archived audio file for quite frankly I remember most of wh\at I shared, but I bet a nugget or two got overlooked and isn’t playback GREAT.

http://tinyurl.com/authenticwritingprovokes

If you missed the live interview and wish to hear it, the link above will get you there.

May you gentle reader at large be blessed with having the ability to pursue your passions as the livelihood of choice.

Deborah

There is Value in Writing Your Story

Once upon a time I wanted to be an author. Fact is: this is still true. Fact is: I am.

My love of writing has been deep within me since childhood and has very humble beginnings. It all began with a Hallmark Diary.

Age nine, Christmas included the gift of a Hallmark Diary that “locked.” A pretty pink and green plaid cover, a brass lock and key and fresh blank pages to record the highlights of my days and my secrets. Naive me thought that lock made it secure (smile.)

My 10 year old daughter loves the same compact diaries with the locks (that could be torn asunder in two seconds, but that doesn’t occur to her as it didn’t occur to me at the same tender age.)

In high school, I had the memorable honor of interviewing the Editor of the Poetry Shell, AND had a poem published in the publication. The young journalist I was, was so nervous as we met at a Pacific Grove Coffee Shop for the interview.  I had no reason to be. It was fabulous and cemented my love of journalism for  I see it as all about telling a story; be it your own or that of another.

Fast forwarding to the college years, I can recall how I dreamed of being a professional writer, a published author, an important editor someday. So, as one who had to work to put myself through college, I signed up to work for the college paper–in any capacity I could.

Typesetter, Copy Camera Operator, Layout Artist, and occasional Feature Writer. It was heaven. I would do anything to keep myself in the writing game.

After college, I jumped into working for a publishing company and it was my work on the college newspaper that got me that first job of reprint coordinator, of all things. I learned how make a book by taking it apart enough to get typos corrected for future printings.

My work for a neighborhood newspaper in San Francisco also kept me sharp at interviewing people and telling their stories. Deb Drake, girl reporter, one friend lovingly nicknamed me years later. The people I interviewed fascinated me not so much because their stories were over the top, but because they were so willing to share themselves with me. I’ll always remember the sandcastle artist, the ceramic artist whose oversized coffee mugs I cherish, and the family whose son needed a bone marrow transplant and got it. Real stories of creativity and courage. We’ve all got ours as well, don’t we?

Publishing and Journalism has changed so much since the earlier days of my involvement, and now a sense of urgency we might have is easy to accommodate. And we can tell our own stories if we are inclined, willing and able.

The stories of the people and places I wrote about inspired me then and remembering them does so again. Each person has a story to share that will inspire another, I believe.

Writing one’s own story is many things.

Clarifying.

Therapeutic.

A contribution to others.

A chance to impart learned wisdom be it business acumen or personal experiences that lead to growth and awareness.

If there is a story in you that wants to told, please share it.

And if you have trouble extracting it from yourself, by yourself, there are other ways to get that story out in the world. And it begins with asking for someone to witness your telling of it.  Then watch and listen how your story touches a nerve in that listener, that friend, that peer.

I bet if you asked for their feedback on the wisdom of your experience, you’d learn they are not the only one who’d benefit from the creation of a story–that others could then help them selves to reading.

Perhaps it’s an article or an ebook or a self-published work via the many user friendly self-publishing platforms. And if you need help in producing a quality piece, I hope you have the impetus to ask for it.

For it’s never been easier to share your inner wisdom and experiences that could impact one or many.

Here is hoping that story in you wanting to be told, is.


Authentic Writing: May the Buddha in You Shine

Please stop trying to be clever. How about being real?

I’ve got a question I’m really hoping a reader or two answers:

Where did you learn how to writing business and marketing copy?

I invite you to pause and think about the origins of your beliefs about what makes for good messaging and ask yourself a follow up question:

Does it reflect who you are OR did you borrow someone else’s specific set of writing instructions to attract so many customers you’d be making a five figure income by way of internet marketing strategies PROVEN to work by many others before you…or so they say on that website with the neverending cascading style sheet that allows for an unending page with multiple opportunities to CLICK HERE NOW to register for this SPECIAL PRICING and BONUSES…(gasp!)

Here endeth the run-on sentence and begins my attempt to make a point that I regard as extremely important.

Being a 20+ year student of marketing, and a 35+ year student of writing for both pleasure and my profession, I appreciate, cherish, study, analyse, scrutinize and celebrate language for all that it makes possible among us humans. In short, the written and spoken word and communication is dear to me.

Now,  I know that there is always going to be an attempt to crystallize and systematize writing as the creative and technical skill it is.

The point is there are two sides to the coin.  The raw, fun, juicy, heartfelt, honest, vulnerable, tactile, passionate and meaningful content deserves to be expressed AND at the same time it needs to be somehow organized into a coherent and logical format that can be read, understood, digested, integrated and acted upon–once the reader determines that the solution needed is before them–in the form of you or your service or product offering.

And the truth is, I’m not a huge fan of cookie cutter systems. I also though see the value of having a plan and sticking to it long enough to discern what is working.

I see value in systems and best practices (within reason). Yes, within reason do I myself follow the plan, with permission to go with  “plan b” in the wings  (typically based on spontaneous inspiration from a current event).

Blogging for business for example: there is a question that comes up pretty much weekly when new participants attend a group I host weekly. Can I blend personal and business? Put another way,  how much of me do I let shine in my writing?

I first heard this “true story” many years back.  And I even found “the story” and its picture today. And I hope it illustrates well what I am attempting to communicate.

World's Largest Golden Buddha

At one end of Bangkok Chinatown, in the temple of Wat Traimit, is hidden the world’s largest solid gold Buddha image. Weighing in at five and a half tons, the 15-foot tall seated image is uncountable worth.

The Golden Buddha was cast with solid gold sometime in the 13th century and is an excellent example of the gracious Sukhothai style that is still very much in favor to this day. At some point, it was covered in plaster, most likely in an attempt to hide the valuable icon from thieves or looters.

The disguise was so good that everyone apparently forgot about what was hidden beneath for more than five centuries. King Rama III had the statue moved to Bangkok and installed in a temple that later fell into disuse and was completely abandoned around 1931.

The true nature of the Golden Buddha wasn’t discovered until it was moved to its present location at Wat Traimit in 1955. When the image was being prepared for its move, some of the plaster was chipped off, revealing the gold underneath.

The statue sits in a plain building just barely big enough to hold it within the temple compound. On the terrace outside of the room housing the Golden Buddha are some interesting fortune-telling machines.

By the end of this year the Buddha image will be relocated to a newly built grand hall nearby which all people will never get too close to it.

Please don’t encase yourself in a protective coating…so that your writing is dulled by convention established by those who design one size fits all best practices.

Best practices and ideas that work deserve to be observed AND I see the value in bending the “rules” and being yourself.  For in tossing out the rules and really showing the world who lives through your writing, I have to wonder who you might catch “in your net” you might not have?

Social Media, Technology, Writing, Living and the Luddite in Me

“What prompts a person to be writing on their blog on a quiet Sunday afternoon?”, this person asks herself…

This fresh post is inspired by a friend who attended a conference in Seattle: Chris Pirillo hosted his 10th and “final” Gnomedex Conference in Seattle this weekend apparently? While I did not attend myself, a close friend did and shared this initial report that I find noteworthy:

Gnomedex exceeded my expectations. The diversity of subject matter, where the Geek stuff was actually pretty toned down, was fascinating. A couple speakers pushed into the transcendent spheres, speaking of trust and integrity. What one forgets is that Geeks are generally bright in many areas besides their core technical expertise. The more seasoned people are taking a careful look at their entire lives, and asking a lot of tough questions about the world.

The main theme I took away, as did many others, was, “Don’t delay that thing you’ve been wanting to do. Just DO it.”

There were two presentations by people who just decided to make films, despite the fact they’d never done it before. Check out http://lifeinperpetualbeta.com for one fabulous example.

Much more to share when we get together.

Metrics aside for a moment (yes, I know they are dear to your heart where ROI in your business is concerned) I find the phenomena of Social Media as it exists now fascinating.

Why? I think about  the possibility of what can be created between people on opposite sides of the physical world, the huge “personal webwork” we can construct of connections we may have throughout the Globe – as well as in our local backyards and communities.

And current technology for communication via Social Media Channels (abundant as they are)  is to me like having a “fairy godmother.”

Introductions to new and wonderful people can happen naturally and quickly if we choose to blog or read blogs and comment in meaningful ways. If we choose to author articles or to blog (that I use this as a verb makes me chuckle) means we will attract new contacts into our lives.

By what and how we share of ourselves on the web, we create the possibility that like-minded people or those in need of our expertise can find us intentionally through a Google Search, or organically, or by accident, or by recommendation.  Being found by any of these means works for me.

Big into communication as I am, I observe the duality of outcomes via Social Media and Being Social: Social Media fosters connections between people and their businesses and companies and hobbies and causes globally. Connections that stick and some that never have a chance.

Social Media adds to the “noise” in the world at large that we must filter and discern for ourselves. And among that “extra noise” is some really valuable information that has changed my life for the better.

Social Media can feel like intelligence in action. And it can feel like the exact opposite at other times.

And… I have also been considering another by-product of my ability to connect through infinite Social Media Channels which I will call a False Sense of Connection vs. a Truer Felt Sense of Connection.

I can split my focus so much that I ultimately feel “out of touch” with what matters most, while attempting to stay connected to everything and all.

I find I cannot always aggregate all the information found or sent, or at least do so well and with consistency.

Again, I am put in a position to choose HOW and WHERE I spend my time and energy (in any given space of time). And even though technology is a tool that helps organize my information and input and output, and works to keep me organized; I must learn it to use it well or hire someone who knows it, to set me up to use it well.

I am continuously fascinated by the evolving and exciting applications for all of communication technologies at large, and I am seeing a fascinating pattern…when I step way back to observe from a bird’s eye view.

First there was “the Maverick” one great new idea…that as first to market and well executed gained a monopoly on marketshare. It takes time for it to be adopted, integrated and made a part of the average user’s daily life.

At which point IT becomes regarded as something we must have to exist comfortably and be effective.

Then come “the Contenders,” the other options for the same or a similar application and I must CHOOSE to stay with my first choice, or investigate and move on to another “brand” or possibly use both “brands.”

And more choice and innovation keeps being born…that I am using or passing on using or maybe even unaware of?

These days we seem inundated with so many choices.  Some must have and others cause me to ask, is that even necessary?

Can I manage these days doing things in a truly LUDDITE way? Or must I take part in all of the technology at work and play in the world to strike it really rich and fully realize my potential? Like a pioneer, be first to the new land and take full advantage of the new landscape.

I’m as happy as the next person that email exists, that the WWW is used so openly and freely and I wish the lines of local and global communication to remain open.  I champion having a blog and actually have multiples myself.

I am a power user of Social Media Channels; until I occasionally crash and say, I need to unplug a while.  And I did for some part of the Summer, by choice.

Bottomline for me today, is that as much as I appreciate the abundance of technology and our ability to analyze, capture metrics, make wise choices and uses of the applications, and see it favorably impact my business ventures and in time my bottomline monetarily…

NOTHING replaces a face to face connection over tea or coffee or a meal or a shared face to face activity… Handwritten cards are so rare,  getting them is special to me at least…

I’m LOYAL to “brands” that are good to me, even if they raise prices fairly…

I’m more likely to attend an event I was truly personally invited to as opposed to a series of email broadcasts…

I’m into relating with people I like, feel  I know and can trust…

…and there are many other things I could say, but I am trusting you get the trend of my observations…

I’ll be a power user of technology for I am wired that way…to be able to communicate freely with the world at large is exciting. I enjoy it. I feel good at it too. My network is truly global and that makes me want to TRAVEL far and wide. Too bad no one has invented a Transporter that works yet, but for now I will selectively pay the price and go by plane, train or automobile.

And how do I cook you a homecooked meal? Or take a walk with you? Or sit in a dark movie theater and share a viewing of Eat, Pray, Love and then go out afterwards to talk about it face to face? I guess we’ll have to plan ahead for this local activity.

The Duality I embrace: I’ll take my immediate world as low tech as it is and appreciate it as much as the high tech world I “cannot live without.”

Authentic Writing Provokes: The 2am Ride of Paula Persevere (Revisited)

Albero e Luna by Francesco Marino

NOTE: This piece originates from an email sent to my still growing Writer’s Group for Reticent Bloggers at 3:03am on July 20th because quite frankly,  I was feeling DETERMINED to get the word out before we met again.

Reading it again, today, I giggle at the memory of all the teasing I get for being that nightowl from my most regular group members. Beyond being known as a nightowl, I am thankfully regarded as a good listener, and effective facilitator and that just warms this writing coach’s heart.

What reputation precedes you as the business or personal writer you are?  (I don’t mind for being known as a prolific writer between 12am and 3am on occasion. )

What are you known for  because of the copy on your website or the blog you author or that article, ebook or book you wrote?

Could you anticipate what your five closest peers might say about you? Do you even care?

To a degree I care about how I am perceived. Most importantly I want there to be a “nearly full eclipse” of who I say I am, who I know am and how I am experienced by people. Just like I appreciate online profiles with current photos that allow for immediate “recognition” of the real McCoy when meeting for the first time at a live event.

Be it that I am writing business copy for website updates, articles or a blog post or an email correspondence, or even micro-blogging on Facebook I am always alert to my underlying “voice.” And I have found that being “me” is the easiest way to get communication out in a timely, enthusiastic and meaningful way.

Can I interest you in exploring and developing your authentic written voice for your business or your creative aspirations?  It makes my heart sing to do so. For our Dharma (aka our vocation) seldom feels like work does it?

And about that late night experience that sparked this post…

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

At 12:40am or there about, this email was set to go, and Comcast deserted me.

Deserted me…but I am like the Captain of Galaxy Quest… I never/seldom give up and never surrender. And apparently I am willing to use the word never…

Tonight, I had the distinct pleasure of picking up my daughter from the airport, right on time, after her month in Carmel, CA with her grandparents. Her 8-day visit turned into a month when she got the opportunity to be part of the Children’s Experimental Theater group and we all said…what do we do to make this happen. We made it happen and she had a seminal summer experience. Who doesn’t want that any season of the year.

We, the dad, the mom and the kid had a catch up dinner at a nearby Neighborhood Grill and she had the AUDACITY…to ask for a play date after dinner with her best friend, Julia…I so get that she is simply glad to be home…and I would have let her go and play for two hours had it been approved… point is she was clear on what she wanted to be doing next–once she felt again in her element.

Well, I opened up a word doc, committed to write an article on behalf of Positive Daily Affirmations and figured if this email was meant to go tonight (or rather this early morning) I’d have the chance to send it before my head hit the pillow. Never Give Up….Never Surrender…or in other words cross that to do, off the list and sleep well.

Last week we had a wonderful dozen in the circle and surprise, surprise, the themes again were a common chorus.

Well, what do I have to say that people really want to hear from me?

(Hey, there, expert that You actually are with stories that span decades…I care and I am listening. And if I know you personally, I care even more…)

Can you hear/feel/sense the wisdom in this post of a friend of mine (a fantastic human disguised as a fantastic Real Estate Agent by day) that was inspired by a Copyblogger post? So much in so little a post…read on please…Go Casey, Go!

http://caseymuldoon.web864.com/2010/07/16/how-to-create-raving-fans/

I heard the request to start a Biznik Group last week! It’s done…

http://biznik.com/groups/writers-support-group-for-reticent-bloggers

You are invited to use this forum to share posts and ask questions of the resources in this growing community.

Sandy said she planned to start a personal blog.

Susan started writing creation stories for the buddies.

Pete is still committed to creating an editorial calendar.

Diane, I love your posts and your pictures.

Charles, please share those stories you have dozens of and educate by way of your 36 years of wisdom/direct experience.

Darylene, I’m writing articles as fast as I can….and hope I get found…

Blogs are living breathing entities filled with your essence, if you are okay with that. The more real you are the better. Being crafty and clever catches some but being authentic catches more people’s attentions and makes them Raving Fans.

Private blogs allow for R&D without scrutiny (go Sandy!)  And collaborative blogs allow for synergies to emerge between writers.

Favorite links found this week that made me smile long and wide:

Casey’s see above…which leads me to CopyBlogger and to this funny guy with a fabulous promo…

http://johnnybtruant.com/about/

I respect the writer’s with a willingness to really be themselves…what will it take for you to be so?

What makes my heart smile is how I see this group from week to week provide a space for the participants to get enthused and infused and inspired. For those who make it tomorrow…yahoo….for those who cannot…we will miss you.

I fully intend not only to be myself as I write and blog, and make a living doing so…how about you?  And to do so what support do you need?

Ask and you shall receive.

Image: Francesco Marino / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Manifesto

This is a blog devoted to Effective Communication and Authentic Marketing Strategies.

I believe that Authentic Communication provokes readers into action.

Self-expression is something we did as children and for as long as we were not silenced. So now we get to relearn how to write and speak like ourselves.

What stops you from saying what you really want to say? About your professional services, your business, your most important creative aspirations?

I enjoy helping those who desire to write, publish, and market themselves but resist doing so Authentically, Boldly, and Consistently. (ABC’s in my book!)

May you come to the place you look forward to sharing yourself through writing or self-expression through other mediums for pleasure and/or profit.

Blessings

Insomnia and Creativity Go Hand in Hand

I do so love a good all nighter!

Reminds me of that time I had to complete a final paper for a college literature course and I got stuck on page five of 20.

I had drafted the first five pages with ease. Weeks before,  I had typed up those first five inspired pages on my trusty Brother (back before computers made it a breeze to edit and rework copy).

So imagine a college Senior, eager to complete this 20 page project and get on with my Life! Sitting at the dining room table (or rather the card table that served as such) I starred hard at the bottom half of the fifth page…blank…uninspired. Simply stuck on where to go from the point I had left off.

My roommate Dan did his best to coax and coach me to relax, let the ideas flow, and just type something but I was a deer in the headlights. But I was determined to sit at that card table, fingers on the keys, and referencing my outline and notes, I prayed for guidance. None came.

So Dan got radical on me. How you ask?

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