Writing Wishes For 2011

Reverb10.com. An annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. The end of the year is an opportunity to reflect on what’s happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

December 2 Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it? (Author: Leo Babauta).

This is such a hot topic for me. Very excited when I read it this morning. Irony is, here I sit. Late evening. About to hit publish.

I drank up many great posts today, in and outside of #reverb10, wondering if/when I would have time to write my own installment and laughing, at myself and today’s prompt.

My Short & Sweet

I’m with @whollyjeanne on this one,

Lately everything contributes to my writing. And nothing – nothing at all – was gonna’ come between me and my writing on this day. grief is messy

But I think somehow the prompt is getting at what @DanielleLaPorte says here about the ‘mastery of stop’ and saying no to what’s distracting and draining,

2. I will not leave Twitter, Facebook and Gmail open while I write. I need blocks of two to three hours to think clearly and craft that clarity into something useful. Writing is a “yes!” to all three of the questions. what’s on your stop doing list?

In terms of manifesting what’s next for my writing, I’’ll start here. In 2011, I say ‘no’ more often to distraction. I become “let nothing stand in my way” determination. And remain open and awake to the offer.

Speak

A book review.

So I mentioned in my post-vacation post that I read two books. One was a Buddhist book, which was meaty and deep. I’m almost always reading the meaty stuff.

But for the vacation, I thought, “If I even get to these books, I want one to be a vacation, like my vacation.”

I went to the bookshelves in the garage and looked through to see what would pique out at me. And I grabbed a skinny little thing with a beautiful cover called Speak.

Yeah, just Speak. So profound. How could I not take it with me and read it? Especially with all this creative doubt I’m constantly processing and sometimes blogging about and yet still manage to keep pushing the publish button.

On the cover is a pretty silver sticker that I only partly peeled off during my handling of it. Eventually I did look at this round shiny silver-dollar sized attention-grabber. So much for shiny. If it had been a scratch & sniff…

American Literary Association –
Michael L. Printz Award For Excellence In Young Adult Literature

Young Adult? Are you serious? I grabbed a book that was meant for my daughter?

“Ha Ha,” I thought, “Joke’s on me!”

I’m not sure how old Laurie Halse Anderson is or if she wrote this based on her own life (flipping to inside back flap now…) Ok, she’s married with two kids living in Pennsylvania. This is her first novel. Good to know, I guess.

Speak is memoir-style and a quick yummy read. What I appreciated most about this story is seeing the same struggle I have, that we all have, in speaking our truth.

Melinda is the 14-year old main character who holds our hands through her first year of high school, holding in and holding onto a deep dark secret that is eating her alive.

Have you ever been eaten alive?

Melted into this cathartic tale of how saying our truth sets us free is lots of humor for a 14-year old; maybe that’s really Laurie’s experience showing through, not sure.

Anyways, I recommend the book not just because it reveals the universal truth of the cost of holding secrets & telling the truth and learning how to set ourselves free, but because I needed a simple vacation book for my cruise, that wouldn’t be meaty and deep.

But I still got meaty and deep. In a young adult memoir-styled book about a ninth grader from Syracuse.

Melinda did it. And I will (continue) too. Speak.

Special Video Bonus

Watch the author read a poem written from letters she’s received over the last ten years. And when you decide to pick up this book, I hope you also find the courage to open your mouth and Speak!

Does More Traffic Mean More Clients?

On Sunday, I signed up for Michael Martine’s 5-day course on blog traffic-building. It was free. And he’s a big fish in the blogosphere. So I figure he knows what he’s talking about.

Today, I listened to module one – which is about blowing up the myths everyone who’s ever built a blog has. Like blog traffic is the cookie, only given to the special ones. The little fishes get no cookie. And I’ve been a little fish looking for a cookie for just about three years now.

This is one of the biggest challenges a lot of the people I work with have. After, of course, getting their tech savvy on and building their first blog (or website). Because after you’ve built it, you sit there and wonder (as I’ve said before in other posts) why the phone isn’t ringing off the hook or your email box isn’t exploding with requests for your services or e-junkie notifications that you’ve just sold another product.

Someday, I’ll have a waiting list long enough to increase my rates to $500 an hour. But not today. Today, I’m happy to work with one person, at a time, at $60-95 per hour. Seriously, deliriously happy. Just one-at-a-time.

And I’m still left with the conundrum of why aren’t they (my people) flocking to me?

When I first left corporate America and had a savings account to invest in my business, I fell prey to one of those services that promises to get your website ranking and get your phone to ring with qualified leads.

I spent about $300 per month for about three months.

I would google the keywords this company was helping me place for and sure enough, there I was. Sitting there. Waiting to be clicked on. This company even had tracking in place to measure when people were clicking on my link, and the number was pretty decent. However, their sales pitch about paying for the investment (if I landed one new client each month, I would be even) was not materializing. Not one new client from that investment.

And I did ask. I try to remember to always ask, “How did you find me?” And retrace steps they took, where they clicked and specifically what did they find on my website that caused them to pick up the phone call (besides my big bold “Free 30-Minute Session” disclaimer in 72 different places).

After three months, I pulled the plug because I had figured out what was going on. It wasn’t that the company I was paying to help me rank was underdelivering. They were placing me high in Google at keywords we had worked on together and chosen.

What I realized is that when people landed on my website, they weren’t connecting. It was all about what I was saying. And who I was speaking to. And I realized that everything has to do with that. The content. The writing. The what-I’m-saying part. And if it doesn’t resonate or connect with a reader, well you know the drill. You’ve been there. Everyday we go there. Open Google, search for something, visit a few links… all in about 2.5 seconds.

2.5 seconds. That all I have. So using my words to connect became an increasingly important objective for the success of my business.

And today, Michael Martine’s first module only underlined fiercely this exact learning. From three years ago. It’s all about being clear. Crystal-like.

Like knowing who, exactly, my people are. What keeps them up at night? What are they aching and hungering for? And really write about that in a way they feel heard and seen.

And that’s not all of it. The next piece was figuring out how to say to them that I have something to help them with that. That thing that keeps them up at night. Something different than what they’ve tried before.

It’s an art form. Writing. And a process. That unfolds itself in iterations. Everything I’ve done online has been an experiment in what works and what doesn’t and continues to be.

And not one iteration that has brought me to my today would exist if I didn’t begin with writing it down first. Finding a way to crack open the Word doc or get out that legal pad and answer the questions.

I just keep polishing and polishing the words. And they continue to become clearer and clearer.

And trusting that in the process of iterating it, what’s unique about me will show through. I’m less worried about competition than I am about getting those first questions answered clearly (mostly because I don’t believe in competition).

So if I could give you one small tip, if you’re just starting out. Don’t go spending a ton of money on getting your website ranked. Unless you’re ready. If you’re not ready, and you’re like me, working on this art form of writing so my perfect peeps feel heard and seen and understand exactly how I help them solves their problems… these are wiser places to invest in your business.

Mark Silver has a heart-centered approach to answering these questions. Michael Martine’s free 5-day blog traffic building course is another place. I’ve also worked with Isabel Parlett who helped me like 1000 iterations ago… to begin reaching for and finding the words to rock the world.

And I’m not even looking to rock the world. I just want to do what I love and help you do it too.

Free From The Stuck Of Comparing

I have this habit. I used to not even see it. Now I see it, but at the same time, still see myself doing it and wonder if I will ever stop. Or what thought I might have that finally releases me from this habit’s grip.

I remember Tom Stone saying something like 80% of our sensory perception is affected by sight. I really notice this when I sit quietly and close my eyes. How I sense and what I’m aware of is inner directed instead of being stimulated by what my eyes are constantly taking in and processing.

I wonder sometimes if I just shut my eyes, will I then stop comparing? And I don’t want to miss anything. I don’t want to miss the richness of sight. And at the same time, I’m also tired of not doing stuff because I’m in a state of stuck because I’m watching too closely what others are doing.

I might not even think I am comparing anything. But if I’m watching, comparing will shortly be there. Materializing out of thin air. In the form of my own private thought-bubbles that speak to me, out loud in my head.

“What if this story isn’t important to anyone else but me?”

“Isn’t it selfish to write for myself or to myself?

“The others, who have written books and published them, are in another league… waaaaay outside of my orbit!”

“I am not trained and have taken no higher education courses around writing. I probably suck and everyone can see that in the evidence of my posts. Whatever I write needs to be and mean a whole lot more than the scribbled ‘I love you honeybee’ messages on my daughter’s lunch napkin.”

That’s what it sounds like in my head sometimes. Really, a lot more than I care to admit.

I’ve learned that comparing comes from my fear. A pretty deep one that shows up in disguises. Fear is a master of disguise.

When I’m comparing, I’m usually coming from a place of less-than. Which is tiresome. So so tired of hatin’ on myself. My ideas. My creativity. My choices.

When I’m comparing, I let someone else’s light eclipse my own.

This week, I’ve been contemplating comparing. How and when it shows up. How much I beat myself up in it. How much I want to do something else besides compare. Understand why I focus on comparing… and discover the gift in it.

What am I not doing while I’m comparing?

A lot. It’s an energetic stall. It’s a cover up. A distraction. A procrastination.

And what would better than this?

Better than a cover up would be a revealing.

Better than a distraction would be great love in the form of focus.

Better than procrastination would be a decision.

The decision to just do it.

Comparing. Might it be A Gift For Learning To See Ourselves?

Just five minutes (thank you Pace & Kyeli for this wonderful anchor).

Do it, whatever I’m not doing that wants so badly to be started or fed or created or worshipped or loved.

And so I’m closing my eyes. And going within to ask what wants to be done? What wants to be written? What wants to be spoken? What wants to be prayed for? What wants my inner attention?

And I believe it’s me in there. A connection to my creative source that wants my attention and wants my voice, my fingers on the keyboard, and my heart wide open.

For now, comparing is keeping me from seeing me and connecting to the very thing I think I want more than anything. The thing that I ache for…

And that voice sounds like this:

Sometimes, you just have to stop looking at what other people are doing. And start doing your own thing. Now, strike sometimes.

That was the message I received from the me that is free from the stuckness of comparing.

Have you noticed comparing? I would love to know how you care for yourself if you have. And if comparing stuckifies you, how do you help yourself with that?

  • What does comparing look like for you?
  • What does comparing tip you off to?
  • What would you be doing if you weren’t busy comparing?
  • What works for you to help you reframe comparing?
  • What are the hidden gifts you’ve discovered hiding out in your comparing?

After Sedona

Nature shows me the pattern of regeneration. Which strengthens my sense of Faith. I breathe it deeply & repeat.

Nature. Saying so much, often in complete silence.

Nature. Resilience that builds beauty and perfection slowly, over time. Patient.

Nature. Ever-changing transformation. With each torrential downpour or earthquake on the other side of the world.

Each and every thing that is in nature is alive with purpose. It has transformed itself, over and over in order to be there. The way a cactus thrives in a desert.

Life is always expanding. Over the top of itself. Transformation is what life is.

Nature. Consistent. Billions of years of growth and change.

Nature. An eternal reservoir of creativity and life. Filling up. Nourishing me with it’s message of faith. Faith in the creative power of what is. Life faithfully expanding. Choosing to be an aware and actively participanting in it.

Nature. I breathe it in. Faith. I breathe it in. What is. I breathe it in.

With eyes, ears, a heart and soul, all that I am, I breathe it in that I may continue to expand joyfully and with wonder into every possibility.

Die Zones & Publish Buttons

Alanis dropped a lil bomb on me yesterday while I was walking in my neighborhood. And I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I strolled in the California sunshine, reminded about a recent conversation on discovering the initial curiosity for wanting to pause and take a closer look at the larger concept of fear.

“Fear is so subtle and slippery” she said. “I wanted to get around it, over it, through it, but I didn’t really know what it was. I could intuitively feel a barrier to my total health, but the barrier itself remained illusive to me.”

The one thing that helps with the illusiveness of fear, is making it more tangible. And measureable. Really choosing to look at it, instead of hiding or running or freezing in it.

Marching Toward Fear or Getting Crazy In Order To Save Our Selves

We’re never going to survive unless get we are a little crazy. ~ Seal, Crazy

Do you know when you’re going for it?

Like really sticking it all out there?

Scaring the shit out of yourself?

Going to the Die Zone?

That is a kind of fear, isn’t it? When I’m getting ready to do something big in my life, I can always count on fear as my playmate.

There are the little subtle fears like hoping dinner turns out ok or that you’ll find a good online deal for socks.

And then there are bigger fears like hoping they will like you or will even notice you.

And then the biggest fears. The ones that keep us up at night. Like wondering how the rent will get paid or hoping this round of chemotherapy helps stop the tumor’s growth.

If all were there when we first took the pill, Then maybe (4x)… Miracles will happen as we speak. ~ Seal, Crazy

I help people see the subtleness of fear, where it starts and what it looks like. And how it works to stay in control of every thought process and decision we make.

The people I work with on the topic of fear are smartttttt. Smart Smarty Smartypants.

They have already done some amount of personal digging into themselves. They get that the results they want come from within. They are not afraid to ask for help or support. They see partnering with a coach as strategic and necessary in order to help them get what they want. They are able to recognize that alone by themselves, they can’t go where they wanted to go.

Essentially my job becomes communicating in a way that helps people begin to know what they don’t know. Playing in a giant pool of illusivity, where your fear dodges in and out of visibility like dancing shadows on a breezy afternoon. Revealing itself at high cost which usually equals discomfort. I mean, really, who wants to scare the shit out of themselves? Who really wants to tango with fear? Scares me just writing this and is hugely challenging to talk about with potential clients.

In a sky full of people, only some want to fly, Isn’t that crazy? ~ Seal, Crazy

Not if they’re all afraid, it’s not that crazy. And most of us are just looking for a break. Some relief. From the hussle and bussle of daily life, the obligations and expectations. Spouses, Children, Bosses, the IRS. Our selves.

And in our attempt to try and find a bit of security, we begin to wall ourselves off from even seeing the sky, let alone learning how to fly.

That’s the insidiousness of fear. And how the construction of a comfort zone begins.

Even though, in the end, we realize we’ve become keepers of the comfort zone. Always working to make it more comfortable, fighting to keep the perimeter secure. Although we know there will be something after this.

I believe that deep down, we all want to fly. And it’s just a matter of time before we realize how unfulfilling it is living in the constructs of a false safety that blocks us from engaging with all of life’s possibilites. But more importantly, keeps you from engaging with those dreams you have. About how you want it to be. For yourself. And for the people you love. Which means that at some point we get to go to the edge and jump off into our die zone, and be a little crazy when we do. At least by conventional standards.

Contained within my fear and beautifully disguised by my mind is reason, justification and explanation. A great irony of self-sabotage. “Stay away,” it says, “at all costs. Don’t press publish! You will piss someone off!” But I’ll tell you a secret I’ve learned.

There is great mojo in the die zone.

And if I can somehow turn into and toward fear, towards understanding it and embracing it, I begin to see myself more clearly which allows me to be myself. And that extra mojo I find that enthusiastically propels me forward becomes dessert.

And I am motivated not because I’m broken in the comfort zone, but because I want to feel the burn of the die zone. And so I press publish.