Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer.”- Barbara Kingsolver
For years, I sighed with longing when I read this passage by Barbara Kingsolver. How fortunate she was to have such a healthy ego! How privileged she was to be the woman who could enter her writing room knowing that she had the power to author books that would sell. Maybe someday when I grew up I could be so free.
And so, I dedicated myself to looking over my own shoulder for a good five years. I hunched over the keyboard and scanned the web for clues about how to wear just the right chains for just long enough. Eventually, I prayed, I'd earn the right to tell the stories that mattered to me.
Because I thought it was part of paying my dues, I forced myself to choke down the “how to create viral content” KoolAid (even though I distrusted those marketing “gurus” and it killed my writer's soul).
Because I was so afraid of being revealed as a fraud, I avoided “real” writers at all cost. It seemed smarter to maintain a healthy distrust for artists and other free spirits who took Kingsolver at her word and created with wild abandon on the other side of the studio door. After all, they were the lucky ones. There was no use envying them their freedom when I still had dues to pay and chains to wear.
What changed? What made me finally realize that Kingsolver was right and that she is speaking to anyone who feels called to write at any point in the creative journey? I certainly didn’t “make it” using all those marketing formulas and trying to please the crowd. I dropped those chains because I had to.
Finally, I realized it was true: I didn’t have anything of worth to offer if I didn’t uncover the story that mattered to me. I was starving my creative passions and I wasn’t building a sustainable business. I was miserable and my writing wasn't connecting with anyone.
Permission to Write the Self-Focused First Draft
I completely believe that the stories that matter need to matter to you first.
You can’t stop there, of course - not if you want to turn those stories into online content that builds a community of people who want to invest in your vision. But before you start looking over your shoulder and before you start looking into the eyes of the people you want to serve, you must connect to your own stories.
Right now, I am developing a course called the You, Your Stories, and Your Audience. As you understand how to craft stories that matter to the people you wish to serve, you also learn the art of the Self-Focused First Draft.
Your SFFD will evolve into final draft that transforms your readers’ perspectives and compels them to take action. But before it’s asked to do anything so grand it’s rooted in exactly what you have to say. You'll learn that before you can dedicate yourself fully to anyone else, including your reader, you need to practice a healthy selfishness and tend to your own stories.
This course is for emerging thought leaders, especially therapists, healers, and coaches, who wants to build a business through blogging today and develop an online presence that will get them a book contract and big time speaking engagements in the future.