Forget Your Deadlines, We're On Sovereign Time

Forget Your Deadlines, We're On Sovereign Time

Time. It is what it is, right? Relentless and uncaring. Immutable and inevitable.

And yet… Is this all there is? Could there be an alternative? What if we didn’t need to buy into the relentless progression of time and those killer deadlines we live (and die) by?

Let’s reconsider our life-and-death relationship with time.

Conversations With an Empty Chair, #365StrongStories 53

imageOne Friday, my Mom and I spent the day in the kitchen talking about a revolution.  Well, we were whispering about the stuff that eventually leads to revolution. We were talking about the state of the world and daring to examine our fears and entertain all the “what ifs?” What happens when we all find out that Al Gore has been right about the climate?  What happens when people really start to run out of water? How many links in the chain have to break before our global network of food distribution is disrupted? In what part of the psyche and the spirit should stories like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road reside?

It has been six years since my mother and I had the luxury of marinating on our 3 a.m. worries together. We lavished so much attention on hypothetical global crises and never spared a thought for the private tragedies that could be so much harder to bear.

We had no idea then that mom had a few hundred thousand minutes left to live. She’d be dead of a sudden heart attack by mid-summer and she’d never know if any our great big global fears would change our comfortable American lives.

Now that I sit alone at the same kitchen in 2016, I don’t have any clarity more clarity about the fate of western civilization. I’m not even sure have any more perspective on the unbearably brief and precious nature of an individual life. I still wish away time as I long for spring and pray that the tougher phases of childhood will pass quickly.

But then I dive deep into this line from Natalie Goldberg: “Give everything while you can.”

I think it’s easy to misread this as “do more!” After all, we live in a “lean in” and “manifest 6 figures in 30 days” kind of world. But I guess I have learned enough about mortality and personal tragedy to reframe these words into those that heal rather than strain.

That winter day in 2010, my mother and I didn’t leave the kitchen. We didn’t solve a single problem or even take the dog for a walk. We snuggled my new baby girl and we loved one another and we dared to be vulnerable and speak our truths. Though I cry as I type these words, it’s just because I am overcome with gratitude for knowing that on that particular day, we gave each other everything while we could.

“I don’t have time to write!”: the Tough Love Answer and the Soul-Level Response

MG_Header_w_biline_hiresSovereign Standard, Issue 35 What’s the reason why people get this close to inviting me to be their writing coach and then press the pause button?

“I really want to give this content creation process the attention it deserves, and I am just not ready to do that yet.”

Whether you're looking to hire a writing coach and editor or whether you're working solo on all the website content, blog posts, and guest posts, you feel the same pressure: “I don’t have time to write!”

The tough love answer to “I don’t have time to write”

“I don’t have time to write!”: the Tough Love Answer and the Soul-Level ResponseBecause I like you, I will tell you that, even as a writer, I understand this squeeze. Granted, for me the problem is “I don’t have time to write enough,” but the principle is the same.

There’s so much you want to say, so much that you want to explore… there just aren’t enough hours in the week.

And because I love you, I'll listen to your “not enough time!” lament. Then I will then ask you what your goals are - professionally, creatively, personally.

You’ll think I’m changing the subject and giving you a chance to tell me about all the other really neat stuff that’s more important than your writing practice including your plans to:

  • Start a podcast
  • Build a membership group
  • Develop a product and make money while you sleep (finally!)
  • Work your way to Oprah’s couch (because it’s the goal even when you need cable to see it)

I will be so excited to hear about everything you've got cooking! And then I am going to say, because I really believe you have valuable insights that will earn you income and recognition: but how are you going to manifest all that without a writing practice?

Praying that you don’t think I’m telling you to put your dreams on hold while you do something "impossible" (dedicate three hours or more per week to the process of writing), I will remind you:

  • A powerful podcast grows thanks to the strength of its show notes and the written content that attracts readers and converts them into listeners.
  • A membership group that is all audio or video based will disappoint people who prefer to read information and it will never be a fully searchable, useful resource for anyone.
  • Even a sound and visual-based product needs a written component too - and it needs to be marketed with rich content that tells a story.
  • Last time I checked, the way people like you and me get on Oprah is by writing a really awesome book.

The soul-level response to “I don’t have time to write!”

“Because it will forward my business” and “because I need to boost my visibility to share my message” - these are great reasons to develop and stick with a writing practice.

But are knowing it's good marketing strategy and understanding my points above really enough to get you to set writing dates with yourself?

"Because entrepreneurship" has never been a strong enough reason to get me to show up to this blog week after week. No promises of big money or fame has inspired me to fill all those little black journals.

There has to be something more to this writing thing. There's a deeper value that compensates the time and the energy and the devotion you must lavish on the writing process.

But, of course, a writer says writing is "the thing"

Now, taking writing advice from a writer -  someone who needs to write to make sense of this heartbreaking, ecstatic work of being alive - it’s a dicey thing.

Admittedly, I’m a person who would ask a dozing seatmate on a packed New York City commuter train for a pen because a 90-minute trip without writing implement is unendurable.

It's good to have crazy scribes like me out there (unless you're a cranky commuter). We're here to do the writing for you, right?

The copywriters and the writing coaches in the world - we're good, but we're not that good. We can help you get clear on what you really want to say.  We can make you look good on paper. We can empower you to feel like a "real" writer and not just somebody blogging for attention.

But, you need to touch the words at some point in the process. You cannot outsource the practice of writing itself - the discipline of it, the ritual of it, the insights and serendipitous connections that spring from it. Well, you could, but then you'd miss out on all sorts of untold magic.

When you delegate the entire writing process you lose tremendous opportunities to explore and expand your own thoughts. As a creative entrepreneur, as a clinician or healer who wants to make a difference in the world - you need access to your own brilliance.

Writing gives you a direct path into your own most vital wisdom.

Writing = thinking, understanding, feeling

As a writer, my inner life is my only instrument. I understand the world only by my attempts to shape my experience on the page. Then, and only then, do I know what I think, feel, believe. Without these attempts (the word essay derives from “attempt”) I am lost. - Dani ShapiroI write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say.” ― Flannery O'Connor “I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear." - Joan Didion

Need some inspiration to turn the writing chore into a writing practice? Meet Saundra Goldman and her #continuouspractice project and join the community of people who show up each day to the practice that matters.

Ready to make time for the writing your business needs you to do? Let's talk about how writing coaching can help you create a practice that works for you.

And, even though my "brave" writing is mostly being confined to my journal, I'm still inspired by the Bravery Blogging Project. This week, it felt courageous to ask other great writers to speak for me!