writing

How to write what you know when it hurts too much to talk about in public

How to write what you know when it hurts too much to talk about in public

So much has happened to get you to where you are - so many terrible mistakes and private joys and worrisome truths. There’s an inherent challenge embedded in “write what you know” when what you know is too private or stressful or in-process to share in public.

And, "write from the heart" is a downright punishing statement if you’re a healer or a clinician who helps people solve problems and find peace and happiness when your own daily life is full of conflict and confusion and frustration.



Are you dreaming the dream or doing the dream?

It's Friday, and that means I am breaking a rule by breaking out of my writing bubble, but I trust that it's ok to give myself permission to do that.

My current work in progress describes how the Celtic Sovereignty Goddess guides women through the transitions of modern life. Why write a book about crowning the queen within if you can't rewrite a few rules along the way? Especially when I'm taking these moments to write to you and the rest of my beloved community of healers, writers, and creatives.

Right now, I have a candle burning on one side of the laptop and my open journal on the other. I just got up from the meditation cushion and the beautiful clutter of sacred stones and tarot cards that surround it. Before I shut my eyes to dream into the work, I had scribbled several pages of notes that just might make it to the typed page.

My little one is home with me today, and it might make more sense to hit the grocery store and put away all that laundry so I can empty the baskets and start the whole process again. But, instead, I'm giving myself permission to let her watch Moana for the twelfth time and I am using this stolen hour to do the dream.This is new for me. Until just a few weeks ago, I'd never allow myself to sit down and work on my creative projects before the kids' bedtime. It seems the Sovereignty Goddess is whispering: it's time.

Dreaming Time and Doing Time

This life I lead, as a mother and a creative entrepreneur, it offers ample time for dreaming.

Driving the kids around, throwing together yet another soup, dealing with all that laundry... When the girls amuse one another and when I remind myself that it's ok to turn off NPR (the madness in Washington will go on whether I listen to every news report or not), I find new vast new territories within my own mind.

Yes, this life with small children may give me time to dream, but it often leaves very little time to do. I have time for my clients, of course. I have time to co-create the podcast. But time to actually do my own writing? That has often seemed impossible...

But then, this book project awoke within me. Re-awoke, I might say, but I am not 100% sure that's a word.

With the spring rains, with the rising tides of my own life, and the churning waters of these tumultuous times in the collective, the Sovereignty Goddess rose out of the earth, out of the past, and out of my own past studies and told me it was time. (Get a taste of her magic here.)

And so, the S.G. gets my creative doing time every Friday, and she gets lots of dreamtime in between. And I feel more alive than I have in long, long time.

Out of the Barren Territory of "Just a Dream"

I'm realizing how much effort I have put into dreaming the dream, and how little I devoted to doing the dream. This long time habit has left me feeling barren and lost... I was terribly accustomed to the bitter cycle of feeling inspired and then feeling disappointed as all those ideas just faded into the ethers.

What about you... are you able to dream the dream but just don't have the time and space to do the dream?

I'd love to talk with you about how I can help you capture that creative energy and turn it into words on a page that touch the hearts of your readers and potential clients.

Book a 15 minute session and we'll talk about how writing coaching can support your creative practice and transform your professional practice.

What an Irish Goddess Can Teach You About Writing & Marketing Your Practice

If I had one wish for you, it would be that you would stand sovereign in your story and in the marketplace. Sovereignty is at the heart personal fulfillment and professional success. When you are sovereign, you are the confident, compassionate ruler of your own life. You don't assume that you can control everything, but you are sure of your worth and guided by your dedication to the greater good. For the healer, therapist, or coach who wants to change lives with her vision and her work, sovereignty is a beautiful thing to aspire to.

A quick Irish history lesson (and a good story to tell over a few pints of Guinness!)

But, before it was applied to the modern individual, “sovereignty” has belonged in discussions of royalty and statecraft.

Goddess by Moira age 5
Goddess by Moira age 5

At the heart of Celtic myth - and particularly Irish myth - sits the Sovereignty Goddess. She is divinity made flesh and an embodiment of the land itself. In order for the king to take the throne and guarantee the fertility of his realm, he had to win favor with this otherworldly woman. And then she took him to bed to seal the deal.

Across mountains meant to be her breasts and across rivers meant to be her blood or tears, battles were waged in her name. The Sovereignty Goddess did not rule, you see. She was the power behind the throne. Or, perhaps, it's better to say the power before the throne.

She supported his royal cause and she crowned the king, but then, she had to stand aside and let him define his own destiny.

Centuries later, when the Irish peasantry struggled under English rule, the Sovereignty Goddess represented dreams of independence. This time a fairy woman, the goddess would appear to young men in a dream and incite them to take a stand for themselves, their people, and their country.

(Does this sound a but like what you do for clients? You help them along their journey of becoming and giving them the tools to succeed on their own, right?)

What does the Sovereignty Goddess have to offer the modern transformation professional?

History is starved of powerful women, so this influential creature is a welcome shot of the feminine. Certainly she got my attention when I was a student, just as she got the attention of the people who used these myths to understand their world.

But a couple of generations of feminist literary and cultural criticism has taught us that “and then a woman appears” is not always a sign of gender equality and empowerment.

Though seducing mortals and actually being a country is all very fabulous, it’s quite disempowering. The goddess is momentarily star of the origin story, but then she is pushed offstage until the hero decides to invade a neighboring kingdom in her honor.

With this in mind, what can a kingmaking, rabble rousing Sovereignty Goddess do for the transformation professional on their own quest to change the world?

Well, being an essential part of the prologue or “just” having a recurring role in the supporting cast is actually what being a healer is all about.

5 Lessons About Storytelling & Marketing that Only a Sovereignty Goddess Could Teach You

When you’re a therapist or healing professional writing in support of your own work, the Sovereignty Goddess can be the perfect model.

As the writer or the healer, you’re not the star. The reader is the hero. The client is the hero.

Your role is to awaken, inspire, support, facilitate. Though you hope to sustain a long term relationship with your readers and your clients, the focus is on their process and growth, not your role as guide.

Here are five ways to embody the Sovereignty Goddess and make a difference in your business and in people’s lives:

  1. Live the Legend: Like the Sovereignty Goddess, you need a powerful legend. Through your writing and branding, you can build visibility and a strong reputation that invites people to learn more about what you offer. Intrigued by your story as well as the social proof (what people are saying about you), prospective clients (or, perhaps, perspective heroes) will be excited to explore how you can help them rewrite their own stories.
  2. Embrace the Magic: The Sovereignty Goddess used magic to turn commoners into kings and warriors. In our contemporary world, we have our own kinds of magic. After all, there’s something just a little mysterious in that alchemical process that turns ideas into words that help your ideal clients understand that you're the one who can help them become healed and whole.We create and connect to magic through stories. When you sit down and write out your vision for your clients, describing what sort of transformation you know is possible, you are taking the first step in making heroes who, in turn, can be sovereign in their own lives.
  3. Exercise Choice: Just as the goddess has the power to name her consort, you have a similar power when you decide on your ideal client and reader. Choose someone who has the life experiences that your stories can speak to. Write for people who seek the outcomes that your work can promise. It’s in being choosy and specific that you’re most effective, telling stories that go deep and doing work that changes lives.
  4. Seek to Empower: When that young man laid down with the goddess, it was guaranteed that he’d arise an empowered man ready to make his own way in the world. Your hero client/reader is going to use the seeds of your story to create his or her own great narrative. Ultimately, this is what you want: your audience’s new sense of success and happiness originates with you but does not permanently depend on you.
  5. Practice Trust: The Sovereignty Goddess understood her role in the grand scheme of things: kings would pass on and young upstarts would need her to help them take their place. She trusted that in every king’s court, her story was told around the fire - the modern equivalent of being shared on the Facebook wall, the Pinterest board, and the Twitter stream.Create content that matters to you and is designed to speak to your ideal readers and you can trust that your good work will inspire your hero client to share on your story (most likely by crediting your supporting role in their own remarkable journey).

This St. Patrick’s Day, as we celebrate all things Irish (both pagan and Christian), I’d be grateful if you shared the Sovereignty story with your community - who knows what getting in touch with their inner Celtic Goddess might do for them!

Do you need help discovering and telling your own Sovereign Story? Check out my writing coaching services.

If you're longing to meet the Sovereignty Goddess within, I can help you connect to her during a Creativity Healing & Coaching Session.

Time, rest, work, and the shaping of a writing life

“Women can have it all, but not all at the same time.” Brilliant, successful people from Betty Friedan to Madeline Albright to Oprah to Anne-Marie Slaughter are credited with this line. I don’t think anyone is irritated about plagiarism because truth is truth and amplifying shared wisdom raises everyone up.

I need to come clean: right now, I’m not occupied with writing a seminal feminist text or running the State Department or establishing myself as the ultimate media mogul.

Nope, my reality isn’t nearly as high profile or quite so life and death. It’s just as real though. I’m dancing with the daily truth about the choices that must be made: “this, not that.”

The "thises" and the "yeses"

My “thises” include mothering sick children and tending to my own wintertime ailments. When I’m not tossing tissues in the trash, I’m taking on copywriting work and writing coaching commitments for healers who are changing the world, one client at a time.

I’m also immersed in the Practice of Being Seen community for therapists and its delightfully demanding sister project, the Practice of Being Seen podcast.

On the podcast, we talk a lot about the various roles we play as individuals, as professionals, and as change agents. Often, it’s about “you can do more than one thing, but let's think about how that will feel...”

That’s what we explored in the recent discussion we had about Resistance & The Princess-Rebel Role Model. You can be both princess and rebel because, let’s be honest, we often want to be saved just as much as we want to change the world. But what does that really look like in practice? (Listen in and decide whether it’s something you can really do at the same time.)

The "thats" and the "not todays"

But the act of podcasting - and doing all the behind the scenes work it takes to make it happen - creates a whole new bunch of “thises” and excludes a whole lot of “that.”

As you may have noticed, blogging about writing and the creative quest have been in the “not that, not today” pile for some time. That’s due to the concrete realities that contain our boundless universe and give our lives some kind of reliable shape. I assume you know these - very real the constraints of time and energy?

The shaping of the time. The container of rest.

All this has me thinking about time and energy more than ever. I’m thinking about  as discernment too. And I have a couple of resources for you to check out that speak right to what I know is a very common concern for so many of us - particularly those who try to  fit parenting and entrepreneuring and client supporting and creating and self care all into one day.

Jeffrey Davis of Tracking Wonder invited me to write about my tango with time. It felt good to offer up some of my finite number of hours to Stop trying to make time. Enter into relationship with time.

In the post, I talk about how “I enter into relationship with time so that I can see the relationships between my ideas and the work I want to manifest.” The patience and the resources it takes to enter into such a productive relationship rely on one essential thing: rest.

Karen Brody’s work with yoga nidra has long been a source of solace and support, and I’m thrilled to tell you that she has a nine-month immersion in yoga nidra coming up.

This  sleep-based meditation is radically necessary and powerful, but that isn’t the only reason I am so excited to share the program… Daring to Rest: Wild Woman Writer is specifically for women who know they have a story to tell. A playwright and author as well as a yoga nidra expert, Karen is the perfect woman to combine story, sleep, and personal revolution.

Ultimately, yes, it does come down to balance

It's as trendy to scoff at balance as it is to strive for it. When the contemporary tussle over a word becomes too much for me, I look to the ancients.

Balance | #365MagicWords by Writer & Storytelling Coach Marisa Goudy
Balance | #365MagicWords by Writer & Storytelling Coach Marisa Goudy

This is the latest image in my #365MagicWords series. As I am thinking of shaping time and prioritizing rest, and I am also thinking of the Eqyptian Goddess Maat who was the keeper of universal balance. The daughter of the Sun and the wife of the moon, she had great wings and always wore an ostrich feather headdress. She was the embodiment of justice and the grounding of reality.

A fine spirit guide for these tumultuous, over scheduled times, yes?

15 Stories that Will Help You Find Your Way Through the Holidays

15 stories that will help you find your way through the holidays | short stories collected by writing and storytelling coach Marisa GoudyIt’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and the sun has some climbing to do before it reaches the horizon. The house quakes in the wind and I’m unaccountably sad that there are trucks collecting garbage in the freezing darkness of rural New York November. Somehow it seems tragic and strange that we live in a world that doesn’t have enough daylight hours to deal with its trash. Perhaps my cozy, privileged little bout of worry is forcing story into the hands of those hardened waste collection warriors.

It’s just a paycheck, lady, they might say. You keep to your words and those gigantic cups of tea, and we’ll work at the edges of the day to keep the world running smooth enough for the storytellers and the dreamers and mothers and all the rest who create pretty things for a living. After all, someone has to keep clearing away the scraps to reveal all that beauty you’re looking for.

Stories always find a way. Stories help us find the way.

That. That right there. That little paragraph is proof that there are stories waiting to be revealed in every conversation - real or imagined. Stories lurk in every moment of reflection. Stories even hide in the noisy blackness of a Hudson Valley back road at six AM.

Stories guide us toward the dawn. Stories anchor our worries and our blessings so they become real enough to be spoken aloud.

I didn’t wake up this early to fret over America’s waste problem or its labor practices, though both would be worthy preoccupations in their own time. I’m at my desk because I’m sleepless with stories and gratitude.

I’m here to offer 15 tiny gifts that are all more enduring than the latest soul shaking headline or the worries that race through your mind.

Each story you read, each story you write: it’s a gift.

Early in 2016, 15 writers answered a call.

Fifteen writers joined me for my frightfully ambitious #365StrongStories project. Each contributed a story - of birthing, of dying, of living in spite of all the pain that these simple events bring forth.

With their contributions, each writer lightened the burden of a daily writing project that ended up demanding too much from me. After well over one hundred posts, in May I abandoned my promise to tell a story each day. My life wasn’t designed to produce and publish a story 365 times in a row. I’m not sure that anyone who is dedicated to tending and protecting her creative source would want to force herself into such an arrangement.

But the writers who joined me were doing so much more than helping an overcommitted #365project sister out. Each story was a gift: for me, for the readers, and for the writer who gave herself permission to lavish attention on her own tale.

It’s not to be taken lightly, this work of shaping ideas into something that has a beginning, middle, and end. Turning twenty-six letters into a code we can all understand and then deftly splicing and slicing the words in their own divinely inspired order so that they make a story… that’s alchemy. And alchemy is transformational magic.

[tweetthis]This work of shaping ideas into something with a beginning, middle & end is not to be taken lightly[/tweetthis]

15 short story shaped gifts for you & yours this Thanksgiving

And so, now that the sky is brightening and it’s time to launch my girls into one more school day before the Thanksgiving break, I want to take a moment to thank each writer and to offer their stories to you as the gifts that they are.

Before the family arrives, before you’re up to your elbows in stuffing and sage, and before you have that next glass of wine, read a few of these stories.

May they offer comfort. May they offer inspiration. May they remind you of what you have lost and what you still might find.

Meet the #365StrongStories guest storytellers

Read Doubt and Annie D. by Suzi Banks Baum when you’re rumbling with creativity, self-doubt, and missing your babies.

Read Knowing Motherhood by Barb Buckner Suárez when you’re struggling to find your own voice while still honoring those who taught you to speak.

Read Echo Grandma by Evelyn Asher if you’re separated from your loved ones and are seeking creative ways to connect.

Read When Elder Becomes Child by Tania Pryputniewicz if you’re carrying a parent as you hold tight to stories of the way life used to be.

Read The Woman and Her Irishman by Brenna Layne if you have an ancestral mystery to solve.

Read Traveling Distances by Peggy Acott when you’re journeying to a meal you’re never going to forget.

Read Luis: A Study in Breath by Liz Hibala because we share this holiday with our animal companions too.

Read As I Remember It by Ginny Taylor because the past is often full of pain and survival and we need to honor those memories.

Read The Inconvenient Allure of Solitude by Maia Macek if you just want to slip away from the table to be blissfully alone.

Read Dance Camp by Sara Eisenberg because you need to experience your body through movement, not through overeating.

Read Walking Home by Dawn Montefusco because you need to root into your core beliefs… especially when certain members of the family start talking politics.

Read Stand Here by Stan Stewart if someone in your family is struggling with addiction.

Read The Martyrville Messenger by   Lois Kelly if a loved one’s illness keeps you close to home this year.

Read Up the Mountain by  Sharon Rosen to dive into the sensations of the body and savor the blissful and the brutal.

Read Never Evens by Kelsey Rakes to prepare yourself for the unexpected - especially if you’re expecting.

Are you ready to tell your own authentic, compelling stories? Learn how the Story Triangle can transform your writing and your practice.

Get Your Free Storytelling Guide

The secret behind your post-election writer's block

got-writers-blockSomeday, it might be fun to tell your grandkids that you had a front row seat for what will surely go down in history as one of the most infamous elections ever. Since every person must tell the story from their own point of view, there will be hundreds of millions of versions of the 2016 presidential race, and they’ll only have one thing in common: each story will have a beginning, middle, and an end.

Eventually, you’ll have the perspective to understand when and how the story started (it probably wasn’t the day the winner announced his candidacy).

You’ll figure out the turning point (surprisingly, it wasn’t the day the Access Hollywood tape was released).

Already, some Americans can tell you the last line of the story: a 3 AM victory speech.

Others are still waiting to figure out how their story ends.

[tweetthis]If you have post-election writer's block it's because you're still living your story[/tweetthis]

How to be sure your 2016 election story isn’t finished yet

It's important to note that having an unfinished election story does not imply that you refuse to accept the results of the American democratic process or that you're into the whole #notmypresident thing. You could say it's more about the state of your heart than it is about making plans to move to Canada.

Here's a quick self-test to see if you're in the camp that's still waiting for an ending:

  • If you have a love/hate relationship with the social media feeds and recognize that all these reactions are wrecking your health, but you still can’t look away, your story probably isn’t finished yet.
  • If you’re someone who is trying to avoid all political material (except Joe Biden memes) and is focusing purely on videos of cats and puppies, then there's a decent chance your story isn’t finished yet. (And I’m really flattered you broke your own rules to read this!)
  • And, if you’re someone who can’t turn journal entries or scattered notes into a complete article or blog post, your story definitely isn’t finished yet.

(Oh, and should you fit the unfinished story profile you probably appreciate pantsuits and the color blue, but that’s sort of a side issue at this point.)

Ultimately, you see the 2016 presidential race as something that’s about a lot more than the person who sits in the Oval Office. You understand that many of the the people you care about and work with can’t get back to life as usual in our post November 8th world.

You’re in touch with all of the feelings of shock, outrage, confusion, and emptiness that make you fantasize about taking to the streets or hiding under the bed. (And you probably vacillate between the two options in the space of a minute.)

But what about the persistent inner voice that says “you must write” (or podcast or try Facebook Live)?

A wise friend, a therapist and writer, who has been writing boldly into the most troublesome issues of the day kindly advised me to "give yourself a chance to wait until you regroup and heal."

My response? "Well, I guess I will be doing a lot of writing from the other side of the grave."

As a writing and storytelling coach for therapists, healers, and people in the transformation business, it’s my job to be two steps ahead. I’m here to support people who write to deepen self knowledge and publish content to support their practices. I show up online in order to model that process, but how on earth can I do that when I have no idea what I really think and I feel unqualified to offer guidance?

That sort of extra pressure only makes the writer’s block even more painful, of course.

But then, I remind myself that every honest person who has shared any insights over the last week owns the fact that they’re stumbling along unmarked paths with everyone else. Many have found a way to say… something. Few of these pieces feel complete or definitive, but that’s ok. Certainty is a lie when you don’t know the story’s real ending.

It’s enough to hold space like Dani Shapiro did, to own our disbelief and disorientation like Rob Bell did, or to apply timeless principles like Susan Piver did.

If it’s not a time for storytelling, it’s a time for story holding

What eases us through this time of confusion?

Stillness. Being aware of the mess. Feeling all the feelings. Kindness. Compassionate conversation.

We actually heal confusion by admitting that we’re mired in it and, as much as we hate to admit it, when we realize that confusion has a measure of power over us.

We collectively achieve clarity when we refuse to rush a story to a neat little ending before its time.

The good news? The wonderful news for therapists, healers, and transformation professionals? It’s your job to hold and keep safe the stories of others. Even if you’re a teacher and it often feels like you're called to perform and convey information, you’re also someone who witnesses and supports others’ growth.

The kind of work you do is about listening. It is the kind of work that asks you to respond to one person’s needs. It does not require you to fully articulate the new left wing agenda or how to reverse this new racism and misogyny sweeping America or how to decide if it's better to protest or pray.

Your work requires you to be articulate in long moments of silence and to hold space for clients going through their own dark nights, through their own stumbling confusion.

Your clients don't need to be guided to the end of their own election story. Your clients need you to help guide them back to themselves.

[tweetthis]In the #election aftermath, it might be better to be a story holder than a storyteller[/tweetthis]

 

And yet, it is always time for writing and self expression

Even as your work may call you to be fluent in the language of silence, please don’t silence yourself if the words are aching to come through.

I invite you to rely on your writing practice (as well as your meditation practice and other healing modalities that calm and unbind your soul) to find your way through your own confusion. And I invite you to heed the call to share those ideas when you trust the moment is right, when you trust that you must be heard.

3 Ways to Write What's True During Times of Uncertainty | by Marisa Goudy, writing & storytelling coach for therapists, healers, and transformation professionalsHere are 3 things I know as I write beside you through this time of uncertainty:

(And, yes, it's based on the Story Triangle that I use to help writers connect with their readers and their own truth. Click here to learn more. )

1. Self-focused first drafts are essential. Anne Lamott gave us permission to write “shitty first drafts.” By all means, feel free to write utter crap as long as it means you’re getting words on a page.

But please, please, please don’t allow yourself to write lousy versions of what someone else told you to think or what you assume the people want to hear from you. Write for yourself first in order to discover the truths within you.

2. Keep your audience in mind. What does your reader need from you? Why are you writing in this particular public forum? The territory you cover on a Medium post will likely be very different that the ideas you share on your business blog.

Know your platform and know its audience. When you get that SFD into the final draft, it needs to be re-crafted according to the needs of your reader. Do they need reassurance, do they need resources, do they need you to raise a ruckus, or do they need respite from all that election talk?

3. Remember that complete, compelling stories are everywhere, just waiting to be told. The great big election story is still being written as we see what a You Know Who presidency looks like, but there are countless little stories to be told along the way.

Even though many kids have taken the election results pretty hard (who else loves an elementary school kid who is still heart broken because we don't have a “girl president?), children are resilient. What stories are they living in the present moment?

Look for the ways that hope is being wrapped in a beginning, middle, and end. How are people uniting and taking positive action, despite the heavy November clouds?

Do you have stories that are begging to come through you? I can help hold space for you to tell them, support you as you clarify your ideas, and help you craft your words.

Set up a free 15 minute consultation to learn about how writing and story coaching can help you build your writing practice and your professional practice.

So you want to write about politics (or whatever issue is troubling you & the world)

So you want to write about politics | Writing and Storytelling Coach Marisa Goudy

So you want to write about politics | Writing and Storytelling Coach Marisa Goudy

Right now, America is made up of two kinds of people. No, I don’t mean Democrats and Republicans.

As a citizen of the interwebs, you’ve made a choice: you’re either someone who posts about the election or you’ve decided to keep your personal and professional feed free of that political stuff.

Maybe you stay silent because just don’t really care about who ends up being president. If you’re in the transformation business , however, I bet that you care deeply about how America’s leadership affects the individual and the collective.

You either add to the conversation or watch from the sidelines based on your personal tolerance for controversy. And, you likely decide to speak up or shut up based on how you think publicly picking the blue team or the red will impact your professional online presence.

How is it working for you? Is it tough to stay quiet or are you regretting the last time you hit “share”?

But 2016 is different and the stakes seem higher (for real this time)

Oh, but wait a minute. You might be part of the third camp.

You might not be broadcasting the latest video from your preferred candidate’s campaign, but you might be taking a stand on hot topics from the latest rally.

In 2016, issues like sexual assault and the treatment of disabled citizens are shot with political nuance. Addressing them at all seems to say a lot about whether you lean left or right.

Suddenly, if you’re a therapist and you’re talking about something you’ve been trained to detect and heal, like the repressed memory of sexual trauma, it means you’re “getting political.” And while you may have a vast community of colleagues and allies who will support your statements - and share what you write - you also open yourself to a whole tide of partisan fervor that you just don’t have the bandwidth or the stomach to handle.

[tweetthis]As a healer, speaking up about the #election is about the personal, political & professional[/tweetthis]

But it’s not political, it’s personal

Just this week two clients - who both tell me they generally prefer to ignore all things political - have sent me pieces about Trump’s comments and how they opened past wounds and how the election is hurting their clients, especially the kids.

These women and I have built a great deal of trust. They sent me raw drafts that dove deep into the pain and the confusion that so many experience every time they look at the news.

This year, it's not political, it's personal. Writer and Storytelling coach Marisa Goudy

This year, it's not political, it's personal. Writer and Storytelling coach Marisa Goudy

Clearly, they needed to explore this territory. And, because the issues were so timely and so painful, it wasn’t enough for these therapist-bloggers to keep these thoughts tucked away on a private page.

Let’s be clear: we all need to explore this territory. Divisions run terribly deep in the US these days, but at the end of it all, we all share a country. We need to do that with greater grace and decency after November 8.

All of us who dare talk about taking a “holistic approach” understand that when one of us bleeds, we all bleed.

Telling and sharing tough stories helps more people understand what that really means.

[tweetthis]We need to tell & share tough stories to show people what #holistic really means.[/tweetthis]

You needed to write it. Does that mean you have to publish it?

My first task as a writing and storytelling coach is to simply take in what’s being said and then reflect it back to the writer. Sometimes, that’s enough.

Typing it out and sharing it with a trusted audience of one may take the charge out of the idea so the writer can let it rest. It may also reveal that the topic is too intimate, unprocessed, and unhealed to go any further.

But, if the writer still feels like she has an enduring passion for the topic and trusts that the words come from "scars, not from gaping open wounds," we begin the editing process that leads to publication - somewhere.

To be sure about whether it’s worth taking the time to really untangle the ideas and perfect the rough draft, I ask a few questions:

  • Is this something that belongs on your blog? If your professional website’s main job is to attract parents seeking play therapy for their elementary school kids, a post about how adults can deal with old memories of assault that get triggered by watching CNN is going to be out of place.

  • Is this something that belongs on your Facebook wall or elsewhere on social media? If the post is relatively short and would require minimal editing, you might want to use the social media soapbox. After all, it seems like everyone else is, right?Just be prepared for anything… a longish post about a controversial topic could either go unnoticed or become a lightning rod for friends and trolls you never imagined would find you.

  • Is it something you want to see on HuffPo or another big site? The decision to seek publication depends on whether you have the time and whether it will help you reach other goals… Would you be able to leverage that new exposure into building your business or growing your community? Your website would need to be ready for the traffic and you’d need to greet them with a relevant email opt-in offer to make it a list builder.Keep in mind that time is not on your side when it comes to writing about issues that are making headlines right now.

Writing about the issues “everyone is talking about” is mostly about timing

Let’s dive into the question of timing for a moment. Ultimately, your decision to invest yourself in a piece of writing that relates to the shock of the moment is largely reliant on the clock.

The election season will end soon - thank goodness! The release of Trump’s Access Hollywood tape is now considered the turning point in the election, but the headlines have moved on to Wikileaks and talk of rigged elections.

This is what always happens. As devastated and incensed as people were about the death of a Syrian toddler, the Brock Turner case, the shooting of unarmed black men and police officers, the mainstream media and the majority of the population have moved on.

Like it or not, the collective attention was soon invested in the next outrage and, occasionally, the nice warm fuzzy (yes, little bird who landed on Bernie’s podium, I am looking at you.)

In the moment when these big stories take over, however, the multitudes are hungry for news, for fresh angles, for provocative opinions. But still, attention is a rare, fleeting commodity.

There’s such a narrow window of time to vie with so many other content producers - including many professional writers whose lives are built to accommodate staying up all night to be among the first to comment on the latest scandal.

Writing about the latest controversy is also about your "why"

Oh dear…

Have I negated everything I said about passion for a topic and the writer’s natural and healthy desire to  explore an idea and be seen?

I don’t mean to. It’s just that I value your time and your precious writing gift so much that I want you to be sure you’re lavishing it on the topics and ideas that feed you - spiritually, creatively, philosophically, and professionally. And I want you to be aware of the trade offs.

I want you to be sure of why you’re writing the piece.

Do you need to say it publicly in order to sleep at night? Will raising your voice about this particular topic improve your bottom line or bring you some online visibility that helps you build a platform over time?

In that case, yes. Stay up late and turn those jagged paragraphs into powerful prose.

[tweetthis]Writing about the latest #election controversy is also about why you're in the transformation biz[/tweetthis]

The case for writing into your passions and daring to be heard

Robert Cox is a therapist, podcaster, and writer who sees the headline, feels the feelings, and starts writing. I got to know him and his writing through the Practice of Being Seen community. It was June when I had a chance to edit the first column he posted over at the Huffington Post, but his response to the Stamford rape trial still sticks with me.

And all of the brave work he’s done since, standing in his power as a trauma therapist and a dad who needs to speak his truth and address the toughest issues of the day continues to impress - and reach an increasing readership. When I decided to write about whether it’s worth writing about the election, I knew I needed to get his perspective:

Much of the reason I do it is grounded in my belief.  I was inspired by Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "The Cost of Discipleship" written just prior to his going back to Nazi Germany - even though [American theologian and ethicist] Reinhold Niebuhr was begging him not to. Bonhoeffer’s point was that I cannot claim to follow Christ if I am not willing to risk everything.

So every time I start to think about the risk, how it might be seen by licensure boards, will it cost me professionally, blah, blah, blah....I hear his voice.

I think about what the world would be had it not been for men like him.  Then writing seems small, but something I can do.

Remember who you are when you start to write about that next incendiary topic

You’re human.

That means the news is going to bum you out and piss you off. It’s going to make you want to hide under a rock and raise hell. It’s going to make you despair the state of the world.

You’re also a healer and a visionary. You’re able to take the news that broke your heart and, through the alchemy of your writing process, turn it into the golden insight that mends the hearts of your readers and clients.

Sit with your rage and your sorrow. Pour them into a selfish first draft that dwells on your pain and your personal reactions. Then, if you’re called to dive deeper and write further, ask yourself how you can move beyond exposing the madness and speak up for your values and also offer solutions.

We need bright white lights in the swirling mess of red and blue. If you’re feeling called to write and publish your response to the latest jaw dropping revelation, we need your shining voice to show us the way through.

Stop asking your writing to be original. Ask it to be meaningful.

What do I have to say about how to live a good life that hasn't been shared or said a million times before?

Jonathan Fields asks this question in the introduction to his brand new book How to Live a Good Life.

I know you've asked yourself the same thing. My clients wonder - and worry - about this all the time. I know I've wasted too much delicious writing time stressing about whether the world needs my words.

Truth is, whatever it is, it's almost definitely been said before.

You probably don't need proof on this one, but here it is. I had written most of this post before I picked up Jonathan's book and saw my own concerns reflected back at me. But, he wrote on and trusted his voice. Since that's what I invite people to do every day and since I do try to take my own advice, I'm publishing this anyway.

A loving reminder for you, the writer who is afraid to dive into a big topic because the luminaries in your field have already written brilliant books on the subject:

Write It Anyway | Marisa Goudy, Writer & Storytelling CoachWRITE IT ANYWAY

The big names... they're fulfilling their mission to awaken and inspire the multitudes. The rest of us - the brilliant "not yet household names" and the beautiful "don't care to ever be household names" -  right now, our mission is to make those messages REAL for people.

A reader may be ready to change everything thanks to Love Warrior, but all Glennon can do is inspire from afar. Daring Greatly may crack a vulnerable heart wide open, but Brene isn't a clinician, she's a researcher. Jonathan charges $1000/hour for consulting, and while I believe that's a completely worthy investment for certain people, there's a lot of vital, sustainable work to do at the $100/hour level too.

You're in the transformation business, not the originality business

The desire to transform, to be happy, to lead meaningful lives? These are timeless human needs. Wise people have been trying to crack the good life code and help others do the same from the very beginning. (Honestly, listen to Rob Bell's series about the Wisdom tradition and prepare to be amazed at how ideas presented in the ancient Hebrew feel utterly contemporary.)

Yes, all the truth tellers in the world of transformation, healing, and consciousness are essentially talking about similar things. That happens when people start discussing what's true and what's real.

As a healer, a therapist, or a coach it's part of your job to take the stuff "everybody" talks about and make theses truths your own. And, it's your job to help people own these truths.

You dive in and connect these big, ubiquitous concepts to your own stories. You bring the essence of who you are to the page. You don't speak to everyone, you speak to the ones who you wish to serve.

And then you put your work on your blog or in elsewhere in your marketing because you know people who are seeking and hurting need your perspective - and your help.

That's how you show your potential clients that you get it, that you get them. That's how you build a business and change your corner of the world.

It's not about being the first and only creature to share an idea. It's about speaking the right words in the right tone to the people who have access to you and your transformational magic.

It's about making meaning and building a connection with the people who matter.

Write it anyway. Write it now. Click the button for a printable PDF that will remind you to make it happen.

End writer's block now.

Your stories can heal and serve - but only if you're ready to tell them

Your stories can heal, protect, and serve – but only if you’re ready to tell them by Storytelling & Writing Coach Marisa Goudy
Your stories can heal, protect, and serve – but only if you’re ready to tell them by Storytelling & Writing Coach Marisa Goudy

These roads are like grooves in my unconscious mind. They’re direct routes into who I really am, but they exist just a few degrees beyond the coordinates of my everyday reality. My daughters and I are driving through my hometown, but I’m not sure they know where they are. They’re focused on seeing friends and the promised ice cream cones and eventually getting to “Neana’s bench.”

I don’t live here anymore. That’s nothing new, of course. I left Cape Cod when I was eighteen just like every other kid with the means and the desire knows to do. But my family doesn’t live in this town anymore either. Strangers dwell in the house where I grew up. All that’s left of our name in this town is etched into my mom’s memorial bench in the church garden.

When we cross into Barnstable, I stop worrying about the most direct path between point A and point B. I trust that I still know seven ways to get everywhere (essential knowledge when you grow up in a tourist town). Soon, I realize I am not choosing streets, I am navigating time.

The lane to my elementary school. Lindsay DiPesa’s old house. The soccer fields that used to be a farm. The rec center where I was a camp counselor. My ex-boyfriend’s parents’ historic home. (Curiously, I ended up passing that place twice, but then, I always ended up back in that relationship even when I tried to leave!)

Every residential area, every sand strewn road has a memory rolled into the pavement. There are hundreds of stories I could tell my girls. Instead, we listen to the radio station that served as the soundtrack to my childhood, and I say nothing.

I’m hoarding my stories. I don’t trust my voice and I don’t trust the tears that threaten every time I remember what the parents of thirty years ago looked like when they stood with their kids at the bus stop on fall mornings. I don’t have the energy to weave these reflections into something that matters to my kids.

If I point out the library, I would feel obligated to say how sad I am that the tree where my mom and I played Piglet and Pooh was cut down to make more parking. If I describe how we used to rent videos from that village store they’ll want to watch something on the iPad.

The good news: you get to choose what stories you tell. Choose the stories that nourish you and your audience.

My girls are still young. For now, I generally get to craft the container of their reality and control what influences their understanding of the world. The goal is to protect them, of course, but I also get to protect myself - especially when I’m lost in tender pockets of grief that are much too much for them to bear.

Telling them more about where mama played and worked and biked and learned might have added to their carseat experience, but it would have cost me too much.

Well-balanced stories heal, protect, and serve.

I talk a lot about the Story Triangle and how you need to balance the needs and interests of your audience with your own needs and interests all while keeping an eye on what makes a story meaningful and compelling.

The Story Triangle is your guide as you tell a story. It enables you to appeal to your audience and honor your authentic voice and make the narrative work. It can also help you decide whether you can tell the story at all.

In an attempt to be a “good” mom who gives the gift of my own history to my children, I could have seized the moment and played tour guide. After all, every kid loves to know what things were like for mom and dad so they can squeal at our primitive ways and also feel connected over all the things that feel just the same. The commentary about seaside suburban life in the 80s and 90s would have filled the whole drive.

But that would have pushed me further off balance than any mama should have to bear, however.

The Story Triangle would have been pushed off kilter and, because these things have real life consequences, when you’re a family in tight quarters, someone would have ended up in tears.

Image-1-5-300x300.jpg

The same is true when you’re a writer telling a story meant to build online community and attract ideal clients. Telling a story that’s too intimate and exposes raw wounds doesn’t serve you or your ideal clients. You get a massive TMI hangover and your readers aren’t so sure you’re the person to help them heal.

The good news: my family still gets to go to the Cape frequently to visit my Dad and my stepmom, though it’s to a different town I’ll probably never really get to know.

I trust that next chapter of my story will be a cheerful one, and one that I’m able to tell with a strong voice. There will be many more chances to take that trip down all the lanes of memory when the girls are older and when my wounds are more fully healed.

There's something to be said for seizing the moment and telling a story when it's timely and fresh. But remember: the story, the audience, and you, the storyteller, are best served when you wait for the right healing moment.

Discover Your Story Triangle

The 5 Traps that Silence Writers In Troubled Times (And How to Escape Them)

The 5 Traps that Silence Writers In Troubled Times (And How to Escape Them) by Storytelling and Writing Coach Marisa GoudyEvery time I see a well-considered, from-the-heart blog post that seems to further a writer’s personal and professional mission, I’m impressed. When I see such a piece during the summer of 2016, I’m in awe. There are so many forces that conspire to silence us and get us to put off this week’s blog post, video, or newsletter. Some are external forces that are rocking the nation and the world. Some of the troubles that silence you are more internal affairs.

All end up being deeply personal because these are the forces that influence the way you understand and craft your stories and how you share them with your readers and clients.

Yes, we need periods of silence and introspection to process difficult events and develop a truth-filled response rather than a knee jerk reaction. But we can’t stay in analysis paralysis.

As a professional in the transformation business, it’s part of your job to create content that speak to the worries and preoccupations of the day. It’s not about taking sides, It’s about considering what your ideal readers might be thinking and offering the healing and the insights that help them make sense of collective and personal struggles.

[tweetthis]In the transformation business? It’s your job to write content that speaks to the events of the day[/tweetthis]

And, your transformation work also includes staring your own demons in the face so you can show up to share your unique medicine with your ideal clients and readers.

So, what’s keeping you from sharing your stories and ideas?

The 5 Traps that Silence Writers

The passage from silence to speaking and sharing your truth begins with understanding. Let's take a moment to look within and figure out what’s causing the words to catch in your throat. Once you know the “why” behind your publishing slump you’ll be freed to take the steps toward healing, writing, and sharing.

Trap # 1: You’re concerned that there’s so much tragedy out there, and you have nothing to helpful to contribute

“There are no words” and “my heart is too heavy” are common statements in the summer of 2016 when we’ve watched violence erupt across America and across the world. These are perfectly human, worthy responses to Stanford, Orlando, Falcon Heights, Dallas, Baton Rouge, Nice, and other healdines.

Illegitimi non carborundum (don't let the bastards grind you down) | Marisa Goudy | Storytelling and Writing CoachWhen the shock has worn off, can you see it as part of your work to add light to the collective darkness? Whether it’s in alignment with your message to say “illegitimi non carborundum” or offer prayers or write an impassioned response to the injustices that you see before you, when you have a community built around your ideas and services, you do have something meaningful to say.

The people who trust you and your work will be grateful that you’re helping make sense of this senseless season of strife.

[tweetthis]Keep writing. Your readers will be grateful you’re making sense of this senseless season of strife[/tweetthis]

Trap #2: It feels wrong to do business as usual when so many people are suffering

In this spirit of full disclosure, this is the misconception that has silenced me for most of the summer. I couldn’t even write into the idea directly (hence this more broadly focused post!).

Thank goodness for my digital community of wise entrepreneurs and writers. With deep gratitude, I share Carrie Klassen of Pink Elephant’s brilliant response: How can we talk about our businesses when the world's on fire?

Yes, we can talk about business even when the news feeds are full of sorrow and anger and fear. In fact, as healers and world changers, we must.

Trap #3: You’re listening to the inner critic’s whispers of “not good enough”

Regardless of the state of the world, this is a perennial problem for so many of us. What can you do about that critical voice? Write more.

Yes, it’s for all the reasons you might expect. Practice will make you a more clear, efficient, effective, and engaging writer who knows herself and her readers.

But, there’s another reason.

When you commit to a regular writing practice (can you imagine writing two, three, or more times per week?) you become stronger than your inner critic. She’ll be huffing and puffing with her head between her knees while you’re conquering the next blog post with confidence and grace.

Trap #4: You’ve decided that it’s too noisy online and there are too many content creators competing to be seen

When you decide that the blogosphere or podcast ranks or Amazon top sellers lists are too saturated that doesn’t mean you’re being realistic. It means you’re letting fear take over.

Worrying over the audience that will not show up is just another manifestation of your doubt and not-good-enoughitis.

Maybe by telling you my story you can better tell yours which is the only way home, Mary Karr #365StrongStoriesSo, if you are the sort of writer who can drop into the flow of ideas but never gets the beyond the first draft journaling stage or if you’re someone who rarely writes at all because “no one is listening,” consider this:

The world - or, more specifically, your circle of ideal readers - they do need to hear from you! They need your insights, your solutions, and the magic and the medicine that only you can serve up.

Every big time author and internet famous thought leader started somewhere… they started with the belief that there are people who needed their help and their stories.

Trap # 5: There’s too much going on in your own life right now and the stories are all too in-process

Ok, so maybe there are two big reasons that I find it hard to get into the public writing flow.

Summertime is always complicated for a mother of young children, Add in those trips to the lawyer’s office and the endless charity deliveries that are part of selling my mother-in-law’s house and preparing for her to move in with us… I need to ask you, dear reader, to read between the lines and understand that many of my stories from the home front are pretty raw and unfit to print.

Be gentle with yourself when you’re living the story and trust that there will be time to write it… eventually.

If you’re in the messy middle of something and don’t dare to tell the stories you, check out these past posts:

For the “just get it done, lovie!” perspective, try this post.

If you’re in the sort of mood where a phrase like “If you stick around your professional online haunts even when you feel like an emotionally crippled zombie, you risk your sanity - and potentially your reputation” appeals to you, try this one.

The remedy is in the stories

When everything is beautiful, we need to tell and receive stories. When everything feels like it’s going to hell, we really need to share our stories.

[tweetthis]When everything is beautiful, we need stories. When life is hell, that's twice as true. #writing[/tweetthis]

Need help unlocking your stories? Wishing you had a concrete reason to quit planning to blog and actually start writing for the readers that need your unique message? Check out the You, Your Stories, and Your Audience course. There's a summer deal running between now and Labor Day and I would love you to save some money and get writing while the sun is still shining high in the sky!

You, your story, and your audience ecourse for therapists, healers, and coaches by writing coach Marisa Goudy

 

Writing Lessons From the Berry Patch

Lessons from the Berry Patch by Marisa Goudy #365StrongStories 144As is often the way with everyday magic, you don’t notice it even when it’s right under your nose. Or encircling your back yard. We lived in the house for a few years before we realized we lived in wild berry heaven. Our land bursts with joyful, succulent gifts every July, but we never noticed until we slowed down to a toddler’s pace and humbled ourselves to look at the world through the eyes of a child.

And now our second girl is a passionate berry picker too. She’s insatiable, really, but at least we know where to find her when we say “but I thought YOU were watching her!”

This need to chaperone a two year-old in a fruitful paradise that also features thorns, concealed ditches, ticks, snakes, and poison ivy brings life to a halt a few times each day.

When at my best, I'm a merry companion willing to tear my dress to reach that perfect cluster of sweetness. Then there are the moments when I’m itching to start dinner or do some writing or simply go find some shoes so I can satisfy the incessant requests for “Berries! Berries! Mama, ber-RIES!” without injuring myself.

We’re not just picking fruit in the berry patch. We're taking lessons in patience, creativity, and picking the perfect moment.

There are also the in-between times when it’s possible to be the present parent and take an expedition into my own creativity at the same time.

As I said, it took us a while to notice we even had something so wonderful to harvest. But now that we know what to look for and we’ve come to expect this annual burst of Mother Earth’s abundance, we have a chance to learn the berries’ stages of growth. And impatient pickers that we may be, we try to act accordingly.

We know the tight fists, tough beginnings, sparkling jewels, and shining stars. These are the prickly buds, the unripe fruits, the ultimate treat, and the beauty left behind when a berry has been picked.

You can develop and enjoy the harvests of a writing practice in the same way.

Now, think about that story you’ve been longing to tell, the idea that you long to pull out of your head and put on paper. Consider the post that you want to see take root in the hearts of your audience…

At what stage are you? What can you do and what can you expect?

Is it a prickly bud? Perhaps all of the energy still needs to be aimed inward. The idea still needs more time. Though things look quiet from the outside, there’s tremendous growth and organization happening within. The reward seems terribly far off, but the promise is huge.

You need to give yourself time to write some meandering first drafts and to let yourself spend time on the self-focused first draft. Allow. Explore. Practice patience.

Is it unripe fruit? Maybe the structure of the piece of writing has emerged and now you’re tempted to push it out into the world, even if it’s not fully ready. This is when you must remember that the surest way to a disappointment - and a sore stomach - is found when you force a still-in-process post or product in the world. Perfection isn’t the goal, but putting out something that you know is unready is a way of devaluing yourself, your story, and your audience.

Walk away from the piece for hours or days and return with fresh eyes. Call on a friend or think about hiring a writing and storytelling coach who can help you see the big picture and fit all of the vital pieces together.

Is it the ideal moment to harvest? With love, time, and attention - or water, time, and sunshine - that piece of writing is ready to emerge in all of its fullness. Oh, it tastes so sweet on your tongue and it will bring such pleasure and nourishment to those you share it with!

Hit publish and savor the sweetness.

Is it time to share the beauty? There’s a bit of sadness when you release a treasured idea into a world where it might be gobbled up or left to rot on the shelf. Trust that you nurtured your idea with attention and patience. Trust its inherent nurturing nature and promote yourself.

Let other people know about your little shining star. And what if you put it out there and no one seems to notice? Try again. We live in an age of media saturation and a lack of response isn’t a judgement of your work’s worthiness.

I wish I could have you over for a chat down in our berry patch. Let's try the next best thing: set up a free 15 minute consultation to discuss how I can help you get from first shoots to a brilliant harvest.

Storytelling Beyond Fear

Storytelling Beyond Fear. John Harrison's True Calling Project.What scares you most about telling your story?- you have nothing to say - you're afraid what people might say - you're afraid that people won't say anything at all

I had a chance to talk through all of these story-blocking fears with John Harrison for his True Calling Project.

In this conversation we covered how our stories are the foundation of everything we do - as individuals, as professionals, as marketers. And I dared to tell John's viewers the truth:

Storytelling can be scary and it can take a while.

When you face down those fears with a dedicated writing process, the magic happens.

#5 Telling Your Story with Marisa Goudy from John Harrison on Vimeo.

What do you stand for? Who do you write for?

I know why the cardinal in the woods around my house sings in the early morning: Because he has to. And so I write on… Dan McCulloughThe email subject was “read the last paragraph first.” When my dad sends me a snapshot of a newspaper article you can bet it'll be Cape Cod Times Sunday column by Dan McCullough.

Here’s that last paragraph:

But then I realize what all true writers understand: That we don’t write for our readers - we write for ourselves. We can’t not write. It’s a wonderful, beautiful, terrible, frightening, delicious, dangerous addiction. I know why the cardinal in the woods around my house sings in the early morning: Because he has to. And so I write on…

This isn’t a novel concept. As Dan says, all “true writers” get this. Most of know how Barbara Kingsolver invites you to close the door and write for yourself alone.

Yes, I am in Dan’s camp. I need to write and I would do it even if it wasn’t part of my self-created job description.

But what about you? Must you write?

I know some members of my community are dedicated, in-it-for-life writers.

Then there are those who love to write but who are trying to make something of that relationship.

There are probably a few of you who like the idea of falling in love with writing but you just haven’t met the right stories yet.

Wherever you are on that spectrum, what does the “I must write” declaration of a white-bearded college professor who looks like he comes from Central Casting’s “Yankee fisherman” department mean to you?

It means “1500.”

Put another way, it means 28.846 years.

Still confused? You had to read what came before that crucial final paragraph. In this piece, Dan was looking back on the experience of writing 1500 consecutive weekly columns for his local paper.

How does that make you feel? Inspired? Envious? Ready to write the guy a permission slip to take a well deserved vacation?

In my case, it has me thinking about how a writing practice illuminates the practice of living.

Dan writes about global events, the peace of the salt marsh, homelessness on Cape Cod, and the experience of watching his son grow. Think of all the observations and wonder and frustration that have been distilled into all those column inches.

Think of all the opportunities he had to ask himself “what do I really think?” and “what must I take a stand for?”

Do you need to commit yourself to producing 1.5 million words or promise to sit at the desk until Saturn takes another run around the sun to reap those sort of benefits?

No. One impassioned journaling session or one quick set of notes jotted down between clients that eventually becomes a blog post that matters to you and to your ideal readers is enough. For now. That’s the thing about writing meaningful content. You want to keep doing it.

Why are you writing?

Creating a body of work that you can be known for is a brilliant goal. Certainly Dan’s long public writing career has been a gift to the people on my beloved sandbar. (And it's a gift for Cape Codders alone. I'm not linking to his full post because I can't - there isn't a trace of Dan's piece on the Cape Cod Times site. Perhaps they seek to preserve a local treasure. Maybe they simply know that the guy sells papers.)

But I do agree with Dan. To keep up a consistent writing practice of any sort you must consider your needs and interests as a writer and a storyteller.

Take it from a man who has been writing since Reagan was in the White House - writing is ultimately a gift to oneself. It is part of the natural expression of who you are, as surely as the cardinal’s scarlet feathers are an expression of its power to fly.

We’ll soon be packing the car and heading to the Cape ourselves. I’ll have limited spots for new writing coaching clients over the summer, so I invite you to take the You, Your Stories, and Your Audience course and get inspired to write into the stories that you must tell.

Enroll now and save $50 when you use this special link.

The Truth About Fast and Easy Blogging

The Truth About Fast and Easy Blogging #365StrongStories by Marisa Goudy“You can ask me anything!” What a bold and crazy statement.

As it happens, in the right environment, it feels safe and smart to do just that.

This week, I am thrilled to be the featured expert over at Agnes Wainman’s Blissful Practice, a Facebook group for clinicians who want to change the conversation around what it means to have a private practice. The group hit 700 members, so if you’re a therapist looking to find a blissful, vibrant community, ask to join!

It started with “what is this whole storytelling thing, really?

I’m grateful for this chance to dive right into questions that include “what is this whole storytelling thing, really?” to how to honor professional boundaries while telling a personal story that tells clients “I get you.”

Then I got a question that kind of freaked me out

A therapist who coaches her colleagues on building their practices wanted some tips on how to streamline her blogging practice. She was writing a weekly post in an hour and wanted to shave some time off the process.

I needed to be sure that my response honored her approach and also stayed true to my message and my experience. After pounding the delete key 1,245 times I replied:

I'd say an hour from start to finish is pretty remarkable.

I must admit I'm not the best resource for "quick and easy blogging tips." I see blogging and writing as part of the bigger picture... developing your ideas on the screen is part of becoming the clinician, businessperson, and individual you want to be. There's no shortcut for that. The intention is that the process is every bit as rewarding as the outcome.

(Just one woman's opinion since years of "just create content!" blogging left me feeling depleted, invisible, and unsatisfied.)

Was I concerned that someone in the business of boosting business would laugh at my answer? “Ha! No writing shortcuts? That’s nice for some people, Miss Writer Girl” Oh, yes.

I was worried that my advice would seem lovely but simply impractical for busy professionals who are already trying to do so much.

Writing & blogging bliss is found in the midst of the process

But then this I got this response from this awesome therapist/coach/writer who happens to be short on time. Her name is Allison Puryear and she's the woman behind Abundance Practice Building 

THANK YOU! Seriously. I think I internalized the message that I should be churning them out. I can write some crap or "quick tips" pretty fast, I bet. I feel like more of a storyteller in my blogs than an advice giver. I decided last year that I'd rather write one valuable blog a week & take the SEO hit by not posting more frequently. I don't want to dilute my message with filler. Now I feel like I have "permission" to enjoy my process instead of feeling like I should be faster. Thanks!

YES! There is power in enjoying the writing process... even if it takes a little while. And our digital world will be a little richer now that Allison is giving her inner storyteller the chance to take over the keyboard.

What about you? Is it time to move away from churning out content and embrace storytelling that connects you with yourself, your stories, and your reader?

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Darkness and Light Upon a Summer Solstice Strawberry Moon

Darkness and light upon a summer solstice strawberry moon #365StrongStories by marisa goudyIt is more difficult than we imagine to hold space with the ultimate power of the sun and the full revelation of the moon. But here we are on June 20, 2016. I’m so grateful to summer and thankful for its lush splendor. My eyes fill with tears that dry instantly on my cheeks in the face of a solstice sun at noon.

Is this what abundance feels like?

This first day of summer decorated by a full moon feels like a full belly and a hunger to show gratitude. It feels like being anchored in the light-drenched earth and flying into the air all at once.

Tonight, I know I will not sleep. I’ll curse that bright-as-day orb even as I long to dance through the yard, bathed in her silver glow.

My toddler and I just spent a leisurely hour picking plants that promise to be drought resistant. (I am assuming I can translate that into “hearty enough to survive the care of a gardener who is better at describing the act of planting and tending than she is at finding the watering can.”)

It’s time to rescue the flowers from the car and find my widest brimmed hat and start preparing our rocky ground. But all I can do is squint from the shade of the porch, dizzied with the luster of this Summer Solstice Strawberry Moon June day.

Today, the sun reaches its zenith. Tonight, the moon shines with her fullest glory. To be alive is to know such brilliant illumination - almost more than you can stand. And it is to remember, somewhere in the overwhelming bliss, that there will be a darkness as bountiful as the light. That is how the heavens teach us about the cycles of living until we die. The loss, the dissolution, the shadows we must cast if we want to make a home in the light.

I still want to cry. With joy and thanks. With the ache for all the lost friends and departed family who will never walk east with me at sunrise, chasing our shadows into a new morning.

I still need to weep with all the potential I feel too full to hold. All the love to give, the stories to write, the healing spaces to create.

In this day of all possible illumination I see that I am afraid of becoming parched, sunburned, bleached. I am in love with the light, but I am wise enough to name and allow my fear.

What does it mean to be so visible, to have every laugh line and squinter’s crease and typo brought into such sharp relief?

Tell the story that’s true to you, not just easy for the crowd

Tell the story that’s true to you, not just easy for the crowd #365StrongStories by Marisa GoudyYesterday, I had a chance to share my Story Triangle webinar (you can watch the recording here). During my morning preparation I expected to spend time perfecting the way I presented my storytelling e-course (we all need to sharpen our sales skills, right?). Instead, I ended up lavishing my attention on what seemed like an innocuous little story about St. Patrick and his teaching tool, the shamrock.

To tell the truth, I’d always felt a little disingenuous about this part of my class. I chose the story because I wanted to talk about the power of three. Trotting out the tale of Ireland’s patron saint helped me do that while highlighting my personal story as a student of Irish literature. Plus, just about everyone has a kindly association with March 17 and the wearing of the green and all that, right?

Well, not everyone.

Just this week, someone responded to a video I’d posted earlier this spring about What to do when content you loved writing doesn't get read. I recorded this commentary because I was bummed because some St. Paddy’s Day related content I’d created hadn’t gotten much attention. As a former “professional Irish person” I guess I felt like the world needed to heed (and tweet) my green-tinted writing advice.

After offering some kind, supportive thoughts about how important it is to be seen for our creative contributions, someone who goes by “Wonderfeel” had this to say:

I can't help but mention that St Patrick is someone who would have made the Westborough Baptist Church look mild-mannered. He was a fanatic who violently trounced Earth-based faiths in Ireland. He 'chased out the snakes'. Like most violent individuals he had a backstory that made his cruelty more understandable, but still he was a person who deeply injured the soul of Ireland. Maybe we could wait till April 13 and celebrate Seamus Heaney's birthday?

That was a wake up call I didn't know I needed

I don’t know who Wonderfeel is or whether they’ve followed me enough to know that my interest in Ireland has a lot more to do with Heaney’s poetry and triple goddesses than it does with the Christian trinity. Maybe it was just a coincidence. Perhaps the universe picked this person to remind me to tell stories that are important and true to who I am, not just those that seem most likely to appeal to a crowd.

No matter what, I’m deeply grateful.

Like my mysterious friend Wonderfeel, I don’t have a particularly warm view St. Patrick. I know that “salvation” happened as the result of a lot of devastation. There are many other examples of the power of three that I could have used that wouldn’t have made me feel like a fraud for telling the easy story rather than the story that was true to me.

What’s so important about one tiny story?

Would revising one minor example in an hourlong presentation have made much of a difference to the overall outcome - teaching therapists, coaches, and others in the transformation business about the relationships that help them tell stronger stories? Probably not.

But I strive for integrity and it’s my mission to align every story I tell with who I am and the interests of those I hope to reach. Telling a story that pulls me off that course is a disservice to my community, myself, and the Story Triangle I hold so dear.

You can watch the Story Triangle presentation now. (Try to check it out before midnight on Friday, June 3 because that’s when the special early action bonus expires for new You, Your Stories, and Your Audience enrollees.)

Stories create your legacy. Stories connect you the now.

Stories help us... Understand the past Anchor in the now Shape the future We tell stories to understand the past. We tell stories to anchor you in the moment. We tell stories to transform the future. This is the story behind Because He Was a Writer: A Memorial Day Story.

It's also an invitation to tomorrow's Story Triangle webinar - the free online event that will help you understand the inner workings of story so you have insight into that superpower you already possess: storytelling.

Reserve your seat

This Is the Worst Writing Advice I've Heard In a While

One of the 8 million risky things you do not need to do in order to become a better writer, #365StrongStories by Marisa GoudyWhat do you imagine your favorite novelist is doing right now? Is she being romanced by some gorgeous hero? Is he resolving a generations-long family feud? Perhaps the person who writes those best sellers you love to take to the beach is on a two week bender that will be resolved with a trip around the world to find herself. Nah. Most likely she’s updating her Facebook page and booking flights for her next appearance at Barnes and Noble somewhere outside of Chicago.

And what about your favorite blogger? Is he saving a kitten from a tree? Is she landing an agent to make that blog into a book? Maybe that writer you love to see in your newsfeed is water skiing in the Mediterranean while contemplating the next viral post.

Doubtful. She’s probably trying to scrub the mysterious sticky spots off the counter so she can put down her laptop and get 200 words down before the family comes home and everything goes from messy to noisy and messier.

As a writing coach, I get to give my share of writing advice. I also get the chance to hear what other writers and non-writers say about how to make the process easier and how to produce more engaging stuff.

Some of that advice is brilliant and I do my best to embody it so that I can offer my own version of it. And some of it makes my skin crawl.

Myth: Your content isn’t engaging your audience so you must be a boring person

Recently, a professional who keeps a blog to promote her business was brought to tears by a coach who declared that if your writing isn’t connecting with people it must mean you have a boring life. The advice was to go out and take some risks. And then, I guess, come back and "wow" people with how adventurous and special and fabulous you are.

This is lazy advice. Clearly it’s also damaging advice. And, in this writer’s opinion, going bungee jumping or visiting Tahiti or going on a blind date aren’t necessarily going to make you a better writer.

If you feel that your writing isn’t connecting with people you don't need more "material." Instead, you need to give yourself time and permission to do something with your human moments.

Readers don’t seek high drama and “amazing” tales when they're looking to heal a broken heart or connect with the guy sitting beside them on the couch. They need to see what's possible in their everyday lives. They need to see how life can be a little more beautiful or bearable before they’re going to care about how bold you are.

"Go be more interesting" is the kind of counsel offered by someone who is afraid of the process of meeting yourself in the silence of the page.

Trust the magic that happens in the little moments of life. To make a connection at the simple, truthful level of the human heart you have to remember that this beautiful organ almost always beats along in the most perfectly mundane way.

When you're writing your next blog post, meet your ideal clients where they are. Don’t drag yourself up a mountain just to find them.

Be who you are. Write about who you are in your everyday mess and everyday loveliness and everyday struggle. That's what will make readers care. That's what it means to connect.

Learn how to tell real stories that matter to you and to your ideal client in the You, Your Stories, and Your Audience ecourse. Doors are open now!

You, your story, and your audience ecourse for therapists, healers, and coaches by writing coach Marisa Goudy

 

Refame: Those who know better than to do every day, teach

Those who know better than to DO every day, TEACH. #365StrongStories by marisa goudyEveryone has heard that snarky line “those who can’t, teach.” The updated version is said with even more venom: “those who can’t, coach.” I have no use for the throwaway cruelty that lies at the heart of both phrases. Such statements either come from self-loathing or the petty judgement of those standing outside the arena. “Not good enough” never serves anyone and never gets anything done.

And think about it for a moment - this whole idea has a flip side: “those who can, must.”

Whether you’re teaching or doing, “can’t” and “must” are limiting and damaging

My 2016 project, #365StrongStories, has taught me a great deal about what it means to do something every day just because you can. It very quickly becomes a dangerous "should."

I’m a born writer. It’s what I do for work and for fun. But when writing becomes a massive obligation - I must because I can, I must because I committed, I must because I am not good enough if I don't… Then you run the risk of making every word a punishing, impossible chore.

In the process of all this doing, all this daily writing, I remembered why I took up teaching and coaching storytellers and writers. It wasn’t because I couldn’t do the writing myself but because it doesn’t make sense for me to do that full time. My creative resources won’t stretch that far. And I do not think they are supposed to.

Remember the value in teaching and coaching others

When Melvin Varghese of Selling the Couch interviewed me, I had a chance to share my insights into why storytelling is important to clinicians in private practice and how to use it to connect to clients. I also talk about making a sane, compassionate commitment to your writing practice.

As I listened back on our conversation, I was struck by the value that lies not just in doing but in supporting the process of those who are trying to find their own way. Humbly and gratefully, I fell just a little bit more in love with the work I get to do.

Save your resources for the stories that matter. Support your creative process by guiding others. When all else fails, support your creative process by pulling out the earbuds and going for a walk as you listen to someone else discuss her craft.

Marisa Goudy on Storytelling. Selling the Couch podcast

How to mistreat your creativity & drain your well of inspiration

How to mistrust your creativity and drain your inspiration #365StrongStoiries by Marisa GoudyHave you ever heard about the frogs placed in a pot of water? If the temperature rises slowly enough, it’s said they don’t noticed they’re being boiled into an early froggy grave. It’s not a pretty experiment.  Apparently the 19th century German researchers who did this - they were on a quest to locate the soul - didn’t think much of our amphibious friends' ability to feel pain. 

And it’s not a particularly flattering metaphor either. It has been applied to humans who don’t take action in the face of all sorts of worsening circumstances from the Cold War to climate change to civil rights abuses.

I have no desire to equate myself with our friends from the swamp, so let’s prettify and domesticate the image, shall we?

If you slowly drain the creative waters out of a bathtub and just keep turning up the heat in the steamy room, it seems that a writer won’t notice she’s no longer bathing in inspiration.

When I began #365StrongStories, I made a declaration: I would walk my talk and demonstrate that it’s possible to consistently turn little moments of life and brief flashes of inspiration into stories. Ruthlessly, I named the project, pointed to the calendar, and embarked upon my mission.

I certainly do not have the temperament to be a scientist, but I realize I would have been better served to call this an “experiment” and talking about my "hypothesis" instead. That way, skipping a day or two of writing and publishing wouldn't have felt like a failure. A day of silence would have been a data point on the living graph that tracks the ebb and flow of creative energy, time to devote to the page, and the patience it takes to select just the right font and image.

When the creative waters dry up

I didn’t plan to take a long weekend away from my stories. We weren’t occupied by a special occasion or some family trauma. The creative tub had simply run dry. Ordinarily, I would have put off sleep or couch time with my husband to pull something together for the blog. Over the last few days, however, I just poured a glass of wine and said “let’s watch one more Outlander.

I couldn't even muster the energy to feel guilty or fret over the promises I had made to my audience.

Three days away from writing and generally refusing to show up gave me the space to notice how emptied out I am. I’ve let my most vital resources - my creativity and my inspiration - dry up in the name of some personal mission that was conceived with all too little self-compassion.

What happens after "failure"?

The stories will continue to flow when there’s enough in my reserves to share.

At this point, I am using what creative juices I have left to look at “365” in a new way. I promised a year of stories. Well, who said they all have to appear in 2016?

Today is the 137th day of the year and I believe this is the 132nd story I have written or curated since January 1. That realization alone and seeing how much I have created and held? That begins to fill the cisterns immediately.

This experience is teaching me to become a student of compassionate creative limits. Let’s learn from one another! Please let me know how you manage to keep the tub of inspiration filled and how you might have let your resources run dry.