writing coaching

So You Dream of Creating “A Writing Life”…

So You Dream of Creating “A Writing Life”…

So many of us walk around with a secret (or not so secret) yearning for some other way to be, some other kind of life to lead.

This thing you yearn for, it’s not so far from who you are now. You’re not asking to join the circus or live on the moon. Instead, you want your own life, plus a little something more true, more authentically yours.

A creative life. A spiritual life. An artist’s life. A writing life.

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.

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.

How to say the right thing when every word matters

MG_Header_w_biline_hires

MG_Header_w_biline_hires

Sovereign Standard, Issue 38Words are like playthings.

The amuse. They teach. They inspire. They’re the building blocks of story.

But words can also be discarded toys, spread all over the floor. Just more clutter. Meaningless and forgotten.

When mindful people (and professionals) use words mindlessly

How to say the right thing when every word matters. On writing and speaking your truth by Marisa Goudy.

How to say the right thing when every word matters. On writing and speaking your truth by Marisa Goudy.

Writers, healers, and clinicians whose work relies on talking it all through... Words are at the heart of what we offer. Even though language has its limits, we count on words to mean something.

And yet, I know I’m guilty of using words mindlessly.

Lapsing into profanity when I’m tired or “in a mood. ” Barking conflicting commands as I try to rally my first-grader to the bus stop. Just throwing together a bio for a social media profile without thinking about whether I am sharing the most important parts of my story.

Everyone has heard “do as I say, not as I do.” For many of us, “do as I do, not as I say” is often just as applicable.

In part, this refusal to "mind the mouth" is a stand against political correctness. It’s rebellion in the face of mindfulness.  

Some of this mindless use of words is to be blamed on the influence of the culture - particularly when violence creeps into our metaphors.

And, frankly, sometimes it’s just exhaustion. It’s hard to keep track of every word when you're in a state of constant communication.

If some words matter, all words matter

I am compassionately declaring an end to my hypocrisy:

If some words have power, then all words have power. And I'm going to try my best to use my power wisely.

[tweetthis]If some words have power, all words have power. I'm trying to use my #writing powers wisely[/tweetthis]

The hurtful words and the healing words. All the language that falls in between that great spectrum of thought. Every word is important in the spells you cast, in the messages you’re sending out into the world.

“It’s just a throwaway comment” isn’t an excuse you can fall back on when you assert that words have power and resonance.

(Believe me, I am not completely happy about this pronouncement. The last thing I need are more rules or complications. But stick with me - there are lights every few feet along this tunnel into the underbelly of how we communicate!)

The resistance: nobody likes the word police

Engineers hate being married to English majors.

Oops… I just threw out “hate” and made a sweeping generalization there. I know it’s not really true. And I am almost sure that you know that I know it’s not true, but I wanted to get your attention and it felt like a fun, clever way to introduce this next point.

You see, paying close attention to your words doesn’t mean that you have to become a milquetoast writer… You just have to know when you’re throwing a bomb spiked with letters and punctuation.

When my husband and I are debating (ok, I should probably say “arguing”), I sometimes ask if he really means what he just said, because "I do no think that word means what you think it means." I tell myself I am seeking clarity and connection, not being a vocabulary zealot. And I am hoping he thinks “cute Princess Bride quote.”  

Unfortunately, he doesn't like it when he feels the dictionary policewoman is calling him to task on imprecise language. “Sorry, we can’t all have master’s degrees in English!” he’ll remark.

To be fair, sometimes distracted English majors get irritated with their techy mates.

I often ask Husband to pass me “the thingie that we use to fix the baby’s toy with the stupid broken bit.” He smirks, asks whether I want the phillips head screwdriver to repair the cracked battery door, and takes care of it himself. “Sorry, we can’t all build robots for a living,” I sigh.

As a writer and thought leader-in-training you owe it to yourself to analyze your word choices

Though potentially quite illuminating, analyzing word choice in the midst of conversation feels pretty tedious. Fortunately, reviewing the way you choose and use words in your own writing is much less stressful - and quite unlikely to result in either spouse sleeping on the couch.

Thanks to the direction of my brilliant sales coach, Tami Smith, I am examining the “threads” that have shown up repeatedly in my work over the last year. It’s a quest to uncover my recurring words, concepts, and images.

This is my opportunity to pause and look at the common elements in my own stories. It’s helping me understand how I’ve been defining and living my signature concepts, Sovereignty and the Sovereign Story - often without even knowing it.

In this case, the unconscious use of language is helpful and revelatory.

Shut up, listen to yourself, and do some research

There are certain words you use again and again. Over time, you inhabit their meaning. You then expand and redefine what these words mean to better express your unique vision.

This expansion and redefinition process can be organic and even accidental as you write into a term, use it in your daily life, and shape it with your experiences.

But then, there’s even more to learn when you close your mouth, put down the pen, and start listening to yourself.  

When you pause to dig into a beloved word’s history and connotations, these fresh ideas push the boundaries of your work even further. And reaching your edge beautiful thing.

Some insight into one of the mindful professional’s favorite words

One word I use constantly is “insight.”

I am drawn to insight because it folds information, knowledge, and wisdom together into a nice, two syllable package. I want to be seen as someone who is insightful and I want to be someone who opens readers and clients to their own insights.

The former academic in me cringes when I cite Wikipedia rather than go to primary source materials, but I’m giving myself permission, just this once. That’s what Wikipedia is for after all - it guides you in the initial “I wonder…” stage and then open doors to further inquiry.  

Adapted from the entry on insight, the word can generally be defined as:

  • The capacity to gain an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of a person or thing.

  • Suddenly seeing a problem in a new way, connecting the problem to another relevant problem/solution pair, releasing past experiences that are blocking the solution, or seeing problem in a larger, coherent context.

In psychology, insight

  • occurs when a solution to a problem presents itself quickly and without warning

  • can mean the ability to recognize one's own mental illness

In marketing, insight

  • is a statement based on a deep understanding of your target consumers' attitudes and beliefs, which connects at an emotional level and provokes a clear response

Suddenly, what I thought was a nice, broad term related to imparting truths and gaining understanding reveals itself to be an important term in the field of psychology. Now, I will use it more mindfully in copy that’s directed at the clinicians in my audience. I’ll also be able to use it more skillfully in writing coaching consults and copywriting jobs for therapists.

And it’s meaningful to note that “insight” is also a marketing term. I instinctively knew that we all need insight into our ideal clients and readers, but I had no idea it was a “real” buzzword (at least according to the anonymous strangers who created this Wikipedia article).

Owning the power of words is a brave, necessary, challenging act

Once you admit to yourself that every word does have a measure of power, you can’t teach your child that old “sticks and stones” rhyme in good conscience. You can’t write off sexist or homophobic remarks as mere teasing. Never again can you ignore any threats that someone makes to herself or others.

Sounds… earnest.

If you’re a semi-irreverent soul like me, someone who doesn’t much like formalities and who thinks creativity is about coloring outside the lines, it sounds like a rather uptight way to move through life.

That’s just my fear of change speaking. I'm afraid of holding myself to a kinder, more conscious standard because I'm afraid I'll fail.

In truth, playing it fast and loose and talking or writing yourself into corners (“I know I said that, but, actually, I meant…”) is actually a much more restrictive way to live.

Yes, as you become what Don Miguel Ruiz calls “impeccable with your word,” you’ll irritate some people. You'll fall into old "whatever" speech patterns. You'll go for easy but dangerous metaphors rather than articulating your healing truth.

Trust yourself. Forgive yourself. Speak for your best self. Stand sovereign in your dedication to telling a story that you’re proud to claim as your own. Writing coaching by Marisa Goudy.

Trust yourself. Forgive yourself. Speak for your best self. Stand sovereign in your dedication to telling a story that you’re proud to claim as your own. Writing coaching by Marisa Goudy.

Trust yourself. Forgive yourself. Speak for your best self.

Stand sovereign in your dedication to telling a story that you’re proud to claim as your own.

Can you commit to mindfully choosing your words? Let me know you're with me in the comments and please share this post with your community.

To fight or to heal: the power of word choice

Sovereign Standard, Issue 37MG_Header_w_biline_hires “Write as you speak.”

Generally, this is the right advice when someone is stuck in academic or clinical writing mode or just can figure out what to say.

Like most advice, you need to decide if it applies to you before you even consider taking it to heart.

You probably don’t really want to write as you speak.

Not if you’re prone to the occasional f-bomb. Not if you’re the kind of person who stops herself mid-ramble with “oh, am I still talking?” Not if you pepper your speech with expressions that need to be heard aloud to be understood.

You can say that, but you might not want to be quoted

Even when speaking with clients, you aren’t nearly as mindful of your words as you must be when you publish on a professional website or enter an online conversation with group of colleagues.

After all, when you put ideas into text, you don’t have tone and gesture to rely on. The words just sit there, waiting to be interpreted by the reader.

How challenging! How terrifying!

Your metaphors create your writing’s tone of voice

We use most of our metaphors and expressions unconsciously. And we can say some brutal things without even realizing it.

Common phrases become so familiar that they lose important aspects of meaning.

Everyone knows what “rule of thumb” means when it’s used to discuss a general guideline of some kind, but how many of us remember this phrase’s origins? It actually refers to the width of the stick a man could legally use to beat his wife.

As a healing professional, as a creative entrepreneur dedicated to making the world more beautiful, bearable, and bold, the last thing you want to do is promote violence.

But are you accidentally injecting words of warfare and conflict into your writing?

The everyday violence in our language and in our world

A dose of everyday violence - Princess Leia with blasterIf you are using violent images without thinking about it, you’re not alone.

I definitely just bought a balloon with guns all over it for my six year-old daughter's birthday. In my defense, "Because Princess Leia and Han Solo" seems to sidetrack many conscious moms and dads' dedication to peaceful parenting. But the casual injection of violence is not just a Star Wars blind spot.

Writers are trained to take their readers prisoner.

Writers are told that they must “grab” or “hook” or “capture” the reader. But think about those metaphors. Their theme is violence and compulsion. They suggest a relationship you might want to have with a criminal, not a reader. - Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd, Good Prose

Marketers are groomed to force themselves upon you.

A testimonial is “punching people in face with value. - David Newman, Do It! Marketing: 77 Instant-Action Ideas to Boost Sales, Maximize Profits, and Crush Your Competition

People suffering from disease are told to arm up.

Join the fight to kill cancer. - United Cancer Foundation

Sometimes, you want to be a warrior

To fight or to heal: the power of word choice - Valkyrie Warrior WomanI’m not arguing that we need to become complete pacifists.

There are days when I need to enter my “warrior woman” mindset to get through the day despite the exhaustion, the stacks of dirty dishes, and the endless demands of a business that relies completely on my own ability to show up and do the work.

As long as no one gets hurt, I’m ok with writing into what Traditional Astrologist Molly Morrissey calls the “Mars energy” and using every martial word in my arsenal to combat grime, dirt, mold, stains, waste, and weeds (thanks, MKN!).

And sometimes, words do cause harm

In Having cancer is not a fight or a battle, Kate Granger asks “Why is military language used to describe cancer? These words are meant to help patients but can have the opposite effect."

I refuse to believe my death will be because I didn't battle hard enough.

Your writing matters. There are no throwaway phrases.

Don’t let a fear of offending readers you’ve never met keep you from writing and publishing. Trust yourself and trust your own good intentions.

Allow your shoddy first drafts to clunk with cliches. Mix your metaphors with wild abandon until you settle on the unifying image that ties together a section or an entire piece.

Don’t be afraid to step into the trenches and give it your best shot. But just be aware, by the time you reach your final version, you might want to say you engaged deeply with the experience and did your best.

Often, a warlike metaphor is best replaced by a straightforward truth.

Let's make our shared discourse a little more conscious and peaceful. Please share this post and subscribe to receive the Sovereign Standard each week.

The end of the "call to action" for healers and private practice therapists

Sovereign Standard, Issue 32MG_Header_w_biline_hires What is your goal when you sit in a room with a client?

To guide, to partner, to support. Perhaps to educate and inspire.

What about “convince” or “persuade”? Um, ick.

The role of the healer

As an energy healer with my own small practice, I cringe at the thought of “convincing” a vulnerable client of anything while she lies on my table. Though I am not bound by the codified ethics of a mental health or other licensed medical practitioner, I am bound by my own personal ethics and by the basic “job description” that my teacher and mentor Eleanora Amendolara gave me:

To be a healer is to facilitate another’s awakening.

To facilitate and hold space for another person’s unfolding is a privilege and an honor I don’t take lightly - and as a clinician or holistic professional, I know you also feel the precious weight of such a responsibility too.

In session, deep work takes place. Huge blocks get cleared. A great deal of pain and resistance might emerge in the process. As a healer, you are the witness and the source of safety.

You don’t force or convince anyone of anything that isn’t theirs. The healing wisdom each individual needs is already within. You’re there to help unlock those hard-to-find internal doors and windows.

The healer’s experience as a marketer

How do you get those beautiful people in need into your office so you can perform your magic and offer up your healing medicine?

You market yourself.

At least that’s the mainstream way to talk about it.

You use ads and in-person networking and social media and you create a website that converts. You develop just the right copy and just the right elevator speech that speaks to the pain points and shows that you’ve got just the solution.

Some of this marketing stuff feels fine, some a little suspect, and some advice simply doesn't apply to you. You do what you have to do to spread your message and introduce your work to your perfectly imperfect people.

Walking in both worlds: the private practice and the public marketplace

Walking in both worlds: how to be in private practice and in the public marketplaceAs you know, I am steeped in this marketing process.

I moonlight as an energy healer - quite literally, in the sense that my healing abilities get charged up thanks to a sighting of the moon. She reminds me that there’s a great big universe out there that puts all our human stories in perspective.

But my “real” job is as a writing coach who helps you produce meaningful content so you can be an effective player in the online marketing game.

I walk in both worlds. And, as a healing professional who is building a business, you do too.

We perceive the dissonance between the persuade, convert, sell approach and the gentle, connected process of actually helping people.

But we agree that "marketing" isn't a dirty word, right?

“Marketing is a bad word” is so 2010. 

Saying “I don’t do marketing” with a vaguely superior shudder just doesn’t cut it anymore. You probably don’t even know many practitioners like that since you’ve set out to connect with colleagues who share your growth mindset!

[tweetthis]The "I don't do marketing" attitude is so 2010. I'm a healer with a growth mindset.[/tweetthis]

 

So, yes, we have accepted - and embraced! - the dynamic, creative process that is content marketing. We use blog posts, articles, and social platforms to tell stories that draw readers and clients.

But, still, there’s dissonance between the mainstream messages about how to lure clients and the experience you create for the clients you have.

If “persuade them to take action” is the foundation of marketing, do you have to be one person in your treatment space and someone else when you're trying to attract clients online? 

In a word: no.

You can walk in both worlds, stay true to yourself, and build business.

[tweetthis]Yes, you can walk in both worlds and thrive as a healer and a businessperson.[/tweetthis]

The secret to authentic, integrated marketing for therapists and healers

As you’d expect from a writer, I’ll tell you the secret to authenticity is in the words you choose.

As you’d expect from a healer, I’ll tell you the secret to integrity is in the energy you put into your communication.

Simply shift “persuade” or “convince” into invite.

The end of the call to action

The end of the call to action for healers and private practice therapistsFor years, I’ve happily offered up one of the most elementary acronyms in the copywriter’s arsenal: CTA.

A “call to action” is what every web page and every piece of sales collateral needs to include. (Or so “they” always say…)

It’s time to adjust the wording to reflect an energetic shift in how we  look at transforming curious web surfers and readers into committed clients.

Let’s call it the Invitation to Action.

It’s a minor shift, especially since there is nothing particularly objectionable in the word “call” itself. But, as clinicians and holistic service providers who hold rather than force, isn’t it time to step away from phrases that are synonymous with “tell ‘em what to do”?

How can the "Invitation to Action" change everything about your approach to marketing?

“Invitation to action” is not an invitation to forget everything you have learned about marketing.

It doesn't allow you to escape the risky business of self promotion and it doesn't permit you to pull back into yourself.

It’s not an excuse to write “nice,” vague copy that hints at “maybe you want to call me someday.” 

Instead, "Invitation to action" is an energetic pivot that takes you out of pushing and into holding.

The "ITA" is still effective. It's all the more effective because it's in alignment with who you really are.

Begin to get comfortable with this phrase by using it as the headline on an invitation you’re writing for yourself.

You are invited to compose your next sales page, blog post, or social media update as a fully integrated marketer-writer-healer.

Use your website to create a safe, welcoming space. Use your words to offer ideas and options and well-intentioned suggestions. Use your expertise - and trust your expertise - to show prospective clients that you’ve got the medicine they need.

Learn a new way to invite clients into your practice - discover the Story Triangle. Sign up for the next free class coming up on May 11!

Join the webinar

Four Common Traits Lethal to Rock Stars and Blog Writers

You know the songs that matter. They have a way of illuminating your past. At the same time, they shed new light on your present and make you look forward to a brighter future. (Articles and blog posts can do this too, of course.)

I’m still unfurling my muscles after a few days stuck in the back of a fully packed minivan. We’ve just completed the summer pilgrimage up to the Canadian Maritimes. Members of my family have been making this trip since my grandparents immigrated to Boston in 1949.

Such trips are a chance to go back in time - even as you’re unmistakably immersed in the present and the future. Countless stories about the people you've loved and lost are told over the noise of the newest generation.

Between the reminiscing, reciting every nursery rhyme I knew to soothe the toddler, and fending off the five year-old’s requests for yet another ice cream cone, there actually were a few quiet moments in the van.

What U2 can teach you about presenting content to people who care

U2 Bono: Four Common Traits Lethal to Rock Stars
U2 Bono: Four Common Traits Lethal to Rock Stars

As I watched the Prince Edward Island farmland stretch to ocean, I caught a U2 song I vaguely remembered.

It wasn’t blurred by time - U2 songs from twenty-five years ago are indelibly etched in my mind. This was a new song from that “oops” album that the band pushed at everyone last year.

U2 “gifted” the album to everyone with an iTunes account. Songs of Innocence wasn’t addressed to the faithful fans or even rock music listeners. It was launched at 500 million people, many of whom didn’t know the difference between U2’s lead singer and some guy who used to be married to Cher.

The chosen audience for this music - everyone - simply didn’t care.

Ego, generosity, self-promotion, and fear are a lethal combo - for rock stars and for writers

If U2's “oops” appeared on your radar screen, you likely recall the backlash.

No one even had time to notice whether the music was any good because they were so angry that it appeared unbidden on their iPhones. (And if anyone from Apple dares to take up one more blessed megabyte with content we don’t actually want, there will be rioting. Or snarky tweets. Whichever.)

Shortly after the album’s release, Bono apologized for their tactics and tried to explain why they did it:

A drop of megalomania, a twitch of generosity, a dash of self promotion – and deep fear that these songs that we poured our life into over the last few years mightn’t be heard.

Why should you, a content creator and small business blogger, care about a U2 album that will only endure as a reminder that free music isn’t free if you have to pay the fines of public ridicule?

Like it or not, you likely blog and write online content for the same reasons U2 paired up with Apple. Though each element that Bono describes can be good in itself, when mixed together you find yourself in a fine mess.

  1. Ego (“megalomania” is a term best reserved for rock stars and CEOs, so let's scale it back): When you write merely to hear your own voice and to rack up shares and likes, you’re going to lose track of your online raison d’etre - the reader.
  2. Generosity: When you give away all your insights you’ll bankrupt yourself and compromise the quality of what you offer to your paying clients.
  3. Self-Promotion: You blog in order to build an online platform, but, if you’re writing in order to be seen rather than to deliver value, you’ll end up alienating your audience.
  4. Fear: Any venture motivated by fear is bound to fail eventually. Blog posts written in the spirit of “if I don’t get something out on time my readership will forget all about me!” will never be as successful as those grounded in wisdom and anchored in trust that your message is worth listening to.

What happens when you write a blog post for just anyone

This particular track I heard?  “Song For Someone.” The irony was kinda crushing...

When U2 chose to toss their album on everyone’s digital doorstep like a piece of junk mail, they lost track of the special someones who stuck by them even after a decade (more?) of cringeworthy releases.

In order to make a song connect and endure, it has to be sung to someone who wants to listen.

If you want a piece of writing to connect and endure, it has to be addressed to someone who is receptive to the message.

“Someone” doesn’t care about what you have to say. A carefully considered ideal reader who has the problems that your goods and services aim to solve… she’s the one you need to write for (or sing to!).

Everything you bublish needs to be a song for someone in particular

“Song For Someone” will never be anyone’s “With Or Without You.”

Maybe it’s because the song was tinged with that ego, misdirected generosity, self-promo, and fear. Maybe it’s because the band lost sight of what really mattered in their bid to stay relevant and be as cool as Apple.

Maybe it’s because Bono has been more focused on saving the world than he has on music. There are plenty who say that’s a fine thing. And if his mistake makes you a better blogger, just put on Joshua Tree and get writing!

Want to learn more about how to write for your special someone? Consider joining the Sovereign Writers Circle. 

Choose How to Use Your Power: 4 Ways to Create Great Written Content

Sovereign Standard, Issue 22MG_Header_w_biline_hires We live in an abundant universe and we are the ultimate authors of our lives.

That’s all fine and good, but you only have so much time to write your business’s stories and get that blogging done.

How are you going to use your power?

“Write this week’s post” or “update the website copy” are on your to do list. You've decided to apply your power to crafting your ideas into words and sharing them with people who want lives that are more beautiful, bearable, or bold. Yay!

Choose how to use your power: 4 ways to create great written contentAnd you intend to take the ideas from draft to final copy all by yourself because you love to write, you’re on a budget, or because you fear you’d sacrifice authenticity if you outsourced it… but is that the right choice? Is that how you really want to use your power?

As I write this, my five year old is trying to make the Eiffel Tower out of mostly dried up Play-Doh. I am only 95% sure that the markers my toddler is using to draw all over her t-shirt are washable.

My maternal powers are diluted and I'm sure every paragraph I write is riddled with typos.

But I am making it work. I choose to see myself as powerful - at least according to Michele Woodward’s definition.

“Power is the ability to get stuff done.”

This definition was a common refrain in a recent How She Really Does It podcast in which Michele and Koren Motekaitis put a positive spin on power. Yes, we all have the capacity to build and store power, but how are we going to use power in helpful, efficient ways?

Choose How to Use Your Power: 4 Different Ways Create Great Written Content

You’re on board with content marketing. You’ve been storing up stories and ideas for ages. Your website looks great and is waiting for the right copy and a consistent blog.

It’s time to channel your power and get this writing stuff done. How do you make that happen?

The answer isn’t necessarily simply “go write.”

1) Give it up: Outsource your content writing completely

You can fully empower a ghostwriter to do it all from topic research to writing to image selection to posting the piece.

When this works best: There are lots of news and information sources related to your field that a trusted writer can review and translate for your audience based on your company story. Early in my writing career I combed the medical research and did this sort of blogging for a nutritional supplement company.

When this doesn’t serve you: If you have a personal brand, it’s reliant on your voice and your stories. This hands-off approach doesn’t generally serve coaches, healers, or those who sell information and wisdom that stems from personal experience.

2) Team up: Partner with a writer

Develop a relationship with a writer who becomes part of your team. She’ll get to know you, your brand, and your vision and ask questions from an outside perspective that will help expand your vision of what you’ll have to offer. You’re part of the brainstorming process but she takes care of organizing all the ideas and making the words sing.

When this works best: You have a ton of big ideas and general concepts you want to share. Your business is strong enough that you can afford to invest in this process – good writers will require a lot of time and attention at the beginning as they endeavor to really understand you, your voice, and your brand.

When this doesn’t serve you: Even though you are very involved in the process and will be the instigator of every piece of writing, you’re a step removed from the process. Since you’ve both agreed that the writer would publish under your name and you paid for the service, the intellectual property is yours and the product is 100% yours. But, if you have a writer’s soul you may not feel that this option suits your needs.

3) Tune up: Hire a Writing Coach

When you work with a writing coach, it's your writing - only better. A writing coach will help you meet your editorial goals now and build skills that will take you far into the future. Plus, you'll have the insights that only a "second pair of eyes" can really offer. This makes you a better writer and it also helps you dig deeper into your own stories and wisdom.

When this works best: Writing doesn’t come all that easily to you, but you want to get better at it. Or maybe it's easy for you to fill "ideas" notebooks but you never make the time to turn that material into polished posts. You also worry that your writing style doesn’t lend itself to the needs of the skimming internet audience. No matter what, the stress over making it perfect kills the joy you find in the process.

Learn more about the writing coaching relationship.

When this doesn’t serve you: Your business is at a stage where you’re more focused on scaling your business and landing speaking gigs. You don’t harbor any dreams of being a writer and would be better served partnering with a writer who can translate your ideas into prose.

4) Train up: For the bootstrapper who has time to teach herself the craft

Writing is a skill. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at it. There are loads of resources out there from Copyblogger’s free library and paid training programs to big old books on the subject like the Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly. I refer to both when I’ve written myself into a corner, I need inspiration, or I need help remembering that writing for the internet is more about selling than writing much of the time.

When this works best: You have more time than money to invest in sharpening your writing skills. You likely trust your writing skills enough and enjoy writing enough that you can follow a set of tips to tune your craft.

When this doesn’t serve you: Writing scares you and depletes you and you’re intimidated rather than energized by the DIY approach. You understand that consulting with an expert who is focused on your individuals needs and challenges will help you build your business and your writing skills faster and more efficiently.

How will you use your superpowers to get more of the vital work done?

I’ve been “the writer” in all these situations. Because every entrepreneur, creative, and healing professional has her own needs and superpowers, each writing approach is valid.

At this stage in my career, I see my clients experience the most personal growth and satisfaction when they go the writing coaching route. In addition to producing great content today, they’re preparing themselves to handle a marketing scene that will always demand good writing. And when it’s time to write that book? They’re ready.

How can I help you amplify your superpowers? Check out the services page.