Maybe you’re fresh from a journey, a conference, or some kind of life changing experience and you know you’ve got something to write about.
Now, it might seem like the next step would be relatively simple, right? After all, finding the inspiration and having your “this story must be told!” moment is what creativity and marketing are all about, isn’t it? You’ve climbed the mountain, met your idol, gotten up on the stage… You know you’ve got mind blowing raw material to draw from and you’re excited to put it on the page.
All you have to do is write, edit, and push publish, and this time it'll feel easy. Since you’re so excited to tell your community - hell, you’d tell the whole wide world if you’d get them to listen - you are not even going to start scrolling through pictures of other people’s vacations when you should be writing. You are just going to follow the rush of feeling and do it.
Great! So, let’s say you do get the writing done and describe the stunning scene, the dramatic moments, and the soul-opening takeaways… You make the sentences sing and are sure you haven’t confused your “its” and “it’s.” This baby is ready for her debut.
You’re about to copy and paste and format it on your blog (and you’re so proud of this story that you don’t even care that your blog platform randomly inserts spaces and refuses to accept the header formatting!), but then you pause a moment…
When you look at your recent posts - some of which you really like, some you barely remember creating - you start to notice something. This new jewel of an essay you’re about to put beside them… It just doesn’t fit.
It’s like trying to wear a diamond tiara with your favorite hiking boots. This piece describes a peak moment from your life, and it just doesn’t seem want to live next to the rest of these quality, workaday posts.
You’re disappointed and surprised. This post just about wrote itself and it’s coded with so much magic and truth. It describes the feelings that you wish your clients could feel, and you know that it’s delivered with the sort of humility and grace that would allow them to see the possibilities for themselves.
How could a piece you loved writing, a story about something so meaningful and powerful suddenly ring hollow? You were writing about a moment when you felt so at home in your skin, your life, and your work. How could it possibly feel like a square peg in a round hole?
A place for post, every post in its place: on finding the right platform for your writing
This whole “I did the amazing thing and wrote about it in ways that made my heart sing” experience? I just had that: my eight year-old and I got back from Ireland last week.
Now, if you follow me anywhere online, you probably know that. Of course, there’s one glaring exception: if you know me through my main home on the web, this website of mine, you wouldn’t have any idea that we made this trip.
Based on my past blog posts and my education you might have gathered that the country is important to me, but Irish literature and Celtic myths are not exactly super central to my work as a writing coach and a story healer.
And yet, this journey back to my heart’s true home, back to the country I hadn’t visited in fifteen long years: it’s going to be fundamental to the way I look at my personal goals, my long term professional vision, and it will surely shift and shape the stories I use for some time.
The yearning to share these stories here on my blog is very real… Now what?
The future of every story rests in its “why”
I’ve come back with a heart full of revelations and have spent the last week filling my journal with reflections on the practical, spiritual, and philosophical dimensions of returning to my favorite corner of the planet.
This 10 day trip could launch a thousand blog posts… Most of those wouldn’t have any place at marisagoudy.com, but they desperately want to live somewhere, and I need to be persistent and systematic enough to figure out where.
And so, I set up a set of criteria for myself that will help me determine the “what’s the why” of each story, both those I have already scrawled in my journal and those that are still aching to be put into words.
I invite you to try these potential categories yourself and to use them as a jumping off point to create your own system that fundamentally ask what is the “why” of this piece of writing?
To savor and record the experience: The veteran journal keepers amongst us (especially those who studied history and have lost themselves in their literary hero(in)e’s journals) will understand the power of simply writing that stuff down in a way that will allow you to go back to who you who you were and what you saw. You may be called to work on these stories for your own personal satisfaction and you might even be thinking of your legacy.
To show love for your current community: As a modern digital entrepreneur who lives a great deal of your life out loud online, you’ve created some expectations in your community. You share the photos on Instagram of the trip or the big event and the people who adore you and invest money in your services and interest in your story really do want to know more. Telling stories is how you sustain and deepen relationships so “I’ve been watching you” turns into “can we set up a time to talk?”
To create new connection and increase visibility based on shared interests: What makes you unique, as an individual and also as a transformation professional? There may be dozens of therapists, healers, and coaches who have comparable skills and ideal client profiles, but no one else has your story, your adventures. Show more of you and you’ll help people see themselves working with you.
(In my case, I can only guess at how sharing photos of the Wild Atlantic Way and brand new Irish lambs might cause ripples that call in clients who need me to help them find the words and find the way.)
To discover what’s really on your mind and seed the next big project: So many brilliant writers say something like this: I write in order to understand what I really think. When you can dive into a piece of writing without an agenda beyond “I wish to understand” and “please reveal the next step” you will surprise yourself and give yourself permission to go deeper than you ever imagined. That book you long to write will only get written if you give yourself permission to discover what wants to be in it, right?
And then comes the all important follow-up question when you know why a story wants to be written: where does it want to live?
As I said, there are so many stories that need to be told, but just not right here.
Being choosy and saying “this piece in this place” is a matter of creating focused platforms that speak to specific audiences. This kind of discernment sets expectations for the readers and keeps them coming back because they know you’re serving up something they know they want.
Yeah, that does sound like a mouthful of marketing speak, but it’s not just about playing the digital game: this sort of focus is good and necessary for you as a writer.
When you are clear on what details to include, what ideas to emphasize, and what to expect from all that hard work you do to write and promote a pieces of writing becomes a lot more fulfilling.
In my case, there are four main options when it comes to where I’ll post certain types of stories and content:
The professional blog that sells the services that I am currently offering and uses my stories to teach you about writing.
The guest posts I’ll share on other blogs and articles I’ll submit to other sites. (This is where I’ll introduce myself to communities that I know share my passions: creativity, spirituality, motherhood…)
The Medium site that I haven’t quite decided how to make best use of. (‘Til now - now, I realize it’s where I’m going to dive more deeply into the magical Celtic faery goddess side of me.)
UPDATE: I realized that I didn't need to tend another online property. You can read the poetry that's bubbling up from the said magical Celtic faery goddess side of me here.
The book project that’s somewhere between a memoir and a guide to finding your own inner Sovereignty Goddess. (The seeds of this book were planted when I was a young, reckless maiden living in Ireland in 1999 and are coming into full flower as I reflect on purposefully returning there as a wise, wild mother this year.)
Essentially, it becomes a exercise in matching the why and the where and letting those become the container that hold your re-writing and editing process after you have created the basic story.
These questions really do become easier to ask once you have some practice. In the Sovereign Writers Circle, I invite members to find the why and the where of everything they write.
We welcome new members at the start of each month. Would you consider joining the online group of healers, therapists, coaches, and transformation professionals who seek to write and share the stories that matter?