Writing coaching

Meet Yourself On the Page: Write a Thank You Note to the Shadow

Meet Yourself On the Page: Write a Thank You Note to the Shadow

Writing is healing when you dare to meet yourself on the page and find a way to drop your armor and hush the inner critic. But where do you begin?

Try writing a thank you note to the shadow. Something surprising happens when you use the well-known format of a thank you note to dive into the hardest parts of your own story.

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.



Do you know how to describe the “real magic” you offer your clients?

 Do you know how to describe the “real magic” you offer your clients?

There’s a part of what you do that’s beyond, beneath, and before the bounds of language.

As a healer, you know that the color, the sensation, the texture of an event or an emotion carries meaning that the English language often can’t begin to touch.

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.

A story from the cave beneath the mountain of marketing and spin

Sovereign Standard, Issue 39MG_Header_w_biline_hires Right now, every fiber of my being (except for the fibers that are occupied with holding a toddler on my hip as I help my first-grader make turkeys out of candy corns and Oreos) is occupied with story.

What does it take to translate the thoughts and emotions and in-process “stuff” into a story that engages, reveals collective insights, and exposes truths?

I don’t have the whole answer yet, but I’m getting closer.

A story from the cave the mountain of marketing and spinThe best writing begins in private

To allow myself the true freedom to wonder and wander, I’m dialing back my public writing. I've been pulling deep inside to where the really stories live. It's the place deep below the marketing and the spin - in the caves where the truth rubs elbows with fear and dreams struggle against despair.

[tweetthis]Story is born in caves where the truth rubs elbows with fear & dreams struggle against despair.[/tweetthis]

 

In a world where storytelling is celebrated as an art and foisted upon us as a marketing tactic, it’s easy to get burned out on story - particularly when you feel like you weren’t blessed with the Scheherazade gene.

I do believe that “everybody has a story” because it was reality long before it was a cliche (or the theme of a zillion ad campaigns). But there’s a lot more to unlocking natural storytelling abilities than shoving a mic or a blog password into someone's hand and commanding “have the courage to tell your story.”

The alchemy of turning "your stuff" into "Your Sovereign Story"

As 2015 dims to allow the new year to shine bright, I’ll have a great deal to say - and to offer - about this alchemical process of turning “your stuff” into “Your Sovereign Story.”

In the meantime, please give yourself permission to slow down and watch out for the unforgettable characters and plot twists (especially those who show up around your Thanksgiving table).

Begin to consciously collect the experiences that will give your stories life... I'll be back soon to help you figure out what to do with the material!

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writing = thinking, understanding, feeling

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

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

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

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

Can you be vulnerable and write “I don’t know” on your business blog?

Sovereign Standard, Issue 34MG_Header_w_biline_hires The writer looks like she is sitting at a keyboard or scribbling furiously in a journal. She seems to be occupying the same space and time as everyone else in the room, but, in reality, she’s exploring territory that she can explain, but never let you view directly.

Whether it’s fiction or theory or even marketing copy that comes from the heart, she’s deep in her own inner landscape. This marvelous space is only limited by the scope of her own imagination and knowledge.

This private world is not infinite. Instead, it’s an eternally elastic territory. The borders are pushed outward by everything she learns and by every experience that invites her to grow.

And yet, there are limits. The writer will reach her edge. Then what?

The Blogger’s Dilemma: The Question Without an Easy Answer

When I worked on the first draft of this week’s blog post, I found myself writing into a question without an answer.

Can you write into your "I don't know"?It was something so close to my “expertise” that I was shocked when I hit a big “I don’t know…”

Often the best questions don’t have ready answers - that vast unknown is the seed of a book, a career, or a life's passion. By the same token, the best blog posts don't necessarily follow the "proven" formulas.

But, in my case, it felt like I should have an answer (and I don’t even let myself use the word should). After all, I was writing about storytelling and this was “just” a blog post… Finding myself at the edge of my frontier of knowledge was as unexpected as it was unsettling.

Sitting quietly in front of a Word doc, I felt uncertain and exposed.

I felt horribly vulnerable - even though no one ever needed to know that there was something really important about storytelling I couldn’t write about with ease.

And then, the magic of the writing practice kicked in: describing the view from my own intellectual edge became more important than the expertise I thought my readers would need.

This is the Vulnerability Business, right?

Last week’s post was about being in the vulnerability business. If you seek to transform lives and make this world more beautiful, bearable, or bold, you have a stall in the marketplace of vulnerability.

You hold space for your clients’ shame and uncertainties. And you strive to recognize vulnerability when you see it - starting with your own.

The writing process gives you a perfect window into your own vulnerabilities. After all, it’s about showing people how you organized ideas and  crafted them to be understood by others. It's about being seen.

Something that wasn’t in the last post - writing can also expose what you might perceive as your “weaknesses.”

Remember, before Brené Brown taught us that “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity,” most of us just equated vulnerability with weakness.

The gift of “I don’t know”

That unexpected “I don’t know” dropped me into the “fraud, fraud, fraud” pit. I’m sure I needn’t tell you that no decent writing has ever been produced in that despairing hell hole.

Let’s take a moment here to celebrate one of the many gifts of the writing practice: you can write your way through despair all the way to retrospect - sometimes in the same writing session!

Now, I can see “I don’t know” as a tremendous gift.

It’s an invitation to see things in a new way. It’s an opportunity to forgive myself for being a mere mortal who is still learning every day. It’s a chance to hit pause and do some really delicious research - and perhaps even read those books on writing that I love to buy but never have time to read (because it would eat into writing time, of course).

I don't know is a gift - as long as you give yourself time to receive itBut what if you don’t have time receive the “I don’t know” gift?

New perspective, self-acceptance, mindful pauses. Lots of people tell you how wonderful they are.

Truth is, it is hard to see all the opportunities in “I don’t know” when you simply don’t have the time to wander and wonder and expand the bounds of the known world.

There is only so much writing time per week. This time is not meant to be lavished on research or stumbling into terra incognita. It’s not meant to be spent on Facebook either, but that's another story.  

So, what happens when you write yourself into an "I don't know" shaped corner but you just need to hit publish?

4 Ways a Writer Can Respond to an Unexpected “I Don’t Know”

Research. The universe just may be telling you that it IS ok to skip this week’s post and put your writing time into developing your own answer to that big, scary question.

(Admittedly, this week I told the universe I would get back to it about expanding my mind after I found a way to write something worth publishing, baked cupcakes for my 6 year-old’s birthday, and finished the outline for my new membership group. This may be an instance of “do as the writing coach says, not as she does.”)

Release. “Release” may be about skipping or delaying a post (see above). Losing sleep or publishing something that isn’t ready just because it’s supposed to be on the editorial calendar is never in your best interest.

(Personally, I find it almost impossible to break the publishing promise I've made to myself. I often choose to understand “realease” as letting go of the troublesome topic and allowing another idea to emerge.)

Repurpose. Look back at past posts, particularly material that appeared on old websites or on guest blog posts. Redo the intro and the conclusion and let yourself off the “must create original material” hook. Remember: this is always an option.

(Do you even remember what you wrote last year? Chances are there's real gold there. Looking back to your past posts isn't cheating - it's using all your resources wisely.)

Reach out.  As I wrote this late into Wednesday night, I whined to my husband about being stuck in the blogging vortex. While I was happy that I had been able to release the original idea and repurpose the feelings that “I need to do more research” stirred up, I had well over 2000 words of wandering wonder. All I wanted was an intro, some useful content, and a compelling Invitation to Action! That was when the light went on - if only I had a writing coach!

All day long, I look at clients’ snarled up brilliance and help them pluck out the brightest, most evocative ideas and stories. It’s nearly always impossible to get perspective on your own work. If you can relate to this story, reach out to me and we’ll see how I can help you uncover your most brilliant thoughts.

*****

This week’s post was inspired by many factors including my big scary “I don’t know,” the conversation that last week’s vulnerability post has generated, and the Bravery Blogging Project I stumbled across this week (thanks, Molly!).

Illana Burk of  Makeness Media is looking for her community to make “Real, original, difficult content.” I’m new to their world, but finding yet another circle of people who want to dive deep into an idea and risk writing outside the blogging “shoulds” stretches my mind in a wonderful new way. And it makes me feel like I can keep blogging about the “I don’t know” stuff and it encourages me to ask you to do the same.

The unexpected way your writing practice builds client loyalty and love

Sovereign Standard, Issue 33MG_Header_w_biline_hires “I feel really vulnerable right now,” she said. “I’ve never showed anyone but my husband a very first draft of my writing.”

We have a name to that feeling of being exposed thanks to the brilliant Brené. (Do I even need to mention her last name in this company?)

We must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen. This is vulnerability. This is Daring Greatly. Brene BrownAs a culture, we’re learning that vulnerability is vital to connection and growth. It’s an essential skill to master if you want to make the world more beautiful, bearable, and bold.

And yet, actually doing the stuff that puts your vulnerability skills to the test? Well, that’s another story.

Honoring your clients' vulnerability - and bravery

The client I quote above reminded me that sharing your writing - especially what Anne Lamott famously calls the “shitty first draft” - can be a terrifying experience.

Pressing “publish” and sending your words into the public arena isn’t the only thing that’s scary. Just sending it to someone who has earned your trust, like a writing coach, can give you the whim-whams.

Even if you want me to look more deeply at your writing. Even if you want me to question your logic and rework a paragraph that took you 45 minutes to write. Even when you trust me and trust our co-creative writing process, you still may shudder when I say "so, I read your piece..."

Almost everyone wrestles with the writing shame that was instilled in them by dismissive English teachers, unholy nuns, or grammarian grandmothers. I have to remind myself - often - that I’m pushing people into uncomfortable spaces by simply doing my job.

Are you in the vulnerability business too?

My dance with these beloved, vulnerable writers becomes even more complex since my clients themselves are in the vulnerability business.

And some of them never knew it was going to be part of the entrepreneurial ride. 

Dear therapists and counselors, thank you for being our vulnerability gladiatorsTherapists & Counselors, thank you for being our vulnerability gladiators

Therapists, of course, are schooled in the art and science of vulnerability. You specialize in emotional exposure - and how that tends to make people react or shut down.

Thank goodness we have you, dear counselors! I envision you there doing your brilliant work in the green room of the Daring Greatly "arena.” 

Creative Entrepreneurs, you know you have a place in the arena too, right? Suit up!

And then there’s the rest of us creative entrepreneurs who learn from Brené Brown’s books. We look to the thought leaders (and bloggers!) who expose the crazy-sexy-scary underbelly of being alive and putting ourselves out there.

We creative entrepreneurs are not necessarily trained in the intricacies of the human psyche, but we still need to recognize we have a role to play in this arena.

When  you’re in  the business of  creation or transformation  and you dare to dip beneath  the surface of everyday life,  you’re going to be asked  to hold space for clients when they come up against their own shudders of shame. Step into the arena.When you’re in the business of creation or transformation and you dare to dip beneath the surface of everyday life, you’re going to be asked to hold space for clients when they come up against their own shudders of shame.

Support clients in their most vulnerable moments and help them make real, positive change… When you do that, you’re performing a service that’s so much more valuable than whatever you say you do on your website.

When you hold space in that way you’re creating a long term client and a forever fan.

How can you make vulnerability one of your greatest assets?

The Unexpected Way Your Writing Practice Builds Client Loyalty and Love: Be vulnerable even in the arena.If being “that person” who can hold space for a client when she feels most exposed is how you earn the trust that builds a practice and a business, how can you get better at it?

Start by recognizing what makes you feel vulnerable. Start with what feels risky. Start with your writing.

4 Key Lessons in Vulnerability You Can Learn From Your Own Writing Practice

  • Recognize that you are stepping into the arena whenever you publish a blog post. Congratulate yourself for that.
  • Realize that showing one focused reader something that you have written may feel a lot harder than sending it to a million faceless internet surfers.
  • Acknowledge that your writer’s block is about more than time constraints and a hatred of grammar… it's likely rooted in that tricky mix of “please see me” and “eek! stop looking at me!”
  • Notice when you’re asking your readers to be vulnerable. You’ll hone your vulnerability super powers when you become aware of the content that pushes readers out of their comfort zone.

Simply put, when you know your own vulnerabilities more intimately, you’ll be better able to detect them and honor them in others. People love it when you do that, you know. Think you might be ready to entrust me with your stories and your writing practice? Learn more about the writing coaching relationship.

I'll leave you with my favorite working definition of vulnerability by the brilliant Ahri Golden. Soak in these words. Put them into practice.

Vulnerability In the space between you and me Vulnerability is power Vulnerability in the space between you and me Vulnerability is the opposite of weak

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

How do private practice therapists take the creative risk and keep a blog?

"Creativity is the ability to take a risk. To actually put yourself on the line and risk ridicule, being pilloried, criticized, whatever. But... you must take that risk."

Sting - and specifically his Ted talk about how he reconnected with his creativity - inspired me to think about the risks we take as writers, as thinkers, as content creators, and as publishers.

Does creativity feel like a risk to you?

How do private practice therapists take the creative risk of keeping a blog?

How do private practice therapists take the creative risk of keeping a blog?

Creating and sharing haven’t always felt risky for me.

Think of yourself as a kid. Think of what Picasso said: "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."

Art was life, not risk.

As I grow older, as my circles of influence grow a little wider, and as more people are likely to read my words, I finally feel the tingle of “this is risky” when I hit publish.

Blogging for business can be your best creative outlet

As full as life is - and I know you can relate to this - creative time can be scarce. You're in two nonstop races when you run a family and you run a business - or at least it can feel that way.

In my case, if there's any “me” time at all, it’s a choice between meditate, exercise, or do some creative writing.

Since I tend to choose whatever offers maximum overall benefit and can be done during nap time, I choose meditation. That means I’m in pretty lousy shape and it means my beloved fiction projects are languishing.

It also means my untapped creative writing juices get poured into my blogging and content marketing. Because I need to build a business to support this family, that’s the perfect mix right now.

If writing for the business is the creative outlet, then blogging can feel risky too

[tweetthis]If creativity=risk and biz blogging is a #creative practice, does that make #writing risky?[/tweetthis]

Thinking aloud, trying out a theory in a public space, taking on issues that people would rather not examine, publishing it online for all the world to see… all of this can feel dangerous.

Even though we’re all getting used to living out loud when we're on online, it can start to feel dicey when you consider your professional persona.

This is especially true if you feel particuarly cautious about sharing personal stories - either because you’re a naturally private person or because you’re a therapist in private practice.

When you start to build an audience and you sincerely hope those people will invest in what you do, “just write and hit publish” starts to feel kinda scary.

And there’s a particular kind of risk inherent to publishing a blog post for your business: 

You can’t always be sure that you’re writing about an idea that speaks to the concerns of your ideal readers and clients. What if the story you need to tell right now springs from your own psyche and your own needs?

Discern your own stories from the Greater Story your business & your readers need you to tell

[tweetthis]Some stories are private. Some need to get tweeted like crazy. Can you tell the difference?[/tweetthis]

Experience. Listening. Mindfulness.

And trust.

Trust that you’ve created a reciprocal relationship with you readers that allows you to hear their needs above your own internal noise.

Trust that your readers are willing to journey with you into the uncharted territory of your inner world. (Within reason… this is a professional, not a confessional blog!)

There’s no simple formula. Again, it’s a creative act - because yes, blogging for your business can be a deeply creative process. There are risks and you may not always get it right, but that whole “nothing ventured, nothing gained” idea certainly applies in this case.

[tweetthis]Shh! I'm writing. #Blogging for my business is my creative outlet.[/tweetthis]

Is writing the “right” story easier or harder for therapists?

So, having decided to write about other people instead of myself, a further irony is that sometimes you reveal more about yourself than you'd ever intended. - Sting at TED Vancouver in 2014

Is writing the "right" story harder for therapists?

Is writing the "right" story harder for therapists?

Storytelling is an intensely personal act.

That is why it is such an effective way to reach and engage people. You do risk revealing yourself when you tell a story - even if you never use a personal pronoun.

The way a narrator takes a chance and puts herself on the line? That is exactly what gets people to pay attention.

You might think that discerning whether a story is acceptably universal or too rooted in personal concerns would be easier for therapists. After all, your work is about witnessing and holding space for others’ emotions.

You know what occupies many hearts and minds. And you've generally been taught to keep yourSELF out the equation.

For example, when someone  reveals a concern about infidelity or chronic anxiety or the stress of parenting, you know it’s a topic that you could explore on your blog (ethically and without identifying details, of course). When you see patterns emerge in your practice, you've discover a collective problem that will interest many of your readers. 

But what if you’re drawn to discuss a topic because it’s rippling through your own life or because it colors your past?

Then, telling the story - even without an "I" - can feel risky. You're not so sure you're telling the "right" story and distinguishing between the personal and universal.

Through the writing process - which reveals countless hidden truths - you may realize that it's hard to publish a post and maintain your professional posture when you’re bent under the strain of your own experiences.

So what do you do?

When your own "stuff" wants to come into your blog and you're not totally sure what is yours, what is important for the community, and what is just plain old whiny nonsense, in addition to practicing mindfulness and trust, practice gentleness.

Be gentle with your story, with your need to tell it, with your audience. After all, they put themselves in your care when they gather round to hear what you have to say.

And get a second set of eyes to review the post before you hit publish.

Often, a non-therapist with distance from your situation will be the best reader because they offer the gift of impartiality. They can tell you what resonates in the heart of the common reader, what feels like psychobabble buzz, and what feels too autobiographical.

I happen to be a non-therapist who loves to play the role of your ideal reader.  As your writing coach, I can help you figure out which stories to tell and support you as your find just the right words to tell them.

No, beloved, I cannot help you write and edit your next blog post UNTIL…

Sovereign Standard, Issue 30MG_Header_w_biline_hires You’ve got an idea for a really important blog post for your business’s website - brilliant!

Tell me about it. Tell me why you need to write it. Tell me the story that will glimmer with insight. Tell me what you’re asking your reader to do when she reaches the end.

What I want the writer to do you ask.

Yes. You know, the call to action. It’s the logical, necessary conclusion to every business blog post. It’s anything from join my email list, to get my free report, to book a session.

Oh,  you say, I’m not sure…

Well, how about you send them to your services page? In a pinch you can always say “learn more about what I do” and invite readers to delve more deeply into your website that way.

Um… I’d rather not. My services page is kind of outdated. I keep meaning to get back to it.

No, beloved, I cannot help you write and edit your next blog post UNTIL...You’re starting to shut down. You’re kind of wishing you’d never asked me - your friend the writing coach - to look at something you wrote.

This is when I get a certain look in my eye. I really, really want to give you a hug, but I see you're pulling back. I know that feeling. The last thing I want to do is discourage your writing, but I have to be honest.

I am about to deliver some news you probably don’t really want to hear, but that you and I both know you need to hear.

This blog post isn’t where you need to put your energy, friend.

We’re wasting our efforts on this one precious article if you’re still struggling with pangs of website shame. 

Tough love: 5 things your online presence needs BEFORE you invest time, energy, and writing coaching dollars in your blog

5 point of the online presence starWhether or not you want to be a blogging superstar, regardless of whether you buy into the quest for any kind of superstardom at all, you need to be the star of your own online show if you're going to make your business work.

And so, before I start helping you promote yourself through blogging and content marketing, I want to be sure that you've shined up all the points on your online presence star.

[tweetthis]5 things I tell my friends to do before they write a #blog post[/tweetthis]

  1. You've got overall clarity on what your website is meant to do for your business. Your website is a key member of your sales force. Yes, even if you run a itty bitty business or a private practice you actually do have a sales force.It might just a force of two: you at networking events introducing your work and passing out cards and your website with the "book now" button. Make sure it's clear that your site has a job and be the boss who makes it do the work! (Note: your site does need to be more than an online booking platform - it welcomes prospects with a clear, comprehensive overview of who you are, what you offer, and what problems you solve, too!)
  2. Your About page shines with your Sovereign Story. Beyond sharing some key elements of your biography, the About page expresses your passion and your mission. It inspires people say “I want to have coffee with this person and find out how she can help me. Heck, I want to hire her!”
  3. Your Services page describes what you do and answers fundamental questions about your work. The Services page on your site is a resource for you too. When you’re new to business or you’re making changes in your practice, you can refer to your website as your organization's “manual.” You already figured out the length and cost of a session and you posted it for the world to see - no need to second guess yourself when someone asks your what you do and what you charge!
  4. You’re continuing your relationship with your reader by building a list. You get an extra gold star when you tell me you have an email opt in offer (like a video series or a report) that incentivizes sign ups, but simply asking people to join your community and entrust you with their email address is a great start.
  5. You’re consistently strengthening your relationship with your online community. Communicating with your list. Posting useful content on social media from a variety of sources. Starting conversations with colleagues, potential clients, and the people who inspire you… All of this helps you develop an online platform and build and audience so there’s someone there to read this awesome blog post that is blossoming within you.

Yes, but there are stories that must be told

What, what’s that you say? The blog post you need to write is burning you up inside?

It’s about your clients, your business, your relationship with how you serve the world and nothing makes sense until you get it out there. It’s one of those immediate stories that has to be birthed now, huh?

And you say that putting your concerns about list building over this really big idea just crushes your soul.

I get that.

Your friend the writing coach takes a deep breath... (that's me, remember).

I can’t help myself - I too am driven by story, art, connection, and the need to express that idea that will not be denied. I understand how you are dedicated to so much more than "doing the internet right.”

Alright. Just this once. Just ONE post. Show it to me. I'll make suggestions and edits and ask you to clarify a few things, ok? Expect to get it back by Tuesday. If it's that important we'll be the this one post will inform all those other web presence building activities I talk about above.

But, once this is published, do you promise that our next project involves a comprehensive review of your site so you can put website shame to bed forever? Or, if you're just not sure where to begin, we'll have a Message Development Session. Promise?

How shiny is your online presence star?

Help me understand where you are right now... Do you feel like you have all five points covered and you're ready for the blogging adventure?

If you're still polishing up your online star, which points feel bright and shiny and which could use some help?

Please let me know in the comments so I can craft some content that will help you set all five points aglow!

Blogging beyond tricks: how to work the magic of intention and attention

Sovereign Standard, Issue 29 MG_Header_w_biline_hires There are so many blogging gurus and “easy peasy” blogging plans out there. I’ve never claimed to be a blog expert and I will never tell you that writing is an easy process that you can hack through.

Instead, I call myself a writing coach and I promise to guide you and walk beside you through what can only be called a dedicated practice of writing for business.

Blogging beyond tricks: How to work the magic of intention and attentionYes, there are specific strategies that will make your blogging more effective - and will shorten the writing time. You can even shorten the editing process when you bring it to someone like me!

And yes, you might say there are blogging “tricks” that help you create posts that are really special - not because you’re pulling a fast one but because you’re working your own kind of magic.

You don’t need blogging tricks, but a little magic is always helpful

Something you should know about me: I believe in magic.

I believe in magic because I have no interest in living in a "what you see is what you get" world. I believe in the magic of stories, symbols from nature, and the depths of dream.Mostly, I believe in magic because I have no interest in living in a "what you see is what you get" world. I believe in the magic of stories, symbols from nature, and the depths of dream.

I also believe that magic flows when you focus your intention and attention. That’s exactly how words and sentences flow too.

You don’t need tricks to make your writing practice work for you and your business. You need a strong intention and you need to give your writing the attention it deserves.

[tweetthis]Magic flows when you focus your intention and attention. Same is true for your #writing.[/tweetthis]

Before you write a word: begin with intention

When you sit down to create content for your blog, what motivates you?

  1. You’re trying to keep up with those “epic content dudes” who tell you that modern business is about publish or perish.
  2. You’re fulfilling a promise to your coach or some sort of accountability group.
  3. A general case of the “shoulds.” You’re not even sure why you’re blogging, but you figure you better get started because you’re already so far behind.
  4. You wish to explore a long percolating idea or a sudden flash of insight. Taking these ideas beyond scribbled notes and Word docs and into the public arena deepens the process and opens new perspectives.
  5. You’re writing out of love and service, trusting that the people who need to hear your message will offer your words the attention they deserve.

Because this is a post about a writing practice guided by personal intention and attention, there’s no single right answer.

There are, however, a few very wrong answers – if your motivation to write is based purely on obligation or fear.

Your “why” is the source of your writing magic

When you don’t know why you’re writing something - when you’re unclear of your intention - it’s nearly impossible to connect with the reader.

When you don’t connect to your reader, you’ll never achieve the goal of the post or article.

Your goal may be simple: “get more business.” But no one will get past the first few lines of a blog post if it’s clear the writer is only in it for the sale. The reader also won’t get very far if it seems the writer is just publishing because someone told her she “should.”

So why are you really writing?

Call me a romantic. Call me an idealist. Heck, call me a writer! I believe the only writing that ultimately succeeds is composed in a spirit of love and service.

Consider the success of direct mail copywriters and lousy popular novelists. Clearly you can write successfully when inspired by the love of money and in service to the beast of fame. I’m not here to judge those folks. They prove that passion and dedication will get you what you want.

But I think you’re a little bit more like me than you are like the guy with the perfect marketing formula.

You care deeply about your business and what you offer your clients. You love the people who buy from you – and not just because you adore the ka-ching of your PayPal notification tone.

Thing is, you don’t necessarily love writing for your business. Put it another way - you haven’t fallen in love with the writing process yet because you don’t understand the why of your attraction.

[tweetthis]The only #writing that truly connects is composed in a spirit of love and service.[/tweetthis]

Your writing “why” has a name and a face

A lot of brilliant people say you must write for yourself first.

“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”

Barbara Kingsolver is exactly right.

Hear a “but…” statement coming?

Presumably this great novelist is talking about fiction, not writing a blog post that helps bring in business.

Kingsolver would be spot on if we were still in the heady days of personal blogs when finding your voice was so central and “if you write it, they will come” was still semi-true.

Now, many take selfies to tell personal stories. Creative entrepreneurs and therapists use blogs to further their business, art, and practice in a more systematic, strategic way.

You can tell your personal stories just about anywhere. Your business blog exists to serve the reader. (Your stories are important, but they're the vehicles that carry your message, not your writing's fundamental raison d'etre.)

Your reader is your “why.” To satisfy her needs and curiosity… that must be your intention every time you publish a post.

The blog is the place to engage the reader with stories that illuminate her story. The blog sustains the reader with solutions to problems that keep her up at night.

Ok, your blog is still about you - in a way

There’s one part of blogging that’s about you: determining what sort of content you can comfortably, sustainably create. After all, creating content is a marathon, not a sprint.

This goes back to intention… You’re intentionally building a business around your gifts, your passions, your desire to solve the problems of a community of people you love.

Logically, any writing you do to support this work will feel doable - even if the writing itself still takes a lot of effort.

Does blogging feel like tea with Glinda or a bucket of water with a wicked witch?But, if every writing session is torture and you feel like a house fell on your sister rather than you're flying in an orb of fairy dust, there is something wrong.

You need to figure yourself into the writing process too and make adjustments to your writing routine, topic choice, and delivery style. If you don’t feel like a good witch when you’re writing, change your approach.

When your writing process feels more like a Dark Art rather than a lovely session with Glinda and Dorothy, let’s set up a complimentary 15 minute chat and share a long distance cup of tea so I can help you identify at least one adjustment you can make right away.

Once your intention is clear, you know where to direct your attention

Writing can be an emotional entanglement of sorts. Everyone has a different relationship with their words, but there’s one common factor in every writer-writing relationship -- attention.

An attention-starved writing practice is absolutely nothing but a dusty notebook inscribed with regret.

You love your business, you love the people you have been called to serve.

And so we return to:

You write online content out of a spirit of love and service, trusting that the people who need to hear your message will offer your words the attention they deserve.

When you show your love to your business and your reader-clients, they repay your intentional attention with their own (incredibly valuable) attention.

Blogging = Love. So how do you fall in love with the writing process so you can share the greater love?

Because I want to wave my magic wand and take the pain out of blogging for you, I am tempted to tell you that you can click your heels together with intention and pay simply attention to what the Wizard says.

There’s a great chance that getting clear on your "why" and sitting down to DO the writing is all you need. But that does you a great disservice if you’re someone who feels like she can’t cast a writing spell without some help.

You have other options. You can create video. You can start a podcast. You can create visual experiences for your beloved community.

You can explore the different kinds of writing support that are out there and make a decision based on your skills and resources.

And you and I can talk about your writing-for-business intentions and how they mix - or don’t! - with your reality as an entrepreneur or clinician whose attention is already pulled in so many directions.

Send me a note and we’ll schedule 15 minutes to sip tea and talk about how you can find the magic in your own message.

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.