Archives for category: writer motivation & the muse

Two words
float, fly, and flit around,
overused:
“authenticity” and “passion.”

It’s a shame. Because their meaning and their expression in reality
is intensely, truly, most surely needed,
to be alive in the highest sense.

To be true, honest, and open in how we interact, with all that is in us. Our best effort. The open heart. No pretenses, no agendas.

Only moving in the honesty of our minds and soul-nature —
melted together to, without manipulation or self-levied protection,
putting ourselves out there…regardless of our endogenous fables and flaws.

Doing. For all to see. For all to embrace.
For all to take shots at.
(Ouch.)

Being authentic and passionate, honest and kind,
invites criticism.

(And it will come.)

Those who are truly brave are those who know the potential criticism and,
regardless of the fear of exposure, step into the unknown
with the gift of themselves riding on hope
that, somehow and someday,
those who need your love-gift most will open their palms,
letting their fingers relax and fall, to grasp, envelop, and own it.

And if they don’t. Well. That’s okay.
Because you did your part.

Writer, write.
Photographer, photograph.
Musician, play.
Dancer, dance.
Sculptor, sculpt.
Thinker, think.

Entrepreneur, create.

Regardless.
(I dare you.)

* Thup
coffeeApril9-15

This is the first in a series, “Don’t Do This” — posts aimed at helping you avoid bad writing habits, identify and steer clear of the pitfalls of poor writing, and become the writer-communicator that people want to follow.

It’s like a book online. Free. Bite sized, motivating, practical bits. I believe you’ll like it — because it’s all about what works, the how-to for an immediate increase in your writing effectiveness. 

This first post is an easy read, every bit worth its tad-bit-longer length. Subsequent series posts will be pointed, brief, direct — with a strong take-away to apply right then and there. So you become a sharper writer, right now.

Get every word in this first post, so that you’re in the know for what’s to come.
(It’s worth it.)

**************************************************

When we hear the words, don’t do this, we sit up and listen — because we know that something important is coming: knowledge with the palpating power to save us from heartache and pain.

Entrepreneur. CEO. Leader. Forward thinker…
Creative. Writer. Artist. Musician. Passionate expresser of life…
Above-average thinker who cares…

Because you matter — your passion, your ideas — and because you want to make a difference…this is for you.

To communicate effectively with words, the how-to skill must be in place. For no matter how much heart or passion we feel and exude — get this — without the vital how-to help that your writing needs, the heart of your communication will collapse.

Seriously. Your ideas, passions, and hopes go into cardiac arrest and threaten to die.

But they don’t have to. When it comes to effectively getting your ideas to others, there are external defibrillators (AEDs) that can save you from some heartache and pain. AEDs analyze the heart’s electrical activity and give life-saving electric shocks to the chest of a person who has collapsed from cardiac arrest. Even if your writing is in cardiac arrest (if you know it…or can admit it…or are willing to do something with it because you get it), the info here gives the life-saving shocks needed, to breathe and fully live.

Because deep down, you know that your words matter,
and because you have a message that people need
and a skill to share…

Read on.
__________________________

Fact 1: Every word you write has a purpose. You know this.

Making a list, writing an article or post, writing a book — each has a reason for its existence.

You know the adage:
* Know the target, know the direction to shoot the arrow.
(It applies here.)
* Know the purpose of your writing, and you’ll understand what kinds of words, phrases, tone, style, length of sentence (and other tools) to use.

Because purpose directs and informs everything we write. Everything.
(Really.)

Here’s the super-simple action I want you to do…
(Trust me on this one.)

Ask the questions:
Who’s going to read this, and why?
What does he or she expect?

In the entire piece.
On this particular page.
In this paragraph.
In this sentence.

And, yes, keep asking yourself the questions — while you’re smack-dab in the center of your click-press-pop-clack fingers on the keys or press-flow-move pen on the page.

(Any and every time you write.)

These questions should be soaring, swooping, circling in your brain above the target, like a mighty falcon with gleaming-sun-feather brilliance. The questions are ever present — ever casting shadows on the red-and-white circled target of your writing.

We want powerful writing — zinging and smacking into the target. So we’d better understand our writing’s purpose.
_________________________

Fact 2: Your writing has a goal: to express, to inform, or to persuade. 

Expression is just for you and me so, hey, we can put anything we want on the page. But information and persuasion, ah, now we’re in different territory. Information and persuasion are for others.

So. We’re stuck.

Because when we write for others, we have to do it their way. We have to follow the guidelines that meet the reader’s needs. If we don’t, then we end up with no one reading what we wrote. Ugh.

Hm. In order to satisfy the reader, we’d better understand the goal of each little scrap that we write.

Ask the questions:
What benefit is my reader looking for?
What does he/she want to feel and experience?
What do they want to know, to walk away with?
Am I giving the reader exactly what’s wanted?

In the entire piece.
On this particular page.
In this paragraph.
In this sentence.

We want satisfied readers — full of good feelings toward what we wrote, full of good memories and understandings that bring them back for more. So we’d better understand the goal of each little bit that we write.
_________________________

Fact 3: Engagement rules. Gone are the days of readers hanging around to read writing that doesn’t engage.

Most of us cringe at the volume of words bombarding our inbox, crowding into our web searches, bumping across our Facebook pages, and even ambling across the bottom of our television programs with the ad for the next-up program.

We’re way beyond information overload. We’re in information repel mode.

Engagement is critical.

Failure to follow the rules of engagement makes readers push away in disappointment, apathy, or even upset mode. Disappointed, apathetic, upset readers leave, let alone even begin to engage (as in, let’s click away in three seconds flat).

That simply won’t do.

Ask the questions:
Where are the repetitive words to axe and toss down the hill?
How can I change up words, to make the writing concise, pointed, powerful?
What am I doing in my writing that repels the reader?

In the entire piece.
On this particular page.
In this paragraph.
In this sentence.

We want readers to stay. So we’d better understand the rules of engagement for writing. (This series is all about helping you identify exactly what you’re doing…so stay with me.)
_______________________________

Fact 4: Rules of engagement are blood red critical. Writing lives or dies on the rules of engagement.

But we have a serious problem. We don’t know what we don’t know. (Ignorance is not bliss. It’s deadly.)

No lie: I believe that most bad writing is for lack of knowledge. Cluelessness. Not intentional, mind you — it’s simply the I-just-never-learned-this-stuff ignorance.

And without knowing it’s even happening, you’re sending the reader away apathetic or screaming.

Oy.

At the turn of the New Year, ask questions:
Am I keeping myself back by simply living in a closed-door mentality, a self-focus?
Am I willing to open myself up to learning?
Am I humble enough to listen?
Am I willing to be thirsty for understanding, so that I can move forward?

It’s time:
Get better at the craft of written communication.
Don’t mess up due to ignorance.

<<Make what you write matter.>>

Have nothing stand in the way of your clear, vibrating, resonating, connecting communication.

Be willing. Willing to cultivate an open, listening, seeking heart. Willing to listen. Willing to absorb.

Willing to work.

Next time, we’ll get practical. We’ll talk about how not to end your piece. (How to give your reader something to hold onto, a smooth stone in the hand — a promise. It’s good.)

See you then.
(I can’t wait.)

* Thup
coffeeDec26-14

Writers:
Write despite life.

Despite the challenges.
Despite the changes.
Despite the problems.
Write.

Creators:
Create amidst life.

Despite the schedule.
Despite the work.
Despite the day-to-day must-dos.
Create.

Entrepreneurs:
Act and press through to the end.

Despite the pull on your time.
Despite the emotions that push against the day.
Despite the challenges of the idea that drives you.

And dancers. Photographers. Artists of all kinds.
Do, despite all the things that pull you away.

Even if it’s a small amount of time. 

*Thup
coffeeDec6-14
PS. This is my season of “write despite”:

(he inspires me, too)

Organization is not a dirty word. Some creatives think that to be organized, you have to put aside creativity. Not so, Joe. Creativity can thrive in the feng shui of an organized laptop home page, a table top, and room.

Most of us push aside organization to get to the “important stuff,” while the reality is, a bit of organization can mega multiply our “important stuff.”

(First-hand experience speaking, here. And I bet you know it, too.)

Before diving in, take two minutes to organize. Just two. Two minutes adds up fast … as do the results.

(Try it.)

* Thup
CoffeeNov28-14
PS. This is my workspace this morning,
after two minutes of organization.
Feels good, if I do say so, myself.
PPS. How about your space? (I dare you to try it.)
PPPS. Then be free to create and explore fresh ideas today.
* Thup

Take a breath.
(Really. Do it.)
(I will, too.)

Today is the deep breath, an in-between suspension of time
a day where you and I get to experience what’s most important in life.

It’s a time for out-of-body thinking.
The good kind of out-of-body experience.

To sidestep from the patterns and rules of the regular day
and to muse, meditate, reason, and reflect on
not just the four-wall realities around us
but also on the responses we’ve chosen for those realities.

Today, perhaps,
because it’s a pause from the crazy-schedule propelling us forward,
you and I can think in ways we don’t usually think.

Toss around ideas and concepts, play with notions.
Dream of, flirt with, and reckon with
those possibilities (what you’ve always wanted to do).

Maybe now is the time to do them.

Take that breath,
physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, relationally.
Rise above and look down.

(Change can be good.)

* Thup
coffeeNov27-14

“How much do you want it?”
You know what I’m talking about. The end-game. The result.
That thing you say you want — that goal you set a ways back,
that unfinished project, that brilliant idea.

The question’s standing out there,
peering at you sideways with a cocked head and slitty eyes:

“How much do you really want it?”

Well.
I (and everyone else who knows you) can tell
how much you really want it.

All we have to do is look at actions.
(Your effort.)
(Your work.)
(What you spend your time on.)

We all have that thing that we talk about, that thing we “want.” But
our lives — our actions — really show if we want it or not.

<<Desire is one thing.>>
<<Doing the work is another.>>

(Gah. Truth hits the mark again.)

‘Cause if we really want it, we’ll do the work.
Now. Passionately. With visible effort.
(Turn on the work ethic. The results might amaze you.)

*Thup

coffeeNov23-14

Last night, I watched Captain America: Winter Soldier again. It’s filled with one liners — and every single one can apply to you and me.

Watch this short clip…

“Was he wearing a parachute?” “No. No, he wasn’t.”Jumping into a dream, a goal, a decision takes all-out commitment. No parachutes. We wear confidence — confidence in who we are, where we’re going, and who we’re committed to be.

“To build a better world sometimes means turning the old one down.”
Moving forward, we can’t take the former with us. It takes throwing off old ways, embracing new ways. Again, commitment.

“This isn’t freedom. This is fear.”
Robert Redford’s character — Samuel Jackson’s character — the Cap — all follow their hearts. (Perspective is everything). What we believe drives what we do. So we’d better embrace what’s true and healthy. Because perspective gives us direction…and, again, commitment.

“Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?”
When we make a decision, then follow it, the no-going-back commitment is what gets us to where we need to be. Once started, we don’t turn back.

“Your work has been a gift to mankind.”
Each of us has a gift with which to grace mankind. When committed to do that work, we follow our passion, find satisfying purpose, and create a place where joy can thrive.

As with so much of life, the problem isn’t knowing what to do. It’s in doing it.
* Thup

*coffeeNov15-14

Will Monday’s dreams
be Friday’s reality?

(When TGIF rolls around, will the grand plans to get things done be
grand accomplishments
or regrets?)

Plan it.
Work it.
Stay with it.
If need be, flex with it
(and come back to a new “it” that works).

Plans are good.
(Writers, word count plans are even better.)

My calendar’s out right now.

*Thup
coffeeAug11-14

At its base, art is about the complexity of life.

For example.
Sometimes, we as people are just not enough. We miss the mark of someone’s expectations. Always. At some point.
It’s the way it goes.

And when we’re not enough for someone.
They may ignore us.
They may turn on us.
(They may do both.)
Oh, people. So human. So flawed. So completely uugh sometimes.
(All of us.)

A few may extend grace. But that’s rare.
(unfortunately. so unfortunately. rare.)

Writers, in your story, your hero has to get to the place where he or she is not enough. He doesn’t meet expectations. He gives up.

In other words.
Nothing works.
Nothing matters.
(A moment of death.)

It’s the hero’s decisions at that point that make your story run its fingertip along the sand of humanity.

Story is complicated.
(So is life.)

Artists draw or paint it.
Photographers capture it.
Dancers express it.
Writers write it.

Perhaps that’s the way we, as a people, can deal.
As in understanding.
As in catharsis.
As in simply being human.
Through art. Creativity. Expression.

Humanity.

* Thup
coffeeJune21-14

I don’t know about you,
but I thought summer was supposed to be easier.
As in sips of lemonade and lounging in the sun.
Right?

Beach days and sleeping in.
Right?

Nope.

All of a sudden, the pressure’s on. Why?

Deadlines.
(GAH.)
I have a love-hate relationship with deadlines.

I hate deadlines. Because it’s as if a tiny little man with a tiny little pickaxe is chip-chip-chipping away at something in my head, morning to night (and sometimes showing up at 3 or 4 AM). As he chips, the story (or nonfiction work) unfolds. Sometimes in pieces. Most of the time in stops and starts. And often when it’s inconvenient to get out the computer (or notebook), to capture that thought.

(Authors, you’ll get this.)
I live inside the story that the little man sculpts. And on the outside, real life whirls and whizzes with its own noise and intensity, like papers caught in stormy gusts.

(The little man and the wind compete for my attention. All. The. Time. Which can be really. really. irritating. Like having a gaggle of people talk to you at once. I don’t need that. I have lots of kids who’ve been doing that to me for years. oy. Got kids? You know what I mean, then.)

Ahem.

But then, I love deadlines. (Bust out the smile, here.) Because deadlines thrust me forward … which means that stuff is actually getting done and coming to fruition. As in end result. Accomplished. Completed. And that feels glorious. Ideas have downloaded out of my head, cascading over the falls and into the pool of finished. And I look at the result and feel relief.

(Little man has, for a moment, stopped. He’s actually sitting on a rock, polishing his little pickaxe with a smile on his face.)

So.

Problem is, when the little man does his work
and too many outside pieces whirl in the wind around my head,
Big Bad Overwhelm threatens to jump in the picture and taser me into something frozen.
(Please don’t sing Let it Go, here. Thanks.)

Overwhelm = the worst response to deadlines.
Because overwhelm stops me cold.
Staring at the page. Or at the calendar. Or at the wall.
Not sure which pressing problem to turn to, first
(which only increases deadline pressure).

Anyone else feel this?
I thought so.

So when the pressure’s on, it’s time to
step back,
take a breath,
organize the rampage of thoughts into little lines
(“take a number”),
listen to each one’s plea,
and DO.
Act.
(Just start on one thing.)

So.

Do you have a deadline looking at you, right now?
Something happening soon that needs attention?
Something that you need to take care of?
Something you’ve been putting off?

Yep.
Time to stop blogging and start doing.
(Time to stop reading and start doing.)
Bazinga.

(See you later.)

* Thup
coffeeJune17-14

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