The Perils of Self-Editing

The Perils of Self-Editing

Writing coach's warning against self-editing

 

Let me ease the mind of all of you who have embarked on a new journey of choosing to write a book and are now hesitating in front of a blank page waiting for the perfect sentence to flow out of your fingers, or are reading what you’ve just spent hours writing only to think it is complete and utter rubbish.

To write is to rewrite.

No one writes a perfect first draft from beginning to end in one fell swoop. It has often been said that writing a book is 20 % writing and 80% re-writing. Once you have written what Anne Lamott lovingly refers to as the “Shitty First Draft” in her book Bird by Bird, you are then in editing mode. During your first rewrite, you will go back and layer in all of the elements that were missing in the first go around and ruthlessly slash all of the parts that are not in service of the premise of the book. You will then repeat this process looking for flow and continuity and anything you missed during the first rewrite.

None of what I just described is self-editing.

Self-editing is when you write the first ten pages, and then you go back and rework those few pages to make them shine, and then you write another ten pages, and then you go back to the beginning and now work on those twenty pages to make them shine, and then you write ten more pages, and then you are caught in this never ending loop of perfecting the beginning of your book and never actually getting on with putting the whole book out on paper. I can’t tell you how many women I meet who say they’ve started writing a book but never finished. More often than not, the reason it’s thanks to the self-editing circle around the drain.

Self-editing is often the practice of letting your inner critic write a book, or as Stephen Penfield calls it in his book The War of Art—Resistance. What we need to do when writing that first draft from beginning to end is to connect to your inner knowing, your higher-self, your stream of consciousness, your muse, and just plow through. Print off a picture of Dori the fish with the caption “Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing, writing, writing.”

Here’s a Master Class tip:

If you have the strength of character and the will power not to self-edit, something that I have found immensely helpful for my productivity levels is to leave off one writing session without completing a thought or closing a scene. The next time I sit down to a writing session, I don’t have to think up what ought to come next because I just reread the last few paragraphs WITHOUT SELF-EDITING and continue writing from there. Before I know it I’m back into the flow.

If you are one of those women who’ve started writing a book and never finished, we need to talk. Book be for a one-hour consultation because you deserve to call yourself a published author and the world deserves to receive your important message.

Maintaining Momentum Over the Summer

Maintaining Momentum Over the Summer

image of legs out a car window

Why is it that when the warm weather comes along, we suddenly slough off all our wonderful, productive habits as we apply a layer of sunscreen?

You know what it’s like: you just get into the groove of your yoga practice or of writing that book you always wanted to write, or of making it a habit to attend a class or writing every Monday night or every morning before work. And then, bam, it’s vacation time and your precious habit is being hijacked by family barbecues, work holidays and destination escapes. Or maybe you’re a small business owner whose work schedule gets commandeered by kids being off school for two months.

Here are a few hacks to help you maintain momentum so that you’re not stuck starting from zero again in September.

Build in a support team

Having an accountability partner or belonging to a group is a great way to stay on track with any goal. It is rarely enough to have a close friend to report to, because they love you and they’ll be lenient when some cool summer plans come along to kibosh your goal. Having someone with similar self-care or career goals means you are more likely to follow through. You want to partner up with someone you respect and whom you would hate to let down. As a partner yourself, it is a gift to be a cheerleader who won’t let petty excuses sabotage your comrade’s plans.

Don’t shut off the tap completely

Many people say that business slows down in the summer. Really? Not one person on the planet makes purchases or uses services for two whole months? If that were true the whole global economy would collapse. Yes, for many, there may be less activity in their businesses over the summer, but I challenge you to see if a contributing factor is your mindset of expecting a slowdown, or possibly your habits leading to a slowdown. Are you choosing to work less, write less, workout less? That’s okay as long as you’re making a conscious choice. May I suggest that if you are choosing to turn down the flow in your life, that you not turn it off? It is much easier to open a door that is slightly ajar than it is to push against a door that is sealed air-tight. Maintain smaller goals, such as a 15-minute walk instead of an hour at the gym, writing 100 words a day instead of 1500 words, or making business follow-up calls once a week instead of every day.

Be purposeful and deliberate

Hey, it’s summer, you get to have fun and enjoy the sunshine like everyone else! Go ahead and plan time off! But, be measured and focused with that summer lovin’. Use this time to replenish your dwindling stores of inspiration. Get out from behind your computer and soak up some vitamin D, shake up your self-care with a new routine, catch-up on your sleep. And, intentionally set some boundaries around your debauchery. Enroll in your usual classes for September before you quit them in May. Promise your copy-editor something before you slow down; better yet, pay for the editing services ahead of time which will force you to hand something over to them. Schedule a product launch or a new service package for September and keep your following thirsty for your return.

It is possible to enjoy a spectacular summer and continue to honor our meaningful projects. May you continue to be productive while you bask in the splendor of summer, and may you return to a smooth-running routine when the chill returns to the air.

We all know what it’s like when life gets in the way, especially if you are a writer. You’re also probably quite familiar with the inner critic that constantly throws up obstacles in your writing schedule. I’ve tackled that problem for you! Download your FREE eBook – How to Write When Life Gets in the Way! 

This article first appeared on Huffington Post. You can read the original post here.

You Don’t Have to Starve for Your Art

You Don’t Have to Starve for Your Art

Writing coach building your art into a business

I recently had a phone conversation with someone who wanted to write a book. I could hear the passion she had for her topic reverberate through my earpiece and into my heart. This book needs to be birthed into the world. And, as with most of my phone consultations with most of my clients, the topic eventually turned to money. How much will it cost me to self-publish? How much can I expect to earn if I traditionally publish?

Money is an important topic that we artists need to talk about in the open more often.

Writing a book is a business. Period. If you are writing your book to self-publish a handful of copies to share with your family and friends, you’re not publishing a book you are making photocopies of your journal. If you are writing your book to self-publish and have it on Amazon.com (where net revenue last year totalled in the amount of $107 Billion—yes, that’s billion with a B) or to traditionally publish and see it on the shelves of your local library or bookstore, you are running a business. And for a business to be successful, a business needs to make money. Period.

As a society, we need to stop glorifying the archetype of the starving artist. It diminishes the value of art in our everyday lives. We are surrounded by art, from music to visually appealing pieces in our homes to the stories we consume when we read or watch television. Art is an integral part of being human.

I often find that artists also tend to be heart-centered individuals who have bought into the idea that money is somehow the root of all evil. Money is an instrument in the exchange of energy. It simply makes the old practice of bartering much easier. When we constantly give away our art, we are creating an imbalance in the energy exchange, and again decreasing the value of art in our world. Then there are the art purists who turn their noses up to any commercialization. I challenge those purists to consider the perspective that maybe art can be both completely original and unique while earning artists a fair wage.

Both you and your art matter.

Lastly, I love books. I love to read to learn and I love to read to escape. I want my favourite authors to be able to sustain themselves financially so that they can continue to write books for me to read. There are several ways that an author can make money, and not all of them are directly tied to book sales. Part of the work that I do with my clients is to help them build the business end of their book writing so that they can be financially stable and so that the world can be embellished with their talent and message.

In today’s world of interconnectedness through social media and online business, there’s no reason for any artist to starve ever again. If you want a successful business as a published author, book a call with me and let’s talk about your future. If your inner critic is convincing you that a handful of photocopies of your book is enough, we also need to talk!

 

4 Essential Questions When Writing a Book

4 Essential Questions When Writing a Book

Light Bulb

 

Once a life coach always a life coach. I ask questions for a living… can you tell?

When it comes to embarking on, and most importantly completing, the journey of writing a book, it is not an accomplishment that comes without some struggle. Besides our own inner critic riding roughshod over us, we also have life interrupt us in other ways, as I covered in my eBook. One of the solutions I offered was coaching. Here are the four foundational questions I would explore with you if you were a client of mine–for both books and building a successful business by the way.

Who is the audience?

Who will be reading this book? Really draw a picture in your mind of them. Is it a woman or a man, how old are they, what do they do with their spare time? What kind of other books do they read, or magazines, what do they watch on television? By having a tight focus on who your audience is you will serve them better when you write.

What is the purpose?

Speaking of serving them better… why are you writing this book? Are you trying to entertain by getting your audience to feel an emotion? Are you trying to pass on life lessons? Are you doing it for the fame and fortune? No judgment here. Knowing why you are writing a book helps to focus you and helps to keep you on the path towards your goal.

How will your audience be changed?

This is pretty self-explanatory. Once I’ve read your book, how will I be different? Will I have spent a few sleepless nights because I couldn’t put your book down? Will I be talking with my friends about it? Will my life be sweeter or my burdens be lighter from the lessons I learn?

How will you be changed?

I was changed when I published my book. Beyond a doubt. I had a sense of accomplishment and pride that no one can ever take away. My book wasn’t on the New York Times bestseller list, It hasn’t made me enough money to buy a vacation home in Maui. But the mere fact that I wrote it, and it exists on my bookshelf and bookshelves of many other people has given me a sense of fulfillment and a sense of self-esteem I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. But that’s me. What would it mean to you? How will you be changed?

There are a whole plethora of questions for you to dive into with your journal! Should you want to bounce them off of someone, don’t hesitate to reach out. I have many more clarifying questions in my coaching toolbox and I’m always happy to help.

 We all know what it’s like when life gets in the way, especially if you are a writer. You’re also probably quite familiar with the inner critic that constantly throws up obstacles in your writing schedule. I’ve tackled that problem for you! Download your FREE eBook – How to Write When Life Gets in the Way! 

Is Being Busy Bad?

Is Being Busy Bad?

Busy Bee

I used to seriously dislike people who chastised me for my glorification of busy.  There was a while that I marketed my business specifically for crazy busy women, and it was on more than one occasion that I was told that I was part of the problem.

Why, I asked, what is so wrong with being busy?

Of course, I read Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive. I knew how important it was for my own self-care, and that of my clients, to take time for ourselves—to meditate and do yoga and get enough sleep.  So it just irked me to no end when people censured me on my use of the word busy, when in fact that’s what I was and what many of my client’s were: busy.

Fast forward to the present day, fresh off a nine month hiatus from building my business because I was focused on moving my family across the country, and I have found myself in a very different frame of mind. I am not busy. I am nesting. And I am frequently bored to death.

Then, as I was scrolling through Facebook I saw these two memories: one from the perspective of a business owner and the older one as a stay-at-home mom.

coaching busy

mom busy

I can totally see how I was indeed glorifying busy.

Just to seal the lesson, I was on the phone with my mom just last night and she uttered the words: “I can’t stand idleness. I have no use for lazy people.” It was certainly not the first time I heard THAT come from my mother’s lips. The evil of sloth is a very old tape that my inner critic had ingrained from a very young age and loves to replay.

It soon became apparent to me that I have to find some reconciliation in the grey area between the extremes of busy and lazy for my own sanity.

Today, I am not busy. I am nesting. I am supporting my husband and my children by establishing new routines and decorating our new home. I am writing again and enjoying the process that requires lots of daydreaming and contemplation. I am still coaching, of course, and even coaching has its own down time like holding the silence after a powerful question so that my client can go into themselves and find their truth in their answers. I’m not chasing potential clients instead I am allowing them to find me. I am not lazy. I am purposeful in my non-doing.

Where do you fall in this belief spectrum? Busy, good or bad?

What is coaching, you ask?

What is coaching, you ask?

image of glasses making a clear view

I can’t tell you how many people ask me what coaching really is, or how often they misconstrue it for therapy or consulting. That being said coaching is also quite difficult to describe and much easier to experience. Through a couple of examples I’ve drawn from real-life coaching situations, I’m going to try to show you what coaching can be.

Relationship coaching: My client, we will call her Sally, came to me feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, and resentful at her husband and three teens. She recently returned to a fabulous career after being a stay-at-home mom, and the family was not pitching in with the housework, cooking, or laundry, leaving everything for her to do in addition to working full-time.  You know that feeling ladies, when you walk into the kitchen and it’s covered in a huge mess to dig through just so you can find the counter space and pots you need to cook in!

First, we looked at the chores and meal preparation from the perspective of being overwhelmed and angry, and decided that creative or warm and fuzzy solutions were not coming from that perspective–just more frustration. So we turned the chair and faced a different side of the room, and I asked Sally to tell me about her favorite vacation spot.  Her shoulders dropped and serenity washed over her as she described a family vacation at the beach. She recalled how she felt and who she was as a person while there, and even how meal preparation worked better at the beach house. And from that clearly resonant perspective, she brainstormed solutions to her current situation: She wanted to use the slow cooker more often, buy pre-cut vegetables, and re-institute Kids Cook Sundays which used to be a lot of fun for her family.  In the end, I suggested a metaphor she could bring to her teens: Think of the family as an orchestra playing in the symphony, if the whole string section doesn’t show up, the piece just won’t sound the same and it is impossible for one person to play every instrument at the same time. The family needs to run like a symphony in which each person plays their part.

 Sally left our Skype call session transformed and motivated to move forward with a plan that worked for her.

Career Coaching: My client, let’s call her Jane, wanted to launch a brand new product in her business but she was stuck in the “wait until it’s perfect” phase of her launch. She was paralyzed by her own inner critic. We all have that voice in our head that sabotages our biggest plans, the one that says: “Who do you think you are?” and “What will people think?” or “What if this is a total failure and you lose all the customers you have?” So I asked Jane to build a caricature of that voice in her head to personify him or her, to describe what the gremlin looked like and sounded like and to give it a name.

By really shinning a light on this saboteur, Jane was able to dissociate from the voice, recognizing that it was not her opinion but the saboteur’s opinion.  From there I asked Jane questions that connected her to her true self, her wise, compassionate, courageous, and certain self and we explored the purpose of launching this product, how it was meant to affect people’s lives in a huge positive way, what her intention was behind it all, who she was becoming by serving the world through this product, and what was possible.

Jane ended our phone call empowered and successfully launched her new product.

I hope these examples gave you a small glimpse and a better understanding of what coaching is all about and how it can help in your life. Coaching is support from someone (like me) who takes the time to listen to your situation and draws on experience, and mastery of skills to offer unbiased focus (or re-focus) that helps you reach your own conclusion, solution, goal, or objective.  Lastly, I often hear “I don’t have any problems and I’m comfortable with my life, why do I need coaching?” THAT is why you need coaching. Coaching is for leaping out of the comfort zone and going after your big dreams. If you are bored, not quite satisfied, and looking for big changes you need a coach like me.