Motivation · Overcoming Obstacles · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

How to Stop Imitating Your Heroes and Just Get Started Already

In a Facebook group, a business owner asked how to become “unstuck” in the planning stage. There are projects waiting to be finished, but she’s busy reading more content from other business owners who inspire her. How can she become “unstuck” and not just copy someone else?

I struggle through the same issues. However, I have found ways to think about them which have helped me to “unstick” myself and get something done.

REMEMBER THAT IMITATION IS A COMMON STARTING LINE

It is common to EMULATE YOUR HEROES when you start out. Children play dress up in their mother’s shoes, for instance.

Eventually, if you are self-aware, you develop what fits you, you create a custom-tailored business or life. I find that you start creating content that is unique to you when you distance yourself a bit from someone else’s content.

Whatever you ruminate on the most tends to be the most easily-accessible content that your mind can produce. Thus, to create content that is unique to your perspective, it is crucial to stop and consider what YOU think about a subject, what experiences YOU have had. Then, if you wish, go check out what someone else has to say on the subject.

Your heroes are a good jumping off point, but be sure to jump off, otherwise you become a copy.

To answer this question on Facebook, for instance, and to make sure I wasn’t copying what I had read in the comment section, I just dived in, writing from the perspective of  my own experience with the topic; I did not read the preceding replies first. After posting my comment, I then proceeded to read a few others. I’m glad that I did it that way; some of the other answers were so brilliant, I would have been intimidated had I read theirs first. When intimidated, I hesitate sharing my thoughts, thinking that I cannot help anyone. Many people tend to have this issue.

TO REDUCE PROCRASTINATION, CREATE A 1:1 RATIO OF PRODUCTION TO CONSUMPTION

To get started on a few projects, the following is something that I’ve done recently. For every hour that I consume business content, I must use an hour to produce something for my own business. For every hour I spend consuming Youtube videos or reading a book, I must spend an hour writing in my journal or typing an article. When I follow this rule, I usually end up creating more than that minimum 1:1 ratio.

In this way, I’m tipping the scales in favor of being a PRODUCER more than being a CONSUMER. You might choose to do it in a different way, but developing the habit of becoming a producer is what you’re after to become “unstuck.”

I fail at this all the time, mostly due to a lack of confidence in my own production. But the best way to barrel through the lack of confidence is to revisit your WHY -your reason for starting the project in the first place- then continue to produce. Wade through what you consider dreck until it’s not dreck any more.

[If you’re worried about what other people think about you or your content, read this article, based on a Cornell study, about how to handle social disapproval. I needed to be reminded of this information just yesterday.]

Peace,

Deborah

Introverts

Introvert at a Family Reunion

Family reunions can crop up at any time, especially during holidays. You love your relatives,  but the crowds can be draining for those of us who are introverts and gather our energy from solitude or quiet. We are like the battery in your phone -plug us in,  leave us alone,  and we will recharge.

Here are a few tips to help an introvert at a family reunion.

~ Remember why you are at the reunion.  If you are there to get to know people,  have a goal to better understand at least one of your relatives.  After you have accomplished this task,  consider the event a success and go home.

~ If you are on the reunion committee,  use your influence to suggest quiet times,  more breaks between scheduled programs,  or help to create quiet corners in the event space.

~ Even if you are not on the reunion committee,  and it is an informal reunion,  volunteer to help behind the scenes where there tends to be more work going on and less chatter.

~ Take a break from people when you need to do so.  Self-care is not rude.

~ If the reunion is at or near a hotel,  rent a room there. Quietly steal away to decompress in the room when needed.

~ If the reunion is in a more rustic area and you are camping,  rise before everyone else,  drink in the beautiful vista, and enjoy the quiet by yourself before the events start.

~ Help other introverts. As you understand your relatives more,  you will learn who also needs quiet time;  help them find it. You might need to run interference for an introverted relative by distracting Aunt Fern with chit chat so that Cousin Chad may escape to solitude.

At a recent reunion,  I discovered that one of my younger cousins does not like crowds and would cry whenever too many people engaged with him. His parents, however, were there to socialize. I volunteered to supervise him away from crowds and he seemed perfectly contented.

~ Have a long talk with a relative that you like. The familiarity tends to ease the frustration of crowds.  Before you know it,  the event will be over.

~ Arrive in your own mode of transportation so that you can leave when needed.

~ If you carpool to the event,  choose to ride with two relatives who love to chat with each other.   Engage in the conversation  only when you feel like doing so.

Peace be with you,

Deborah

Writers to Inspire You Series · Writing

John Grisham, Erma Bombeck on Writing ~ Writers to Inspire You #2

Here are a couple of writers to inspire you.

John Grisham was recently in the New York Times with a brief list of suggestions for writing popular fiction. They are bits of advice that you may have read before, but reminders are good.

Some of the advice is great for non-fiction writers as well, including this:

“A common mistake by fledgling authors is using jaw-breaking vocabulary. It’s frustrating and phony.”

When I decided to relax and just be me on this website, the tech talk pretty much dropped. I’m not a techie; I’m just fascinated by what it does to culture. The content is now more true to who I am. Writing is fun again.

Check out the short Grisham column at the New York Times.


Erma Bombeck is a humor writer who gave me many laughs as a child. My favorite of her books is When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home. The dinner roll observation- you know, the idea that the rolls are so similar on a guided tour that you begin to believe that the tour guide packs up the rolls you don’t eat at one hotel and serves them to you at the next one. Bombeck claims that she secretly carved the date in one of them to test the idea.

Here’s an early ’90s interview of Erma Bombeck, who discusses her writing process with the University of Dayton. Bombeck says,

” If you’re a professional writer, you write. You don’t sit there and wait for sweet inspiration to tap you on the shoulder and say now’s the time. We meet deadlines.”

This is something similar to what we discussed the other day about Roberto Blake and being prolific with your content and not allowing the idea of perfection stop you from writing. As you practice and tweak as you go, you will find that the writing improves, your ability to communicates something useful is more consistent.

 

Sincerely,

Deborah

P.S. Check out other inspiring writers

BLOGGING · Brain Drops · Productivity · Vlogging

Roberto Blake on Being Prolific and Why Steve Jobs Should Have Been a Vlogger

One of my inspirations for publishing a blog post 6 days per week is Roberto Blake -a daily vlogger and graphic designer who discusses entrepreneurship regularly. His Medium post on Your First 1000 Pieces of Content (Read it by clicking here. ), discusses how to become an influencer through being prolific.  I have a long way to go before this website and its adjacent platforms has 1000 pieces of content. However, enjoying the journey is half the fun.

Also of interest is this video where Blake says he wishes Steve Jobs had been a daily vlogger. His argument is that we could then study his early moments closely as Jobs struggled to create Apple Computers and revolutionize accessible communication. The idea, I suppose, is to inspire the rest of us to tell our story , document our journey, because this information can be useful to other people.

You and I have talked about this recently, about how your stories can be a gift to the world (click here to read it). You don’t have to be the founder of a legendary company like Jobs, to be useful.

Blake goes on to say that quantity (being prolific) can produce quality eventually. Practice helps. I would add, that quantity can produce quality if you are paying attention to results and tweaking to make a better outcome as you go along.

What do you think about quantity producing quality eventually? And do you think Steve Jobs should have been a daily vlogger? That’s debatable. I think some of his legend is partly because he was enigmatic.

Sincerely,

Deborah

P.S. We’ve already discussed how Seth Godin – another person known for daily creations -creates his blog posts every day. Click here to read that explanation.

P.P.S. Out of all the people that I would have loved to have seen with a Youtube channel, it’s Orson Welles. He was always frustrated about the expense of films and the fact that you needed, as he said, an army of people to get the job done. The director of Citizen Kane could have elevated the craft of internet videos with his experience and imagination.

Poetry · SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy) · Unchain Your Brain · Writing

SARK has an Inspiration Phone Line!

Y’all!

I know I’ve been talking about the author of Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper a lot lately – SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy)- but I just had to let you know. This author has what she calls an “Inspiration Line,” a phone number where you can call and be inspired by something that she says.

I was flipping through the book and there it was on page 87 under one of her writing prompts. The number is 415-546-3742, if you want to call it. That’s a San Francisco number; whatever your rates are to call it will apply.

It seems as if SARK changes the message monthly. Currently, it’s  3 minute 10 seconds which includes

  • An intro to who is SARK
  • Then a recitation of a poem by John Donahue called “For a New Beginning.”
  • She then wishes us all well.

I really love the last bit of Donahue’s poem:

Awaken your spirit to adventure
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

I’m speechless! What a lovely poem. And what a lovely thing  for SARK to do for people who need a quick mental pick-me-up.  She’s using every medium possible to be of use to people. I would never have thought of using a phone line for my business or personal development outreach.

Have you ever called the Inspiration Line? What did you think?

Sincerely,

Deborah

Motivation · Writing

What Kind of Writer are You? (and other questions from SARK)

Author Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (AKA SARK) is someone whose books about writing and personal development are new to me. I’m currently reading her book, Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper: Gifting the World with Your Words and Stories, and Creating the Time and Energy to Actually Do It.

The book is meant to be inspiration for the writer. In it there are interviews of writers with a series of questions. I will answer these questions so that you’ll get a better sense of who runs this website. Also, let me know how you would answer these questions.

What kind of writer are you? What do you love writing?

Non-fiction is the genre. Personal development, online changes, introversion, Scannerism, journaling are all the topic of choice for internet writing.

Journaling is where the seeds for this website’s articles are planted.

I delve into poetry occasionally, but not on this website.

Before writing or creating, what are some of your favorite rituals?

This writer is the type who will use a pre-writing ritual as a means to procrastinate and not actually write anything; it’s best that I not have any more decision points before writing. I just dive right in.

When an idea occurs, I jot it down immediately and, if I have time, expand on it; that’s usually in my journal. Later, I mine the idea to discover how it could be useful for the reader.

I love writing because:

I write in different ways.

Writing for myself – which is how I use journaling – has become something more than just what I love, it has become more of a necessity every year. Journal writing is a means to express all your thoughts, if you wish (“express” in the essential meaning of that term- to press out). It is rare these days not to jot down something in the journal on a daily basis, in the same way that it would be rare not to sweat in the summer heat. It must come out.

Writing for community is how I started writing online. I started a random blog in 2006, which I niched down into a classic movie blog and joined a classic movie association. I love connecting with like-minded individuals.

I also like to inspire people where I can, and remind them how their voice is necessary.

Writing for business purposes is a different beast. Or is it?

Worrying about SEO, making attractive images, wondering whether you should also start a concurrent Instagram/Twitter/Pinterest/Snapchat/Facebook account, whether you should blog on Medium.com or keep that info for your own blog -and that’s just putting out content so that people know that you exist- can be a pain. You haven’t even begun to talk about the goods or services that you offer.

As a certain businessman (whose name rhymes with Vary Gaynerchuk) has said,  these days your business should be a media company that is an expert in X. Meaning, if you sell garlic sausages, you should also be seen as the expert in adjacent things as well – how to cook the sausages, the best food pairings with sausage, etc.

It’s enough to tear out your hair!

Or at least I thought it was until recently when I realized that my original way to communicate online – writing for community- is my thing, is where I’m comfortable. Now I am learning to enjoy writing for business.

Do you ever dislike or feel frustrated by your writing? If so, what kinds of things help you?

Journal writing is only frustrating when I’m not in the position to do it – e.g. when someone is talking to you and you would rather write in your journal, but that’s rude. I patiently wait until I can make a respectful exit, then I go write something.

Writing for other people is frustrating when I don’t know if what I’m doing is useful, or whether it comes across as silly, frivolous or sales-y.

To get feedback, then, is crucial. Opening the comments section has helped. Having an account on Twitter -where people seem more likely to respond- has helped. Straight out asking in Facebook groups, “What is useful to you” also helps.

Do your night or day dreams contribute to your work? How?

Most of the time, I do not recall my nocturnal imaginings.

Day dreams are all about side projects. So, no, they do not seem to contribute to my work, except to indulge my Scanner nature.

Who is a writer?

Anyone who writes is a writer.

What words of support and encouragement can you share with other writers?

I love the word “share” these days, as that was the catalyst to revamp this website and business. If I’m sharing what I know rather than pontificating from on high, I am more likely to contribute. I feel better in that space- the space of sharing. (Your mileage may vary.)

/digression

Fellow writers,

It has usually been my experience that understanding why you write is bedrock for the best writing you will do. The “why” then guides you to timing, platform, content, whether or not to write for others or for yourself, etc.

Then you tweak and fiddle with all of these elements for years until you find something that works for you and your audience. If writing is not fun, then perhaps a different mode of communication is better for you – audio, video, or through one of the other senses. Try it.

What are your answers to SARK’s questions?

All the best,

Deborah