Is Your Well, Well Empty?

{flickr}

What did you do today? And the day before? 

How much of your time was spent working? How much time did you spend on simply enjoying your life?

These questions are not merely questions of curiosity, but self-preservation.

In The Right to Write by Julia Cameron talks about the “well.” A fitting word to describe what we expect to be an unlimited reservoir of inspiration.

But we often fail to fill ourselves up.

I describe the effect as a dried out sponge. Just weeks ago I complained to my life coach that I felt like a sad orange. I had squeezed out every drop of juice and nothing was left.

That’s not the place you want to be when you’re a creative connoisseur (as I like to call myself).

The key to preventing such devastating drainage is to keep refueling the source with joy, with inspiration with fresh new things to gaze your eyes on.

You may think the most important thing in the world to get your writing done. But glueing your butt down in front of the computer won’t get you closer to your deadline.

Feeding that inner child who DEMANDS time to play will.

So what are you doing to fill up your well? What will you be doing this weekend?

Tame That Ego

{photo}

When you’re working with someone else, there will come a time when you’ll wonder why the heck you ever decided to work for yourself in the first place.

I’ve heard it from fellow entrepreneurs who’s ego got beaten by constant criticisms and demands placed on them by unsatisfied customers.

I’ve went through it myself.

Time. And time again. The thing is…

You can’t buy perfect. You can’t bottle it up and serve it on a fancy shiny silver platter.

It just doesn’t exist.

But sometimes you’re placed in a situation where a client believes that in exchange for his hard earned cash, you will deliver it to him.

And when he doesn’t get it?

Imagine a 2 year old when you take his toy away from him.

Okay maybe it’s not that bad.

But there are often lots of emotions involved. They might feel hurt, disappointed, and understandably angry especially when they invested money in your services.

On your end, you don’t get it. You spend all your time working on your baby-your project that took you through evenings and weekends. You gave it your all. And now that it’s done, your proud of it. You expect the client will be kissing you with compliments. But instead of gratitude, you get heart-wrenching feedback.

What do you do?

Well you can throw a fit yourself. Or you can begin to pick up the pieces of your ego and learn to receive the lesson from the situation.

Here’s what I learned:

Most of the time situations like this stem from a) miscommunication b) wrong fit. Let’s take A first.

Miscommunication – Maybe you didn’t spend enough time in the beginning of the relationship to discuss expectations. Maybe you assumed your client would anticipate the level of work involved in the process. Maybe they didn’t communicate what their expectations were. Whatever it is, oftentimes there is a disconnect between what you expect and what your client expects.

The best remedy for the situation? Confront the issue. Apologize for misunderstandings. Clear up anything that isn’t clear. Tame that ego. Hold yourself back from blaming yourself or others. This is your business. Be professional about it.

Bad Fit – This could also stem from a lack of time spent interviewing your client. Maybe you didn’t give yourself enough time to decide whether this is a good fit or not. In retrospect, you may have seen the signs, but maybe you ignored them because you really needed the money or the experience. Maybe now you see that this client was a perfectionist all along and that nothing you could have done could have appeased them.

The Remedy? Take note. Remember exactly how you’re feeling now so that you never ever neglect the initial getting-to-know one another phase. If you realized this isn’t the best fit, be honest with your client about how you’re feeling. Agree to work on whatever job or project you promised to work on and then decide to part ways. Offer him a few resources to help, explain that you don’t think this is the best fit and then send him on his way.

Now it’s your turn.

What do you do to remedy a situation like this?

Quick Tips for Writers & Entrepreneurs

{photo}

I’ve been slowed down a bit, but a mountain of obstacles that have suddenly flooded my productivity levels.

What’s all this drama about?

For some reason, MacAfee (but no other security alert programs) decided to flag my website as a potential security risk. I’ve emailed them and hopefully the issue will sort itself out. There is no risk here people!

In addition, I’ve been working on a newspaper article, a magazine article, web content for someone inspiring, on top of my day job.

All good stuff.

But it makes it hard to keep this up.

Which explains why today’s post is short. And why I’m calling out for any writers who would like to debut their awesomeness on my writing blog. Send me an email at bauyemura@gmail.com or leave me a comment below if you’re interested.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with these tidbits of information. There are tons of content out there that’s worthy of a read. I’ve selected the top three:

SEO Tips for Writers (How to Optimize Your Site/Blog Without Getting Technical)

Senior Content Editor for the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and published poet Robert Lee Brewer continually pumps out informative information for writers. But his blog also mentions tips for entrepreneurs. This post is a good one for both. Great tips on how to optimize your blog and website if you’re non-techie like me.

Guest post: Freelancers, work for yourself, not by yourself

While there are tons of benefits from being self-employed, one of the greatest challenges (at least in my eyes) is the lack of social interaction. This guest post on top blog Word Count by Michelle Rafter provides lots of alternatives to the hermit lifestyle of most writers and entrepreneurs. I’m even thinking of taking the plunge myself.

The Persistent and Damaging Myth About Introverts and Marketing

Jane Friedman is another writer affiliated with Writer’s Digest as a contributing editor. She too pumps out a lot of great content and this one is no exception. For the shy, introverts in all of us, Friedman explains why it’s a good time for us to spread our wings. And we don’t need to be an extrovert to be good at marketing.

Would you like to share any blogs including your own that offer great writing tips for writers and entrepreneurs?

Leave your favorites in the comments below.

Quick Writing Tips for Entrepreneurs

{photo}

One of the things I enjoy doing is helping entrepreneurs get clear about their writing ideas. It’s something we all struggle with. Even writers get baffled when it comes to writing sometimes, especially if it’s about them.

If you’ve been spending months on the same copy are stuck on what to write about on your website, here is a quick tip to help you get started.

Remove Extraneous Words (Like extraneous.)

I love fun, cute, descriptive words too. But when people are searching your site, they’re looking for the meat of what you do. That doesn’t mean you have to be boring as in, “I am an accountant and I do your taxes.” But it means that essentially you are saying the exact same thing with a little oomph, a little of your personality, minus the tangent description of how you juggle numbers for the math impaired. You might add that to be cute, but only if you specify exactly what you do and who you do it for. Think of it as the cherry on the sundae. You don’t need it, but it’s nice to look at.

Find Examples of What You Like

At first, you might be stumped with what to write. Writing about who you are and what you do may feel worse than going to the dentist. Believe me, I’ve been there again and again. In fact, I’m continually reworking my website (which is another tip by the way).

At the beginning, when you really don’t know what to do, start by finding websites with writing you admire. This blog duo, for example, does a great job of showing us what they do, how they do it, but with oodles of personality.

The goal isn’t to become like anyone else. You are your own rock star and don’t need to copy others. But reading what other people are doing may help spark some ideas.

That’s my mini lesson for today.

But please share yours.

What tips/tools/advice has helped you build your own website?

5 Social Media and Common Author Mistakes You Might Be Making

{photo by}

You’ve worked really hard on writing that book, conceiving a new idea or blogging, but you still haven’t seen results with your efforts. Literary agent Kevin Small who I interviewed in part I of this post, sets us straight this time with the unintentional mistakes you could be making that’s sabotaging your career.

1. You’re undisciplined.

Yikes. Has Mr. Small been reading my blogs? Yes, folks. He didn’t quite say that us writers are “lazy.” In fact, he said he wouldn’t use that word, but that we have a tendency to be “undisciplined.” I would like to add that this probably applies to all creatives.

Then, I couldn’t help, but nervously laugh when he said this about authors: “They don’t even know what they’re having for dinner tonight let alone what they’re going to write about tomorrow.”

Yep. That sounds about right. But he believes that it’s a big, big mistake not to do so. One of the easiest things writers/bloggers/authors, etc. can do is to create a content sheet of potential ideas for your blogs. Not doing so, he said, can be likened to writing a book without the table of contents.

Here are a few specific takeaway tips he offered that might help you:

  • Create an excel sheet with columns labeled with date and then ideas for your blog, tweet and e-newsletters.
  • Then, make sure to space out your best ideas so they’re not all in the same week.
  • And if simply creating a document seems too much for you, there are a lot of sites that offer free blogging calendar downloads like this one, and there’s even a free editorial calendar plug-in from WordPress, so you really have no excuse (guess I don’t either) not to do so.

2. You’re trying to do it all yourself.

You’ve got that 9-5 job going and the writing and then attempting social media. Maybe that works for you. But maybe it’s eating away at your real passion, writing.

After you’ve created your list of blog ideas for the week, Small suggests asking this question: “Do I have the time and energy to fill that up or do I need somebody who will help research and take the burden of 50% of the writing for me?”

Gads! I didn’t even think of hiring someone to do that. Small’s company ResultSource actually hires research assistants to help find relevant information on any given topic to beef up blog posts and articles. This can save a writer’s energy so they can focus on writing quality content instead. Maybe Kevin’s last name should have been Smart. Seriously. I had no idea.

3. You’re either spending too much or not enough time on social media.

Small said one of the challenges with social media, which by and large is a good thing, is that people have opposing and often disadvantageous views on it. “You have people on one end of the spectrum that are absolutely going, ‘I don’t think this blogging or this tweeting this is going to last’ or ‘this doesn’t make any sense to me.’” At the other end are people who don’t do anything else. Like Goldilocks, the key is to find the happy middle, where everything is just right. The problem? It’s difficult to find.

  • Small defines this space as knowing who your audience is and finding ways to connect with them.
  • Paying attention to your numbers is key. “I think the most important thing they can do is measure their success as first by the size of their followership and so they should make it their sole focus to engage an audience.”

4. You’re not committed enough.

Obviously, marketing your book or your business is not easy. In fact, it may feel like a full-time job in addition to your full-time job. But the commitment must be there in order for you to succeed. Small expects as I’m sure many literary agents do, that level of commitment. And if creating a blog content sheet, writing blogs, e-newsletters and articles seem too much for you, you may want to consider opting out or having someone else step in.

  • Self-awareness of one’s strengths are important. Say you are committed and want your business to be a success, but you feel you’re missing the two T’s (time and talent) to come up with 140 characters on a daily basis. That’s a task you might want to hire out to do. You can still be committed, but wisdom and success comes from #2, dispersing responsibility so you don’t have to do everything.

5. You’re not taking advantage of every opportunity.

In the case of authors, Small feels the number one mistake they’re making is not “creating a really top notch speaker reel.” For anyone else confused as I was about what that is, a speaker reel is a video of you doing your speech sent to convince companies and individuals to hire you. “That type of work is the easiest, it’s the highest return for the lowest amount of time and energy expended which could then allow them more time for writing.”

In the case of all writers and entrepreneurs, I would argue that with everything you do, there lies a potential for great opportunity. Your blog posts that you think nobody reads or an e-newsletter or e-book you think maybe modest in its readership, do matter. In fact, Small said that he sometimes pitches ideas to writers for a book idea because he found them on a blog or liked their e-book.

You never know what’s out there, so you might as well give it your best shot.

*Thanks to Kevin Small, literary agent, founder and managing partner of ResultSource. For more information on his services, you can visit his website.

How to Motivate Yourself to Keep Going

I don’t know what your mother, father, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, friend told you, but freelancing is hard. Writing is hard. And so is starting your own business.

With Memorial Day coming up, I thought it apropos to start the weekend off right, by composing a list of a few must-dos that’s 100% light and fun without the heavy sugary carbs to weigh you down.

Reward Yourself

Remember when you were a kid and your parents gave you an allowance or took you out for ice-cream on account of good behavior? Don’t ya miss those times? I’m betting that your inner child misses it too.

All that late night working takes out all the fun and playfulness in life. Instead of vying to be like the Joneses, maybe we should strive to be like the Kardashians (minus the destructive behavior). As in, partying hard, living life carefree and acting like kids every once in awhile.

If we don’t feed our inner child, that little angel will turn into a demon fast. Like a two-year old pounding on the ground to be played with.

How do you avoid your own childlike tantrums?

Reward yourself whenever you spend a late-night working. But don’t do it with food or unnecessary spending. Instead, get creative. Create a reward system based on mini daily treats, monthly rewards and yearly extravaganzas to celebrate both small and big goals.

  • Spa day. Daily: DIY at home. Monthly: Get a mani-pedi or a haircut. Yearly: Splurge on a day at the spa for a massage/facial.
  • Go out in nature. Daily: 10-30 minute walks. Monthly: Take a half a day excursion to bike ride, walk, run, swim or pick your outdoor pleasure.  Yearly: Plan a week long relaxing outdoorsy vacation.
  • Bring a little ohm back into your life. Daily: 5-30 minutes of mindfulness meditation, 5 moments of deep breathing per day. Monthly: Sign up for a yoga, tai chi or meditation class. Yearly: Go on a relaxing, serene retreat.
  • Make time to reflect. Daily: Write in a journal when you first wake up in the morning or before you go to bed at night. Monthly: Write a longer post and reflect on your goals, what you have accomplished so far and what you still would like to pursue. Yearly: Make a date with a friend or your partner and discuss what you are most proud of in your life and what you want to work on this year.

These are a just a few ideas. What helps you unwind? What helps motivate you to on the journey to succeed in whatever you do?

What to Do When You Get a Bad Review

{flickr photo by: khaybe}

Just last week I read an author’s tweet about her lackluster review on a movie based on her book. And several weeks before that, a writer expressed her frustrating over feedback from an article she wrote.

Bad reviews are a part of life.

They can happen whether you are a writer, entrepreneur or a 9 to 5 employee. I certainly have had my fair share.

But what do you do about them? {Besides run under the covers and hide.}

Basically, you have 3 options: a) Sulk b) Quit c) Suck it up

I’d opt for the latter if I were you.

Why?

No matter what you do in life, you won’t be able to completely hide from judgment or criticism. You are human, which makes me 100% sure that you will make a mistake at one time. Several in fact.

Sometimes this will elicit anger and disappointment in the person you are working for. That’s the hard part isn’t it. Swallowing that pill of shame that we are actually imperfect. *gasp!

Why Learning from Your Mistakes is a Good Thing (more…)

Top 10 Signs Your Busyness is Unproductive

{flickr photo by: iamyung}

Your schedule is already book for the rest of the month. You get to just 3 out of 10 goals you have for the week. You find yourself using the weekend to catch up on all of the work that you didn’t finish on the weekdays.

Does that sound like you?

You may be busy, but that busyness may have nothing to do with having a productive business. In fact, you may be filling time with unnecessary tasks that are hurting instead of helping your business.

I was writing a post over at my other blog The Inspiring Bee about keeping yourself busy to avoid following your dreams. I realized the same thing can happen with writing and working on your business.

Read the top 10 signs below to see if you may be unconsciously sabotaging your success.

  1. Your home is spotless.
  2. You have 5 or more tabs open on your computer screen.
  3. Your list of goals per week/month never get done.
  4. You don’t even have time to think out and write down your goals.
  5. You have an impressive load of clips, but they are all articles you have done for free.
  6. You wonder how the day could have gone by so fast and you haven’t tackled one project yet. And you wonder this every day.
  7. Your last few windows recently closed were all online shops.
  8. You have to use the weekends to write or to market your business because you didn’t have a chance on the weekday.
  9. Your Facebook friends and Twitter followers are beginning to wonder if you have a real job because you are constantly tweeting about your latest outing and updating about what you ate for dinner.
  10. You’re spending way too long on an article (transcribing, outlining, editing, writing) or a blog post that pays little or not at all.

Why You May Be Sabotaging Your Efforts

There could be a reason why your stalling on actually getting work done. Maybe you’re afraid that you won’t do a good job. Perfectionism is often a disguise for insecurities. Maybe you’re anxious about an upcoming project so you deal with it by busying yourself with online shopping or chatting. Maybe you’re burnt out and need a break, but you don’t feel you deserve it or have the time to devote to it so you find yourself reading blogs or updating your Facebook page instead. Maybe you’re scared of failure and you deal with it by not doing the things you need to do to become successful.

The sooner you recognize what’s keeping you from having a productive business, the sooner you will be productively busy and reaping the benefits of your hard work with success instead of sabotaging it. After all, whether you are a writer, a designer or a business owner, it’s important to work on your business, not your busy-ness.

What has helped you keep on task? Are you guilty of being unproductively busy?

The Key to Long Lasting Online Relationships? Adding Your Personal Touch

{flickr photo by: rent-a-moose}

Last week, I wrote two blog posts for the site I work for and it surprisingly did well. My article on 10 Tips for Healthy Living received 105 tweets and 88 Facebook likes. I also wrote a guest post for business writer Cathy Miller that got 21 comments. I wrote 5 Steps to Transform Your Life for Feelgooder.com, a Darren Rowse creation and it too received a lot of attention. I’ve been thinking about these articles and the ones I see online and I figured something out in the process. Here’s the secret I’ve discovered to permanent, long-lasting relationships.

Human beings desire connection.

Lots of blogs get popular quick because they offer relevant, important information.

But blogs that have staying power are the ones that offer something else.

Getting Over a Thousand Comments on Their Blog

Take Young House Love, for example. They’ve been blogging since 2007 and have rounded up quite a following. And I think I know why. In addition to providing informative posts on DIY and home design, they also have a fun, unique writing style with a personal touch. Their recent posts garnered 1862 comments!! Wowza! And the topic? Their daughter’s birth story.

A lot of my guest posts and articles are written with that same idea in mind-the ability to transform your words into a voice of connection.

When I interview an expert and I get that gut in-your-stomach kind of feeling, I know that this is going to move people. I have an instinctual feeling that this could be influential. And it doesn’t matter if I’m talking about caring for rabbits or yourself. It’s that universal feeling that we all want to be connected. Especially on the internet.

How to Keep Your Followers Interested

  • For business owners. Refocus your energies on your clients and customers. Forget about making the sale for now. Think about how you can really connect with people, not $. Then reach out to them through your blog, articles and Facebook updates. Today, I was listening to a free webinar by Authentic Promoter Molly Gordon. She was talking about focusing on a single client versus thousands. If you can focus on how your words and business impacts one person, you will be a lot more successful. Why? Because the more you focus on a single person, the more authentic and personal you will be and the more connection you will likely have. And more connection = longer, lasting relationships. And lasting relationships = more business.
  • For writers. As someone who manages social media for a living, I know that questions and comments that inspire conversation are much more popular than ones that are void of emotions. Social media is the way people are attempting to connect and interact. And this applies to anything you write. I have wasted spent 9 months rewriting an essay. Then, I took a class and realized why I was so stuck. I was writing around my subject. Because of the fear of letting it all hang out, I was taking a personal, important time in my life and regurgitating it without the good, revealing stuff.

Writers if you have a story, have the courage to write it. Give it the attention and emotion it deserves. If you can find a way to transform your feelings and thoughts through words, you will find not only more business, but more satisfying meaningful ones too.

In the end, it’s not about making the most money. {Well at least it’s not for me.} It’s about using what I’m good at as a tool to create a meaningful career and life. And that’s only possible when you add your personal touch to everything you do.