Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Blogging FAQ - for Writers

Blogging is awesome when you are an author!

You get to do all the, "horrid marketing and business stuff"* by doing the one thing you were going to do anyway... write!

*Actually, I rather like all that marketing and business stuff. 

All marketing really is is telling people the story of what you do and why you do it. Being in business is a fantastic way to meet lots of interesting people - ripe fodder for narrative and character ideas!

My blog is the spine of my businesses. 

Everything I do extends from the blogs I write, whether it's for businesses wanting to be more creative, or with writers wanting to be my business-like.

There are six questions I'm commonly asked by new bloggers:

  1. How often should I blog?

  2. What’s the ideal length for a blog?

  3. What shall I blog about?

  4. How do you make the time to blog?

  5. What are the benefits of blogging?

  6. How do I get people to see my blogs?

Read more, and discover my simple, no nonsense solutions, HERE



Friday, 30 March 2018

Writing Time Guilt

I'm a writer.

Writing is my job.

Or, more accurately, part of my job.

The fact I'm an author and a blogger qualifies me to mentor my clients on blogging or book writing. And the fact that my day job has been as a trainer, and more recently, a business advisor for the past 20 odd years qualifies me to mentor businesses on blogging and book writing.

In 2015, my world as a writer and my world as a business advisor collided and I started my own consultancy business.

These days I trade as 'Learn To Love Your Words'.

I need both things to run my business.


So, why I do feel such a sense of guilt about 'wasting time' on writing?

Madness, isn't it? Especially when I see it written down like this!

I suppose I'm posing this as more of a philosophical question, and one I'm not sure I have an answer to.

Why do I feel guilty about writing time?

Yet, blogging about something helps me to work through it - like a kind of 'self-coaching'!

At the start of 2018, I went through my diary and blocked out every Monday and every Friday for writing/admin time.

I set a recurring reminder in my outlook calendar too, so every Sunday evening and every Thursday evening my computer helpfully reminds me that tomorrow is writing day.

Somehow, permission from my computer doesn't seem to be enough!

Is this just the maddening musings of an author? 
Or, is there some underlying preconception at play here?... 
Or, can I just swathe the whole thought process under the rather convenient, yet terribly demotivating label of 'Procrastination'?

Somehow, giving it a name makes it into 'a thing'. Like suddenly diagnosing a disease. Then we give ourselves an excuse to have a victim mentality and throw an extravagant, imagined, pity party.

Sad monkey wants you to feel sorry for him

F that! 

I don't need, want or deserve pity for my inability to knuckle down and write, I need solutions. 

But not some Elastoplast or pill to pop, something I can work through myself!

It's not 'creative block'.

It's a time allocation block.

I can't help but ask myself where it stems from?

Is it a Cultural or Societal perception?

Part of me wonders if it was the years in my childhood of being told by authority figures (Teachers, Careers Advisors etc.) that being an author was not a 'proper job'.

In Thatcher's Capitalistic-Orgasm that was 1980's Britain (when I was at school), only jobs that made money had any value.

In fact, we still hold this 'class' mentality at the heart of our national psyche, and class is defined by financial means. The implication being that if you don't have financial means, you're worth-less. If you're poor, it's your own fault for not working hard enough.

We instil this idea into our children from the moment they join formal education. It's about passing exams, not learning to learn.

It's about achieving results in areas that can be easily quantified and scrutinised.

Arts, humanities, creativity are overlooked in the pursuit of academic excellence.

Is it my own inability to appropriately prioritise?

I seem perfectly able to prioritise the other part of 'my job' - in fact, the admin/writing days, invariable become admin only days.

However, I manage to blog in that time, and after all, my whole philosophy around blogging is that it's a creative non-fiction writing process. 

My mentoring practice is centred on the notion that there are too many bad blogs because people approach blogging like an academic exercise. Filling it with jargon and sticking only to factual information. 

Much of my work is helping mentees to 'unlearn' the approach to writing instilled in them through years of academia and corporate speak. 

Embrace the creativity, enjoy the process, because when you enjoy something, you make time for it. 

I want them to 'learn to love' their words.

Is it the instant gratification of blogging?


When I had this conversation with a friend, she pointed out the instant gratification of blogging. 

The instant gratification inherent in the way we live our lives. 

Constructing an entire book takes time, stamina, discipline, commitment.

On some level, I'm fulfilling some of my creative writing urges through blogging.

Is it a financial consideration?

My Amazon book sales are, if I'm honest, woeful, and have been for the past year at least. 

I don’t do enough to market my books. 

But why should I? 

I can get one consultancy client, do a couple of hours work with them and earn the equivalent of 200 book sales.

When you look at the cold hard financial facts like that, investing my energy in my consultancy business is a no brainer.

But... then I remind myself that I don't write books to make money. 

In fact, anyone who writes books to make money is doing it for the wrong reasons (and is likely to get a rude awakening and be sorely disappointed).

"Anyone who writes books to make money is doing it for the wrong reason."

Is it a lack of accountability?

I've tried declaring to the world that 'I've started writing a book', in the hope it will motivate me to crack on with it.

My mother's tiresome, weekly, "so, have you given up writing then?" question is met with a roll of the eyes now, rather than a sense of shame. I'm immune to her opinions and assumptions at my age!

As I spew out this stream of consciousness to anyone tolerant enough to read it (thanks for sticking with me), as I mull over it, and transmit the results through my fingers into the keyboard, I'm forced to conclude that... it's a bit of everything.

It feels like a cop-out, but it's a multifaceted dilemma. 

My guilt stems from:

Societal perception - I 'should' spend time doing 'real work' - like invoicing, running workshops and record keeping.

Prioritisation - I'm not respecting my own boundaries and using the time in my diary for 'more important tasks'

Seeking gratification - It's easier to blog, because it's more immediate.

Financial Consideration - I tell myself "I'm not yet financially secure enough for the luxury of writing". (I need to change the story I tell myself).

Accountability - Do I just need someone (other than my mum, who I rarely listen to anyway!) to kick me in the butt!

And the solution?

I'm still figuring that out!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

A Phone Moan Poem

Ironic, I suppose, to share this on a blog (although I am writing at a computer) - fully aware, that most people reading this will be reading it from their phones!

I'm of a generation where making plans involved thinking days, even weeks in advance. Deciding on a time and location and sticking to it. Changes involved picking up a phone and hoping someone was in, and within earshot of the phone (on its special table in the hall, or screwed to a wall in the kitchen). Most of the time plans only changed because they had to, it was too much of a faff to be fickle.

We were unavailable. 

We had to be patient. 

The lack of immediacy in communication was in no way seen as a sign of rejection or a cause for argument.

Life went on.

It was fine.

If I wasn't self-employed, truth be told, I probably wouldn't bother with a smartphone.

My mobile really isn't a good way to contact me.

I don't do phones.

Most of the working week it's on silent as I'm in meetings, with a client, or don't want to be disturbed because I'm catching up between clients and meetings! And at weekends, it's not unusual for me to simply forget to switch it on.

I realise this confession makes me a freak of nature in this day and age!

I'd like to point out that I'm not in my 70's (half that age, actually, give or take).

I don't do phones, and here's a poem about it...

I Don't Do Phones

I don't do phones.

Halfway through speaking,
their phone begins beeping,
"I really must take this,"
I sit silently, and take it.

I don't do phones. 
When someone decided
attention, divided;
is somehow connecting,
yet it feels like rejection.

I don't do phones. 

There's an App for this,
there's an App for that
you can't make an App for happiness.

I don't do phones. 

...I am being mildly facetious, of course, but still, there is an important message here. 

Look up from your phone occasionally. 

Life is better experienced through your senses than a screen. 

(EPIC FAIL. Amazing view and you take a Selfie!)


Live it, and live it with the people you are with in that moment!

(EPIC FAIL. With company and you're both looking at your phone!)

Share my poem, let's spread the word!

(I don't do phones - a poem by Amy C Fitzjohn)

Monday, 22 January 2018

Vision Boards, Woo Woo or Wow?

I don't buy into the notion that you can 'manifest' what you want, as if by magic. But, I do believe that if you know what you want to achieve, you have a 'vision', it gives you a bigger picture to strive for and something to focus on.

In a funny sort of way, the more you talk about something, think about it and are reminded of it - especially in a visual way - the more likely you are to achieve it.

It's in the forefront of your mind, even if only on a subconscious level, and therefore you're more likey to strive for it.

2017 was the first time I'd ever done a 'Vision Board' for my business, and although everything on there didn't come true, as such, it kept me focused.

What is a Vision Board?

It's a simple, visual way to capture the essence of your future goals. It can be written, it can be motivating words, pictures or a combination.

Personally, I love the experience of channelling my inner child by cutting and sticking a collage!

Here's my 2017 board. I had it stuck to the wall by desk.

Things that stick out for me, still, are...

"I can do this"

On reflection, all of these featured in my life last year. It was a year of change, of connection, of renewed confidence I was on the right path.

This year, feeling more settled in my business and with a clear plan ahead, the vison board I've created for 2018 has a reflective and creative quality to it.

"Go with the flow"
And the giant image of a book stand out the most for me.

Why Do It? 

I saw this great blog on the Watertight Marketing website. It nicely summarises eight reasons why you would want a vision board for your business.

In summary, the 8 things are:

  1. Synthesise your business and life goals
  2. Create emotional attachment to what you're building
  3. Get on the same page with leadership team
  4. Activate your selective attention
  5. Create a powerful motivation tool
  6. Use as part of your recruitment process
  7. Hold yourself accountable
  8. Create a bring forward list!

Personally, my favourite of these is 'activate your selective attention'. 

We're so busy in our lives and businesses we forget to stop, breathe, appreciate how far we've come and what we've achieved. When they are part of your vision you take notice when they happen! 

We can celebrate every small victory.

With that in mind, I was inspired by the suggestion on the Watertight Marketing blog of a 'Happy Memory Jar'. 

Whenever something on the vison board is achieved, make a note, pop it in the jar, then open it at the end of the year.

So here it is...

My jar!

(A great excuse to use some of my jounaling stickers!)

Less than a month into the year and I already have two things in it!

I look forward to opening this jar at the end of 2018 and seeing how far this year will take me!