The Joy of Stuckness

For a long time, I insulated myself from stuckness.

I executed, day in and day out, without the slightest hint
of resistance, without the mere possibility of shooting blanks. I was on a
never ending creative tear, rarely coming up for air, rarely questioning whether
the volume of work was dangerously high.

And it paid off. I impressed people, made good money and
built an artistic identity predicated on unmanageable productivity.

But eventually, I hit a point of diminishing returns. Even though
I was pumping out piles of work, much of which was great stuff, I was still skimming
off the top instead of mining from the bottom. It was execution without elevation.

I was terminally productive. Borderline inhuman. The work was
too easy and the art came too quickly, because I wasn’t operating close enough
to my edge. And the art wasn’t as strong as it could have been.

Until this past year, when I began experiencing more moments
of stuckness, more battles with resistance, than ever before. Almost on a
weekly basis, I found myself facing a blank page with nothing to say, and no
desire to say it. I found myself not wanting to get out of bed to go face the
world. And since my identity was so wrapped up in that never happening to me, the
stuckness shredded me to ribbons.

Anxiety attacks, rampant cynicism, thoughts about quitting,
even full on waves of depression, I hated it and I hated myself.

And it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Turns out, getting stuck is a beautiful, healthy and
necessary part of the creative process.

First, it’s an
indication of accuracy.
It means we’re on the right track. Resistance,
after all, is most ferocious when we’re doing work that’s most vital to our
soul’s evolution. If we never feel it, something’s wrong.

Second, it’s an
indication of progress.
When we treat our stuckness as a gateway to deeper,
bloodier layers of creative expression, the ones we never could have reached
when everything was gravy, our work becomes truer and better than ever before.

Third, it’s an
indication of humanity.
We can only scrub our lives clean of heartbreak for
so long. Eventually, we’ve got to do some time. Every princess gets locked in a
tower for a little while. And when it happens, gratitude is the only response.

Now that I know these things, I can’t wait to get stuck
again. It means I’m finally making progress.

And those moments of total numbness, when I seem to have
lost my excitement for the world, I remember that the heaviest burden is having
nothing to carry.

And I give thanks.

It’s about time nothing happened.

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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Writing, Publishing, Performing, Consulting

scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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The Bloody Writer’s Guide to Crafting More Honest Material, Part 2

Yesterday we explored five ways to write more honestly. Here are six more:

1. Listen to your body. If your words are felt in the body – your body mainly, but also the bodies of your readers – well done. That’s what honesty feels like. Pings. Blood flushes. Chills. Spine tingles. Neck hair stand-ups. Jaw drops. Eye wideners. Speechlessness. Laughs. ESPECIALLY laughs.

The point is: Emotion is the final arbiter of truth. And your body never lies to you. As my favorite fiction writer Tom Robbins advised, “You should always write with an erection. Even if you’re a woman.” How else will you know if your work is honest?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: Parker Palmer.

2. Write early in the morning. I do most of my writing between four and ten in the morning. Not because I’m a morning person. But because when the world is cold, dark and quiet, there’s nothing left to listen to but your truth.

Not your dogs. Not your phone. Not your email. Not your self-constructed crazybusy schedule. Not the voice of perfection. Not the echoes of people you’re trying to please. Not the endless demands of your readership. Not the scars of your past desperately trying to prevent your truth from surfacing. And non your ego scrambling to remind you that you’re not good enough to publish this thought.

Just quiet. Which means all you can hear is yourself. Which means there’s nothing or no one to stop you from bleeding your truth all over the page. Ultimately, when the sun isn’t up yet, you ALWAYS extract truth from the deepest parts of yourself. Superficiality not included. You unveil the truth that doesn’t require thinking. The truth that doesn’t require editing. You can’t edit blood anyway.

Remember: The darker it is outside, the more honest your thoughts are inside. As Henry Miller once wrote, “Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths.” What time did you start writing today?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: Dan Brown.

3. Go there. Good lord. Did he really just say that? Yes. Yes you did. THAT just happened. You went there. You took a chance and told the truth. Good for you. Keep it up. That’s the acid test: If you can picture your readers being moved, getting disturbed and squirming in their Snuggies.

If you can take them somewhere they didn’t want to go (or never thought they’d go) and make them grateful that you did by the time they got there. Remember: No reader will ever put a book down and say, “Screw this book. This author is just WAY too honest. I wonder if Law & Order is on…” Where are you willing to take your readers?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: Brad Warner.

4. Ask penetrating questions. If you’ve ever read my work before, you know I ask a lot of questions. Always in italics, usually in the past tense, mainly at the end of paragraphs. That’s my writing style. And I do it for two reasons. First, I love questions. It’s not a punctuation mark; it’s a way of life. I have a collection of 7000 of them, to which I add new questions daily. What can I say: I’m incurably curious.

Second, I insert them into my material intentionally to challenge, inspire, penetrate, disturb and confront the reader. I want to toggle their brains. Ideally to the point of being pissed off. Not at ME, but pissed off at what the material elicited. I call this Strategic Urination. More on that later. How many questions did your last blog post ask?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: Jeffrey Gitomer.

5. Commit to self-disclosure. My mentor once told me that good writing is like walking across a stage naked. Vulnerable. Open. Honest. Would YOUR readers use those adjectives to describe your work? If not, maybe it’s time to ditch your skivvies and show the world your giblets.

Take it from someone who wears a nametag 24-7: Self-disclosure is a healthy, beautiful and approachable thing. As long as you’re doing so to make a point – not just to get a laugh, or to use your readers as group therapy. TMI only applies if you don’t stick the landing and make your material actionable.

Remember: The more personal your writing is, the more your readers relate to it. How are you leveraging your vulnerabilities to earn readers’ trust?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: William Jenkins (my mentor).

6. Speak from experience. As hard as it is for me to admit it, reading thousands of books is (still) not experience. Knowledge, yes. Wisdom, no. Experience comes from doing. Your challenge is to speak from practice, not from pretension. Readers can tell the difference.

A writer who does nothing but quote a bunch of dead white guys isn’t an honest writer. A writer who interviews a bunch of successful people and then adds a few sentences of marginally insightful clichés at the end of each chapter isn’t a very honest writer.

And a writer who goes out of his way to use clumsy, twenty-five cent words to compensate for his sub-par creativity is not a very honest writer. Honesty is writing a book about the lessons you learned from the stupid mistakes you made and the actionable steps attached to them. Are you delivering knowledge or wisdom?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: Larry Winget.

REMEMBER: Honest writing scares people.

Good. That’s your job. The Boogie Man’s got nothing on you.

In conclusion, I’m reminded of the advice of Tennessee Williams, who said, “If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.”

Slice open a vein and bleed your truth all over the page.

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Are you a bloody writer?

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* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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The Bloody Writer’s Guide to Crafting More Honest Material, Part 1

My definition of writing is as follows:

“Slice open a vein and bleed your truth all over the page.”

KEY WORDS: Vein, blood and truth.

As opposed to “brain, ink and bullshit.”

Let’s explore eleven ways to write more honestly – five today and six tomorrow.

1. First, honor yourself. All the techniques in the world won’t make you an honest writer if your attitude and intentions are misguided. So, before reading on, ask yourself this question: What is your compelling reason for wanting to write more honestly?

Because you want to make a difference? Because you want to disturb people? Because your boss told you that every time he reads one of your reports, his office morphs into a house of lies?

Why. Is. Honesty. Important.

Figure that out first. Then, try this: Be genuinely committed to honoring reality. Feel the existence of what you’ve been evading. Allow yourself to experience what you feel. Then write it down. Are you courageous enough to extend honor TO yourself so you can make a name FOR yourself?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: Alan Weiss.

2. Morning Pages. First thing in the morning. Three pages. Non-stop. No editing. No deleting. Every single day. I absolutely guarantee that after two weeks, this exercise will transform your life in numerous ways.

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way series, says it best:

“Morning Pages help you develop honesty in your relationship with your words. They free yourself from the tendency to edit, which pays off in REAL writing. They help you listen to yourself. They are gateways to inner and higher selves. They galvanize your days and make you acutely attuned to your personal feelings. They help you get down on the page whatever it is you are. And finally, they risk honesty on page, which make it easier to be honest elsewhere.”

Start them tomorrow. Never stop. Your writing will become increasingly bloody every day. Are you puking?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: Julia Cameron.

3. Assess the risk. There’s an inverse relationship between risk and honesty. If what you’ve written isn’t very risky, odds are it isn’t very honesty either. Your willingness to be unpopular, make wave, rock boats – and, in general, piss people off – makes your writing bloodier.

Hey. You’re nobody until somebody hates you anyway. From now on, ask these three questions of everything you compose: “What do I risk in writing this material?” “Who would this piss off? and “On a scale of 1-10, how much is this material drenched in my own blood?” Are you assessing the risk of your material?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: Curious George Carlin.

4. Be specific or don’t use it. Unspecified attribution is the hallmark of dishonest communication. It’s also my biggest pet peeve. Seriously, next time I read a book that says, “Studies show…” I’m going to tear the page out and slowly paper cut each of my nostrils until the living room rug is completely stained in red.

If your writing contains any of the following phrases, you are lying to your readers: Research proves. Scientists say. Psychologists report. Experts believe. They say. There’s an old story that says. I’ve heard. Most people agree. It is said that. Critics say. Statistics show. Somebody once said. The reviews say.

No, they don’t. They never did, never have and never will. Honesty comes from specificity. If you can’t back it up, shut up. Is your attribution specified?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: Orvel Ray Wilson.

5. Trash the stats. Conversely, don’t go overboard on the specifics. Namely, statistics. It’s fine if you say, “In a March 2009 issue of FastCompany, Mark Vamos wrote…” But don’t overload people’s brains with numbers you’ve intentionally manipulated to satisfy your own agenda.

In the history of literature, no reader has ever thought to herself, “Wow, this writer sure speaks the truth, what with all those statistics and such.” Be careful. Statistics are usually lies. Of course, that’s only true 57% of the time. Are your percentages causing readers to puke?

READ THIS BLOODY WRITER: Gay Hendricks.

REMEMBER: Honest writing scares people.

Good. That’s your job. The Boogie Man’s got nothing on you.

In conclusion, I’m reminded of the advice of Tennessee Williams, who said, “If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.”

Slice open a vein and bleed your truth all over the page.

That’s honest writing.

Stay tuned for the next six ways tomorrow.

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Are you a bloody writer?

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* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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6 Ways Make Yourself into Human Lightning Rod of Creativity – Without Scorching Your Skull or Frying Your Fro

According to the U.S. National Weather Service, the odds of being struck by lightning in your lifetime are 1 in 6,250.

I like those odds.

In fact, I believe that’s the BIGGEST secret to a successful creative practice.

Making yourself more strikeable.

I first learned about this concept from my pal, Don The Idea Guy. Possessing creative powers beyond those of mere mortals, Don rescues those in need of innovative ideas through his brainstorming sessions, articles, websites, books and presentation. He’s been interviewed by the New York Times, quoted in FastCompany, and served as the first president of the International Idea Trade Association.

When asked about how to become more strikeable, he wrote:

“Waiting for inspiration? Puh-leeeze. You may as well wait for lightning to strike. As a matter of fact, you’ve probably heard a flash of brilliance described that way – as a lightning strike. And the worst offenders of this ‘wait-and-see’ approach to inspiration are the people who’ve experienced a flash of insight in the past.”

“And I’m not saying the occasional lightning strike doesn’t happen,” said Don, “I’m just saying the odds are against it.”

The secret, then, of making yourself more strikeable, is to make yourself into a human lightning rod.

“Lightning rods provide an easy path for creativity to find its way to your brain, but you gotta be holding them – using them – in order for the creative lightning to strike YOU instead of dissipating harmlessly into the ground,” explained Don.

Here is a collection of practices for making yourself more strikeable:

1. Make room. Often times the problem of a creative mind is not the lack of ideas, but an over abundance, says Don. “There are so many ideas swimming around in your noggin that you don’t know which one to act upon first. It can get congested up there, and if you don’t find a release valve your brain can get more clogged than a summer sinus infection.”

Your challenge is simple: Make sure everything you know is written down somewhere. You memory is a moron. Don’t depend on it. Get every idea down as soon as it comes to you. Don’t judge whether or not it’s good. Just get it down. Because if you don’t write it down, it never happened. And you can’t use what you can’t find.

2. Position yourself to be struck. The U.S. National Weather Service also reported that out of the thousand people that are injured by lightning each year (oddly enough, most of whom live in Florida, aka, “The Lightning Capital of the World”), one third of all injuries occur during work, another third of injuries occur during recreational or sports activities, and the last third occurs in diverse situations, including injuries to those inside buildings.

Therefore: The secret is putting yourself in the best possible position for lightning to strike. After all, you can’t expect to be zapped while sitting on your couch every day. Now, I’m not suggesting you relocate to Florida. But getting out of the house and into the world is crucial component to supporting, enriching, inspiring and informing your work.

You GET ideas, as the raw materials for your work are everywhere. You SHARE ideas, as you bounce them off other for feedback. You ROUND OUT ideas, as new experiences add new dimensions to existing thoughts. Remember: Real art can’t be created in a vacuum.

3. Become idea safe. www.StruckByLightning.org is a Massachusetts-based non-profit corporation that promotes lightning safety. Their mascot, Leo the Lightning Lion, says that prevention is key. “No place outside is safe in a thunderstorm,” he said. Now, he reminds kids and adults alike of this truth with a variety of memorable slogans. So, what I’ve done is flipped each one with a challenge question as it pertains to becoming more strikeable:

• “When thunder roars, go indoors!” What are the signs of a brewing creative storm, and how do you respond to them?

• “Don’t be lame, end the game!” Are you quitting too early during your creative sessions, thus preventing the best ideas from surfacing?

• “Don’t be a fool, get out of the pool!” How often are you swimming in your pool of ideas?

• “Use your brain, don’t wait for the rain!” Are you waiting on inspiration or depending on discipline?

4. Creativity is a function of awareness. In the Wikipedia entry about lightning,, I also discovered this piece of trivia: “Pine trees usually stand taller than other species, which also makes them a likely target for lightning strikes. Additionally, factors that lead to its being targeted include: High resin content, loftiness, and its needles that lend themselves to a high electrical discharge during a thunderstorm.”

Pine trees know what they’re doing. They have all the characteristics of a strikeable plant. The question is: What attributes do YOU embody that make you a likely target? Don suggests awareness as the essential element:

“I used to believe my primary source for attracting creative ideas was curiosity. It turns out that attribute most of my idea generation to awareness – simply being attuned to what’s happening around me and absorbing these influences and seeds of ideas into my mind.”

Therefore: Think of your brain as a magnet. Invite innovative influences as metal shavings, collect enough metal and you can create a helluva lightning rod.

5. Discard evaluative tendencies. Treat every idea, every experience and every thought with deep democracy. I learned this practice from one of the coolest books ever written on creativity, Unintentional Music. Author Layne Arye suggests we value everything whether it was intended or not. “Let all the different parts of the idea express themselves and influence your creative decisions. Be deeply democratic by listening to – and valuing – all parts.”

Therefore: Stop telling yourself, “Well, if I don’t remember it when I get home, it couldn’t have been that important.” That, right there, is the fatal flaw. That, right there, is where most people go wrong. If you make an appraisal of your idea before it’s even written down, you’re assuming and operating on the assumption that how good or bad an idea is, (especially in the early stages of that idea’s development), actually matters.

It doesn’t. Good or bad means NOTHING. Assigning value to your ideas before they’ve been brainstormed, explored and expanded is a creative block. This causes you to fall victim to premature cognitive commitment, which prevents your idea from blossoming into its truest and strongest potential.

The idea isn’t “good.” The idea isn’t “bad.” The idea simply IS. That’s it. No adjectives allowed. Stop judging. Stop evaluating. Stop appraising. Write everything down, as soon as it enters into your brain. Don’t worry how amazing, how ridiculous or how insane the idea sounds, just get it down.

6. Learn to strike out. In my research on lightning, the most fascinating story was that of Roy Cleveland Sullivan (February 7, 1912 – September 28, 1983). He was a U.S. Park Ranger in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Between 1942 and 1977, Sullivan was hit by lightning on SEVEN different occasions – and survived all of them.

Naturally, he earned the nickname “Human Lightning Conductor” and “Human Lightning Rod.” Sullivan is recognized by The Guinness Book of World Records as the person being struck by lightning more recorded times than any other human being. Interestingly, each of Sullivan’s lightning strikes is documented.

As you read these, consider the implications in terms of strikeabilty and how you might repeat parallel circumstances in your own creative practice. Again, each item is flipped with a challenge question:

• April 1942. He was hiding from a thunderstorm in a fire lookout tower. Are you standing at the highest point of visibility to expose yourself to the best creative light?

• July 1969. The lightning first hit nearby trees and was deflected into the open window. Whose creativity could you deflect into your atmosphere just by being around them more often?

• September 1970. While in his front yard, the lightning hit a nearby power transformer and then jumped to his left shoulder, searing it. What three “hot spots” – coffee shops, art museums, strip clubs – could you stand in proximity of to maximize strikeabilty?

• March 1972. Struck while working inside a ranger station in Shenandoah National Park. It set his hair on fire. When was the last time you set your creativity on fire? What kindling steps led to that? How could you repeat them?

• August 1973. While he was out on patrol in the park, Sullivan saw a storm cloud forming and drove away quickly, even though the cloud, he said later, seemed to be following him. Soon after, a lightning bolt struck him. What affirmations could you recite each morning that would attract lightning into your atmosphere?

• June 1976. He saw a cloud, thought that it was following him, tried to run away, but was struck anyway. What if, instead of running from the lightning, you partnered with it?

• June 25, 1977. Sullivan was fishing in a freshwater pool when he was struck the seventh time. The lightning hit the top of his head, singeing his hair, and traveled down burning his chest and stomach. What conductor could you immerse yourself in for an extended period of time to increase the chances of being struck?

Sadly, Roy Sullivan died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the stomach at the age of 71.

Upon hearing the sad news, his friends and family members were “shocked.”

REMEMBER: Lightning strikes twice, three times and ALL the time if you learn how to turn yourself into a lightning rod.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How strikeable are you?

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For the list called, “9 Things Every Writer Needs to Do Every Day,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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6 Ways to be More Creative than Thomas Edison on Acid

1. Brainstorming is the great time-waster. You don’t need another meeting. You don’t need another conference call. And you don’t need to spend another afternoon talking the life out of your idea. You need to take massive action. Today.

Otherwise you’ll get hooked on the addictive power of brainstorming – when what you REALLY need is to smoke the sweet cheeba of execution. What consumes your time but isn’t making you any money?

2. Creativity the best therapy. Tell your shrink you won’t be coming in today. Next time you feel anxious, sick, frustrated (insert negative emotion here), don’t TAKE something, i.e., pills – go MAKE something. Anything. Doesn’t matter what. When you channel your energy into the creative process and enter into flow state, you’ll forget all about that pesky stomach cramp.

Try it. Every single day, spend at least fifteen minutes making something out of nothing. I absolutely guarantee you will feel better. And if you don’t, draw a picture of how stupid I am, then send it to me. What are you turning your problems into?

3. Creativity without innovation is useless. Sure, creativity is fun and cool and healthy for the soul, but there comes a point when you need to stop thinking and start executing. To make that crucial transition from brainstorming to brain monetizing.

Because there’s a HUGE distinction between creativity and innovation: One is a state of being – the other is a practice of doing. Both are essential, but neither can sustain you alone. Are you an “idea guy” or an “execution guy”?

4. Inspiration is the great illusion. If you sit around waiting for inspiration, the only thing that will ever come to you is lower back pain. That’s not the way creativity works. You can’t force inspiration.

You can only live your life in a conscious, creative and adventurous way – listen carefully to everything that happens to you through the filter of your Theory of the Universe – and then render what wants to be written in a disciplined, organized way.

You’ll soon discover that venturesomeness truly is the best idea-generator. And you’ll never have a creative block again. When was the last time you made the choice to be inspired?

5. Lack of discipline atrophies creativity. Inspiration is overrated. If you want to make Idea Lightning strike, you need to make yourself a more strikeable person. And the primary technique for doing so is to cultivate creative discipline. To make yourself sit down at the workbench at the same time, every day, ready to create.

As a writer, I call this being “due at the page.” That way, every morning at 5AM when I sit down to work, lightning strikes. Because everything yields to diligence. What awaits you in the refining fire of discipline?

6. Wisdom without distribution is wasteful. What you scatter is more important than what you gather. And hording wisdom without circulation is a dangerous act of selfishness. Now, that doesn’t mean you need to publish or share every single thought you’ve ever had.

But if you’re debating whether or not to tell the world, ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen if I distribute this idea?” Odds are, the answer won’t be as detrimental as you think. Are you being selfish with your wisdom?

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What are you listening to?

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For the list called, “9 Things Every Writer Needs to Do Every Day,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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You Can Laugh at Your Writer’s Block Worries if You Follow this Plan

Here’s a question my readers, audience members and clients often ask me:

“How do you decide what you’re going to write about each day?”

You don’t.

Creativity doesn’t come FROM you – it comes THROUGH you.

The challenge when you sit down to write every morning isn’t DECIDING what you’re going to write, but rather, LISTENING for what wants to be written.

Naturally, this approach is tricky for a lot of writers. After all, it suggests surrender. And it requires you to relinquish creative control.

But that’s the best part about creativity:

It’s nothing more than active listening followed by active rendering.

Can’t decide what to write about today? Consider three practices to help you listen for what wants to be written:

1. Morning Pages. Along with physical exercise and daily appointments with yourself, Morning Pages are the single most important component to a profitable writing practice.

Here’s how they work: For the first thirty minutes of your day, just sit down and start writing. Whatever is swirling around in your brain, get it down. No structure. No stopping. No grammar. No spelling checks.

Just puke your truth all over the page. No matter how stupid, incoherent or terrible your words sound. Give yourself permission to write three pages of nonsensical garbage. Nobody will ever see it but you.

WHY IT WORKS: When you honor your first awakening thoughts, two things happen. First, you clear away all the crap floating around in your inner world. This is akin to spending an hour at the driving range before playing 18 holes. It’s all about getting the shanks out.

Secondly, you open the floodgates to whatever ideas and thoughts hold the most importance in your brain at that moment. By relaxing into the page, this form of meditative freewriting allows the self-organizing system of your brain to prioritize its best stuff.

2. Invocation. Creativity hinges on your ability to listen (then render) whatever your heart is currently whispering to you. So, approaching this process with a posture of humility and honor is the best way to open yourself to receiving inspiration.

The secret is to introduce a ritual of invocation. Calling on The Muse. The Great Spirit. God. The Collective Unconscious. Whatever. It doesn’t matter what you call it; it only matters THAT you call it. Personally, I found the invocations from Eric Maisel’s Ten Zen Seconds to be easy, relaxing and effective.

Of course, you’re free to customize this practice around your own preferences. For example, satanic rituals are perfectly acceptable, as long as you wipe the goat’s blood off your keyboard.

WHY IT WORKS: No matter what you believe – or don’t believe – creativity is spiritual. Period. Not religious, but spiritual. I triple dog dare you to prove me otherwise. So, to listen for what wants to be written, all it takes is a little trust.

Trust that your inner resources will provide for you. Trust that you are richly supported. Trust that when you expect nothing, failure is impossible. And trust that whatever truth needs to be expressed at this very moment will eventually stand up and say, “Here I am! Write me!”

3. Listen to your body. The stupidest mistake a writer can make is to sit down at his desk and stare at a blank page until something comes. I guarantee this will (a) scare your brain, (b) stress out your body and (c) piss off your Muse. Look: You’re making it too hard on yourself. Don’t attempt to start from scratch.

Instead, spend a few minutes in your Content Management System searching through your collection of module ideas, words, phrases and sentences. See what jumps out at you. Listen to your body, not your brain. Listen for reactions, not opinions.

For example, if a particular sentence causes you to react physiologically in any way – a ping in your stomach, a chuckle under your breath, a gasp of amazement – write about that. Heed your physiology. Whatever manifests in your body is probably what wants to be written.

WHY IT WORKS: The idea of “staring at a blank page,” as romantic and classical as it sounds, is not a smart move. By doing so, you significantly decrease the probability of discovering what wants to be written.

On the other hand, when you flood your brain with hundreds of (seemingly unrelated) ideas – even the ones with remote relevance – you allow the unconscious integration process to cognitively distribute those ideas in ways a blank page never could.

You enhance your ability to be inspired and find the one sentence that absolutely defines the moment. And that’s when you think, “Ooh! That’s the one. That’s what I should write about today…”

REMEMBER: Creativity comes through you, not from you.

You can’t decide what to write.

You can only listen for what wants to be written.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What are you listening to?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “9 Things Every Writer Needs to Do Every Day,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Need to build your Thought Leadership Platform?

Perhaps my monthly (or yearly) coaching program would help.

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14 Pillars of a Profitable Writing Practice

1. Be due at the page. Go to your rendezvous point every day, sit down and write. Enter the gentle fire, scrape down to your bones and immediately start dancing across the page. Crank the valve of your inner wellsprings and currents, sit with your search and start mining some nuggets.

Search for dazzling visions of pure truth, then spill them onto the page. Look for what is strong and good and commence the revelation of your own true nature. Assert yourself, your beliefs and your values onto the page. Just be sure to keep your writing hand moving so The Editor can’t catch up. What’s your writing schedule?

2. Digest and OWN your experience fully. All that you’ve experienced informs your work. If you have more experiences, your writing will be that much richer. It’s that simple. Deliberately seek out adventures, then transform and render them. When you paint with the brush of your own experience, tapping the fountain of your personal truth, it is impossible to be anything other than unique. What cool thing did you do yesterday?

3. Do experiments everywhere. With thoughts. With things. With people. Non-stop, every single day, with everything. In fact, don’t just do experiments – BE an ongoing experiment. Turn your life into one BIG, fat, juicy hypothesis that constantly gets proven right AND wrong. You’re not just a writer; you’re a scientist. An inventor. What did you experiment with today?

4. Don’t “find” time to write. Wrong sentence. Wrong philosophy. Writers who are serious and real and brilliant don’t “find” time to write. They MAKE time to write. They constantly steal moments from the crowded day.

It’s simple: If you’re not writing, you’re not a writer. If you’re too busy to write, you’re not a writer. If you’re unable to MAKE time to write, you’re not a writer. If you’re not making writing your #1 priority, you’re not a writer. Do you (really) need to watch another episode of Law & Order?

5. Don’t think and THEN write. That’s one too many steps. Do that, and I guarantee your thoughts will never make it in time. Instead, learn to think on paper. To write and think at the same time. To finish writing out your thoughts so you can see what it is you’re thinking about. You write to learn what you know.

Remember: Rants are goldmines. Stop yourself mid-sentence when you’re onto something good. Stop talking and start writing. Don’t waste your breath. Write only if to see where your thoughts were about to take you. Capture them onto the page because if you simply release them from your mouth and into the atmosphere, they may disintegrate forever. Have you written about that yet?

6. Don’t write. VOMIT. BLEED. EXCRETE. SWEAT. TRANSMIT. DIVE. EXCAVATE. EXPLORE. Are you partaking in something bigger and stronger than just “writing”?

7. Egg yourself on. Self-motivation is the secret to writing, writing WELL, and writing often. You are the only person who will EVER inch your art further. Nobody has a stake in your writing but YOU. Nobody is going to make you get up and go to work. And if you quit, most of the world will probably never notice.

Oh, and there’s no such thing as Writers Block. Only Thinker’s Block. Writers Block is a lie. If you want to avoid writer’s block, think more. If you want to write better, think better. How are you fueling your internal motivation?

8. Every word and every sentence has a history. Use dictionaries. Study etymologies. Explore anagrams. Become a wordsmith. Hitch a ride on the invisible timeline of your content. Trust the integrity of your words and find out where they’ve been all you life. How carefully do you chose your words?

9. Everything is fodder. I repeat: Everything. Material. Content. Ingredients. The world is one big-ass idea market, and it’s all F-R-E-E. There is no waiting in line and coupons are irrelevant. If you see something you like and you want, you take it. Then, when you get home, you mix it with related thoughts and conjure something bigger, as you become bigger yourself. From which unusual places do you get your material?

10. Honor and respect. When you feel something, some entity, some beautiful truth, tugging at your soul, don’t you DARE turn your back on it. Adequately respond. Stop what you’re doing, honor it and get it down on paper. Always honor what stops you. Otherwise, you will give it the impression that it’s an annoyance, and it may never bother you again. Oh boy. How many great ideas did you ignore yesterday?

11. Invoke the muse. Art is about getting out of the way and letting the light and truth that lay within be released. So, before you start creating, begin with stillness and silence. Say a prayer. Start chanting. Recite an incantation. Anything that honors and calls that which you are in the service of.

Here’s what I do every morning @ 5 AM (sometimes 4) when I start work. It’s straight from Eric Maisel’s book, Ten Zen Seconds. The invocation goes like this:

“I am completely stopping … I embrace this moment … I expect nothing … I am richly supported … I trust my resources … I am equal to this challenge … I am ready to write.”

Then you go to work. You write yourself open. Are you recognizing that you’re at the mercy of your creative impulses?

12. Order comes later. Stop organizing. Just get your ideas down on paper and let them grow slowly and change. Pacemaker inventor Wilson Greatbatch agreed. “I don’t even know what I’m going to do before I try it,” he joked. “The ideal situation is to build something that’s so new and different and exciting, that you ship it out and THEN sit back and say, ‘Now, what have we built?’” Are you suspending the need to organize your work?

13. Penetration. Ultimately, the act of writing your ideas down crystallizes them. And as you re-ingest your new creation that you once yuked out, you now allow it profoundly penetrate you. As a result, your ideas become ingrained upon your consciousness, etched into your brain and solidified into your being. They make you bigger. They become an inseparable part of your person, your expanded soul. And you will never be the same again. What’s penetrating you lately?

14. Steal some snippets. Transplant fragile pieces of ideas – that may not have survived on their own – into your creative world. Like a rescue dog that desperately needs to be removed from an unproductive, growth-prohibiting environment, you save these snippets.

You give them a temporary home. Wash their feet. Nourish their bellies. Then, you stamp them with your seal of approval and send them out into the world (aka, the page), gorgeous and healthy and ready to run like the wild banshees that they are. Are you a creative foster parent?

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How profitable is your writing practice?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “9 Things Every Writer Needs to do Every Day,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Nobody seeing YOUR name anywhere?

Bummer. Perhaps my monthly coaching program would help.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!


Author & “Nametag Guy” Scott Ginsberg to host St. Louis Writing Marathon!

Inspired by Natalie Godlberg’s Writing Down the Bones, this December I’ll be hosting the first (of many, hopefully…)

St. Louis Writing Marathon!

WHO: Anyone who needs to write.

WHAT: For $20, you get a quiet place where you can quietly write, all day, with no distractions.

WHERE: The Clayton Center, St. Louis, MO.

WHY: Because writing is the basis of all wealth.

More details here!

Frankly, I don’t care if six people show up.

Because WE’LL still get to write all day🙂

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What did you write today?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “10 Reasons You’re NOT Blogging Yet,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Been writing that book for 14 years?

Bummer. Perhaps I could help on a more personal, one-on-one basis.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!


How to find (er, MAKE) time to write

Here’s another question I get a lot. Usually from other writers.

“How do you find the time to write?”

Well, there’s a fundamental flaw in that sentence.

It contains the word “find.”

Which comes from the Old English term findan.
Which means, “To come upon, alight on.”
Which implies a search.
Which means it’s possible that you might NOT find the time to write.

Which increases the possibility of your saying, “Damn it – it’s already 9 PM? Oh well. Guess I won’t write today. I wonder if Law & Order is on…”

See, if you’re serious about writing – and, if you’re serious about being a writer – then you don’t FIND time to write…

You MAKE time to write.

Major difference.

See, the word “make” comes from the Frisian term makia, which means, “To build.”

As in “BUILD into your schedule.”
As in “BUILD your entire day around it.”

Which implies a commitment.
Which means it’s NOT possible that you WON’T write.

Which guarantees you’ll say, “Well, it’s 6 AM. Time to get up and go to work. I’m due at the page.”

Problem solved.

Of course, that’s a lot easier said than done. The challenge is getting into a routine and (actually) sticking with that routine.

Here’s a list of six daily practices for making (not finding) time to write:

1. Find a writing partner. Someone who writes. Someone who’s trustworthy and dependable. Someone who will keep you accountable. So, at the beginning of each day, at an agreed time (say, 8:30 AM), you call each other. For the sole purpose of saying, “Morning Mike. I’m about to start writing, just wanted to make sure you were doing the same. Good luck!”

Then, at the end of each day, you call each other again. This time with a question: “So, Mike, what did you write today?” (You can also do this via email, although it’s not as committal and a lot easier to skip.)

2. Officialize your practice. Once you’ve decided on your ideal writing time, make it official. Write it down. Put it on your calendar. Think of it as a real appointment. Somewhere you HAVE to be. Due at the page. Same time every day.

And, be sure to inform your colleagues, coworkers (or family members, if you’re like me and you work out of your living room) about your new schedule. Alert them that interruptions are for emergencies ONLY. Setting this kind boundary not only protects your writing schedule, but also builds a sense of predictability and consistency into your creative routine.

3. Ritualize your routine. Customize your own ritual that eases you into the process of writing. You could say a prayer. Or recite an incantation to invoke your Muse. Maybe listen to your favorite song. Or ring a Tibetan Bell of Awareness. Engage in a few breathing exercises. Look into the mirror and say an affirmation.

Whatever works for you. Whatever gets you in the mood to create. The secret is, when you ritualize your practice, it becomes more sacred to you, which makes you less apt to skip it.

4. Eliminate distractions. As you sit down to write, turn off the phone. Close your email account. Remove any other physical distractions that might tempt you to procrastinate further. Do what you have to do to maintain focus, even if that means locking yourself in a hotel room all day. (Hey, that’s what Maya Angelou did!)

5. Set a writing quota. Five pages. Five hours. Five chapters. Five lines. Five new ideas. Whatever form of creative currency will motivate you to write. The secret is, make sure it’s achievable, yet demanding. So, you can start small, i.e., 15 minutes a day, and build from there.

The good news is, when you begin hitting your quota every single day, it starts to expand on its own. And before you know it, you’ll be CRUSHING your original number by a factor of ten. Look how far I’ve come! you’ll think.

6. Do a Victory Dance. At the end of each day’s writing session, you MUST reward yourself for sticking to your commitment. Once again, this ritual should be customized to your style. Take as little as two seconds or as many as twenty minutes. Me, I ring a Victory Bell on my desk.

You, on the other hand could take a walk around the block. Or head over to Starbucks for a cup of Tazo. Or do a little celebration dance around your office. Some people even keep a calendar on the wall on which they put a little red star once their daily writing is complete! Anything to recognize and reward your writing efforts. Make it fun, make it playful and make it YOU.

– – –

Now, I know what you’re thinking:

“Scott, these suggestions are a bit corny. Do I REALY have to do all this stuff?”

Well, that all depends: What did you write today?

If you can’t answer that question, then, YES. You DO have to do all this stuff.

And, FYI, corny doesn’t mean it’s ineffective.

Look. When I started my career as a writer in 2002, I couldn’t “find” the time to write either. I had a full time job selling furniture!

So, I chose to MAKE time.

And I actually DID every single one of those six practices on the list I just gave you.

FOR EXAMPLE: I started with 15 minutes a day. That’s it. And if you do the math, 15 out of 1,440 possible minutes is just over 1% of your entire day.

ONE PERCENT!!!! (Don’t tell me you can’t make time for THAT!)

But of course, that was a long time ago.

Now, I write between four and eight HOURS a day.

Oh, don’t act so surprised. I’m a writer. That’s my occupation. That’s what I DO.

(Why? What do YOU do all day?)

So, that’s what’s under MY fingernails. Because discipline has purple reins.

And here I sit. 6 years, 8 books, 300 articles and 867 posts later.

So, obviously, this stuff works:

1. Find a Writing Partner
2. Officialize your practice.
3. Ritualize your routine.
4. Eliminate distractions.
5. Set a writing quota.
6. Do Victory Dance.

…even if there IS a Law & Order marathon on every Sunday in July on USA Network.

REMEMBER:

If you’re not writing, you’re not a writer.
If you’re too busy to write, you’re not a writer.
If you’re unable to MAKE time to write, you’re not a writer.
If you’re not making writing your #1 priority, you’re not a writer.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What did YOU write today?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “9 Things Every Writer Needs to Do Every Day,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Can’t finish your book?

Bummer. Perhaps I could help on a more personal, one-on-one basis.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!


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