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.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you a bloody writer?

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.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

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.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you a bloody writer?

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.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

4 Compelling Reasons to Write Early in the Morning – Even If You’re Not a Morning Person

I write early.

Usually four or five in the morning.

I don’t do this because I’m a morning person.

Just ask my family: You don’t want to KNOW me before about nine.

THE POINT IS: Writing (or any creative activity) early in the morning has nothing to do with preference. Discipline always trumps desire.

It’s all about positioning yourself in the best possible environment to leverage your creativity.

I am now going to make my case about the value of writing early:

1. It’s quiet in the most beautiful way possible. First, no external distractions. Not your kids. Not your dogs. Not your phone. Not your email. Not your self-constructed crazybusy schedule. And not the fear-mongering news anchors whose lifelong vocation is to scare the creativity and love out of you.

Second, no internal distractions. Not the voice of perfection. Not the echoes of people you’re trying to please. Not the endless demands of your readership. Not the incessant outreach from bloodsucking strangers who think they’re entitled to a free piece of you.

Not the scars of your past desperately trying to prevent your truth from surfacing. Not 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.

2. There’s no thinking. At 4am, it’s too early to think. Your brain hasn’t had its coffee yet. This is actually good, because your brain is a moron. Thinking is highly overrated. It’s more important that you write with your pen dipped in blood. (It’s infinitely more readable than grey matter anyway).

Here’s the deal: When it’s cold, dark and quiet – when the rest of world hasn’t rolled out of bed yet – you have no choice but to write from the gut. Or the heart. Or the chest. Or the diaphragm. Or the scrotum. Whatever. I don’t care. Pick a body part. Anything below the neckline will suffice.

The point is, 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 brighter and clearer your thoughts are inside.

3. You initiate the launch sequence. It’s simple physics. The Law of Momentum. When you start writing early, you alter your creative trajectory by planting the seeds of movement. You’ll be amazed at how much momentum that one hour activates for the rest of the day.

Otherwise inertia destroys idea generation and cripples the execution thereof. After eight years as a professional writer, I’ve certainly had my share of off days. Occasionally, I won’t start writing until nine or ten. Not surprisingly, my creativity –m and the rest of my workday – suffers as a result. Happened to me on Monday, in fact. PIssed me off.

4. You ritualize your day. I’m a firm practitioner of rituals. Best way to honor the creative process. Two examples: First, I begin every day – EVERY day – with Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages. If you’ve never experienced this journaling exercise before, prepare to have your face rocked off. There is no better way – especially early in the morning – to clear away the crap that’s blocking your best ideas.

Secondly, I invoke The Muse with a beautiful set of incantations I learned from Eric Maisel’s Ten Zen Seconds. This is another form of spiritual preparation. I don’t know what I’d do without it. (And if you don’t think writing is a spiritual practice, email me immediately.)

Even if you’re not a writer, ritualizing the beginning of your day is essential for living a creative life.

REMEMBER: Successful writers start early.

Your day is waiting.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What time did you start writing today?

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.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

How to Have So Many Creative Ideas That You’re Forced to Hire a College Intern

As the evil killer lunges towards Watson’s neck, Sherlock Holmes grabs the arm of his attacker, stopping the invisible dagger millimeters before slicing the jugular of his faithful companion.

“How did you see that?” Watson gasps.

“Because I was looking for it,” Holmes replies.

LESSON LEARNED: Awareness is power.

THE GOOD NEWS IS: Creativity isn’t as hard as people convince themselves it is.

Let’s explore seven ways for getting so many creative ideas that you’re forced to hire a college intern:

1. Call dibs. Learn to recognize, nurture and capture inspiration when it arises. Open your receptors to the subtleties around you. Trigger your receptive capacities and respond spontaneously. Then, the moment you think to yourself, “Hmm … no one else seems to have noticed that…”

Take it. It’s yours. Get it down on paper. Writers keepers, losers weepers, sucka! Remember: If you don’t write it down – it never happened. When creative ideas are up for grabs, are you calling dibs?

2. Be a ceaseless, shameless thief of good ideas. I steal material from everybody. All the time. Wherever I go. There’s nothing that isn’t fair game. When an idea crosses my path, I am ruthless. My sixth sense will pick up on ideas before they even hit the ground.

And I will seize them with the devastating swiftness of creative ninja who’s so fast and efficient, that by the time his opponent realizes he’s just been decapitated, the ninja is already down the street drinking green tea. That’s how I roll. You’ll never see me coming, you’ll never see me leave.

That’s what good ninjas practice: The art of invisibility. And that’s the difference maker. Unlike that population of plagiarists, hacks and bullshit artists disguised as writers, I actually know how to steal properly.

That’s the second half of the equation. See, once a ninja has come through town, he leaves without a trace. He burns himself completely. Almost like he’s stolen your car, and within 24 hours, it has a new paint job, new rims, new tires, chopped up into a convertible and ultimately unrecognizable to the previous owner.

That’s how you steal ideas properly. It doesn’t matter IF you steal it – it matters WHAT you do with it WHEN you steal it. How toned is your creative thievery muscle?

3. Allow inspiration to clarify. Your job is simple: Listen and capture. That’s it. The rest of the time is waiting. Letting ideas simmer and breathe. Allowing multiple dimensions to arise. Alchemizing and coalescing related fragments. Concocting potions.

Crafting mosaics of words, phrases and sentences. Trusting your resources, believing that you’re richly support and having faith that other ideas will attach themselves. How many of your million-dollar ideas squander under the weight of creative impatience?

4. Be open to ideas from everyone and everywhere. In his album, On Comedy, George Carlin said, “Be actively interested and observant, but absorb things in spite of your attention. You need a wide range of things so you can make contrast.”

Lesson learned: Get the creative radar sweeping faster. Always be on the lookout for underlying value. Remember: Abundance is a function of receptivity. What unexpected ideas did you reel in today?

5. Become conscious of your own thought process. That way, you can build a repeatable success process for finding new material. Let’s look at two ways to do so. First, keep a running list of all the questions you ask yourself during the creative process. On my list of 7000, a few of my faves are, “Now that I have this, what else does this make possible?” and “Is everything you know written down somewhere?”

Second, map out your personal approach to entertaining ideas. (Personally, I undergo a process of thirteen steps). This exercise is fun, interesting and educational. And the secret behind both of these examples is twofold: (1) They help you become intimate with your creative experience, and (2) They help people see how your brain works.

These are invaluable assets as a thought leader. Because people don’t care what you know – only how you think. How could you become more conscious of your own thought process?

6. Put things under a microscope. The closer and deeper you probe, the more ideas you get. It’s magical. For example, wordsmithing is an amazing technique for uncovering native meaning to ideas we take for granted. Personally, I do a little wordsmithing every day.

Another approach is making lists. I use this technique daily, if not hourly. And there IS a science behind it. Read this article called 43 Reasons to Make a List for Everything. You’ll never write the same way again. How microscopic is your thinking?

7. Approach everything with the spirit of adventure. Here’s a rapid fire list for getting idea, as inspired by Herbert Leff’s amazing (but obscure) book, Playful Perception: Contemplate special contributions each thing makes to life. Dream up a variety of alternative interpretations for the events you notice. Envision going on inside each thing you notice. Figure out people’s probable relations with each other.

Learn improvements in already pleasant things around you. Make predictions about what is going to happen around you in the next few seconds or minutes. Pick ordinary things or situation and brainstorm all the reasons you can of for their perfection. Pretend you always have a camera. Regard whatever you’re doing as a game. Search for boring things and then look for something interesting about them.

See things as events and not objects frozen in a moment of time. And finally, view things as if they were art exhibits. Ultimately, this sense of adventure is about viewing every moment as a new positive opportunity to exercise your choice about how to experience life. Are you adventurous enough to commit to an uncertain outcome with an open heart and mind?

REMEMBER: You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to see what nobody else sees.

You just have to be aware.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How many ideas did you have yesterday?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “17 Ways to Out Create the Competition,” 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!

8 (More) Ways to Discipline Yourself to Write Every Single Day – Even When You’re Not in the Mood

Probably the most frequently asked question I get about writing and creativity is the issue of discipline.

How do you become disciplined? How do you STAY disciplined?

Since it comes up so often, I’ve be addressing this topic in a variety of posts lately.

For now, this should get you started:

1. Shift your attitude toward writing. Your discipline will begin to kick in the moment you embrace the following truism: Writing is the basis of all wealth. Please go back and read that last sentence again.

It’s the single most important idea every write needs to embrace. It’s not an activity. It’s a practice. A way of life. A mode of creative transportation. What value do you place on writing?

2. Rearrange your definition of “writing.” Writing isn’t what you think. It’s a process I define as, “Sitting down, slicing open a vein and bleeding your truth all over the page.”

This approach changes the way you write because it preventing you from self-editing and writing “for” anyone or anything other than yourself. You just tell the truth. Simple, but not easy. What’s your definition of writing?

3. Pick your best medium. I write on the floor with colored note cards. One idea per card. I also spend a lot of time in my customized Content Management System, evaluating and stringing together old ideas from various categories.

Lastly, I make lists. Lots of lists. Best way to begin writing anything. I even wrote a list about how to write with lists. But that’s me. You, on the other hand, might be a flip chart person. Or a mindmapper. Or a write-by-hand kind of girl. Awesome.

Whatever works for your creative style – do it. The secret is to find your medium and go with it. Writing is writing, no matter what kind of pen you’re using – as long as the ink is blood. When you write, what does that look like?

4. Eradicate your belief in Writer’s Block. It doesn’t exist. Writing is an extension of thinking. You don’t have Writer’s Block; you have Thinker’s Block. Stop blaming your lack of creativity and productivity on some evil, external force of resistance over which you have zero control.

It’s you. It’s always you. The problem is you’re not reading enough. You’re not listening enough. You’re not asking enough questions. You’re not taking daily time to think. You’re not maintaining constant curiosity. You’re not viewing the world through her unique lens.

Suggestion: Create a constant stream of ideas and collect them in an organized idea library. Perpetually hunt for insight. Your melon will be motivated from every possible angle. Are you a writer or a thinker?

5. Stop trying to “find” the time. Because you might not find it. After all, people always have time for what’s not important to them. Instead, you need to MAKE the time. I suggest you identify your best writing time, then make a pledge to be “due at the page” at the same time each day.

Even if it’s only fifteen minutes. Even if that means taking on an accountability partner that you call every morning at six just to say, “Hey Sandy, it’s Scott. Just wanted you to know that I’m sitting down to write for the next three hours. I’ll call you at nine.” What other creative professional could help you MAKE the time to write?

6. Avoid creative compartmentalization. I don’t expect you to write seven hours a day like I do. I am a freak of nature. An alien. A cyborg. Don’t you be like me. What I’d like you to consider instead is the concept of writing whenever and wherever you can, in addition to your normal schedule.

For example, I write every morning from four or five to nine or ten. That’s four or five hours. The remaining 180 minutes are accumulated throughout the day from lunches, conversations, random thoughts and small creative windows. The difference is, I write everything down. Everything.

Even if it’s just a random thought I had after yoga class. I write it down. And that’s writing. That contributes to that seven-hour practice. You can do the same as long as you remember, “Easy does it.” Ain’t not thing but a chicken wing. Stop making writing such a big deal. Relax. Are you over-compartmentalizing your writing practice?

7. Begin writing Morning Pages. This is the single greatest writing tool known to man. Sort of an expanded Bathtubbing ritual. Coined by my hero, Julia Cameron, here’s how they work: You sit down, first thing in the morning, and just PUKE … for three pages.

It’s a form of meditation. It’s a check-in with yourself. A psychological holding environment that becomes a gateway to your inner and higher selves, Cameron says. And these “gripe sessions” where you work out your grudges, become moments of free associate and celebration. You get out the shanks and bring forth the silver. I’ve been doing Morning Pages EVERY morning for several years now.

Here’s why they’re so effective: They awaken your intuition. They train your sensor and inner editor to stand aside. They get you current. They help you catch up on yourself and pinpoint precisely what you are feeling and thinking. How often are you partaking in stream-of-consciousness writing?

8. Remember the Circle of Write. At this point, you might think, “Scott, these suggestions are great, but I don’t really LIKE writing.” That’s cool. I still suggest you get started. And here’s why.

The more you write, the more you will like writing. The more you like writing, the more you will want to write. The more you want to write, the more thought, time and effort you will put into your writing. The more thought, time and effort you put into your writing, the better your writing will become. The better your writing becomes, the more confidence you will have. The more confidence you have, the more you will write and want to write.

And then the pattern repeats itself. Forever.

This is called “The Circle of Write.” Creativity guru Mihály Csíkszentmihályi refers to this type of process as a Feedback Loop of Mutual Causation and Reinforcement. This means, as he explains in Finding Flow, “If you focus attention on anything, it is likely that you will become interested in it. And if you are interested in something, you will focus on it.”

The effect becomes the cause. And the cause becomes the effect. It’s a circular, self-feeding process. Which means the key to writing is to addict yourself to it. Are you following the Circle of Write?

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What awaits you in the refining fire of discipline?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “49 Ways to become an Idea Powerhouse,” 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.

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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?

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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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?

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.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

How to become So Interesting that Bravo Gives You Your Own Reality Show

Remember the scene from Planes, Trains and Automobiles when Steve Martin reaches his breaking point?

After sharing a sleep-deprived night with his newfound travel buddy, John Candy, Martin leaps out of the beer-drenched motel bed in the middle of the night and starts ranting about Candy’s maddening behaviors:

“Didn’t you notice on the plane when you started talking, eventually I started reading the vomit bag? Didn’t that give you some sort of clue, like maybe this guy is not enjoying it? You know, Del, not everything is an anecdote. You have to discriminate. You choose things are funny or mildly amusing.

You’re a miracle! Your stories have NONE of that! They’re not even amusing accidentally. Oh, and when you’re telling these little stories, here’s a good idea: Have a point! It makes it makes it so much more interesting for the listener.

I could tolerate any insurance seminar. For days I could sit there and listen to them go on and on with a big smile on my face. They’d say, ‘How can you stand it?’ I’d say, ‘Because I’ve been with Del Griffith. I can take ANYTHING.’ And you know what they’d say? They’d say, “I know what you mean: The shower curtain ring guy. Whoa.”

You’re more interesting than that, right?

Just checking.

Because there’s a direct correlation between how boring you are and how successful you become.

As creativity guru Edward Debono wisely suggested, “Becoming interesting will never be a waste of your time.”

How much time are YOU spending becoming more interesting?

ANSWER: Not enough.

Today we’re going to explore a list of ten practices for becoming so interesting that Bravo gives you your own reality show:

1. Amuse me or lose me. This is the reality of our culture. Whether you’re communicating your idea in person, on the phone, during a presentation or via webinar. You need to be more amusing. Period. Interestingly, the word “amuse” dates back to 1480 French term amuser, which means, “to divert or cause to muse.”

Your job is twofold: First, to divert. People’s eyes, ears, attentions and minds. SECOND, to cause to muse. So people stop fixedly and begin to ponder. How amusing are you?

2. Choreograph attention. One of my favorite slides to present during a speech is the word “But…” in huge letters. It silences the audience. It directs their attention. And it makes them eagerly anticipate whatever I’m going to say next.

Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m going to say next. But it doesn’t matter. Because the attention of the audience has been choreographed. How are you taking people exactly where you want them to go?

3. Curiosity is the great driver of interest. That’s DeBono’s theory. That people are motivated by the desire to explore. “There is a biological urge to explore things unknown,” he wrote. “And there is a need to discover territory, find good things and be aware of dangers.”

Your challenge is to become the type of person that, when people meet you, they say, “Wow, I have so many questions…” How do you elicit curiosity?

4. Being fascinating means that moment-to-moment, people want to see what happens next. That’s one of the reasons wearing a nametag 24-7 is so interesting to people – it’s unpredictable. You never know what type of encounter or interaction will ensue next.

As Made to Stick taught us, “Ideas endure if they generate interest AND curiosity. Surprise is not enough. Surprise ATTRACTS customers’ attention, but interest KEEPS their attention.” How could you keep your audience on the edge of their seats?

5. How is this relevant to humanity? That’s the key to being interesting. As Seth Godin said in All Marketers Are Liars, “Marketers succeed when they tell us a story that fits our worldview, a story that we intuitively embrace and share with our friends.”

Ultimately, interest occurs at the moment of relevance. Not relevant = Not interesting. Are you making the effort to demonstrate relevance when it would otherwise slip by?

6. Interest can be stimulated by seeking alternatives and by offering a limited number of choices. “In a way, an offered choice is an attention-directing device. Instead of just asking someone to ‘think’ in general, you provide the specific framework for the thinking,” Debono said.

For example, my friend Jeff has one of the best voicemails I’ve ever heard. It goes like this: “Hey it’s Jeff and thanks for calling! I’d like you to do three things for me: First: Leave the best way for me to get back to you. Two: Share your biggest marketing challenge. And three: Tell me how, specifically, my company can help you the most. Talk to ya soon!” What attention-direction advice could you leverage on your voicemail or auto-responder?

7. Interest is a function of abnormality. A nametag worn in unusual situations – at beach, for example – breaks people’s patterns. It creates a mental pause. It violates people’s schemas. And that’s exactly why they notice it: Because the most basic way to get someone’s attention is to break their pattern. What patterns could YOU break?

8. Questions direct attention. Debono also mentioned, “It is what happens in the listener’s mind that makes him interested.” That’s why questions are your secret to boosting your interestingness. Because they’re not questions – they’re catapults. Setups. Provocations.

That’s how I approach everything I write/speak/coach about. By thinking about the most relevant, challenging and disturbing questions I could ask. Of course, it helps that I have a database of 7000+ questions on standby at all times. How memorable are YOUR questions?

9. The main source of interest is expectation. “There is a setup with a clear expectation,” says Debono. “And interest can be engineered when you’re setting things up.” Take Vocal Hangars, for example. I use them in my writing, videos, presentations and conversations.

These conversational bookmarks (i.e., “Let me ask ya this…”) attract people’s attention by building excitement around what you’re going to say next. This heightens the level of anticipation and energy into the conversation. How do you elicit rapt interest?

10. The process of opening things up is the key to being interesting.Finally, Eddy D argues that being dogmatic and always narrowing everything down to certainty is boring. I couldn’t agree more. The blandness of terminal certainty alienates people faster than an atheist at a Billy Graham revival. How’s your mental flexibility?

REMEMBER: If you want to maximize the noticeability and spreadability of your idea, you need to create a widening circle of interest around it.

And when the pilot of your reality show airs on Bravo, let me know – I’ll set my Tivo.

Oh, wait. I forgot: I just cancelled my cable. Nevermind.

Guess we’re watching it at your house!

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How interesting are YOU?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “30 Ways to become the Most Interesting Person You Know,” send an email to me, you win the list for free!

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

New website go live this week?

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Watch video lessons on spreading the word!

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.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

Do You Fulfill This Six-Part Definition of a Thought Leader?

“A trusted source who moves people with innovative ideas.”

That’s the definition of a Thought Leader.

Let’s unpack the six elements of that definition:

TRUSTED
Which means you become a Thought Leader because the marketplace recognizes you as such – not because you just decide to be one. Remember: Trust requires evidence. What are you known for knowing?

SOURCE
Which means you have to be The Origin, not The Echo. The Initiator, not The Imitator. What long-term dialogue are you leading in your marketplace?

MOVES
Which means your job is to inspire, influence, challenge and disturb. How are you spurring people to purposeful action?

PEOPLE
Which means you are responsible to the individuals that comprise your constituency, regardless of who, where and how many there are. How are you building a following?

INNOVATIVE
Which means you deliver actionable lessons that passed through the test of your personal experience; not regurgitated wisdom or plagiarized insight. Are you speaking with Meaningful Concrete Immediacy?

IDEAS
Which means your mission isn’t just idea generation – but idea proliferation and idea execution. What did you create, manage or deploy today?

“A trusted source who moves people with innovative ideas.”

I hope that describes you.

Because you have the choice to be in the Thought Leadership business.

Or, you have the choice to BE ignored and, therefore, BE broke.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Do you fulfill this six-part definition of a thought leader?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “17 Reasons to Write a Free Ebook,” 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.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

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