Help Us Make More Connections

After a challenging first half of the year we're keeping ourselves alert to the connections we're making in the industry. The more people we help, the better our own business does.

Sue wants to do more of her Getting to Know You calls. While these calls never include a sales pitch of any kind, the honest personal connections that result have been consistently helpful—on both sides.

Who do you know in the publishing industry? Could be an agent, a publisher, a designer: if they're in publishing, point them to this post and let them know two things:

  1. We'd love to connect to learn about them.
  2. We abhor pushy sales pitches disguised as 'friendly chats' so when they talk to Sue, they're safe.

Support to Overcome Writer's Resistance

Today, a special post about getting writing done rather than marketing your writing. To begin, tell me a little about yourself. As a writer, how many of these have you experienced in the past two years? You can use the checkboxes to keep track. They're not storing anything anywhere.

Never finding the time to write
Making the time but not writing
Dreaming of writing but never getting started
Starting but never finishing
Starting but never finishing that one particular piece
Thinking you can do it without help
Thinking you're beyond help
A love/hate relationship with your writing
Focusing on unhelpful negative feedback and ignoring positive feedback
Focusing on positive feedback and ignoring helpful negative feedback
Wanting to write deep but writing shallow
Writing for others instead of yourself
Writing for money but not treating it like a business
Reading about writing instead of writing
Seeking out feedback before you're ready
Seeking out the wrong level of feedback
Ongoing health challenges like
    Unexplained fatigue (physical or mental)
    Mysterious illness (a neverending or recurring cold or flu)
    Injuries (constant little accidents)
    Addiction of any kind (substance, activities, self-destructive habits)

How many did you check?

Is it more than zero? (If it's zero, I'd love to hear about that.)

Otherwise, that's Resistance.

In the past 11 years I've written 20 books and 200 songs. I checked 17 boxes. SEVENTEEN.

I'm facing Resistance.

You're facing Resistance.

Resistance? What's That?

According to Steven Pressfield in his seminal work The War of Art Resistance is the mental and emotional pushback we feel when we expose ourselves by creating something. It is our unconscious mind protecting us from the "danger" of emotional vulnerability. It manifests in all the ways in that checklist above, and more.

Resistance is a bully. It will stand in your way and stop you. It will knock you down and hurt you, emotionally, even physically.

Resistance strikes nonfiction and fiction authors alike. (Memoirists, are you hearing me?) Writing a business book is still a creative endeavor and will expose you to fear.

It will stop you from writing using the tools you checked off in that list above.

It's Not Just You & I

“I was ashamed. I have spent a good many years since—too many, I think—being ashamed about what I write. I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction and poetry who as ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent.”

“. . . in my heart I stayed ashamed. I kept hearing Miss Hisler asking why I wanted to waste my talent, why I wanted to waste my time, why I wanted to write junk.”

Who was this loser?

Stephen King. Stephen 350 million books sold King.

This is a quote from his On Writing which, although not precisely instructional, is the most inspiring book I’ve read when it comes to staying the course as a writer.

This is the quote that gave me my writing life back. (Ask me about that story someday.)

Our innate desire to have our work accepted can lead to problems if we put what others believe about our "God-given talent" ahead of what we need to write. It's one of many ways Resistance twists natural feelings into quicksand.

What's a Writer to Do?

You cannot defeat Resistance once and move on. It's part of our mental and emotional makeup. You can, though, make it irrelevant. Note that I don’t say ignore it because you can’t ignore a bully. But if you defuse them, do things to take away their power, they are no longer a threat. Like the bully at school (or, frankly, in the office) they still show up every day. But we don't have to keep giving them our lunch money.

Being a writer is hard. You don’t have to do this alone.

Too many writers are facing the emotional struggle to write without the support they need. After years of writing about it, I’ve created a forum to help writers and artists deal with writer’s Resistance.

It’s not going to be a collective moan-fest or even chat-fest. Instead, it's a guided learning environment, a community of writers making a safe place for some “you’re not alone” emotional support. It will also cover practical and actionable tools and processes to get you writing and keep you writing.

Membership is $5 per month or only $25 for the whole year. Questions? Comments? Shout 'em out below and I'll answer every one.

Do Your Clients Know When You are Available?

Recently someone searched here for information about whether or not to post their support hours on their website.  So I wanted to provide some information about that.

Often, especially when a virtual assistant first starts their business, they may feel the need to work at all hours - late into the night and on weekends. Of course that's the beauty of working for yourself - you can work those hours if you choose and take the more traditional hours to spend with your family.

However, do you want your clients thinking they can call you at 2 pm on a Saturday or email you at midnight and get a response at 6 am? Though you want your clients to feel that you are available, you need to set some guidelines as to when you are available and make sure all your clients are aware of this.

So I suggest you determine set hours that you are available for phone calls and make it clear when you will return emails. By clearly setting specific hours you work on client projects, your clients will know when you are available and appreciate that. And you won't feel pressured to be up till midnight finishing a project since your clients know your work day ends at 5 pm.

One note of caution: as virtual assistants we may have clients in more than one time zone. Make it clear what hours you work in your time zone and be sure clients in different time zones are aware of the time difference.

Yes, let your clients know your available hours. Post your hours on your website and include it in your contract. Both you and your clients will appreciate it.