Writer’s Doubt? It’s the Antagonist in Your Story

You know the antagonist you love to hate? The bad guy who always stands in the way of your favorite good guy? As an author, self-doubt is your biggest, baddest, nastiest antagonist—and it’s time to recognize it for what it is.

What’s the antagonist in your latest book trying to accomplish? What’s driving him or her to oppose the protagonist’s goals—and how is that affecting outcomes for the protagonist? Now, let’s talk about what your inner antagonist is up to and how that’s affecting your writing.

Antagonists Be Like

Antagonists play a very special role in the stories we love because they create the tension that keeps us on the edge of our seats. We furiously turn pages to see how the hero will resolve the challenges set before them.

It’s a constant push and pull—which is exactly what your inner antagonist is doing every time she gets all hey-look-at-me and gives you reasons to doubt your writing.

You’re a kickass writer. You know that. I know that. Your dog knows that. (Every writer should have a dog. They are fabulous creative companions, excellent listeners, and the very best nap buddies.) Everyone knows you’re a sharp writer.

But there’s that voice. It sneaks up and whispers the harshest of messages in your ear.

“You’re really going to submit that?”

“You’ll never be a real writer. Why are you even trying?”

“I can’t get a professional critique. I’d be too embarrassed.”

It goes on. It’s not a quiet voice.

The Antagonist You Fictionalize & the Antagonist You Fight

A good antagonist has goals—like really good ways to shake things up by adding discontent to the storyline. (That means really messing with whatever the protagonist wants.) It’s easy to strategically fit an antagonist into your book, but what happens when you think about how your inner antagonist reacts to your personal success?

What’s an Antagonist Do Anyway?

Potentially the busiest job EVER, an antagonist is responsible for diametrically opposing the protagonist at every turn, throwing up roadblocks, and generally detracting from the main goal. Here’s what you should know about your inner antagonist:

  • They present as protectors. Not necessarily evil or all-the-time negative, this antagonist appears as someone who’s “looking out for you.” They don’t want you to get hurt by putting your work out there too soon or taking a chance. Maybe it’s “not quite ready,” or maybe it needs “one more revision.” Or maybe this antagonist needs to shut the hell up and let you write your story. If you’ve done your work, done your revisions, put in the time, and it’s ready to submit, don’t let your own self-doubt be the single thing that stops you.
  • The Opposite Game. What’s your goal as a writer, an author? A professional? A wife, a mom? Whatever your goals, you can be sure your inner antagonist will find a way to oppose them. “You can’t handle all that!” “What kind of mom is gone on Valentine’s Day for a writers’ conference?” “You know your desk is in your kitchen, right?” Your antagonist uses all these thoughts to throw you off course and cast doubt on the plans you’ve made. Ignore that bitch. She has no idea how hard you’ve worked to get here.
  • Arm Wrestle. Your antagonist will go toe-to-toe with you on ANY DAY. When you think your energy is sapped and you’re at your maxed-out lowest, that’s when that sinister little villain will attempt a final coup. She’ll try to take over when you least expect it, so stay alert. Antagonists aren’t dumb; they just have different strengths, outlooks, and goals than you do. But don’t be fooled; they want to win just as badly.
  • Oh, You Again. Your antagonist has been hanging around for a while—and will probably be a fixture in your life for quite some time. You have to learn how to deal with her, because she’s a put-me-in-the-spotlight kind of gal. Figure out how to deal with her firmly, let her know you’re not interested in her negative talk, and move forward with your writing.
  • But I Did it for You. Your antagonist thinks she’s looking out for you when she tells you to skip that high-powered critique. She’s trying to protect your feelings, but what she doesn’t know is that creative writers have developed a skin akin to that of elephants. You can tell us devasting things about our writing, and we can move from transcript annihilation to civilized shrimp dinner in the space of 30 minutes. It’s an acquired skill, but we can do it. We’re much tougher than our antagonists think.

Facing the Enemy

There is one thing that will surprise your inner antagonist—and maybe even shut her up for a minute or two. Here’s the secret. When you hear her whisper in your ear, tell you that you can’t complete that project, shouldn’t submit that proposal…take a deep breath, then slowly turn to look her in the eye and say, “I’ve got this.”

Your confidence is all the fight you need. It doesn’t need to be a big blow-up. No huge confrontation.

All she needs to see is the spark in your eyes and the determination in your soul to know that she can’t possibly stand in your way, no matter how much she wants to protect you or keep you from the scrutinous eyes of readers. Square those shoulders, writer. You are a badass! Tell that antagonist to find someone else to pick on because YOU. TOTALLY. GOT. THIS.

Life Lesson #2 – Be Bold, Steal Jesus, and Apologize Later

There are some situations in life that require bold decisions. Do you go with the spicy chicken sandwich or the extra-crunchy one? Do you pitch the so-far-outside-the-box-it-just-might-work idea even though you might end up looking like an idiot? (Hint: The answer is YES! It’s always yes.) Do you steal Baby Jesus from the church Nativity because you can’t stand to see the sad, faded plastic display sitting front-and-center for another frozen Midwest winter? You do if you’re teenaged me.

Benefits of Being Bold

There will be times in your life when being bold will work out in your favor. Have you ever envied the people who can politely, yet firmly, point out that “the line’s over here” to people who inadvertently skip toward the front? Or even better, how about the people who are skilled enough to point out opposing viewpoints without causing a knock-down, drag-out fight? As the saying goes, “Fortune favors the bold.” You can benefit both personally and professionally from training yourself to be more comfortable in making bold, confident observations and decisions:

  1. Being bold commands attention. If you’re building a business or your own personal brand, customers will notice your confidence. Boldness is a trait many people don’t have (or struggle to achieve), so if you’re able to wield it effectively and professionally, you’ll have a leg up on the competition. In business, you have to make things happen–and that requires boldness and confidence in your plan:

“Some people want it to happen, some people wish it would happen, others make it happen.”

– Michael Jordan

2.    Being bold shows off your creativity. You won’t fade into the background when you make bold decisions. Think about Steve Jobs and the iPhone. Did he know the iPod would go by the wayside at the introduction of the iPhone? Of course, but he made a forward-thinking, bold decision. In his words, “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Sometimes, you just KNOW what decision you need to make.

3.     Boldness earns opportunity. When you are ready to make decisions and confident moves to propel your brand in the right direction, your opportunities will compound. You’ll get noticed for your choices and for your ability to take action and move forward.

4.     Boldness helps you learn. Let’s face it; if you’ve ever made a bold decision, you’ve probably also had the misfortune of falling flat your face at some point. Being fearless helps you become, ahem…indestructible, as well as incrementally smarter. Every time we fall down, we get to learn a better, more effective way of doing things the next time. So no matter how bruised and scraped-up we may be from diving headlong into our last learning experience, we’re getting pretty darned smart.

5.     Being bold helps you lead. Whether you’re naturally bold or you’ve had to work at it every step of the way, the results are the same. Boldness is a coveted leadership trait because it means you’re not afraid to go out on a limb, be the lone vote, deliver the impossible proposal, or even the bad news when it’s necessary. It takes courage and creativity to master the art of being tactfully bold, but not bossy. And if you can do that, you can move mountains.

However, I have to warn you,  there may be repercussions. (There’s always a disclaimer).

Downfalls of Being Bold

There are a few downfalls to this character trait, too. I’ll tell you what happened to me.

The Baby Jesus thing was just one of those times when I needed to ask forgiveness later, rather than asking permission. I had been pointing out for YEARS that we needed to donate the old set and get a shiny new one to be the star of the stage during our yearly Christmas pageant. And for YEARS, ALL. THE. PEOPLE. had nodded their heads and agreed. But nothing was ever done. And every year, Baby Jesus got more and more faded—until that final year, when he looked like a nothing more than a white blob of plastic resting on a bed of hay.

I bet you can guess how quickly a new Nativity was approved once it was discovered Jesus had gone missing. You can bet your Bible School Kool-Aid that someone from the Spending Committee (consisting of Lucille and Mary) was down at the plastic Nativity store before closing time that day.

This is one of those times when you ask forgiveness LATER. Because you are NOT going to get any sort of permission beforehand to run with whatever crazy scheme you have in mind. Simply stated: Nobody gets to steal Jesus.

Forget the fact that your grandma took you to church your entire life. Wipe that RIGHT out of your mind, because it won’t garner you much sympathy. Also, stop thinking about potential lightning strikes, floods, or fiery asteroid-type objects that could be used to convey to you the error of your ways. It’s all going to be ok.

Sometimes you just know you have a great idea. And you know you need to take a stand. And sometimes, if you start sharing ideas, others will follow suit. It’s funny how being fearless will inspire others to be fearless, too. So, take a chance on your vision, your creativity, your ideas. After all, when you know, you know.

Ok, ok…I’ll tell you the downfalls.

  1. You will get embarrassed. When you’re confident and brave and bold, you’re eventually going to very fearlessly present the crappiest idea EVER. And that’s a red-faced moment for sure, but you probably already know what I’m going to say. If you take the time to analyze what went wrong, you’ll probably learn a lot.
  2. There will be jealous or intimidated people. And that’s ok. Just stay the course and do quality work in a kind and empathetic way. You know you’re not out to intimidate anyone, so share your knowledge and keep being yourself. Like-minded people will gravitate toward you.
  3. You’ll be called bossy. When my younger daughter (now 18, a collegiate diver, and on scholarship to become a nurse) came home from her first day of Kindergarten, she cried, “They called me ‘bossy pants!’” Little did she know, that’s the BEST thing they could have called her. She graduated with a 4.5 GPA, has been a team leader and scholar, and will graduate in 3 years instead of 4. So, if you’re a bossy pants, we’re all cheering for you! You go get, ‘em, Bossy Pants!

Get out there and get bold! When you practice ditching the feelings that hold you back and just let yourself be fearless with your creativity, you’ll truly shine.

Oh yeah, the Baby Jesus thing. The church got a new Nativity, which was beautiful. And I got the distinct honor of tending to the church’s flower beds for the entire following summer, because I was very, very sorry for having stolen Jesus.

Life Lesson: Always Wear Pants When Dealing With Rodents

There are some things you only need experience once to know you don’t want to go through them again. Likewise, there are incidents in all our lives that shape us, make us who we are today. I think most of us can agree on that.

People say kids don’t really remember anything before the age or two or three. So either that’s a crock of hooey or I’m an anomaly. I VERY. FLIPPIN. DISTINCTLY. remember this as one of the most traumatic incidents of my life. And what makes it worse? To this day, it is a highlight at family reunions, cookouts, and sometimes even funerals when loved ones just need a good laugh.

I was probably about two or three years old—so really, right at the threshold of creating memories that would last. But since THIS was the TITANIC of my young childhood, it sticks in my mind.

My grandparents lived in the country. And by the country, I mean on a farm with pigs and chickens and sheep and sheep shit and hay and a barn and tractors. I remember the sheep vividly because I once made a grand entrance at Sunday School by announcing “I got sheep shit on my shoe!” (I was a very proper young lady.)

Farms have all sorts of critters, both large and small. And sometimes those critters don’t know they’re supposed to live OUTSIDE of the damned farmhouse. Like mice. Oh, the mice of my nightmares.

It was during a family cookout or dinner or something. There was no air conditioning, so maybe everyone was just eating in the yard so they didn’t suffocate during an extended period inside. Either way, every living soul was in the backyard. But I was a big girl, and I needed to go inside to pee. Off I toddled in my overalls. (OVERALLS. Because I was a lit ‘70s kid.)

For whatever reason, I went to the basement to pee. Not as creepy as it sounds, my grandma did have an office down there, and there WAS a finished bathroom and rec room. Honestly, I probably headed there because it was the coolest place in the whole house.

In that tiny little basement bathroom, I dropped my overalls and hopped on the throne in all my glory, dangling my feet in that innocent way kids do right before they start to sing their favorite Disney song. Except NO, not this time! This time, while my feet dangled in the air, a rabid attack mouse was attempting to launch itself out of the trash can adjacent to the toilet.

NOW. If you’ve never been caught with your feet unable to reach the floor, your undies dangling around your ankles, and an attack rodent charging you—all while you’re trying not to pee on your new terrycloth roll-down socks, then you won’t understand this next part.

As the beady-eyed monster reared its head over the ledge of the trash can, I propelled myself off of the toilet, grabbed handfuls of denim, and screamed as I ran up the basement stairs…stumbling over the excess fabric that kept drooping at my feet. I burst into daylight with my pants around my ankles, full moon shining, tears running down my cheeks, screaming about a mouse flying out of a trash can.

You can imagine the reception I received. I’d burst onto the porch in the middle of a full-fledged family hootenanny (had they invited MORE people since I’d left for the bathroom?)! Everyone had a great time laughing at my experience, and I’m pretty sure the poor baby mouse died of a heart attack with all the screaming and commotion we caused.

Here’s what I’ve carried forward in my life. Trauma is a very real thing. If I even sense there is an uninvited critter in my home, I will immediately go to the nearest home store and clear the shelves of every item I can possibly add to my critter-ridding arsenal. (That’s critter PTSD.)

I’ve also learned this. I’m now in my 40’s, and the fam still laughs at my bare-assed streak through the yard as I imagined I was being chased by an attack mouse. As I see it, I have two options:

  1. I could get mad that people are STILL having a great time laughing about it. (But I mean, honestly, I did it, so ummmm…there’s that. And it IS pretty funny.)
  2. Or, I could laugh right along with them and enjoy the craziness that life sometimes throws our way.

I’m opting for Number 2, because it makes life WAY more fun, and it promotes laughter over anger. If you have the chance to choose, choose that one. It gives you a much clearer path to happiness.

Also, if you have the chance to avoid mice in your trash can, I would do that.

If You Want to Connect With Consumers, It’s Time to Get Social

We live in a world of empowered consumers. They say when, where, and how they’ll buy the products they’re interested in, and businesses everywhere are working to meet their needs to win out over the competition.

Here’s what successful marketers know: Consumers are connected online (to businesses and each other), and that means there’s a lot to gain by interacting and listening where consumers are interacting. When you join conversations that are taking place in online social spaces, it gives you the opportunity to personalize your interactions and have meaningful conversations that help you build lasting consumer relationships.

Long story short? Your consumers are on social media—so it’s time to get social!

Today’s shoppers are not looking for a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather personalized, thoughtful interactions that convey your genuine interest in their needs. Practice your social listening skills and have some good, solid conversations about what people are looking for and what’s been lacking in their experiences so far.

Consider the following:

Delivering the Experience Consumers Want

Consumers are looking for consistency, an excellent brand experience, and personalization throughout their interactions with you. Seem like a tall order? Are consumers asking for everything but the moon? Not really. When you consider the technology platforms that are available to you, it’s feasible to offer a top-quality, personalized shopper experience without working up too much of a sweat. 

By leveraging social media platforms where your consumers are already talking and sharing, you can up the ante, get connected in no time, and build valuable relationships that will demonstrate exactly why you’re the right business for people to align with.

Channel Your Inner Social Wizard

Gone are the days when businesses could rely on traditional marketing like direct-mail fliers, TV spots, radio, and even the occasional newspaper ad to reach customers. Today, it’s about reaching consumers quickly and standing out from the crowd. Enter social media. If you’re still wondering if social media is worth the time and investment, consider the following:

  • 89% of marketers use Facebook in their brand marketing efforts. With traditional marketing strategies, like billboards and phonebook ads, businesses would run campaigns, but they were left not knowing exactly who they had impacted. It’s impossible to know how many people glance at a billboard as they’re driving, leaving businesses with unquantifiable results from their marketing efforts. Now, with social media on your side, not only can you reach customers quickly and talk about the topics that are hot at the moment, but you can also direct your efforts and content toward specific consumer groups, shopping patterns, and needs. Plus, you can get measurable results on your efforts and adjust future campaigns accordingly.
  • Instagram now has over 1 billion monthly active users—and among them, 90% follow a business on the platform. This tells us that Insta users are interested in seeing what businesses are doing on social and interacting with them throughout their purchase cycles.
  • 79% of Twitter users like to discover what’s new, making it the top platform for discovery. And this makes Twitter a great place for your business to get discovered. Make an appearance on the platform and get to know your future customers.

Why Social? That’s Where Your Consumers Are

It’s important to remember where your consumers are and what’s important to them. The first time they meet you or discover your brand may NOT be when they walk through your brick and mortar doors. Start building a solid online presence now, cultivate your social relationships, and practice becoming a good social listener to build a bigger following than ever.


5 Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW to Build Customer Loyalty

Want to keep the customers you have, all while gaining traction in the marketplace and gaining new prospects, too? There are a few things you can do to make that happen…and they’re not too hard to accomplish:

  1. Keep your promises.  Follow-through will always be important! Find a good system that helps you keep track of your conversations and what you’ve told individual customers.  Your customers may forget some things, but they will ALWAYS remember when you keep your word. You’ll build trust every time you make good on the things you say.

Pro Tip: Focus on the big picture, as well as the details. And be sure your customers have an efficient and convenient way to contact you for follow-up needs.

2. Build great relationships. Great relationships add value and remind your customers that they are worth more than a sale to you. Get to know your them and let them know you’re invested in finding the solutions they need. Remember, great relationships lead to lasting connections with your customers.

Pro Tip:  Technology has allowed businesses to build relationships before customers ever set foot in their businesses or online shops. Take advantage of this by reaching out via online feedback forums and social platforms to build the relationships that will boost your brand in the marketplace.

3. Know what you offer.  Today’s customers are experts, thanks to the internet and 24/7 access to just about any information they need. Be sure you’re up-to-date and prepared for any questions your they may have BEFORE they even think of them. When you’re the expert, you instantly build trust and credibility.

Pro Tip:  Continuously assess what you offer vs. what your customers are looking for. When you’re one step ahead, you have time to adjust to trends and marketplace needs—and you have time to connect with customers about their new or renewed interests.

4. Be a master communicator.  Shoppers are in a hurry, and wasting time will irritate them. You can show that you understand their need for efficiency with organized planning, effective communication, and modern solutions.

Pro Tip:  When possible, move past old communication systems to technology that efficiently gets your team on the same platform, working toward unified solutions—at the same time. Your customers will love you when you hear their problems and are able to help them find solutions quickly.

5. Be an active listener.  Sometimes it’s about sharing great information with your audience, but sometimes it’s just as important—and even more important—to listen.  Pay attention to the things your customers are saying about your business online, on social platforms, and on feedback forums. Social media allows you to respond quickly to concerns, and while you’re there, you can also learn what potential trends are heading your way.

Pro Tip:  Back in the day, social listening happened at the local coffee spot—and if you weren’t there, you missed out. Today, businesses have the ability to get in on conversations early and deliver actionable solutions. Take advantage of this by listening to what your followers are saying on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites—and take this as your cue to jump in and get proactive.

NOW is your time.  You’ve got the tools, the tech, the talent.  Whatever the size of your business, all you have to do is take advantage of what’s at your fingertips. Social media is a powerful tool that will put you in the driver’s seat. You get to decide the direction of your success and the conversations you’re going to have.

So get out there and do your thing. Build your brand. Tell people how amazing you are. Show them why you’re the best. Combine your talent with the tools that are out there…and create something magical that your customers will love!

Do You Love What You Do?

I’ve loved doing artistic things since I was a kid, and the drive to create didn’t leave me when it was time to head off to college. Much to my parents’ dismay, I could not be swayed from a solid path toward a liberal arts degree. And along with that came all the “Would you like fries with that?” jokes, suggesting that I would end up working in fast food my entire life because of the path I’d chosen.

I almost let myself be swayed. There were a couple of times when I thought to myself, “Ok self, you’d probably make way more money if you went a different direction.” The voices that had tried to influence me for so long found a couple of cracks in my façade. And here’s what happened.

Changing the Major

Yep, I did that. (More than once.) I reasoned that since I speak Spanish and English fluently, it would be a smart choice to go into business—so I transferred to an International Business program. And that would have been fine, except for the fact that any sort of advanced work with numbers makes me break out in hives. After the first couple weeks in Business Accounting, when I realized I would have to expand beyond balancing my own checking account and be able to handle even more complicated accounts, I promptly exited the program. Nope, I do not love working with numbers.

The Back-Up…to the Back-Up

No worries. I had a perfectly acceptable back-up. Psychology. Nevermind the fact that I’m a creative empath who tends to absorb the feelings of those around me. There’s also the fact that every expression on my face will tell you exactly what I’m thinking. I have no poker face, and I get way too emotionally invested in trying to help others…which would be fine, except I don’t think shrinks are supposed to cry along with you when you emote.

Square One

Those options were out. It was back to Square One. Writing. Languages. Words. I went back to doing what I loved—which is exactly where I should have been the entire time.

What Did I Learn?

You can’t force what you love to do. If you love to write, then you should write. If you want to create futuristic skyscrapers, you should be an architect. If you have a gift for poaching the perfect egg and you love the art of fine cuisine, you should follow your dream of being a chef.

The point is this: I did NOT end up living out my days working at a fast-food restaurant in order to support my affinity for bossing words around. Nope. I have hustled and worked hard and made a place where I can make very good use of multiple liberal arts degrees.

The point is also: Don’t ever give up on your dream because someone tells you it might not pay very much. Instead, find a way to make it work for you.

The point is also: What Steve Jobs said…you are gonna do the best work of your life when you love what you do!

Now get out there and hustle.

A Half Dozen Surefire Ways to Ignite Your Social Media Presence

Most business owners know that having a solid social media presence is key when it comes to gaining recognition in the marketplace and growing in popularity with consumers. After all, a majority of consumers are on social media–and before they shop or even purchase–they are checking in with their online peers for recommendations, ideas, and to hear about experiences they’ve had with local businesses.

But how do you kick things into high gear? How do you go from 0 MPH to 60 MPH in 5.2 seconds? Well, maybe you don’t. Maybe you take a deep breath, assess where you are, what your goals are, and what you need to do to get there.

Sure, you need social media. EVERYONE is on social media. People are going to social media for advice on everything from toilet paper to tiny homes. If I need advice on my pet guinea pig, I go to social media. There’s no way around it; you’re going to need to make friends with social.

BUT there is good news! You can start slowly, you can go step by step, and you can enlist help if you want.

  1. Personalize your content.

No one wants to logon to their Facebook account and see a feed full of gibberish that has nothing to do with their interests. Mega-Major-Tip-Number 1: Get to know your audience and post things they are interested in reading about.

Simply Stated: If your audience likes chocolate, don’t post the hottest new salad recipes.

2. Establish a presence on multiple social media platforms.

You know how not everybody likes peas? And not everybody likes strawberries? (Those people are weird, but ignore that for now.) The point is that different things appeal to different people—and different social platforms appeal to different consumers.

Simply Stated: Pay attention to who’s hanging out on Insta and who’s waxing poetic on Facebook. They’ll respond differently to your messages.

3. Become a great social listener.

Yep, all those people chatting on your social platforms are potential customers—and every time they express concerns, discontent, or suggestions for better service, they are talking DIRECTLY to the businesses that will pay attention to them. This is a test!

Simply Stated: Consumers who are active on social media expect their preferred brands to be responsive and interactive on social media, too. It’s not enough to just be there…you need to interact and build the relationships that will lead to sales.

4. Lean into the popularity of video.

There’s no way around it; video is THE THING. I don’t care if you have to practice in front of your mirror, do a final run in front of your dog, or breathe into a paper bag before you go live. The bottom line is, you need video to reach today’s consumers. But here’s the great thing. It doesn’t have to be perfect! Little quirks and blunders are endearing to most people—and they won’t judge you for NOT being a movie star.

Simply Stated: Dip your toe into the shallow end of video to reach more potential customers. Take it slowly and learn as you go. Video isn’t going anywhere, however, so it’s time to dive in.

5. Leverage influencers to help you gain brand recognition.

Influencers are power in the social media world. Did you know that word-of-mouth advertising generates more than twice the sales1 of paid advertising? That means when you find a voice in your industry that backs your brand, you’ll get an extra boost on social media because of the leverage influencers wield simply by sharing their preferences and opinions.

Simply Stated: Find genuine influencers who can be allies to your brand online. When they support you, word of mouth will spread, and their followers will also lean into what you have to offer.

6. Have fun with Instagram stories.

There are nearly 125 million2  Instagram users in the U.S. alone. That’s a pretty huge audience for you to market to, so it makes sense that you’d want to lean into some of the popular Instagram features that are capturing attention. Plus, Instagram is a great place to test out your images to see what consumers might like to see on your website, in your newsletter, or in other communications.

Simply Stated: Instagram is a storytelling app, and everyone loves a good story. It’s impossible to understate the importance of visual imagery and its connection to your brand, so go ahead and branch out! Give Insta Stories a try.

Point Is

Social media is always moving and always changing. We have to move with it, learn with it, and try new things—or we’ll be left in the dust. There are nearly 500 million Tweets3  sent per day! So if businesses settle into the 1-Tweet-per-week mentality, the insights they post will be lost in the time it takes to click and refresh the screen. Social media is leading the way in connecting businesses with consumers, but the only way businesses and potential clients can find you on social media is if you get out there, interact, and share insights that are meaningful to them.

Take time to evaluate the current social media status of your business and determine if you need to enlist the help of a professional social media manager to get things on track. Social media isn’t something to shove into the broom closet to think about next year; social media is booming now! It’s time to get out there, build consumer trust, and increase recognition for your brand.

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/kylewong/2014/09/10/the-explosive-growth-of-influencer-marketing-and-what-it-means-for-you/#7e318b3c52ac
  2. https://www.omnicoreagency.com/instagram-statistics/
  3. https://www.internetlivestats.com/twitter

Write Anyway

The Creative Toolbox That’ll Keep You Inspired

What do you do when you don’t feel like writing? Write anyway.

Write ANYTHING you can think of.

If you’ve promised yourself that you’ll write 2.000 words per day and you’re just not feeling it, I don’t care if you write down your grandma’s family spice cake recipe. Sit your butt down in the chair, put your hands on the keyboard, and string some words together. Write a thank-you note to your nail tech. Start your Christmas shopping list. Put some words on the screen. (Or on paper, if you’re a paper enthusiast.)

The point is this: You can’t edit what isn’t there. When you wake up tomorrow and see a blank page, you can’t say, “Yeah, I can improve upon that.” BUT, if you write down some crap, if you ramble a bit—even when you don’t feel like it—you might end up with a diamond in the rough. And then, when you wake up the next day, you can look at it and say, “Yep, that’s crap, BUT, I think I can do something with it.”

Building Your Toolbox

What if a teacher said, “Yeah, I don’t feel like teaching today?” Or a bus driver said, “Nah, I’m not driving today.” And so on. Thing is, we all have our jobs, and some days are better than others.

For creatives, some days we feel more inspired than others. On the days when you feel less inspired, that’s when you turn to your toolbox. Don’t have a toolbox?

Here you go! (These are top secret and highly in demand toolbox items, so feel free to share.)

Your Bookshelf

Yep. Feeling bereft of ideas? Plots feeling plain? Look no further than your own bookshelf for inspiration. Take a break from writing and escape into a good book. Stop forcing ideas and just enjoy the words of another author. You’ll relax and feel your own creative energy fill back up.

School Supplies

If you’re anything like me, school supply time is the best time of the year to go shopping. The smell of new pencils, pens, and paper…that’s enough to wake up the storyteller in me and spark new, creative ideas. Try getting a new journal, a new pen, or just open a favorite old journal—and just start writing.

Advice from Other Writers

Take time out to read advice from other writers in your field. Whether you’re a creative writer, a business writer, or an everything writer, those who do what you do are a great inspiration when you’re looking to stretch your skills and push your creative limits.

Peer Groups

Your peers are a fabulous source of inspiration and information! You are all working on growing your careers, and that means almost everyone is willing to share tips and ideas. When you build a peer group you trust, you’ll have a place to go for moral support and honest feedback.

Go for a Walk, Go to the Mall, Weave a Basket

Take a break. Sometimes it’s just not happening, and that’s ok. It’s not forever. No one has taken your keyboard until the end of eternity. Slowly step away from the desk and the blinking cursor and step out into the fresh air. Forget about plot lines, taglines, calls to action, whatever you are trying to write—and look at a damn bird. Take deep breaths, look at pretty things, and try again tomorrow. (You’ll be surprised at how this often turns out to be the best solution.)

Here’s the thing. If you’re a creative person, you understand other creative people. And all of us know that there are days when we feel like we could paint the Sistine Chapel and days when we don’t feel qualified to paint the front porch. Days when we could write the companion to War and Peace and days when we aren’t qualified to write a grocery list.

It ebbs and it flows. And the best creative writers and designers just roll with it and learn to find their muse wherever she shows up.

On Being a Smart Cookie

Not long ago (well, pre-COVID, when kids could all hang out and have friends), I was chatting with one of our pre-teen boys, you know, doing the dreaded mom interrogation about school, friends, lunch, homework…ALL. THE. THINGS. After all, it’s the first year of middle school, and to put it gently, things can be awkward. There’s a whole love/hate relationship with deodorant. There are mean kids. There’s now a P.E. class where everyone has to ‘dress out.’ Voices are getting lower. We’re buying Axe Body Spray in bulk. You get the picture.

I wanted to touch base, check in if you will.

I asked the standard questions. How’s math? Science? What are you and your friends up to? How was P.E.? Are you talking to any girls?

About a dozen eye rolls into the conversation, he replied with wisdom beyond his years—and it made me think we might be doing something right as we raise these kiddos. It also made me realize this kid is one smart cookie.

He said, “You know, Mom, it’s way better to be smart than popular, because you’ll go a lot further in life.”

Mind = Blown

Well said, little dude, well said.

With that said, let’s roll our sleeves up and get smart about social media, content, and building relationships with your customers. Of course, with customers, it’s a different story; it is a popularity contest of sorts. But here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to focus on staying true to your brand, your values, and everything you’ve worked hard to build—and we’ll boost your business in a way that appeals to the consumers you really want to build relationships with.