The ultimate guide to naming your “thing.”

 
 

Hooray! You’ve got an AMAZING idea for a “thing.”

 

A book. A product. A service. A performance. An experience. Or a simple, helpful tool.

It’s all fleshed out in your mind. Or maybe it’s already done!

There’s just one thing holding you back.

It doesn’t have a “name,” yet.

Let’s fix that.
 

Here’s my 10-question process for generating names for all kinds of projects, products, books, systems and services.

 

… with LOTS of real-life examples from my own projects PLUS other businesses + brands, all around the world.

I’ve used these questions with hundreds of clients. I’ve shared them at workshops and I’ve used them to name my own babies.

I’m hoping — fingers-and-toes-crossed — that they’ll work for you, too.

Because there’s somebody out there who’s going to be informed, entertained or inspired by that “thing” that you’ve made.

So give it a name + get it out there, already. We’re waiting for YOU.

 

. . .

 

1. WHAT IS IT?

 

We often forget to ask ourselves this basic question — what IS this “thing,” anyway?

Going with a simple, direct, no-mystery-here name can be a powerful choice.

For example:

: Your Big Beautiful Book Plan (Danielle LaPorte + Linda Sivertsen). It’s (literally) a big beautiful plan to help you write your next book.

: Tarot Business In A Box (Theresa Reed). It’s (literally) everything you need to set up your tarot business, wrapped up in a (digital) box.

: Curvy Yoga (Anna Guest-Jelley). It’s (literally) a style of yoga for people with curvier bodies.

: 50 Proven Email Scripts (Ramit Sethi). It’s (literally) 50 email scripts that are proven to be effective.

: 50 Ways To Say You’re Awesome (me!). It’s (literally) 50 different ways to tell someone, “you’re awesome.”

: Orgasmic Meditation (from OneTaste). It’s (literally) a form of meditation to help women experience orgasms.

 
 

2. WHAT DOES IT HELP YOU TO DO?

 

Another “oh, duh!” question that we often forget to ask ourselves.

What’s the benefit, outcome, promise, reward or point of this “thing?”

For example:

: Websites Made Easy (Nathalie Lussier). It makes designing a website … easy.

: Become Your Own Business Adviser (Hiro Boga). It’s a program that helps you become your own business adviser.

: Creating Fame (Laura Roeder). It’s a program that helps you create fame, credibility and visibility for your work.

: Good To Great (Jim Collins). It’s a book that’s devoted to helping you move from being “good” at what you do to being “great.”

: The Reformer (Pilates equipment). It’s a machine that helps to “reform” your body during Pilates classes.

: How To Win Friends & Influence People (Dale Carnegie). Gee, what will this book help me to do? Oh right. THAT.

 
 

3. WHAT’S THE DEEPER, SPIRITUAL EFFECT?

 

Some “things” have a surface-level effect, as well as a deeper effect.

The name of your “thing” might speak to that deeper reward, rather than just the top-level benefit.

For example:

: The Deepening (Catherine Just). On the surface, it’s about learning how to take beautiful photos. But really, it’s about deepening your relationship with God. (However you define God.)

: Eyes Open (Annika Martins). On the surface, it’s about creating a daily meditation practice. But really, it’s about moving through life, fully awake.

: Taking Flight (Kelly Rae Roberts). On the surface, it’s about learning tips + techniques to get your creative business off the ground. But really, it’s about moving through doubts + fears, and letting your spirit take flight.

: The Shrink Sessions (Erin Stutland). On the surface, it’s about gettin’ your sweat on with a challenging workout. But really, it’s about “shrinking” the negative, self-defeating thoughts in your mind (not just “shrinking” your waistline).

 
 

4. WHERE IS IT?

 

Yet another “duh!” question that we often forget to ask.

Sometimes, the name of your “thing” is simply … the location.

For example:

: The Carmel Writing Retreats (Linda Sivertsen). Based in Carmel, California. Enough said.

: Writers In Paradise (Eckerd College Writers’ Conference). To the tropics, we fly!

: Weekend In The Woods. A writing + yoga retreat in the woods near Providence, Rhode Island.

: BIG: Kansas City. A business conference about big ideas, based in Kansas City.

 
 

5. WHO IS IT FOR?

 

Does your community have a name? (Bombshells, mommies, goddesses, crusaders, Beliebers, Little Monsters?)

Or is there a name, title or identity that they aspire to hold, one day?

Bake it right into the name of your “thing.”

For example:

: Bombshell Coaching (Ellie Scarborough Brett). For women who want to channel their inner “bombshell,” especially when they’re appearing in the media.

: The Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop (Rachel Cole). For women who want to find their own answer to the question, “What are you truly hungry for?”

: Surf Goddess Retreats (travel company). For women who aspire to be … surf goddesses!

: The Playboy Club (bar + casino). For gentlemen who aspire to be … playboys, presumably!

: MommyJuice (wine company). For mommies who need some “special juice.”

 
 

6. WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE?

 

What’s the feeling that this “thing” gives people as they’re reading, watching, or experiencing it?

Does it feel like a hug? Like a kick in the butt? Like a bracing cup of tea? Or a blazing fire?

For example:

: Chicken Soup for the Soul (Jack Canfield + Mark Victor Hansen). Reading these books feels comforting, soothing … like a bowl of chicken soup poured directly onto your soul.

: Southern Comfort (the booze). Drinking this, apparently, makes you feel like you’re reclining on a cozy porch swing, way down south.

: The Golden Ticket (Michelle Ward + Tanya Geisler). Attending this career-building event makes you feel like you’ve found the golden ticket: getting paid to do what you love.

: The Snuggie. It feels like being … all snuggled up in a lazy pile of goodness.

 
 

7. IS THERE A COMMON TURN OF PHRASE THAT SUMS IT ALL UP?

 

Idioms are commonly-used turns of phrases. (Think: “Good things come to those who wait.” Or “A chip on your shoulder.” Or “It’s a blessing in disguise.”)

Try using an idiom as the name of your “thing,” which instantly makes it feel clever and easy to remember.

For example:

: A Thousand Times, YES! (Melissa Cassera). A digital class to help you create products + services that will have your customers screaming, “a thousand times, yes!”

: Spic and Span (cleaning products). Cleaning products that will keep your home “spic and span.”

: A Matter Of Fact (employment background check services). They’ll check … the facts!

: Blue Moon (beer company). Beer with quality + flavor so good, it only comes around “once in a blue moon.”

 
 

8. OR, HOW ABOUT A PUN?

 

Some people hate puns. I LOVE THEM.

No explanation required, for these examples:

: Pho Shizzle (Vietnamese restaurant)

: Lord of the Fries (burger joint)

: A Good Man-darin is Hard to Find (OPI orange nail polish color)

: The Merchant of Tennis (tennis + athletic supply store)

: Donut Stop Believing (a donut shop that I intend to start, ONE DAY!!!)

 
 

9. WHAT’S THE CORE MESSAGE?

 

At the end of the day, what’s it all about? What’s the “message” or “reminder” that this “thing” is here to share with the world?

For example:

: Life Is Delicious (Susan Hyatt). A coaching program (now a TV show). The message? Life is precious and delicious — even when it’s messy.

: Playing Big (Tara Mohr). A program + online community. The message? It’s time to share your gifts with the world, instead of hiding in the shadows.

: Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff (Richard Carlson). The bestselling book. The message? Um … don’t sweat the small stuff.

: Volkswagen (the car company). It’s German for “the peoples’ car.” The message? Safe, beautifully designed cars should be for everyone, not just a select few.

 
 

10. HOW ABOUT _____________ + _____________?

 

The laziest — and sometimes, best! — option of all!

Your business name (or any word) + one of these descriptions:

: Camp
: Challenge
: Coaching
: Conference
: Connection
: Consulting
: Convention
: Experience
: Experiment
: Extravaganza
: Foundation
: Framework
: Guide
: Invitation
: Kickstart
: Method
: Philosophy
: Practice
: Program
: Project
: Retreat
: School
: Script
: Session
: Shift
: Starter Kit
: Toolbox
: Toolkit
: Training
: Workbook
: Worksheet

For example:

: MaxFunCon (a conference from the creators of the Maximum Fun podcasting network)

: RockCamp (a rock ‘n roll camp for grown-ups, based in Las Vegas)

: When I Grow Up Coaching (Michelle Ward)

: The Good Life Project (Jonathan Fields)

: The CLEAN Program (a juice cleanse)

 
 

And there you have it!

 

The ultimate guide (or at least, MY ultimate guide) to naming your “thing.”
 

One last piece of advice?

 

Answer these questions, brainstorm away, and then STEP AWAY FROM YOUR DESK.

I always get my best ideas when I’m taking a shower, taking a walk, in the middle of yoga class, on an airplane or cruising in my car. (Rarely while staring at a blank document on a computer screen.)

Give yourself some breathing room — and THAT’S usually when the perfect name will arrive.

Like, boom.

xo.

 

PS. Need even more inspiration?

Here are a few of my favorite word-nerd websites to peruse …

The Free Idiom Dictionary (to find common phrases + sayings)

The Online Etymology Dictionary (to research the origins + history of words)

RhymeZone (to find rhymes!)

Punrise, Punset (puns for everyone!)

Wordroid (generate “made-up” words that look cool + make people go, “what’s that?”)

Portmanteaur (combine two or more words into a portmanteau, like “bromance” or “chillax.”)

 
 

Downsizing your joy? Stop that. Let us be happy for you.

 
 

When I was 17 years old, a lovely English teacher told me to read Anna Karenina.

For those of you who aren’t literature dweebs, like me, Anna Karenina is an 832-page novel by the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy.

It’s very tragic and very dense and very “complicated,” in that way that makes you think, “This book must be a lot smarter than me, because I don’t really get what’s happening.”

I read it. As instructed. And then I wrote an essay that probably included the words “thusly” and “heretofore” way too many times.

And then I grew up + started writing books of my own.
 

After I wrote my first novel — which I awkwardly shared with my mom, my dad, and just a handful of friends — at age twenty-two, the people who loved me said: “That’s amazing! You did it!”

I said, “Yeah, well … It’s not exactly Anna Karenina.”
 

After I got my first book published — a sweet little collection of ‘thank you’ notes, with illustrations — at age twenty-eight, the nice folks at my launch party said: “It’s so cute! Great job!”

I said, “Thanks, but … It’s not like it’s Anna Karenina.”
 

After my second book came out — a daily journal for couples to share, together — an interviewer asked me how on earth I was able to write it in just a couple of days.

I said, “C’mon. It’s just a little journal. There’s barely even any text, in it!”
 

And just recently, after releasing a sneak peek at my next book — a sultry erotic novel, loosely based on my real life — friends + fans have gushed, telling me, “It’s soooo hot! More! When? And how the hell did you write it in just three weeks?!”

To which I’ve replied, “Well, hey … It’s just mindless entertainment, right? No big deal.”
 

And then I remembered something a friend said to me, once, after watching me downsize my joy in front of a room full of people:

“Stop doing that,” she said. “We want to be happy for you, and … you’re making it harder.”

Oh. Right.
 

Thanks to her words, I’ve remembered:

The world needs Anna Karenina AND Fifty Shades of Grey AND Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood AND Beyonce’s latest album AND your blog AND my books AND your cousin Patricia’s open-mic night poetry, too.
 

Whatever you’re making?

And whatever you do?

Be happy.

Be proud.

And let us be happy with you.
 

xo.

PS. What have you made lately that you’re REALLY proud of? (Share, down below. And don’t you DARE diminish your glee!)

 
 

Tired of waiting? Great. Start creating.

 
 

A few moments ago, I finished up a writing project for one of my clients — some saucy language to announce the pilot episode of her brand new TV show, which is bursting into the world in, like, minutes.

My clients launch things all the time — shows, books, digital programs, product lines. That’s not particularly unusual.

What’s unusual — and extraordinary — about this particular woman’s story is that she waited seven years before she finally said:

 

“I’m done wishing + hoping + praying for a TV network to sweep me away like a Disney prince and make my dreams come true. No more waiting. Let’s start creating.”

 

So she hired a video production team, collaborated with me to outline the first season and write the promo script + sponsor pitches, got herself gussied up with hair + makeup, pushed through her resistance and pulled it OFF.

 

No more waiting. Just start creating.

 

It’s so simple. So true. So necessary to hear.
 

You don’t have to wait for a publisher to offer you a deal. Just write your damn book + get it out there.
 

You don’t have to wait until you’ve got Hollywood celebs on speed-dial. Just finish your screenplay, fly down to LA and start working every angle you’ve got.
 

You don’t have to wait until you’ve got an avalanche of readers + fans. Just start sharing your ideas. Change one person’s life, today. And maybe three people’s lives, tomorrow.
 

You don’t have to wait for true love to arrive. You can do that epic road-trip, that trip to Paris, that volunteer adventure in Cambodia … NOW.

 

You really, truly do NOT have to wait.

Every breath is a new chance to create.

 

You don’t need permission, approval, connections or a magical genie to open the door.

Just start. And then finish.

 

What are YOU waiting for?

 

xo.

PS. I’ve wanted to publish a work of fiction for almost ten years, and guess what? I’m done waiting around for “someone” to give me a “thumbs up.” I finally sat down + wrote my debut erotic novel in three weeks, flat.

The story is DONE — just running through a quick round of proofreading — and OOH! Here is a sneak peek.

Very, very soon … I’m self-publishing this baby. No parking, no waiting. Just delicious creating.

 
 

How to write a book. (See also: complete anything.)

 
 

Wants + dreams, scribbled inside a journal I wrote for Potter Style. Photo by Leslie.

 
 
 

Couple days ago, a Twitter pal popped a question, aimed at me + another writer whose work she admired:

 

“I really want to write a book but don’t know where to start. Please help!”

 

My reply?

 

“Start by writing it.”

 

A little blunt, I’ll admit.

But honestly … what else is there to say?

If you find yourself looping around the words “I really want to ___________,” over and over, but never progressing, the ONLY solution is to start doing ___________.

And if you can’t / shan’t / won’t do ___________, well … maybe you don’t really want ___________ as much as you thought.

Which is completely OK.

Wants + dreams change all the time.

But give yourself (and the rest of the world) a break, admit it, and move on to something you do want. Urgently. Arrestingly. Passionately.

 

“The best way to do it, is to do it!”
–Amelia Earhart

 

Word.

With that … I’m diving back into my latest passion project: a sultry erotic fiction novel about a writer + pastry chef, loosely based on my real life. (Think: 50 Shades with less bondage and more crème brulée.)

And on the subject of ‘how to write a book’ — or complete anything that tugs at your heart — that’s all I have to say.

Have a wildly productive day.

xo.

 
 

Craving s-p-a-c-e to focus on that One Big Project? Last call to write + play in a magical island paradise. (Meet me there.)

 
 

 
 

When the friendly folks at the Madeline Island School of the Arts reached out to me, and asked if they could host one of my writing workshops in their space, my very first thought was:

 

“Gee, that’s very sweet. And flattering. But, um … who’s going to want to travel to an island in the middle of Lake Superior, to hang out with me?”

 

And then they sent over the photos.

And I thought:

 

“Oh. YES. I get it.”

 
 

 
 

My Write Yourself Into Motion workshop on Madeline Island is going to be … a little slice of wonderful.

 

It’s the longest workshop I’m teaching this year. Nice + spacious. 5 days, 4 nights.

It’s definitely the most serene + inspiring setting — an island in the Midwestern USA, close to the shores of Wisconsin.

I’ll be debuting some brand-new material.

We’ll all get a summertime tan.

It’ll be grand.
 

It’s also … a rather generous arrangement. Your registration will range from $1250 – $1450 — depending on your room selection — and that flat rate includes your sleeping quarters, breakfast + lunch each day, a wine + cheese reception AND small-group instruction with me. Not too shabby.
 

So, if …

: There’s a book burning inside of you.
: There’s an e-book or program that needs to be born.
: The language on your website needs some good lovin’.
: Or, you’re just craving some SPACE to sit down + focus on that One Big Project.

… I can’t think of a better place to do it.
 

The workshop is happening Sunday, May 18 – Thursday, May 22, 2014.

We kick off Sunday evening. We wrap up Thursday around noon.

Circle the dates + come get what you need.
 

If you’re IN, go HERE to register online or simply email [email protected], and they’ll sort you out. (Just takes a 25% down-payment to hold your spot, and our friends at MISA can even arrange an airport shuttle for you and make the whole journey silky-smooth.)

 

See you on the island.

 

I can’t wait to work, write + play with you — and give you a dose of momentum + speed.

And most of all, permission to stop over-thinking your writing — and just let it happen with ease.
 

xo.