Questions, questions, questions…
I’ve been collecting boatloads of email / twitter / voicemail questions from y’all for MONTHS, and I figure it’s high time to address them. In one fell swoop. So … here’s a big, bodacious barrel of answers. May they inspire, inform & delight. Or simply … amuse.
“How do you maintain such unfettered, effortless creativity?”
I’ve pondered this question on many occasions, and I believe the answer comes down to three things:
1. Putting Grade A Canadian maple syrup in my coffee.
2. Sleeping on a firm yet womb-like mattress.
3. Kissing someone every day.
“What’s your daily routine? I find you so inspiring!”
Prepared to be uninspired! Just kidding. Mostly.
Truth be told, my ‘daily routine’ isn’t exactly awe-inspiring. Right now, I basically have two kinds of days: VELOCITY DAYS (aka, client-work days) and NON-VELOCITY days.
VELOCITY DAYS flow like so:
8am: Wake up. Ask my boyfriend if he had any interesting dreams. (I usually dream about dessert buffets & hotel pools & being a spy, and such.)
9am: Toast has been eaten. Coffee has been consumed. Prepare for the day’s work.
10am: Interviewing today’s client. Possibly not wearing pants.
12pm: Micro-break! Amble down to the local deli-sandwich-salad-palace-of-all-things-delicious to grab some lunch.
12:30pm – 5pm: Write like a bat outta hell, breaking only to quaff prodigious amounts of coffee.
5pm: Wrap-up phone call with client.
6pm – 8ishpm: More writing. Seal up the day’s work. Slam computer shut. DONE!
8:30pm: Candlelight yoga class.
9:30pm: Late dinner (usually a platter of cheese, crackers, nuts, fruit, raw veggies, and fig-related jams. Wine. More chocolate.)
10:30pm: Reading, watching TV, unmentionable activities with boyfriend, evening stroll.
NON-VELOCITY DAYS are exactly like VELOCITY DAYS, except instead of jamming with my client du jour, I fill the bulk of my daylight hours working on my own writing, answering emails, and wrangling general business administrivia — usually from a delightfully grungy local coffeeshop.
And then, there are miscellaneous activities. Which include…
: Meeting a girlfriend for a nooner … Pilates class, that is!
: Strolling around the lake, or the Walker Arts Center sculpture garden.
: Pretending to go to a museum, but mostly just loitering in the museum gift shop.
Paying people to blowdry my hair supporting the local economy.
: Talking on the phone to my mom about
the pressing issues of the day Downton Abbey.
: Obsessively cleaning my apartment with a mixture of white vinegar, citrus essence & organic soap.
: Sending adorable texts to my boyfriend.
: Writing thank you notes to awesome people.
: Thinking about where & when & what I’ll have for dinner, and with whom.
: Wondering when Shakira will do another all-Spanish album. And if it will come with an accompanying dance tutorial.
Aren’t you SO glad you asked?
“Do you do yoga every morning & do you do VELOCITY sessions five days a week, every week?”
Hellz NO! I did five back-to-back VELOCITY sessions exactly once, and it pan-fried my brain cells.
I aim for 3 VELOCITY sessions a week. I’ve learned that 3 days of client work per week is just about my maximum capacity — because I need time to recuperate between sessions, as well as do all the ‘other stuff’ that keeps my business running, like …
It’s incredible how quickly a ‘free day’ can fill up with ‘miscellaneous’ minutia. But I love it all.
As for YOGA … lately, I’ve been hitting the yoga mat 4 – 5 times a week. Sometimes in the morning, sometimes late at night. I should mention that my apartment building has a yoga & pilates studio ON THE GROUND LEVEL, which means I don’t even have to put shoes on in order to roll into class.
So I do have a significantly unfair advantage. If I had to actually get fully dressed & drive to class somewhere else, I would probably make it to yoga negative-5 times a week. At best.
“I’m having a hard time finding work-from-home attire that is both comfortable and also appropriate to run out for errands or coffee and not look like I’m in my PJs. Do you have any favorite brands you would suggest checking out in your work-from-home wardrobe?”
And wearing your PJs in public is a problem because … ?
In all seriousness, I wear black leggings or yoga pants almost every single day, with a quadricep-skimming top or tunic-smock kinda situation, up top. Throw on a pair of knee-high walking boots & some crystal earrings, and shazam! Outfit complete.
I also love breezy, low-maintenance dresses in spunky colors, like indigo & mustard green. Once a year, I strut into American Apparel and stock up on basics — loose t-shirts, convertible dresses, wrap-around shawls.
When I need to look super-fancy & pulled together in 5 seconds flat (spontaneous video-chat, on Skype!) I put my hair into a loose side-braid and throw on a fancy pashmina shawl. Don’t even have to wear pants!
Another key fashion tip: if you’re having a bad hair day, hold a small & adorable dog in front of you. DIVERSION, people!
“I love the way you crank out such powerful work over a short period of time — do you have any tips for getting really focused for that period of time — or does it just come with finding your creative flow?”
Everyone has a different creative rhythm. Personally, my brains works best when I know that I have a good 5 – 10 hours to focus exclusively on ONE THING. One client, one project, one idea.
So, when I’m doing a VELOCITY session, for example, I literally clear my entire day for that one client. Nothing else on the docket. My brain is theirs. That kind of immersion helps me laser-beam in … and get copious amounts of writing done.
Other things that help me FOCUS:
: Pulling a Tarot card to find a symbolic anchor for the day.
: Holding crystals to my heart chakra & asking the universe to support me & help me be profoundly useful, to whoever I’m working with or teaching, that day. (Yes. Really. I’m THAT person).
: Listening to groovy, ambient music. I love LUSH from SomaFM.
: Repetition (favorite chair, favorite coffee mug).
: Removing distractions (phone on silent or simply turned off, Twitter feed closed).
: Short breaks (walking to get lunch, taking a shower, stretching upside down).
: Having something scheduled at the END of the day, that’s time sensitive … which ensures I wrap up on time. (Dinner with girlfriends at 8! Cannot be late!)
Ultimately, of course, nobody knows what’s going to work for you. You’ve got to test & tease out your own creative parameters. But for me — and a lot of people — uni-tasking RULES.
“What program do you use to create your PDFs? Like the ones in your script offerings & your Pre-VELOCITY PlayBook.”
I use iWork Pages to create all my shizzle. It’s kinda like Word, except with more robust design features.
I also call upon the majestic & marvelously talented Rebecca Pollock, when I need a jolt of extra-snazzy design. (She did all the graphics on my website & blog, por ejemplo.)
“Were you really a helicopter pilot?”
Yes. Private pilot, not commercial. I passed my checkride just before my 21st birthday. At the time, I thought I wanted to be a professional pilot. Turns out … naw.
My license expired years ago, and even though I no longer fly, I’ll never forget (or regret) the experience of soaring through the air like a metallic pegasus. Nothing like it.
“Do you have a team of people that you work with on a regular basis that help with finances, new offerings, etc. or are you just a one woman show KILLING it up there in Minnesota?”
Yes & no.
I’m basically a one-woman show. I don’t have an assistant or a team of minions cowering in fear, beneath me. No one reads my email but me. No one answers my email but me (that I’m aware of).
No one sends out bills, or schedules my Tweets, or formats my blog posts, or uploads my images …
but me. Partially because my business isn’t built at a scale that necessitates that kind of support.
And partially because I’m a control freak.
That being said … I do reach out to The Professionals for help with specific projects. Like complicated website updates & graphic design & highly-detailed proofreading.
I’ve curated ALL my favorite designers, coders, coaches & more in this handy lil’ bundle. Have a peek!
“Any tips on engaging more people, online? And how do I turn conversation to action?”
I’m thoroughly bored of typical Internet campaigns. So … be rare & unconventional & home-spun. Be human.
I recently wrote about this very topic (Check out: How to get NOTICED in the crowded, noisy, super-saturated & shamefully forgetful online universe.)
Make a bit of SPECTACLE.
GIVE first. ASK later.
Invert expectations — and you’ll be golden.
“Do you offer online copywriting workshops? Although I really love your more high-end offerings, I am a starving artist as they say and would love to see more ‘beer budget’ services from you.”
Right now, my script packs & free wee-books are my ‘beer budget’ offerings. I also think of my blog as a ‘free service’, and try to keep my missives as inspiring & informative as possible.
There’ll be more lower-price point offerings in the future, so fear not.
And if there’s something in particular you’d LOOOOVE for me to create, do tell! (I get a LOT of inspiration from readers, friends & beautiful digital strangers. Like you.)
Q&A = COMPLETE!
Enjoy today’s micro-revolution ’round the sun.