As I sit drinking coffee at my kitchen table, something weighs heavily on my mind. It has to do with money.

Money comes, money goes. (Most of us hate the “go” part of money flying out of our hands, don’t we?) We all need cash to live, and it seems most of us spend cash way too fast.

(Can you relate?)

Gah. Money can be tough to come by. It’s hard work, to make a living.

Now here’s the truth: Most artists and creators are stuck between making a living and a living of making (creating).

Think about it.

We work jobs that aren’t the apple of our eye. Work is work; creating is a luxury. We bite the bullet, grit our teeth, and a dozen other metaphors that say, “I’ll do this other job — the job that isn’t the creative talent job — because I have to.” What you do for your creative job is more like a fun hobby (that costs us more than it makes us, in money).

But. Wait. A. Sec.
It doesn’t have to be that way.

Four years ago, I did the smartest thing I’ve ever done, when it comes to money. I started creating online courses. Set in eternal Internet vineyards, the courses grow grapes turned to wine. (Hang with me here for a sec.)

Just as well-grown wine sits and gets better, the opportunity of well-written online courses sits and gets better. If your course is even somewhat good — it gives superb info, is easily followed, and creates results — word of mouth takes over. It sells. Again. And again. Multiplication takes over.

Online courses support me, now. I believe it can be that way for you, too.

So. What’s on my mind is how to get across to you all the potential that exists in making money with online courses.

Listen: A super successful and smart person I know has SO much information to share with others in an online course. I’ve sat under his teaching. It’s superb. I’ve seen and read his work as an author. It’s superb. I’ve seen who he’s connected to. It’s superb. I’m convinced he’d make SO much money. But he, personally, doesn’t believe that online courses can really bring in cash, at least for him. Even though he’s successful and brilliant, he thinks that people wouldn’t sign up for his courses.

Oh. My. Gosh. I’m like, are you kidding me, dude?

I WOULD BUY HIS COURSE! And watch it again. And again. No lie. Even though I’ve already heard this guy talk and know him personally. (Especially because I’ve heard him talk and know him personally!)

So why does this very talented, well-known guy shy from making an online course? I want to talk about that. Because maybe it’s the same for you.

Because online courses can be, like they are for me now, your bread and butter. Giving you time to make a living by a living of making.

More on this next time. 
(I hope your appetite is whetted. Because I believe that everyone has something to share — and someone out there wants what you have.)

* Thup
coffeeJune27-15

“Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door.”
― Emily Dickinson

“Arrange whatever pieces come your way.”
― Virginia Woolf

 “Let me tell ya. You gotta pay attention to signs. When life reaches out with a moment like this it’s a sin if you don’t reach back… I’m telling you.”
― Matthew Quick, The Silver Linings Playbook

Opportunity.

You know what I’m talking about. It’s the searing flash of serendipity — where people meet, words overlap, and stars align in something so brilliant with possibility that it takes your breath away.

It’s when those pieces come together as if they were simply waiting. Waiting for the perfect time to step onto the stage.

It’s experiencing the Perfect Storm — the good kind — where a critical state of affairs, that un-wanted crisis, that unsought moment, that set of circumstances that felt tight and taught and tough — that moment drives you to think in new ways, creating the fusing of unpredictable factors, creating a new direction and opportunity that you simply can’t ignore.

And you stand, toes on the brink, wondering if you dare take that step.

Take it.

Because when the synapses of your experience and expertise cross and spark,
and 1 + 1 + 1 suddenly makes 111,
your moment is more than an idea.
It’s a future.

Don’t miss this.

* Thup

When was the last time you were truly bold and confident?
Not mediocre.
Not distracted.
But decisive and clear.

The vision hasn’t changed.
You’ve changed.

Don’t.
(Get back to what you know to be and do.)

Grasp. Capture. Live.

No more sauntering on the passion path.
The calling — the vision — still exists…
Not out there, somewhere…
But close.
Now.

Consider this a poke.

* Thup
coffeeMay12-15

Two words
float, fly, and flit around,
overused:
“authenticity” and “passion.”

It’s a shame. Because their meaning and their expression in reality
is intensely, truly, most surely needed,
to be alive in the highest sense.

To be true, honest, and open in how we interact, with all that is in us. Our best effort. The open heart. No pretenses, no agendas.

Only moving in the honesty of our minds and soul-nature —
melted together to, without manipulation or self-levied protection,
putting ourselves out there…regardless of our endogenous fables and flaws.

Doing. For all to see. For all to embrace.
For all to take shots at.
(Ouch.)

Being authentic and passionate, honest and kind,
invites criticism.

(And it will come.)

Those who are truly brave are those who know the potential criticism and,
regardless of the fear of exposure, step into the unknown
with the gift of themselves riding on hope
that, somehow and someday,
those who need your love-gift most will open their palms,
letting their fingers relax and fall, to grasp, envelop, and own it.

And if they don’t. Well. That’s okay.
Because you did your part.

Writer, write.
Photographer, photograph.
Musician, play.
Dancer, dance.
Sculptor, sculpt.
Thinker, think.

Entrepreneur, create.

Regardless.
(I dare you.)

* Thup
coffeeApril9-15

Ah, Easter. The day of newness.
The reminder of redemption, rebirth, regrowth, re-working, and re-doing.

New comes. No matter what moments have passed, again, the sun rises.
And with each new day, the same question sits rocking in a boat on the water, back and forth,
with the same curious, innocent head cock and twinkling eyes, and says,

What will you do with today?

With innocence, beauty holds the answer in its fingertips ever-so gently and says,
No matter the season in your life, today is the gift to spend wisely.

Some of you blogosphere friends have noticed:
I’ve been curiously silent here.
It’s because of newness.
Because of the best of times and the worst of times.

***********************
“See you soon,” I said, Easter’s Resurrection in mind and heart.
And on whispers of “I love you,” Mom breathed out gently one more time, moving toward heaven.

Mom painting 2 Nov 22-13 copy

If you’ve lost someone close, you know it:
the worst of times.

And, then.

***************************

“You can do it,” i said.
On whispers of “I love you,” my youngest son, Ben, stepped onto the stage, moving into a new chapter.

(The moment is held in time, now, at the one-minute mark. Since they posted the promo, I’m sharing with you all :D)

If you’ve an open door of opportunity, you know it:
The best of times.
(All I can say is, watch the show!)

***********************

And it’s all good, all a measure of this wonderful gift of life we’ve been given.

We don’t know what each day will bring, what will be new in our lives. How we choose to respond — the meaning we ascribe to a situation, in Faith, and what we do with it — now that’s the one thing that can keep the keel steady.

Entrepreneurs, here’s a special note for us all, for our venture-making.

What will you do with today? is your daily question, from the first open eyes to their closing.

It’s about your internal and external response —
the management of emotional anguish and joy, toward the physical trials, while creating trust moments.
Every thought, every decision, moves us into, around, and past the conflict of that question.

What will you do with today?

No matter if you’re facing the mourning or the morning moments,
keep focused.

*********************

Writers, here’s a special note for us all, for our story-making.

What will you do with today? is your hero’s question, from the beginning of your story to the end.

It’s all about your hero’s internal and external response —
the emotional anguish and joy, the physical trials and trust moments. Every scene, every chapter, moves us into, around, and past the conflict of that question.

What will you do with today?

No matter if it’s the mourning or the morning moments,
keep your hero focused.

Make her feel.
Make him respond.
Make it the best of times and the worst of times.

That’s story we follow to the end.
(That’s the life we live fully, to the end.)

* Thup

CoffeeApril5-15

Writer.
Entrepreneur.
Artist of any kind.

hey. bend an ear this way, if you will.
(let’s pow-wow for a second)

You’ve talked unabashedly about following the dream. Passionate, skilled, and encouraging — you are the master of (or mastering) your craft, and you’ve inspired and illuminated others on different levels. Would you like your passion to financially bless your family and your future? Of course.

Let’s talk straight. Money is part of the equation of living, giving, and being able to share your passion with others. Let’s not be shy.

Here’s the thing: If you find a need, people will pay for it. If you have a skill that others want, people will also pay for that. If you are able to give, connect, and care (isn’t that what it’s all about?), why does it have to be that you’re struggling financially?

It doesn’t.

The “starving artist” mentality keeps slithering among entrepreneurial reeds: the idea that it’s a challenge to make a living at idea-making and passion-chasing.

I challenge that idea.

Think about your skill — what you have to share with others.

Someone else wants that, too. And making a living is something we all have to do. It’s fair, good, and positive to be a part of the economy, in all ways — intellectually, spiritually, relationally, physically, personally, and monetarily.

Do this:
1. Write down your passion. Spell it out. What is it that you do that you love? And what is the benefit of what you have — the cool and amazing thing that you can do, with the knowledge that others want?

We all have skills and knowledge. Quite simply, some walking on the life road haven’t been to the town of our knowledge, yet. They want to get there. But they don’t know how.

You can be the one to take someone’s hand and help. Your passion — and you — can be the key to their growth, their enjoyment, their happiness.

2. Write down all the little pieces and parts of your skill. What are the little skills that make up your big skill? What are the little bits of knowledge attached to each part — how your passion works, why it works, the conditions needed to make it work? 

Take your time. Brainstorm it. Keep writing. You might not realize it at first, but what you know — and how you know to do it — is a long list.

Now save this.

Because these scribbles are the seeds to share what you know. And I want to show you how. Like I said, if people want to get to where you are, people will pay for it.

More on this in the next post. Stay tuned.

* Thup

coffeeFeb7-15

 

You might be sleeping. Right now.

I’m not talking about in-the-darkness sleeping. Or mid-day naps.
This is about sleeping with your eyes open.

Because we can be awake but not. Conscious, yet asleep to the vibrancy, the joy, and the exquisiteness of life.

I know, I know. This sounds woo-woo, let’s-all-hum-with-the-monks. But it’s not. It’s about that elusive thing called peace.

It’s true: We want peace, love, joy, and goodness. But we don’t want to slow down enough to think in healthy ways, to focus on truth, to take the steps to appreciate, and to embody candid, authentic, correct, reliable, and sincere thoughts. Somehow, there are too many storms within us…too little faith…too much struggle within ourselves.

Who me?

*Sigh. All of us. We all fall into inattentiveness. Sleeping while awake, the lifeboat drifting and rocking and swaying on lapping water, back and forth into the habit of not being present, the habit that takes away the most precious moments of our lives, simply because we’re not paying attention. Subdued into tranquilized numbness.

Fully awake means breathing in life in loving, caring moments, free from angst.

The question isn’t so much do we want to wake, up, it’s
will we wake up. 

And because we’re meant to live fully awake, wake-ups have a way of coming to our door and knocking. Tapping. Rapping. Banging.
I hope the wake-up alarm isn’t through tragedy.
I hope the voice of refocus doesn’t come from pain-filled catastrophe.
I hope the cold water splash of awareness doesn’t come from calamity.
(Because, unfortunately, the bad shakes us and makes us appreciate the good.)

I hope waking up comes from choosing.
Because we can choose to open the door and take a breath of fresh awakening every second. It’s that primal, that integral, that elemental. That simple. (Almost too simple.)

To be intentional.
To listen.
To consider.
To feel. And deal.
To be at peace — and make peace.
To seek to understand, to give, to love.
(I want to be fully awake, don’t you?)

It’s good for characters in a book to struggle to be awake, to sleepwalk through what’s most important in life, to have flaws that keep the hero from being fully present, fully enjoying life. The storyline is the slow-grow wake-up process of the hero from flaw to freedom, and the long, slow unfolding makes for good story.

But in real life, waking up sooner is better. 

* Thup

This post part of a series called “Don’t Do This” — posts so you can avoid bad writing habits, identify and steer clear of the pitfalls of poor writing, and become the writer-communicator people want to follow.

(Because no one has arrived.)

Get every word,
catch the take-away,
apply.
(Enjoy)
________________________________________

aloof and amok.

“I don’t need it.”
“I already know this.”
“I’m beyond what you’re talking about.”
“I learned that years ago.”

These are the phrases of people who believe they’ve arrived.
Or, at the very least, they’re nearing the station, so learning/growing/becoming doesn’t apply “in their area of expertise” as much.

Gah.
None of us have arrived.
All of us are still learning.
All of us can grow.
All of us need to become better versions of who we are and what we do.

None. Of. Us. Have. Arrived.
train tracks
*sigh.
(sorry for the drama)
(This. Is. Important.)

Most of us will say, I know this. I’m not prideful or anything awful like that. I just know my stuff, and I’m confident.

But. oh. think.
What does your (and my) life say?
Are we listening more than we talk?
Are we present, fully present, giving each person equal attention?
Are we paying attention to what that person can give to our life?

And.
What does your (and my) body language say?
wooden bodies
Does the face reflect honest attention?
Are your feet pointing toward the person, not toward the door?
Are your eyes looking, really looking, in order to see and understand?

And.
What does your (and my) time say?
timepiece
Are we taking the exact moment at hand, to honor the person we’re with?

Warning —
Expert-ism brings along with it a dangerous characteristic: 
Aloofness.

All of us have knowledge.
We’re all skilled in our different areas.

But.

It’s not about being an expert.
Because experts are not perfect.
Experts are not infallible.
Experts do not understand every angle, every possible positive that can make better.

Experts have gaps in their thinking, too.
Experts have gaps in their understanding, too.
I know, this is duh. But how are we acting? really?

(Come on. Time to put it out on the table.)
We all can be better.

_________________________________________

Dont’ Do This:
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that as a leader in your field, you’re close to the station. If you’re human, the train has a long way to go.

Do This:
Be open.
Step back.
Think truthfully.
Be present with every single person you’re with.

Take off the expert hat. Put on the learner hat.
Put yourself in learning situations. Grow.

Get immersed in honesty, openness, and listening for what’s in that moment for you, for me, for our lives.

Don’t let your train run amok. Toss the aloofness.
It’s much more becoming
and will take your train to stations way beyond the one just up ahead.

You can’t become the better writer-communicator that people want to know
without constant growth in understanding, self-awareness, and perpetual action toward growth.

Successful people are constant learners.

* Thup
coffee 1-15-15

This post part of a series called “Don’t Do This” aimed at helping you avoid bad writing habits, identify and steer clear of the pitfalls of poor writing, and become the writer-communicator that people want to follow. (Because no one has arrived. And all of us can use platinum ideas, to be better at the craft of writing.)

It’s like a book online. Free. Bite sized, motivating, practical bits. You’ll like it because it’s all about what works, the how-to for an immediate increase in your writing effectiveness.

Get every word, catch the take-away to apply, and become a sharper writer, right now…
________________________________________

“drive safe” and reasons.

It’s wintertime in Michigan. That means instead of saying, Have a great day! with a saccharine lilt, we say, Drive safe, with sober sincerity.

Michigan winters bring dangerous roads. Especially with the 193-car pile up yesterday on I-94 that killed people — a horrific event on both sides of the highway involving 76 semis, 117 cars, and a truck full of exploding fireworks. The phrase, drive safe, echoes everywhere.

Here’s the truth: Powerful moments motivate us. The crash-crazy event is on everyone’s mind. The reverberating WHOA, THAT WAS AWFUL skitters across social media.

Think writing, now.

Here’s the truth: Powerful moments motivate even the smallest phrases on the page. Everything you write must have a reason, a motivation, and a core to why it’s there. 

Because all quality, powerful, emotion-evoking and mind-changing words must exist for meaning’s sake. We simply cannot afford to use words for words’ sake. I know this sounds Duh! but we’re all guilty.

We’re in love with our own words. But we simply can’t be. You and I must Happily. Let. Go. No, I’m not going to burst into the Disney song, but I am going to say this:

For nonfiction writing,
the words you choose 
must
echo your
key intentions.
And…
For fiction writing,
the words you choose 
must
be saturated with
your characters’
 motivations.

Think about it.
____________________

For anything nonfiction.
emails to blogs to books…
(Get this.)
Your goal is to write the most dynamic — and, yes, succinct — piece, with words chosen to equal the diamond of your idea. Forget the frills, the fluff, the foo — we need clear, purpose-filled words. Unless the words drive the reader to your point, you have to let them go (cue music). Edit. A lot. (Keep asking yourself, Do I really need this?) 

Wordsmith your ideas to get them to the bright, powerful meaning they deserve. Wordsmithing is a cool word, don’t you agree? Tell someone, I’m wordsmithing, and watch his or her face. Your wordsmithed ideas are the ones that  burn onto the page — and into the reader’s heart.

_____________________

For all forms of fiction.
short stories to screenplays to epics…
(Get this.)

In every scene — every paragraph — your character’s motivation is at work. Her reasons surface in her words, her movements, her choices. If it’s not surely tied into her reasons, her internal drives, then rewrite. Edit. A lot.

Wordsmith your ideas to get your story to the enticing, powerful movement with meaning —  burning onto the page and into the reader’s heart.
_______________

Don’t do this:
Don’t fall in love with your words.
Be willing to toss words, lines, paragraphs, entire chapters with gusto.

Do this:
Be flexible — even joyous — at slicing, tossing, and shifting. Expect to reform your page with everything you write. Rarely — if ever — will you get the diamond the first time. Pros take heavy-duty machetes to the page.

______________

Don’t do this:
Don’t start writing without thinking deeply. 
As in jumping into an idea prematurely. He who fails to plan plans to fail. And he who swims in the idea pool with shallow waters doesn’t swim far.

Do this:
Write out your motivation.
* In nonfiction writing,
what response do you want the reader to have, after reading your work? You need a powerful phrase that nails the reader’s reason to read your work. In marketing terms, that’s your reader’s benefit. Have a driving benefit in mind before you write.

But how do you get to the on-fire benefit? 

Here’s how: Before you start, write a guiding phrase that states WHY someone would read what you write. Then write the action that you want your reader to take, at the end of reading your piece. Use that guiding phrase in all that you write. Keep it in front of you. For every paragraph. Every word. Seriously. Everything you write must be tied into that phrase.

* In fiction writing, every living creature in your story must have a clear and guiding motivation. So before you start, write them down — what drives every person to feel what he or she feels, to do what he or she does. Use motivations to guide all that you write. A.L.L. Keep the motivation in front of you. For every page. Seriously. Everything that your character does must be tied into that motivation.

You know, I was supposed to be on I-94 yesterday. Yes, at that exact time, in the exact place where the 193-car pile-up happened. Because of the poor weather, I changed my plans. I took drive safe as a serious, action-inducing motivation — a motivation that changed my behavior. And, boy, am I’m glad that I did.

Find your motivations. Use them.

Oh. And drive safe. Please.
Life is precious.

* Thup
coffee-oct2-14

This post part of a series, “Don’t Do This” – posts aimed at helping you avoid bad writing habits, identify and steer clear of the pitfalls of poor writing, and become the writer-communicator that people want to follow.

It’s like a book online. Free. Bite sized, motivating, practical bits. You’ll like it because it’s all about what works, the how-to for an immediate increase in your writing effectiveness.

Get every word, catch the take-away to apply, and become a sharper writer, right now…
***********************************************************************

the end in mind.

Answer this: What do the following have in common…

smaug
1. The second Hobbit movie.
2. A blog post.
3. A Christmas card.
(?)

Answer: Each has an incomplete ending.
(The movie and post were incomplete for many, I presume; the card, that was incomplete just for me. But more on that in a sec…)

Get this:
Incomplete is not good.
(Okay. You know that.)

Think about it, though.
Your writing, with a “bad ending,” is empty.
Hollow. Hanging. Not memorable, and left with negative emotion.
Incomplete writing is a piece that shouts, “Wait for it!”… but nothing happens. Zip. Nada.

It’s pretty obvious:
The ending with a disconnect to your audience’s needs is silence that’s not golden.

_______________________

critical
Endings are critical.

And in order to have a great ending to whatever we write,
we must 
begin with the end in mind.
__________________________

Because an incomplete ending is more than silence. An incomplete ending is like hoards of crickets, all sitting around with blank looks on their little faces, rubbing their skinny legs in absentminded la-la-land endlessness…

Another analogy: Writing without a solid ending leaves the reader listening to the pointless drone of an orchestra warming up before its concert. (The orchestral warm-up exists for the players, not for the audience.)

Your unfinished, unfocused, no-ending writing leaves the reader in blank-look endlessness, in warm-up droniness (new word).

The warm up goes on and on, and the concert (the connection with the audience) never begins. Bad news for the readers — I mean, concertgoers.

Sorry. I like crickets. And orchestras. Really.
But I digress.

_________________

Your writing needs to satisfy the reader.
gold nugget

And you satisfy the reader
by identifying ONE SOLID NUGGET
to communicate at the end.

_________________

No matter what you write — a card, a note, an email, a web page, a marketing piece, a book, a script — you must find the nugget that will satisfy the reader’s expectations and needs.

>>Take the Hobbit movie #2.
When Smaug flew across the water toward the town and the screen went black (an abrupt ending), the entire audience in our theater groaned. Shame on you, Peter Jackson. Peter cheated — leaving us unsatisfied. A cheap shot, since he knew we’d go back to see the last movie. (Tsk, Tsk)

What was the audience’s expectation? We wanted at least one interaction with Smaug and the city, before closing off the storyline for another year. The ending was Cliffhangeritis. The director needed to give the viewers what they wanted.

>>Take the blog post that I read last week.
The author wove a wonderful analogy, a story with a point moving the reader forward. I held eager anticipation for the ending. (How she was going to wrap it up? What would be the clear moral of the story to resonate with, to feel good about, and to apply to my life?) But the great ending never came. Instead, the writer said, what do you think the moral of this story is? (Gah! No! You need to tell me! You wrote the piece!) And just like in the movie theater with The Hobbit, I left, empty.

What was the blog reader’s expectation? We wanted the moral of the story. I wanted to be able to ponder the ideas, before moving on with my day. The blog ending was Open-Endeditis. The writer needed to finish the thought, to see it through to the end, to spell out the key idea in its entirety.

>>Take the Christmas card I received.
The card giver and I have an elephant-in-the-room relationship. The card was an excellent opportunity to acknowledge the elephant, express meaningful words, and move forward. But what was inside the card? Nothing but a signature. (Yikes! Move the elephant out of the way, please!) And, as with The Hobbit and the blog post, I left the card feeling empty.

What was my expectation? I wanted the I-care-about-you words at the bottom of the card. This card had Lack-of-Meaningitis. The writer needed to fully express emotions and ideas — going deeper into the meaning between the writer and the reader (me). In most situations, you and I can’t afford to write fluff. You and I have to write something powerful and memorable.

Ahem.

Now excuse me while I raise my voice quite impolitely, emotionally, and every other adverbially-strong kitchen-sink -ly emphasis that I can grab onto:

___________

People!
When you write —
in whatever you write — 

CREATE a STRONG, WORTHY ENDING.
______________

A strong, worthy ending contains ONE point. ONE feeling. ONE action step. It’s the bottom line for the reader’s sake.
(News Flash: My writing is not about me; your writing is not about you.)

Strong, worthy writing gives an answer for the reader’s sake:
* What one thing do you want me, the reader, to understand?
* What one feeling do you want me, the reader,  to feel?

Your best ending has a core, a center, a crux, the essence of what you want — no NEED — to get across to the reader. You absolutely have to come up with the fundamental hold this in your hand thought.

In order to be great writers, you and I must spell out exactly what we want the reader to walk away with. Our perfect ending meets all of the reader’s expectations.
(Pardon my repetition, circling the answer over and over with eagle eyes. I think I’ve said it enough, now. Let’s end this baby.)

___________________________________

In order to write strong endings:

Don’t do this: Don’t give a bazillion ideas in your email, post, web page, or nonfiction chapter. And don’t let your fiction characters wander all over the place.
Do this: Focus on one bottom line idea for your blog post. Focus on one key take-away in your email or your web page. Zero in on one piece of conflict on the fiction page or chapter that the reader can mull over and get emotionally tied into.

KISSS: Keep it simple, streamlined, strong.

Don’t do this: In your post, web page, article, and email…Don’t write about your feelings, your experiences, your amazing aha! moments with flashes of personal brilliance.
Do this: Focus on the reader. Only write experiences and aha!s making a point that clearly benefits your reader. Fully place the limelight on your reader’s needs. Your reader’s experience. Your reader’s benefit. Your reader’s outcome.

TRNR: The Reader’s Needs Rule.

Don’t Do This: Don’t start writing and “see where it goes.”
Do This: Write (or, at least, plan) your end first. Then begin.

Such end clarity brings readers back for more.

* Thup
coffeeOct1-14

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