When I owned a real estate firm, I used to go into the local radio station to record a commercial each month. I enjoyed writing the copy and then having an opportunity to record in the studio with the station’s talented and fun DJ. Without fail, my first few takes were unusable, as I would invariably come across as aloof, a tad of a perfectionist, and stiff.
We jokingly said I sounded like Hillary Clinton–preachy.
The DJ would pull his chair close to where I sat. He’d swing the mic to the side, and start to ask me questions about what I really wanted to convey to the listeners. We’d chat for a bit, and I would immediately begin to think about how I wanted to serve my clients–what I wanted them to know about how we could help. I stopped overthinking what I was saying, and how I was saying it. I sank into being the authentic me, and I spoke with a warmer tone of voice with words right from my heart.
“That’s it!” the DJ would yell, pointing at me. “Speak from that place.”
From there, we both knew the recording would flow with the right tone, phrasing, and energy.
Each month, we’d go through the exact same process. I consistently defaulted to that preachy tonality, but with practice and coaching, I’d get off my soapbox and simply be me.
I have realized that at times, I do the same thing with my writing.
I come from an academic writing/publishing background, which, of course, is not known for its breezy, accessible style. When combined with my default to being a bit preachy, the combination can be deadly for readers.
I have become incredibly focused on remedying this habit and have established a few rituals to take me from my head and into my heart before I begin to write. These rituals may be of service to you as well (regardless of the creative act).
1) I ask myself the following questions and jot down my answers: What is my intention? What is it that I truly want to say? What do I want my readers to feel? Is there a specific action I want them to take?
2) I light a candle and repeat my intentions out loud.
3) I see my words connecting with my readers and reaching them in ways I did not even anticipate.
4) I meditate for a few minutes to clear my mind.
5) I take up a pen and doodle with my left hand–my non-dominant hand (this helps to loosen my connection to my linear and judgmental left brain and strengthens my ability to tap into my right brain where I find more flow and resonance).
6) I keep a sticky note on my laptop to remind me not to preach.
7) I drink some water.
8) I bring a specific person to mind and write to them with all my love.
Once I have completed the first draft, I go back and search from any whiffs of separation between my readers and me. Places where I may have unintentionally dug a moat around myself as a protective measure, or parts of the writing where I hid out in cerebral language.
If I write something that makes me uneasy and uncomfortable, I know that vulnerability will serve my readers (and me). I’m getting better at letting go and letting the light shine in on my imperfections, my heart breaks, and my naked truth.
I’m finding that deeper, warmer voice inside of me more readily. I am setting it free without an energy of avoiding getting it wrong; but rather, I turn toward the hearts of those with whom I crave connection.
Stepping down off my soapbox is the precursor to true service and kinship.