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How to Write When You’re Changing

How to Write When You’re Changing

October 28, 2014

The studios. Satellites. The building and its history. Located in the old National Geographic printing press in a gritty part of Washington, DC, it was the cool place to be.

And I had a seat in the front row.

A rockstar invited me there. He was giving an “Artist Confidential,” an exclusive performance to a select group of fans.

Everyone at the studios wanted to know who I was – since I was, you know, with the rockstar. And when you’re with a rockstar, you have to be cool. At least try to act cool (even though I was far from it). So I took in the experience through my senses. I still remember the novelty. The medium was knew. The culture cutting-edge. I loved soaking in the environment…

The brick of the building. The high ceilings. The immediate sense of “something cool was about to happen” as you walked through the front door. The atmospheric Phil Collins pouring from the speakers: “I Can Feel It Coming in the Air Tonight.

I could feel it.

The intoxication of new ideas. The smell of fresh paint. The sight of smart people. The same smart people who were…making the culture of XM Radio happen.

I had to become a part of this culture. I had to work there.

But I had naivety permeating from my pores.

Fresh out of college, I was working three different jobs. Selling cosmetics (the same cosmetics that tried to reduce the size of your pores) at Neiman Marcus. Hostessing at a steakhouse (you really did not want me as your waitress. Unless you like being asked how you like your chicken cooked. True story). And greeting politicians, celebrities, and talking heads that you see on television at a news station on Capitol Hill (most awesome job. Ever).

It was surreal.

The restrained anger. Ominous chords…

And I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lo-ord
Well I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh Lo-ord

I sought the edges, always gravitating towards new things.

Like riding the momentum of a wave, I thrived off embracing moments in time.


photograph by me

Sitting in the front row, I would watch a business model…a technology…and a culture experience change.

Oh Law-d.

But a funny thing happens while you’re waiting for this moment…

The moment moves. Things change. You evolve…

And you’re left without the rest of the song. The song that you so badly needed to sing.

You could feel it.

The spark of significance. The speck of substance. Drumbeats reverberating through your chest.

But then it’s over. And you’re left with a…mere moment in time.

So you crave something else… like learning how to live.

Or how to write when you’re changing.

Here are some ideas:

1. Remember

Well I remember, I remember, don’t worry, how could I ever forget
It’s the first time, the last time we ever met

Speak Truth to power by writing about what you remember. Reminisce about the scenes that you can’t seem to forget. This maintains trust while in the midst of change. Your memory is True to you. And it’s this memory that creates invisible threads that helps you cross the threshold of change.

See and create a new future through remembering. You’re probably thinking that thinking about the future doesn’t work well when you’re remembering the past. But there’s a balance. And it’s a paradox: remembering a part of yourself from your past allows you to reclaim a part of your new future. When you use the safety of your past, you can more easily soar forward.

Use your past like a souvenir, as a tool to reinvent yourself. As a toy to rejuvenate your words – so that you can create a new world. You’ll transcend the change. And you’ll open yourself to more creative lines of connection. So that you can…

2. Master the rhythm

The rhythm of your past allows for a new revolution. It’s an art. An art that gets processed…over time.

Like your favorite song or photograph that gives insights into your life throughout particular moments. The song or picture may stay the same. But it offers new meanings as you evolve. As your perspective changes, the static lifts. The silence shifts. And new sounds and moments are revealed…

They’re now more nuanced. Composed. Visceral. All because of…time.

“Music is noise organized by time
Photography is light organized by time.”
– my photography teacher, Michael S. Miller

Adding to Michael’s great quote: “a story is a moment organized by time.” {click to tweet!}

Time provides rhythm to your stories. When you learn how to master the rhythm, you awaken the secret of timing. So that over time, you learn how to…

3. Create real value. Not just content.

The semantics of the web are important. Because robots (and your readers) know whether you have kitsch in your content. And robots (especially robots in the cloud) can teach us a lot about never believing your own perceptions.

When you shift your perception, you shape your reality. So that you can write the next chapter in your story. But you need to see (and feel and think) between the lines.


photograph by me

4. Keep your voice consistent

You can change your business model. Evolve your culture. Upgrade your technology…but try to avoid changing your voice.

In the midst of change, your voice is the only thing that keeps you consistent. Recognizable. Real.

Your voice iseverything.

The good news is that if you’re just starting out, you can change your voice as much as you want. Tweak your style and tone now. Do this before you start building your audience. And then once you find it, stay consistent.

Your voice is yours. Own it. Use it. Just don’t change it.

5. Cut through the clutter of technology

Your stories (not the technology) shape your destiny. And while technology offers exciting ways to tell your story, it can also cause clutter. So when you cut through this clutter, your stories become the context to grow your business.

Use your experiences as inspiration. Whether you’re sitting in the front row or looking to grow, write through change with your words. Your wisdom. Your wit. Your calling in the air.

Can you feel it?

Storytelling is something that excites me to teach. Want to learn how to present yourself like a pro through your stories?

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