On Friday I took part in an excellent online coaching session with Orna Ross, an indie author and poet who was once a literary agent and is currently director of the Alliance of Independent Authors. Orna leads a monthly coaching session for the 30-plus members of her ‘Go Creative in Business’ programme and this month’s session on ‘Overcoming Resistance and Finding Flow’ is something I’m very much in need of.
Not least because I’m very good at keeping busy working for others – leading workshops, teaching creative writing, actioning freelance writing projects – but dreadful at putting time in on creative projects of my own. And even when I do write and finish my own pieces, I don’t take the next step of publicising them. It’s almost a year since my children’s book Daniel and Biscuit went live and I’ve done next to no promotion for it, and lesson plans I’ve put together to prompt sales of my Songster and Rama and Sita books – both approaching their optimum annual ‘slot’ in the UK primary curriculum – sit ignored in a folder on my pc. It’s not even as if I don’t need the money they could earn me – as a jobbing writer, it would be very, very useful indeed.
This despite me buying more books on how to market writing than I have shelf-room for. It’s getting to the stage where – in the ultimate act of procrastination via obsessive googling – I’ve begun buying them again, having forgotten they’re already on my bookcase. As a friend said to me recently as I moaned about marketing, ‘you already know what you need to do, Alison.’ Yes, I do – but there’s something stopping me actually doing it, and that thing is resistance.
Orna introduced us to the Finding Free Flow technique for overcoming ‘blockers’. This, basically, gets you to call up the two sides of yourself which are tussling over an action – the side that wants you to do it and the one digging in to keep you standing still – and then uses coaching questions to find out what’s going on with each. Once the nub of the problem with the negative self is discovered – revelations which triggered tears for the two writers Orna coached yesterday, as well as for some of us who were looking on – the technique aims to help the two sides find ground they both feel comfortable on and move them on together to complete the desired action.
Listening to Orna going through the process, I knew that my resistance to publicising my written work centres on the need to send out newsletters. Every marketing book and e-course I’ve paid for and every blog post I’ve ever signed up to all state unequivocally that building a mailing list and sending out a regular newsletter are key to sharing news about your work and, eventually, to earning income from your books.
But though I’ve begun the newsletter process a number of times, pushing through a very strong resistance to doing so, I don’t sustain it. Not just because it feels a bit ‘spammy’, but because I don’t know whether what I’m writing is actually the kind of thing the people on my email list want to read. The anxiety of not knowing very quickly overwhelms me and the effort needed to send out newsletter 1 leaves me drained and unable to send out a newsletter 2.
The Finding Flow session made me realise there’s only one way to solve this and that’s to seek the reassurance I need and ask my ‘followers’ how best I can serve them in my newsletter. I already know that it’s supposed to showcase my values and opinions so that people with similar values and opinions can find me and read about my experiences, which might then give them ideas to apply to their own lives.
But I have a breadth of experience and don’t know which is applicable to share. Have people signed up for the newsletter for my local history stuff, my writing prompts, or for stories of my journey to self-belief as a writer? Or have they found me through my teaching resources or the workshops I run online for the RVS? Which aspects of my life should I share to make it worthwhile for people to open my emails and read on?
If you have an opinion on this, it would be really helpful to know it. I’ve created a quick online survey you can complete to help me find out, or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know what you think. I promise not to badger you with emails afterwards (unless you say you’d like to hear from me) and your thoughts would be most gratefully received.