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Business Lessons From A Writing Workshop

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I'm a member of Jack Grapes' Method Writing collective here in Los Angeles. "Like method acting, which focuses on truth and organic process, Method Writing deals with the inner voice and how it can be used to create unique works of art, true to your own voice and style, true to your own vision and point of view, true to your own life experience... " Jack has applied what he teaches to his business: he has built a business doing what he loves, his way!

In the last three years of my studies with Jack, I have not only found my voice in writing, I've discovered my voice in business.

Finding one's voice, Jack says, "...is about letting go of your talent and tapping into your genius." When we write and rely on our talent we will write a good piece. If we tap into our genius we will write something that moves our audience. Our writing is something they won't soon forget and they'll want to keep reading. Every now and then, a talented writer will read a tight, solid piece of prose or poetry, but the work misses something. For me, when that happens, it's usually missing heart. (Did you guess that was coming?)

It makes sense, though. Have you ever read a book, a poem or a short story that you thought was good but not exceptional? You just know there's something missing. People might think it's character development; it could be the tonal dynamics or it could be a boring story. But the bottom line is it won't move you if it's missing heart.

This is a great analogy for business. In order to build a truly successful, profitable and blissful business, we must stretch beyond our talent and tap into our genius: our passion and true gifts. Finding this genius takes some work. Sometimes it's an uncomfortable process, excavating and mining yourself to find those nuggets. It's a process that takes time, energy and commitment. It's a process of personal discovery as much as it is of finding the business structures that work for you. It's a process that may take you on a few extra twists and turns on the road to success, but the road sure will be paved with gold!

To stay excited and driven while you focus on uncovering your true genius can be challenging. Here are some tips that I have learned from Jack that may help.

Do it for you. Don't only focus on your audience or let go of what you love. Start from the inside out. Craft your business based on what you love, not on what someone else loves. You are running it, not they!

Your story is boring. Jack gives his writers exercises. Write, or channel, a particular poet, musician or artist and let the exercise take you on a journey to a great piece of writing. Don't be so attached to the outcome or to your story. You may have a great story to tell, but a great piece of writing with great characters and your own voice is more engaging for the reader.

When you are building your business, let go of your story. Find what you love, focus on what you love and do more and more and more of what you love. As you craft your foundations and structures, make sure they align with your core mission. Remember this line from the movie Field of Dreams: "If you build it, they will come"? Keep focusing on what you love for the same reason; when you start to build your structure it will adapt to your personal requirements. You won't be following a form; you'll be following your own inner guidance system. Your audience will show up and you, like Jack Grapes, will have a loyal following.

Don't wait to be inspired. I have heard Jack say that "inspiration is a lie." If you're waiting to be inspired, you may never write again. If you love writing, write. Write every day no matter what. Just write and let the words flow through you. The same goes for your business. Some days are tough, we aren't inspired and we have to dig deep down for the discipline to keep going. We have to tap into our passion and remember why we are here and the reason we are doing what we are doing. So don't wait, just do!

It's challenging, but you can do it. At times, we can become overwhelmed with all that we need to do in order to create the business of our dreams. We come up against an obstacle and we get writer's block. We have the option to give up and never write again, or keep writing and be thankful for good editors.

I choose the latter. How about you?