Go With the Flow

Today’s post comes to you from a small town in the state of Washington. The picture above is the view from the back porch of the house where we’re staying, and I couldn’t ask for a more peaceful place to write. I have visions of sitting at the table outside, cup of chai at my elbow as I write in the cool of early morning. It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s a great dream. I might feel bad about sleeping in except that there are folks here who are awake by five am, and there is no way I’m getting up before then. This is a vacation, not a boot camp. 

The closest I’ve come to my own personal writer’s retreat is to step outside while everyone else is busy elsewhere. The solitude doesn’t last long. I’m sharing the house with nine other people. My family is here, my husband’s friend is here with his wife and kids, and we’re all benefitting from the generosity of the friend’s mom and dad, who own the house. As soon as one person moves to the deck outside, the rest of the crew inevitably follows. 

Unreasonable Expectations

There’s an article I want to share with you. It’s about how to network when you either don’t have colleagues (because you’re an entrepreneur or a freelancer) or you want to network outside of your company. There are some really great resources out there to connect with other like-minded remote workers. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to write that article another week. 

I started writing this post on the deck outside. It took about ten minutes for someone to notice that I was alone, and join me. I tried relocating to the back bedroom with the bad internet. That worked for a little while. Then my kids came back from their bike ride, and I had a series of visitors checking in to see if I was okay, and say hi, and ask for Gatorade, etc. 

At this point I have two choices. I can wedge a chair under the doorknob and refuse to talk to anyone who tries to interrupt me, or I can go with the flow. I haven’t seen this particular family in more than five years, so I’m going to go with the flow. Enjoy your week. I’ll be spending mine enjoying the company of lovely people, in a nice house by the lake. 

Public Speaking Fed My Creativity

Writing is my go-to solution for presenting information, but the instant feedback that comes from a live audience can jump start all sorts of things.

North Carolina on my mind

Hands hold a tray. Three sprouts in three small pots sit on the tray.
Photo by Daniel Hjalmarsson on Unsplash

I came back Sunday from my latest (and last) work-ish trip for the summer. I say ‘work-ish’ because while I was definitely at the MBA@UNC alumni weekend in a professional capacity to speak about remote work, I also got to enjoy the event as an alum of the program.

My first talk was ‘How to Survive and Thrive as a Remote Manager,’ and I already know that I need to turn this into a blog post, or a YouTube video or something. Maybe several somethings. I had people come up to me throughout the weekend to ask follow up questions and share their experiences managing remote employees. My talk—both my talks—tapped into a need.

Public Speaking is Scary and Awesome

Have I mentioned that I enjoy public speaking? I get nervous, but back when I sang in my college choir I learned how to harness the nerves and use it to energize my performance. I had one moment right at the beginning of the first talk where I had to stop and take a deep breath, but just like singing, after that the rhythm of the words I put together stepped in and carried me through to the end.

With writing, you assemble your argument, polish your prose, and then send it out into the air. Hopefully it lands well. Talking (or singing) in front of an audience forces me to know my material well enough to change it on the fly if I’m losing them.

Public Speaking is Performance

I deliberately use the term ‘performance’ to describe these talks. Anytime you’re delivering something in front of a group, it’s a performance. And if you think of it that way, you’re more likely to be an engaging speaker.

Each live performance is a conversation between me and whoever is in that room. I scripted out my talk, then changed it as I spoke it out loud. I revised it again when I found the slides I wanted to pair with my performance. It morphed a third time when I converted my script into an outline. The actual talk bore a strong resemblance to my final outline, but it wasn’t exact. I kept a few different jokes in my back pocket, and left room to incorporate the audience into my delivery.

Departures as Compost

Writing is my go-to solution for presenting information, but I love the instant feedback that comes from a live audience. And it’s been a long time since I’ve performed something in front of a collocated group. I’ve forgotten how it can jump start all sorts of things.

In his book ‘Creative Quest,’ Questlove describes these sorts of artistic departures as powerful fertilizers. This rings true. I feel like this weekend fed that part of me that makes things. I don’t know quite what will come out of it, but I have the seeds of several ideas, and I can feel them trying to sprout.

2 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Publishing a Book


Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

I was talking with a fellow author today about where we are in the publishing process. My book came out a few months before hers, so we’re both in the thick of the new book activities.

We’re getting many things done, but writing on other long term projects isn’t one of them. I touched on this lightly in the article ‘How to (Successfully) Write a Book as a Team‘ that I wrote for the Writer’s Cooperative on Medium, but these specific issues deserve their own post, so here it is.

You’re Not Done When the Book Gets Published

Writing a book is a monumental task. If you finish writing a book, go celebrate. If your book gets published, celebrate even more. I celebrated by signing up for a weaving class because I’m cool like that. You do you.

Once you’ve had your victory lap it’s time to move into the next phase of the book publication process: getting the word out about your book. Ideally you’ll have your author platform in place before your book is ready to buy. If you haven’t, it isn’t too late to start.

In October 2018, Publisher’s Weekly stated that “the number of self-published books topped the 1 million mark for the first time in 2017.’ Add in books published by micro-presses and traditional publishing houses, and the number is even larger. If you want to be seen in the vast sea of published books, become your book’s advocate.

It’s Hard to Mess Up Your Author Platform

Running taught me that discomfort isn’t an emergency. When you’re reaching for that next big distance, your body is going to feel tired and uncomfortable and that’s okay. It will adapt. Turns out that the same goes for learning how to position yourself as an expert.

I agonized over every little detail at the beginning. I procrastinated about coming back to writing this blog, and creating my Facebook author page because I was worried about getting it right. Turns out no one was watching me. And when I finally did have readers, most of those first readers were friends and family (hi friends and family!). They aren’t a hostile audience.

Once I let go and began posting regularly, I started noticing that other were also talking about remote work and distributed teams. It’s been rewarding listening to what they have to say. Joining the conversation has also led to some interesting opportunities in the near future. It’s even given me my next big research topic. Will this turn into another book? I don’t know. I do know that I wouldn’t have thought of the topic if I hadn’t been participating in discussions online.

I’ve learned a lot in the months after the publication of the ‘Secrets of the Remote Workforce’ book. But if you’re a writer looking for advice, this would be mine. Start your author platform, understand you’ll be working at it over the long haul, and keep your eyes open for new opportunities. Your next book may just find you.