I know I’ve been writing non-stop about fear lately. That’s because I was prepping for, and now am teaching GSSD. But mostly it’s because I am learning a joyful and wondering way to be TERRIFIED.
You see, I’m taking all kinds of risks these days with my new book. What I wrote is incredibly personal. Then there is self-publishing and all that it entails. Writing big checks! Making lots of decisions! Asking important people for endorsements! And…
STARTING TO MARKET.
Marketing is far scarier for this little introvert than spilling her soul on the page.
What is this thing called marketing? What to focus on? Where to begin?
I have been skittering here and there, doing a little bit of this or that, and then clicking away to read the news (no, no, no!), or to do something I know how to do.
My whole body calms down when I know what to do. Write a thankyou note? YAY! Change a dental appointment? Sure, love to! Watch Schitt’s Creek? Yes, yes, yes!
When our brains don’t know what to do, we do everything we can to take care of ourselves by procrastinating.
I realized this weekend after unplugging for 48 hours (so important) and going on beautiful runs through the fall aspens (nature! exercise!), that I was approaching this whole thing totally back-assward.
I was trying to make myself do marketing the “right” way.
I needed to back away from the forcing and the drama. So I’m doing something big and putting myself out there? Why convince myself this is a big, hairy deal? Why fall into a forced march about the whole thing? Why not gently and lovingly pull on my big girl panties and get to it with joy and wonder?
When you have something new you want to do that doesn’t have a clear starting place yet, like writing a novel, growing your business, traveling alone, or marketing your book, you can invite joy and wonder in and back away from shoulds.
It’s not that you don’t want to pay attention to best practices but that’s really different than abdicating your agency and doing things that feel horrible to you.
Yes, fear can convince you not to do things it would actually be good to try, so you will have to outwit fear by leaning on joy and wonder.
Here’s what I’m doing, see if you want to try it too:
Set aside a clear chunk of time to think. Don’t make it too long; maybe a half an hour or, say, two hours.
Go somewhere besides work or home. Somewhere like a coffee shop, an aspen grove, or the library.
Disconnect. No internet. No texting a friend when you feel scared or blank. You need strong boundaries so joy and wonder can get a foot in the door.
Invite joy and wonder to be with you. Perhaps some long exhales, prayer, reading a bit of poetry or scripture, or a loving-kindness practice. Whatever reminds you that life is all a wondrous game to play full out.
Make a list of wondering joyful questions about your project. Some of mine are: Where does my ideal reader hang out? How would it be fun to meet her? What do I enjoy doing marketing-wise? What am I telling myself I’m afraid to do without questioning? What do I think I have to do? Why? Who could help me? Where do I think I need to do it alone?
Keep returning to genuine desire and wonder. If fear flares up, remind that part of you that you are simply wondering for now.
You are drilling down deeper into what you want rather than what you think you should do. You are mapping your landscape of joyful curious action.
Note: this approach rarely produces a neat cohesive plan. Most likely, you will generate some fun and fuzzy ideas of what to do next. That’s perfect! Don’t fall for your mind telling you that you need to know exactly what to do, when to do it, and where it will lead. That’s fear talking.
Instead, now that you have done some joyful wondering, take a little action. Then stop and ask, “What do I know now? What do I wonder about next?”
Here’s to wondering our way to what’s next!