Marie Forleo introduction

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Transcript

In this episode of MarieTV, we do have some adult language. So if you do have little ones around, grab your headphones now.

Marie Forleo:

Hey, it’s Marie Forleo. And welcome to another episode of MarieTV, the place to be to create a business and life you love. So, I got a question, are you someone who aspires to become a better or more prolific writer? Maybe you want to get your book done, maybe it’s a program, maybe it’s a screenplay, something like that. If writing is a part of your practice, you’d like it to be, or you want to get better, this is the episode for you. So look, writing is not an easy thing. When I was writing this, Everything is Figureoutable, which is a number one New York Times bestseller, man, I was on the struggle bus so much. There were months on end where I was like, “Can I even do this?” And I had already written another book before, so it’s not easy for any of us. And right now, when this episode is airing, we are actually opening up our flagship writing program called The Copy Cure, which is amazing.

And side note, when I was struggling to write my book, Everything is Figureoutable, I literally went into my own program called The Copy Cure and the writing tools inside there helped me get my butt back on track. But that’s an aside, today you are in for such a treat because you’re going to hear from seven prolific, amazing writers. They’re going to help you move through any obstacle you face. Collected altogether, they have over 100 years of writing experience. I think there’s over 70 books and 28 of them are bestsellers. So these folks know what they’re talking about. So grab a notebook, grab a pen, get ready to be inspired, and let’s do this.

Seth Godin:

The people who win at Jeopardy! aren’t better than the people who lose at Jeopardy!, except in one thing. They press the buzzer before anybody else. And the only way to press the buzzer before everyone else is to press the buzzer before you’re sure you know the answer. So as your brain is thinking, “Maybe I can get it,” now you press the buzzer. And in that last moment, you’re going to come up with something, right? So you agreed to do your Oprah talk. Was it done the day you agreed to do it?

Marie Forleo:

Oh, hell no.

Seth Godin:

So, but you pressed the buzzer.

Marie Forleo:

I did.

Seth Godin:

Right?

Marie Forleo:

Yes.

Seth Godin:

You pressed the buzzer, which is going to require… So do I have a blog post coming out tomorrow? I do.

Marie Forleo:

Yeah.

Seth Godin:

I actually pressed the buzzer 10 years ago, so I know that’s gonna happen. 

Marie Forleo:

Yes.

Seth Godin:

I’m apparently super productive because I’m good at buzzer management. I’m good at saying, “I have this much time and there will be a thing when I’m done.” Most people hesitate to do that because they’re afraid. So, that’s the first thing I’ll say.

Secondly is once you’ve been busy pressing the buzzer, now you have to say to yourself, “What am I not going to do in order to be able to do that?” So, this is about making promises and keeping them. So, I am not going to say to somebody, “Please, go ahead, engage with me in this level, and I will get back to you,” because maybe I can’t. I don’t go to meetings, I don’t watch television. So right there, I save seven hours that most people waste every single day. That seven hours gives me a lot of space to do things that make me seem insanely productive, right?

Marie Forleo:

Yes.

Seth Godin:

Because I’m not doing these other things. Well, other people really should go to meetings, other people really should watch TV, that will make them productive in the way they seek to be productive. I’m just saying you pick. 

Marie Forleo:

Yeah.

Seth Godin:

So Twitter was easy for me because I said to myself, “If I’m going to do Twitter, I should commit to it, there’s a dip. And if I commit, I should figure out how to be really good at it. If I’m going to be really good at it, I’m going to have to give up something else. So what do I want to be less good at, that I’m good at now, so I could be good at Twitter.” And I looked at what I thought would be the upsides of that, and I said, “I don’t want to give up anything I’m good at to be good at Twitter.” Done. And I never have reconsidered it since, because I don’t need to.

And there are other areas where I have said, “You know what? I’m going to give up this part of my thing to do that thing instead.” But we have to acknowledge, we have finite resources, finite time, finite connections.

Marie Forleo:

Yes.

Seth Godin:

How will we use them to produce outcomes that we’re proud of? And the worst thing to do, in the words of Zig Ziglar, are to be a wandering generality. What you need to be is a meaningful specific. That means you have to claim it, you have to put yourself on the spot, you have to make a promise and say, “I do this. You can count on me, that’s what you’re going to get from me.”

Liz Gilbert:

Perfectionism is just, it’s a serial killer that just goes around killing joy, spontaneity, wonder, grace, humility, it just kills them all. Perfectionism, I think, is a particularly dangerous kind of fear. I always call perfectionism, “fear in high-heeled shoes,” because it’s fancy, it’s like a really fancy haute couture version of fear because perfectionism can advertise itself as a virtue, and it can trick you into letting it think that it makes you special. Because people…

Marie Forleo:

Yes. You have such high standards.

Liz Gilbert:

Yeah, such high standards, I’m like, “Look, I just can’t rest until something… I’m a perfectionist,” is what people say in job interviews as their fault.

Marie Forleo:

Yeah.

Liz Gilbert:

Like, “Well, I guess I just care too much.” You know? And you’re like, “Wow, you’re telling me…” But what you’re telling me, when you say that, is that it’s going to be very hard for you not only to finish something, but probably to begin something, because the true perfectionist won’t even start. Because they know already that it’s not going to be the thing that they’re dreaming of, and their tastes and their standards are so high.

There’s this woman I recently was talking to who wrote a very successful book, maybe 15 or 20 years ago, and hasn’t been able to write another book since. I was talking to her about it and she said, “You know, the world’s just so full of crap work, and I just don’t want to put another piece of crap on the crap pile. So, I just won’t release this thing until I feel like it’s perfect.” And I said to her, “I am so glad I never took that on as my problem, that the world is full of garbage. How is that your responsibility? This is not your problem.” And I was like, “It’s not my problem if my work isn’t good, you know, it’s not my problem. It’s not even my fault. It’s not my problem.” My problem, the contract that I made, the only way I finished my first novel, because it wasn’t good, because I’d never written a novel before.

So why would it be good? Who wakes up and knows how to write a novel? So I was 50 pages into this thing, and I’m 25 years old, and it’s not good. And I know what a good novel is, and it’s not, this isn’t working. Every dignified part of me wants to just put it in the bottom of the drawer and walk away. And then I had this warrior moment and I remember exactly where I was standing and I stood up and I said out loud, “I never promised the universe I would be a good writer. I just promised the universe I would be a writer. That is the only thing I committed to. This is not my problem.” And I just said to the fairies and the genies, I was like, “If you guys want it to be good, you’re going to have to chip something in here because this is what I can do. You want to add something, any time, you know, feel free.”

The other commitment I made was I do not want to go to my grave with 50 pages of an unfinished novel in a drawer, there’s enough of that in the world. You know? And the other thing was this voice where I was anticipating the criticism because I knew what the criticism would be, because I knew where it wasn’t good. And I just said out loud to all my future critics at that moment… I don’t know what kind of language I can use on your show.

Marie Forleo:

Every kind of language, we’re from Jersey, girl.

Liz Gilbert:

I said, “If you don’t like it, go write your own f**king book. And you know what? You won’t! Guess what, you won’t! You won’t and guess what, I did, and therefore I won.”

Marie Forleo:

Yes.

Liz Gilbert:

“Because mine’s finished and yours doesn’t even exist. And now you’re criticizing my…” This is like an imaginary conversation, by the way, with people who’ve never heard of me. But that’s how I got through that first book, was just like, I just want it done, because as my mother always taught me, done is better than good. You know? The world’s full of a bunch of really, really good, not done stuff.

Marie Forleo:

What’s the difference, from your point of view, between creative writing and copywriting, and why do you feel that it’s so important that you make that distinction before you sit down to write, because I know you also, obviously, write poetry too.

Cole Schafer:

Yeah, sure. So, creative writing versus copywriting. When you pick up, let’s say like, a novel by Ernest Hemingway or J. K. Rowling, by the end of that book they want to tell you a really good story and they want to entertain you, but there’s not a goal or a specific action that they’re hoping you do after having read that book, right? I mean, you don’t read Harry Potter and go out and buy a wand or a wizard hat, right? You just read it and it’s a really good story, and you might turn into a raving fan, but that’s just kind of all it is. Whereas with copywriting, to be a good copywriter, anytime you sit down to write, you have to have an action in mind that you want the reader to do after having read whatever you had written, right?

And a lot of times that’s where I see copywriters screw up, is there’s never that call to action at the end of it all. They might write a long blog post or write a long email, or whatever, and you get to the bottom of it and you’re kind of scratching your head like, “What do you want me to do?”

Marie Forleo:

Yep.

Cole Schafer:

So as a copywriter, anytime you sit down, before you write anything, you have to ask yourself, “What is it I want this person to do after reading this?” You know? “Do I want them to subscribe to my newsletter? Do I want them to buy my product or service? Do I want them to leave a review on my podcast?” And then when you start from the end action, you can work your way back and decide how you want to go about writing whatever piece you’re writing to get them to do that thing. So copywriting is action, whereas writing, I think, is more so sharing ideas and stories and entertainment.

Steven Pressfield:

Resistance with a capital R for me. If this were your keyboard here, and you were going to sit down to write a novel or a screenplay or something, and you sat down on the first day and it was blank, radiating off that screen, like radioactive magma, would be a negative force saying, “Let’s not do this today, let’s go have a drink, let’s go to the beach, let’s do something else.” And it also would say things like, “Who do you think you are to tackle this project? You have no experience, who cares about your ideas, everything’s been done before.” You know? It’s all of those self-sabotage things. There seems to be a force in the world that is a negative force against any dream that we would have.

The analogy that I always use is if the dream is a tree, resistance is the shadow, that’s, you know, and as soon as the tree appears, the shadow appears, right? So it’s that negative force that prevents us, or is trying to prevent us. It seems to me that overcoming resistance is far more important than talent or anything else.

Marie Forleo:

Yes.

Steven Pressfield:

Any gift, there are a million people who have talent, but it’s a very, very few that can sit down, you know, and take it all the way from, you know, A to Z.

Dani Shapiro:

I think the permission to refer to yourself as a writer, before the world has gotten on board, is one of the most challenging things I think for writers starting out. I remember when I was a young writer writing my first novel, living in New York City, and I would constantly be asked, you know, “So what do you do?” And I would say, “I’m a writer.” “Oh, have I read anything you’ve written?” “Well, not yet.” It was like, dread that question. And then a couple of years later, I had this first novel, it was coming out from Doubleday, and I was looking forward to that question. Like, “Oh, what do you do?” “I’m a writer.” “Have I read anything you’ve written?” “Well, actually I have a first novel that’s just come out from Doubleday.” “Is it a bestseller? Is it going to be a movie?”

So, one aspect of this is that if, you know, the goalposts continue to change, and change, and change. So, the idea of ever waiting for the world to grant you permission in some way is just a waste of energy and it’s a waste of emotion and of time, because one of the things about setting downwards on the blank page, is the world is never waiting for whatever it is that you’re going to produce. The world is not saying, “We need this book.” 

Marie Forleo:

Yes.

Dani Shapiro:

That doesn’t happen. So it requires this sense of urgency about something that has to come from an internal place. But I think in terms of confidence and courage, you know, we’re talking quite a bit about honesty on the page and fear of betraying others or betraying trust or all of that. There is a kind of… I think people mistake confidence and this idea of what that’s supposed to look like, what that looks like on social media, what that looks like on television, what that looks like in our culture, with what it really takes to do the work, which is courage. It’s not the same thing. Courage is facing your fear and doing it anyway.

Morgan Harper Nichols:

It just feels like there’s stuff in my head, and I’m trying to make it sound like something worth reading on a page, but we’re not thinking about that stuff as much when we’re talking to people that we like to talk to, people that we’re comfortable with, people that we enjoy spending time with. So, that can look a lot of different ways. And for me, I love talking to the people in my community that follow me online. I noticed, in 2017, that I found the words that came to me more naturally and just felt more organic and authentic, were the words that just happen when I was DM-ing someone. So I was like, that’s where the poetry is, it’s in the actual words that I would say to someone. So yeah, I still, I still regularly open DMs and emails and respond… Mostly just emails now, DMs have gotten a little hard to keep up with, but I still open emails and I respond and it’s through the language that comes from those actual emails that I actually find what I end up sharing with everyone else. I think that there’s so much to organic conversation.

And I do this also with people that I know, like my sister and I, she’s also a writer, and there’s so many times where she and I would have like little sister venting sessions about things.

Marie Forleo:

Yeah.

Morgan Harper Nichols:

Like, in our texting. Like, “Oh my gosh, I just need to get this off my chest.” And it’s like, wait a second, the way we’re talking, not that we share everything, but the way that we’re talking, we don’t have to like put on some other voice, you know, some stern voice when we’re talking to others. It’s like, that energy that we have when we’re talking to people that we care about, there’s a way to bring that into what we do in some way. So, I hope that makes sense. That’s just a bit of my practice.

Marie Forleo:

Oh, it makes tremendous sense. So it sounds like, if I’m hearing you correctly and correct me if I’m wrong, you don’t, writer’s block is not a thing that exists in your process because it’s such a practice that’s rooted in real conversation.

Morgan Harper Nichols:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I’m really serious about the writer’s block thing, because I also have the second part of that is I do have moments where I sit there and I’m like, “I don’t know what to say.” Like, “I don’t know what to say to this person.” And that, to me, that’s the cue that it’s time to read, it’s time to listen. So, it’s not, for me, it’s not a block, that’s just a cue to do something else. So, it’s just a cue to go and read and take in. And then, when you’re filled up, then you can go and speak again.

Cheryl Strayed:

Well, so much about creative work, and certainly about writing is the way you survive is by running along at the speed of your own engine. It’s not going to be because somebody from out here validated you. Really, writing is very much generated from within. I think, any kind of art-making or any kind of creative work, you have to ultimately be doing it because you feel driven to do it, you feel passionate about doing it, you’re engaged with something that feels important to you in your life. And certainly in the arts, what I can say is if what you’re going to rely on is that exterior validation, you’re not going to get it, you’re not going to last long. And so, you know, that decision was about really learning how to keep faith with my vision or my dream or my work. And then, you know, once that became like, actually, that inner strength is what I drew on to compel me every day forward through another day of trying to write something that meant something to someone else.

You know, once I really developed that muscle within, then when I did go into the world and people said nice things about my work, it was thrilling, it was beautiful, but it wasn’t the thing that made me keep writing. You know? And I think you’re so right about this. I teach writing sometimes, or I certainly talk to a lot of people on airplanes and so forth. “How do I write a book?” You know, “What’s your advice?” And the advice is always kind of depressing to people because the absolute, only advice I really truly have for somebody who wants a life as a writer is write. Write, and keep writing, and keep writing, and see what happens. It’s not about like, “Go to this party,” or, “Go to this conference.” Those things come up along the way. I do think at a certain point, it’s important to start to meet people, meet your tribe, meet people who are doing what you’re doing, put yourself out there. I think the most important thing is to learn how to make a home with the work that you’re doing, because then you have something to offer the world.

Marie Forleo:

Wasn’t that amazing? I found it so inspiring and I really hope it helps you too. So I’m curious, do you struggle with any part of your writing? Do you ever get tripped up? Do you face resistance? I’m curious, what’s the one thing that holds you back from being more consistent and prolific with your writing, and which piece of advice from today’s show can you most apply starting right now. Leave a comment below and let us know. Now as always, the best conversations happen at the magical land of marieforleo.com. So head on over there and leave a comment now.

And once again, if you want my personal help with your writing, consider joining us for The Copy Cure. You can go to thecopycure.com to learn more, it’s amazing. If you happen to be watching this episode or listening to this outside of a period when it’s open, don’t worry, you still go there and you get free writing tips which will help you no matter what. Now until next time, stay on your game and keep going for your big dreams because the world really does need that very special gift that only you have. Thank you so much for tuning in and I’ll catch you next time on MarieTV.

Are you tired of talking into an empty void? Are you ready for more sales, more clients, and more raving fans take our free, seven day writing class at thecopycure.com.

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