The Holy Grail of Writing (Consult, Engage, Ask!)

An idea hits you.

You’re almost rolled over by its intensity and force.

Plucked from the ethers above and cradled to the very tips of your fingers, the intangible all of a sudden takes form and shape.

You can picture it. You see it play out in your mind. The opportunities. The possibilities. The change you will create.

Your prayer to the creative Gods has been answered, finally. Those middle of the night insights, scribbles in the corner of your diary and fast paced beach walks, which had you muttering sweet mantras to the skies above, have converged and connected.

It all makes sense.

You can see the roadmap before you and your excitement, well, it’s palpable. There’s no time to waste. Pen to paper, it’s all steam ahead!

This is the exact moment, which will determine whether or not your idea will float or sink.

Welcome to the Holy Grail of writing.

 
You have two choices here:

  • Ride the creative wave (while it lasts!) and birth your idea
  • Take a moment, consolidate your thoughts and ask your community

The first option sounds easier though, doesn’t it? You’re ready now. You were just waiting for the final penny to drop and now it has.

Holy Grail of Writing

What’s the big deal anyway? It’s your idea after all.

Your experience and expertise legitimises what you have to say, you tell yourself.

So you tread this path…

 
You labour over your words. You spin many a story to share what you know to be true. You believe your creation is precious and perfect just as is considering the energy and love you have invested into its manifestation.

There has been blood (in the poetic sense), sweat and tears (ok, a lot of tears).

Then comes launch day.

It’s time to share your baby with the world!

Crickets. All you can hear is the chime of crickets.

You can’t understand what went wrong. Your idea was the winning ticket! It was going to change lives. Move mountains. Speak to the essence of what it means to be human.

But then, nothing.
And it’s heart breaking.

 
We can all probably think of a time when we’ve opted to ‘get the show on the road’ because we know our readers will adore it. In fact, we know that they need it.

Well, we thought so to only be proven otherwise.

It’s an almighty slam to your self-esteem too (This is your niche. Your thing!)

I am consulting some very talented business owners and leaders in their sector who have found themselves right here, in the thick of hindsight.

They took left at the beginning of the journey, when they knew (innately, intuitively, emotionally) that they should have gone right.

Yes, it’s a slower path but it’s a conscious one.

 
One such writer has completed her very first book, an educational resource for parents of young growing families, which is a huge achievement. Packaged and ready for the editor, she sent off her words expecting a few grammatical tweaks and message re-jigs before it would be ready for print and then, the masses.

But instead, the editor shared some unexpectant feedback. He said the book was not written for a parent but rather, other health professionals. The information and stories in his opinion were not accessible to most parents who have no professional background in health or science. “It would go straight over their heads,” he said.

As you can imagine, this writer was very upset to discover that her words were not delivering upon the book’s intended purpose, and by and large, had isolated the people she wanted to help most – parents!

This lesson is a hard one to learn but once you do, you won’t forget it.

Assumption is dangerous. I would go as far as to say that it’s deadly.

 
You may know your art, but you don’t know your community’s needs unless you ask.

Consulting, engaging and directly asking your reader for their input and opinion from the very beginning of your idea’s creation is essential. You have certainly been tapped on the shoulder with this idea for good reason and it deserves to see the light of day, but you shouldn’t do it alone.

If you intend to share words that will make a difference, then you have to consider the people it will make a difference on.

No guessing, predicting, forecasting. And by no means, assuming.

 
You may very well be the driving force behind your idea but it will take the support of your community to make it powerful and meaningful.

So relinquish the ownership and ask your readers: What do you want to know? How can I help you?

Some tips to Consult, Engage and Ask:

 

  • Reach out: Connect with your tribe and ask to have a brainstorm session with anyone that may be interested. Jump on Skype, go for a coffee, share your plan in Google Docs. In turn, you can be a bouncing board for their ideas too!
  • Let go: As you enter these conversations with your readers, be willing to let go of ‘the plan’ and the rigidity. Your idea may be grand, but allow space for it to grow and transform with the input of your community. Consulting isn’t a task to tick off to to-do list. It’s a collaboration.
  • Get social: This is where social media outshines more traditional communication platforms. It’s all about connection (which can also be misused) so pose the questions here. Invite your followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share their opinion.
  • Make it official: Jump into Survey Monkey and create a short questionnaire to gather and document what you’re readers are after. Remember, clear questions that don’t require a lot of your reader but demonstrate value.

 

And the best part? Your reader will respect you for listening!

 

Question: Can you think of a time when in retrospect, you should have turned right and engaged your readers earlier in the creation of your idea? Would love to hear from you!
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