Whole Living Magazine and Creative Inspiration

I’m beyond thrilled to have a piece in the June issue of Whole Living magazine! It’s an article about envisioning success in your career and is adapted from my book The Right-Brain Business Plan.

The spread is on pages 129-130 and the image that goes with it is gorgeous. Last month I had a brief mention in article in Whole Living, but it’s pretty darn exciting to see “by Jennifer Lee” on the page!

I must say that the past couple of months I’ve been in the “now what?!” post-book launch dip. I wrote a little bit about my blahs in last month’s newsletter. I’ve just recently started to emerge from the exhaustion and  fogginess. It was good to give myself time and space to be there and now I’m excited to really dive into to some cool projects. I’m heading to Vancouver tomorrow participate in a think tank with my mentor, Andrea J. Lee, and to speak at her Wealthy Thought Leader event. (BTW, if you’re at all interested, there’s a simulcast option so you can watch from the comfort of home.) Anyway, I’m jazzed about getting t0 mastermind some new ideas I’m working on.

And earlier this week, I got so energized visiting with a community of really amazing creative women who gathered at Teahouse Studio in Berkeley. The space is absolutely gorgeous. The photo above just captures one of the many nooks and crannies brimming with colorful inspiration. I love knowing that Teahouse Studio will be a hub for creative souls in the Bay Area and I look forward to taking a workshop there and hopefully to leading one there in the fall. The workshops sound awesome and you can check them out here.

Look what came in the mail today!

OMG! Today I had the best surprise. My publisher New World Library sent me an advanced copy of my book The Right-Brain Business Plan: A Creative, Visual Map for Success. I can’t tell you how amazing it was to hold the book in my hands for the first time. I was flooded with so much emotion – joy, the feeling of accomplishment, pride in how much work went into this baby and how beautiful it turned out, and excitement that soon the book will be in the hands of many more people who are looking for a more fulfilling way to do business. That just brings tears to my eyes (you can see my used tissue in the background of my photo!).

I showed the book to my hubby and to my fabulous friend and illustrator Kate over FaceTime on my iPhone this afternoon and then tonight I video Skyped with my parents to let them get a glimpse of it, too!

Anyway, I’m thrilled about the things we’ve got planned for the launch next month and I can’t wait to share more very soon. If you want to be in the know, you can sign-up for my newsletter to get the latest deets about what I’m cookin’ up for you creative souls.

I hope I can sleep tonight… I’m just so over the moon!!!

A Visit to New World Library

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of visiting the New World Library office to have lunch with my editor and meet the rest of the team. Everyone was so warm and welcoming and I’m very grateful to be partnering with them. I even got to briefly meet the co-founder and president Marc Allen who wrote the book Visionary Business. In it he shares that one of the keys to visionary business is to “write your business plan as a simple, clear visualization.” Well, get this, Marc always carries around his one-page visionary business plan. While we chatted, he reached into his back pocket and unfolded a well-worn, dog-earred sheet of paper that simply listed his goals and plans for the company. Very cool! You know I’m a fan of portable business plans!

Being at the office and talking about pub dates, seeing book cover comps, and hearing more about the production process made this dream of getting a book published feel that much more real. Woohoo! Many of my favorite reads are from New World Library (as you can see from my stack of books), so it’s thrilling to now be part of the family. By the way, one of their new books that I’m currently reading (on my new iPad!) is Hand Wash Cold by Karen Maezen Miller and am loving it (the book and the iPad!).

The following few months will be focused on artwork, photos of Right-Brain Business Plans, and interior design. Then, in the summer we’ll start discussing marketing. And then the book launch will be early next year! I know there will be plenty of steps in between all of that. So I’ll just continue to enjoy the process. Next up, meeting with my friend and illustrator Kate later this week to get started on the fun drawings. Yay!

How I Get My Writing Groove On – Part 2

Last week, in my How I Get My Writing Groove On – Part 1, I shared some practical actions that helped me with finishing my manuscript.

In this post, I offer some resources and tools that help me get my writing groove on.

  • MuseCubes: My pal Gretchen Wegner created these nifty dice called MuseCubes. One cube has a movement and the other has a sound. Nothing like a howl and a bounce or a whoop and a dance to get out of your head and into your body; a great cure for writer’s block.
  • Levenger’s Circa notebooks: I love Circa notebooks. They’re a cross between a spiral notebook and a 3-ring binder, which makes it easy to move pages around. When I gathered all of my existing material, I organized everything in a Circa notebook with a tab for each chapter. Seeing it in “book” form helped me to realize I had a lot more than I thought I did, and it helped me play with the flow of the content.
  • Concentrate: The Mac application Concentrate worked miracles for helping me focus on writing. I set it for one hour and had it block e-mail, social networking sites, Google, etc. The two sites I would allow myself to reference regularly, though, included Dictionary.com and this great phrase thesaurus.
  • Micromovements: I got a lot of inspiration and forward momentum from taking SARK’s Juicy Pens Thirsty Paper workshop. My micromovements wheel helped me get into action again quickly after feeling stuck. If you can’t take her workshop, her book is great, too!
  • Playlists: Listening to music helps put me in a writing zone. But since I get distracted by lyrics when I’m writing, I created a 30-min, 60-min, and a 6-hour playlist of musical scores and groovy instrumental tunes. Some highlights include:
    • The Shopgirl soundtrack
    • El Michels Affair – Enter the 37th Chamber and Sounding Out the City
    • Beastie Boys – The In Sound From Way Out! and The Mix-Up
    • Thievery Corporation – Radio Retaliation

I now have a Pavlovian thing going so anytime I hear those songs, I’m conditioned to get my writing groove on. BTW, if you have some music to recommend, please let me know!

  • Visual cues: For months and months, the wallpaper on my iPhone was my “Keep on writing, and writing, and writing” sketch! I also had a “I am a published author” vision board on my iPhone. These visual reminders inspired me and kept me focused on my goal.
  • Post-it Note Project Plan: I created a flexible timeline using Post-its to map out my key milestones. While I knew I had a big-picture view of all the things that needed to happen, I usually focused in on just the tasks for that week so that I wouldn’t get overwhelmed. It helped me pace out my chapters and revisions and helped me reach the finish line.

For a few more tips, last year I did a video interview on BlogHer about tips for curing writer’s block.

Also, fellow coach Cynthia Morris is offering an online writing course called Make Writing a Happy Habit that sounds fantastic. Participating in a structured group activity like this is a great way to get support and accountability for your writing. I used a book coach and I went on a weekend writer’s retreat for structure and accountability.

And really, all of the tools and tips don’t mean a thing if they give you one more thing to do besides write/create. Which means, you guessed it… the best advice to get your writing groove on is to just sit your butt down and write! So go write, right now!

How I Get My Writing Groove On – Part 1

At the beginning of the month, I turned in the manuscript for my book The Right-Brain Business Plan. I’ve had some people ask me how I got through all that writing. Mostly, it was a little bit at a time.

And even though everyone’s writing process is different, I thought I’d share some of the simple ways I got my writing groove on during the past six months, in case it helps spark some ideas for you.

Part 1 includes some practical actions and Part 2 will offer some suggested tools and resources.

  • Schedule time: I blocked off entire days to write. I stacked all of my coaching calls and meetings on Mondays and Thursdays and left the rest of the week open for writing. It was easier for me to have focused “book” time than to juggle between different activities. I’ll continue blocking off some writing time because it really worked for me.
  • Say No to say YES: I scaled back big-time during October through March. I stopped taking new coaching clients. I said no to pretty much any social activities. I drew strong boundaries and fiercely protected my energy. It was tough, but I knew it was temporary. While my boundaries won’t be as extreme as they were during that period, I did learn a lot about what I want to yes to and no to going forward.
  • Set accountability: I always get more done when I have a call scheduled with my book coach. Even if it means writing until 1 in the morning right before, at least I send something in!
  • Brain dump: I find it helpful to get all my random thoughts out of my head and on to paper. Sometimes I opened up a Word doc and rambled away mostly just making notes to myself. Other times I busted out Post-it Notes and wrote different concepts on each one and moved them around until I found the flow for a chapter. I mind mapped. I scribbled in a small notebook in my purse when I was on the go. I captured fleeting ideas in the journal on my nightstand during the wee hours. I e-mailed messages to myself. All this became fodder for my next action: repurpose.
  • Repurpose: Rather than suffer writer’s block from staring at a blank page, I would first scour through my existing material for things I could possibly build off of. I pulled stuff from my blog posts, workshop outlines and handouts, old e-mails, my journals and notebooks, podcasts, and scribbles on scraps of paper. Even if it was just a few sentences from here and there, once I consolidated everything together, I was surprised and relieved by how much I already had to work with. I bet you would be, too!
  • Put placeholders: There were many times when I sort of knew what I wanted to say, but I didn’t quite know how to say it or I didn’t have enough information yet to detail it out. So instead of getting frustrated or stopping I would just write something like “Here is where I’ll write an example about how someone used this exercise successfully” or “Say something here about creativity and why it’s important in business” or I’d just list out a bunch of words in no particular order. Even though I’d feel silly making those notes to myself right smack in the middle of my manuscript, it was a way for me to just keep moving forward and they served as prompts for me to respond to when I would circle back later.
  • Go where there’s flow: I worked on whatever section I felt called to do at that moment. By first knocking out the things that felt easier, my word count increased little by little and I slowly gained confidence to tackle the parts that felt more difficult. And when I wasn’t feeling the flow of a chapter, I found other ways to just exercise my writing muscle: I made notes about other book-related things like artwork, resources, etc., I worked on my newsletter, whipped up a post for my e-course, tweeted, journaled. Just the act of typing or moving my pen helped me find the flow again to return to writing the book.
  • Trust: In the end, it comes down to simply trusting. Trusting that I have something to say. Trusting that I can say it. Trusting that what I have to say will have a positive impact (even if just on me).  In fact the first line of my writer wo-manifesto that I created in SARK’s Juicy Pens Thirsty Paper workshop reads, “May I trust in my own voice – that I have something to share and say that needs to be read/heard/experienced by myself and others.” How will you remember to trust your own voice and creative process?

These practical actions can be applied to any creative project you’re working on, writing or otherwise. It’s a matter of making time and making things real.

What do you do to get your writing/creative groove on? I’d love to hear! And stay tuned for Part 2 coming next week.

6 Months and 50,000 Words Later…

Last week I turned in my Right-Brain Business Plan manuscript to my editor at New World Library! Woohoo!!! After being heads down for an intense six months of writing, it’s hard to believe that this huge achievement is finally behind me. Of course, I promptly proceeded to get sick for the next week. My body obviously needed a break big-time! So, I’m just now starting to slowly re-emerge.

While the “hardest” part – writing 50,000 words – is done,  I still have several milestones to go, including finalizing the photos of featured Right-Brain Business Plans, collaborating with my fabulous illustrator on the artwork, getting feedback from my editor, and other things that I probably don’t even have a clue about yet (hence the quotes around “hardest!”). I mentioned earlier that writing a book is like running a marathon. But the more I think about it, the more it seems like doing a triathlon. Or a decathlon even?! There’s not just the intense period of writing. There’s the editing, contract negotiations, interviewing/hiring/working with outside services (lawyer, proofreader, etc. and things don’t always go smoothly!), managing artwork, permissions and releases, thinking about what the book will look like, marketing, sales, and getting familiar with a whole new industry. Whew! It’s certainly been a growth and learning process.

Besides my book coach, the thing that has kept me sane throughout this adventure has been my trusty Post-it Note project plan. It helped me map out my milestones and track my progress from October through now. I’ll make a new one once I enter into this next phase of the book. And can I just tell ya how satisfying it is to put a big check mark after finishing each task?!

Post-it Note Project Plan

Post-it Note Project Plan

Even though this roadmap was for the past six months, my journey to get to this point has spanned years.

  • 1999/2000: Started toying with the idea of writing a book but didn’t really do much about it for the next several years…
  • January 2007: Mocked up a book cover to inspire me about my goal of writing a book
  • Fall 2007: Began working my book coach Jan King
  • July 2008: At a conference with my book coach I set the goal of going to the 2009 Book Expo America with her and spent the next several months drafting up a book
  • March – April 2009: Worked on book proposal
  • May 2009: Attended Book Expo America in New York to meet publishers
  • June 2009: Wrote a brand-new proposal (for a whole different book idea than what I had been working on since 2007) and sent it in to publishers
  • July 2009: Got first rejection
  • Early October 2009: Got an offer from New World Library (Yahoo!)
  • October 2009 – February 2010: Wrote about a chapter every other week and talked with book coach almost weekly
  • October – November 2009: Legal review of contract
  • December 2009: Contract signed – it’s official!
  • February 2010: Conducted a peer review of my manuscript
  • February – March 2010: Did rewrites and edits based on feedback
  • March 2010: Manuscript proofread and prepped for submission
  • April 1, 2010: Sent my baby in!

While the seeds were planted 10 years ago, it wasn’t until last year that I really got my butt into gear to make my dream real. Sure, my dream needed some time to take take shape and grow wings. But it was when I moved from dreaming to doing that things started to shift. I had real deadlines, I had to share my idea with other people, and I had to put myself out there, even in the face of rejection. And I committed to writing, writing, writing!

I wish I had read Patti Digh’s kick-ass post “how to write (a book). a wee rant” when I first embarked on this journey. If one of your dreams is to write a book, definitely give it a read.

What dream are you wanting to make real this year? How can you move from dreaming to doing right now?

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

I’m ever so slowly emerging from my writer-hermit-mode. At least to catch my breath before the home stretch next month. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It sure helps that the cherry blossoms are blooming, daffodils have sprung up, and cala lilies are unfurling. My winter hibernation is making way for the bright aliveness of spring.

Last week I printed out the draft of my manuscript. It was pretty amazing to just see the stack of pages! And it’s been really cool to see the Right-Brain Business Plan e-Course participants engaging with the materials and exercises. They’re doing such awesome work planning and playing!

The book continues to take shape. I’ve started receiving pictures and packages of awesome creative Right-Brain Business Plans to feature (by the way if you have one you’d like me to consider, please let me know!). And this week I met with my dear friend and fabulous designer Kate Prentiss to start brainstorming about the cool illustrations. (As we enjoyed yummy treats at Bittersweet she scribbled the adorable note above in honor of our Year of the Tiger – which is already off to a great start!).

While I never want to run a marathon, I definitely feel like this writing journey demands a similar type of focus, commitment, and endurance. After I pass one milestone, there’s another around the corner… I’ll just continue putting one foot in front of the other…

Keeping the Gremlins at Bay

Isn’t it funny how the gremlins get louder the closer we move toward our big dreams? For weeks and weeks, I’ve been diligently plugging away at my manuscript, but now that I’m preparing to have colleagues review it and give feedback, the Inner Critic kicked into overdrive.

Productivity came to a halt. I dug my heels in. I started to stall on sending out certain e-mail requests, I avoided reading sections of my manuscript (let’s not even talk about looking at the whole thing in its entirety!), and I kept myself in the dark about what the timing of my next steps needed to be. These are a few of my gremlin’s many sneaky tactics to keeping things status quo.

Recognizing the gremlin’s grip, I began taking little steps forward. I drafted up the e-mails that I needed to send out. I printed out documents that I had not been wanting to deal with. I got more Post-it Notes and mapped out the dates of key milestones leading up to my deadline. I swear, it’s these tiniest of actions that get my mind off of the gremlin talk and on to the bigger vision. There is still plenty more to do and I’m still noticing resistance. But, I know if I keep making these micromovements I’ll maintain momentum. And it sure helps having awesome, supportive people in my life and an amazing book coach to keep me focused on the positive. So take that, gremlins!!

How does your Inner Critic try to sabotage your progress? What are the ways you keep your gremlins at bay?

I’m Gonna be a Published Author! Hooray!


Just like there was a time when I didn’t think of myself as an artist, an entrepreneur, a good coach, or a leader, I had blocks around calling myself a writer or, dare I say it … an author. Over the years, I’ve stepped more fully and confidently into each of these roles and own that I am all of them and more. And now, I’m super excited to share that I’m going to be a published author! I just signed a contract with the awesome and inspiring New World Library – publisher of many of my favorite books. The Right-Brain Business Plan will come out in early 2011. It will take you through a creative, visual process for planning your business and will include full-color photos of featured Right-Brain Business Plans and fun illustrated “playsheets.” I am absolutely thrilled!!! Yahoo!

I remember about ten years ago, I was in my first coach’s living room brainstorming my life plan with her. I declared that I would love to write a book some day. I had no idea what it would be about nor did I even consider myself a writer. I just knew it was something I eventually wanted to do. I thought that it might be about business or organizational change (my interest at the time) but my coach had an inkling it would be something creative. Well, it turns out we were both right given that I’m writing a book about creative entrepreneurship!

It’s been an interesting journey so far. The creative and visual methods I’m writing about have served as important tools for manifesting this dream. In January of 2007, I mocked up the back cover of the book I was thinking of writing. Having a prototype helped to inspire me and connect me with my vision. The crazy thing was that in less than 24 hours after I had the idea to do the book cover, I got an e-mail from author Caitlin Friedman asking me if I wanted to be interviewed for their next Girl’s Guide book about careers! That was my first taste of being in print.

Later on in 2007, I started working with my fabulous book coach Jan King, but soon got sidetracked by other projects. Seeing Jan again at the 2008 eWomen Network conference in Dallas reignited my passion for pursuing the book and I flew home journaling about how I was ready to be an author. I set a goal to attend the Book Expo with Jan the following year. I plugged away at the book and even attended a writer’s retreat earlier this year.

In May of 2009, I headed out to New York for BEA with a proposal and sell sheet in hand (for a totally different book idea, mind you – it’ll just be my next one, heehee!). At the last minute I decided to create a sell sheet for my Right-Brain Business Plan idea, too, and I’m glad I did as that’s the one that consistently generated the most interest from the publishers I met. When I got back, I put together a proposal and sample chapters for the Right-Brain Business Plan and sent it out. I received my first rejection letter the following week. It sure stung even though I knew it came with the territory.

During the months of waiting to hear back from publishers, I took SARK’s Juicy Pens Thirsty Paper workshop. I loved crafting my writer’s wo-manifesto in the class. And as one of my micromovements, I updated my “I’m a published author” vision board on my iPhone (thanks to the fabulous Carla White’s Vision Board app). I included photos of my sell sheet, writer’s wo-manifesto, and me with some of my favorite writers, plus some affirmations. This kept me motivated and inspired.

After all that waiting and waiting, I was super excited to get the call from my publisher the other month with the good news and I’m psyched to finally make the official announcement! I still have plenty of work ahead of me to finish the manuscript and pull together all of the artwork. Luckily I have so many wonderful people supporting me and I’m extremely grateful to have all of their help and encouragement. I’ve been getting a kick out of the many virtual happy dances I’ve been doing with everyone to celebrate!

This is an exciting new chapter in my life and business and I look forward to how the story continues to unfold.

On BlogHer: Curing Writer’s Block

BlogHer’s inspiring Jory Des Jardins interviewed me about curing writer’s block on this week’s The Juice.  In addition to Gretchen Wegner’s fun MuseCubes that I mention in the video, a couple of other great writing resources are SARK’s Juicy Pens Thirsty Paper and Write or Die: Dr. Wicked’s Writing Lab.

I’d love to hear some of your tips of how you keep your writing flowing!