Finding My Voice (Again) To Help Others Find Theirs

I wonder what to write here like I’m stuck and need to get going.

I’m staring at my computer in my kitchen, thinking I need to post something, and I don’t know what to write.

The next 90-Day Challenge is up today in the Make Your Mark Community, and my mind is blank.

Again.

Well, of course, it is not blank, it is overflowing.

Because I have not planned, I want to write everything at once, which is harder than one thing.

Let’s go back to the beginning, and then I can show how easy it is to plan.

The hard part of any blog in life and in this challenge is getting started, which is why I am opening up with this post.

I have to find a jumping-off point, and saying exactly where I have always worked for me in the past when blogging.

My first blog post

Back in 2006, I posted my first blog on the internet on Blogger, I keep going back to find it, but it has gone.

Also in 2006, I’d started to listen to books by this person called Seth Godin, like Purple Cow, Small is the new big and Free Prize Inside!

The idea of writing on the internet got me hooked after reading a wild and crazy text called — ‘The Clue-train Manifesto.’

Plus, the idea of not having to ‘submit work to an editor’ — was particularly enchanting.

People talked about posting on the internet, where millions of people would have access to it.

But what did not work for me was millions of people having access to it.

Everyone will judge me.

Everyone will laugh at me.

They will drag me into the town square and stone me.

On Blogger, I got all brave and posted something about education.

I’d finished University the year before, where I’d studied English Literature and Education.

Now I was stumbling through the first year of a Masters in Religion and Literature.

But the Masters reading was killing me.

A few years before, the University discovered I was dyslexic and given me a lot of support.

I’d made it through my BA degree by using audiobooks, which became a game-changer for me.

But books on the relationship between religion and the economy were not hanging around audible in 2006, so I had to tap out of the Master’s degree.

Back on Blogger I wrote something, hit publish and waited.

Nothing.

I came back a day later, and still nothing.

I am sure no one ever read it, I did not have any social media accounts and was too scared to email it to anyone I knew.

All this opened the door for investigating how to start a blog and become an internet publisher, the Master’s Degree had more than awakened the researcher and writer in me.

It would be a few more years and a lot of fear before I did get going, and I knew I needed a lot of help.

Getting unstuck using tools and a framework

I’ve read hundreds of books about marketing, writing and the internet, discovering audible in 2006.

Here in London, I’m part of a group of people who run meet-ups on writing and blogging, we’ve run well over 500 of on and off-line events.

In this way, I’m like an addict who has set up a rehab clinic.

But I get stuck, and I am gripped by fear all the time.

I am fantastic at unsticking other people and their work.

Some of my blocks are because of A.D.H.D. and dyslexia, some of it is impostor syndrome, but mostly it is reasonable old-fashion fear of criticism.

But my fear is out of whack because only one person has ‘taken me out on the internet in twenty years online.’

At the time, so many people jumped to my defence without prompting, it ended up being a huge confidence boost.

Back to my kitchen and wondering what to write.

My mind goes blank, and the writing I am doing is about the world I have constructed and live in every day.

One of the gifts of dyslexia and what got me interested in productivity is that I’d have to outrun that dyslexia.

Early on, I made a point of always looking up apps and gadgets to help me.

For example, as I am typing this:

Text Expander is auto-correcting the words I know I get wrong.

Grammarly is highlighting ‘theirs’ and ‘there’s which I never see, even if I read it out loud.

I’ve tracked down so much equipment to capture ideas and get my words done.

And I’ve tried many content systems, the one that I find the fastest and the best is the Big Five by Marcus Sheridan.

You can get the whole thing in his book here.

And go further on it with Jammy Digital in Content Fortress here.

A whole group of us in Make Your Mark and other communities have made this work for them in content creation.

The “Big 5” blog topics to increase your traffic leads and sales are:

  1. Cost / Price
  2. Problems.
  3. Comparisons.
  4. “Best of” lists.
  5. Reviews.

Make a list of your most profitable products and write one article about each one and post it.

Is that it?

The last challenge passed me by, and I know where I messed up.

At the very beginning, I did not do the work to plan out what to write, it does not take me long to write.

And when I know what I am writing about, it flows out and is a fun crafting and editing at the other end.

What stops me is choosing to allow confusion to set in, which leads to a good bit of self-loathing.

Then I hate myself, and then I don’t open the Slack channel, then I put the blog planning workbook back on the shelf.

Fear and loathing on WordPress

After a while, it came down to having layers and layers of resistance and fear.

Not like fear of standing on the side of an aeroplane or being on stage in front of 20K people.

Fear of oh, I’m here, and I’ve been fighting like crazy for years to get to a point in my career like this, let’s go for a nap.

I have the fear that I do not know what I’m doing, and everyone will find out.

And then I look at WordPress and hate myself for not getting it done sooner, today or in life.

Which is total bollox, I do know what I’m doing, and I love it.

In 2020, I did one of those Clifton Strengths tests and came out as a learner and something else I like.

There are things every day I can’t do, like to set realistic timelines or send invoices.

For all those things I lack in, there is someone in our team who knows where to go and do it faster than me.

The first 90-Day Challenge

You see, the first challenge we did was back in 2015, or 2016 so for five years, I’ve been thrashing to get through this.

I’ve seen so many people start by tripping over their shoelaces and then build strong podcasts, YouTube channels and blogs.

Every time I come out to play, I build confidence and skill, but I’m missing discipline and consistency.

One of the biggest life challenges I have is inconsistency in content production.

Content production is also my greatest professional love.

So in this next 90-Day Challenge, I’m going to work out my content production with you here on my website.

Looking back, I’ve posted a blog or podcast every week for over a decade, but always for other websites.

The eats me all the time; it is like post-traumatic stress for blogging.

This 90-Day Challenge

As we go through this next challenge, it also coincides with me putting myself through a round of therapy.

The last time I started therapy in 2012, I was having a full-blown mental breakdown.

For a few years, I was drowning in self-loathing and contemplating suicide sporadically.

As lockdown hit us and the mental overload that went to it, I knew what to do.

I now had coping mechanisms and self-awareness from years of mental trauma.

Even better, I’d been working on remote teams since 2010, so I was already ready for a lockdown.

Lockdown? Born ready

So, after years of slogging my guts out making it up as I went along, my work life took a turn for the amazing.

I ended up becoming part of a fin-tech startup that grew out of our coworking community.

While this is one of the best opportunities in my career, I was a bit pissed at first.

I’d worked hard on my freelance act, became a StoryBrand Guide in February 2020 then lockdown hit in March.

In our company there followed six months of thrashing and in the business and thrashing in my head.

Between global pandemics, not leaving my postcode for months and my new role, my brain cells shot to bits.

90 Days of massive action

In the next 90 Days, I need to re-establish my voice.

In November 2010 in the lobby of the Soho Theatre, my mate Julie Hall made me watch a T.E.D. Talk.

Julie started beating me up about my ‘why’ — the TED talk was by someone named Simon Sinek.

I’d end up meeting Simon at a small dinner hosted by Rackspace a few years later, he was generous and told me to ‘keep going!’

We did not talk about my ‘Why’ even though I wanted to shout it at him.

I did get to tell Julie, and it came from the 8th Habit book by Stephen Covey.

It is ‘Find your voice and help other people find theirs’ — that has been consistent and part of me since 2006.

Now I am out to find my voice again, I have not lost it, but this new world of 2012 requires a new blend of Bernie.

I need to find my voice and this time, I’m calling in a bit for help.

Last year, I joined the youth charity UrbanMBA as a trustee and Bea from there is helping me put it together.

Bea designed the look and feel for Urban MBA with Mahdi.

Where to connect?

We have the Meet Up’s coming up — we are about to publish 12 weeks worth of online events — here.

Folks from the UrbanMBA team are going to run our podcast meet-up with me — here.

And we’re hosting the techLondon podcast together here.

We’ll open the writing club again — also here.

We have European Freelancers Week coming up for the sixth year.

For so long, when I’ve said we, I’ve meant one other person and me if I am lucky.

This time it is a whole crew, our comms team for the company, we were freelancers before, and now we are here.

We’re about to launch a European Coworking Assembly handbook on inclusion in December 2021.

So looking back, that is why I skipped the last challenge.

I’m not saying that to make excuses or enquire about forgiveness.

I’m pointing out how I beat myself up for not doing things and the energy I waste.

In the last week, I’ve been listening to a Brene Browns work, AGAIN.

Brene is someone I’ve taken a lot of lead from around parenting, self-care and gratitude.

Brene said the best bit of writing advice she ever got was ‘write what you need to read’, and that is where I am going.

I have the workbook, and I have a shit ton of ideas, I have a framework — the big five.

I have videos and people to talk to, I’ve even got my meet-ups, and I know how to get unstuck.

But I always get a bit stuck, and I know I am not the only one.

Join the ride here on London Bloggers Meet-up and get the other thoughts on my newsletter, which I’ve been sending for over a decade now. It is about to get even better.

Get my latest news, tips and tricks by email!