My own coach, Tama Kieves, share her insights about thriving as a writer, finding inspiration, how to write from your own personal experiences or stories and her process for writing a book.
Lisa: I know you’re a big journaler. Was there a specific event or moment that inspired Thriving Through Uncertainty or did it come out of looking at your journals and discovering the gems?
Tama: I’m always writing about what I’m learning in order to live a creative, inspired life. And since I am a teensy bit—how shall I say—neurotic as hell—there’s always topics! But I feel like Thriving Through Uncertainty: Moving Beyond Fear and Making Change Work for You arose as an integration of all my other work.
My first book This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love was about how I went from being a type A success freak, Harvard Law honors graduate to leaving everything, opening up to the creative life, a thousand fears, and writing.
My second book Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work! was about how do you take a creative dream and turn it into a wild success, but still stay inspired and not formulaic? I’d been overwhelmed by all you “should do” and feeling more wretched than inspired and I wanted to get back in touch with the sense of destiny and an unparalleled path.
And my third book A Year without Fear: 365 Days of Magnificence is a daily reader that offers a mindset shift every single day to help you stay inspired instead of in fear.
I started looking at my books and asking myself what did I need to say now, or heal now, and what did people really need to know? I considered my coaching clients and students. What did we spend the most time working through? And then I remembered one of my clients called me “The Transition Queen” because, really, even though I was helping people find their calling, I was always helping them to listen to their own inner voice of love and genius.
Lisa: I know you do that for me! Your insights always feel like a million little hands lifting me up to the sun. You help me thrive as a writer.
Tama: It’s always the “in between” places where people feel broken, instead of realizing they’re breaking away from an old identity and breaking through to a new level. That’s where they go off the rails and stop trusting themselves and then making sadder fear-driven choices because they want to “be realistic.”
Lisa: A resounding Yes!
Tama: The only reason people don’t live the life of their dreams is because they don’t know how to handle uncertainty. Peace of mind isn’t something that you can just pick up at Shoprite, on sale no less. I help my clients cultivate a miraculous relationship with themselves, and their true possibilities, so that they make the most inspired choices of their lifetime—no matter what’s going on. And I wanted to do that in a book. Tweet This
I want to help someone who might be going through a divorce, career transition, or building the business of their dreams, or anything. I wanted to help them tap their crazy rebel brilliance in the situation. I wanted to talk them through it, so that they wouldn’t cave in to blunt conditioning or discouragement. Because when life doesn’t go according to plan, that’s when your true destiny begins. It’s such a precious opportunity. Because how you respond to your life is your life.
Lisa: I love that, because I know you do that for me. I might come to a call with you very down on myself and you help me see what that discomfort is truly saying. Often, it’s a nudge towards peace, tranquility, a space of letting go of the busyness, so I can create the space that my creativity—and my muse—require. The negative feelings are often just a message that my priorities are out of whack. What is your process for book writing?
Tama: I’ll try to answer this, though my answer could be another book itself! I don’t write an outline or table of contents. I write snippets. I freewrite and blurt unedited on the page. Then I pay attention to what lines or passages have heat. Where is there a surprise message or some silky movement? Something alive? Or a voice I’m wanting this book to have?
When I’ve written something I really like, I use it as my touchstone for the book. I let it direct me. I read it again and again. It helps me attune or get into the energy of what and how I want to write.
Frequently, I don’t really know what I’m going to write. That’s why writing is such a discovery process. It heals me to write. I’m always trying to explain the world or life to myself.
Lisa: It works so beautifully—your writing vibrates with energy and life!
Tama: I write from my own stories and personal examples. So, I think in terms of scenes. I often write like a literary fiction writer, even though I’m writing self-help. All of my books are a hybrid of memoir and self-help, because it’s what I wanted to read myself. I don’t love just reading principles or eight easy steps. I wanted someone to teach me real world application and things like how to get my face out of the refrigerator when I should be meditating or something.
Lisa: That’s a bestseller right there! So, how about after the freewriting?
Tama: I study what I have. I start noticing what themes keep recurring. That’s how I discover what I call the right brain’s organization. It’s always there. The writing itself knows what wants to be written. And it’s BETTER than anything I could have ever organized from my linear mind.
Once I’ve got these themes or chapters—then and only then—I relentlessly edit the pieces. I make them sleek, so that the reader doesn’t hit a bump or hole or lose focus. When I edit, I always ask myself:
Does this piece move me?
Does it change me to have read this?
Do I “buy” it?
What questions do I have that keep me from absorbing the message?
I believe my writing inspires others because I’m such a tough customer myself. I put my Harvard Law degree to use and “prove the case” for why you can succeed. I shoot down every defense against it you have. Then I tap my New York City roots and pull on my God-given cynicism and snarky chakras—and edit from that vibe.
Is this too peachy or fluffy?
Is it real?
Do I trust this chick?
And all of the editing takes me deeper into what I’m really trying to say.
Lisa: I love your questions! How is “Thriving Through Uncertainty” important for writers?
Tama: I’ve been coaching writers, artists, entrepreneurs and leaders for years. And the thing that stops people from succeeding in the life of their dreams is that they don’t know how to face uncertainty and transform it into sweetness, security and success. I want more writers to write what they really need to write.
I want more people to give their greatest gifts to the world. And to do that, you have to face risk. You have to go to your edge. But believe it or not, that edge is safer than staying in the middle. You were born for that edge. Your crazy, super powers await you at that edge. I want you to find out who you really are and what you can really have.
As a writer, you will face rejection, some lack of social prestige or easy standing, and the undulations of the creative process. Your worries will play Ping Pong in your head. But I want you to know that you’re on a holy path. You discover who you really are by following what you really want.
I’m passionate about helping people, especially those of us who are creative or who have a mission, to keep making choices to do what we came here to do. It’s so easy to give up. It’s so easy to get clouded or to allow our fears and conditioned minds to talk us into smaller lives, more predictable creations, and watching Netflix instead of writing for it.
I’m in awe of what’s possible for each of us, including myself. I believe you’re already chosen. It’s already done. This isn’t positive thinking. It’s positive incarnation. But you have to choose it. You have to show up. You have to tune into the signal that will take you all the way. Listen to nothing in this life but that which strengthens you. Tweet This
Lisa: I want the Tama Kieves audio playing in my head 24/7! Did you find yourself needing the advice in the book as you wrote the book? Can you give some examples?
Tama: Oh, this is always the case for me. I always experience and learn what I’m writing about. Of course, part way through the book, I started whining to friends, “Could someone please explain to me why on earth did I choose to write a book on uncertainty? Why couldn’t I have chosen to write about enjoying infinite wealth or something?”
But here’s an example of what I learned while writing the book that’s priceless to me. Before writing it, I was going through a quasi-funk bemoaning the writing industry. I was telling myself I wasn’t writing because what’s the point, you’ll have to market this next book, you don’t have a big fancy marketing team or publicist because you’re not a #1 New York Times bestselling author, it’s so hard, blah, blah, blah and you really should just eat a pound of chocolate because everyone knows that sugar is such a brilliant solution for feeling like a loser.
If you would have asked me why I was depressed, I would have told you about those reasons. But when I started writing about showing up in the face of any uncertainty, I realized I was depressed because I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t showing up. That’s what was really undoing me.
The minute I started deeply writing, I tapped my fire again. I tapped my invincible spirit. I tapped the part of me that knows this is going somewhere. I also tapped the part of me that couldn’t care less about the future of the book because the writing itself was coursing through me, saving me, like medicine and acid, making me experience wonder and seamlessness and flight.
I realized I’d been sad because I wasn’t showing up. I’d been using reasons to not show up for writing and my life. And reasons kill life. Showing up kills reason. Showing up allows a powerful new life to show up for you. Showing up changes everything. And, most of all, it changes how you feel about yourself.
Lisa: Tama, that is so beautiful. THAT is the most important message for writers and creatives to remember: Just Show Up. It’s not showing up and fully trusting the muse that brings us down. We can pin our funk on everything else but as soon as we allow the work to move through us, we break through. Tweet This Thank you Tama!
You’ve mentioned to me that you do not write every day and think it’s a disservice to writers to tell people you are only a writer if you write every day. Can you say more about that–how you can be thriving as a writer yet not write every day?
Tama: It’s a horrible disservice to tell writers that “you’re only a writer” if you write every day. Tweet This I don’t believe in one size fits all strategies. Every creative being has their own way of working. For many creatives, it’s the harshness of expectations that keeps them from writing and discovering their own genius in the first place. I’d rather you be generous with yourself.
I have a chapter in Thriving Through Uncertainty that’s called “Dare to Be Unfaithful, Sporadic, and Unusually True to Yourself.” I’ll quote from that section here:
“You are here to follow an unpredictable light wherever it leads, not to wrangle unfathomable power into a silly, stupid box.
“This isn’t rationalization. It’s strategy. Because a realistic and sustainable path doesn’t come from obligation or hostility.
“If you want something to go the distance, it needs to come from love.”
Lisa: Amen, sister.
Tama: I teach writers to develop a natural, organic commitment to their dreams. I teach them how to be kind to themselves and coax out big, unparalleled genius rather than thin, forced results. I teach them to “choose again” (instead of give up or beat themselves up) when they haven’t stuck to a schedule. I teach them to work with grace in order to produce grace.
The creative process is so much larger than the small, controlling parameters of the limited mind. And believe me, this was hard for me to trust, too. I’m a former attorney. I’d learned how to bill clients in 6- minute increments, which meant I had to be producing accountable results every 360 seconds. It was hard for me to learn to trust a more amorphous process and to work from self-kindness instead of self-judgment. It’s one of the things I write about. (And also teach.)
I know that the creative process is holy. If you ask me, it’s a spiritual journey. And it requires different metrics. It’s a different country. There’s new rules to learn. And there’s old rules and expectations to unlearn.
Why would you use ordinary measures to produce extraordinary results? Tweet This
Lisa: Yes! What are you doing to get the word out there about Thriving Through Uncertainty? Is there anything our readers can do to support the cause?
Tama: Just as I believe in organic writing (not writing only what you think will sell, but more what you really need to write, what really needs to be said) I believe in organic marketing too. I’m forever grateful for the word of mouth factor all my books have.
It’s an incredible feeling to get emails that say, “I just wanted you to know I’m reading your book for the 3rd time now and I’ve bought a copy for all my best friends.” That’s priceless.
And I believe that taking the time to write something inspired in the first place is your best marketing. I coach my clients to write “what you really want and need to write.” I also take more time and care with my writing. I believe its an art and it’s forever. I want it to vibrate, so to speak. If I write something that’s alive, a reader will feel it. They will be moved. And if they’re moved, they will likely tell someone else.
I’m also on a grassroots speaking tour. I’ve been running around the country accepting speaking invitations. I love sharing my work, and speaking is another calling for me. I’m told I’m part stand-up comic. But really, I’m real, and that’s often what’s funny.
For me, just as with writing, speaking is an opportunity to change the destiny of others. It’s my calling to create change, movement, and conviction. I love speaking at women’s leadership events, coaching events, business networking events, creativity groups, spiritual centers and more. I lead retreats, one day events, one-hour events, you name it.
So YES, there’s definitely ways for readers to support the cause. Take my upcoming weekend retreat on August 10-12 at the Omega Institute (Rhinebeck, NY, just 90 min by shuttle from NYC) on “Thriving Through Uncertainty: Uncover Your Inspired Roadmap” and tell your friends. (That’s a big way to support yourself too!)
Invite me to speak at your organization. Tell another organization or group about me.
Everything great happens through word of mouth.
We are living in wild, disruptive times filled with possibility. Who doesn’t need to learn how to thrive through uncertainty right now? (okay, sure—twist my arm—why not go ahead and buy copies of my books for your book group too!!)
And don’t forget to join my world-wide tribe on Facebook and Twitter. And, of course, sign up for my free articles, newsletter, and resources at www.TamaKieves.com.
I’m sharing more than ever these days, because more people are feeling a sense of change. And in times of change, many of us choose fear. We choose to contract.
I’m here to help more of us choose the inspired powers within us, whether it’s in business, career, or our personal lives.
Uncertainty is our super power. It’s when all predictable answers or paths or roads no longer make sense or work. It’s then that we have an opportunity to tap even greater resources. This is the moment to choose to be inspired instead of devastated. That takes practice and skills. That’s what I I’m here to share with the world.
Lisa: What a beautiful message. Thank you for sharing it and for taking a stand for the creative genius in all of us! You are a true inspiration, the way you live your creative life and share it!
Lisa: And you have a new writing workshop that’s LIVE with you coming up?
Tama: Yes! I have a really fun new $10.00 writing workshop with me LIVE (from anywhere in the world, and yes, it’s recorded!) It’s on line on July 19th.and it’s going to be an amazing experience!
Lisa: You are such an inspiration. I encourage our readers to sign up so they can thrive as writers, too! Your workshops are the bomb.
Tama Kieves, an honors graduate of Harvard Law School, left her law practice to write and help others create their most extraordinary lives. She is the bestselling author of This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love, and Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work! and A Year without Fear: 365 Days of Magnificence. Her most recent book is Thriving through Uncertainty: Moving Beyond Fear of the Unknown and Making Change Work for You.
Featured in USA TODAY, ABC News, Success Magazine, The Huffington Post, Oprah Radio, and more she is a sought-after speaker and visionary career/success coach, who has helped thousands world-wide to discover, launch, and thrive in the life, calling and businesses of their dreams. She has taught regularly at premier holistic venues such as Esalen, Omega, Kripalu, and Canyon Ranch and has presented at TEDx. She’s also taught A Course in Miracles for almost 30 years. Says Tama, “I was put on this earth to champion visionary minds, creative souls, freedom junkies, and purpose-driven entrepreneurs and change-agents, and anyone who wants to live and work from inspiration instead of fear.”