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We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.

 

How to write a FAQ

So last week I had the excessive hubris (yes, of course hubris is always excessive, but mine somehow especially so) to think that if I answered a question-I-get-asked-all-the-time right here on the blog, I could save myself some time and energy and not have to answer a gazillion people by email.

Then, because I’m extra-clever that way, I thought I’d not only answer the question (is there a yoga dvd that doesn’t suck?) but take it a couple steps further.

My super-genius plan was to come up with something that would actually help people do non-sucky yoga rather than just thinking about maybe buying a dvd. Or buying it and tossing it on a shelf to feel guilty about later.

And yes, because you’re smarter than me (and you know my duck totally said this was going to happen) a thousand people sent me questions about the non-sucky yoga package.

If you’re laughing at me, it’s you and the gods, baby. Because hahahahaha, I should have known I’d never be able to get out of writing some sort of FAQ.

When the fates demand a sacrifice (a FAQrifice?), you have to pony up.

Also, if we ignore that last sentence for a second, I want to point out something that should be obvious and isn’t:

The most important thing to know about a FAQ is that — despite the overwhelming temptation to call it “Just the FAQs, ma’am” or “How the FAQ should I know?” — all the FAQ jokes have been made. Well, until a minute ago it was all of them but one. Now it’s all of them.

It’s over. Just accept it.

At least six things to consider when FAQ-ing it up.

Call a FAQ a FAQ.

Yes, I know I’m the one who recently referred to it as a QTAAWPF (Questions That Are Asked With Predictable Frequency), but that was a joke. Kind of.

People just want to know that you’re going to answer their questions.

Update often.

The reason there isn’t a Fluent Self FAQ at the moment is that even the last of my six hundred versions of one is old as Methuselah’s monkey and even less relevant.

Don’t be the person (excuse me while I go hide under the kitchen table) who has to write a post about how to write a FAQ because they don’t actually feel like writing a FAQ.

What you do — and how you talk about it — will be shifting and changing as a matter of course, because whatever you do (business, art, writing) is a reflection of who you are.

And you, my dear, are always engaged in the dynamic process that is being alive. And being alive is about flow and change.

So a FAQ that doesn’t change can be a sign that there’s some stagnation and stuckification happening. Or that you’re just really, really busy. Cough.

Make sure it’s only questions that are frequently asked.

It’s so easy for a FAQ to turn into you just going on and on about random stuff you want to tell people. Boring! That’s what your blog is for. *rimshot*

Oh, I amuse myself. It’s a bit early. I haven’t had breakfast.

But back to the point.

Make sure it really is stuff they want to know (and ask you about) and not just the stuff you want them to know.

What, you want an embarrassing example? Okay. When I first launched this website three years ago, everyone said that I had to get corporate work because that’s where the money was.

I didn’t actually want corporate work, but when you have no idea what the hell you’re doing and all the nice people at the SBA and at dinner parties think you should, you tend to think they’re right.

And yes, I could have done it. But really only if someone from Google or Apple had phoned me to say, “Hey, you’re a wacky brain training expert who knows how to change people’s habits so they can get more done and you can teach us how to generate epiphanies … willya do it? Willya?”

So my FAQ answered the (for me) completely fake and phony question “What can The Fluent Self do for my company or organization?” Ugh. Bleargh.

Don’t do that. And if there is stuff you want people to know about what you do, be honest and transparent about that.

Add a section to the FAQ and call it “Questions no one asks but I wish they would!”

Bonus lesson here: trust your instincts.
Replenish. Don’t make decisions from that panicky tight place. Make decisions when you’re feeling spacious and replenished and loved.

And if you’re not feeling those things, go take a nap or listen to my freebie Recoding the Mind meditation (link goes to mp3) which I can’t stand but people love.

Or splurge on my Emergency Calming Techniques package (which I am madly in love with) or read some of Mark’s stuff (awesome) or do some non-sucky yoga or something.

But do something.

You can also use your blog as a way to build a FAQ.

Cheating? Not really. You just use different blog posts to answer different questions, and then you can link to the individual posts from the FAQ page.

This is especially useful if you’re strapped for content, a problem which is apparently plaguing the blogosphere and a problem that I have never, ever had because hello, I do Dance of Shiva almost every day which has to be the most idea-generating practice of all time.

But if I wanted to answer a bunch of questions about Non-Sucky Yoga Month on my blog (I don’t, so this is only an example), I could write an Ask Havi post that started with a real, live question.

Like this:

“Will this yoga work for “big girls” who don’t look like barbie dolls?”

And obviously I could — aside from just answering her question with a resounding, reassuring YES! — talk about how this is actually the perfect yoga dvd to start out with for a “big girl” who doesn’t look like a barbie doll.

Because it’s all about working with your body as it is right now, and adjusting your movements to accommodate that. Because these poses work with deep tissue and fascia, so they don’t require a lot of strength or flexibility.

Because it gives you a really deep understanding of how your bones and muscles fit together, which is a great first step towards being able to give your body a lot of love.

But — and this is important — I could also talk about all sorts of things that would be interesting even to people who have no interest in ever doing yoga.

About identity. About how being able to practice kindness with yourself is so much more important than whether or not you can (or ever will) stick a leg behind your head or whatever.

About what it might look like to have a healthy, compassionate relationship with your body and how freaking hard that is most of the time.

Because you don’t want to bore the people who haven’t asked the question.

You want your content to be specific enough that you can help the person who came to you because she needs an answer, and yet broad enough that Joe the Plumber can still feel as though you’re talking to him too. Okay, not that broad.

What I mean is that you want your regular readers to still hang in there with you, just because you’re cool, so that it’s not all disconcerting that you’ve gone slightly off-topic.

If your FAQ is all on one page, keep the answers very, very short.

Like this:

QUESTION: I want to get your Non-Sucky Yoga package but I don’t have a yoga mat. Do I need a mat to do the practice?

HAVI & SELMA: Oh, absolutely not. You can just spread a couple blankets on the floor.

There are hardly any standing poses in this DVD anyway … and on the rare occasion that one comes up you can just step off the blankets and onto the floor for a little more support (and to avoid falling on your face which is embarrassing and leaves bruises).

See? If I were answering that question in a blog post, I’d feel fine rambling on about how yoga mats almost always unnecessary or ranting away about what a scam they are.

Or telling you about how my own teacher (the renowned Ukrainian yoga master) does downward-facing dog on ice.

And how we’re not doing crazy hard-core stuff like that for Non-Sucky Yoga Month because non-sucky yoga is all about creating a safe, comfortable place to hang out with your body and give it some love so it can love you back.

But if it’s just on the FAQ page? Get to the point.

Use your site navigation to answer questions.

The real, true most-most-most frequently asked questions should be answered in your navigation.

The things people ask me the most are “is this stuff for me?” and “how does it work?” and “how much does it cost to work with you?” and “are there more affordable ways to get awesome Havi goodness without having to actually hire you?”

I answer all those questions in the top navigation of the site. People go read Is this you? and Hire my duck! and it saves me at least an hour or two a week in email-answering time.

You can also take this even further by doing things like having a non-policy policy (with your comments or on your contact page) or a page for the media about how to contact you and how awesome the stuff you do is.

Which reminds me that I still haven’t told anyone about being quoted as a mind-body expert in Woman’s Day last year. Which, given that 99% of my readers wouldn’t be caught dead reading Woman’s Day outside of a dentist’s office, is probably not that impressive.

But if I put my mind to it, I’m sure I can find a way to work that into one of the FAQ bits too. Or we can just leave it here.

Uh, I think we’re done.

So yeah, there are at least twenty questions about Non-sucky Yoga Month for me to answer, but I’m at least in more of a mood to rewrite the dead FAQ. Or to create a new one altogether.

Questions? Oh, okay. Fine. Leave them in the comments and one of the smart people who reads this will answer them! :)

Or I will. But after breakfast.

7 Responses to How to write a FAQ

  1. Allysho says:

    ‘downward-facing dog on ice’

    ok seriously, that would have to involve some levitation, right? Like, he levitates whilst pretending to be a downward facing dog just for fun, right?

    and I know it’s completely off topic, but I just want to point out that I have never seen a dog doing the thing that humans call ‘downward facing dog’. Just saying.

    (great series of posts Havi – I have so many dings go off in my head it’s almost a little too noisy in there)

  2. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi
    says:

    Dings going off in the head! I hope that’s a good thing!

    Off to practice my levitation …

  3. dear ms ducky & selma

    tis a fine-fine web you weave dear … thanks again for knock-knock, well-timed posting …

    ta for now

    — joyce

  4. JoVE says:

    You are procrastinating. And I think I know someone with a product that can help you with that ;-)

    JoVEs last blog post..more hippy shit

  5. karenv says:

    Gee, I thought writing a FAQ involved seeing which questions we scaredy cats ask the most and then lining ’em up! :D

    Karen

  6. Janet Bailey
    Twitter: janetbailey
    says:

    Oh so funny. & inspiring. But hey, go easy on Woman’s Day — some of us (ahem) write for that magazine!

  7. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi
    says:

    @Janet – Apologies! I take it all back. Yay for writing!

    @karen – Oh, right. I’ll do that too! :)

    @JoVE – Processing isn’t procrastinating! It’s good for you. Pretty much everything is good for you when it’s not laced with too much guilt.

    @joyce – !!!

    Okay, off to do some FAQ-checking …. *hides from the pun-whomping that is sure to follow*

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