In which I do something fabulously stupid and enjoy the hell out of it.
Some day scientists will isolate the part of the brain that thinks it’s fun to ignore the very sensible, practical things that everyone tells you.
You know — the rebellious part of the brain whose job it is to release joyful chemicals when you’re doing something that goes against all common sense and advice to the contrary. And they’ll probably give it a really cool name.
I have to say, I get a big crazy rush when this part of my brain takes over. It doesn’t happen that often but when it does, wheeeeee!
Two possibilities …
There are two ways this kind of decision can play out.
One is disastrously.
This is what is often known as “the stupid streak” — a phrase I took from one of my all-time favorite novels, Richard Russo’s Nobody’s Fool.*
[Aside: If you've read Russo's Empire Falls and thought "A Pulitzer? Meh", go read Nobody's Fool. It's the one that should have gotten the Pulitzer. I really don't know why they never ask me. Just saying.]
“Such sudden sensations of well-being … were, in fact, leading indicators of the approach of a condition that Sully had come to think of as a stupid streak, where everything he did would turn out wrong, where each wrong turn would be compounded by the next, where even smart moves would prove dumb in the particular circumstance, where thoughtlessness and careful consideration were guaranteed to arrive at the same end — disaster.”
Ah yes. I think we all know what that feels like.
On the other hand, the other way this thing can go is fabulously.
This is the gambler’s high. You go against the grain. You take the leap. You mix your metaphors. You do the thing you know you have to do and it ROCKS. Cue cheesy end-of-bad-hollywood-movie music.
That’s what I’m talking about, baby.
Anyway, I’m in it right now.
I’m doing something that is the exact opposite of every single piece of business advice I’ve ever received from every single person I respect.*
It could be a stupid streak. But it feels more like wheeeeee!
Because no nooz is good nooz.
I’m sick of writing the noozletter. There. I said it.
It used to be a highlight. One of my favorite parts of having a business. Twice a month I got to put on my writing cap and be a writer. In an active “look, I’m doing the thing!” kind of way.
Obviously in my heart and head I’m always a writer. Just never got to be in writer-mode all that often. So writing the nooz was really fun.
Plus people really, really love it. Every time I send one off I get mad fan mail — just sweet, personal contact from the awesomest people ever.
It is a mystery to me how my readership seems to be entirely made up of really bright, thoughtful, inquisitive people, but wow. I’ve gotten to meet some of my favorite people ever through the noozletter.
But a lot has changed since December 2005 when I started writing it. For one thing, I wrote a bunch of ebooks and have other fabulous writing projects in the works.
For another, I has a blog. Which means I get to write all the time. And blogging? Way more fun than noozletter writing. The thing no one tells you about blogging is that it’s basically free therapy. It rocks.
So I began noticing resistance and “do-not-want”-ism showing up — and I started thinking about the life cycle of passion.
The life cycle of passion
My nooz is almost three years old. That’s really old.
Well, it is in internet years — where a blog that’s been around a couple months can already be a freaking establishment for crying out loud.
Here are the life stages of my baby:
1. Baby nooz is unsteady on its feet. Makes a very uh, select few people happy every month or so. I feel nervous and excited and hope I won’t drop it on its head.
2. Toddler nooz is already off-to-school nooz. I’m sharing techniques that I use with clients, and people are using them! Weird. Awesome. I feel curious and a little tired.
3. Nooz comes out every two weeks like clockwork. It’s totally its own thing with its own personality now. It’s separate from me.
I stop trying to give people big techniques and start focusing on little mind shifts that can help them do stuff a little differently right now. I’m meant to do this. I am a writer. I feel elated and giddy.
4. Teenager nooz has its own friends. People email my duck. Seriously. Anything I write will automatically get a ton of email responses. Which is cool. But ack! Responsibility. Adulthood kinda sucks. I feel conflicted.
5. My nooz is all grown up and off to college. I start blogging. I discover that writing every day or almost every day is more fun than doing it just every other week.
So what to do now?
Anyway, this is where I was as of last week. Pre-stupid streak. I mean, pre-ecstatic-high.
I was feeling frustrated because I knew that the noozletter was becoming a “should”. And oh boy, I don’t work well when I’m in resistance.
So on the one hand, I really needed to know I could trust myself to a. be there for the people who depend on me and b. do the right thing for my business.
And on the other hand, I was needing some reassurance that my life wasn’t going to have the fun sucked out of it. Because shoulds are bad for your mental and emotional health. And they’re bad for business.
There was some hair-tearing.
And then I started asking everyone I know for advice. Which was a mistake. Because they all told me what I didn’t want to hear.
Here’s what everyone said:
They told me what I already knew. That you gotta have a list. That writing a noozletter is how you connect to the people you want to help so that they can get help from you.
And so they can feel safe and comfortable with you, so that should the time come when your products and services are useful to them, they feel excited rather than anxious.
And then I would say:
Okay, but having a bunch of blog subscribers, while not as much of an intimate connection, is actually better. Because they do that whole interactive thing.
And then they would say: You have to have a newsletter. You have a relationship with the people on that list. You can’t just dump it.
And then I’d say: Well, I think the wave of the future is going to be blog-based relationships. People will use lists more like fan-clubs — as a way of giving people special attention — but the weekly or bi-weekly article is on its way out.
Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
I realized that we could go back and forth until the cows are already home and tucked in bed, but it didn’t change the basic fact that I just didn’t want to write the noozletter.
It was clearly time to turn down the input from the logical part of my brain and check in with the other parts.
Here’s what my body said:
Blech. Yuck. Ack. Ptooey.
It said: resentment and resistance aren’t good for you. You know what’s good for you? A relaxed, happy state of mind is good for you. Writing is good for you. Creating is good for you. Go do some more of that.
And then I did some meditation and stuff and realized: my goal is still to help as many of the people I’m meant to help as possible. And the nooz just no longer feels like the right way to do it. The way to do it is to go where the mojo is.
I felt better.
So much better in fact that I yelled “OMG, I’m dumping the nooz!”
And that’s when the buzz kicked in. Wheeeeee!
Stupid streak? Maybe. But I don’t care.
The thing I’m taking from this.
My noozletter has grown up. It’s moving on.
It’s not old. I am not saying that my noozletter is old. It’s not wearing frumpy clothes. It’s not like we’ve reached “stick this baby on an ice-floe” time or anything …
It’s just that I’m done with it. Things are changing and shifting. I’m going with what feels like the right way rather than what sounds like the right way..
Here’s what’s going to happen. I’ll still get to hang out with all or most of the smart, wonderful people that I adore. All the teachings, the lessons, the insights, the goofiness — they’re not going away. They’re just going to be here – on the blog.
I’ll still use my list to connect up with because I adore them. I’ll give them special prices on my stuff and send out some case studies and things that I think are useful and important. But the every-other-week nooz is no longer a thing.
Maybe it will start a trend and all sorts of biggifiers will start dumping their noozletters too. Or maybe I’m an idiot and this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever done to my business. I doubt it, but it’s possible.
In that case? Oh, well. Then we’ll rethink things and change course. Or I still won’t care. In which case you’ll find me right here. Writing up a storm.
P.S. Special thanks and a big fat kiss to my wonderful designer for the many gorgeous old-timey nooz designs. Showcased here: some of my favorites.