Right. That too.
But specifically writing FAQs. Honestly. You have no idea how much I dislike it.
This was actually “supposed to be” the post where I announce that I finally have one (three years after I decided I needed one) … but it’s already turning into the post where I talk about why I can’t write them.
Why I can’t get away with not having one, but still can’t actually write one.
I get asked a lot of questions, you know?
A lot. When I still did email, it kind of felt like I was drowning in them.
And now that I don’t do email, these questions go to my First Mate. And even though she’s speedy and brilliant, paying someone (and extremely well) to answer email adds up. And anyway, it’s probably not always the best use of her time and big crazy talents.
So writing a Frequently Asked Questions page seemed like the smart thing to do
And not just because of the whole answering-people’s-questions thing.
It’s because of my philosophy of web pages …
I firmly believe that all web pages have two purposes:
- They help your Right People fall even more in love with you (while serving as a red velvet rope to keep the not-right people safely out of your orbit).
- They save you time and money by reducing administrative crap.
So yeah, it seemed like a FAQ could do that.
Except it wouldn’t. Because I couldn’t write it.
Too much hard! I was on board with Reason #2, but #1 just wasn’t working. I couldn’t access my voice. I couldn’t sound like me.
And even though I’ve written posts about uh, how to write a FAQ, nothing seemed to work.
So, to find out exactly what the things were that kept getting in the way, I had to start paying attention to some of the hardnesses. Here’s what came up on the road to destuckifying the FAQ-writing.
Some of the hardnesses.
Reminders of past thrown shoes.
A number of past questions have been delivered at high speed in the form of enormous shoes.
And even though there won’t be any of those in the FAQ, figuring out what did need to go in involved remembering some of those shoes.
And along with those memories, a lot of old, unresolved bitterness floated up — all that lovely leftover gunk.
Contemplating those old questions (even some of the ones which weren’t shoes) brought back the same overwhelming feelings that resulted in my having gone on email sabbatical in the first place.
The “Here is my the history of my life in ten pages, can you fix all my problems in your response please?” questions — questions that are about the pain that people have, questions which trigger my deep desire to be of service.
I’ve learned the lesson (and paid for it) about needing to take care of myself to be able to really help my people, but yeah, there was a lot of pain for me in this (cough, useful) experience.
Bringing all of this old pain into right now, into a moment where I can see it for what it is, is a huge part of what I’ve been working on during my Extremely Necessary Vacation.
Saying no. Ugh.
I’ve been working on this one for a while now. And even though I’m a lot better at it, I still really don’t like saying no.
And since the FAQ is all about answering questions that get asked all the time, and since the answer to most of those questions is a resounding NO … oh boy, extra-discomfort!
Can I –? No. Would you — ? No. Can I –? No. What about — ? No. But if I — ? No.
I do not like giving the short, snippy NO. I also don’t like giving the NO that comes most easily to me, which is a long, rambling, apologetic, explain-ey NO.
Of course I know (and will write more about this soon) that when you’re in sovereignty and therefore not worrying so much about how everyone receives your NO, it’s much easier to give a firm but gracious one.
That’s the NO that ends up being the best thing for everyone involved. The one where you’re respecting the other person’s needs and they’re respecting your NO.
It’s hard enough to write a NO-filled FAQ without having to work on my sovereignty stuff at the same time, so that’s probably a part of this too.
My big fear right now is saying things which are true but might sound snobby.
What I’m trying to do is explain my need to respect my capacity, because (as I keep learning) that’s how I stay mostly sane. And that’s why, for example, I can’t hang out with everyone who comes to Portland and wants to spend time with me.
So I wanted to explain that if one of my clients or someone from the Kitchen Table or one of the regular Friday Chickeners comes to PDX I’ll happily have a non-caffeinated beverage with them — but otherwise, probably not.
The reality is that I only have so much time to spare, and it’s easier to make room for people I already know well and really care about. But the way it comes across is “I’m not going to talk to you unless you pay me or spend all your time in my world”. Ew.
This is the sovereignty stuff — again. When I trust myself and know that I get to be the queen of my fabulous queendom, I can communicate a NO so that no one is going to get hurt. And if their stuff does come up, I can handle it.
When I’m not in sovereignty, I worry so much about what other people will think of me that I agonize over this stuff — which means that everyone else does too.
I couldn’t come up with a title.
That’s because FAQs are boring. Also, there is pretty much nothing creative you can do with FAQ.
Aside from things like “What the FAQ do I know” and “As a matter of FAQ” which
have already been done are stupid.
Plus, they send me off on tangents with the potential to turn the entire FAQ into a rambling, chaotic disaster. Like this:
Why would anyone say “as a matter of FAQ”? Seriously. What’s wrong with you?
You’re right. I don’t know what came over me.
Sometimes I get really tangled up with the idea that the word FAQ is just one of those weird internet-ey words that had become ubiquitous before people with common sense could to say, “Hey, stop the madness. That’s just wrong.”
Like podcast. Or
verbingusing non-verb-ey words as verbs. Ew.
Not that I’m not a fan of excessive
nerdplaywordplay because I am.
Anyway, I just googled it to see if “as a matter of FAQ” is a thing but it’s really only a thing at a bank in West Virginia. And let me tell you, their FAQ page is full of fabulousness:
Q: Can I have more than one checking account linked to the ______ Bank?
A: Yes. You can link all of your checking accounts to the ______ Bank. As a matter of FAQ (get it, fact?),you can link each and every one of the available account [sic] to the ______ Bank.
Things like this make me pause to wonder what took place behind the scenes in order for this piece of wonderful to come to be. This is how I imagine it:
Guy from middle management: “Corporate says we need to insert a humanizing touch! What should we do?”
Another suit who is also in the room: “Get Bob in Sales to make a joke and then we’ll use it but we’ll tell people it’s a joke so they’ll get that it’s a joke, and then we’ll repeat the thing we’d already said, and it will make our FAQ longer and more human-er.”
But I hope what actually happened was that they let someone’s kid write the copy and the kid was all, “I’ll show them, see?” Sneakified. Because that would be way better. Better-er.
See? This is the sort of thing that occupies my mind.
Which is why I’m not allowed to write any more answers to things. Please stop making me write answers to things! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh.
But hey, I will stop being miss distractor-mouse because I wrote one.
Oh, thank goodness.
This is my FAQ. It’s right here. It also has a home now in the top navigation. Celebrate with me, please.
Well, someone pour me a drink and then I’ll collapse in a chair and hyperventilate for a while. That totally counts as celebrating, right?
Comment zen for today …
We all have stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. Patience … it is appreciated if you can spare some. xo