If you weren’t on any type of social media on Tuesday, March 8th, there are two things I have to say to you: 1. “Wow, great job unplugging” and 2. “It was International Women’s Day! Everyone was using the hashtag #IWD2016. Twitter even inserted a tiny female gender symbol at the end of every hashtag. It was adorable.”
But in all seriousness, how did YOU celebrate? Did you take a moment to think about the strong, cool women in your life and how they probably will have to wait another 118 years or so to earn as much money as a man in the workplace?
Or maybe you thought about the women in 1857 who worked in the garment industry in New York City and decided one day to walk out of their jobs, picket and demand improved working conditions—you know, simple things like a 10-hour work day and equal rights. Or maybe you decided not to think, but to take action!
One Audacious Act
We decided to take an hour to invite all people, across the world, to participate in a free webinar and creative writing workshop led by Axosoft’s literary ladies, Trista Sobeck and Tania Katan. No one rioted, no one picketed; in fact, it was quite calm.
However there was one audacious act being committed: the instruction of how to use your voice and do some writing. This is actually pretty powerful. Just ask Audre Lorde, Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, Laverne Cox and Harriet Beecher Stowe.
So, in case you missed the webinar, “Empower Hour: Use Your Voice to Engender Change,” don’t feel too terrible. You can still watch the recording. Also, you can read about 5 things that can make you a better writer, thinker and communicator. After all, these are the tools that can really help you change the state of women’s rights.
1. Pick up your room. It’s too cluttered.
The novelist/philosopher/playwright/screenwriter, Ayn Rand, said,
“Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.”
I take this to mean, “Look, your living room has 1,000 random things hanging around and you are going to trip on something on your way to the bathroom.”
Writing can really help you clear up that clutter that is preventing you from taking any kind of action, whether it’s speaking up for yourself in that meeting you had earlier in the day to telling a car salesman that you really aren’t interested in the color of the car, but rather the miles per gallon it gets and the horsepower.
The bottom line here is that clarity is power. How can you get it? Write 5 sentences a day about anything. You may feel a little less foggy.
2. Get over yourself; writing isn’t about you.
Writing is about communicating. You’re trying to tell somebody (your boss, 100 tech executives, 15-year-olds who are enamored by vampires, etc.) something. So, shift your thinking and step outside of your head. It’s a little scary, yes. But outside of your head is where the real action takes place.If this freaks you out, take a cue from Audre Lorde, writer/feminist/civil rights activist,
If this freaks you out, take a cue from Audre Lorde, writer/feminist/civil rights activist,
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
So, think about what is important to you. Is it parenting? Is it helping those who need a hand? Is it education? If you can use your words to make a difference in the things you are most passionate about, why wouldn’t you use your words and write?
Make your passion bigger than your fear; it’s entirely possible you could make a difference in the world.
3. Your voice is just the sound you hear in your head.
You’ve heard the statement, “you have to find your voice.” Well, guess what? You really don’t have to find it. You already have it! No one said you should write like Joan Didion or Shakespeare. You are you, so you probably won’t write like those folks.
Get comfortable with how you sound, the things you say, your own unique quirks and “isms.” The more comfortable you are with how you sound, the more you’ll embrace it.
In order to do this, check out this quick exercise that you can do in only 5 minutes.
Exercises in Finding Voice: Author Tania Katan
- Make a list of your verbal “quirks;” anything that is specific to you and how you speak. For example, do you say, “whatevs” or “totes” or “btw” or do you make up your own words? Capture those and write ‘em down.
- Write 2-3 sentences using those “isms.” Describe something just the way you would to a friend using your unique rhythm and tone.
- Do this a couple times a day. You’ll get to recognize your voice in a crowded airport. And you’ll hug it like it’s returning from a long trip.
4. Your thinking can derail everything.
Thinking is a good thing to do. For example, should you yell back at your boss after they ask you to rework a project you’ve worked on for weeks? Nope. You should think about it, recall all the consequences associated with yelling and then proceed calmly. Redo that project regardless of your feelings.
When it comes to writing, what you need to do is turn off your thinking.
Take a pen, put it to a piece of paper and write—about anything. If you need a prompt or some ideas, go to where all of us go to get ideas these days: Google. Look up: “writing prompts,” you’ll find at least a billion.
You could always call your best friend, partner, spouse, ex-boyfriend and say, “Hey, i’m going to write. Give me something.” They will. Even the ex.
Now, open up your journal and write for 5 minutes about that. Do not stop. Do not judge yourself or your words. Most of all, don’t think.
5. It’s always going to be a practice. Get used to it.
If you’ve attempted to run a 5K or a 10K or any type of marathon, you know you have to practice. You don’t just show up and run 26.2 miles. You have to practice and train. You get out there every day and put one foot in front of the other. You do this because you know that on the day of the race, your body will know what to do.
Muscle memory is awesome like that. It’s the exact same when it comes to writing. You’ll sit down, with a journal or your blank computer screen and just start. And one day, you may find yourself with a chapter or a complete book.
The best thing about these tips is that you can start using them today and share your work on itwasneveradress.com. Go ahead, even though International Women’s Day is over, it doesn’t mean progress halts! I hope you take some time to celebrate yourself (and all humans) every day of the year.
And we have another event just around the corner to celebrate strong, amazing women. Please join us April 17-19 in Downtown Phoenix, Arizona for Catalyst Conference in partnership with the global non-profit Girls in Tech.
The Catalyst Conference will provide attendees with an environment for true and honest conversations about important issues including gender diversity in the workplace and how we can better support women in tech. There are more than two dozen notable female speakers confirmed for this year’s event. Get early bird ticket pricing by registering now!
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