Why I'd like to help
Like many people, I’d dreamed of becoming a writer since at least the fifth grade. That’s the summer I distinctly remember deciding it would be fun to write The History of the United States Beginning With the Explorers during my summer vacation. Also like many people, I’ve struggled ever since to reconcile my creative vision with what I could make manifest. At the end of that summer, I’d completed exactly three binder pages of loopy handwriting, and my timeline hadn’t progressed beyond Sir Francis Drake.
Points for intention? Sure—I really was that geeky of a kid. But for several decades my creative output followed the same path: start in a flurry of excitement and energy, end shortly after in doubt, confusion, and procrastination. And after each one of these failures, that idea of being a writer started to feel more and more like a fantasy. So, I dropped ever-deeper into my Plan B marketing career and began to associate success with the sales growth of other people’s products, even as my soul rebelled—three memorable times.
The first time, I was on a bus, reading Douglas Coupland’s Miss Wyoming on my way to work when I came to a line that nailed me between the eyes: “Five Dobermans with saliva meringues drooling down their fangs formed a pentagram around her…” Now I’ve always been a sucker for metaphor, and you can politely debate the merits of this particular one if you wish, but you have to acknowledge it is about as vivid as it gets. I wanted to have that kind of command of language—to write powerful books—in the hour or so a week I sat in the coffee shop with a journal. It was, I realized with brutal honesty, like trying to become an Olympic runner by going for the occasional weekend jog. I got off the bus, pondered my savings account balance, and took a year off to write my first novel. I didn’t gain the bestseller I’d secretly hoped for—it was awful if you want to know the truth—but I learned how to put my butt in a chair from 8am to noon every day and crank out the words, as long as there was nothing else going on in my life.
The second time, I was making slow progress on my next novel, and I wondered (decades before #VanLife if I could avoid working so hard by living in a Volkswagen bus and waiting tables here and there. I even went so far as to buy the bus, but when I tried to drive it back to my San Francisco apartment, it was too tall to fit in the garage, so I parked it on the street—where it got broken into the very first night I owned it. Leaving the body shop I almost nailed a bicyclist, and then promptly side-swiped a parked car. (Yes, I left a note). That was the end of that idea. I sold the van to a nice couple on their way to Burningman and felt grateful for my day job.
The third time, I’d found a new job where I could work from home, doing things so far inside my comfort zone that I had both time and energy for writing. It was working beautifully—until I got a call that my boss had quit and I was being offered his job—a massive promotion. I’m pretty sure “Oh, F*ck!” Is not what you’re supposed to say when a major opportunity knocks. I wrestled hard with the offer (double salary!) for an entire week, stalling the CEO, until I finally decided I’d be more miserable with a new boss who knew less and made more, than by taking the job myself—even though it meant putting my novel back on the shelf—possibly for good. I gave myself two years before I hit burnout, maybe five before I got truly sick.
Instead, here I sit, a published author. But I’ve gone well beyond that 5th grade dream, knocking off several other ‘fantasies’ as well. I won creative awards, helped lead a successful IPO, became a licensed captain, built a loving relationship, and sailed to Mexico. Clearly I learned something along the way about how to make my dreams manifest. So what happened?
It actually started with marketing, where I got intrigued about the new science of behavior change as a way to persuade people to buy more products—but quickly realized it applied equally well to getting myself to do things I was endlessly procrastinating. My initial experiments were so powerful, I became a motivational research junkie, pouring through books, papers, and studies. Pretty soon, I was not only writing again, I was eating healthier, exercising more, easily finishing my work, taking sailing lessons, and meditating consistently—every day making steps toward my dreams while living an ever-fuller and more vibrant life.
And on one of those night passages—just me, the tiller, and the moon—I realized that I’ve had all this happiness because of that one simple seed of behavior change. I have my strengths, sure, but also my weaknesses (navigating freeway interchanges, for one!) I’m a pretty amazing person, in my own way, but I am no more special than any other human being on the planet. In that moment, I discovered an important missing piece of fulfillment for me was sharing what I’d learned, helping others realize that with learnable skills and steps, they too can make their dreams manifest.
So when Covid closed the borders and set me back on land for a while, I used the opportunity to take a year-long course in health and wellness coaching, to professionalize the personal, and create a neuroscience-based program—customized for writers. In doing so, I’m aiming to give you exactly what I wish I’d had the very first time I stepped off that bus—a roadmap to getting your book done that doesn’t require quitting the day job or living in a van, but instead—a way to manifest your dreams into the life you already have.