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My hair is my brand and other epiphanies

In addition to the change-your-life, Oprah-like sessions I’ve written about, the skirt! Creative Conference also offered very practical workshops on how to promote your writing, including one on social media. Session leaders Taryn Pisaneschi and Desiree Scales echoed a lot of the things I’ve heard at similar seminars, which was reassuring.

Social media is like a hearing aid, they said. You can use it to find out what people are talking about. You can also use it to find events you might want to attend, position yourself as expert and to build your brand.

Something that Twitter rookies always wonder is What should I tweet about? I even know some people who haven’t tried Twitter simply because that question has paralyzed their efforts. Taryn and Desiree reminded the audience that Twitter is just a way to start conversations and really is no different from starting a conversation at a bar or a networking event. You listen a bit to what folks are talking about and jump in when you can with what you have to contribute.  You can make connections through Twitter by simply starting conversations with people tweeting about things you’re interested in, conversations that can sometimes lead to business opportunities.

While we can use Twitter to promote our writing that shouldn’t be all we do.  With that bar conversation model in mind, remember that no one likes to talk to the person who won’t shut up about herself. Your Twitter posts shouldn’t have that “Look at how cool I am!” vibe. Instead focus on others. What information can you share? How can you help others find the contacts they need? This may seem counterintuitive but it will pay off in the long run. In that same vein, they added that the best way to increase traffic and comments on your own blog is to comment on other blogs and feature other bloggers on your site.

Taryn and Desiree then gave a session on brand building. In addition to recommending that we all purchase the web domain for our name and use it as a landing page with links to our blogs, Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, etc., they also discussed things I’d never considered. You are your brand, they stressed, which means your physical appearance is essentially your logo. This sounded scary at first, but not so much after they explained. Basically you need some simple signature. Desiree, for example, has on a stylish necklace in every photo on her websites and therefore always sports one when she’s networking or at speaking events. Taryn usually wears something pink to match the dominant color of her website.

So I got to thinking: what could be my signature? My husband is community manager for an advertising agency and I instantly knew what his signature would be: his tie. He’s known for wearing colorful and stylish ties and he wears a tie to work every single day even on Fridays when his co-workers are sporting jeans. But I had no idea what my signature could be. 

When I told my husband that I had to sit and think about this, he actually laughed at me. It didn’t take me too long, though. In between sessions I kept meeting women who would come up to me and say, “You’re WriteousBabe!” which is my Twitter handle and the name I use for the blog I write for skrit.com.  “Yeah, that’s me,” I’d say. Then they’d say, “I knew it was you as soon as I saw the hair.”

Of course! My big curly coif is my signature! Ironically, as I type this I’m rocking straight hair, which I do only about three times a year. But don’t worry, I’ll be sure to bring back the curls before my next networking event. 

Why I No Longer Want to Be a Champion

The second day of the skirt! Creative Conference began with breakout sessions (that is after a delicious breakfast prepared by the wait staff at the W Hotel Midtown). I attended a session called Desperately Seeking Musings, in which, ironically, speaker Michelle Goss taught us it’s not very effective to desperately seek inspiration. And she has a point. Think about it: when you’re facing writer’s block and you’re sitting there staring at a blank page or blank screen, does it ever help to keep telling yourself, Try harder, try harder? Of course it doesn’t.

What Goss explained is that to truly unlock our creativity in a way that it becomes a way to live and not just a thing to do we must change our life perspective.

We have four choices:

1. The victim. She believes life is happening to her, that it’s a mystery over which she has no control.  She says things like “Why does this always happen to me?”

2. The champion. She believes life is a problem to solve. She’s constantly working to improve and manipulate her circumstances and fix the problems of others.

3. Spiritual Adult. She believes life is an ally that gives her feedback to grow and change. Life is a joy not a burden.

4. Soul. She believes life is a divine mystery and we are all interconnected. She knows she’s completely loved by the Source of all Love without having to do anything.

As soon as these were presented I instantly knew where I stood. I’m a champion. I wake up each morning and, in my head, immediately start rattling off a list of problems, my own and those of others, and what I will do that day in an attempt to solve them. The champion life perspective is popular and endorsed, but it’s exhausting. How on earth can I be creative when my brain is filled to the brim with problems? So I no longer want to be a champion, as crazy as that sounds. I want to be the kind of person who believes that all things that happen to me, both good and bad, can help me grow. With that type of perspective I can live at ease, setting my mind free to create.     

Creativity in the Time of Corrosion

This weekend I had the privilege to attend the skirt! Creative Conference, a two-day event in Atlanta, Georgia for creative women, specifically women writers, organized by skirt! magazine. Never before have I been in an environment in which I was surrounded by women who understand my passions and dreams and who genuinely seem to want me to succeed even though they’d only known me a few hours or a few minutes even. Any attempt to describe how amazing the weekend was will fall short, but over the next few days I will try to share some of the wealth of inspiration and information I received.

The conference kicked off with a keynote address by Kim Marcille Romaner, founder of Possibilities Amplified, Inc. and author of The Science of Making Things Happen: Turn Any Possibility into Reality. Her talk was called Creativity in the Time of Corrosion: 6 Strategies for Surviving Today’s Belief Crisis. Why is this a time of corrosion? Quite simply because things suck – the economy is still sluggish, natural disasters are ripping through the country, and many other nations are facing civil unrest. How do you hold on to your faith, how do you hold on to the belief that you can make your creative dreams come true in the midst of all this?

Though Romaner’s theories are rooted in complex scientific theories, they’re actually quite simple.


Strategy #1: Be kind to yourself. What do you need to do to be nicer to yourself? I need to rest more so I’ll have the energy to write. I need to learn to say “no” so I’ll actually have time to write. I need to stop doubting my talent and self-worth so I’ll have the confidence to write and share my work.

Strategy #2: Let go of things you think you know. Often we have an idea of how we think things should happen and when they don’t turn out that way, when things get off track, we allow our hopes to be deflated. But we must trust that our dreams could come true in a way we have never imagined.

Strategy #3: Move into wade mode. Romaner launched into some pretty complicated science talk here, but the gist is that we need to open up to all possibilities and one way to do that is to ask unlimited questions. For example, instead of thinking I will never be able to do this ask yourself If I could do this, how would I?

Strategy #4: Raise your perspective. Instead of seeing your creativity simply as the stories you write consider how you want creativity to be expressed in every moment of your life.

Strategy #5: Expand your comfort zone. Take risks! Romaner had us make a list of risks we’d challenge ourselves to take over the next 30 days. I challenge you to do the same.

Strategy #6: Apply the Inverse Zeno Effect. I’m sure you’re thinking, WTF, but let me explain. Here Romaner explained the importance of measuring things in an encouraging, not disparaging manner. So instead of saying, “I suck. I got nothing done today,” take a closer, more honest look at your day. Write down all the things you did that were positive contributions to yourself and to others – whether it’s updating your blog or brushing your teeth.

And can you believe that was just the first day? Whew! 

I tweet, therefore I am





Two weeks ago See Jane Write hosted a social media seminar called See Jane Tweet. Our dynamic speakers Erin Shaw Street and Kristen Record Heptinstall shared with attendees invaluable information about Twitter, why it’s important, and how we women writers can make it work for us. 


Since then I’ve attended yet another seminar on social media and the two things that keep coming up, the things that stick out to me most, are the ideas that your social media identity truly is an extension of who you really are and that social media tools do not cut us off from “real world” relationships but actually enhance them by helping us forge new connections. 

Erin shared at See Jane Tweet that she has connected with more likeminded people in Birmingham in two years via Twitter than in 11 years of living here.

With these things in mind it is thus so important that show our personalities when using Twitter and other social media tools. You can show who you are by what you tweet about.  Use Twitter to give attention to people, topics, and causes you care about. Sure, you want to share your own writing but also share interesting content produced by others because as Kristen and Erin said in their presentation, “No one likes a non-stop self-promoter.”  Tweet a news story, a photo, or a song lyric stuck in your head. Another way of doing that is by retweeting links. And don’t be afraid to share your opinions in your tweets. 

If you’re still not on the social media bandwagon, after the jump find 10 easy steps to hopping on the Twitter train, all tips from Erin and Kristen’s wonderful presentation. 





Step 1: Go to Twitter.com and create an account.
Step 2: Add a nice profile photo and bio.
Step 3: Have Twitter connect to your email to find people you know.
Step 4: Use Twitter search to find a specific person or people with a common interest.
Step 5: Use the “suggested user” tab to find relevant accounts.
Step 6: Use Twitter lists of local and trusted users to find more users.
Step 7: Use other social media tools (such as Facebook) to let people know you’ve joined Twitter.
Step 8: Add your Twitter account to your email signature
Step 9: Invite your friends to join. 
Step 10: Have fun! Interact and engage with other users now that you’ve found them and they’ve found you. 

Did you miss See Jane Tweet?

If you missed See Jane Tweet last night log on to Twitter and search for tweets with the hashtag #seejanetweet (and a few are under #seejanewrite because I shouldn’t have been drinking wine while tweeting) for some of the words of wisdom Erin Shaw Street and Kristen Record Heptinstall shared with our attendees. Or just click here!



Where Two or Three Gather

That’s me with our amazing speakers Erin Shaw Street and Kristen Record Heptinstall

I am a fiercely independent person. My parents raised me to be that way and I’m grateful for that upbringing because I believe I owe much of my success to it. But sometimes being Ms. Independent brings trouble, or stress headaches at least. Too often I take on huge projects and refuse to ask for help. Even when I’m drowning I won’t scream for a life jacket. 

Earlier this year I decided I wanted to begin to make a difference in Birmingham, though at the time I wasn’t really sure what that would look like. Eventually I decided to start See Jane Write, a networking group for women writers in Birmingham. This time I’m not going to make the mistake of trying to do it all on my own. 

Last night See Jane Write had its second event: See Jane Tweet, which was a seminar designed to teach women writers how they can use Twitter and other social media tools to promote their work and connect with other writers. The event, held at Matthew’s Bar & Grill, was a huge success and it couldn’t have been without the help of other women. Erin Shaw Street and Kristen Record Heptinstall were amazing speakers who kept the audience engaged, encouraged an interactive atmosphere, and filled us all with their web wisdom. And many of the attendees were there because other people helped me spread the word. 

After the seminar I had a chat with Keisa Sharpe, publisher of the website TheNaturalHairDiva.com, about the importance of collaboration. Writing for her website, for example, has brought more traffic to my blog. But this is about something much greater than self-promotion. If I’m going to transform Birmingham into the kind of city that nurtures and supports creative and ambitious women, I need the the help of other creative and ambitious women in town. I need also the help of men who share this vision, men like Wade Kwon, who actually crashed our all-girl event to show his support. 

I’m a church-going gal and in Matthew 18:20 Jesus says, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” I think this is concept is one that can be applied to a number of things regardless of your religious beliefs or lack thereof. When two or more people are gathered in the name of something greater than themselves, be that a deity or a dream, the spirit of whatever has brought them together will be present and will work wonders. And that’s exactly what happened last night as I saw my dreams for See Jane Write becoming a reality.

More shots from See Jane Tweet


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