How to use journaling to be a better communicator for your business

“I’ve got so many ideas! Where do I put them all?!”

This is one of the things coaches, healers, and self-employed professionals tell me all the time.

They are idea people, after all.

And many of them are luminaries and motivators as well.

So today, let’s take a look at one of the best tools out there for organizing the whirlwind of ideas, slogans, thoughts, and feelings.

Now, when you need to regularly send a newsletter, update your blog, write marketing copy or talks, and have meaningful and effective conversations with prospective clients, there tends to be a “holy buckets, I’ve got a lot of writing to do” moment.

In my 8 years of writing copy with business owners, I’ve seen it all. Procrastination. Perfectionism. Getting ready to get ready. Website writing projects that take years. Smart people obsessing about word choice in the comfort of their home office, instead of getting in touch with their FILDI and getting willing, interested and able to screw up, for discovery’s sake.

And that’s just what I’ve tried!

When your an idea person who’s in the business of helping other people make their own lives better, one thing that really seems to help is this distinction:

We all have a public self, a private self, and a secret self.

In the context of spreading the word about your coaching, healing, or professional service business, here’s roughly how I think of it:

Public self – This is where your marketing and sales live. These are the words, images, ideas and stories you use to catch the eye of your ideal clients, and get them interested in what you’re up to.

Private self – This is the zone where you develop your ideas, including your marketing message and sales style.  This is where the conversations with your Accountabilibuddies, clients, and colleagues happen, in private and often in a casual, informal way.

Secret self – This is where you talk to yourself and your muse speaks to you. No one else ever needs to see it. You don’t edit. You write freestyle and say whatever comes to mind, without worrying if it makes sense or you are doing it right. Put another way, this is your lifelong conversation with your self.

Broadly speaking, what tends to happen is that people with businesses put all their focus on their public self, pay a coach to talk to their private self, and ignore their secret self.

This is can become problematic for a number of reasons, but that’s for another day.

The problem with focusing solely on your public self is that your secret self is where the juice is.

Your secret self has all sorts of untamed and fresh ideas. Your secret self also acts as a guide, helping you meet what your real work is, and giving you clues about how to effectively put words to it so that other people see what you’re seeing (and want a piece of it).

That said, the best tool I’ve ever come across for becoming a better communicator is keeping a journal.

At first, this may seem odd. Journals are written conversations with ourselves. No one else ever needs to see it. How can this improve your communication skills?

(1)  A journal gives your secret self a place to hang out. The practice of keeping a journal creates a home base of sorts, where you can just run your mouth without worrying about whether or not it makes sense to other people.

(2)  Insights emerge as you document your thoughts and feelings as words. For many of us, our work in the world is deeply personal. Writing a journal helps us express this. It gives us a workbench to lay out the ideas, phrases, and images that replay themselves in our heads.

(3)  You figure out what’s public and what’s not. There’s a lot of over sharing in the coaching and personal development space. That’s not a judgment; it’s a fact. Everyone needs to find their own boundary about what is for public consumption, what’s for their inner circle, and what’s just for them. Keeping a journal helps with this.

If you’re new to the idea of a journaling practice, check out Julia Cameron’s work on Morning Pages in her amazing book The Artist’s Way.

If this isn’t your first rodeo, and you’re finding yourself challenged by which ideas belong in your marketing and which are simply private messages and instructions for you, consider keeping a journal as a tool for self-exploration and grounding.

If I ran the world, I’d want everyone who’s got a message to get into the world to keep a journal first… before they start trying to connect, move and inspire others.

I see too many people skipping the step of putting words to the thoughts and feelings of their private self. This is the main reason their attempts to communicate with other people looks floppy and doesn’t work. They are simply out of practice of expressing themselves.

But marketing isn’t really about ‘expressing yourself.’

It’s about saying something that resonates with other people. That means something to them. That gets them fired up that, hey, the way it is now doesn’t have to be the way it’s always going to be.

So if you want to get better at moving other people, consider keeping a journal. Even 15 minutes a day is great to start. This will get you connected with your secret self, who is always patient, always there, and always cheering you on. With your secret self on board, your marketing is bound to be successful.

Want help getting started with a journaling practice – or getting back in the habit? Check out the Shut Up And Writeathon. I’ll send you a video and a writing prompt every day for 10 days. All you need is a pen, a notebook, and 10 minutes a day! It’s free and starts January 30, 2017. Registration closes on Sunday – no exceptions. Join the magic here:

Stella Orange teaches her clients how to effectively market their business by telling a better story in their marketing— the story of the hero answering the call to more. A professional copywriter whose writing has generated millions of dollars in sales, Stella knows that the story we tell in our marketing matters a whole lot, because on a fundamental level, it shapes how people think about themselves and what’s even possible for them. Three times a month, Stella hosts a 90-minute Shut Up And Write session via videoconference for members of her Write Club community. She is based in Buffalo, New York, where she lives with her husband, the Philosopher, and their dog, Chachi. Get a copy of Stella’s position paper The New Marketing: How to Create Clients Without Feeling Gross, Icky or Manipulative at

One Comment

  1. Camilla Hallstrom

    What a great idea! I’ve been jotting down ideas as I go, but a journal makes sense, since it makes the process more streamlined and consistent 🙂 Will implement this asap!

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