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Will a sexy muse and booze make you a brilliant writer? This life lesson will tell

Will a sexy muse and booze make you a brilliant writer? This life lesson will tell

Leaving a promising career at Google filled with free food, free massages, and a solid paycheck in favor for a life as a famous writer was a no-brainer.

I would wake up at 11 am with a beautiful woman by my side, kiss her goodbye, and put a t-shirt on. I would later type remarkable words on a vintage typewriter while nursing a glass of whiskey.

Journalists across the globe would pursue me for notable insights on the creative process, life and of course, women. The philosophical stories I would convey would help them craft their award-winning articles, with a magnetism so strong their bosses would throw them an extra Christmas bonus.

I wouldn’t have a schedule to respect, no duties to obey and no boss to please, only my mind at ease.

While sipping a whiskey sour in a Brooklyn bar with my black notebook, a blonde lady sitting two arms’ length away jumped off her barstool and sauntered over to my filthy pages and me.

“What are you writing?” she asked.

”Short story,” I said in a panic and closed the notebook.

”Are you a writer or what?”

I was silent. My inner self was running around my brain in circles to figure out an answer. I didn’t know — was I?

”Actually, yeah. I am,” I answered

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”Wow, that’s amazing. What do you write about?”

”Life, love, misery. The usual suspects.”

”I love people who write. Can I read some?” she said, staring at me.

”Nah, you’ll have to wait until it’s done and get it in a bookstore. I’ll invite you to the release party and sign it.”

”Really? I would love that. I’ll write you my number.”

She glanced at my notebook. She loved the writer story; she wanted to be part of it. Was it the whiskey? Was it the t-shirt? My words? Couldn’t be, I hadn’t written anything and she hadn’t read anything.

I opened the last page of my notebook and turned it towards her before I handed her my silver pen that I had bought on sale at Office Depot the other day.

She wrote her name and number down, ending it with a smiley face.

”Call me someday,” she said, and left.

I called her the same night. We met at a wine bar in West Village. She told me she was from New Jersey and worked in real estate. Business was slow, yet the other day she had sold a 3-bedroom condo to a couple with three kids.

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She did commercial modeling on the side, mainly local, such as Dave’s Auto shop in Hoboken. Her dream was to walk the red carpet at the Oscars.

We downed three glasses of wine, went to my studio, had sex and fell asleep. The next morning I made her coffee and walked her out. We never saw each other again.

Had I found a golden hen? A hen that would lay golden eggs as long as it was served whiskey and carried a notebook accompanied by a $4.99 pen. Was it just a coincidence? Luck?

Turned out it wasn’t.

Going from one bar to another with my notebook drinking whiskey would prove to be a formula attracting encouraging and thought-provoking women. I had discovered the concept of a muse, and it was real.

They were all unique. How they talked, walked and sobbed. Each one of them carried a story. Like picking up cookie crumbs, I chose tiny pieces of each one and stored them in my creativity tank. The ones that were not yet eaten by the world, the ones hiding deep inside their hearts.

Those were the interesting ones, untouched and unusual, terrifying yet attractive.

One by one they would help me complete the page puzzle I was trying to assemble into a novel with the use of words on a page.

I loved it. The life as a writer turned out just as I had imagined. Muses, notebooks, and drinks. Admiration and freedom. Only the calls from journalists were missing, but they’ll come to reason later on, I thought.

I started to write, assembling words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into the pages. Putting the crumbs together, merging stories and characters.

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The truth was the building block. Real people, real stories, real pain.

I knew a lot of truths, yet it didn’t feel enough. I wanted more; I need more, I said, to finish the puzzle. To make it picture perfect. To put the chaos of crumbs together into one tasty cake everyone wants a mouthful of.

It didn’t happen, the pages remained in anarchy.

Drink, sleep, and procrastinate. A muse, another one, one more. Writer and thinker I said, dreamer and drinker, I was. I lived the imaginary life of a writer so much that I forgot to actually write. The ideas never survived the hangovers.

After months of drinking and searching for the perfect muse, I recognized it wasn’t the textbook recipe for a New York Times bestseller.

Something was missing. The pressure was there, more than 500 copies had been sold six months prior to publication date, a book had to be delivered. I was held responsible for it to happen.

The publisher talked about deadlines, I thought about headlines. It was easy to lean back on the steroid fueled visions.

The anxiety was constantly haunting me; how would I find the missing piece and fulfill my promise to readers, muses and most importantly myself. Did I live in a dream? Was I escaping reality?

The fear of exposing myself was persistently knocking on the door to my wellbeing. The public would get the key to my mind, and it was too late to change the lock.

It was all there, except the novel.

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I could always blame it on the notorious writer’s block and find a new women, new inspiration. It didn’t work. The chapters crumbled. The journalists didn’t call.

During my regular Thursday 3 p.m. whiskey at The Standard Hotel, I was talking to a woman from Paris. She visited New York for an art exhibition.

“Wake up and write. You can’t fix a blank page,” she said.

“But I am,” I defended myself.

“Ah non, no, no. Don’t hallucinate. Write. Just write,” she commanded. “La discipline,“ she said and left me alone with my drink.

Discipline was the missing piece. As simple as that.

The experiences had fueled the creativity tank, but the lack of discipline left a leaking hole. Muses and whiskey weren’t enough, they wouldn’t make me a brilliant writer, and they wouldn’t make anyone a brilliant writer.

Not alone.

Discipline is the key ingredient that glues the puzzle together. It drags the heavy package referred to as life.

Alone, creativity and discipline are solid, but when they marry, magic happens. Magic referred to as brilliance.

My perfect muse only needed to say one simple word to create magic: Write.

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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