Many tentative entrepreneurs when faced with the prospect of writing about their business – whether it be their business plan, their marketing strategy or a Dear John letter that’s shaping up for their relationship that’s gone sour due to their emotional over investment in their business – frequently get stuck after the first line about what to say in the second line of their entrepreneurial confession.
This week Maggie was faced with her own literary challenge when it came to presenting her unique approach to improving the world by setting up a time bank business.
She worried about the syntax, she fretted about the grammar, the spelling and all those other 1001 secretarial niceties which guaranteed her prose drained the blood out of her dream and left her venture laying dead on the slab of the business plan page.
Her previous educational experiences of writing in school was partly to blame for the Cop in her Head which pointed out everything that was wrong about her writing as she tried committing it to the page.
“You can’t say this, you can’t say that; you mustn’t over-claim, you mustn’t under-sell; you don’t use that word like that, that colon never goes there...” The Cop in Maggie’s Head worked overtime directing her writing energies like a deranged traffic cop in the middle of the Champs Élysées. All she needed was a peaked hat, a whistle and six pairs of arms waving frantically at her business plan and the picture would have been complete.
The trouble with Maggie’s Cop in the Head is was that it insisted on her writing correctly rather than writing with her own voice. To counteract this, she tried writing rubbish, writing it quickly and writing without judging the quality or sense of what she was able to spew forth on to the page. Above everything, she had to write it out – warts and all.
And spew she did. Before long she had pages and pages of garbage: half formed sentences, odd words, noisy punctuation – the works. She wrote backwards, from right to left, sitting down and standing up, with large green felt tip markers and thin black biros. She wrote whilst she sang, whilst she walked, she wrote on paper and on the walls; she used flip chart, old newspapers and A4: above all she quietened the Cop In The Head and after 30 minutes of manic scribbling was able to sit back, read and marvel at some of the surprises she had generated for herself.
Once she had given voice to everything in her head about the business, she was able to sift through it, edit and shape it and polish it to her heart’s content. Not only had she produced the first draft of her business plan and the framework of her marketing strategy, her Dear John letter took on added vitality and she was able to disentangle herself from the Cop in Her Life who had been trying to block her every business aspiration since the morning she woke up and realised her what her life’s mission needed to be.
So, whatever you do with your business plan: just make sure you write rubbish, you write it fast, and you write it out. Switch off the Cop in Your Head and you may just switch off the Cop in Your Life.