Monday, November 10, 2014

Not Sure What to Do? Writing is Always the Answer

This article first appeared on the blog

Are you sometimes left wondering what to do in any given moment?

Through my own experience over the course of my lifetime, as well as from teaching hundreds of folk how to free themselves by putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard — including published authors, journalists and other professional writers, as well as all sorts of creative individuals from all walks of life — I’ve learned that at such times writing is always the answer.

As with any such generalization, there are, of course, exceptions to the rule.

If you know your present task at hand is exactly what you should be doing in this moment, you should likely continue doing that very thing. But even during such times when you’re in the flow, it’s oftentimes incredibly helpful to take the time to reflect upon what’s been occupying your day-to-day. This helps us to take stock, to make sure we’re on the right track, that we haven’t inadvertently veered off onto a trajectory which has come about in a perhaps semi-conscious manner as we’ve been caught up in the muck and mire of life.

But often we don’t know exactly what we should be doing.

There are times in which we might be unsure where to go from here, what’s to be done. Perhaps we’re seized with fear or overwhelm — two common, even ubiquitous, feelings that often visit entrepreneurs and other creative folk who tend not to have their daily routine dictated from above, who, instead, must choose what they should be doing that day, that week, or that very moment.

Or, we might feel the need to clarify our thoughts, to re-inspire ourselves, or to find fresh reserves of energy within that might be obstructed by day-to-day concerns.

At times like these, the suggestion is so simple, yet so incredibly powerful …

Simply put that aforementioned pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and just let the words fly unbidden and without concern about whether the writing is good, bad or otherwise.

The point is not to make art — though there’s no better way to embark upon the creative process than by following through with this suggestion on a regular, ideally daily, basis. Rather, the point is simply let your thoughts flow onto the page, onto the screen, as a means to help clear your mind, to take refuge in the simple act of reflecting, of letting go.

Writing like this is akin to a spring cleaning of the mind, of the spirit, of the soul. [Tweet that]

And I can assure you that if you continue with this practice — without setting up any expectations, whatsoever, for yourself, simply to write regularly, to let the words come fast through you and onto the page — you’ll experience joy and clarity, and, thereby, feel great stores of relief, of inspiration, of intimacy with your innermost being as well as with the world around you.

A world-changing act which I refer to as witnessing the world within and without.

So no matter what else you might be doing, or not doing — whether things are going beautifully or are seemingly failing all around you, or whether you’re experiencing a personal high, or a personal low — writing is always the answer.

By way of this simple writing practice, you’ll:

  • ground yourself, bringing your attention to those aspects of your life that matter most;
  • clarify or otherwise process your thoughts and experiences;
  • learn new things about yourself and the world around you;
  • generate new ideas for writing, for your business or career, or for your life, generally;
  • and, if you decide to publish any such thoughts — importantly, this decision should be entirely separate from the act of writing, first and foremost, for yourself — you’ll no doubt connect up with new friends who will appreciate what you have to say, perhaps even while challenging or otherwise inspiring you to new heights or new considerations; and, finally,
  • if you write and publish regularly, you'll, all the while, be building your tribe of loyal follower-reader-customers. And tribe building, like writing itself, is always the answer.
So next time you’re wondering what to do, sit yourself down, with no expectations, and simply write, quickly and without concern. And let us know, below, what this simple act does for you.

Do you write regularly, or have you been wanting to embark upon a writing practice? What have you learned? What inspires you to keep going? Share your thoughts below, and let’s continue to learn from one another. If you'd like help getting started with a writing practice, or getting going with blogging, email us.

Image: Writing Pen

Photo: Sean M. MaddenSean M. Madden is a writer, photographer and slow-traveling digital nomad. He's also Co-Founder & CEO of, working with creative businesses and individuals, worldwide, to build tribes of loyal customers via strategic websites, visual storytelling, and social media.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Transient yet Evergreen Phenomenon of Dog and Cat Friends

Sid, Boz and Lolo in the Bluebell Wood

I've just returned from today's walk into the woods and fields with our three Sussex charges — Boz the border collie, Sid the long-legged Parson Russell terrier, and Boo, another Jack Russell, of the short-legged variety. And as often happens, Lolo the cat tagged along for a bit of today's walk, having met us at that place where the footpath leads from the rolling green fields into the wood with the ancient iron-red stream.

Lolo caught up with us just as we were very nearly home. But she was so happy to be with us, rubbing up against me as well as the terriers, and meowing, that I decided to extend our walk for her sake. And so back up the hill we trooped, Lolo characteristically chatting from behind until, all of a sudden, I could hear her galloping from behind into view, bunny hopping past me to join up with the dogs with her tail all bushed up.

On days like this I feel like Christopher Robin, and the world is good and full of cheer and birdsong. And it's as if these dogs, and Lolo — as well as the two cats back home, Colin and Tigger — are my Pooh Bear, Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit and Roo and, well, Tigger.

We only arrived at this house- and pet-sit last Wednesday evening, and yet they seem, already, like old friends. I love them. We walk together, explore curiosities, and lie restfully amongst the bluebells and the swaying green grasses of spring. And we wrestle, or pretend to fight over sticks, Boo growling ferociously but harmless as a butterfly, the other dogs barking or grabbing hold of the stick in a four-way tug of war.


In just a few short days we've become a pack and know each other inside and out. In truth it seems we were always so, that our meeting was really a homecoming, that we'd trekked through these woods before, long before there was internet or even electricity wired into our homes.

But in a week's time, our hosts here will have returned home, and Mufidah and I will be gone, on our way to our next house/pet-sit in Essex, where we'll be caring for two more dogs, two more cats, and a pondful of fish. And we'll no doubt fit right into that pack as well, picking up where we left off with Boz and Co.

In a way it's tragic, this continual parting with dear friends whom we may or may not ever see again. They've become part of us, and we a part of them.

But we go on embedding ourselves into the lives of others knowing we'll soon be off into the wild blue.

What's the alternative but to harden one's heart, to become a social worker of sorts with a certain remove, a caretaker paid to service a patient, or in our case a pet. That's not us. We go right in, assume our place amongst the animal folk we befriend, love them with all we've got, and then say goodbye, at least for now.

That said, we know we'll go on talking about them, remembering each of them to one another as we go through our day-to-day. Mufidah, do you remember the time Indie came home with that Daniel Boone hat-like thing that stunk to high heaven? Remember how she proudly carried it straight into her bed in the living room, not understanding our own lack of enthusiasm? Sean, remember how Fudge used to snuggle under the covers with us, or how Tillie used to do that funny thing where she'd pull herself along the driveway, legs out behind her, lurching herself forward and barking in a state of glee and abandon?

And we'll smile, feel the tug at our hearts, that tinge of sadness that can't really be expressed, and go on.

Photo: Sean M. Madden Sean M. Madden is a writer, photographer and slow-traveling digital nomad. He's also Co-Founder & CEO of, working with businesses and individuals, worldwide, to build tribes of loyal customers via strategic websites and visual storytelling. Interested? Click here.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Pitfalls of Perfectionism

Boz in the Bluebell Wood

It's been a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Sussex. Fortunately, I took the time to take our three charges here — two Jack Russell terriers and an incredibly mellow border collie named Boz — for two walks today, one this morning and another from which we've just returned.

While finishing the above sentence, I looked up from where I'm writing, outside, to see Boz looking peacefully into my eyes. As a younger border collie he was undoubtedly less mellow. But from my vantage point as a house- and pet-sitter, Boz seems to have acquired wisdom over the course of his 12 years, along with the arthritis that makes him somewhat less active than when in his prime.

He'll still endlessly chase his ball or a stick, but our hosts here tell us he suffers with stiffness the following day if he goes on too long. And he quite willingly relinquishes his ball or stick when the youngest of our charges, a three-year-old Jack Russell named Boo, tries to steal it from him. It's not that Boz is submissive towards Boo; rather, you sense he's quite happy to fetch whatever's thrown for him, to play tug of war for a bit, but then to let Boo have her way.

It seems a gentle act of resignation.

And this act of resignation is what I've had an opportunity to practice this afternoon, just before going for that second walk with the dogs. I needed a break, and know there's no better way for me to rest and to regain my inspiration than to go for a good long walk in the woods and fields, and to bring the dogs with me.

What was it that I was resigning from? you might ask.


Or more specifically, trying to push the 80-percent solution asymptotically closer to perfection. More specifically yet, trying to get our respective MailChimp templates (which we recently began using to distribute posts from our various blogs) to be fully mobile responsive. In other words, so that folk can easily read our posts from their laptops, tablets or smart phones.

No effort is ever a waste; I know that. But, that having been said, Mufidah and I have spent days trying to get our templates set up just the way we want them. I thought I'd finally cracked the nut late last week when we then realized that the text isn't wrapping properly on smaller devices like our iPhones.

So instead of seizing the inspiration to write at various points over the past few days, I've felt obliged, instead, to try to get the MailChimp templates to work as they should. We've emailed the MailChimp folk, but as yet they've not gotten back with us.

Ultimately, this is something we need to nail. And I apologize to all of the readers of our various blogs should you be finding it difficult to read our posts on your mobile devices. For now, you can click on the post title in our mailings to read posts via the web, as all of our websites are, contrary to the MailChimp templates, fully responsive for various devices.

But after an incredibly frustrating time this afternoon — a continuation of several days of frustration over this technical issue — I finally came to my senses and resigned myself to the fact that what we have is good enough for now. It's not the perfect outcome, but it's good enough.

And so I took a few minutes to wrap things up tidily, the underlying problem still unresolved, put on my hiking boots and called the dogs to join me for a walk into the late afternoon sunshine. I had a good feeling that I'd be inspired once again to write upon our return home. And so I was.

That said, I'm quite certain that faced with a similar problem dear ol' Boz, now lying in his bed beside me, would have come to his senses far more quickly than I.

The wisdom that comes of a dog's age.

Photo: Sean M. Madden Sean M. Madden is a writer, photographer and slow-traveling digital nomad. He's also Co-Founder & CEO of, working with businesses and individuals, worldwide, to build tribes of loyal customers via strategic websites and visual storytelling. Interested? Click here.