Projects and Code Names: My Biz as a House

You know how I talk about having a varied and expansive tool box for wordsmithing? The one I have for life is even bigger.

There are some garden-variety tools in there, like “Take a walk” or “Ask for help.” There are some kind of wacky, airy-fairy things, too: “Flail,”  “Talk to monsters,” or “Write a love letter to your project.”

The point is to access parts of the brain that are normally blocked. When we dream, some of those blocks are dissolved and our brain speaks to us in code. Sometimes we can interpret the message and sometimes we can’t. This week my brain spoke to me in code while I was awake.

What if my biz was a house?

I’ve been working on restructuring my Offerings for the last few weeks. I thought it was going to be simpler than it was. After all, I now have three neat containers to put things into: Head to Page, Camera Ready, and Out in the World.

Then I had to decide how to price them and was stumped. I can’t just charge an hourly fee, because different aspects are priced differently. I can’t charge a flat project fee, because each project is so different.

I want to give potential clients some idea of what I charge because I myself am not a fan of “contact me for a quote.” Right now I have kind of a hybrid thing going on, which gives some idea of cost while acknowledging the final total will vary. At least you know whether to budget $100 or $1,000.

In the process of this restructuring, I pulled a Stone Skipping card* that asked me to look at my project as a house. This is what I got.

Head to Page=Kitchen

Head to Page is the first phase of writing. It’s going from blank page to first draft, with all of the fun and hair-pulling in between. Like cooking a meal, there are recipes to follow and room to improvise. Things get messy. There is a feeling of possibility and sheer creativity.

Camera Ready=Dressing Room

This is where that draft becomes a beautiful, polished product that is ready for its close-up. Like getting ready for a dinner party, you choose an outfit, apply makeup, do your hair, and accessorize. You can be as fancy or casual as you want, depending on the type of party you are having.

Out in the World=Dining Room

Once your work is fully primped, it’s time to show it to your fans. You put it on your website, publish it on Amazon, talk about it on Facebook and Tweet it up. People consume it and offer feedback. In your dining room, the food is served and you welcome guests. The feeling is one of community and sharing, nourishment and pleasure.

And then there’s the fireplace.

This image came to me as I was drifting off last night. I saw a little flame struggling to ignite but being smothered by logs. I want my fire to be cheerful, warm, bright and comforting, but clearly just piling on the fuel isn’t going to get me there.

I don’t know exactly what this all means, but I trust that my subconscious is decoding the message. It didn’t completely clarify my Offerings for me, but one message was evident: It’s okay to be messy for now. Just as I don’t wait until my house is spotless and I’m a gourmet chef before throwing a party, I don’t have to wait until my web copy is perfect to offer my services to my Right People. Maybe my Right People will get what they need from what I have. Maybe they understand the code. Maybe it’s enough to at least get a conversation started; I’ll answer questions happily.

Want to play along?

Pick a project and ask yourself “If my project were a house, what would that look like?”

Share some or all of your findings in the comments, even if they’re in code.

You can also email me your response if you want to wear your Invisibility Cloak (

* * *


A special give-away announcement is coming next week! People signed up for the Towne Crier will hear about it first; are you one of them?

*These are the gorgeous Stone Skipping cards of Fluent Self fame.


    • Houses are one ongoing project, alas. Here’s one idea: when you’re working on the bathroom, think of things you want to “eliminate” from your life/biz/thinking.


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