Great Writer Series Wrap Up: If I could just get it down on paper

While I’ve been working through the Great Writer Challenge, I stumbled across an old Jimmy Buffett song called ‘If I Could Just Get It Down On Paper.’ This is a really deep track even for a self-proclaimed Buffett fan (parrothead) like myself. I couldn’t find it on YouTube but was able to download it into my music library. It wasn’t until I found the lyrics that I was able to put it all together.

Buffett sings about all the stories he wants to share if he could just get it down on paper. This challenge opened my eyes to this theory. I get the song now.

Go to bed wake up with a clear head
Recalling what made it a ball
If I could just get it on paper
I might make some sense of it all

(If I Could Just Get It Down on Paper, Jimmy Buffett)


Day 13: Publish and the challenge is … Today, we’re going to publish something.

Anything, really. Whatever you do, don’t play it safe. Go for broke. Let’s do this as an exercise, shall we? Suspend your doubt for a day and ship something you’re scared of.

I thought about what I could publish, an article I could send to an A-list blog or the ebook for my business. In the words of John Stewart from The Daily Show, I got nothing.

I thought about the two book ideas I want to write. I thought about the notes scribbled in my writing notebooks and all the chapter ideas circling around my head. I can’t even blame my fear for not shipping something off today.  I use my busy schedule as an excuse for why I haven’t been able to get it down on paper. This challenge with its new habits, maybe this is the push I need to break through my excuses so I won’t be able to say, ‘I have nothing to share.’

If I could tell half of the stories
The funny way most things begin
Figure ways to disguise all the half truths and lies
Find the heart of my song with the point of a pen

(If I Could Just Get It Down on Paper, Jimmy Buffett)


Day 14: Brand and the challenge is … Brand yourself — spend some time today tightening up each of the elements involved.

A brand is exactly what it sounds like. It’s an impression you leave on the customer or reader’s mind, a mental imprint. And we all have them. A brand is the simplest, most memorable part of yourself you can give.

Alright, THIS I can do! I’m a marketing person with a marketing consulting business. I think about this stuff all the time for clients and just recently, started to work on branding for myself. I teach workshops in the Central Florida area but my goal is to turn these programs into something I can do all over the country.

I don’t just want to be a workshop trainer; I want to be a speaker. I want to be a writer who speaks all over the country about the books I’ve written and the programs I’ve created. Yep – I’ve got me some BIG dreams!

So the challenge is asking us to work on these three different elements. And trust me, this stuff is even harder then it looks even for a marketing person like me:

1. Name – No need to come up with a cool name, I’ve already got one: Penney Fox. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me if it’s my real name. I always say, ‘no I was born with it. Are you asking me this because they call you Elroy and that isn’t your real name?’

2. Image – he’s talking about a logo, headshot or photo you’ll use on your blog and marketing stuff. I’m not a big fan of having my picture taken. It always feels strange to me and I end up doing some weird gummy smile. I don’t get tagged a lot on Facebook because I look so AWKward.

What did I do to deal with this one? I traded out some consulting with a photographer so he could take photos of me. I had my photo shoot a couple of weeks ago and it helped me move past this photo-fear thing I have. He took over 500 pictures during the shoot and by the end, I found a way to smile without the gummy look. I even started to feel OK with having the camera so close to my face which is NOT easy to do! I have a new found respect for those girls on America’s Next Top Model – its more then just looking pretty and smiling. It’s another way to tell your story.

3. Voice – it’s my style and the way I sound to my readers. I asked a few of my friends this question and here’s what they said about my voice.

What’s my voice? What do I sound like?

Friend #1: Quirky humor. Easy- going and direct. You provide life experience and know how with candor. Practical sort of in a Erma Bombeck way

Friend #2: I think your voice is genuine, relatable and serious with a sprinkle of light humor. Like it!

Simple words can be come clever phrases
And chapters could turn into books
Yes if I could just get it on paper
But it’s harder than it ever looks.

(If I Could Just Get It Down on Paper, Jimmy Buffett)


Day 15: And welcome to Day 15, our final day of this challenge. Our last and final habit is Serve and the challenge is … find ways to serve your readers.

A great writer is a servant. If you’re going to take your writing to the next level — to be truly great — you’re going to have to learn to serve other people. 

It’s interesting to see the challenge end with this habit. While others are using this challenge to finish their novels or write more blog posts about the life of a working mom, I’ve been working on my 12-week online social media marketing strategy program which I planned to give away (yes, that means FREE) to anyone who signed up for the course. I’ve been preparing to SERVE.

One of the ideas listed in the challenge actually says: Write something important and give it away. Don’t begin with a “get” mentality; put the giving first. Because if you’re going to leave a legacy, your work will need to be more about others than yourself.

After all these weeks of working through this challenge, I finally feel validated. I’ve been working so hard to get this online program together. Now I understand the WHY even though I couldn’t put it into words until now.

I wish I could say I met my deadline and finished the whole 12 weeks but that’s not what happened. Right now, I’m smack in the middle of the meat of the program and this week, I found myself doing more research then writing during my early morning time. The rest of the weeks, well life got in the way, schedules changed and some days, I was just plain tired.

They say things happen for a reason and this challenge came to me at the right time. It was what I needed to do and many times the words I needed to hear. I faced many of my fears and even stared down a couple of my excuses. And I made it through with a new outlook and a knowing that I will get this all down on paper.

Time alone seemed to work well for Faulkner
Time away seems to work for the kid
Life and ink they run out at the same time
Or so said my old friend the squid

Yes if I could just get it on paper tonight
I could tell you what I think I did.

(If I Could Just Get It Down on Paper, Jimmy Buffett)

13 thoughts on “Great Writer Series Wrap Up: If I could just get it down on paper

  1. What I think is: You ARE talented.
    You ARE a speaker
    I know it’s important to keep to a schedule, but sometimes I think you are too hard on yourself. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I do know that there are times of the year when I am more likely to write for hours at a time, but this time of year, not so much. So, be fair to yourself. Some things are done better when you’re “in the mood.”

    • Thanks Judi – you’re a talented writer too! I’m looking forward to seeing you again in classes to hear more of your stories (when you’re in the mood 🙂 ) Thanks for all your kind words and following my blog.

  2. I never liked the sound of my voice. I’ve heard it on family movies and phone messages. It’s ugly. That’s why I write.

    • I feel the same way too – and get this – in my former life, I use to be on the radio like a DJ. Talk about hearing yourself broadcast and cringing every time your voice came on the air! And that’s why I’m not in radio anymore … but I write 🙂

    • Well fellow parrothead – we’ve got lots of concert stories to share. Did you know that song? Its on Somewhere over China, deep deep track. Thanks for letting me know among parrotheads FINS UP ^^^^

      • No I haven’t but, I bet I know someone who has it so I can. Dying to listen now. Thanks!
        Have you read any of his books? My husband loves them.

      • Yes, I’ve read ALL his books, follow him on FB and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen him in concert. I usually see the show twice a year and I love how every show is different. He has SO much music he can play a different set at every show and I get to hear songs I haven’t heard in years. So uh yeah … I’m a BIG parrothead 🙂

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