How To Build Your Writing Muscle With Jamie Jensen
Diane: Hey, Hey, this week's guest is Jamie Jensen is screenwriter, copywriter and business strategist. Before she moved into the online business world, she was all Hollywood and even has her own award-winning feature film and has written 10 others for social media and never fails to make me laugh. And her copy is so good. I've bought multiple versions of the same product from her by accident. Hey Jamie, welcome to the show. Jamie: I really appreciate that introduction. Diane: Let's start with a bit about your business journey. Please start in Hollywood. Please feel free to name drop as well. Well, if needed. Jamie: I'm going to not name drop, but, um, My business, or if we want to start with Hollywood, you know, I, I went to graduate school, um, at USC for film producing and then worked in the entertainment industry for a few years after my masters, like during and after my masters and made a feature film after that independently. And really it was made the film with a producing partner. Because we were like, did not want to deal with the institution structures and racist, patriarchy of Hollywood. It's a raunchy romantic comedy and we, myself and my producing partner were both women. And we made the film with a crew of 40 women. We had no men on set at all, except for the actors who played male characters. After releasing the film and distributing the film digitally and sort of going through this process of, marketing it and learning more about internet and digital marketing and sort of looking at these different crossovers of skillsets that I had in terms of the business of content and storytelling, my business, sort of, it sort of evolved from there. I actually thought that I was going to begin as a coach. Like I. Felt very drawn into coaching. I knew I wanted to work with writers. I knew that writing was my thing. And I thought for sure that my job was going to be helping people overcome writer's block and like getting their, their stuff written, which I still help people with, you know, in its own way and through training as a coach and being exposed to that world, that was really how my copywriting business. I was born. I became the person that everyone came to for taglines, for copy, for writing support, for how to communicate something for messaging, it just sort of happened. And I started to. Understand and realize that that was the thing I was just naturally so good at. I mean, obviously right when you, you know, I knew I wanted to be a writer I'd already done the work of figuring out what was marketable about me as a writer, as a screenwriter. And so having already done that work, it transitioned really naturally to, Oh, I'll just, I'll be a writer for hire. But I can do it this way. And I think it aligned really well with my values, because as much as I love filmmaking and storytelling, and I still am active in the entertainment industry, I still am actively writing things that are not related to online business. I really believe that entrepreneurship has the highest capacity, the highest potential capacity for impact. And I think that when it comes to the causes that I care about. I really believe that that entrepreneurship is a vehicle that has, has the potential to make a lot of change in a lot of impact. And so for me, committing to telling stories of entrepreneurs who are revolutionary in some way, who are doing things differently, who are on a mission who could give a shit, um, that really excited me and aligned with what I really care about. And so that's sort of how it all happened. Diane: I'm curious though, for me, when I have to sit down and write something for my business, like I enjoy writing. But put a deadline on me, put a sales page wide page of doom in front of me. And I, you know, I can stare at it for days. I can procrastinate that full weeks if I need to, but you've done 11 screenplays plus all your client copy, plus all your own copy. So how does that exactly happen? Like tell me what the secret is for me being able to become like more prolific. Jamie: Yeah, I'm also writing a novel. Diane: of course, sorry. And the novel, and I love that. Like your updates on social media are not like, Hey, I wrote a thousand words a day. It's like woopsie. I wrote 30,000 words this weekend, which is like the length of a small ebook. Jamie: 30,000 words in a weekend. I wrote 30,000 words in like two months to be fair of the novel. I definitely wrote more words than that. so the truth is that answering your question is a matter of like what it is that gets in the way for you. here's what I'll say. My approach to writing has always been, I have to follow the fun. I have to find what's fun in it. You know, I'm a writer because writing is how I process digest and it, and fully experience life. Right? Like that is why I. Pulled out a journal when I was eight years old, nothing could stop me from just writing everything all the time, constantly documenting experiences, talking about my feelings. I don't think that I would have survived this long in life. If it wasn't for, for writing, writing for me has become, and I say this to my writer, clients as well. Um, everything you go through is material. And I think that that writing gives meaning to all the things that you experienced good and bad. and that's why we tell stories, right? Stories are how we create meaning out of our experiences. And so when I approach writing, there are obviously practical strategies that, that work, and we can totally touch on those. But when it comes to identifying, what's getting in your way and what will make, what will unlock the thing that makes it easy for you? I think that it comes down to like, what would be fun? What would feel good? Like what, what makes it enjoyable for you? Like finding that little nugget that you can click into that that creates an enjoyable experience of the process is, is critical. Diane: Listening to you talk, the thing that came up for me was I don't like to feel like I have to write, I think I'm a very. Verbal storyteller, like a very happy and conversation, recounting stories and pulling them out and everything, but feeling like I need to sit down and make it into a blog or sit down and make it into an Instagram post is an immediate block for me, like feeling like I have an obligation to somebody else to do this writing, which is probably why podcasts, because I have no problem being highly consistent podcasting. But as soon as I have that kind of. Somebody else wants this writing from me or is waiting on it then I'm like, this is no longer fun for me. Jamie: yeah, that totally makes sense. And I that's, that's actually a very common. Thing that we experience whenever we make a commitment to anything, the minute we say yes to it, it can feel like now I have to, and now I feel like I didn't choose it. I have to remind myself that I chose it and then remember why I chose it and come back to that. And so when we're looking, so, you know, there are different strategies depending on the type of project you're talking about. And so what I'm hearing from you is. For you getting, getting audios and videos transcribed and turning them into written content would be the most strategic thing for you. If that's the content you're looking to turn out, but when you talk about somebody waiting on it for me, or I have to do it, or it's for someone else, or I'm obligated, I'm like, who's the someone else. If it's your business, right? Like, is it you? Diane: my business, the person that is my business that is sitting on my shoulder, you know, I think for me, so much of it is tied up in my like old corporate identity that what I find is I'll have this like Epic content idea, and then I'll sit down to write it. And it will become this to him. It may concern, please find below the details of the late, you know, I just, I almost can't write like 10 years of corporate speak. And so when I don't do like what we were talking about, where I record and then turn that into content, people will say to me, like you're a different person. Like people will meet me in person and be shocked. That, you know, especially at my leg hoodie and my converse and my Uber relaxed, and they're listening to like my pinstripe blogging voice, making sure that I've got footnotes for all my references or whatever. So I think some of it is history, but then some of it is also just, there are so many other things that I need to do that it feels a little too indulgent sometimes to just have fun writing for the sake of writing. Like, Oh, I should be doing something more productive. Jamie: but again, it, this depends on what the writing is for. Right. And so there's, there's different categories, buckets purposes, strategic. So it's like on the one hand you're telling me, um, I don't want to write if I have to. Do like, absolutely not. And on the other hand, you're telling me, but if it was fun, even if it was for my business, if it was fun, I would feel like it wasn't justifiable time spent. Right. But like, what if both of those things are true? What if it can be for your business, it can serve your business and it can also be fun. Diane: that's the dream land, right? How do we get, how do we, how do we get there? I mean, for me, I don't think anybody, you know, as a business strategist is necessarily expecting me to be the best writer, Grammarly. And I have a regular arguments around how I write things. But I can't imagine how somebody who has to do writing for a client is able to fit it all in like rightful fund, but also write for business and write for. So like, it just feels like a lot, my head kind of explodes when I think about it. Jamie: Yeah, it's good. That's not your business. Diane: Well, I mean, it's probably why it's not my business. Jamie: I want to circle back to something you said, because you know, you're talking about, you have certain ingrained habits around writing that are related to your corporate background. Right? And so what I want to mention here for anyone who's listening, who can identify with that, whether it was for an academic purpose or a corporate purpose or some other. Person in their life, who too made it unsafe for them to write and be authentic in their writing, whatever that looks like. It can show up a lot of different ways. Um, the exercise that I think would be the most valuable and I, I teach this in my program is free writing. So. I don't know if you've ever done it. I don't know if you've ever done it because you've taken one of my courses, forced yourself to do the course. And you were like, I'm resisting this exercise. Um, but it really would free-writing is for anyone who's listening and hasn't done. It is it's essentially, I recommend doing it by hand in a journal. Set a timer for a period of time and just stream of consciousness, vomit out your thoughts, like, just write what you're thinking, what your brain is saying. Like you're always having a conversation in your mind, like whether we like it or not, the thoughts are always happening. And so when we're speaking, they're kind of just coming out without thinking about it or editing it. And the problem is that writing and editing are two different brains. So if you're trying to edit while you're writing, it's going to be exhausting. It's not going to feel fun. You're going to be judging yourself the whole time. If you give yourself a permission to just try free writing and use that as an exercise. Like if you do that for, if you can commit to that for 90 days, even if it's five minutes on a timer every day, it will transform your relationship with writing because you're going to learn how to write as easily as you're speaking, without thinking about structure and format and sentence fragments and syntax. And what is Grammarly gonna say? And. Is this. Okay. And is this fun enough? And like, will this convert and all the, all those things don't need to be happening while the words are coming out of you? Diane: my editing that happens is more like, am I, am I being clear about this? Am I explaining this enough? Will people get it? Not so much Grammarly, Grammarly hates me. Jamie: Grammarly hates me too, And I, what I want to say is that, that when you are writing particularly copywriting, particularly when you're creating an experience in an interactive way, which is what we do. In terms of writing for webpages apps, sales pages, things that are structured to move a customer through a journey. It's really not that effing important for you to have perfect grammar. You're creating an experience. So sometimes you have to use sentence fragments to create a rhythm. Sometimes you have to smash words together and make things up that like would not be approvable according to a grammar software who can't read what you're doing creatively with your writing. And so like, Let's just take Grammarly away off the table for now and throw it in a bucket somewhere because like literally no one gives a shit like this isn't academia and this isn't, this isn't corporate. You're also not like writing to the, for the MLA handbook. Like, no, it's fine. We'll just throw that away for now. Permission for Grammarly to give you 80 mistakes and you to publish it anyway. Diane: it's almost like every now and then I just turn it off and forget about it for six months until someone goes bad way. Did you see this taco in your online Okay, so I'm prepared to retry free Jamie: Yeah, I love how uncommitted, how committed you are to it. You're like, ah, we'll, we'll circle back to that later in our conversation. Diane: you know, and I think for me, honestly, most of the time, my hand cramps, before anything else happens, cause I never rides for long periods of time anymore. So, you know, maybe short periods would work. But I think what happens to me is I forget about the writing and I just go off into my stream of consciousness. So I get very easily distracted from it. So maybe short, like I think the thing that really freaked me out was when you said for 90 days, just try it for a week, I'd be okay. Jamie: It's five minutes a day. Here's the deal you're supposed to run off on a stream of consciousness like that. There's no rules Diane: I just forget to write it down though. Is there, like I'll start writing and then I'll have a thought Jamie: and then you'll go somewhere else. Diane: I'll continue. I'll continue having the thought, but I may see you just sitting there holding the pen at that point. Jamie: Oh, so you stopped writing, Diane: stopped the actual physical writing. Jamie: So then you're not doing the exercise. Diane: Yes. But there's also like, I'm not conscious that I'm not conscious, like consciously not doing the exercise. So, you know, it's, this it's a whole world in my brain. Jamie: Very interesting. Now I really want you to commit for a week and like circle back with me about how it's going everyday. Cause I've just fascinated, like as a case study alone, Diane, I think we have to do this, Diane: Okay. Okay. I will be, I'll be the case study. then we can sell the program again with me as the case study and I'll be like, Oh my gosh, I need this. Let me go buy this. Jamie: my writing voice and it feels so good. Diane: Yeah. So how do you keep coming up with new things to write? Because you're writing a lot of things all the time. So where does that kind of creativity STEM from? What do you do to keep, to like, keep the creativity coming, I guess is my question. Jamie: I actually struggle more with having a lot of ideas and then having to commit to one, let the other ones go for a period of time. More than I struggle with. I have no ideas. I don't know how to be creative. I don't know where to source stuff. Um, I think that there's. There are two things I actually want to touch on here. One is that I think there's a big fear or anxiety that shows up around sitting down to write and being afraid that the ideas won't just come. Like if you sit down to the blank page, what if nothing shows up? And so the resistance to writing can often show up that way where, where you don't trust that the ideas are just going to flow because you're creating the space for it and you're showing up for it. And sometimes you don't have them in advance. You have to sit down and show up for it for them to show up for you. When it comes to just like writing and things flowing out. And that's part of why free writing can be valuable is like reminding yourself that there's content always coming through you. If you sit up, sit down and show up for it. So that's number one. Number two is that you want to think of your creativity as like a battery that needs to be charged. And so if you really are depleted and don't have any ideas and there's nothing in the, in the, in the tank, Knowing what other activities charge you creatively is really important. Right? So, so in the artist's way, which is a great book for anyone who struggles with creativity, um, with that has a 12 week process by Julia Cameron. It's kind of like the go-to classic around creativity is she does recommend free writing. She calls it morning pages, you're doing it every morning. And she also assigns an artist's date. And so it's really you taking yourself to do something that can replenish you that can give you, give you the kind of space to like, think, to just have the open space in your mind and in your aura, in your, like in your, it really it's like a crown shopper thing. But like having that, that space where you're available for ideas is to show up or come in because when we're busy and we don't create time for that, Nothing will come in because you're just, you're focused on the task at hand and you're in the, you're like in the box instead of opening the box and seeing what flies into the box. Diane: So, interestingly, as you were describing the ideas process me, that's what I'm like with people's business problems. I'm the person you want on a mastermind because you will leave with 3000 ideas and you won't know which one to do first because I will have been equally enthusiastic about all of them. So I guess it's trying to find in the same way. I know exactly what will turn that on in my brain is finding the same switch for the creativity, for the writing, because I definitely sit down to write a sales page and think. Oh, it's going to be so hard. I'm never going to know what to write. No one's ever going to buy the thing because I'm not going to be able to explain it properly, like panic, panic. And as soon as I get started that I'm just fine. But it's that it is that Y page of just, what if nothing hums. So do you take your free writing and organize that into some kind of like ideas? Space. So for like business ideas, I have like literally an ideas notebook that I've scribbled them all learned in case I ever, because for me, otherwise I panicked that I might lose them. Jamie: here's, the deal is sometimes ideas come up in free writing that are for something. And then yes, they will be cherry-picked and utilized, but I don't have to go through the free writing pages and pull them out. I just know like, if it, so I might be mulling on something business-wise like, Oh, well, when do I actually want to open the cart for this program? Or is there a bonus I want to include or. Um, what's the next, you know, fun marketing event I want to have, or right. Like things might be rattling around in there, or there might be something I'm thinking about story rise in something I'm working on and like, well, what does this character do next? And how does this cross here? And what's going on with the story and like, right. And so to me, Story and strategy operate in the same way they function in the same way in my brain, because it's an, it's a, it's a creative engineering problem. And so when I'm free writing, sometimes answers show up and, and, or like an idea or an inspiration shows up for something I would like to do, but it's never like, Oh, I ha I have this whole list of ideas. That's flooded out in my free writing. And I'm attached to all of them. You know, the ones that have the most heat are the ones I'm most excited about are the ones that feel like something clicked or it solved a problem. I had been like, struggling with those or like, Oh yes, I'm gonna take that. I'm gonna use that. And that feels obvious. But other than to me, free writing is like, you write it and you burn it. It's not like the point of it is not to like get out content and like be productive. The point is to explore your subconscious mind, to get comfortable on the page too, to really stretch them, to like work in flex. The muscle of writing is breathing. If you let it be because you're just, uh, you're just letting, what is the conversation that's already happening in your mind? You're letting you're giving it air. Like you're letting it show up in the written word through your hands. Like it can come out of you that easily. So it's less about taking it and then repurposing it and more about just going to the gym and working out. Diane: Okay. So it's more just like if the idea happens to come out there, it will show up again later, wherever it was meant to show up because it's clicked in your brain. Kind of thing versus me, I'd be like, okay, wait, let me see what I came up with. I mean, underlying these three words. So I don't, here's my filing system and my color coded spreadsheets. You can see why morning pages just don't really work with me Jamie: yeah, well, it's the permission to do something that has no purpose, what is five minutes of no, but I mean, I sit on a couch, staring at a wall, scrolling on Instagram. You sipping coffee. I do how many hours I've wasted in my life doing things that have absolutely no purpose that I don't feel guilty about, but, but that's, but then there's like this high resistance to doing this, which I just find interesting. Um, I just find it interesting. The other thing I just want to point out and underline, because I think this is helpful to, to acknowledge is. The thoughts that come up, when you sit down to write a sales page that are attached to like, is this valuable? Will anyone want this? Do they care? And so there's, there's two pieces here that come up, you know, and this is common for all types of writing. Like now we're looking at, well, what's the inner critic voice saying. And how is that showing up for you and getting in your way? And I want to point out that like, that's how it feels to, right? So like you're not doing it wrong. You're just experiencing writing. Um, th that's exactly how it feels and it's uncomfortable and it's not, it's like, it's not comfortable to sit and be like, man, this could really suck and go terribly and I'm going to do it anyway. Like that's the creative process. And it doesn't, it's not like if you don't sit down and it's like daisies and roses and flowers are blooming and everyone's happy and you feel amazing. And sometimes it's like that, but a lot of time it's showing up to do something that's kind of hard and you're going to do it and it's uncomfortable. And that's why I think of it more like a workout where you're like, I don't want to, it hurts. I don't like it. Then on the other side of it, you're like, Ugh, Diane: That's helpful because if you ask me what I thought your writing process looked like, it wouldn't be that, Jamie: it's a lot of crying on the floor in the middle of like, like crying on the floor, feeling anxious, writing something and thinking it's trash while I'm doing it. But then going back and reading it later and being like, Oh, this is good. This is good. But what I was doing, and I thought it was trash, but I just kept doing it anyway. Um, no, my writing process is not that, and it doesn't mean that there aren't. Sessions that I, that I don't deeply enjoy. I think that for like, there's the resistance to getting into it. There's the experience of actually doing it. And then there's the aftereffect. And like, those are all different pieces of the process there. Isn't like, Oh, it always feels like this it's completely inconsistent. Diane: I'm going to guess that there are probably more people listening who are like me than necessarily like you in this, in this space. So is there, like, I know you are the resource queen, is there a resource that you have for people who are like, okay, I'm prepared to go to the gym now, what. Jamie: Yeah, so there are a few different resources, like depending on what they want to write, as you know, I have a ton of templates, right. I also have a free ebook called the 25 ways to get in the flow. And you don't feel like writing, which is literally all of the practical and woo wee things. I do. To create space for writing. When all I want to do is eat a muffin and play video, play video games on my phone and watch Netflix and phone a friend and scroll on Instagram and be like, Oh, I can do at this time. So, yes, that firstname.lastname@example.org slash twenty-five ways that's free. I'll be sure to link that for all the people like me. So to finish up, I always like to ask two questions of all of my guests. First up. What is your number one lifestyle boundary for your business? Diane: I mean, that must be such a tough one. Jamie: listen, here's the deal. There are definitely weeks where it's, I'm pressed up against, like, I can only do three, like little sessions. I can do three 25 minute sprints for my novel this week or for my screenplay or whatever it is, this TV, pilot, this, whatever, if that's all I have, then that's all I have. But it, it, that is a non-negotiable it's in there. Um, and that takes a lot of, it takes a lot of muscle. It's not like, Oh, it's and it's still the, it's the one non-negotiable. Diane: Okay. Finally, what is the worst piece of cookie cutter advice you've been given for your business Yeah. I think honestly, for me, it is the idea that like you can only do or sell one thing. So the like one funnel, one product. Jamie: You're one funnel away or like, just so one, one thing, focus all on other one thing, and that's the one thing . you know, or like this idea or belief that like your whole life has to be about one thing and you have to be about one thing and what's your one thing. And even when you think about brand storytelling, it's like, what's your one story that fully. Fully expresses the one transformation that you help people with and the one thing, and like you've been through it and you rags to riches and all the whatevers. And I just don't, I don't believe any of that. I think it's not good advice. I think that it gives people more, uh, like shame and anxiety than it helps them. So I, you know, I think that we have to be permission granting around the exploratory process of business that like, it is a creative process and it takes time. It takes trial and error. It takes, you know, testing out different offers. And I think that because we try things where then like, Oh, why can't I just commit to the one thing instead of understanding that you're in a laboratory and it's a process. And so if we looked at business the way we look at writing, where we're expected to have multiple drafts before we get there, I actually think that we would be more productive and waste less time and energy shaming ourselves, and stressing and waiting for the moment when it all clicks together into the one thing. And like, you're the one thing like, so you have to enjoy the process and find a way to make it sustainable. Diane: Hello. You're the one thing, if that's not the mic drop moments of the podcast, thank you so much. This has been as always super fun. Hilarious. you know, I feel equal parts inspired and terrified at anything I may have committed to because I know that you will then be in my DMS going, did you do it? Did you do it? So, but thoroughly enjoyable experience. Thank you so much for being on the show. Thank you for having me. This was a delight
We’ve all stared at the blinking cursor and wished we could find our words. What if the problem is not the words but our approach to them?
Jamie Jensen walks you through how to be a more consistent writer, how she keeps writing, and what her writing practice looks and feels like.
Writing is like going to the gym – it’s hard and it hurts but the results are worth it.
We talk about
- The secret to writing more
- How to create a micro writing habit to unlock your words
- How keep your creativity flowing
- How to build your writing muscle
- What to do when your inner critic shows up
- Jamie’s lifestyle boundary for her business
- The worst cookie-cutter advice Jamie’s been given on her lifestyle business
Jamie Jensen is an award-winning screenwriter, copywriter, and business strategist. To date, she’s helped over 1000 entrepreneurs increase their sales by up to 900% with the power of effective storytelling.
Prior to supporting online businesses, Jamie worked in story development in Hollywood, assisting writers in both film & television. Jamie is the co-director and executive producer of the feature film “Hannah Has a Ho-Phase,” which won her the “Best Feature Writer” award at La Femme Film Festival, and she most recently completed her 11th feature-length screenplay.
When she’s not writing, helping clients, or interviewing her favorite creatives humans on the Creatives Making Money podcast, you can find Jamie drenched in sweat from yoga or dance class, cracking inappropriate jokes, or curled up on the couch watching movies on repeat (#obsessed).
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The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this podcast episode and article are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article or episode. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. Diane Mayor disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.