People seem to have no problem voicing their desire to buy a good pair of jeans or go bird watching. 

I detect zero self-consciousness from the person who tells me she wants to go see Mean Girls on Broadway. Or enroll in improv classes. 


When people want to write, they don’t say it loudly; they whisper it to me. 

They say it quietly, as an aside. They send me a note from their personal, not their business, email. They’d like to write. They used to, and want to do it again. But. 

Always a but. 


…they worry they wouldn’t be any good at it. 

…they aren’t sure where to start. 

…they don’t have time. 

You know the excuses. The thing I find curious though is that whisper, that urge, that desire to do it but also be quiet about it. 

What’s that about? 

I believe it’s because writing speaks to something kinda sacred, and so incredibly personal. 

I don’t think you have to be special or an A student or even particularly gifted to make good and powerful use of writing in your work. 

Far too many of us are stuck (not to mention wounded) by the experiences we had in school. Those red pens left scars, and made us think we should be careful instead of creative. 

That’s a damn shame. 

This is precisely what I designed The Intensive for: People who want to write, to reengage with their work in a fresh, exciting, and fun way, without feeling bad about themselves. 

And having three days away with a small group, in an environment specifically set up for tapping your creative genius can change everything. 

April 30 through May 3, we’ll be hunkering down in a gorgeous, sprawling ranch just outside of Austin, Texas. And if this sounds like it could be a fit for you, I’d love to talk to you about it. 

⇒ Extended early bird offer – Save $1000 on The Intensive for a limited time

This probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard about The Intensive from me. But it may be the first time you’ve really HEARD it. In a way that makes you think, “Hmm.” 

I’m looking for people who feel that impulse to write, to go deeper into it and emerge with thrilling new insights. Who are tired of ignoring that urge to express themselves and want to do it in an incredibly safe and supportive space. 

Sound like you or someone you know? 

Go ahead. Whisper it to me. 

P.S. Wondering what it’s like? Take a look at the video and see if it appeals.


Two things I love about my friend Jenn Lederer: She’s got an open mind and sharp opinions.

She’s cool with whatever you want to wear, do, pursue. “You do you, girl,” she says, waving her hand at everyone and no one.

But don’t get her started on footwear.

“Wedges? Fine. Clogs, cool. Tennis shoes ok. Rock a 4-inch heel if you want. But—” and here, the chin drops, eyebrow lifts, a long finger slices through the air like a blade.

“Do not come for me with your kitten heels.”*

It’s not just that she doesn’t prefer that shoe. Oh no. It’s much more.

“They enrage me.”

It will not surprise you that Jenn is, among other things, a comic, and so taking issue with harmless inanimate objects is part of the gig.

The problem with kitten heels?

“They put the heel at the center of the heel, not at the back—the most painful and annoying place to put a heel. It’s just an awkward way to walk for no reason at all. Though watching you walk toward me at full speed in them will be hilarious.”

Oh, she’s not done.

“They’re noncommittal,” she says. “It’s not a flat, it’s not a wedge, it’s not a heel. I just don’t know if I can trust your judgment if you wear this shoe.”

Ah! And there it is.

Pain. Awkwardness. The fact that they’re “noncommittal.”

THAT is what she ACTUALLY hates! Those qualities: undue pain, half-assed-ness.

This tells me about her values, and one of the things I admire about her—and I like to think we have this in common—is that we don’t half ass things. We go ALL in on what we do.

People who go full-tilt want that same commitment from others…and where that trust comes in is fascinating: Because she does not feel she can trust someone who won’t do the same. Shoes or no shoes.

I bet you didn’t think of that as the lesson here, and neither did I—until I started to unpack it.

Is there anything, literally ANYTHING you want to do (and really want to do, not just feel you “should”) in your life or your work that you can get by being half-committed?


Yeah, going full tilt means taking a full risk. But going halfsies on risk will yield about as much reward.

And one thing I’m sure we can agree on, tastes in shoes notwithstanding:

You do NOT want a kitten-heel version of your best work, your best ideas, your best anything.

Maybe you think the kitten heel version is…safer, because it’s lower to the ground, or more practical, or more comfortable. But in fact, they’re not! They’re just a smaller, less interesting version of an actual heel.

What would things be like if you chose the best version of what you want to do, instead of the safer version?

Now, God knows we can’t stomp around all day in stilettos. But at least a sneaker isn’t trying to be anything but a sneaker. A clog is like, Yo, I’m a clog. Not trying to hide it. Wear what you want! But wear it.

(Fact: I have had more than one kitten heel in my life. So, no judgment from me if you’re curling your toes inside a pair right now.)

I think you get my point.

The hard part isn’t doing the thing. It’s committing to doing it in a real way, not a safe, side-steppy, cute way. Half-assing isn’t cute.

Decide you’re all in. Don’t pamper yourself with excuses. Don’t tell yourself you’re too busy. Excuses are the kitten heels of life.

And please. Do not COME for me in your kitten heels.

…One way to go all in?

Join me for 30 Days on the Page.

This 30-day audio program is designed to stoke your creative flame so you can set the world on fire.

It draws on the principles of the Gateless Writing Method, which quiets the critic and invites ease into your creative process.

You get to get out of your own way—and feel your own work expanding, instead of feeling constricted by fear and self-criticism.

Seriously, check it out. It’s $1/day! So don’t wait.

There’s a song by recording artist and folk singer Mary Gauthier that guts me, every time. 

It’s called “Mercy Now,” and the song moves, achingly, through concentric circles of forgiveness: Starting with her father, who could use some mercy now…and ending with her country, which could most definitely use some mercy now. (Lord have mercy, indeed.) 

You listen to a song like that, and it’s artistry in action: It’s what I imagine a soul sounds like.

Now, you and I are not Grammy-nominated singer-songwriters touring the globe with a new album like she is (unless you are and you didn’t tell me). 

And you might think you have nothing in common with her because that’s not you. But that’s not true. 

Because what it takes to be courageous in her work is precisely the same thing it takes to be courageous in yours. There is no difference.

Sure, the platform is different; hers is stage, lights, theater, and yours might be office, classroom, co-working space, Adirondack chair). 

I don’t care what that work is—to get up and go and do it, every day, is important work. It’s your work. And what threatens that work? Self doubt. Fear of criticism. Comparison. 

We put the kibosh on our most creative ideas, more often than not.

I recently interviewed Mary, at midnight, because that was the only time she had (again, rock star), to talk about how she fights the demons of self-criticism, judgment, fear in her own work and why it’s worth fighting it in our own. 

“The ever-expanding waves of putting work out into the world may never be measured, but something could happen as a result of me doing my work,” she said. “Comparison gets in the way of all of that.”

(Watch the interview here.)

She’s so good. 

And the reason I was up late interviewing Mary, when I usually just text her, is because I have a big announcement to make:

Mary Gauthier will be co-leading The Intensive with me Oct 17-20, 2019, in Austin, Texas. 

Yeah, I know you’re busy. You have a life and obligations, and things booked (a meeting, a lunch, a long-put-off task). 

But six months from now, what do you think you’ll remember most? The weekend you spent catching up on shows or emails (that never happens), or the one you spent uncorking a bottle of brilliance stowed away in your mental basement? That’s one hell of a vintage. I say, drink it!

>>Read more about The Intensive. 

If this speaks to you, then trust me, it’s worth jostling schedules for. (Ask anyone in this video who attended.)


The Intensive is an intimate, all-inclusive three-day event where a small group of leaders, writers, speakers, creatives, and pros of every stripe come together to work on their ideas, their stories—the things that will move their brand and work forward in a bigger way. 

The point is to dig down into your own work using writing as our tool—but NO RED PENS. No criticism, no judgment. Period.

Because if you want to create work of meaning and get a better handle on what that work is, it starts on the page, where all great work begins. 

“What happens on retreat is transformative,” Mary says. “Because the group is naturally inclined to root for you. We get close to each other thru this vulnerability, and there’s this building up of affection for each other that happens really quickly. You end up with a group of people who really want you to succeed.” 

Attending Gateless Writing retreats changed my life, personally and professionally. They helped me catapult my writing and my work in dramatic ways, and I have no doubt it can do the same for you on The Intensive. 

So let’s talk. Apply for a spot here (no fancy pedigree required!). 


P.S. Here’s what Intensive attendee Jenn Barrett had to say: 

“The retreat helped me find and develop my voice and discover how powerful and persuasive it can be. I left the retreat inspired and energized with a clear understanding of how I could use my voice and my writing to advance the ideas I care most deeply about.” 

–Jenn Barrett, start-up exec, journalist, and financial literacy advocate


Ever go on a church retreat? I did. 

Antioch Weekend at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Roseland, New Jersey. In the 80s.

You got to wear your Jordache jeans and sleep over at host houses and hang out with kids you didn’t know (read: boys you didn’t know) from public school. Hot. 

We sat in the school classrooms, but it didn’t feel like school. We had prayer groups and discussions, talked about life and faith. Then we’d stand in a circle and hold hands and sway to Led Zeppelin (because it was a “cool” church weekend). 

Maybe someone would cry. And it was totally normal to hug a lot, which provided an off-the-charts oxytocin-addled high. 

It was the first time in my life that I felt like an adult. Not a student, not a kid, but a person, with  feelings and opinions and ideas that mattered.

I felt closer to the other kids after a single weekend than I did with the kids I’d known my whole life. I felt seen and known. We all cried when it ended. I learned that bearing witness for another person was one of the most important things I could do. I believe it still is. 

A few years ago I attended a different retreat—a writing retreat, led by a woman I’d never met. We were in Rhode Island, the leaves starting to turn, and I woke up the second day and felt it—that same elevated, energized, happy feeling.

Only this was way better. I wasn’t fumbling through prayers and awkward teenage hugs. 

I was writing. Writing in ways I hadn’t written in years—free of judgment, free of fear and criticism and self-doubt. I was absolutely high on it, on the energy in that room. 

I left that retreat changed. It was an intoxicating blend of feeling totally new and yet returning to something familiar. 

That’s the goal of a retreat, the best kind—to discover and remember. Both things. 

I still go on those retreats, led by the fabulous Suzanne Kingsbury, who’s become a close friend. And she trained me to lead my own. 

Thing is, not everyone can get away for a four-day retreat. (If you’re reading this in April 2020, no one is going anywhere.)

But you CAN get to the page. You can still get that intense satisfaction of spending time on stuff that matters to you. You can still find renewed confidence, ease, and excitement in your writing and work again, no matter what shape or form it takes.

This is why I designed 30 Days on the Page!

This 30-day audio program will help you break new ground on your new ideas, and gain momentum in developing, fleshing them out, and making them real and ready to share with the people you most want to reach.

It draws on the principles of the Gateless Writing Method which is designed to quiet the critic and invite ease into your creative process. Get out of your own way—and feel your own work expanding, instead of feeling constricted by fear and self-criticism.

You get…
  • 30 days of prompts designed to tap your creativity, intuition, memory, and genius
  • A daily audio guide that takes you through the daily exercise, so that you can write in real-time
  • “5 Ways to Unlock Your Creative Genius” download and audio guide that gives you insights and exercises for changing the way you approach your work

And it’s $1/day! So check it out.