Answering Life’s Hard Questions with Lori Deschene

Answering Life’s Hard Questions with Lori Deschene


We are giving away two copies of Lori Deschene’s Book at the end of this interview.

About a month ago, I heard from Lori Deschene, Founder of Tiny Buddha. Lori, with her creative writing and ideas, has created a community of like-minded people which is growing every second as you read this. Her Twitter following, when I last checked, was close to 240,000. Her social network page has a “Like” rate of 70,000.

I say this not to express how great a communicator she is (although that will be true), but to highlight the sheer power of will and passion. After having worked with 100 employers, she is here to share a piece of her life with us. A must-read, especially if you’re planning to go solo in your professional life.

1. Lori, you’ve done a bunch of different things in the past. Tell us about your career or better yet, your passion path.

Sure! I’ve definitely worn a lot of hats in my time. I studied acting and writing in college, because I was always happiest when I was expressing myself creatively. But after graduation, I felt scared of the potential for failure, and generally lost in life.

I would say I’ve worked for at least 100 employers, if you count the various companies I’ve freelanced for, both as a promotional marketing representative and a writer. I’ve also been a telemarketer, a sales person, a residential caregiver for developmentally disabled adults, and a child care worker, just to name a few roles.

My passions led me to @tinybuddha, where I started by tweeting just one quote per day. At the time, I was working 60+ hours per week from home as an online content and community manager. I was excited to finally be writing for a living, but I wasn’t writing about anything that mattered to me.

I wanted to do something more meaningful online, and tweeting inspiring quotes once a day was something I could easily do. As that following grew and I saw people frequently retweeting the quotes, I wondered how well we all apply those ideas when we shut down our computers or put down our gadgets. I know from experience that it’s a lot easier to consume information than it is to utilize it.

That’s what inspired me to start tinybuddha.com as a community blog, where anyone can submit a story about applying wisdom to real life. This site means the world to me because it’s not just about helping people—it’s also about allowing them to help me.

It’s a place where no one has it all figured out, and we all have something both to teach and to learn. Most importantly, it’s a loving community. For me, it feels like home.

2. How do you persuade yourself to write inspiring content when you’re having a mood swing or when you have nothing to say?

I generally don’t worry about being inspiring; my goal is to be honest. Every tinybuddha.com post explores some type of universal struggle and then ends with insights or lessons learned.

It’s cathartic and immensely helpful to be open about whatever I’m going through on a given day, and then conclude by focusing on what the experience has taught me. Writing in this way makes difficult times seem not only more manageable but also useful, because our struggles can connect us and allow us to help each other.

3. Do you procrastinate? How do you deal with it?

I don’t procrastinate often, and I think it might have something to do with the fact that I don’t set all that many goals at once. I’ve come to a place where I don’t feel overwhelmed by my to-do list.

I don’t maintain an insanely busy schedule. I run tinybuddha.com, I write for ‘tween girls (a magazine and a website), and I allow myself a lot of time to just be. I’m sure I progress a lot more slowly because of it, but I have decided that I will not trade all my time for dollars—and I’m much happier for it!

4. How did the idea of writing a book spark?

It started when I began connecting with publishers who contacted me to review their books. I saw an opportunity to pitch a Tiny Buddha book, and it all snowballed from there.

Since Tiny Buddha started on Twitter and the site is highly community-driven, I knew I wanted to do something with a crowdsourced element. I also knew I wanted to touch on several of the big issues that affect us all.

I decided to start by asking my Twitter followers a number of the hardest questions in life. Once I received their responses, I realized there were many shared perspectives in regards to these big issues—none right or wrong, but all empowering.

I knew then I wanted the tweets to be the backbone of the book, and I wanted to weave stories from my own experience along with ancient wisdom and modern research supporting these different ideas.

5. What does it take to become a self-employed writer?

The first thing is motivation. I’m passionate about the topics I explore, of course, but beyond that, I pursued self-employment because I want the freedom to travel and visit my family across the country for weeks at a time. This strong motivation is one thing that has helped me stay disciplined when it may have been tempting to lose focus.

The second thing is the willingness to frequently look for work. Before Tiny Buddha grew, I maintained numerous freelance and contract gigs to sustain myself. It’s much easier to transition to doing your own thing if you have supporting projects you can also do from home, as opposed to writing on the side of a full-time 9-5 job.

The last thing that has helped me is the ability to live on very little money. There were times when I was happily self-employed, but making just enough. Since I don’t have children, and I also have minimal bills (no car, for example) I can sustain myself if things are slow. This was essential in the building phase, and it allowed me to keep going when other people may have felt the need to get a real job.

6. How do you juggle different tasks of maintaining TinyBuddha, writing articles for ‘tweens and ghostwriting?

I follow a schedule, so I generally always work on the same things at the same times each week. Of course, it’s flexible when I travel.

7. How do you get things done? Are you very organized or do you flow with the moment when it comes to work?

I’m very organized, and I’m always aiming to become more efficient. It’s all too easy to get lost in mindless activities on the web that chip away at the day. I value my time disconnected from my computer, so I try to set a schedule and stick to it.

Of course, inspiration sometimes strikes when I’m not working. I generally don’t let those moments pass, especially since I write so frequently.

8. What keeps you going?

I keep going because I love Tiny Buddha. Writing and helping other writers communicate their message makes me feel purposeful and proud of myself. I feel like I am making a positive difference in other people’s lives, and I didn’t always that feel that way.

I also really enjoy connecting with readers and writers—sharing what we’ve gone through, what we’ve learned, what we’re going through, and what we’re learning.

Lastly, I keep going because I know there is room to grow. There’s a lot I want to do and create—the journey is just beginning!

9. Where to from here?

For now, I’m focusing most of my efforts on my book campaign. I launched the “Life’s Hard Questions” contest in November, and there’s about a week left (at the time of writing this).

Anyone who submits a photo of themselves somehow displaying the hardest question in their life is entered to win a Canon DSLR camera, one of two Amazon Kindles, and one of ten copies of my book.

Once that’s over and I’m done with my blog tour, I’ll be focusing on some new initiatives for tinybuddha.com and writing my second book. I also plan to spend some extended time in Massachusetts. “Spend time with family” is always on the top of my to-do list!

10. In one sentence, how would you describe your book?

Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questions is a guide of possibilities for peace, happiness, and connection, even in a world with so much uncertainty.

To win a copy of Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questions, simply let us know what was the building block for the book. Giveaway closes 13th January.

(Hint: Look for the answer in this interview — it has to do with a social media platform!)

Update: And the Winners Are. . .

Kymberly Fergusson & Beverly Diehl! Congratulations guys. An official email is sent to you so please respond with your details for us to send you the books.


Pooja is a Human Behavioral Specialist + a Writer and Editor of non-fiction books by the day and the night. Pooja lives in beautiful city of Melbourne, Australia.

Discussion

  1. Joe Sterne on the 6th January

    Tweets/ Twitter?

  2. Khanh Nam Nguyen on the 6th January

    It is the shared perspectives of the writer’s Twitter followers about a number of the hardest questions in life.

  3. melissa raue on the 6th January

    The building block for the book was twitter, tweets being free.

  4. Alexei Skobel on the 8th January

    This is an interesting interview post on Lori Deschene. I’d like to see some links in the future to interviewee’s twitter, or even to her webpage to submit a photo for her contest to win her book or the cannon camera, since it was mentioned in the interview.

  5. Clau on the 8th January

    The building block for this book was the different answers from the twitter community to life’s most difficult questions. Although i am sure the views and answers to these questions varied from person to person, it makes us realize that we are not alone and we are not the only ones questioning life’s inconsistencies, twists and turns. It would be a blessing to read this book…i will benefit from reading it at this point in my life. Lori’s book would be beneficial to anyone that comes in touch with it. 😉 THank YOu Lori!

  6. Doug on the 9th January

    Lori used Twitter as a basis for her book and then leveraged those comments with further insights. Exciting about this book! If I don’t win it (hoping I do!!) I’ll definitely buy it. Doug

  7. Lee Anne on the 9th January

    I love Tiny Bhudda…it makes my day and always seems appropriate to something I’m going through. I would love to win a copy of the book!

    Thanks for all your hard work and dedication!

  8. Luna Knight on the 9th January

    Twitter!
    I love her quotes as they seem to always be just what I need at the time.

  9. Wendy Ann Greenhalgh on the 9th January

    Your inspiration was from us writing and meditating and thinking and sharing on Twitter. Long may the Tiny Buddha continue. :)

  10. Afi on the 9th January

    I am so looking forward to reading this book (a book that’s building blocks were the wisdom from the twitter community)! Thank you, Lori!

  11. Diya on the 9th January

    The inspiring foundation for Tiny Buddha was the concept of crowdsourcing, which Lori describes she experienced through community tweeting. What I truly find amazing is the similarity between the concept of atoms being tiny yet encompassing the entire universe, and the giant Buddha, created by the simplicity of tiny atomic tweets that were knit together to create group enlightenment on a truly global level in our virtual universe.
    I browsed through Tiny Buddha in a bookshop a few weeks ago and what caught my eye was the list of 50 things you can do right now that bring you mindfully into the moment. (Or that’s at least how I remember it). The importance of understanding some of Lori’s insight is the daily struggle with our consciousness, which may turn out to be nothing more than imagination. I love that in yesterday’s tweet, I read the 10 tips for journaling on my iphone, and one of the tips pointed to the experience of feeling without words — which she brought alive through art journaling. You see I may not remember the exact 50 things in that book, but I do remember smiling for a brief moment and enjoying a slice of peace pie.
    Kudos to Lori and to any others who are carving out an independent, yet universally relevant life for themselves and others on our Internet.

    Diya

  12. Kay on the 9th January

    She was inspired to start tinybuddha.com as a community blog, where anyone can submit a story about applying wisdom to real life.

  13. Michelle on the 9th January

    Love reading Tiny Buddha posts every day. Daily inspiration! Would really like a copy of the Tiny Buddha book. Thank you for all you do to provide wisdom for all of us!

  14. Cynthia Baloula on the 9th January

    Great interview, thank you for sharing Lori’s experience. l fell in love with TinyBuddha, the site is so inspiring and comforting. I would love to get her book pleeeaaaaaaase!!!! :-)

  15. Beverly Diehl on the 9th January

    It all started with a Tweet (or a bunch of them.) Love Tiny Buddha & while I will read this book sooner or later – winning will put it in my hands sooner.

  16. Jacqueline Plessis on the 9th January

    Tweets on twitter were the building blocks!

  17. Cheryl Panzo on the 9th January

    Twitter!!! I receive Tiny Buddha daily tweets and they are always a mood lifter and a motivator. A light in the darkness. Keep them coming!!!

  18. joan of arc on the 9th January

    It seems twitter was the media that engendered the book. I am working for a literally bankrupt company, my etsy sales fell flat and my organizing business has not taken off yet. My husband is getting out of jail, I have to turn off the internet and don’t have the cash to move out of the house. this is not a joke, it is my life and if I knew the way out, I would not be searching. Plus, Cheryl is gorgeous. it is easy to think that because you are pretty that you have an easy time in the world. I was pretty once, it was no easier then.
    Well, maybe a little.

  19. joan of arc on the 9th January

    Lori, I meant Lori is gorgeous. I don’t know what’s with my brain that I said Cheryl.

  20. Lois on the 10th January

    Shared wisdom from Twitter was the inspiration for Lori to create the TinyBuddha blog and eventually this book. I really hope to win a copy but plan to purchase it for my daughter.

  21. Melissa on the 10th January

    This interview, and my introduction to Workawesome, came at just the right time in my life…the same thing seems to happen with Tiny Buddha posts, they find me just when I need them!

  22. Karen on the 10th January

    Building blocks of book were comments from lori’s twitter.

  23. Kerri on the 10th January

    She asked get twitter followers for their hard questions :)

  24. Karen Beth on the 10th January

    Inspiration from twitter! Exciting giveaway!

    msred5 at gmail dot com

  25. Jane on the 10th January

    Social Network “Twitter”!

  26. Alan on the 10th January

    The building block of the book is the response on Twitter from readers on a series of questions about life…

  27. Lissa Warburton on the 10th January

    “It started when I began connecting with publishers who contacted me to review their books. I saw an opportunity to pitch a Tiny Buddha book, and it all snowballed from there.”

  28. Laurie Riedman on the 10th January

    Tiny B readers comments and twitter of course! I’ve been following Lori Deschene for years. love the wisdom shared in tiny tweets!

  29. Kymberly Fergusson on the 10th January

    The building block was definitely the wonderful twitter community around Lori. Her followers tweeted many of the kernels of wisdom, which were then woven into the pages of the Tiny Buddha book!

  30. Rob Sartin on the 11th January

    The building block for the book was the @TinyBuddha discussions on twitter. By asking people to tweet their hard questions, Lori built an audience and gathered material.

  31. Jason Leach on the 11th January

    Twitter was used as a building block. Look forward to the tweets often!

  32. Carolyn on the 12th January

    Twitter!

    (going to check out tinybuddha.com now)

  33. Sue Thompson on the 12th January

    Lori built Tiny Buddha from the Twitter community.
    These blogs have such a positivity in them and have helped me realize and process many negative emotions, problems and thoughts into a more positive outlook.
    Love Tiny Buddha and Lori…..thanks!!!!

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