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.