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How to Make The World Give a Shit About You

In: Creative Writing for the Internet

::  When I first started having sex, I worried I wouldn't be sexy enough–and that I'd be a sore disappointment.

::  When I worked in advertising sales, the first time I ever had to do a nation-wide cold-calling contest…I was so wracked with nerves, I sat at my desk shaking, sipping vodka from a thermos.

::  There was a point in my life when I was so self-conscious, that anytime I talked, I was certain the other person was wishing I would shut up.

::  And many times, rather than face the awkward moment when the check comes, I've paid the bill while he was in the bathroom.

Do you know why I'm telling you these things right now?

Because these are the hopelessly honest things that make me human.

And those hopelessly honest things are the same exact reason you're still reading–because you're human, too, and underneath every layer, every wall, every superimposed facade…you're relieved you aren't the only vulnerable one.

When you read things like that, you're relieved that someone else goes through/thinks/does those things, too. You're relieved, you're validated, you're reassured, you're comforted and you're thanking christ you aren't the only one. It makes you feel like we're all in it together. It makes you feel a little less detached, and a little more understood.

It makes you feel like, despite your flaws, you're okay after all.

And so when you turn around and tell fiercely honest stories–the kinds of stories that make you utterly, unapologetically human–you make others feel better about who they are. And when others feel better about who they are, they'll tend to want to be around you more. Or your writing. Or your photographs. Or your artwork.

The key to success isn't about rising to the top.

Rather, it's about getting to the bottom.

The bottom of humanity–the place where we're all connected, in some way or another–and leveraging that to pull all of us up together.

Kind of like a big group wedgie.

The only rule?

Rock out with your human out only with regards to the past. If you start telling us how you're secretly cutting yourself every night from anxiety that you'll never get enough clients to survive, we aren't going to think you're more human; we're going to think you're a whiny fucking lunatic. (Who we'll never hire.)

Tell us, instead, how 6 years ago you were cutting yourself from anxiety, and then OVERCAME IT WENT ON TO HAVE SO MANY CLIENTS, YOU THEN NEEDED TO TAKE ON 13 ASSISTANTS AND A PET RHINO JUST FOR FUN. Now you aren't a lunatic; you're a war hero.  In terms of credibility, when talking about your fuck-ups for the sake of connection:

Past fuck-ups make you wise.

Present fuck-ups make you a fuck-up.

This is why 67 Emotions was written waaaaaay after the fact.

This is how I can tell stories of illegal immigrants and sleeping in my car.

This is how I can talk about the time I cold-heartedly dragged my dying mother down the sidewalk.

And this is how I can suddenly announce that, unbeknownst to all, I built TMFproject up from the ground and wrote my first book using an old Acer notebook that made my fingers cramp.

Because these things aren't happening now. These are things that happened in the past, and these are things that I've been able to draw important lessons from, and use to better myself.In order for your fuck ups to be useful, and to serve as learning tools, you've got to be in a place where you've got some perspective, and can reflect to draw out a greater message.

And when you do reach that place?

Then it's time to get shockingly honest. Because, as you'll find, what you might think is shocking? 100 other people have gone through/done/thought the same thing.

It's about digging deep, and pulling out the greater human truths that connect us all.

The ones we're too embarrassed to admit. The ones we hide from others. The ones we fret over. And the ones that, at the end of the day, are secretly your greatest victories. Because, after all, they make you REAL.

And real wins in the game of business.

In the game of publishing.

In the game of life.

And in the bedroom, during cold-call competitions, in conversations, and on that first date, too.

Though when in doubt…

…There's always that thermos of vodka.

Just do yourself a favor.

And remember to bring a chaser.

Especially if your boss is nearby.

Trust me.

May 31


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There’s a lot of horse shit going around the internet these days about “writing from the heart” and eliciting emotion in your readers/audience/customers/landlords. Okay, so not landlords. And you get it. You know it’s important. Because nobody wants to buy from a faceless mime. But what you don’t know is how to actually do it. […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet


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Why Screaming Won’t Get You Heard.

Jan 30, 2014

You know when you’re in a group of people… …and you start telling a story, and that one jerkoff starts talking over you, hollering at the waitress mid-sentence, or answering the phone, or by turning to say something to somebody else, and then all of the sudden you don’t really know if you’re suppose to […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet


Jun 28


How to Be Interesting As Hell On Paper

Jun 28, 2016

Agency. It was one of the first things my book editor said to me. “These parts need more agency.” And I obviously said: Like the CIA? And she said: Shoot me. And I said: Is that a CIA joke? So while furiously drinking wine and researching this new writing foe—agency—I had been delighted to discover […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet


Dec 14


Take Your Lazy Sentences And Piss Off. Politely.

Dec 14, 2012

Lazy sentences BOTHER ME. They bother me because it’s not really the sentence being lazy–it’s the person who wrote it. And if that person happens to be a business owner who’s trying to convince me to spend my hard-earned, sweat-soaked, time-drenched money with them? They better demonstrate that they actually WANT MY BUSINESS. Want it […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet


Jan 20


Clear vs Clever Copywriting is a Big, Fat, Bloated Myth (And a Scapegoat for Subpar Writers)

Jan 20, 2015

I’m a very dirty writer. Not Fifty Shades of Grey dirty, but dirty in the way that I put sentences, thoughts, ideas together. My process is wild. Sexy. Free. Undomesticated. And while I wish the reason were because I’m just such a clay-faced, crochet-bra-top-wearing, sun-worshipping bohemian soul (I am laughably not), rather, it’s because I […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet, Online Marketing


Feb 15


25 Words That Will Make You Seem Bland, Useless, Stale, Dime-a-Dozen, Washed-Up and Otherwise Uninteresting, Unimportant and Not Worth Paying Attention To

Feb 15, 2013

If you want to stand out, feel fresh, appear interesting and get noticed… …then you’ve got to use language that stands out, feels fresh, is interesting and gets noticed. This is common sense, but of course, it’s easier said than done. It’s tempting to use the first words that come to your mind, but usually? Those […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet


I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

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