Author Interview with Debra Eckerling, and Follow the Teachings, Not the Teacher

Check out these posts by Nita Sweeney author of Depression Hates A Moving Target

Author Interview with Debra Eckerling

In this new Bum Glue series, I interview other authors. Much gratitude to Debra Eckerling, author of Your Goal Guide and founder of Write On Online‚ and The D*E*B METHOD for being my first willing participant.

Nita Sweeney (NS): When and how did your writing journey begin?

Debra Eckerling (DE): I have been writing ever since I was a kid – I loved making up stories. Growing up and through high school, I was really drawn to fiction. I studied journalism in college, and have been focused on non-fiction for my professional career.

My high school creative writing teacher who altered the way I looked at journaling. We were required to write at least 5 pages a week. I usually did about 20. Most classmates did the bare minimum, but some filled entire books. He never looked at what we wrote. He just wanted us to get what was in our head onto the page. Who knew journaling would be the basis for so much of what I do today.

NS: Plotter or pantser?

DE: I am a pantser who plots. I like to write outlines – or brainstorms – on a legal pad before I jump into any new projects, writing or other.

As a goal coach, I often talk about the importance of having a plan: you need to find the happy medium between over-thinking and under-thinking your goals and projects. Before jumping in, it’s helpful to have an idea of what you are writing. However, the level of detail will vary, depending on the topic, medium, and ideal outcome.

That being said, I also enjoy writing in the zone. So much awesome can happen when you put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard, you start writing, and see where it goes!

NS: What’s your biggest writing struggle and how do you handle it?

DE: Finding time for my own writing projects is sometimes a challenge. This is common among writers, creative, and entrepreneurs, who make up my clients and communities. But, I practice what I teach, which means scheduling time for long-term or passion projects, even if that means calendaring appointments to write … and keeping them! Even spending a little bit of time each week on those passion projects adds up.

Debra Eckerling, goal coach

NS: What is one thing about writing you wish you’d learned earlier?

DE: Patience. Things happen in their own timeframe, not in the time you want them to happen.

I have been writing, speaking, and leading goal-setting and productivity groups (Write On Online) for many years. I’ve helped entrepreneurs and consultants develop their books for either self- or traditional publishing, and self-published two of my own ebooks – one on kids writing prompts and the other on blogging.

A little over two years ago, I rebranded my goal-coaching to The D*E*B Method, my system for helping people figure out what they want and how to get it. “DEB” stands for Determine Your Mission, Explore Your Options, Brainstorm Your Path. I planned to self-publish it as a workbook, when I met an agent who asked for my book proposal. I wrote a book proposal, which found its way Brenda Knight at Mango Publishing toward the end of 2018. Mango published Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals in January 2020.

Since we are living in a time where everyone needs to rethink their path and reboot their goals, the timing couldn’t be better to introduce Your Goal Guide to the world. I am thrilled my book landed at Mango and that it was released this year.

NS: What’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever heard?

DE: Early in my career, when I was doing events for Barnes & Noble in Schaumberg, IL, I was invited to attend a Romance Writers of America meeting. A woman, who was reading her first chapter, was getting feedback from all over the place. People in the meeting were telling her everything from changing her characters to altering the plot. I just kept thinking, “Leave that poor woman alone.”

They had a rule about letting new guests offer critiques, so I had to seek her out after the meeting and tell her to ignore everything! Especially when you are first starting a project, you need to take the time to explore your vision for your book, before opening your work up to critique. That way, you can objectively examine any feedback, so you know what to ignore and what to embrace.

NS: Do you write by hand or on a computer?

DE: Mostly on computer, but I do like to write outlines, jot notes, and sometimes start drafts on paper.

NS: What advice would you give writers starting out?

DE: Start journaling regularly. It’s great for idea development, problem solving, and keeping track of what you see, feel, hear, experience, etc.

Journaling is also one of the best ways to develop your style and tone. When you already have content to write about – your ideas, feelings, activities, and observations, you can spend your writing time getting better at the craft of writing, while exploring who you are as a writer.

NS: Has your writing life turned out differently than you expected? If so, how?

DE: YES. When I was a teenager, I planned to write the great American novel. What young writer doesn’t? In my early 20s, I thought I might end up a successful screenwriter. Then I got my freelance writing break – for a national college-centric magazine – about a week after I finished the first draft of my first screenplay. Lifestyle and non-fiction writing really came naturally to me, so I followed that path. I am so glad I did.

NS: What’s next for you writing wise?

DE: I recently started writing more column-like articles for The D*E*B Method blog, which has been a lot of fun. I am also working on a creative semi-non-fiction project that keeps getting put on the back-burner, as well as a new podcast, called #ChangeHappens, in progress.


NS: Mermaids or Goddesses?

DE: Goddesses

NS: Toast or bagels?

DE: Bagels

NS: Ocean, mountains, or forest?

DE: Ocean

NS: Leggings or jeans?

DE: Jeans

NS: Dogs, cats, fish, guinea pigs, or horses?

DE: Dogs

Your Goal Guide by Debra Eckerling

Debra Eckerling is the author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning, and Achieving Your Goals and founder of the D*E*B METHOD®. DEB stands for Determine Your Mission, Explore Your Options, Brainstorm Your Path.

A communications specialist and project catalyst, she works with individuals and businesses to set goals and manage their projects through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and online support. Eckerling is also the founder of Write On Online, a website and community for writers, creatives, and entrepreneurs, as well as host of the #GoalChat Twitter chat (Sundays at 7pm PT), and #GoalChatLive (Mondays at 4pm on the Mango Publishing Facebook Page). She lives in Los Angeles.



Follow the Teachings, Not the Teacher

Recently, another public figure many thought was beyond reproach proved herself to be human. This happened to be a well-respected, best-selling author. I admit to being stunned myself.

But why are we surprised?

If you put something (or someone) on a pedestal, rest assured it will eventually fall. It will either be knocked off, pulled down, or take a tremendous swan dive off on its own.

Eventually, gravity always wins.

In her memoir, The Great Failure, Natalie Goldberg wrote about the sexual misconduct of her beloved Zen teacher, Katagiri Roshi. While she lamented his shortcomings and lost followers for making it public, she did not lose faith in the Zen he taught. In fact, she went on to become a Zen priest herself.

People may disappoint you. They may break your heart.

But you know what won’t fail you? The teachings.

And you know what won’t fall? Principles.

We can love our teachers, see them as human, admire their wisdom and effort.

And when one of them crosses a line, we don’t need to throw out all the principles because of their wrong step. What they have taught is not lost even though they may be.

Trust the principles.

Follow the teachings, not the teacher.

People may fail you. Principles will not.

Your Goal Guide by Deb Eckerling (small copy)

your goal guide

A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals

Start with a plan. One of the biggest reasons goals fail is that we often don’t put enough thought into what we really want before diving in. Your Goal Guide by Debra Eckerling starts with that first, crucial step: figuring out your goals and putting a plan in place. As a professional writer, communications specialist, and project catalyst with more than 20 years of experience, Eckerling is prepared to help you achieve success.

Depression Hates a Moving Target by Nita Sweeney

Depression Hates a Moving Target

How Running With My Dog Brought Me Back From the Brink (Running Depression and Anxiety Therapy, Bipolar)

It’s never too late to chase your dreams. Before she discovered running, Nita Sweeney was 49-years-old, chronically depressed, occasionally manic, and unable to jog for more than 60 seconds at a time. Using exercise, Nita discovered an inner strength she didn’t know she possessed, and with the help of her canine companion, she found herself on the way to completing her first marathon. In her memoir, Sweeney shares how she overcame emotional and physical challenges to finish the race and come back from the brink.

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