All posts by Angela Booth

About Angela Booth

Copywriter Angela Booth's clients tell her she performs "word magic." Whether she's writing advertising materials, Web content, or ghostwriting for her clients, she's committed to helping them to achieve results, fast. Author of one of the first books about online business, Making The Internet Work For Your Business, Angela's written many business books which have been published by major publishers. She's an enthusiastic self-publisher and writing teacher.

Writing Journal 8: Books, and Upcoming Programs

Writing Journal 8: Books, and Upcoming Programs

My writing journal for Tuesday, August 19, 2014. You can find all the entries here.

Fiction and nonfiction: writing and reading

Hooray… final scene of the novella coming up. I’m getting ahead of myself, and realize that the main character’s arc is off by one or two scenes. I wish I could leave it alone, and stop tinkering, until I’ve finished the draft. Then I can read the whole thing.

When I get close to the finish line, my brain starts to fizz like champagne. Just 1,000 words today, because of the tinkering, but that’s fine. I’ll complete the novella tomorrow. I resist the temptation to compile a MOBI file and send it to my Kindle app. I don’t want to read it, until it’s done.

Instead, I look over my material for the new novella. With any luck, I should be able to start the new novella this week, and wrap it up quickly.

On to the new nonfiction book. I managed 1,500 words. Lots of “XXX” marks in places where I need to research. I’m pleased. I’ve made a good start on this.

I’ve talked about researching AFTER you write on the freelance blog. The idea is that you write a quick draft, so you know where you’re headed. Then you know what you need to research. Just put “XXX” where you need to research so you can find those areas when your draft is done.

If you research before you write, you’ll end up with lots of information you won’t need. Not only does this slow you down, it means that you lose focus.

Clustering has many uses

We’ve received some questions about clustering. Clustering is basically mind mapping, and as with mind mapping, you can use it for everything.

My brain feels fuzzy and full this morning. My attention’s snagging on the novella. I need to put it out of my mind and think about everything else I need to do today. So I create a cluster diagram of today’s important things to do, and to remember. When I get pulled back to fiction, I can snap myself out of it by checking the cluster.

If you’re not familiar with clustering, here are a couple of links to help you to use this wonderful tool.

I use clustering many times each day. Yesterday I had a couple of coaching calls, so I clustered what I wanted to chat about with each student before the call. Then I clustered during each call. I photographed all the clusters — they were just on index cards — into each student’s notebook in Evernote. I can refer to the clusters months from now, and I’ll be able to remember what we discussed.

Email: clients and students

Clustering has cleared my mind a little. Lots to get done today. First, email. I need to create some quotes for client projects, and give feedback to students on their exercises.

We’ve got boilerplate templates for everything. I can call up a template with a couple of keystrokes with TextExpander (Mac). Do you use templates? Start creating them. They’ll save you seconds, minutes and hours over the course of a month.

Honey and I have breakfast.

Then a chat with Julia. I’m doing a phone presentation this afternoon, so Julia’s sending the presentation PDF to the client, and doing some research on the company. When you pitch, you need all the insights you can get. I set a reminder for 30 minutes before the call, so that I can clear my mind, rehearse, and prepare.

Off for my walk. There are still showers around, so I’ll take an umbrella.

Next, the program description for Authentic Writing

Back again, and looking at my watch… I need to draft this quickly, because tomorrow morning and most of the afternoon will be spent working on-site for a client.

Lunch at my desk, reading social media.

Then, reviewing the presentation, and preparing for it.

The client calls on time, and we have a good phone meeting. I know they’ve asked other people to pitch for this project, so I’ll mark it as “done” in my calendar, and will add a reminder to follow up with them in a couple of weeks.

Next…

Leap into Copywriting: 3-week online class

The class is in 3 modules, with a total of 15 video and audio lessons with worksheets. As you complete a lesson, you send us your exercises for feedback. We’re estimating that we’ll be running the class once a month.

I’ve planned the modules, and the first week. Just need to record the videos and audios. I spend a couple of timer sessions planning exercises for the modules.

Next up, more paperwork. Ugh. At the end of a couple of hours of paperwork, my brain is mush.

It’s late, so it’s time to do the daily review, and tot up the word counts for the day. It’s been a good day.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 7: Fiction, Blogging and Coaching

Writing Journal 7: Fiction, Blogging and Coaching

My writing journal for Monday, August 18, 2014. All the entries are here.

Today promises to be a busy day. Lots to write, and a couple of phone coaching sessions at the end of the day.

Fiction and nonfiction: ending one project, and starting another

Up at 5AM, as usual. Wrote 1200 words of the novella this morning. Just another couple of scenes to write. I went over the first couple of chapters this morning, and had to stop myself reading. I’ll create a MOBI file of the novel tomorrow, so that I can read it when I’m away from my work computer.

Then I drew the first cluster diagram for the next novella in this series – there’s a theme for the series, and I want my subconscious mind to start thinking about this new book as I wrap up the current one..

Whenever I reach the mid point of a project, I’m eager to get the project done. With only two novellas to complete, I’m well past the midpoint on this project. The next two stories will be shorter. At least, that’s what I’m hoping.

After a quick email message to my fiction client, I start on the new nonfiction book for the series I’ve ghostwritten for a client.

This client hasn’t commissioned me to write any more books in the series, however I know that he wants me to write several more.

So last night, while thinking about the rest of this year, and 2015, I decided that this will be the last book I ghostwrite for him. If he offers me a commission for the next book, I’ll set him up with someone else to  complete the series.

I’m committed to making 2014 the final year I take on so many ghostwriting projects.

Last year, I had every intention of cutting back on my ghostwriting commissions. However, long writing experience has trained me to grab great projects when I can. So I kept grabbing, which is fine. However, it means that I’m doing much too much “work done for hire”. The fees for the ghostwritten materials are excellent. When I see authors like Russell Blake building wonderful careers, I know that I should be focusing on my own fiction and nonfiction.

I’m resisting working on my own materials, and it’s frustrating.

When you meet resistance, ask yourself why

Resistance is always interesting for writers. I think I know what’s behind mine — fear, as always. When you accept commissions, you’re not risking anything. Enough musing on my psyche. Onward with the nonfiction project.

I write a short description of the project, and create chapter documents in Scrivener. Then I write an introduction of 600 words.

This is odd. Usually I complete a book, then write the introduction. Not to worry, I’ll go with it. Now I’ve started it, I want to get it done. I create a cluster diagram for the first chapter, and write some research questions.

Breakfast for Honey, and then for me. No walking today. It’s raining and windy. Yoga later.

Email and blogging

Julia’s arrived, so we have a coffee while going over this week’s projects. Then I work on blogging.

Next, a dip into social media, and more blogging, for the freelance writing blog.

And it’s lunch time. No time to go out to lunch, so Julia and I chat and read social media. It’s still raining.

I’ve got some administrative chores to get through, so I turn on Spotify and resist the temptation to poke myself in the eye with a sharp pencil. I resist doing essential housekeeping chores as long as I can. Very immature behavior. :-) I tell myself to stop complaining, turn on the timer, and stick it out for two sessions.

Two sessions done, and I stick with it for another session — that’s almost two hours. Once I get started, it’s easy to keep going. I know this, but procrastinate anyway.

Time to return phone calls.

Then ten minutes of yoga.

Authentic writing — project revision

I spend two timer sessions on this. I’ve removed a couple of the exercises, and added another couple.

Late afternoon, and I have two phone coaching sessions for which to prepare. I need to study a student questionnaire from a new personal coaching student, and prepare my ideas for another student’s book marketing project.

The phone coaching sessions go well. The students are enthusiastic, and so am I.

It’s late, so I do a quick review of the day. It’s been a busy and productive day – I broke the back of the administrative chores. My word count totals aren’t as high as I’d hoped, but tomorrow is another day. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Content Marketing Done Cleverly and Well

Content Marketing Done Cleverly and Well

Bored with content marketing? Me too. Then something comes along and gives you fresh inspiration, not only because it’s done so well, but also because it’s so clever.

Mind you, it probably helps that I’m such a big fan of Alice in Wonderland. :-)

In her article, What’s the Formula for E-book Success? Ann Handley says:

One of the tenets of my new book is this: Good writing is like good teaching.

That’s so true. If you want to make anything you’re writing better, ask yourself whether readers are learning anything. And yes, it applies to fiction too. The best fiction takes you on an emotional experience, and you learn from it. In the 1980s, Arthur Hailey wrote blockbuster novels which took readers behind the scenes of an airport, a hotel, and other places they knew, but didn’t understand – and didn’t want to understand. Hailey made them fascinating, and writers have continued that “learning” tradition.

Consider Dan Brown’s books. Or check out the bestseller lists today. THE MAGICIAN’S LAND, by Lev Grossman tops the hardcover fiction list. I’ve no idea what it’s all about, but reading the description, it sounds like Harry Potter-like.

Consider too, the 50 Shades trilogy: erotica for people who don’t read erotica. It’s introduced erotica to a completely new audience, by teaching. At least I think it informs readers on mild BDSM. I haven’t read it, although I do read erotica occasionally.

Content marketing: all teaching, all the time is boring

If you’re bored with your content marketing, your readers will be too. Don’t stop teaching in your content, but do consider teaching in new ways. I’m sharing my writing journals for example.

Ann interviews Lee Odden in the article I’ve linked to above, and here’s Lee’s amazingly clever slide deck on building an audience strategy for content marketing.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 6: Sunday Writing

Writing Journal 6: Sunday Writing

My writing journal for Sunday, August 17, 2014. All the journal entries are here.

An early start with fiction…

It’s Sunday, the day of rest and family commitments. Up at 5AM, as usual however. Straight to the novella, which is now at 40,000 words, and nudging into novel territory.  I was aiming for 25,000 words, but the story took off. That’s OK. I’ll trim it back in revision.

After fixing a few things from yesterday’s scene, I stop for the day at 1,200 words. Only a few scenes left to go, then revisions, while starting the next novella in the series.

On to messages from Julia, and email. There’s less email on weekends. It’s mostly student questions, and exercises. Julia handles what she can. I glance over the responses she sent to clients and students yesterday, then send three long messages to students.

Time for Honey’s breakfast, and mine.

No walking today. Rain’s pouring down, which is wonderful for the garden, but horrible for my bad back — I desperately need exercise.  I scrawl YOGA onto a sticky note and stick it onto my desk.

I did Chi Kung a few years ago; it helped with my RSI. I may go back to that. When I started the exercises, I though “chi” was a metaphor. It’s not. After a while, you can feel the chi in your body. Then you get distracted, and surprised at the sensations. It’s a meditative exercise, so you need to remind yourself to focus on what you’re doing, and not on the chi. :-)

Another nonfiction book.

During breakfast, I make some notes for a new nonfiction book. It’s the fourth book in a series I’ve been ghostwriting for a client.

After breakfast, I publish a post about Kindle self publishing on the freelance blog.

I make some notes on what I still need to do today. Then it’s time to close down my computer, and get ready to deal with Sunday.

Back in the office…

It’s late afternoon, and time to get ready for the upcoming week. I download the Blogo blogging app (Mac), thinking that it may help me with blogging. It has Evernote integration, which is good. However, I soon go back to drafting posts in my usual way. I don’t have any time to tinker with it today.

I’ve made a great start on draft blog posts over the past week. You can never have too many, so I create a cluster diagram to gain some insights, then quickly create a few more drafts.

The drafts are simply a title, and  a few sentences. I make some notes for client blogs in Trello.

Clearing the decks in the online store.

Next, the online store. We’ve got a full calendar of new programs for writers and marketers coming up. We’re clearing the decks, by withdrawing programs we’re not actively promoting. So I need to choose three programs to close.

Onward to Authentic Writing. I need to incorporate ideas from students’ feedback, and revise the lessons.

(Yawn.) It’s been a long day. I’m an introvert by nature, which means that while I happily socialize, and always enjoy it, it’s nevertheless exhausting, and I need time to regain energy. Introverts are social beings, but we’re drained of energy when we socialize. Extroverts gain energy from socialization.

I do some yoga breathing in Mountain Pose; a couple of easy forward bends, and spend three minutes in Cobra.

That’s much better. I’d forgotten that unlike other exercises, gentle yoga stretches are energizing, and they clear your mind.

Finally… that’s it. My daily review, and weekly review are done. Word counts done. And onward to a new week. :-)

Need help with your writing? Check out the Fab Freelance Writing Blog, and/ or subscribe to the ezine. Everyone’s writing more these days. Get in touch, and tell us about your challenges. We’d love to help.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 5: Writing and Planning

Writing Journal 5: Writing and Planning

My writing journal for Saturday, August 16, 2014. All the entries are here.

Fiction first, as always.

Up at 5AM to work on the novella. Only a couple of major scenes left. I do several cluster diagrams, thinking about the emotion in these scenes.

I make some revision notes about a couple of scenes I want to remove. Then I change my mind; the scenes stay. Maybe. I need to read the novella as I whole, before I decide, and look at the characters’ arcs.

Only managed 1,000 new words on it this morning, but I’m pleased with them. Getting the emotion right was essential, because the entire story leads up to these scenes.

A short break to catch up on email, then I complete a blog post I drafted yesterday for Fab Freelance Writing Blog. I add some material to draft posts on clients’ blogs too.

A quick browse through ReadKit, and Twitter. I tend to snatch a few minutes here and there for social media. It can be a time sink, but I always know how much I have on my schedule, so I don’t let it pull me in. I add the material I want to read to Pocket.

I enjoyed this article on empathy maps on CopyBlogger. I use cluster diagrams to get at the emotion in fiction and copywriting, but this gives me — and you — another tool.

The time’s flown past. Time for Honey’s breakfast, and my own. Then off for a walk.

Back again. I visit Trello, to leave messages for coaching students  and to check up on client projects due to start next week.

Then I spend a timer session planning.

How much planning do you do? Planning’s essential of course, and I try to plan at least three months ahead for short projects. For long projects, I plan a year ahead.  Evernote’s an excellent tool for planning, because you can create project notebooks, and link notes together.

Lunch, and shopping.

Lunch, then we do some shopping. Ugh. I prefer to confine my shopping to bookshops, but needs must.

OK. Back again. It’s late. I won’t get anything more done today. Do my daily review, and tot up the disappointing word counts. Remind myself it’s the weekend. The trouble is, I enjoy writing more than I enjoy other things, so it’s not like work to me. Tomorrow is another day. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 4: Fiction Choices, Pen Names and More

Writing Journal 4: Fiction Choices, Pen Names and More

 

My writing journal entry for August 15, 2014. You can find all the entries here.

Fiction, nonfiction … the end is in sight.

Wrote 1,600 words of my historical romance novella this morning, and the end is in sight. I’ve planned the final scenes too. And I’ve decided not to turn it into a serial, after all.

I’m sure you’re wondering: a serial? This was the client’s proposal.

Last night I had a call from the client who commissioned me to write the five historical romance novellas. He asked whether we could turn the current novella into a serialized novel — a partwork. I’d mentioned that the novella was running a little long, and that I was (almost) turning it into a novel. He said that his publishing company would be interested if I wanted to extend the novella. Could I turn it into a novel, and serialize it? They were prepared to commission a three-episode serial, and still wanted all five novellas.

I asked him to give me time to think about the story, and how I might do that. I read the novella, trying to read it as a reader might. Yes, I could turn it into a novel, and it would work — with effort — as a part-work.

Then this morning I decided against it, for one reason only: it’s almost done. I know myself. I’ve geared up for five novellas. Tinkering with this story would take at least two to three weeks. I’d lose the thread of the other two novellas. And it would cause havoc with deadlines.

I’d need to change the deadlines on other commissioned work, and that isn’t fair to clients. Reworking this story, at this stage, would only frustrate me.

So, as soon as I completed planning the final scenes of the novella, I sent the client an email message. I offered to create a proposal for a NEW serialized novel after all five novellas are complete. I wouldn’t be able to slot in the new project until early next year.

Writing tip: communicate with your clients — it leads to more work. I enjoy talking about writing, as you can tell. However, it’s often a struggle to convince my writing students that they need to communicate with clients. If I hadn’t told the client that the novella was running long, he wouldn’t have offered me the opportunity to do a serial.

Communicate often with your clients. They’re not aware of how you write, or what else you write. You’ll find that clients often have more work for you, if you share thoughts and ideas with them.

Nonfiction: almost done with the book.

I completed another 750 words of the nonfiction book, and there’s only the conclusion left to write. I’ve exported the remaining chapters from Scrivener to Word, and sent them off to the client. I’ll wait for their thoughts, before I do the revision and conclusion.

Next, breakfast for Honey and for me, and then a quick walk.

Email… 

Then the morning’s email. Julia’s compiled the material from the beta testers of the authentic writing program, so I need to look at that. With their insights incorporated, I can get the program finished, and perhaps even offer it next week.

I spend 40 minutes on email. Feedback for students, as well as quotes and responses to clients. I’m booked solid until the end of the year now. Julia’s got some “thank you for thinking of us, we’re fully booked” boilerplate she can send to new enquirers. We chat about this. She knows what I like to write, so if anything comes in that I really want to do, she’ll let me know.

We’ve got the Leap into Copywriting program coming up, and I’ve got a full order book of copywriting and ghostwriting too. This year has just zoomed past.

Writing fiction? Write your Christmas-themed stories NOW

A few months ago I outlined a series of Christmas-themed short stories and a novella that I want to get onto Amazon by the start of December. They’ll be published under a pen name. I’ve got three months to get them done, which is plenty of time, but I need to make a start now. Editing takes time, and so do revisions.

I’m in two minds about promotion for the short stories. I haven’t even created a website for the pen name yet. No time. :-) I’m inclined just to let promoting the name go until next year. I’ve published several long short stories under that pen name, but nothing else, so it’s pointless to promote, because there’s nothing to promote. The Christmas material will help to establish the name, but there’s still nothing to promote. That’s OK. It’s best to think longterm.

Maybe I’ll try the “Liliana Nirvana” strategy that Hugh Howey talked about. Or maybe not. I  haven’t decided. I’ll do more with that pen name next year, once I get all the ghostwriting commissions out of the way.

Next, work on the video script. I do another cluster diagram, which shakes something loose. I zoom through the script, and the slides. After a couple of hours, I leave it for Julia to proof and send off to the client. It’s a rush job, so I should be able to get it all done over the weekend, if I’m lucky.

Lunch, blogging, then project reports and revisions.

Julia and I go out for lunch most Fridays, so we can discuss finishing up projects and upcoming work without too many distractions.

She goes back to work; I decide to spend an hour in the library, so I can draft blog posts for the coming weeks. I manage 1200 words, which is excellent. On my way back, I phone a couple of clients to let them know how their blogs are progressing.

As I mentioned above, if you’re a writer, you need to communicate with clients as much as you can. Not so often that you’re a nuisance, but enough to let them know what’s happening, and to give them input on their projects if they want it.

So, I go over what we’ve been doing this week  with students, and clients. Julia makes some notes for the reports; I catch up on phone calls.

(Yawn.) Afternoon slump. I reward myself for a productive day with some reading, just for entertainment. I always have a couple books on the go at once, so I choose to spend half an hour with Ian Rankin’s Saints of the Shadow Bible. I enjoy British crime fiction. My other current entertainment-read is R. D. Wingfield’s Frost at Christmas.

“Authentic writing” project feedback, and revisions.

I read the feedback that Julia’s compiled from the messages from the beta testers, and make notes for revisions.

It’s 5PM, and I’m done for the day. I do my daily review; good word counts. And that’s it for the work week. (Yes, I write on the weekends. Usually. :-))

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

My Writing Journal 3: Blog Posts, and Presentation

My Writing Journal 3: Blog Posts, and Presentation

 

Here’s my writing journal entry for the day. You can find all the entries here.

Writing journal entries…

Woke early, fiction and nonfiction again.

1,400 hundred words of my historical romance novella this morning, in just three timer sessions — AND got the next three scenes  planned. The end is in sight. The story’s running longer than I wanted, and I need to investigate the main character’s arc (I think it’s OK, but it needs tuning). Very pleased with how it’s going, but it’s running long, so I’ll need to trim some early scenes.

I’ve had lots of email queries about 5AM starts. You get used to them. I woke at 4.30 this morning, and tried to convince myself to get up, but I waited until 5. Here’s something that helps too. I’ve found that if I have more physical exercise during the day before, getting up early is easier. Which reminds me that I haven’t done any yoga in weeks. My back needs it.

On to the nonfiction book for the client. Two timed sessions, for 900 words. The end is in sight. I’ll try to do a little more on it later.

Email, and posts to Google+.

A quick run through email, with lots of messages from students, and messages about the size of video files, and questions about the closing of the programs which will be withdrawn on August 16.

To save time with emails, I wrote about the questions on Google+. Then spent 40 minutes responding to clients; rearranged some deadlines to meet client deadlines.

Honey and I have breakfast; then off for a quick walk.

A chat with Julia about some projects, and clients’ deadlines, and it’s time to complete a few draft blog posts I created in the library earlier this week.

Writing up draft blog posts, from notes in Evernote.

I complete the three blog posts for clients quickly, and then an article on the clustering pre-writing process for the freelance writing blog. I also published a post on my Just Write a Book Blog about common challenges with writing short stories.

Everything takes longer than you expect. I wanted to work on the Leap into Copywriting project, but I need to make some calls, and return some calls and texts.

I’ve got a meeting this afternoon, so I need to run through the presentation quickly. It’s my standard presentation, but a little rehearsal never hurts.

Lunch, and the presentation.

A quick lunch with a friend, to discuss the client’s nonfiction book I’ve almost completed. She’s handling the editing for me, and wants to discuss book marketing. She’s discovered self publishing, and is both thrilled and terrified. Her longterm goal is to start her own business.

Off to do the presentation. I enjoy driving, because I always seem to come up with ideas. I pull over to make some audio notes in Evernote.

We have a deal… :-)

Back in the office. The presentation went well, and we have a deal. I ask Julia to create the quote, and send them an invoice, an agreement, and the terms of service document. The project is for January, so I enter the dates into my calendar, and make some notes on the meeting.

I should work on the client’s nonfiction book, but I’m tired and need to refuel with coffee and a few minutes of relaxation. I’ve earned a little reading time too, so I open ReadKit to scan some blogs for half an hour.

Then I watch the Adobe Audition CC video overview.  I’m using Audition to tidy up audio files, but I have no real idea what I’m doing. It may be time to reactive my lynda.com subscription.

More work on the video script, and nonfiction book.

Just one timer session on the video script. Can’t get into it today. I did a cluster diagram; need to let it gestate. Needs sparkle, and more emotion. I’m just not feeling it.

Worked on the client’s nonfiction book; another 600 words. The client sent a couple of messages; they’re happy with the chapters, so onward. :-)

5PM — enough for the day. Daily review done; word counts respectable. It’s time to close the office, and get ready for dinner with friends. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

My Writing Journal 2: More Fiction, Nonfiction and Copywriting

My Writing Journal 2: More Fiction, Nonfiction and Copywriting

When you put your writing journal online, there’s a snag: blog post titles. I could try to glitz it up with themes, or a word of the day, but no. So, we’re numbering the entries. Simplest is best. :-)

5AM start: fiction, and nonfiction.

I’ve been asked about early starts. Try it. The key is to get out of bed immediately the alarm sounds. Don’t allow yourself to think about it. :-)

Coffee, and then writing.

I do the scene planning in my current historical romance novella that I didn’t get to last night, and then manage to write 1100 new words; most of a scene. I could press on, but I need a break, after two timer sessions, so I’ll aim for another session today.

Re the timing, my timer sessions vary, they’re 30 minutes on long projects, but can be as short as five minutes for phone calls. (Yes, I time phone calls. I’m CHATTY. I need to do it, or I’ll talk your ear off. :-))

After a short break, onward to the nonfiction book for a client.

I’m waiting for his review of earlier chapters, so I revised another couple of chapters, sent them off, and then wrote 550 new words in two timer sessions. The book’s almost done, just one more chapter to complete. I may do that chapter in a marathon session — I want to wrap things up, and I need to get started on a new project, for a new client.

Honey
A much younger Honey

Time for a short play session with Honey. The cold weather’s hard on her arthritis, but she’s happy anyway. She’s always happy, but she can’t express it by bouncing off the walls as she used to do. It’s always sad when dogs start to age. After a touch of the grooming brush, and massage session, she’s ready for her breakfast.

Keeping track.

A student asked about keeping track of your writing. How do you sort out what needs to be done, and keep track of deadlines? It can be a challenge. I’ve written many emails to students about organizing and managing their deadlines. I need to pull the best tips together, and write a full blog post about it. Basically, I use a modified Getting Things Done (GTD) system. If you’re not familiar, here’s an excellent summary of GTD.

Essential: the INBOX. I use paper notebooks, index cards, and large A5 artists’ pads to plan and THINK. Thinking/ planning  is done  on paper, writing on the computer. My Inbox is my default folder in Evernote. All paper gets photographed into that folder, and I review it once each day, and then more thoroughly once a week.

Email again… 

Julia, my wonderful assistant, handles most of the email tsunami for me, otherwise I’d never get anything else done. After feeding Honey, I pour myself another cup of coffee, and get stuck into email, mostly client quotes, and giving feedback to students. I love writing with students. It’s immensely satisfying when students start to believe in themselves, in their writing, and in their future.

I check my calendar for clients with whom I need to follow up; I add those to OmniFocus.

Planning: Leap Into Copywriting.

After handling email, and scheduling some phone calls, I move on to planning our new copywriting training. I love copywriting. It’s huge fun, because every project is different. You can write 500 sales letters, but each one will be different from the others.

Although we have several copywriting courses, Leap Into Copywriting is new and emphasizes copywriting practice with lots of exercises and feedback. It’s for beginning copywriters, to get them started off right. Rather than lots of theory, students will “leap” into it, writing copy immediately. They’ll receive video trainings over three weeks. They have exercises to complete, and receive feedback on them. Everyone’s busy, so students will only need 30 minutes a day for the training.

No errands today, so breakfast, and a quick walk.

Ghostwriting videos.

Many more clients are asking for videos these days, both scripts, and tutorial videos. I’ve just been commissioned by a couple of new podcasting clients, and I’m looking forward to working with them.

Before I get started on new work, I need to finish yesterday’s copywriting projects — the ads, and the writer’s bio. I set the timer, and dive in.

A working lunch: email and blog reading.

I don’t work during lunch every day, but I have so much on my plate (pun intended) today that I can’t spare the time to lunch with a friend. It’s just me, and some pasta left over from last night. And a salad. Then, because I need to psych myself up, a slim sliver of chocolate cake. I tend to indulge myself over winter. :-)

Copywriting: a video script…

Another cup of coffee. I set the timer, then write down some questions. Questions are key to effective research: make a list of questions, get the answers, and you’re done. If you love research, questions prevent you from turning research into an all-day event.

I research the product and the client’s audience, and answer the questions.

Here’s my “speed copy” writing process: research, cluster diagram, summary, write a draft of the copy. I covered that process in an audio in Copywriting You Can Do.

It’s the same process for all copy, including video scripts. However, when I create a script, I create a presentation too; the video producer can storyboard the video from that.

After a couple of hours, I’ve got a a very rough first draft.

4 PM. Time for a long break to relax and clear my mind. Got lots done, so it’s deserved. :-)

9PM. Back from dinner out. A quick daily review to check up on deadlines. Everything’s on track, thank heavens. My word counts for the day are fine. Time for some recreational reading. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

My Writing Journal: Fiction, Nonfiction, Copywriting

My Writing Journal: Fiction, Nonfiction, Copywriting

Here we go with the first day of my writing journal – I hope it inspires you to buckle down and write. Why a journal? Explanation here.

A 5 AM Start, With Fiction.

Out of bed, without hitting the snooze button. Snoozing the alarm is always a temptation, but when I do it means I start the day way behind, so I avoid it. Otherwise I feel pressured all day, and the extra few minutes of dozing aren’t worth it.

I let Honey, my Jack Russell terrier, out while the coffee’s brewing. I gulp coffee and jump right into my current fiction project. It’s a series of historical romance novellas, which I’m ghostwriting for a client. I’m on number three. The client’s thrilled with the first two. He originally commissioned three novellas, but has asked for two more.

So, now I have five to write. Luckily they’re huge fun. I’m halfway through the third, and they’re getting longer and longer. Oops… I need to rein it in, otherwise we’ll end up with two novellas and three novels.

At the end of an hour – two timer sessions – I’ve written 1,200 words, which is enough for today. I need to plan the next couple of scenes; I’ll do that late tonight, or first thing tomorrow.

Fueled by coffee, I feed Honey, and carry on with a nonfiction book, also for a client, for another two timer sessions. Only 500 words of new material, but I’ll take it. I went back to revise a couple of chapters, and exported them to Word from Scrivener, ready to send to the client.

As a reward for my early-morning productivity, I get to read email messages. I answer questions and send feedback on exercises to writing students. I also send a quote to a client. Time flies by, and it’s almost nine o’clock. Time for breakfast, then out to run some errands.

Writing in the Library, and Then Lunch.

I need to return some library books, so I decide to spend an hour writing in the library. Not only is the library peaceful; I enjoy writing there. I outline a couple of new projects in Evernote, then write 700 words of draft blog posts.

After a quick lunch with a friend to discuss a writing project, it’s back to the office.

Afternoon: Reading, Research, and Client Projects.

Chat to Julia. Then more coffee, and more email: quotes for clients, and feedback for students. Then onto the phone, to return some calls.

Time to relax for an hour. Unless I’m traveling, or working on-site, or at meetings, I use afternoons to catch my breath, and work on short projects. I’m most productive in the mornings, and I’m pleased with this morning’s effort, so I allow myself some reading time. I open my ReadKit newsreader. I browse some blogs, make some notes.

Next, I need to do some research for a couple of copywriting projects. I make notes, and do a couple of mind map diagrams, then draft the ads. I call the graphic designer. He uploads a composite for me.

More copywriting. I work on a writer’s bio for an hour, and send him a draft. (More on writer’s bios below.)

Time for a walk. Alone, sadly. Honey’s aging. She rarely walks with me when it’s cold. I take my phone, so I can make some audio notes in Evernote.

Back again. More phone calls. And the day’s done. I’ll review the day’s word counts later.

Daily Review and Word Counts.

After dinner, it’s time for a review of current projects. Everything is on track. However, I’ve put off some administrative stuff I need to do, and I didn’t get around to working on new materials for a writing class.

I check my word counts for the day, and enter them into my log. I’m not in the mood to think about fiction, so I’ll do the scene planning tomorrow.

Writer’s Bios Closed for New Bookings This Year.

I enjoy writing bios, but it takes time, around three to four hours each, at least. We ran an offering on writer’s bios and had lots of bookings, so they’re closed for the rest of the year. Here are some tips on writing a quick bio if you need to write one.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Tips: Specialize With Niches

Writing Tips: Specialize With Niches

I’m working with my personal coaching students on finding their niches as specialist writers. They asked for some writing tips which would help. I  thought they might help other writers too. So here we go. :-)

A huge amount of content is being published today. On one marketing blog, I saw research to suggest that 90 per cent of businesses were investing a third of their marketing budgets into social media in 2014. It’s no surprise then, that around 3.5 MILLION blog posts are published each day.

With so much content pouring onto the Web in a never-ending flood, you need to be able to stand out.

Here’s the solution: specialization. Choosing to specialize puts you into a smaller niche, so that you can quickly become known in that niche.

I should tell you that for many years I avoided specializing. I deliberately tried to be a generalist, covering many topics. I say “tried” because specialization crept up on me. So if you find developing a specialty hard — you’re not sure what you should choose — don’t worry about it too much. Clients will hire you, and when you do more work for them, you’ll turn into a specialist without being aware of it.

An example. A client in heavy industry hired me to create the company’s monthly newsletter. The first few months were a real challenge, because I didn’t know or understand the industry. Over time, I read a lot, and talked to lots of people. Gradually, I got up to speed. Before I knew it, I was writing for a mining company, and a manufacturer of oil rig machinery. I’d developed a specialty despite myself.

Let’s look at some ways in which you can find areas in which you want to specialize.

1. What do you LOVE?

Love trumps everything else. I love writing, and I enjoy teaching. However, neither of these areas pays particularly well. My enjoyment more than makes up for it however. Sometimes a specialty will choose you. You specialize in an area because you spend a lot of time thinking, reading and writing about the area.

What do you spend all your time talking, thinking and reading about? It may turn out to be a specialty, once you start writing about the area.

You can specialize in odd things: things most people wouldn’t dream of. One of my students was a real fan of gossip and celebrity websites. She joined forums to catch up on the latest gossip. A forum owner asked her to become a moderator, and she did. This led to her writing a regular column for a website. Then she was asked to assess manuscripts for a literary agent. When I last contacted her, she was still moderating, and writing regularly for a large website. She managed to turn gossip into a career. Who knew?

2. What do you do in your day job?

One of my students was in human resources. Careers, jobs, and job hunting is a huge area, and it’s a great specialty. However, even though she worked in the area, my student had never considered that she already had a specialty.

What about you? What do you do in your day job? A great specialty may have found you. :-)

3. What are your hobbies?

My favorite hobby is reading. However, if your hobby is sports-related — you’re a tennis player, or golfer, or you’re up to speed on any popular sport — you may have found a great specialty.

Make a list of your hobbies. A writer colleague wrote for technology magazines, and wanted to develop a new career as a travel writer. She loves to travel, and she and her family take trips several times each year. Within six months, she’d established her new career. Now she goes on junkets all over the world, and she’s writing a book on how to travel with small children.

4. What are your dreams?

In our 20s, we have dreams. Our 30s arrive, and real life — a mortgage, and a family — tends to knock our dreams aside.

Think about the dreams you had when you were a child, and a teenager.

A friend wanted to go to art school. However, her family convinced her that she needed to follow the family “trade”. So she became a lawyer. However, she never forgot her dreams, and eventually gave up law, because she found it too stressful. She’s now in her 40s, and she’s about to have her first show of her art work.

What did you dream of, when you were young? If you dreamed of becoming a full-time writer, you can achieve that dream. It’s never too late.

One writer dreamed of living sustainably: having a small farm. The dream was always in the back of her mind. In her 30s, she married a man who came from a farming family. They now own a small farm. They grow their own vegetables, and sell some of them at farmer’s markets. She now writes for many different websites, and is making an excellent career out of her dream.

5. What personal challenges confront you?

Many writers turn their challenges into specialties. You may have a challenge with your health, or with relationships. As you learn more, and discover ways to manage your challenge, you can write about what you discover.

One writer’s mother and aunt both died of breast cancer. She had many tests, and she and her sisters were concerned not only that they might develop the illness, but also that their own daughters might one day be at risk. This writer now works full-time as a marketer for a non-profit group helping women to manage breast cancer.

6. What do you want to learn?

You can write about anything you’re interested in. If you take a course in something, why not write about it?

A teacher who spent a year in France to learn the language and teach it took a course in French cooking. She loved it. When she came home, she took more courses. She also loved to write, so became one of my writing students. When we talked about a specialty, she hadn’t considered food and cooking. Within a year, she was working full-time for an independent TV producer, scripting cooking shows.

7. What pays well?

Some specialties pay more than others. If you enjoy learning and writing about health topics, or business and finance, learn more. Start writing articles for magazines and websites. As you publish more, people will approach you to write about your specialty.

Want more? Check out our online store

Want more help with your writing? Check out our online store. Any programs with “closing” in the title are about to be withdrawn, because we have other programs in the pipeline. You’ll fiction programs on both nonfiction and fiction.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.