Writing Journal 64: Create and Sell with 8-Hour Wins

Writing Journal 64: Create and Sell with 8-Hour Wins

My writing journal for Wednesday, October 15, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

A very slow start this morning. I got up to write at 5AM as usual, but found myself dithering. Thunderstorms kept waking me up, so I had a restless night. Honey hates storms; she’s a quivering wreck. I eventually got going on the mystery novel, and managed 1,200 words. I’m quite pleased, considering that I wasn’t focused.

Then, on to the two nonfiction books. I created a couple of graphics for the print version, and sent them off to the contract designer. My design skills are minimal; they’ll look good when he’s finished with them. I only managed 300 words, but at least the graphics were done.

A quick rush through email. Most will have to wait until tonight and tomorrow. I’ve got some errands this morning, then I need to do some research at the library. I won’t be back until after lunch.

Poor Honey. She’s sulking this morning, because of the storms last night, but she finally ate her breakfast after some coaxing. I ate my toast while working through client email messages.

It’s time to run my errands. I could leave it until later in the morning, and do an hour of writing now, but I’m hoping that by the time I get back, I’ll feel more focused.

I’m back. Everything always takes longer than you think. I met a friend while I was out, and the time just few by.

Everyone’s talking about last night’s storm. It wasn’t too bad where we are; I couldn’t see any major damage. My friend’s street was flooded. She said there were tree branches down everywhere; no trees down though, thank goodness.

So, onward with my client’s blog launch. I need to revise the initial content marketing plan, because they’ve decided on a couple of splashy promotions in November and in early December.

I’ve had some questions about our new program, 8-Hour Wins: Create and Sell Products in Just 8 Hours.

Create and Sell with 8-Hour Wins

8-Hour Wins: Create and Sell Products in Just 8 HoursIf you’ve been reading these writing journal entries, you know that I’m a big fan of planning and scheduling.

Everything I do is scheduled, otherwise I’d never get anything done. Left to myself, I’d dither around, reading books on my Kindle app, and messing around on social media.

Scheduling is vital, no matter what kind of business you’re in. Creative people tend to fight the idea of scheduling, until they experiment with it. It’s usually a revelation. We like to think that we can’t access our creativity on demand. We can.

You can tell yourself that you’re going to write an ebook, whether fiction or nonfiction, or create a website, and just get it DONE. In eight hours.

In 8-Hour Wins, we set a schedule: you’ve got an hour to come up with an idea, five hours to create your product, an hour to edit it, and another hour to sell it. You can create anything you like with 8-Hour Wins. You can even write a novel, or a nonfiction book. All you do is extend the basic schedule. Kind of like making meatballs and noodles for 20 people rather than four. :-)

With my client’s new content marketing plan done, it’s time to do my daily review. I need to reschedule the things I missed doing today. I also need to catch up on email tonight… then that’s it for another writing day. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

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

Writing Journal 63: How to Be a Better Writer

Writing Journal 63: How to be a Better Writer

My writing journal for Tuesday, October 14, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Another busy day today ahead. Lots to do, including a couple of meetings this afternoon. AND I need to work on my new website. To add to the mayhem, I received a “help!” message from a regular client. He needs some copywriting done in a hurry.

As always, I start the day writing fiction. I managed to complete a couple of scenes on the mystery novel, for 2,800 words. Lots of “junk” in there — working things out on the page.

Let’s talk about thinking on the page for a moment.

Think on the page: it helps you to become a better writer

I’m always telling my writing students: “you’re a BETTER writer than you think you are; and — you’re over-thinking this.” Then I advise them to think on the page, because not only will they get started writing and keep going, they’ll also get fresh inspiration.

Big tip: inspiration happens while you’re writing.

So, in ALL my writing, whether I’m writing an advertising spiel, a blog post, or a novel, I think on the page. This means that I end up with lots of what I call “junk”. It’s the equivalent of paper notes which you ball up and toss over your shoulder when you’re done.

I include the junk in the first draft — before anyone else sees the material — because I’ve found that thoughts lead to inspirations. Many times I’ve been stymied on a project, and the answer turns out to be in the thinking on the page I did earlier in the draft.

Try thinking on the page as you write. It works.

I’ve scheduled a writing session on the nonfiction books for tonight — that’s left a little room in my schedule.

On to email. I fix Honey’s breakfast, then my own, while getting through our email as quickly as possible.

Next, my walk. We had some storms yesterday, and more are promised for later today. It poured down last night; lots of lightning and thunder. After all the rain, it’s a fine morning, a little chilly. Walking through the park, I noticed that the rain sank right into the ground. It’s been a dry month.

Work on my new website/ blog

Back again, to work on my new website and blog. I doubt that I’ll be able to launch it this week. I’ve lots left to do, and write. Not to worry. It’s done when it’s done.

Then it’s time for my meetings. I’ll have lunch while I’m out.

Back again. It’s later than I hoped it would be, but that can’t be helped. Meetings always seem to run longer than you expect.

I need to get on with my rush copywriting job.

A rush sales page and email messages for my client who’s in crisis

Luckily, it’s straightforward. The client wants a sale page, as well as a couple of emails to send out to his list.

By the time I’ve completed a draft of all the material for his review, it’s very late. I send it off with a sigh of relief.

Before I forget, I need to add my meetings’ notes to Evernote, and schedule some tasks which eventuated. Both meetings were about holiday sales. Everyone will be busy from now, until after the sales wind down in the middle of January.

Great. :-) I loved being busy.

So, time for my daily review. I’ll be working on the nonfiction books tonight.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

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

Writing Journal 62: Evernote Everywhere

Writing Journal 62: Evernote Everywhere

My writing journal for Monday, October 13, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

A busy day today; I need to find time to work on my own new blog. I started with fiction. The mystery novel’s still going well. Just 1200 words; I need to plot several scenes. Mysteries are always a bear, because there’s a lot happening. You’ve got the crime, the sleuth, red herrings, actual clues… I looked at the Murder Board Paper, and I’m tempted to buy it.

Then the two nonfiction books. Writing them in tandem isn’t working – I need to focus on one at a time. I’ll start with the ebook, and then on the print version. With that decided, I managed 1800 words, which is excellent.

Breakfasts; Honey and my own. Rather than getting stuck on email, I went for my walk. Apparently storms are on the way, so I need to get my exercise early.

Back; it’s time to read and write emails. There’s still a backlog, but I should be able to deal with the rest of it tonight.

Work on my new blog

(Sigh) I love creating blogs, but I’ve been procrastinating on this one for several weeks. There’s a lot to plan, and I’ve managed to get myself confused. I created a cluster on a whiteboard, so that I can get it out of the sandbox and published sometime this week. I hope.

A client needs a rush presentation, so that’s next. I’ve done several for him, so I have a template. I plan the headlines, and the text, and send it off to him for his review. If he can get it back to me today, I should be able to complete it by tonight.

Lunch at my computer, checking out social media. I haven’t had time to squeeze it in for days, and I’m way behind in my reading in Pocket.

Evernote resources: just get started — dump everything in

If I know I’ll be working with a company on a long project, I set up a shared notebook for them in Evernote. My contact’s asked me for some good Evernote resources, so I made a short list. It might be useful for you too.

Here’s the basic process I suggest for Evernote — dump everything it, sort it out at the end of the week. That process serves me well. I’m on a Mac, and run the Evernote Helper in my menu bar. I drag files (PDFs, images, work files) to the icon, and they’re sent to Evernote. If I want to remember something, I paste it into the Helper, or just type a note into the Helper. (I assume there’s a version of the Helper for Windows.)

Three great Evernote resources

Evernote Essentials – Brett Kelly’s excellent book. I’ve skimmed most of it; even if you’re an Evernote veteran, it’s useful to scan it occasionally to see what you’re missing. There’s so much in Evernote it can seem overwhelming at first — this is why I say, just dump everything in there. :-)

Evernote’s own Getting Started tutorials –  the basics.

“I’ve been using Evernote wrong” – a great Lifehacker article, which discusses the Web clipper (essential), saved searches and tags, and more. The article points out that the more you have in Evernote, the better it becomes. Very true. The Related Notes feature surfaces articles I’ve long forgotten, because I’ve been using Evernote since 2009.

Blogging: draft posts, and publishing

After lunch, I work on the presentation, then on a series of blog posts for my own and clients’ blogs. I need to sort out some images clients have sent in Photoshop.

Next, admin chores. Oh, the horror. I turn on Spotify and determinedly work my way forward. As a reward, I do some research for a client. Yes, I look on researching as a reward. Someone once asked me why I became a writer, I responded that I like to read. Reading is both a reward, and work.

Finally, it’s time for my daily review. I need to work on my schedules tonight, before they become more complicated.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

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

Writing Journal 61: Sell Your Ideas

Writing Journal 61: Sell Your Ideas

My writing journal for Sunday, October 12, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Happy Sunday — another short writing day. I manage to write another 2,300 words of the mystery novel. It’s still zooming along. No idea why… Every project hits a wall sooner or later, but this is going so well, I don’t trust it.

To stop me getting over-confident, the two nonfiction books — I’m writing them in tandem — bogged down. I managed just 350 words, and they were a struggle. I’ll need to do some brainstorming on a whiteboard. Maybe writing them together wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had.

Breakfast for Honey, and for me, then email. I’ve still got a backlog, so luckily email was light this morning.

Last night’s coaching calls went well. I love doing them; they’re fun. I write up a call summary, and create a plan for each client. Julia will send them the material with their MP3s.

It’s time to leave for my Sunday commitments.

Sell your ideas

As you may know, I’m a writing coach. I love it, because I love writing, and enjoy helping people to overcome their challenges, whether those challenges are huge, or minor.

Although it’s easier than it’s ever been to sell your creativity, in any form— whether your creativity expresses itself in paintings, cute crafts, books, short stories, or teaching materials — it’s hard for creatives to pull the trigger, and SHIP.  As Seth Godin said:

“The only purpose of starting is to finish, and while the projects we do are never really finished, they must ship.”

I have challenges with shipping, too. I used to be the queen of procrastination. While I’m better at recognizing my own BS than I used to be, I still make excuses for not shipping. I’ve a suspicion that that’s why I like ghostwriting. I like being accountable to someone else. It means that like it or not, I need to ship.

8-Hour Wins: Create and Sell Products in Just 8 HoursTo help you to SHIP, I’ve formalized a training that I give students. It’s basically a checklist that I use for myself. I’ve tested it on students who have 1,001 perfectly reasonable (and totally BS) reasons they can’t complete projects and ship.

Here it is: 8-Hour Wins: Create and Sell Products in Just 8 Hours.

Back again: time for Sunday content and blog management

Sunday’s always my big blog management and content creation day. I review all my blogs, and clients’ blogs, and brainstorm content. I aim to have at least ten to 20 draft posts in most blogs at any one time. Although some of the drafts will be deleted, most will be written, edited, and published.

It’s October, and we’re heading into the hottest period of the year for B2C companies. They’re rolling out their pre-holiday sales. It involves dusting off their customer lists, and creating promotions for the period right through into 2015. For some the after-Christmas sales are barely over, when it’s time for the hearts and flowers of Valentine’s Day.

Keeping track of lots of blogs isn’t a picnic, especially at this time of the year. I like to get content plans for 2015 organized before November, because you can’t plan in the middle of the chaos, which defines late November to January.

So, in addition to planning content for this week and the next few weeks, I schedule in some idea-creation for clients’ 2015 content. A lot depends on how much a client is budgeting for content marketing. That means: research, reports and scopes. And proposals. I schedule those in for the next few weeks.

By the time all that’s out of the way, the day is done. Time for my daily and weekly review. Tonight, I’ll catch up on planning my new blog, and drafting some content.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

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

Writing Journal 60: From Goals to Plans

Writing Journal 60: From Goals to Plans

My writing journal for Saturday, October 11, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

It’s Saturday, so it’s a short writing day for me. I have a couple of coaching calls this evening.

I start with the mystery novel, which is still flowing right along. Only 1,400 words today, because I plotted out a few more scenes, so that I could build the sleuth’s arc.

Next, work on the two nonfiction books, which went well, with another 1,300 words.

Then Honey’s breakfast. I need to hide her monthly worming tablet in her breakfast. She’s fussy, and won’t take tablets; I need to mix them in her food and hope they dissolve so she doesn’t see them.

Lots of email this morning; the backlog is building up. I’ll need to deal with some of it late this afternoon, if I get back in time.

An interesting message from a coaching client asked about goal-setting. I tend to have a “whatever works” attitude. If you’re achieving your goals, you’re doing it right, so don’t mess with a process that works.

If you’re not working happily towards your goals, here’s what works for me, and for my students.

From goals to plans

Here’s my basic method:

Intention => Goal => Plan

Your intention is vital — what do you WANT? Why do you want it? One of the many reasons I journal daily (obviously this journal is highly expurgated :-)) is that it helps me to set goals that I really want to achieve, and which have real meaning. For most of us, it’s a real challenge to cut through the noise in our heads, and discover meaning in our lives.

Your goals grow from your intentions, and your plans grow from your goals. As someone said, all plans are useless, but planning is essential. Without a plan, you just stand still. A plan gets you moving.

Initially, your plan is fuzzy. It will come into focus, as long as you take the first step. Sometimes, all you can see is the first step. Take it, with confidence, and the next step will become obvious. Take another step, and you’ll see another few steps to take. You’re moving, headed towards your goal, and that’s all that counts.

Your comfort zone

Try to take ONE small step outside your comfort zone every day. It doesn’t matter in what area you choose. My latest steps outside my comfort zone are into art. I love art. I watch artists’ videos on YouTube. I can get completely lost in images. But it’s my firm belief that I can’t make art. So, I’ve decided to step way outside my comfort zone, and do a small sketch each day for a week.

Ghostwriting the company history book

The client reviewed the first draft of the company history book. I also sent a scope of additional material I thought would be effective. We’ve reached an agreement for the additional material, so it’s full steam ahead on that.

I slotted it into my schedule; then it’s time to leave to run errands.

More blogging

I’m back. I catch up on some emails, and review my clients’ blogs.

Blogs are like rabbits. They multiply. I always seem to take on more than I should, because I get excited about a new project’s potential. A couple of my blogging commissions will end soon. If the clients want to commission me again, I’ll subcontract the work. I need to cut down, to focus more on coaching, my own fiction, and my own blogs and websites.

I’ll do more blogging tomorrow; Sunday is my big “blog planning” day.

With my daily review done, it’s time to prepare for my coaching calls.

After that, I’ll catch up on my reading.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

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

Writing Journal 59: How to Get Organized

Writing Journal 59: How to Get Organized

My writing journal for Friday, October 10, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Another good session on the mystery novel this morning. I can’t believe my luck. I managed 2,700 words, so it’s zooming along like an express train. As I said yesterday, I’m trying not to get too excited. If the express train derails, I need to be prepared to deal with that too.

Rather than going on to nonfiction, I dealt with email. Lots of messages, so I spend some time on those. Then Honey’s breakfast. I ate my own breakfast while dealing with the email surge.

Next, the two nonfiction books I’m ghostwriting. With 2,000 words done, I feel good about the project. It’s a little behind, and I’ll try to catch up on it tonight.

Next, my walk. It’s a bright, sunny morning, with a hint of coolness in the air. I love spring, it’s my favorite time of the year. You can tell that summer’s coming however.

After my walk, I chat to a couple of writers who are interested in the content marketing project. I’d like to get three writers onto this, but one writer convinces me that she’ll make this her priority project, and will get the material to me next week.

Lunch out, thank heavens. I enjoy our Friday lunches, with hummingbird cake. After I lunch, I need to stop in at the library to dive into databases again for a client’s project.:-)

Back again…

My coaching clients tend to have challenges with organization, so let’s look at that.

How to get organized

Organization is a challenge for everyone, especially for creative business people. You’ve got work/ client interactions to track and phone calls and emails to which you need to respond; you’ve got creative materials, and products you’re in the middle of creating; archives; website and blog content; tasks and projects… It never stops. How do you keep everything organized?

Start by deciding whether your creative soul embraces clutter, or abhors it. I like clutter. Other creatives can’t work in cluttered spaces. To each his own. Either way, you need to organize your materials so that you know where everything is. You need space for your archived material, for current project materials, as well as an “idea station” where you can just play around.

It’s my dream to not only have one room for my library, but also another room to use as a creative studio, with whiteboards on at least two walls. One of these days. :-)

When you consider organization, your primary aim is to be able to lay your hands on anything you need within 30 seconds or less.

Can you do that?

Aim for less paper: use Evernote to manage the paper blizzard

Sadly, the paperless office is pretty much a myth. Yes, companies are forgoing paper, and are sending digital invoices, but there’s still lots of paper. In my office, I have many notebooks I need to keep organized, as well as reference materials for my own, and clients’ businesses.

I use Evernote as a digital filing cabinet as much as I can. I snap photos of my corkboard and whiteboards, as well as journal pages, and pages I use to make notes, and diagram websites, books, and content. Evernote’s perfect, because I can erase my whiteboard, and still call the material up from Evernote within a moment or two.

Everything that’s paper, from contracts to business cards, gets snapped into Evernote. That means I can file away “legal” paper, like contracts, but can call them up with a click or two in Evernote, rather than hunting through an archives box.

It’s possible to get organized — not perfectly — any system you create needs to be updated and refined, but with a little effort, you can relax, knowing that you’re sufficiently organized to be able to work without stress, and create, too.

Friday afternoon review

It’s Friday, so that means blogging, reviewing client projects, and creating client reports.

That takes a couple of hours, and then there’s some housekeeping admin chores.

With that done, it’s another writing week over. I’ll need to catch up with my schedule on the weekend — it’s been a busy and satisfying week.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

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