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 34: How to Make Fiction a Habit

Writing Journal 34: How to Make Fiction a Habit

My writing journal for Monday, September 15, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Early this morning, I started on the fifth novella for my ghostwriting client. This is the final one in the series. I managed 1,200 words, which is good going. When you start a new project, the first few days are always slow, as you get into the characters. Once you know your story people, and how they’re likely to react, the writing goes much more quickly.

I’ve had some questions about story beginnings, and how to write fiction every day.

How to make fiction a daily habit

You can make writing fiction a habit easily; all you need is a process.

Here’s my process in a nutshell: write in scenes, and outline as you go. This means that you know what you’re doing. Sooner or later, writing fiction just becomes another habit.

I write in scenes. Most of my scenes are somewhere between 1,200 and 1,800 words. So for me, daily writing means one scene, or maybe two, if I’m getting near the end of a project. When you think of your fiction as collections of scenes, it makes writing and editing much more manageable.

If you’re writing in small blocks of time — a few minutes here and there — you’ll find focusing on one scene at a time helps you to write more. If you can spare a couple of hours a day, then you can call your writing done when you’ve completed a scene or two.

Outlining helps you to write faster

Once you get an idea for a project, it’s easy enough to shape it. Fiction is all about emotions, for the writer, and the reader. Your story will have several turning points, so you outline from point to point:

  • First turning point: after the setup (around chapter four, or scene four if you’re writing a shorter piece)
  • The midpoint
  • Three-quarter point: you’re setting up the dark moment
  • The climax: the story’s final battle

Consider the emotions you want your reader to feel, not only in the turning points, but also in each scene.

Tell yourself your story in a paragraph or two, then map the turning points.

That’s your basic outline done. Some writers outline much more, but honestly? I’m a bit of a closet pantser. if I do more than the turning points, the story wanders off in fresh directions, so I never use all the scenes I plotted so carefully. Your mileage will vary. Do what FEELS right — if you have enough material in your outline to write each day, you don’t need more.

Daily writing: outlining your scenes

My scene outlines are very basic; I outline each scene just before I write it. I decide what I want the reader to feel — what emotions. (I write this down.) Then I write the first couple of sentences in the scene, and the final sentences. Then I zoom through the scene, writing as fast as I can. This usually means writing dialogue. Think of it as a sketch. Then I go back to the beginning and “paint” the scene. I add everything else — or as much as I want to, in this draft.

I’ve written about outlining fiction for emotion here.

Editing the nonfiction book

I finished my first read-through of the nonfiction book, so it’s time to read again, this time more carefully, making notes as I go. I want to finish the first edit this week, so that the material can go off to our contract editor by the weekend.

Then it’s time for email. A light email day today, so I complete feedback notes for three students.

Honey’s feeling lively this morning. She gobbles her breakfast, and looks for more. I make my own breakfast, and jot some notes for Julia while I eat my toast.

There are no meetings scheduled for today, thank goodness. I’ll be able to focus on copywriting and ghostwriting.

Ghostwriting the company history

I complete 2,000 words, which is excellent, and make a note for Julia to call the client and set up another couple of interviews. I’m pleased that the client’s easy to work with. Some ghostwriting projects can be a challenge, if the client’s busy, and you can’t get the material you need.

Time for my walk. It’s a lovely morning.

Two presentations for a retainer client

This week, I’ve got to complete two presentations for a retainer client, so I outline those. They’re relatively easy to do, but I need more information. Julia will make an appointment with the client so we can have a chat.

Time for lunch, which I’m having at my computer today, so I can catch up on social media.

Writing the nonfiction ebook freebie

This ebook is quite short, so I do 2,500 words on it. I’m pleased, it’s going well.

Then, back for a little more work on the two presentations. I can’t do anything more until I chat to the client, so until that happens, I do more writing on the company history.

Christmas short stories

I’ve got a little time this afternoon, so I spend it outlining another couple of Christmas short stories. These will be very short, just a thousand words each. I love doing very short fiction. You can get it done within a couple of hours.

Once I’ve done that, I need to catch up on phone messages before everyone leaves for the day.

All done. Daily review done, word counts done, and that’s it for another day.

Need help with your writing? Contact me.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

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

Presentation Apps: 5 Haiku Deck Tips

Presentation Apps: 5 Haiku Deck Tips

While there are many presentation apps, there are none which are as useful as Haiku Deck. Not only can you use this app for personal presentations, you can publish them on the Haiku Deck website, and share your decks with the world.

What’s Haiku Deck? Martin Smith nails it:

Haiku Deck is a magical visual merchandising tool… Haiku Deck combines visual marketing, tactics and strategy into an easy to use online marketing tool.

If you normally create presentations with PowerPoint or Keynote, you’ll be thrilled at how FAST you create them with Haiku Deck. Here’s why:

  • Instant images. You don’t need to buy images, or search for free images with CC licenses, or resize and otherwise mess with images. Consider how many more presentations you could create – and will enjoy creating – if you don’t have to spend time collecting images;
  • Instant formatting. Haiku Deck uses themes, so there’s no formatting. That said, you can easily start your next PP presentation in Haiku Deck by collecting the images you need there, then export your deck to PowerPoint.

PowerPoint

My Authentic Writing deck exported from Haiku Deck to PowerPoint.

Our first three tips cover presentations in general. The final two tips increase your creativity and productivity when you use Haiku Deck.

1. BELIEVE: Be Passionate

If you dislike presentations, focus on your enthusiasm. Become enthusiastic about your topic, and smile. Visualize yourself giving an upbeat, energetic presentation. Watch Steve Jobs. Here’s part of his 2010 keynote for the iPad. If you can match Jobs’s enthusiasm, you’ll give a great presentation.

2. Nouns. And Verbs. Keep It Simple

Although you can use bullet points in your presentations, don’t, unless you have a very specific reason for it. Bullet points deaden a presentation. Use nouns, and verbs. Check out my Authentic Writing deck – nouns and verbs.

Ray Bradbury’s a wonderful storyteller, and has a great writing strategy. He makes lists of nouns:

He began making long lists of nouns as triggers for ideas and potential titles for stories…

3. Rehearse. Then Be in the Moment

Why just nouns and verbs? So that you stay in the moment when you present. Simple slides, with images which make an impact on you and your audience force you to be present – you can’t read your notes. Rehearse your presentation, using notes, until you can give your presentation smoothly, without notes.

Then have fun with it. Interact with your audience. It’s not the end of the world if you have to go back a couple of slides because you forgot to mention something.

4. From Haiku Deck to PowerPoint, PDF, and the World

As we suggested, you can use Haiku Deck to kickstart your PowerPoint presentations. Create your deck, then export to PowerPoint.

Alternatively, export to PDF, to get full-sized images from their source.

Here’s Kent Gustavson’s PDF-export process:

“In preparing for my TEDx, I used the web app, and exported the presentation as a PDF, which allowed me to find the original images on Flickr, and insert them into a presentation that was at a higher resolution to the TED specifications.”

Once you’ve completed your Haiku Deck, you can embed the deck into your site or blog, and can send links to your social media accounts.

5. Let Haiku Deck Inspire You

Every blogger and content creator feels totally uninspired at times. Haiku Deck can help. Begin a new deck. Add a noun and a verb to a slide. Search for images.

I’ve found it helps to doodle as you do this, here’s why. Doodling helps creativity. The benefits of doodling:

.. include increased creativity, because you’re liberating your mind from traditional, linear and linguistic thinking and moving into a more organic thinking space, heightened information processing, heightened information retention and the ability to view content from a variety of different angles.

Keep adding slides to your Haiku Deck, and doodling. You’ll get inspired very quickly. When you’re ready to create content, start creating. Haiku Deck automatically saves your “inspiration”decks. You can work with them later, or just delete them.

Presentation Apps: 5 Haiku Deck Tips

My decks on Haiku Deck.

So there you have it. Give Haiku Deck a try. It’s a superb presentation app; you’ll speed through your presentations, and you’ll enjoy it.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

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

Mind Mapping: 5 Ways To Achieve More With MindMeister

Mind Mapping: 5 Ways to Achieve More With MindMeister

I love mind mapping, and use maps for everything, from business plans to developing books. Over time, I’ve used many apps, because I’ve never found the perfect application. So, when I friend recommended MindMeister, my reaction was: gimme! Who knows? Perfection may be within reach…

Not so. I’ll still use Inspiration, and TheBrain (and a couple of other apps.) However, MindMeister will be joining my arsenal of creative tools, for two reasons: the primary reason is that I like it. Nudging a close second, collaboration: MindMeister is ideal for collaboration, because you can work with others simultaneously on the same map.

If you’re into mind mapping too, check out MindMeister. Here are five ways you can achieve more with it.

1. Collaborate on Projects in Brainstorming Mode.

You can collaborate with others, simultaneously on the same map. You’ll see who’s editing a mind map with you in the footer. You can also chat with your team as you brainstorm and edit. To see who’s made changes and additions; just turn on the History View. All your chats are saved.

I coach writers, so this collaboration feature is wonderful, if I’m mentoring an author with a book, for example.

2. Use MindMeister’s Presentation Mode in Meetings.

MindMeister’s ideal for presentations. Prepare your map, and when you’re ready to go, start the presentation by clicking the presentation icon at the bottom left of the screen. To share your presentation when you’re done, click the share icon, and export in your choice of formats, including PDF and FreeMind.

3. Track Anything. (I’m Tracking My Blogs and Product Updates. )

Much as I love blogging, once you’ve lots of blog posts – I’ve got over 2,000 posts on a couple of my blogs – you tend to lose track of exactly what you were trying to achieve during a particular month, or with a series of posts.

Spreadsheets let you track on a granular level. With mind maps on the other hand, you can get an instant visual overview. Additionally, MindMeister lets you link to topics in other mind maps, so if a particular topic gets too unwieldy, you can start a new mind map for it.

I’m also tracking product updates. I’ve got dozens of ebooks and classes to manage and MindMeiser lets me see what I need to add, and when. History View lets you see the entire history of a mind map, and you can assign and edit tasks easily.

4. You’re Free – Go Mobile: Work and Plan Anywhere.

MindMeister’s mobile apps are clever. Once you’ve installed it on your device, you can work on any of your maps, anywhere you happen to be.

5. Remember Stuff: Take Notes From Meetings, and Books.

Who said what at a meeting? What brilliant questions were asked? Just add notes to a mind map in MindMeister. You’ll easily find this material later, because MindMeister’s search features are fast; you can search an open map, or search all your maps from the dashboard.

These days, I do most of my reading on my iPad. I’m ashamed to admit this, but I’ll buy a Kindle version of a print book I own, simply because it’s easier to both take notes, and to FIND them again. (Sigh, I feel like a traitor to my favorite people, librarians.) Amazon saves every note, and every highlight from every book on your Kindle page. Each of your books has its own page, so you can add the URL to a mind map to view all your highlights and notes for a book.

So there you have it: five ways to achieve more with MindMeiser – you can create up to three mind maps for free. You’ll enjoy it as much as I do. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee