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.

3 Easy Web Content Tips: Meet Your Writing Goals

3 Easy Web Content Tips: Meet Your Writing Goals

Whether you love writing or hate it, you need to meet your goals for creating Web content. Content development may be part of your day job, or it may be your job. Either way, you need workflows to not only create content, but also to manage it.

Over the years, I’ve come to enjoy writing. That hasn’t always been so. I struggled with writing for years. Looking back, I was just scared. Fear can masquerade as procrastination, and perfectionism. I was convinced I wasn’t “good enough”. Yes, my writing sold, but I measured myself against writers I admired.

Eventually I realized that although I might want to improve my skills, I had to write anyway, so I might as well do it and enjoy it. Can you imagine a bricklayer deciding that he couldn’t do his job and build a house today because he wasn’t “good enough”?

Tip: the way you write is the way you write. As long as your writing gets the job done, you’ve succeeded. Chances are you’re better than you think you are. Look back on writing you did a year ago. You’ve improved, and you’ll continue to get better. ;-)

Let’s look at three easy Web content tips which will help you to meet your writing goals.

1. Carrot and Stick: Create Fast.

What do you do when you need to write fast, but can’t get out of your own head?

You use 750words.com. The developer says:

I’ve used the exercise as a great way to think out loud without having to worry about half-formed ideas, random tangents, private stuff, and all the other things in our heads that we often filter out before ever voicing them or writing about them. It’s a daily brain dump. Over time, I’ve found that it’s also very helpful as a tool to get thoughts going that have become stuck, or to help get to the bottom of a rotten mood.

750words.com is a way to just say yourself: “Damn the torpedoes, Full speed ahead!” – and write.

750words.com just asks you to write. It’s a carrot: write 750 words, and you’ve done it. Write or Die on the other hand, applies the stick – there are consequences if you don’t write. Several of my students report great success with Write or Die.

Currently I’m using Write or Die to help me to write romance fiction, because I’ve set myself a demanding schedule. I love Write or Die because it doesn’t care whether I want to write or not. Nor does it care that I have a headache. When it’s time to Write or Die, you just do it.

2. Manage the Content Flood: Get Organized.

I’ve often talked about Trello, and Evernote. Both apps help me to get organized and stay organized. I commend both to you.

Both apps help you to collaborate with others. Create shared notebooks in Evernote for your editorial team on a project. In Trello, create boards, and invite people to the board.

3. Plan, Plan and PLAN: Schedule Content Creation and Management.

We’ve discussed planning too. PLAN. Enough said. You can achieve much more than you think you can, as long as you plan and schedule everything.

On my WordPress blogs, I use Editorial Calendar and the Drafts Dropdown plugins to schedule content. Although Drafts Dropdown hasn’t been updated in a while, it works great.

Try these three tips. They work. You’ll create more, and better, Web content than you think you can. Happy writing. :-)

Is writing a real challenge for you?

If you’re not meeting your writing goals, consider coaching. I coach writers every day. Get in touch.  

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Social Media Sanity For Bloggers: Plan, Think, (and Write Fast)

Social Media Sanity For Bloggers: Plan, Think, (and Write Fast)

Social media is becoming essential for small businesses, but it’s a challenge, because it takes time. You can make the most of your time with a little planning, thinking, and finding tools to help you to write faster.

Your blog is the hub of your activities, so if you’re new to social media marketing, and don’t have a blog, set one up now.

Once your blog is set up, you need a smidgen of SEO know-how. Here’s an excellent primer on SEO for Blog Posts; be aware of “long tail” keywords:

Long-tail keywords are phrases that are usually 3 or more words. People who use these keywords usually have a good idea of what they’re looking for. There are also far less people searching these terms overall.

Next, create a list of keywords for your industry. Look at competitors’ blogs – you can usually see which keywords they’re targeting. Also, do a Google.com search for your industry, and look at the keywords people are using for Pay Per Click advertising. (The Google ads on the right side and top of the results pages.)

1. Planning.

Planning’s essential. You plan your business, and your overall marketing, and you need to plan your social media content creation too. If you’re not using Trello, give it a try. It’s an excellent planning tool for blogging and social media.

Start by deciding what results you want from your social media activities. Traffic is good, but conversions are better. Aim for conversions.

2. Thinking.

Planning and thinking go together. Keep your planning documents together, so that you can review your planning once a week, or once a month.

Social media and blogging can’t work in isolation. Integrate them into your business and marketing activities:

Make sure you direct people from social media to your website and make your website client friendly. Make sure you post different ways for people to get a hold of you. A contact us page, online promotions, online forms. Make sure people know who the CEO is and provide bios of your executive team.

3. Writing faster.

Blog writing can be a challenge.

Start by creating a check list for blogging, and as I recommended in that article, use an editorial calendar.

Vital tip: get creative with your writing. You don’t need to be sitting at your computer.

Here’s an Evernote/ Siri dictation strategy I’ve tried, and will be using going forward:

2) Open up a new note and type a quick outline.

Next, you open up a new note and start typing. To stay on point, I outlined what I generally wanted to say in the post before starting.

3) Click the microphone button to begin recording. Then, start speaking!

If you’re using WordPress, try the excellent WordPress Mobile apps. You can blog anywhere you choose. (Now you can blog while waiting for a meeting to start.)

Social media does take time. However, with a little planning, thinking and some tools to help you to write, you can boost your small business, even if you only have a few minutes a day.

 If you need help blogging your small business… contact me.

, and on Twitter: @angee