Welcome to episode 7 of Publish Your Purpose: An Author’s Journey.
In this episode we cover –
- Refining your habits
- Dictating your book to word – a short cut
- Filling your content buckets
- Parking lot of items
- A failure to plan and write = a failure to publish
The Publish Your Purpose Podcast: An Author’s Journey features the unique relationship between an author and their publisher. This podcast follows author, Mark David Gibson, through the publishing process of his memoir “Served in Silence.” Alongside him you’ll hear from Publish Your Purpose Press Founder and CEO, Jenn T. Grace, as she navigates Mark through this journey. This authentic, empathetic, and at times comedic duo will take you on the journey from having an idea in your head to holding a book in your hands. You’ll go through all of the emotional ups and downs with Mark as this podcast covers his experience in real time. You’ll learn how to be better prepared when you set out to write your story. Whether you are writing a memoir or any non-fiction where a piece of your story is shared, you’ll be better equipped for success after having listened to this show.
Jenn and Mark have volunteered and donated their time. If you’d like to support the show on Patreon you can do so for just a couple of dollars a month, which is less than a cup of coffee! Your contribution will help with the hosting and transcription of the show. Support us on Patreon at Patreon.com/PublishYourPurpose.
Music provided in this episode was provided by www.bensound.com.
Publish Your Purpose
Jenn: Alright Mark. Here we are again for another episode. How’s your day going? How’s your week going?
Mark: Fantastic. Doing really good.
Jenn: Well, I’m happy that it’s fantastic because I’m sure that there will be other points in this process where it might be a little less than fantastic. I might be the reason for said lack of fantasticness.
Mark: You are really good about that. About managing expectations. I like that. I’m getting a little nervous though because you’ve said it more than once.
Jenn: Yeah. And I would rather make you over-anticipate, than all of a sudden you’ll be blindsided by “wow, this is hard.” I would rather when it comes you will be “Oh, that was it?” I would much rather have that reaction vs. driving to Hartford to pillage and plunder.
Jenn: I want to talk today about writing rituals. When I say rituals, I’m just talking about habits. Everyone has a different kind of writing style, different type of habit, different way to ensure they actually get the writing done. I want to hear from you, I know that writing is a fairly recent thing for you, because it’s not like you’re an everyday journaller for example. I think that people who might be doing that already, it’s part of their habit; it might be an easier transition to say “hey now I’m going to start writing on a book I want to work on.”
What is your current lay of the land look like? As far as how you’re writing, where, when… just all of the details.
Mark: This is a great conversation because there isn’t one formula. There isn’t one exact way of doing this. Once I started to realize that, early on in the Academy, I think I was just smart enough to figure out let’s at least start toward the path of writing a checklist of adding writing to the checklist. Now, I’m pretty regimented, being a military guy and everything. I do things very matter-of-factly and in order. But for writing though, that’s very different
because especially what you’re writing about. You’ve got to be motivated. You’ve got to be in the mood. And all these things have to happen, before you actually do it.
I think for me, the biggest thing that has been helpful is putting it on the task bar; putting it out there as something that has to be done today. I gave myself a little bit of a break. I just figure out when. This is where you can get really creative. You can use all the technology that is available to you. I think about a quarter of the way through the Academy I fell in love with the dictation device on Word. Because there’s an exercise we did where you continue to write, didn’t worry about auto check, auto spell, and the red squiggly line; you just woofph, you just put it all out there. That was really helpful that it didn’t have to be picture perfect at that moment. Just start the process and get going.
I find that in the morning, it’s really quiet here, I’m really productive and fresh, right? I spend a little bit of time, because the day will quickly begin in the next hour. I take some of that time – even if it’s just writing a short, real quick outline of what I’d like to write about later that day. That’s something else I will do. What was pretty helpful for me in this process is I had many pieces, parts, notes, napkins, you name it. Picture the briefcase/suitcase full of all these scratch pieces of paper and now it’s just a matter of pulling one out and addressing more of it and getting more detailed with each one. So that’s been pretty helpful too.
Jenn: Tell me a little more about the dictation and using Word. Remember the person listening to this may or may not be on the author journey yet, tell me a little more how that came to be, how it’s working out. Is it time saving? Anything really.
Mark: I think like most of us in today’s day and age, we’re multi-taskers. Let’s face it we’re just multi-taskers. If the news is going on in the background, the kids need something, if you’re working on something at your desk, so I was doing just that. I had to do something mindless. I was just putting stuff together at my desk, but in the mean time I could talk to my computer like a crazy person. It was in the class, actually, the Academy, was telling us these great resources that are out there. You know, your voice recorder and what do you do with it afterward? How do you get that transcribed? For pennies you can get that done. And for the word dictation, I like that one. You activate word and click on the dictation. Is it perfect? No. You’re not turning this in for the A+ paper. But, I was able to get the writing down through dictation and then if you’re okay with it, you have to give yourself permission here, that it’s not going to be picture perfect. There are going to be misspelled words, the dictation is not going to pick it up. That was okay because I was able to take the dictation and then, in short order, clean it up and then wow, I had 2000 words written. Then you just keep doing that.
Sure, that might be over kill at some point. That you’ve told that story a couple of times. I don’t know how many times we start chapter one! Almost, in the process, “I’m not reading that again!” I’m not going to read that for a month!
Jenn: So there’s a writer, Jeff Goins, who is pretty well known. He’s written a handful of NY Times bestselling books and he talks about a method that he has where he looks at his writing in three buckets. I am paraphrasing, so if I am off base for anyone watching or listening, feel free to correct me. My understanding is that he has three buckets. He has the writing bucket. Every day he has to work on writing something. Say, we’re talking about a book (in his case he was talking about blogging), say we’re looking at ten chapters. Today he’s looking at bucket number one, of I have to write one of these 10 chapters. It could be chapter two. Bucket number two is editing. But, it is not editing that same thing that was written. I wrote it yesterday, I slept on it overnight, meditated about it perhaps, now I’m coming back now. I might be writing new on chapter two, but now I’m editing chapter one. And then the third bucket is idea generation. It’s just as you’re writing, I don’t know if this happens for you but it does for me, I’ll be writing something and then that ADD squirrel brain, says “ooh, I could totally do this, this, this and this.”
Jenn: It’s a matter of keeping that list somewhere so that you don’t lose that stroke of genius that does happen to come, I think, quite frequently when you’re sitting in the zone and writing. He talks about having these three buckets at once, that really help facilitate that whole process. You try to edit right there while you’re writing. That self-editing, that critical demon that pops out, that’s what stops a lot of people from really being able to prolifically put words on paper.
Mark: I totally agree. How I ended up doing that strategically is… we talked about my Spark conference that we had in Savannah and my job was… There was one color of the post it notes, just like you were talking about, as I was either reading what I had already written or I had to write some things, I would get “Oh, what I forgot to say… Oh, I meant to say this… or, I want to talk about that.” And that’s what I use for that one color on that sticky and that was in the parking lot. I was able to just write it down as a memory jogger and take that sticky and put it up on the wall in the parking lot. I left that as my homework for continuation from the Spark Conference of what I had to do, then go back and start filling in. Very similar.
Biggest thing, if you’re watching or listening, you’ve got to develop something at least works for you. These are all just ideas. Your ideas are probably going to be much better and more creative, but find something that works for you. What I learned in the Academy, just the construct, just the outline of it; it wasn’t the mechanics of it, it didn’t say “Okay – 8:35 you sit down and pick up your pen.” It wasn’t anything like that. The moral of the lesson was if you don’t plan to write, how are you going to plan to publish this book?
Jenn: I feel like that could be a good title of this episode. It’s so perfect.
Thinking about that, you said that you add it to your task bar in Outlook. You’re outlining before the day starts. “I need to write today and here’s what I’m planning on writing.” These four or five points. How are you making time to actually get that writing done in your very busy schedule? Is that writing time blocked on the calendar? Are you anticipating when you think you have time? What is that part of your routine look like?
Mark: Every day is different. It depends on what is going on the calendar or schedule. I give myself a little bit of a pass. What we just talked about with Word and dictation? That’s my writing time. What we also talked about is multi-tasking. I’m not a really good runner and talker. Either I’m running to run, that’s it. I’m listening to music and running. I can’t do a lot of multi-tasking there. I’m thinking a lot. But I do ride my bike a lot (to save on the old knees), so I can also voice record with the headset while I’m riding. To me, I kind of cheat. That’s my writing as well because I’m going to take that, download it and get it transcribed – now I’ve got my writing.
It depends on where you are in your journey or in the process. Early on, it was the creative juices were just flowing. I was getting thought after thought after thought. It was like water to a dry sponge. I just had to get it out there. It wasn’t perfect. There are people like you in this world that will make it perfect. That’s why we love you. But to me I just had to get the inventory. I guess we can talk about the great sense of accomplishment when you dump it all into Word and you can just click on it and get your word count. “It’s like YEAH! I have 20,000 words!” 5,000 of them might be crap but I’ve got 20,000 words.
To answer your question specifically… I get up each day and I might physically write on a notepad or something like that. If I can get it done uninterrupted before the day actually begins. Or, I knew that I was talking about going to elaborate more on boot camp, I’m leaving upstate NY and I’m a small town kid from a small village and town and going to boot camp and there may be some things I forgot in there, and I would write that outline and that was so much easier for me to do than start populating the four paragraphs in the
outline. I think it just helped me take a little bit of the self-induced pressure off (no publisher was saying “I’m grading you today and you get an F if you didn’t do it in the proper sequence).
On Sundays, I would spend my time just devoted to the Academy and what I can learn from that. It was roughly about an hour, maybe an hour and a half if I drifted, or squirrel factor, or whatever. Then I would kind of plan the week, professional calendar, my personal calendar. Just because I’m writing a book, doesn’t mean I have to make life boring for everyone else around me. I realized I needed those breaks too. And so I wanted to make sure I incorporated (Wednesday night was date night for us), just those little things. Then on Sunday I would have a draft schedule of what to look for. Was it perfect? No. Did it always go exactly how I wanted it to? Heck no. But at least when I look back on Saturday, I could say “Hey, I did about 75% of that. That was pretty good.” Where, if I didn’t have anything, it’s one of those when everybody wants to call a meeting and then it’s “who called this meeting?” “what are we doing here?”
Jenn: The crux of what you’re saying is on a weekly basis, so it’s week to week where you’re on Sunday looking to week ahead – where am I going to fit my writing time in my week this week in particular? Not thinking three months ahead.
Mark: It was definitely the first. Here’s why. Early on in the Academy, I think it’s week one, is the contract with yourself. That sounds kind of easy, or it sounds cheesy, I don’t know. I took that to the 10th degree.
Jenn: Of course you did!
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