We got a lot of email and questions and voicemails last week, but two things happened that I am hereby going to blame for the fact that we didn’t address any of that or answer any of the emails until yesterday:
1. Apparently GMail changed its spam algorithm and started sending all stuff sent via our contact form to spam. Awesome! It’s sorted now, though.
2. Audacity, the program I use to process the voicemail audio files, was being a bitch. So I couldn’t do that in time either.
So we’ll get to your questions next time. Sorry about that.
How to use your mailing list for marketing and keeping in touch with readers
We were able to take one question from S.A. about how’s the best way to manage your reader email list, and how often to send stuff to them. Sean said you should send them stuff every week. I said that I would never send them stuff every week, but would instead wait until I had something meaningful to say. A brawl ensued.
Dave then proposed blogging more often about ourselves, and Sean and I shit all over him.
I read an ancient story from my past
This weekend, my mom gave me back my Dr. Seuss My Book About Me, which I had filled out when I was six years old. The book contained a story I’d written longhand about an adventure undertaken by a cat named Bob and a dinosaur named Stegy. I decided to take two and a half minutes to read it, while stumbling over the misspellings (“uvcors” = “of course”) and lack of punctuation. I’m still not sure if this was a cute look into the development of a storyteller or just stupid. You can decide.
Here’s a scan of the pages I was reading from. See if YOU can read my jumble:
You could probably take some kind of a moral from this. The one I took was “You have to be willing to go through the phase where you’re a shitty storyteller before you can hope to become a good one,” but feel free to also take from this “Holy fuck was Johnny incoherent!”
Rituals that will make you a better or at least more productive writer
This section started with me reading Steven Pressfield’s ritual from the first chapter of The War of Art and contained a LOT of Sean bagging on Dave for having no schedule and being totally inefficient. I tried to come to Dave’s defense, saying that if Dave gets the words out, Sean should back off. Sean said that Dave could still get the words out but work fewer hours. A brawl ensued.
My contention about Pressfield, though — and we all agreed that this was the best way to look at rituals — is that you shouldn’t rely on pixie dust to write good stuff. You should treat it like work. You show up, you sit down, and you do it.
Here are few of our hints and tips and habits:
• You MUST eliminate distractions, including phones and email. ESPECIALLY email.
• In fact, read this now, and then read the follow up, which is where the hammer really falls. Those are two posts I wrote about learning that checking email only twice a day is the best productivity enhancer and time-saver ever. Then, after reading commit to ONLY ANSWERING EMAIL DURING DEDICATED TIMES. This is hard to do, but you will be AMAZED what it does for your ability to write.
• I always start at 6am and write for around two hours. My coffee is prominent in here.
• Sean suggests working in 90-minute blocks, to keep things fresh. You can add more blocks later in the day if you want more writing time.
• We like the idea of stopping dead in the middle of a hot scene instead of finishing it and starting next time with a fresh scene. Doing the latter is like stopping a train completely; it will take you time to get back up to speed. Doing the former is like jumping from a moving train and then running to hop back on later. It’s already going, so it’s easy to keep going in your next session.
• Dave and I like to write to music. It sets a mood and blocks out the outside world.
• We all like writing in the wee hours of the morning, but I find I’m frustrated by the need to sleep. Fucking sleep. But if you can write at 4am, when the world is quiet, that can be awesome.
• Even if you’re a “pantser” who prefers working by feel, giving yourself a rough outline or at least a few points to hit can really help steer you in the right direction and make your life easier.
• And some nerdy general time management ideas.
We wanted to remind you to check out our Better Off Undead pop horror podcast if you’re a horror/zombie fan, if you like to laugh, or if you dig our stuff in general. It’s fantastic.
Sean and Dave have a new short story out called Hide and Seek. It’s not porn, though it has a porn title.
And as always, we’d like to remind you to leave us a rating and/or review on iTunes if you like the show… it really helps us to grow and help others!
To view the video version of this episode, go to: Self Publishing Podcast Episode #17 – Writing Rituals That Will Make You a Better Writer