Posted on

Freelance Adventures: When An Editor Nicely Rips You To Shreds

If you read my article Getting Started As A Freelance Writer  then you are aware that I’ve been venturing into the world of freelance writing. Since that article was published I’ve been fortunate enough to receive opportunities to write for some pretty cool, very different sites. I thought it would be a good idea to build a portfolio that offers a range of topics thus enabling me to pitch more potential assignments.

With over 1600 Facebook shares and 350 Tweets, my article What She Really Hears When You Say ‘Whatever is Fine With Me’ was very successful. My other article 5 Tools To Help You Kill It On Social Media  was appreciated enough by the site owner that he asked me to contribute again.

In other words, two for two. Things are good. Until I submit my third article draft. See the response below from the editor.

Hey Mike,

This one is going to take some work, I think.  It kind of goes off the rails and you seem to be picking a fight with or daring the reader to challenge you. Your point is kind of getting lost in some of the story elements.It’s not as organized or as cohesive as I think it could be.
I think your major point is that husbands say no because they are approached with what not to do rather than the rationale behind the request.  You’re trying to telling women: if you want us to listen, you need to do more than tell us what not to do. You’re trying to explain, I think, that if women want their husbands to partner with them, they have to approach men a different way.
I think you have a new idea here and I think it could work but I think you have to go back to the drawing board on this one.
I am open to a second stab at it if you’re interested in trying.
First off, it is important to note that I’m okay with this. I’ve mentioned before in previous posts that I know how to endure negative reviews or comments. In addition, the email above is very constructive. However, there are valuable lessons here for myself and my fellow writer.
  1. Articles are subjective. Some will love them, some will hate them, and most just won’t care about them. That comes with the territory.
  2. If I’m going to consider myself a writer, I must be willing to accept the possibility that not all of my work is going to be high quality (at least on the first try).
  3. Freelance writing is a numbers game. Assume you’ll be rejected. Accept it and keep writing.

To close, writing is a roller coaster ride. The high that can be felt when your ebooks sell like crazy or your article is shared all over Facebook is well worth all the lows, just like the email above.

Keep your nose to the grindstone and your pen to the paper.

Posted on

My 4AM Writing Experiment

In the post You DO NOT Have to Write Everyday to Be A Writer I stated that writers should avoid pressuring themselves to write everyday. Moreover, it seems every where we look there is one ‘expert’ after another telling us that in order to be a successful writer then we should be writing every day.

To that I say bologna. I’m a writer, but I’m a father and husband first, which means I’m not going to pressure myself to write every day if it causes me to begin sacrificing valuable time with my family.

The problem though is determining when we can write, particularly if we have little kids (mine are almost 2 and 4 years old).

sky-583724_1920

Enter my 4AM Experiment.

I decided to try waking up each day during the previous week at 4AM. I would write for 45 minutes to an hour then do a 7 minute circuit work out routine. The results:

Monday – Success

Tuesday – Fail

Wednesday – Fail

Thursday – Success

Friday – No way jose (Fail)!

Overall, I’m happy with it enough to try it again this week. It isn’t easy, but once I’m out of bed and writing I end up feeling amazing all day because I’m so proud of what I did.

The only drawback is, at least initially, I’m so exhausted that it takes a good five to ten minutes to get my brain functioning adequately enough to produce decent content. However, I will admit that when I was working on my book, once I got past that 10 minutes I flew. More specifically, in a span of 45 minutes I produced over 1200 words.

I read it later on that evening just to assess the level of quality and it was pretty good. Conversely, my Thursday writing was an article that I was sending to an editor for my freelance pursuits. I was extremely happy with it.

The only problem was my editor tore it apart and asked me to “take another swing at it” which is code for send me something else that isn’t awful.

The lesson I learned here is that I’m going to use my 4AM wake ups for my own book development. I’m hiring the editors as opposed to the editors hiring me so it makes a bit more sense to allocate my time this way.

The lesson I’d like you to take from this post can be learned by asking yourself a question and honestly answering it:

How can you create more opportunities to write?

I’m not suggesting you write every day, but it doesn’t hurt to reanalyze your schedule every once and awhile to see if there are any new opportunities to squeeze out a bit more time for writing.

It may require some sacrifice but if it gets you closer to finishing that book you’ve been working on for what feels like forever then it’ll be worth it.

person-983889_1920

Happy writing!

Posted on

The Five Stages of Recieving Negative Reviews

“Needs lots of editing. Points made obvious and superficial. Great book for late teens and early 20s. Lacks sophistication for older crowd.”

This was a review that a reader left me about my book  The Persistence Formula. I’m not going to lie, it hurt. I put a ton of time and thought into that book and it is beyond frustrating that a person can rip it apart so easily.

What makes it worse is that this reviewer is essentially saying that I lack sophistication.  However, I can proudly say that I’m officially not worried about it anymore because I have endured the five stages of receiving a negative review.twitter-152681_1280

Stage 1: Nausea – its as if the words form a fist and punch you directly in the stomach. You read it a couple of times and each time you feel worse. At that point you create a distance from the you and your screen.

thumb-440352_1280

Stage 2: Failure – after you come to terms with reality and the nausea subsides (temporarily depending on the severity) then you can’t help but feel like a failure. You begin to question why you even bother writing. You wonder why you think you’re even qualified to try and write anything for anybody.

anger-18658_1920

Stage 3: Anger – you become overwhelmed with all that you want to do to avenge such negativity. You want to reply with a balance of defending yourself and verbally assaulting the reviewer. It should be pointed out that each of these three stages toggle back and forth between one another until you can come to terms with the fact that negative reviews are a part of writing.

i-741507_1920

Stage 4: Acceptance – some times it takes reaching out to your writing groups or reading negative reviews of famous authors, but eventually you get to a point where you don’t mind the review. You don’t like it but you don’t mind it. You accept it.

soldiers-559761_1280

Stage 5: Badge of Honor – this stage doesn’t happen every time for me but every now and again I’ll read a negative review about one of my publications and feel a sense of pride. I get to a point that I’m proud of the fact that I strive to spread my message despite that vulnerability that comes with it.

leave-364178_1280

Stage 6: Learning – again this doesn’t always occur for me but once I come to terms with the review and experience stage five I will reach point where I’m ready to read the review objectively. Occasionally, the reviews will be helpful. Consider the review above. It does offer some constructive advice. For example the review began by stating that it required more editing. Its funny because when I wrote that book I hired a new editor and didn’t thoroughly review his work. As a result I hired a different editor to revamp the book.

glove-628679_1280

Stage 7: Forgotten – you eventually forget about the review. The review that took me through the previous six stages fades away into nothingness. The reality is, as much as it can hurt to read that somebody thinks that you work lacks quality, you still have work to do. To focus too much time and energy on something you can’t control is a waste of time and certainly will not help you produce more quality work.

If you’re reading this and your thinking to yourself that the stages above are not at all relatable to you then I’ll ask you to consider this request. Regardless of your stages I beg you to be sure that it doesn’t stall your writing efforts. Do not let the negativity of a reader dictate whether or not you continue writing.

Be discouraged, be sad, be angry, be whatever you want to be but just be sure to keep writing. As I stated earlier, there is a great vulnerability that writers are exposed to when they publish their work. This is part of what makes writing so great, because it makes it slightly risky. Once you publish something you are the mercy of your audience. It is scary but exhilarating and any negative review that comes your way should simply serve as a reminder that you are a human putting yourself out there to help or entertain as many people as you possibly can.

Posted on

5 Pandora Stations to Get Your Word Count Up

The good news is my freelance portfolio development phase is going very smoothly. I’ll have a post published on The Good Men Project some time next week, I have a post currently live at 110marketing.com, and I’ve been asked to write two more for 110marketing.com. If you read my last post titled Getting Started As A Freelance Writer then I’m sure you noticed that I was going to try and develop my portfolio so I can eventually start pitching for paying gigs. My goal is a total of five articles before I begin the pitching process.

The problem is, due to these articles, I don’t have a ton of time to focus on this week’s post. Therefore, I’ll offer a nice, short and simple list of 5 Pandora stations that I believe are great background music to keep your creativity and word count up.

ratatat

Ratatat Radio – with songs like “Drugs” and “Phantom Pt. II” this Pandora station offers eclectic beats that are one step away from dance music. It offers the kind of music that causes you to sway side to side to the beat but enables you to stay on track.

Parov-Stelar_Sappert004-web

Parov Stellar Radio – blues/swing meets nightclub pop. A bit fast than Ratatat, if you’re in need of boosting your word count and still keeping things fun this station is perfect.

yo yo ma

Yo-Yo Ma Radio – completely different from the first two on the list, this station offers relaxing classical music which is helpful if you’re feeling overwhelmed. The music offers a slowed down set of strings that helps a writer take a breath and get the outline figured out. I recommend this station if you’re struggling to develop your main take away points.

alamode

Schubert A La Mode Radio – this one is either hit or miss. Either you love it or you hate it. It offers a lighter form of dub step.  This station is great if you need a kick in the you know what. “Ghosts N Stuff” by Deadmau5 was the first song that played when I tuned into this station while writing this. If I had to guess, I’d say I’m writing at about 1500 words per hour.

vitamin-string-quartet-534d3e4582a965.84145683

The Vitamin String Quartet Radio – if the Yo-Yo Ma station and the Today’s Hits station had a baby this would be it. The Vitamin String Quartet will cover songs like Lady Gaga’s Just Dance while the station also offers a duet called 2Cellos who cover Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal and Rihanna’s We Found Love.

Hopefully these stations help you maximize your efficiency while writing. If not, please keep looking for music. Once you find the music that keeps your fingers typing, you’ll be amazed what and how quickly you can produce.

 

Posted on

Getting Started As a Freelance Writer

As a self-published author I can proudly tell you that I generate a nice extra chunk of change from my royalties. The challenge, however, is that once you finish writing your book you need to become a marketing savvy entrepreneur. Though it is extremely rewarding to start seeing the marketing efforts generate passive income, it is also exhausting.

At times I can’t help but wish I could just write an article then forget about it and still earn a couple of dollars.

Enter freelance writing.

Though I have no desire to give up authoring my own books, I am very interested in earning some additional income using my skills as a freelance writer. Below is my plan of attack to make this happen.

As I complete each phase, I’ll write a post that describes any success, pivots, and learning experiences.

Phase 1: Get Educated

I’ll be signing up for at least one of the two courses: Tom Ewer’s Paid To Blog course and Gina Horkey’s 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success.

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 3.00.09 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 2.59.45 PM

After doing quite a bit of research I’ve decided these two look like the they offer the most bang for the buck. My goals are to learn where to find jobs and how to get them. I’ll report back to let you know if either of these courses helped me achieve those goals.

Phase 2: Build A Portfolio

While I’m taking the course(s) I’m going to focus on writing within three categories:

The portfolio will include articles that I write that are published on other sites. These will cover a range of topics.

Phase 3: Start Pitching/Find Clients

No idea how to go about this but hopefully in a few weeks after a few articles I’ll be ready. Stay tuned for an update on this.

Phase 4: Increase My Rate 

Right now I’m thinking long term which means I’m not focused on earning a ton of money right now. As a novice freelancer I know that I’m going to have to prove myself as a reliable, high quality writer. Once I successfully do this I’ll shift my focus on increasing the rate. My goal is $100 per hour.

money-1062599_1280

My logic is as follows:

If I eventually charge $.10 per word for a 1000 word article, with an average word per hour rate of over 1000 words I can realistically earn $100 per hour.

Regardless of the outcome I’ll be sure to share my progress (or lack thereof) to help make the process as easy as possible if you decide to become a freelance writer yourself.

For now…go write!

 

Posted on

You DO NOT Have to Write Every Day To Be A Writer

It seems like everywhere I turn some expert out there is telling me I should write every day. Even if it is for a short period of time, I should make it a habit to write every day.  For the longest time I would find myself stressed out because for whatever reason I was unable to successfully make myself write every day.

  smiley-798856_1920

I am a father of two and I work full time (about 40 to 50 hours per week) for 10 months out of the year. My daily routine can be summarized like this:

Wake up around 5AM. Brush teeth, shave, shower. Get my outfit on. Get one of my daughters and get them ready for the day. Kiss my wife and kids head off to work (coffee on the way).

I work from about 7AM to 4PM (often later), commute home and arrive by approximately 5PM. I hang out with my wife and daughters and eat dinner.

At 8PM we bring the girls up to bed.

By about 8:15PM we begin our night time routine. Clean the house, get the lunches and outfits ready for the next day which brings us to about 8:45PM or so.

work-management-907669_1280At this point we are both exhausted but this is when we take care of our side hustle objectives. We usually sit side by side for about an hour on our laptops writing. I should point out that the writing doesn’t always last for
an hour because we literally can’t keep our eyes open.

In the past I would go to bed upset with myself because I wouldn’t be able to fight through the exhaustion in order to make myself write every day. In addition, if I was successful one week then I would find that my wife and I would become more irritable with one another because we often neglected the time we needed to give to each other.

I was in a no-win situation. If I wrote every night my wife and I would be driving each other crazy. If I didn’t, I would feel like a lazy slob who wasn’t willing to step up and do what was necessary to achieve the success I so ambitiously sought.
town-sign-749613_1280This was until it hit me that I don’t have to listen to the experts. In fact, the experts might be amazing at implementing a schedule that works for them but are they really experts in my schedule? Definitely not!

I decided to create my own rules to ensure that I was writing enough but not neglecting other important aspects of my life. For me, I set a goal of a certain amount of words for the upcoming week that I want to write. I base the number on the responsibilities I know lay ahead in the week to come. If I have a few late days at work I might reduce the amount of words. If I know I’ll be able to get out a bit earlier than normal for a few days I’ll increase the amount.

Using my productivity system that I explain in my book The Persistence Formula I break each writing goals into 1000 word chunks. If I am hoping to write at least 4000 words for the week I’ll create four goals of “Write 1000 words towards Book X (or blog)”

It is important that you realize that I am not telling you to use my system. In fact I am intentionally not going into great detail about my system for ensuring that I am able to write enough.

I ask you to consider the following when you’re attempting to create your writing system.

write-593333_1920

Plan regularly – every Sunday evening I write my goals for the week (which is based on my monthly goals). This is a regularly scheduled time that I allocated towards how many words I want to write for the week.

Follow through  – I believe the reason so many successful writers suggest writing every day is because they’re afraid of the procrastination and work avoidance that can stem out of a lack of a daily writing routine. I can very honestly tell you, however, that I do not write every day but I do continue to write on a regular basis.

Learn instead of stressing  –  though for the most part I am able to accomplish my weekly writing goals, every now and again I might miss a 1000 word block. Rather than beat myself over this missed goal I would reflect on what prevented me from achieving my goal(s) then adjust my future goal setting accordingly.

Write even if you’re not inspired – unfortunately your schedule will not always align with when you’re feeling inspired. Develop a way to capture your ideas when inspiration strikes so you have a data base of great ideas waiting and ready for you when you are able to sit down and write.

Regardless of the system you choose just remember that though there may be many experts out there that can genuinely help you. There may be times where you have to be your own expert and determine what works for you.

Happy writing!

Posted on

We All Think We’re Terrible Writers At One Point Or Another

despair-513529_1920I just finished the first draft of my fourth book. I should be excited, right? Nope. Not in the least. This goes against my character. Typically, I’m a pretty positive guy. However, the reason for my atypical negativity is a direct result of the feeling I had the entire time I finished the remaining final portion of my book.

The entire time I was writing it I just kept thinking to myself this is horrible. This is awful. Who would want to read this? People are going to think I’m full of bologna.

I am speculating at this point but I believe the cause for such a detrimental outlook was derived from the lack of clarity in my mind as to what I was ultimately trying to say.

Due to a few family issues the progress of this particular book was slightly delayed a bit so when I returned to finish it I felt like I had lost my voice. Since I am a firm believer in getting things done I worked through my negative outlook. I ignored the rude, hurtful comments my inner self was trying to convey and I wrote.

When I finished the book I felt relief but it was quickly overtaken by the fact that I had just completed a piece of trash. Here is why, ultimately, despite everything I am telling you I am still moving forward with this book.

  1. I hired an editor that understands my voice and knows me as a writer, at times, better than I know myself. He will repair any damage I’ve done.
  2. I reviewed some positive reviews from my other three books.
  3. I read a few paragraphs from my best selling book.

thumb-422147_1920

These three things are enough to convince me that the negativity in my mind will pass and though I require help from others to perfect each book, that is all part of the process.

Here is what I’d like you take from this article. If you are new to writing then just be proud of yourself for completing a book or an article. If you’re a bit more experienced then leverage all the positive feedback you’ve received in the past to get you through your low moments.

Either way do not quit.

As I sit here writing I can’t help but reflect on what writing means to me. It means expression, freedom, value, problem solving, community and so much more.

Oh yeah and one more item…therapy.

psychologist-1015488_1920

Thanks for letting me air out all my baggage.

Now enough reading, start writing!

Posted on

Two Affordable Ways To Transcribe Your Words

This one will be quick because I am operating under the assumption that you’re looking for faster, more creative ways to increase your word output. Below are two ways I use transcription for exactly this purpose.

Personally, I believe these are good strategies when you’re struggling for time and/or motivation to sit down and type. Sometimes talking is just a bit easier.

man-141052_1920

Strategy #1: Hire A Transcriber Via Fiverr.com 

So the last couple of weeks have been particularly busy for me and the time required to sit down and type just wasn’t available. During my 40 minute commute to work I decided to record myself with my phone using my Bluetooth function. Do not do this if it is any way unsafe. By the end of the commute I had just under twenty minutes  of audio based content.

I added the file to my Evernote account, saved it to my account and boom, I now had the files available on my computer. I hired a transcriber via Fiverr.com for $10 (one $5 gig got me 10 minutes).

I am still waiting on the finished product but I’m expecting to see approximately 1800 words. A few quick internet searches taught me that the average person speaks at approximately 110 words per minute. To be conservative I brought it down to 100 words. 18 minutes times 100 words equals 1800 words.

exchange-of-ideas-796139_1280

Strategy #2: Use the Dictation Function on your computer (Mac users only)

This is a game changer for me. For a function that comes installed on a MacBook I thought it might not work so effectively, but it read my words very accurately. To be honest the amount of mistakes it made was probably less than the amount of grammatical errors I typically make when I’m typing.

If you have never used it before follow the instructions below to activate the function (by default, it is not activated).

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Click on Dictation and Speech
  3. Click “On” (make sure “Use Enhanced Dictation” is checked off)
  4. Open up word processor (Pages and a WordPress post have worked for me) and press the function button twice.
  5. Start talking and watch the words appear.

Now go get writing (or talking)!

 

Posted on

Find Your Pace and Finish Your Book

It is hard to believe that I now have three books (and many more to come) live on Amazon generating a pretty solid supplemental passive income. If you knew me a few years ago you would understand why. You see I had a reputation for being the guy who had ideas like crazy and talked about them at length but never followed through with any of them.

site-196210_1920

I’d have cool scenes in mind, creative stories, and a new business idea each day. The problem was I had zero follow through. This is not an uncommon problem. Many people have a great idea but they don’t do anything about it. I believe two key reasons people do not do anything (or enough) when they have the idea is because they often aren’t sure how to begin and if they are able to start they become overwhelmed with all the work that comes with making the idea a reality.

calculator-925385_1920

Now I’m not going to say these are the only reasons people struggle to follow through with taking action, but I do assert that they are extremely common. I believe the best way to combat these problems within the writing world, is to take the time to identify your pace. Then you can take a more calculated approach to writing your book.

Such an approach can help take the pressure off and ease the feeling of overwhelm that inevitably comes with writing a book (or anything of decent length). If you’re overworked already and now you’re adding the task of writing a book to your schedule follow the guide below to help enable you to follow through regardless of how limited your time is.

Phase 1: Explore Your Pace

For the first two weeks of writing your book put zero pressure on yourself to maintain any sort of set schedule. Instead write as much as you can without it hurting the other aspects of your life. In other words, do not neglect your children or your job just so you can get an extra 500 words done.

Take note of two things: the amount of time you were able to devote to writing and the amount of words you were able to write. Once you have these figures, now you need to reflect on how it went. For example lets say you were able to write for a total of four hours for the entire two week period and that writing time yielded a total of 3600 words. Take that information and answers the following questions:

Do you feel as though the amount of time devoted and words completed was a challenge to achieve or was it easy (or was it somewhere in the middle)?

silhouette-936724_1920

In addition, you should be reviewing how the blocks of time worked out for you. Did you sit down for one 4 hour period or did your schedule obligate you to write for small 20 to 30 minute intervals sporadically throughout the week?

Before moving onto the next phase you want to take your answers to the questions offered above and determine a weekly minimum amount of writing time as well as a minimum amount of words completed. It is imperative that you do not set minimums that are too difficult. Remember you can always go over but should never go under, so do not set yourself up for disappointment.

drive-44380_1280

Phase 2: Establish Your Pace

First, you’re going to write down your weekly minimum amount of time and words. For example, based on the first two weeks you believe it is realistic to write for a total of at least 120 minutes (divided into 30 minute blocks). You also were able to determine that you easily write approximately 900 words per hour. Therefore, your minimum amount of words for the week is 1800.

For the next week you’re going to write for at least 120 minutes and produce approximately 1800 words in that time. At the end of the week you’re going to assess how you did. Was it way off, spot on, or somewhat close? Whatever the result, adjust accordingly to ensure realistic attainability.

typing-690856_1280

Phase 3: Pace Yourself to The End

For the next month, continue to approach each week with the time/word minimum that you have established and adjusted to meet your specific scheduling needs. Be sure to follow some additional rules below to prevent yourself from falling off pace.

  • Make time the overriding factor. In other words, if during one of your writing blocks you’re unable to hit your word minimum, do not feel pressure to keep writing. Likewise, if you hit your minimum before the time is up then give yourself the break.
  • If factors change within your day to day schedule and/or you’re consistently unable to meet your time/word minimums for whatever reason then make adjustments at the end of each week. As soon as you allow yourself to deviate from your plan during the week then you’ll decrease the need to achieve your weekly goals.
  • Have a total word goal to strive for. For Kindle eBooks 20,000 words typically covers 60 to 90 pages (depending on bulleted lists, formatting, etc.) Knowing your total can help keep you motivated over the long term.

To close, I just want to point out that a true writer writes even when he or she doesn’t feel like it. The key to making this happen is to find your pace and finish the book. Once you finish your first book, you’ll be amazed how easy it becomes for each book thereafter now that you have proven to yourself that you can follow through.

Posted on

The Triple Threat Approach To Writing 1000 Words In An Hour

For us busy folk time is a currency we just can’t seem to get enough of. With that said how can maximize the limited amount of time that we have when we’re able to sit down and write.

wrist-watch-941249_1920

Before I break down my approach to writing (particularly for my ebooks) I want to point out that this article is operating under two primary assumptions. First, that you’ve been able to carve an hour out of your day. If you struggle to do this, we’ll discuss ways to cope with this issue in later articles but for now it is assumed that you’re willing to take an hour out of your day (or at least a similar block of time). Second, you know what you’re going to write about. If you sit down at your computer without any idea you’re going to waste a lot of time. Check out this article on capturing ideas so you have them when you’re prepared to write.

Lastly, this article is for those of you who struggle to get the most out of the writing hour. If this is not a concern for you then stop wasting your time reading this article and go write. If this is an issue for you then follow the steps below and as always be sure to tweak and adjust these steps as needed to make them work for you.

face-109969_1280

Step 1: Brainstorm – grab a sheet of paper and write everything you can possibly think of when you think of your idea. Don’t worry about organization just get everything out of your brain and onto the page. This exercise should last four to seven minutes.

entrepreneur-593378_1920

Step 2: Outline – Review your brain dump sheet and identify four to five topics that connect to form one overall message. For each topic, list one to three key points you want to make within that topic then order accordingly.  This exercise should last eight to eleven minutes.

Step 3: Write – Using your key points as your guide take 40 to 45 minutes to write 200 to 250 words per topic. If this 1000 words is a portion of a book then use all 45 minutes. If it is an article then use 40 minutes for writing the article and the last five minutes to develop a catchy title.

Thats it. This article is intentionally short so you can go test out the three steps.

Before you do I have a challenge. Leave a comment below right before you begin trying the three steps then leave another comment immediately after you complete the three steps to let readers see how it turned out for you.

Happy writing!