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Have you been away from your writing? Missed some time and now not sure how to get started again?
JE and Stephen discuss just this problem in this author focused podcast episode.
[00:00:50] Stephen: Okay. So let’s talk some author stuff. Move on to that. You’ve written you’re on your third book, you’re working on a fourth and other plans. [00:01:00] So what are some things that you’ve learned that you’re doing different now than you did at the beginning?
[00:01:04] JE McDonald: Probably the most the biggest thing would be consistency.
I used to just. When I felt like it, I would write. And I really literally started just like jotting things down in a notebook before bed. I would read write a few paragraphs and put it aside and fall asleep. But now consistency is my number one thing I write most days if I’m not, if I’m between projects, I need a head break or if I.
Just need a brain break. I’ll still get up. I gave a five in the morning every day to write even if I need just that brain break, I’ll get up at five in the morning and I’ll read instead of right. But I try to always stay in the schedule of getting up at five in the morning. I think that’s the biggest thing is consistency.
I just do it. I do it no matter what I mean, like everyone has life problems and things get wrenches, get thrown and all that sort of thing. It’s important to me personally, to be consistent about it.
[00:01:58] Stephen: Okay.
And when you are [00:02:00] writing, what tools and services are you using?
[00:02:02] JE McDonald: I absolutely love Scribner which is a writing program, a heap.
All my projects are started in Scribner and then when I send them off to my editor that’s in a word document. So unfortunately when the creative that makes. The start of the creative process is over. And I send it to my editor. That’s where Scribner stays, unfortunately, because word and Scribner do not communicate that well, going back and forth.
Once I’m doing my edits at and back into word, probably the most used tab on my computer is the one look reverse directory, which is a third source. I am often blanking where. When I’m writing. And so I go to that and you can write a phrase in there or whatever, and it will give you like a ton of suggestions.
So I’ll be like, What’s that word. And I’ll think of the word that I’m thinking of and I’ll put it in and it’s not the right word. It’s not even the right definition, but it’ll come up with a bunch of other [00:03:00] things that I can click through. And finally, that was the word I was looking for. So that’s the most used tab on my computer, for sure, besides my email.
[00:03:10] Stephen: And you mentioned. You’ve published through a small press. So you’re doing a lot of the marketing. So what are you doing for marketing?
[00:03:17] JE McDonald: I’m trying to build my newsletter. And I feel like I was behind you. You had asked you to ask what I would do differently. What would you do differently?
Paid attention more to the marketing aspect of things instead of just going into my writer cave, because now I feel like I’m catching up, I’m on my third book and I’m just starting to feel like I’m getting my teeth into what needs to go into a launch to make it successful. So I’m building my newsletter.
I just started on with BookFlix. The novella that I’ve been working on in the last few months, it’s going to go up on that as a freebie. So hopefully people like the look of the novella ML subscribe to my newsletter, so that will help me get with connect with readers who are looking for that sort of book, [00:04:00] honestly like connections between authors.
So doing author release parties and participating in other people’s launches that’s doing sorts of giveaways like that. That is like, Of getting such a great response to that. The connections are amazing. I’ve just started with my BookBub profile this past summer. Which I feel again behind but that’s a great way to, to meet with or connect with readers as well.
But yeah, I’m really focusing over those next few months. We’ll really be focusing on building my newsletter. My newsletter readers my community that way. And hopefully I’ll I’ll connect with people who are looking for a steamy paranormal
[00:04:40] Stephen: re
okay. I just went to a writer’s convention summit over the weekend.
And we talked a lot about some things you said consistency. We all kinda got called out about consistency and writing and just getting it done. Rung me, myself and I I’ve been working on marketing and I think [00:05:00] an important part of the marketing, especially as independent authors is understanding.
Your brand and who you are, but then also who you’re targeting and to sell to because, I know here’s my classic example. I went to a writer’s conference where everybody in the audience was writers and there were some peat speakers up there. The speakers all had tables. You’ll talk to them afterwards.
That makes sense. When you hear a speaker, you want to go to their table, you want to get their stuff. But everybody, there was a writer writing their own books. We wanted to learn. We wanted some craft and what’s in publishing, whatever advice, other books, come on what writer doesn’t buy 500 craft books and stick them on a shelf.
Then you feel like you accomplished something. But what struck me as humorous was there were a couple of writers that bought tables and set up to sell their fiction. Nobody knew who they were. Nobody cared about a fiction book. I was at the conference to learn, to write, not read other people’s writing.[00:06:00]
So that’s my point that for some reason people think, oh, I’m a writer. I’ll tell all the other writers and know what to get my book. And that’s not your audience unless you’re writing a writer, craft book or something. So the marketing, yeah. The marketing definitely is different. I do middle grades, so I want to go into a PTA.
Whereas you sell paranormal romance. That’s probably not the place for you to go and talk to people to sell your book. On the flip side, the ladies that get together on Sunday morning for coffee at the local shop is not who I’d want to throw my book in front of, unless they’re all mothers too. Whereas you might be someone they want to sit and chat with for awhile.
The marketing, I think, is something that a lot of writers struggle with and you have to really know your brand and your market, your target with that. That’s something I learned over the week, even more.
[00:06:53] JE McDonald: Yes, for sure. I’m lucky enough to be in a genre with voracious readers. So making that one [00:07:00] connection to one group of readers it can be really beneficial for sure.
[00:07:05] Stephen: Okay. So you wanted to talk a little bit on the topic of getting back into writing. If you stop, if you have to, if you get derailed and thrown off. You did that. You said you used to write and you went to university and things happened and you’re getting back into writing. So tell me your thoughts on that.
Why you wanted to get back in and then what people can do.
[00:07:27] JE McDonald: Yeah, I think there’s I think there’s a lot that can happen in your life that derails your focus in that, and that can be in anything in any passion. So number one, if you’re passionate enough your brain is going to tell you to go back to that thing, even if it’s even if it’s been.
And yeah. Do you listen to it? Do you not listen to it? Fortunately for me, I did listen to it. But that doesn’t make the road smooth things happen. So I had my first child. And anyone who’s ever been a parent knows how mind blowing that can [00:08:00] be. And can you write every day when you have a newborn who is very needy?
No. No I, anyone who’d be able to do that with one of the great things that I had. The NaNoWriMo was the first thing that really pulled me back to writing. And the other time I stopped I had actually started a local group a product productivity group called right club. Whew. And because I had that group in place and what we did was we really, we literally just got together on Wednesday evenings and wrote together, we’re sitting at a table.
All tapping away or in our notebooks and, basically ignoring each other, but we’re in this community together because what we all needed was to get out of the house and right. Having that in place was an amazing push once I had. Once I had my child, I could get out of the house on Wednesday evenings.
I looked for it too. It immensely the little freedom, as just keeping up again with consistency, doing that every week. Brought me [00:09:00] back until, I’m not even just doing it on Wednesday. I’m also writing every evening. And yeah yeah, consistency again. That was just getting into that habit.
With my second child, she was so colic that I had no sleep. And if I hadn’t had that group in place, I don’t know if I would have gotten back to writing. I was just so exhausted. And then. The other big time that I derailed was when the pandemic hit. I went to depression. I had anxiety.
I was writing at night and I would sit down because I knew I should. And I was under contract at that time. I knew I had to finish my book. So I would sit down and I, to not get 10 words onto a page, it was just I’m so emotionally exhausted by that time that I. I was unable to write. So it took about a month, maybe more for me to realize I had to change things.
And what I ended up doing was joining the 5:00 AM writer’s club on Twitter. Cause I’d seen some of my friends. Woke [00:10:00] up at five to and so I just decided to try it and I woke up earlier and earlier, cause it took a while. I was probably waking up at eight, so then I would wake up at seven and then I wake up six and then finally I was waking up at 4 45 so I could get there at five.
Yeah. And yeah, it was absolutely what I needed to do. And I still do that because. I find I’m actually the most productive in the morning. There’s something about the creativity juice that comes into my brain at 5:00 AM. It’s a slow trickle.
Yes. Yes. It helps immensely. And then yeah, you can really get into it by the time I have to wake up my kids. I’m like, no, I could keep going. But yeah, no. So I get two to three hours in the morning every morning, but yeah, that would be my number one things. When you’re reaching out to your community, finding those people who can give you the support, like other writers and yeah.
Sometimes you have to be, you change up your routine, you
[00:10:59] Stephen: just gotta do [00:11:00] it. And I like what you said. And I’m including myself in this, a lot of writers they want to write, they enjoy writing. It’s something they want to do. They love it. But as my friend, Jay Thorne says, we build resistance to things and we make excuses.
I couldn’t write today because this and that and the other thing, but then you always hear the authors that are like yeah, I’ve got this many books out and I’m extremely successful. What do you do? I get up at five every morning and I write, oh, I could never do that. Okay. You can’t have it both ways.
You can’t say, I want to write, I love to write and I’m good at it, but I can’t ever write it. If you really want to do something,
[00:11:39] JE McDonald: Yeah, exactly. And it’s not for everyone. I can’t say that waking up five in the morning is for everyone and that’s be a blanket statement. But I’ve also found like I know there’s writers who just binge writing and that could be very Very productive. So went to retreat. I used to run marathons through my group, so we take a 12 hour period of [00:12:00] time and just sit in a room and write with it sounds so boring, but it’s actually quite amazing.
And we write together for 12 hours like the bingeing. Yeah. I’ve hidden my parents’ basement when I have a deadline coming up and just they feed me, but I just work cause my like,
yeah, basically like they shut, they shove a plate under the door and then runaway scurry waste shots.
[00:12:25] Stephen: I’m learning more. And I don’t say things being judging of others. And a lot of this is just because it’s what I’ve gone through, what I’ve seen on myself already, but you really have to, that nobody can make you, nobody can make you say I want to be a writer and I enjoy it and I’m going to do it.
It’s all you, we can tell you, you have to get up and write every day. You have to figure something out or, and people are like, why can’t do it? But I’ve heard stories of people that like I’ve got four kids and I’m a full-time lawyer and I write every day or I’m [00:13:00] in the army. And I write every day, if it’s just caring one of the little pencils, like for bowling and that scrap of paper in something.
So whenever I make an excuse, I always like, yeah, I know I’m making an excuse. You gotta be able to find that way. Kevin Tumlinson from drafted digital, told a story over the weekend where he went to Disney world and he was in line for three hours. So he pulled out his phone and he started writing a story.
He saved it and he pushed it into drafted digital form, the EPUB and took that eco EPUB and pushed it into Amazon or, drafted digital. And he wrote and published a full story standing in line. For a ride at this. So
there’s where there’s a will. There’s a way nowadays. I think a lot of people get stuck on the imposter syndrome or the fear there’s. [00:14:00] Underlying fear. I’ll, I’ll never be good enough. And if I wrote every day, I’d find out that I’m not good enough or other people would find out I’m not good enough.
Or I, that type of thing. I think that’s what a lot of it is.
[00:14:13] JE McDonald: That’s almost counter-intuitive to think that way because the more you write, the better you get, I’m learning things now that I’m applying to my writing that I didn’t know. Two three years ago with my first book.
Like you’re always learning. You’re always growing. So to not do the thing, because you’re scared of it. Yeah. You got to do it. You got it. And I will tell you the best advice that I’ve ever had was a random article. I wrote up, sorry, read in a magazine. And it still sticks with me today.
And it was the writer had said you will never have more time than you do right now. So if you are always thinking. Tomorrow next week, next month, next [00:15:00] year, I will have more time. I can focus on my rate when I retire. I will focus on my writing. It’s just not true. You need to work with what you have right now, or it won’t get done and it comes down to passion.
How passionate are you about
[00:15:12] Stephen: it? Yep, absolutely. And you said something earlier that I. Loved that I wanted to write, so I started a writer group and that’s like, why would you do that? If you don’t have time to write why, but I totally am on board with that and agree with that. That sometimes you need to do those things that push you.
And that seem counterintuitive. There, there’s an old saying, if you want something done, Find your friend, who’s busy because they’re the ones that don’t know how to get it done because they’re busy. The ones that aren’t busy, don’t know how to do and get anything done. It’ll never get done.
So I love that about starting a writer group, because then you’re pushing yourself. Now I do have to write, this is my group and I’m responsible for it. So it’s a way of tricking yourself almost. [00:16:00]
[00:16:00] JE McDonald: Yeah, for sure. And my group was exactly like that. There were nights when I was, felt too tired or whatever was happening in my life.
And, but just the fact that I was running it, I had to beat. You take your laptop and you sit down and perhaps the juices weren’t flowing that day. But by the end of that three hour period, cause it was a three hour thing that you could come and go.
It wasn’t like yeah. Mandatory yeah, by the end of the three hour period there was something there on the page for sure. Every time you, no matter how it started.
[00:16:27] Stephen: Yeah, it would suck to start a group and get up and say, okay I can’t write this today. And I haven’t written anything all week.
You lose that, so it’s a good way of pushing yourself. I’ve said, it’s not my original saying, but someone pointed out to me and I’ve embraced it since then that I’m the type of person that just jumps off the cliff and figures out how to build my wings on the way to. And I looked back through my life and I’m like, that’s so very true of me.
And the times I have done that, where I just jumped and then go, oh wait, I need wings. I better [00:17:00] figure it out by the bottom I’ve sword. Not knowing how I’m going to do it. So sometimes, not every other, some authors might need to totally plan, but then they don’t. So again, figure out how to do it.
What works for you? And you have to, like Nike said, just do it. Yeah. Yeah,
[00:17:16] JE McDonald: no, I love that visual because yeah. You’re jumping off the cliff and you’re figuring out where, how to build your wings by the bottom, but you know what, the next time you jump off the cliff you’re prepared. So yeah, I love that.
[00:17:26] Stephen: I would love to say I w I’m prepared, but I just keep kinda jumping is what happens.
[00:17:33] JE McDonald: So
[00:17:36] Stephen: I think they’re different cliffs, definitely. And for some reason I need different wings every time, but it actually seems to work for me because if I don’t just jump and do it, I part of this, this podcast, I started last year, right after the pandemic. I been tossing it around and it’s okay, I’m working full time.
I have a family, who has [00:18:00] time to do a podcast on top of writing, but here I am, you’re like episode 74, 5 or something like that. And I’ve gotten thousands, hundreds of thousands of words written in the last year, also in a lot of ways. If I didn’t do the podcast, I probably would slack off on the writing.
It’s not like I’m giving myself more time to write. I get more done when I have these other things I’ve got to do. So I’ve got to schedule and think and plan and get my writing in. So that works for me. Figure out what works is the bottom line. Exactly.
[00:18:35] JE McDonald: Yeah, exactly. It’s fuel, right? You’re your creative sides are fueling your other creative side.
It’s it’s yeah, it can be a symbiotic existence between those things the podcasting and the writing, for sure. Yeah. I can
[00:18:47] Stephen: see that girls interested in writing. Do they write,
[00:18:51] JE McDonald: They. A little bit I don’t think they go too much out of their school setting. They do the really [00:19:00] interesting stories within their school setting.
They do. Yeah. They love to read, obviously, cause we’ve talked about that before. And they are VR, creative. Like my one loves the art aspect of things, but do I see them being writers? Maybe, I dunno. We’ll have to see.
[00:19:18] Stephen: Alright. Before we go, it’s been really great talking to you. I appreciate the conversation on getting back into writing. Do you have any last minute advice for new writers?
[00:19:27] JE McDonald: You just got to do it. Let me just basically the whole episode has been my advice to writers. Yeah, don’t quit. That’s the other thing, if you’re, if you quit then for sure, you’ll never get your goals. You’ll never get there. So if it’s what you want to do, if being a published author is your end goal.
[00:19:44] Stephen: There you go. That’s plain and simple. Just don’t quit and consistency.
All right. JE has been wonderful talking to you this morning, bright and early. I appreciate it. I heard something. So it sounds like the girls are getting ready for school.
[00:19:59] JE McDonald: I did hear some [00:20:00] footsteps.
No, I hope they’re not go sit there. No, just the little scampering feet on the floor about me.
[00:20:11] Stephen: All right. I’ll let you get to that and you have a great wonderful day. Thank you for sharing your book and talking to us author stuff.
[00:20:18] JE McDonald: Thank you for having me. It’s been very fun.