How do I: deal with writer’s block

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Someone asked me recently how do I deal with writer’s block and what is the opposite of it.

Hypergraphia is the opposite of writer’s block.

As a writer, you probably don’t want writer’s block nor hypergraphia. Something in between works well. 

Some writers claim there is no such thing as writer’s block, just as much as no one suffers from speaker’s block (let us assume this is not public speaking which many people are afraid of).

There is a lot of reasons why writers find it hard to write sometimes. Author Steven Pressfield wrote about these challenges, excuses, remedies, and struggles in The War of Art. Note this is not by Sun Tzu who wrote The Art of War, but that is a good read as well.

Besides focus, the structure is often one of those missing elements that may be a common blocker in the writing process. The structure can be used as building blocks for your project and help guide you to what still needs work. Without a structure, it is like creating a building with no plans and no timeline which would not work out well for any existing budget nor sanity. That structure may include an outline that becomes a table of contents. That structure can be fluid (like water) as contents expand and flexible (like bamboo) as it grows more mature and hopefully clear to what it’s for and who’s it for. You can use a mindmap to link ideas together. You can use timelines with multiple swimlanes to figure out time frames for events with each character. These tools will help you fill gaps in your book project.

Don’t waste your time. Schedule your writing time daily. Make your book project a daily habit for as little as 30 minutes a day when you have available time, energy, and ideas flowing.

Take that massive book project which is likely a big hairy audacious goal (BHAG) and break that structure down into finite timely achievable goals (FTAGs). Each goal is a series of doable steps.

Perfect is not an achievable goal, so move on from the myth of perfect and just ship it.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

For help with your own book project, schedule consulting time online with Henrik de Gyor today

What is your evening routine?

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The less I need to think about with a set routine, the easier my day is to focus on what matters, on what needs to get done and ignore the rest.

This is my evening routine. as inspired by Tim Ferriss and his evening routine.

Here is my evening routine:

6PM

Stop working.

Prepare and eat dinner. Most meals for the week are often made once a week to save time in prep. See how do I batch tasks to save time.

Every other day, go to the gym to exercise with a neighbor for 45 minutes.

7PM

Scheduled bike ride every other day for 30 minutes (great for stress relief).

Participate in a mastermind group call once a week.

Set mobile phone on airplane mode.

Plug in and charge with all devices.

8PM

On warm weekday evenings (April through October), go to the pool to cool off and relax.

On Sundays, enjoy firepit with neighbors for 1 hour.

9PM

Find something to watch on-demand that I have not seen while hydrating with cool water.

Between 10PM and 12AM

Have preset multiple alarms set for waking hours set 15 minutes apart with different sounds that I will wake me on my mobile phone and Amazon Alexa.

Sleep

6 to 8 hours

After that, I repeat my morning routine.

What is your evening routine?

How do I: plan a podcast

I plan most podcast series that I created.

How I do plan podcast episodes which are mostly interviews?

  1. Pick a niche topic that enough people care about and isn’t talked about much (hence the niche topic we will call XYZ for this article)
  2. Test the topic by asking a lot of people (that you don’t know) how much they care about topic XYZ and see if the market (people interested in the topic) is willing to talk about it who knows a bunch about topic XYZ or work in the field of XYZ. Look it up to be sure there is a network or groups of people interested in XYZ and join their network, group and/or conversation.
  3. Find 52+ people to interview on topic XYZ who are willing to answer a handful of pre-prescribed questions. This often means you need to ask several hundred people if they are willing to be interviewed because A) not everyone will say yes to the interview. Follow up and move forward. B) not everyone can schedule time to do this with you. Follow up and move forward. If they can’t, move on.
  4. Schedule all interviews over a 4–6 week period for 15–30 minutes calls. Mass interviews. Sometimes a few per hour, back to back. This can be all scheduled and managed.
  5. After the interviews are recorded, bulk edit all interviews in manageable groupings. I edit blocks of up to 10 interviews at one time. Schedule the time for everything if you want to get it done.
  6. Bulk approve edited interviews with interviewees. Email them the edited audio for their approval.
  7. Once approved, bulk schedule the release of episodes with a year (52 weeks) from those 52 interviews. Grouping or batching tasks is much easier than the start-stop-start model. It helps maintain consistency too. It is easier to schedule too. This is auto-pilot after you grouped up and did all the work ahead of time. Some podcasters I have met do 4 episodes at a time.
  8. Release weekly with some marketing to the XYZ community, interviewees, relevant social media channels, all the podcatchers, email marketing, interviewing with other podcasters/bloggers and word of mouth.
  9. Repeat the process for the next podcast series. You can do this a few times just like I did if you want to.

Questions?

Need help creating a podcast series for yourself or your business?

I can help you as much or as little as you like.  

Schedule a call for consulting on your existing or future podcast.

How I do: launch a podcast series from just an idea

I was asked to write about how to create a podcast series from just the idea. I thought I would share the process I use and the timeframe I do this in…while I do it. Again. I have created a few podcast series over the past few years, so this time I am documenting the process as it happens. Journaling as this journey happens…

Thursday, February 14

Got an idea. New topic for another potential podcast. Not every idea becomes a podcast.

Researched the topic in the early morning before going to work. Looked up how many people do something on this topic via social media and how many people have talked about this already as a podcast via Google and iTunes.

If I was starting another book, I would search the topic in question on Amazon. If zero to a handful of articles or podcast episodes are found, this means a niche has been found. If there are a few thousand people do this, there is an audience. I like niche topics more than overtalked about topics that we hear about too often.

What is the problem you are trying to solve? (what is this for?)

Who is the audience you want to talk with, about and to? (who is it for?) I rarely write just for me, however, it helps to be curious about the topic. So I create for myself first for the level of satisfaction unless I am creating for someone else… and someone else is paying the bill.

Went on Upwork and assigned someone the task of web scrapping 1000 contacts to reach out to people specific to this topic.

Sunday, February 17

With a boilerplate invite message, I invited over 100 of these people (I did not know) via social media to connect and I would send them the interview questions to ponder in advance with context about the podcast idea to be launched.

Why would I give my idea out so openly? The short answer is: who is going to do the work of implementing this idea into reality and follow through? If there was such a person, this would already be available. “Idea theft” is not a fear. It’s an excuse too many people use to not build/create and then share/sell.

Thursday, February 21

A week after the idea was generated. With the goal of scheduling 60 individual interviews for this podcast series to create a weekly podcast lasting 1 year, I already have 15 interviews scheduled. When people accepted my social media invite that showed they were interested in my idea and might want to be interviewed, I emailed my ask (interview them in the coming weeks) with context about the podcast (what’s it for), a little info about me and potential dates to click on so they could schedule the interview with one email. By this day, I had 12 interviews scheduled for the coming weeks of March. 48 more to go.

Why schedule and record 60 interviews for a year?

Weekly interviews equal 52 interviews for a year, however it is recommended to launch with a few interviews day one. And some interviewees may flake out or not respond to approvals. Not everyone is dependable in case this is something not realized. This is also why I have a 1000 contacts to revert back to if needed.

Thursday, February 28

Recorded my first interview for the EIR podcast.

Friday, March 1

Recorded 3 more interviews for the EIR podcast.

Monday, March 4

Recorded 4 more interviews today.  Have 11 more interviews scheduled in March so far. 50 other people interested in being scheduled for an interview this month. Following up on all invites later this week since the goal is 54 interviews recorded, edited, approved and scheduled by April. Still planning to launch in Spring 2019.

Friday, March 8

Have 12 interviews recorded and 12 others scheduled. There are 44 more people interested in being interviewed as I follow up with them each week.

Thursday, March 14

A month after coming up with the idea for the EIR podcast, I have 18 interviews recorded and 6 others scheduled to be interviewed. There are 48 more people interested in being interviewed, however yet to be scheduled. Not all schedules work out for a brief call this month.

Friday, March 22

Interviewed 21 and 13 others scheduled. There are 45 more people interested in being interviewed.

Tuesday, March 26

Interviewed 28 and 9 others scheduled now. There are 32 more people that claim to be interested in being interviewed and following up with them one more time on Wednesday, March 27.

Have 37 people say ‘No’ so far. Thought I would share the fact that the people saying “Yes” [counting recorded and scheduled only as “Yes”. Not counting interested parties] and the people saying “No” is 37 to 37 “Yes”s after a month of work. I hold no emotional attachment nor value to ‘rejection’ since that should be expected as a norm. Just move forward. It is not worth the level of effort to negotiate a “No” to Yes” for this project nor this timeline.

Friday, March 29

Interviewed a total of 35 and 5 scheduled for interviews. There are 30  people that mentioned they were interested in being interviewed, however after 5 follow-ups over 5 weeks…they might not be interviewed. Have a few last interviews scheduled for first week of April and then wrapping up the interview process. Had a few people reschedule several times however if they can’t find 15 minutes for a call within a month, it’s not worth chasing them with more than a few follow-ups.

Thursday, April 4

With all interviews recorded for this project, I am now in editing mode. Bulk review and writing of the edits needed for each episode. These edits will be sent in bulk 10 episodes at a time to an audio editor via Upwork for all audio editing to be done. Seeking an intro and outro (audio clips) for this series for the start and finish of each episode of the EIR Podcast. Need to record a ‘Welcome to EIR podcast’ now that I heard common themes from many EIRs during the interviews.

Friday, April 5

Too much going on to work on this project for now. Vacation is coming up on Tuesday, April 16. Plenty of time to catch up then.

Wednesday, April 17

While on vacation in Santa Rosa, FL, trained two people (Addie and Emmy) to review and write the editing instructions for my podcasts. Walked them through the process with one episode, provided them an emailed template per episode to fill out and gave them most of the episodes to listen and write down instructions in an email. These instructions include links, phrases to start and stop on along with timecodes.

Saturday, April 20

All editing instructions are completed. Still waiting for my intro/outro to be re-recorded.

Tuesday, April 23

Received Intro/Outro. Added this to editing instructions for each episode. Sent first 10 episodes for editing through Upwork.

Thursday, April 25

First 10 episodes edited and received. Sent the second set of 10 episodes for editing. Downloaded images for podcast cover/logo art.

Friday, April 26

20 episodes edited. Sent the rest of episodes for editing on Upwork. Approved the podcast cover art after three iterations and some feedback from a few people.

Sunday, April 28

All 39 episodes edited and sent for approval. This will be my latest MVP. If I get more along the way, that will be for the next season. Got 2 approvals already. Building the website now and connecting to the distribution for many podcast channels.

Wednesday, May 1

Entrepreneurs understand what an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is. So I am launching a podcast series with first 14 interviews approved to date. 4 other interviews need more edits per the interviewee to be approved. Week 1 will have a welcome episode plus 2 interviews to provide content right away based on those first approved interviews. First approved interviews become the first released interviews.

When do I interview these people?

Since I work 10am-6pm EST for a remote consulting client, I schedule interviews between 7am to 10am EST for people in the Eastern time zone and after 6pm EST for people in the Pacific time zone. A few were interviewed during the weekend if that worked better for schedules.

How long are the interviews?

The actual interview lasts about 4 to 15 minutes. Most calls are 10-15 minutes in duration including the interview itself (when I am recording). I often schedule 15-30 minute calls to work out any technical difficulties.

Changed this to 15-minute calls only since I was not using the second half of the 30-minute time block for calls and saw that as an inefficiency to be eliminated. Don’t need the time break either. I would often have 2 to 4 calls scheduled back to back in the morning or evening. It is a process of bulk tasking or grouping similar tasks together back to back. Recording 4 interviews in one day equals 1 month (4 weeks) of weekly podcasts. Get it done. Move forward.

Everything is done in bulk by time blocking tasks daily

As you can see, this is just another exercise in bulk tasking. No start-stop-repeat.

  • Bulk research for idea validation.
  • Bulk invites. Not sending one invite or email per hour/day, but rather 15-50 per hour.
  • Bulk scheduling. Once a day for the month of February.
  • Bulk follow up once a day.
  • Bulk interviewing. Time blocked to 30 minutes per call to record the 5 to 15 minute individual interview. During the last three weeks, I changed this to a 15-minute time block per call for 5-minute to 10-minute individual interviews.
  • Bulk reviewing of raw interview audio to create editing instructions. Insourced this thanks to Addie and Emmy.
  • Bulk editing with instructions with Upwork with an offshore resource using different timezones to my advantage so work gets done while I sleep.
  • Bulk approvals.
  • Bulk scheduling for release after approvals for the next 35 weeks.

And this is how I launched a 7 month-long series of weekly podcast episodes.

Want to listen to this podcast series? Find EIR Podcast whereever you listen to podcasts.

Want a course on this with more details, costs, links and tools used? Let me know

Want a podcast series created for your business? Send me an email

Questions?

Tools I Use: One Calendar

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Disclosure: Links to other sites may be affiliate links that generate us a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Time

How many sets of 24 hours do you have each day?  One 

So why should we use multiple calendars for scheduling all of our events?

Segment your time between work, personal (alone), family and friends with your schedule.

Yes, you can schedule your family and friends unless you find another 24 hour period per day.

Everyone has 24 hours per day, 1440 minutes per day and 168 hours per week.

What do you do with your time?

How do you use each hour of your life? Too many don’t care and waste it.

We are either productive or not.

We move the needle toward accomplishment or not.

We move the needle toward our own fulfillment or not.

I believe if I did not accomplish something every day, the day is wasted and that is hurtful to at least one person. You.

Even if I am sick or on vacation, that is not an excuse.

Track your time

How many calendars and scheduling tools do you use to track your time, all your meetings (personal/professional), all your calls and everything else in your day?

I know too many people who use nothing for their own personal schedule and a work schedule applied by their workplace. That is not time tracking nor time management.

Without time management,  we create excuses like “I am so busy” or “I don’t have time”.

The fact is we choose how we spend our time. We choose when we get up and go to bed. We choose when we eat. We even choose when we go to the bathroom.

There is plenty of time management advice about focusing on 1 thing or top 3 things per day.

I take a different approach.

Use one calendar for all of my time. Google Calendar follows me everywhere for all of my time.

Thoughts on Paper

Forget paper calendars. I know too many people who repeatedly lose their little agenda or don’t even travel with it.  Which makes it a useless afterthought.

Hanging in my office is a really nice, big paper wall calendar which was designed by the late Massimo Vignelli. It is very nice decor, but I do not use it.

Change

When you need to shift your calendar events because someone reschedules, how do you handle that?

Simply confirm a new date/time and drag the existing event to the new date/time on Google Calendar. Done.

A calendar change takes one finger on your smartphone. Yes, you can play “Calendar Tetris” by moving calendar time blocks as needed.

If the calendar tool we use is inflexible and cannot handle iteration, change the calendar you are using. Do not wait for change to happen to you. Seek it ahead of the change so you understand it better than after it happens to you. No whining. No excuses. Use your time more wisely. We can all make the time we need based on our own priorities. After all, it is your time. All 168 hours every week. How are you using your time?

Want to know how I schedule meetings and save time doing so? Read this.

Questions?