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Everyone writes differently. In this episode of the Writing Momentum podcast, Chris shares the tech and tricks he uses to pump out manuscripts, make deadlines, and get his writing noticed. (Plus, get your free goal-setting for authors ebook!)
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Episode 54 Transcription:
[00:00:14].530] - Gena Hi everybody, and welcome to the Writing Momentum podcast. I'm Gena Maselli and I'm here with my husband, Christopher Maselli. [00:00:21].800] - Chris Hey. Hey. [00:00:23].090] - Gena We are here talking about we just wanted to kick off the 2023. We wanted to kick off talking about just what works for us. [00:00:32].860] - Chris Yes. [00:00:33].260] - Gena So we are talking about tech stacks and what do we mean by tech stacks? [00:00:37].510] - Chris Right? So when someone says, what's your tech stack? They mean what apps do you use to get done? What you get done? If someone's looking at your web website and they say, wow, what's your tech stack with that website? They're saying, what web program do you use to create the website, what plugins do you have? That sort of thing. When it comes to writers, if we talk about our tech stack, that means what apps do we use to write, maybe what ones do we use to do our project management or our marketing and that sort of thing? Our publishing. [00:01:06].190] - Gena Great. Let's get started. Tell me. And this is going to be we're going to split step, it's going to be a two parter. We're first going to talk about Chris's tech stack and these are the software solutions that he cannot live without. And so let's get going. So what's your first one, Chris? [00:01:22].890] - Chris Yeah, and this is going to be interesting because I think they're going to be different between the two of us on a lot of these things. Although the first one I know is exactly the same and that is that for writing I use Microsoft Word. I know you use that too. We've been using Microsoft Word since early 90s, I think, whenever it came out. Pretty much, I think. [00:01:39].870] - Gena Late 90s. I think we started with me pro. [00:01:43].110] - Chris No, that's right, back in the day. [00:01:45].350] - Gena And we have graduated to Word and we pretty much don't use anything else. And it is an industry standard. So this is nothing new. [00:01:54].740] - Chris That's a lot of the reason we use it is because every publisher, every editor you work with will probably ask for the files in Microsoft Word format. Now, that doesn't mean there's not other good viable options out there. There's a lot of great options for even iPads, right? There's apps that you can use there. There's other writing programs you can use. You can use Google Docs. But more often than not, if you use those other programs, if you want to share a file, you're going to have to go ahead and export it to Microsoft Word so that the person receiving it can get it in the standard format that most people use. Plus we have used it so many years that we have learned how to deep dive into work. Right. A lot of people just use it just for the basic word processing power. But if you really get into it, there are some great things you can do as far as structuring a book in Word, using macros to get stuff done really quick and do all kinds of formatting. And it's also a program that I will put other documents into when it comes to formatting, like an ebook in order to get it into Word, to get it out of Word. [00:03:05].340] - Chris Because most publishing programs need to have the documents in Word before they can import them. So again, because you're going through Word anyway, we just learned we might as well use it to write in. And you know what, it's fast, it's very robust, but you can keep it very simple if you want to. It's not that expensive, but it's actually free if you're willing to use the online version because there is an online version of Word that you can use also. You may not have known that and it's very robust. So yeah, we love Microsoft Word. [00:03:38].180] - Gena Well, and I just want to point out because sometimes I've worked with clients or I've worked with different people who don't have Word and there can be because it is such an industry standard, go ahead and do yourself a favor, use the free version if you need to. But then what happens is you're not having to export to a try to get it into a different program or vice versa, which then becomes a real headache and it can really throw off your formatting. [00:04:06].090] - Chris Yeah, that's true. And we also like programs like Scrivener or like Plotter. These are very good programs for writing books, for plotting your book, things like that. However, we still find ourselves keep going back to Word. I just like starting there, I like ending there. So I use Word now when I sit down to write. The first program I actually start with before I start working in Word is a program called Focus. [00:04:32].360] - Gena Okay, tell us about focus. [00:04:34].420] - Chris Focus is a program that you turn it on and what it does is it automatically blocks pretty much most of the Internet so that you can't get distracted from what you're doing because distraction is a huge problem, right? They say that we get distracted something like 36 times per hour. It's some silly number. So to keep myself from getting distracted, I will turn on Focus. That stops all my email notifications, it stops my message notifications, it stops me from being able to browse the Internet. Now it does let me whitelist sites so I can go ahead and say let me go to dictionary.com or let me go to BibleGateway.com because these are resources that I use sometimes when I'm writing. But outside of those it doesn't let me do anything until my timers up. So I'll usually set it on for a 45 minutes timer because I like using the Pomodoro technique which we've talked about on this podcast before, and I. [00:05:28].350] - Gena Want to say that I have started using Focus as well. And I do love that. I live by it when I put it on because I found myself getting really distracted by email notification and by text messages, which there's nothing more frustrating than being in a stream of thought while you're writing and all of a sudden getting a text message from something, like a marketing something or other focuses. I live and breathe by it when I'm writing. But let me ask you, because I have it, because we have MacBooks, it's automatically in there. What can someone with a Microsoft or with Windows yeah, so we're actually talking. [00:06:04].450] - Chris About two different things then. If you're using the one built in with the Mac, the Mac has an app called Focus built into it. And what's great about it is it also syncs with your phone. So it also stops sending notifications, messages, emails, all that on your phone while you're working. But I'm talking about a separate app that's called Focus for the Mac. And it does a similar thing, but it has a few more functions, which is why I use that. But, yeah, you can just use the built in on your Mac or on your phone and it'll do a very similar kind of thing. Yeah, definitely turn that on. It's worth it. If you're using Windows, just search for Focus app, Windows and you'll find something. [00:06:45].000] - Gena There are several out there. We've looked at those. Okay, what's number three? Chris? [00:06:49].150] - Chris Another way I keep my focus is I get together with our group, our Writing Moments group, and we talk about writing moments a lot on this podcast because we love it. This is a group of us, we get together once a week and we sit down and work on our individual projects together. And we'll spend about 45 minutes while a short teaching, and then we'll spend 45 minutes writing together by video cameras, working on our individual projects. And it's just a way to keep ourselves accountable, keep ourselves, again, focused. And so that's something that I do every week and I absolutely love that. If you want to find out more about that, go writingmoments.com. Or you can go writingmomentum.com and you'll also find a link right on the top. [00:07:31].820] - Gena Yeah, that has proved to be really good because we do get together, and I think even for freelance writers like us, a lot of times what we do is we are freelancing, we are working on other people's projects, but a lot of times I save that Writing Moments time just for my own projects. And so I try to keep that for me, for my own projects that I'm working on. [00:07:52].620] - Chris Keep it a little bit set aside. [00:07:53].900] - Gena So that it doesn't yeah, and we've also already we've been doing this now for about seven months. We've already had our first success story of a book being published that came out of Writing Moments. And we're looking forward to we've got some other people who are very close to finishing their projects. So it's just a great way to just stay on track and stay motivated. And I also think that it's a great way, the community aspect of it, because it's not just a cold click in and do whatever. Let's write it is a come on, we chat for a little bit, we find out about what's going on with our projects. We celebrate the wins, we commiserate if anybody's having struggles with anything. But then we also have a little bit of a teaching before just a ten minute teaching that's led by Chris or myself or Rene Gutteridge before we. [00:08:49].940] - Chris That's the thing when you get together and you have that kind of accountability, you are going to have successes with other people and yourself. When you have that regularly scheduled time every week, you will have successes, which is why you want to put that in your calendar. So that's just one of those things that really works. [00:09:07].740] - Gena It really does. All right, what's number four? [00:09:10].300] - Chris For formatting my books, I use a program called Velum. Velum. Velum is for the Mac only. I've transitioned over to using just a Mac. I used to use a PC all the time, especially because I love Microsoft Window or Microsoft Word. But I've come to find out that the Mac just really works well for creative types like we all are, right? And so I really like it. Velum allows me to format ebooks and print books completely within the program. And the way it looks is the way it actually turns out on paper. In fact, a lot of these books, if you're watching a video that are behind me here, these were all formatted for clients using Velum. And so, yeah, if you want to get into formatting your ebook or formatting a print book, check out Velum. It's a very strong and good program. All right. And then I like to go ahead and sell my books through Kindle, right? Through KDP Kindle Direct Publishing, which is Amazon's publishing service. They sell most of the ebooks that are put out there on the Internet, plus most of the books at this point. And so I figure you might as well keep it simple and use them. [00:10:14].530] - Gena Very good. All right, moving on. What's the next thing? [00:10:18].020] - Chris All right, so the next thing we want to talk about is project management. How do I manage all the projects that I have? So I use a couple of things. The one is Robust project manager called Click Up, and it's very powerful. I really like it. I used to use Trello, which is a bit simpler, a lot simpler. And there's another one called Smart Suite that I really like too. And so between those three, I think I would recommend any of them. But Click Up is the one I use. It allows me to put all my projects inside. And I've got a virtual assistant that will go through there and help me figure out what I need to do next. And that sort of thing is I always need help with the management side. I used to try to do it all myself, really up to this last year. And finally I just realized, man, I could do so much better if I just had a little bit of help. And so I've got some help, and we use Click Up for that. But that doesn't replace probably the thing that helps me the most with project management, and that is just a blank document sitting on the side of my computer screen. [00:11:14].360] - Chris When I work, I have a blank document. And on that document, every morning, I put the meetings that I have for that day and the times, as well as the projects that I plan to work on, the three or four projects. And me and my project manager, my virtual assistant, will get together every day. She'll tell me what's on the schedule, what I need to do. I'll confirm what's right, and then that's just what I work on are those items. And I don't get concerned with everything else on my to do list. It takes a load off my shoulders. I don't have to look at my calendar during the day. It's just that what's on there is on there. So that blank document, you could use, a postit note, you could use, anything like that, helps me tremendously. And I also like using it as a work record. So anytime I finish something during the day, I have another place on them where I write what I finish. And that gives me a sense of accomplishment. [00:12:01].710] - Gena Yes. And I want to point out, because I've seen you over the years try so many different, so many different you've tried different planners, you've tried online planners, you've tried so many different systems for keeping track and for helping you day to day. So I think it's interesting that it comes back to just a blank piece. [00:12:20].040] - Chris Of paper, piece of paper, physical piece of paper. But the reason I didn't like that is because, first of all, when things change, I ended up scratching stuff out. But also, I wasn't able to have that work record where I could move things forward and back really easily just by copying and pasting like you can on a computer. And that's why I do that. I actually use a program called Day One for that. Day one is again a Mac program. It's also on your phone. But it allows me to keep that work record and then see my calendar and all my accomplishments over time. So I can now go back actually several years and see what I was working on and what I accomplished and what I did. And it does it gives you a huge sense of accomplishment that's really good. Now, we've been talking about 15 minutes about this stuff, so I don't want to get into all that. I could talk about all the stuff we use for marketing, right. All the stuff we use for branding, a lot of things like that. So maybe we'll come back on another time and have a podcast just on those things, because I really just want to focus on how do we get our writing done. [00:13:19].760] - Chris Yeah, talk about that with you next week. [00:13:22].260] - Gena That sounds good. Yes, we're going to talk next week with me. So please come back. [00:13:27].410] - Chris Please come back. So just to give you a quick recap, I use Word for writing. I use Focus for writing. I get stuff done because I'm a part of writing moments. writingmoments.com. I do my formatting through Velum. I use Kindle Direct Publishing for selling. And I use ClickUp for project management. And best of all, just a blank old document right there in the corner of my screen. [00:13:50].420] - Gena Thank you. Go ahead. [00:13:51].360] - Chris Thank you. Thank you so much for listening and for watching. We hope that this benefits you. If you have any questions about any of these apps, go ahead and let us know. And if you've enjoyed this podcast, please go ahead and rate, review, subscribe, and share with someone else that you think will benefit, because that helps get the word out. [00:14:07].680] - Gena Yeah, and I'd like to hear from you, too, down in the comments below. If you're following us on YouTube, or you can send us a text message or email, but let us know. What do you use? What are some of the program software that you use that you just can't live without, and that helps you get your writing done? We'd love to hear about it. [00:14:25].330] - Chris I find this stuff fascinating. [00:14:26].810] - Gena I do, too. [00:14:27].860] - Chris All right. We always do better when we hear what each other does. [00:14:30].550] - Gena It is. [00:14:31].140] - Chris And why is that, Gena? [00:14:32].490] - Gena Because together we have writing momentum.