An Above-Average Joe

Business Writing CoachYou’re going to see a lot of changes on this site over the next few weeks.

I’ve been writing for a living since 2009 and sharing what I’ve learned about the industry since 2010. It’s been fun, and I’ve appreciated the comments and compliments I’ve gotten from everybody who’s been a part of this blog over the years.

But here’s the thing. Writing is a small part of what I do…and a small niche in which to teach. Much of what I know — and most of what I did before writing — is far more widely applicable. So I’m branching out in this blog to cover life coaching, business coaching and similar fields.

The overwhelming majority of what I’ll have to say (and of what I’ve said so far) can be summed up in the title of this post: above average Joe.
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Middle of Nowhere Sessions (A Kickstarter Story)

If you can’t move your bar to the music, move the music to your bar…

Reggie Mace and Beth Rahn of Mace Mead Works have been doing that for a little less than a year now.

images Mace Mead Works is a bar in Dayton, Washington, a small farming community about halfway between Walla Walla, Washington and Cour d’Laine, Idaho. If you think there’s nothing at that point on the map, you can be forgiven. It’s pretty middle of nowhere.

Which is why they call their Kickstarter project the “Middle of Nowhere Sessions.”

Here’s the thing. In an attempt to bring in more customers to a bar that belongs in a city but is situated in a town where everything is within walking distance, Reggie and Beth have brought in musical acts from all over the Pacific Northwest. The bands have brought customers, some of whom come back. They want to expand on this model, specifically by

• Building a stage in their back room for better events
• Adding acoustic tile
• Buying sound equipment to record the concerts
• General publicity and word-getting-outness

It’s a good idea, but with 5 days to go they’re at just over 50% of their goal. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons that might be: Continue reading

Kickstarter Month Post #1: April Huneycutt

april_210.large I’ve spoken to a lot of writers about Kickstarter lately. Some had advice. Many had questions. One of my colleagues — a client who has me do some research and structural coaching for her — recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for her memoir.

To really get the rest of today’s post, you need to follow this link and view the campaign. It has some good and some not-so-good that will help for you to understand. Plus, it’s a pretty cool campaign all things considered. Continue reading

Listening to Your Elders

getoffmylawn I spent the past five days in a whirlwind of speaking, transit and moderately heavy drinking…all thanks to having been invited to give four presentations in three days at two conferences in Northern Washington.

They were great cons: Write on the River in Wenatchee and the Northwest Travel Writers’ Conference in Spokane.

Regular readers won’t be surprised to learn I like cons. They’re a chance to talk shop and visit in a job where we spend most of our time by ourselves. They’re also a source of real inspiration as you talk to other people who are doing it right.

But my favorite part is talking with the elders. Like any other tribe, our clan of writers includes those who have gone further, done more and been around longer than me. When I can find a quiet corner and a few pints with one of these people, I do not miss the opportunity. Here are a few hints that have worked for me for making the most of these conversations. Continue reading

Getting Started as a Professional Writer? Try This

The first step in becoming a professional writer is deciding you want to be a professional writer. The second step is developing a small body of work. If you want to write fiction, you need some short stories to sell to print and online magazines. If you want to write nonfiction or ad copy, you need a few articles or blurbs to show what you can do.

I’m going to assume that, if you want to become a professional writer, you aren’t one yet. This likely means you have a regular job. Maybe a wife, kids, commute and house to take care of. You can’t devote all your time to making this happen. That’s life…but it doesn’t mean you can’t make your portfolio happen.

Try this.

On Monday of next week, sketch a simple outline of a story or article. For fiction, write a sentence or two about each character and each major part of the tale. For nonfiction, write a note describing each paragraph in your essay or copy structure, and some lines about where you’ll go for further research.

On Tuesday, write the “sketch draft.” This is the simplest written form of the story. Any time you get stuck, write in parenthesis a note about what you want to have happen and move on. “John looked into Stella’s eyes and said (something eloquent about loving her).” or “(Put actual statistic here) out of 100 Americans say they fear a terrorist strike in their local area within the next 10 years.” Get it all down.

On Wednesday, focus your efforts on filling in those parts you skipped the day before. Look up the the statistics, scan through scenes in books and movies you liked for inspiration about how to handle those tricky scenes. At the end of the day, you’ll have a working rough draft. Continue reading