9 Habits: Act Your Age

Years ago, I wrote a bestselling book called 9 Habits of Highly Profitable Writing. I’m assaying a second edition now, and that process includes posting each of the habits here for you, for free. 

This habit is the scourge of freelancers of all stripes, but especially creative types like writers, web designers, musicians, and artists. If writing nonfiction is the habit that’s the most important, this is the one that’s most commonly missing among the people I coach.

The thing about freelancers is we fired our jobs for a reason. We went out on our own because we were sick and tired of being told what to do. We all thought we were smarter than our bosses, and we knew for damn sure we were better looking. We may even have been right, but do you know what we’re all worse at than our old bosses?

Being A Boss.

And that’s where so many writers get into trouble. We’re great at writing. Some of us are even good at planning long-term projects, but as a group we’re pretty terrible at following through on our plans. The sad truth is that if we were good at the daily grind of getting stuff done, we’d be happy punching a clock for full-time work with benefits and paid vacation. The result of this is a host of obstacles between the average writer and the freelance income you need.

Common symptoms of a Third Habit Deficit include:

  • Turning in assignments late
  • Working until 2 in the morning to turn in something on time
  • Having no clear budget, and no solid idea of how much money you made this month
  • Forgetting to invoice clients
  • Showing up late
  • Having to leave early
  • Not sticking to a budget you create
  • Slow or frustrating communication with clients
  • Constant worry about if you’re forgetting something
  • Constant worry about money
  • Having to miss family commitments to finish work
  • Taking on more work than you have time for
  • Finding yourself with insufficient work to fill your time
  • Disorganized time
  • Looking for key materials in your office, files or hard drive when you should be writing
  • Taking basic requests for change personally
  • Working poorly with editors
  • Knowing about solutions to your problems, but never having time to learn how to implement them

Don’t judge yourself too harshly if you resemble the above remarks. They’re epidemic among freelancers and consultants. Most of us are constitutionally challenged when it comes to professionalism and organization. I resemble those remarks more days than I care to admit. 

The good news is this is true of nearly all of us, which means if you conquer this disadvantage by building a contrary habit, you’ll have a competitive edge over all the competition who haven’t.

Lemmetellyouastory

A couple weeks ago I was visiting friends and family out of town during a long-planned trip. By chance, I also had two huge assignments due by the end of the week. I mentioned this to two literary agents, a film editor, and a professional writer.

All four of them made noises about how turning in a week late was still considered on time, or even early. They made it clear that industry-wide, deadlines are these porous concepts that nobody takes very seriously.

Which is good news for those of us with a Third Habit deficiency…but even better news for those of us who turn in on time regularly. When I made noises back to the effect of I know, but being on time is kind of my thing, they looked surprised and impressed.

Be Polite, Even When You Don’t Want To

A few years back, I did a series of blog posts for a medium-sized business in Los Angeles. As we were wrapping up the deal, my client told me I beat out 150 other applicants to get the gig. I asked him if he’d mind telling me how I floated to the top of that heap. He said that 98 percent of the applicants obviously hadn’t read the entire job description, done basic research into his industry, provided work samples or even bothered to spell-check their cover letters.

That goes beyond basic professionalism and into the realm of common courtesy. It’s not okay to ask somebody for money while simultaneously demonstrating no regard for or interest in that person. Professionalism starts with being polite, whether it’s this kind of research or simply thinking about how your decisions impact the time, stress or success of the people you do business with.

The Solution

We’ve established that we freelancers are bad at this, and that being bad at this keeps us from making the living we want. You’ll not I don’t say “the living we deserve,” since maintaining unprofessional habits means we don’t deserve to make any more money than we’re already making.

So how do we fix it?

We find a boss.

I don’t mean going back to a regular job. That defeats the whole purpose of having a freelance career. I mean find somebody who will hold you accountable for your success, and who you’ll listen to when you make them kick your ass. Whoever you choose needs to be able to:

  1. Make you commit to timelines and deadlines for finishing your projects.
  2. Touch base with you on your progress in a way that encourages you to stay on schedule.
  3. Chide you as gently or firmly as you need when you fail to keep your promises to yourself.
  4. Encourage you when you don’t feel like doing something important.
  5. Do all of the above without the kind of drama that leads you to rebel and sabotage your own success.

When I mention this to coaching clients, a lot of them immediately think of a spouse. That’s a natural idea, but in most cases it’s also a mistake. There’s too much emotional baggage, and too much ignoring of one another, in most marriages for this to succeed. Instead, try

  • A parent
  • A sibling
  • A former co-worker
  • A former boss
  • A writing group
  • A random friend

If you’d rather not work with somebody you’re that close to, my Iron Writer Community on Facebook provides some basic accountability to people, along with a group of freelance writers who commiserate and give one another advice when needed.

You can also take advantage of the burgeoning mobile worker community, which has meetups in most cities where work-from-home professionals of all stripes get together for companionship and accountability. Sometimes a like-minded stranger is a better person for giving this kind of advice than even your closest friends.

Exactly who you choose to hold you accountable is up to you, but you must have somebody. I meet weekly with a friend who owns a small motorcycle accessory business. We act as one another’s accountability partners – him for my writing, me for his shop. That works for my business writing. For my fiction projects, I meet with a writing group every other week…and they give me static if I haven’t delivered the chapters I promised.

Write Like Hell: Goals

Some folks who follow the blog, or connect with me over on social media, know about my Write Like Hell program. It’s a year-long program of coaching and accountability designed to get participants supercharged in their progress toward being a published and/or professional writer.

I was taught early on to lead by example, so here are my goals for the program. I’ll post at the end of each month with my progress, so the whole damn world knows whether or not I’m sticking to it.

 

Setting Effective Goals

smart goal setting for business writing coachBefore I get into the goals themselves, I want to address why the goals look like they do. It’s based on a few rules for making goals as motivational and effective as possible. I’ve posted on this before (and have a new post coming soon), but here’s some key guidelines you’ll see in action in this post:

  • They must use numbers: results must be measurable by numbers, and there must be a specific deadline for each goal. Without numbers, goals are just ideas you’d like to see happen.
  • They must be in my control: I’ll never set the goal of “sell 10,000 copies in a month” because I can’t make that happen. Instead, I’ll set the goal of performing Acts of Marketing that are likely to produce those sales. I can’t control who buys my books. I can control whether or not I get off my ass and chase those sales.
  • They must be realistic: if I don’t believe I can accomplish the goals I set, I’ll never really be motivated to pursue them. Some folk disagree, saying they can chase an impossible dream and be happy with what they do get. To me, that’s just starting the process with permission to not reach your goals.

One last rule for setting effective goals: I must give a damnIf the goals don’t serve something I care passionately about, then I’m not going to make the sacrifices necessary to accomplish them. Every goal I set leads me toward someplace I deeply want to be. To that end…

The Long Game

I start any goal-setting session for myself or with my clients by thinking about where I want my goals to take me. Here’s how I did it for myself.

First, know that the Write Like Hell program has each person identify five categories of goals:

  • Writing
  • Career
  • Relationships
  • Health/Fitness
  • (Bonus/Wild Card)

For each of those, I looked at where I am, and where I want to be in five years.

Writing & Career: I currently make most of my money from work-for-hire arrangements like ghostwriting, online content, and magazine articles. In five years, I want to make my money exclusively off my own writing (plus a few assignments in the role-playing game industry, because I love doing those).

Relationships: I currently have good relationships with my wife, kids, and friends. One of the kids is transitioning to living out of the house (he’s 18 and off to seek his fortune). I also have a bad habit of going long spans without connecting with friends who are off my immediate radar, if you know what I mean. In five years, I want those relationships with my wife and kids to be just as strong, and to strengthen my relationships with friends and family not in my daily contact sphere.

Fitness: Between being married, getting busy, and a couple of injuries I’ve let myself go a bit in the past two years. In five years, I want to be back in 100 push up, 5 mile, flat belly, black belt shape. I also want to knock the rust off much of my kenpo, and achieve a purple belt in brazilian jujitsu.

(Bonus) Self-Publishing: I currently earn between $150 and $250 a month from my self-published works, plus $4,000-$5,000 from crowdfunded projects. In five years, I would like that number to equal a total of $60,000 a year.

Now that I have my five-year goals, to which I am attached, I can set my one year goals and divvy out my promises to myself for November.

Writing Goals

By September 30, 2019, I will have finished three YA novels for traditional publication. These will include:

  • Bushido Chronicles 2: Fighting Upstream, turned in to my publisher Not a Pipe by November 30, 2018.
  • Rio Sangre, finished and sent to at least 50 agents (or accepted by an agent) by March 30, 2019.
  • Bushido Chronicles 3: Title Pending, turned in to my publisher Not a Pipe by Aug 31, 2019.

 For November, my goal is to finish the penultimate draft and receive feedback notes by November 30th.

Career/Marketing Goals

By September 30, 2019, I will have substantially increased my social media following and mailing list subscriptions through the following initiatives:

  • Completed and set up an implementation schedule of Russell Nohelty’s Sell Your Soul course by Nov 30, 2018.
  • Directly invited a total of 1,000 writers (including people at speaking engagements) to my Iron Writer Facebook Group by Sep 30, 2019.
  • Engaged in 24 public announcements of my Iron Writer Facebook Group by Sep 30, 2019.
  • Directly invited a total of 2,000 people to join my two mailing lists by Sep 30, 2019.
  • Engaged in 48 public announcements of my two mailing lists by Sep 30, 2019.

For November, I have the following goals. Finish the Sell Your Soul course by Nov 16. Create an implementation calendar for same by Nov 30. Invite 10 people each a week to join my Iron Writer Facebook Group, my Break From HOKAIC writers’ newsletter, and my Martial Arts Social Media Pro newsletter. Announce Iron Writer and both newsletters individually on Facebook twice each. Make 12 contacts for publicity opportunities around my communities.

Relationship Goals

By September 30, 2019, I will have taken action to enrich my relationships with the people in my life. These actions will include:

  • 12 date nights and 4 retreats with my lovely and talented wife by Sep 30, 2019
  • Going on 24 excursion adventures with my youngest son Gabriel by Sep 30, 2019
  • Made 100 quality check-ins with my oldest son DJ by Sep 30, 2019
  • Hosted 20 family dinners at my home by Sep 30, 2019
  • Made 300 quality check-ins with friends and family who aren’t in my day-to-day connection sphere by Sep 30, 2019.

For November, that means a date night with Rachel, 2 excursions with Gabriel, 8 check-ins with DJ, 2 family dinners, and 30 check-ins with other people I care about.

Fitness Goals

By September 30, 2019 I want to be back at my “fighting weight” of 190 pounds and achieve flawless execution of 6 of my kenpo katas. Toward that end, I will perform the following:

  • Walk, run, bike, or swim a minimum of 150 hours.
  • Perform 15,000 repetitions of pushups, situps, and superman twists.
  • Perform physical therapy for my left shoulder and right elbow so I’m off the disabled list.
  • Perform 1,200 repetitions of various katas.

For November, my plan is to perform 10 hours of cardio, perform 1,000 repetitions of the calisthenics, engage in daily PT stretching, and perform 100 repetitions of short one kata.

Bonus Goal: Self Publishing

Moving toward self-publishing success means pushing my Random Encounters series and my Kickstarter presence. By Sep 30, 2019, I will have:

  • Self-published 5 volumes of Random Encounters, Season 2. 
  • Self-published the print anthology edition of Random Encounters, Season 2.
  • Delivered 9 editions of a Random Encounters newsletter.
  • Successfully Kickstarted the Itty Bitty Writing Space anthology.
  • Successfully Kickstarted one other self-publishing project, exact nature to be determined.

For November, I will achieve the following. Establish a template and style for the RE newsletter. Release Episode 1 of RES2. 

 

This Ain’t Your Mom

It’s not easy. It’s not cheap. Write Like Hell was initially inspired by Tom Callos’s now defunct Ultimate Black Belt Test. I completed that program three times, and it utterly changed my paradigm for what I’m capable of accomplishing in a year.

So I’m pushing hard because my family deserves to have me at my peak, physically, emotionally, and with my career.

If you’d like to know more about Write Like Hell, email me or find me on Facebook. We’re full up for enrollment this year, but you can get on the waiting list.

Till next time, then. What are your goals for this month?

 

9 Habits: Dress Up

Years ago, I wrote a bestselling book called 9 Habits of Highly Profitable Writing. I’m assaying a second edition now, and that process includes posting each of the habits here for you, for free. 

Habit Two: Dress Up

Yes, freelance writing often means you get to telecommute.

Yes, that means my work day starts and ends with me in my jammies and a three-day stubble on my face. Yes, people who come to my door are lucky I’m wearing pants. Yes, this is one of the best parts of my job.

And yet….

You still have to maintain a professional appearance. The “face” you put forward to potential clients will determine whether or not they offer you a chance to impress them with your writing skills.

There’s a story…

Husband: Honey, would you still love me if I was ugly?

Wife: If you turned ugly tomorrow – got burned in a fire, or cursed by a witch or something – of course I’d still love you. It’s the parts on the inside that I fell in love with.

Husband: Awww. Thanks, honey, that’s just what I needed to hear.

Wife: But if you were born ugly, I wouldn’t have ever asked you out in the first place.

That’s doubly, maybe triply true in the world of finding clients. If you don’t show up at your best, then potential clients will never go on that first date than shows the substance behind your style. This doesn’t just apply to how you personally look. 

8 Keys to Looking Good For Potential Clients

  1. Having a professional website. Does yours look current and professional, or like you hand-coded it using a Dummies book in 1998? Does it demonstrate that you can write coherently, and edit what you write? Does it include current contact information, and a recent resume?
  2. Maintaining a social media presence. Do you have a compelling profile on at least two social media platforms? Does your content there compel comments, likes, shares and retweets? Do you have a following that you can use to promote clients who hire you? Do your comments demonstrate professionalism and a positive attitude?
  3. Using images effectively. Are all the images on your website of high quality? Do they show appropriate subject matter? Do your profiles include a photo of you looking good while doing what you do? Do you provide proper accreditation for images you didn’t make yourself?
  4. Communicating professionally. Do your emails to potential clients observe proper grammar and get your point across as effectively as possible? Do you avoid foul language in your public posts, and in your messages to clients? Do you respond rapidly to questions, and give advance warning if something happens to put you off schedule? Do you follow basic professional protocols in your communication on the phone, in person and via electronic media?
  5. Maintaining an impressive portfolio. Do you provide compelling and recent work samples related to the jobs you’re seeking? Is there a testimonials page on your website? Do you solicit testimonials from your favorite clients once or twice every year?
  6. Grooming yourself. Do you see to basic hygiene before meeting somebody in person or via video chats? Can you put on a suit or good dress for important client meetings and initial interviews?
  7. Have an elevator pitch. Can you communicate what you write, and why you’re great at it, in a 2-3 sentence statement taking less than a minute to deliver? Can you deliver it without stuttering or otherwise sounding unprofessional?
  8. Getting those letters. They don’t have to be Ph.D. or MFA, but any kind of awards, testimonials, speaking credentials, or similar badges of authority go a long way towards making you look like a serious professional doing serious work.

If you have to answer “no” to some or even most of these questions, don’t panic. You’ve simply identified a few of the habits you need to build over the next several weeks.

Avoiding Dealbreakers 

Here’s another story.

In 2014, I would take my toddler son (now 8 years old) to buy groceries. He liked identifying and counting food. I liked getting the job done and spending time with him. It was a win-win father-son outing of lovely proportions. 

One day in line, a young woman in front of us offered her nannying services while we were both waiting at the register. A total stranger hit me up for a job, just like I tell all my writing coaching clients to do. She did a lot of things right.

  • She observed the first rule of freelance job hunting: tell everybody you meet what you do, and ask them to pay you for doing it.
  • She opened the conversation by demonstrating her knowledge of her field. In this case, she engaged me about parenting and her experience with children.
  • She asked me for work in a straightforward, almost abrupt, manner.
  • She told me about her past experience, and offered to provide references.
  • Her entire communication was professional, yet approachable and friendly.

It was an excellent pitch, but I never called her. Despite having five things in her “pro” column, she had two in the “neg” that absolutely nixed any possibility of my hiring her.

Reason #1: She was dressed in a ratty sweatshirt and very (very) tight camo pants. Sure, it was Sunday morning at the grocery store, and she even apologized for the outfit. But if you’re in the game of asking for work every time you leave the house, you should dress for work every time you leave the house. It made me wonder what other details she was in the habit of forgetting.

Reason #2: She smelled like cigarette smoke. I don’t consider this the sin a lot of people seem to think it is these days, but it is a deal-breaker for anybody who wants to spend time with my kid. My attitude on this is pretty common up here in the granola-chewing, tree-hugging, holier-than-thou Pacific Northwest. She’d neglected to do basic market research in her chosen field. 

Two small details of her appearance outweighed multiple excellent points in her favor. Remember: the people who make decisions about hiring freelancers are besieged by people asking for work. They’re not looking for reasons to say yes. They’re looking for reasons to say no.

Don’t give them easy reasons. You should never miss out on a client just because you didn’t feel like getting permission to use a photo, or put on your grownup pants on your way to get some milk. On the job, on the web, and in the world…dress up of you want to make it as a freelancer.

9 Habits: Write Nonfiction

Years ago, I wrote a bestselling book called 9 Habits of Highly Profitable Writing. I’massaying a second edition now, and that process includes posting each of the habits here for you, for free. 

Habit One: Write Nonfiction

This is absolutely the most important piece of advice you will ever hear about making money from your writing. It’s simple, direct and to the point. In case the name of the habit didn’t make it clear enough, I’ll say it again:

If you want to make money writing, write nonfiction.

Why do I say that? Most people who say they want to write for a living envision turning in a novel or two a year, maybe going to a book signing or a reading in the Village every summer. Doesn’t writing nonfiction defeat the whole purpose of being a writer?

I say it for about 70,000 to 100,000 reasons every year that I earn in about three hours a day. If that’s not enough to convince you on its own, let’s break down some of the facts that make this so.

  1. The market is much larger. Specifically, the 2013 Writer’s Market contains 412 pages of listings for magazines that buy words. Forty of those pages describe magazines that buy fiction. The other 372 are nonfiction markets. The ratio is even higher with online opportunities.

  1. The competition for that tiny fiction market is ferocious. Just about everybody has a short story or half-finished novel sitting on a hard drive somewhere. People who can write compelling nonfiction are rarer, and people who want to rarer still. On average, even professionals can expect about 2% of their submissions to new markets to get accepted. Compare to 10% for nonfiction publishers.

  1. Nonfiction rates per word range from 5 to 10 cents to a dollar or more. Most fiction magazines want you to give them work for “exposure” or a couple of copies of the magazine so you can show your parents. Of the fiction markets that do pay, even the high-end markets top out in the 10 to 25 cents range. An average of 2 cents per word is what you can expect starting out.

Add all of those together, multiplying each factor by the next. Using even the most generous numbers in the fiction range, and the most conservative in the nonfiction range, and here’s what you get:

See that tiny line on the left, the one that’s only visible because I doubled it from its original size? Yeah. Running the numbers above, nonfiction writing is over 200 times as profitable as fiction writing.

If you like those apples, here are a few more to add to the bushel:

  • You can take a single nonfiction idea and spin it into a dozen saleable articles without looking like a jerk.
  • Marketing copy is an excellent source of recurring work at 10 cents to a dollar per word.
  • In the past few years, nonfiction books have started hitting serious bestseller, lottery winner sales.
  • Nonfiction is much easier to write than fiction. That means you write more words per day, at a higher pay rate per word.
  • Nonfiction magazines and websites are far more open to repeat contributors.
  • Nonfiction books and articles have a much longer self-life than fiction. People buy them or bring them up years after their publication.

Best of all, you can work on your fiction in the time you’re not writing nonfiction to make a living…and while you write your nonfiction, you’re still exercising your writing skills. You improve your craft with every sentence you type into your keyboard. This beats the hell out of working a non-writing job to pay the bills, then trying to throw down a few hundred words in your off hours. (More on that in a minute).

Eight Ready Nonfiction Markets

My first paid nonfiction article was in Black Belt Magazine. I got $250 for 1,000 words. It was my first submission to that magazine, and led to more than 20 assignments over the next five years.

It tell you this because my first paid nonfiction article was in the industry where I had been working before I became a writer.

When you’re wondering where you’ll find nonfiction markets to by your words, ideas and expertise, look to these options for starters.

  1. The blogs you already read right now.
  2. The magazines in the hobby shop you regularly visit.
  3. The web pages of businesses you go to frequently.
  4. Trade magazines from your previous careers.
  5. The website and newsletters for any trade, professional, or alumni associations to which you belong.
  6. Consumer magazines for your hobby or your industry.
  7. YouTube channels about your areas of expertise. These people often buy scripts.
  8. Publishers focusing on your hobbies and professional realm.

If you list everything you already know about in all eight categories, you’ll likely end up with a list of 50-100 ready-made markets for your words. That’s not a bad lead list for someone new to any game.

But Aren’t You Selling Out?

When I talk about this at conferences, I hear a few people every time talk about how writing commercially is somehow “selling out.” They seem to consider it a pedestrian sullying of their talent, something to which they could never condescend to stoop.

If that’s how you want to live your writing life, go right ahead. It’s a free country. But consider these two scenarios:

Scenario One: Spend two or three hours a day writing commercial copy, business documents and nonfiction articles. Spend another three hours working on your novels, poetry and short stories. Finish work two hours earlier than at a regular job, without a commute. Recharge with your friends and family, and then do it again tomorrow.

Scenario Two: Burn eight hours of every day working at Starbucks or Home Depot, then commute home and give your family the attention they need. Then find the time and energy to produce your writing in the corners of time left over.

Which of these truly “sells out” your talent as a writer? Which is more likely to mean you never finish, let alone sell, the masterpiece that’s waiting inside you? It should be pretty obvious which of those two I think constitutes a crime against my writing talent.

What do you think?

 

Write Like Hell

I want to invite you all to a new experiment I’m trying out in learning how to write for a living (or write for living better than we all are right now). I’m calling it Write Like Hell.

Write Like Hell is an aggressive, one-year course of accountability and community designed to take your writing life to its next level faster than you dreamed you could. 

The epic journey, like all journeys, begins with taking one step…this time into the gates of hell.

Before I get into the details, though, there’s one thing I want to make clear.

You don’t actually need me to perform the Write Like Hell Challenge. The core concept is simple. It consists of just two steps:

Step One: Make several promises to yourself, promises which will move you inexorably from the writer you are today toward the writer you want to be.

Step Two: Keep those promises.

That’s all the Write Like Hell Challenge is. It’s powerful, and I think it’s important. I think it’s so important that you can email me to get the syllabus for free. You can do it on your own, because I’d rather you do it without paying me anything than you not do it at all.

That said, you’re more likely to succeed if you do it with me. I say that because Write Like Hell gives you:

  • A structured, guided framework for setting and meeting personal goals
  • Accountability to help you keep promises to yourself
  • Expert instruction and coaching on all aspects of freelance and professional writing
  • A community to support your efforts

It’s one Hell of a year (see what I did there? I kill me.) But you’ll come out of it knowing you’re capable of far more than you imagine, and with the tools to make it happen.

Fair warning: It ain’t easy. And it ain’t cheap. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it.

The Details

Here’s how Write Like Hell works. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The Requirements

The core of Write Like Hell is built around what you will do. Over the course of the year, you will set and work tirelessly toward a set of six manageable but aggressive goals:

  • One Writing Goal: Duh. A huge part of this year will be to write more, and write better. This focuses around completing one or more writing tasks over the course of the year.
  • One Career Goal: You can’t be a successful professional writer without behaving like a professional. These goals will surround building your professional profile and network, based on the kind of writing you want to do.
  • One Relationship Goal: The people around you are what makes life worth living. You will make a point all year of nurturing your relationship with the people most important to you.
  • One Health Goal: Being healthier will make you a better writer. You will have more energy, a sharper mind, and more productivity in your writing. This isn’t some kind of crazy boot camp, but the program includes adding one thing to make you healthier over the year.
  • One Personal Growth Goal: The day you stop learning is the day you stop living. This is especially true for writers. It doesn’t matter how you grow, as long as you keep growing. This year we’ll make sure you keep pushing your personal envelope.
  • Bonus Round: Everybody has that one thing. Maybe it’s a habit you want to build, or quit. Maybe it’s a relationship that needs more attention, or a life situation that makes you unhappy. Doesn’t matter. Write Like Hell includes choosing one of your “one things” and making it right.

Each month will also include a personal challenge: an experience to broaden your experience, which will in turn broaden your writing.

The Schedule

Of course none of the above happens in a vacuum. We’ll adhere to a strong 12-month schedule built to help you realize your potential as a writer and creative professional.

  • October – Meet & greet with fellow team members. Orientation. Individual weekly sessions to nail down goals and set up a plan for achieving them.
  • November – First month of progress. Recalibration meetings as month comes to an end.
  • December– First benchmark month. Light duty month, also. Never promise you’ll accomplish a lot during the holidays.
  • January – Resolution month. First month of PUSH WEEK.
  • February – Relationships focus. Virtual convention.
  • March – Second benchmark month. Coaching and push to reach interim goals.
  • April – Spring cleaning month. Second month of PUSH WEEK.
  • May – Light duty month. Get ready for summer season. Pitch party.
  • June – Third benchmark month. Coaching and push to reach interim goals.
  • July – Summer . Third month of PUSH WEEK.
  • August – Penultimate month. Self-assessment and sprint to the finish.
  • September – Final push and graduation.

Like I said. This won’t be easy. Or cheap. But I believe it will be worth it. To some writers. I don’t know if you’re one of those writers, but if you are, keep reading.

The Curriculum

I’ll be on available throughout the process for coaching, advice, and general encouragement. So will every member of the team. “But that’s not all!” Your tuition includes access to a stack of resources to further help make sure you succeed.

  • Pdf files of my Year of Writing planner
  • A dedicated, private Facebook Group where we’ll meet and chat daily.
  • Weekly check-in meetings to assess progress and assign next steps.
  • Monthly educational sessions, where industry professionals answer your questions.
  • Monthly subscription-box style e-book drops with even more information for you to digest.
  • Quarterly readings by member authors, which we help you arrange and promote.

We might add a few extras along the way, depending on who signs up. For example, folks who live near each other might do some physical meet-ups. And I have a couple of unconfirmed celebrities who might be on the line to teach a class. More on that as things develop.

Why Is This Happening?

Let’s start with the long game.

Within five years, I want to create an organization that serves writers and other freelance creatives. This organization celebrates and leverages the Twin Super Powers of freelance creatives:

Super Power #1: Time and Location Independence. You can do your work from anywhere in the world, at the times that best suit you. This means I get to coach my son’s chess team because I’m not at work when it’s in session. It also means that, if a library in Missouri got flooded out, I could go help without asking a boss for permission.

Super Power #2: Fan Base. Whether they’re clients, coaching customers, or book-buying fans, professional creatives have a group of fans willing to support their efforts. It’s how I make a consistent living. It also means that, if I wanted to go help that library, I could talk 50 people into donating $20 each toward the cause.

This organization will first and foremost help freelance creatives succeed so they can enjoy those superpowers every day. Secondly, it will exist to annually leverage those superpowers via a “service convention” where we get together to Save the Freakin’ World (™) and also learn about how to further our careers.

When that library gets flooded, I want to show up with 20 authors and $20,000 to spend a week putting it right. Reliably. Year after year.

Creating that starts with Write Like Hell, a year where I help build 24 of the kinds of authors who might participate in making that goal a reality. If you’re just in it for the year, your tuition will help me focus my efforts on building it. If you stick around, you’ll be in on the ground floor of something that can make the world a better place.

A Bit of Story

I stole this idea wholesale from Tom Callos’s Ultimate Black Belt Test, which leveraged the Twin Superpowers of Martial Arts School Owners (Immense Energy and Student Body) toward much the same ends.

I participated in “UBBT” three times. It was incredibly aggressive. A portion of the requirements included:

  • 50,000 pushups and situps
  • Running 1,000 miles
  • Completing 150 hours of cross-training
  • Apologizing to somebody I had wronged
  • Achieving 12 “personal victories”

Here’s what I learned most from UBBT. It created a paradigm shift in what I believed was a reasonable amount of effort to put into my dreams, and of what I believed was possible to achieve. My experience there is why I was able to go full-time as a writer less than a year after deciding to try it.

I want to give that experience to you. Now, UBBT was a professional and commercial education program. It cost me $400 a month. Write Like Hell won’t be cheap. But it won’t be that expensive.

Similarly, it demanded nearly 15 hours a week of effort, but much of that effort synched seamlessly with the life of a martial arts school owner. I realize most people in Write Like Hell will have jobs and lives. It will require time and commitment, but not that much.

Why You Should Work With Me

“Jason Brick has authored, co-authored, ghostwritten, or edited 44 published books, and over 4,000 online and print articles. He speaks internationally to businesses about writing, and to writers about business.”

Or at least that’s what my bio tells me.

More importantly, my background is what makes me good for this. Before hanging out my shingle as a writer, I taught martial arts for over a decade. Inspiring, coaching, and providing accountability for folks is one of my best things, and I want you to help me start using it to make the world more awesome.

How I Suck

Over the past three years, I have tried various iterations of this with middling success, for free. If you’ve tried it, you’ll recognize the pattern.

We’d start strong, but then I wouldn’t be as present as I had promised or wished. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to. I just needed to earn a living first. That sometimes meant my absence for days at a time, and less engagement with each participant than I liked.

Which is why I’m charging this time around. The income I get from this will mean I can devote 20 hours a week to helping you get where you want to go. It will be my job, and I always do my job very, very well.

TL/DR: The Bottom Line

Here’s what you’ll get:

  • A year of coaching, accountability, community, and guidance to change your writing life forever.
  • Access to and contact with industry professionals who can lift you up.
  • A fundamental shift in what you believe yourself to be capable of.
  • My unflinching support and undying gratitude.

Here’s what it will cost;

  • 5-10 hours of your life once a week for one year.
  • Total commitment to improving your writing life.
  • $125/month or $1,200 as a lump sum.

Interested? Email me at brickcommajason@gmail.com or call me at 503-334-9058. Let’s find out who we can be together.