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Beginners’ Self-Publishing Salon Podcast: Being A Part-time Author W/ Michael La Ronn & Jay Artale

Beginners’ Self-Publishing Salon Podcast: Being a Part-time Author w/ Michael La Ronn & Jay Artale

Beginners’ Self-Publishing Salon with Jay Artale & Michael La Ronn

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Just because you're trying to juggle a full or part-time job with family commitments doesn't mean you can't also work on your indie author dreams and aspirations. All you need is a stable foundation to build upon.

This is a Fringe highlight session from our Beginners' podcast team Michael La Ronn and Jay Artale. Join Michael and Jay as they extoll the virtues of the indie author triangle of success: the right mindset, effective writing tools (that work for you), and a strong support network. 

They share how to create writing systems that produce consistent words day after day, the right tools to make the most of your limited time, and how to develop a support system to keep you going in the hard times. Even if you only have just a few minutes a day to write your next novel or non-fiction book, this podcast will inspired you to write better, write faster, and build the foundation for your self-publishing career. Don't let your fear of failure or doubts as a writer hold you back.

Here’s a summary of the topics we covered:

  • Writer's Mindset Challenges
  • Reasons for Not Writing
  • Author's Fear of Failure
  • Conquering Mindset Challenges
  • Finding Time to Write
  • Work Life Balance
  • Where and When you Write
  • Essential Writing Tools
  • Dictation Tools for writers
  • Building an Author Support Network

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Each month we’ll be discussing a different aspect of the self-publishing journey from a beginning authors perspective.

Read our Beginners’ Self-Publishing Salon Transcript

Michael: The focus of today’s session is going to be for those authors out there listening who aren’t full time authors yet, maybe that’s your aspiration, maybe you haven’t written a novel yet and you’re just trying to figure out how is it that I’m going to write all these novels when I have no time, I have five minutes per day or half an hour per day or whatever that might be. I have children. I have someone to take care of at home. I have a demanding job. All those things, if those thought processes have gone through your head, you’re in the right place because we’re going to give you some tips and techniques to figure that out. So, first we figured we’d start of by talking about who we are. Do you want to start Jay?

Jay:  Yeah, absolutely. I’m a project manager and I swapped corporate life for a nomadic existence as a travel writer and I work with authors and entrepreneurs to help them achieve their self-publishing goals and to reach their target audience through content marketing. I have published  a series of travel guides, a travel memoir and non-fiction books about travel writing. I really, purely focus on non-fiction and that’s why Michael and I are such a great team because he focuses primarily on fiction. So, Michael, do you want to say a little bit about yourself too?

Michael:  Yes. I’m Michael La Ronn. I am the author of over 30 books of science fiction fantasy, also written some self-help books for authors and a couple other different genres as well. But what makes me qualified to talk about this topic is that I am not a full time author. I am a part time author. I work at a fortune 100 insurance company in the United States that many of you listening would probably recognize and I have a very demanding job there. I’m working eight to nine hours out of the day and I find time to write in the cracks of life, as Ryan Pelton often describes that. What makes things more even more complicated for me from a writing perspective is that I’m currently in Law School and I have a three year old. So, finding the time to write is a challenge for me but I have managed to do it, and I’ve managed to write 30 books doing that. I love talking about productivity and writing and finding that time to write even if you don’t think you have it, because it’s something that I’ve lived. I hope that today’s session will be something that Jay and I both, drawing on our diverse experience, will be able to share with all of you. Let’s talk next about who this is for.

`Anyone listening to this is going to be able to get some benefit out of it. But our first question is: Are you an author stuck working a nine to five? If so, you’re in the right place. Today, what we’re going to do is we’re going teach you how to create writing systems that produce consistent words day after day. We’re going to talk about the right tools to help you make the most of your limited time. Whether that be five minutes, half an hour, an hour, whatever that maybe, we’re going to help you make the most of that. And then we’re also going to talk about how to develop a support network, keep yourself motivated and inspired. Especially in those hard times because as many of you listening know, life hits you hard and you just have to know how to be prepared and deal with it. And so, we’re going to talk about that. We’ve also gathered, in the process of developing this session, a lot of feedback and a lot of questionnaires and surveys from authors who are doing exactly what we are doing, living the part time dream. We have some testimonials and some really great inspirational quotes that we’re going to share throughout the show, to let you know that you’re not alone and that you can do this.

Mindset Challenges

Jay:  It doesn’t matter what kind of tools or techniques you have as an author. If you don’t go into this journey with the right mindset, then it’s going to be flawed from the start. That’s why we’re going to kick off today’s session looking at mindset challenges. Are you standing in your own way for achieving success? If you don’t have the right mindset, then it’s going to be a real uphill battle. No matter what, whether you spend hundreds of dollars on the right software or you come up with some techniques of how to write. If your head isn’t in the right space, then you’re going to be the barrier to your own success. Today, Michael and I are going to look at how we overcame some of the challenges and there are some common themes that we came across when we were doing the surveys that are the input for this session. If you really want to be a writer, then it’s going to have to be you that molds around the challenges that will be coming at you on a daily basis.

Reasons for Not Writing

Michael:  One of the things that I talk to people about when they ask me about being a writer, they often ask, “Ok, you’re a writer, but what’s the name of your book”? And I say, “Which book? And then they ask me how many I’ve written and I tell them 30 and they say, “Oh, my gosh, how did you possibly do that with all the different obligations that you have”? And I ask, “Are you interested in being a writer”? and they’ll easily say yes. And I say, “Ok, so, talk to me about that, where are you at”?. And they’ll say, “Well, I can’t do it because… And it usually falls into one of three categories. The first is a fear of failure. You don’t want to start because you’re too scared that you’re going to fail for reasons that we often talk about on our podcast. I easily dispel that by simply just saying, “Can’t win if you don’t play, right”. The second category is often, “I don’t have the time”, you will find that you do have the time when we start talking about ways that Jay and I find time, that we find five, ten minutes here and there and ways that other authors are finding time in their day. That is often not a barrier, it’s often a positive for reasons that we’ll cover here a little bit later. And then, “It’s just not the right time”, is something that I hear often as well. I will tell you that there is just never a right time to start being an author, or to start your next novel or to start whatever it is that you want to be working on and at some point you just have to say, “Ok, I’m just going to hunker down, sit at the desk, sit in the chair and do it”. And it will be little bit uncomfortable but you’ll be so glad that you did do it when all’s said and done.

Fear of Failure

Jay:  Yeah, that’s right. I think it’s only human to be afraid of failing. Now one of my favorite quotes is that Hemingway quote which is, “The first draft of anything is shit”. Even the best authors have doubts about the quality of their writing. If writing was easy then everybody would be doing it. It’s only human to have fears about your own writing especially when you’re a beginning author and you’re writing in a solitary environment and you don’t know whether it’s good or not. You know, there are lots of different challenges when you first start and knowing whether your writing is good or not. But you know, even the most successful athletes, they have to continually train to become good at what they apply themselves to and it’s the same as being a writer, you have to keep writing and writing and writing. That’s why it’s best to just start, don’t let fear of failure or fear of whether you’re a good writer or not stand in your way. And I believe that if you’ve got a passion for it, then that passion is going to show up in your writing, that’s going to shine through, and then later on down the line you have a team of experts to help you with the proofreading and the editing. Don’t let fear of failure stop you from getting started, get started and then deal with the details later down the line. You’ve got over 30 books Michael, when you were writing your first one, did you have any doubts about what kind of writer you were, whether you were a good writer or not?

Michael:  My very first novel, I kept thinking this was either going to be a train wreck or it’s going to be cool. I found that’s what I continue to think with all of my novels, that’s never changed. For those of you that know me I tend to write on the edge and the stuff that I write about is not always mainstream and so, I’m always on the edge. The edge of the proverbial deep end, I like it there and I think it’s fun, but it’s not without its fear. I remember writing my first novel, it really was scary because I was thinking, “What if people reject this, what if no one wants to read this book”? “What if I’m just writing something that’s just going to end up in a garbage can”. But it gets better as you go on. A lot of authors will tell you that once they’ve finished their first novel, that fear gets cut in half, if not 60, 70 percent. When you write the next novel, you’ll be amazed at how much bolder you are because you have conquered that fear. There are a lot of people that never get to that point and so, if you can get to that point, you are well ahead of much of the competition.

Jay:  Because if you have that fear of not being good enough, then be proactive, there are so many resources out there now, on the internet, there’s books, there’s forum, there’s online classes, there’s college classes, there’s evening classes. There are so many tools available to writers now.

Michael:  Oh, absolutely. That is one of the greatest things about the self-publishing revolution is that there have never been more resources and tools and books and podcasts and Indie Author Fringe’s available for you to look at and learn from other people’s experience. There are a couple of things that I want to call out in this section in terms of mindset that helped me be more productive and minimized that fear and put it in the corner so that it didn’t hinder me.

Believe in Yourself

The first is what I called a growth or abundant mindset, so, just going into this with the notion and the mindset that you’re going to be successful and that you’re going to build the world around you. But that quote that you mentioned Jay, that you’re going to mold the world around you, that has always been my mindset and it has always worked out very well for me. Another thing I like to always tell people is that your career, is a career of seasons, you may be able to write a ton of stuff today and this time next year you may be dealing with something in your life may prevent you from getting any words at all. During those times when you have the ability and you have the time to write, make the most of that time so that, when you do have those seasons where you can’t write things, they don’t feel so bad and you can focus on dealing with whatever it is you need deal with to get there. The third thing I want to call out is what’s called a practice mindset. Something that has worked really well for me and I don’t know if I would call it the secret to my success or not, but I treat everything I do as a practice for a full time writing career. I focus on discipline, I focus on time management, I focus on writing fast, writing well, building characters better. All of those things will serve you well as a full time author and those things are often full time author pitfalls. You hear stories about authors going full time and they didn’t know what to do with their time, all of a sudden they had eight hours a day and they didn’t know what to do with it. If you focus on learning those things first as a part time author, that will make you dangerous as a full time author, if you wanted to do that with your career.

Jay:  Does that make it seem less stressful or overwhelming to you? Like there’s not so much pressure, that it is a practice run or why do you think that works so well for you?

Michael:  I think it’s, you are what you want to become. You dress for the role you want. Like I said, mindset is so critical, it’s so important and if you can at least get the negativity out of your mind, then just focus on conquering that fear, you will be amazed at what you can do and I know there’s probably some people listening to this and thinking, “Oh, that’s just foo-foo, I’ve heard a lot of authors say that mindset crap”. There’s a lot of mindset crap out there but at the end of the day, it’s your career right? You’ve got to be a steward of your own career and your own desires and your own career goals. And what better way to start than to go into this with complete positivity, eyes wide open.

Jay:  Well there’s that other Hemingway quote which is, “Before you quit, try”. There are people that don’t ever get to that try and then failing, they stop before they even try. That’s such a shame that you would stand in the way of your own success. But it does all boil down to having a positive attitude and knowing that you can do it. And if you try and try and try and if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Michael:  Absolutely, and speaking of try, try again we have some great testimonials from authors and I think this will be a great time to introduce some of those.

Jay:  Ok.

How To Conquer Mindset Challenges

Michael:  We sent out a survey to our contacts and a lot of different authors that are in our ALLi Facebook group or personal contacts or friends and we wanted to get their take on this exact same topic as it pertains to mindset. We wanted to pick a couple of these and talk about them and share them with you so you can see that other authors probably have the same struggles that you do and the same things that are probably going through your head and maybe it will cause some light bulbs to go off and maybe cause you to look into doing some things differently than you’ve been doing them in the past. Would you like to go first Jay?

Jay:  Mia, who writes contemporary fiction, she conquered that mindset by saying that she didn’t have to be perfect which is allowing yourself not to expect that first draft to be perfect and I think that is a really a great approach to allow yourself not to be so hard on yourself and expect the first book to be a best seller.

Michael:  Oh, absolutely. “Perfection is the enemy of done”, right, that’s a great quote, I don’t remember who said that. But yeah, I think as an author you have to adopt that same mindset.

Jay:  Did you come across any author quotes that resonated with you?

Michael:  Yeah, from mindset, Christine Frost wrote that work life balance was her biggest challenge when she first started off and when she first started self-publishing she was working a job with a brutal schedule and “vacation” meant working from home. But she made the time anyway, she did the research and she wrote well into the night and through much of the weekend whenever she could. And she ended up changing career tracks and joined a startup where the hours were better and now she has much more control over her writing life, she’s more organized, more productive and happier overall. I think that’s a great testimonial in terms of changing your circumstances when you’re able to accommodate your writing.

Jay:  One thing I noticed with lots of the responses from the mindset question, was lots of them had to do with time. In order to get into the right mindset, authors had to create time or change how they were doing things. And that’s actually the next section that we’re going to talk about is one of the biggest excuses that authors give is that they just don’t have enough time.

Finding Time to Write

How do you create those pockets of availability within all the other pressures that you have, whether it’s pressures of your job, whether you’ve got family commitments. How do you adjust to make sure that you create those pockets of time to write?

Michael:  Before I became a writer I was a musician. I used to write music and I used to always say, “I can’t write music unless I have a really big block of uninterrupted time”. I could have 15 minutes and I could have sat down to write something or start a song, but I would never do it because I wanted at least an hour and a half. Looking back on that, I realize how silly that was because in that 15 minutes I could have done something, anything that could have moved the career forward. I think it’s worth stopping at this point and talking about that because there are probably a lot of people listening who would think the same thing. That, well, “I can’t write unless I have a lot of time to do it because writing takes a lot of time”. But sometimes you have to adjust that mindset and you have to open yourself to doing things a little bit differently than you have in the past. Maybe you only have that 15 minutes because you’re spending the rest of that time with your family. We all have priorities in our life that we choose to devote our time to. There’s never been any question for me that even if I can only write 3 or 400 words a day, I’m going to do it because this is what I love to do. If you’re thinking about writing, if you’re thinking about this being the life or the path for you then you probably feel the same way that I do and there’s probably no choice, right. And so, you just have to figure out a way to do it.

Jay:  Looking at everything that you do during the day and then seeing where you can steal some time, and not trying to set too big of an expectation that you need to find 90 minutes to write, finding 15 minutes to write, or half an hour to write. Whether that means getting up a bit earlier in the morning or staying up a bit later at night, depending on whether you’re most creative, in the morning or the night. Or just looking at where you waste time, I think that’s the biggest time suck. People do not realize how much time they spend jumping over onto Facebook just for a minute and then you go down these rabbit holes of content and before you know it there’s half an hour gone.

Michael:  And you know what I found too, it’s like talking about money right, nobody wants to talk about money. Money makes people really uncomfortable. So does talking about time and time audit. If you had to do a grid of all the things that you were spending your time on, I think a lot of people would be like, “Oh, man I don’t want to know that I’m wasting my time on YouTube or Netflix”, a lot of people just don’t want to know. One of the great steps moving forward is trying to figure that out and recognizing that maybe it is a problem and maybe there are some things that you cut out of your life.

Jay:  I use a free online software called Toggle which is a timer and it allows you to start a timer when you do a specific activity. And then when you stop doing that activity you hit the stop button and you just classify what you just spent your time on. I juggle multiple blogs you know, when I was looking at getting some more writing time, I started looking at all the time that I’m spending on the blogs, whether it’s messing around with the theme or whether it’s doing social media for the blog. I really started looking at the return on investment to really assess what I was spending my time on. But I really needed it down in black and white. So, even if I say I’m going to jump on Facebook to post some blog posts from one of my blogs, I’ll time myself, and you think, Ah, that’s only three minutes here and that’s only four minutes there”, but at the end of the week it gives you a good summary of where you spent your time and then seeing that rolled up summary for this whole week, you’ve spent X number of time on Facebook, X number of time on Twitter. You’ve spent goodness knows how long on YouTube looking at videos and you really start to look at where your time is going. If you’re not sure where your time is and where you can grab and steal time from, there are all sorts of things you can do but it has to work for you and it has to be sustainable I think is the main take away for me.

Michael:  That’s absolutely true Jay. One of the things we should probably transition into as you talk about using Toggle as a tool, is what kind of techniques and tools we’re using to find the time to write in those cracks of life right. One of those things that I do, and it’s just my daily routine is that I wake up a five-thirty every morning and I devote that time to writing before work. I’m easily writing, taking care of e-mails and things like that and that’s usually my biggest block of uninterrupted time. When I’m at work I easily have breaks, I easily try to set a goal of writing at least one or two sentences during those breaks. I easily have tea in the morning and tea in the afternoon, I try to at least write one sentence while my tea is brewing and then usually evenings are reserved for my family and then once my daughter goes to sleep, I easily spend another hour, hour and a half writing as well if I’m not doing any kind of studying for exams and that sort of thing. Those are the techniques I think that have helped me balance my writing, work and personal lives while also getting the time in. How about you?

Work Life Balance

Jay:  I look at it as trying to find that balance, you talked about work life balance and I think that’s important when we’re looking at authors that have full time or part time commitments. But looking at how you balance your personal life with your work life with your writing life and that if you’re putting too much emphasis on your work or your personal then you’re not going to have enough time to do your writing. So, it’s finding that balance and then finding those gaps and pockets of activity that you can leverage to make sure you have time to write. But I think, lots of writing is, especially when you’re a beginning author is getting into that right mindset. I know that lots of authors do a little bit of meditation in the morning to get themselves into that mindset. Do you need to get in the right head space or you’re so finely tuned you can just jump in and out?

Michael:  I tend to jump in and out. I like to meditate whenever possible. I usually do it in the mornings, I spend about five minutes just with my eyes closed in my chair in my office. I usually just recline, think about, “Ok, where did I end in my current work in progress, where do I need to pick up in my current work in progress”? and then I just try to clear my mind and I find that really helps me pick right back up where I left off.

Where and When you Write

Well let’s hear from our authors here for techniques. Where and when do you write? Pascale Kavanagh writes, “The truest answer is wherever and whenever I can”. I travel extensively and almost always have my laptop with me. Long airplane rides are priceless, if the days get too full with other obligations I write all night long. I think that’s a great mindset and great working attitude.

Jay:  Yeah, the one that jumped out for me was P.D. Workman was saying that whenever and wherever I can, the same kind of approach. He says, “My MacBook Air goes pretty much everywhere with me. I’m up at five-thirty and writing till about seven-thirty and also write on my commute to work, over my lunch hour, after supper if I don’t have to be out running errands and during the day, Saturday”. It’s really a bit of an erratic writing schedule or if that kind of scattered approach wouldn’t work then it’s trying to carve out a block of time and maybe starting out with a short block of time like a 20 minutes or half an hour because that’s more than enough to be able to get enough words down on the page to make a writing session effective. I think it’s adjusting your own life to a schedule that’s going to work for you and then trying to see if it will be sustainable and whether you can do it because if it’s too much of a struggle you’re going to drop off and not be able to maintain it.

Michael:  This is definitely one of those areas where you want to hit the easy button, when you’re first starting off, right? You don’t want to just throw yourself entirely into it. You’ve got to ease into it, one of the things we saw consistently from all of the authors that we surveyed was that very few of them, if any of them, had large blocks of time to write with. We saw a lot of writing on the train, writing on the plane, writing on the bus, writing on the way to work, that sort of thing and so, if you’re a part time author, I think you have to accept that that is your reality. There’s really no other way to say it other than it’s impossible to have a career in this industry where you’re producing book after book after book with high volume without figuring out some way to write in the cracks of life. And that maybe a little controversial and there would probably be some people that will push back against me on that, but I really do believe that you have to have professional discipline, I don’t know how to say it, approach to this. You can be consistent, you want to be able to produce consistent books because that’s how you build a career in this new world of publishing.

Jay:  I quite like this erratic approach.

Michael:  Sometimes you’re most creative when you have less time. Like there’s a threshold I think, and I don’t know what that number is but if you have greater than X amount of time to write, maybe you won’t be as productive. Maybe you won’t be as creative. I’ve always found that I have thrived when I was under a deadline or when I’ve only had five minutes to write and I knew I had to finish this chapter, just think about that too.

Jay:  What’s that, the Pomodoro Technique they’re saying that you need to do that focused batch of activity and it’s like 20 minutes and you give yourself 20 minutes of focused activity and then move onto something else and if you know that you’ve got that reduced amount of time, you’re suddenly under pressure, that you can do that burst of activity before getting sidetracked on something else.

Essential Writing Tools

Michael:  That’s a great segue. We wanted to talk a little bit about writing tools to help you write faster, help you write better. What tools do you use when you’re writing?

Jay:  The one that you introduced me to a couple of months ago that’s really revolutionized my writing which is getting the Scrivener App on my phone and being able to either type directly on my phone, straight into Scrivener or also doing transcription audio recordings directly into Scrivener as well. And I think that it’s the availability of your writing tools whenever you have time, because there’s nothing worse than being inspired and wanting to write and you don’t have anything to write with or you don’t have your phone. Having that Scrivener App available to me and having it sync up to the Cloud so, then when I go home and I get on my laptop, I can access the same draft that I was working on earlier. You have to create this flexible set of tools that work for you and I think you really have got to try all these different tools to see whether they work for you or not. Because I know that some people probably wouldn’t want to type on their phone. I’ve got a really old iPhone, it has a tiny little screen, but I manage it. I’m not sitting there typing for hours, it’s usually some key ideas that I just want to jot down. And they’re in there and then I build on them later when I’m at my laptop.

Michael:  I use Scrivener as well, because I introduced you to the tool. Scrivener is something I’ve used for my entire career both on the desktop and more recently on the mobile. At this time it is currently available on iPhone only, but for those of you listening who have iPhone’s, it’s a great tool. I easily begin my day writing on my desktop, actually I should say my laptop and then I transfer everything onto my phone, so that when I’m on breaks, during work or at lunch I can pick up where I left off. I do most of my writing these days, honestly, exclusively on my phone, two or three thousand words a day, probably two thousand to twenty five hundred of those words might be on my phone and I don’t use any special Bluetooth devices or keyboards or anything like that. I use my phone and I put it into landscape mode and I type. Now that might be a little maddening to some people but I’ve got a fairly large phone and I’ve got a fairly large hand so, it doesn’t bother me that much and it’s worked very well for me because I find that I’m frequently in situations where I don’t have access to my computer. I know that some people have some reservations on about typos and grammar and things like that. I have actually found that there really virtually is no difference. If you can get used to typing on your phone, you will be surprised that once you get going and know what your quirks are you really won’t have that many issues. Those are the tools that I exclusively use in my writing business.

Jay:  Part of it is also having access to your documents up in the Cloud somewhere, so, no matter whether you’re on a phone or on an iPad or on your computer, that you can access the same drafts because there’s nothing worse than trying to sync up drafts and which one you’re working on. That was the big epiphany for me moving over to that Scrivener App. It’s finding how if you have the flexibility of writing everywhere, what tools can support that so, you work out what writing style and approach works for you and then choose the tools that will support and make you be successful. I know lots of people get enamored with tools, they don’t know how they’re going to use them but they just like the idea of a tool or a certain software, it may not be the best one for them. I think for an author to work out whether you need a block of time or whether you’re going to write in the cracks of life and you have that scattered approach, then how do you make it feasible to create that writing life that you want with the many other tools out there now. Michael talked about Scrivener, but there are other writing Apps out there. I know you’ve talked about Ulysses before, is that another thing like Scrivener?

Michael:  Oh, yeah, Ulysses is fantastic. It’s another writing App out there that has almost all the same functionality as Scrivener and maybe then some. There’s certainly a divided camp on the internet of people who love Ulysses versus people who love Scrivener. So, that’s something I would definitely encourage anyone to check out if maybe you’ve never used either of them. I mean, there are some people out there that just use Microsoft Word. They just use that and upload everything into the Cloud. You shouldn’t have to marry yourself to any tool. It’s just a matter of how you can get the job done.

Jay:  I noticed a trend in all of the author responses we got for tools and probably about 80 percent of them used Scrivener. There’s a reason why lots of authors use Scrivener, it’s a bit of a learning curve, but it does revolutionize how effective you become as a writer.

Michael:  We asked our authors, “What are the top three author tools you rely on and why”?  I thought it would be beneficial to read through some of the things that we saw consistently. Scrivener was probably the number one response if we did a Wordcloud on it. Grammarly is something that people use for grammar and spelling. The Story Grid popped up, your
onscreen narrator, Microsoft Word, pen and paper, how could we forget that. Scapple, which is mind mapping software that’s made by the makers of Scrivener. Google docs. There’s a wide variety of tools and techniques out there that you can use, and if you haven’t heard of any of those, check them out. I always tell people you really have nothing to lose by trying a free trial or just trying something out for a week just to see if it works for you or not.

Dictation Tools

Jay:  One of the things that lots of authors use to increase their word count and to avoid repetitive strain is using dictation. And there are lots of dictation tools out there, obviously Dragon is the most well-known one. I started using the Scrivener App on my phone to use dictation and that actually uses Dragon software behind it as the basis. Just being able to record the text and lots of people have said that has really increased their word count ability. So, maybe that’s something that if you’ve only got 15, 20 minutes that you’re available to write, maybe turning over to dictation and you can actually increase your word count.

Michael:  Yeah, and I don’t remember where I saw these statistics, but I’ve written entire novels dictating. I’ve written about two or three novels using the dictation process and I’ve written them pretty quickly. I think you speak two to three times faster than you type. A session where you might only write 500 words, think about that, do the math, you could get 1500 words. So, it’s something to look into, I know that dictation has been very well covered on all the podcast networks and all the blogs. Check it out and see if it’s for you.

Jay:  The key thing to remember when you’re choosing your tools is that they should help you, they should be your partner and they shouldn’t hinder. And if you’re struggling with a tool that you just can’t get to grips with, move on, find something else that does work for you.

Building a Support Network

Michael:  Let’s talk about the final part that we wanted to hit on today. We talked about mindset, we’ve talked about techniques and we’ve talked about tools. We wanted to hit on support network because as a part time author, we all know that all writers can be sensitive people and what we do and the career path we’ve chosen isn’t always the easiest one. It’s certainly not the one that is filled with the most people. We’re easily by ourselves, holed away in a room for hours at a time, coming up with stories. Sometimes that can be a little difficult and sometimes we have feelings of guilt and doubt and so, we wanted to talk about a support network and what that means and why you should start building one if you don’t have one and perhaps what that looks like a little.

Jay:  We’re looking at it from a, you know, you get a support network at home, you’ve got a support network at work maybe and then a support network amid your peers.

Michael:  You want to maintain a balance between your work life and your personal life. So, I think it’s the same thing, you want to maintain a balance between your writing life and your professional life as well because in many cases they are not things that you want to mix. I work in the insurance industry, talking about writing books would have no relevance on my LinkedIn page or in my day to day job. And so, just as you use pen names to separate the books that you’ve written in separate genres, you want to try and keep those separate but that’s our personal opinion, that’s worked for us. You want to do what works for you, just keep that in mind.

Jay:  Most important is having that support network at home, that’s one of the biggest things.

Michael:  Yeah, you can’t do it without it. I mean I wouldn’t have been able to write as many books as I’ve written without the support of my wife and one of the things that we often do is at times when I’m writing books a lot or need more time to write or study or whatever it might be, my wife gives me that time and then when I’m done, she takes the time to do whatever it is that she wants to do. We’ve got this really nice balance, a rhythm that we have in our lives that really helps me keep the writing going.

Jay:  I was just looking at responses from authors on this section and one of the responses from Ann Diva who’s a fantasy writer about what support she has, she said my husband  is constantly saying, “Hey, are you surfing or writing, I don’t hear any typing”?  So, any jumped out at you as far as support network?

Michael:  Yeah, my favorite came from Mia Kumari Gilman, and I have to read this verbatim because I love the quote. We asked, “What is the integral part of your support network”? And she wrote, “Humans, hot beverages, they’re equally important to my process”. I like that, writing is solitary for short periods but after a while, humans are needed for interactive inspiration, companionship and commentary on the work. In the middle or later stages of book creation, the whole team from Beta Readers Publishing, all that becomes an integral part of the process and don’t get me started on hot beverages. But it’s so true, I mean we do spend a lot of time behind closed doors and so, that interaction with family and friends is really important to help you recharge the batteries and fill that creative well.

Jay:  Yeah, one of the other ones that jumped out at me was one by Ian Sutherland who’s also doing a session at the Indie Author Fringe and he said, “Spending time with other authors, swapping tips and ideas”. I’m a regular on ALLi’s Facebook group and occasionally show up at Alli’s London meet up’s, and I’ve tried to get to the London Book Fair which nowadays feels like a work day out where I get to meet all of my author friends, but when you first start writing, it’s a very solitary process, but at some point you go over that barrier and you want to start reaching out to other authors, whether they’re within your niche or something like in NaNoWriMo writing with other people. I think that’s an integral part of a support network as well, as long as you have that support at home or if you don’t have any support at home, where do you find it? In the virtual world we live in today, there are so many writers groups, Facebook groups out there that you can get support and feedback from your writing or even if you just want to chat about the challenges you’re having. Having that peer to peer support network I think is a really great thing for beginning authors.

Michael:  If you don’t have someone that, from a writing standpoint, you can bounce ideas off, find someone. And if you want us, we talk all the time about Mastermind Groups and start a Mastermind Group where you guys meet once a month and just bounce ideas off of each other and it’s a great way to balance everything because if you let it, writing can overwhelm you. Focus on building relationships with other authors in your genre and making friends because it will serve you well in the long run.

Jay:  Part of the biggest challenge of what we been talking about today with getting in the right mindset and finding the right tools and techniques and finding the right support network is that there is no single answer and there’s no single solution, everybody’s life style is different. Today we’ve give you some food for thought and a jumping off point for being able to get in the right mindset, find the techniques that will help you balance your full or part time job with your writing goals.

Michael:  In this session we hope that this has been helpful for you to, if you’re a beginning author, start that path to becoming a productive author even if you’re only writing part time. Ultimately it is about mindset, it is about the tools, it is about the techniques you use and it is about the support system and if you boil it all down into one thing, we would have to use all of those things because we believe that each of these is integral to becoming a successful part time and full time author. A big thank you to the authors that took our survey. We really appreciate your time and, for those of you listening, if you heard a couple names that you didn’t recognize, be sure to Google them and check out their books as they are living the dream that you probably want to live as well.

As a final call to action, if you enjoyed this session and this interaction between me and Jay, we have our monthly self-publishing beginner’s salon as part of ALLi and we are broadcasting the third Tuesday of every month. So, be sure to check us out and subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you find your podcasts and listen to them as we would greatly appreciate that and would love to have you be a part of our podcast community. So, yeah, be the change that you want to see in yourself and with that we will leave you and leave you to enjoy the rest of the Frankfurt Book Fair and Jay and I wish all of you listening nothing but the best of success in your careers.

Jay:  Yeah, good luck and happy writing and happy publishing.


Tips for being a part-time author and getting full time results @jayartale @MichaelLaRonn #AskALLi Click To Tweet


Meet your AskALLi Podcast Show Hosts
Jay Artale Content Marketing Manager at ALLi

Jay Artale is a project manager who swapped corporate life for a nomadic existence as a non-fiction writer. She’s the author of travel and travel writing guides, and poetry collections.

Jay is also one of the co-organizers of the Indie Author Fringe, a 3X a year online conference for indie authors who self-publish.


Connect on Twitter: @BirdsOAFPress

Michael La Ronn

Michael La Ronn is the author of over 30 science fiction & fantasy novels and author self-help books. To date, he has published over 1.5 million words of fiction and nonfiction. Since publishing his first book in 2014, he has produced a prolific writing portfolio while raising a family and working a full-time job in the insurance industry.


Connect on Twitter: @MichaelLaRonn

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This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. Thank you for the inspiration and advice on creating author balance, support networks, the tools of the trade and connecting with peers in the industry.
    I look forward to tuning in each month for grounding my thinking and framing my writing goals.

    1. Thanks for listening Mala we look forward to being part of your indie author journey, please continue to let us know how it’s progressing and what challenges you face.

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