Don’t worry if anyone reads your stuff and thinks you’re smart as long as what you’re writing is helping people. – Chris Brogan
About Chris Brogan
Chris Brogan is CEO of Owner Media Group, providing business systems for personal leadership. What does that mean? Chris likes to say that he helps individuals and small businesses put more winds on their board. He reverse engineers everything that he does to help independent-type owners figure out what they’re going to do to make themselves more successful after they’ve taken the plunge. He is also a highly sought after professional speaker and the New York Times bestselling author of eight books and counting. He’s writing a new book right now about what you can learn about business from video games.
In this interview Chris talks about strengthening the connection to the idea force inside of you, what it’s like writing subsequent books when your first book hit the New York Times bestseller list and the experience of writing with a co-author and the pros and cons to writing a book with someone else. We also discuss why when you dispense with praise and criticism your life gets better and how negative reviews of your work are positives in disguise.
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Topics We Explored
- How, when you wear multiple hats, telling people you are an author is the easiest way to explain who you are and what you do.
- The benefits to being early to the game and to start doing something, like writing, under the radar because you’re able to hone your craft and get better at it before anyone starts paying attention.
- The advantages to not being the first to jump into the next cool thing, but being early enough that everyone sees you as being the first.
- Strengthening the connection to the idea force inside of you
- Why you should never be ashamed or self-conscious of your writing when the sole focus of your writing is on helping others
- Not caring if anyone reads your stuff and thinks you’re smart as long as what you’re writing is helping people
- How the professional writer is comfortable with “killing their darlings” i.e. letting go of what they’ve written, even the writing they love, if it doesn’t serve the purpose or mission of the topic or theme
- If we are ever too precious with our ideas, then we feel like they are going to dry up, but if we feel like we are just putting material out there and sometimes it’s a hit, we are much more successful.
- How negative reviews of your work are positives in disguise
- The experience of writing with a co-author and the pros and cons to writing a book with someone else.
- What it’s like writing subsequent books when your first book hit the New York Times bestseller list.
- Overcoming the resistance to writing by starting to write somewhere that’s non-threatening, like in a new email compose window.
- Why Chris uses Google Docs over all of the fancy writing apps and tools out there
- Always writing from your table of contents, especially when writing non-fiction books
- Leave your writing work in the middle, where the last sentence you wrote isn’t finished and you have a few notes on where you’re going with the piece, so that next time you pick it up you can easily jump in where you left off.
- Use Evernote to write down and store your writing topics/ideas so that when you feel like you’re running low, you can dig into there and just keep moving forward.
- If you want to speed up your writing process so that you can publish more articles and blog posts, create a writing frame, a template for how you compose and format your writing. As an example, Chris’ frame is:
- Think up a good (Google delicious but still human interesting) title.
- Find a good photo to go with that title (see below).
- Write a personable first paragraph that lines up what we’ll be discussing.
- Go right into the meat.
- Explain in subsequent paragraphs.
- Keep it as brief as possible.
- End with some kind of call to action.
- If you know how you’re going to approach your writing, it gives you more time to think about the actual topic you’re writing about.
- If you’re worried about the quality of your writing topics, there’s a simple solution – focus on being of service to others. If you focus your energy towards helping others and answering their questions, you can’t choose the wrong topics to write about.
- When you’re staring at the blank page think “how can I help somebody today”
- When you dispense with praise and criticism, your life will get so much better
- If you’re thinking about writing a book with another person, it’s important that you are both at the same level in terms of your writing skill and proficiency. Having a co-author can work really well, augmenting your own writing style and adding value to the book, but if one of you is dragging the other down (in terms of speed, clarity, confidence, commitment or writing experience) the partnership will turn sour and breakdown really quickly.
Resources and Books Mentioned
- Steven Pressfield
- Time Quilting
- James Altucher’s Becoming and Idea Machine
- Creating a Good Writing Frame by Chris Brogan
- More about Action Stacks (repeatable project plans that you can slot into your day so you can get a lot more value out of your time)
- Painter, Norman Rockwell
- Painter, Ralph Steadman
- Google Docs (to write and store your writing because it’s available online and offline and syncs really well everywhere)