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SPS 009: Eliminating Distractions & Practicing Deep Work to Finish Your Book with Cal Newport


Welcome to episode 9 of the Self-Publishing School podcast. Today, I am joined by Cal Newport an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University. In addition to studying the theoretical foundations of our digital age, he also writes about the impact of these technologies on the world at work. His most recent work Deep Work argues that focus is the new IQ in the modern workplace, and that the ability to concentrate without distraction is becoming increasingly valuable.

Previous work by Cal includes three popular books with unconventional advice for students, and So Good They Can’t Ignore You a book that debunks the long held belief that following your passion is good advice. Today, we are going to dive into the deep work methodology. If you have ever tried to write a book, then you know that the hardest thing in the process is the actual focus and getting to the finish line. On this episode, Cal shares his principles behind having the focus to accomplish deep work and his writing process with us.

You can find Cal here:
Cal Newport
Deep Work
So Good They Can’t Ignore
How to Win at College

Show Notes

[01:47] Cal’s first book was How to Win at College and he wrote it when he was a senior in college.
[02:29] Stop talking about writing a book and do it or move on.
[02:58] Cal tried to make writing his first book easier by choosing a format that was short rules with counterintuitive titles.
[03:41] How Cal would wake up early and write 1 chapter every morning.
[04:13] Importance of chunking and creating an early morning routine.
[04:37] Lessons learned, books need social proof included in the book.
[05:43] Being on a tight deadline helped with the writing process.
[06:46] Cal learned early on that writing a book is like a job and the work just needs to be done.
[07:51] Find time for writing and write all the time. Build up your writing muscles.
[08:29] Don’t mix planning and writing.
[09:12] Productive meditation. Walking and thinking about what you are working on or each chapter.
[11:45] Cal spends about a year to get his book ideas. It takes a lot of mental work to come up with a great idea.
[15:05] The hardest book that Cal wrote was probably his first book.
[16:54] Principle of deep work is that the ability to focus is like a super power. Long focus sessions produce massive results.
[18:18] The ability to concentrate intensely is becoming more and more valuable.
[19:00] Cultivating the ability to work deeply will have massive value.
[20:20]Pomodoros and practice can be active training for concentration.
[21:11] Building up an addiction to novel stimuli will inhibit your concentration. Learn to embrace boredom.
[22:58] Writing is an intense cognitive activity. Treat your brain with respect.
[24:08] Cal has never had a social media account. He wants to trust himself to get a lot of value out of his brain.
[25:05] If you want to be serious about writing. You have to be serious about your brain.
[25:17] Work deeply and put routines and rituals into your day.
[25:45] Embrace boredom and free your mind from the need for novel stimuli.
[25:51] Quit social media if you are going to be a craftsman, you have to be selective about the tools in your life.
[26:25] Drain the shallows minimize non-deep work so that it doesn’t take over all of your time.
[26:57] People think quit social media is the toughest, but it’s not hard at all. Embrace boredom is actually the most difficult.
[29:12] Take the next two weeks and block out 4 hours each week. Treat this time like an appointment. Use this time for focusing intensely on one thing. This what deep work feels like.
[30:54] Find an activity to train your brain.
[31:14] Take one step that proves you take focusing seriously.
[32:22] The marketplace values things that are rare and valuable.
[34:23] Producing value produces autonomy busyness does not.
[35:03] Minimize non-deep work and deep work is where the value is at.
[36:28] The goal is to find satisfaction doing deep work. The right mindset is the foundation and the work will follow.

Links and Resources:
self-publishingschool.com
Spsfreetraining.com
Cal Newport
Deep Work
So Good They Can’t Ignore
How to Win at College

SPS 008: Creating a Thriving Business, Blog, and Raving Fans with Ruth Soukup

Welcome to episode 8 of the Self-Publishing School podcast. Today, I am joined by Ruth Soukup, a blogger at Living Well Spending Less, the founder of the Living Well Planner, and the author of Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life. Ruth encourages more than a million monthly readers of her blog to follow their dreams and reach their goals through easy to implement tips and strategies for saving time and money while focusing on the things that matter the most.

She lives in Florida with her husband Chuck and their two daughters Maggie and Annie. Ruth began thinking about writing a book when she was blogging full-time at Living Well Spending Less and her husband was staying at home with the kids. She wanted to encapsulate the knowledge from her blog into a book and she came out with her first book which was How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul. She had no expectations when she put this out there as a Kindle book. The first version did better than she had anticipated, so she put out a second version that was longer and included a paperback version.

The success of her first self-published book gave her the confidence to create her first traditionally published book. Although, the creation process for Living Well Spending Less was much more personal and difficult. We talk about the book creation process. The importance of having an accountability partner. How books can lead to other opportunities like products, courses, consulting and more. Enjoy the interview as we deep dive into Ruth’s writing and business success.

You can find Ruth here:

Living Well Spending Less
Living Well Planner
Living Well Spending Less on Facebook
@RuthSoukup on Twitter
Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life
How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul
Unstuffed
31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero: Freeze Your Spending. Change Your Life
31 Days To A Clutter Free Life: One Month to Clear Your Home, Mind & Schedule
Elite Blog Academy

Show Notes

[01:39] Ruth’s first idea for writing a book and was based on her blog and was called How to Blog For Profit Without Selling Your Soul.
[04:00] This book taking off allowed Ruth to launch a whole new side to her business as she developed an online blogging course.
[06:10] How Ruth went from publishing a book to launching a course and consulting.
[07:04] The creation process of writing Ruth’s first book just kind of flowed for her.
[07:55] Living Well Spending Less her first traditionally published book was much more difficult because it was so personal for her.
[08:42] Writing her second traditionally published book was much easier.
[09:03] When Ruth’s focuses on how she can serve it makes the writing much easier.
[09:46] How Ruth got through the low points of writing Living Well Spending Less.
[10:56] Ruth’s accountability partner and the structure of their calls and their agreement, to be honest, and open.
[12:52] Ruth sets aside a couple hours each morning for content creation. During book writing time, she gets up at 4:00 am and goes to her downtown office to get stuff done.
[15:53] How Ruth realized that having products was more profitable than ad revenue.
[17:01] How the books lead into other money makers, although they make money and build credibility.
[20:23] Once someone reads your book, you are way more connected to that person, and it is a great way to grow an audience.
[20:54] How Living Well Spending Less had perfect timing with publishing because that was a busy time for her blog which really led to promotion opportunities.
[23:12] Downside of Amazon cross promotion is that the wider audience may not be as targeted, such as people not appreciating bible verses in the book.
[24:20] They promoted the book with a 12 Secrets email challenge. They filmed the challenge with two versions one for Christmas and one that was evergreen.
[25:58] They also emailed their list when there were book coupons available on Amazon.
[27:32] A digital bonus of a home planning workbook was also a great idea. They also offered website access for a different book called Unstuffed.
[29:22] Using Facebook Ads to market their books.
[30:57] Promoting books using 31-day challenges.
[31:57] Benefits of repurposing content.
[33:51] Using the back end of the book to get email subscribers and then subsequently promoting other products or courses.
[37:40] Different phases of working online. Finding your voice, throwing spaghetti against the wall, and refining phase where we know what works.
[40:02] Working online actually requires putting in the time and work.
[41:15] When someone asks you the same question 3 times create a product for it.
[42:22] Focus on what you have to offer and answer your reader’s questions and you can write a book.

Links and Resources:

Living Well Spending Less
Living Well Planner
Living Well Spending Less on Facebook
@RuthSoukup on Twitter
Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life
How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul
Unstuffed
31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero: Freeze Your Spending. Change Your Life
31 Days To A Clutter Free Life: One Month to Clear Your Home, Mind & Schedule
Elite Blog Academy
self-publishingschool.com
Spsfreetraining.com
The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

SPS 007: How to Turn Pro as a Writer with Jeff Goins

Today, I am joined by Jeff Goins. He is an author, speaker, and blogger. After working for seven years in the nonprofit world as a marketing and communications director, he now writes and speaks full time. He challenges people to make their messages matter through his blog, courses, and online events.

Jeff is the author of five books including The Art of Work, Real Artists Don’t Starve, You Are a Writer, The In-Between, and Wrecked. Today, we are going to focus on the writing side of things, and how Jeff’s success has really exploded with his writing and with building his tribe. Jeff started writing when he realized that being a marketing director wasn’t for him. Prompting from a friend made Jeff realize that he was a writer, and he just needed to write.

He wrote on his blog everyday, and the opportunities came. His success was a result of doing the daily practice of writing and realizing that he was a writer. Once Jeff began thinking of himself as a writer, writing is what he started doing. Thinking like a pro prompted Jeff to act like a pro. Listen in to hear more about Jeff’s story and his writing process.

You can find Jeff here:
Goins, Writer

Show Notes

[05:11] How activity follows identity. We have to change our mindset about who we are before we can do that thing. Turning pro in your head.
[06:57] How Jeff went from writing blog posts to writing his first book.
[09:20] Jeff’s first ebook for side income turned into a surprise big earner.
[10:47] The writing process for Jeff’s first traditionally published book.
[12:12] When writing a book, ask who am I at the beginning and at the end. It’s a slower more gradual process than writing a blog post.
[13:06] Nonfiction books solve problems. Every chapter answers another question.
[15:00] Submitting a proposal and book outline. You want a book with other books like it, but with a unique message.
[16:42] Writing what most excites you. It’s OK to start in the middle.
[17:06] Jeff’s first book deal was a result of his ebook “The Writer’s Manifesto”, which he shared as a lead generation tool to build a list. He also reached out to influencers like Michael Hyatt. His list grew from 70 to 1000 in a week and kept growing. Then agent’s began reaching out to him. He ended up with a book deal in 8 months.
[21:20] Jeff’s ebook process was about his audience. With short practical steps.
[24:09] When writing books, you relearn writing with each new book.
[25:33] With The Art of Work, Jeff was able to weave in all of his previous book writing lessons.
[27:01] Creating something you would actually want to read.
[27:54] How writing a book forces us to grow as a writer.
[29:54] Having deadlines to create accountability.
[30:59] Carve out time every day for writing. Intentionally block out writing time.
[35:14] Writing blog posts while working on a book. The happy medium is to write on the blog, but most writing goes on the book. The more work you do, the more work you can do. Write in batches.
[37:27] 3 bucket system. Ideas, drafts, and edits. An idea in Evernote, then 500-word draft, then polish and edit.
[39:33] How the writing process is 3 different pieces.
[40:08] Distractions and clutter restrict creativity.
[40:59] The process of pulling order out of chaos.
[41:32] Start writing every day. That is the mindset difference between amateurs and pros. Write 500 words a day to work those writing muscles.

Links and Resources:

self-publishingschool.com
Spsfreetraining.com
The Art of Work
Real Artists Don’t Starve
You Are a Writer
The In-Between
Wrecked
Goins, Writer

What Our Students Are Saying

From Meds to Motivation

By following the guidance of Self Publishing School, Michael wrote and published his book One-Month Willpower, and enjoyed its rapid rise to best-seller status. Initially, Michael had thought maybe fifty people would read it. To his surprise, thousands of people are now reading his book. People are reaching out to him from all over the world saying how much the book has helped them.

Michael Unks

Best Selling Author of One-Month Willpower

Published Turned Self Publishing Success

In self publishing The Power of Responsibility, Joelle shared, “The results I had with my latest book launch, following Self Publishing School, were amazing . . . I finally [had] the opportunity to become a ‘real author.’ ” Joelle is now selling roughly fifty books a day whereas previously, with traditional publishing, she was lucky to sell fifty copies in months.

Joelle Casteix

Best Selling Author of The Power of Responsibility

The Hidden Truth

“[Chandler Bolt] states that you can write and self publish a book in three months, and that is the truth. I was worried about making that timeframe true, and when I found out that he actually had a three-month timeline that told you what to do . . . it was a no-brainer.” Carly is a #1 best-selling author in two categories. In the first two days of her launch, she sold over 1,400 copies of her book.

Carly Danielle

Best Selling Author of The Toxic Truth

Holistic Healing

“I felt like I could deliver value to even more people who could benefit from the information, but didn’t know how to achieve that,” To establish herself as an expert and attract clients to her business, Shirley decided to write a book. She carefully followed Self Publishing School to publish Resurgence of a Fallen Angel.

Shirley Wu

Author of Resurgence of a Fallen Angel

About Self Publishing School

Hi, I’m Chandler Bolt,

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There’s a book inside you. And my goal is to help you find it and go from blank page to bestseller – even if you’re busy, idea-less, or bad at writing like me.

See, everybody wants to write a book – we just don’t know how. If you’re like me, you’ve dreamed about becoming an author for years.

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