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Writing: Author Mindset and Faster Fiction with Alexandra Amor

Time, space and writing habits are the focus of many a good how-to-write book, and make for an endlessly fascinating topic for most of us keen to glean yet another secret weapon for our arsenal of writing tips and tricks. Alexandra offers more than her fair share of tricks with us today. Writers need to be selfish about their time and the space they need to write, whether that’s headspace or physical space. We chat about procrastination and the barriers to sitting down and actually writing. We also chat about my current bug-bear, the noise about how self-publishing is considered by some to be a road to riches and how people sometimes expect that they can start from scratch and churn out a book that will make then squizillionaires. What the rest of us are interested in is the value we place on our writing, what it means to us and why it matters. Add that to how creativity is one of the most foundational and creative drives of human nature. If you’ve read Julia Cameron then you’ll like where Alexandra is coming from when she talks about the spirituality of writing. You can find out more about Alexandra and Faster Fiction here.

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Alexandra Amor
Duration: [00:43:45]
Melinda: Welcome to another episode of Writer on the Road. Today I'm with a friend of mine, an old friend of mine who has turned up in a few different places over the last few months and it's Alexandra Amor who I believe is over in Canada. Good morning Alexandra!
Alexandra Amor: Hi Melinda, how are you today?
Melinda: Good thank you. I don't know whether to be excited or terrified to have Alexandra with me today simply because she's an author mindset mentor. I've been fossicking through her blog this morning and the first thing it says is are you ready to stop thinking about writing and actually writing. I'm going maybe I don't need to talk to this woman right now. Tell us all about it please Alexandra and don't asked me any detailed questions because I might have to lie to you.
Alexandra Amor: I can say the same back. Well thanks so much for having me on the show Melinda I'm thrilled to be here and I always find it so fun to talk to somebody on the other side of the world, so yeah I'm on the west coast of Canada in Vancouver and the new site that I've got up is brand new, it went up about a week ago and the intention there is for me to help writers and people who are really maybe even want to be writers, they haven't written their first thing yet to get out of their own way, to stop procrastinating, to stop thinking about writing as you mentioned and get their bum in a chair and start writing.
Melinda: What can we say about that everybody? Everyone who's listening out there we're all writers, we all know what it's like and we all have very good intentions as well. My problem is I have people on my podcast who mention things like 5,000 words a day, do I need to talk to you Kevin Tumlinson and there's lots of other people out there who are putting me to shame, I've got Joanne Dannon doesn't do a bad job either at churning out the words, I don't even want to go into my romance writers like Amy Andrew and co because they've been writing for years and they're up to 50/60/70 books and I'm going oh give me a break but I'm still out there, I'm thinking about it and I'm going to write a book. So Alexandra I need you today. Let's start with that favorite word of ours procrastination.
Alexandra Amor: I think this is such a big topic for writers and Steven Pressfield calls it resistance, I don't know if you've read The War of Art but that's a really great book to start with and to explore the topic of why we feel such a barrier when we try to sit down and write. I think especially in this day and age when we're all so overly busy and there are so many distractions in the form of social media and all the things that we can do online that writers really need to be quite selfish about their time and also about the space that they need to write whether that's head space or physical space which people very often need. I think there are specific ways to stop procrastinating and those are things that I try to share with writers to help them because I found that once I got into really good habits the easy, the writing became easier and I was able to produce more and do it more quickly.
Melinda: I've just written down some notes here everybody, I've written time, space and habits. Now I've been reading how to write books for years and the first chapter always seems to be about time, space and habits. I'm guessing all of us could do something to improve that. I read a lot of people get up and they get their writing done before the rest of the world wakes up, people who get up and write for a couple of hours, knock over their word count, then go to the gym and then play golf. Sometimes that's not reality, what about the rest of us, what about the real world? Have you got any suggestions for us?
Alexandra Amor: Yeah such a great question. I think we do always tend to idealize those people who yeah can get up at four in the morning and do two or three hours and then carry on with their day and that's not possible. The person I'm always thinking of when I'm writing a blog post or hosting a podcast at Faster Fiction is the person who's got maybe fifteen minutes, maybe a single mom with three kids and a full time job, how is that person supposed to get their bum in the chair and write.
I think what, the thing that I talk about right at the very beginning is really anchoring in with our values. How important is it to us that we write? If we can link to something that really matters to us about writing then that definitely that's the first step. One of the things I always suggest to people is that they sit down and ask themselves the question if I look ahead and think about five years from now and I haven't written anything how would that feel. Once you can kind of connect to the disappointment or the sadness that you might feel about not having written anything that might help you to get started finding even just fifteen minutes in your day to spend writing.
Melinda: I'm just about to launch a course for teenage novel writers and I've had some beta kids in there doing this course with me and I've got to tell that they're actually putting me to shame, they're up to 5/6/7,000 words and these are kids where their novels are only going to be 12/15,000 words and they're writing there, they're not scared, they're in their boots and all. I'm wondering whether we can take something from that.
Alexandra Amor: That's such a good question. I bet, like you mentioned that they're not scared, they're not afraid and I suspect that that's such an advantage for somebody at that age, we do tend to be a bit fearless and feel immortal don't when we're teenagers and then we get to be grownups and we think well it needs to be serious and it needs to be perfect and it needs to be great right out of the gate, I think that's the thought that really stops a lot of writers, this book needs to be a bestseller and take over the world when really it's your first shot at writing something. So what I like to encourage writers to do is really back way, way up and do what Anne Lamott suggests which is learn how to write shitty first drafts.
Melinda: Anne Lamott she's written a book called Bird by Bird everybody and already Alexandra's mentioned Steve Pressfield's The War of Art and now Bird by Bird these are sort of how-to bibles for most writers. We may as well just fossick through that for a little bit. Do you recommend people go to these books because there's so much online, there's podcasts, there's blogs, there's us and we're all jumping on the bandwagon with our courses, this, that and the other. Do you think sometimes the noise just sort of freezes us?
Alexandra Amor: I think it does and I think there's also a trap that writers fall into which is sort of over learning, over researching. So I think it's really important to read books about writing especially when we're getting started and even to continue doing that as we carry on our writing careers. There is a moment where we have to stop learning about writing and actually write. That's the barrier that I think a lot of writers have trouble getting themselves through or across and taking that risk and putting down their words at the beginning when they know they're going to be crappy and I can guarantee you they are and what I really suggest is that people just find a way to be at peace with the fact that the first few things that we do are going to be rubbish.
Melinda: I think I heard somewhere the first million words and I had someone on recently, one of my romance, oh I think it was, oh it was Jennie Jones romance, rural romance writer. Her first six books were practice and you just think about that and her books are like, I think they're 80,000 words long or those ones might have been 50,000 words long and you think about that and nowadays we're getting all this stuff out about churning out a book in five minutes, thirty days to write a novel, all that kind of stuff. Do you think the expectations are there right from the beginning that we do all these amazing things but it's not actually a reality sometimes?
Alexandra Amor: Absolutely, writing is a craft and I tend to use the metaphor of carpentry, if you're learning to become a carpenter or any other skilled trade like that, you don't start out making a beautiful hutch with all kinds of carving and inlay and all that kind of stuff, you start out making a table with a flat top and squared, four legs and that's it and then you progress from there.
I really do think that almost all the information that's available to us now and a lot of the noise too about that we can sometimes get caught up in about how I think there's a misunderstanding that self-publishing can be a road to riches and people expect that sometimes that they can just start from scratch, churn out a book and it'll sell a bazillion copies and that's really not the case but if again if we're anchored to the value that we have around writing to what it means to us and why it matters to us then we're willing to practice the craft and write six books as you mentioned in order to get that seventh book that we feel proud of and are willing to put out into the world.
Melinda: Sometimes we jump too soon. I was speaking to, and I just uploaded an episode with Park Howell on story, the art of story, the business of story and the story cycle. There's some really great things out there to learn because with all of us story resonates. I think it's one of the most valuable things we can do and especially with our courses encouraging people to try, trying to draw that balance between not being too difficult. We talk about creativity, what's your definition, how do you explain that?
Alexandra Amor: When I define creativity or talk about it I tend to float into the more spiritual end of the spectrum, so I really agree with what Julia Cameron says that we were all created by the great creator and therefore we are creators as well. I think creativity is such a natural human drive and desire, I think it's probably one of the most foundational and natural drives and I think when we discourage people from being creative the way that we tend to do in our western society where money matters so much more than that kind of creative pursuit we really do people a disservice and I don't think that when we teach about writing we're teaching anything new, I always think that people know how to be creative, they just have to be persuaded to reconnect with that part of themselves.
Melinda: I think Park said something about we're at our most creative in Kindergarten. I know in schools, I was talking to my students about it yesterday, they'd all come back from holidays we've got eight weeks to go until Christmas and they're not the slightest bit interesting in PowerPoints, in worksheets and data driven stuff and Park said something to me that I haven't been able to get out of my mind is we're wired for story yet we teach via data, we're expecting our kids to learn stuff by route yet we resonate with story.
Alexandra Amor: I absolutely agree I think the stuff that Joseph Campbell talks about, about the hero's journey is hard wired into us somehow, I don't know why that is but it definitely is and that's we're all so addicted to Netflix and to books and to movies and all these things. I mean it's a good addiction and it's because we are wired for story, that's and really story too is a way that we, that enables us to relate to our lives and to the world that we're living in in the present moment.
Melinda: Yeah, now Alexandra's mentioned a few books that I might just uncover, we've talked about Anne Lamott, we've talked about Steve Pressfield, we've talked about now Joseph Campbell and the hero myth, Julia Cameron is famous for her morning words where you get up and you just free write before you start thinking, I turned around to have a look at my bookshelf because I've got a whole omnibus of her books there and I've forgotten the titles of them, can you just run through a couple of the titles for me? I think it's up in my daughter's bedside table at the moment.
Alexandra Amor: So the one she's most famous for is The Artist's Way.
Melinda: That's it, Artist's Way, thank you.
Alexandra Amor: That's the one where she introduces the idea of morning pages which is something that I've been doing for years and I really believe it's part of my kind of "success" as a creative person because dumping out my thoughts and feelings and fears first thing in the morning has really kind of opened me up to be creative then in other parts of my day.
So yeah The Artist's Way is her best known one and then she has another one that doesn't get mentioned quite as often which is called The Right to Write so it's the R-I-G-H-T to W-R-I-T-E and in that one it's little short essays and then suggested exercises or invitations I think she calls them. That's one I used years ago and I would do the exercises or the invitations that she suggested and that helped to start to free me up to feel a little bit more confident about writing.
Melinda: Yeah I think the one I used, I was doing my PhD and I remember a runaway to the Whitsundays which is I guess Bay of Islands of Australia, it's beautiful up there and I remember I threw it in the car and ran away from my children and my husband to get some writing done, I think I took the one called The Sound of Paper and it was amazing, it was like this book was talking to me and that was my first book that I read of hers and then I went back and did The Artist's Way but that Sound of Paper was all about probably what we're talking about today, giving yourself permission to write, stop beating yourself up because you're not doing enough and then giving you a way through I guess your author doubts.
Alexandra Amor: Yup absolutely. I think confidence is such a big part of being a writer and at the beginning of course that's what we struggle with the most and that's one thing that I really want to focus on teaching at Faster Fiction because hardly anyone talks about that and really one of the only ways to become confident at something is to keep doing it and I think that's a step that so often gets missed. We do tend to want to take this big leap and jump from not having written at all like I said before to writing a really great book. Unfortunately that intimidates and paralyzes a lot of people I think.
Melinda: We're a fast society now, we want it yesterday. I was just thinking about I wonder if that's one of the reasons that NaNo writers becomes such a huge go-to place for people that say oh I'll go and do NaNo write and then I'll have the first draft done then I’ll be able to do this, they’ll be able to do that. There's a huge money spinning thing popping up around that courses and how top’s and all that kind of stuff around this Nano write, people are starting I guess to see it as well if I can do that I can do anything. But I'm guessing there are as many failures at Nano write as there as anything else because you've still got to do the work.
Alexandra Amor: You still have to do the work and I've never do it myself buy I always worry about people who don't have a solid writing habit set up before they start and to my mind it would be really hard in 30 days to establish the routine and the habits that you need to be a successful writer. I mean it took me several years I would say and so yeah I wonder, I think it's a great idea and there's a lot of community I believe involved when you do NanoWriMo and I do worry about people who might be sort of biting off a little more than they can chew.
Melinda: Alexandra's talking my lists of everything are growing longer here, we've talked about time and space, routine and habits and confidence and procrastination. These are all words that we could all hang on our little pin boards that we've got in our studies, I notice you've got one in the background there.
The other thing is inspirational quotes, everybody you've got to have inspirational quotes and I tell all my students to buy a T-shirt and put the name of their novel on it because every time people ask what they're doing they can see the novel. Okay, yes I'm writing a novel it's written on my T-shirt. So there are little tricks of the trade to get you in your seat each day. Do you have anything in particular that works for you?
Alexandra Amor: I think that T-shirt idea is great, I've never heard that before, I love it. I think one of the things we struggle with the most when we're starting out is feeling like a fraud, so I just wanted to mention that as well and say to people that we all feel like a fraud at the beginning then how to set up a good routine, well we've touched on a couple things so far, one of them very often writers write first thing in the morning and I think that's because they're fresh at that time but I think for each writer it's important to figure out when is the time that you have the most energy, some people are evening people, some people are morning people. So just figure that out for yourself and find the time of day where you don't feel completely sucked dry and you do have a little bit of energy.
Then the second big tip and all writers talk about these two things and it's because they work, it's either to set a word count, a goal of the number of words you're going to reach or to use a timer and to set the timer and not take your pen off the paper or your fingers off the keyboard until the time is elapsed and I would really suggest that people set those goals really, really small at the beginning. So for the timer even three or four minutes and for the word count like 200 words which is less than half a page if you're looking at a word document, set the goal small and then you can incrementally increase them.
Melinda: I'm just hearing something in the background there, I thought is it a motorbike, is it a truck, is it something.
Alexandra Amor: I live near a busy street, I think it was a motorcycle.
Melinda: That whole world count thing, it's a fascinating thing I've put in my workbook for my students, students love to count words and it's usually to get out of doing exams, so you'll see them, you've said write 250 words and they'll be going one, two, three, four and you go stop counting your words and just write something and then they'll add in a few extra ands and this just to get them up to the word count.
I've heard that timer is becoming more fashionable recently, I'd never heard of it, it was always word counts as far, that's what I read back in the olden days, but now there's something come out and I hear it a lot on podcasts with John Lee Dumas and guys like that, write for twenty-five minutes and then get up and apparently just that single-mindedness or that focus for twenty-five minutes is really, really good then get up and just walk away and come back and do it again. Have you heard those kinds of things that are cropping up?
Alexandra Amor: I have, you had Valerie Francis on the show a little while ago and she's been doing that project and she started interestingly with a much smaller amount of time, I think she started with seven or eight minutes and every day, and so she would write for seven or eight minutes take a little break, five minutes and then write for seven minutes again and her goal was to write for a whole hour in those seven minute increments and then she gradually increased the amount of time. The twenty-five minutes and five minutes method is called the Pomodoro method.
Melinda: That's it.
Alexandra Amor: Pomodoro really just means tomato and it's because a fellow started this idea and it used one of those kitchen timers that looks like a tomato and that's what he was using so that's why it's called that. I think there's something really to be said for focusing for short periods of time and taking a break. One of the things that I know that it does for me is that well a) focused does take a lot of energy so you don't want to say yourself okay I'm just going to sit here for three hours and try to focus because that'll just, that won't work. So focusing for short bursts is kind to yourself and to your brain and then as you get more practice and more experience you can just gradually increase the amount of time. Sorry I'm interrupting Melinda but there's an author who's written a book and I can't remember her name but she goes into detail about this method and talked about how it really helped her word count. So if I can I think of it I'll mention it later.
Melinda: I've got a book and it's not so long ago and was How to Go From 2,000 Words to 10,000 Words and I thought oh that sounds really exciting and that became very, very popular and she make quite a lot of, or she got a lot of downloads I don't know how much money she made. But to go from 2,000 words to 10,000 words was pretty impressive. What she really suggested and again it sounds like a damn fine idea is planning, outlining, knowing where you're going because as she said you can actually write 10,000 words and go oh that's not actually what I want I'm going to start again which is what I do all the time.
So I'm guessing that planning and outlining and even with my romance writers that I was speaking to, Jennie Jones said that she never used to be a planner, she was a pantser which is now turned into being an organic writer which has come out of America as well, being organic I thought oh well that taps into our new feel good stuff so okay we'll be organic. But she said she plans more now because she can get far more work down.
Alexandra Amor: Yeah, I totally agree. I'm a planner myself so I plot and outline and I had to take a few different runs at it to find out which method worked for me. So now it's a little bit detailed but there's also room in there for surprising things to happen. I found when I did the outline and it was way too tight that then I was bored and I thought well I know what happens to it, this isn't really interesting to me, but definitely for me planning helps me to be really, really productive. I can write 5,000 words a day like in that's in about three and a half hours just because I know where I'm going and I know the purpose of the scene and what it has to accomplish so that really helps me to be much more effective.
Melinda: I'm starting a 5,000 word a day club everybody, I've just decided to do that, I've now got Kevin Tumlinson and Alexandra Amor in that club. I'm not there yet, but I will be there one day because I'm a "gunna writer". What was that quote we started with at the beginning? When you need to stop thinking about writing and actually do it, I'm in that club.
Now I just want to move on a little bit, you've got a free course up on your website and everybody go and have a look at, it's Alexandra's new website, we'll talk a little bit about Alexandra used to talk or interview mystery writers and she interviewed Rachel Amphlett but she's moved on and she's got this Faster Fiction website and I've made a note that it's actually a how-to go-to for people who want to have a website, I'm guessing that's got a lot of your experience in it, it's got a free course, it's got podcast, it's got blog, everything that we need to go wow this is a great website, we want to come back and have a look at more, plus you're going to have YouTube up there as well which is tapping into our new digital need to be able to go to all different forms of media. So tell us about your free course and then we'll dip into that website because I love it.
Alexandra Amor: Thanks, so the free course was really important to me to share information about why mindset is so important to authors. So it's a video series and it's three short videos, they're about at fifteen minutes each and I go into things like why it's important to writers who want to be successful to have their mindset kind of in the right place and supporting them to accomplish what they want to accomplish. I think this is another thing we discount very often is the mental game that goes on behind the scenes with writing. I think we really have to be agile and a little bit strong mentally in order to deal with all the challenges that come along with writing, all the self-doubt, comparisonitis all that kind of stuff.
Melinda: That whaty-itis run that by me again.
Alexandra Amor: That comparisonitis so when we're comparing ourselves to other people.
Melinda: I love that, I'm trying to write it down I thought I can't even spell it, I love it. Comparisonitis, I think that can be my word of the day, I love my words of the day. I think the one I had yesterday was toddling along, I love toddling along as well. Yeah, we do tend to compare ourselves to others I guess, I think your free video course will prove to be very popular because we're all curious about the how-to or the process of writing.
Everyone I've had on the podcast we always dive into that a little bit because it's what fascinates us all, is somebody else doing something that might help us a little bit and help us get a little bit further along the track. That comparisonitis is actually taps right into that. So are you finding that that, because that's something that websites need to have to get people to sign up and so you've got that little following. Are you finding that you're getting a lot of people signing up for that free course?
Alexandra Amor: It's only been, the site's only been live for a few days, so I don't have too many subscribers yet, but yeah I think in terms of marketing ideas these days it's really important to, if you want to build an audience to have something that you give away in exchange for someone's email address, it's a pretty basic online marketing technique and I always really like to give away something of great value that people can get a lot from in exchange for that email address because it's, I'm going to be continuing to communicate with that person then I would [00:27:52] (unclear) value them letting me into their life, so that's the idea behind the free course.
Melinda: You told me that one video and there's three of them. Very quickly what are the other two about?
Alexandra Amor: So they're all about the same thing mindset, author mindset and I just go through several different examples of why it matters and the three reasons that authors need to have a good mindset. So one example that I give and I think it's in video number three is I talk about the pyramid of the writers journey.
You know Maslow's hierarchy of needs so you start at the base one with shelter and food and that kind of thing and move upwards. I think authors have a similar journey and the very bottom base of that pyramid is so important it involves mindset and getting your habits in place. Then as we move up the pyramid there are different things like, well self-publishing if we want to go that route, learning how to work with editors, that kind of thing.
I noticed that when I began my author journey I was kind of trying to learn all these pieces all at the same time and what I really needed to be doing was focusing on the writing first, getting my habits in place, getting a good routine down, learning how to stop judging what I was writing and just get my words out on to the page.
Melinda: I'm just picturing an infographic, as you know we're all visual beasts nowadays and as you drew that little pyramid for me I thought that's screaming out for an infographic. So if you could just go and make one for me please I'll download that, I think that's really exciting because it's certainly we could share, we could share with our students. I just think it's, it just appeals doesn't it?
Alexandra Amor: Absolutely and I did, I created in PowerPoint, so the free course is a video course and so I go through the PowerPoint deck and I've got a little image of that pyramid so for sure I can share that with your audience, I'd love to do that.
Melinda: That's exciting. Now I didn't realize it but we're looking at Alexandra, she's got a brand new website, her podcast is about to go live, she's got two episodes about to have the third episode I'll race and as soon as that's live next week and give it a great review. I just think you've tapped into something that is going to be very successful. I've been sort of fiddling around the edges of it, I'm encouraging people to tell their stories but I think you've really nailed it from a branding point of view.
I think everything ties in together here, your blog post, there's only half a dozen of them up there but they've got some wonderful titles, one of them that really interests me is how writers can avoid the shiny project syndrome. Now I just think that is delightful because we're all guilty of it, we'll put that one down and we'll come back to that one. I've got some guys who are keeping me on track and keeping a very firm eye on me because I tend to toddle off and do other stuff and get twenty projects half finished. Could you just talk us through this shiny project syndrome and tell me not to do it anymore.
Alexandra Amor: Okay, sure. Well what I noticed is that and Steven Pressfield talks about this in The War of Art too that there's this, it's almost like a bit of a high that comes from fantasizing about a project that we're working on and that high kind of happens at the beginning of the project with an oh this is a great idea for a book or a story or a painting or whatever it is and wow when it's finished I'll feel so accomplished and maybe people will even like it, maybe people will buy lots of my books and that kind of thing.
What any large project like writing a book requires is a long time spent working really hard. That hard work has less rewarding feelings than the feeling at the beginning, the shiny project feeling of oh my god this is going to be amazing. What I've realized is that we, at some point its fine to fantasize about the new project and Martha Beck calls that dreaming and scheming which is great and it's a part of the whole creative process. But eventually we do have to dig in and get our hands dirty and kind of slog it out for quite a long time.
I think you talked about having twenty projects half done, what might be happening is that when you get into the slogging part it starts to feel like less fun but if you started the new project you would get that rush again, that high from the new project. So that's when we tend to leap to something new rather than finishing the thing we're working on today.
Melinda: I've put a blog post, Alexandra and I are doing the same course together and it's Joanna Penn's and we talk about it all the time Creative Freedom, and I put a little blog post up there the other day and it was after reading this Twelve Week Year and I've got my podcast happening, I'm just about to launch this course and I was getting a bit stressed and giving my designer a bit of a hard time and I had to sit back on my backside and go uh-oh, it's me because I wanted everything happening at once and I wanted it all yesterday.
I think I've been working on this for six months, this damn course should be loaded. This Twelve Week Year had something in it that I want to share with you Alexandra because I think it taps very much into this shiny object syndrome and what you're talking about. There's five steps to it and I've just brought them up on my phone here: Uninformed optimism, informed pessimism, valley of despair, informed optimism, and success and fulfillment. I'm wondering whether those five things are something that we all go through.
Alexandra Amor: Absolutely I think they are, as you were listing them I can totally relate and so the valley of despair, yeah I think is kind of where writers live especially when you're writing your first book. But I want to encourage people and say what happens is then we learn to recognize the valley of despair so that's the big part in the middle when we're slogging through and we're on chapter ten and there's going to be twenty chapters and we just can't even imagine getting it finished and this is the moment when it would be really easy to get distracted by a new idea.
The good news is though that once you've written two or three books or have written, completed two or three projects you recognize that valley as you're coming up to it so you can say to yourself ah okay it's going to be hard now for the next little while, I know this, I've been here before and hopefully what you can do over the course of a couple books is develop some strategies to deal with it. So maybe really take good care of yourself, make sure that you're getting lots of rest at night and not trying to burn the candle at both ends. Shorten your timed writings if something that you're using or shorten your word count goal for the day so that you, just so that you can keep going, keep putting one foot in front of the other and get through that challenging time.
Melinda: Getting through the challenging time, I remember when I was writing my novel for my PhD and I can only talk about that one now because I haven't finished my next one but I'm going to, it's imperative because these projects are big, they take a long time, they don't, look everybody I've got to tell you the truth they don't take thirty days, it's a furphy, anyone who's churning out a book in thirty days is probably not going into it deeply enough, oh I'm going to get shot for that aren't I.
Alexandra Amor: Well or they're much practiced, maybe it's their fiftieth book so they are really that skilled that they can go that fast.
Melinda: Yeah and they're really, you're right there are really, really good writers and I can tell you now that Amy Andrews is very, very good and I'm not referring to you Amy I know you can do it. But I just don't think these young blokes can.
Alexandra Amor: No, certainly not when you're at the beginning, I don't think you can crank out a book in thirty days, there's no way.
Melinda: Moving right along because I've got to go to school soon and all these alarms are going off, I love it I'm sitting here poor old Alexandra's watching me, I've got my iPad on one, I've got my phone on the other, I've got her in the middle and I'm just going-- multitasking and that was one of the questions, multitasking versus deep writing. A lot of research is showing now that multitasking is another one of those furphys.
Alexandra Amor: The first person I heard say this phrase I'm about to say was Joanna Penn, our beloved Joanna who teaches the Creative Freedom course, and she talks about how there is no such thing as multitasking there's only shifting, scratching tasks. So in other words we can't be doing two things at once, we can't be writing a book and checking Facebook at the same time, you're either doing one or the other. I always really when I'm writing, turn off the phone and people, sometimes my friends don't like that if they can't get ahold of me but that's too bad.
Again, like we talked about at the beginning this is the time that I need to protect. I don't let myself go on Facebook or any social media during the time that I'm writing because I do find that my mental state is much more supported by just kind of staying in that zone and not pulling myself out and checking email even on my breaks. On my breaks I just get a snack or go to the bathroom, but I don't check any social media.
Melinda: I love that, protecting our writing time everyone it's what we need to do. I notice my fourteen year old she's really shocked me and given me a lesson, when I do my Facebook live she always sends these little bubbles and love hearts and kisses and I go good morning and it's a bit of a routine and I haven't been getting them the last couple of times and I said to her why aren't you sending me bubbles, I miss my bubbles. She said Mummy I'm having a break from Facebook because it's taking over our lives and I went ohhh, here I am ramping up I'm on Facebook every five minutes and she's right. So we've actually to reinstate in our home putting all our gizmos that I'm sitting here with now, putting them away and reconnecting with the real world.
Alexandra Amor: Yes, absolutely. That's also a good way when we reconnect with the reword to fill the creative well, we need experiences away from our screens in order to fill that well that is then going to come into our books and our writing.
Melinda: That's a huge topic all on its own and we could probably have another whole podcast on that, on filling that creative well, looking after ourselves, going and finding a beach, going and finding a waterfall which were far easier to find in far north Queensland than they are down here in Brisbane I can tell you. I don't know how many waterfalls you've got over there in America but I've presume you've got other than, oh you've got Niagara Falls over there haven't you in Canada.
Alexandra Amor: Yeah on the fair side of the country.
Melinda: Oh geography I'm so bad at it. Alright just very quickly before we go, your course you haven't launched it yet I know because your website's only been up two days. Now don't forget everybody we haven't talked about Alexandra's old website, the reasons she's so very, very good with this is because she's been doing it for years, she used to have a mystery writing website which I'm trying not to talk about because we're moving onward and upward with your faster fiction, I don't even know if there's a link to that on your new website, but if you'd like to tell us about your new course.
Alexandra Amor: Sure, yeah. So people can get the free video course that I talked about that has three videos at then I'll have two courses coming out, one is going to be, I've called 30K in 30 days but I think I'm going to revise that and call it something more like your First Chapter or Your First 2,000 Words and really dive into a lot of what we've talked about today about just building a really good foundation and teaching people how to sit down and get those first few words out. Then down the road there will be a Faster Fiction Mastery course that will really teach people who want to be full time writers how to be more confident, how to tap into their creativity, how to have good habits, how to deal with the thoughts that come being a writer all that kind of stuff. So that'll be sometime next year I'm sure.
Melinda: The funny thing is I look at that title that you've got up there 30k in 30 days people would be falling over themselves to do that course because that's the hype that's out there at the moment, that's the kind of title will sell, people will buy that course hand over fist because look I know it's out there, it's in the podcasting world, I hear it, it's in the blogosphere, I get emails about it all the time and there's all this build up. But sometimes I think it's a recipe to fail and it could be turning, we could be doing people a disservice and turning people off rather than encouraging them. It seems to be that's what's happening do you think?
Alexandra Amor: It's a good question and that's sort of why I decided to change the title, it's because what I really want to do is encourage people to just begin and so rather than having a big goal over thirty days like that I think I really would like to have it focused more on your first chapter, just writing your very first thing and developing those good habits so that you can keep going, so that you're successful and not failing.
Melinda: The flagship course, I love it. I just think this is the one that people will adore and it's called the flagship course Faster [00:42:10] (unclear) Fiction Mastery, how to write with more confidence and less fear for independent authors, the only barrier to success is our ability to write. It's a comprehensive program takes you from nervous, hesitant writer to confident prolific author.
Now that is a fantastic, I think that's a fantastic course and I think that would really be something that I'd like to make when I grow up, so I'm going to watch that one. That's on my "going to do", I'm going to do that one day but you will do it and it will be very good because you've got such a depth of experience and even a cursory glance everyone at looking at Alexandra's website you'll see this one is talking from experience, she's built up to this over many, many years.
We started our podcast today talking about how to write books, anyone who has the depth of knowledge on how to write books, she's done that journey, I've done that journey, I've read all the same things, I recognize a kindred spirit and Alexandra's going to make this course and she's going to make it happen. That's where we part company I'm afraid Alexandra.
Alexandra Amor: Thank you so much for having me today, it's been great chatting with you.
Melinda: We'll talk again soon. So that's goodbye for another episode on Writer on the Road, please go over and check out Alexandra's course and her website, her podcast and a blog, it's looking really good and download these three videos because I'm going to go off and I'm going to do that now as well. Talk soon, I'm off to school! Bye-bye.

About the author, Melinda

I'm an authorpreneur, English teacher and podcaster who dreams of a life on the road full of adventures and handsome heroes, whilst making squizillions of dollars in book sales to pay for my chocolate fix. In the real world, I write novels and non-fiction, and offer my expert advice via online courses (as soon as I make them) and writing retreats (as soon as I organise them).

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