If there’s one thing the resident authors at D2D know, it’s how to write from the road. Whether it’s attending author conferences all over the globe, or van-lifing across the United States, our team has had to adapt to writing from planes, trains, automobiles, and the occasional line at Disney World. In this episode, we talk about ways to get the writing done, even when you’re not in that chic she-shed in the backyard.
Whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure, there’s really no need to skip out on your writing time. And though it can be a challenge to stay on a routine, it can be done! In this episode of Self Publishing Insiders with Draft2Digital, some of D2D’s seasoned travelers share their tips and tricks for keeping up the word count from wherever you are!
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Mark Lefebvre, Kevin Tumlinson, Nick Thacker
Kevin Tumlinson 00:02
Well, hey, everybody, thanks for tuning in to another Self-Publishing Insiders with Draft2Digital. This is gonna be a fun one. This is really one of my favorite topics. I probably obsess over it a little too much. And it’s because my wife Kara and I are doing the whole #vanlife thing. But we are going to be talking about writing from the road. And there are probably few people on the planet who have written on more roads than the three people you see on your screen right now. I’m talking with, well actually, let me let you guys Introduce yourself. We’ll start with you, Mark, go ahead. And first of all, I’m Kevin Tumlinson, the Director of Marketing and PR for Draft2Digital. And my good friend Mark Leslie Lefevbre …
Mark Lefebvre 00:44
I am the Director of Business Development for Draft2Digital and I do less writing on the road as much as I do writing while on the road.
Kevin Tumlinson 00:54
Yes. I actually write directly on the road. And my good friend Nick Thacker, who’s … okay, so we should mention, I am currently in Little Rock, Arkansas. Mark is in Toronto?
Mark Lefebvre 01:08
Kevin Tumlinson 01:10
Waterloo, okay, Ontario. Americans don’t understand Canada, and is it a state? Is it a province? We have no idea.
Mark Lefebvre 01:17
I can see Toronto. If I climbed up high enough, I could see the CN Tower from where I am.
Kevin Tumlinson 01:22
And I’ve been there. And, Nick, you are in Hawaii right now. Right?
Nick Thacker 01:25
Oahu. Island of Oahu. Yep.
Kevin Tumlinson 01:28
Yes. And you’ve written a lot on the road yourself. So, you move almost as much as I do.
Nick Thacker 01:37
Sometimes by choice too.
Kevin Tumlinson 01:38
Sometimes on purpose. Okay, so we’re gonna dive right into that. Now be sure you are asking whatever questions you might have. You can ask us anything during this, of course. It doesn’t have to specifically be about writing on the road, although we appreciate that, because that is the topic. And for those folks who are tuning in via the podcast after this live broadcast, that’s the stuff they’re probably tuning in for. So if you don’t mind. And we are also, before we get started, we wanted to, because we announced this this week. We’ve announced this both to our email list and to our blog, people who pay attention on the blog, but we just added BorrowBox, which is a brand new way for you to reach even more libraries. Mark, you had the whole list of … I’ve got it in front of me, correct me if I get it wrong. This is going to help you reach library patrons in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. So that is pretty remarkable. We love libraries at Draft2Digital, they’re a great way to, you know, allow readers to discover your work without them having to pop for anything out of pocket, because their tax dollars did it for them. So that’s pretty cool, man. You guys, Mark, you are really up on BorrowBox, you want to say a few words about it?
Mark Lefebvre 03:04
Yeah, a few things. I’ve been lucky enough to be in the beta program, testing it out. So a couple of things authors should know. When you next log in your Draft2Digital account, it’ll ask you “do you want to opt in all your titles to BorrowBox?”, which can save you time, if you have a lot. If you dismiss it to say “maybe later,” that notification will pop up 24 hours later. If you actually get rid of it, like don’t bug me, and you want us to opt in your titles, just email firstname.lastname@example.org and our awesome customer service folks will take care of it for you. So you don’t have to go through and manually add them one by one by one, we will take care of you because we love you. And we want to support you, the authors. And we want to help you guys get into as many library systems around the world as possible. BorrowBox is huge in these markets. And one thing you should know as an author, there’s no public-facing catalog you can see. If you have the BorrowBox app, if you’re in one of those territories that Kevin mentioned, you’ll only see books available through the app if the local library you’re connected to through BorrowBox actually has your books. But now that you’ve opted in, because you’re a really brilliant author, you’ve opted into BorrowBox. And if your local library uses BorrowBox, you can let patrons know, hey, my books are now available through BorrowBox. You can request them at X named library.
Kevin Tumlinson 04:21
Exactly. Excellent. So yeah, that’s cool. I love anything that gets me into more libraries and makes that easier. This was definitely one, everyone we talked to in Australia has been begging us for this for years, really. So this is, I think it’s going to be a big deal down under. And I did not, I specifically did not do the Australian accent. Because I don’t think I do it very well.
Mark Lefebvre 04:46
So and I have to say, kudos to our amazing CEO, who continued to work with the awesome company of BorrowBox to make sure we could get the best terms for our authors. So one of the reasons why we may not release a platform right away is, you know, we’re not ready technically. But also, we want to make sure we get the best possible terms for authors. So, again, a lot of really cool behind the scenes stuff you guys never really get to see.
Kevin Tumlinson 05:12
That’s true, we work pretty hard for you. We deserve like, brownies, and other gifts. So we’re gonna, let’s go ahead and dive into the topic here. Because this, again, like I said, this is one I talk about a lot, it’s one that’s kind of a favorite of mine. Even before we were traveling full time, I was always sort of obsessed with remote writing, especially when going to conferences. Like, I have a whole little conference kit that I can carry with me that that’s a streamlined way for me to write, which is basically like a portable, folding keyboard and—or, well, I got away from the folding keyboard for a while and just used the Logitech battery-powered keyboard, Bluetooth keyboard with my phone. And then Michael LaRonn showed me up and wrote an entire series of books using nothing but his thumbs on his phone screen. So I had to do that a couple of times to prove my worth. But so I’m always tinkering and experimenting with the best way to write while mobile. Do you guys have, like, tips and tricks or technology that you like to fall back on when you’re having to write while you travel? Like, how do you guys write?
Nick Thacker 06:27
I mean, I’ve got a lot of different, I call them setups, you know? Because it’s almost like, if I don’t have the full setup, I don’t work. So I can’t just have half my setup, you know, have the iPad, but then a mechanical keyboard or like, it’s got to be the right thing. And so I’ve got a couple different setups that I use regularly, that I prefer. And one example is, you know, right now I’m sitting at a desk. It’s a full screen and separate keyboard. And that’s kind of my preference. And I feel like I can’t write unless I’m right here. And then all of a sudden, I find myself not right here, at a conference or whatever. And so I adopt this second preference, which is an iPad. I actually use an iPad Pro, I’ve got the Smart Keyboard. It really lays flat. It took me a little while to get used to that, of course, because it’s got the flat keys and all that. And that’s it. I mean, I pretty much have made a way, I mean, have made myself get used to writing that way. I can’t go even farther down that line and use my thumbs, like some of you nerds. I just can’t do it. I’ve tried it before, I just can’t do it. But that’s probably as small as my as my office gets, is just an iPad with a keyboard.
Kevin Tumlinson 07:38
You actually occasionally do … like you narrate, right? I don’t mean narrate, but the word has kind of slipped out of my brain.
Nick Thacker 07:44
I was gonna say, yeah, there’s sort of an addendum to that clause. If I’m driving somewhere, because again, I don’t want to do this on an air … I mean, I’ve thought about dictating on an airplane, but it would be super awkward, I think, but it’s really funny. You know, right next to somebody, like, “their moist loins are …” Can we say “loins” on this show?
Kevin Tumlinson 08:06
The transcript for this is gonna be amazing now.
Nick Thacker 08:09
But if I’m in the car, if I’m driving somewhere, then, you know, I try to dictate. I have a headset that I bought, it’s a noise-cancelling microphone, which is kind of interesting. It kind of blocks out some of the wind noise and road noise and things like that. And I’m able to get some pretty good words written that way. The problem is, of course, with dictating like that when you’re not in a studio environment, is the microphone’s just not going to be perfect enough. And there’s going to be a lot of rewriting and editing and fixing things like that. So I’m not quite there yet. But my plan for that part of it is to adopt some AI tools, some artificial intelligence or machine learning tools to be able to help process that raw dictation, you know, basically a super grammar checker, right? However, there’s no specific service that does that at this point. So it’s mostly just kind of hacking together some different things and seeing if it’ll work. But anyway, that’s neither here nor there.
Kevin Tumlinson 09:08
Mark, your good friend, Kevin J. Anderson. He does a lot of dictation while he hikes up in the mountains.
Nick Thacker 09:15
He’s my friend too, Kevin.
Mark Lefevbre 09:16
He was my friend first!
Nick Thacker 09:17
We share him equally.
Kevin Tumlinson 09:18
He cannot be all of our friends.
Nick Thacker 09:20
Let’s just put it this way. Before I was in Hawaii, he was far closer to me. He lived in my town.
Kevin Tumlinson 09:26
Mark Lefebvre 09:27
That’s right. But I’ve had more beers with him.
Kevin Tumlinson 09:18
I needed a better segue than …
Mark Lefebvre 09:33
Kevin has hiked every peak above 10,000 feet in the state of Colorado. And he dictates while … and he started on the little cassette things that he used to mail to somebody, who would transcribe for him. So he’s evolved that process over time. But yeah, that’s part of his first draft process, which is quite incredible. I’m stuck with a laptop. I say, have laptop, will write while I travel. Now I haven’t traveled since the pandemic, except a couple like camping trips and stuff like that. But one of the challenges I’ve had to overcome with travel is, I’m a tall guy on an airplane. And then when the bozo in front of me decides they’re going to recline, and I’ve got my laptop, like I already don’t have enough space, and then my laptop is kind of like this kind of angle. It’s just really tight. I can barely get my hands in there.
Nick Thacker 10:31
Mark, you don’t like first class like the rest of us?
Mark Lefebvre 10:33
No, no, I don’t fly first class like the rest of you really cool people. But that is where, obviously there’s going to be times when I need to get writing done. So my laptop actually opens, so I can actually prop it up. Now it’s harder, if I’m reviewing and editing, that’s fine. But then that’s where I also always bring one of these. This is a thing. I don’t know if you guys are familiar with this technology. It’s called a notebook. And you take a pen and paper,
Kevin Tumlinson 11:05
How many amps does that use?
Mark Lefebvre 11:06
Oh, it just uses a ton of energy. So you’re really, really, it’s gonna suck the WiFi out of every … But it is, it’s a great backup for me. Now, the problem I have is, I look like a doctor writing a prescription out. Half the time, I can’t read it. There, see? But I still, you know, to this day, this is still a great backup for me when I run into situations where the technology fails because of some situation where I can’t use battery data or whatever.
Nick Thacker 11:34
Mark, do you know why I can’t do that? So, I take notes, my notebook’s at arm’s length, just like you. But I actually hold my pen like this. between two fingers. Because when I was in ….
Kevin Tumlinson 11:48
Like a three-year-old learning to write.
Nick Thacker 11:52
Pretty much. And my handwriting is about as good as a three-year-old learning to write. I went on a ski trip in high school and I broke both of my thumbs. I looked like The Fonz. I was walking around school and had casts on both hands. And so I had to learn in to write essays, because it was super important that I write all these essays, apparently, for you know, college applications and stuff. So I had to write like this. Anyway, so my wrist gets tired very quickly, because of tendons and things like that in there. So I have a really good excuse for why I am too lazy to use a notepad to write long form.
Mark Lefevbre 12:23
Wow, that is neat. Okay.
Kevin Tumlinson 12:27
I keep, I have dozens and dozens of Moleskin notebooks that I, you know, I always carry one with me. Everywhere we travel, everywhere I go, I have one close at hand. I love writing and stuff. Now I’ve been tinkering with iPad, you know, we have the Apple Pencil. And there are other versions of this, by the way, I lean very heavily towards Apple products. But a lot of people are actually using the Apple Pencil and the Notes app and other apps to actually write directly on the iPad screen. And I have a cover on my screen called “paperlike,” because it’s like paper, it gives it texture like paper. So it kind of completes that sort of pen to paper experience. So, you know, I have been kind of experimenting with that. I haven’t written anything necessarily that way. But you know, I like a challenge. So maybe I’ll get around to that at some point. The thing I think, we kind of leaned in on the tech side of this, and I like Msark that you brought in the analog version of doing this, because people still do write by hand. But I always tend to lean in on, I love my iPad, I love my iPhone, I love being able to write from anywhere. There are technologies now that are making it … So, like writing on the iPad, there’s an e-ink tablet out there. I can’t remember what it’s called at this point. But there’s several versions of this.
Nick Thacker 14:00
Is it Remarkable?
Kevin Tumlinson 14:01
Remarkable was the one I was thinking of, yeah. And there are others as well, where you can just sort of, you know, use handwriting and write your notes. And it’ll even translate that into typed text. So that’s a perfectly viable way to do that.
Nick Thacker 14:15
I’d love to try one out. If anyone from Remarkable is listening, go ahead and just send us three, and we can test them for you next time we go live. Other than that, I don’t have like eight grand to drop on one of these tablets. So.
Mark Lefebvre 14:26
Well that being said, anyone from Kobo who wants to send me, I was looking at the really awesome new device that does seem to have that functionality. So you can not only have all your favorite books with you, but then you can also use it to write.
Nick Thacker 14:38
I was gonna ask you about that, Mark, if you knew anything about that. I want one of those.
Mark Lefebvre 14:40
I’m waiting to see some reviews [inaudible].
Kevin Tumlinson 14:42
Let’s get into a couple of the questions we got popped up. These are not necessarily related directly to writing on the road, but we will loop back around to that. First up from Val Melville on YouTube, “Amazing Draft2Digital staff.” Thank you, Val. “I have two questions. One, my Kobo downloads for my free ebooks don’t show. And two, are there any newsletters to promote free ebooks that aren’t on Amazon?” Mark, you actually were looking into the whole Kobo thing. Do you have anything you can share?
Mark Lefebvre 15:18
Yeah, so I know the process isn’t 100% automated like it is with Apple, for example, where that information is sent, you know, multiple times a day. So there is a bit of a backlog. But I think one of our great awesome folks, maybe Elyssa commented, saying email email@example.com. We can look into it for you. That is a challenge. But from my own experience, it’s usually quite a bit of a backlog and it comes in batches. So I know that’s difficult if you’ve run a newsletter, you know, Freebooksy or a BookBub or something like that, and you’re curious to see what your Kobo stats are there, it’s gonna be frustrating, because you may not see them right away. But that’s the one answer I have for you.
Kevin Tumlinson 16:00
Okay, so the question about the newsletters that promote free ebooks. Mark, you and I were talking about this a little before the broadcast. I guess our consensus was that you could probably use like Freebooksy and Bargain Booksy, services like that, to help reach an audience. I read this a little different from that, but I think your answer is probably on point. Like, I think they are looking for promotional services like that. Most won’t exclude Amazon though, we determined.
Mark Lefebvre 16:36
Yeah, and I suspect Val’s asking this question because you cannot make your book free on Amazon, you know, except for the five days when you’re locked into 90 days of exclusivity. So the frustration is often, well, I can’t guarantee it’s going to be free on Amazon. So I just want to book the sites that I can control. Well, unfortunately, 90% of our industry is based on Amazon this, Amazon that, Amazon everything. Therefore, most of the newsletters won’t let you exclude Amazon. But they include, many of the great ones include multiple platforms. And sometimes even if it’s not changed on Amazon, they might still run it, if it’s not free on Amazon. Other times they won’t, and that’s the tricky part. But if you check out the Wide for the Win newsletter, the Wide for the Win Facebook group I should say, there’s a really phenomenal list of really great newsletters, if you’re looking for different newsletters Val, that may be more inclusive.
Kevin Tumlinson 17:32
Okay, your audio kind of garbled there a little. I don’t know if it did that for everyone, but just in case, he’s talking about the Wide for the Win Facebook group, which has been a pretty, that’s an amazing group to watch grow. They have a lot of great tips. So Nick, did you have any tips at all on promoting? You’re all Amazon at this point, I think, right?
Nick Thacker 17:55
Yeah. So that’s the problem is, I’m pretty much exclusive to Amazon with most of my thrillers. And so I don’t know a whole lot about websites that promote, that preclude Amazon or exclude them. So unfortunately, I’m not the right guy to ask for that. But I do pretty much, when I set up a promo for anyone who is Amazon or if you’re not, and you want to go check and see what’s available. I use my buddy Nicholas Eric’s website, he’s got a list of promotional sites where he kind of ranks them in tiers of best, second best, third best, you know, kind of stay away from. Of course, BookBub being at the top is a great promotion site. And then so that’s kind of how he ranks everything as far as how to make the most return on your investment. So I’m pretty lazy. I just I use his stuff because it works. So I’d recommend going to check that out for promotional sites, it pretty much covers the big ones. And, you know, rest assured if there’s something that’s not on there, it’s probably because it’s not a huge promotional site, and so you’re not really missing anything by, you know, by just going down his list.
Kevin Tumlinson 19:01
Okay. So scrolling on down the list of questions here.
Nick Thacker 19:10
Oh, Elyssa had asked if I could say that website again real quick. Yes. It’s NicholasErik.com. And that’s Erik, E-R-I-K, I believe. It’s very Googlable.
Kevin Tumlinson 19:23
Yeah, she’ll drop that in the comments I’m sure. We’ve just obligated her to. Speaking of Elyssa, she had a comment. She said, “I love using the cloud so I can swap between machines seamlessly, be that Google Docs or Dropbox or Evernote. I’ve tried them all.” And I have too. In fact, for a while there, I really loved Evernote and then Nick talked me out of it. And let’s not trash Evernote live on the air, but …
Nick Thacker 19:50
No, let’s. I doubt they’re here. No, I’m kidding. I just, here’s the deal. I loved Evernote as well. But the user interface, the user experience, was not quite Apple-y enough. That’s probably the best way to put it, and I was a huge, I am a huge Apple fanboy. And so I just wanted it all to kind of look the same. Long story short, though, Apple Notes does literally everything that I needed it to do. And I can’t even remember now what features Evernote has that that Apple Notes doesn’t. So I switched everything over to Apple Notes. I mean, I can drag a PDF in there, if I’m going on a trip. I can drag, you know, images, whatever. I can organize, and everything’s hierarchical and folders. So I can organize book ideas, share docs, that kind of stuff. And you know, with Kevin, I’ve done this before. I just share the note and he can see it on his side. And we can both edit it simultaneously. So I like Apple notes. And as far as the … I’m sorry, I’m on a delay out here on Hawaii internet. I was just gonna say, that brings up a good point, because I do. I use Dropbox for everything. And the way it works is, I actually replaced my hard drive with … Well, not replaced, but my hard drive is actually just a Dropbox folder. So basically, my Documents folder on my Mac is on the Cloud. So anytime, and I’ve done that with my downloads folder, my desktop, so literally anytime I go to, like I’m on a Mac Mini right now, but I’ve got my laptop downstairs. If I save something here, I can open up my other computer, my other machine. And it’s, you know, as long as I have an internet connection, it’s there. And that’s also true, you know, with a few more, you know, finagling with the iPad, and iPhone, things like that. So it’s very doable. And that’s not you know, Dropbox obviously isn’t an Apple product. So you can do that on Windows, Linux, whatever.
Kevin Tumlinson 21:33
Yeah. So I, you know, like a lot of authors, I prefer to write using Scrivener. And I’ve started, when we knew we were going to be getting back on the road in the van again for a while. So we’re on the road until we, until our house is built. So it’ll be a few months. But when we knew we were getting back on, I started to make sure that I was up to date, like I was … I had used Scrivener on the iPad before and on the iPhone, mostly to edit, but I hadn’t really focused on doing the actual writing full time on those apps. And it turns out that they are, once you kind of get used to the slight differences in the interface, they’re really very powerful. So I do all my writing on my iPad now. I actually decided to switch over and just do the writing on the iPad. Because it’s, for one, it helps me separate the work. So I have the, I still have my laptop, I carry it with us. It’s easier for me to get online with the iPad because it has its own LTE interface or connection. But I discovered that even when I’m stationary, if I want to do various tasks, it actually helps my brain to switch gears, to switch over to the mobile platform and write there, rather than writing on my computer that I use for video or, you know, podcasting or whatever. So just that’s sort of related to the topic. So I did share on screen, Elyssa shared the link to NicholasErik.com. So if you’re watching this, you’ll be able to see that link. It’s also in the comments in both YouTube and Facebook. So Tom Ray says, “I use Office 365 on my laptop and desktop and got word for Android to both my phone and tablet. It has a save option going directly to OneDrive that lets me move between devices seamlessly.” Which is essentially what Nick and I are talking about with things like Dropbox and Google Docs. I like Google Docs a lot. There’s a part of me that really would like to write … I’ve written books in Google Docs, and collaborated with other writers there. But for some reason, it’s not my go-to.
Nick Thacker 23:56
Yeah, I mean, Elyssa commented up there earlier, and this is my problem with both Word and Google Docs. It does get laggy after the book gets to a certain length. Which, you know, at that point, it’s almost impossible for me to use because it’s just too frustrating. That may not be true for everyone, and certainly less true with Word on, you know, a dedicated machine, rather than writing on the cloud like Google Docs. But I have other problems with Microsoft Word. I don’t like the way that they’re doing their subscription service. You know, I’ve got basically two Word accounts and I have to be logged into one of them and only that one, the correct one, for me to be able to save documents. And it’s just, I mean, maybe I’m old school, but I remember when I would go to Best Buy and buy a box called Microsoft Word, you know, Microsoft Office and take it home and open the carboard … And that was the way it should, you know, I got a little frustrated when they switched to a different model.
Kevin Tumlinson 24:44
While you were swapping out discs to install it, you were yelling for kids get off your lawn, that sort of thing?
Nick Thacker 24:53
I was the kid on the lawn. But yeah, exactly.
Kevin Tumlinson 24:57
Mark, what’s your preferred software for writing? Do you use Scrivener?
Mark Lefebvre 25:04
No. You know, I bought Scrivener a while back and I never got used to it. I just went back to Word. And maybe this is because with some of the projects I was working with, my editor used Word and so I needed to get it into Word format, and I never had any luck in the conversion. And I just removed the frustration. So I was like, I’ll just keep using Word. So yeah, I’ve been, I’ve stuck with it.
Kevin Tumlinson 25:27
That’s cool. Yeah. I you know, I guess the takeaway on that is, there are a million different ways for you to do the actual writing. You have to find the one that works best for you. I fell in love with Scrivener almost from the start. To me, it changed … So, you know, I have a copywriting background. I have been a copywriter for most of my career, which just means I write emails and ad copy and things like that all the time. And, you know, I always used Microsoft Word, it was just, that was the tool. That’s the tool you use. And so I wrote my first few books in Microsoft Word, because it is a pretty powerful word processor. But I just had a hard time. Like I was saying earlier, I needed to be able to switch gears. And Scrivener, I really liked the way I could separate out each chapter and each scene in its own individual file, and the whole focus mode and all that stuff. It has a lot of great features. But I can totally understand why … to me, I use maybe less than 1% of the features this thing has, honestly. So I can totally see why some authors might be intimidated by it and not like it. You know, I remember a conversation I had with Justin Sloane. Like, he tried to switch over and just hated it, just hated everything about it. So he switched right back to Microsoft Word.
Nick Thacker 26:51
I know Justin as well, and I wonder if some of that is a Justin thing and maybe not a Scrivener thing. As much as I love the guy, I feel like Apple does hate him and he has a problem with any Apple product that he gets.
Kevin Tumlinson 27:02
He does. Anytime he touches an Apple product, it does immediately self-destruct.
Mark Lefebvre 27:10
So okay, I have to go back because Nick was talking about being an old man, talking about buying software in a box. The very first word processor, for anyone who is of my older age, more advanced age, there was a piece of software called Paperback Writer that I had on my Commodore 64. And I love that software so much. It wasn’t until WordPerfect, Corel WordPerfect actually came out, and WordPerfect was 1000 times better than Word back in the day. It was kind of like comparing you know, DOS to a Mac. That kind of that kind of comparison. And then Word actually got better. But yeah, Paperback Writer, oh my god, I loved that.
Kevin Tumlinson 27:47
Yeah, I had like a bootleg copy of that. Don’t let anyone know. On my Commodore 128. But when I got into college, I had an English professor who insisted that everyone buy a copy of Norton Textra from the college bookstore. And so that that’s what we were required to use in his class, and I actually fell in love with that. I kind of miss it sometimes. It was a very lightweight word processor, the whole thing fit on a floppy disk. That’s what we used to use to get things from one computer to another, folks. And I had a little clamshell laptop that I bought at the flea market for cheap because it didn’t work and I managed to fix it. And that’s what I did all my early writing on, so. I miss that. That was the early version of writing on an iPad for me.
Mark Lefebvre 28:43
I have some stories on cassette. Before floppy disks. I still have them somewhere, it’s kind of pathetic.
Kevin Tumlinson 28:48
That’s funny. Yeah.
Nick Thacker 28:57
You know, I was gonna ask you guys, we’re talking about kind of going old school a little bit. There’s this tool that I’ve seen, I was gonna ask if either of you have used it. Because it looks old school. It’s really not. But it’s called the Neo. And I think Kevin and I, we talked about it before. We’re trying to get one. The NeoSmart, yeah. And it’s this little keyboard. It’s a great idea. Because if you’re trying to out and about and everything, you want to stop at a coffee shop and get some writing done. If that’s sort of your MO, this is a perfect tool for that, because it’s very distraction-free. Obviously no internet, the screen is, I think it’s two lines of text. And that’s it, and so you can just basically write. You’re not gonna want to edit on this thing. You’re not gonna want to go back and reference. It’s just a keyboard with a tiny little LCD screen. And I think it is LCD, right? Or no, it’s LED.
Kevin Tumlinson 29:45
I think it’s LCD, liquid crystal. LCD with the old-school gray screen. You know what scares me about that thing, honestly, Nick? And the only reason I’m aware is because one of our founders, Aaron Poke, he uses one. And the thing that has always bugged me about that is that it basically buffers and stores everything on the keyboard itself. And the way you get it onto a computer is to plug it in and let it basically type the whole thing.
Nick Thacker 30:16
That’s right. There’s no actual digital component to it. It’s just like, real-time writing the thing into another Word document. I do remember that, yes.
Kevin Tumlinson 30:24
That scares the hell out of me. I have nightmares about it.
Mark Lefebvre 30:28
It takes 42 hours to actually transpose because it’s a really slow typer?
Kevin Tumlinson 30:31
Exactly. Right. I don’t know what the buffer size is. I assume you could do an entire book on there. But I just have nightmares of like the batterie’s running down while it’s in the middle of typing it out.
Nick Thacker 30:44
I mean, that just seems like a purposeful obfuscation, doesn’t it? Like I mean, why would you … I mean, it’s so simple to just get a little mini or micro SD card, or even a full size SD card.
Kevin Tumlinson 30:53
But they don’t make that thing anymore. It’s discontinued. It’s decades old. I mean, it was like a really early … there are other things now that are similar to it.
Nick Thacker 31:03
Okay. I thought it was a little newer than that. I thought it was like, while we had SD cards, they were deciding to go, you know, really old school with it.
Kevin Tumlinson 31:09
I don’t think so. But I’m not the expert on that thing. When I found out how it functioned, I didn’t pursue trying to get one. It does intrigue me though, the idea of a dedicated writer, like that’s all it does. And a lot of people need that. Which kind of brings us to another concept we might want to talk about a little, which is focus when you’re traveling. Because, you know, I for one, like I’m in a van right this second. Like, I’m sitting in the passenger seat, it’s turned around facing … we have a travel van. There are distractions galore. My wife is like three feet away from me, for one thing. We have a tiny little dog that insists on being the center of the universe. And at any given moment, there are people with leaf blowers or people pulling up in a new RV and music and all kinds of things happening. So staying focused on the writing is kind of a practiced skill, I think. But you know, writing on an airplane or writing in a hotel room, writing in cafes, you know, these are things. these are habits and capabilities I think you have to practice and learn how to do. What do you guys do? What have you done to make that sort of more accessible? What are some tricks?
Nick Thacker 32:27
At this point, I’ve just given up. I’ve just given up. I mean, I can’t even. I mean, I say that kind of tongue in cheek because we’ve been … You know, I’m not gonna give the whole story here. But you know, Kevin and Mark know some of this, but I’ve been moving around a lot, and not all of it on purpose. And so it’s just been very challenging for me to find this … I’m at the point where I’m about to launch a YouTube series about how to find rhythm and focus for writers because that’s exactly what my life right now is …
Kevin Tumlinson 32:54
Yes, because you know, when you’re so busy, you can’t get anything done, the thing you should do is start a YouTube series.
Nick Thacker 33:00
Hey, it’s easier than writing. If you’re a writer and you do this full time, you probably know how attractive anything else besides writing the words is. I mean, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cleaned baseboards and mowed lawns, just so I don’t have to write. But yeah, truthfully, I mean, it’s just, that’s a very challenging thing. And you’re exactly right, Kevin. It’s a muscle, and we have to work it out. I definitely fell into the naive trap early on of thinking that that writing was going to be, you know, solely driven, fueled by coffee and inspiration. That my motivation would show up in the morning when I show up. And that’s just patently untrue. I think we kind of know that. But I don’t know if we really know that as writers, right? I think we just kind of, we’ve heard that, we’ve read that we, “Oh, yeah, that makes sense.” We don’t really stop and think, okay, if I want this to work, what’s going to carry me through the hours and days and weeks after the motivation is drained? And how do I stay focused on that project? And I’m not gonna say that I have the answer. But it’s a tool belt. It’s a bunch of tools in your tool belt. Things like, for me, getting good sleep. And for me, that’s eight hours a night. Some people can exist on a little less, some people need a little more, but I have to have eight hours pretty much on the dot, or you know, I’m not going to be as focused. I can still get writing done and force myself to work. But—what’s that?
Mark Lefebvre 34:14
Eight hours in a row, like in a single day?
Nick Thacker 34:20
I think, I predict I have to have 16 hours of sleep to feel rested. Because I’ve never in my adult life felt rested. So that’s my theory, is that 16 hours must be the number. I’ve only gotten 15 before so. Yeah, so anyway, I’m rambling. But I think that’s the challenge, right, is trying to figure out what tools we have. Knowing ourselves well enough to say, it doesn’t matter what these guys need to do, it doesn’t matter that Kevin Tumlinson wakes up at 2:30 in the morning, and then goes to bed at you know, like midnight, and then every hour in between is writing time. Like, I can’t do that, you know? But what can I do? Obviously I have books to write. Obviously, I gotta feed the beast, obviously I got readers and stuff to please and of course food to put on the table. So at some point, it becomes so much less about the inspiration and the motivation, and a lot more about just the job. You got to get the job done.
Kevin Tumlinson 35:06
Yeah. What is that quote? And I don’t know who said it. And I don’t know the exact verbiage, but it went, it goes something along the lines of, “Inspiration is very important in writing. And luckily, I’m inspired every day at 9 a.m.”
Nick Thacker 35:22
Yes. I think that was me. I think I said that. I’m usually the person behind all the quotes.
Kevin Tumlinson 35:24
Mark, how do you keep yourself inspired and motivated?
Mark Lefebvre 35:29
So I was listening to the Sell More Books show with Brian Cohen and H. Claire Taylor. And Claire said something in this week’s episode that resonated. And it’s, when you return to writing, if it’s a scene you’re not enjoying writing, how is the reader going to enjoy reading that? And that’s something that resonates with me. So for example, if I’m working on a book project, and I’m on the road, because I do travel a lot, I’ll be back to traveling a lot very soon. If I can’t focus on that scene, because I’m so excited, and I’m so passionate to want to get back into that book project. And again, it’s a lot of work, it’s not easy to block out the distractions and the things. But if I don’t make time for it, and I’m not able to block those distractions, those distractions are more powerful and more important than my work. And I can’t let that happen. My work has to be more important. Or maybe there’s something wrong with what I’m supposed to be writing that day. Is that really something for me? Because again, think about that from your reader’s perspective. They have all these distractions around them. They want to get back to your book, and they want to read your book, because it’s that awesome. I should feel the same way, in many ways, about getting back to working on that book, fighting those same distractions. It’s not all that different. So I try to apply a little bit of that thinking. And sometimes that helps me decide a project isn’t working, or I need to take a different path, or a scene isn’t working, or something’s wrong. It’s almost like writer’s block in many ways. Yeah, it’s powerful. We want to do other things, as Nick said. You know, man, I never get more chores done around the house than when I have a deadline coming up in my writing. But it’s almost one of the things that you kind of look at and say, what do I really want here? What’s my brain telling me? And so, for me, even though I’m easily distracted, I do have trouble writing in a crowded cafe. But when I am writing in a crowded café and there’s a lot going on around me, that tells me something really important about what I’m working on, that I can actually focus in on it.
Kevin Tumlinson 37:35
So I actually, I do very well in the crowded cafe situation. So well, in fact, that when we were kind of locked down and isolated and not going anywhere, I actually would go on YouTube and find ambient soundtracks from cafes, so that I had that crowd noise going. And I would, you know, if I wasn’t having to stay quiet, like, you know, in this environment, or when we stayed with my in laws or something, and I had an open room, I would actually play that sound on a speaker in the room, and then play my music or something from whatever I was writing on. And that gave me the whole cafe experience. So I thrive in that environment.
Nick Thacker 38:20
I do too. I like that. I like a little bit of background noise. And you know, headphones on and all that, but I want to hear some clattering and …
Kevin Tumlinson 38:25
I’ve actually been in cafes that were too quiet and played cafe ambient noise there.
Mark Lefevbre 38:33
Can I put this over your PA system, please?
Kevin Tumlinson 38:39
Exactly. It’s like, you guys want to attract more writers? Play this. Tom Ray had a comment I wanted to make sure I read. He says, “I wrote the original manuscript for my 12-book series on a Chromebook in the student lounge, while my son had classes at Technical College. Focus was a good set of earbuds and great playlists.” So, playlists are very important to authors.
Nick Thacker 39:01
I was gonna say, that brings up a good point, Kevin. Because I am a music guy, and I cannot write with music that’s got lyrics in it. It has to be instrumental.
Mark Lefevbre 39:10
I’m with you Nick.
Kevin Tumlinson 39:09
Same. Okay, caveat to that. I can do it, but only in that noisy cafe setting. Or a hotel or whatever. So if I’m in an open environment where there are other people, and there’s conversations and that sort of thing. I don’t know if maybe the lyrics start to get lost in all that, but I can do it. But I cannot listen to, I used to. I used to be able to listen to pop music or something while I wrote, but just, yeah.
Mark Lefebvre 39:44
[inaudible] rickrolled all the time with [inaudible]
Kevin Tumlinson 39:50
Let’s see. Oh, Andy Jones was kind enough to get us the quote. “I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at nine o’clock every morning.” Thank you Andy, I appreciate that. And it’s Peter De Vries. Is that how you pronounce that?
Nick Thacker 40:04
I think it’s Peter De Vries, yeah. It looks French.
Kevin Tumlinson 40:06
Great quote. Thank you. So here is, Elyssa shared this in the comments, please go click this link, I think this is going to be amazing. “Get ready to have your mind blown. You can generate and customize your own cafe sounds.” Now, I did find an app that would let you layer different ambient sounds. And this is probably it, actually. So go check that out if you are looking for that sort of thing. It’s very helpful, especially in environments like this. Having that sort of thing going on helps sort of stabilize me, as far as focus. So it’s a great tool.
Mark Lefebvre 40:52
Can I talk about another important café tip or trick? So here in Canada, Tim Hortons, there’s a 20-minute time limit. And so there’s no better way to do a sprint, where you’re gonna get writing done, than getting into Tim Hortons, get your coffee, get a table, and then write for 20 minutes. And then like, you know, I’m not going to leave my laptop at the table and go up because you know, it might not look good or whatever. But you close your laptop, you finish that sprint, you go up, you get your next coffee. And then—but again, it’s this weird, the psychology. And this happens too, sometimes I’ve even booked hotel rooms just to get writing done, because it feels like I’m here with a purpose. And I’ve moved to this location and I only have this much time. I better be focused.
Nick Thacker 41:39
I’ve literally considered booking a flight to a city and then flying right back. I’ve literally considered doing that, because there’s some cheap flights right now.
Kevin Tumlinson 41:50
I don’t like flying much these days. But I’ve done it in the past. And, you know, we’ll go to a city or something. And I’ll wander the city for a while and find a place to just sit and write. And you know, you can do things like that. And it’s not all that expensive now.
Mark Lefebvre 42:06
Well Nick, now they’ve got the cross US train for really, really cheap. You could just do the authors on the train thing. Write a novel on the train.
Kevin Tumlinson 42:15
I would do that. I would completely do that.
Mark Lefebvre 42:18
Because there’s a lot more space for us tall people.
Kevin Tumlinson 42:21
Hey, look, if I do it out of a van, I can do it in a train car. So no problem.
Nick Thacker 42:28
Sounds like green eggs and ham or something. If I can write inside a van, I can write anywhere.
Kevin Tumlinson 42:37
Exactly. Gil Jackson says, “10 minutes of listening to music while writing and I don’t hear it anymore.” I do think that’s kind of … you put on mental blinders, I think.
Nick Thacker 42:48
Hey, shameless sales pitch. If anyone out there needs a good playlist, check out Sonata and Scribe. I literally wrote music. I made up a fake band called Autographa. And there’s an album called Tensions that I literally wrote to be background music for writing. It’s on Spotify, all that stuff. Apple Music, whatever. So go check that out. It’s kind of funny.
Kevin Tumlinson 43:09
I’ll put that in the comments. It’s SonataandScribe.com. Aw, come on, autocorrect.
Nick Thacker 43:18
No, the website doesn’t work anymore. The website’s down. Yeah, go search it in your favorite music location for whatever you subscribe to.
Kevin Tumlinson 43:29
I was gonna help you out.
Nick Thacker 43:31
Well, I need to help myself out and put the website up. But I’ve been too focused on writing and procrastinating.
Kevin Tumlinson 43:36
Exactly. That’s a chronic problem for writers. So we’re kind of coming up on the end of our time. If anyone has a last-minute question, feel free to pop in. We got like two minutes left. But we can kind of start wrapping some things up. So of course, if you’re watching this, you’re aware of who we are as Draft2Digital, but we want to make sure that you know that you can come visit us anytime online at draft2digital.com. And we’ll help you out with getting your manuscript converted to all the popular ebook formats. We also now have D2D Print, which is still technically in beta. But I think we’re getting really close to, we’ve ironed out some pretty major wrinkles in that and it is looking pretty sweet. So I’m looking forward to seeing that guy launch full out. If you get on and you sign up for the beta, we’ll get you into the beta. It’s the full functioning stuff. I use it for all my print books. Mark uses it as well. I don’t think Nick uses it, but I won’t call him out on it. Some other features you might be interested in. We have our collaboration tools now. where you can actually do royalty splitting. So this is great for box sets, anthologies, if you’ve got a writing partner. Even if you just want to split some of your royalties with, say, your cover designer or anyone really. As long as you both have D2D accounts and have gone through the tax interview, you can split your royalties in any percentages you want. So, very cool. I’ve already seen a lot of people using this for box sets in particular, and anthologies, where you know. And you can vary the percentages as well. So the organizer can actually set their percentage a little higher, if they’re the one going out of pocket for everything, for example. Or you can all just split it evenly. So that’s a great tool. Of course, we want to remind you that we just released, or just added BorrowBox as one of our library distribution options. That’s just one of several ways that we get you to libraries on D2D draft2digital.com. So go check out that website, and make sure you are subscribing to us on YouTube and Facebook. You can find us, just type /draft2digital on any random website, you might find us. So go to youtube.com/draft2digital, or facebook.com/draft2digital and make sure you’re following us. If you’re on YouTube, you want to like this video, subscribe to our channel and comment, because that helps us out. And it could help you out too, because it’ll let you know when we do these little live broadcasts. So make sure that you are bookmarking D2Dlive.com, where you can see a countdown to these broadcasts as we roll them out. We do at least one of these a month live, usually more than that. So very useful. And if you go to SelfPublishingInsiders.com, that is the official podcast for this site. And you’ll be able to listen, watch, or read this show when it posts live. And all the others that we have up there. So go and check that out. That’s a whole lot of URLs. But they’re all worth it, I promise. So go check those out. Before we cancel up, let’s see. We got, here’s a question from Shirish. “Any plans for D2D Print to support color printing?” There’s been some talk about that. Mark, do you know anything about that?
Mark Lefebvre 47:08
I think we’re not adding any features until we’re post-beta. So email support@draft2digital, let us know you’re interested in that. We’ve got to get the beta out the door before we look at all the other cool sexy things we can add to it, like color and other formats.
Kevin Tumlinson 47:24
Okay. All right. That looks like the only question left. and we’re out of time. So that’s perfect. So thank you so much for being a part of the show, guys. Thank you and happy writing on the road as everything is starting to open back up. Safe travels.
Nick Thacker 47:39
Procrastinating on the road.
Kevin Tumliingson 47:40
Procrastinate on the road. There are a lot of clean hotel rooms out there as Nick Thacker passes through town.
Nick Thacker 47:50
Those baseboards are sparkling.
Kevin Tumliingson 47:53
Alright everybody, thank you again and we’ll see you all next time. Take care.