Embarking on writing

What’s it for?

craig-250

For as long as I’ve been recording podcasts I’ve wanted to figure out how to learn more, and retain more, from the conversations. An audio recording of a good conversation can be a good experience for the listener; It can be good experiential learning. But the conversations contain so much more—facts sure, but also connections to other people, projects, stories, new perspectives, insights—which I know I’m missing. If something prompts my memory, I can recall the experience of the conversation, but everything else is either never learned, or if it was, I’ve subsequently lost it.

I’m reminded of…

If you remember what an author says, you have learned something from reading him. If what he says is true, you have even learned something about the world. But whether it is a fact about the book or a fact about the world that you have learned, you have gained nothing but information if you have exercised only your memory. You have not been enlightened. Enlightenment is achieved only when, in addition to knowing what an author says, you know what he means and why he says it.

~ Mortimer Adler, author of How to Read a Book, 1972

There are multiple levels of understanding and learning, contained in each conversation. At the root of my feeling that I’m missing out is the knowledge that I’m only retaining the most-superficial level of the experience.

Who’s it for?

It’s obviously for me. But by doing the writing in public everyone who finds a specific episode interesting would be able to capture and retain more of those “levels of experience” for themselves.

What does success look like?

As I mentioned, my urge to do something more with the conversations is not new. In the Movers Mindset project, I have already experimented with ways to enable others to get more from each conversation. Two efforts in particular are worth discussing.

First, I’ve pushed the concept of episode notes to the limits of sanity. We have guest images, embedded audio player, guest pull-quotes, transcript excerpts, highlights, and the entire thing is organized by chapters—the audio files have embedded chapter information if your player-app supports it. Each section is cross-linked to the corresponding part of the full transcript; The transcripts are organized into sections which are linked back to the episode’s page. This takes massive effort involving myself, Melissa, Rev.com, custom software, and hours of time. Here, take a look at, Selene Yeager: Menopause, Health, and Writing.

Second, I’ve created a tool which enables exploring the episodes. If you were looking closely at Selene’s episode notes, you’ve seen one part of this already. The tool enables choosing a perspective, (for example, how did they answer the signature, three-words question,) and that perspective is dynamically inserted into the page that you saw. There are many other perspectives which you can interact with. (Imagine an old-fashioned, twist-adjustable kaleidoscope; the tool I built is the kaleidoscope and you’re pointing it at the entire Movers Mindset project.) If you want to try something mind-bending, take a look at, Exploring the Movers Mindset Project, where I explain it in more detail, and which includes embedded controls for playing with the current perspectives in real time.

Beyond those to efforts, I’ve always wanted to write something based on the Movers Mindset conversations. Unfortunately, they’re quite long adding to the difficulty of finding a “chunk” to work on. One of my goals in creating the Podcaster Community, was to create a short-form-conversations companion podcast. (Look for Podcaster Community wherever you listen, or you can play the episodes via embeds on the community’s forum.) Those conversations are targeted at 20 minutes which usually leads to a single, clear thread appearing in each episode. This gives me terrific material to work with as I explore how to get at the deeper levels of learning within each episode.

On July 15, 2021 I put up an article, On Storytelling, which is based on the first episode of the Podcaster Community’s companion show. That article was an experiment, and based on the responses it was a successful experiment.

Just figuring out how to write that article was an experiment. First I spent hours talking to various people about how to write an article from a conversation, and about what style, format and voice should be used in such an article. I tried a variety of tools for writing; Not simply “which text editor” but rather what process should I use. I tried: Listening and then starting with a blank page; Dumping the transcript into a spreadsheet (transcript in one column with a cell per block of dialog from each speaker) and converting each cell into corresponding prose in a second column; Working conceptually outwards to an outline of principles or topics, and then working back inwards to create prose. I eventually settled on a way to directly transform the raw transcript into a finished piece. Even though I’ve settled on a way to do it, it remains hard work. It took me three hours to write that experimental article. All of that to say: I’ve only done one, but I’m confident I can now do many more.

How many could I write? There are already 40+ episodes of the Podcaster Community’s show. I estimate there are 300 pieces of Movers Mindset episodes that could be articles. (Many episodes have 3+ threads of discussion, each the size of one of the Podcaster Community’s entire episodes.) I’ve also begun recording short-form-conversation episodes for Movers Mindset. With recording continuing across multiple projects, I have an effectively unlimited supply of raw material.

What’s the problem?

To free up enough time to write consistently, to make meaningful progress, my projects need to become a source of income for me. Movers Mindset has some patronage revenue, (you people are awesome,) and the Podcast Community has a core group of supporters, (also awesome,) which are covering its costs. But neither of them currently supports my life and creates space for this new writing.

My questions are…

Are the conversations valuable?

Would it be valuable to create articles from the conversations?

ɕ

3 Likes

@craig Emeric here. I’m cognitively challenged. I can’t see the icon where I can send you a private message. I’d love to have a conversation around monetization and supporting your work. I understand the time suck involved. I’m struggling with that and other things.

If you’d like to talk because I can’t type worth beans, here’s my tel 513 260-3649. If I don’t answer, leave a time and day that’s best to talk. Peace, @Emeric

1 Like

Hey @craig ~
As one who has just been fortunate enough to converse with you & enjoyed your conversations with other cohorts I can say that these podcast episodes are nourishing & you are in a similar place with many of us who are creating and yet not monetizing.

Yes, the conversations are valuable. I’m a child of radio; I love the music of the spoken word; I read so much (being the Imelda Marcos of Books) that to sit and listen is magic for me.

Would it be valuable to create articles from conversations? Perhaps you want to know: For whom would it be valuable and in what way would the value show up?

It would be churlish to say, no I’m unwilling to support your writing efforts while I try to gain even a measure of income from mine; perhaps something like Patreon or Buy Me a Coffee would invite financial support along with memberships or paid subscriptions? I could see my way clear to small investments.

I see that the inimitable @Emeric (who came up with me in TPF4) has some ideas & since he was very early on talking to us about how to make podcasts etc. more than a hobby I trust he has some viable ideas.

2 Likes

Lots of great ideas from @diane and @Emeric . Special thanks to Emeric who spent a lot of patient time listening to me work through my thinking on a Zoom call. Mixing all of this together, I’ve decided…

Voluntary, paying members

Okay, what’s currently working? Well, the voluntary system here whereby some people have chosen to become paying members is actually working. There are a number of people who are already paying to support this project.

…and what’s not working is that I’m not clearly asking for money. I had house-ads running, but they weren’t working to bring this paying support option to people’s attention.

To be clear: It would be very helpful if you became a paying member.

I’ve redone the house-ads to have a clear ask, and I’m putting my photo and name on it. You’ll now see this scattered around the site, (unless you’re a paying member, then these disappear):

Screen Shot 2021-09-24 at 19.42.39

Monetizing writing

I don’t want everyone to be faced with a stark choice, particularly when it comes to reading what I’m writing. My writing varies wildly in quality, opinion, topic, content, etc… I want people to make the decision, “Should I become a paying member or not?”, based on this whole project.

When you consider the community, my writing, other’s contributed content, the podcast, etc. is that worth paying for? I think it is, and I hope you agree.

I’m going to continue—okay, “start” is a better verb here in the Early Days—writing and posting it here publicly where everyone can read, share, and interact.

Welcome and on-boarding

I’m going to step up my game with taking the time to directly welcome and followup with people as they get used to the community. In particular, I’m going to start directly emailing people, rather than using the built-in direct-message system.

Using that system relies on the Discourse platform’s ability to email you—that often doesn’t succeed for several reasons, but one big one is the “from” address. The platform’s email system uses a @discourse.com address, and I’m curious to see what happens if I interact with people using my actual email address.

ɕ

1 Like

Congrats Craig!

And I’m now a paying subscriber.

You inspire me.

You might consider adding a link to any email asking for money. A friction free link directly to a friction free payment page.

~ Peace

Emeric McCleary
Podcaster/Teacher/Encourager

The My Spouse Died Too podcast host
https://www.myspousediedtoo.com

T 513.260.3649

2 Likes

I like the direct contact/connection plan @craig

1 Like

@craig - my two cents…Writing in Community.
Write your book.
You’ve already written one (or more). Pull all of the pieces together.
Other people need to hear from you.
@Emeric’s mention of “time suck” is also very real.

1 Like

I’m wondering which emails you are suggesting this for? Do you mean the ones that the Discourse platform sends?

I wrote and sent that before I figured out the payment link on the updated email you sent.

However, for old/cognitively challenged people like me, I need an obvious link or button that says something like “click this link to be a financial supporter” or “click this link to buy your subscription.” Stupid proofing.

Of course, you need to tag your unpaid subscribers so you don’t send the same CTA to paid subscribers.
And if everyone is tagged, you have the opportunity to market something more to the people who already gave you money. Maybe they want or are willing to pay for more of something.

You have an opportunity to create different levels of financial participation on your payment page instead of flat $55 (I think that’s what I paid).

If that doesn’t make sense, you can call me!

Emeric McCleary
Podcaster/Teacher/Encourager

The My Spouse Died Too podcast host
https://www.myspousediedtoo.com

T 513.260.3649

Understood. After our long conversation, one thing I did was change the “house ads” which are shown to people who are not supporting members. They see this in various places around this forum:

Thoughts? Clear enough?

In the ad, consider replacing the first “Please” with “Click this link.…support…”

That keeps my brain from asking, “Okay, I want to give Craig my money, where do I click?” I’m a toddler. Hold my hand and walk me to the money page.

Onward!

Emeric McCleary
Podcaster/Teacher/Encourager

The My Spouse Died Too podcast host
https://www.myspousediedtoo.com

T 513.260.3649

I’m not sure if you recall, but I did go through the first cohort of Writing in Community. I found the workshop to be very supportive for the writing process … effectively a giant support-group to get me to the keyboard.

But I didn’t find it helpful in terms of figuring out what the book is/was that I should write. I got massive amounts of helpful questions. But no answers. Yes, I have to do the hard work, but after the 11th person asks says, “this is awesome,” and “tell me more,” well… I walked away.

It was very helpful in that it forced me to try to answer the question: What book do I want to write? Which led me to sorting out my personal vision and mission. But my answer to the question was that I don’t want to write a book.

As for “other people need to hear from you,” how would writing a book accomplish that? My understanding of how book publishing (not the mechanics, but what happens when you put one out in the world) is that the people who want to hear from you will be interested in the book… but the artifact of a book? That’s not going to reach more people.

I’m on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to varying degrees. I’ve spent years creating my blog, my email list, my projects . . . the only path to “spreading the word”, that I see, is to just keep doing what I’m doing.

That said, I will eventually run out of money and have to stop all my work. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ people don’t seem — YO! PRESENT COMPANY OBVIOUSLY EXCLUDED!! — to value what I’m doing.

1 Like

Craig,
On the road today. Will respond later (not necessarily later today, though). You make some good points.
“Talk” soon.

1 Like

I hear you @craig

Time for me to reconsider & reconfigure all things podcast guests, episode notes, production team, and so on…