Hey You,

Watch for how closely Stephen King's productivity tips mirror Dan Kennedy's

It’s Lewis aka Nerd #2.

Today I wanted to share with you what I believe to be some of the finest productivity tips that will help you actually finish your tactics within your small business marketing strategies and get them in front of people who can actually give you money.

The come from the prolific author, Stephen King.

As of 2011, King has written and published 49 novels, including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman, five non-fiction books, and nine collections of short stories.

This means he knows how to get shit done and once you see his advice you’ll see why he can get as much written as he does.

While prepping for a consult I have with a client, I was looking through some of my material I reference when helping with the specific challenge of helping a client come up with the story of who they are why their target audience should bond with them and pay attention to what they have to say.

Dan Kennedy spent 3 days teaching about this in his Influential Writing course, which you can get the notes we have on it here, and charged a group of 10-15 people $13,500 to attend.

This is one of my favorite courses because it’s the one product that helped me see the truth: that the fundamentals of writing a salesletter are the least important parts of any business owner making a sale with any of your marketing.

Yet most copywriters you hire will only hand you shit based on the outlines/salesletter structures they learned in copywriting courses. And if

you write your own shit, you do the same thing.

I’ve never seen nor heard anything like this before and there’s a good reason for that.

It takes work and requires thinking and 85% of any population, even the superstars coming here, don’t want to do that.

But the work you put in here, never leaves your life. An hour spent working on what you learn in this course is worth who knows how many millions of dollars over your lifetime and who knows how many weeks worth of time in the future.

But Enough of Me Jerking Off Dan And His Legendary Course

I wanted to give you some quick excerpts from Stephen King’s “On Writing” book, part memoir – part guide for writers looking to produce,  that Dan included in his “Influential Writing Manual” that I believe can help you see through the eyes of a man who gets shit done and what actions and beliefs allow for this to happen.

This is the habits and guidelines that mirror Dan’s eerily close and that he credits with being able to be a marketing machine . . .

Here we go . . .

My own schedule is pretty clear cut. Mornings belong to whatever is new – the current composition. Afternoons are for naps and letters. Evenings are for reading, family, Red Sox games on TV, and any revisions that just cannot wait. Basically, mornings are my prime writing time.

Once I start work on a project, I don’t stop and I don’t slow down unless I absolutely have to. If I don’t write every day, the characters begin to stale off in my mind – they begin to seem like characters instead of real people. The tale’s narrative cutting edge starts to rust and I begin to lose my hold on the story’s plot and pace. Worst of all, the excitement of spinning something something new begins to fade. The work starts to feel like work, and for most writers that is the smooch of death. Writing is at it’s best – always, always, always – when it is a kind of inspired play for the writer. I can write in cold blood if I have to, but I like it best when it’s fresh and almost too hot to handle.

NERD #2 NOTE***** This is true for me. Some bloggers will tell you to keep your ideas in drafts on your blogs so you can come back to them later and never be out of ideas. For me, this is a good idea. Though I don’t come back to posts I’ve only written half or so of. You won’t find any of these in my drafts folder. There are no languishing incomplete old ass drafts in my folder. If I can’t knock out a piece in at least a week, I lose interest in it and never return. That’s why now, there’s none in there. *****

I used to tell interviewers that I wrote every day except for Christmas, the Fourth of July, and my birthday. That was a lie. I told them that because if you agree to an interview you have to say something, and it plays better if it’s something at least half-clever. Also, I didn’t want to sound like a workaholic dweeb (just a workaholic, I guess). The truth is that when I’m writing, I write everyday, workaholic dweeb or not. That includes Christmas, the Fourth, and my birthday (at my age you try to ignore your goddamn birthday anyway). And when I’m not working, I’m not working at all, although during those periods of full stop I usually feel at loose ends with myself and have trouble sleeping. For me, not working is the real work. When I’m writing, it’s all the playground, and the worst three hours I ever spent there were still pretty damn good.

I used to be faster than I am now; (The Running Man) was written in a single week, an accomplishment John Creasy would perhaps have appreciated (although I read that Creasy wrote several of his mysteries in two days). I think it was quitting smoking that slowed me down; nicotine is a great synapse enhancer. The problem, of course, is that it’s killing you at the same time it’s helping you compose . Still I believe the first draft of a book – even a long one – should take no more than three months, the length of a season. Any longer and – for me, at least – the story begins to take on an odd foreign feel, like a dispatch from the Romanian Department of Public Affairs or something broadcast on high-band shortwave during a period of severe sunspot activity.

I like to get ten pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words. That’s 180,000 words over a three month span, a goodish length for a book – something in which the reader can get happily lost, if the tale done well and stays fresh. On some days those ten pages come easily, I’m up and out and doing errands by eleven-thirty in the morning, perky as a rat in liverwurst. More frequently, as I grow older, I find myself eating lunch at my desk and finishing the day’s work around one-thirty in the afternoon. Sometimes, when the words come hard, I’m still fiddling around teatime. Either way is fine with me, but only under dire circumstances do I allow myself to shut down before I get my 2,000 words.

The biggest aid to regular (Trollopian?) production is working in a serene atmosphere. It’s difficult for even the most naturally productive worker to work in an environment where alarms and excursions are the rule rather than the exception. When I’m asked for “the secret to my success” (an absurd idea, that, but impossible to get away from), I sometimes say there are two: I stayed physically healthy (at least until a van knocked me down by the side of the road in the summer of 1999), and I stayed married. It’s a good answer because it makes the question go away, and because there is an element of truth to it. The combination of a healthy body and a stable relationship with a self-reliant woman who takes zero shit from me or anone else has made the continuity of my working life possible. And I believe the converse is also true; that my writing and the pleasure I take in it has contributed to the stability of my health and my home.

–3–

You can read anywhere, almost, but when it comes to writing, library carrels, park benches, and rented flats should be courts of the last resort – Truman Capote said he did his best work in motel rooms, but he is an exception; most of us do our best in a place of our own. Until you get one, you’ll find your new resolution to write a lot hard to take seriously.

NERD #2 NOTE***** I’ve found this to be true. Whenever I’ve tried to do creative work at Starbucks or Barnes & Noble or this shared workspace place the Chief and I have been checking out for the past month, my mind flutters and vision is drawn to anything walking by with nice gazongas attached to it. Or loud conversation. I need there only to be conversation going on with myself and no one else in site and my home office is the best place for this. Anywhere else, even hotel rooms are a dread for me. And when it comes to getting non-creative work done (taking notes, SEO stuff, etc.), I’m an introvert and I have no problem not talking to people around me and just working. But if you’re an extrovert and you want to get shit done, I highly recommend you reward yourself with social activity after you get your work done instead of succumbing to your addiction to being surrounded with people because if you’re in an open office or shared workspace with no walls or open doors, you’ll be highly tempted to go fuck your time and other peoples time just shootin’ the shit or asking dumb questions. *****

Your writing room doesn’t have to sport a Playboy Philosophy décor, and you don’t need an Early American rolltop desk in which to house your writing implements. I wrote my first two published novels, Carrie and Salem’s Lot, in the laundry room of a doublewide trailer, pounding away on my wife’s portable Olivetti typewriter and balancing a child’s desk on my thighs; John Cheever reputedly wrote in the the basement of his Park Avenue apartment building, near the furnace. The space can be humble (probably should be, as I think I have already suggested), and it really needs only one thing: a door which you are willing to shut. The closed door is your way of telling the world and yourself that you mean business; you have made a serious commitment to write and intend to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

By the time you step into your new writing space and close the door, you should have settled on a daily writing goal. As with physical exercise, it would be best to set this goal low at first, to avoid discouragement. I suggest a thousand words a day, and because I’m feeling magnanimous, I’ll also suggest that you can take one day a week off, at least to begin with. No more; you’ll lose the urgency and immediacy of your story if you do. With that goal set, resolve to yourself that the door stays closed until that goal is met. Get busy putting those thousand words on paper or on a floppy disk. In an early interview (this was to promote Carrie, I think), a radio talk-show host asked me how I wrote. My reply – “One word at a time” – seemingly left him without a reply. I think he was trying to decide whether or not I was joking. I wasn’t. In the end, it’s always that simple. Whether it’s a vignette of a single page or an epic trilogy like The Lord of The Rings, the work is always accomplished one word at a time. The door closes the rest of the world out; it also serves to close you in and keep you focused on the job at hand.

If possible, there should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or videogames for you to fool around with. If there’s a window, draw the curtains or pull down the shades unless it looks out at a blank wall. For any writer, but for the beginning writer in particular, it’s wise to eliminate every possible distraction. If you continue to write, you will begin to filter out these distractions naturally, but at the start it’s best to try and take care of them before you write. I work to loud music – hard-rock stuff like AC/DC, Guns ‘n Roses, and Metallica have always been particular favorites – but for me the music is just another way of shutting the door. It surrounds me, keeps the mundane world out. When you write, you want to get rid of the world, do you not? Of course you do. When you’re writing, you’re creating your own worlds.

I think we’re actually talking about creative sleep. Like your bedroom, your writing room should be private, a place where you go to dream. Your schedule – in at about the same time every day, out when your thousand words are on paper or disk – exists in order to habituate yourself, to make yourself ready to dream just as you make yourself ready to sleep by going to bed at roughly the same time each night and following the same ritual as you go. In both writing and sleeping, we learn to be physically still at the same time we are encouraging our minds to unlock from the the humdrum rational thinking of our daytime lives. And as your mind and body grow accustomed to a certain amount of sleep each night – six hours, seven, maybe the recommended eight – so can you train your waking mind to sleep creatively and work out the vividly imagined waking dreams which are successful works of fiction.

But you need the room, you need the door, and you need the determination to shut the door. you need a concrete goal, as well. The longer you keep to these basics, the easier the act of writing will become. Don’t wait for the muse. As I’ve said, he’s a hardheaded guy who’s not susceptible to a lot of creative fluttering. This ain’t the Ouija board or the spirit-world we’re talking about here, but just another job like laying pipe or driving long-haul trucks. Your job is to make sure the muse knows where you’re going to be every day from nine ‘til noon or seven ‘til three. If he does know, I assure you that sooner or later he’ll start showing up, chomping his cigar and making his magic.

*****EXIT STAGE LEFT STEVEN KING*****

Look back through these paragraphs from Stephen’s insights and you’ll see the underlining of key points. Those were what Kennedy underlined and want to emphasize to the small business owners in the seminar room with him who were reading this.

These are the same suggestions he gives all the time but most especially in his “Renegade Time Management” book.

Review Dan’s underlining and act on these awesome guidelines. They work wonders for me and I’d love for you to watch yourself produce some outstanding results in your profession as a result of implementing them.

Talk soon,

Lewis LaLanne aka Note Taking Nerd #2

PS. If you’re looking to score more productivity tips from Dan’s “Renegade Time Management” course so that you can implement more of your small business marketing strategies, go see this post here . . .

Advertisements