The above video is a trailer for my interviewee’s latest project: a serialized fiction novel entitled Yesterday’s Gone.
Pretty cool, huh?
Let me tell you a little bit more bout the man behind all this coolness: my interviewee today, Sean Platt, is a ghostwriter who is basically like you and me–but in the future. Or at least the future we would like to be in. He’s figured out how to use ghostwriting to help him make a great living as a writer, while he simultaneously pursues his dream of writing great fiction.
It’s working pretty well for him as he’s often featured on Copyblogger.com, one of the most popular writing blogs in the world, and each entry on his blog, Ghostwriter Dad, currently averages about 100 retweets per post (which, trust me, is a very challenging feat for any blogger to pull off). He and his team over at Ghostwriter Dad offer stellar advice, helping writers of all stripes make money freelancing, ghostwriting, and copywriting while they pursue their fiction dreams on the side. (Sean’s posts and videos on how to write faster are NOT TO BE MISSED.)
Oh, and one more thing, that trailer you just saw? It’s for a book Sean co-authored that is currently #1 on Amazon’s list of free downloads (under the genre of Horror.) Sweeeet.
So, you can imagine how honored and pleased I am to be doing this interview with him today. When someone extremely negative tells me that making a great living as writer is impossible, I always think of writers like Sean. He’s really a trailblazer paving the way for the rest of us.
Without further ado, here are the goods:
Ollin: First of all, thank you so much for stopping by, Sean. It’s a pleasure to have you on the C2C!
Sean: My pleasure, Ollin! It’s great to be here.
Ollin: So let’s get right to it! You’ve managed to make a great living writing. That’s something a lot of writers dream of doing, but the road to get there took a lot of sacrifice. So, what kind of sacrifices do you recommend writers make today that might help them get closer to their overall writing goals (how can writers write “harder”)?
Sean: That’s a great question.
Too many writers start out believing that building a lucrative writing career online will be easy when it’s anything but. There are few things more difficult. Fortunately, there are also few things more rewarding. For those writers willing to push past the difficulty, and stand up 411 times, even after they’ve fallen 410, it is an amazing, amazing time to hold a pen.
The biggest thing any writer can do is acknowledge that it won’t be easy, but that it will be worth the struggle. Consistency is everything. Writers who dabble, or constantly tell themselves, I’ll finish later, are the writers who end up with a half-dozen manuscripts collecting digital dust on their hard drives.
If you want to write a book, write it. The only one stopping you is YOU, so don’t let that happen!
Ollin: When I guest posted for you in the past, I remember you saying that the writing can always be better. I agreed. When you’re looking at how to make an article “better,” what points of improvement are you specifically looking for?
Sean: Writing better, or your best, is dependent on the medium you’re writing for. Blog copy is different from a sales letter, fiction is different from nonfiction, etc. Before you can know if something is your best, you must ask yourself, “Does this copy do everything it possibly do for its audience?”
For a simple blog post that means: Does this post help my audience with everything it’s supposed to, and does it drive the reader toward action at the end. For example, does it move readers onto a list, or ask them to help me spread the word by liking the post on Facebook, tweeting it on Twitter, or sharing it with their friends in whatever way is most convenient for them?
For a sales letter, this means driving your buyer to action. That’s one of the hardest skills any writer can learn, but I highly suggest every working writer learn it, sooner rather than later. Basic copywriting and persuasion techniques will help you get paid more for the freelance work you do, which could then fund your writing dreams, such as writing a book. More importantly, it will make you a better writer because it will give you a better understanding of people. I see many writers resisting this, including myself for far too long. But it’s silly. Learn copy, now.
For awesome fiction, like what we’re doing with our new serialized project, Yesterday’s Gone, the most important thing is to make sure your reader is entertained from page to page, and enjoys the finished book enough to either buy the next one in the series or tell their friends about it as soon as they’re finished. If you can’t do that, you’ll never be able to fuel momentum.
Ollin: I’ve used your tips on how to write faster, and not only do they work, but they’ve made me a more confident and efficient writer. So, what advice can you give my readers on how to write “faster”?
Sean: The “writing fast” advice is some of the best advice I have as a writer, by far. Problem is, not everyone believes me. 100% of the writers who have accepted the theory have successfully doubled if not tripled their output, along with their overall quality. My wife didn’t believe me for the longest time. Yet, just last week she finally embraced the strategy and was able to crank out some killer copy in about 20% of the time it would have normally taken her.
The faster you write the closer you can approach your most natural speaking voice. The closer you come to your most natural speaking voice, the better your copy will be.
People don’t self-edit when in conversation, at least not often. Yet, compared to how most of us write, constantly self-editing every other sentence, it’s just horribly inefficient.
I ask myself questions, then set time limits and answer those questions as quickly as I can on the page. Once I started writing this way, and trusting the process, I wrote much faster, and was producing higher-quality copy that was closer to my natural, and more powerful, speaking voice.
Ollin: Writers often struggle with self-confidence. At times, we might believe that we’re not “good enough,” for example, or we might think that our writing dreams are just “never gonna happen.” So what advice can you give writers on how to boost their confidence levels? How can writers write “stronger”?
Sean: Self-confidence is just another skill, related to, but slightly different from writing itself. And the best way to get better at anything is to do it over and over and over again.
I got a lot of compliments on my writing, right out of the gate. But I didn’t believe them. It took years of comments, retweets, and brilliantly happy clients before I realized that yes, I am a good, if not exceptional writer.
I’m a confident writer, but if that confidence had been in full bloom three years back, before I’d truly earned it, it would have been arrogance.
Be confident that you can be a great writer, and that you’re gradually growing into your best. Be a constant learner and know that you’ll only stop growing as a writer the day you stop writing. Be a constant reader and write every single day. That’s the best way, by far, to become a better, more confident writer.
Ollin: As you know, my blog also addresses the intersection between writing and life. So, here’s a life question: I noticed that your “how to write faster” tips require that a writer rely on her gut instincts. Second-guessing is what gets in the way of a writer’s ability to write faster. Do you believe that this concept applies to life as well, in that, if we just trusted our gut instincts and never second-guessed ourselves, life would run more smoothly for us?
Sean: Absolutely! One of my favorite books of all time is Malcolm Gladwell’s, BLINK!
I absolutely love, love, LOVE that book. The basic premise is that our subconscious is able to make a million quality decisions before our conscious mind can awkwardly fumble across a single one.
I’m big on instinct, both in writing and life, which is what makes it easy for me to be an entrepreneur. Of course, you can’t go with your gut all the time, especially if you have a family to feed and responsibilities to manage, but you should always be willing to listen to that voice inside you because it’s usually whispering for a reason.
Ollin: I always like to end with this question: what do you do to keep your head up when the going gets tough? Any last words of encouragement or inspiration you can give my readers as they pursue their writing dreams?
Sean: You can absolutely do it! And you should never ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
Three years ago, everyone thought I was crazy. The parents at the preschool my wife and I were running, friends, family, our accountant, and anyone who opened their ears to our dream. Even most of the people who said, “Go for it!” weren’t so sure.
But I kept writing, and, eventually, my writing dreams came true.
Your ideas are your best asset, each a new seed with the potential to grow your life and career. Become a better thinker, and sit down each day striving to find a clearer understanding of yourself and the world around you.
Develop your voice. Even if it’s already strong, it can grow stronger.
Ollin: Finally, would you like to share with my readers all the exciting stuff going on with your fiction this fall, and how they can check it out?
Sean: Oh yeah, I would love that!
If you’re a writer, Yesterday’s Gone is a title you should pay attention to. It’s a potential game changer that’s well worth following. My writing partner David and I have put tremendous thought into the story, as well as the model itself, meaning smart writers who pay attention can definitely profit from its structure.
If you want to make sure you don’t miss a thing, you can also click here to become a “goner,”and get exclusive chapters with shocking endings, along with a ringside seat to all the behind the scenes stuff we’re doing to promote the title.
Ollin: Thank you so much, Sean!
Sean Platt helps good writers make a great living. Follow him on Twitter, Like Ghostwriter Dad on Facebook, and sign up for the FREE eCourse: 30 Days to Making More While Writing Less (which comes with a free video training for Sales Letter Sellout!)
Do you have any lingering questions for Sean? Please ask your questions in the comments below and he’ll respond as soon as he can!
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