Cover image of The Writer Files: Writing, Productivity, Creativity, and Neuroscience
(71)
Arts
Education
Books
How To

The Writer Files: Writing, Productivity, Creativity, and Neuroscience

Updated 5 days ago

Arts
Education
Books
How To
Read more

Kelton Reid studies the habits, habitats, and brains of a wide spectrum of renowned writers to learn their secrets of productivity and creativity. Tune in each week to learn how great writers keep the ink flowing, the cursor moving, and avoid block. Explore our archives at writerfiles.fm to find interviews with notable guests that include bestselling authors John Scalzi (Old Mans War), Greg Iles (Natchez Burning), Jay McInerney (Bright Lights, Big City), Kevin Kelly (founder of WIRED magazine), Emma Donoghue (Oscar Nominee for Room), Maria Konnikova (The Confidence Game), Andy Weir (The Martian), Dan Buettner (The Blue Zones), Austin Kleon (Steal Like an Artist), Daniel Pink (When), and serial guest hosts: neuroscientist Michael Grybko, journalist Adam Skolnick, and short story writer Robert Bruce.

Read more

Kelton Reid studies the habits, habitats, and brains of a wide spectrum of renowned writers to learn their secrets of productivity and creativity. Tune in each week to learn how great writers keep the ink flowing, the cursor moving, and avoid block. Explore our archives at writerfiles.fm to find interviews with notable guests that include bestselling authors John Scalzi (Old Mans War), Greg Iles (Natchez Burning), Jay McInerney (Bright Lights, Big City), Kevin Kelly (founder of WIRED magazine), Emma Donoghue (Oscar Nominee for Room), Maria Konnikova (The Confidence Game), Andy Weir (The Martian), Dan Buettner (The Blue Zones), Austin Kleon (Steal Like an Artist), Daniel Pink (When), and serial guest hosts: neuroscientist Michael Grybko, journalist Adam Skolnick, and short story writer Robert Bruce.

iTunes Ratings

71 Ratings
Average Ratings
58
4
5
2
2

Love listening.

By Glenn K1 - Oct 09 2019
Read more
Enjoy the honesty and observations. Not your average cookie cutter writer's podcast.

Really insightful

By cjearly - Jul 14 2015
Read more
Great show, great guests and a great host! Definitely worth tuning into every week.

iTunes Ratings

71 Ratings
Average Ratings
58
4
5
2
2

Love listening.

By Glenn K1 - Oct 09 2019
Read more
Enjoy the honesty and observations. Not your average cookie cutter writer's podcast.

Really insightful

By cjearly - Jul 14 2015
Read more
Great show, great guests and a great host! Definitely worth tuning into every week.
Cover image of The Writer Files: Writing, Productivity, Creativity, and Neuroscience

The Writer Files: Writing, Productivity, Creativity, and Neuroscience

Latest release on Dec 31, 2019

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 5 days ago

Rank #1: 21 Productivity Hacks from 21 Prolific Writers: Part One

Podcast cover
Read more

In this special edition of the show we traditionally call “writer porn” I’ve invited back award-winning international journalist, author, and serial pundit, Adam Skolnick, to discuss a piece I wrote for Copyblogger.com last year titled, “21 Productivity Hacks from 21 Prolific Writers.”

Rainmaker.FM is Brought to You By

Discover why more than 80,000 companies in 135 countries choose WP Engine for managed WordPress hosting.

Start getting more from your site today!

Over the last four years, I ve been given the fantastic opportunity to interview a wide range of more than 70 prolific, renowned, and bestselling authors for The Writer Files series.

As you may know, each interview digs into the habits, habitats, and brains of these writers, and I ask them all roughly the same set of questions on how they get words consistently onto the page.

So, I sifted through the extensive series archives (including the written interviews) and cherry-picked 21 highlights on productivity from these writers for you. You’ll definitely notice some themes from their advice on keeping the ink flowing and the cursor moving.

You can go to 21 Productivity Hacks from 21 Prolific Writers to follow along. Audio snippets have been excerpted here from the available podcast episodes.

Guest host Adam Skolnick’s narrative nonfiction book, One Breath: Freediving, Death, and the Quest to Shatter Human Limits — based on his award-winning New York Times sports reporting — is now available in paperback.

In addition to his recent journalism, Adam has visited 45 countries and contributed to over 30 Lonely Planet guidebooks. He has written for ESPN.com, Men s Health, Outside, BBC, Playboy Magazine, and The NY Times, and has appeared on NPR.

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In Part One of this file some highlights include:

Jul 10 2018

46mins

Play

Rank #2: Busting the Myth of the Starving Artist with Jeff Goins: Part One

Podcast cover
Read more

The multiple bestselling author of five books, including his latest — Real Artists Don t Starve — Jeff Goins, returned for a special edition of the show to talk with me about “The New Renaissance,” his favorite books on creativity, and busting the commonly held beliefs of artists.

Rainmaker.FM is Brought to You By

Discover why more than 80,000 companies in 135 countries choose WP Engine for managed WordPress hosting.

Start getting more from your site today!

In addition to being an entrepreneur and speaker, Jeff is a writing and creativity consultant, and his popular blog, Goins, Writer, offers free tips about the writing life.

His podcast, The Portfolio Life, delves into many of the same topics via interviews with entrepreneurs and writers aimed squarely at helping listeners pursue work that matters.

On Jeff’s last visit to the show in 2015, we talked about his bestselling book, The Art of Work, and how to think like a professional writer.

His latest, Real Artists Don’t Starve, “… dismantles the myth that being creative is a hindrance to success …,” and bestselling author Daniel Pink said of the book, “Every entrepreneur, writer, and artist should read this book and take notes.”

Writers, I think you’re going to like this one.

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In Part One of this file Jeff Goins and I discuss:

  • How the starving artist mindset is a choice not a condition
  • Why now is the best time in history to do creative work
  • How John Grisham overcame the odds and 40 rejections to become a bestselling author
  • Why you don’t need to “go big or go home”
  • The psychology of rule-breakers and creativity

Listen to The Writer Files: Writing, Productivity, Creativity, and Neuroscience below ...

Download MP3 Subscribe by RSS Subscribe in iTunes The Show Notes

Jul 18 2017

27mins

Play

Rank #3: How Bestselling Author Ryan Holiday Writes

Podcast cover
Read more

Reformed “media manipulator,” proponent of stoic philosophy, expert marketer, and bestselling writer, Ryan Holiday, has accomplished more in ten years than most will in a lifetime. He spoke with Robert Bruce about how he does it …

Rainmaker.FM is Brought to You By

Discover why more than 80,000 companies in 135 countries choose WP Engine for managed WordPress hosting.

Start getting more from your site today!

Note: This episode contains a few phrases that some may find explicit.

Ryan Holiday has written six bestselling books on topics as diverse as growth hacker marketing, practical stoicism, and the dark arts of the digital media landscape … and his next book — Perennial Seller — will be published in July.

He ran marketing for American Apparel, one of the most notoriously successful brands in modern times, and now runs a thriving marketing shop of his own.

The list of his accomplishments is a lot longer than that, but I think you get the idea.

Oh, and did I mention he’s just 29 years old?

Enjoy.

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In Part One of this file Ryan Holiday and Robert Bruce discuss:

  • How Ryan approaches the problem of procrastination
  • Where he writes his books and essays
  • How writers can compete against the recorded history of … everything
  • Media Manipulation in the age of Trump
  • His next book Perennial Seller, and why the long game is the only game

Listen to The Writer Files: Writing, Productivity, Creativity, and Neuroscience below ...

Download MP3 Subscribe by RSS Subscribe in iTunes The Show Notes

Jun 13 2017

41mins

Play

Rank #4: How the Bestselling Sci-Fi Author of ‘The Martian’ Andy Weir Writes

Podcast cover
Read more

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Martian, Andy Weir, dropped by the show in 2015 to chat with me about his writing process in the days just prior to the release of the Oscar Nominated movie adaptation of his hit book, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon.

Rainmaker.FM is Brought to You By

Discover why more than 80,000 companies in 135 countries choose WP Engine for managed WordPress hosting.

Start getting more from your site today!

This is a replay of the entire interview I did with Andy in honor of the publication of his latest book — Artemis: A Novel — described as “… a near-future thriller — a heist story set on the moon.”

Blake Crouch, the New York Times bestselling author of Dark Matter, said of the book “Weir has done the impossible he s topped The Martian …,” and Ernest Cline, New York Times bestselling author of Ready Player One, called it “Everything you could hope for in a follow-up … another smart, fun, fast-paced adventure that you won t be able to put down.”

The author’s inspiring journey to #1 on the NY Times Best Sellers list with his first novel began as a humble series of blog posts that grew enough interest to demand self-publishing to Amazon. When The Martian’s popularity sky-rocketed, traditional publisher Random House called, and the rest is history.

From software engineer to sci-fi phenom, Andy is a down-to-earth writer and self-described “space nerd,” who still answers all of his fan mail.

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In this file Andy Weir and I discuss:

  • How a science geek became a bestselling author
  • One great trick for improving your dialogue
  • Why your enthusiasm doesn’t determine the quality of your writing
  • The creative power of a walk and a hot shower
  • Mr. Weir’s unique relationship with NASA
  • 3 tips and tricks to becoming an “actual” writer

Listen to The Writer Files: Writing, Productivity, Creativity, and Neuroscience below ...

Download MP3 Subscribe by RSS Subscribe in iTunes The Show Notes

Nov 14 2017

42mins

Play

Rank #5: How Bestselling Fantasy & Sci-Fi Author Catherynne M. Valente Writes: Part One

Podcast cover
Read more

The prolific, multiple award-winning, New York Times bestselling author, Catherynne M. Valente, took a break at her spooky writer’s island to chat with me about her superhero origin story, earning street cred with readers, and her truly unique process.

Rainmaker.FM is Brought to You By

Discover why more than 80,000 companies in 135 countries choose WP Engine for managed WordPress hosting.

Start getting more from your site today!

Since her first novel — The Labyrinth, published in 2004 — the hybrid author has gone on to pen over 24 volumes of both fiction and poetry across multiple genres (including fantasy, sci-fi, young adult, and horror).

In addition to being published and anthologized in dozens of print and online journals, Catherynne has won or been nominated for every major award in her field, including the Hugo Award (for both a novel and a podcast), and been a finalist for both the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards.

She is perhaps best known for her crowdfunded phenomenon The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making — a book launched by a dedicated online fan community that went on to become a NY Times bestseller.

The series — which recently concluded with book five, The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home — has been lauded by fellow author Neil Gaiman, and Time magazine called it, “One of the most extraordinary works of fantasy, for adults or children, published so far this century.”

The prolific author continues to find innovative ways to connect with her audience, and she recently launched a Patreon project called “The Mad Fiction Laboratory,” where she offers professional and personalized advice on the business and craft of writing, as well as a sneak peek at her multiple works-in-progress.

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In Part One of this file Catherynne Valente and I discuss:

  • How to write a novel in three to ten days
  • The story behind her four-month “circus” book tour and the birth of a viral bestseller
  • Her love of performance
  • Previews of her three wildly different upcoming projects
  • The umbrella cover museum that doubles as her office

Listen to The Writer Files: Writing, Productivity, Creativity, and Neuroscience below ...

Download MP3 Subscribe by RSS Subscribe in iTunes The Show Notes The Transcript How Bestselling Fantasy & Sci-Fi Author Catherynne M. Valente Writes: Part One

Voiceover: Rainmaker FM.

Kelton Reid: Welcome back to The Writer Files. I am your host, Kelton Reid, to take you on yet another tour of the habits, habitats, and brains of renowned writers. This week the prolific, multiple award-winning, New York Times bestselling author, Catherynne M. Valente took a break at her spooky writer’s island to chat with me about her superhero origin story, earning street cred with readers, and her truly unique process.

Since her fortuitous first novel, The Labyrinth, published in 2004, the hybrid author has gone on to pen over twenty four volumes of both fiction and poetry across multiple genres, including fantasy, sci-fi, young adult, and horror. In addition to being published and anthologized in dozens of print and online journals, Catherynne has won or been nominated for every major award in her field, including the Hugo Award, for both a novel and a podcast and been a finalist for both the Nebula and the World Fantasy awards.

She is perhaps best known for her crowdfunded phenomenon, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, a book launched by a dedicated online fan community, that went on to become a New York Times Bestseller. The series, which recently concluded with a fifth book, has been lauded by fellow author Neil Gaiman, and Time Magazine called it, “One of the most extraordinary works of fantasy, for adults or children, published so far this century.”

The prolific author continues to find innovative ways to connect with her audience and she recently launched a Patreon project called The Mad Fiction Laboratory where she offers professional and personalized advice on the business and craft of writing, as well as a sneak peek into her multiple works in progress. In part one of this file, Cat and I discuss how to write a novel in three to ten days, the story behind her four month circus, book tour, and the birth of a viral bestseller, her love of performance, previews of her three wildly different upcoming projects, and The Umbrella Cover Museum that doubles as her office.

The Writer Files is brought to you by the all the new StudioPress Sites, a turnkey solution that combines the ease of an all-in-one website builder with the flexible power of WordPress. It’s perfect for authors, bloggers, podcasters, and affiliate marketers, as well as those selling physical products, digital downloads, and membership programs. If you’re ready to take your WordPress site to the next level, see for yourself why over 200,000 website owners trust StudioPress. Go to Rainmaker.FM/StudioPress now. That’s Rainmaker.FM/StudioPress. And if you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews as soon as they’re published.

And we are rolling once again on this show with a special guest, and Catherynne M. Valente is here today, multiple award-winning, prolific, New York Times Bestselling author of over a dozen works of fiction and poetry. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule, I know you’ve got a lot in the hopper, to chat with listeners about your fantastic work and your process as a writer. It s real exciting to talk to you today.

Catherynne Valente: No problem, thanks for having me.

How to Write a Novel in Three to Ten Days

Kelton Reid: Yeah, yeah. I m extremely inspired by your story as a writer. I know you ve done a lot of stuff and I kinda wanna chat about, I guess maybe, for listeners who aren t familiar with you and your fantastic journey to where you are today. Can you kind of give us a little bit of your, just your origins as a writer and how you got your start? I know you’ve done a ton, a ton of stuff.

Catherynne Valente: My very minor superhero origin story?

Kelton Reid: Yeah.

Catherynne Valente: My first novel came out when I was twenty five, so twelve years ago, and it was called The Labyrinth. It came out with Prime Books, which is a small press, independent press. I had really only just graduated from college a couple of years before and I had heard about NaNoWriMo, which was just, or nano-WRY-mo, I always say nano-REE-mo, and I know it’s wrong. It had just started. I was only in its second year and I had just graduated and I was working as a professional fortune teller in Rhode Island.

Kelton Reid: Wow.

Catherynne Valente: In a genuine, tall, gothic tower, called the Old Armory, in Newport, Rhode Island. I hadn’t really been writing a lot while I was in college, because I was in such an academically rigorous program that I just, I had sort of fallen away from it. Most of what I had done, up until writing that first novel, was poetry. And by most I mean all, except for one short story I was required to write for class. I had done poetry my whole life.

But I wanted to see if I could write a novel. I didn’t know if I could, but I thought, “What do I have to lose? I’ll give it a shot.” It was October instead of November, and I didn’t want to wait. And I was 22 so I was full of piss and vinegar, and didn’t know I couldn’t do things yet. So I said, “Thirty days is for wimps. I’m gonna do it in ten.”

Kelton Reid: Wow.

Catherynne Valente: And I did. Which seems fully insane to me now. Between tarot readings I would pull out my laptop, my little, tiny laptop, and work on this book. And of course I hadn’t even thought about publishing it. I just wanted to see if it was something I could do. I submitted it to a few independent publishers, I knew it was too weird for a big New York publisher, and didn’t really get any … I got a lot of rejections saying, “This is the most beautiful thing we’ve ever read, and we’re definitely not publishing it.” So, at 22, I didn’t really know what to do with that. So I gave up for a while and just put it away.

And then I was living in Japan, my then husband, ex-husband, was a naval officer, and I started a LiveJournal. One of the people that I got to know on LiveJournal was Nick Mamatas, and he had just published his first book, so I left a comment on his LiveJournal asking who I should be submitting to, not asking him to look at my work or anything, just, Who’s out there that likes to publish weird stuff? He gave me a list and I said, “Yeah, they’ve all rejected me. Except for Prime Books and they’re not open to submission.”

He said, “No, they are. They just don’t want to read slush. So send me your book, and if I like it, I’ll send it on.” And I did, and he did. And I actually got an email from Jeff VanderMeer saying, “They’re going to publish your book. I want to write the introduction. So when they email you to tell you they’re going to publish your book, tell them you want me to write the introduction.” So that was sort of how that first book happened. It was all very much out of the blue.

My second book, which I also published with Prime Books, was for the Blue Lake 3-Day Novel competition, in which you’re supposed to write a novel in three days, which is really a misnomer, because it’s supposed to be 30,000 words, which is not a novel by anybody’s definition. The prize for that contest is a publishing contract. I did not win that prize, but Prime published that second book. And then I gave them a manuscript, and, in an act of great magnanimousness, my editor said, “This is much more commercial than anything else you’re writing and I’m going to send it to my friend at Bantam.” Bantam Spectra.

And that was the manuscript that became The Orphan’s Tales. Bantam Spectra took a year and a half to get back to me. They said, “We really like it, but we want to see the second book in the series. Which should be fine, because your editor says it’s almost done.” I had not begun this book. I don’t know where my editor got that idea. So my last four months in Japan, as I was preparing a transpacific move, was me trying so hard to finish this book. Just about setting foot back in America, I got an offer from Bantam, and that was my first big New York book. That’s sort of how it all got started back in the early 2000s.

Kelton Reid: Geez, and that’s not even that long ago, but …

Catherynne Valente: No, I mean, it is and it isn’t. It feels like a lot longer ago than it is, and it doesn’t in a very strange way. Time is weird once you get older.

The Story Behind Her Four-Month Circus Book Tour and the Birth of a Viral Bestseller

Kelton Reid: Sure, it have a hyperbolic effect at times, when you think of it like that. But, you’ve won or been nominated for every major award in your field, which means you’ve written across these different genres, primarily Fairyland novels, which you’re very well known for. You’ve got all these other fantastic speculative pieces, and you’ve published in multiple award-winning publications.

You’ve just done so much, so the prolific nature of it is that it seems like you’re working all the time, or writing all the time. Or that may be just my impression, looking at your resume and all the stuff you’ve done. But anyway, the crowdfunded phenomenon, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, is fascinating to me, because it started on LiveJournal, you mentioned LiveJournal, and you crowdfunded it and it became this New York Times Bestselling book, that then Neil Gaiman blurbed. Can you talk a little about that?

Catherynne Valente: Yeah, so I had been going on with Bantam Spectra for another book after The Orphan’s Tales, and unfortunately six weeks before that book was supposed to come out, it’s called Black Wednesday in publishing, the 2008 crash had happened and half of publishing in New York was laid off. So my editor called me and said she had been laid off.

It actually turned out that Bantam Spectra ceased to exist that day. It was reorganized back into Random House. And so there was nobody there to pick up the phones. We knew, because you kinda get three strikes in New York. You have three books that fail, you’re gonna have a real hard time breaking in again. And The Orphan’s Tales hadn’t failed. It won a lot of awards and was very critically acclaimed, but it hadn’t had stellar sales.

So we had a very strong feeling that if Palimpsest, which was the next book, failed, that was it. So I and my partner and a dear, dear friend of mine named S.J Tucker, who’s a singer-songwriter, decided to make it as much of a success as we could, with knowing that there was one person sitting in a secretarial desk at my publisher s. And there was just nobody to do the work. We got a blurb from Warren Ellis and there was just nobody in the office to tell them to put that on the cover of the book. That’s what happened to publishing during this time, and nobody could sell a book. Unless you were already this massive bestseller, there was no way you could sell a book at the end of 2008, beginning of 2009.

So we toured from Maine to Los Angeles for four months, selling this book out of the back of S.J’s tour van. We had all these reading concerts. S.J did an album based on Palimpsest, and she would sing and I would read. We picked up performers everywhere. It was the circus. And everywhere we went, people kept asking me about this one part of Palimpsest, because the main character in that book, her favorite novel from when she was a little girl was The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. It was not real. It was just meant to be a little character piece in Palimpsest. Which is a very adult book, by the way, with a capital A and three Xs. And the first paragraph from Fairyland is in Palimpsest and nothing else.

But, as part of trying to do everything we could for this book, we made an alternate reality game, and one of the easter eggs was an Amazon order page for Fairyland, or of a cover that I had mocked up out of an Arthur Rackham drawing and everything. And so people were like, “They’re all out of stock on Amazon. Where do I get a copy of this?” I m like, “Well, you’ll notice the url still says CatherynneMValente.com. This is just something we post-modern kids do from time to time.” But people just kept asking where they could get it.

And when I got home my partner had been laid off from two jobs, or got laid off from two jobs within six weeks of each other. And we had just moved to Maine not even six months before, and didn’t really have the money to move again to a better job. And so I was like, “Alright, well I’m gonna do a serialized novel then, on my website. And I’ll just put up a little donation button, and hopefully we can pay our rent and get some groceries this month.”

And I went through my notes while I was looking for something that I didn’t think I would lose anything if I published it myself. Because back then, Kickstarter hadn’t started up yet, or if it had, it would have just started. Kindle was only just beginning to be a thing. There’s very much a feeling that if you self publish something, you were giving up the possibility of a big publisher. So I thought, “Well, nobody would ever publish a children’s book that was so connected to an adult book with a capital A and three Xs. So I’m not losing anything if I do Fairyland. And everybody wants to read Fairyland. I’ve been hearing about it for months now.” So I did.

Her Love of Performance

Catherynne Valente: Every Monday I posted a chapter of Fairyland and I recorded myself reading it, which actually turned out to be … I did it because I love to read out loud and I’m good at it, I was an actress most of my life, but it turns out that I have a lot of vision impaired readers who, for the first time, could take part in this viral thing, because they could listen to it. And I had a little donation button that said, “Give whatever you think the book is worth. If you don’t think it’s worth anything, don’t worry about it. If you don’t have any money, don’t worry about it, just enjoy it.”

And it went viral within twenty four hours. Boing Boing was doing pieces on it, and io9 and Neil Gaiman linked to it. And it just became this huge thing that saved us, in a very very real and tangible way. I remember being at a convention right after it really hit, and somebody in the audience asked, “Well, you realize you can’t go back and change anything, because you’ve already posted it online.” And I said, “Oh, s***.” It had never occurred to me that that was gonna be a problem. I kept a couple weeks ahead of the posting schedule, but again, much like writing The Labyrinth in ten days instead of thirty, I just ran ahead with something without knowing that I couldn’t do it and it worked out incredibly well.

It won this Web Fiction of the Decade Award, up against Girl Genius and Dr. Horrible and XKCD and all of these things which are far more well known than me, even in the organization that runs that, even in their roundup, they’re like, “We don’t understand what happened. We don’t know what this is, but apparently you do.” And it won the Andre Norton Award long before it, a year before, it ever came out in print, which is administered with the Nebula Awards for YA. Before it finished posting online, my agent found an amazing publisher for it, Feiwel and Friends, And it debuted at number eight on the New York Times list.

It’s genuine magic. I still don’t really have … People ask me all the time how to do what I did, and the answer is, “I don’t even know if I could do what I did.” It was just a perfect storm of people feeling helpless and wanting to help, of me having a lot of cred from having published traditionally for so long, and a lot of adult readers who had never been able to share my work with their kids, and hopefully the quality of the work, and just who picked it up and ran with it. A lot of things had to come together to make it happen, and it was incredible.

Kelton Reid: Wow, wow. It’s surely an inspiring story, to say the least. You’ve got this fan community that is dedicated, a large online following, in addition to everything you have out in the world. So, is the best place to find all of your works at your website, then?

Catherynne Valente: Yeah, CatherynneMValente.com. Catherynne is spelled funny.

Kelton Reid: It’s a great spelling.

Catherynne Valente: Thank you. And I’m very active on Twitter at @CatValente.

Kelton Reid: I’ll link to that. I’ll link to both. And of course, you’ve got a more recent development that’s not technically publishing, but it is a Patreon project that you just started up. It sounds like The Mad Fiction Laboratory, which you’re offering advice on the craft and business of writing there, which is really cool to see. So I’ll link to that as well. Did you want to say anything about that?

Catherynne Valente: Yeah, so we’ve just started this. This is, like, the third day that it’s existed. And basically, it’s every month, I will be, for subscribers, patrons, I will be putting out an essay, as you say, about the craft and business of writing. But a funny one that makes it entertaining. Important to note, because a lot of those things are just so dry.

I remember when I was first starting out just reading endless, endless articles about how to write a hit book and how to get an agent and how to write a good sentence. And most of them, like the best you could hope for, is if it was written in a very serious inspirational tone. And I would often feel exhausted after reading it, like, “Oh, I really want to be a writer, but oh man. I just feel so much pressure from ” Even the inspirational stuff just made me feel like failing at being what that person wanted me to be.

So I wanted to write these essays that are very funny and lighthearted that still give that information and a little more motivational oomph. But also, patrons will be able to get excerpts of whatever I’m working on that month. So for example, I just released on the feed today, the first chapter of a book I’m working on that’s so secret, it hasn’t even been announced yet, and I can’t even tell you the title. The patrons know the title now and they can see the first chapter.

Kelton Reid: Oh, that’s cool.

Catherynne Valente: We haven’t even told anyone it exists yet. So a lot of really exclusive material will be available through the Patreon, as well as teaching people what I have learned after 13 years in the industry. So it’s a little bit of me, it’s a little bit of everyone else, and hopefully we can make mad science together.

Kelton Reid: Yeah, yeah. I’m kind of imagining it being like the opposite of the James Patterson Teaches Writing MasterClass where he looks so serious and like, you know, these closeups of his forehead and …

Catherynne Valente: Yeah, no, I’ll have bangs so you don’t see any of my forehead. But, I mean, writing is a serious business and it can be incredibly stressful, so I think that making it a fun as possible is the way to get things done. Because if you feel great pressure of creating literature for the ages, and then running a small business, which is what writing is. It’s really hard to come home from work at the end of the day and start up that mountain.

Previews of Her Three Wildly Different Upcoming Projects

Kelton Reid: For sure, for sure. Well, that’s great. We’ll definitely link to that and point listeners at that one. So you hinted at some secret stuff coming up, but I understand that you have three books coming out this year.

Catherynne Valente: I do. They could not be more different, either. So in June, June 7th, The Refrigerator Monologues is coming out. Which is, I like to describe it as, “The vagina monologues for super heroes’ girlfriends.” So it basically takes these tropes of the girl in a refrigerator, which was coined by Gail Simone to describe all of these women in superhero comics who are murdered or maimed and raped and driven crazy and lose their powers, in order to further the plot line of the male hero, rather than that being important because it happened to them.

So because I don’t have the right to Gwen Stacy or Harley Quinn or, you know, any of the characters that had this happen to them in comics, I had to just go ahead and create a completely cohesive, superhero cinematic universe of my own. No problem. And so, if you are a big comic book fan, you will have a thousand Easter eggs in this book and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about, and if you’re not, they all stand alone. There’s a beautiful comic for each section done by Annie Wu, who’s an amazing comic artist, and I’m so, so excited for it. It’s so different than anything else I’ve ever done. I think I’ve dropped more F-bombs than I ever have in a book before. So I really hope people like that.

I also have Mass Effect: Annihilation coming out. I have done a Mass Effect tie in book for the new game, Andromeda, that’s coming out in March. The book’s not coming out in March. The book’s coming out later in the year. And The Glass Town Game is coming out September 5th, which is my next middle grade book. And that one I describe as the Brontë children go to Narnia, Charlotte Brontë and Emily Brontë, Ann Brontë, and their brother Branwell.

When they were little kids, before they became these famous writers, when they were little kids they were just like any other geeky kids that you know now, and they made this fantasy world that they kind of LARPed, RPGed. They created this world that’s build out of a child’s understanding of British politics and the Napoleonic Wars and Yorkshire fairytales and all of this crazy stuff. And they wrote in world magazines that were published by their characters. It’s incredible. We still have a great deal of it. And there’s just so much there. The idea of The Glass Town Game, Glass Town is the name of this world, is that they actually went there, that it’s a real place that they actually visited as children. That’ll be coming out in September.

Kelton Reid: I love that. So you haven’t been very busy.

Catherynne Valente: No, not at all, no. Mostly just sitting back and eating chips.

The Umbrella Cover Museum that Doubles as Her Office

Kelton Reid: All right, well I’m sure that listeners are eager to hear about your day to day productivity. So how much time, per day, are you getting ready to get into the mode or researching stuff before you start to write?

Catherynne Valente: It really depends on whether I’m on deadline or not. I’m on a pretty tight deadline right now, so I will say it does take me quite a while to sort of get into the space. I live on a spooky island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. So I have my house, but my house is filled with animals and a partner and a million distractions. So there’s this place, I’m pointing, you can’t see ’cause it’s a podcast, that I’m pointing towards it, out my window, but down by the waterfront on the island is this little tiny building which, during the summer, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, is an Umbrella Cover Museum, or The Umbrella Cover Museum. It’s a museum for the little sacks that your umbrellas come in that you lose immediately and they all end up here in Maine.

But she doesn’t live here. She just lives here in the summer, so for the rest of the year it’s my office. So I go down there, and usually I go down to my office and I spend at least an hour making myself coffee, poking around in my notes, posting to Twitter, and then I sort of ease into work. So it usually takes me an hour or so to get into the right space. On a deadline I’ll be down there every day. But when I don’t have a severe deadline, it’s pretty important for me, in my creative process, to have fallow periods where I’m not pumping out word counts everyday. So, I need to be reading other people’s books, I need to be watching new shows and movies and things like that. I never know how that kind of stuff is gonna feed in.

That super secret project I was talking about, I ended up binge watching a bunch of British comedy panel shows, and it actually ended up helping me get into the right voice for this project in a huge way without ever meaning to. I just really like British panel comedy shows. And all that stuff is really important, so I don’t take the dictum of, “You must write every day,” completely seriously. For a creative mind, especially if you’re somebody who works on a lot of projects at once, like I do, I think that the time that you’re not working can be as valuable, as far as getting the juices flowing, as the time that you are working.

Kelton Reid: Yeah, for sure. That creative process obviously involves those important steps of putting information out Putting information in, excuse me, the preparation and incubation phase, and then you kinda have the elimination and you sit down and you spit it out.

Catherynne Valente: You are what you eat.

Kelton Reid: Thank you so much for joining us for this half of a tour of the writer’s process. If you enjoy The Writer Files, please subscribe to the show and leave us a rating or a review on Apple Podcasts to help other writers find us. And for more episodes or just to leave a comment or a question you can always drop by WriterFiles.FM and chat with me on Twitter at @KeltonReid. Cheers. Talk to you next week.

May 16 2017

26mins

Play

Rank #6: ‘The Writer’s Brain’ on Productivity vs. Creativity: Part One

Podcast cover
Read more

Welcome back to another special edition of The Writer Files called “The Writer’s Brain,” a guest series with neuroscientist Michael Grybko, and in this episode we’ll dig into the inextricable link between productivity and creativity, and the Catch-22 so many writers face as a result. 

This all began when Michael and I started a conversation about why we need to rethink our definition of productivity.

As busyness, the cult of productivity, and multitasking seem to take over our lives, it’s easy to forget that the origins of the word productivity comes from the Latin, productivitas.

Translation: creative power.

Creativity — a topic Michael and I have discussed at length — is the beating heart of change, progress, and innovation, but our work-life scales are bending dangerously toward more busywork, distraction, inefficiency, and overall dissatisfaction.

Truly scaling creativity requires productivity, so a balance must be struck between the two. Writing is a great example of this push and pull in the human brain.

Luckily, research scientist Michael Grybko returned to the podcast to help me find some answers from the perspective of neuroscience.

If you’ve missed previous episodes of The Writer’s Brain you can find them all in the show notes, in the archives at writerfiles.fm, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you tune in.

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In Part One of this file Michael Grybko and I discuss:

  • How neuroscience views the complex interplay between productivity and creativity
  • Why writers often struggle to finish longer projects
  • The great irony of the “10 year overnight success”
  • How memory plays such a big part in productivity
  • Why so many writing instructors prescribe “life experience” for great writing
  • How always on, open concept workspaces can actually hinder both productivity and creativity
  • And the close study of musicians, artists, and the pitfalls of mapping creativity in the brain

The Show Notes:

Jan 09 2019

37mins

Play

Rank #7: How to Crack the ‘Bestseller Code’ with Jodie Archer: Part One

Podcast cover
Read more

Writer, literary scholar, publishing consultant, and co-author of the internationally acclaimed book The Bestseller Code, Jodie Archer, returns one year later to chat with me about the book’s runaway success, turning the algorithm into an innovative consulting service for writers, her own writer’s journey, and one very unexpected turn for the host of this show.

Rainmaker.FM is Brought to You By

Discover why more than 80,000 companies in 135 countries choose WP Engine for managed WordPress hosting.

Start getting more from your site today!

Before getting her PhD from Stanford, Ms. Archer studied English at Cambridge, worked in journalism and TV, and was an acquisitions editor for Penguin UK publishing.

At Stanford Jodie taught writing and researched both contemporary fiction and bestsellers. Upon completion of her doctoral work she was recruited by Apple where she was the lead in research on books.

The Bestseller Code is based on Jodie’s doctoral research with professor Matthew Jockers (co-founder of the cutting edge Stanford Literary Lab), an algorithm they honed for four years and refined by text mining over 20,000 contemporary novels using around 300,000 data points.

The Guardian predicted that the book would “… revolutionize the publishing industry,” because the technology could predict bestsellers 80% of the time, based on theme, plot, character, and many other signatures.

The authors were, of course, hounded by writers from all over the world for help with their manuscripts. And finally — following their breakthrough research — Jodie and Matt have founded a unique book consulting service for authors, publishers, and agents, based on the algorithm in The Bestseller Code.

Beginning December 1st, 2017, ArcherJockers.com will offer three tiers of service to authors: single manuscript analysis, series analysis, and VIP service. [This interview was recorded in anticipation of that date in mid-October.]

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In Part One of this file Jodie Archer and I discuss:

  • How writers from around the world convinced the authors to do consulting services
  • The innovation behind the anticipated Archer Jockers’ service for novelists
  • How to find your bestselling moment with integrity
  • The power of “good” press, great agents, and selling the international rights to your book
  • Jodie’s own multi-genre writing projects
  • How yours truly took a leap of faith and became a beta tester for the service (cliffhanger pending)

Listen to The Writer Files: Writing, Productivity, Creativity, and Neuroscience below ...

Download MP3 Subscribe by RSS Subscribe in iTunes The Show Notes

Nov 23 2017

39mins

Play

Rank #8: How New York Times Bestselling Author of ‘The Bookseller’ Cynthia Swanson Writes

Podcast cover
Read more

The award-winning literary suspense novelist and New York Times bestselling author of The Bookseller, Cynthia Swanson, took a break before her upcoming book tour to chat with me about her new thriller, The Glass Forest, the writer-slash-designer s process and unique relationship with creativity, and how she finds her ideas.

Rainmaker.FM is Brought to You By

Discover why more than 80,000 companies in 135 countries choose WP Engine for managed WordPress hosting.

Start getting more from your site today!

The bestselling author started out as a freelance marketing and technical writer before her debut novel, The Bookseller, became an Indie Next pick and winner of the 2016 WILLA Award for Historical Fiction. The book has been translated into over a dozen languages and was optioned for a film adaptation with Julia Roberts attached to star and produce.

Cynthia’s latest psychological thriller The Glass Forest, has been described as “… a gripping literary suspense novel set in the 1960s about a deeply troubled family and three women who will reveal its dark truths.”

The Library Journal said of the book, “… Swanson demonstrates her signature trait: a consistent, superbly executed sense of knife-edge disquiet…” and Publisher’s Weekly called it an “… intoxicating slow burn [that] builds to a conclusion rife with shocking reveals.”

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In this file Cynthia Swanson and I discuss:

  • How she targeted the time periods for her historical novels
  • Why you shouldn’t research while you write
  • How a professional novelist migrated to Scrivener
  • Why you need to intentionally goof around to beat procrastination
  • Great quotes for defeating self-doubt
  • Why you need to find your own writer’s community

Listen to The Writer Files: Writing, Productivity, Creativity, and Neuroscience below ...

Download MP3 Subscribe by RSS Subscribe in iTunes The Show Notes

Feb 06 2018

36mins

Play

Rank #9: How to Write a Novel in One Month with NaNoWriMo's Grant Faulkner

Podcast cover
Read more

The author, podcaster, and Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month (AKA NaNoWriMo), Grant Faulkner, joined me this week to talk about the Fitbit for novelists, how to write a novel in a month (not just in November), why tracking your writing progress is a built-in reward system, and why you can't wait for inspiration to just get started.

"No matter who you are, where you live, how old you are, or what your background is, your story matters." - Grant Faulkner

Grant is a writer, speaker, and educator whose day job is to help run the non-profit, National Novel Writing Month, the world's largest writing event where every year 500,000 people commit to writing a novel in November, including 100,000 kids and teens via The Young Writers Program.

And Grant reminded me that NaNoWriMo provides year-round "...structure, community, and encouragement to help [writers of all ages and backgrounds] find their voice, achieve [their] creative goals, and build new worlds."

2019 is the 20th anniversary of the "seat-of-your-pants" creative writing marathon, and "...thousands of NaNoWriMo novels have been published, including best-sellers like Water for Elephants, The Night Circus, Wool, and many others."

Mr. Faulkner is the author of a book of essays on creativity titled Pep Talks for Writers, and his teen writing guide, Brave the Page, is forthcoming from Viking this August, 2019.

Grant also hosts a weekly inspirational podcast on writing and publishing called Write-minded, and his writing has appeared in dozens of publications including The New York Times, Writer's Digest, and Poets & Writers.

If you think you're ready to write a novel, stay tuned...

This episode of The Writer Files is brought to you by the team at Author Accelerator. Author Accelerator book coaches give writers feedback, accountability, and support while you write, so you can get that your idea out of your head and onto the page.

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In this file Grant Faulkner and I discussed:
  • The magic of coffee and early morning writing sessions
  • Why jumping in and writing your novel from word one to the end of your first draft without self-editing is so valuable
  • How a goal and a deadline can help you give birth to your book
  • Why writers fool themselves into thinking they've written more than they really have
  • How "just getting started" can help you overcome the perils of procrastination
  • Why the author preaches Robert Frost's mantra "No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader."
Show Notes:

Jul 09 2019

31mins

Play

Rank #10: How Award-Winning Author & Educator K.M. Weiland Writes: Part One

Podcast cover
Read more

The multiple award-winning, internationally published author, podcaster, and writing coach, K.M. Weiland, stopped by the show to chat with me about Helping Writers Become Authors, balancing creativity and logic, and beating writer’s block.

Rainmaker.FM is Brought to You By

Discover why more than 80,000 companies in 135 countries choose WP Engine for managed WordPress hosting.

Start getting more from your site today!

As an award-winning author of acclaimed writing guides including standouts Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs Ms. Weiland uses part of her writing day to help mentor authors via her online writer’s community.

Her website Helping Writers Become Authors has collected many accolades, including Writer’s Digest “Best Websites for Writers” multiple years running, and nurtures a community of scribes dedicated to helping “… show you how to write your best story — change your life — and astound the world.”

In addition to developing an app for writers, her weekly podcast, and steady social media presence, Katie also somehow finds time to write and self-publish both historical and speculative fiction.

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In Part One of this file K.M. Weiland and I discuss:

  • How sharing her writing journey launched her career as both an author and educator
  • What writers need to remember about the intersection of business and art
  • Why if you’re going to be a writer … you have to read
  • How her routine helps her easily shift gears from fiction to non-fiction
  • On Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration

Listen to The Writer Files: Writing, Productivity, Creativity, and Neuroscience below ...

Download MP3 Subscribe by RSS Subscribe in iTunes The Show Notes

May 30 2017

21mins

Play

Rank #11: 'The Writer's Brain' on Procrastination: Part One

Podcast cover
Read more

Welcome to another special edition of The Writer Files called "The Writer's Brain," a guest series with neuroscientist Michael Grybko, and in this episode we dig into the dreaded procrastination – a malady we all battle – what it is, how science looks at it, the difference between constructive and destructive procrastination, and some tips on how to overcome it.

"To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time." - Leonard Bernstein

We're all guilty of it, let's be honest, it's really normal to procrastinate.

Who among us hasn't waited until the last minute to do something tedious or uncomfortable like contest a speeding ticket, study for a test?

Today, you're far more likely to grab your smartphone and search longingly for those little red notification flags from a social media app, or to pop open a rainbow colored game for that quick hit of dopamine your brain loves so much.

I'm guilty of dusting and straightening every shelf and book in my office until they look conspicuously like modern art before I'll sit down to write an important email or a blog post.

The truth is that procrastination is built into the human condition -- clearly we can't do everything on our to-do lists at the same time -- but why has it become so frowned upon in our culture of late?

And how can we reframe procrastination since we know it's so integral to the creative process?

Luckily, research scientist Michael Grybko returned to the podcast to help me find some answers from the perspective of neuroscience.

Stay tuned ...

This episode of The Writer Files is brought to you by the team at Author Accelerator. Author Accelerator book coaches give writers feedback, accountability, and support while you write, so you can get that your idea out of your head and onto the page.

If you missed previous episodes of The Writer's Brain you can find them all in the show notes, in the archives at writerfiles.fm, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you tune in.

In Part One of this file Michael Grybko and I discuss:
  • The creative upside to "present bias" and delay
  • How neuroscience defines procrastination
  • Why writers often struggle with the bad kind
  • How your brain's emotional, stress, and impulse responses can derail your productivity
  • Why smartphones, shrinking attention spans, and "social acceleration" make it so hard to get meaningful work done
  • And helpful hints on how to get out of that wicked feedback loop and back on track
The Show Notes:

Aug 06 2019

28mins

Play

Rank #12: How to Stay Creative with Bestselling Author Austin Kleon: Part One

Podcast cover
Read more

Welcome back to another special edition of The Writer Files focused squarely on creativity and how to keep the creative juices flowing under duress. New York Times bestselling author, Austin Kleon, returned to talk about his journey, a wariness of technology, and his new book.

"Writers aren't born, they are made." - Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon has been deemed “one of the most interesting people on the Internet” (The Atlantic Magazine), and he is “a writer who draws,” best known for illustrated creativity manifestos Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work!

His latest, Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad (Amazon), is the third book in his "box set." It offers ten simple, timeless, practical "...rules for how to stay creative, focused, and true to yourself — for life." Important messages for writers.

His work has been translated into over twenty languages and featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, PBS Newshour, and The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Kleon speaks about “creativity in the digital age” for organizations as varied as Pixar, Google, SXSW, TEDx, and The Economist.

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews

In Part One of this two part file Austin Kleon and I discussed:
  • How to stay inspired in crazy times
  • Why life is hard and creative work is harder
  • How to think of creativity like the movie Groundhog's Day
  • Why you should stay mindful and 'practice in public'
  • The importance of lists, rituals, routines, and writing every day
  • And the authors that have shaped Austin's skepticism of technology and his creative journey
Show Notes:

This podcast is produced solely by yours truly and New Media Dojo, my production moniker, and I'm incredibly thankful to you for your continued listenership and loyalty.

Please leave us a comment or question and visit the archives at writerfiles.fm where I humbly ask you to support the show with an anonymous, secure donation to help us keep going with more great writerly content.

For listeners who donate $25 or more and leave me a message, I will include your name and the type of writing you're working on, on air or in the show notes. Just head over to writerfiles.fm and click the Donate button.

Thank you, sincerely – Kelton

Apr 16 2019

24mins

Play

Rank #13: How to Make a Living as a Pro Content Writer: Part One

Podcast cover
Read more

In this special edition of the show we’re shining the light on freelance writers out there who are making it happen as professional online content creators. These are scribes who have found success — and a very good living — doing what they love … writing and helping others achieve success.

In full disclosure, the two writers I’m highlighting in this show, Mark Crosling and Aaron Wrixon, are online content creators and strategists who both run profitable freelance writing businesses.

The other thing they have in common, though they came to professional writing from very different paths, is that both writers graduated from Copyblogger’s Certified Content Marketer Training Course (a program that makes this show possible).

The program is usually closed, but it reopens periodically for a short time to invite new classes of students into the course. If you re interested in learning more you can simply head over to the Certified Content Marketer training program and get your name on the list.

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

My first guest is serial entrepreneur, copywriter, content marketer, and founder of StrategicContent.co, Mark Crosling, who offers content creation, social, and search strategy services. His business credo is “All roads lead to your inbox.”

Mark has founded numerous start-ups — four of which became stock exchange listed companies — he has an MBA from the University of New South Wales, and is a Certified Content Marketer through the Copyblogger Certification Program.

In this segment Mark Crosling and I discuss:
  • A look at the inner workings of the digital commerce ecosystem
  • How to find a holistic approach to online marketing
  • Why copywriters are the stonemasons of the digital age
  • The upcoming voice search revolution for online writers
  • How to get completely aligned with your audience

My second guest is the content maestro and journeyman Aaron Wrixon, of Wrixon.com, who specializes in content marketing services for web agencies and their clients. His business slogan is, “Repeatable process. Repeatable results.”

He has over 20 years experience in technical and online content writing, with over five million words and hundreds of projects in dozens of industries under his belt. He is also a Copyblogger Certified Content Marketer.

In this segment Aaron Wrixon and I discuss:
  • How to make a living as a writer without hitting the bestseller lists
  • The timing and determination required to find a fulfilling freelance career
  • Why there’s no bad time to become an online content creator
  • The writer’s unique content creation framework for success
  • Why so many online writers struggle with the “Sistine Chapel” effect
The Show Notes:

Sep 25 2018

38mins

Play

Rank #14: How WNYC Podcast Host and Author of ‘Bored and Brilliant’ Manoush Zomorodi Writes

Podcast cover
Read more

Award-winning podcast host, managing editor of WNYC Studios’ “Note to Self,” and author of Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self, Manoush Zomorodi, took a break from her hectic schedule to rap with me about her claim to fame as a podcaster, the neuroscience of boredom, and how to recharge your creative batteries.

Rainmaker.FM is Brought to You By

Discover why more than 80,000 companies in 135 countries choose WP Engine for managed WordPress hosting.

Start getting more from your site today!

Manoush is a former globetrotting journalist and producer for both BBC and Reuters. She has won four New York Press Club awards for her work with New York Public Radio and was named 2017 s Best Tech Podcast by the Academy of Podcasters.

Her podcast is described as a tech show that “…searches for answers to life s digital quandaries through experiments and conversations with listeners and experts.”

Her first book, Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self, is grounded in both neuroscience and cognitive psychology and based on a groundbreaking experiment she conducted with thousands of her podcast listeners to “…help them unplug from their devices, get bored, [and] jump-start their creativity…”

In addition to her popular TED talk “How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas,” she has appeared on NBC Nightly News, MSNBC, WNBC, and The Dr. Oz Show and contributes to NPR, Quartz, Inc., and Radiolab.

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In this file Manoush Zomorodi and I discuss:

  • The miracle of technology and its inherent ills
  • Why our favorite algorithms are programmed to distract us
  • How the author enlisted thousands of podcast listeners for her one-of-a-kind experiment
  • Why you need to change your digital habits to be more creative
  • Why first drafts suck and the power of deadlines
  • A refreshing definition of creativity
  • Why you should beware of technology that claims to solve your problems with more technology

Listen to The Writer Files: Writing, Productivity, Creativity, and Neuroscience below ...

Download MP3 Subscribe by RSS Subscribe in iTunes The Show Notes

Oct 31 2017

44mins

Play

Rank #15: How Award-Winning Author & Educator K.M. Weiland Writes: Part Two

Podcast cover
Read more

In Part Two of this file the multiple award-winning, internationally published author, podcaster, and writing coach, K.M. Weiland, stopped by the show to chat with me about Helping Writers Become Authors, balancing creativity and logic, and beating writer’s block.

Rainmaker.FM is Brought to You By

Discover why more than 80,000 companies in 135 countries choose WP Engine for managed WordPress hosting.

Start getting more from your site today!

As an award-winning author of acclaimed writing guides — including standouts Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs — Ms. Weiland uses part of her writing day helping mentor authors via her online writer’s community.

Her website Helping Writers Become Authors has collected many accolades, including Writer’s Digest “Best Websites for Writers” multiple years running, and nurtures a community of scribes dedicated to helping “… show you how to write your best story — change your life — and astound the world.”

In addition to developing an app for writers, her weekly podcast, and steady social media presence, Katie also somehow finds time to write and self-publish both historical and speculative fiction.

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

If you missed the first half you can find it right here.

In Part Two of this file K.M. Weiland and I discuss:

  • Her love of Scrivener for taking notes, organizing, and outlining her books
  • How writers can combat “internet brain”
  • Why tapping into your subconscious is vital for writers
  • How to manage your creative energy
  • Why writers need tap into their “rascal spirits”

Listen to The Writer Files: Writing, Productivity, Creativity, and Neuroscience below ...

Download MP3 Subscribe by RSS Subscribe in iTunes The Show Notes

Jun 06 2017

23mins

Play

Rank #16: ‘The Writer’s Brain’ on Productivity vs. Creativity: Part Two

Podcast cover
Read more

In Part Two of another special edition of The Writer Files called “The Writer’s Brain,” with guest host neuroscientist Michael Grybko, we’ll dig back into the inextricable link between productivity and creativity, and the Catch-22 so many writers face as a result.

This all began when Michael and I started a conversation about why we need to rethink our definition of productivity.

As busyness, the cult of productivity, and multitasking seem to take over our lives, it’s easy to forget that the origins of the word productivity comes from the Latin, productivitas.

Translation: creative power.

Creativity — a topic Michael and I have discussed at length — is the beating heart of change, progress, and innovation, but our work-life scales are bending dangerously toward more busywork, distraction, inefficiency, and overall dissatisfaction.

Truly scaling creativity requires productivity, so a balance must be struck between the two. Writing is a great example of this push and pull in the human brain.

Luckily, research scientist Michael Grybko returned to the podcast to help me find some answers from the perspective of neuroscience.

If you missed the first half of this show you can find it right here. And If you’ve missed previous episodes of The Writer’s Brain you can find them all in the show notes, in the archives at writerfiles.fm, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you tune in.

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In Part Two of this file Michael Grybko and I discuss:

  • Why professional writers, musicians, and athletes all share similar brain activity
  • How adrenaline, mind-wandering, dreams, and the default mode network affect productivity and creativity
  • Einstein’s theory of “combinatory play” for greater productivity
  • Why your brain’s ability to filter out irrelevant information is so important to creativity
  • And tips for anyone “drowning in data and starved for wisdom”

The Show Notes

Jan 16 2019

31mins

Play

Rank #17: What’s Your Writing Productivity Type? (with Bec Evans of Prolifiko): Part One

Podcast cover
Read more

Welcome to another special edition of the show we traditionally call “writer porn,” and this week the writer, educator, and co-founder of Prolifiko, Bec Evans, stopped by to chat with me about writer personality types, productivity secrets, and understanding your writing psychology.

Rainmaker.FM is Brought to You By

Discover why more than 80,000 companies in 135 countries choose WP Engine for managed WordPress hosting.

Start getting more from your site today!

Bec is the co-founder of Prolifiko, a new digital coach aimed at helping writers beat writer’s blocks and find writing routines that work best for them. It’s been called the “Fitbit for writers,” by The Times (of London).

Prolifiko, set to launch in April, 2018, is a system based on neuroscience and psychology designed to help writers reflect on and improve their productivity with a “small-steps” methodology.

Ms. Evans has worked with thousands of writers throughout her career and used to run the Ted Hughes Arvon Centre for Writing, an international writing school in the UK (home of the late poet-laureate Ted Hughes).

She writes about productivity, writing habits and routines, and is currently working on a book about innovation.

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In Part One of this file Bec Evans and I talk about:

Jul 24 2018

19mins

Play

Rank #18: How NY Times Bestselling Thriller Author Tess Gerritsen Writes

Podcast cover
Read more

International and New York Times bestselling author, Tess Gerritsen, dropped by to chat with me about the role of luck in finding success as a writer, where she draws inspiration for her thrillers, her love-hate relationship with writing for the screen, and her unique creative process.

“Make every single chapter feel that somebody is off balance, that something is not right. That is what propels readers to read the next chapter.” – Tess Gerritsen

The award-winning author graduated from medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, and began her writing career in earnest while on maternity leave from her work as a physician.

She published her first romantic thriller in 1987 and never looked back. Her books have since topped the charts in both the US and abroad, and sold more than 30 million copies in 40 countries.

Tess has now written 28 novels, including the acclaimed Rizzoli & Isles series (which inspired the TNT TV series of the same name starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander), as well as both romantic suspense and medical & crime thrillers.

Though she's been dubbed the “medical suspense queen,” her latest novel, The Shape of Night, is a departure in genre that Tess describes as an "erotic psychological thriller" with both supernatural and Gothic elements.

Publishers Weekly said of the book, “This supernatural thriller from bestseller Gerritsen ranks with the best of her crime fiction. . . .[A] magnetic haunted house story [that] will keep readers riveted from the very first page.”

And #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner wrote, "Gerritsen is at her atmospheric best in this spine-tingling tale of a lone woman, an old house, and all the secrets everyone tries to hide.”

Please help us learn more about you by completing this short 7-question survey

This episode of The Writer Files is brought to you by the team at Author Accelerator. Author Accelerator book coaches give writers feedback, accountability, and support while you write, so you can get that your idea out of your head and onto the page.

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In this file Tess Gerritsen and I discussed:
  • Her winding journey to bestseller and a "ten book" overnight success
  • Why she prefers to pen novels over writing for Hollywood
  • Navigating the mysteries and fairy dust of the publishing industry
  • Tricks to master storytelling in any genre
  • The secret to writing drafts that will never get lost in the cloud
  • And her creativity hacks for beating writer's block
Show Notes:

Oct 22 2019

28mins

Play

Rank #19: How Essayist & Author of Debut Novel ‘The Floating World’ C. Morgan Babst Writes

Podcast cover
Read more

Acclaimed essayist, short fiction writer, and author of the debut novel The Floating World, C. Morgan Babst, took a few minutes to rap with me about the wrath of hurricanes, writing a love letter to the city of New Orleans, and her secrets to staying organized and productive.

Rainmaker.FM is Brought to You By

Discover why more than 80,000 companies in 135 countries choose WP Engine for managed WordPress hosting.

Start getting more from your site today!

Morgan is a New Orleans native who started her journey at NOCCA (New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts), before studying writing at both Yale, and NYU. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in The Oxford American, Guernica, the Harvard Review, the New Orleans Review, among others.

An essay she wrote on New Orleans funeral culture (“Death Is a Way to Be,” Guernica, June 15, 2015) was named a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2016.

Her ambitious and haunting first novel, The Floating World, was chosen as an Amazon Editor s Pick for Best Books of October 2017, and was called a “… beautiful, relentless portrait of the devastation [Hurricane Katrina] inflicted on a city, and a family…”.

In a Kirkus starred review, the book was called a “Deeply felt and beautifully written; a major addition to the literature of Katrina.”

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In this file C. Morgan Babst and I discuss:

  • Her background in the arts and the long road to publishing her first novel
  • Why a novel 12 years in the making is so relevant today
  • How credit card bills can boost your productivity
  • Why you need to turn off “creativity” while you’re writing
  • How to keep track of your best ideas
  • Why you need to get into a “Lynchian” state of mind as you write

Listen to The Writer Files: Writing, Productivity, Creativity, and Neuroscience below ...

Download MP3 Subscribe by RSS Subscribe in iTunes The Show Notes

Oct 24 2017

34mins

Play

Rank #20: How to Recharge Your Creative Batteries with Bestselling Author Kim Petersen: Part One

Podcast cover
Read more

Bestselling author, Kim Petersen, spoke with me about tactics to tap into age-old wisdom, quiet your inner critic, get back to basics, rediscover your voice, and recharge your creative batteries.

“With how our lifestyles are, and the technology, we seem to have also become more disconnected from ourselves.” – Kim Petersen

The award-winning, USA Today Bestselling, Australian author of fantasy, paranormal, and dystopian fiction, writes The Ascended Angels Chronicles, and co-authors the Stone the Crows series.

Her latest is a foray into non-fiction titled Creative Writing Energy: Tools to Access Your Higher-Creative Mind - co-authored with colleague, romance writer Catherine Evans.

It's been described as a book "...written for creatives about developing pathways to access the higher-creative mind...alternative ways..." and tools for unlocking your creativity.

Before you dismiss this episode as a little "woo-woo," I assure you that we dig into the reasons behind the current shift for creatives toward alternative ways of thinking, New Age modalities, and a generation of writers looking to tune-out the noise and live more authentically.

Please help us learn more about you by completing this short 7-question survey

This episode of The Writer Files is brought to you by the team at Author Accelerator. Author Accelerator book coaches give writers feedback, accountability, and support while you write, so you can get that your idea out of your head and onto the page.

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In Part One of this file Kim Petersen and I discussed:
  • Her journey to finding her writing identity (or, how it found her)
  • Why she chose to write about her own writing rituals and routines
  • How technology is draining our creative batteries
  • Why younger generations are turning away from traditional belief systems and finding alternative means to recharge
  • The nuts and bolts of a good foundation for creativity
  • Why writers need to dip back into the great mystery through storytelling
Show Notes:

Oct 09 2019

27mins

Play