What I’m working on this week (Nov. 24 – 28, 2014)

You know what I missed? These posts. I used to write What I’m working on this week posts every week just to tell people what I’m doing and because sometimes it’s helpful for me to write it out…

… And it doesn’t hurt to brag a little about my work, right?

Then I stopped doing them. Partly because I took on some really big projects (including a year-long project) so there wasn’t much to report. And I also couldn’t imagine why anyone would read these things at all, and especially when they tend to boast about the same things over and over.

But as I reflect on my blog posts and which ones get mentioned in various places, the ones that get mentioned most in actual conversations with prospects are these What I’m working on this week posts. So maybe I’ll start them up again. Plus I like them and this blog is about stuff that I like writing about. So that’s that.

Avid readers (and stalkers) will note that I’ve added a year to the title of these posts since I’ve posted these going back a few years and my previous title format was about to repeat itself.

Anyway…

This week, I’ve got some really cool projects going on (what week DON’T I have that, though, right?)

  • I’m wrapping up a “stick campaign” email sequence for a real estate investing client — this post-purchase email sequence helps counter the effect of buyers remorse and adds a sense of value to the purchase by highlighting the support and some advanced techniques.
  • Revisions: I wrote a bunch of copy in the past few weeks and they suddenly all came back to me with revisions. Revisions are an expected part of the work (and I like them because they help me get into my client’s headspace) but they’re the one unpredictable piece of my business because of situations like this where clients hang onto them for a bit before sending them back. So I’m rolling up my sleeves today and getting through as much as I can.
  • I’m also starting up some new projects — blogging, some social media posting, and some magazine articles — for a well known Canadian real estate investing educator. I’ve been working with them for a while on smaller projects but am now getting more work from them.
  • I also need to do some research for upcoming projects. I’ve got a client blog post to write on a particularly challenging topic, and there isn’t a lot of available information for it. So I’m turning over some stones to find scraps of helpful info to write the post.
  • And no week is complete without me putting in some time on my own projects. I’m nearing completion on my next book. I predict it should be done by mid-December and available on Amazon by January so I’m working on that this week.
  • Oh, and this is fun: I’m getting set up to do some podcasting in the near future so this week I’m putting together some high level outlines to try them out in some test-runs — just to get a sense of how long my podcasts will be and how I feel in front of the microphone… I’d like to iron out a couple of those wrinkles before I publish my first podcast.

Have a great, productive week!

How I work (or, The myth of working anywhere)

“You’re so lucky, you can work anywhere.” That’s what people say to me when I tell them that I’m a writer. I also hear something similar from friends and family who want me to visit them — “you can work anywhere… so come visit us and work here while you visit.”

Gosh that sounds good. I love the idea. And that kind of mobility is a nice benefit of being a writer.

But I think it’s a myth perhaps perpetrated by Hollywood, which frequently depicts key characters as writers (usually in romantic comedies — not sure why that is) who spend most of their work time sitting in the world’s busiest coffee shops, sipping coffee while occasionally writing a couple words here and there. Somehow they make a living doing that, while living in New York, no less.

That’s not me. The truth is, I can’t work anywhere. At least, I can’t work anywhere while maintaining my regular pace and delivering my regular quality of content to clients. Trust me, I’ve tried it. I can’t.

Here’s why:

I’m a people watcher and I’m easily distracted by the sights and sounds around me. I don’t work so well in coffee shops or parks or airports. I love the idea but I’m lucky to write 3 words in an hour.

Plus, the kind of writing I do is serious compel-your-readers-to-get-out-their-wallet writing — it’s the kind of writing that I sweat through when I write (well, not literally). I’m constantly at my whiteboard charting out what I need to say; I’m researching online and in my library of books; I’m making notes; I’m consulting my gigantic playbook of copywriting strategies and business-building strategies; I’m wrestling through my clients’ proprietary offerings; sometimes I talk through a complicated sentence out loud; in some projects, I easily end up with dozen hand-written pages of ideas. You can’t do these things at a coffee shop (or, at least, you can’t do these things at a coffee shop without getting kicked out for looking like a crazy person).

Plus, I know my strengths and weaknesses. For example, I know that my best and most productive work happens between 6AM and noon. I know that I’m at my best when I do this consistently, Monday through Friday. And I do it best when I work in my windowless (yes, windowless) office. For that reason, my mornings are super-focused and highly structured (not surprisingly, they’re also highly productive), while my afternoons are less structured.

And one of the most important reasons that I can’t work anywhere (at least in terms of my longevity as a writer), is this: When working, I sit in a comfortable but straight-backed office chair and I work with an ergonomic keyboard and mouse. If I write anywhere else — say, on my laptop’s keyboard at a coffee shop table — my wrists will explode (maybe that’s not the medical term) and then I’ll have to stop being a writer.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a hermit. I LOVE to travel. I love hanging out at coffee shops. I’m a pretty social person. I wish I could work anywhere. And I do have a bit of work that I do outside of my office (networking and meetings, which are the most obvious, but also phone calls and brainstorming and planning and problem-solving). But when I’m in my office, I’m a highly-focused, extremely productive workhorse, and that’s where I do most of my best and most prolific revenue-generating content-creation.

I’m in my chair at 6AM and I end up writing more in the first six hours of the day than most people write in a week or even a month. (That’s not an exaggeration — I get pretty close to 10,000 words a day). In the afternoons, things are a little less structured and sometimes I work in my office but I also have the freedom to do other things.

And when I’m away from the office, I like being away from the office, if that makes sense… Hanging out with friends, exploring new places, drinking coffee, watching people (but not in a weird way).

I think a lot is made of writers and their opportunity to “work from anywhere”. And maybe there are writers who can. But I’m a copywriter and my business model and financial goals — and even just the way I’m wired — ensure that if I want to earn a comfortable living as a writer, it’s not going to be from “anywhere”.

Rocky Mountain High — This was my view recently

On November 2nd, my wife and I flew out of Winnipeg Manitoba, landed in Kelowna BC, and were picked up at the airport by a friend. Janelle was teaching a course at a college and I tagged along for a change of scenery. The weather was beautiful and the view from my window was stunning:

Aaron-Hoos-view-in-Salmon-Arm

Nice view, don’t you think?

Every morning, while Janelle went went to class, I sat at the kitchen table in our suite and wrote. Some of my time brainstorming about 2015.

The week flew by and then we headed half-way home, stopping for a few days in Regina Saskatchewan to see family.

Ten days later, we touched back down in Winnipeg. Funny, those 10 days when fast AND slow.

I had a great time but I was definitely glad to be back! Janelle and I both returned home more exhausted than when we left (it was definitely not a vacation for either of us!) — oh, and that 100 page notebook was completely filled with notes and ideas for 2015. Competitors be warned. :)

I took a couple of days to sort myself out, transfer all those handwritten notes, and sleep. Oh, and catch on up on NASCAR. (Janelle and I had PVR’d the races on November 2nd and 9th, so we had to bingewatch those shows to get ready for the final race today).

Now here I am on Sunday night, just putting the finishing touches on my plan for this week… and VERY eager to get back to the grind. It starts tomorrow for me at 6:00 AM. I love Winnipeg. I love the routine I’ve built for my business. I definitely prefer to work in my office and vacation when I’m away… But the view from my windowless office isn’t quite as majestic.