022: How to Succeed as a Writer in an Era of Change [Podcast]

Recently, I learned the word literally no longer means what it used to mean. This bothers me, but this is the nature of language — it’s always evolving. In this week’s podcast, we discuss the state of flux of the writing world and how to survive the changes.

Man reading a book
Photo Credit: Darwin Bell via Compfight cc

In today’s episode of the podcast, my co-host Andy Traub and I experiment with a new show format (we had perhaps too much fun with this), including five new segments that blend both the informative with the informal.

On the show, we share a weird way to become more disciplined, some tips on what it takes to overcome procrastination, and the bright future of publishing.

Not to mention: a profound thought on life, a prediction regarding the future of dictionaries, and why you should be paying more attention to Dunkin’ Donuts (seriously). Enjoy!

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (if viewing this in email click here).

You can also download it at iTunes or on Stitcher.

If you are more of a text person, I totally understand. Below is an article based on the podcast, but if you have about 20 minutes, I really hope you give the show a listen. I think you’ll like it.

A surprising secret to becoming more disciplined

For me, building a daily habit of writing was hard. In fact, it was easier to get up and run five miles than to develop the habit of writing every day. So I got up and ran.

And then a surprising thing happened. When I got back from a run, it was easier to sit down and write. As I grew the discipline in one area of my life, I found that discipline in other areas came a little easier. Or as I’ve heard my friend Jon Acuff say:

Discipline begets discipline.

If you’re struggling to develop discipline with anything, whether it’s writing or exercise or something else entirely, try starting with something easier. And I’m not above bribery, either. Find little ways to reward yourself for your discipline. It works.

The three phases of mastery

Once you’ve committed a certain discipline and started to grow in that skill, you have a choice. You can settle for good or aspire for greatness. Not too long ago, I interviewed a man named Robert Greene who changed what I thought about that.

In his book Mastery, Green shares a simple but counterintuitive message. While most people tend to talk about success and how to make more money or beat your competitors, he says that if you focus on mastering your craft, success will follow. According to him, being great at what you do is the secret to any sustainable success.

His process for achieving mastery looks like this:

  1. Preparation: You’ll spend a portion of your life, often before you even realize it, preparing for your calling.
  2. Apprenticeship: It takes an extended period intentional practice to become great at what to do.
  3. Creative/Active Phase: Mastery comes when you actually live out your calling.

What I love about this is the aspect of apprenticeship, something that I think is lost on our modern culture. Before you can become great yourself, you have to see what greatness in action looks like.

Why now is the best time to be an author

Recently, Amazon opened up pre-orders for independent authors. This, I think, is a game-changer. The inability for indie authors to offer pre-orders used to give an advantage to traditional publishing, and now Amazon is leveling the playing field. That’s a big deal.

If you are enrolled in Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program (which is free), you can now make your eBook available for pre-order for up to 90 days prior to its release. This allows authors to build energy for their book launch, which means more sales and ultimately more readers.

In other news, you may have heard about the conflict between Amazon and the publisher Hachette. Among the issues between them (which I don’t pretend to fully understand), one surrounds who gets to set book prices. Here’s my thought on that: Amazon is a business. And a business gets to set prices for what it sells.

But isn’t that a monopoly? Shouldn’t we writers boycott Amazon for being evil? Maybe not.

Amazon knows that by offering the products readers want at a better price, they will sell more books. And from an author’s perspective, this is a good thing. If writers are worrying about prices going down, the best way to respond is not with a scarcity mindset, but with an abundance mindset.

In other words, I will continue to use Amazon to reach readers and sell books. And though I’m not necessarily “pro-Amazon” I certainly respect their right to sell books at the prices they choose to sell them at. They’ve done some interesting testing on books priced above $9.99 versus those priced below and have seen the lower-priced books sell more copies and generate more revenue.

Based on Amazon’s sales history, lower prices (to a point) mean significantly more books in the hands of readers. And that’s what I care about.

On writing and living

For me, writing has never been about the cash. It’s always been about sharing a message that resonates with people. Since I began this journey years ago, I aspired to help as many people as possible while providing for my family.

As time has gone by, I’ve learned an important lesson: Writing doesn’t just make me just a better writer, it makes me a better person. I read about this recently, discovering that daily journaling (by hand, in cursive — yes, cursive) increases cognitive activity in ways that typing doesn’t.

In other words, writing can help you:

  • Be more disciplined.
  • Think better.
  • Get more done.

That’s why I’m writer. That’s why I encourage other people to claim the title of writer. Because good writing inspires great living, and great living inspires better writing. (Tweet that)

To hear more tips on writing and living, check out to the full podcast. If you disagree with Andy’s prediction about Dunkin Donuts rivaling the popularity of Starbucks, let us know. While you’re at it, please drop a review on iTunes. It helps more people find the show.

Resources mentioned in the show

Here are some books, articles, and podcasts you might be interested in:

Have you subscribed to the podcast yet, so you can get brand-new, weekly episodes delivered straight to you? You can do that with any podcast player by copying and pasting this URL into the app:


If you need a recommendation on what to use, I recommend using iTunes to subscribe and then listening on your computer or via the podcast app (for instructions on how to do that, click here), or you can also use Stitcher.

Let me know if you need any help!

What habit are you trying to master? Share in the comments.