S1:E003: You Are Not Alone (aka: writers and their habits)

Show Notes:

In this episode, I divulge another unpopular opinion: all writers are alike. Don’t worry, it’ll make you feel less alone in your little writing cave. Also, are you a Toucan? Find out!

Links mentioned in this episode:

Intro and outro music from Uppbeat (free for Creators!): https://uppbeat.io/t/hartzmann/clear-sky

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If you have questions about the podcast content, content in any of my freebie resources, blog posts, books, website, etc.

Full Transcript:

Transcripts are created by Descript. Please forgive any spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors!

Hey, Toucan! Welcome to episode three of the You Can Toucan Podcast episode three already. What is it about the number three? There’s just something magical about it, right? As writers, we know this because there’s that rule of three thing that we use when listing things out.

Two, just doesn’t cut it, and four is just weird. But three, yes, three is magical. What I’m talking about today is also magical and that I want to share with you what it means to be a Toucan. And I’m not talking about the little bird with the beak that’s bigger than its body. Cute little buggers though, aren’t they?

You know, I would really love to go somewhere where there are actual wild toucans so I can get a picture with one for my website. The zoo just doesn’t cut it. 

Anyway, if I’m not talking about that little bird, then what the heck am I talking about? I’m talking about being a, You Can Toucan, and to tell you what that means, I need to share with you the bird framework.

But first a little bit about why I started this whole toucan nonsense, I mean business, in the first place.

Back in March, 2022, I ran a survey. I believe I mentioned this survey in episode one and probably episode two because I like to beat this topic to death repeatedly as if it were a zombie, and I keep missing the headshots.

I write horror people. This is where my mind goes. 

Anyway, I bring up the survey results because they are the reason why I really kicked off my You Can Toucan Adventures. They are the catalyst that told me the knowledge I have stored in my wee little head can and will help writers all over the world. And that’s the most exciting thing for me because I love to inspire others and motivate them to get started and keep going, especially when it comes to writing books.

This episode is gonna be a little data heavy, and for that I apologize in advance. I promise I will do all I can to make it fascinating and compelling and not a major snoozefest. Or you know, you could always use this episode to help you fall asleep, but I really hope you don’t. 

Before we begin, I’ll share the questions I asked.

I’ll give you some of the highlights of the survey results. We’ll talk about the bird framework and then I’ll have some closing notes. If the majority of this email sounds like I’m reading from a book, it’s because I’m reading from the communicate. I then published to let the survey participants know the full results of the survey.

That communicate can be downloaded from my website youcantoucan.com/notalone. 

I will definitely link to it in the show notes because it’s really cool. 

After I share the results, I’ll dig into what qualifi–what qualifications one must have in order to be a Toucan. Okay. So let’s begin with the eight questions I asked the participants.

And don’t worry, some of the terms in the questions might be like, what does she mean by that? But I’ll go over a little bit of a glossary before I get into the highlights. Okay. So here we go. 

  1. The first thing I asked was, where are you in your author career? 
  2. How often do you write? 
  3. I asked if participants wrote full-time, part-time, in addition to a full-time job, part-time in addition to other responsibilities, or other. 
  4. I asked, Do you have a regularly scheduled writing time? 
  5. And then I went into some if yes, questions. If yes, how often do you show up at that time? 
  6. If yes, how motivated are you during that time? 
  7. If yes, do you actually write during that time or do you find yourself distracted?
  8. Then I asked whether you have a regularly scheduled writing time or not. If you ever skip your writing session, what are your most common excuses or reasons to skip? 
  9. And finally I asked, would learning how to create and maintain a regularly scheduled writing time that works for you and your schedule as well as ways to maximize that time be valuable to you?

All right, so now that you know the questions I ask, let’s get into the highlights. 

In March, 2022, I posted a survey in several Facebook groups for writers–I asked permission first, of course–The reason I did it was because I wanted to learn more about writers and their writing habits for a project I’m working on.

The questions helped me gather information about the publishing status, author careers, and writing frequency of the participants. I asked if they have a regularly scheduled writing time and as a follow up, how often they show up to that time. I asked about motivation and distractions. These are some of the results of my survey, but first, a glossary.

Now, when I say author career, I refer. This refers to if an author is a full-time writer, a part-time writer with a day job, a part-time writer with other responsibilities or other, When I say publishing status, I mean if the author is published, not yet published, just starting out, or a bestselling author, I believe I also had an category for that.

Regularly scheduled writing time is a regular time in which an author writes not to be confused with writing frequency. I may also refer to regularly scheduled writing time as just regular time. I use the terms writer and author interchangeably throughout the communi K and I hope that’s okay with. And finally, writing frequency means how often an author writes per week, be it three to five times per week, daily, or another criteria.

Writing is typically a solo practice. We tend to do our creative work in silo, sequestered from our family’s friends and other people. Our minds wander, even though we do everything we can to eliminate distraction. We live inside those minds most of the time. I know I’m not the only one. In the proverbial dark, we hunch over our keyboards, notebooks, and stone tablets chiseling away at our word counts like homo habilis.

Best sellers, published authors, those who have been writing maybe their whole lives but aren’t yet published, and those who are just starting out, as well as a handful of authors who are in other stages of life and their writing careers such as retired journalists, people who write for their day jobs, people who write for others are all similar in some way, shape, or form.

You’ll see, let’s dig in. I began my data collection by requesting permission, which is super important to post in several writers’ groups on Facebook. Most of the 223 participants. Are published either independently or traditionally. 

Now, I’m gonna stop here for just a second because when I set out to put this survey out, I only wanted 50 responses.

By the end of the first day it was out, I think I had it out for a little bit over a week. By the end of the first day, I had over a hundred, and then by the end of the week, 223 participants. I was so excited. So if you are one of the people who responded to my survey, I want to personally thank you so much for participating because this survey, like I said, was the catalyst for everything that I’m here for right now.

Okay. So back to the highlights. There was a near three way split between part-time and full-time ath authors. The part-time authors more. I know that’s only two things, but I’ll tell you why it’s a three way split in a second. Okay. The part-time authors more often write while holding a day job like me and the other part-time authors write in addition to having other responsibilities.

The participants in the other category are just getting into writing fiction in their retirement. Some are hobby writers, some do freelance work, and one person is taking a sabbatical from the corporate world to explore writing full time . I am not jealous at all. I am totally jealous. I don’t know about you, but I’m a data nerd in addition to be a being a word nerd.

So in this next section, we’ll dissect the data and learn even more about these participants. The first thing is most writers write three to five times per week. Authors tend to enjoy learning more about how other authors do their. That’s why there are so many books on how to write out there, right? So if you wanna see how often those best sellers out there write, it’s three to five times per week.

Same goes for published authors. And what do you know, those who aren’t yet published or or who are just starting out, also write three to five times per week. We’re all the same. Everybody. Let’s be friends!

Writers put health and family above writing. The most common reason to skip are what I call quote unquote life reasons.

This includes taking care of kids or other family members, doctor appointments, health or illness related reasons, or other responsibilities such as work, exercise, other hobbies, or playing the harpsichord. Scheduled breaks and vacation were also sprinkled. 

I’m really impressed and overjoyed that so many writers put their health and family and friends as well as scheduled breaks and vacation above writing self-care and caring for or spending time with our biggest supporters–our family and friends–are key to living our creative lives, and if we don’t take care of ourselves physically and mentally, our writing will definitely suffer. 

Who hasn’t experienced some sort of burnout in the past couple years? 

I’m distracted and unmotivated. Are you? The most common excuses outside of life happening listed in the other category listed in this section, are writers tend to be tired or brain dead, distracted, unmotivated have too much to do, or plain old procrastinate. Writers block came up a few times as well. Writers sometimes devote portions or all of their writing time to other areas of their author business, such as marketing and publishing tasks, but sometimes social media, checking email and other similar distractions keep writers from writing.

One person was attacked by ninjas. I really hope that person is okay. 

Now there’s a reason I called the results of this survey that you are not alone communique. And it’s because after compiling the results and digging into the data, I truly felt less alone. 

So there you have it. Those are the highlights of the survey.

There are graphs and charts and diagrams and just a plethora of information in that communique. So again, if you wanna go and download it, YouCanToucan.com/not alone. 

All right, we did it. We made it through the data. I don’t know about you, but I find this kind of data super interesting because it reminds me that I am not alone. My habits are not unique. I am human or you know, human enough to pass as one and trick everyone around me. 

Again, if you wanna see the entire 19 page communique, head over to youcantoucan.com/not alone and download it. I got some great feedback from people who downloaded the report. Here’s a few of those comments.

Cindrea said, This is so professionally done. I’m excited to keep following along. You should seriously be proud of this. Thanks, Cindra. I am completely proud of this communique.

Mary said, What a great report. Thank you for all the effort you made to prepare it.

And finally: Can’t believe all those encouraging words all came from my daughter. Keep on trucking. You’ll be famous one day. And that’s of course from my dad. Hey, I had to include some praise for my dear old dad, right. 

So now that you know all of that, what does it mean to be a Toucan, because I promise this will all come together and make sense in a second. All right. 

Allow me to introduce you to the BIRD framework.

Build, initiate, reassure, and discover. BIRD. Cute, right? You know, because toucans are birds. All right. 

Writing, my friends, as you know, is more than just words. So Toucans know how to write more in less time. They project manage their creative dreams from start to finish. They are their own best cheerleaders.

Toucans master the clock. They defeat resistance, abolish avoidance behaviors, and no longer procrastinate. Toucans have the weapons to combat self-doubt, imposter syndrome, and perfectionism, and any other negative self-talk that halts forward progress. Toucans spread their wings and take flight. Toucans lay the groundwork by creating a sustainable habit following the CANDO formula.

They use project management tools to manage their time and schedule without overwhelm. They conquer internal and external obstacles with techniques to overcome negative self talk and foster self compass. Finally, they map out a flight path using the project management tools, their shiny new writing habit, and their ability to cheer their self on a repeatable flight path that they can use time and time again in their writing practice.

So are you a Toucan ? I sure hope so, but if you’re not, I can help you. 

So that’s what it means to be a Toucan, and that is a high level introduction to the BIRD framework and an in depth introduction to the survey results. I really hope you found this interesting. 

In next week’s episode, I’ll be sharing about how to combat shiny new idea syndrome.

Set your timer. Go write!

Thank you so much for hanging out with me today. I really hope you learned a ton of stuff from this episode. If you like what you heard, please consider sharing this podcast with your friends. Or better yet, leave a review. So amazing listeners, just like you will find me. 

Set your timer. Go write!

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