What does it take to write a book? The bare minimum comes down to "the tool that lets you write." In this episode, Kevin talks about some of his experiences with writing using only the resources he had on hand, including a few found items.
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Kevin Tumlinson: 00:00 Hey slingers, welcome back to another Wordslinger Wednesday. Uh, we're gonna jump right into a whole bunch of ideas that I've been kicking around about the basics of what you need to get started in this business. So stick around. We'll talk about that next.
Announcer: 00:19 It's the word slinger podcast. Where's story matters? Build your brand, right, your book. Redefine who you are. It's all about this story here. What's yours? Now here's the guy who invented pants, optional. Kevin Tumlinson, The Wordslinger.
Singer: 00:41 Wordslinger!
Kevin Tumlinson: 00:44 Well, I am Kevin Tumlinson, the Wordslinger. Thank you for tuning into another Wordslinger Wednesday. Uh, I guess that's what we're going to call this. It's the, it's a Wednesday episode of the Wordslinger podcast. And if you are tuning in and expecting to hear a guest interview, uh, I am very sorry, but, uh, that's not what we do here. At least not on Wednesdays, not on this particular style of episode. If you've been tuning in for the past couple of weeks, you've, you've probably discovered that I am a, I've been splitting up the episodes between interviews and a, this little word, uh, afterword word, wisdom, whatever you want to call it. Uh, so I've kind of been experimenting with the format a little is what we're, what we're saying here. So right now, um, I'm experimenting even further. Actually I'm a tinkering with a, this is, this is going to be an audio only podcast today.
Kevin Tumlinson: 01:42 So if you have become accustomed to being able to find this on Youtube, actually you're probably not listening at all right now because I'm not gonna, I'm not going to do a video. And there's a couple of reasons for that. One. Um, I got incredibly frustrated today as I recorded this episode once already and then everything fell apart and I was unable to a series of, uh, freakish instances. How are you Siri? That's hilarious. Uh, a series of really things like that just happened, technical glitches, goofy things that happened, uh, caused it to not just not work. And there just comes a point where I start to question what the value, I'm not seeing a lot of subscriptions on Youtube. It's just not for this, this format doesn't work on Youtube is what I've determined or maybe it does and I'm not doing it right.
Kevin Tumlinson: 02:44 Yeah, there could be all kinds of things, but I am, I've decided to sort of fall back on my strength. I'm may very well not do any video episodes. Um, going forward. The frank truth is I was just recording myself doing this show this way. Anyway, so there you have it. Um, so that, but that is not what today's Wordslinger Wednesday or Wednesday word is about taking what vote. Hey, tell me what you think I should call this. Um, this, this part, this type of episode I'm leaning towards, I'm leaning towards a couple of things, but I'd love to hear what you have to say. Pop on over towards, on your podcast.com hit the contact button or leave this in the show notes of this episode. [inaudible] and just tell me what you think. Um, I should call the shelf at a couple people chime in. Um, and, uh, Eh, yeah, I think, I think I got a general direction. So anyway, so this, this week, this Wednesday I wanted to talk to you about something that's, that's Kinda been, it's come up a couple times. I had a whole conversation with Roland in Zelle a few days ago, uh, that, that was sort of on it kind of went to this place. Um, but the, uh, and I'm sorry, I keep clearing my throat and ear. I'll try to hit the mute button like this.
Kevin Tumlinson: 04:07 That way you don't hear me cough in your ear. Um, anyway, I had this conversation and it's something I've been thinking about for awhile. I've been trying to kind of pull together a blog post on this topic. It's actually a little tougher than you might think to, uh, discuss this topic because I don't want to oversimplify it and I don't want to overcomplicate it. So I'm trying to find the medium, middle ground here, but the idea is what are, what is the absolute minimum you need to, uh, to have a author career? Um, now what I've decided for this episode at least is to focus just on the writing portion of this. So the minimum you would need to actually write and publish your book. Um, so none, there's none. There is no component for marketing in this. There's no advice on, um, you know, uh, anything other than anything beyond sort of the mechanics of actually writing.
Kevin Tumlinson: 05:05 And so, uh, that's going to simplify this just a little and then a, in a future episode, if you are particularly if you're interested in this, um, I'll expand on this topic, but so to tell you, uh, to kind of get you into the right head space here, uh, the conversation I had with, uh, Roland involved, um, this idea of authors sort of constantly being on the lookout for a, a, an all in one solution for everything that they need. So they want something that, that helps them, uh, you know, map out the book, plot the book, uh, build the characters, build the settings, uh, you know, write the scenes, tag the scenes, uh, organize everything into chapters. Uh, do all the editing, fine, all the grammar. And the other issues as, yeah. And then, you know, reorganize the book, spin it out as a, um, uh, well an ebook in whatever format they want, uh, and or published that Ebook to all the various storefronts.
Kevin Tumlinson: 06:09 And you know, the reality is that that's becoming much closer to a reality. It's becoming more real a that something like that could exist. Uh, specifically we were talking about an APP that is making the rounds, but uh, this, all of that stuff could apply to scrivener, which is my writing tool of choice. But what, what kind of came out of this was some, some thinking about, you know, isn't necessarily the best plan in the world to have an all in one tool. I mean, it can be, it depends on the tool. Um, but let's just talk about Scrivener for a second. I love Scrivener and Scrivener was the, the sort of break-over tool for me because for one, I'd spent most of my career writing a copy for clients and an employee in employers and for myself, uh, in Microsoft word. So the word is the, it's the tool of choice for no matter what industry you're in, if you're going to create written words on a page, Microsoft word is going to come into play at some point in that process.
Kevin Tumlinson: 07:20 Uh, you can't work in any professional industry in this, on this planet without word, uh, factoring in somewhere. So word was, uh, my first choice when it came to, you know, writing my books. Now I had written books and I had written other than lots of things in a tools outside of Word, uh, especially in the years before Word existed. And yeah, that I am that old. Um, but eh, you know, word became the tool of choice. And so I, you know, that's what I fell back on. So for me, um, Scrivener represented a way to write in a new fun environment if you'll permit that. Um, that wasn't word. So what was happening for me was I was spending, you know, eight, 10, 12 hours a day writing copy in Microsoft word and then a stop and buy a coffee shop on my way home from an office or something.
Kevin Tumlinson: 08:18 And putting another couple of hours in, in Microsoft Word, and it just felt like more work. It took the soul out of me. Uh, I didn't feel creative anymore. I felt, you know, drained of energy. I felt like here I am slugging away one, you know, two more hours out of my day, four more hours out of my day spent in this wretched software. You know, and I actually like word quite a bit. It's the most powerful writing software to my knowledge. I mean, I, I've used practically everything and this is the word is really robust, uh, sometimes too much. So, um, but Scrivener represented to a whole new way of thinking about my writing. It was nonlinear. It allowed me to, uh, uh, write in scenes and within chapters, just like files within a folder, reorganize all that stuff. Funny to this scene would be work better in chapter three than it does in chapter 10.
Kevin Tumlinson: 09:10 Uh, this chapter would make a better chapter seven, then chapter three, a. So I'm able to reorganize on the fly if I want or, uh, after the book is done, I can retool it and restructure it and uh, that's great. I also liked the cork board. That was probably the first thing that attracted me to Scrivener was the stupid cork board, which I don't even use now. But I had a, I had come in after an era of, uh, doing a whole lot of, uh, screenwriting for documentary mostly and uh, to keep all the stuff organized. I used an actual cork board with, um, through three by five note cards. So being able to do that virtually was comfortable. So that was one of the first things that attracted me to scrivener. Uh, also it has a story and that it was created by an author.
Kevin Tumlinson: 10:09 That's always a hook for me. I'm going to get into that in a future episode. But, um, anyway, so Scrivener was a tool that, that was comfortable and fun for you use. Now here's the deal. Scrivener for the longest time, uh, was only available, I believe it was only available on a Mac. And so, but then it became available on PC, uh, but it wasn't as good for a long time. I think now they've solved a lot of these problems and then eventually it wasn't available on Ios where I really wanted it. So there were times where even Scrivener was kind of frustrating to me and I branched out and tried other things, tried Ulysses, which I really did like. Uh, and then they went to a paid model and I didn't like that. Uh, among other things, there was also a couple of other factors in me switching away from Ulysses.
Kevin Tumlinson: 10:56 Um, but there's, you know, there's been a lot of those little apps, so I've been thinking about this for awhile now. What is the, um, ultimately, you know, what does it come down to when you are, uh, when you're looking at the, uh, what it takes to do this work? Does it take a scrivener? Does it take a Microsoft word? You know, these are, these are software platforms that are actually quite expensive. Um, so you don't necessarily want to drop a bunch of cash to get into this when you don't know if you're going to succeed. Um, and you know, granted, most people can afford some something, you know, they can't afford one of these apps. Scrivener's like 40 bucks. So, um, I say that so cavalier, but not everybody has 40 bucks through it. Something like this. So bare minimum though, let's just face facts.
Kevin Tumlinson: 11:52 There is that old method of sitting down with a pad and Pencil and scribbling out your book in Longhand. I still know authors who do this, you know, I know plenty of authors who do it. Uh, it's sort of almost shocking to me that there are that many people who write their books long hand and my hand cramps up just thinking about it, but there, but there is some appeal in that for me. I've written longhand short stories, articles, all kinds of things. I carry around a mole skin notebook pretty frequently. I've got lots and lots of journals all around me. Uh, so there's been plenty of writing that way in my life. Um, and that is one way to go. And in fact I have a story. So, um, a couple of years ago I was just sort of thinking, pondering the nature of being a writer and the accessibility of it.
Kevin Tumlinson: 12:46 Um, and I decided I would, I would do a little experiment. I like to keep my eyes open. I like to keep my eyes open for resources. I'm, I'm a very resource oriented guy. Okay. So I thought, well I'm a resource wearing a guy. I'm always looking for like where was the last time I saw a coat hanger or a screwdriver or something in case I've locked myself out of a car or you know, I need to fix something or whatever. And I keep that stuff in my head, a sort of a little, a buffer of that stuff. So I thought, well, I'm going to start looking for the materials. I would need to have a writing career. Just, just, I just spent like a couple of days doing this. Like I'm just going wherever I go, I'm to look around and say, okay, I could use that. I could use that.
Kevin Tumlinson: 13:30 I do this as a matter of course anyway. Um, I'm always kind of keeping my eyes open in case there's a, you know, in case I need a, that, that rock or that brick or that, uh, you know, uh, whatever. And this is how I find a lot of money by the way. So keeping my eyes open for things that would help me. Right. I took one of my regular morning walks, I'm going, I'm heading for I a doughnut shop actually, where I tend to sit and do a little bit of reading and writing. Uh, not anymore. I don't live anywhere near this place. Um, and oddly enough, I don't think I ever bought a donut from this place, but while walking through another parking lot to get there, I spotted someone had dropped a ballpoint pen like that, the writing and implement, I will pick that up.
Kevin Tumlinson: 14:22 And uh, I went ahead and pick that up and then I get to the, uh, the donut shop in order my coffee and they'd give me a receipt. And they, for some reason they gave me this super long receipt, not a lot on it. And it was, uh, the backside of it was entirely blank. So, uh, I'm thought, well, there are some paper, I have a pin, I'm going to write something. So I, I spent a few minutes writing out, uh, basically something that became the front end of a blog post. Um, and uh, you know, I handled, I had a good time with this. I mean, I, this is a kind of fun exercise, right? Yeah. I thought, well, okay, so that's handwritten. Now how would I get that to a digital world now I had my phone with me, so of course I could sit there and type it in, you know, bit by bit on my phone.
Kevin Tumlinson: 15:10 I thought, you know, that's kind of cheating. I brought that with me. Uh, if I didn't have that with me, how would I do this? Now that the answer there is, it wasn't an immediate thing with my phone. I could immediately publish. I can instantly publish. I got another story about that coming up. But without the phone. I had to think of some other way, you know, if I were, if I were just completely broke and they only means I had was this, you know, this pan I found on the ground and any scrap of paper I could pick up, how would I go about turning that into a writing business? Um, and the answer for me, uh, on this particular trip was, um, once the sun was up, once the world was active and moving, I, uh, walked to a local library was very close to where I was once I was in the library.
Kevin Tumlinson: 16:05 Uh, they had several computers that I could sit at for free. And, uh, once you're sitting in a computer to get all kinds of options, now I wanted to publish this, right? So I, I used, um, uh, Google docs, you know, which is a free office, Microsoft office level tool. And I typed up what I'd written in and I kind of finished it and you know, and then I did the copy and paste and I could have easily done used anything else. I was, since I was blogging this, I could've just written in the blog platform, there are a million free blog platforms. Um, so that may not, like I went from finding a penalty ground and using a receipt to sitting down in front of your computer and publishing what I'd written and it didn't cost me anything more than the cup of coffee I'd paid for.
Kevin Tumlinson: 16:55 And I could easily have skipped that and just written this on, uh, any scrap of paper and I didn't even need the pen or the paper really could have just gotten to the library and sat down and started writing. So, um, now that's a blog post, but the same thing applies. Google docs, for example, will let you spit out that, uh, your work as a word document or an RTF file. Guess who uses that? You can actually upload that to, um, draft to digital, convert your manuscript that you've created into a, in a pub and a Mobi file, a distributed worldwide right from there. Um, and, uh, start making some money on this thing that you, you know, wrote wall front of abusing opinion out in the parking lot, or skip the pen and then just go straight in and write your, uh, your and Google docs.
Kevin Tumlinson: 17:50 Um, uh, fast forward now. I went to a conference in Orlando. You've heard this story before if you've listened to the show for awhile, but I was in a conference in Orlando and had some time between conferences. I had multiple conferences going on and a couple of days and decided I would go do Disney world. Actually, I basically had one day, like one day and decided I'm going to go to Disney world today. So I went to Disney world, had a great time, didn't want to take care of a bunch of crap with me. So I had my phone and that was it. Um, so I am, uh, standing in line for the flight of passage ride, which is the, if you go to animal kingdom, they have a whole avatar world. For some reason Disney owns avatar. Now for some reason, despite this movie being, you know, forever old and only one movie and wasn't even all that great, they have an entire section of a park in Disney world dedicated to it.
Kevin Tumlinson: 18:53 And I have to admit the park itself is much cooler than the movie. Um, so I'm waiting for this ride. It's a three hour wait. So I took my phone out and I had recently had a conversation with Michael LaRonn. Now you can benefit from that conversation cause uh, I did an interview with him on this topic later. Um, and he told me, and you could find that go towards in your podcast at comp type Michael LaRonn, L. A. R. O. N. N. Um, he told me that he'd started writing all of his books using his iPhone and typing using his thumbs on the screen. And that blew my freaking mind. So I wanted to play with this. So I started doing a lot of stuff on my phone. I started writing blog posts, I started writing copy, um, marketing copy for draft to digital. And I decided, well, what if I applied this to fiction?
Kevin Tumlinson: 19:50 So I started while whiteness line, I wrote a little short story using nothing but the iPhone and my thumbs right went much faster than than you would think. It actually went very well. Um, but from that phone I was able to, uh, you know, I wrote it in Scrivener, I was able to output that as a word document, uh, to a Dropbox. I was able to upload that word document too. Um, drafted digital and from draft to digital I could convert it to all the a ebook formats and a I went on a Canva and use their little free ebook cover thing and made a cover for it, uh, complete with an original image and everything. And then I wrote the description and I wrote all the metadata stuff and uh, you know, chose the title and ha got it all pulled together and I got all the way to the point where I could've pushed publish and stop there because I wanted to go back and edit, maybe expand, do some other things with this story.
Kevin Tumlinson: 20:49 So the point there was in that three hours, three hour window of standing in line, because I was by myself, I didn't have anybody to talk to. Everybody had their loved ones and family with them. Everybody's laughing and having a good time and I'm feeling a little lonely. So I write a short story and made me feel much better. And uh, and by the time it was all done, I could have pressed, pressed publish on that and put it out into the world where it could have started making me some money. And so I would have turned that, that waiting time into writing time, uh, all that took was a smart phone. So I love that idea because years ago I used to write using a palm pilot and if you don't, if you're not old enough to remember these, the personal digital assistants, PDAs, they were the precursor of the iPhone.
Kevin Tumlinson: 21:43 Most of you, I think it probably lived through that era. But, uh, I had a palm five, which was a fairly fancy palm pilot and I had a little keyboard for it. I even at one point had a little digital, a laser generated keyboard, laser projected keyboard. It would project the keys onto a table top surface and I could type that way. Uh, that didn't work, all that great. So I didn't use it much, but I did have a little, a little thing that the, that the PDA snapped into the palm pilot snapped into then how to keyboard. It was a great keyboard. I really wished I could get one like it for my iPhone. Um, cause it all folded up is perfect. But man, I, I mean I love the idea of a folding keyboard. I've got like a dozen of them and I still can't find one.
Kevin Tumlinson: 22:32 That's that I really love. Uh, but I was able to, uh, you know, wherever I was, I, this was, I had laptops but they weren't very battery efficient. Uh, and, and this was small and portable and I carried it in my pocket. So wherever I was, I could stop and do some, some writing. And I wrote lots of articles, blog and I, this was pre blog. No one knew what a blog was, but I was, I was basically, you know, writing a blog, um, uh, sort of web journal and, um, you know, I did a lot of short stories, things like that. And it was all mobile. Well that, that thing is just like there's a little monochromatic screen and doesn't even have Internet access. It's just, it was just an organizer basically. But it gave me this tool and that shaped a lot of how I do my work now.
Kevin Tumlinson: 23:21 Um, but the idea is to look around, uh, the, the bare minimum that you need for this as a, as a pad and pencil. You need to be able to get this stuff online these days. Uh, but even that is kind of, you know, it's kind of Iffy, like you don't necessarily have to publish online. Um, there are ways to go about this where you never touched the internet at all, but I, uh, I don't know why are you the efficiency of that? But the real point here is you can create a career from almost literally nothing. It just takes, you know, looking around and figuring out how do I get my words on the page. Um, now we've talked about writing, Eh, uh, as in sitting down with a pad and pencil or sitting down with the keyboard. Um, but it's equally as effective to go ahead and just dictate what your writing.
Kevin Tumlinson: 24:21 Um, I read Kevin j Anderson's book, I think it was like the millionaire writer or something. Hold on just a second. I'm to take a little sip of water. Hold on. Mm hmm. That is lubricating. Um, he wrote a Kevin J. Anderson, he was talking about one of his favorite things to do, which is to, um, to go hiking on the trails near his home in Colorado. And while he's doing that, he carries a little voice recorder with him. He dictates his books as he goes. Now. That's fantastic. I've never really gotten into that, but I could see how it would work. And I was talking to actually Roland Denzel about that very idea. He likes to use dragon. Um, and he has a PC and a, you know, I never got into the whole dragon thing. Uh, you know, I kind of played with it when they first introduced it years ago and I played with, I played with a few times since.
Kevin Tumlinson: 25:20 Uh, I just don't feel all that comfortable, especially sitting in front of my computer. I'm dictating. It just doesn't work as well for me. It's not the same vibe from me. However, I could see how I'm doing it on the go, walking and talking. Uh, I think that might work well for me now to do that. You could use a voice recorder or you could use your mobile phone. Um, now if you're using a text to our speech to text software, things can get a little tricky. Um, but uh, but there are ways to make that work. Uh, but you know, I, I like, um, I don't use this yet for narrating a book, but I've used a service called Timmy, which is spelled t e m i.com. It is a service that will, it uses the same sort of software basically that will translate your, your words into text automatically and a cost you about six, $6 an hour, about 10 cents a minute actually.
Kevin Tumlinson: 26:23 So, um, I've played around with it a little. I was going to use it for our transcriptions for the show. Uh, it's not perfect, especially when you've got more than one voice recorded, so you have to, you will have to do some editing. But, uh, if you don't, if you have a Mac and therefore can't get the dragon software, uh, or if you don't like, you know, dealing with that, that sort of thing, uh, this is another option so you can, so you don't even have to be able to type or write, you know, physically right to write a book. You can just narrate it. Now, one of the advantages then is if you do it right, um, you could even have your audio book, uh, sort of prerecorded. I don't see how you could do that really, uh, fresh without editing, but, uh, you know, stranger things have happened.
Kevin Tumlinson: 27:13 Um, but it does give you kind of used to the idea of reading your work out loud and if you're going to do that, you, you very well could record your own audio books. You could get really good at this stuff. So the point there is a, there are no real limitations here. Um, and if there are limitations, you know, they're usually extenuating circumstances and you can, you, you can find a way to work around those. Uh, what it takes is looking around seeing what resources you have and putting those resources to work. I've had people tell me I could never ride on my cell phone, even with a keyboard. Know I love my Bluetooth keyboard with my phone. I love to write that way. Um, cause it's hyper portable, you know, I mean I can be anywhere. Um, but I've had people tell me I could never ride on the phone and the screen's too small.
Kevin Tumlinson: 28:04 I'm blown away by that very statement. Given that I used to have a word processor that a little strip of monochromatic LCD screen and that I basically could see about half a sentence at a time. And I wrote entire books on that word processor. So to tell me that they phoned screen is too small. Um, you know, I think it's just a matter of adjusting, Eh, the point is there is a way, and you might have to compromise a little on what you think it means to be a writer, but you can get this done. So the bare minimum, the bare minimum to right is a, to find a tool that works for you in that means it works for you, physically, works for you in terms of your budget works for you in terms of productivity. Uh, but it's out there. You do not have to spend a lot of money on software of any kind apps of any kind equipment of any kind.
Kevin Tumlinson: 29:03 You know, there are some people who buy a Mac so that they can use scrivener and vellum, you know, um, Scrivener's available in pcs, like I said, but you know, vellum isn't, um, you know, you the, I applaud you, um, if you've got the budget to do that, do it. I do. So I do. Um, but maybe you don't, uh, I went to the flea market this past weekend and I saw hundreds of small laptops and the, and large laptops that people were selling for like less than 25 bucks. Some were selling for more. Uh, but a lot of, a lot of these were working laptops that people were, sounded like $25, not the latest and greatest. Of course you might have to reformat them. You know, I, there will be some blemishes on them, you know, uh, it, so you can, you can do this. I mean, am I first laptop came from the flea market.
Kevin Tumlinson: 29:58 I paid $20 for it. It was a monochromatic green screen, Tandy laptop, clamshell laptop. This is the first laptop I owned, you know, so, um, the point there is there are more resources out there and then you're probably aware of or that you're thinking about. And it doesn't take that much to actually do this. So, uh, and I ran you through a whole process of getting that, you know, book onto, um, you know, into distribution using drafted digital. I'm biased towards draft to digital, but, uh, you know, there are a lot of other ways to do this too. So that's it. That's the basics. That's all it takes. And I know you can do it. Uh, cause I've seen, you know, a few thousand of you do it. You're not, if you are still struggling to write your first book, um, then you know, I just want you to know there are no real barriers and if you are already writing, um, and you're thinking about, you know, you maybe you feel a little inadequate.
Kevin Tumlinson: 30:57 I don't have a Mac. Maybe they should do virtual Mac pay, pay a monthly fee so I can use vellum. Uh, you know, maybe I should, uh, save up and buy a new Mac book pro or whatever. Um, it's fine if you do that, but it's not necessary. And that's the point I'm trying to make. So, uh, I'm at time, a little over an hour, so I'm going to go ahead and wrap this up. Uh, if you have questions about this or anything else, please hop on over to words on your podcast.com. Let me know what you're thinking. Ah, let me know you think of this and this format and everything else that's going on. Make sure you subscribe to the show on Itunes, stitcher, Google, play. Uh, Spotify. I'm everywhere now. Um, even on youtube though. Heck man, I may not, I may not do the show this way on youtube anymore. Let me know what you think about that too. So
Kevin Tumlinson: 31:52 anyway, I am happy we had this time chat. God bless each and every one of you. Make sure you subscribe and I'll see you all though. This Friday. See you Friday with a whole new episodes talking to GP James. You're not going to want to miss that. So I'll see you then.
Singer: 32:12 Wordslinger!