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FIO—Figure It Out. That’s one of Kevin’s core principles in both life and career, and it guides everything he does, from packing for a trip to marketing his books. In this episode Kevin talks about how he puts FIO to work, and how you can too. Learn how to use this simple (but oddly challenging) principle to work in your own life and career.




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 Kevin Tumlinson:          00:01                Hey slingers, welcome back. Uh, this episode we're going to be talking about fire. Now what does that mean? We're going to tell you all about it. Stick around. We'll break it down. Hey, you looking for a jump on your own indie author career, but kind of confused about where to start. I got the place for you. Check out draft two digital. That's where you're going to be able to convert your manuscript, distributed worldwide, online, and get helped the whole way from the best author support there is. Trust me on this one. So go check out draft digital@drafteddigital.com slash word slinger.

Announcer:                   00:37                It's the Wordslinger Podcast, where story matters. Build your brand. Write your book. Redefine who you are. It's all about the story here. What's yours? Now, here's the guy who invented pants optional—Kevin Tumlinson, the Wordslinger.

Kevin Tumlinson:          01:00                Well, hello there. This is Kevin Tumlinson, the Wordslinger and, and uh, I am back. I am back from, uh, my trip to Orlando and Indie book fest and I will confess to, uh, Disney world and universal studios, which my brain for some reason always wants to call Orlando Studios. Do you ever have anything like that happen to ya? Just, um, that for some reason constantly I am mentally referring to it as Orlando Studios. Um, had a great time. Uh, it was good to have some downtime. That was fun. Uh, I spent the entire weekend at parks walk in the feet off, uh, that sort of thing. But the, uh, the conference itself was, uh, amazing, uh, met some with some great folks, uh, get the hang out with some people that I only really get to see at that conference. Uh, and then I had some meetups at some other, um, some other sort of mini conferences and things that I attended.

Kevin Tumlinson:          02:01                Um, so it was a good time. It's a good week. Uh, and I had a great time there. So, um, now that I'm back, I, you know, and I had to miss out on a couple of weeks there of episodes, at least one week of episodes. Uh, I wanted to talk about something. This is something that's come up with my, with me and Kara, uh, my wife in case you're just any in for the first time. Uh, Kara and I are, uh, we have, uh, this interesting sort of lifestyle and it all evolves. [inaudible] evolves around or revolves rather around, um, this principle of figure it out. Uh, this is kind of a new way to encapsulate what we do, but it is, is very much, um, what it very much a, it's very good description of it, figure it out or file. Fio. Um, so here's the deal. The whole principle is you go into every scenario, every, uh, you figure out what the challenges are or you decide, you determine what the challenges are and then you, you start figuring out how best to deal with them.

Kevin Tumlinson:          03:10                And then you do the thing you figure out. I know that sounds overly simplified, uh, but for some reason it's really complicated for people or it's, or it starts to feel really complicated. Uh, but the reality is it's, it's all just sort of looking around and determining what resources you have, what you know, what you don't have and what you don't know, what you need versus what you want. Um, and then sometimes just adjusting the plan. So for example, um, you know, we are, uh, considering getting back on the road, there are challenges involved in that. One of those is, you know, do we stick with the RV that we have or do we try to get a new, um, you know, smaller RV or small van or a camper or something along those lines. And, uh, you know, so we're, we're doing the research, figuring that out.

Kevin Tumlinson:          04:05                Uh, but there was a time, there was a point in there where we were looking at vans and, uh, one of the deals that we had kind of fell through. And, uh, we were talking about alternatives and I, and I said to Cara, you know, we actually do own an RV. We don't, we all have to go kill ourselves trying to get something, uh, figure out how to get something. We actually have something. Um, and it was like a sudden revelation, you know? Uh, and also we stopped, we reconsidered what do we have, what do we need, what do we want? And, uh, and then we made some changes to the plan. So that's a, that's kind of an example, uh, when it comes to your writing, you know, there's, there are, there are some things that you might want to consider and uh, think about.

Kevin Tumlinson:          04:53                And uh, so I've talked before there's a, sorry my throat's kind of doing its thing this morning. I've talked before about, um, you know, this idea sort of bootstrapping your, your writing career. Talk a lot about it. Now this, this week, this past week, I really got to talk about it and really got to explore it. Um, I have this, so I have coming up in November, I'm going to be talking, uh, I'm going to have a panel about bootstrapping your writing career at the a 20 books Vegas Conference. Um, I'm really looking forward to it. And I've really been putting some things into practice. So here's the deal. When I travel, I try to carry as little as possible. I try to go as minimalist as I can and I've learned a few things on the past few trips. Uh, what I'd really need, what I don't really need.

Kevin Tumlinson:          05:45                I tend to overpack, you know, I'm one of those contingency packers. Uh, but, um, I'm looking at this and thinking, um, what do I really need to accomplish when I'm on this trip and what do I need to accomplish that [inaudible] now I can go into a whole thing about minimals packing, which is something I, I'm getting very interested in, but as a writer, a sort of minimalist writer approach. Um, now I, I tend to carry like my laptop. Sometimes I carry also my, uh, my iPad pro, which is a 12 inch, 12.9 inch, uh, iPad. I carry my phone, I carry a little keyboard for my phone. Uh, I sort of overdo it. It just because I know, you know, well, just because I, I feel like I want to have lots of options. I don't want to feel like I left something at home that I'm going to need or whatever.

Kevin Tumlinson:          06:40                Uh, but the truth is I spent this past week just like I have in on a lot of previous trips, um, doing all my writing on my phone now, I have this little Logitech keyboard. Uh, and Gosh, I keep, I keep forgetting the model number and I'll see if I can track it down while I'm talking here. But, uh, I have this little portable lodged tech keyboard, battery powered. It's not rechargeable, it's just, just runs on standard, I think a AAA batteries actually. Um, and it's Bluetooth. And so I can connect is a three and it's a three device keyboard. Okay. So this little guy goes with me everywhere in my backpack and I'm able to, uh, pull that on and connected to my phone and do some writing. Now I also write directly on my phones keyboard sometimes, which I know is baffling to some folks.

Kevin Tumlinson:          07:39                But, um, this is, uh, you know, this is part of the flexibility. Okay. So here's the deal. I have the Logitech, it's The k three 80 multi-device Bluetooth keyboard made by Elijah Tech. And this guy, uh, is probably, I've tried a ton of folding keyboards. In fact, I searched my Amazon order, uh, history for, for keyboards and I have five pages of keyboards because I'm, I'm constantly trying out new keyboards for you actually used to do the same thing with pins, pen and paper sets. Um, anyway, this one, the k three 80, I'll try to remember that for next time. It's portable. I can, uh, it can connect to multiple devices, but it's perfect for carrying around with me. I can just, uh, it, here's the deal. It's like a $29 25 to $29 keyboard depending on where you find it under 30 bucks, that's a lot cheaper than having a PR replace, say a laptop or an iPad if it gets stolen or broken or whatever.

Kevin Tumlinson:          08:49                It's lightweight, it's durable, it has great keys, you know, nice travel. All the things that you, uh, that you hear about when people review keyboards. Uh, it fits very well and it's a full size keyboards comfortable for my, for my big beefy hands to use. And I have a little kickstand that I got for my, um, iPhone that, uh, pop out and I put that on my, on the a tabletop surface. I'm holding it right now and illustrating to myself. Um, and that allows me to tilt it at a nice comfortable angle and, um, sit and do some running. And I use scrivener, the mobile Scribner app, uh, the Ios app. But you could use anything. You could use Google docs or whatever. Now here's the deal that, that is part of the, the file principle, right? It's figure it out. It's figuring out what you actually need to do the work and then, you know, make sure you have access to that.

Kevin Tumlinson:          09:48                Uh, if you don't have access to it, what else could you do? Um, I also carry with me a little mole skin notebook, little leather. I like the soft cover. Uh, smaller pocket size mole skins. I have a pen. Oh, this is a great illustration. Actually. I have a, I have my favorite type of pen. This is a, um, I think it's paint as it Pentel I can barely see, uh, let me click like, ah, there we are. I know you can't see anything, but I can and it is Pinto, right? So it's a pin tail, little Gel pen, um, costs like 20 bucks. Actually it's not, not the cheapest of pins. Uh, but it's not the most expensive pin I own either. Um, but this little guy I carry, I have like three or four of them. I carry one in every bag. Um, and I have my little mole scheme.

Kevin Tumlinson:          10:42                And so I sit and journal every morning. One of the first things I do with my day. And uh, the yesterday morning I was in a Starbucks and I sat down to journal and my, the pen was out of ink and I started writing. It just kind of fizzled out on me. Uh, so I thought, well, I can wait until I get home. But it was always, it's always very frustrating to me when I start a journal injury, especially cause I date it and date it. And put the time on it. So I thought, well, I'm going to have to figure this out. I'm going to have to finish this entry somehow. And I thought, well I could ask the folks at Starbucks for a pin. I'm sure someone has one. Um, but what do I have? What resources do I actually have that I could put to work?

Kevin Tumlinson:          11:26                And I didn't have my bag with me. I didn't have anything with me except I have my Swiss army knife, which is something I try to carry all the time. I can't carry it when I fly. I could, I have, I used to carry it with me and my, uh, uh, when I checked baggage and then I'd carry it around and I'd have to remember to recheck it. But after a nearly losing it at the airport one time, cause I forgot to check it. And because I'm starting to try to do carry on only I'm not able to travel with my, with my Swiss army knife as much. Um, but anyway, I digress. I, so it has a little, a pen. It's basically like a little pin cartridge that's embedded in it. Very difficult to hold in right longterm. But if you just needed to make a quick note, it's um, it's there.

Kevin Tumlinson:          12:15                Um, so I thought, well, I could use that and I started to use that and I thought, well, it'd be much more comfortable if I had a full on stylists, you know. So I opened the, my Pentel pen, took out the innards, put the little cartridge for from my Swiss army knife in there, took the empty cartridge of the pin tail pin, pushed it down in there so that it would, um, create some pressure. Um, so that I could write without the thing sinking back into the pen. And then I wrote my, my journal entry. So that, that's an example of file that's figuring it out. Um, so in your writing career, there are going to be a lot of times like this. Now it's not just, this is not just about the mechanics of writing. This is, sometimes it's about the marketing. Sometimes it's about the, uh, you know, the craft.

Kevin Tumlinson:          13:03                Um, if you are stuck on a scene, what can you do? What resources do you have to help you get past this, uh, muddy middle or wherever you're stuck? Um, I like to use a process called looping where I go back and I reread a up to the point, I go back to, uh, you know, I may go back to an arbitrary point, but typically I go back to like the beginning of the chapter or maybe even to the beginning of the book, depending on, you know, how bad things are. Uh, and I read in rewrite net it my way back to where I was stuck and then I let the momentum of that carried me through and finished this, finish the story. Um, you can use a process like that or you can use a, you know, I have the story dice, which you can buy it and you know, Barnes, noble or wherever and uh, they have little icons on them and it's kind of a game where you roll it and you, you see the little icons, you tell a story based on what you see.

Kevin Tumlinson:          14:01                Uh, you could use something like that to jar yourself past a point where you're stuck. Um, so if you have something like that, you know, uh, you can get your phone out or whatever and uh, get online and uh, just randomly select a new story and read that new story and maybe try to incorporate a detail from that new story into the book to help you move forward. So there's all kinds of resources you can use to move yourself forward when you're stuck in a story when it comes to marketing. So the point of marketing is to make sure that your books are available to the right reader, to your ideal reader at the time that they're ready to buy them. You want to make them known to your reader. That's the discoverability thing, right? You want to make sure your book is known to your reader and that it is available for them.

Kevin Tumlinson:          14:51                Are they buy books when they buy books? So knowing these things, these are the knowns, right? So now we deal with the unknowns and we file, we figure it out. We, we say, okay, like my ideal reader likes to visit this one group on Facebook that talks about, well, if you happen to write, for example, um, uh, a nonfiction, a diet and exercise book, uh, my ideal reader hangs out in this fitness forum on Facebook. You can't just go in and start spamming that forum, but you can't become part of the conversation there. Um, and then maybe you ask the, uh, the, the people running it, the admins of the forum, if you could do something special, maybe, uh, maybe you want to give away 10 signed physical copies of the book to the first 10 people who sign up to your mailing list and say, you know, you want offer this to the, to the group, they may, they might let you.

Kevin Tumlinson:          15:54                And if you've been an active participant in that group, you've got a much better chance of that if you, if you haven't been spanning them the whole time, if you've been an active participant in conversations, if you've been kind, if you've been helpful, you have a chance to, um, to get the thing you need. Uh, so that's one idea. Um, you might try, you know, maybe, uh, if you write, you know, like I write archeological thrillers, um, I might try reaching my readers on, on, you know, Facebook forums or Facebook groups that are appealed to that, that set of people who like Indiana Jones. Uh, so that's Facebook. But there's also, you know, you can become involved in groups elsewhere. A reddit ha, you know, you can get into the reddit community, you can get into all kinds of places online, uh, or you can do things like a attend a, um, a conference or a reader facing conference.

Kevin Tumlinson:          16:50                Get yourself a booth, you know, get yourself a table, set your books up, do some to do some talk. And I do some, uh, meeting and greeting and shaking hands and introducing yourself. Um, you can carry little giveaway cards with you. I do this, um, little cards that give away a free copy of your book of a book, right? Or a short story or something that you use to entice people to get on your mailing list. So when I am riding an Uber, uh, every time I take a new route, which is a lot by the way, um, or I'm in a restaurant or I'm at a coffee shop, um, I, uh, when I'm talking to the Uber driver, right? And variably mentioned that I'm an author and invariably they ask about how to find my books and I give them a card to go get a free book.

Kevin Tumlinson:          17:39                That's one person at a time. But you, but how many people does that Uber driver come in contact with throughout a day and a week in a month? So make a good impression and suddenly someone else might start doing the marketing for you. Right? Um, so this is it. This is file. This is figure it out. This is asking yourself the question. And I use a journaling technique for this. Sometimes it might help you. Um, and I do it in my little mole scheme that I was telling you about, but so, um, I have this idea, this notion, uh, this belief that you could ask yourself a question and just start freewriting answers and you'll start coming up with some good answers. Sometimes you come up with some answers that aren't all that great, that don't, that won't really work for you. But the more you do this, the better those answers are going to get.

Kevin Tumlinson:          18:28                It's kind of like training your subconscious to tell you the good stuff too, to vet ideas. And what happens is when you do things like this, um, you start, you start seeing opportunities out in the world and you kind of, your subconscious will catalog them. We'll keep them in the back pocket. Right? A good example of this is, um, there's uh, Glennis Campbell, uh, if, if you know her work, um, she sent the draft to digital offices, a Christmas ornament that looks like one of her books, um, the cover of her book. Right? And I thought, well, that's a great idea. I was thinking about like yesterday and realized, you know, that would be a great, if I could get some ornaments like those for my book. So I reached out to her and asked her where she got them and she, we've been talking and so that was a resource I was able to pull out on my back pocket. That's a marketing tool that I'm going to be able to use. Um, and how I use it is up to me. But that's another thing I figured out.

Kevin Tumlinson:          19:29                So file. Um, so this is, this is to me, this is the xe ultimate way to deliver your life is constantly keeping track of uh, how to, how to get the things you need or want, you know, using the resources you have. Uh, going back just, just a bit to that journaling thing, cause I didn't quite explain it, but what I do is I write the question out. Um, so how can I, you know, this is just an example. How can I market my books? Okay. Uh, let's just, let's take it a step further. How can I market my books with no money? And then, all right, three to five thing answers to that question. Put a little dash right? The first one, putting out a little dash, right? The next one. Um, and it might be things like, uh, let's see, uh, join a Facebook group and to actively participate.

Kevin Tumlinson:          20:27                That's one, that's one example we've already talked about. Um, maybe with no budget, you know, maybe it's a volunteer to do a reading of my work at a local library or as I travel, find bookstores and libraries that are willing to let me come in and do readings and signings. You know, that costs me nothing but time and a little effort. And sometimes they're going to say no. But when they do say yes, that's your free marketing opportunity. Uh, so you know, these, this is, this takes a little bit of brain power, but treated just like you treat writing your, your books. You start with a blank page, right? Well, this is your blank page when you're gonna figure out how to fill it. Um, and you know, to that end, by the way, it is worth your time to start cataloging resources as you go.

Kevin Tumlinson:          21:23                I don't write these down and maybe I should. Um, but as you know, I keep a mental catalog of, of various resources that I encounter when I'm out in the world. Like I want to travel especially so, you know, think this could be things like, um, local, the location of local bookstores or libraries. Um, it could be, um, you know, free software and apps that are available. It could be youtube vloggers and youtube channels, um, that are great resources. You know, Youtube, by the way, one of my favorite goto resources for this, it is the file tool of choice for the word slinger. Um, cause if I ever needed to know anything at all, I can go to youtube and find someone who's willing to show me how to do it or show me how to get it or show me where to, you know, give me a review of something I was thinking of.

Kevin Tumlinson:          22:16                Buying Youtube, uh, is, is an incredible resource for me. Um, so that's what you do. You go around in the world cataloging mentally or otherwise, the, the resources and useful tools that you encounter. And this can include people, by the way, people, you know, I would all, I would keep a list of, I do, I have a mental list again of, uh, of people that I know and trust and like, uh, whom I can help when they need it, but whom I know I can approach for help when I need it. Um, you know, and I know they're very skills and I know their, I know their temperament. I know, you know, if I know their needs then we can mutually benefit each other and that's always the best relationship. Um, so I hope this is useful to you. Uh, this is something I think about a lot.

Kevin Tumlinson:          23:12                It's the way I operate. Um, it's working out really well for me and for Cara, frankly. And we're, we're both, um, embracing this as a kind of lifestyle. Um, the whole file lifestyle, figure it out. It's, it's, um, it sounds kind of oversimplified. I know, like you, you're just saying, it's like saying, you know, ah, I would, I wouldn't want to say to someone if they came to me with a problem, you know, hey man, I'm, I've got no book sales. I've got no way to pay for covers. I got no way to, um, get, you know, pay for editing or get my book and layout. I just don't know what to do. I would never just look at them square in the eye and say, figure it out.

Kevin Tumlinson:          23:55                I'm trying to help them. But what I, what I like, what I want is for authors in particular for everyone really, but for our authors in particular to feel empowered and the way you feel empowered is to start thinking about what you have and what you can do and how you can get to from a to z with a, with the map you have. Um, that's very important. You know, that that's something that, you know, it's a, it's a, it's an effort. You know, there's, uh, there's some learned skill here. There's some, um, you know, dedication, perseverance.

Kevin Tumlinson:          24:37                Uh, there's a lot of that, but it's about self-empowerment. Um, you know, a lot of times we kind of fall back on, we want, we want things provided for us and I understand that impulse, believe me. And then sometimes to the point of feeling like we're owed these, you know, these benefits are, or these services or you know, the help, um, I think your best approach in life is to, is to come at everything as if it's all going to come down to you. You are responsible for everything. You're responsible for what happens and you're responsible what doesn't happen. You are responsible for what you have and you're responsible for what you don't have. You're responsible for what you do and what you know, and you're responsible for what you don't do and what you don't know, you catch the rhythm there. Um, I think that's the best approach because if you, if you come at life that way, you, you get to use your most valuable resource, which is you, your brain, your mind.

Kevin Tumlinson:          25:34                Uh, it's amazing how much you can accomplish. You know, there are people who do the same. You know, you look through history, you look through the stories of people who persevered despite everything being against them. You know, I think about the guy, I think it's the thing that the book is a 147 hours. I think it's called the guy who, uh, he went for a hike. Uh, he didn't tell anybody where he's going. He's doing a little rock climbing and this rock falls and pins his arm, crushes his arm. He basically has to use a pocket knife and, you know, we'll just say remove the arm and uh, and rescue himself. But, you know, he, he found a way, uh, he survived because he was willing to do the unthinkable, really, you know, use the resources he had. Um, and he was, otherwise he would have died there.

Kevin Tumlinson:          26:29                So, you know, I think about stories like that and what we're capable of, you know, we were capable of so much more than we even imagine. So I just want to encourage people to, uh, to constantly think about that, to constantly perceive the world in terms of what you can do, uh, what you can accomplish and what resources you have at your disposal. So as we have so much more, uh, at our fingertips then than we ever realize, you know, the, I love my iPhone, my iPhone is my, the one device to rule them all, right? It's the, um, it can be all things for me as far as what I need to publish. And I'm not even kidding. I mean, I can do 100% of my work with nothing, but does iPhone. I don't even necessarily need a key, an external keyboard. I need an internet.

Kevin Tumlinson:          27:27                Um, I need a path in the internet and that's it. And that's what this provides. So having this sort of remarkable tool, you know, it makes all my other tools seem that much more miraculous and I can get so much more out of them. So it's like the basics for me are an iPhone. That's the, that's the basic tool that I need for you. Uh, you know, and it doesn't have to be an iPhone. It's any smart phone. You know, and almost all of us have one. If you don't have one, I understand you're probably not listening to this podcast if you don't have a smart phone. That's a reality. Right? So, um, having this tool allows me to do my work from anywhere, anytime I was on an airplane, you know, flying home yesterday and uh, was able to, uh, read in a rewrite and edit, um, what I'd already done.

Kevin Tumlinson:          28:24                I was able to add to it and my keyboard was stashed in my bag and I didn't feel like getting it out. I just did it with them, my thumbs. And that was fine. And I had Internet access. I paid eight bucks. Uh, but I got Internet access, so I was able to check sales check, uh, how things are going, uh, send notes to people I'm working with, do all the things that I had to do and I'm on an airplane now. That's a whole new level of, uh, productivity right there. Um, and it's all because of this resource I have. So you need to identify the resources in your life that are, that are most valuable to you. And, uh, make sure you know all the ways in which they can be used. Uh, but don't limit yourself to just what you have limited, you know, start looking around to see what else is out there.

Kevin Tumlinson:          29:13                I love when I travel, one of the things I love to do is find the free food, cause I can afford food, but I like free food. Um, and air is always free food everywhere. Everywhere you go there's going to be something, either it's little packets of peanut butter and little cups of honey, uh, and a little plastic spoon. And that's all, that's something, right? And they, they have those, you know, you go to hotels and cafes, you can get free water sometimes, you know, free coffee, sometimes free bread and you know, Panera bread, you know, they give you free bread, free little jams and stuff, stuff like that. So that's it. Fine. We'll figure it out. That is the principle I wanted everybody to learn today. And with that,

Kevin Tumlinson:          29:59                we are coming to a close. Uh, I hope you got something useful out of this. I hope it inspired you in some way, and I hope you have a wonderful a week and month ahead. I got a lot more conferences coming up, but I'm going to try to check in as often as I can, so God bless. No, see you next time. Hey, how are you doing on money? I know it's a touchy subject, but I got some that may help you out. See, I'm using an app called acorns and it helps me manage some investing. Uh, put some money back, get a little interest. It's kind of Nice to watch my money grow, so I want to share that with you. Go to Kevin tumlinson.com/acorns and you'll get some free money. See you there.


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