Thursday 14 March 2024: My learning this week – new feature

Bouquet of fresh red tulip flowers sitting on dark surface background with copy space –

It’s free image day today, and this week it’s one I quite like so I grabbed it and used it. I haven’t seen any tulips yet, other than in our holiday cottage, and I thought they were plastic until they started to drop their petals…

The dog woke me up 3 times on Tuesday night, then he woke me again after the poet headed off to work on an early start, and yes, the poet woke me up then as well. My bones and nerves are also still recovering from the bed at the holiday cottage. So I had a disturbed night. The holiday bed wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t *our* bed, and our bed is great. As a result, I had a slow start yesterday.

It’s a 4-day week this week and I should be dashing around trying to get things done. Instead, I’m taking my time, sampling new video courses, reading books. I must still be in holiday mode. A long weekend, quite clearly, isn’t enough. Not to worry, though. We have over a week’s holiday coming up at the end of the month, for Easter.

There was a mini course going free on how to create your own mini courses, so I had a look at that over breakfast on my phone, downloaded it to the desktop, and watched the first 3 modules. I’ll expand more on that below.

Once at my desk, I had a look at Bookvault, the independent print-on-demand company that also collaborates with indie authors on their Kickstarters. I’m currently deciding if it’s worth the one-off fee there to start producing my own paperbacks to sell direct on my website or via Shopify or similar.

Members of the Alliance of Independent Authors are apparently able to upload unlimited files each month to Bookvault, so I had a look at that too. And then I wandered over to the Great British Bookshop, as Bookvault also distributes through there. I’ll have to do some sums to see if one way is better value for money than another, but at the moment it’s all there at the back of my mind now, percolating.

I did some diary work, work I should have done on Tuesday, moved things around my TickTick and then transferred them to my actual diary. I also created some additional appointments in TickTick that were transferred *from* the actual diary. The only thing I choose not to see on TickTick at the moment is the weekend. But Monkey Dust gigs and vet appointments are at the weekend, so I might change that in the near future.

While I brought the diary up to date, I ran my weekly tech scan, which needed an update first. But that also required a computer restart, so I grabbed something to eat at the same time. I also dealt with *another* call from the conveyancing solicitors dealing with our parents’ house sale. (Sigh!) I thought I’d seen the back of those!

Dinner, update and scan out of the way, I settled down to touch base with the SAVE THE CAT WRITES A NOVEL course from WRITING MASTERY ACADEMY (aka Jessica Brody), Then I allocated a single Pomodoro to THE SECRET OF WHITEHORSE FARM. I did a quick read-through to refresh my memory, then added 792 words to the running total.

I went to update the Post-it note on the power board, but really couldn’t be bothered. It was so much trouble, that I turned around and went and ordered that T-card system I’d seen. It’s only a dinky one, using the size 2 cards. But it has 7 columns, which is enough if I merge things like ‘percolating’ and ‘brainstorming’ and ‘writing’ and ‘typing’, and it will fit on the wall beneath my notice board, where I can see it without turning around.

The day was running away with me, so I moved one job to today (brainstorm the PIRATE LEGENDS short story) and cracked on with the proofreading, just so I could say I’d touched it. I updated the 10-project word-count spreadsheet with yesterday’s word and page counts, brushing the dust off that. Then I completed and scheduled today’s blog post.

My learning this week

I love learning. I like to study. I’m always interested to find new ways to do something, new things to try, and anything to build on what I already know and do. I watch video courses and I read books. Instead of scattering them around various blog posts, though, I’ve decided to do a quick report on the current week’s learning just once a week. This was built in as part of my weekly blog planning on Tuesday.

This week I’ve paid for a course and I’ve joined a free course. I’m not going to name them or provide links yet until (a) I know whether or not they’re worth raving about or recommending, and (b) I’ve looked into affiliate links – these people are already making extra dosh from people sharing their courses, so I want to see if I might earn some extra dosh too. If not, then I’ll only recommended one if I think it’s worth while.

Story immersion
The course I paid for shouted about outlining your novel in a day, but the course itself is actually about immersing yourself in the story. This course was at an apparently hefty discount, but don’t worry, I’m not that green that I believe everything they say there. I watched the first module on Tuesday and made some notes, and I downloaded the resources, which included some exercises that go with Module 1.

This course has grabbed me, but the person leading it is driving me mad because they keep sucking their teeth or smacking their lips, I don’t know which because it’s usually behind a presentation. Some of the course also risks falling into the course leader simply reading the Powerpoint slides, which is something else that makes me wrinkle my nose. Hey, I can read slides myself, I don’t need anyone else doing it.

So far, though, there has been some value and I will carry on watching it. I just didn’t have time to do the exercises this week.

How to create a mini-course
The course I joined was a free course, but it’s a lead magnet for other courses and products the course provider sells. I watched all 3 modules and rather than actually teach me how to create a mini-course, the course leader was basically giving away some of their own strategies for making a free product but, more importantly, using the lead magnet to build a mailing list.

I’m not sure it’s even worth me continuing with the bonus material on this one, but at least the initial course itself was free, even if it does mean investing time while I watch it. I’ll also be unsubscribing from this mailing list I had no idea I was joining.

Writing Mastery Academy
The Writing Mastery Academy is Jessica Brody’s online writing school and community. A monthly fee of $15, or an annual fee of $160, buys members complete access to all courses. One of the courses is her famous SAVE THE CAT WRITES A NOVEL course, and that’s the one I’m studying at the moment. She runs other courses too, though, such as:

  • the foundations of fiction
  • developing blockbuster ideas
  • fast drafting a novel
  • complete novel revision
  • how to craft dynamic characters
  • beating writer’s block

And so on. There are also a number of free webinars, guest workshops, a community forum, as well as some premium lectures. I think $15 a month is good value for money, SO LONG AS I MAKE FULL USE OF WHAT’S AVAILABLE. So I’ve built some Writing Mastery Academy study into my usual working day.

Brody doesn’t accept or comment on members’ work like Dean Wesley Smith sometimes will (usually built into the course fees if he does), but you can cancel the monthly or annual membership any time you like and pick it up again when you’re ready.

I revised the INTRODUCTION and STEP ONE of the SAVE THE CAT course ahead of working on THE SECRET OF WHITEHORSE FARM.

WMG Publishing: Teachable
I have access to a lot of the WMG Publishing Teachable courses, most are stretch rewards in Kickstarters I’ve backed (see below), some are courses I’ve paid for. Both Dean Smith and Kristine Rusch seem to be moving away from Teachable a little as they’ve recently launched a brand-new series of courses outside of Teachable, but it’s possible that this is only for some face-to-face courses they’re teaching in Vegas.

Once I’ve cleared the 2 new courses mentioned above, WMG Teachables will also be included in my regular working day. There’s one study along happening in May of this year, and the next study along is currently scheduled for January 2025. Sadly, the new face-to-face workshops aren’t available as study alongs, but they look quite good.

One day – one day – hopefully I’ll make it to a face-to-face in Vegas, but they do vet people who attend these real time courses very carefully, to ensure they’re not wasting their time and money. In the meantime, I’ll try and catch up on what I already have.

WMG Publishing: Kickstarter
There’s a new Kickstarter this week from Kristine Rusch, and while it’s not in itself a course, other than yet more masterclass on how to run a Kickstarter campaign, this one is offering pop-up workshops in the stretch rewards, and that’s what makes these Kickstarters worthwhile for me.

I DO find this kind of Kickstarter worth sharing because I think the courses alone are worth the investment, and because of that, here’s the link. (I’m not affiliated, though.) Some of the recent Kickstarters from WMG Publishing have included the opportunity for backers to submit stories to an otherwise closed publication (PULPHOUSE FICTION MAGAZINE), and that isn’t really worth it for me as I don’t write the kind of stories they publish. But the pop-up workshops they offer, if I don’t already have them, are worth it.

Plan for today

This is also a sort-of new feature for the blog. I know I usually include it anyway, but now it’s on my weekly blog planner, and if I give it a section and a heading, then I’m more likely to remember to include it.

The plan for today, then, is as follows:

  • The Story Immersion Project course
  • Writing Mastery Academy course
  • How to Create a Mini-Course course
  • brainstorm 12 STORIES IN 12 MONTHS – March
  • brainstorm PIRATE LEGENDS short story
  • Diane’s Gig List admin
  • proofread naval book for client
  • tomorrow’s blog
  • theatre trip: THE MOUSETRAP 70th anniversary tour

What’s on your schedule for today?

2 thoughts on “Thursday 14 March 2024: My learning this week – new feature

  1. That’s a lot of coursework!

    I have to write a book review, do at least one script coverage (hoping some more come in), run an errand in another town for something I can’t get here, get some writing in, and bake. This evening, I’m going to a friend’s open studio to hear a talk on her work with ecogrief.

    I also need to get a little planting done, and maybe start the spring cleaning, although I have a feeling that won’t really start until the weekend.

    1. One of the courses has been crossed off as not worth the effort today, I’m too busy with other stuff. I don’t know yet if it’s crossed off permanently. They’re also quite short bursts of video. It’s the exercises that take the time, and I always try to apply exercises to current WIP.

      You have a busy day too, as ever!

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