Twitter Downshifting

Three weeks ago I deleted my first twitter account @edragonu. At that time I had more than 1000 followers and I followed around 800 people. After a few days of silence, I decided to restart my twitter experience, on another account, @dragosroua, which happens to be me real name. I restored the first account but let my followers know that I’m on a new account and invited them to follow me there. During that silence period I learned a lot about how Twitter works and about myself. Here’s what happened.

Real Followers On Twitter

After I announced that I switched accounts, I experienced a flood of new followers on the new account. Those were the real followers, the ones who were listening and had a real interest in follow me. In 2-3 days I went from 0 to 100 followers. And then it slowly started to stop. I have around 1-2 new followers per day right now.

As you can see, the “core” of the followers was less than 10% of my actual numbers. Out of 1000 listed followers, only 100 were actually listening to my tweets and were interested in following me. It’s a little bit sad. And also unexpected. I was convinced that my followers are interested in what I write. At least, I was interested in what people I followed wrote.

Fewer Followers, Better Experience

The feeling I had in the first few days of having only meaningful followers were terrific. And I still experience the same feelings now. I feel relieved, authentic, useful and true. No more dumb numbers chasing, no more empty performance metrics, just authentic interaction.

I used to spend around 2-3 hours each day only in reading my timeline. I had to find ways to filter the content and cut down the noise. Somehow I took for granted that “noise” is something that Twitter has by default and I have to get over it. After I started the new account it was like the noise never existed.

Twitter doesn’t have any associated noise, it’s you who create the noise, by succumbing to the numbers game.

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How To Write An Ebook Using MacJournal

Writing an ebook could be a lot of fun. Not to mention the fact that by writing something you’re spreading value directly and you can receive a lot of direct compensation. If you chose to sell your ebook chances are that you will make some money. Sometimes a lot of money. And if you chose to give it away for free, it’s a sure bet that you’ll make a lot of new friends. Either way, it’s a win.

But writing an ebook can be sometimes overwhelming. I’m not talking about the actual writing process, choosing the topics, putting the chapters together or the main ebook subject. I’m talking about the invisible scaffold, the physical setup for managing, maintaining and organizing your work. Sometimes you don’t remember what you wrote yesterday, or your ideas are coming too fast and you don’t have the time or the habit to write them down, or you don’t have a place with the last version of ebook and have to compile it every time you distribute it.

In today’s post I’ll share with you my setup for writing an ebook. It’s a system based on my favorite journaling application, and that would be MacJournal, of course. I’ve already wrote some articles about enhancing MacJournal, like power blogging with MacJournal, GTD style, or how to create a habit in 15 days, feel free to check them out before starting to read this one.

Writing An Ebook

I’m not going to talk about how you can chose you ebook subjects, because the options here are endless. You can write an ebook about gardening, an ebook about dating, an ebook about cooking, about programming, about business, about self-improvement (that would be my case, by the way) the sky really is the limit. I am going to talk about what your physical steps are in creating an ebook, what exactly are you going to do, step by step.

For start, your ebook will contain sections, or chapters. The main creation process involve writing those chapters which are forming the main product. Yeap, I know you know that, just saying. You usually have a plan for that, either in form of a list, either as a mind map. You also establish a writing speed and a certain volume of writing each day. This is the main work.

But if you’re writing an ebook, you must already have a blog in which you can talk about that. If you’re writing an ebook and don’t have a blog yet, I highly encourage you to create one ASAP. It’s not very difficult, and it’s good for your writing habits. So, besides from writing your actual ebook, you’ll have also to write some blog posts about it. To announce your ebook to your potential audience, to share progress or to call for opinions.

Apart from that, you will promote your ebook and you’ll do that by writing various pieces of text, most often landing pages for all your promotion channels.

And in the process, you may have some ideas about the ebook, about the blog, about promoting or about anything else. I often found out that committing myself to a medium term project like an ebook opened the door to a bunch of new ideas.

And of course you will do a lot of research also, usually grouped into notes.

So, to keep a long story short, your ebook will consist on:

  • chapters
  • blog posts (including landing pages)
  • ideas
  • notes

Introducing MacJournal

MacJournal is a great application for journaling and blogging. With a little bit of hacking it can be a killer application for blogging, as I already wrote. But in its default setup is a little bit too simple for writing an ebook.

When I decided to write some ebooks (and that would be several weeks ago) I turned to another fantastic piece of software from Mariner, StoryMill . StoryMill is a tool for writing fiction material, very close to writing movies scripts, including characters and scenes. It’s not a surprise that Mariner launched something so close to script writing since they are also owning Contour, one of the best tools for writing actual movie scripts. But it was too complicated for an ebook. Great for a novel, but an ebook is usually less than a novel.

So, I decided to make some tweaks to my MacJournal setup and come up with something a little bit more complex than a MacJournal vanilla setup but less complicated than a full blown StoryMill installation. I made use of MacJournal tagging capabilities, entry attributes like status and label, and of course, smart journals. At the end of the post you’ll also be able to download a template containing all the modifications described here.

Writing An Ebook The Smart Way

Well, enough with talking, let’s do some work. Here’s how you can create a setup for writing an ebook similar to the one I use right now.

The Main Journal

First and foremost, I created a new journal in MacJournal and named it after my future ebook. In this post, I’ll use a MacJournal template for an ebook called “7 Things”. It’s an example ebook which contains all that I’ve learned from my daughter, each year. She’s 3 now, so I will have 3 chapters. This journal will hold all the necessary information for my ebook, acting like a main repository.

After that, I established a little routine for writing stuff in this journal. Nothing complicated: each time I add an entry in this journal I tag it using the Inspector window. And this is where the power of this setup actually is, in the tagging area. If the entry is a chapter of my ebook I add a tag “book chapter”. If the entry is an idea, I add to that entry the tag “ideas”. If the entry is just a research note, I tag it “notes”. I think you got the idea. Exactly, when I write some blog post, I tag it “blog”. Tagging your posts is a great habit anyway, regardless of the fact that you’re writing an ebook or not.

Another important habit is to keep a close reference of your entry status. Using the Inspector make sure you assess each time after you finished writing something the status of it. Mac Journal offers 5 statuses for your entries: Unknown, Not Started, Underway, Needs Review and Completed. Most of the time I’m in the “Needs Review” status. When I finished a chapter I assign it the status: “Completed”. You’ll see later why this is important.

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Self Sabotage

Have you ever felt that you’re doing something against yourself? That you could achieve so much more if you weren’t so lazy or so angry or so focused on unimportant things? Have you ever felt so powerless and stuck that you couldn’t even get out of the bed and have breakfast? Ever felt that whatever you do, you can’t get anywhere? Chances are, my friend, that you just assessed a self sabotage situation. In today’s post I’m going to talk about self sabotage, and describe my own experience with this type of attitude.

What Is Self Sabotage?

Self sabotage is a way to reject everything you created so far, choosing another path, one that could allegedly be easier or safer. You turn your back to everything you’ve done, deny it, and chose to do exactly the opposite. You take down all your hopes, dreams and goals and settle for whatever the environment is offering you at the moment. You surrender.

Most of the time, you do this unconsciously, and most of the time you don’t even realize that you’re sabotaging yourself. You just have a lot of excuses for not being who you want to be, feel a little numb and relaxed at the same time and your self-esteem is slowly going down. You go for comfort and security. You favor manipulation instead of direct action. You take the easier path. Of course, in the end, that easier path is far more difficult than the first one.

Self Sabotage Triggers

Self sabotage triggers are extremely divers. You may start to sabotage yourself because of a broken relationship. Or because you’re burned out by too much work. Or because you’re afraid of success. I think everybody has his own self-sabotage triggers and there aren’t two identical persons in the world. This is why writing a tutorial for avoiding self-sabotage would seem futile for me. What works for me couldn’t possibly work for you. The causes, reasons and triggers are different for each individual. All I can do is share my experience with self-sabotage, describe how I felt it and hope somebody else could find some inspiration in it.

I don’t think it can be prevented also. You can’t really prevent self-sabotage. I think it’s somehow part of the way we grow. It’s a necessary period in which we face our darkest sides, in which we favor destruction over creation, a period in which our higher self surrendered and let us drift in an unknown and uncontrollable ocean. Those periods are what I called “death” periods, chunks of time in which we don’t exert our full control and consciousness.

We’re dying and we’re born again each second, and most of the time we’re born in the same reality as we died in. Those death intervals are really short and the life intervals are lighter, bigger and stronger. There’s a balance, a prevalence of life. But sometimes, during your death intervals, when you’re not supervised by your higher self, you do something to change your environment, creating self-sabotage. You start to constantly alter what’s around you, in a desperate attempt to construct a somehow easier or comfortable reality. You change rules, let go of your goals, align with lower vibrations in order to avoid pain. You create a comfort zone. Only to realize, when you’re born again, that you are in fact breaking the other reality.

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Passion Is Power

What’s your real passion? What’s that thing that you could do all day long, without even thinking of being tired, with deep focus and endless joy? Finding your true passion is one of the most important breakthroughs you can hit in your life.

Choosing A Personal Path

It surely was quite a breakthrough in my life, that I know for sure. 10 years ago I started my own business, as an independent online publisher. Took me several years to understand that my real passion was only partially congruent with my business, and several other years to solve this situation.

I didn’t know from the beginning that I was on a slightly wrong path. Having an online business is a great play. And I mean it, it’s something that you should really play with. But it wasn’t my true passion. Being an online entrepreneur was connecting with my true passion on several points, but it wasn’t a perfect match. The rest was a really consuming activity. I was confused. Some things I had to do while having an online business were nourishing me, some things were draining me out. I just wasn’t complete.

Being an independent online publisher had a lot of nice things attached. I was my own boss (I still like this, by the way), I was playing on a revolutionary field, I was facing challenges all the time. I even learned programming and that was a thing that proved useful to me for years. But it wasn’t enough. Although I enjoyed my new status a lot, something was missing from the puzzle.

Most of the people I met during that time admired me. Some of them for the courage of being an entrepreneur, some of them for the quite visible success I had in my niche. But I never felt very comfortable in that position.

Passion Is Power

Most of the time you go for the things you admire. There’s an inner mimic approach in our human nature that makes for a constant, magnetic attraction towards the things or the persons we admire. We tend to be like them. We chose role models and spend our life trying to be like them. Most of the people are living by imitation.

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Try Something New

The other day I was a little thirsty. Had some work to do so I delayed my short trip to the kitchen as much as I could. After one or two hours, the thirst become really important to me, so I left my home office and went to the kitchen. To my surprise, there was only a small bottle of water left in the house. This is happening extremely rare as I am quite a freak when it comes to water, food and supplies. Well, I took a glass of water, pour the whole bottle in it, then put in on my table and start looking at it.

“If I don’t drink the water, I’ll have this glass full for a long time”, I thought. “It’s the only water I have in the house, so it’s really precious, must take good care of it”. But after a few seconds I realized I’m still thirsty. More and more thirsty.

“If I drink the water, I won’t be thirsty anymore. But I won’t have any water left in the house. I know in several hours I’ll be thirsty again, and then I won’t have this glass full of water. It will be empty. That means I should really go out and start looking for some fresh water. And I really don’t wanna do this right now.”

Learning To Let Go

I’m sure you laughed while reading the monologue above. You have all the reasons, it’s a weird monologue. A guy talking with his glass full of water is always funny, I know. But as thirsty as I was, I realized this monologue was something very common to me. It’s a monologue I play every time I’m afraid to try something new. Every time I’m on a safe environment and I’m enjoying it and try to squeeze everything out of it. I was really enjoying working on my office and the idea of getting out for some fresh water was really unpleasant.

And I realized I have to do it. As unpleasant as it seemed, it was something necessary for me. And I also realized that every environment is perishable. Each situation is finite. Trying to extend a pleasurable situation beyond its natural boundaries it’s not only useless, but most of the time quite impossible. You must accept this sooner or later. You have to drink the water and accept that you’ll have to find fresh water soon. You can’t rely on a single glass of water to quench your thirst for your entire life.

Keeping your game into a single playground will soon dry it out. If you don’t do something to constantly refresh your resources, you’ll empty your field by using it. If you don’t get out in the wild to get some water you’ll run out of it.

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