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.

Read moreHow To Write An Ebook Using MacJournal

Thesis Hooks for Twitter, StumbleUpon, Digg and Reddit

I love my wordpress theme, I really do. In case you haven’t noticed so far, this is thesis, one of the best commercial themes for wordpress. I don’t like it only for the crisp appearance and nice layout, you can get that nowadays from any decent free wordpress theme. What I like it for is … Read more Thesis Hooks for Twitter, StumbleUpon, Digg and Reddit

Trip To Thailand – The Aftermath

Every trip is making me better in some way. Every travel enrich me so much and every time I am back home I discover myself a better person in so many areas. I’ve already wrote extensively about that in Travel As A Personal Development Tool post series so today I’ll just get practical and tell you how I benefit form my trip to Thailand that you’ve read so much about in the last week.

Challenged Concepts

Exposing myself to a new culture, to a new country and to an uncontrolled flow of experiences seriously shook some of my already established concepts. In some cases those concepts enlarged, showing me that they can cover a lot more than I thought, and in other cases they become more profound revealing deep layers that I didn’t even thought possible to exist.

Size Does Matter

Bangkok is a huge city. My concept of size was seriously challenged during this trip. On the vertical dimension Bangkok is almost incontrollable. I was able to stay a week in the modern center of this city, a fast developing area with lots of skyscrappers and new buildings. Even smaller blocks – compared with the super stars – are already huge concrete compounds overwhelming your intention to understand them.

The overgrown vertical dimension is present only downtown, but on the horizontal dimension of Bangkok is even more impressive. After cruising on the Chao Phraya canals I can remember endless lines of houses, almost growing out of water, over and over again. Each house hides another house and that house makes room for another house. The huge river hosts an impressive horizontal layer of small but ceaseless buildings.

My understanding of “big” was deeply modified during this trip.

Beauty Is Everywhere

Is surprising how everything can be beautiful in such a crowded and hot city. The first impression is visual: the colors are strong, bold and contrastive. Everything, from the color of cars to the color of clothes, from the colors of sky to the colors of buildings is a continuous visual dance.

Even the concrete jungle holds gentle lines and integration with older architecture. Harmony is the second word you find after “huge” when you try to define the modern areas of Bangkok. The buddhist temples are also living proofs of an inner beauty ready to be expressed along with vibrations of respect and devotion. So far, the temples visited in Thailand are the most beautiful religious buildings I ever saw.

Of course, not only what was man made is beautiful, but also natural areas. Being so little out of the big city I can only guess, but I do know that other parts of Thailand, like Phuket island (which I intend to visit quite soon) are ready to confirm and enhance the natural beauty of this place.

Last, but not least, the beauty of women is something completely mind blowing. It’s so different than our western definition of beauty, yet so close to it. It’s a gentle mix of harmony, fragrance and shyness, a soft silhouette floating around you with a promise of something yet to be discovered. A silence created by no need of words, a sense of completeness and still the drive to find out more.

Read moreTrip To Thailand – The Aftermath

February Mariner Promo Code

Last year I was able to get an unbelievable sale promotion for my blog readers. It was a very special deal with Mariner Software for all their software,  including extremely powerful software like MacJournal and Mac Gourmet DeLuxe. It’s very important to note that that was an exclusive discount for all DragosRoua.com readers. Yeah, that’s … Read more February Mariner Promo Code

Raw Food Primer

It seems that I’m not the only one interested in keeping a raw food habit around here. Not only the twitter reactions I got after publishing my last article on raw food, but even a comment on my blog seem to show quite an interest on this topic. So, I decided to write a post in which I’ll describe the basic requirements for starting a 30 days raw food challenge.

Please keep in mind that I’m not a nutritionist, I’m only sharing my personal experience here, which may or may not apply to your situation. If you are going to start a raw food diet in order to overcome a medical condition I highly recommend you to consult a doctor first. In this post I’m assuming that you are already a moderately healthy person, with a normal emotional balance who’s trying to improve something in his eating habits. This disclaimer in place, let’s get started.

Raw Food Goal

If you’re starting a raw food challenge please make your goal really clear. Not only in terms of duration, but also in terms of raw food / cooked food balance. I am on a 100% raw food diet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to have it the same way. Maybe you’ll want a 75% raw – 25% cooked diet, which may be a little easier in the beginning.

The milestones described in this post are for a 30 days challenge on a 100% raw food diet, so feel free to adjust them downward if you’re going to have only 20 days 100% raw, or 30 days on a 75/25 diet.

Having a clear raw food challenge goal is very important. You’ll know every moment how far or close you are from the finish. You will also know how to evaluate the changes.

This goal will include the initial assessment of your situation. This assessment contains a realistic image of your current eating habits (all meat, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, etc) and your current health condition, including your current weight. It will be important to re-evaluate your assessment after the challenge. Take the time to write this in a secure place, even if it will take you an hour or two, it will pay off well in the end.

Raw Food Gear

Eating raw doesn’t mean you don’t process your food. You just don’t cook your food by exposing it to high temperature. But you will cut it, blend it, mix it, whatever. And for that you will need some gear. It’s possible to make it without those modern appliances but it would be quite difficult.

You will need at least one big blender for making smoothies, and a mixer for chopping roots or sauces. I call blender the one with the knife inside the recipient, and mixer the one with the detachable knife and handle. Maybe they have different names in your culture, but I guess you got the idea. You can also use an all-in-one tool, as long as you can chop, blend and mix together fruits, water and vegetables. You will also need a juice maker, but that’s pretty straightforward.

You don’t need to have super professional tools, but keep in mind they will be used a lot so if you don’t have them yet, please buy on the higher price scale. It’s easy to get caught in a “this juicer is broken again, I won’t continue this silly raw food diet, coz I don’t have the tools” pattern, so make yourself a service and buy good stuff.

You will also need a lot of storage space. Eating raw means eating fresh and eating more. I had to bring in another refrigerator after I realized I won’t go back to cooked food, only to accommodate the produce for my own meals. I also conquered around 1 square meter from our kitchen space for storing fruits and gear.

Read moreRaw Food Primer

The Gratitude Experiment – Follow Up

A few weeks ago I started a gratitude experiment. I wanted to understand more about how gratitude really works for me. I read a lot about the force of this attitude of gratitude, and also noticed how it was praised in “The Secret” and other motivational works. So, I wanted to put it to test for myself. If you came here directly I suggest to read first the original post about gratitude, in order to grasp more details. If you don’t want to go there, feel free to read on.

The experiment has 2 areas: one personal and one public. The public area involved a Twitter hashtag, “”#gratitude” and a daily tweet about things I am grateful for, including that hashtag, of course. Also, there were some invitations to my twitter followers to join this experiment. A few days after starting the experiment I put together a page on my blog listing the last 20 tweets with the hashtag gratitude.

I plan to write more about the public area after the end of the experiment, which will come somewhere around February 10th, because I really want to involve more people and learn from their experience. So, if you want to join this and then share your experience with it, feel free to tweet once a day (or even more if you feel the need) and include a hashtag #gratitude in your tweet.

For now, I want to share something about the personal area. The personal part of this experiment is in fact just a little exercise of noting down each day at least 5 things for which I am grateful, in an open and honest way. And see what happens to me during this interval.

Initial Excitement

In the first 5-6 days, everything was smooth. I noted each evening the things I was grateful for and gave each day a rating from one to five stars. Sort of an “excellence” mark. I sometimes noted those things even before the clock alarm I set on my iPhone for this experiment. It felt nice.

But after the 6th or 7th days, it become a little difficult. I got caught in the daily routine and if I didn’t have that clock alarm I would surely miss some of my gratitude sessions. For the next 5-6 days I did the exercise really quick and only when the clock alarm reminded me.

And after this period, meaning in the last 3-4 days, it become even harder. I had to postpone noting those gratitude things several dozen minutes after the alarm clock, sometimes close to midnight. Right now, after I decided to write this blog post, the gratitude attitude finally resurfaced and I feel really good.

But what happened? Why it was so difficult? My guess is that is something to deal with the punishment / reward mechanism. We humans, have a strong tendency to follow this mechanism. In the beginning there was a good deal of direct reward from this activity. Knowing that I’m doing something interesting and new made me happy about. That was my little reward. Each evening when I noted the results I felt good. For 4-5 evenings in a row. But then the reward circuit was closed.

You know, the reward mechanism is an incremental one. It needs more and more. If you set up a reward for something you want to do, you’d better be prepared to raise the bet every now and then, otherwise your actions will stop sooner or later. This is how punishment and rewards works, they need more and more of each other in order to sustain the activity. So, after the initial excitement, and in absence of a direct reward, I had to rely on self-discipline in order to express my daily gratitude.

Read moreThe Gratitude Experiment – Follow Up

The Making Of An Online Business – Promotion

This is the last article from the series The Making Of An Online Business. So far, we talked about starting your own business, your projects, your teams, money management and partnerships. Today, we’ll focus on the last crucial topic in making an online business, and that is about promotion.

If you came here directly I strongly encourage you to read the rest of the articles, and the summary by following the links below:

What Is Promotion?

Promotion is basically spreading the word about what you do. It’s not advertising. It’s not lobbying. It’s not SEO, or direct email. Promotion is the simple fact of letting the world knowing that you started to operate your own online business. It’s so simple that in 99% of situation gets overlooked. Just tell people that you started it.

Why it’s so important about that? The real stake here is not to grow your client base, although you will have to do that sooner or later, but the shift towards your new identity. You will be a different person that the person that didn’t had that business. You need to be in that persons shoes and you need to do that faster.

It’s also important to tell that to as many people as you can in order to reinforce your choice. In other words, to use the outside world as a reflection of your choice. There will be times of trouble and you will tend to go back. It’s human and it’s a sort of a necessary strength test at some point. But if you’ve already told the Universe that you are a new person, going back to the old one will be harder. Might sounds funny now, but it works, believe me.

Read moreThe Making Of An Online Business – Promotion

The Making Of An Online Business – The Series

For the last 10 years I was a self-sustained person, getting my income for my online business. Last year I made a successful exit from that and started a much more enjoyable activity as a personal development blogger, here at dragosroua.com. Not that having a blog as a main activity would be an easier venture, … Read more The Making Of An Online Business – The Series