Post-Oprah Shock Waves
My hour-long interview on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday aired four days ago.
I was wondering what the after-effects would be. Would there be a sudden surge in visibility for The War of Art? For this site? If so, would it change how I feel about what we’re trying to do here?
The answers are yes, yes, and no (with an asterisk).
The War of Art got a big bump. (Thank you, Oprah!) But it didn’t change the way I feel about this blog, except for evolutionary alterations that Shawn, Callie, Jeff and I have been talking about for quite a while.
This blog is evolving. Here’s what we’re thinking:
Readers of blogs used to sit down at their computers and physically log on to sites they were interested in. I know I did. Now that exchange is getting much more automated (readers subscribe) and it’s taking place much more on mobile devices, smartphones and tablets—so that blog posts and other material come directly to inboxes. That’s how I do it with the blogs I follow. I’ll read the ones that strike me that particular day, or that I have time for, and either delete or save for later the others. I imagine just about everybody is doing the same.
This blog is trying to evolve too, to serve this new way of “delivering the mail.” We want to make the blog more phone- and tablet-friendly and easier for posts to reach readers—and we want to make the material better, deliver it in more interesting formats, and make it more useful.
Yesterday we sent out, by e-mail, an hour-long audio Q&A that Shawn and I did: answers to questions that readers who had bought The Authentic Swing sent in. (Plus the 12,000-word transcript of the session.) It was fun. The response has already been overwhelming. And it was an eye-opener. We got about 250 questions, many of which were absolutely great—and on unexpected aspects of writing, Resistance, professionalism, etc.
Alas, in an hour you can answer ten questions, maybe fifteen. We could barely scratch the surface.
So we’re gonna do this again. And again after that.
It’ll all be free.
It’ll go to readers who have signed up for First Access (sign up here; it’s not too late, you’ll receive the podcast about an hour after you register).
We’re thinking maybe three or four times a year, possibly more if there’s a demand, we’ll do audio or video Q&As and other stuff. Whatever sounds like fun and seems like it’ll be of interest. (We’ll even try answering some of the 240 unanswered questions from The Authentic Swing submissions.)
One idea we’re kicking around is doing Q&As on specific topics. Maybe one that’s about Resistance and nothing else. Maybe one about the Writer and the Editor, or one about Organizing A Work Day.
So I’d like to ask right now:
Is there a particular topic you’d like to hear me and Shawn address (or Callie or Jeff)? What is it? Or would you prefer an “Ask Me Anything,” responding to questions on all topics?
Does this seem like a good idea in general? Too complicated? Too lame? Does it not go far enough?
Please respond in the Comments section below. If you hate this idea, be honest. If no one’s interested, we’ll drop it.
Our overall intent is to keep the blog going exactly as is for everyone who likes logging on and for others who discover it by accident or referral. We won’t change the way we’re doing blog posts; we’ll still do Writing Wednesdays and What It Takes exactly as we always have.
What’ll change is we’ll e-mail those in appropriately-sized formats (i.e., for tablets and smartphones as well as computers) to those who sign up at First Look and thus give us permission.
And we’ll add for subscribers, from time to time, other longer-form material—audio and video stuff, interviews, Q&As, whatever sounds fun and interesting.
It’ll be free. No obligation.
In fact, if you missed the hour-long Q&A audio yesterday, you can still get it free by entering your e-mail address in the First Look Access sign-up.
And if you missed Oprah-and-me—and you want to see it—click here.
Thanks again to everybody who sent in questions. We’ll keep doing this if you want us to.
It’s a brilliant idea to make the questions we sent into a series of q&a’s. But don’t ramp up the frequency of posting. There is only so much time for reading, and even a substantial blog like yours will get tiresome and turn into a chore, if we have to save post for later and catch up when we can. I’ve personally deleted blogs from my reader in spite of my love for them, because the constant posting began to feel overwhelming.
Thanks for the feedback, Ulla, and for the question you submitted. The latter is one of the ones Steve answered in the audio Q&A—sent yesterday to First Look Access subscribers and posted here today. Callie
It’s a fantastic idea! I would love to hear your thoughts about specific topics like the examples you mentioned above (including one on publishing!). Whatever you have to say, we want to hear it. If you want to invite questions for a Q&A, that works too. Keep it flexible for yourself. I think doing something like this quarterly (but keeping Writing Wednesdays weekly) would be a very welcome addition to this blog without any of the subscribers feeling overwhelming as Ulla mentioned. I know that I look forward to dropping in here every week. Thanks again for all that the four of you do for us!
Thanks, Mary! If there are any specific topics, beyond the ones Steve shared in the post, do send them in/or post them here. Callie
fantastic – thanks Steve! And I love the audio version of Authentic Swing!
Yes please continue doing the audio Q & A sessions but I would shorten the time frame to 30 minute segments. An hour is hard to block off without pausing and coming back to later. If you could add some writing exercises that would be fun and give listeners something to take away that might spur more writing activity. Kudos for your success and thanks for continuing to share with us!
Loved the Oprah interview, first access and all you’re doing! Want to see you go deeper on guestions like “why am I here, and what is my gift, how do I know?” Many people have been beaten down and beaten out of knowing why they matter, what there life purpose is. How can they discover/rediscover their inner genius, their authentic swing? A regular podcast would be terrific! God is? Check out Rev. 4:8. Thanks! Greg
A definite thumbs-up to the Q&A approach. I continue to appreciate Steve’s generosity in the insight and experience he’s willing to share. He feels like a mentor I’ve never met in person. When my buddies and I talk, we concur that we never feel so confident about this endeavor as when we read Steve’s columns.
Polling the audience for Q&A topics is good (seeing trends in what people are curious about).
For a specific topic, I’d be interested in Steve’s approach to finding a character’s voice — the sound and the diction. The voices of Gent in The Profession and Flag in The Afghan Campaign each seem appropriate to their time and place. When I hear Flag and Matthias conversing, I have little trouble imagining that I’m overhearing a conversation spoken as it would have been spoken in 330 BC.
Great idea to continue with the occasional audio question/answer format. I love the idea of themed topics.
My only caveat: do it as long as it feels good— \so that the sessions don’t become stale to you and ultimately to us!
Steven and team,
I think this is a great idea! My question is, “What do you pay most attention to when writing a first rough draft? Plot? Details? Flow? Everything? Or another way of putting it is, “Is there anything that you wait to focus in on until you have a solid rough draft laid out on paper?”
I think the Q & A was a great success. I really enjoyed your candid answers to the questions, and I think you should continue. It provides a nice level of support to up and coming writers. I also like the idea of mixing up the format. I think that will keep it fresh.
Your interview on Oprah was most enjoyable and insightful. I’m glad it helped to promote your work. You have a lot of valuable ideas to share, and your writing is so clear that it’s a pleasure to read.
Steve, et al,
Future topics; building community in a hostile environment. As an artist my survival is predicated on having a strong local community that supports my endeavors. I’ve spent a lot of effort creating my own community, via teaching; specifically working with youth. The work is a bit off the mark of my personal focus, but has greatly enriched my broader goals. Yes, I need to “do the work,” making my own art, but without a thriving community I’m living on an island. Pls discuss.
To reiterate what others have posted, The Q & A is a great idea, but it works better for me in “short but sweet” sections. Much as I love your work its hard to squeeze in an hour for you into my schedule, but I can give you 5 minutes on almost any given day, and I will give you 30 minutes if your 3 minute preview cover a topic of interest for me.
For a specific topic: I have a deep interest in the transition from amateur to professional writer. What I struggle with now is learning to see the amateur like flaws in my work, and finding ways to overcome them. This blog does a wonderful job of dealing with this topic from all sides which is greatly appreciated, and of course TAS and its foolscap method are perfect as tools I can use to bootstrap my work. That being said, I suspect that between the three of you there is quite a bit more high grade ore in that mine which would be of interest. Not all of it would apply to me specifically, but almost everything will apply to someone.
Thanks for this, and thanks to everyone for responding. Maybe thirty minutes is better than an hour. I don’t have that much time either!
Real good stuff. Very helpful.
I think it’s a great and very generous idea. Thanks for trying out your new ideas to the benefit of everyone who struggles to get their own words out.
I love it. Blogs need to evolve…because everything else is. I love having more “meat” about Steven, what he’s doing, when the Big R still pops up for him. And always to find out when he has something new coming out. We’re moving into a stage of collaboration and transparency, and I think people want more access to mentors — I’m not sure if that’s the best thing for the mentors..but if there’s a way to do it that isn’t a complete time-suck (OR RESISTANCE BEING INCREDIBLY SNEAKY AGAIN!) then I say go for it.
Excited to tune in.
I love the idea of a Q&A series, especially if it could be downloaded for my iPod. Something like Robb Wolf’s podcast format would be great.
One thing I’m interested in: How to figure out what I have to offer in addition to my fiction. You do such a great job with your fiction and connecting with others via this site and your non-fiction. I feel like I know what I’m doing as a writer (most of the time), but I never feel like anyone should listen to what I have to say as a professional writer. Any advice on that front would be very welcome.
We’ll be hosting our podcasts on Soundcloud. From there you can stream the audio directly, download it, or get one of the Soundcloud apps for Android or iOS.
Thanks Jeff! Great job on everything you’ve done on this site.
Thanks for asking for suggestions. I love your blog. I agree with Ulla about keeping the same frequency of posting.
However, I’d love to see more fewer hour-long Podcasts and more audio that’s “bite-sized,” 15 minutes or less, so I can chew on the chunks of knowledge when I have a little time between obligations. Trying to set aside an hour is a non-starter for me.
Whoops–a cardinal sin, I didn’t take the time to proof read my stuff. I’d like to see few, more more, hour-long Podcasts. Sorry for the confusion.
Love it all.
My completely self-serving question: is going to war the only way to deal with Resistance? If not, is the always the best way? (I’m thinking about Seth’s urging to partner with it, and my own perspective that Resistance is a bully, and I deal with bullies by acknowledging they exist, then making them irrelevant.)
I’m deep in the study of writing craft, including the motivation and marketing parts, so I lean the other direction on frequency and volume: I would like a long post every morning on any of these topics.
You’re an excellent interviewer, Steve, and in another life might have been everyone’s favorite high school teacher. Maybe you can do some interviews with friends and contacts like Patricia Ryan Madson, or Shawn’s contacts in publishing, or the military, applying themes to the larger world.
Great idea for the Q&A, cannot wait! Perhaps ranging from both specific topic questions, and ask me anything?Just to keep things varied!
Keep up the good work Steve!
Would really like to hear you discuss how to organize your work day — with specific examples of obstacles you’ve encountered and how you dealt with them, and your learnings about sane scheduling. Also, how you set up your blog – it’s so simple, yet quite elegant.
As long as you keep up the Writing Wednesdays and What It Takes, the extra stuff is fine. Lately, the What It Takes has been missing entirely and the Writing Wednesdays haven’t been about writing, they’ve been about the Oprah thing. I miss the blog posts!
Don’t get me wrong, I consume all of it (even some stuff that isn’t free), but there is a reason that THIS site is one of just 3 bookmarks on my browser toolbar, and I’d like to keep it there.
Yeah, sorry about that, Tom, but we had to promote it. How could we not? Back to meaty Writing Wednesdays soon!
Would love hour long podcast posts that I can download to my phone an listen to while I drive around. Most convenient for me.
For strategy of the blog or podcasts, I’d like to see some sort of overarching plot strategy created about story making and then each episode discusses each aspect. I learned so much from The Authentic Swing, about how the story elements came to fruition. It was a mystery come to life in the story’s creation. Maybe that’s what I mean as a theme – the mystery of story brought to light. It might take a year to complete that project alone and during that time I would look forward to the next chapter, each time. Your publishing periods would be up to you and how you might see the story arch be presented from a writers perspective. Thank You for all your lessons!
I love the Q&A idea. Thank you for all of the advice & for helping those of us trying to achieve our creative dreams.
The “ask me a question” video made as f/u to the launch of The Authentic Swing was terrific, and I’m delighted you’ll be posting more videos.
Rather than locking into an either/or approach, my suggestion is to mix it up a bit, and offer BOTH Q&A videos AND videos on specific topics.
A frequency of weekly/30-minutes or every two weeks/60-minutes appeals to me.
I hope you’ll elect to respond to my question(it was among the 250 sent in for the recent Q&A on The Authentic Swing) about the advice on p138 of TAS, to “start something fast” at the end of a project. And I’d like to expand this question to: Please share your insights on Amateur-Pro distinctions for each phase of the creative process.
Good stuff, Karen. Though it took me a minute to understand what “f/u” meant.
Ha ha, same here.
“You leave me little notes on my pillow. Told you 158 times I can’t stand little notes on my pillow. ‘We’re all out of cornflakes. F.U.’ Took me three hours to figure out F.U. was Felix Ungar.” – Oscar Madison, in “The Odd Couple”
Love the idea of a rolling blog with Q&A recordings like the one sent out, yesterday! Though you weren’t able to get to my question…you did touch upon the subject I was wondering about – pain. I loved the bit about Hemingway’s ‘The Sun Also Rises.’ I have added it to my “must buys,” now. Love how the blog is evolving. Go for it. I’ll be a very active follower. It’s like therapy for me.
All the best,
Thank you Black Irish: Steve, Shawn and team! I listened to the audio Q&A yesterday, finished The Authentic Swing and I must say, the experience was like having my brain aligned by a Chiropractor! Or maybe like Rocky getting his eyelids cut to reduce the pressure so he could see! All I know is it gave me direction and focus;I can’t thank you enough for leading me out of my wilderness.
I am all for the Q & A and if you are going to do it four times a year: 1) Resistance 2) Writer/Editor, 3) Organizing a work day 4) Ask me anything. I personally would like to hear more about your research/reading vs writing balance.
Thank you, thank you so much. I love your writing and look forward to your blog in my inbox!
Yes, please. Sometimes “by topic” would be perfect. Other times Q & A in any order would be creative. I’m game for either, as long as you and the team enjoy it. I feel so happy to be included.
Great idea Steve, and thanks. The three topics you suggested – Resistance, Writer & Editor, and Organizing A Workday would cover ground all writers could use.
Thank you for the Q&A podcast and your great interview with Oprah.
I would love to hear more about the three subjects you suggested. Why not do that first and later on add another Q&A interview?
I love the content. The posting frequency is about right for me. Two things I really hope you won’t drop, the RSS feed and transcripts. My e-mail is overwhelming and I am generally running behind. My RSS reader is better designed to prioritize more feeds/posts than I can read. For most, but not all posts, I can read a transcript faster and retain more than an audio or video recording.
Don’t worry, the RSS is here to stay. We actually power our emails with RSS, so we can’t have one without the other.
Thank you for all these wonderful resources. I have just purchased The War of Art (I’m probably the only commenter who hasn’t read it) and am planning to proceed in a linear fashion through your other works. I watched the Oprah session and applaud you for this achievement, it’s well earned. Though please do stick to your current tried-and-true approach to your writing – don’t go all Oprah on us!
As for what I would like to see (more of) for new blog postings – the day to day struggles of organizing, pushing through, and brainstorming to develop your writing.
Twyla Tharp has some wonderful anecdotes about how she only keeps a tiny fraction of her work output on a daily basis, something like 30 seconds of hours of work! These little-shared bits of advice are what I read for. In other words, ‘what’s it really like for pro writers on a day in, day out basis’? Expand on the ‘just do it’ catchprhase.
I agree with a previous poster in that I am also missing ‘What it Takes’ postings. I also like variety – podcasts, written postings, short format, long format, etc. It feels very organic and natural. Sometimes a short burst will do and sometimes a topic demands a more thoughtful, in-depth approach.
I devoured the War of Art and Turning Pro. Now will devour The Authentic Swing. I’ve been tuning in for some time and love your approach to experimenting, to finding a way to connect, to share, to build a community that can help you and others thrive. And I thank you.
I like your current posting schedule. I subscribe by RSS and sit down for a period of time and go through one thought-provoking piece after another and think about the implications.
The Q&A’s are great. Would suggest a mix of short ones (5 minutes of a biteable chunk, something for me to chew on) and then perhaps one that’s longer.
Cheers, and thanks again.
Thank you to all of you – Steve, Shawn and Callie – for your generosity with everything you do. And congratulations to Steve on the Oprah appearance. I have long wondered why she hadn’t interviewed you before now! Writing can be a lonely endeavor. I love to stop in here to visit a successful member of the tribe for his wisdom and insight. So i am happy to take in whatever you generously offer.
One predicament i have come up with is not about the writing itself. In my hunt for community, I became involved in a writers group, and found to my shock that there was more drama, infighting, backstabbing and negativity than i could imagine (and yes some of it would make for great fiction!). Despite some wonderful people, i left the group and started my own. Now these same — dare i say it — users/writers/negative forces want in on my group. Most writers are so generous and helpful but this 1-2% are a constant energy drain. Sometimes i think this is their resistance–they would rather argue/stir up trouble than write! Any words of advice for dealing with them? They are getting harder and harder to ignore…
thanks again. you’ve created a sacred space here for artists and i am grateful
More ! More ! More !
Thank you both for taking the time to transfer your knowledge and experiences. It is priceless.
The Q&A format is great and I do want to know more about specific subjects like Resistance, Organizing a work day, and the Writer / Editor.
I’m a big fan of your blog (and books) and I am happy to see it evolve into something more. Keep up the good work. I’m there with you all the way !
Hi Stephen and your team–
Big fan of all the books.
Have them all. Buy them as gifts for artist friends.
and it’s a big but-I would really like it if you guys made
it easier for your Canadian tribe.
I paid waaaaay to much for the Authentic Swing.
Because of shipping costs–
Why is this necessary?
Surely you can address this.
You have many Canadian fans
who love what you do.
I can vouch for at least 400 of my own students
who have bought your books
So please do me this favour
and look into this.
I would buy the books–even if they cost more–
but hey can we give this a moments consideration?
Your generosity in sharing your time, energy, and wisdom is deeply appreciated!
I love the idea of a quarterly podcast, and think mixing specific topics with general ask sessions would be a great idea. I, for one, would love to listen to topics like “Organization of the Work Day,” or “Things You Can Do To Keep the Momentum Going.”
I’m sure that shorter works better for most folks when it comes to length of program, but maybe folks didn’t see that you could download the audio via SoundCloud. Having the transcript of the audio was fantastic – thank you for that!
As I wrote to Callie earlier today, you have a loyal following. If just one percent of us follow through in beating Resistance, think of the difference that will make in the world.
All the best,
I’ve loved everything you’ve been offering your readers lately, thanks so much for your generosity. (Congrats on Oprah!)
Personally, I’d love to see you doing 30-minute videos where you focus on one or maybe two topics (maximum) for that shorter period of time. e.g. 30 minutes on ‘Turning Pro’ – going even further than the book (my favourite of your books, I think), for those who want to take those ideas to the next level.
I think the Q&A idea is excellent!!! Don’t know about anyone else, but I still like reading your blog. Receiving it in my inbox is awesome, but sometimes I like to peruse the website to find older posts etc.
The Authentic Swing podcast is really helpful, though I admit, I don’t always have an hour to give to a piece and when I’m not in the States sometimes internet is slower and there are problems downloading/streaming video/audio content. So it’s always good to have a transcript or blog post to read.
All in all, you guys please continue on your path. You are huge inspirations to many!
I love all the work you do. If you keep doing Q & A Im all excited for it 🙂 And I Loved watching the Oprah episode. It made my Sunday 🙂
Since my book just officially launched, Im now doing my best at marketing and promoting….and spending today walking from store to store to see if health food stores and independent bookstores would carry my book.
So my Q for you, or what I’d love to hear more about is Your tips on growing your audience, marketing your book and beating that resistance about getting out there. All the tips and tricks you have from landing interviews, making connections and what actions do you have to take? What actions make the difference?
Once You’ve created your art, what work do you need to do to get your art out there?
That is what I would love to hear from You about 🙂
Thank You for all your amazing work :))
A generous and brilliant idea
I vote for specific topic Q&A’s , it will be easier to focus and digest one subject at a time, well explored, answered. And debated.
Thanks for everything, keep up the great work S.P. TEAM
I’m not Oprah. I’m just a guy who reads you.
I would love to have a conversation with you. I buy your books, I read them and I give them to my friends.
I’m giving “The Vertues of War” to my Son as he departs to join the Marine Corps.
Since I’m not Oprah and I’m not famous, your blog is as close as I can get to speaking with you. Keep it up and try to keep the earth under your feet as you gain greater popularity.
We still need you down here
Thanks fir what you have given us.
I also wait with bated breath (only after working hours, of course!) for “Organizing the Work Day” and “How to Keep the Momentum Going.” 🙂
Thanks Steve – and team – for sharing your ideias with us. And congrats for you Oprah interview, it was fantastic! I enjoy it so much. (BTW, I´m from Brazil)
I´d like to hear: how to organize your work day.
All the best,
Fantastic idea to continue the conversation with Q&A on specific topics. One hour or less – i will make the time, though I agree with comments above that less-frequent would be more doable. No more than twice a month for sure.
As a topic – what advice can you offer for overcoming bad habits? For instance – I used to be a journalist and I hated it when editors would change my language and often even change the facts of a story – just to improve the language. As a result now – I resist moving to the next sentence until I am absolutely sure the current one is perfect. Needless to say it’s a drag.
One idea for the future of the audio hour – make it a video one. Do a mini-Oprah, put a Hemingway portrait in the background, a writing desk, invite the occasional guest and lets have these conversations. It is insanely inspirational – for some reason, Steven, what you do and what you write has a huge impact on me. It gives me faith and even if I never become a pro, or write anything worth reading – I still know your work has changed my life. Thank you for this.
Lots of comments! I’m still catching up – Jewish holiday season puts me way behind. (Haven’t had time finish The Authentic Swing yet, compelling as it is.)
It seems there’s a wide range of readers – from beginners to apprentices to almost-pros to turning-pros to professionals-and-still-going. You manage to appeal to all of us.
I enjoy the blog immensely. Thought-provoking and energizing. The videos you did for The Authentic Swing and the Foolscap Method I found intriguing. I like that sort of thing. I liked the 5 minute podcast dialogues with you and Shawn.
One idea: If you do the longer interview/Q&A format, do it in a way where it can be broken into five or ten minute segments (sort of like commercial break, without the commercials). Then people can get the digest-all-at-once feed or 3 (or whatever) times-a-day feed. A number of listservs do this, because some people like the dialogue as it’s happening and others prefer just once a day because of their schedules.
Also, that way you could organize the Q&A by topics for easier reference or follow-up. (I’m not sure how hard that would be to do on the technical end, though.)
Anyway, love it all and as others have said, thanks for the generosity and enthusiasm. At any age, as we know. 🙂
Everything everyone suggests here is fantastic. How about once a week?:) Topics I would also like to hear about are “write what you know” vs “write what you don’t know”. You talk about this in Turning Pro, how someone thought you’d done time because of your (fictional) prison experience.
Maybe you could look at other pieces of classic writing advice and explore how true or relevant they are today.
I also found Shawn’s thoughts on types of books that are suited to traditional publishing and those suited to indi-ebooks very enlightening in the Ask Me Anything podcast. It was an insiders view and this really cuts through a lot of pondering.
You are both so generous and will no doubt be leaving an indelible imprint on new and old writers, and writing, so whatever you feel like sharing we’ll graciously receive.
I love the idea of listening to more of your Q&A’s, especially the idea of ones based on specific topics.
I am a longtime follower of Oprah. Your interview with her on Super Soul Sunday is what prompted my research into you and your work. I am very interested in following the Writing Wednesdays blog and will begin doing so immediately. What your proposing to offer sounds great! I subscribe to Eckhart Tolle’s monthly online television production. The format he uses to present seems to work. He produces a 90 minute discussion on a topic of his choice – sometimes it’s just him talking, sometimes he includes a guess – and he also answers 5-10 questions in separate productions. Each production for the month is separately titled, so the viewer can pick and choose which subject and/or video length works for them? Everything is organized by the month it was released so it’s easily accessed by the viewer. I personally would enjoy hearing what topic you are inspired to discuss since it would be difficult to offer a subject that will please everyone every time.
I vote for targeted Q&A if it’s broken down into many sujects over many weeks. There is certainly enough ground that could be covered. Perhaps you guys could generate a list of possible topics and over a week, we could vote on the top ten or whatever number seems doable.
Thanks for doing what you do!
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Perhaps you may have seen the movie “Fatal Attraction. I’m positive you understand as a Mom or Dad as a way to also lets the parent tune in to conversations.