Good People, Cool Things
Good People, Cool Things

Episode 13 · 2 years ago

13: Building a Writing Community with Deb Eckerling

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Deb Eckerling, founder of Write On and author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning, and Achieving Goals, joins the podcast to chat about writing communities, the importance of setting (and rethinking) goals, email and social media marketing tips, and super easy cooking recipes that'll make your tummy happy. 

Welcome the good people cool things, the podcast featuring conversations with entrepreneurs, writers, musicians and other creatives. I'm your host, Joe. We held and today's guest is Deb Eckerling, founder of the right on support group, the community that supports writers across the globe, and the author of the recently released your goal guide, a road map for setting, planning and achieving your goals. Dev and I talked about why communities and websites for writers are so important, tips for writing online and in print, setting goals and how she knocked out a book in just three months. We also dive into some Great Crop Pot recipes, because we all have a little master chef in us. Let's dive on in. How did you get into writing? Do you remember the first piece you ever wrote? I been writing since I was a kid and I have, I think I put this on my resume like years ago before I had any experience that I would say as soon as I've learned to write, a love to write and I'm pretty sure my first story that I ever wrote had to do with ice cream, because it's like the best food ever, but it's one of those memories that I just don't know how real it is. It sounds real, but yeah, I've always had a fondness for writing and then in high school when I really got into writing, I was allowed to take double writing classes instead of like extra science, so that was just absolutely thrilling and it's just it's always been. The big difference is when I was a teenager I did a lot of creative writing and since college it's in beyond. It's really been all about nonfiction, interviewing people, doing articles, which has what evolved into, you know, blogging, writing about writing, and I still do a little bit of freelancing. So did that answer your question? I find sidetracked a lot. Hey, any sidetracking that involves ice cream, first of all, I'm on board with at. Secondly, I do need to ask what do you remember what flavor it would have been or, if not, what is your goat to ice cream flavor? Well, when I was a kid it was gold metal ribbon from thirty one flavors. Yes, yes, and now it would have to be chocolate chip cookie dough. Excellent, both acceptable choices. Thank you. Cut I was worried I found this is not ice cream, but I found a it's I don't know if you ever tried Leah's cookie dough? But they have a like a chocolate chip cookie dough that you are supposed to keep refrigerated, so it's almost like having like a little bite of chocolate chip cookie to ice cream. But it's very good and would recommend. And where might I find this alleged Leo's cookie out? I'm actually writing this down. Excellent, excellent. I have purchased it at whole foods, but I I know I just saw it somewhere else. I want to say it an HB out here in Austin. So you, being in California, I would say Ralph's probably has it. I will check it out, and I do have a whole foods that's not too far away from me. So excellent, very good. For sure find it there. Yes, yes, that's what we're here for, is the snacks. Well, and so the first book I self published was Purple Pencil Adventures, writing prompts for kids of all ages, because, Oh, if you like Tangents, you'll love this one. I've been leading writers groups for years and several years ago someone said you're great with goal setting and helping motivate people. Will you coach my daughter because she's not getting enough creative writing at school. So this was like five, six, seven years ago when it was...

...like, okay, I'm going to do something new, I'm going to start a blog to go with it. So I started a blog called Purple Pencil Adventures because I have the purple pencils, my logo to ride out online, and I was just putting up a different writing prompt every week. But the example I use is these are fun writing pomps that are designed to get kids excited about writing in adults can use them too if they want to, you know, exercise those muscles. And it's for ice cream month in July. Right, about ice cream, but be sure to do a taste test. That's a delicious tangent. MMM. So what I did was, after I've been coaching for several years and helping people write books, I said, you know what, I really need one. So I took my blog post and expanded and that became my first self published for a, as it were. That's fantastic. And now I'm just going to be craving ice cream throughout this whole thing. So we'll try and we'll try and limit any drooling or any kind of you know, ice cream tangents there and through. So, through a little online creeping, I I know you've always been very into goal setting and helping people accomplish our goals and setting them and you know, having that sort of process to reach whatever it is you're trying to achieve. And I via my little online creeping, I saw that you were in Schaumburg, Illinois, when you kind of first got the idea for for right on, it sounds like, which, as someone who grew up in skill O ky, Illinois, I always love saying fellow I suburb of Chicago. Stories out there. The world is very small, absolutely, and my first free rent freelance writing was for insider magazine, which was based in skokie. It truly is a small world. Ridiculous right, that's fantastic. That's fantastic. So so take us back to that fateful day, I back in Schaumburg, when you got this inspiration. Well, it's really it's sort of like inspiration found me. I was doing events for Barnes and noble in Schaumburg and whenever I needed to fill my calendar I would just hang out in the cafe because you never know who you would meet who would have an interesting story could lead a workshop of class. So of course I got to know my regulars and one day one of my regulars came over to me and said, hey, dumb would you start a writer support group? And I said, if you think people will come, I'm happy to give it a try. And for me, support group met goal setting, a productivity. So we tried it out. We had maybe a dozen people for the first meeting and it was all about, okay, what are you working on? What did you accomplish? What do you want to get done for the next meeting? And it was a hit and the best part about it really was I was helping people, you know, stay on track. But I would never ask anybody to do something that I wasn't prepared to do myself. So even if I didn't reach my goal to like ten minutes before the meeting, I would get it done. So I would always want to set a goal and a cheat it, along with the rest of my my comrades in the group. And this ties back to skokie. My goal. You love this. My goal was I. So I've been out of journalism school for not that long, but long enough...

...to, you know, want to be writing so I would write a SPEC column, you know, slice of life sorts of article for each meeting. That was my goal and I had been working in this really motivated me to keep writing, to have something done. I don't know if we were doing it monthly or every other week at that point, but I I had, you know, a little sword. I started store writing and storing up stories. So when I had must have been leading the group, maybe six months, maybe a little bit longer, and I was at an event and this person from insider magazine was selling subscriptions and I said that's all on good, but are you looking for writers? Well, do you have any clips? Well, I had articles because I had been writing them for my goal setting group through Barnes and noble, and they actually not only did they hire me on as freelancer, they published one of my stories that I'd written on Speck. So it was not only was I motivating other people to setain range goals, I was motivating myself, and that's really where you see things work, is when it works for you right. Yeah, I think that's super helpful with really any kind of goal you have, whether it's to write more to help other people like that is kind of the the old walk in the walk right where if you if you're just spewing out stuff, people, I mean they might listen but they're probably going to be a little more skeptical. But if you can point to things of like Hey, I did this and look at the results like that's super cool, it really is. And that's just a philosophy that that I've just been ingrained in me and it's so it was a strictly writer support group. We can, we can do my journey and like the shortest way possible. So several years later I moved to California. A couple of years after that I started up the group again. Was a barnes and noble in Santa Monica, which unfortunately no longer exists, but we ran there for several years and then around two thousand and seven, two thousand and eight, when people started going online, that's when I created the blog for right on online and did more of the online motivation and for a while it was an online group, still always focused on goal setting and productivity. And then I think it was around two thousand and twelve I started the live version again, but at that point I expanded it to embrace so it was writers, creatives and entrepreneurs, because if your one, you're probably the other two as well. Everybody needs writing, especially in this digital era, whether they're promoting their business or showcasing their expertise. I love it. Look at us. Both both speak into writers, creators an entrepreneurs. It's like mines from the Midwest living other places. Can't beat that, magical, magical, yeah, living, living in warmer places, for sure. Definitely, definitely. So I would love the chat about the right on newsletter in particular, because I think email marketing is such a obviously like a popular avenue, but still kind of an untapped one, I feel like, for a lot of companies. I think most people would generally agree that email is a useful tool, perhaps they'd even say an important tool, but I would venture that, particularly a lot of writers maybe don't utilize their mailing list as much as they should, and part of that is just kind of getting out there and testing...

...what works and, you know, experimenting a Little Bit with your content that you're serving out to people. But can you talk about how you've helped grow this list over the years? Organically is the first word that I have to mention, because I have always just even my my facebook. I've never used any advertising for any of my websites, which a lot of people would think is ridiculous, but I kind of like the authenticity of it all. And I remember my original email list was back when you would like use your email service, you would write something and you would copy and paste and blind copy people into the email list, and my list started with just regular people would come to my group. You know, do want to stay up to date? Put me on the email list. Okay, Great. What one of my my favorite instances? So this we're talking in the early issue two thousands. One of my friends now she lives in Oslow and she was in Santa Monica and I saw her before meeting. She joined the email list and I sent it out and then she started replying and that's how we became friends. This woman I met once, who lives in a different part of the world. We became friends because she started replying. And this is before everybody was on social media either. So I'm not answering your question. Let me ask your question. So I started by developing my email list by having a conduit for the people who ever attended one of my live meetings to connect online and as we grew into social I joined mail champ. I still use it. It's so easy. If you're looking for a starter email service, I would definitely recommend it because it's it's point and click and move things around and copy and paces, I'm sure, and you can get a little bit fancy, but you don't have to be fancy right. So then I have in bed links and in the way that I run my newsletter is it's community newsletter. So yes, I promote my book and my events and I let people know what's going on with me, but I also open it up so when other people have cool things going on they can send me their information. And sometimes I'll get these sign ups that I have absolutely no idea where they came from, and other times it's after every event I've got my list. Still use the paper and pen. So it's the best way, I think, to develop and grow your email list is to employ both tactics. You want to be able to meet people and give them the opportunity to sign up, but you also want to have the electronic resource so people who are connected with you online can also have access to your information. Next, and I love that you you mentioned the community aspect of it too, which I think is really a big key for any email marketing campaign, any newsletter, to be successful is to have that sense of community, because you kind of want to think of it like you're just interacting with one person, one on one, or a small group, and you wouldn't come up, at least I would hope not. If I was just walking down on the street, you wouldn't come up to me and just start shouting about all the things you have to sell. You do you share these resources, you'd be more conversational and and building a relationship like that. And and at least for me, receiving emails that those are the ones that resonate the most with me that are actually like, Oh yeah, I can see myself in this person shoes, or like here's...

...a great resource that I didn't know about and now I've learned more about whatever the email is about. Every now and then I get one of these things that say hey, do you want to be part of the summit? Well, you have to send a dedicated email out to your people, and I say that's lovely, thank you. However, I'm happy to include it in an email, but I haven't thus far. I didn't even do a solo email for me when my book came out. I'm certainly not going to break that trend for someone who isn't me. Right. I think that's fair. But they're their work and that's the other, the other, other, other, other things when you're I have people who I get and I'm on a lot of email lists and I should probably be on fewer, but I I never know if there's something good. You know, fumo, I don't want to miss something really cool. But the emails that I get in all it is is this is all about me and this is what I did and by this thing and by this that, and is like really know, you made absolutely no attempt to connect with me a personal level and your emails all about you. It's anything you're doing shouldn't be about you. It should be how you are helping others, and I think that that's that's really that's the secret to social forget newsletters, social media. The first word is social, and social is not sell. It could include selling, but it's not about how the person who's sending the information will benefit. Is How the receiver can utilize resources. Yes, I'd love that. Look at that. Breaking down words, to have helpful advice. I try and I think that that segues pretty nicely into your book, which came out earlier this year. So congratulations on your most recent foray into book writing. Your goal guide a road map for setting, planning and achieving your goals. What's what's the writing process like from moving from like a newsletter or a blog to a full fledged book? Well, first of all, thank you and I love my book so much. I just have to add that in. And for we were talking about before about how you do things for you and you do the things you teach others. It works out better, right. So your goal guide was my goal setting process called the dead method, which is determine your mission, explore your options, brainstorm your path, and so I basically created the dead method using the dead method, and that's also kind of how I wrote my book. I originally was going to self publish and I wrote out a nice workbook type book and it would have been my third self published book. It was I'm telling the story completely backwards. I Apologize, but no, I like it. It's a very it's very momentum ask. I like it. You're welcome. So about two years ago my primary client was going away and I had to look at what I was doing and I decided it was an omen to fully embrace my goal setting gene and rebrand myself. So rebranded as a debb method using the debt method, and part of that was writing a book which had my system for figuring out what you want and how to get it,...

...the dead method. So it was all set to do this and I met an agent. Actually was an agent I had heard speak like eight years before at a different workshop, but someone in my live group met him at an event told him about my group. We had a phone called we realize we knew each other before I knew it. He said, so, where's your book proposal? And I told him I was planning to self published and he said why don't you write a book proposal and see if I can sell it, and so I did. The process was really quick. We spoke in May, midmay. He had a book proposal. He had one tweek and he sent it out twice, once in the summer, once in the fall, and in the fall may go publishing. My publisher expressed interest and we went back and forth a couple versions of my book proposal. Later they said okay, green light, and that was last April. I had the contract in in January the book came out. So if you know publishing, that's pretty fast. That's pretty awesome. And what the process? I will answer your question, I promise. Between the books that I had written previously and this one is I had the outline from the book proposal, and I suggest this to my clients in my community all the time that even if you are planning to self published, the book proposal is really your bff because it gives you the guideline for the purpose of your book, the intent of your book. It encourages you to figure out your marketing plan in the different elements that are going to make up each chapter. And it was I wrote my book in three months after we have a final book proposal, so it really didn't great guideline and it was so much fun because it was basically just pointing out all the stuff that was in my head on to the page, which is fun, which is a lot of what I talked about in your goal died. It's very it's mostly brainstorming and writing based exercises to help you figure out what you want and how to get it, because I believe everybody should live their goal to hope. Yet everybody should think about what they want and they make a plan to achieve it, and the book helps you figure that out. That's awesome and I would certainly second the idea of even if you are planning to self published, to think about your proposal and and to craft out of proposal, because it's someone who's in the process of doing that right now. It has been very helpful to be like, okay, what else is out there that is similar to this, like what's my kind of target market, and kind of thinking of the ideal reader that I would have, and it really does help with the the overall marketing, and I think that can be applied to a lot of different things too, not necessarily just writing a book, and so kind of mapping out what that proposal looks like for me and it sounds like for you with super helpful it really was. In it also helps you get excited about your project, and I will add this to if you don't love what you're working on, you shouldn't be working on it. If you need to be in a position where your excitement and enthusiasm is going to come through your fingers to the words, because that's what's going to get people excited, your excitement that's going to drip on to the page and really engager reader or, if it's a podcast, a listener or, if it's a screenplay, the viewer. Yeah, I think that you can always tell in writing and and obviously with podcast saying fortunately I have not spoken to...

...anyone on this podcast that really hated what they do. Maybe maybe they hated a previous thing they were doing, but yeah, you can. You can always tell. Like I've done interviews before with people where they're just like, you know, this is kind of one of the how my life is, and I'm like what, like be excited about this, like there's a cool thing you're doing. So Love, love here in the passion. Thank you. You've touched on this a bunch, but have there been any sort of marketing avenues that have surprised you, that have worked well, or any kind of like, you know, crazy things you've seen out of having your book live for a few months now? All I can tell you is especially coming from some one who's used to writing about other people, being put in the position of answering the question is is mind blowing. It's awesome. It's amazing, but I would I would say that that's the one thing that's it's I like to talk. Anybody who knows me knows this. Anybody who speaks to me for five minutes knows this. Talking about yourself as opposed to promoting other people, which is normally my way, are completely different efforts. But I would say, and I don't know, surprising, I think it's just cool, I think, and going back to my youth, which is when I started writing, it's also I did competitive public speaking in high school and college and I don't care how old you are, if you're not practicing speaking, start because that's a skill that I've used more than ever in my life, and this is someone who's led workshops for years as well. But when you start, when it comes to talking about yourself, it's a completely different beast. So it's something you have a very quick learning curve on your comfort level. I like that and totally agree with speaking. I never did competitive public speaking, but I did take one class in college and totally agree. Like if I was not at all prepared for a speech, it showed. So I certainly don't have to memorize things line for line. But it helps to practice, for sure, and we live in an age where there are plenty of opportunities to practice. You can do videos, you can host a podcast, you can guess on other people's videos and podcast and it's fun. Just have fun. That's the key. Love what you're doing, have fun talking about it and get people excited exactly. And you can even practice at home, even if there's you know, just do it in the mirror while you're getting ready for bed or like. There's there's so many opportunities for I'm thinking back now. I'm just being nostalgic, since you've been going back to your youth and writing about ice cream. But when I would and maybe this was planning the seeds of getting into podcasting, but when I was a kid, I would mute like basketball and baseball games and just be the announcer and, like you've certainly on baseball, you can get off into some terrific tangents just because you there's so much downtime in between pitches and even as like a weird, you know, nine or ten year old, I'd I'd be like, all right, well, that was ball one. So accounts want to know, and you know, a fan in the stands out there is really enjoying their cracker Jack box and just like, I mean, what, who does that? Kids don't do that. That's not a normal thing. But it was just a fun way to practice something that I was interested in, which was radio and TV, which eventually is what I went to college for, and I like to think podcasting being the spiritual successor to radio, even though...

...they can, they can coexist together, but just it's it was a great opportunity and if someone had walked by and saw me doing that, they'd be like, well, that's kind of strange. But it was good practice and I think it's certainly helped throughout my life. I think that's fantastic and one of the main reasons that that I love my book so much, that I'm so proud of my book. The purpose of my book is very simple. We go through life and change happens, whether it's by choice or by circumstance. You get to a point where you have to do something different. You need to figure out what life you want and set goals to achieve it, and my book is basically a simple roadmap to help people get in touch with the things they love, the things they want set goals and figure out how to achieve them and go from a life of to a life of joy and beyond. I like that. A life of a love, a joy. That's a good that's a good upgrade. Well, shouldn't everybody be happy and at least part of their life, even if not all of it? I think so. I don't think that's too much to ask. No, so let's say you have a terrible commute and you hate your job, but you want joy. Think about what that looks like and how you can find a way to put it into your life, and then you make a plan to get it. Or you want to make a big life change. Okay, this is what I want. How do I get it? These are the steps. I love it. We're going to we're going to get to some actional advice in just a moment, but I always like asking my guests what is a question that they wish people ask them more frequently, and I liked yours because I feel like you've got a good answer for this is what is something few people know about you? First of all, I love the question about asking me to ask a question. I want to know what question you think. What you think I'm gonna Answer? Oh, I have no idea, but I feel like if that was the question, you must have some some wonderful sort of alter ego or secret hobby or something like that. I really I think you're going to be disappointed. The the thing that very few people know about me is that up until three years ago I didn't really like to cook, and about three years ago I got an instant pot and it changed my light. It was like the easiest way to turn ingredients into food. But there's like an extra bonus to it is it's really the best time management tool, because are you familiar with instant pots? Yes, yes, yes, okay. So, if you're not, it's like a fancy perhaps your cooker that can make a whole bunch of different things. And what I love about it is you can, you know, set up your soup, set up your Mac and cheese, set up your whatever, and while your food is cooking, you can go be productive doing something else from five, ten, fifteen, twenty minutes. So not only do you have a delicious meal, you've worked towards your goals and is win win, win, win, win. That is fantastic. I am not disappointed by it, but I will ask what your favorite thing to cook is. I think I just said it. I love like soup, okay, perfect, anything from this to the easiest, of course, is the Costco chicken and chicken broth and vegetables and you just throw everything in water, of course, soup, and...

...then you turn it on. It comes to pressure cooks for like twelve minutes and so you've got like twenty minutes where you can do just about anything and it's like found time right because you would have been cooking but the food is doing for you. It's brilliant. It's a brilliant invention and I agree. I think it's I think it's wonderful and I think it really has, I mean, for both you and I, had has, I would say, brought into are cooking horizons, because I know there's definitely like I've made more things than I probably would have thanks to it's depots shot up. It always just cracks me up if I'm in one of the instant pot groups and someone ask the cooking question and I know the answer and I jump in, because that was never me. I didn't have these answer. I mean I could, I couldn't, make things. I didn't starve, but getting excited about trying different things. Is really it's it's a great about let you know, some people paint, some people draw. I don't do either of those, but I can mix things together and then I get to eat. Yeah, I mean that's a good skill. Anything, anything evolving eating I am all for. HMM. Well, and when I would the summer before college I worked short order at a country club and I the members they didn't like to choose. This is how I was trained. So I actually learned how to make really good chop salads. Always been good at vegetables and now I get to use that chopping skill for sup so so it's say anyway, yeah, it's a it's a an acquired skill that has really served you well throughout life. It sounds like. Well, it did, but if I tell you, if you would ask me like four years ago to have a conversation about about soup, I would have been like well, okay, I would go online and I would look up a recipe and on, you know, very systematic and who has time for that? It's just much easier. I feel like I'm giving this topic a little bit too much time. But the other thing is like Mac and cheese, easy do you make Mac and cheese in your instant pot? I've dabbled, but I probably don't do it as much as I should because I love Mac and cheese. It's so good. Well, it is, but the way that you make it an instant pot is even better because it's and I'm just made this yesterday, so top of mine. But do you cup SPRA, one cup water, two and a half cups noodle, little lit a butter, turn on the instant pot for six minutes and then what I do is I've got pasta, some becomes Mac and cheese, some goes into other foods. So easy, fun, delicious and it's Mac and cheese. It's magical. Mac It magical, I guess it's magical. And don't even get me started on how easy it is to feel hard boiled eggs. Well, that's I mean Easter's right. Well, I won't say that because I don't know when missile air but Easter is somewhere in this year. Are Hard boiled eggs are always fun and easy and if you've ever like suffer trying to feel them, and you can make them in the instant pot and they feel magically easy. Again, giving this topic way too much. What else do we want to talk about? Well, we can. We can help people accomplish their goals and be more productive, which again...

...all about the segway. Seguays very nicely into the top three. I'd like to hear what are the top three things that people can do. I would say right now, but let's say after this episode, after they finished listening to this episode. What are three things they can do to help them reach their goals and rethink them? Well, the first thing they should do to rethink their goals is to meditate, and meditate is different for everybody. Meditate might be playing video game and might be kicking a wall, or it might just be thinking, and really think. Close Your eyes and think about the life you want. That's really the first step, because if you don't know what you want, you can't achieve it. That's the first thing they can do. The second thing is something I call directed journaling, which is basically journaling with focus, and this is how it works. You want to schedule at least three fifteen minute sessions with yourself, during which time you're just answering a simple question. What do I want? What does that look like, and you're just bring dumping and what you want to do. You want to do this at least three times, and the trick is don't look at them until after you've done this exercise for multiple times, because you bring storm three, four five times. When you look through your journal entries, you will see common patterns. What you really want and the things that excite you are going to jump off the page at you, and those are the things that you're you want to you want to explore more. So visualize, do some directed journaling. Gosh, that's two, okay. The third thing is come up with a mission statement. Think about what you want, why you want it, but also how it can help others, because any mission with an external goal is going to serve you better than something that serves yourself. And so you take what your life looks like, you're journaling to figure out, you know, a little bit more concrete vision of it, and then a mission in that mission, which you would then shorten to a motto. So that's three and a half things. Is What you want to look at and think about as you're working towards your goals. It's your compass, your eye on the prize, and that's going to help you being much more successful. I love it. I love it. Thank you well, Deb you are officially off the hook. Thank you so much for coming on the PODCAST. Well, thank you so much for having me. This has been a quite unexpected, different than normal kind of conversation and completely enjoyable. So thank you for your interest in your time. Excellent. That's what I like to hear. Outside the norm, but still a good time. And if people want to find you, either you or the dead method or anything in between, where can they find you? Okay, well, they can go to the dead methodcom to find out all about me, my coaching, my services, etc. I am the dead method pretty much everywhere, and you can find your goal guide, a roadmap for setting, planning and achieving your goals, at your favorite bookstore online, or you can go to your goal guide Bookcom will take you right to the Amazon link. Fantastic. Everyone, go check that out and let me know what goals you're achieving, because I was. I was like hearing people kicking butt out there. And what is your goal? Well, I had mentioned earlier on that I'm in the midst of a book proposal. So my goal right now is to finish that and then to continue writing that book and getting it out into the world. Well, good...

...for you. I have faith you can do it. Keep me posted. Thank you, and yes, will do, will do. In the meantime, my goal right now is to tell you a terrible joke to end up this episode. So let's do it. You want to hear a joke about paper? Oh so much. Yes, please, never mind, it's terrible. Good after it today, people grown. That's what we're going for. The Grounds.

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