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Process, Priorities, and a Special Guest

This week, I explain my recent absence from posting update videos for my year-long Million Words Project by giving you a peek behind the curtain…so to speak.

You can watch the video below, or follow the link to YouTube if you'd rather watch it there (and subscribe, like, get on the notification list, etc): https://youtu.be/EnPLWE5QMpE

The near-transcript is below for those of you who prefer to read the updates.

Thanks for your support!!





 

A Peek Behind the Curtain: Internal Motivation

Update

A few weeks ago, on a Wednesday, I realized I was fast approaching the Thursday time frame in which I typically post the Million Words Project's updates. The problem was, I hadn't had an opportunity to actually produce a new video.

And, looking back at the calendar for last week, I can see why. My days were packed with errands, and events, and other non-writing-related items. In fact, January was a month of unexpected plot-twists, and it showed. It was clear on my calendar, and clear in the customized spreadsheet I use to track my weekly writing progress.

I knew I wasn't going to get a new video produced, so I posted to my various social media outlets that I was taking an unexpected week off from video updates of the Million Words Project.

That week off came just one week after resuming posting after the Christmas holiday, so it's an understatement to say: It wasn't what I had planned.

I fully anticipated resuming a normal video schedule the following week, as well, but it just wasn't in the cards.

And then, January slipped into February, which slipped by without pause.

Several of you reached out to me, over the last few weeks, asking if I'd abandoned the Million Words Project. So, I figured I'd better make a video update and let you all know what is up, and give you some perspective into my ever-evolving life.

Process

First up, let me give you a peek behind the curtain, regarding the process of producing these update videos. It's a little more involved than it probably should be. I don't mind being in front of the camera, but I'm not necessarily a natural at it. So I really have to plan and set up things just right.

First is the planning. I'm constantly planning what I want to talk about in these videos. Typically, that means looking at the week, or weeks, that I will be discussing in the Million Words Project Update section, and trying to come up with a topic that is related to what actually happened in that week.

However, I also want there to be some additional depth to the progression of the videos, so I often try to figure out ways to share important or useful information in a logical progression.

Second, I write a script for the episode. I wish I was a great extemporaneous speaker and I could just go off without a detailed road map, but I'm not. I spend way too much time formulating thoughts in my head, and speak much too slowly if I'm not utilizing a script. That's okay in a classroom or group discussion scenario, where there is participation and feedback from others, but when I'm just talking to the camera, it's agonizing. I won't put you through that.

Most of the scripts for these videos run a little over two-thousand words, which means that for each video, I spend between two and three hours writing, editing, and revising the script. Some weeks, it's less, some week's it's more. But that's a good benchmark. As part of the revision process, I do at least one read through out loud, trying to find places where the wording might trip me up when it comes time to record.

Honestly, I should do two or more rehearsals, to really refine the scripts, but if you've watched the past videos, you know this: I sacrifice flawlessness in favor of utility. I will still stumble over a word here or there, but generally speaking, I try to find a balance between being somewhat professional in my presentation, without over-doing the perfectionism.

Third, I fire up the lights, and make sure the vocal recorder is up and running, and then I film the episode. I use a rudimentary teleprompter set up with my iPad to scroll the script, and I actually film with my iPhone. I have a TASCAM voice recorder which captures the audio separately from the video, so that I can make my voice sound a little less echo-y, since I am actually filming in the basement of our rental house, and the sound of the recording through the video device is pretty terrible in this set up.

So, I make sure everything is up and running, and hopefully I'll only have to record a video once.

(If you've watched some of the earlier videos, you'll notice the video quality has gone from okay, to bad, to worse, back to okay, and that's, in part, because I was trying out a couple of different cameras. Eventually, I realized the iPhone was the easiest solution, and a solution I already had in my pocket, so I didn't have to buy a camera. Yay for Amazon returns!)

Most of the time, I have the basic lighting, the video production "set," and all of the equipment set up, and it only takes me about ten or fifteen minutes to have everything ready to hit record.

If I have to set up lights from scratch—like, I did after the basement studio flooded a few weeks ago, or if I've broken the studio space down to do a different project like—it takes between 30 minutes and an hour to re-set the space for filming of these videos.

Fourth, once everything is set and rolling, I record the episode. Pretty simple. Except, even though I've rehearsed and tried to make it as simple as possible, I still mess up. Some weeks, I'll only mess up one small section. Other weeks, I'll have a half dozen flubs. When I make a mistake large enough to warrant a re-recording, I scroll the script back on my teleprompter, and re-read the section before moving on.

My average video runs about seventeen minutes in length, after it is edited and I post it to the video hosting sites. Once I yell "action!"—which I don't actually do, because it's just me here—it takes me about twenty-five to thirty minutes to record the raw footage for each video.

Fifth, is editing. Editing is pretty straight forward. I don't have a lot of fancy tricks or a ton of b-roll footage or special effects in my videos. I don't do voice over recordings, really. My editing is pretty much synching the video file with the separate audio file, adding some graphics, inserting the theme music and sound effects, and cutting out the mistakes I made while recording.

I do mess with the audio a bit to make things sound a little nicer than they actually do in the echo and cold reverb chamber of my basement studio. But overall the editing is simple.

And yet, it still takes me at least an hour to edit a seventeen minute video. If I have a lot of mess ups and re-records, it takes even longer.

Sixth, I have to render the video into a format that can be posted to the video hosting sites, and then upload it, create show notes, make a cover image to go with the episode, go through all of the descriptions and hoops you have to jump through. And then, I post the video file to two video hosting sites, and each one takes me about ten minutes.

Finally, once the videos are uploaded, I make social media posts to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN, and Locals. And, I create a blog post on my website that includes the video and a transcript for folks who want to read the script rather than watch a video. I often also put a little teaser of some sort up on Instagram. All in all, that takes me another hour or so.

Priorities

If you add it all up, that comes up to about six hours of work for a fifteen to twenty minute video. Six hours, each time I post a video, on average. When I was posting weekly, that's roughly twenty-four hours or so a month, devoted to this video channel.

And, that brings me to the decision to not post a video for the last several weeks. You see, I had to make a choice about priorities. My January was hectic, and full of unexpected things that pulled me this way and that. Some of those things were NOT great. Some were amazing. But in either case, I've been struggling with balance in my writing life.

And then, February hit like a hurricane. Some of the good news that January brought had long-term repercussions, which required a lot of time and attention throughout both months, And will impact my life for years to come.

In addition, I ended up making TWO cross-country, thousand-mile each way trips. One by plane and one by car. And the trip via plane was only barely more efficient than the one via car.

The last few weeks, I knew I didn't have six hours to spare for the production of a new video. As much as doing these videos is an incentive for me to keep going with the Million Words Project, I also need to realize the real, true priority for me is actually DOING the writing. Not being a YouTube star.

Because, real talk, as of this recording, most of my videos are watched about thirty times. Across multiple platforms, my best estimate is about twenty to thirty people watch my updates.

I don't do these videos for stardom. I do them because they keep me accountable.

Don't get me wrong. It would be great if I had a large enough following that I could make a little supplemental income from talking about creativity and pursuing your Big Thing dreams. I'd love to have enough traction to attract a sponsor, or sell some affiliate products, or even sell a copy or two of my books. Yes. It would be dishonest to say there isn't some level of desirability in that sort of scenario.

But.

That's not why I do the videos, at the most basic level. I do them because they give me an outlet to talk about and internalize the lessons I'm learning about my writing life as I go through this year long challenge. While it is great anytime I hear from someone who is actually watching all of...this...it's really for my own benefit that I do these videos.

Internal vs External Motivation

One of the hardest things about being an independent artist is that there is often no real external motivation to keep going. Almost all of my motivation to write one-million words, and to create a video series, to write a novel and short story collections, to publish a book on writing your life story...all of the energy to do the work, has to come from inside me.

I don't have a boss. I don't have deadlines. I don't have a paycheck attached to doing this work.

Being free and independent is great, because you have FREEDOM and you don't have to answer to anyone but yourself. But, there is a benefit to having some external motivators. A deadline with an editor dangling a paycheck over the finish line, well it is a lot easier to sprint toward that finish than it is to work toward a date on a calendar that has no consequences if it's not met.

All of the changes and unexpected twists and turns of the last two months made it hard for me to hit my weekly Million Words targets. Some weeks, I did okay, other weeks I feel short. Overall, I've been able to maintain a solid 30,000 word cushion ahead of the pace, but I've found it hard to consistently exceed the weekly 20,000 word goal.

And, if I am struggling to find the time to hit my weekly targets in the Million Words Challenge, it is hard to justify taking the extra six hours to write, film, edit, and post a video.

This video project is important to me. It helps give me a way to further internalize and expand on the lessons I'm learning about myself, my writing, and the creative life in general.

But, it IS a secondary project. It is a compliment to the real work of this year of the Million Words Challenge. The real work is writing. The real work is keeping myself on pace to write one million words in twelve months. It would be counter productive to sacrifice time and energy necessary to meeting my word count goals in order to make a video for my social media channel.

And, there are times when I have to reassess and remind myself of what my priorities really are. Making weekly updates about this Million Words challenge is beneficial, but it is secondary.

The primary goal is to write one million words. Not be a social media star. So, there are times when I need to put the focus back on the Million Words Challenge, and recognize that this video series is a secondary goal.

So, while I intend to get back to weekly updates focused on my march toward one million words, I will do so with this reminder: The video series is a secondary goal. It is valuable for me to record these videos, and I hope that the few dozen folks who watch them get something out of them, as well. But my primary focus is the slow and steady march to writing one million words in one year.

Wrap Up

My intention is to return to the chronological march through the Million Words Project in the next few weeks, when I will reach the half-way point with a recap of weeks 23 through 25 of my year long challenge to write one million words. A lot happened in those three weeks. So I hope you'll join me back here, next time.

Until then, I am still Eric Sheridan Wyatt, and I'm still reminding you that your words matter. Make them count.


SHOW NOTES

This week, I explain my recent absence from posting update videos for my year-long Million Words Project by giving you a peek behind the curtain…so to speak.

*****

I’ve recently added a “Buy Me a Cup of Coffee” account to my links. This allows you to leave a “tip” if you’d like to support my writing and other creative endeavors.

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/ericswyatt

*****

Interaction is important to independent artists! If you like a video, song, book, podcast, or other creation of an independent artist, please consider helping them (and me!) out by "liking," commenting, subscribing, and sharing.

Feedback is important. Yours is welcome!

Find all of my links here: https://linktr.ee/ericswyatt

My main website: www.WordsMatterESW.com

My Amazon* Author Page gives you quick access to my books: https://amzn.to/3Ux5X83

Link to episode one, in case you're new to the Million Words Project.

https://www.wordsmatteresw.com/post/i-challenge-myself-to-write-one-million-words

*Amazon links provided may be affiliate links that earn me commission, while adding no additional cost to you.

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