Become a Writer Today

How to Build up Side Career as a Writer with Charlene Wang

October 25, 2021 Bryan Collins Season 2
Become a Writer Today
How to Build up Side Career as a Writer with Charlene Wang
Show Notes Transcript

Charlene Wang is a product manager at Google. In other words, she's got a hectic, demanding day job, and yet she found time to write and publish her new book, Model Breakers. Charlene also runs a popular newsletter on Substack called LivingOS. 

Last year, Charlene set herself a goal of writing 200 articles in 200 days, and so far, she's exceeded that goal. It's fantastic to hear about a writer who's built a side hustle while working a day job. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us work from home and no longer commute, which allows us more free time. Charlene eliminated her commute, and she had the extra time during her mornings and evenings to write.

Charlene also discusses how online tools can help with writing and how she got into writing newsletters.

In this episode we discuss:

  • The types of topics Charlene covered in her 200 days of writing
  • Where the idea for LivingOS came from
  • Which articles were most popular with readers
  • How to build an email list
  • The process for using apps when writing
  • How is writing a book different from writing a book
  • How to launch and promote a book

Resources:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Charlene: So topic forest is just my way of saying how I see every information together because I like to switch from bird’s-eye view, like seeing everything all at once, and then going deep into one tree and seeing what’s on the tree, what’s the information stored in that tree, so it’s my way of making information fun and digestible.

Introduction: Welcome to the Become a Writer Today podcast with Bryan Collins. Here, you’ll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.

Bryan: What does it take to build up a career on the side as a writer or as an author? And is a newsletter the way to do it?

Hi, there. My name is Bryan Collins and welcome to the Become a Writer Today podcast. In this week’s interview, I catch up with Charlene Wang, who’s a product manager at Google. In other words, she’s got a really busy, demanding day job, but, at the time of recording this interview, she was also in the middle of launching her new book, Model Breakers, and she’s running a popular newsletter on Substack called LivingOS. 

Last year, Charlene set herself a goal of writing 200 articles in 200 days and she’s so far exceeded that goal and it’s fantastic to hear about another writer who’s managing to build up a side hustle also while working a day job because, the simple fact is, sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense to quit your job, at least not quite yet, because it’s gonna be stressful and difficult to write or to work on a creative project if you’re worrying about paying the bills.

Now, what I did when I was working as a copywriter for the software company, Sage, is I’d get up early in the morning before work and I’d write for maybe a half an hour or an hour in the morning time before starting the job, and if I did that four or five days a week, then that was enough to, you know, publish a series of articles on Become a Writer Today or to work on chapters for a book. 

And, occasionally, I, you know, flipped it the other way around and worked in the evening too, but basically it either meant making sacrifices about not watching something on television during the week or going to bed a little bit earlier so I could get up early in the morning so I guess it was something that I had to want ’cause, otherwise, how am I going to get up at 6 a.m. and, you know, tell myself, “Now it’s time to write”?

Now, many writers do like waking up early to write because it helps them put their creative work first before the demands of the day take over and that’s something that was true for me because I found if I tried to write after a commute, I’d be exhausted and the quality wasn’t very good. 

Now, since the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of us are working at home anyway so we probably have a lot more free time, or at least you’ve had a taste of what free time looks like, and you’ve eliminated the commute so that’s a good opportunity really to see if writing on the side in the morning time or in the evening time could work for you. Charlene eliminated her commute and she used her free time in the mornings to write and also free time in the evening after work.

Another one of my key takeaways from this interview is Charlene’s writing process. She describes some of the writing tools that she uses including Roam Research, which isn’t really a tool I’ve talked about much in Become a Writer Today but it’s rapidly becoming a popular research tool for non-fiction writers and one I’d encourage you to check out and Charlene explains how it helps her non-fiction writing workflow. 

She’s also a big fan of Notion. Notion is another writing tool but it also does a few other things like CRM and organizing ideas and project management. For me, I found it a little bit overwhelming but I know it’s very popular with some people and Charlene also explains how it helps her with her drafts. Charlene’s preferred service is Substack for her newsletter and we talk a little bit about Substack versus ConvertKit, which is the e-mail marketing tool I use.

Now, if you enjoy the show, you can of course leave a short review on iTunes. You can share the show on Stitcher, Spotify, Overcast, or wherever you’re listening, which I’d really appreciate because more shares would help more people find the show. And if you really, really, really like it, you can support it on Patreon for just a couple of dollars a month and I’ll give you discounts on my writing courses, software, and books.

Now, let’s go over to this week’s interview with Charlene Wang.

Bryan: So, Charlene, you’ve done something that I was doing last year, which is you are writing or you are writing on the side while you’re working a day job. Before I hit Record, I was saying that I used to work as a copywriter for British software company Sage so I’d get up in the morning and write articles before work and that’s what you’ve done over the last year or so. So, I’m fascinated to hear how did you write 200 articles in 200 days? What was your secret?

Charlene: I think the secret is not having a goal. So, when I first started, I had a lot of things — I have a lot of things in my note that I just wanted to get out and [inaudible] that can be helpful is that I have been wanting to write for five years and I haven’t been able to write in the first four and a half years so it’s a lot of desire, a lot of notes I just want to get out and during the pandemic, I have commute time freed up so that extra three hours every day just gave me the momentum to say, “If not now, when am I going to get these notes out?” 

So, it’s almost like I was at a tipping point, I just really want to write even though there is no audience and I will say the first couple of days, there’s really no audience, I was on Medium, I don’t think anyone knows who I am, I just write and I didn’t even share it anywhere, I just published it for the sake of publishing because I loved doing that and, for some reason, the algorithm, the recommendation-based system worked out so people started to see my blog, they resonate, it’s pretty concise and to the point which is pretty much how I like to talk and live. 

So, I just started to experiment a bunch of different things so I think writing, to me, is always a method either for me to get out my thoughts or to try out new hypotheses I have in my life and now also to connect with people who I grew to love and found on the internet. So, yeah, it’s my excuse to enjoy life, basically.

Bryan: I was reading through some of your articles and I can see a theme emerging over the 200 days. Would you be able to give listeners a flavor for the types of articles that you were writing?

Charlene: Yeah, so it changed a lot but I can start from like what I have covered. I started from relationship advice to life hack, career hacks, and then I transitioned to personal growth and there’s a couple of reasons why but like the TLDR is that personal growth is something that I’m really interested in, how people think, how do we make sense of emotions? 

How — What’s the power of breathing? You know, like old — everything about personal, physical, mental health wellness is something that I’m deeply, deeply passionate about. So, now, I just focus on that entirely. I also talk about writing a lot. How do you create more? How do you get beyond your fear? So, if ever you feel like there’s something stopping you and you don’t know what, that’s usually what I’m writing about. I want to get down to the why, get down to the emotions that we couldn’t label yet.

Bryan: At what point during the 200 days did you decide to set up your newsletter, LivingOS?

Charlene: I want to say it’s either day 88 or day — yeah, I think it’s day 88. So, it’s actually — so, every day I write, I am revisiting my hypotheses, because like writing, you need to have a reason, otherwise, it doesn’t work. So, it’s a pretty easy way for me to test ideas that they don’t work and then test them a bunch. I decided to do Substack because, (a), I love the interface. I just love to write in a pretty editor, that’s number one —

Bryan: Yeah, it’s very easy to use.

Charlene: Yeah, very easy, very, very simple. The other one is I want to connect with my audience beyond just like — I don’t really know who was reading my piece before Substack because I don’t have direct relationship with any of my audience, it’s on the platform, then I want to see, okay, so if I were to share some links with them, if I were to reply to questions, e-mail is just classic but reliable way and that’s why I use Substack. 

I’m still on it today. I love — loving it. There’s some things I would complain about but still loving it. So that’s when that happened. LivingOS, though, I think started before Substack. My friend actually named it for me because they were like, “You’re writing about life, why don’t you call it the life operating system?” which is LivingOS —

Bryan: Yeah, great title. Great title.

Charlene: Yeah, because LifeOS was taken so the only option we have but I think it’s more lively and that was around day 40, 50 when I have so much essay that I just want to organize under a name and that’s when LivingOS came about.

Bryan: I was reading one of your articles, you said that it’s like an oak tree and that it’s constantly changing and evolving.

Charlene: Yes, yes. I think oak tree is why because I think that means it’s really long and that’s really how I see my writing career or how my passion career. It’s a life’s work and I think — I picked life because I will always be growing and changing so I will never run out of topic and, every day, right? I think — I still write daily, even though — either privately or publicly and I think that more so just made everything else in my life a lot more efficient, like I can talk more concisely, I work more effectively, and I can also create more easily because writing is the tool to just put my ideas into the world.

Bryan: Are you writing in the morning before you start work or in the evening time afterwards?

Charlene: Usually after work or in between, like during the breaks. So, in the morning, I reserve to meditation, reading. I really try to have a calm way to get into my intuition. And then, during the day, I notice stuff so like I usually have a lot of drafts already so now I usually keep around 30 drafts so that I will never feel discouraged to write because they’re already half done and, during the day, I take notice about what’s happening in the world, in my life, and then I pick the draft that I want to work on around 4 p.m. and then, that’s when I actually start to complete that draft, publish it around 7 to 8.

Bryan: It’s good workflow. I was gonna ask you a bit more about how you’re using some writing apps in a moment but before I do that, you described your themes and how they’ve evolved over the past nearly, I suppose, it’s nearly a year now. Did you find any particular types of articles resonated well with readers?

Charlene: So, I will have to say there are two types of articles. One is where the growth comes from. A lot of the growth comes from me writing about product management career but then that usually attracted people who were looking for a job, like pretty anxious, right? 

And I think that’s not what I want to — that’s not the vibe I want to give my readers. I never want to make them feel anxious so that’s why I stopped writing about career, even though it’s really helpful for the growth. I think still 60 percent of my readers come from just that single series of posts. 

And then I transitioned to life, which I know will be maybe a slower burn but something that’s more like lasting in the long term and, for that, I think some things about sharing vulnerability and the real challenges online, some part of that is appealing, at least people like it so, for me, I’m figuring out along the way by being really forefront about what I have tried, what has worked, what hasn’t worked, actually build trust with the audience. And authenticity is one of the key values I really cherish in my work and my writing so I think that decision also achieved that goal.

Bryan: Substack is great to use but it’s difficult to build an e-mail list of subscribers. What’s working for you?

Charlene: I actually didn’t build my newsletter, e-mail newsletter on Substack. So, that goes back to the career one. I use ConvertKit e-mail series to build that initial traction and I think, for me, during the initial traction, thousands of people onto Substack, it’s a lot easier than starting from scratch. So those people just refer people to me and then I also wrote guest posts somewhere. So, it’s a combination of every strategy, really. I didn’t know what actually worked but I’m pretty sure the e-mail series on ConvertKit attracted a whole bunch of people and then some of them stuck, some of them didn’t because I no longer write about career, but I think that’s how I started.

Bryan: How did you get them onto your ConvertKit list?

Charlene: I just wrote on LinkedIn and say, “Hey, I’m going to share how I got a product management offer at age 18 many years back,” and I think that itself is a grabbing title that people just find out.

Bryan: Yeah, fantastic — that would work very well for LinkedIn.

Charlene: Yeah.

Bryan: How do you find ConvertKit versus Substack?

Charlene: So I think ConvertKit is pretty much an e-mail marketing platform. If you have a consistent offer you want to sell, if you have a funnel set up, ConvertKit is great. Substack, though, I think is more purposeless — or you don’t really know what you’re trying to get out, you’re just trying to write because you love writing and I think if you’re like that, Substack is great.

Bryan: Have you turned on paid subscriptions?

Charlene: So my paid subscription is on I think around October last year. My way of seeing that is actually quite different. So, I use that to communicate to my coaching client because I’m too lazy to have another newsletter for them, like I don’t wanna do another letter, another ConvertKit because Substack is free, right? So I basically just put up the paid one hoping no one will subscribe because I don’t want to reveal the secret on the internet but people still do and it’s kind of a passive way for me to keep in touch, keep an open channel with like the 50 people I coach and then having a larger list of people I talk to every week.

Bryan: When you’re researching your articles, I see you use Notion. Would you be able to describe your process for using Notion for managing your workflow?

Charlene: So, I have to be honest, I use both Roam Research a lot these days plus Notion. I think — and I can talk about both of them, but let’s start with Notion first. So, Notion is something that most of my information and knowledge sit. A lot of them are notes taken back in the day so just the four and a half years of notes I mentioned in the very start. But for Notion, I think the secret really lies in two things. 

One is that you can label each page with a tag and then sort it effectively so, for me, that page of writing has thousands of texts and, fortunately, did make this table a little faster now so it’s actually where I can manage it at scale. If I want to write about emotion, I just search for the tag “emotion” and then I read everything I have in the past. Sometimes I combine posts I have, sometimes I like actually flesh out one and then make it two. So, it depends on what is in my draft but I usually work on ideas that I have written before that either I didn’t want to flesh out or I didn’t have the information to flesh out.

Bryan: Are you writing in Notion? So I understand you correctly.

Charlene: So I combine the very rough draft in Notion and then I bring to Substack.

Bryan: Okay.

Charlene: Yeah, so I think I have everything I need first and I just get it out of Notion and then on Substack, I do the editing and writing, really.

Bryan: When I tried Notion about a year ago, I found the blocks quite difficult to use for writing. Was that an issue you had?

Charlene: It’s actually not that bad for me because a lot of my stuff is in blocks so, for me, I’m not editing within blocks and then transitioning, I’m more arranging blocks and make sure the flow is right, right? And then once I have the blocks in order, I bring them to the writing platform, either Substack or Google Doc, if I want to get other people’s feedback.

Bryan: Any other benefits of Notion?

Charlene: The other one is if you want to — it’s really easy to talk to your other information. So, if you have [inaudible] knows you have, if you have like team that you want to — so I have a team that helps me as well so if you want to collaborate with others, it’s actually a fantastic platform because it has every single thing, like it has things on project management to database to CRM, like really everything, but if you’re just personal usage, I actually recommend Roam Research because it’s more writing focused, it’s less about structure, it’s more about just ideas connecting with each other.

Bryan: Roam Research is a relatively new app. Could you describe how you use it

Charlene: So, Roam Research for me is where ideas emerge. So, I usually have a lot of templates I created, either for my morning practice, morning journal, or for my free writing, my thought routines, and then I set out a Pomodoro, which is actually a built-in feature on Roam, 15 minutes, 5 minutes, I just write everything. After I write that, I go back to the things and then in Roam, you can highlight and use that as an obvious link within other pages. So, I will go back to what I have written, maybe highlight, oh, just today, I talked about emotional openness. 

Maybe I talked about impostor syndrome and then I just highlight those and then I can see every time I mention or reference “impostor syndrome” ever and then just tie them all together. So that’s why I say you don’t need much structure to start, you just need stuff and then connecting the stuff is what Roam does, right? And then you can use that to create something, maybe connecting the dots that you didn’t see before and that’s why I think it’s really powerful. When you don’t know what structure you’re playing with, go there and see what happens.

Bryan: Did it take you long to build your library in Roam Research?

Charlene: No. For me, I actually — it is pretty — I like to do things pretty lightweight so, for Roam, I was really careful to not confuse my use of Notion and Roam, so I was pretty clear that I will only use it for journaling and free writing. So, when you free write, you know, like every day, you can easily write a few pages so after I think like a week, I have a sizable amount of stuff to link, to connect, and since my interest is pretty much like the same, they talk to each other as well.

Bryan: Okay, okay, and then when you’re using Notion, how polished do you like the draft to be before you move it to Substack?

Charlene: Minimum, minimum, like I don’t even have the right language to start — I don’t even have the right story, I only have the biggest outline there in Notion because the block is easy to drag and drop, but as you know, as you noted, it’s a lot — you feel like your flow is breaking when you’re writing from one block to another, right? And I don’t want that to happen in my writing, I want it to flow as a whole. So once I have an outline, I just bring to Substack.

Bryan: You’ve also come up with something called Topic Forests. Could you describe what they are?

Charlene: Topic forest is my way of organizing information such as psychology, economics, like every single topic, every single topic such as economics, finance — it’s a tree, basically, and when every tree I put together, when you see a page of, say, psychology where I prioritize my work, that made up a forest so topic forest is just my way of saying how I see every information together because I like to switch from bird’s-eye view, like seeing everything all at once, and then going deep into one tree and seeing what’s on the tree, what’s the information stored in that tree, so it’s my way of making information fun and digestible.

Bryan: With somebody who’s got so much research and so many ideas, how do you decide what to write next?

Charlene: It’s pretty much my intuition. So, of course, I will look at what people were asking for, what I have promised my reader because I usually would have intuition then I’ll promise them to write something next week so that’ll usually take care of itself. 

The other thing, a good way for me to see whether I want to write is I just start writing. Sometimes, it would — if it doesn’t work, I just stopped, like I couldn’t write anything after like 30 minutes and I would just switch to another topic. So, there are times when I will switch three to four topics before I publish one essay, one day, so it’s pretty unstructured a process but I think my brain or my heart knows what I’m doing.

Bryan: Yeah, it’s part intuition, part analytical —

Charlene: Yeah.

Bryan: Are you still publishing on Medium as well and LinkedIn?

Charlene: Medium and LinkedIn are more for distribution so stuff that I want people to see or stuff I really want people to see, let’s put I that way, and Substack is I think more of a private space where the thought is something really raw, I just want to test, I don’t want to like broadcast or blast it to the majority, right? 

So that’s where I do my most writing. LinkedIn and Medium is generally — LinkedIn is a bit more like crafted because I want to make sure that people scroll and stop and then they will see what’s in there. Medium, though, is more of a publication. I still have a few publications that have been out as an editor-writer so sometimes I will like just write and submit to them and that has good reach as well. But very rarely. I would say maybe only 1 percent or less of my writing goes there.

Bryan: So Model Breakers, your book, should be out by the time of this interview. Could you tell us what the book is about?

Charlene: Yeah, so Model Breakers is about breaking through the stereotypes people have for you and helping you embrace your core values, which is really hard at workplace and life. So, for that book, I started from a family letter to my brother because we don’t really talk that often and I want to share the wisdom from others I gather as he come to U.S. for college and we grew up in Taipei.

So, after writing that, my publisher basically say, “Hey, you’re writing about something bigger than your family. It’s actually about a generation of people who couldn’t be their full self,” so that’s why we pivot to Model Breakers breaking away from the model minority stereotype for Asian American but also it’s bigger than that and using four key pillars to embrace who you are, to know yourself, be yourself, to take the risk to tell your own story and being okay with not being okay so it’s a pretty practical playbook on how you can apply those lessons to your life.

Bryan: Are those four key pillars ideas that you developed on your newsletter?

Charlene: So those are separate, actually. So I feel like I have two writing life and —

Bryan: Wow, you have a lot.

Charlene: Yeah, I have two different writing projects. One is just LivingOS, the newsletter, the other one is the book, and they’re entirely separate. I don’t think there is, if any, overlap at all, because the book is so focused on the stories of others, the research, and the newsletter is myself. So, basically, maybe there is some theme that I borrowed implicitly but the entire focus is different.

Bryan: Okay. Okay. How did you find the book writing process if it’s different to your newsletter?

Charlene: It’s very different and it’s very structured, thanks to my publisher, because, if you could tell, my way of newsletter is a lot of intuition driven, I just write about what I’m interested. But the book one, I have a lot of editors and they have their opinions and they have their feedback, right? So every week, there is a goal to hit with them. It’s a lot about words. So I think I had to write to 50,000 words and then like revise it all down. For the writing, it’s like, I don’t know, 500 words every day, like I don’t really know what’s there. And also, for the book, a lot of structure are given so, for example, the first research, the first three chapters to research and like why now the urgency are structured in a way that book usually are, like how Malcolm Gladwell writes, right? Like I usually look at book model and how they structure their book and I take the best as I’m a first-time author.
 
The other playbooks one is pretty structured in a way that starting from a really inspiring story that people never heard before, go into the struggles and it goes to the hero’s journey Dante had in the Divine Comedy really. So that’s basically how I structured the book as versus newsletter, I will say this has no structure, if any.

Bryan: Is the book broken into three acts?

Charlene: Yeah, so the book is broken into three parts but not the same as Dante. So, the book — the first is just the background, why are stereotypes there, the history of model minority, the history of stereotypes. The second part is about breaking through it, right? So kind of like the cleansing part where you’re trying to use those tools and seeing how people success and fail out at each of them and then finding your own way with that process at the end. The final part is case studies on people, people actually applying to their life and things you can directly use for yours as well, for people in high school, for people in college, at work, in their later career, creative career, so if — in three parts but not a direct match.

Bryan: Okay, and how did you find the editing process? You mentioned you had a lot of feedback from your publisher.

Charlene: Yeah, I would say it’s a lot. I spend a lot of time on editing and I think if I were to say three to four, three to five hours with editors every week, outside of the meeting call, we also have all our conversation online, but I will say writing a book is a really long-term thing and it’s not financially rewarding. 

So, some — many people give up and I think if it weren’t for the editor, I can see one or two points where I would give up because I have so much going on in my life, I don’t — yeah, the book is not defining who I am but I think the editor is someone who believed and saw the entire messy draft come into life and see the potential and I think that really meant a lot, when someone who read as much as you did with your own copy work love it, I think it says a lot about how people could perceive that work so I think it’s hard, spent tons of time but I think it’s actually emotionally rewarding through the process.

Bryan: It sounds like you went through your own version of the hero’s journey with the book.

Charlene: Yes. I went through my [inaudible] many times, many times, at least three times throughout the book.

Bryan: Okay. So your book will be out now but at the time recording this interview, you’re getting ready to launch it. Do you have any activities planned to promote it?

Charlene: Yeah, so we have a lot of workshops held and the workshop are in 60 minutes we’ll help you find your life values and that is held at many companies in the Valley but if you are interested in the workshop, I recommend going to the website, livingos.org/breakers, Model Breakers, the “breakers,” and you’ll find all the details and also the book will be in special price in the first 30 days so, yeah, it’s — I think it’ll be exciting and I can’t wait to share more.

Bryan: Yeah, fantastic. Sounds like a great read. I’m also curious, like when I started writing and I was working a day job, I sometimes felt nervous about what my employer would think if they realized I was writing on the side. As it turned out, my boss was also an author so they were really supportive. Well, did your colleagues have any reactions to your writing or did you, at any point, feel nervous about working, you know, a busy day job and then having a side project?

Charlene: Yeah, so I think there are two points and this actually helped answer the question I see very early, which is I transitioned from career writing to life, partially because I don’t want to have any conflict of interest with my work. 

So, that’s why I made the switch, it’s pretty much out of necessity but ended up working well for me and I think it’s because I made that switch that, from career to life, people actually always are fascinated when they find out I’m writing on the side since it’s everything about stuff they don’t hear about me at work, and I even have colleague found out, I think, 10 months after we worked together and she’s like, “Why didn’t you tell us? Like this is so interesting. I feel like I wasted 10 months not talking to you about this,” and I was like, “You know, I don’t know everyone, I don’t know the boundaries, I am trying to navigate new ones,” but, overall, everyone is impressed and amazed and supportive when they hear about my side gig.

Bryan: Yeah, yeah. Like you said before, writing helps you with your day job because you learn how to communicate more clearly through the written word as well, which is a good skill to have at any job.

Charlene: Yeah, and I think that’s something — that’s acquired, that’s acquired, I will have to say. I have to say I used to write a lot of fluffy words because I thought that’s how you hit the word count in college, and then, after college, I realized that people’s attention span needs to be respected and that’s why I’m always trying to write the most amount of like knowledge or insights in the least amount of words so they can skim it, wanted the reader to stay, every time they will always open my newsletter because they can always tell that they’ll get something out in five minutes, like that’s how direct and in fact that I want it to be because there are too many long form, too many advice out there that I don’t have to be another one, I just want to help the people who are following along the journey to get something out of life.

Bryan: If somebody was considering starting a newsletter and they want to write nonfiction, what advice would you give them?

Charlene: Follow your interests, chase your curiosity. Like just notice whatever interests you in life and write about that, because I think it’s really hard to — it’s really overwhelming to start somewhere at first and it’s impossible to write about things you don’t love in the long term. So, given those two really hard constraints, why not just pick about things you love, be it games, be it like anything, really, and just follow that interest and trust that that interest will take you somewhere, that’s how I did it.

Bryan: And any advice if they were saying, “I don’t have time for this, you know, I’m pretty busy”?

Charlene: So I think people make time, you know? It’s kind of like I always say time is an excuse because there’s always things, you can either be more efficient, say no to, or prioritize in life, and I feel like, for me, people don’t tell me that because like they look at my schedule and then they wouldn’t tell me that excuse, I was like, “Well, if you were saying that you don’t have time, I probably don’t have — I don’t even have time to even talk about it,” right? 

So I think it’s really how you want to make time, if you have a busy family, maybe waking up an hour early to just write, maybe you have a busy day job, then maybe take an hour break because you need a break and just do audio and dictate what you want to write. There are so many forms of writing, it doesn’t have to be sitting straight up typing, it can also be just talking to people and then recording yourself or it can be transcribing when you’re out for a walk exercising. So, I think it’s really about how do you want to make time for writing, and is writing something you want to prioritize? Of course it’s not, but be really clear about what’s your priority and where writing sits in that priority, I think, will solve the problem.

Bryan: You mentioned transcribing and I also read in your workflow you use a transcription service called OtterAI. What’s your experiences with that? How do you find it?

Charlene: So, that’s actually a pretty accurate transcription. I think transcription really bugs me when it doesn’t transcribe half of what I’m saying.

Bryan: I’ve had some problems with it because of my Irish accent, it tends to mishear the words.

Charlene: Yeah, yeah. And it forces me to speak clearly, right? Because I had to transcribe so I think that’s a good thing. The other one is it’s just so easy to use and I not only do that for writing but also when I was interviewing people for the book, when I’m coaching people, under their consent, I will transcribe and share the recording with them because people love to see what goes out of their mouth without consciousness. So it works pretty well. The only thing is that don’t transcribe everything because it’s really hard to look back and you will look at the 15-minute speech you have and feel lost. I usually have a way to structure my dictation. I’ll say, “Okay,” it’s like, “Now I’m talking about creative writing,” then I talk about creative writing and then I will pause and then I’ll signpost it differently.

Bryan: Okay. Okay. And are you transcribing using your phone?

Charlene: I transcribe with my phone because then no one will hear that so it’s just me, but if I were to like record, then I will do my laptop with this mic setup.

Bryan: Yeah, yeah, I know people can’t see it but you have what looks like a studio quality mic and a pop filter so it’s a good setup.

Charlene: Yeah, it’s for my husband’s thing so I just use his mic.

Bryan: All right. So you’re both creative. So, Charlene, where can people find more information about you, your book, Model Breakers, or your newsletter?

Charlene: So, the best place for everything about me is livingos.org, and newsletter, livingos.substack.com. So I don’t know if we could have a link in the bio and I hope that will people can find me either way.

Bryan: Certainly, yeah, I’ll be sure to put the links in the bio and good luck with your book launch. It was very nice to talk to you.

Charlene: Yeah, very nice talking to you. Thank you, Bryan.

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