Honorée Corder is the author of 20 books, including You Must Write a Book, and Prosperity for Writers. She is also Hal Elrod’s business partner in The Miracle Morning book series. Honorée coaches business professionals, writers, and aspiring non-fiction authors who want to publish their books to bestseller status, create a platform, and develop multiple streams of income.
Craft Tip: Always be bettering your craft. Always be learning.
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Welcome to “How Do You Write.” I’m your host Rachael Herron. On this podcast, I talk to authors about how they write, what their process is, and how their lives fit together. I’ll keep each episode short so you can get back to writing.
Hi, writers, welcome to episode number 32 of. “How Do You Write.” Today’s episode is with the awesome Honoree Corder who just knows a lot about a lot, and she was truly fun to interview. I know that you will enjoy listening to her. She is a live wire and a firecracker and I enjoy those kind of people. So it’s a great episode. Stay tuned for the interview portion of that.
Just doing a little catch-up. I have started the new book, “The Thriller.” You guys, this has been throwing me. I was talking to a writer friend the other night… Hey, Heather and Rex, shout-out shout out. And I was explaining that I don’t think I’ve been scared to write a book since I wrote “Splinters of Light.” I still consider “Splinters of Light” my best book that I’ve ever written. It was truly, truly difficult. I worked my ass off to make that book really good and it was a really difficult subject matter, early-onset Alzheimer’s.
The books I’ve written since then, and I’ve written one, four, six, I’ve written six since. They’ve been hard. They’ve been challenging, every book is challenging. Every book is usually impossible, right, in the middle of the book. But I didn’t have fear around it because I knew how to write those books. I knew how to write the romances. I knew how to write that, the mainstream.
But I’ve been feeling fear about this book, this “thriller.” It’s important to me this… I’m writing from a dispatcher’s point of view. It’s a serious book. It, obviously, is a thriller, it’s scary. There’s people dying, there’s a politics, intrigue, suspense. And I’ve never written suspense before. I’ve written very light suspense.
But I wanna get this right. I wanna do this well. So I’m terrified which is why I have been putting it off. I meant to start this 2 weeks ago and now it’s the 25th of January. So this is what writing looks like from the full-time chair as well. Excuse me, Clementine is snoring. Oh, I just had to wake her up a little bit. Otherwise, you guys are driving in your cars and listening to dog snores. Sorry, Clementine, you will get to rest later.
So I started that this morning. I started the thriller this morning. I got 2,000 words. My goal right now is 2,000 words a day. I’m doing a lot of other stuff with my days, writing a lot of other things, teaching. A good 10,000 words a week is what I’m aiming for, I’m aiming for 12 weeks to finish the book including the first-pass revision. I’m building myself a two-week buffer because I’ve never done that before. And I always run right up against the wire and stress myself out terribly, so hopefully I’m not gonna do that this time. That is my plan.
I have to tell you that the words that I wrote today are terrible.
They are beyond terrible, they are dreck. And again, I just wanted to make real clear that this is not easy. If you are struggling with your words, if you think they’re bad and terrible, number one they’re probably not. Number two that’s just the par for the course. That’s how it works, especially when perhaps you’ve had a little bit of time off.
I’ve had a good month and a half since I was really elbows-deep in a manuscript and those muscles need daily stretching. And today was very uncomfortable. I pretty much hated writing today. I got a standing desk for Christmas which I have put to great use. I finally got a monitor for it so now I have stations in my office. I have the seated station where I’m at right now recording this. Over there, I have the standing station. It’s fantastic, it gets me energized. I do write better when I’m standing, I just think more clearly. I literally think more clearly on my feet. That may not be true of you but it is true for me.
And today when I was about 1200 words into it, I kind of collapsed and I ended up on the Clementine couch behind me. And I pulled the blanket over me and the computer just got closer and closer to my face as I despaired of ever hitting 2000 terrible words. And I just kept typing and my eyes were getting heavier and heavier because I do this strange thing, and maybe you do it too. When I’m rebelling against something, I actually get sleepy. I guess my body is trying to make myself pass out. But I resisted and I got to 2002 words and those 2 extra words, I swear to god, I’m gonna write 1998 tomorrow. Although, I don’t normally play that way.
Normally, I play that if I only get 1000 on a 2000-word day, I only need to do 2000 the next day. There’s no sense in trying to catch up with writing, you never ever do. So yes, every single sentence was terrible. I am not sure if I think that tomorrow will be better, I don’t know. It might suck just as much. But you know, I’m gonna keep showing up.
I’m doing it The Deep Work Cal Newport Method, which is, I get up, do my yoga, have my breakfast, and then I hit the page without looking at Twitter, without looking at email. He said something really interesting in his book. He talks about the residue left behind. If you check your email for fires that might need to be put out, for example, even if there are no fires in your email inbox. Even there’s nothing for you that you need to act on this very moment, there’s no banking emergency, there’s no publishing emergency. Even if you go to your desk, then the residue of even looking at your email stays in the back of your brain in that subconscious part.
And I really think that that helps me a lot. It sounds kind of woo-woo and kind of new age but it feels right in my gut to not look at that thing. To not look at email, to not look at Twitter or Facebook. I don’t let any other voices into my head before I write that aren’t my wife, the dogs, myself. Other than that, my dreams the night before. Other than that, I go to the page and write. So that’s what I’m doing.
I spoke about time management last week and about my new method of tracking my time using the Top Tracker, which is a free app. I am loving it. I am loving seeing how much I work and the areas in which I work. The idea of trying to capture more time for myself, I have completely failed 100%. I have been working longer days than ever. So I am conscious of that, and moving forward, and trying to make it work, and that’s an ongoing goal. I’ll keep you posted as to whether I manage to figure out this problem of not enough time.
I will also mention real quickly because I forgot to tell anybody that I am teaching a class at Berkeley Extension, UC Berkeley. It is an online class and it is open to everyone. The problem with me telling you this is that it is January 25th, 2017 and the class starts on February 2nd. So. If you hear this today or tomorrow and you are interested in checking it out, go to my website rachaelherron.com/blog. It’s on there, the link to the class is there. It is called “Developing the Novel” and we’re looking at literary fiction and genre fiction. And taking apart books, putting them back together, and talking about your writing, and how to develop your novel. It’s gonna be really exciting, super fun. I can’t wait to teach it.
This is my first time really in the online environment using the canvas platform so that’ll be interesting and exciting. I can’t wait to learn about it. So there’s a lot going on right now. I’m having a very good time and today, time-wise is going really well. I plan on having a nice, long lunchbreak and maybe a nap so fingers crossed. Please enjoy the interview with Honoree Corder, I know you I will and I’ll talk to you next week.
Hey, you’re a writer. Did you know that I send out a free weekly email of writing encouragement? Go sign up for it at rachaelherron.com/write and you’ll also get my “Stop Stalling and Write” PDF with helpful tips you can use today to get some of your own writing done. Okay, now on to the interview.
Rachael I would love to welcome Honoree Corder today. Hi, Honoree.
Honoree: Hi, nice to be with you to be with you.
Rachael: I’m so glad to have you here. Let me just give you a short introduction for those who might not know you yet. Honoree Corder is the author of 20 books including You Must Write a Book and Prosperity For Writers. She’s also “Hal Elrod’s business partner in “The Miracle Morning” book series. Honoree coaches business professionals, writers, and aspiring nonfiction authors who want to publish their books to bestseller status. Create a platform and develop multiple streams of Income. So I think it’s a very good thing that you’re here today, Honoree. Hi.
Honoree: Hi, delighted.
Rachael: How is everything going for you?
Rachael: Good, good.
Honoree: Yeah, I couldn’t complain and if I did, who would listen?
Rachael: I would listen. I would listen.
Honoree: Okay, all right. I’ll text you later.
Rachael: I like that idea. Well, that is a crap ton of books to have published and over what period of time has that been? How many years did that take?
Honoree: So I started self-publishing when the earth cooled.
Rachael: Good for you. That was a right time to get in.
Honoree: Yes. So 2004 actually when I self-published and I didn’t even know that it was a thing. It was just a thing I did and it turns out it’s a thing.
Rachael: It’s a great thing, it’s a fun thing. So, process-wise, what is the best time of day for you to write and where do you write?
Honoree: I always write in the same spot on my couch from 6:00 to 7:00 in the morning.
Rachael: Are you like reclined feet up or…?
Honoree: Oh yeah. I have a whole situation. I’ve got the coffee to the left, I got the phone, I got the lap desk. I got a cat on my lap usually and that’s the… Then no one is awake, ironically.
Rachael: That’s really…
Honoree: Obviously, they’re sleeping.
Rachael: I always like seeing people with their feet up on things. I recently…I can’t remember who I saw, but they were doing it. And I have a roll top desk with these weird pull-out-platforms that I think you’re supposed to put typewriters on, but they’re perfect for my feet. So I’m always kicked back. Usually with a dog on my lap and a laptop on my lap too. But, yeah, that sounds wonderful. And how do you write your first draft, say?
Honoree: Microsoft Word.
Rachael: Yeah. It’s that [inaudible 00:11:43].
Honoree: Yeah. I’m typing or I’m talking, I’m a big fan of dictation.
Rachael: What program do you use in dictation?
Rachael: Yeah, and are you a Mac person?
Honoree: Oh, yes.
Rachael: Okay. So how have you found the new Dragon on the Mac? Did you get the new upgrade?
Honoree: Yeah, it works fine for me. I take the time to train the Dragon and slay the Dragon if necessary. It took a lot of versions actually. I tried dictation several years ago and just found I wanted to throw everything out the window, which is expensive when it’s a Mac. So I gave up and then there were author friends of mine who were using dictation. And so I go through and go through the exercises, several, several, several times. I don’t always take it at its word like, “Oh, yeah, we got this, we’re good.”
Rachael: Oh, that’s interesting. I never tried to over train the Dragon. I should try that.
Honoree: Yes. Because the more you do it, the more you do it, the better it gets.
Rachael: Awesome, awesome. And how do you refill your creative well when you’re running dry?
Honoree: I am an introvert so I stay home.
Rachael: I hear you.
Honoree: I’m super excited because it’s raining in Austin today. And so it’s like, “Oh yes, so it’s below 80 degrees and it’s raining. No need to go out.”
Rachael: That’s like the law in Austin, I think.
Honoree: I think well, not for everybody. I actually went to a meeting today and was…
Rachael: Oh, no.
Honoree: Yeah. Like I was out for a whole 90 minutes. Rachael, it was treacherous for me. You know what I do a lot? I do a lot of things people don’t suspect because I’m prolific. I take a lot of time off, I do a lot of reading, I watch an inordinate amount of television. I’m trying my hand at fiction, so I’m watching all of the movies in my genre to see what I can pick up.
Rachael: What is the genre you’re going toward?
Rachael: That’s what I’m starting on right now.
Rachael: I’ve written mainstream memoir and romance, and starting on the thriller so.
Honoree: Oh, I’ve never written stories so you’re years ahead of me.
Rachael: Yeah, but you already know how to craft an ARC of a book, you’ve got that much. It just fits in, it’s the same kind of thing.
Honoree: Oh okay, cool. I hear that a lot. Everyone goes, “Oh, it’s easy.” And when I hear that, I have this little thud in my stomach. And I know how someone feels when I go, “Oh, it’s nonfiction. Well you just write an outline and build in the little pieces, it’s totally fine. I know. I’m like believe me I understand.”
Rachael: I think that no matter how many books anybody writes, that fear is always present somewhere in there, right?
Honoree: Sure. Well no, not now. I don’t worry now because I haven’t had a mindset shift and the book isn’t the baby, I feel. Hi, furry person.
Rachael: They’re everywhere.
Honoree: I’ve had a shift, it’s a product now, and I’m putting out a product and I know how to put out a good, quality product. And so then, I’m not attached. I’m only attached to what I can control, which is, what I put into the product. I can’t be in control of how it’s received. And so I just let that go and I move on to the next one and hope that somewhere, someone along the way likes it and says so.
Honoree: But I’m hoping, yeah.
Rachael: You’ve been in this game for a while. What is the worst writing advice you’ve ever been given?
Honoree: Just put out any book in any amount of time and don’t worry about dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s. I hear that a lot in one form or another.
Rachael: Right. The race to getting published, it doesn’t need to go so quickly sometimes.
Honoree: Yeah. It’s a nice balance Rachael, between I’ve done the best I can and it’s time to not worry about perfection, and just have a product. Versus I worked on it for 10 days, I read through it a couple of times. The little squiggly lines on Microsoft Word aren’t showing up so I don’t think I have any misspellings or errors and I’m just gonna…
Rachael: My mom thinks it’s great. Yeah.
Honoree: Yeah, my neighbor who taught English 20 years ago is an editor and they did a pass on it. I mean, every bad piece of advice that’s out there, I’ve actually made all of those mistakes and so I don’t stand in judgment. I just know that I’ve had so many people come back to me and go, “Okay, I didn’t listen,” or, “I tried this shortcut or circumvent, and now I have to do it all over again. So now I have to pay someone, but now they’re gonna be a professional editor and now I have to pay someone else for a better cover.” And, oh, book description, that’s the thing.
Rachael: Well, it’s so funny that we hear so much advice and it takes a while for us to realize, “Oh, they’re right.” Because it’s just a product of the human brain that we go, “Well I see you’ve got a good idea but I think I’m okay.”
Honoree: I want to take a pill, and eat cheesecake, and look like a supermodel. I do. That’s like a real thing. I understand that I get 90% of the way into a book, there’s 10% left. We’re 2 weeks away and it’s like we’re 50 years and 50% away. That’s what it feels like. So I understand that, “I’m 42 weeks pregnant and if you don’t get the kid out, I’m gonna get a butter knife and the kid is coming out.” I totally get that feeling. I have been there, yeah.
Rachael: I think that’s a really good analogy.
Honoree: And at some point, you just have to take a deep breath and step away. And so I have a lot of, “I’m wanting my book in two weeks and I don’t know how to do anything, what do I do?” And I was like, “Call me four months ago, that’s what to do.”
Rachael: That’s delightfully blunt and I love it. Yeah, it’s…
Honoree: Yeah. Or “Just relax and push your book date out, and then let’s have a conversation about how to do it, and make it amazing.” Or “Get some good advice and make it amazing.” Four months from now feels like a really long time, but four years from now you’re gonna go, “What happened to 2017?” It’s gonna go by like that and it’s worth it to sometimes slow down to speed up.
Rachael: Yeah. It’s funny sometimes, I get a lot of the reverse. Like, you know, “Rachael, how am I gonna market this book? How am I gonna set up a platform?” And then I say, “Well, what is your book about?” “Well, I haven’t started it yet, but I’m going to.” My advice is always, you know, “Write that book. Maybe when you’re 90% of the way then start thinking about it, because you’re still a long way away from getting it out the door.”
Honoree: So I actually advise people once they have their concept and they’ve done their outline to go ahead and get author suziejones.com, or…
Rachael: Oh, definitely.
Honoree: To create an account on AWeber and to begin to write blog posts or to send out little messages with like, “Hey, I’m working on my book. Would you like to learn more about it?” Get people on your list and create a conversation with them. But in a way laidback way so that by the time you say, “Today is the birthday of my book,” people will be really excited to support you.
Honoree: Rather than that’s all they’re hearing about.
Rachael: And rather than you doing all that work instead of writing, which is what I see some people doing. You know?
Honoree: Oh, yes.
Rachael: Yes. What secret writing tip of awesomeness did you discover the hard way?
Rachael: How so?
Honoree: Well, I’m a fairly fast writer, and I have written a 60,000-word nonfiction book in 9 days…
Rachael: Holy crap!
Honoree: Yeah, that was… No, don’t do that. I did not like that. It was not a fun process. It was really painful. I had a head vice-grip right here…
Rachael: I don’t like that.
Honoree: …for the last part of it. And what I’ve learned is that I can eat… I can eat the cheesecake, but I don’t have to eat it in one day. I can eat the cheesecake every day for days!
Rachael: The analogy is still working.
Honoree: It’s still working, right?. And so what I do is, I just write from 6:00 to 7:00. That’s my practice. I just sit down and I write the words and today, I got to a stopping point at 6:41. I had written what I had intended to write, it was over 1000 words, that’s a good day, I don’t care who you are. And I had other things to do, as authors have other things to do. So do the writing the best time of day for you to write and then to the other things the best time of day for you to do those other things. That was what I didn’t know early on because there weren’t other people that were talking about what are the things to do. So when someone says, “Why I can’t write a 50,000 word book. That’s gonna take forever.” It’s like, “It isn’t. It’s like the equivalent of writing five emails every day.”
Rachael: Oh, that’s interesting. That’s a good way to look at it.
Honoree: For 50 days. Like you crank out a 200-word email like that, so you…
Rachael: You write and think about it. Yeah.
Honoree: Right. And if you’re writing nonfiction, you’re writing about something you know. If you’re writing fiction, you’re writing a story that’s in your head. Either way, you kind of know, sort of, mostly, what you’re gonna say and you’ll surprise yourself with how awesome those words are gonna be sometimes. And other times that’s what editors are for.
Rachael: Exactly. I also have to remind myself to let my editor do her job. You know, I’m always worried about delivering a perfect product and there is no such thing. And I’m like, that’s what we pay them for, that’s exactly.
Rachael: You may have already just covered this but can you give us a quick craft tip of any sort?
Honoree: Yeah, the craft tip is to always be bettering your craft.
Rachael: Yes, always be learning?
Honoree: Yes. So I use things like Grammarly to put my language in, and so I’ll get those little notes because Grammarly doesn’t care about my feelings. And so I’ll get, you know, “That’s an unneeded ellipsis, Honoree,” or “You really fancy this 1 word that you’ve used 12 times the last few paragraphs.”
Rachael: Oh, that’s helpful.
Honoree: And so I love that they offer alternatives and sometimes it’s not always the right advice. I’m always reading and when I really like a book, I’m interested to know why I like it. “What do I like about this? What’s resonating with me? And Is there anything I can take from it?” And then when I think that a book is bad or poorly written or not done well, it’s not about criticizing the author. It’s more about, “Why didn’t I like that? What didn’t resonate with me? What struck me as odd and how can I use that to make my next book better?”
Rachael: Perfect. Going back to Grammarly for a second, I have never used it. Is it a paid subscription? How does it work?
Honoree: It’s free and then you have an option to pay. What’s interesting is, my husband is dyslexic and he is the CEO of a company. So he used to do a lot of writing and then it’s hard for him. And so I suggested Grammarly to him because I had the free version. And then he said, “I got the paid version because it is awesome.” And so what I do is I take whatever I’ve written and I pop it into Grammarly, and then it does its little computing thing. And then it says, “You have 784 errors, let’s go line by line and figure this out.” And so you can accept, or reject, or have other options or…
It’s interesting because it’ll say, “This is in passive voice,” and I’m like, “And so I didn’t ever take a writing class. I wasn’t a writer. I didn’t even know what passive was until, I don’t know, Book 14 or something. Someone said, “Well, this is passive and this is active voice.” And I went, “Okay, who cares? That’s why I have an editor.” But now I’m seeing it and I’m able to correct it, and learn from it.
I’m always learning, where are my word crutches? What am I using all the time? What are the turns of phrases that I’m leaning on? How can I make my writing more interesting, more concise? And so I stopped saying, “In my opinion, because I’m writing it so duh.”
Rachael: So it’s your opinion.
Honoree: Opinion. Yeah. Right. So there are things that I have learned over time. I think it’s beneficial for everyone to have something that they can learn from, whether it’s their editor, or their reading, or tools like Grammarly.
Rachael: I’m so gonna start using that for the repeated words because I’m terrible with repeated words. I don’t realize that I’ve been talking about the desk, desk, desk, desk, five times in one paragraph. You know it’s ridiculous. I don’t know why I can’t see it.
Honoree: And sometimes, it’s the desk
Honoree: Sometimes there’s no other word for it.
Rachael: Sometimes it has to be a desk. Right.
Rachael: Right. Exactly.
Honoree: Yeah. So they were trying to tell me I used the word “editor” too many times and I was like, “Well, I’m talking about editing and who you hire, so I’m not sure what else we’re gonna call them Grammarly. Thank you so much.”
Rachael: We’re gonna step back right now.
Honoree: Yeah, we’re gonna step back but yeah.
Rachael: On really bad days, what other profession do you wish you had?
Honoree: I know I’m supposed to know this off the top of my head. I don’t think I would trade it for anything.
Rachael: Oh, that’s a good answer.
Honoree: I tried to think of something else I would rather be and I think I’m pretty blissed out with what I’m doing.
Rachael: That’s so fantastic.
Honoree: So I don’t know. Maybe I’d write something different. Maybe I’d write movies or somethings so then I can meet cool people. But they were all personality disorders and narcissistic…
Rachael: That’s true. But you would make a lot of money doing that, right? That what they.:.
Honoree: Yeah, maybe. Maybe, yeah.
Rachael: But then you’d have to live in LA, and that’s no fun.
Honoree: Maybe I’d see a comedian. No, LA is off the table.
Rachael: Off the table for me too.
Honoree: Off the table.
Rachael: I hate it there.
Honoree: Yeah, yeah. No.
Honoree: If you were starting over as a brand-new baby writer, what advice would you give yourself?
Honoree: Always be learning, be consistent, and have a really long expectation for when success is going to happen.
Rachael: Oh, I like that. That’s really…
Honoree: You’re not gonna be rich in six months. You have to really love it. And if you really love it, you’re gonna wanna do it anyway. And so then someday, you’re gonna be a 20-book, overnight success.
Rachael: They always are, all the overnight successes have 20 books. You’re right.
Honoree: Yeah. Anyone who does something and makes it look easy, it’s actually not easy. They just have been doing it a really long time and they’re probably old.
Rachael: Okay. And what would you like to plug right now? Tell us where we can find you or what we should be looking out from you?
Honoree: So I recently published “You Must Write A Book.” And it is for everyone who thinks they have a book in them. Specifically designed towards professionals because it’s really for the person who wants to differentiate themselves. But I put all the goodies in there. I am about to release “I Must Write My Book,” which is the companion workbook. So if someone gets the book and they’re like…,
Rachael: Oh, great.
Honoree: …”Where do I write my notes and where do I do the work?” I actually have a workbook that’s coming really super soon so.
Rachael: Oh, that’s awesome.
Honoree: And they can find all that honoreecorder.com. And then right now, “You Must Write A Book” is an Amazon exclusive so.
Honoree: You can [inaudible 00:26:44] yeah.
Rachael: Well, thank you so much for being with us, Honoree. It was just a treat to talk to you.
Honoree: Thank you so much for having me.
Rachael: Thanks so much for joining me on this episode of “How Do You Write.” You can reach me on Twitter, Rachael Herron or at my website rachaelherron.com. You can also support me on Patreon and get essays on “Living Your Creative Life” for as little as a buck an essay at patreon.com/rachael spelled R-A-C-H-A-E-L. And do sign up for my free, weekly “Newsletter of Encouragement to Writers” at rachaelherron.com/write. Now, go to your desk and create your own process and get to writing, my friends.
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Do this for yourself, for the writer you want to be.