About Robyn Roste

The short story is I’m a professional writer living and working in Abbotsford, BC Canada.

What is Distraction-Free Writing and How Can Write! Help?

Over the past couple months I’ve tested Write! App to see if I could adjust to a distraction-free writing with a distraction-free text editor. And by test I should be upfront. I stared at the shortcut on my desktop and thought of reasons why I didn’t need to use it. Because I’m a writer with a writing process and being distracted is integral to my creative process.

Distraction-free writing and why you should consider it

All writers have a process I suppose. But my process (slash super power) seems to turn writing 800-word articles into weeklong exercises if I let it. And often I do. And deep down I know I need help in the form of distraction-free writing software. I don’t want help (I love my process!) but I’m under constant duress deadline and my process doesn’t *get* deadlines.

Because here’s the thing. I’m trying to move the needle forward, trying to go pro-pro. You know, like I’m a professional writer but I am ready for the next level and I have a 10-step plan to get there. (If you’re curious, I’m on step seven and I started at the beginning of the year by getting up at 4:30 a.m. to do the hard work.) In order to reach my goals I have to be more prolific. And to be more prolific? Well, honey, ya need a new process.

best distraction-free writing tools

Distraction-free writing is the minimalist’s approach to getting things done. And I have trouble getting rid of stuff

Distraction-free text editors, also known as distraction-free writing apps, distraction-free writing tools, and professional text editors, have a fancy way of making all the features, badges, notifications, icons, etc. disappear from your computer so all you can do is write.

Scary, I know. Like I said, I came up with some VERY creative reasons why I didn’t need to use distraction-free writing software.

But then I tried it…AND I LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT IT!

If you want to see my first go (and get in my brain as this is a literal play-by-play of my initial test) check out my Write! App test here.

There are lots of these tools out there, some free, some paid, some hybrid. By my estimations they all do more or less the same thing. Why did I test Write! App? They asked me to (thanks Daniel!). Because I was looking for reasons to hate the tool I combed through the FAQs, features, and blog. All that did was end up teaching me how to use the app and clued me in to how powerful it could be for my writing.

So I stopped stalling and started writing, and it was awesome. Because it’s cloud-based I can use it on whichever computer I feel like (in my house it’s whatever computer has the best relationship with the Internet that day), and I can set up writing sessions with grouped tabs and keep my projects separate. I’m seeing SO many useful applications. My biggest complaint was having to use an exclamation point after Write! because I felt like it made me seem excited about the tool when really it was part of the name…but turns out I’m excited about Write!(!).

Why I need distraction-free writing in my life

Like I said, I’ve got writing goals. And I have two hours per day set aside for achieving them. Yes, that’s significant but it’s not a lot of time. So I need to optimize my time and use it sans distractions. I need this, even though change is scary.


Write! App—The Only Text Editor You Need For Distraction-Free Writing product description

This one is important too. Even if you went to a mountaintop where there is literally nothing else to do but write, there is still the matter of the tool you’re using. Namely, your text editing software. Fancy-pants all-purpose text editing programs are overabundant with features, badges, icons, templates, options, and a ton of other stuff that only takes up screen space and RAM.

To truly immerse yourself in your process, try using a distraction-free text editor like Write! It’s a great solution for any kind of writing from Tweets to short stories to novels. It’s as functional as it is beautiful with a minimalist design and a specialized focus mode for concentrating on one paragraph at a time.

It now even has a publishing feature. In just a few clicks, your writing can be up online for anyone you’d like to see it, whether your editor or your Twitter followers.

Write! is a distraction-free writing text editor for Windows, macOS and Linux. It has a multitude of features that help focus only on what matters.

Over the past couple months I've tested Write! App to see if I could adjust to a distraction-free writing with a distraction-free text editor. And by test I should be upfront. I stared at the shortcut on my desktop and thought of reasons why I didn't need to use it. Because I'm a writer with a writing process and being distracted is integral to my creative process.

Do you have a favourite distraction-free writing tool? Tell me about it. I’ll try it.

How to Write an Outline for Anything

If you’re a writer then perhaps you know the term “pantser.” It was new to me. Pantser is a type of writer—one who writes by the seat of his pants. Right? The other type of writer is an outliner. Now that one’s a bit more familiar to me. In my heart I’m an outliner. I like having a plan and making it come alive. I like knowing where I’m going rather than discovering it along the way. And I don’t believe outlines cut off creativity—which is why I’m advocating for outlines and showing you how to write an outline for anything.

How to Write an Outline

What is an outline?

In case you didn’t have to write an outline in school for some reason, this is a formal way of arranging and developing your ideas. Don’t let the word “formal” trip you up—this isn’t rigid, it can be adjusted at any point in your writing. An outline can be broad strokes of big/main ideas or detailed and in-depth, depending on your approach. There’s no right or wrong way to outline, and it can be added to and changed as you go.

Why write an outline?

I sat in a workshop with author Anne Perry (by the way…you should read her bio, I had no idea when I went to the workshop. Wow!) who has written like 100 books or something in her career. It was a fascinating argument for outlining from a prolific author. Here are the benefits of writing an outline. Keep in mind she’s giving advice for book outlining, but I think it can be applied to any type of writing.

  • You own the plan
  • Outlining helps with plot clarity
  • Outlining gives your story structure
  • Outlining helps the reasons your characters do things make sense
  • You know your character growth/development from the beginning rather than figuring it out as you go
  • Outlining prevents your story from sagging in the middle
  • Outlining cuts down on the amount of rewrites

What’s the purpose of an outline?

An outline helps you organize your project (article/blog post/book/anything) by helping you check how your ideas connect to each other and discover if anything’s missing. No matter how long your writing project is, outlines help you see the big picture.

How to write an outline for anything

If you’ve read anything I have to say about content strategy, you may find this a bit familiar. The bones are the same but you get a bit more meta when you write an outline.

Here are the broad strokes in five steps.

  1. Identify your topic
  2. List your main points
  3. Structure your argument (put your points in order)
  4. Add sub-points (make connections between main points)
  5. Evaluate and adjust as necessary

See? Not so intimidating or limiting. You’re just getting it down on paper and making sure what you have to say makes sense.

A few tips for when you write an outline

Identify your topic. This should be short but still a complete sentence. This will be your anchor throughout the writing process, keeping you on topic.

List your main points. Your main points are the things you want your audience to know after reading your work. All the main points should be a building block towards your thesis.

Structure your argument. This needs to both flow and make sense to your reader. What do they need to understand first? Second? Third? As you get into writing you may need to change the order of your points, this is normal.

Add sub-points. Sub-points go under the main points—makes sense, right? To have a balanced work, the sub-points for each main point should be somewhat equal. If you have seven sub-points for one main point and two for another, it might be time to reconsider your main points as the one with only a couple sub-points may not be a strong enough argument for your overall topic.

Evaluate and adjust as necessary. Read through your outline. Does it flow? Does it make sense? Is it missing anything? Are there gaps in logic? Is there extra stuff?

If you're a writer then perhaps you know the term "pantser." It was new to me. Pantser is a type of writer; one who writes by the seat of his pants. Right? The other type of writer is an outliner. Now that one's a bit more familiar to me. In my heart I'm an outliner. I like having a plan and making it come alive. I like knowing where I'm going rather than discovering it along the way. And I don't believe outlines cut off creativity, which is why I'm advocating for outlines and showing you how to write an outline for anything.

I hope this is clarifying and will help with your next project.

Remember, outlining is your friend!

  • It take the guesswork out of what to write
  • It keeps your project on track with relevant content
  • It sets you on a strategic plan that moves you forward
  • It helps you avoid burning out
  • It keeps your project on topic

Thoughts? More tips? Pantser push back? Let me know!

How to Plan a Podcast in 9 Steps

First things first, this is not a technical how-to create and produce a podcast guide. This is the step you take before that. Yes. I’m saying think about your podcast ahead of time and develop a strategy. AKA this is a training on how to plan a podcast.

How to plan a podcast in 9 steps

How to plan a podcast: from personal experience

I’ve lived these nine steps while creating and launching podcasts so I’m not pulling these out of thin air. Planning a podcast is exhilarating, exciting, and exhausting. At so many points on this journey I said “this is the hardest part, once we’re past this we’re good.” I’m glad I knew the steps or I may have lost heart through the process. I share them with you today so you will also be empowered the next time you wonder if you should start a podcast. You’ll know what the steps are and how to plan a podcast. You’ll also know how much work you have ahead of you so you’re mentally prepared for the roller coaster you’re about to get on. Podcasting is an amazing, amazing media and, when done right, a game changer.

First I’ll overview the steps, then break them down a bit.

How to plan a podcast in nine steps

  • Brainstorm a concept and decide what your show is about
  • Determine your “why”
  • Set goals for your podcast
  • Figure out who you’re serving
  • Plot your content strategy
  • Develop your show and assets
  • Write, record, and produce your first three episodes
  • Develop your marketing strategy
  • Pre-launch baby!

And once your podcast is planned, in the process of being developed, and you’re running pre-launch…now you can finish setting everything up and launch your podcast.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to step one.

How to plan a podcast step one: Brainstorm a concept and decide what your show is about

If you’re thinking about doing a podcast there’s a good chance you’ve thought about this to some extent. So, write it down. What’s the big idea? What’s your show about? I encourage you to get to a core topic, one you stick to throughout your show. A strong topic will make things easier down the road, plus it will be easy for listeners to understand what your show’s about without too much thought. You want your show to stick in listener’s minds and be something they can become fanatic about—sharing on social media, recommending to friends, and becoming raving fans. So come up with a good one, alright?

How to plan a podcast step two: Determine your “why”

Attracting listeners who become raving fans starts with your reason for podcasting. Think about it for a sec, why should anyone listen to your podcast? Why should people choose yours over all the other podcasts out there? Why? It’s so easy to jump past the planning and straight into podcast production but I encourage you to slow down and do the hard work first. Plan a podcast, plan a great podcast.

How to plan a podcast step three: Set goals for your podcast

(Can you believe she’s talking about goal setting AGAIN!?)

Believe it!

But it’s step three, so by this point you already know what you want to do and why—so shouldn’t setting goals be easy? Podcasts are powerful for building an audience and increasing your platform and can even help you reach your business goals. So, what is your goal for this podcast? And if it’s to make money…you’re going to need a plan to do that. Putting up a podcast doesn’t equal cash money. Not that in itself at any rate. So wipe the dollar signs out of your eyes and set some realistic goals. Making money can be one of your goals, but you’re going to need a revenue plan. Think it through, set S.M.A.R.T. goals, and then move on to step four.

How to plan a podcast step four: Figure out who you’re serving

You should kind of sort of know this already. Who do you hope listens to your podcast? Who do you want to become raving fans? I know, you want everyone to love it…but please break it down a little. Who do you want listening and what transformation do you want them to experience as a result of listening to your podcast? How will you help listeners reach their goals? Because, like everything, they need to understand what’s in it for them before they’ll decide to stick around. If you map this desired transformation out, it will also guide you RIGHT into step five. So give it a shot, kay?

How to plan a podcast step five: Plot your content strategy

Now this is fun stuff. If you figured out the transformation you want listeners to experience and brainstormed a step-by-step guide for them to get there…you can break those steps down into individual episodes! Right!? Yes!!! OK maybe I’m nerding out but you want a strategy because this will keep you laser focused on providing the RIGHT content to the RIGHT people for the RIGHT reasons. Strategy is just RIGHT OK!? Here you figure out your core content, your sub topics (sidenote, this is similar/the same as creating a content strategy for your blog), your show format, and individual show objectives (goals within goals—you know the big goal of the entire podcast but what do you want listeners to do in each one? Leave a review, go to your website, download an email opt-in, share on social media, follow you on Instagram, etc. And please pick one per episode). If you’re stuck for ideas you can do keyword research (see what’s popular and develop episode ideas from there). Try and come up with at least 10 solid episode topics before moving on.

How to plan a podcast step six: Develop your show and assets

By this point you should be getting pretty excited about your show. And step six is where all your dreaming turns into your core content and branding. And yes, this will be hard work and may involve blood, sweat, and tears (if you’re anything like me). You don’t have to script your episodes word-for-word (unless you work best like that/want to)—outlines and notes are fine—but you do need to work out your show sequence and figure out who you want on your show if you’re taking guests/doing interviews. At this point you should also be working on things like finalizing your show name, designing your logo, figuring out website design, deciding on your branding, grabbing all your social media handles, and purchasing your URL. I know many people will do this first and other guides may even advise doing this second/third. Why I’m saying wait till step six is because by this point you KNOW you’re sticking with it. You have a firm grasp on where you’re going and how you’re getting there. And if you’re hiring someone to help with any of your asset development, showing him/her your target audience, listener transformation, and content strategy will help him/her come up a great concept reflecting you to a T.

How to plan a podcast step seven: Write, record, and produce your first three episodes

OK, I won’t sugar coat it. This is going to be a lot of work. But you are READY for this! Draft your episodes, record them, and get them ready. You’re not publishing anything yet, but you’re working out the bugs. You need to figure out what you’re saying, practice saying it, and get all the technological pieces in order. Going through this will also highlight how much help you need recording, editing, producing, etc. (If you need technical help check out Pat Flynn’s How to Start a Podcast tutorial or Kirsten Oliphant’s Should You Start a Podcast course. If you need an audio editor or show producer, my rates are here.) This process should show you how close you are to launching your podcast. You may need more time than you thought at the outset, but that’s OK. You’re in it for the long haul, so it’s worth doing right.

How to plan a podcast step eight: Develop your marketing strategy

You have your content plan, your branding, website, and social channels are taking shape, and you have a general idea of when you can launch. Now it’s time to think about marketing. You’re going to need a pre-launch, a launch, and an ongoing strategy. Three strategies. I know it’s a lot of work (ugh, Robyn, why is EVERYTHING so much work!?) but you will be so super glad you made the plan ahead of time when you’re in the thick of it. I have a few general tips on how to rock your marketing, which are a good place to start if you’re new to marketing strategy. If you want an intense, 90-day pre-launch strategy that will blow your mind, check out this podcast episode from Amy Porterfield. Whatever you decide, I recommend getting the plan on paper and calendaring as much as possible. This is where you figure out the details of your pre-launch, launch, and ongoing marketing, when your podcast episodes will publish and how often, what you’re posting on social media and how often, and how you’re going to promote your podcast to the world.

How to plan a podcast step nine: Pre-launch baby!

When you have your launch date settled and all your marketing ducks in a row, you can graduate to pre-launch. This is going to be intense, but this step is critical to a successful launch so you don’t want to skip it. In step eight you created the plan and in step nine you WORK the plan. That’s right, you’re creating content, you’re connecting with your target audience, and you’re ramping up to your launch. In pre-launch you’re putting yourself and your podcast out into the world in a way that people notice. You do this by creating amazing and shareable content, promoting your amazing and shareable content to your existing audience, with your social networks, with online communities, with relevant influencers, and wherever else your target audience hangs out.

Whew.

I know we’ve been through a lot getting to this point. But it’s not over yet. Once your pre-launch gets in gear you are racing towards your launch day—now that’s exciting stuff. Good thing you know what you’re doing, where you’re going, and who you’re talking to. I can’t WAIT to hear how it goes. Have a great launch!

First things first, this is not a technical how-to create and produce a podcast guide. This is the step you take <em>before</em> that. Yes. I'm saying think about your podcast ahead of time and develop a strategy. AKA this is a training on how to plan a podcast.

Creative Collaborations by Kirsten Oliphant [book review]

Collaboration (or “collab” as the cool kids call it) is something of a buzz word in the digital world. And I’ve heard it so often I didn’t question it when I saw Kirsten Oliphant’s new book Creative Collaborations. I just said, “collaborations, yes please.”

Creative Collaborations

But now I have questions. As I read through Oliphant’s creative collaborations suggestions (for example affiliate partnerships, Twitter chats, and in-person events) I began wondering what on earth a collaboration is. What do I think it is?

Maybe I don’t know. I see the word everywhere on social media. Influencers work it into their Instagram bios (“DM me for collabs” or “Collaborations? Email me”) and it makes me want to collab too. But now I wonder…what does collab mean? And what are creative collaborations?

The Internet says collaboration is the action of working with someone to produce or create something. OK, that makes sense. And Oliphant says it’s like roller derby. I had to think about this for a bit because I don’t know anything about roller derby but I think I get it: you stop being a lone wolf and instead become a teammate. You work with others to achieve a common goal.

That sounds nice in theory, but isn’t setting up creative collaborations with your competitors risky?

Yes, it could be. Oliphant says the secret to successful collaboration is trust.

“Your team is only ever as good as the trust you have for one another. Rogue players, even great players, playing singularly hurt the team as a whole. They don’t just break apart strong defensive walls; they break trust.”

The risks: you could get burned, you could have your work stolen, you could be let down. All of this could happen when you work with others. However, there are also potential benefits: you could grow strategic partnerships that bring you further than you could go on your own, you could make new friends, you could join a tribe where you feel encouraged, strengthened, and inspired to keep moving forward.

So now you must decide, are creative collaborations worth the risk? Are you willing to work with others towards common goals to be the rising tides, lifting all boats?

Throughout Creative Collaborations, Oliphant overviews different types of collaborations, builds an argument for why we need creative collaborations, teaches the difference between good and bad collaborations, cautions about legal implications when collaborating, and gives tips for creating life-changing collaborations. If you’re wondering how collaborations can change your business (and maybe your life), you will love this book.


Creative Collaborations: How to Form Lasting and Lucrative Partnerships without Being Smarmy synopsis

Is your career as a creative solopreneur going nowhere fast? Harness the power of collaboration to supercharge your audience and income.

Has fear of rejection kept you from reaching out to influencers? Are you worried about making a bad first impression? Author, blogger, and podcaster Kirsten Oliphant has landed career-changing speaking gigs and industry leading guests with her simple outreach methods. And now she’s here to help you do the same.

Creative Collaborations: How to Form Lasting and Lucrative Partnerships without Being Smarmy is a game-changing resource for finding potential collaborators. With Kirsten’s guidance, you’ll explore the many advantages of collaboration and the common pitfalls to avoid. Inside, you’ll learn how to craft the perfect pitch and maintain long-lasting, mutually beneficial partnerships.

In Creative Collaborations, you’ll discover:

  • Why you need to start collaborating and which kinds of partnerships you can start pursuing right away
  • Which commonly taught outreach methods will only waste your time and what you should focus on instead
  • The framework for an attention-grabbing pitch that will get you results
  • Insights and best practices from successful authors and social media experts
  • How to protect yourself from collaborations gone awry, and much, much more!

The book also comes with a free companion course that contains videos, resources, and other guides to help you take the next step in your collaborative solopreneurial career. Creative Collaborations is your step-by-step guidebook for expanding your network the right way. If you like expert advice, extra motivation, and practical actions you can take immediately, then you’ll love Kirsten Oliphant’s inspirational resource.

Buy Creative Collaborations by Kirsten Oliphant to open up new worlds of opportunity today!

Collaboration (or "collab" as the cool kids call it) is something of a buzz word in the digital world. And I've heard it so often I didn't question it when I saw Kirsten Oliphant's new book Creative Collaborations. I just said, "collaborations, yes please." But now I have questions. As I read through Oliphant's creative collaborations suggestions (for example affiliate partnerships, Twitter chats, and in-person events) I began wondering what on earth a collaboration is. What do I think it is?

175 Best Multifunction Electric Pressure Cooker Recipes [book review]

175 Best Multifunction Electric Pressure Cooker Recipes Header

Even though I have, like, two hours between getting home and going to bed on weeknights, I’m still trying to cook well-balanced meals. My issue? I’m not a fast cook! So you can see why I’m interested in the idea of pressure cooking, and why 175 Best Multifunction Electric Pressure Cooker Recipes caught my eye. I LOVE my slow cooker but the everyone’s into Instant Pot’s now. What on earth is that!?

OK, so I learned it’s a pressure cooker. And you already knew that. But here’s the thing. Everyone’s saying it has changed their lives. That’s bold. And I want in on that.

Except for one thing…

I’m afraid of pressure cookers

Did you hear me? I’m afraid of pressure cookers.

They’re intimidating!

But…well everyone else says they’ll change my life, so I thought I had better at least give it a try.

Reading through 175 Best Multifunction Electric Pressure Cooker Recipes helped calm my pressure-cooker concerns. Author Marilyn Haugen spends the first 15 or so pages going over pressure cooker basics, walking newbies like me through best practices, what to expect, and the different types of cooking you can do in your pressure cooker. Hmm…it does seem quite liberating…keep reading….

The recipes are divided into obvious sections: breakfasts, soups, stews and chilis, main courses, side dishes, paleo dishes, vegetarian and vegan dishes, desserts, and stocks and sauces. Each recipe has between two and seven simple steps and offer tips and alterations on the recipe page. After reading through a few I felt ready to attempt my first pressure cooker recipe.

I grabbed my inherited 1970s pressure cooker from the pots and pans cupboard, set out my ingredients, and placed my 175 Best Multifunction Electric Pressure Cooker Recipes book on the counter for reference. And then…I panicked.

What if this pressure cooker’s too old and it explodes!?

I decided to watch a few YouTube videos before starting. Watching other people use the same pressure cooker would help my confidence right?

Well I’m happy to report it worked. Wow, there’s nothing to it. This was going to be SO easy. And then I remembered what the book said and got downright excited to get cooking.

“It’s perfect for busy people who want to get a nutritious meal on the table with little effort and minimal cleanup.”

OK, I’m convinced. Pressure cooking is for me!

For my first recipe I thought I’d start simple: Easy Weekday Creamy Steel-Cut Oatmeal. Yum. Something I eat already and can make in FIVE MINUTES. Wow. This is life-changing stuff. So I set to work, and it went AWESOME! I thought the steam from the pressure cooking was going to be crazy but it wasn’t and it also wasn’t scary. I just followed the directions.

Except for one thing.

At some point I must have flipped the recipe page, I don’t know, maybe I was flipping through looking for what I would make next or something, because I noticed I was no longer making Easy Weekday Creamy Steel-Cut Oatmeal but was instead attempting Steel-Cut Oats and Farro with Dates and Coconut. Whoops. Comparing the two recipes I realized I didn’t mess anything up, I just took it all to the next level. Jumped straight to Intermediate.

What a wonderful accident. Tasty too.

Next up? Country Sausage Scotch Eggs.

Whoa.


175 Best Multifunction Electric Pressure Cooker Recipes synopsis

Delicious meals in a fraction of the time that stovetop or roasting methods take.

With their many function features (some have as many as 7), electric pressure cookers help make delicious and healthy foods that are not only easy and quick to prepare, but use much less energy. Clean up is minimal, too.

Bestselling small appliance cookbook author Marilyn Haugen uses her expertise to create rewarding recipes for this ingenious small appliance. There are recipes for every meal of the day. In a hurry? Done. Low and slow? Got it. The perfect stew or roast? No problem. Entertaining? How about Coq au Vin with Creamy Mashed Potatoes?

Haugen has created super time-friendly recipes for those frantic mornings like Sausage, Hash Browns and Pepper Casserole or Quinoa, Millet and Almond Bowls. And even on the busiest of work weeks, Beef Barbacoa Tacos with Chiles can be on the table in no time flat. Butternut Squash, Quinoa and Pomegranate Casserole made the night before can just be reheated.

These inviting recipes are sure to become family favorites that will be requested time and time again. The home chef can impress family and friends with the wide variety of satisfying dishes effortlessly created in an electric pressure cooker.

Even though I have, like, two hours between getting home and going to bed on weeknights, I'm still trying to cook well-balanced meals. My issue? I'm not a fast cook! So you can see why I'm interested in the idea of pressure cooking, and why 175 Best Multifunction Electric Pressure Cooker Recipes caught my eye. I LOVE my slow cooker but the everyone's into Instant Pot's now. What on earth is that!?