Sean Platt is a friend to writers. Yesterday’s Gone is a title worth paying attention to. Whether you’re a reader, writer or marketer, it’s a potential game changer, well worth following. You can start by buying the Yesterday’s Gone pilot for $.99, or get the full “season” for just $4.99 and keep the smile on your face for a week.
When did you begin writing?
Hi Christian, thanks for having me. It’s great to be here!
I started writing around four years ago. My wife had been telling me to get my pen moving forever, but I didn’t consider myself a writer – at all. Fortunately, she’s persistent and I eventually tried my hand, quickly finding that writing was what I was supposed to do.
Once I started, I found riting completely natural. It was easy to sit in the chair and spill my thoughts long enough to produce a finished piece of work.
Slightly more than three years ago I wrote some of the first work I was especially proud of, wonderfully rhythmic children’s rhymes, which eventually became my book, Syllable Soup.
I sent excerpts from that book to an agent in New York, they told me “the vocabulary was too rich for children,” so I decided I didn’t want a traditional publishing contract after all, registered my first domain, Writer Dad, then started publishing online the following week, on July 17, 2008 to be exact.
I’ve been writing online ever since.
What drives your passion for writing?
Writing is a bottomless well.
I consider myself an entrepreneur first, writer second. But I am a writer inside out and upside down, and there’s no doubt that writing is my sharpest skill as an entrepreneur.
The writing itself comes from a place I don’t quite understand. For example, when there’s a lot of time in between when I finish writing something and when I read it later, I often have little to no memory of getting it down in the first place.
About half of Syllable Soup, and my first full book, Four Seasons, I remember little of writing. While I was giving Four Seasons a final edit earlier this year, after letting it sit on my hard drive for 18 months or so, I was shocked by how much of the story caught me off guard.
To me, that’s a bit out of body, and makes writing magic. Of course, part of the reason for my fog is that with writing online, both for myself and professionally, nonstop for the last three years, producing millions of words in that time, it’s impossible to remember everything. But I also believe great writing, and the passion that follows, is capturing your subconscious thoughts – like drenching your dreams in ink.
Probably my biggest recurring theme in my writing is time, how we spend it and its inevitable loss, and that informs much of my work. Creating a lasting legacy of quality work is especially important to me, and drives much of what I do.
If you were to give advice to a new writer, what would it be?
That’s the best advice I could give to any writer, or any creative trying to build an online business. Writing is a process, not an event. Just like any sort of success.
Writers write, and do so constantly. You must be willing to make many, many, MANY mistakes if you expect to succeed as a writer. Of course, you don’t want to make too many, but they are essential to growth. My mistakes have helped me build my online business more than anything else, but those mistakes were a resource I was certainly overproducing for a while!
Also, read everything you can. A writer who doesn’t read is only half a writer.
One other thing that I don’t think is critical, though it will give any writer a razor sharp edge, is learning basic copywriting skills. I learned to write basic copy because I had to pay my bills and knew keyword copy wouldn’t cut it.
Sales letters and auto responders pay far more than most types of copy, so I learned everything I could. Yet, it’s that skill set that is helping me market and improve my writing.
Copywriting improves my fiction. It’s the same skill set – keeping people glued to the page, leading them through a flow of ideas or narrative, then amping their excitement at the end.
In a sales letter, your call to action is to get your reader to click a BUY button. With fiction, you want your reader to buy the next book in your series or tell their friends about what they just read.
When you’ve lost motivation to write or run into writer’s block, what do you do?
I don’t really get writer’s block, and as unpopular as it may be to say it, I don’t think anyone does. Writer’s block is procrastination, plain and simple.
Writers have an odd excuse few other professions are allowed. A surgeon can’t go into surgery and says, “I can’t do any cutting today, I have surgeons block!”
That wouldn’t work. Neither would lawyer’s block, plumber’s block, or teacher’s block. Writing is a job, just like any other. Yes, writing is creative and you do need to dip your bucket into a particular well, but sometimes it’s simply a matter of muscling through the work that needs to be done when you don’t want to do it. You may not love every word you write, but if you’re willing to bleed through the rough draft, you can always return to clean up later. More often than not you’ll be surprised by what you write.
There have been plenty of times when I haven’t written what I was supposed to write, and spent my time farting around, or bouncing from Twitter to Facebook to wherever, but I can’t honestly say it was writer’s block. Those were all times when I didn’t feel like writing. However, over the last three years those times have been dwindled to nearly nothing. At first I had to juggle deadlines forever, now the writing habit is so ritualized I rarely miss my rhythm.
The trick is to write fast and often. I’m okay getting copy down that is a galaxy far far away from good, because I know I can always return to it later. It’s more important to hit my word count.
Tell us about Yesterday’s Gone.
Yesterday’s Gone is my very favorite thing I’ve done online, so far. It’s a serialized fiction project, modeled after TV far more than books, with awesome openings and kick-ass WTF?! endings.
“If you took Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’, the television show ‘Lost’, and the movie ‘Die Hard’ and mixed them all together, this book would be the result.”
That’s an actual reader review on Amazon from someone I don’t know, but I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Writing and promoting Yesterday’s Gone has been a tremendous amount of fun. After spending a couple of years as a ghostwriter, watching other people thrive from the strength of my words, it is wonderful to start writing for myself and my writing partner, David Wright.
Fiction is my sweet spot, and I love it dearly. Yesterday’s Gone is a passion project, but because it is was written with a strategy and a plan, it’s also the first time in my three years online where passion and business have so beautifully intersected.
It’s been a ton of fun playing around with different mediums. Just check out the difference in tone with these 3 trailers:
Season One Trailer
That’s What You Do For Family
What Would Boricio Do?
What makes your serialized fiction series different?
To my knowledge, no one is doing anything quite like Yesterdays Gone right now. Of course, neither David or I invented serialized fiction. Dickens was doing it a couple hundred years ago, and Arabian Nights long before that. Yet, we are making Yesterday’s Gone a new and exciting experience for modern readers, no doubt.
We originally tried serializing with our first co-authored book, Available Darkness, a couple years back. But that wasn’t true serialization. We were simply taking one book and chopping it into pieces. Yesterday’s Gone is built from the ground up to resemble the superbly scripted sequences you find in quality serial on TV, such as LOST, Breaking Bad or 24. Every cliffhanger ending leads you into the next episode and our “season finale,” sets the stage for the premiere of Season 2.
Beyond that, like television, our scenes are written individually and out of order, then blended together for the best possible flow. There isn’t anything else I know of like this, and I’m ridiculously proud of the end result and am uber curious to see where it all goes.
Where do you find inspiration? How do you capture ideas?
Oh man, I find inspiration everywhere! I wish I could turn it off sometimes. But most times, it’s like a broken faucet, LOL.
Capturing ideas is done with whatever medium I have handy: notebooks, napkins, quick jots on my phone, receipts, you know the drill!
I try to keep everything in a bucket, and refer to it regularly. I used to be afraid of losing ideas and would diligently write everything down and review it regularly. Now I know better.
The best ideas always return, and when they do they’re better than they were the first time when they were only flirting with your attention.
P.S. If you read Yesterday’s Gone, which you should, and LOVE it, which you will, please leave a review on Amazon.