7 years ago, Brian Clark glimpsed the future.
With $1,000, no audience, and no connections, he started a simple blog and slowly, steadily built a vast resource for empowering online writers.
Now, he’s the CEO of a multi-million dollar software company built around the credo of helping writers and online publishers grow their brands and businesses — the right way.
By writing and delivering valuable content, Brian has earned a vast audience, and some impressive accolades over the years.
That’s why it’s only fitting that the inaugural issue of The Writer Files takes a snapshot of a prolific blogger, entrepreneur, teacher, and Galaga aficionado.
Let’s flip through the file of Brian Clark, writer …
About the writer …
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Brian Clark, and I use online content to circumvent traditional media for fun and profit.
What is your area of expertise as a writer or online publisher?
Education. Persuasion. Bad Twitter jokes.
Where can we find your writing?
The writer’s productivity …
How much time per day do you spend reading or doing research?
2-3 hours, minimum.
Before you begin to write, do you have any pre-game rituals or practices?
Figurative self-immolation. Literally.
What’s your best advice for overcoming procrastination?
Let me get back to you on this one.
What time of day is most productive for your writing or content production?
Mornings in general, and specifically just before it truly needs to get done.
Do you generally adhere to a rigid or flexible writing system?
In the song West End Girls, the Pet Shop Boys asked “Which do you choose, a hard or soft option?”
Is this question related to that?
Never mind. Definitely flexible.
How many hours a day do you spend actually writing (excluding email, social media etc.)?
Depends on the day. Between one hour and six.
Do you write every day?
Sadly, not as much lately. But I’m getting back to it.
Reading like a crazy person taught me how to use words. Writing every day taught me how to use words in my own voice.
Once you get that voice, you can write whenever you deem necessary. I’m a very pragmatic writer — others need it every day like oxygen.
The writer’s creativity …
Seeing the intersection of seemingly unrelated topics and combining them into something new.
Who are your favorite authors, online or off?
Can you share a best-loved quote?
“The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” ~ William Gibson
Do you prefer a particular type of music (or silence) when you write?
Ambient with no or minimal lyrics. Words get in the way of the words.
How would you personally like to grow creatively as a writer?
Do you believe in “writer’s block”? If so, how do you avoid it?
I don’t get blocked about what to say — I either have something to say or I don’t. I get blocked as to how best to say it, which is the crux of the matter. So, I work at it in my head until I’m close enough to sit down.
Who or what is your “Muse” at the moment (i.e. specific creative inspirations)?
I can read just about anything and come up with inspiration. The connections are everywhere you care to look.
Would you consider yourself someone who likes to “take risks?”
On one hand, my entire life is a risk. On the other, I couldn’t accomplish anything any other way. Trying to work a job I hated would be much riskier … for everyone.
What makes a writer great?
Caring so much you can’t let it go before getting people to understand.
The writer’s workflow …
What hardware or typewriter model are you presently using?
A couple of Macs.
What software are you using for writing and general workflow?
Word for Mac, Evernote, Google Docs, scraps of paper, a rapidly diminishing memory.
Do you have any tricks for staying focused?
First and foremost, I … squirrel!
Have you run into any serious challenges or obstacles to getting words onto the page?
I’ve found that my writing output is especially low during REM sleep. Also, whenever the in-laws are over.
How do you stay organized (methods, systems, or “mad science”)?
I can keep a whole lot in my head until it’s ready to come out. This is both a blessing and a curse, but it’s always worked for me.
How do you relax at the end of a hard day?
Thankfully, television is excellent now. I used to never watch TV, but now a great televised comedy or drama at the end of the day makes me exceptionally happy.
A few questions just for the fun of it …
Who (or what) has been your greatest teacher?
My greatest teacher has been simply trying things … not to succeed, but to learn. In that context, there is no failure.
What’s your biggest aggravation or pet peeve at the moment (writing related or otherwise)?
Gotta say, I’m pretty happy at the moment. It’s my new thing.
Choose one author, living or dead, that you would like to have dinner with.
I’d have to go with [William] Gibson. He’d look down on me for being marketing scum, at least through the appetizers. But then I’d dazzle him with my conversation skills, while revealing an elaborate theory that proves he’s secretly quite fond of Hubertus Bigend.
Do you have a motto, credo or general slogan that you live by?
What’s the worst that could happen?
What do you see as your greatest success in life?
My kids are wonderful people so far. That could change.
If you could take a vacation anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go (cost or responsibilities are no object)?
I got into this writing and Internet thing primarily because I want to be able to go anywhere and it wouldn’t matter about work. And I do. It’s rarely a true vacation, but I truly enjoy my work.
What would you like to do more of in the coming year?
I’d like my editorial team to make me irrelevant instead of making me answer 30 questions on a Tuesday night.
Can you offer any advice to writers and content producers that you might offer yourself, if you could go back in time and “do it all over?”
Just one word. Plastics.
Please tell our readers where they can connect with you online.
Umm, seriously? We’re already here.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Things are about to get seriously great for online writers and content creators. I guarantee it.
And finally, the writer’s desk …
Nothing says more about a writer than the space they use to create.
No writer’s desk is the same.
This is where the magic happens, and where Brian literally sets himself on fire, figuratively. And plays Galaga.
Thanks for tuning in to The Writer Files …
Stay tuned for another revealing Q&A from one of my favorite working writers … “coming soon.”
If you’re already subscribed to Copyblogger via email or RSS, the next installment will be delivered to you just like the rest of our daily content.
If not, go ahead and subscribe right now so you don’t miss a thing.
Now get back to work!