Interview with Joe Bunting: Having Dreams, Becoming Published, And Creating A Platform

I’m finally starting to write a book. Cue fireworks and clapping parents.

But seriously, it’s official. I put some skin the game and started this “100 Day Book Challenge” thingy with the Write Practice.

And in honor of the Write Practice pushing me toward my dreams, I wanted to flashback to an interview I did with the founder of Write Practice in 2013, Joe Bunting.

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Meet Joe Bunting.

Cool name right? I met Joe at a pool party in Gainesville, Georgia. No joke. We then talked about books. I pretended to know more than I did. I could tell he wasn’t pretending. Thus, I decided to join his writing group. Once a week Joe brought a writing prompt and we made gin & tonics. I freakin loved it.

Anyways, in both 2011 & 2012, Joe’s blog “The Write Practice” won Top 10 Blogs For Writers. Joe is a published writer, and most recently guest posted for the content marketing juggernaut, Copyblogger.

Future Joe accolade will include, editing the book I haven’t written yet. Is it “written” yet? Or “wrote” yet? I don’t know. He’ll help me with the grammar part.

Oh yeah, he loves Jesus too and also did that race thingy in 2010.

1) Tell me about your blog The Write Practice.

A few years ago, I wanted to improve at writing, but I had this question, How do you really improve at writing? Baseball players have batting and fielding practice. Musicians practice their scales. What’s the best way to practice writing?

The Write Practice was and is my attempt to answer that question. Every day we learn something new about writing, often from examples from other great writers such as Ernest Hemingway or Andrew Stanton, the Pixar screenwriter. Then, we put that lesson to practice immediately with a writing exercise.

But real practice requires feedback, and so we post our practice in the comments section of the blog post itself to get feedback from other writers who are trying to improve like us. It’s scary to try something new and to share your writing publicly, but what we’ve discovered is that writers are the kindest people in the world. They go out of their way to give constructive feedback in the most encouraging way possible. It’s an amazing community.

2) In your opinion, why does living our dream matter?

Matter to whom? The funny thing about actually living your dream and not dreaming your dream, is that living it doesn’t look much like a dream. In fact, it’s pretty much just like real life except it’s less safe and it’s more work. To do your “dream” you have to do some pretty non-dreamy things.

Does it matter? Of course it does. Will it hurt? You bet!

3) You have 75,000 monthly readers (update…it’s now 350,000 in 2016…no big deal) on your blog. Seriously, how do you do that?

You start. Readers, search engines, and other bloggers take a long time to “get to know you.” Building a blog or starting a business or achieving your dream is a long, slow process, and all the rewards come months or years after the hard work. So you start now and you invest and you wait.

You write consistently. We have posted once a day, six times a week, for two and a half years. We’ve also written guest posts on dozens of other blogs. Blog posts are like seeds. You don’t know which one will bear fruit, so you have to sprinkle them liberally.

You make friends. The best resource in blogging, like most hobbies or professions, is your peer group. By making friends with other bloggers, you learn to write better, you get more exposure on social media, and you get more valuable links. But beyond that, bloggers are generally really interesting people. Why wouldn’t you want to get to know them!

4) What are three tools you can suggest for people wanting to get published?

A self-hosted WordPress blog. The publishing world is being transformed by writers who can connect with their audience directly and don’t have to rely on a publisher to do it for them. Your blog is the single most powerful tool you have as a writer.

Self-hosted because you own it and therefore you don’t have to worry about WordPress or Tumblr changing their terms of service. WordPress because one in four websites on the Internet runs on it and because of that the community that supports it is the best in the world.

Email. Most writers can be reached by email, even many of the famous ones. Go email them. Ask them questions. Make friends.

Time. Writing takes a lot of time. If you want to publish a book, it takes a lot of a lot of time. Protect your time.

5) How does Jesus play into your job as a writer?

Mostly I play into his.

6) What does it mean to take risk?

I think most of us know the feeling of doing something we know is good but that we really don’t want to do. I experience this all the time, making a phone call to an important publishing executive, interviewing a major blogger, launching a new book, negotiating a ghostwriting deal. My preferred method of dealing with it is by pacing. I pace with my notebook and take notes about what to say. If I have to talk on the phone, I pace while I’m walking. You do what is good and you try to cope with the fear the best you can.

Sometimes it goes well and sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, you try to forgive yourself and grieve. When it goes well, actually you pretty much do the same because it never goes perfectly. It’s risky after all.

7) The most exciting project I’ve been a part of was…and what projects are you currently working on.

My son.

This interview.

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