How I Write Posts for The Waiter’s Pad

It’s nothing to brag about, but it’s the truth, posts at The Waiter’s Pad take me 3-5 hours to write. And it’s getting longer. My process has changed since October of 2014 and here’s the behind the scenes tour.

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After finishing my own book I turned to The Waiter’s Pad to see that the site needed some attention. I was posting there regularly, but my notes were lagging the episodes, and I wasn’t working through the back episodes quickly enough. 

One productivity tip that works well for me is to prioritize one project each day. My book being done, I make this site that project. I set a goal for myself to have notes up within 48 hours of the episode’s release and so far I’ve done that. But it’s taken some work.

In episode #84 Ben Mezrich talked to James Altucher for about an hour about writing, infectious diseases, and the psychology of how the media shares stories. The episode was released on a Tuesday around noon and that morning I had just finished writing the Tony Robbins post (because I also just finished reading his book).

Tuesday afternoon I listened to the interview to and from getting my daughter from school and while walking my dogs at night. Wednesday morning I couldn’t sleep, and turned the episode on again at 5:30 and listened to it while taking written notes. By 6:00 the coffee and notes were done and I spent 45 minutes sketching the outline.

Mezrich notes

The Written Notes for Ben Mezrich’s interview with James Altucher

When typing the outline I go all the way through the notes, leaving a trail of hieroglyphics to come back to. I have symbols like [] which act as a checkbox, bold sections that need attention, and _____ which serves as a helipad for a name or date to land on.

Below is a screenshot with some of those notes. The upper section has links that I’ve already added to book titles while the middle includes a pair of ideas that I need to find direct quotes for.

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This bottom section has nothing done to it yet, it’s still in the early draft form. I need to add links, and the last two paragraphs were changed quite a bit before publishing.

After I fill in some links and other areas it’s 8:30 and my daughters are awake. I head downstairs to feed them breakfast and we find out that school is cancelled. This means that the three hours of uninterrupted writing I typically get on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are gone and we need to improvise.

Instead, I load them up in the car and we go to the YMCA, Library, Walmart and then come home for lunch and a few chores before I’m back at the computer around 1:15 to finish the post. The last hour is filled with finding the right quote for the “[] Writing tools” note you see in the image. I also omit needless words and give the post a final proofing.

I know there is no time to write, only opportunities to pursue writing. If I’m truly going to be a writer that provides value I need to put in the the time. All told this post took 4.5 hours to write. This isn’t uncommon. Just a few days after the Ben Mezrich interview came out, David Levien was interviewed and the work for his post followed a similar pattern. 75 min to listen and take notes, 60 min to draft, 30 min to add links, 60 min to add direct quotes, 45 min to finalize.

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3 thoughts on “How I Write Posts for The Waiter’s Pad

  1. I thoroughly enjoy James’ interviews, but after reading your notes with all of the extra references, I have enjoyed the series even more. Thank you for sharing your process! I am not a writer, but I loved reading about the creativity and tools involved in creating your segments. I am very glad I stumbled upon you! You have a fan.

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