Behind the Scenes of the World-Changing Writing Workshop

Why do another World-Changing Writing Workshop?

Kyeli answered this so much more eloquently than I could, there’s nothing more I can say.

How we planned it and made it happen

First, we made a plan. The main things we needed, in rough order, were:

  • speakers & topics
  • bonuses
  • ambassadors to help us spread the word
  • a support team to do our audio editing and transcription
  • a web page
  • a bunch of emails and blog posts and guest posts

The reason they’re in this order is because the things at the bottom are things we can do on our own time. The other tasks involve fitting into other people’s schedules and waiting on responses, then contacting other people if the first people don’t work out. This can be very time-consuming, so we wanted to start that process as early as possible.

We started making arrangements with the busiest of our speakers all the way back in November. We finalized things with SARK in January (it was SO hard to keep it a surprise for so long!) and we also contacted Neil Gaiman, but unfortunately he’s busy with the movie version of The Graveyard Book for the next 18 months, so we’ll ask again in 2013. (:

Oh! And one more important thing about our plan — we divided it into three tiers: a “TO-DO” tier, a “WOULD BE REALLY GOOD TO DO” tier, and a “WOULD BE NICE TO DO” tier. This helped decrease our stress a lot, because nothing horrible would happen if we didn’t get to all the lower-tier items.

How we selected our speakers and bonuses

We chose the speakers who we thought could help you the most. We thought about the six steps to world-changing writing, and picked the speakers who would be the best at helping you with one of those six steps.

We had to take a deep breath before pressing “Send” each time. We’re star-struck by our speakers, and flattered that they said yes!

We chose the bonuses to fill in the gaps — to address the questions and problems writers were facing that weren’t fully covered by the speakers.

In fact, several people approached us to offer additional free stuff to include as bonuses for WCWW2. We turned them down, because we felt that any more bonuses would take the focus away from the strength of the core workshop itself.

Plus, if you have 1 product with 50 million bonuses, you start to wonder “What’s wrong with the actual product that they have to toss in 50 million bonuses to sweeten the deal?”

So we included just the bonuses we felt would be most helpful to our writers, and no more.

The doo-wop and the creepy soprano

I love creating jingles for our products, because I love making music, and this gives me a way to make music and help our business at the same time. Not only is it a lot of fun, I think it makes for a professional impression, and a custom jingle is way cooler than one of those stock intros you can buy.

At first, Kyeli wanted me to create a jingle that sounded like, in her words, “a creepy music box.” I did my best, but it wasn’t turning out well.

Then I said, “How about we make it sound like a 1920’s radio commercial?” and sang her an example. She loved the idea, and couldn’t stop singing that Annie song about toothpaste for the rest of the day.

We planned for me to sing tenor and bass (little known fact about me: yes, I can sing bass. I love watching the look on people’s faces) and for Kyeli to sing alto and soprano. We recorded tenor, alto, soprano, and an outtake track we called “creepy soprano” because it was in a minor key. On a whim, Kyeli wanted to see what it sounded like with the creepy soprano as the fourth track, and it sounded amazing!

And that’s the version you’ll hear on our video and as the intro & outro music for all our interviews. Tenor, alto, soprano, and creepy soprano. You just can’t resist the creepy.

How we decided on the price for the course

We used a lovely technique we learned from Mark Silver called, appropriately enough, the Right Price technique. It’s kind of like a cross between muscle testing (kinesiology) and Remembrance. We found the prices that resonated with our hearts, and trusted them. We even did it separately without talking to each other beforehand, and the prices we each came up with were within 15 dollars of each other!

Into every launch, a little rain must fall

Raindrop #1: I once dropped the ball on the manual step of copying our e-junkie ambassadors over to MailChimp, and omitted someone very important. It was very embarrassing. There was also an oopsie where one of our ambassadors somehow got a hold of a link to WCWW 2010 instead of WCWW 2011, and sent all their loyal followers to last year’s workshop. Last but not least, many of our emails to our ambassadors got lost in the ethernet and never arrived at their destination.

Let the rain fall.

Raindrop #2: When people signed up for the WCWW mailing list while the scholarship contest was open for applications, they received an email with the subject line

[WCWW] Your subscription is so totally confirmed. Here’s your download and scholarship application!

I made a note to myself to edit the email to remove the scholarship application once the deadline had passed, but it was midnight, I was groggy, and I forgot to edit the subject line. So everyone who signed up for the WCWW list between Wednesday at 12:01am and Friday morning, when someone finally emailed me to say “Hey, what gives, where’s my scholarship application?”, got a confusing and potentially unhappy-making subject line.

Let the rain fall.

Lesson learned: When making notes to myself that I’ll be reading at midnight, make them very precise.

Raindrop #3: Kyeli and I failed to communicate on our expectations and guidelines for the audio editing, which resulted in a last-minute scramble to cut several ums, uhs, stutters, and false starts we weren’t happy with.

Let the rain fall.

Luckily, Mer (our audio editor) was our umbrella — she came through for us. Yay!

Raindrop #4: Kyeli’s knee. Kyeli hurt her knee a couple of weeks before launch day, and things have been especially challenging since then.

Let the rain fall.

Raindrop #5: Poor planning.

We thought that since we had done a World-Changing Writing Workshop last year, we could reuse a lot of our work. We also thought that since we wouldn’t be doing the audio editing ourselves, we’d have oodles of time and we wouldn’t be hurried or stressed.

Not so.

We ended up scrambling to finish lots of tasks at the last minute, and we didn’t get to many of our “WOULD BE NICE TO DO” tasks. But we worked over the weekend and got all the most pressing tasks done.

Let the rain fall, and let it fall in buckets. Now, we’re dancing in it. (:

What we’re doing differently from last year, and why

We decided to have zero overlap between last year’s speakers and this year’s speakers, because we wanted WCWW2 to be fresh, new, and interestingly different from WCWW1, and also because we didn’t want to hurt any of our WCWW1 speakers’ feelings — they’re our friends, after all.

Last year, there wasn’t as much activity on the World-Changing Writers Guild as we had hoped for. Based on feedback from our 2010 students, we learned that we had made the usual error; others weren’t as comfortable on forums as we are. This year, we’ll be spending oodles more time on the Guild, and we’re putting a lot of effort into making it very friendly, welcoming, and active. And by “we” I mean “Kyeli”. (:

Last year, we gave people all the bonuses as soon as they registered. This year, we’re sending them out one by one, so we don’t overwhelm people, and to increase the chances that people will be going through the material at the same time. That’ll help build community on the Guild.

This year, we shared as much information about the Workshop as possible, including the price, as soon as the WCWW2 web page was ready. We wanted to give people more of a heads-up so they could think it over.

Last year, we had The Five Keys to World-Changing Writing. This year, we have The Six Steps to World-Changing Writing. It’s an important difference, because “keys” says “here’s some cool information,” but “steps” says “this is something you can actually do, and here’s how.” This year, we’re stepping more fully into our role as guides, teachers, and leaders.

We hope we’ve crafted the perfect environment to help you make a difference with your writing.

Won’t you join us?

Feel clear and confident about your direction in life!


Do you wish you could follow your heart, but it seems impossible? I can help you find the clarity and courage you need.

In other words, I can help you find your path.