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Your second brain

Growing your newsletter, places to self-publish, organising a writing retreat and a writing tool that connects your thoughts.

Iain Broome
Iain Broome
4 min read
Your second brain
Pencil typography from the always-gorgeous Present and Correct Instagram account

Another edition of Draft Mode in your inbox, from me Iain Broome, novel writer and all-round shed enthusiast. Hello to the new folk. Respect to you old timers.

As I work away on the website now it's on Ghost, I keep coming across old blog posts. Some of them make me very nostalgic. Some make me wonder who the heck I thought I was with all my this is how you do it nonsense.

But then there is lots of stuff I think still makes sense and holds up nicely. Take this post I wrote in 2011, weirdly called the heart, mind and murder test for writers.

It's a three-step process you can go through to check that your writing is actually any good. It also contains some thoughts on the old kill your darlings schtick, thoughts very similar to those of Austin Kleon, who recently suggested relocating your darlings instead.

Anyway. This is all slightly related to the section in this newsletter where I ask for help with something. You can find that below. Along with all the usual literary goodies.

A hundred cuddles,


PS Thank you to those of you who regularly share these emails. I really appreciate it and it makes all the difference. With four kids, a full-time business to run and a pandemic all around, promoting the newsletter is the thing that typically falls off my to do list. So thanks!

Every issue I collect and share the best advice, apps and other shenanigans that I find on my internet travels. Find something useful? Subscribe for free.

Obsidian – A second brain, for you, forever

After seeing lots of people raving about this note taking app, I have decided to download it and give it a go. It has many bells and whistles, but the thing I like most is that, in the background, it's all just plain text files in a folder on your computer. Which means the content is always yours.

Some potential reasons you might check it out. First of all, notes. If you need a new place to stick your brilliant thoughts, Obsidian will do the job. But because you can link notes up and view your data in different ways, it's also a good option for research and writing non-fiction.

If you want to see it in action, I've included a beginner's guide to Obsidian video where this lovely chap who really likes notes takes you through the basics.

Other tools that also want to be your 'second brain' include Notion, which I use to write and manage this very newsletter. And Roam Research, which I have yet to crack open, but surely will soon because that's exactly the kind of nit I am.

Why not organise your own writing retreat?

This is from Nicole Zhu's newsletter, which was recommended to me by Bec Evans, Draft Mode reader and purveyor of also-excellent site for writers, Prolifiko. It includes some brief and sensible tips on organising your own writing retreat, which sounds like a marvellous idea to me.

How to stay motivated when writing your novel

Tips 1, 2 and 7 are the ones that resonate most with me. It's really, really hard to keep going when the going gets tough, but breaking up your writing into smaller chunks is a good idea. Small, achievable tasks done over and over again. A slow march forwards.

The best places to self-publish a novel

Another new newsletter to me and this time from author, Elle Griffin. There's lots of good stuff in the archives and I really love the idea of publishing a novel via newsletter. This post though provides some ways you can self-publish along with examples of successful folk who've been there and done it.

25 Ways to Sign Someone Up For Your Newsletter

My advice to any author (and most humans) is start a newsletter. You're reading mine now. Obviously. Of all the ways to build a readership, get people interested in your work and have a proper conversation with people, email is still the bestest.

Anyway, this is a presentation by Dan Oshinsky, who runs Not a Newsletter, which is in fact a newsletter, it's just the content is in a Google Doc. It's also a newsletter about newsletters, which doesn't help matters at all.

It's a great presentation if you want to bag more sign ups. You should read it.

I need your help!

Imagine a world where I create a short podcast version of this newsletter where I share my thoughts on writing and chat to other brilliant writing folks.

What would you want me to talk about? What do you want to know?

Some initial suggestions:

  • the writing process
  • recommended writing resources
  • the publishing experience
  • maybe even running a newsletter

I'm very open to ideas and would like to be as helpful as possible! So reply to this email (if that's how you're reading), email or hit me up on Twitter, as they say. All suggestions welcome.

Tweets of the week

Tweets are but teats on the belly of a desperate and most filthy pig. But some of them are quite good. You can follow @iainbroome and @DraftModeHQ on Twitter.

First-time reader?

Draft Mode is a weekly newsletter by Iain Broome, author of the novel, A is for Angelica. Join 1000+ subscribers and start receiving the tools and tips that help you improve, publish and promote your writing. Subscribe for free.

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I'm the author of the novel, A is for Angelica. Every week, I send Draft Mode, a newsletter full of tips and tools that help you improve your craft and promote your writing.

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