(Transcript) My favorite tool for collaborating in writing projects


Morgan MacDonald : Hello, hello. Welcome to the replay. Sorry if you can hear my munchkins in the background. They’re playing – with the nanny, not unsupervised, don’t worry. How are you guys doing? Everyone, as you’re popping in, let me know where you’re coming in from. Ayesha, good to see you. Am I saying your name right? Let me know. Let me know what your name is, where you’re coming in from. Let me know what you write. Do you write blogs?


Renia Carsillo (https://twitter.com/ReniaEats ) : Hi from Tampa!


Morgan MacDonald :  Renia. Hello. Hello. From Tampa, nice. Do you write blogs, books, papers? I would BET that if you… Hey Shalon!…  write anything… thanks for the hearts… you probably have to write WITH other people at some point. So let me show you my favorite tool for writing with other people.


Renia Carisllo (https://twitter.com/ReniaEats )  : Blogs and books. Copywriter by day.


Morgan MacDonald : … Renia, blogs and books, copywriter by day… Nice.Nice. So you probably work with a lot of people also.


Shalon Ironroad (https://twitter.com/ShalonIronroad ) : Love tools!


Morgan MacDonald : Shalon loves tools, I know [chuckle]. I will be talking to you about tools later today. Can’t wait.

So I am a writing coach, editor, and author, and I work with writers all day, every day. That’s what I do. It’s my favorite thing.


Ayesha O (https://twitter.com/LeAyeshah ) : Yeah, like that French song from the 90s.


Morgan MacDonald : Ayesha… oh like that French song from the 90s… Okay. Nice. Thank you.

So let me show you Basecamp.  I [went and spoiled?] it. My favorite tool is Basecamp. It took me a long time to settle on this. I will say [that] I went through, kind of, an evolution. For a while I was using [something] LIKE a Dropbox, and doing documents back and forth, which worked great when you were just working with ONE document. But what if I need to send them a resource or something? I send it to their email, and then a month later they’re like, “Where did that go? Can you resend it?” And I’m like, “I don’t know. I didn’t save it.” [laughter] Then I’m digging through Gmail trying to find it… thanks for the hearts…

So when you’re dealing with writing projects it’s never JUST the words, right? It’s never just one Word document back and forth. It’s ideas, and even images, and web sites, and resources, and stuff that you need to send back and forth. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Gmail search function is, kind of, terrible [laughter]. I love Gmail – all of the time I have all of my email forwarded from my domain into Gmail – but the search is not good. So if you’re dealing with more than one project it’s going to go completely haywire super fast.

So, what I have started doing  – I guess I started this like six months ago, using Basecamp. I’m  going to flip you guys around so you can see what this looks like. So I’m going to show you REAL projects. None of the books are published, and so you won’t know who they are, and no one’s last name is here. So just do me a favor and try not to sleuth out who these authors really are. They wouldn’t appreciate it. But I’m going to show you real life projects. So let me pull up my Basecamp [really] quick and make sure I don’t have anything super sensitive. I already, kind of, checked this [so] it should be fine. Okay. So let me flip you around, and if you have questions while we’re going through feel free to pop those in.

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So this Basecamp. It is a project management software, and this is my workflow.  So these are just some of the current projects– I went ahead and archived some –  examples that I have pulled up. So each of these represents a different book that I’m working on.  There’s like three books right up here.  So if I go in and I click on this project this gives me Jim’s book. And because it’s a book it’s not just Word documents, right? It IS Word documents, but [we’ve also got] discussions. So I tell my clients, “Everything that you would want to email me, send me in a discussion.”

For instance, I just got off the phone with Jim just a little bit ago. So we were talking about building his book web site. So I have this little discussion thread here, and every time I want to add something about building his book web site I’m going to put it in this thread, and he can always find it. He won’t have to dig through his email at all.

So all of these discussions are just – instead of what we would send in an email – we leave HERE in these discussion threads, and they’re always super easy to access. And as you can see we have quite a few  – twenty-eight. But if you title them correctly they’re pretty easy to go through, [the] twenty-eight of these discussion threads. Down here you can see that we’re talking about – I won’t let me highlight – “Calling & purpose/why questions”. I always try to make sure the title is really clear [as to] what that indicates for me.

So let me go back to our project here. So I run that instead of email. Then these are files. This is maybe my FAVORITE part of Basecamp, that you can add files in here. So this is actually a PDF from Tim Grahl’s web site, “Introverts Guide To Book Marketing”. So we’re talking about book marketing with this client. And I can just pop this PDF in right here. But right next to it is Jim’s most recent draft…


Shalon IronRoad (https://twitter.com/ShalonIronroad ) : Gotta hop off, but wanted to pop in and say hi! Talk soon!


Morgan MacDonald : … Gotta hop off… Oh thanks Shalon. We’ll talk soon… Here’s his most recent draft. So that’s always there, [and] I don’t have to find it in an email. I can just download it, then make my changes, and then re-upload it.


Renia Carsillo (https://twitter.com/ReniaEats ) : Can you add Scrivener files to Basecamp, or does it have to be exported first?


Morgan MacDonald : … Can you add Scrivener files… Oh, Renia, this is the bane of my existence. I WISH that Scrivener collaborated better, but it just doesn’t. No, there is no easy way to add Scrivener files to this. I might do a separate Scope on working with Scrivener between authors, but obviously it is really hard. It makes me sad. It breaks my heart [laughter].  I want desperately for Scrivener to be able collaborate between people, but it’s just really hard.

I record phone calls. I can pop the recordings in right here. We have an Excel spreadsheet. This is actually a Google Doc. This is another thing I love – oh, maybe this isn’t a Google Doc – but Basecamp can use Google Docs.  So if you share a folder in Google Docs you [can just] put them right here in this “file” section, and then you can access them through Basecamp. You don’t have to have Google Drive open, if that makes sense.

Then another feature I love is these text documents. This is where I keep all [of the] notes I keep on phone calls, so that they’re super easy to access. So it’s just like having almost like little Evernotes, is usually how I think of them.

So I love that all of this is available within ONE workspace.  And I don’t always use this, but sometimes you can do little “to do” lists. So if I wanted to I might call this “manuscript”, that we’re working on – oh, Jim’s going to be really confused [because] this is a real project. But that’s okay [laughter]. [Then] I might say, “Write intro”, and I might assign it to whoever is on the project, and I might give it a due date. I’m not going to do that because Jim would be super confused as to what’s going on [laughter] . Let me figure out how to cancel… I’m done.  Okay. But you CAN do a “to do” list. So that’s super helpful when you’re collaborating also.

Then one of my OTHER favorite features is the “calendar”, if I can find my calendar. The calendar is also really cool because you can put in your deadlines, and due dates, and what you want both people  – or ALL of the people – to accomplish, and you can actually add events – whether it’s a phone call, or a deadline – that way everyone has a visual of how much time you have left before your deadline.

So does anyone have any questions. Oh, also if you’re working on LOTS of projects…


Bluesparkcol (https://twitter.com/CourtneyOLIN ) : Is it available for Windows?


Morgan MacDonald : … Is it available for Windows?…. Yeah. It’s a web application. So if you have an up-to-date Google Chrome, or Safari, or Internet Explorer, or whatever, it should be the same. So, also…


Bluesparkcool (https://twitter.com/CourtneyOLIN ) : Do a Scrivener tutorial soon.


Morgan MacDonald :  Yup. Sure thing Courtney. So because I work with a LOT of authors, on a LOT of projects, I can browse everything that’s going on in ALL of the projects to see where I need to response. So I can see every discussion that’s going on, with all of the various people, and see what’s going on… Okay. So I’m going to flip back around

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Morgan MacDonald :  So, like I said, let’s talk briefly about [how] I do have a YouTube video –maybe I’ll post that on my web site – where I show you how I use Evernote, Scrivener and Dropbox. It’s a little bit out of date. I need to redo that video. But go to http://www.paperravenediting.com/periscope and I will post that video on too, so you can see that, in addition to this reply.

I love Scrivener. It’s what I use with my OWN writing, and I think it’s [really] nice and flexible for when it’s just YOUR project, and you’re still holding onto it, and working on it. But as soon as you try to bring someone ELSE into Scrivener it, kind of, goes crazy. So the best way I’ve found to work with someone on Scrivener is to have ONE project file that’s in a Dropbox, and you both use that one file. But then you’re both making changes inside Scrivener that the other doesn’t know [about precisely] what’s been changed. I mean, there [are] ways to track changes, but honesty they’re, kind of, messy and I don’t really like them. This may be silly.

But I usually deal with authors, and because I love Scrivener a lot of people have found me through…  thanks for sharing on Twitter Renia… YouTube, because I do have this video where I walk you through how I use Scrivener for my own projects. So people are like, “Oh, I LOVE Scrivener!” and they start using it, and then they come to me and want my help [as] writing coach


Bluesparkcool (https://twitter.com/CourtneyOLIN ) : Oh, I saw it, and it made me buy Scrivener, have Evernote, and I just bought and read “Turning Pro”.


Morgan MacDonald : Oh, you saw it, and it made you buy Scrivener [laughter]. Thanks Courtney, that’s awesome. And you read “Turning Pro”. Fantastic. I love it. So yeah, people come to me and they’re like, “Oh, I saw your YouTube video and now I’m using Scrivener, and I love it, and I want to work with you. Can you help me with this editing project?” or coaching, or book, or whatever. And I’m like, “Yes, I would love to. The only problem is [that] I can’t edit your stuff in Scrivener.”

So what we end up doing is [that] THEY export the different files –and I’ll do a separate YouTube video or Periscope on this – as either a Word doc, or a Rich Text Fornat (RTF), and then I just read it, and make notes. And I record all of our phone calls, so we talk about it on the phone calls, and I make notes separately, and then I attach those notes to our Basecamp, or whatever. So I’m not actually in the nitty-gritty of editing for the first part.

Then once the draft is complete then I say, “Okay. Now you’ve got to export it, for GOOD, out of Scrivener. We’re going to put it in Word, and we’re going to exchange Word documents back and forth.” Because, unfortunately, that’s just the industry standard. When you work with an editor it’s going to be Word documents back and forth, using “tracked changes”. Maybe that’s ANOTHER Scope [laughter].

But I wish there was an alternative, and there’s just not a good one. It’s very sad.  Even Google Docs. I want Google Docs to be better, but the Google Docs track changes, I don’t like it. It makes you do the black line, where things are crossed through, and I really like the “bubble” style, where it literally deletes it, and then makes a little bubble that says, “This was deleted” out in the margin. So I like that style, and Google Docs doesn’t offer that style.

So yeah, I love Basecamp, and we trade Word documents back and forth, and it totally works. It works with Google Docs too, if you don’t mind that style of track changes. Especially if it’s really SHORT stuff, like if you’re working on copywriting stuff, Renia, or a blog post, or whatever. When I work with clients on their web content – because I also write web content for people – if it’s a home page, or something, that’s like 500 to 1000 words, then we’ll get into a Google Docs  together, and we’ll change stuff in that Google Docs, and that’s really helpful.

Do you guys have any other questions… Scrivener.. Basecamp… Google Docs … Word – which everyone hates, but everyone uses [laughter] It’s not really Word’s fault. [It’s] very functional. I don‘t know when I’m going to get the notes up for this. Maybe I’ll just do a reply. I’ll do really brief notes, but I usually put up Periscope Notes on my web site, which is http://www.paperravenediting.com/periscope . Let me show that to you. In fact, I was really bad, [as] I did not even get up yesterday’s replay. I’m having a hard time figuring out the best way to record with the hearts and comments. So if anyone [knows] how to do that, hit me up on Twitter at @morgangmac  (https://twitter.com/morgangmac ), and let me know how to do that, because I want to.

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Okay. All done. This is my web site. I try to put up the YouTube replays – you see that’s one of the more recent ones. I also try to put notes and [the] replay.

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So, here’s one more thing. I don’t know if you guys are interested in this. But if you do a lot of co-authoring stuff – where you’re talking to either a co-author, or a client, or someone like that – my other new favorite tool is UberConference,

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[which] allow you to record phone calls, so you both either type in – like if I type in uberconference.com/morgangmac , you log into the same portal and it records, so we can talk through the computer.  Or they can call my special number here, and that is my conference line, and I call into that as well, and then we’re suddenly on a conference call that automatically records.

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Anything that we talk about is recorded, and then they can reference it later, and upload that to Basecamp. So just a fun tip if you are working with a co-author. Especially clients, because clients have to go back and refer to what you were talking about. But [with] co-authors sometimes you exchange idea so fast on the phone, or Skype, or whatever, that you don’t capture everything in your handwritten notes, and then you forget later. Or someone suggested a way to word something, or a title, or whatever, and you get caught up in the pace of the conversation and you completely forget to write it down, and you’re like, “Oh shoot! What was that thing?” If you use UberConference, and record the call automatically, then you can always go back and find that brilliant tidbit that you all were talking about beforehand.

So, any other questions? I’m going to have to go get some lunch. This is my second day in a row of lunchtime Scope. Aren’t you’ll proud?


InFlightRunning (https://twitter.com/InFlightRunning ) : How are you switching from screen to your view so fast?


Morgan MacDonald : …How are you switching from screen to your view so fast?… You’re in Houston, too. Hey Houston! I think it’s just a double-tap. If it’s a good connection. Maybe it’s because I’m sitting right next to my wifi router, and so I’m connected to wifi, and maybe it’s faster. I don’t know. Periscope is still very new to me. Things happen on Periscope and I’m like, “Why? Why is this happening? Why am I losing connection  all the freaking time?” [laughter].

Alrighty guys. I’m going to go get some lunch. If you are working with other people on projects  Basecamp is worth it, for sure.  Also, I should mention this. I use a paid version of Basecamp, because I upload a lot of files. There’s also FreedCamp…


InFlightRunning (https://twitter.com/InFlightRunning ) : Otherwise known as Hades now.


Morgan MacDonald : I know, Houston is so hot right now. It’s, kind of, gross. I have not spent a lot of time on Freedcamp, but someone told me about it. Let me give you, at least, the web address so that if you want to try this STYLE of Basecamp, and not pay money for it…

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There you go… http://www.freedcamp.com . It is allegedly a Basecamp that’s free.

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But, again, I haven’t really messed with it, so I don’t know what it’s like. But people say it’s like Basecamp.

So if you feel like you are frustrated by emailing people back and forth  that is a strong indicator that you need a project management system, and that’s what I recommend. Alrighty guys. Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you tomorrow. I’m going to go ahead and commit. We’re going to do another lunchtime writing Scope tomorrow. So tune in, and I will see you guys later. Bye. Have a good afternoon.

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