I had the pleasure of interviewing Lance Winslow who I met at EzineArticles where we are both Platinum Authors. Lance has a love for life and a joy or reading, writing and sharing his views and experiences with the world. Chances are, you’ve probably read one of Lance’s articles on the Internet before, even if you didn’t realize it at the time.
Lisa: You’ve written more than 20,000 articles for the Internet. Can you tell us a little about how and why you began writing articles?
Lance: You can ask 100 writers why they deciding to get into writing or what made them finally take the plunge into a more serious displacement or attitude with regards to their writing – and in doing so you will very likely get 100-different and unique answers, all worthy of interest. Indeed, it goes without saying that my story is equally as interesting. You see, I got a D+ in journalism junior high school class, and it was the worst grade I had ever received.
Apparently, I didn’t like to follow directions, my spelling was not all that good, and my grammar was simply atrocious. Besides that, I liked to weave more storyline into the journalism pieces for the school newspaper, even though that wasn’t exactly accurate reporting. Luckily, I didn’t fail the class, but after I got a D+, I certainly didn’t want to be involved in any type of writing during the rest of my lifetime.
But that’s okay because I became an entrepreneur and started my first business about the same time washing airplanes, and as I grew my business bigger and bigger eventually into a franchise system while I was still in my late 20s, I had written all the information manuals, advertising, public relations pieces and so I got a good bit of practice writing. At that time I was working 17 hours a day studying the competition, the demographics, and each and every city we took the business to. Over 450 cities in 23 states and four countries in fact, before I sold the company and retired prior to my 40th birthday.
Lisa: That’s a very busy schedule to keep. I imagine it was hard to just retire after having such a busy business life.
Lance: Imagine someone like that who was working at that pace and intensity and suddenly stopping. I had nothing to do and so I began to write about all my experiences, and I bought a big motor home to travel around the country and visit every single city in the United States that I had not yet been to. I decided to write about the industries my business was involved with and since we were in the cleaning sector, we worked for many industries, 22 of them in fact. Thus, I had knowledge about all the different business models in all the different industries we serviced, along with the service industry, franchising, and I had tons of experiences in business issues from legal challenges to management.
So, I began to write about all those things and my travels. Eventually I had written more articles than anyone else at the number one online article submission site directory, and I hadn’t finished writing all that I knew. I wondered what the upper limit was to the number of articles one could write, and with all this free time on my hands I took to the Internet and began studying everything I could find with the same intensity of the 17 hour, the pace that I had come accustomed to in my own business.
Lisa: That’s awesome! So what did you decide to write these articles for the Net?
Part of the reason I started to write was to give information to the world help other entrepreneurs avoid the pitfalls and barriers, and yes the mistakes that I knew all too well during those years of building my company up. I wanted to pass on information to the world that had given me so much, because as one brilliant scholar once said “for he who is given much, much is expected.” After I wrote over 5000 articles, I begin to wonder if I could write 8000, then 10,000. I finally decided that I would stop at 20,000 articles, which I had completed by January 1, 2010.
As you can see, my story is unlike other writers who perhaps had written journals in high school and had loved literature, perhaps even taken writing classes in college, something that I had avoided due to fear of getting lousy grades, something that had gone back all the way to my junior high school days. I wish I could see the look on that teacher’s face now knowing that I have written more articles than any other human on the planet.
I guess success really is the best revenge. And, I also suspect that my story will give inspiration to other non-writer’s who have something to say to the world, or have information to give to all of us. I am perhaps, a much better speaker, and reader, than I am a writer, actually, I know I am. But I’m glad to know I am making a difference in many people’s lives, as I receive e-mails each and every day thanking me for a particular article I wrote, even if they may not realize that I’ve written 20,000 articles and I probably don’t even know which one they are talking about.
Lisa: Since you’ve written such a large number of articles, can you tell us a little about your writing process? How does one achieve such large numbers when it comes to publishing?
Lance: To keep up the pace with my level of article writing, sometimes writing 40 to 50 articles in one day, I must spend a good bit of my day reading, researching, and going through the online newsletters that I take, over 70 of them each day. I also scan the world headlines, geopolitics, various industries, and involve myself in industry blogs. Between all the trade journals I read, and nonfiction books, YouTube videos I watch, and trade shows I attend I have more than enough to write about.
Wherever I go out I take with me a note pad or a day planner and I write down potential titles of articles I might write based on the people I meet perhaps it is a Starbucks coffee shop, or the topics I run across that I read in the newspapers, magazines, and on the Internet. Often, after doing so much in life I am able to add something to the article that the particular writer didn’t write about. These are always ideas and they give me lots of additional subjects for articles.
Lisa: I completely agree. I do many of these same things myself. So what’s the next step in your writing process?
Lance: After a day of studying, and visiting with people out in public or online I sit down and look at all the titles that I wrote down of potential articles to write. I then create a word file for each of the titles that I think is worthy of my time, or something that not a lot of people talk about and therefore it might be of interest to those people in specific niches that are searching online and then subsequently reading one of my articles.
In each one of these word files I put the title at the top end and perhaps a few lines, or ideas of what I was thinking about at the time that I wrote it. I then close and save the file until I have created at least 10 because I always write 10 articles at a time. Sometimes I do more, and there have been times when I have had 200 word files with only titles and small amount of notes sitting in my “Potential Articles to Write,” file.
After taking a break and thinking about all the various topics and sometimes the topics bleed into each other because there are so many of them to keep track of, I sit down with my voice recognition software and began talking. Unless, I am watching TV, then I’ll type out the articles the hard way. I have used voice software for about 1/3 of the articles I write and I recommend you do the same. I generally stop my articles before I hit 500 words because I know most people on the Internet have a very low attention span and they are liable to click out within 18 seconds, so if I don’t have a lot of important things to say to keep their attention, I know they’re not going to read all my article.
Lisa: Great point you’ve brought up there. How long do you think articles should be for the Internet?
Lance: In my theory and articles should be long enough to convey a thought, explain some issue, and enlighten the reader on a potential topic, and they should not be one word longer than is necessary. Therefore, as I became a better writer overtime I have been able to shorten my articles, and get to the point right away, and then I allow the reader to contemplate what they just read. After I’m done with an article I close the file, and do nine more. Then I take a break, and I come back and I edit them one at a time.
The editing could take anywhere from 5 to 7 minutes, and there have been times when I just delete the whole thing and start over. The actual speech recognition part of the writing takes about the same amount of time as it does to edit. I don’t bother to make my articles perfect because I know if I want perfect articles I can hire an editor. Remember my spelling isn’t that good and I thank the “spirit in the sky” or Bill Gates everyday for spell check. I also know that my grammar has a lot to be desired and there are people who are specialists and they deserve whatever they charge.
Lisa: On that note, what do you write about and why?
Lance: Often, when I meet people who don’t know me they will ask me what I write about, and I have written on over 785 topics. I like to choose something that I know a good deal about, and I don’t have to do a lot of research on because that takes so much time and it’s difficult to do all the research and keep up the pace of my writing.
Each week I read anywhere from 2 to 5 books mostly on nonfiction topics and as I am reading I have ideas, and I listen to what the author of the book says and I relate it to things that happened to me in my life where there are stories that I might tell which will be of interest. Since I like to follow politics, although I am not one to get to overworked about it all, I often write on current events and political maneuvering, trying to bring another new topic to the debate, one which is not a TV media “talking points” comment of contention.
I am also turned on by new technologies, and future technologies. I do not limit myself to the past period history, or current events, I often like to write about the future. I like to write about things that are exciting, new things I can learn about, ironic situations, and topics such as philosophy, psychology, society, industry, and things that affect the flows of our civilization such as; transportation, communication, distribution, economics, water, energy, health, education, environment, language, infrastructure, and how each and every one of these items is interrelated and must be dealt with together and not separately because I believe we have far too much linear decision making going on these days.
My thinking is that every problem that mankind has created for himself is solvable, and even if there is lots of opportunity in the crisis and chaos of our time that doesn’t mean we can’t solve the problems, as often we choose not to. This is why I write for the think tank that I started to explain these issues to humankind.
Yes, like you I also have hobbies such as running, flying, motorsports, motorcycles, going to museums, inventing, traveling, etc. and so I like to write a lot about that as well. If you want to write articles online and you want to do it for some type of an online business, you really need to stick with what you like to study and think about because if you write about things that you don’t have any interest in just because they are heavily traffic keywords, you are not going to have a very good time doing it.
You might as well do something you like to do, and make money doing it, for if you don’t have passion about the topic your articles won’t be that good, and they certainly won’t be very interesting for those that are already involved in that specific niche, which is often your target market. Indeed, that is something to think about.
Read more about Lance and his take on article spinning, rewriting and article promotion in part 2 of this interview series.