Welcome to my new blog on becoming a better writer!

Hi, I’m Kevin Matz, and this is my new blog, focusing on topics of interest to writers of all kinds.

It’s very meta to write a blog about writing, but there seems to be a large audience for blogs catering to aspiring and active authors.

I’m actively working on shifting my career out of the software industry and into working on writing and selling my own series of books and information products, full-time.

I’ve already written one book, Designing Usable Apps, and I’m planning to write several more, some perhaps on software engineering topics, and some in other areas. I’m currently working on a book on personal finance, for example, and I’ve been exploring a couple of potential collaborative projects with friends and fellow authors.

As you can tell, my interests tend to lie more in the non-fiction side of things, but a lot of what I’ll be discussing in this blog will be useful for fiction authors and novelists as well.

So just what is this blog going to be about?

I have always enjoyed writing — or perhaps I should say, I enjoy the end-product of writing. I like the thinking part. I have lots of ideas. And yet for someone who likes writing and wants to be a full-time author, I often struggle with getting motivated and focusing on writing, because, truth be told, it’s such a painful and often emotionally draining process. Writer’s block is real; figuring out what to write down when you’re staring at a blank page is really tough, and it’s hard to keep going when it feels like everything you do write down is crap. And after a lousy writing session like that, you start to dread the next one, and procrastination and avoidance sets in.

So a big part of this blog will be exploring techniques for motivating yourself to sit down to write, overcoming discouraging thoughts, and becoming more productive as a writer.

For a long time I’ve been really interested in what I call, for the lack of a better term, the “science of explanation”, or how to structure and write an explanation so that it is completely understandable to the target reader. So this blog will also explore patterns and techniques that you can use to make your writing more understandable and easy to read.

Writing that sells tends to be written in a style that’s conversational and fun to read. Shifting from an academic/technical style to a more fun and conversational style is one of my goals, and I’ll discuss tips and techniques — as well as document some of my struggles — for finding one’s own authentic voice.

And I’m interested in making money from my writing, so I’ll be exploring and discussing market research, copywriting, and SEO optimization techniques. I’ll also talk about my self-publishing experiences and we’ll explore all the possibilities with e-books and packaged information products.

You may be wondering why this blog is called The ChapterLab Blog. Let me explain. I’ve long been interested in improving the tools that writers can use to produce their work. A couple of years ago I quit my job to start building a software program called ChapterLab, with the aim of creating the perfect writing environment that would support and even coach you through the planning, research, writing, and editing process on a large project like a book or an academic thesis.

I launched an initial beta version of ChapterLab and used it to write Designing Usable Apps, but the tool is still in its infancy and there are many, many things I want to do to improve it. In fact, I want to fundamentally redo how it works. Unfortunately, when my small company ran out of capital, I had to return to the dire drudgery of another full-time job, and the project has basically languished for over two years now. I’m eager to get back into working on it again though, and in this blog I’ll discuss some of the features and changes that I’m planning. And I’m hoping to get feedback from writers and users of the program to make sure I’m on the right track!

Many of the features I want to build into ChapterLab revolve around the issues I discussed above — getting motivated, staying focused, and so on. Word processors like Microsoft Word have never offered any real help or support in going through the writing process on a big project like a book. Can a software tool help you get your project organized and even coach you into becoming a more focused and productive writer? Well, I’m going to find out, and I hope you’ll join me for the ride!