Having trouble reading this email? View this email in your browser.
Jane Friedman Electric Speed

In this issue

A note from Jane

In 2009, I got the wild notion to spend Christmas week alone on the Aran Islands. I’d read an article somewhere about this wind-swept, desolate area off the coast of Ireland, which triggered a melancholy yearning. I chose Inis Meain, the least populated island, for a stay.

When I passed through border control in Dublin, the female officer looked down at my documents while asking the usual questions about the purpose of my trip, how long I would be staying, if I had friends or family at my final destination.

When I said I was not meeting up with anyone, the officer finally looked up. “Nobody you’re meeting for the holidays?” She then wanted to know where I was staying (a private cottage) and how I found it (online, of course). She asked for the owner’s phone number, as well as a rental receipt, which I didn’t have on me.

“You rented a cottage after finding it online, don’t have a receipt for your payment, and haven’t talked to the owner.” I did have the number of the caretaker, the man who was supposed to let me into the cottage, so I gave her that. But the caretaker did not pick up when she called.

It was plain she didn’t want to let me go.

“So you decide out of the blue to come to Ireland over the holidays, not the mainland even, but a remote island. You’re traveling alone, you don’t know anyone, and you’re staying by yourself in a place you’ve never been. Why?”

Wanderlust, I said.

She finally stamped my passport and said, “You know, we’re looking out for your safety, too.”

Nothing bad happened to me on Inis Meain, aside from self-inflicted loneliness. The island was just as severe, stony and gray as promised. I find myself thinking about it more often this year. If I could instantly transport myself anywhere this Christmas, it might be Inis Meain, to inhabit that isolation and be utterly unable to escape it—rather than exist on the forever edge of a seeming celebration.


P.S. The most popular blog post at my site this month:
Is Your Writer’s Block Really Writer’s Indecision?

P.P.S. There is more to this newsletter—keep scrolling!

Jane’s Electric Speed List

Here are some of the latest things I’ve discovered. I have not been paid to mention any of these resources and there are no affiliate links.

A Wordpress theme built to work with the Gutenberg block editor

The appropriately named Blocksy is a light and fast Wordpress theme that performs well with the Gutenberg editor. It’s also e-commerce ready and works with page-builder systems like Elementor and Beaver; the header customization is particularly impressive. Blocksy comes in both free and premium versions, so you can try it at no risk.

A Zoom alternative that’s more social, informal, and engaging

Run the World is a new platform that fulfills many of the same functions as Zoom, but with more pizzazz. You can easily play music or have stretch-break videos, ask guests to grab the mic, offer one-on-one networking, and “follow” people after an event. Free for up to 500 people. H/T Jeremy Caplan.

Struggle with time management? Check out these 7 cognitive biases

I’m often complimented on my productivity, and while it’s true I can be focused and efficient, I’ve also learned how to avoid self-sabotage. Over the last five years, I’ve had to be ruthless about overcoming “The Planning Fallacy,” which is the tendency to underestimate the time it will take to complete a task. These days, I give myself only 1-2 tasks per day that absolutely must be finished, to allow for the element of surprise and for things to take longer than I think they should. View the full list.

Just for fun: Online fridge poetry

I remember coveting fridge poetry from the moment I saw it in the late 1990s, adorning the kitchen of the coolest guy in my college writing program. Now you can play with those little magnets in a virtual community at Each day brings a new, unique selection of words and the ability to upvote your favorite poems. Upvoted at the time of this writing: “I demand unsupervised muffin combat!”

Social Media Bliss with Jane Friedman. $25 class. Wednesday, December 30, 2020. 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Eastern

Next online class: Social Media Bliss with Jane Friedman

On Wednesday, Dec. 30: Learn how to take a holistic and fits-for-you approach to social media that’s based on long-term reader engagement and sound principles of online marketing. You won’t find gimmicks or short-term approaches here. Rather, the basic philosophy is that (1) your work—your writing—is always central, and (2) you have to enjoy what you’re doing on social media for it to be sustainable and to become a meaningful part of your overall platform and online presence.
Learn more and register

Your turn: Tracking books you’ve read

In the last issue, I asked what tools you use to track your book reading. Here’s what you said.
  • I love The StoryGraph for tracking books. Lots of data! —Nancy Cavillones
  • The StoryGraph will give Goodreads a good run for its money. —Christopher Norris
  • I read two to four books a week, rotating poetry and short fiction with nonfiction interests. When folks asked me what I was reading, my mind would be blank! So, for the last several years I jot a few paragraphs about each book in a Moleskine notebook. I number the books to give me a yearly total. ... In the B.C. (before covid) days, I’d put it in my purse to refer to when meeting friends because we always talk books. —Diana Rosen
  • I use a simple Google sheet to track both the books I’ve read and those I want to read. I started tracking this way in 2013. The first column is “year read” and if blank I haven’t read it yet. Other columns are author, title, recommended by (podcast, blog, friend, etc.), source (library, I own it, etc.), book notes (where to find the notes I made—Google doc, Evernote, Kindle, etc.). It’s easy to sort and filter and I can access it on all my devices. —Michelle Bish
If you’re looking for a new tool to try, consider Readng, still in beta for now.

Next question: Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? Are you using any apps or specific methods to track your commitment to those resolutions?


Classifieds support Electric Speed and get delivered to 35,000 subscribers each week. Sponsorships are available in 2021.

2020 has been a challenging year, and IngramSpark wants to help. For a limited time, use promo code FREE2020 to upload a print and/or ebook for free with IngramSpark. Get details.

Want to publish your indie book? Download The Indie Writer's Ultimate Self-Publishing Checklist to serve as your resourceful guide. Take out the guesswork and publish like a pro.

LIFE STORYTELLING SUMMIT is the most comprehensive resource for: writing memoirs, therapeutic storytelling, creating personal histories, visual narratives, TEDx your story and more!

Download a free copy of Your First 1000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book by Tim Grahl. It has over 396 5-star Amazon reviews and has sold over 50,000 copies.

Upcoming online classes

All classes are recorded; you don’t have to attend live to benefit.

☯️ December 30: Social Media Bliss with Jane Friedman

🖋 January 6: How to Get Published—Land a Book Deal in 2021 with Jane Friedman

👑 January 13: Query Letter Master Class with Jane Friedman

🏁 January 22: This Is the Year You’ll Finish Your Book with Allison K Williams

👁 February 10: Master Point of View to Strengthen Your Storytelling with Tiffany Yates Martin

Enjoyed this issue? Share it

Share Share
Tweet Tweet
Forward Forward
Electric Speed is a free newsletter by Jane Friedman that launched in 2009. More than 35,000 subscribers receive it. You can support it by (1) sponsoring an issue or (2) sharing it with friends and colleagues.
“At electric speed, all forms are pushed to the limits of their potential.” 
—Marshall McLuhan
Jane on Instagram Jane on Instagram
Join Jane’s Private Facebook Group Join Jane’s Private Facebook Group
Copyright © 2020 Jane Friedman, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp