Posts Tagged ‘typewriter’

etc

There are a large portion of words that make sense.
Undergarments: articles of clothing that you wear under your garments.
Tablecloth: a cloth that you put on top of a table.
These words just make sense.
However, I would say that the greater portion of words don’t make sense.

My friend and I recently had a thoughtful conversation about the meaning of words. Now you may be thinking that the meaning of words could elicit a philosophical discussion to rival Socrates, Aristotle, and Confucius (*sarcasm).

However, this conversation basically consisted of us repeating the word “shoe” over and over again, saying, “the more you say it, the weirder it sounds! Shoe, shoe, shoe, shoe, shoe!” We discussed the thought process behind the term “shoe.”

The way we imagined it was as follows: “I don’t like walking outside, it hurts my feet. If only there was something I could make to protect my feet… I WILL CRAFT THEM AND I WILL CALL THEM SHOES.”

I highly doubt it was anything like that, but whatever.

The next word we covered was the imponderable et cetera. You may recognize its shorthand, “etc. The word et cetera is of Greek origin, meaning “and other things,” or “and so on.” That makes sense, because that’s exactly how et cetera is used. But I just wonder why that particular combination of letters to describe “there are more items on this list, but I don’t want to write them all.”

I’m sure there’s a logical reason, but sometimes speculating is more fun.

I imagine someone just sitting at their desk in ancient Greece, writing a letter. He probably has an incredible jaw line, an impressive beard rivaling that of Grizzly Adams, and is most likely donning a fashionable toga. Let’s call him Leonidas (because why not?). His letter would sound something like this… hypothetically:

“Dearest Isidora,

I hope this letter finds you well. I wanted to share with you a story I recently read. It’s called The Odyssey. It was written by Homer, the guy who wrote The Iliad. There are a lot of cool gods and goddesses that make appearances in this story. It talks about Athena, Zeus, Poseidon..”

Leonidas has a thought.

He doesn’t want to list the rest of them. What could he write to indicate that there are additional deities mentioned in The Odyssey? He decides that he will just put “etc.” at the end, short for et cetera. He took the liberty of creating this word, because there should be a word that means, “there’s more, but I don’t really feel like listing the rest.”

Now Leonidas has this letter:

“Dearest Isidora,

I hope this letter finds you well. I wanted to share with you a story I recently read. It’s called The Odyssey. It was written by Homer, the guy who wrote The Iliad. There are a lot of cool gods and goddesses that make appearances in this story. It talks about Athena, Zeus, Poseidon, etc. I really suggest you give it a read! Until next time,

-Leonidas”

[Disclaimer: This post has little to no historical validity. I did not do well in my World Empires class. Also, Grizzly Adams was not an ancient Greek.]


 

I was thinking that if you guys have any words that you find exceptionally weird, you could write your own account of how you believe the word came to be. If you choose to do so, tag this post – I want to read them! Thanks for checking out this post! 

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You’re catching up with extended family at a Christmas get together. When you’re home for winter break, all your family members are asking, “how is school going?”

Then your aunt asks the question you’ve been dreading.

What’s your major?

You sigh, because you know it’s coming. “English,” I answer. I brace myself for what is sure to follow. I always hope there will be just a nod of approval, but that is never the case.

“What are you planning on doing with that major? Are you going to be a teacher?”
(There was a whole day of my life, when I was in 7th grade, that I wanted to be a teacher. After serving as a student assistant to a 3rd grade teacher for one hour a day for one semester, that notion had vanished. If you don’t think teachers are underpaid, I highly recommend sitting in on a classroom for a day.)

No, I want to be a writer…

They just look at you for a moment, trying to formulate their response as best they can. If they’re trying to be polite, their response is usually something along the lines of, “wow, that’s a tough industry.” At a glance you may think that they’re admiring your determination, but they’re silently evaluating your audacious, risky career choice.
The bolder, less polite family members may give you something like this: “A writer? Hm, not much job security in that. Good luck, though.”

Sigh.

I’m not trying to be a jerk here, really. I love my family and I know they mean well, but are they expecting their comments to give me some sort of revelation? It’s as if they’re expecting me to have an epiphany right before their eyes as I shout, “by George, you’re right! I need to get started on a med school application ASAP!”

I mean, technically they are right. There isn’t a lot of job security as a writer, or any job in the entertainment industry for that matter. However, there are a few things about writing that only writers will understand. And it is precisely these things that make being a writer worthwhile.


 

As a doctor, you would be taught about diseases, symptoms, diagnoses, procedures and treatments. The majority of a doctor’s arsenal of knowledge is learned.
Imagine if your doctor said, “I believe that your memory loss and seizures are occurring because you have a brain tumor. I haven’t been to medical school, so I’m not exactly sure how to interpret your MRI to pinpoint the location of the mass, but if you let me cut open your head and get a better look at your frontal lobe, I’m sure I’ll find it eventually.”

I think I’ll get a second opinion, but thanks anyway, Doc.

Medicine is a science; I believe that writing is an innate ability.

Sure, you can learn to diagram sentences, how to spell, and how to properly punctuate your writing. All that is very important, but if any of you are writers, I would be willing to bet that you’ve always been somewhat inclined to it; it comes easier to you than the kids who prospered in Geometry, while you struggled to understand Pythagorean Theorem.
(Maybe you were good at both writing and math, but I like to assume that the world is not that unfair.
-Sincerely, I have never made an A in math.
)

I’m not saying that formalized training isn’t important as a writer, because it is. Practice, guidance, constructive criticism and encouragement help writers’ skills to flourish. However, I can’t think of a way to teach someone to be creative. There’s no book to memorize that holds the key to imagination. There’s no formula that will give you creativity when you solve for x. Creativity is 100% your own, and that’s what makes it so special. If you were blessed with creativity, cherish it. Use it. It was given to you for a reason.

writing fabric

Writers and non-writers can both agree that writing is not a job. 
To writers, though, the reason we don’t consider it a job is because it’s simply doing what we love. It was a little known talent that fell into our laps. With a little practice, it turned into a hobby. With experience, it turned into an addiction.

If you’re truly a writer, writing does become a sort of addiction. The good kind, mostly.
The more you write, the more your fingers ache to reconnect with the keys the minute you walk away.
Some days it makes you feel hopeless. You sit down and nothing happens. You try to write, because you know you can, but it’s all garbage. You walk away clouded with frustration. Better luck next time.
Other days, the days that writers live for, words flow from your fingertips like blood from a vein. You get lost in your writing. Sometimes I feel as if it traveled from my mind to the page so quickly I wasn’t even fully aware of what I was writing. However, you know better than to stop. Finally you’ve emptied your heart, mind, and soul onto the paper. You step back to read what you’ve written. Sure, there are some spelling errors, you’re missing a few commas, and since your protagonist does not yet have a name, all the places where his or her name should be is the name of your favorite pet. It’s exactly what you wanted. You keep re-reading it, adding apostrophes and quotation marks as you go. You’ve read through it close to fifteen times now, but you don’t mind.
This is what I wish I could convey to all those people concerned with a writer’s job security.

If writing is important to you, then you understand the little things like that, which make writing worthwhile. All the stress over a title, creating the perfect characters, and crafting a story that is worthy of them. When it comes down to it, none of that matters. When you look at a finished product, I guarantee you won’t feel bitter about all the problems you had creating it. You will feel accomplished and infinitely proud. And let’s face it, it’s something that non-writers will never understand.

Leave me a comment and let me know how you guys deal with negative influence about writing, and what makes it all worthwhile to you! 
Thanks for reading!

Every time I hear any promise of alleviation when it comes to writer’s block, I am immediately overcome with excitement, determined I have found the cure. Each and every time this happens, I am disappointed to find that I have not, in fact, discovered a groundbreaking tactic for overcoming the dreaded writer’s block. Some are more helpful than others, but when you find a technique that improves your writing or motivation, that’s a win in my book.

In a recent post, I explained the dynamics of writer’s block and other struggles that we, as writers, face. Well, I’m here to offer you a solution. Okay, there is no solution for writer’s block… But sitting around waiting for inspiration is for the weak! Go find inspiration, don’t wait for it to come to you. This post will help you learn to generate your own inspiration; it will give you new ideas, improve the ones you have, and eliminate the ones you don’t need.

The technique I am going to share with you all is inspired by two parts. One is a great post I stumbled upon called Squirrels and Killing My Inner Editor. Give this post a read, because it’s awesome. The writer of this post shared a tool that she found to be useful.

This wonderful tool is called Scrawl. Once you open Scrawl, you’ll be faced with a message telling you to “write something!” Scrawl encourages unfiltered writing; it allows you to set a writing timer, and if you stop typing for ___ amount of seconds, Scrawl will, ahem, redirect your attention back to your writing (read: make sure your volume is set to a level that won’t burst your eardrums.) You can also instruct Scrawl to keep you from deleting anything you’ve written. Explore the options, see what is most helpful to you.

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In writing my morning pages as Julia Cameron instructs, I have discovered how helpful unfiltered writing can be. Essentially as I’m writing, I’m just thinking out loud. I was facing a bad case of writer’s block working while working on my novel, so I turned to my morning pages. I had a conversation with the journal. I bounced ideas off of the journal. It was a huge help. Sometimes just thinking about it isn’t enough, but trying to formally organize your plot is a little too overwhelming. As you’re writing it, you will probably feel as if you’re accomplishing nothing, but give it time.

I find it most beneficial to begin with the absolute basics of your story. Start with a less details. As you ease into the part of the story that you’re stuck on, start giving more details. Every possible path the story could take, write it down. For example: your main character has just been offered a job in New York City to work for a fashion magazine. Does she give in to her controlling boyfriend’s urging and stay in rural Oklahoma? Does she break up with him and accept her dream job? If she stays in Oklahoma, will their relationship even last? If she moves to New York, will she find love in the city? Will her dream job turn out to be a nightmare, leaving her wondering why she ever left her hometown? How would each of these outcomes play out? How would they affect your story? Write it all down. It may seem redundant, but you never know what will inspire you, so try not to take shortcuts. If it would be more beneficial for you to draw instead of, or in addition to writing, I don’t see any reason why you can’t. Doodle away! Finish out your 3 daily morning pages, and then look back over them. It should look a little bit like this:

So I’m stuck figuring out where my main character, Peter Parker, is going to turn now. Now that he’s been bitten by a mutated turtle, he might not be able to run as fast as before. Maybe I should change it to a more lethal, intimidating animal. What about a raccoon? That could work. Peter gets rabies and turns into a raccoon. Hmm.. There has to be something better. If I was Mary Jane Watson, I totally wouldn’t be cool with my boyfriend turning into a raccoon. What about a spider? A radioactive spider. That’s it! Peter Parker by day, Spider-Man by night!

It doesn’t have to be neat. It doesn’t have to have correct spelling or proper punctuation. I encourage you to write in pen, so you’re not tempted to erase. Don’t over-think this! My reason for incorporating Scrawl into this post, is for those of you who would prefer to type your morning pages, as opposed to writing them in a journal. It’s up to you. Scrawl is a really useful resource regardless, don’t limit yourself to using it only for this exercise.

Side note: The website where you can find Scrawl has some other helpful tools. Know Thyself is a character building exercise; the computer asks you a series of rapid fire questions about your characters; answer as fast as you can. When you complete the questions, the website compiles a character profile from your answers. Even if you think you know your characters inside and out, it really makes you think. Try it out!


 

To anyone who has previously used these methods, or decides to try it after reading this post, let me know what you think. Is there something else that works better for you? Don’t hesitate to share! I’m sure I am not the only one who wants to collect as many tips and tricks as possible. Thanks for reading!

When I read today’s topic from The Daily Post, countless ideas flooded my mind. If I could be any celebrity for one day, who would it be?

My first thought was whatever supermodel was fortunate enough to be currently dating Leonardo DiCaprio. No, that would be a waste of the day. (I’ll come back for you, Leo.)

After that notion faded, my mind came to a few of my favorite directors. Frank Darabont (The Mist, The Green Mile), Christopher Nolan (Inception, The Dark Knight), or Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist). I can’t imagine what fifteen minutes inside the mind of any one of these men would be like. Maybe it would inspire a new way of thinking that would skyrocket me to fame, my name mentioned with the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Quentin Tarantino. I kind of envision me just walking around in their minds as if they were museums. I would see all the fantastic ideas they had already claimed as their own, without thinking of any for myself.

Okay, maybe I’ll be an actress. Working under the direction of one of the greatest directors to ever life has to be inspiring, right? My favorite actress is definitely Kathy Bates. If you haven’t seen the movie Misery, watch it and tell me she isn’t the most incredible actress to ever walk the earth. Or maybe I could play a Victorian era goddess compliments of Keira Knightley. Can I go back in time to be Christian Bale in American Psycho? I have the Huey Lewis & The News scene memorized, I would blow everyone away. Then again, I feel like there is never a day that being Bruce Willis is a bad idea. That could work. I can do Die Hard. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Will Smith, Sandra Bullock and Emma Watson are also among my favorites. Or I could be Bethenny Frankel from The Real Housewives of New York. (The last one is a joke.)

Then the answer came to me.

The most brilliant writer to ever put pen to paper (or fingers to keys). Horror maven, Mr. Stephen King. The man responsible for The Shining, It, Carrie, The Mist, Misery, The Green Mile.. Shall I continue? Clearly this man’s imagination is a gold mine. If I could think like Stephen King, there was nothing I couldn’t do. Although, I wouldn’t just want to inhabit his body and live as him for a day. Can I just sit in a dark corner of his flourishing mind and see how his imagination works?

Come to think of it, Stephen King’s mind is a celebrity in itself. That is who I would be. A fly on the wall in the mind of the Master of the Macabre, himself.

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I imagine that many bloggers would consider themselves writers. I haven’t posted any of my real writing on here, but I suppose that writing a blog post is similar to writing a story (be it a short story, a novel, a poem, etc.)

I consider myself a writer but, as I’ve said before, it’s less than a profession but more than a hobby. However, I, like most writers, often encounter problems while writing. We’re all familiar with writer’s block. I refuse to believe there is a writer who has never experienced writer’s block. That writer does not exist.

I, myself, suffer from what I have dubbed “Flighting Idea Syndrome.” Many of you may also suffer from this debilitating disease without even knowing it. Flighting Idea Syndrome (FIS) can be characterized by the sufferer exhibiting symptoms similar to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). You can never stick with one idea for very long. Before you’ve had a chance to accomplish much of anything, a new, superior idea has infiltrated your mind. There’s no going back.

Maybe you know the feeling: You come up with a brand new idea. It’s like a present. It reminds me of the Dancin’ Debbie doll I got from my parents for Christmas when I was 6. I kept seeing Debbie on TV, and I had been begging for one of my own. I just knew I was getting it and I couldn’t wait. Then, on that fateful Christmas morning, there it was. Dancin’ Debbie in all her glory. I feverishly unwrapped the package, while I sent my mom to look for AA batteries. I finally had a Dancin’ Debbie doll. I immediately discarded the instructions and took Debbie’s assembly into my questionably capable hands. Debbie was ready to dance.

Normally, one of two things happens at this stage of the story.

Option 1Dancin’ Debbie is an immediate disappointment. I should’ve gotten the Powderpuff Girls wristwatch. Luckily my birthday is soon.
Option 2Dancin’ Debbie makes all my dreams come true. She is everything I ever dreamed of and more. 2 days later, I’m really tired of hearing Debbie say, “c’mon, lets groove!”

[Spoiler Alert: As for Dancin’ Debbie, she reached the same fate as many a toy… That’s right. Option 2. But I got a Powderpuff Girls watch and a Totally Hair Barbie for my birthday.]

Now I’ll rephrase these options in terms of writing:

Option 1: You think you have a really great idea. You sit down to write. You stare at the wall for 15 minutes, then you finally put pen to paper. You begin writing your name, surrounding it with hearts, swirls, and lots of fun doodles. Okay, obviously this is distracting. You should use your laptop. You know, your laptop. The place where Facebook lives. And Pinterest. And the most deadly distraction of them all: Netflix. After binge watching an entire season of Scandal, you’re feeling inspired. That blank page is really daunting. What was your idea again? Oh, yeah. Would you look at the time? It’s half past “you’re hungry.” Okay, you go get a hot pocket, and then you will write for 1 hour. No excuses. Should you get a ham and cheese hot pocket or should you go for meatball and mozzarella? Is that even a question? Obviously ham and cheese. Good thing it only takes a hot pocket two minutes to cook! You’re ready to start writing. Go ahead and set a timer. One hour. Yes, here we go. Yep, it’s happening. You are writing. Pens and paper and words, it’s all happening right before your very eyes. Your idea isn’t flourishing as you’d expected. Come to think of it, your idea is kind of lame. Really, though. Sigh. You finally get the mindset to sit down and do something with your life. You choose that moment to determine that your idea is actually crap. You should’ve used the two minutes your hot pocket was cooking to perfection to make sure your idea didn’t suck. And if you decided that it did, you could cook another hot pocket and come up with a better idea while that one cooks. But you didn’t. Your paper now looks like this:

the sbsp

(That’s writer’s block with a side of procrastination. Back to the drawing board.)

Option 2: There you are, minding your own business when it happens. You have an epiphany. This beautiful idea is allowing you inside its imaginative world. You’ve never seen anything like it! You begin writing feverishly. This is it. You expand on your idea, everything is falling together quite nicely. You’re already envisioning how your photo will look above the title “New York Times Best Selling Author.” All of a sudden you’re paralyzed. An idea, a brand new idea, has overtaken you. You have been taken prisoner by the new idea. You tell your old idea that you’ll write when you can, and you’re whisked away by your brand new idea. You’ve put your memories of your old idea into the darkest recesses of your mind, and you are completely smitten with your new idea. Your brand new idea loves you back, but it has this feeling that you’re not devoted to it; you’ll abandon it the second that another shiny, new idea makes its way into your sights. Sure enough, your new idea was right. Idea #2 is left broken-hearted, attending therapy sessions every other Wednesday to cope with losing you. Your idea still loves you but, emotionally, this is pretty much where you are at this point in your relationship with idea #2:

not important to huey

You decide to go online to search for new ideas to meet. IdeaMingle.com. Hmm. Maybe you’ll check this page out. Success stories, yes! Stacey, 29 writes: “My idea and I have been together for 3 years, thanks to IdeaMingle.com!” Marshall, 42 also shares his experience: “I owe everything to IdeaMingle.com! My idea and I have been together for 6 novels now. We’re even expecting a novella next month! Thanks IdeaMingle!” Your eyes grow wide with excitement, as you imagine what your own success story will look like. You and your idea on your anniversary, still very much in love, with your 2 beautiful novels. Well if Stacey and Marshall did it, so should you! You create a profile and begin browsing. Before you know it, you have 14 idea matches! You’re meeting #6 for coffee on Thursday at 5:00. #9 is taking you to see a play tomorrow night. #13 canceled on you. Schedule conflicts. But it’s okay, because you have #2, who took you out last night to wine and dine its way into your next novel.

If you haven’t figured out, this is option 2. A severe case of Flighting Idea Syndrome. You would think a lot of ideas would be great, so many to choose from, but it’s clearly stressing you out. You can’t devote your attention to one single idea; instead you’re dividing yourself between them, and now no one’s happy.

Both of these conditions are incredibly hard to overcome. Which is why I come to you all for advice. Have any of you ever dealt with either of these issues? (AKA you have or you’re a liar.) If so, comment and let me know! Tell me what helped you overcome writer’s block or FIS. Thanks for reading.

I think it’s safe to say that anyone who considers themselves a writer has dealt with two things: Writer’s block, and your ruthless inner critic.

I recently posted about my first experience with Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. The first section features a segment about what Cameron calls “The Morning Pages.” Essentially, this is a daily practice of writing three unfiltered, unedited pages of whatever you want. The point is to write without limits; not allowing yourself to look back and criticize what you’ve written. I found myself, of course, over-thinking what I was writing. Isn’t it kind of interesting that your inner critic comes out, even when you’re doing informal journaling that no one will ever lay eyes on except for you?

That’s a problem I’ve been struggling with lately; it’s somewhere between writer’s block and my inner critic. It’s not that I don’t have ideas, but I can’t bring myself to write something that I don’t think is good enough. I’ll begin, writing a couple paragraphs, then look back at what I wrote. Sigh. This sounded so much better in my head. I know all of the how-to books and tips on writing say, “just write!” It’s not as easy as they say. Sure, technically I am writing, but repeated exposure to my inner critic along with lackluster writing doesn’t seem to improve my writing the way all the writing experts say it will.

prof writer

Julia Cameron stresses the endless possibilities of the morning pages. She encourages the writer to include all of the seemingly petty, silly things floating in their mind. Getting them off your chest, and into the morning pages. It will free you; once they’re out of the way, it’s just you and your creativity. The morning pages give you the power to grant yourself the freedom to make mistakes. In the beginning, I wrote my morning pages as a stream of consciousness, but as a narrative. It could be a major production of dueling dragons, chivalrous knights, and fair maidens. It could be about an alternate theory as to how Peter Parker became Spider-Man. I like to alternate my writing setting, and the local Starbucks is one of the places that I frequent. It sounds somewhat creepy, but sometimes I would pick a person in the coffee shop and make up a story about them.
I thought that writing the morning pages as a narrative could spark an idea for a real story. I really enjoyed it, and this practice did generate some worthwhile ideas that I explored further outside of the morning pages. Occasionally I would have a bad day, and wouldn’t feel like being creative. I would just write my morning pages about what ruined my day. It became progressively less artistic, and infinitely more of an angst-filled diary. In my defense, I was around 15 years old the first time I began morning pages. Oh, the pleasantries of pages upon pages, filled with documentation of teenage melodrama. I’m sure you can understand why the morning pages, at that point, were no longer beneficial to my creative process.


 

I have progressed in Julia Cameron‘s book, and am now in the stage of “creative recovery.” She essentially encourages readers to nurture their creative self; protect it from criticism. Evaluate and dissect the appraisal; expose yourself to the constructive criticism. Assess what it is about the purely negative critique that bothers you; if you can create constructive criticism from that, then do so. If not, discard it. If it can’t help you, it serves no purpose.

I wouldn’t say I’m a pessimist, but I’m certainly not an optimist. Perhaps it’s me disguising negativity as being a realist. Whatever you want to call it, I know that I will always be somewhat critical of myself when it comes to writing. I used to be able to just retrieve that spark of passion, and write eagerly. My ideas were exciting to me, and I believed in them with every fiber of my being. I had created characters that became more than characters to me. I developed them, and they were important enough to me that they served as gasoline on flames; I wanted to write more. I loved the story, I loved the characters, and it was my duty to narrate their adventures in a way that was worthy of them. Lately, while I have been writing, it feels forced. I have no passion for what I am writing. My inner perfectionist is constantly reminding myself that what I’m doing isn’t worth being passionate about.


 

My question to all of you is this: How do you overcome your inner critic? What is it that ignites passion for what you’re writing?
This post is for all my writers!

I love when I see collaboration, sharing of ideas, offering advice and constructive criticism, and most importantly praise for a great post amongst writers. Everyone has their own unique style, and writers can learn a lot from each other. Anything that you have to share; a useful tip someone once shared with you, pass it on. A source that provides you with infinite inspiration, share it in a comment below! Also, if you have a favorite author, who is it and why? Let me know! Thank you all for reading!

Since I haven’t posted in a while, I thought I would tackle a few posts today. In this post, I am addressing a question posed by The Daily Post. However, this post includes much more than just that. I preface with discussing the power of words, so that once you reach the actual question, you will have a more imaginative mindset to answer an interesting question.


 

The Daily Post’s question today caught my eye. This is a blogging site, so words are important. Maybe your favorite blogger has an unparalleled eloquence that makes their posts so fantastic. Their word choice is impeccable, and everything flows without skipping a beat. On the opposite end of the spectrum, maybe you’re browsing some new blogs. Maybe their posts are interesting, maybe not. What is it that helps you decide whether or not you want to follow them? What is the element that makes you say “ah!” and delve into their post, consuming their words with urgency.

Well, I believe it’s just that: words.

Words are important. Imagine a world without words. You can’t, because you wouldn’t have the words sad, boring, uninspiring, bland, dull, and depressing to describe such a bleak world. Words can do so many things, it’s all in how you use them. You can make someone, or you can destroy them, all with words alone.

The YouTube video above is from the 1989 film Dead Poets Society. I attached it for a few reasons. First of all, I love movies, and the majority of the posts on my page are in some way, if not completely, about movies. As I am trying to convey the importance of words, this scene comes to mind. It explains the difference that words and literature can really make. This is a great movie, and I’m sure many people will agree with me. It is great for many more reasons than Robin Williams‘ consummate acting chops, and my perpetual adoration for the infinitely underrated Robert Sean Leonard (Dr. James Wilson, for any fans of the TV series House, M.D.), who plays Neil Perry in the film. As a writer (more than a hobby, less than a profession), Williams’ character, Mr. Keating, has taught me one of my most valued rules in writing. At the beginning of this scene, he describes the inadequacy of the word “very.” He encourages his students to avoid it; “A man is not very tired, he is exhausted!” While it seems like a common sense rule, I didn’t truly follow or appreciate it until hearing the way Mr. Keating expresses it in Dead Poets Society.


The question posed by The Daily Post today was thisIs there a word or a phrase you use (or overuse) all the time, and are seemingly unable to get rid of? If not, what’s the one that drives you crazy when others use it?

As it is difficult to detect through a blog post, some of you might not know that I am extremely sarcastic. Because of this, I have a highly specialized technique for speaking to others. If you think about it, sarcasm is an art, really. Both speaking it, and understanding it when it’s spoken to you. Not an art? Okay, probably not.

One of the “verbal ticks” I overuse is directly related to my affinity for all that is facetious, and that is adding sarcastic third person modifiers to the end of sentences.

If an impassioned, melodramatic person came to me describing, in an infatuated tone, some romantic gesture that their significant other performed, once they are done speaking I may say, “she said fervently.” Sometimes I even do it to myself, when I’m the one speaking.

There are plenty of little words or phrases that I use often, but this one often bothers people. I mean, if you were gushing about the dozen roses your boyfriend gave you for your two year anniversary, a dry, sarcastic response is not really feedback you were searching for.

A verbal tick used by others that I despise is the word “awkward.” Okay, it isn’t the actual word that I hate. People take the word “awkward” far beyond its definitive territory. I understand that there are situations that simply cannot be described with any other word. However, when I hear people use the word “awkward” to describe something like a pencil or a shoelace, it bothers me. I’m sure they mean well, but when you describe every item, experience, and situation as “ugh, that is so awkward,” the points I initially assigned to your assumed I.Q. begin to dwindle. Expand your vocabulary. Pencils aren’t awkward.

I also hate the word “wow.” I don’t think it’s overused, I just think it’s an annoying, pointless word that, if you think about it, isn’t really a word at all.
Anyway, those are just a few that came to my mind. I enjoy when I notice other people have “trademark” words or phrases that they often use.

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So what is the verbal tick that you guys either use yourselves or one you have disdain for that others use?
Leave a comment, and  let me know! Thanks for reading!

 

Last summer, I started a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Nikki Sixx, who is the bass player for the rock band Motley Crue recommended this book on his radio show, SixxSense. Nikki Sixx was a contributing writer for a lot of Motley Crue‘s music, he is an avid photographer, has written two books (The Heroin Diaries and This is Gonna Hurt), has a side music project, Sixx:A.M., and hosts his own radio show. He spoke so highly of the book, and what it did for his creative process, so I decided to check it out.

This book isn’t a novel, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a how-to book either. It takes you through a journey to bettering your creativity. I began this book and really enjoyed it. I started working through the activities and implementing the tips. At first I thought it sounded kind of hokey, but it really works. It’s just something you have to try for yourself – which I don’t think you would regret doing.

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I’ll just be honest; I didn’t finish the book. I started it, and got really into it, but soon enough, it faded and I moved on to something else. (If you know me personally, you know how often I do this.)

While I was still reading Julia Cameron’s book, I discovered a practice that I really enjoyed doing, that I felt really did help me creatively. I give you, The Morning Pages.

The idea behind The Morning Pages is to write 3 pages every morning of unfiltered, unedited, stream-of-consciousness writing. It can be about anything you want. However, your Morning Pages are never to be re-read after you write them. This exercise helps you to stop unnecessarily criticizing your work. It allows you to write whatever is on your mind. It helps you to transfer what’s in your mind, effectively to paper. I often have difficulties with that; by the time I’ve edited my though, implemented correct syntax, and spiced up the vocabulary a bit, it doesn’t convey the original thought the way I want it to.

I’m not going to post my morning pages to this blog, but I will update you with how they’re going (3 pages of unedited nothingness? I highly doubt you would enjoy reading that). If any of you have read this book, let me know what you think. And if any of you decide that you want to make morning pages a part of your daily routine, tell me how it’s going for you!

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“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” -Thomas Mann

To anyone reading this blog who is a writer (more than college essays, less than Ernest Hemingway) I know you’ve been in the same boat. Sure, it’s comforting to know that even the most renowned authors like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling struggle with writer’s block, but that doesn’t make it any more pleasant as you sit in front of a blank page waiting anxiously for something to happen. All the how-to articles tell you to “just write.” They claim that all writing is good writing (*scoffs*) and that it doesn’t matter what you write. Just begin to get the ball rolling. It’s not always that easy when you absolutely can’t think of anything. Every writer has their own technique for writing; some are highly ritualized – same time, same place on the third Wednesday of every month, while some write best in a spontaneous decision to jot down some ideas while you’re drinking a macchiato at Starbucks. Once I get going, I will be glued to my laptop for (literally) hours on end. Other days, when I just can’t muster up anything interesting, I give up after about 30 minutes (if we’re being honest, the last 20 minutes were probably spent browsing Pinterest).

It’s hard, for me anyway, to create a fool-proof formula for success with writing. I would venture to call it impossible, in fact. There isn’t a technique that will magically turn me into Charles Dickens every time I sit down at my computer. So, I come to you all for advice. What is your technique? What is the process that you go through when you have a successful (or unsuccessful) writing session? Do you have any tips that you find helpful in either busting writer’s block, or keeping you focused on your writing.

One technique that I really think helps break writer’s block is to go online and find “story starters.” You can Google it, and find them for any and all genres. They are either prompts for you to write about, or a basic thought for you to elaborate on and build your story from. (Like I said, you can find them for any genre, but here are some horror story starters.) Even if these prompts don’t serve as the premise for your next New York Times best seller, they can help you brainstorm. The prompt will inspire a new thought, and you can build and build, and before you know it you will have the premise for your next New York Times best seller.

Please don’t hesitate to post a comment telling me about your writing techniques, and tips on how you overcome the dreaded writer’s block. I’d love to hear it, so let me know! Thanks everyone!

“You just have to trust your own madness.” – Clive Barker