Archive for June, 2012

Tips For Writers From Kurt Vonnegut

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4. Every sentence must do one of two things-reveal character or advance the action.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them-in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

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Tips For Writers From Erica Jong

“The hardest part is believing in yourself at the notebook stage. It is like believing in dreams in the morning.” – Erica Jong

Erica Jong–who in “Seducing the Demon” defined a writer as “someone who takes the universal whore of language and turns her into a virgin again”, and who created compelling female characters such as Isadora Wing and Fanny Hackabout-Jones–tells us that she writes to get her life down on paper so that it can never be extinguished. She also writes to keep from going mad.

Jong admonishes aspiring writers not to expect approval for telling the truth, reminding them of Dante, Voltaire, Cervantes, and Swift. Then she adds: “Few are the great spirits who did not at one time or another write in jail, in exile, in the madhouse, or at the foot of the gallows.”

Tips For Writers From John Grisham

John Grisham–a former lawyer best known for his legal thrillers–advices young writers to find their career, and adds that at first it won’t be writing. He explains that before you can be a writer you have to experience some things, see some of the world, go through things–love, heartbreak, and so on–, because you need to have something to say.

You also need to have something to fall back on. Once you’re secure in life and you have a regular paycheck, then you can think about becoming a serious writer. (This is basically “The Survival/Sacred Dance” theory.)

He goes on to say that at first you have to treat writing as a hobby; you write a page a day in your spare time. Grisham explains that he created spare time to write, although he had a full time job. He adds that he always tells young aspiring writers that if they’re not writing a page a day, then nothing is going to happen. But if they make sure to write a page a day it becomes a habit, and before long they have a lot of pages piled up.

Tips For Writers From Stephen King

“If you want to be a writer,” says Stephen King , “you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

King, who has written over 50 books, emphasizes that writers have to be well-read. He adds that he has no patience for people who tell him that they want to be writers but they can’t find the time to read. The answer is simple: if you don’t read, you can’t be a writer. You have to read just about everything. In addition, you also have to write in order to develop your own style.

When it comes to the reading part of it, King explained during a lecture at Yale that if you read enough, there’s this magic moment which will always come to you if you want to be a writer. It’s the moment when you put down some book and say: “This really sucks . . . I can do better than this . . . And this guy got published.” So go ahead, read all you can, and wait for that magical moment.

 

Writing Tips That Will Make You a Better Writer

Pay attention to punctuation, especially to the correct use of commas and periods. These two punctuation marks regulate the flow of your thoughts, and they can make your text confusing even if the words are clear.

Try not to edit while you’re creating your first draft. Creating and editing are two separate processes using different sides of the brain, and if you try doing both at once you’ll lose. Make a deal with your internal editor that it will get the chance to rip your piece to shreds; it will just need to wait some time.

A really nice trick is to switch off your monitor when you’re typing. You can’t edit what you can’t see.

In a sentence: write daily for 30 minutes minimum! It’s easy to notice the difference in a short time. Suddenly, ideas come to you and you think of other things to write. You experiment with styles and voices and words and the language becomes more familiar…

I sometimes write out 8 to 10 pages from the book of my favorite writer… in longhand. This helps me to get started and swing into the style I wish to write in.

Learn to take criticism and seek it out at every opportunity. Don’t get upset even if you think the criticism is harsh, don’t be offended even if you think it’s wrong, and always thank those who take the time to offer it.

Write as if you’re on deadline and have 500 words to make your point. Then do it again. And again

Sometimes I type in a large font to have the words and sentences bold before me.

Sometimes, in the middle of a document I will start a new topic on a fresh sheet to have that clean feeling. Then, I’ll cut and insert it into the larger document.

I wait until my paper is done before I examine my word usage and vocabulary choices. (And reading this column it has reminded me that no two words are ever exactly alike.) So at the end, I take time to examine my choice of words. I have a lot of fun selecting the exact words to pinpoint my thoughts or points.

To be a good writer is to start writing everyday. As Mark Twain said, “the secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Try using new words. i.e avoid repeating words. this way we learn the usage of different words.
Do edit your previous articles.

Start with small paragraphs like writing an article for a Newspaper, and proceed from there.

YOU ARE what you read (and write!).

Use others writer’s sentences and paragraphs as models and then emulate the syntactic structure with your own content. I’ve learned more about grammar and punctuation that way.

Write the first draft spontaneously. Switch off your internal editor until it is time to review your first draft.

Motivation for Writing

Reasons We Lose Motivation

There are 3 primary reasons we lose motivation.

  1. Lack of confidence – If you don’t believe you can succeed, what’s the point in trying?
  2. Lack of focus – If you don’t know what you want, do you really want anything?
  3. Lack of direction – If you don’t know what to do, how can you be motivated to do it?

How to Boost Confidence

The first motivation killer is a lack of confidence. When this happens to me, it’s usually because I’m focusing entirely on what I want and neglecting what I already have. When you only think about what you want, your mind creates explanations for why you aren’t getting it. This creates negative thoughts. Past failures, bad breaks, and personal weaknesses dominate your mind. You become jealous of your competitors and start making excuses for why you can’t succeed. In this state, you tend to make a bad impression, assume the worst about others, and lose self confidence.

The way to get out of this thought pattern is to focus on gratitude. Set aside time to focus on everything positive in your life. Make a mental list of your strengths, past successes, and current advantages. We tend to take our strengths for granted and dwell on our failures. By making an effort to feel grateful, you’ll realize how competent and successful you already are. This will rejuvenate your confidence and get you motivated to build on your current success.

It might sound strange that repeating things you already know can improve your mindset, but it’s amazingly effective. The mind distorts reality to confirm what it wants to believe. The more negatively you think, the more examples your mind will discover to confirm that belief. When you truly believe that you deserve success, your mind will generate ways to achieve it. The best way to bring success to yourself is to genuinely desire to create value for the rest of the world.

Developing Tangible Focus

The second motivation killer is a lack of focus. How often do you focus on what you don’t want, rather than on a concrete goal? We normally think in terms of fear. I’m afraid of being poor. I’m afraid no one will respect me. I’m afraid of being alone. The problem with this type of thinking is that fear alone isn’t actionable. Instead of doing something about our fear, it feeds on itself and drains our motivation.

If you’re caught up in fear based thinking, the first step is focusing that energy on a well defined goal. By defining a goal, you automatically define a set of actions. If you have a fear of poverty, create a plan to increase your income. It could be going back to school, obtaining a higher paying job, or developing a profitable website. The key is moving from an intangible desire to concrete, measurable steps.

By focusing your mind on a positive goal instead of an ambiguous fear, you put your brain to work. It instantly begins devising a plan for success. Instead of worrying about the future you start to do something about it. This is the first step in motivating yourself to take action. When know what you want, you become motivated to take action.

Developing Direction

The final piece in the motivational puzzle is direction. If focus means having an ultimate goal, direction is having a day-to-day strategy to achieve it. A lack of direction kills motivation because without an obvious next action we succumb to procrastination. An example of this is a person who wants to have a popular blog, but who spends more time reading posts about blogging than actually writing articles.

The key to finding direction is identifying the activities that lead to success. For every goal, there are activities that pay off and those that don’t. Make a list of all your activities and arrange them based on results. Then make a make an action plan that focuses on the activities that lead to big returns. To continue the example from above, a blogger’s list would look something like this:

  1. Write content
  2. Research relevant topics
  3. Network with other bloggers
  4. Optimize design and ad placements
  5. Answer comments and email
  6. Read other blogs

Keeping track of your most important tasks will direct your energy towards success. Without a constant reminder, it’s easy to waste entire days on filler activities like reading RSS feeds, email, and random web surfing.

When my motivation starts to wane, I regain direction by creating a plan that contains two positive actions. The first one should be a small task you’ve been meaning to do, while the second should be a long-term goal. I immediately do the smaller task. This creates positive momentum. After that I take the first step towards achieving the long-term goal. Doing this periodically is great for getting out of a slump, creating positive reinforcement, and getting long-term plans moving.

It’s inevitable that you’ll encounter periods of low energy, bad luck, and even the occasional failure. If you don’t discipline your mind, these minor speed bumps can turn into mental monsters. By being on guard against the top 3 motivation killers you can preserve your motivation and propel yourself to success.

Success Lessons from Dr. Seuss

1. Be Who You Are

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

If you can’t be yourself with your friends, then they’re not your friends, or at least they’re not very good ones.  The sign that someone is a good friend is how comfortable you are with them.  If you can be who you are, and say how you feel, then hang with those folks, they’ll surely keep it “real.”

2. Trouble Your Troubles

“I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”

When troubles show up, you have to show up bigger.  Don’t let troubles trouble you; you trouble your troubles by showing up with a “big bat!”  But not literally….  You show up with a “big bat” by showing up with big courage, big faith, and big determination, if you do, you will trouble your troubles….

3. You Decide

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own.  And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

How simple, yet how profound!  You decide where you go, only you.  You are only limited by your ability to believe in the impossible.

4. It’s Up To You

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

No one is going to rescue you, they’re not.  You have to dig yourself out of the ditch.  You have to care enough; you have to be motivated enough, to change things.  It’s up to you.

Things only change, when someone cares an awful lot.

5. Think

“You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.”

My greatest discoveries have come from sitting alone in a quiet room.  Dr. Suess said, “Think left, and think right, and think low, and think high. Oh, the things you can think up, if only you try!”  What can you think up?  Just try.

6. The More You Know

 

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn the more places you’ll go.”

Reading expands your mind to the possibilities; once your mind has been expanded it can never go back to its original shape.  Commit to expand your mind, commit to know more.  The more you know, the more places you will go!

7. Your Mountain Is Waiting

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting.

So… get on your way.”

Everyday you’re presented with a mountain.  You can climb the mountain, or you can play in the valley.  If you climb more than you play, you will truly be on your way.

8. You Are You

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

No one can be you, youer than you!  That’s good news all by itself….