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Posts about writing (old posts, page 2)

Want to Write Better? Become a Better Reader!

Busy with exams this month, so leaving you with this Austin Kleon post with tonnes of quotes on reading.

Here’s a few of my favourite ones …

“You can’t be a good writer without being a devoted reader.”
—J.K. Rowling

“Read, read, read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read!”
—William Faulkner

“When I’m reading, I’m looking for something to steal. Readers ask me all the time the traditional question ‘Where do you get your ideas from?” I reply: ‘We are all having ideas all the time. But I’m on the lookout for them. You’re not.’”
—Philip Pullman

Go, read.

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Why I use Gender Neutral Pronouns

A young friend of mine had this to say a while back, when I suggested he use gender neutral pronouns in his writing.

the gender thing. I thought a lot about it and came to the conclusion that it is okay to be biased in your writing. Me being a male, it is only natural for me to use 'he' more often than 'she'. But the idea of flipping the roles1 seems interesting :) I'd keep that in mind.

And I don’t know why that bothered me.
Am I imposing my view on a young, impressionable mind by insisting he write a certain way?
Why did I branch out of my normal, grammatical/typo corrections to suggest this?

Then it struck me. Seth Godin, saying, “People like us, do things like this.”
I believe in a certain manner of treating people.
I believe that every one needs to be treated with inclusiveness.
I believe that half of our species has never been treated with the respect they deserve. (and some others have been ruthlessly shunned)
I believe language deepens such prejudice.

And so, this is my little rebellion.
I will do my utmost to treat people with respect.
I use my pronouns so that any thing desirable or powerful or important is not automatically associated with men.
I use my pronouns so that anything associated with grunt work is not just something women do.
I want my language to be as inclusive as possible.
This is my tribe.

This was my realisation and what set me at peace.
Everyone is not like me or shares my views. I should be ever more cognisant of this fact.
I have my tribe of like minded people.
People like me, do things like me :)

As for you, my young friend, I hope to welcome you someday into my tribe!

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  1. The role flipping was another suggestion. Flip genders when describing stuff. A male receptionist. A female surgeon. A male seamstress. A female truck driver. Copied as always, from the always wise Seth 

Happy Women’s Day!

Like I wrote at the other place,

I’ve been hugged and kissed and kicked,
and taught and influenced and befriended
and loved by so many of you!

I would not be me, if it weren’t for you!

It’s only grown truer with time.
Even more love and gratitude!


Trying to Be Perfect Is a Waste of Time

“I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do.”
— Charlie Munger

That quote opens Shane’s post on the work required to hold an opinion, which remains one of the mental models I use most often.

Which is why I had my ears and my mind open, when Shane began one of his latest posts with,

“Trying to be perfect is a waste of time.”

I’ve inherited dad’s sense of perfectionism, and I always thought that should be something I ought to aspire to, at every skill I attempted to learn.
And for someone to come and say it isn’t so makes me squirm in my head.

But like Anne Lamott writes in Bird by Bird,

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.
I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die.
The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.

Shane too, using Taleb-ian ideas of optionality and antifragility makes a wonderful case for why good enough trumps perfect.

The post ends with a swift kick in the rear, to go forth and do …

Don’t be afraid of a challenge.
Don’t be afraid of not being the best.
When you routinely put yourself in situations where you aren’t the most skilled, you learn, you grow, and eventually you adapt.
You build your repertoire of traits and talents, so when change hits you have a wide array of skills.
This flexibility can also give you the confidence to seek change.
The mammal could explore and find new opportunities, but that bird was never going to leave the trees.

Read the whole post here. Will you be as convinced as I?

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Reasons to Write #1339

Derek Sivers on journaling daily.

Almost all the thoughts I have on any subject are the result of writing in my diary and journals, then questioning myself and working through alternate ways of thinking about it, and finally returning to the subject days or months later with a clear head and updated thoughts, seeing how they’ve changed or not over time.

Also on how writing helps him do the work required, to have an opinion.

I always write down my initial thought first, but then question it afterwards with slight detachment, and consider different perspectives.

Of course, as per Sivers usual, the whole post is detailed and helpful, and shows you his process. Go, have a look!

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