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Posts about writing (old posts, page 4)

I Am Here, (Trying Really Hard to Show Up)

Sorry, but not sorry about the lack of the weekly email yesterday :)
The phone is dead, the computer’s crashed and the net is not working.
In short, Murphy definitely has not left the building.
But if I am to be successful at what I do, if I aim to earn your trust, I need to show up :)
To quote Seth,

Showing up on time, with a smile on your face is almost always more important than what you actually say or do.

and this

“I am here”

Showing up matters more than ever, particularly if you promised you would.

Not just showing up in person, but showing up emotionally, or with support, or with a resource that was inconvenient for you to produce.

We're no longer judging you by what sort of widgets your factory makes. we’re judging you by what we can expect from you in the future.

Which is what today’s little mail is about.
I am just writing this, so that I can say,
I am here.
I am showing up.
And thank you all for reading my little screed.
You folks, are wonderful people :)

P.S. Subscribe to my mailing list!
P.P.S. Feed my insatiable reading habit.


Inessential Turns 20!

From the celebratory post,

Old proverb: “The best time to start a blog was 20 years ago. The second-best time is today.” :)

This is what I want for my blogs to become too.
Not popular, but to have a long active life, full of stuff that inspires me and helps others.


Gaiman on Writing

The truth is, I think, […] for me inspiration comes from a bunch of places.

(Counting on his fingers …) Desperation, deadlines …

A lot of times, ideas will turn up while you are doing something else.

And most of all, I think, ideas come from confluence.

They come from two things flowing together, they come, essentially from day-dreaming. It’s … it’s something I suspect that’s something that every human being does.

Writers tend to train themselves to notice when they’ve had ideas. Not that they get anymore ideas or get inspired more than anyone else. We just notice. We notice when it happens, a little bit more.

You go,well, you know, everybody knows that if you get bitten by a werewolf, when the moon is full, you will turn into a wolf. You know that.

And then there’s that moment when you’re sitting thinking, so what happens if a werewolf bites a goldfish?

Or what if the werewolf sinks its fangs into a chair? And what if you’re sitting in that chair and the moonlight touches it? Slowly it starts feeling more and more wolfish and it growls and what about the … you know? And oh my god! Then you’d have to set it in the winter, cuz you’d need the snow for people to try and figure out why you’ve got chair leg marks in the snow. By the body. That has its throat ripped out.

And suddenly, you have a story!

The whole video is funny, yet so full of wisdom.



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Write More

via Neil Gaiman

chaot1k-daydreams asked: Hey, Mr. Gaiman, sorry to bother you. I just had a couple questions? I’m trying to become a better writer and write more, but I feel like I’m falling out of my own style when I write. I either write too much or too little, over-embellish or make it feel bland, and I’m not quite sure what I’m doing wrong by I feel like it’s both wrong and not what I want to write. I was hoping you might have some advice?

Write more.
It sounds a bit silly but that’s how you eventually find out what you sound like.


How Do You Keep Keep Going?

Or how do you actually go do anything else you committed to do for yourself?
I always got confused on what to do when the going got tough and life happened and my goals then got waylaid.
Other than feeling lost and giving up on projects and promising to do better tomorrow, or next time?
(which took a looooooong time to come)
What could I do?

James Clear offers a lovely heuristic, that I have been applying to my writing since the year began.
(along with Seth’s advice to queue things up)

3. Reduce the scope, but stick to the schedule.

I've written previously about the importance of holding yourself to a schedule and not a deadline.
There might be occasions when deadlines make sense, but I'm convinced that when it comes to doing important work over the long–term, following a schedule is much more effective.

When it comes to the day-to-day grind, however, following a schedule is easier said than done.
Ask anyone who plans to workout every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and they can tell you how hard it is to actually stick to their schedule every time without fail.

To counteract the unplanned distractions that occur and overcome the tendency to be pulled off track, I've made a small shift in how I approach my schedule.

My goal is to put the schedule first and not the scope, which is the opposite of how we usually approach our goals.

For example, let's say you woke up today with the intention of running 3 miles this afternoon.
During the day, your schedule got crazy and time started to get away from you.
Now you only have 20 minutes to workout.

At this point, you have two options.

The first is to say, “I don't have enough time to workout today,” and spend the little time you have left working on something else.
This is what I would usually have done in the past.

The second option is to reduce the scope, but stick to the schedule. Instead of running 3 miles, you run 1 mile or do five sprints or 30 jumping jacks.
But you stick to the schedule and get a workout in no matter what.
I have found far more long-term success using the this approach than the first.

On a daily basis, the impact of doing five sprints isn't that significant, especially when you had planned to run 3 miles.
But the cumulative impact of always staying on schedule is huge. No matter what the circumstance and no matter how small the workout, you know you're going to finish today's task.
That's how little goals become lifetime habits.

Finish something today, even if the scope is smaller than you anticipated.

If you like this tip the whole post is even more awesome.
Go find out Time Management Tips That Actually Work on his blog.

P.S. You should subscribe to the mailing list, you know. :)
P.P.S I haven’t missed a single week since I started doing this!


Time Management and Writers Block

Just a couple of links to pique your interest.

James Clear, one of the few “self-help” authors, I actually read and follow, has this to say on time management:

  • What is urgent in your life and what is important to your life are often very different things.
  • Eliminate half-work at all costs.
  • Do the most important thing first.
  • Reduce the scope, but stick to the schedule.

Read the whole, really well written article to learn more.



Mary Beth Keane on how she decides what to write about,

How to choose one’s subject is so incredibly personal. A writing professor of mine at the University of Virginia once gave my workshop the best advice.
He said to wait to start writing until we felt like pots boiling over.
I really try to live by that advice.
It seems to me that when an idea is true and right, it sort of takes seed and grows. Some ideas SEEM great, but leave me cold when I think too much about them.
It’s the ones that make my heart beat faster that are the ones to pursue, I’ve learned. You have to pick something that you’re going to want to stick with for years.